Michael R. Hudson


Saturday morning I woke up, turned on my tablet and was hit square in the face, on Facebook, by the news that Mr. Michael R. Hudson was dead. He had suddenly become ill and died Friday night.

And I couldn’t and still can’t avoid tears at the thougt.

We never met in person.

We never were friends or great buddies.

A couple of time, we “met” as reader (me) and proud publisher (him), and I couldn’t but love his ebooks.

Then, we met as two professionals meeting each other on the job, him as an editor and publisher, me as a writer submitting for an anthology of his. I asked a bunch of questions, he gave me info and a time frame for me to translate my story from Italian to English. In the end, my story did not make it into the anthology, just to the shortlist, but he was damn encouraging and nice about it.

It was just a few interactions, but they were enough to give me the sense Mr. Hudson was a nice man, a person who loved his job and its final product, who would encourage others. Who loved to make the world of the written world a better, more exciting place.

As I’m writing this, I still can’t accept the news. I feel like I lost a relative I didn’t know well nor meet often, but whom I loved and cared for anyway. I have a feeling of possibilities lost forever, of the world being a little poorer because of this loss.

So, farewell, Michael. I’m sorry we never had the chance to interact more. May your work live on forever. May your Raven’s Head Press live long and prosper even without you.

The damsel in distress has reached the expiration date, thank you very much


Gothic... yup...

Gothic… you know… something something pointed arches…

I’ve been thinking about the subject of this post for months, on and off and on again.
It’s the kind of thought I will continue to ruminate on at length, until I find the spark to start writing.

The spark came this evening, while talking with some trusted friends in a secluded and comfy spot of Facebook.
It was the kind of chitchatting that starts with the question “why the fuck do they call that awful, cliché-ridden paranormal romance gothic novel?” and then jumps to the abundance of cliché about women packed by the entertainment world; and to how infuriating it is to be a female writer who feels (and knows) that the audience expects her to write sugarcoated romantic bullshit; just to end up with the bedazzled question “what the fuck does she mean by make your lesbian main character a bit more lesbian?!”

It’s the kind of chitchat that ends up being a great venting opportunity and the source of some food for the mind.
The fact it fueled my own ruminations is just a bonus. Continua a leggere

Thunder and lightning


acheron booksDuring my Christmas holidays I had the pleasure of reading the first novel written by my friend Davide.
He worked on it for a long time and chitchatted about it on his blog at length. By the time the book was actually published, it felt like some distant relative about whom you know lots of weird and funny stories, even if you never met the guy in person.

the-ministry-of-thunder_72Then, when Acheron Books opened up shop and published The Ministry of Thunder, I finally met the guy, well, the guys and gals, in person.
And it was better than the weird and funny stories. Continua a leggere

Mookie and Nora


The Blue Blazes - coverAuthor: Chuck Wendig
Title: The Blue Blazes
Publisher: Angry Robots
Pages: 400
Cover art by Joey HiFi
S
ummary: It was 1976 when a crew of the Sandhogs, digging a tunnel 800 feet under Manhattan, pierced into the Underworld. Since then, our world has met the Great Below, and the two have started preying on each other, hidden from the public eye.
Mookie Pearl is an enforcer for the biggest, and sole, crime organization of New York, and he rides the border between criminal underworld and supernatural Underworld. He oversees the extraction of a mystical drug and kicks the human or supernatural asses he is told, no question asked. But when the foundations of the Organization start to crumble and his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, Mookie will have to fight like he never did, and find the truth behind the mess he is finding himself in.

They have a name for it, in myth. Katabasis. The descent. To descend. Mythically speaking, into the Underworld – the so-called “Harrowing of Hell.” […] And so it is with the Underworld: you may enter its depths and walk into the dark, but something is always taken from you. And it remains ever-uncertain whether your entrance will be mirrored again by your escape.

the blue blazes 3The morning of my 31st birthday I received two books as b-day gifts.
The first book was a novel by a friend of mine, an urban fantasy set in Milan. The female lead was a girl named Lena, short for Eleonora.
The second one, was an urban fantasy novel set in New York; one of the main character of this second novel was a girl named Nora, short for Eleanor.
Funny coincidence, isn’t it?

What I loved about The Blue Blazes is the fact it has at least two hearts.

The first is also the most blatantly evident one: it’s a great story with a fierce rhythm and it’s choke-full of action, monsters, oddities, fear, awe, craziness. Each chapter kicks off with an excerpts from the Journal of John Atticus Oakes, a guy who ventured in the pits of the Great Below aiming to chart it all (and never came back); each excerpt is a little touch of genius, and I loved each and every one of them, because they explained, and hinted, and teased, and prepared the ground for what was coming.
Read this book and you’ll find yourselves chin deep in a scheme that involves the biggest (and only) crime organization of N.Y., goblins, nagas, trogbodies, daemons, undead, thematic gangs like the roller derby Get-Em Girls, and even some almost-forgotten, extremely powerful entities trapped beyond the reach of man.
You’ll find yourselves unable to put down the book because Mr. Wendig’s writing is so good, his plot so tense, the rhythm so pressing, you’ll decide you need to read another page, another line, just the end of this chapter, damnit!, now I have to know what happens to Mookie in the next chapter.

