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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 13:35

Metafictional Miracles'

New novel offers insight into the nature of truth

Just how true must something be in order to be considered 'truth'? And what makes one truth truer than another?

These are the kinds of questions that sit at the center of 'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles' (Viking; $26.95), the latest novel from acclaimed author (and Waterville resident) Ron Currie Jr. Through one man's physical, intellectual and emotional quests, the reader is swept up into a tale of love and loss - and yes, the nature of truth - told in a unique voice.

Published in Buzz
Maine author's second historical mystery an even stronger offering

Last year, Maine author Kieran Shields blew me away with his debut novel 'The Truth of All Things;' I even included it in my 'Best Reads of 2012.' It was a wonderfully constructed historical mystery populated by a cast of fascinating characters.

His latest book is 'A Study in Revenge' (Crown, $25). In it, we once again pay a visit to the turn-of-the-century Portland that Shields has meticulously created. We also get to become reacquainted with his notable creations - Portland policeman Archie Lean and the indefatigable detective Perceval Grey.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 15:46

A future trip on the Great North Road'

Science fiction epic offers snapshot of humanity's future

The science fiction epic has become an increasingly rare thing. The genre has become a world of multi-book storylines and ongoing series to its ultimate benefit, truth be told. However, there is no reading experience quite like the well-done inches-thick doorstop of a sci-fi novel. Sometimes, you just crave 1,000 pages of future thriller.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 14:33

Turtledove continues Supervolcano' series

Second book carries on story of disaster's aftermath

Science fiction and fantasy have a tendency toward the epic. That tendency means that many authors within those genres will create extended series of three or more books to tell their single story. Sometimes, these series focus on a single character or event. Other times, they are more exercises in world-building.

Few authors exhibit a mastery of the series quite like Harry Turtledove.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:09

Mystic mysteries in the City of Dark Magic'

Fantasy thriller blends and transcends genres

Prague is a city of mysteries. While many European cities have histories filled with intrigue and mysticism, Prague might well surpass them all. It was once a place of vast wealth and cultural depth; even today, after years of damage done by Nazis and communists, it remains a place of significance.

And according to Magnus Flyte, Prague is also the 'City of Dark Magic' (Penguin, $16). Flyte the shared pseudonym of writers Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch has taken this city that has been home to royalty and rabble and alchemists and artists and constructed a tale of mystical mystery and intrigue.

Published in Buzz
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:39

The Curious Steambox Affair' a near miss

Steampunk mystery never quite finds its feet

The relative popularity of steampunk as a literary genre makes a good deal of sense. It combines the romanticism of the Victorian era with the trappings of science fiction, resulting in a mash-up to delight history buffs and sci-fi fans alike. The possibilities of a world where major scientific advances are made with the power of steam are myriad.

Of course, having a lot of directions in which to go also means that there are a lot of directions not worth going.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 19:08

Mysteries on the moon The Cassandra Project'

Sci-fi novel offers space race conspiracies

What if we went to the moon before we went to the moon? That is, what if Neil Armstrong wasn't the first?

That's the central conceit of 'The Cassandra Project' (ACE, $25.95), a team-up offering from science fiction mainstays Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick.

The year is 2019. Jerry Culpepper is the main spokesperson for a rapidly deteriorating NASA; the government has been increasingly less interested in funding the sort of blue sky science that the Agency does. The Space Age has lost its luster - the shuttle program is shut down, orbiting space stations are considered boring and the logistics of a manned Mars mission remain inscrutable.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 13:41

Tom Wolfe returns with Back to Blood'

Miami stars in author's first novel in seven years

One of the masters is back in business.

In an age of hyperbole, it's easy to throw around a term like 'literary icon.' However, there are precious few authors who genuinely deserve such a title. Tom Wolfe is such an author. While perhaps best known for groundbreaking non-fiction works such as 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test' and 'The Right Stuff,' Wolfe has also written masterful novels that turn his critical eye on the social dynamics of New York City ('Bonfire of the Vanities') and Atlanta ('A Man in Full'), as well as private university life ('I am Charlotte Simmons').

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 14:45

Meeting Strangers on the Beach'

Maine native pens engaging, entertaining thriller

It's easy to tell when an author sets a novel in a place for which he or she has a genuine affection. When that love of place is there, it informs the entire piece with truth and honesty that makes the narrative really come to life.

Author Josh Pahigian clearly carries that sort of affection for Old Orchard Beach, the Maine tourist town that serves as the backdrop to his novel 'Strangers on the Beach.'

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 14:57

When humor meets horror

This Book is Full of Spiders' transcends its genre

What if the people of the world were slowly being infected by parasitic brain spiders? Spiders that burrowed their way in and waited until the proper moment to simply take complete control of their hosts (with monstrous consequences)? Spiders that no one could even see?

No one but you.

Published in Buzz
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