Book Review – Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker

star wars aliens

Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens is a collection of short stories by Landry Q. Walker set in the Star Wars universe, targeted at a younger reading audience aged 8 to 12. Contained within are six stories about some of the aliens that make up the background characters of the film The Force Awakens, some more conspicuously than others. The book is labeled “volume one,” but whether or not another book is in the works is unknown to me. I don’t typically read books written more directly for children, but as a fan of the franchise I was drawn to it for the promises of stories more lighthearted as well as outside of the norm by focusing more on aliens than humans.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 – Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

Summary

From one of the greatest storytellers in modern times comes this classic collection of twenty-two works of fright and wonder unforgettable tales that will take you to where your darkest fears await. Whether it’s a mysterious impenetrable mist camouflaging bizarre, otherworldly terrors that could herald the destruction of humanity or an eerie-looking child s toy that harbors an unimaginable evil or four college students on a deserted lake encountering something that crosses the boundary of sanity or a man suddenly given the omnipotent ability to quite literally edit his own reality the extraordinary narratives found in Skeleton Crew are the enduring and irresistible proof that Stephen King is a true master of the short fiction form.

SkeletonCrew

Skeleton Crew is my first true foray into Stephen King’s works of short fiction. I did read Hearts in Atlantis last year, but that is a cohesive collection of interconnected stories with recurring characters and themes. This collection of stories, originally published in 1985, brings together various short works from his career at the time, many of them previoiusly published on their own in magazines and other publications. Included in this collection is the more famous story “The Mist,” which has been adapted into a film and a TV series. It’s a novella in its own right, making up the first 200 or so pages of the book, followed by two poems and 19 short stories, for a total of 22 pieces of fiction.Read More »

Short Story Review – Komodo by Jeff VanderMeer

Summary

Meet your cast of characters: Angels and ghost frogs, transdimensional komodo dragons and secret forces using luna moths for surveillance. Want to traverse space and time to avoid the komodos tracking your scent? All you have to do let yourself be devoured by a giant undead bear. Confused yet? You should be. But this is the secret world our nameless narrator has stumbled into, ever since being rescued by the angels from an exploding airplane. And she’ll make sense of it for you, or die trying.

Komodo

“Komodo” is my first foray into the writing of Jeff VanderMeer, known for his Southern Reach trilogy. It was while I was looking up those books that this digital “novelette” first came to my attention. This is one of those situations where the title and cover hooked drew me in significantly. I’m a sucker for reptiles. The promise of a weird science fiction story involving “transdimensional komodo dragons” sold me completely.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito

Summary

A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

FragmentsOfHorror

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito is, according to the afterword, the author’s return to drawing and writing horror after an eight-year hiatus. Going in I had heard the author himself considered the collection a little below par for him, as he had gotten rusty after almost a decade away from the genre. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed Ito’s work that I’ve read thus far, so I was cautiously optimistic going into this book that the stories within would still be of a certain quality that I could enjoy.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Shiver by Junji Ito

Summary

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.

Shiver

Shortly after I finished reading Uzumaki in October (my first experience with Junji Ito’s work) I was excited to learn that a new collection entitled Shiver would be releasing in North America in December. I’d heard a lot about his short stories being particularly good and was eager to get some firsthand experience with them. He’s been a manga artist/writer for a long time, yet as far as I have seen there is only one other book published in English that collects any of them that is also easy and/or inexpensive to get a copy of. Options are limited for now, but this was a great place to start regardless.Read More »

Book Review – Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Summary

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman’s imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.

Smoke&Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a collection of “short fiction and illusions,” originally published in 1998. From what I gathered reading it, most if not all of these stories had been published before as part of different collections or anthologies. I’ve been a rather big fan of Gaiman for a number of years now, but admittedly this is the first time I’ve read any of his short fiction outside of comic books. I was interested to see just how much a departure in format would change his style of writing, as I have recently been noticing common trends in his novels. As it turns out, his short fiction varies quite widely in terms of subject matter.Read More »

Book Review – The Nightmare Collective, edited by PlayWithDeath.com

Summary

The Nightmare Collective is a curated anthology of horror short stories that’s guaranteed to keep you up at night. With 12 terrifically spine chilling short stories, this anthology contains contributions from some of the best young horror writing talent out there, and was curated by the editors of the PlayWithDeath.com, the premier destination for online horror entertainment. If you’re searching for stories that will frighten you to your very core, look no further.

TheNightmareCollective

The Nightmare Collective is a horror anthology edited by PlayWithDeath.Com and published in April 2015. Admittedly, I first picked up this eBook on a whim. I’d been wanting to start reading more horror and had discovered that I could get some inexpensively on my tablet. I bought this book last October, but have been saving it to have at the ready for this year’s Halloween season. Anthology’s are often a gamble, but I wanted something I’d go into with no expectations or prior knowledge. The source itself is rather unassuming too. PlayWithDeath.Com as a site is rather modest in appearance and quantity of content, and hasn’t had any apparent activity in over two years.Read More »

Book Review – Hellboy: Odd Jobs edited by Christopher Golden

Summary

In 1994, Mike Mignola created one of the most unique and visually arresting comics series to ever see print: Hellboy. Tens of thousands have followed the exploits of “the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator” in comics form, and in the novel, Hellboy: The Lost Army, written by Christopher Golden. Now, fans of the comic can enjoy the world of Hellboy as seen through the eyes of some of today’s best writers.

HellboyOddJobs

Hellboy: Odd Jobs is a 1999 anthology of Hellboy short stories edited by Christopher Golden. It gathers noted horror writers of the time to tell their own stories about the character, including a story by the duo of Golden and creator Mike Mignola, as well as a special cartoon by Gahan Wilson. The book presented a new opportunity for me: I haven’t ever read a book of prose adapting a comic book character before. Novel and comic book spin-off of movies and TV series are quite common, but novels and short stories supplementing comic book series doesn’t seem nearly as prominent. It felt a little risky. Hellboy is strongly defined by Mignola’s iconic art style. With that absent, save for a single illustration at the start of each story, I wondered how well these authors could capture the spirit of the character.Read More »

Book Review – Homesick for Another World by Otessa Moshfegh

Excerpt of Summary from Goodreads

The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful. But beauty comes from strange sources. And the dark energy surging through these stories is powerfully invigorating. We’re in the hands of an author with a big mind, a big heart, blazing chops, and a political acuity that is needle-sharp. The needle hits the vein before we even feel the prick.

HomesickCover

Homesick for Another World is a collection of short stories by Ottessa Moshfegh, whose debut novel Eileen was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I have not read Eileen, which I mainly bring up because I find it interesting that I started this book on a whim. She’s a talented author, this collection apparently quite anticipated, but I first started looking into it because there’s a spaceship on the cover. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. The design hearkens back to old science fiction pulps, and I honestly appreciate this beyond how I was simply drawn to its imagery.Read More »