the blue blazes 4And all the while, you’ll wade through the second heart of the novel: its characters, their complexity and humanity.
I could relate so much with Mookie, in all of his pride, and awkwardness, and hurt feelings, and loyalty.
And I could relate maybe even more with Nora; and since she’s written so well, since she acts as a real person would act and think, I could read all the true motives and issues hidden behind her façade, right since her second appearance. I was in her position, I know how it feels (minus all the goblins, supernatural drugs and murders).
And I loved Skelly, and the old goat Werth, and Karyn, and Burnsy: what a fantastic cast of support characters!
Not to mention the villains!
And the Vollrath! Gee, they creep me out at the mere thought!the blue blazes 2

To sum this rambling up, The Blue Blazes is a great book. It has everything I expected and a load more.
It is highly recommended, period.

Now go and buy it! Quick!

And maybe you’ll find yourselves thinking, as I did, that this story would be wonderful if moved to the comic book format…
I can almost see the gobbos and their bone pyramids, and Mookie stalking a tunnel, meat cleaver in hand, and the Blue, blazing along the edges of the panels. Man, it would look great, I swear!

Grimspace – Ann Aguirre


Attenzione: questa recensione va in onda a blog unificati su Il Futuro è Tornato. Così, per chi la volesse in italiano.

***

copertina GrimspaceAuthor: Ann Aguirre
Title: Grimspace
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 312
Price: 6,03 euros (paperback) or 4,23 euros (ebook)
Cover art by Scott Fischer

Try to describe grimspace for us.
At parties, when everyone’s knocked back a few, there’s always someone who asks me to do that. They don’t seem to understand, it’s like trying to define red for a blind man. If you’re not a jumper, then you’re blind to the most extraordinary, primordial colors. And nothing I say will help you understand.
The name’s misleading. Grimspace means inexorable, implacable. Not to be appeased. You see, grimspace will have its due from all who traverse it. But it’s beautiful there, or we wouldn’t be drawn back, time and again, driven on by a jones stronger than anything mankind could ever devise. Jumpers burn out smiling for a reason.

In a future that sees humanity expanding through space, clonizing planets, enslaving or fighting alien races and installing space station here and there, still no FTL drive has been built yet.
Because there’s something better.
There’s grimspace, a secondary space that a rightly equipped ship can access only thanks to its jumper, and in which only jumpers can navigate thanks to beacons positioned, eons before humanity, by someone or something.
Sirantha Jax is a jumper. She’s got the j-gene and she’s good at her work. More: she’s longevous, because most jumpers burn out way before reaching 500 successful jumps and 14 years of service.
Except, Jax’s immaculate record just got stained. Sole survivor of a crash that killed also her pilot and lover, she can’t remember the accident, and the psychiatric therapy her employer wants for her is not going as it should.
When a stranger enters her holding cell and asks her to chose between fleeing or be broken by the Corp she works for, Jax opts for excaping. From there on, it will be a fast-paced sequence of adventures, unexpected encounters and emotions.

Ann AguirreAnn Aguirre is an American author with a wide range of writing, from urban fantasy to science fiction, through young adult, and “Grimspace” is the first book of a series of six that she defines “romantic science fiction”. And it’s a fitting label.
In writing this novel, the author put together a lot of ingredients: there’s grimspace and the Corp that monopolizes the access to it; alien civilizations, both advanced and not-so-advanced; psychic powers and Chi-masters (seriously); space ships and crash landings; self-proclaimed kings, mercenaries and bounty hunters; exotic and deadly fauna; but also that vague nod to Earth as a nearly dead planet; savage worlds, with tribal political structures, pitted against bureaucratized yet bucolic planets; limb transplants, fetish bar and also a believable love story.
It could end up a mess, instead the author succeeds at balancing it all, action, respite, moments of psychological depth and those lovely exposition snippets that never sound forced, due to the voice of Jax resounding loud and clear in there too.

Jax falls into the strong female characters category, but she never sounds predictable.
As a jumper, she has always had a privileged life, and, as the story proceeds, she’ll understand she is a spoiled thirty-something, quite ignorant about life outside the Corp. She’ll also understand that she needs to grow up and change if she wanna survive her new life.
She’ll do stupid things and brave things, she’ll complicate the mess she’s in and help solve the situations.
She’s a witty person, one of those narrators who boast a lot of sarcasm and overconfidence, but she does it in a charming way, without hiding to herself (or the reader) when wits are just an armor.
By her side, a varied cast of supporting characters that it’s hard not to love, from the reluctant pilot March, to the solid, bossy presence of Dina (whom I love!), to Saul and Loras.

The plot flows smoothly, grabs you with the first chapter and never lets go through conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, gunfight, hasty escapes and heartfelt decisions.
The science-fiction side of the novel is solid and funny, the romantic one is strong but never boggles the plot with the usual and potentially trite cliché of the genre.
Grimspace is a truly fun read, that left me with the need to know what Ms. Aguirre (and the future) hold for her cast in the other volumes, and whether the author will keep the aforementioned balance in the elements of the universe she created.

Copyright by Scott M. Fischer

Copyright by Scott M. Fischer

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