Saturday, December 4, 2010

Amazon's Sci-Fi and Fantasy 2010 - a follow-up

A few weeks ago I gushed over some of the titles named by Amazon as the best of 2010. I finally got my hands on two of them...sort of. Both I recommend.

Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion did not fail me. I thought I would find it surreal, dark, and confusing, and it certainly was. However, there are factors in its favour, should you wish to try something less mainstream. Its pacing, for example, flowed like white water rapids. I was quickly submerged in the narrative of a man way whose insanity was justified by his mechanized reality. With the bitterness that comes from hindsight, narrator and failed greeting-card writer Harold Winslow tells the tale of how he, like every other poor sap on this Earth, got his fondest wish, and all the turmoil that follows. The rambling of his exposition lies somewhere between poetry, stream of consciousness, and madness.

Now the 'sort of'. Also making Amazon's list was a sequel (which is cruel to recommend without having perused the original title).

Richard Kadrey's first book, Sandman Slim, deserves just as much acknowledgment. Like most urban fantasy books, our hero isn't wholly human, he fights against strange, insurmountable forces, and he struggles with his own identity. Unlike most urban fantasy books, our many-named hero is a murderous, psychopathic, hyper-magical Hell-escapee looking for bloody vengeance against the circle of 'friends' who betrayed him and his girl. The insurmountable forces he...surmounts...include skinheads, angels (fallen, misplaced or reassigned), Homeland security, demonic generals, school-girl fetishists, cliche cultists, God's chaos monsters, the ghost of his dead girlfriend, and his new Blackberry. But rarely does our many-named protagonist question himself and his motives. He fought his way back from Hell, and nothing, including his true friends' better judgment, will get in his way.

The sequel, Kill the Dead, is on order and already on my wish list.

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