Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday review 9/27/2012

So. The big exciting news in my world is the purchase of a new electric toy; a Google nexus. Which toy I am learning what I can do with. (That sentence needs to be dragged out and shot.) Anyway, that makes it easy to read e-books, like this week's review:

James Hutchings - The New Death

James sent me a review copy of this book, and offered to do a guest post. Which was very nice of him. The book is a collection of short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. It's the sort of collection which a relatively new writer might put together after several years of writing, and so it clearly reflects a growing and evolving talent. That actually makes it a little difficult to review, because, frankly, the collection is a little uneven.

High points - a series of stories set in Telelee, which have a decided Leiber flavor. At their best, these stories are pleasantly cynical in their tone with being bitter. Sometimes, though, they dip below that cynical/bitter line. Also, Leiber gave us guides to Lanhkmar in the persons of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser - Hutchings has no such heroes. Still, I would love to see a longer work in this setting.

Hutchings also offers a series of flash fiction and short shorts which echo Asimovian long-form puns. Now, some of you don't appreciate puns - you are either more or less evolved than me, depending on your point of view. I am a pun aficionado, and I consider Asimov to be a master of the form. Hutchings comes close, but misses as often as he hits. My key problem is that a long pun needs to be played straight right up to the end, and Hutchings likes to wink broadly at his audience as the puns unfold, which spoils things for me. Still, I'd you like puns - well, this is worth the price of admission.

The best piece in the collection is a long autobiographical-ish piece which has considerable heart, a creepy twist, and a nicely set up bite at the end - a perfect short story, and a gem here.

 I didn't dig the poetry, for the most part. There were a few epigrammatic pieces that were OK, but the long ones - reader, I am ashamed to admit I skipped them. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you like poetry.

So. Worth buying and easy to get. The New Death and others is now available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. James Hutchings also has a new serial novel available here. The Case of the Syphilitic Sister is a detective / superhero story set in a two-fisted version of the 1930s.