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Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:24

'Triggers' right on target

Too often, when people think about science fiction, their minds immediately go to aliens and far-flung futures and worlds far different than our own. Yes, there is plenty of that, but sci-fi is at its core a genre steeped in ideas.

Robert J. Sawyer understands that. His 'WWW' trilogy is an excellent example of this sort of idea-driven fiction, set in an alternate present that resembles our own in so many ways. His newest book, 'Triggers' (Ace, $25.95), is set in a similar world, although the obstacles to be faced are both smaller and much larger.

President Seth Jerrison is giving a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when he is struck down by an assassin's bullet. Secret Service agent Susan Dawson, along with a number of her colleagues, rush the President to the nearby hospital where Dr. Eric Redekop awaits to perform the surgery that hopefully will save Jerrison's life.

At the same time, Professor Ranjip Singh is in the midst of an experiment. He has built a device that he believes can erase traumatic memories, and with the help of a PTSD-stricken Army private named Kadeem Adams, he is attempting to prove it.

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Maine author's debut an enthralling read

There's something magical about those moments when a book grabs your attention. It can be anything: a clever title, an evocative cover image or a jacket quote from a previously-enjoyed author. And when you've given your attention and picked up that book for a closer examination BOOM! The hook is set.

So it was for me with Maine author Kieran Shields's debut novel 'The Truth of All Things' (Crown, $25). It's a great title. The cover art is intriguing. So I took a look at the inside jacket copy. I was hooked before I was halfway to the bottom.

Archie Lean is a newly-appointed Deputy Marshal for the City of Portland. When he's called in to investigate the death of a prostitute, he is confronted with a body that appears to have been ritualistically murdered, surrounded by a pentagram and pinned to the ground with a pitchfork a killing method traditionally associated with the execution of witches.

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Thursday, 29 March 2012 07:59

Necronomicon

This book is dead to me

EDITOR'S NOTE: (This story is from The Maine Edge's annual April Fools Day edition. As such, you can safely assume that most of it - if not all of it - is totally made-up.)

Abdul Alhazred's latest offering, The Necromonicon ($29.95, R'leya Publishing House), is a complete horror show. Not only does it seem to drive whoever reads it completely insane, it also brings about the horrific End Times by leading people to the homes of the Old Ones.

Parts of this damning book were simply a joy to read. I mean, who but Alhazred would be able to capture the unholy majesty of Those Who Will Consume Us All? His prose is simply inspired during that chapter, and it is almost worth the aeons of torture as the Old Gods consume our very souls.

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Multi-generational novel both epic and intimate

The power of family is a constantly explored theme in the literary world. Telling stories that span generations has long been a favorite undertaking for novelists great and small; Maine resident Peter Behrens is one of those who falls more into the former category. His latest offering is 'The O'Briens' (Pantheon; $25.95), a story that springs from but is no way reliant on his previous work 'The Law of Dreams.'

Our book begins with the O'Brien family struggling their way through a hardscrabble existence in the wilds of western Quebec right around the turn of the 20th century. We watch as young Joe O'Brien comes of age the hard way, slowly and steadily building himself an entrepreneurial empire.

Of course, life is about more than just monetary success. We also watch as Joe builds a family of his own, a family he swears will never have to endure the same hardships that dominated his own youth. However, life is rarely as easy as we feel it should be, and Joe and his family are confronted with an entirely new set of obstacles to their happiness different, yes, but no less difficult because of that.

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Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:01

Fated' a fine urban fantasy

Urban fantasy is a genre whose star has been on the rise over the past decade or so. More and more authors are trying their hand at bringing the magic of sword-and-sorcery to a modern cityscape. Some are successful, but many more are not it's hard to write urban fantasy without coming off as derivative or clichd. I've read a lot of mediocre stuff over the years.

That's why it's exciting when a new book arrives that seems to have potential. 'Fated' (ACE, $7.99), the first book in a new series by Benedict Jacka, is one of those books.

It's modern-day London, just like ours save one small detail there is magic among us. Alex Verus is a diviner; a mage who can see the future. He operates a magic shop in London and not the card-trick, rabbit-hat kind of magic. He's also a bit of a pariah among the magical elite due to some unpleasantness in the past, so he tries his best to just keep his head down and stay out of magic's way.

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Wednesday, 19 October 2011 11:12

'Damned' a Hell of a good time

New Palahniuk book offers a different kind of afterlife

'Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison.'

So begins 'Damned' (Doubleday; $24.95), the latest offering from best-selling author Chuck Palahniuk. And just like that, we're whisked away into a world that is part young adult novel, part John Hughes movieand complete Hell.

As in literal Hell. The place bad people go when they die? Yeah. That one. Only here, it is viewed through the cracked and chaotic lens of Palahniuk's hyperkinetic and warped sensibility. You've never seen the afterlife presented quite like this.

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