Book Talk: August 2017 Part Two

This is Part Two of Book Talk: August 2017. You can find Part One here.

This month my short story reading soared to heights I’ve not seen in a long time. What’s even more awesome is that I got to sit down and read stories from some of my favourite authors. As per usual, I will keep my thoughts on the stories brief to prevent possible spoilers.

Short Stories

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Busking by Jason Fischer

There’s a lot of weird stories in Fischer’s Everything is a Graveyard collection and this is certainly one of them. The main protagonist is an entertainer who realises everyone has vanished and wonders why they’re still here. The characters in this story are well done and really odd, which I couldn’t help but laugh with a couple of them. A fun little read overall and recommended if you want something odd.

3.5/5

When the Cheerful Misogynist Came to True Town by Jason Fischer

Also from Everything is a Graveyard, this is yet another strange tale of terror and oddness. This story was not what I was expecting and went into some strange worlds really quickly. Have a read of it and you’ll see why I think it’s odd.

3/5

Goggy by Jason Fischer

A little kid and killer kangaroos, all that I can say about this flash fiction story from Everything is a Graveyard. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

4.5/5

Tied to the Tracks by George S. Walker

From issue 67 of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, “Tied to the Tracks” is really just a strange piece altogether. It has an Arabian/Ancient Egyptian fantasy style to it, with railways and guns. I really liked the concept and ideas to this story, but found it too difficult to comprehend with all its oddities. The characters too really weren’t that great to me.

2.5/5

The Mangler by Stephen King

From the Night Shift collection, The Mangler is one of the strangest monster tales I’ve ever read. I mean, what else could be as weird as a bloodthirsty industrial laundry machine? This is a frightening piece too, which is what good horror should be. Give this a read if you want some a little odd and different to other short monster tales out there.

4/5

The Reincarnate by Ray Bradbury

There are many reasons why I love Ray Bradbury’s short stories, and “The Reincarnate” from the A Pleasure to Burn collection is one of them. The story, told in a second person perspective, follows Paul, a man who has recently died and has come back to life. I found it to be an interesting tale which did make my skin crawl a bit. If you like strange ghost/zombie tales that have them wishing to protest being dead then this is your story.

4/5

Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury

Also from A Pleasure to Burn, “Pillar of Fire” follows a man who has recently woken up after a couple hundred years of being dead. This story was about the strangest dystopian sci-fi story I’ve read in a while. The dystopian themes in this one are the destruction of death (including graveyard destruction and book burnings of Poe and Lovecraft) and people becoming too trustworthy. Have a read of this if you want a dystopian story that’s unlike the others out there right now.

4/5

The Library by Ray Bradbury

Yet again from A Pleasure to Burn, “The Library” is a very short tale about a book burning. Have a read of this to see Bradbury’s concern of the destruction of the imagination.

3.5/5

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Book Talk: August 2017

What a month August has been. We went through a Cold War-like scenario with North Korea, Sonic Mania was released, and plans for a marriage equality postal vote in Australia were rolled out. What’s even bigger though is my list of stories I’ve read this month. Holy crap, I never expected to read as much as I did this month. It’s because of this that I will split this month’s Book Talk in two: part one today (September 1st) and part two tomorrow (September 2nd). So with no further delay, let’s go on a journey, from the Earth to the Moon with James Bond in tow.

Novels

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Water of a Dragon’s Back by KE Fraser

This is the second part of my review of this book (you can find the first part here).

Compared to the first book in the series (Through the Fig Tree), Water off a Dragon’s Back isn’t as good. I found the pacing of this book to be slow, which benefited the first book, but not this one. Apart from Daniel and Violet I didn’t really connect with the other characters and found some a little bland in the end.

Negatives aside though this is still an alright book. This is a really good conclusion to the story of Daniel and Violet and is certainly full of interesting action scenes. The final battle especially I found to be a lot of fun and certainly had a fulfilling wrap-up.

The Realm of the Lilies is certainly a nice little series from an emerging author. Through the Fig Tree was a great start and Water off a Dragon’s Back is a good conclusion. If you liked book one then this is a go to read.

3/5

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

James this extraordinary 00 agent from Britain’s MI6 who loves beating bad guys, drinking, and seducing women. So a question comes up: what’s the life of one of these Bond girls like? If you ever wanted to know, it’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Seems like a good premise and something different from 007, correct? Well… no, it isn’t.

Where do I even begin? Oh yes, it’s about the most unBond James Bond novel from the original creator, Ian Fleming. The story is told through the eyes of Vivienne “Viv” Michel, a French Canadian who’s about one of the unluckiest women in the world. Two-thirds of this novel just drags through her life story, from Montreal to England, then to the United States. In all this we witness her be forced into sex and be humiliated by everyone. All of this stuff and looking into her life was all extremely long-winded and almost cringeworthy.

James Bond himself doesn’t even make an appearance until the last third of this book. It’s from there that things get more interesting. We at last get to see what it’s really like to be with Bond from the female perspective, but it’s still pretty stupid. Viv in this time still feels two dimensional and just there to have sex with, rather than anything meaningful at all.

All of these issues stem from one issue: Fleming couldn’t write female characters. I commend him for giving this a try, but it’s piss poor, even by early 1960s standards. There was so much potential here, but it all got wrecked by poor character creation.

The only redeeming factors I can find overall with this read is that it was pretty quick to read. It took me about a week to read this book, which is thanks to the tight, fast paced writing and my desire to finish it. It’s also redeeming that the adaptation starring Roger Moore of this book is very loose, meaning many fans were saved from the awfulness of this one’s protagonist.

The Spy Who Loved Me is not only the worst Bond book I’ve ever read, but the worst book I’ve read since starting up Book Talk. James Bond is a legend of popular culture, both in literature and in film, but he can’t save this book. Avoid this one as much as you possibly can.

1/5

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne

From Earth to the Moon is quite possibly one of the eeriest stories to be created in terms of accuracy. First published in the 1860s, this book said men from America would travel to the moon from Florida, which is what exactly happened in July 1969. Yeah, they used rockets rather than a gigantic cannon but the idea is the same. It’s this sort of imagination which is why caught my interest with this story.

If there’s one thing I have to be critical about it’s the characters. There were many characters and none of them caught my attention too much. Yeah, it was interesting to see a Frenchmen with the Americans launching from the cannon, but apart from that they just were there in the story rather than the story itself.

While nowhere near as memorable as other works of Verne like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon is still an interesting story that I really enjoyed. There’s a lot of imagination to be found in this, even if the characters aren’t great. Give this a read if you’re curious in classic sci-fi.

3.5/5

You can access Book Talk: August 2017 Part Two here.