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Wednesday, 07 February 2018 15:05

It’s alive! – ‘Making the Monster’

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” was published in 1818. In the two centuries since, it has taken its place as one of the most iconic works of science fiction and gothic horror in the history of Western literature. It has become a cultural touchstone, a familiar landmark for anyone navigating the realm of popular culture. When you say “Frankenstein,” everyone knows to what you’re referring.

But while the novel is a work of pure invention, it came about in a world where many of the ideas it put forth were viewed as plausible. The environment in which Shelley lived at that time was an ideal breeding ground to give birth to such a tale.

“Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (Bloomsbury Sigma, $27) is author and scientist Kathryn Harkup’s effort to give a sense of perspective on the world into which Shelley’s iconic tale was brought, to shine a light on the scientific conventions and societal mores that served as the foundation upon which the classic story was built.

Published in Tekk

Of all our major sports, baseball is the one with the longest history. All that history means that on a singular level, there’s room for a lot of interesting things to happen. It’s like the adage about infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters eventually producing “Hamlet” – do something long enough and you’ll eventually get some singular results.

Joe Cox’s latest book “The Immaculate Inning: Unassisted Triple Plays, 40/40 Seasons, and the Stories Behind Baseball’s Rarest Feats” (Lyons Press, $27.95) recounts some of those singular moments. Some are just one game (or even one play) while others consist of longer stretches and even full seasons, but they all share at least one commonality: you don’t see them every day.

Published in Sports

The best short fiction embraces the limitations of the form and turns them into foundational strengths. There’s a power in brevity that many writers can never fully harness, their work coming off as either overwritten or clumsily truncated.

But when someone displays a true mastery, literary brilliance often follows.

And so it is with “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” (Random House, $27), a quintet of stories from the late Denis Johnson that explore the writer’s longstanding fascination with the freaks and fakes that exist on the fringes of society. Each one of these five tales can be held up as a masterpiece and a masterclass, powerfully evocative and poetically emotive even as the unsavory seediness and/or deliberate disconnect displayed by the characters bubbles and oozes to the surface.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 13:45

Antarctic adventure – ‘The Stowaway’

What would you be willing to do to gain the opportunity to experience an adventure of a lifetime? What risks would you take to take part in something historic? How far would you go? Would you travel to the ends of the earth?

For Billy Gawronski, the answer to that last question was “Yes.”

Published in Adventure

We all want to get the most out of the lives we live. But how might your life’s path change if someone told you the day on which it would end?

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 12:05

‘The Forever Ship’ a fitting ending

Novel marks finale of excellent speculative trilogy

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 11:51

Faerie and the fair - ‘Heart of the Fae’

Fantasy romance reimagines a classic tale

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 12:20

Fly me to the moon – ‘Artemis’

Few debut novelists achieve the kind of success that Andy Weir did. “The Martian” was one of those books that captures the collective imagination. From Weir’s self-publishing of the novel in 2011 to Crown Publishing’s purchase and re-release of the book in 2014 to the commercially and critically triumphant 2015 film adaptation, “The Martian” has been wildly successful in every way.

But then the question becomes: What next?

Published in Buzz

Debut novel an entertaining flight of fantasy fancy

Published in Buzz

It takes a special kind of creative self-awareness to allow a story to be exactly as long as it needs to be. The temptation to either heavily inflate or drastically cut a word count in order to fit within certain generally accepted literary parameters is significant, so it’s impressive when a writer is capable of staying utterly true to the tale.

Joe Hill has embraced that notion with his latest book “Strange Weather” (William Morrow, $27.99), a collection of four short novels. Rather than force these narratives to be more than what they are, Hill simply tells the stories as they wish to be told. They’re lean and sharp, with nary an ounce of prosaic fat on any of their bones.

And oh yeah – they’re all excellent.

Published in Buzz
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