Saturday, June 12, 2010

RECOVERING APOLLO 8, Kristine Kathyrn Rusch, Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 316 pages, ISBN: 9781930846623, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Its strange how some books will bring back a memory about where, when or why you remember them. Sometimes they will bring back memories of people, place, and other times. This is one of those books. Kris mentions her days (with Dean Wesley Smith) at Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine and this in turn brought back my memories of being a freelance reviewer for them. I guess that would make me one of those lucky people who was fortunate enough to have Kris as an editor.

But this volume is about her writing, and what a writer she is. Her subject matter may cover the normal topics of science fiction and other genres, but the main memory you take away is the way she approaches the story and her unique vision for the characters.

“Recovering Apollo 8” gives us an alternate history wherein the capsule and its astronauts are lost and one man’s childhood dream to bring them home. “The End of the World” is a tale of reconstruction and an alien encounter that is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. “The Strangeness of the Day” is the story of a lawyer’s encounter with magic that is more than tilting with windmills. “G-Men” is another alternate world tale about J Edgar Hoover and his little secret. Other tales fill out the volume including “Diving into the Wreck” which was the inspiration for her novel of the same name.

This is a memorable volume of tremendous stories. If you don’t already have memories of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, be prepared to make some. I assure you they will be good ones.

THRILLERS: 100 Must Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, Oceanview, $27.95, 378 pages, ISBN: 9781933515564, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

What we have here is a book about books. The International Thriller Writers have picked out the 100 most interesting stories and books that have added something to the genre. Each title mentioned is interesting and each essay by the ITW authors explains why it was picked and the reasoning behind their choice.

They chose “Theseus and the Minotaur” as the first thriller and work their way through time and stories such as “Beowulf”, “Macbeth”, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Poe, Verne, Welles, Burroughs, Doc Savage, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and many other classics in the field until finishing up with The Da Vinci Code.

The field is well covered and widely represented. I was amazed at the number of the books that I had read and picked up some I had missed.

This is a guide to the genre and gives you plenty of places to find some new reading material. Many of the books are classics in the truest sense of the word. Don’t let this one get past you; it’s a reference work that demands a place on your shelf.

STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER: The Complete Concordance, Robin Furth, Cemetery Dance, $75, signed, numbered, limited to 2000 copies, 864 pages, ISBN: 9781587671586, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Robin Furth is Stephen King’s Dark Tower research assistant and it was her job to keep the people, places and facts straight for King and now that research is available to those of us who have been on that journey since October 1978 when “The Gunslinger” appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. Who among us knew what this fictional creation would do to the reading public in general and the King fans in particular. I knew it was a damn fine story and have drifted with the flow in order to get to the end of the story and see Roland reach the end of his quest.

Furth has put together a list of people, places, and other unusual items to show the vast reaches of King’s magnum Opus. There are approximately 500 copies of this remaining and if you are one of us who wants to be in the know, this is the volume you need.

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