30 November 2011

City of Hell Chronicles Vol1

The blurb: The Ant-Headed Old One ‘The Great Maurr’ has risen and brought hell to earth. The land is scorched and the human race decimated, eaten or tortured. Only three cities remain, a crumbled, dying version of their former selves: London, Moscow and Hong Kong. The Great Maurr’s own City of Hell dominates most of North America. Its diabolical influence has turned ordinary citizens into torturers, debased slaves, lunatics and zealots.

City of Hell is, as can be gathered from the title, a collection of pretty awesome horror stories. Not my usual cup of tea I must say, but I always like to read new things. Maurr has come to earth to destroy and dominate. Seven writers tell of these trying times.

I must say, it took me a good run to get into the premise of the book. Not reading a lot of horror and not reading a lot of short stories made this quite an interesting read The first story, Genesis by Colin F. Barnes, tells of the coming of Maurr and his minions, with a pretty cool device playing a central role that I would have loved to read some more about. 

Medical Report by Victoria Griesdoorn was done awesomely. It's written as a report, and thus most of the emotional reactions is left out, which makes what happens a lot worse. It was a good way to get to know the bugs a bit better and it works well in the short story format, Possibly my favourite.

The Door From Below by Ren Warrom has the best scariest monsters in the book. The Stock Takers sounds bloody awful, and the powerlessness of the characters against them shines through well. 
London Calling by Kendall Grey made me feel a bit sick. Since that is a huge part of being a horror story, that's understandable. Rane as a character was written well, and the bugs were sneaky bastards this time.
The Lucky Ones by Anne Michaud Made me feel worse than London Calling. It's a tale of despair and the fruitlessness of struggle. It was gripping to read, and right up there with my favourite in the whole book

Final Passage by Belinda Frisch and The Nursery by Amy L. Overley reads a lot alike. Both handle transformation, loss, blood, more blood, vomit and death well. I started to get quite depressed by this time, since this book is quite a crapload of death and dismemberment to take in quite a few pages. 
Sanguine by Victoria Griesdoorn takes a refreshing viewpoint on the whole deal, dealing with human interaction after the invasion. The french terms used felt forced and didn't really add to the story, which in the end is an enjoyable tale about revenge. It was a good point to end on.

Was it a good read? Yes it was. I can't wait for more editions, since there are whole swathes of the globe that wasn't explored in the whole Maurr universe. The blood, guts, death, rapes, disembowelment and horror isn't for everybody. Steer well clear if you do not like bodily fluids. 

If you enjoy a good post apocalyptic tale about the futility of life with extra measures of guts, blood and despair. Get your hands on this book. You'll love it. 


29 November 2011

Zoo City the Movie

Via www.angryrobotbooks.com. Well done for one of South Africa's best writers!
“Beukes’ energetic noir phantasmagoria, the winner of this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, crackles with original ideas.” (Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times Book Review)
South Africa, November 22nd
Helena Spring, widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most accomplished motion picture producers, has just been awarded the highly sought-after film rights to Zoo City, the Sci-Fi thriller penned by South African author Lauren Beukes – who garnered the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction novel. In the wake of whopping sales figures, multiple awards and critical acclaim Beukes’ book generated fierce interest from numerous bidders in the entertainment industry, putting Spring alongside major US and UK producers eager to tell Beukes’ unique tale.
Zoo City was published first in South Africa by Jacana Media and thereafter internationally by by Angry Robot.
The urban fantasy is set in a futuristic, gritty and hard-core Johannesburg where the eponymous ghetto has been colonised by society’s outcasts – like criminals, drug-dealers and psychopaths, and their animal companions. Like the other residents of the Zoo City slum, Zinzi, the anti-heroine, is “animalled”, but she is also a shrewd, street-smart girl with the gift (or burden) of finding lost things. Zinzi wears her power animal, a sloth, on her back. When she is hired to find a missing teenybopper star, she hopes that it will be her ticket out of Hell’s waiting room.
“I’m delighted to have secured the film and television rights for Zoo City,” commented Helena Spring. “It is a groundbreaking, magical novel begging for a life on the big screen. Lauren’s storytelling is masterful – edgy and futuristic, unique yet universal. It is high in entertainment value yet emotionally charged, a dream project for any producer.”
Beukes positively acknowledges the choice of the winning producer. “Every novelist dreams of a movie deal – but you actually want more than that. You want to find a producer of great vision and integrity and experience who fundamentally gets the book and understands how to transform it into an entirely different creature based on the same genetic material. I’m thrilled that it’s being produced in South Africa – for an international audience.”
Spring’s career in the entertainment industry spans nearly three decades, during which time she has produced over twenty motion pictures – including the first ever South African film to receive recognition at the Academy Awards®: Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday earned a Best Foreign Picture nomination in 2004.
Spring, who has worked with some of the foremost filmmakers in the world – such as Paul Greengrass who helmed the box office smash hits The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and Academy Award® winner, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), will soon be putting the project out to a select party of directors, while Beukes has first look as screenwriter to adapt her novel for the screen. “Lauren is perfectly placed to do this. The characters are alive inside her,” says Spring.
Julian Friedmann of Blake Friedmann (the literary agency that reps Beukes), says that: “Helena outbid all the others in a spirited auction for film rights to this extraordinary book. She had an extremely proactive, writer-friendly approach to working with Lauren and offered an imaginative and creative proposal that was irresistible.”
Lauren Beukes’ meteoric rise seems unstoppable and recently a new megabucks book deal was announced. The working titles of the two novels – due in 2013 and 2014 – are The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters. They were picked up by publishers in the US, the UK, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

