Friday, February 12, 2016

Last Month's Books: "A Thin Sliver of Hope in the Dark of the Mediocre"

I say it almost every Friday night, but, it's been a long week. I am very tired. Popcorn, movie, sleep. (Not Deadpool, sadly. I don't have the energy to go to that right now. Maybe next weekend). Anyway, I've finally started stepping up my book-reading, which is good, I guess. Yay me. Since I only have three categories of reviews (books/comics, movies/tv, and games), I'm not going to put everything I read/watched/played in one month into one post, since I'd run out faster than I replenished the backlog of reviews. So yeah. Yay. 

Press Start to Play
Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams, editors

A collection of stories revolving around video games and the human condition. Occasionally funny, mostly profound and sad. So very sad. There is a shared loneliness in each of these stories, by each of these authors, which echoes for me.

Awake in the Night Land
John C. Wright

Lovecraft's worst nightmare. Humanity's last bastion slowly losing its ascendancy. Advanced technology, imperfectly understood. Grecian tragedy mingled with the doom of humanity. Malign intelligence bent on destruction. C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy without any hope, and with an overemphasis on moral dogma (and religious undertone) courtesy of Wright's religious views. The setting is amazing, but Wright didn't write that. The stories read like Lovecraft, only laced with more of a right-wing mindest, if that’s possible. The stories, themselves, though, are engrossing. Love the stories, love the setting, hate the author and his worldview. Really, though, the atmosphere of despair and resolve in the face of the inevitable cosmic horror makes up for any flaws.

Atoms and Evil
Robert Bloch

A collection of short stories that aren't quite dark enough to be truly unsettling, and aren't quite whimsical enough to be whimsical. Not bad, just a bit... Middle of the road. It feels like a knock-off Philip K. Dick collection or something. Every story I've seen done better elsewhere.

A Thin Ghost and Others
M.R. James

I'm a bit torn. The root ideas of these stories are great--some of the ghosts are incredibly...strange and eerie, and others have no firm conclusion, leaving things unsettled and incomplete, in a good way. But the writing style... It's like Dickens writing ghost stories, or the more stilted of Lovecraft's prose. It's mechanically sound, but stylistically very Victorian, which is sometimes good but often not. M.R. James is one of the precursors of Lovecraft et. al., and I respect that, but still wish the prose were less...Victorian. Good ideas, poor execution.