Book Review – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

fire & blood

Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series, Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin is volume one of a history of House Targaryen’s reign over Westeros, including over 75 black-and-white illustrations by Dough Wheatley. Set about 300 years before the first novel, A Game of Thrones, it begins with Aegon I the Conqueror and concludes after the end of the Regency of Aegon III. This book is uniquely set apart from the main novel series because it is written as a historical text from that literary universe, rather than the narrative form fans of the series are accustomed to. As such we see this history through the lens of Archmaester Gyldayn, about whom we know little as a person, yet he serves as a passive in-universe perspective who offers academic commentary and brief tangents when appropriate.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Age of Reptiles Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado

Age of Reptiles Omnibus 1

Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado is a series of comic books set in the Mesozoic era telling tales of dinosaurs and the violent lives they lead. This omnibus collects the first three story arcs of this series, which were original published separately: Tribal Warfare (1993), The Hunt (1997), and The Journey (2009). The first tells of a feud between a pack of Deinonychus and Tyrannosaurus after the latter steals a well-earned meal from the former. The second is about an Allosaurus who survives an attack from a pack of Ceratosaurus that kill his mother who grows up and seeks revenge against his assailants. The final story tells of a mass migration of various dinosaurs to warmer and more lively lands and the obstacles they face along the way, focusing on both the herd and a mother Tyrannosaur with her young who follow.Read More »

Book Review – The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is the latest fiction novel by Canadian author Craig Davidson. Neurosurgeon Jake Baker knows that the brain is a much more complex organ than we realize. He even paints himself as nothing more than a glorified mechanic; he can help treat a physical malady like a tumour, but the deeper workings of the mind and memory are a mystery even to him. In this novel Jake recounts when he was twelve years old living in his home town of Niagara Falls—or Cataract City, as the locals called it—and the summer of the Saturday Night Ghost Club. It was organised by his eccentric uncle Calvin to explore the supposedly haunted places of the city. During this life-changing summer Jake discovers that this club is unearthing something more horrible buried in his uncle’s past, something that has been kept from him all his life.Read More »

Book Review – I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot

I, Robot is a “fixup” novel of short stories by Isaac Asimov, telling stories about positronic robots, their interactions with humans, and the way the author’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics” influences robot psychology and behaviour. A “fixup” novel is a novel collecting stories that were previously published separately, not initially intended to be a part of a collection. A positronic brain is the technological device conceived by Asimov that gives a robot consciousness similar to that of a human being. The framing device around these stories is an interview between a reporter and Dr. Susan Calvin, who has led a long and storied career as the chief robopsychologist for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Though not all of these stories are directly about her, she recounts each to the reporter (our narrator) as particular points of interest in the history of robot development.Read More »

Book Review – Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline

Bloodline by Claudia Gray is a standalone Star Wars novel following Princess Leia Organa long after the events of the film Return of the Jedi. Set decades after the fall of the Empire and the birth of the New Republic, Leia has served as a Senator in the unofficial Populist party, who believe member planets should retain full sovereignty over themselves. Their counterparts are the Centrists, who believe in a stronger centralized power in the government with significant military prowess. The story begins at a time when the senate has trouble getting anything done, as these opposing sides spend more time bickering than trying to work together. Years of these divisive politics has left Leia tired and jaded, longing for the days of danger and adventure with her friends and loved ones that was her time in the Rebellion. Resolving to retire at the end of her term, Leia decides to spearhead an investigation into criminal activity disrupting certain worlds as a final deed in service to the galaxy, which begins to unearth a greater threat hiding in the shadows.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Tomie by Junji Ito

Tomie

Tomie by Junji Ito is a deluxe hardcover edition collecting every chapter of the horror manga of the same name. These comics were originally published serially in the manga magazine Monthly Halloween from 1987 to 2000. High school student Tomie has met a tragic and brutal end at the hands of an unknown killer, with only pieces of her body having been recovered for cremation. Her classmates gather for her funeral, mourn her loss, and consider the dangers that might await them with a killer on the loose. That is, until Tomie walks into class the next day as if it were all nothing more than a bad dream. The entire school is shaken, authorities are baffled, and her classmates and teacher begin to feel a creeping dread, having been more involved with her death than anybody else realizes. This is the stage set in the first chapter of Tomie that ignites a saga of obsession, vanity, and brutality around one beautiful young woman who just can’t stay dead.Read More »

Book Review – Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Alice Isn’t Dead is the latest novel by Joseph Fink, adapting his podcast series of the same name. This novel marks Fink’s first solo outing as an author, usually teaming up with Jeffrey Cranor for the novels based on the podcast series they created together, Welcome to Night Vale.

The novel follows Keisha Taylor, a woman working as a trucker who is searching for her wife Alice, who went missing some time before Keisha started trucking. After months of searching and turning up nothing Alice was presumed dead. Keisha mourned and tried to work through her grief, until she started to notice something strange during news reports of tragedies and accidents across America: always in the background, never the focus, was Alice staring right into the camera. Alice wasn’t dead, and Keisha meant to find her wife, uncovering clues in Alice’s personal documents pointing to Bay and Creek Transportation. Following these leads further she embarks upon a road trip into a world that exists on the backroads and highways of the country full of misshapen creatures, otherworldly forces, and conspiracies that go well beyond a simple missing person.Read More »

Book Review – Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation

Elevation is the newest book by Stephen King, taking place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting of a great number of his stories. This novella follows Scott Carey, a recent divorcee who suffers from a bizarre illness; he keeps losing weight, yet it has no effect on his physical appearance or how he feels. If anything he feels better. He has more energy and feels lighter on his feet. Despite this, he does wonder whether it will stop, or if a day will come where he weighs nothing at all and what that will mean. His troubles don’t stop there, as tensions develop between him and his lesbian neighbors over dog poop on his lawn, which ends up cluing him in to the way the largely conservative community of Castle Rock has alienated the couple, who struggle to keep their new restaurant up and running.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Frankenstein by Junji Ito

Frankenstein Junji Ito

Frankenstein is the latest English translation of collected stories by horror manga artist and writer Junji Ito. The featured story of this collection is unsurprisingly an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the classic tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who discovers the secret to creating life. Putting his discovery to the test he stitches together a humanoid being of giant proportions and imbues it with life. It is only when the grotesque giant stirs with life that he realizes he was so obsessed with whether or could that he didn’t stop to consider if he should. Following this tale is a collection of episodic stories about a 14-year-old boy named Oshikiri who lives alone in a large, disorienting house and is constantly beset upon by supernatural experiences and otherworldly intrusions.Read More »

Book Review – The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 Gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson. The titular Hill House is an 80-year old estate built in an unspecified countryside location surrounded by hills. It’s original owner Hugh Crain is long dead, but the house has had a storied history of family tension, tragedy, and death. Many believe it to be haunted; the caretakers only go on the grounds during the day and the nearby townsfolk dare not speak of it. Dr. Montague, an investigator of the supernatural, rents the property for the summer along with two assistants, Eleanor Vance and Theodora, as well as the heir to the estate Luke Sanderson, in hopes of documenting any strange happenings and finding proof of the otherworldly.Read More »