Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Reviews

DRIVEN, James Sallis, Poisoned Pen Press, $19.95, 158 pages, ISBN: 9781464200106, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is the follow-up adventure to DRIVE, which has been converted to a successful movie. At the end of DRIVE, Driver has decided to get out of the business and put his past behind him. We all know how that usually turns out.

It has been seven years and Driver has become Paul West and settled in Phoenix where his business is successful. He and his fiancée are walking down the street on a Saturday morning when they are attacked. Driver manages to take them both out, but discovers that Elsa, his fiancée, has been killed.

Driver enlists the aid of a friend from Desert Storm and spends the remainder of the book settling the account for Elsa. He makes no qualms in leaving a trail of bodies in order to complete his mission.

DRIVEN is a 1940s era noir story with all the trappings told in the settings of today. Sallis has written a mile a minute story that you move through like Driver handles his car at 120 mph. Be prepared to read this at one sitting. Be sure to buckle your seat belt.

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion, While Mosley, Tor, May 8 2012, $24.99, ISBN: 9780765330086, reviewed by Harriet Klauser.

“The Gift of Fire” - Prometheus escapes from Zeus’ divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals. Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower. Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift. Cops greet him by beating him. Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city. After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

“On the Head of a Pin” - At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming. Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today. However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind’s relatively short and low stature in the universe. This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang. Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

The Hot Gate, John Ringo, Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99, ISBN: 9781451638189, Harriet Klausner.

In the outer Solar System, the orbital gates appear as a trading boom for mankind and the Grtul, but the Horvath arrive in warships conquering Terra (see Live Free or Die). As humanity quickly teetered on the brink of extinction, tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invaders from the Sol System. However, an even more dangerous threat entered the system as the reptilian Rangora began a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg (see Citadel).

Though earthlings have battled back, the threat remains ominous. To survive and thrive they must go where no one has dared ventured before: into the heart of the Rangora horde. Tyler Vernon and his unit aboard Troy begin the suicidal counter assault.

The latest Troy Rising storyline starts slow with a deep but irrelevant look into relationships in various cultures before finally turning back into the war of the solar systems. When the plot returns to its military science fiction theme, the tale goes into hyperspeed as readers anticipate the deadly confrontation that affirms Stalin’s commentary: "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die its statistics.”

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