28 November 2011


And by Monday, I meant Friday. I forgot about a birthday party that had to be attended as well as how shitty too much beer makes a person feel.

On the plus side I'm constructing a massive bookcase. Since this is my first woodworking project and I still have all my fingers, I feel it's proceeding quite well.

25 November 2011

I'll be reading and reviewing this over the weekend:

The Blurb: There is no god, no angels, no redemption. There is no hope, only suffering. The great Ant-headed Old-One has risen and brought hell to earth. The land is scorched and the human race decimated, eaten or tortured. Only three cities remain, a crumbled dying version of their former selves: London, Moscow and Hong Kong.The Old-One’s own City of Hell dominates most of North America. Its diabolical influence has turned ordinary citizens into torturers, debased slaves, lunatics and zealots.

Mwhahahaha! Should be an interesting read, watch for review on Monday.
Well, I'm off to my day job's year end braai. That's a barbecue to the uninformed. May everyone have an epic weekend.

24 November 2011

The book I've been waiting for for the last 10 years. If Sanderson screws it up, I'll never forgive him...
That must be one of the worst covers I've seen in many a year.

23 November 2011

Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence

The Blurb: Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

This is the debut novel of Mark Lawrence. I’ve seen it on the 
shelves of bookstores and on Amazon for a while now, floating around my recommendation lists. I haven’t been that interested in it. The hooded man with sword cover has been done to death, and it sure as hell didn’t shout out to me “Read me, I’m awesome.” When the Best of 2011 lists started showing up and most had Prince of Thorns on it, I decided it should be worth my while.

Boy, am I lucky I listened to myself.

The setting of Prince of Thorns is a broken Empire, with everyone who has a claim competing for the throne. It’s been going on for generations, with no end in sight. The story is told from the viewpoint of Prince Jorg, who, when we meet him, leads a band of criminals and highwaymen on a spree of murder and mayhem. And all that at thirteen. They rape, pillage, murder and do all the dark deeds that could be thought off. Now Jorg as a thirteen year old bloodthirsty highwayman was a cause for me to pause and groan. I hate it when the hero is basically a teenager and he is the bestest and brightest in all that he does. He does impossible things on a regular basis in the book, and it almost spoiled it for me.
However, it all gets explained in quite a satisfactory way towards the end of the novel, which made me enjoy it a million times more.

The story is action packed, delivering fight scenes and normal conversation with fast pacing and a bit of insanity. The setting is one I quite enjoyed. It hasn’t been used to death and the setting alone promises to influence the way the story will unfold in the future. I won’t spoil it for you, but that alone is worth a read.
Jorg is a bastard, but the book is full of bastards and at least Jorg is a lovable bugger underneath all his faults and hurts. He even eats a heart, and I still like him.

There are magic in the world, but it isn’t the focus or that important in this novel. I’m sure that it will be included into the story a bit more in the next installment, but I didn’t miss it.

The only big faults with this book? Well, I don’t really care about the cover at all. And I wish I’ve read it sooner. That’s about it really.

Is it worth a read? Hell yes. 8/10

17 November 2011

Time flies!

Oh how time flies when real life gets in the way. A lot has been read in the last months, and some reviews will be popping up shortly.