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Book Probe: Children of the Different, Nethergrim, Dreadwillow Carse
Reviewed by Various RevSF Artists, @RevolutionSF, © 2016

Format: Book
Review Date:   June 08, 2016

Read! GROW LARGE WITH BOOKS. Book Probe helps you do that. Links to buy are in the titles.

Stargate by Pauline Gedge

Stargate is a reissue of a 1982 book, and making it available to new audiences is an excellent thing. Writer Pauline Gedge creates a cosmology of characters, then pits them against each other.

It reminds me of Roger Zelazny, with characters outside the realm of humdrum humanity, but imbued with emotional weight.

This reissue will open a whole new shelf of books for readers who weren't familiar with Gedge's work.

Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

Preview! This one doesn't come out until September. But I need it right now. S.C. Flynn's Children of the Different takes place in Australia, where a disease decimates the population. Kids emerge either with mental powers or as cannibal monsters.

Clearly this is a labor of love for Flynn, judging by his site, SCy-Fy.

It reminds me very much of one of my favorite role-playing games, Gamma World. For Flynn to put gun-toting rabbits like in Gamma World n this book is probably out of the question, but I just thought I would ask.

Genesis by Matt K. Turner

"Despite being thoroughly disproved in two bar fights, his brain fully believed he could dispatch six men with nothing but a pool cue."

This one is a fun book that behaves like a pilot for a TV series. And by that I mean, I totally dig it and can't wait to see -- I mean read -- more.

A guy doesn't recall ever being sick, and his friend thinks he's a robot. Naturally, an evil corporation wants control of him. It's kind of their thing.

The dialogue is quotable all day long, including when his friend tells the hero "You're the culmination of centuries of the desire to take the power of creation in our grubby little hands and say 'How do you like them apples?'"

The power of language is an underlying theme of the book, which goes along with my praise for the book's dialogue. I dig the inspiring ending, and the thrilling adventure that leads up to it.

The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

Starting into a fantasy book series from the beginning is a good time. Familiar tropes and creatures and cliches are what it's all about. What it's most about is a deep, detailed world that you, the reader, will be enthralled to read about. Nethergrim does that. And best of all, it starts out with a map. That tells me that the writer has thought way too much about the world he's placing his characters in.

The Nethergrim is good, old-fashioned fantasy, with really good good guys and really bad bad guys, spells and knights and wizards. It's good stuff.

The Skeleth by Matthew Jobin

I read this and Nethergrim, the first book in Matthew Jobin's series, back to back. I also had 20-sided dice nearby. I didn't really need them. The old-school fantasy adventure story just seemed to call for it.

This one is thicker than book 1, which means one thing: BIGGER MAP. One place on the map reads “Hundredthorn,” and one character is named Isembard.

There is nothing self-conscious about how this book nails all the high points of classic fantasy. This reads like the writer was giggling to himself as he wrote each page. “Dude. I just put in a a magic fireball.”

This book might be best read behind a Dungeon Master's screen, so no one will see you giggling.

I, Human by John Nelson

I award points from the start because the cover makes this title appear to be “iHuman,” a title that reached its apex with the delightful TV show iCarly a number of human years ago.

But it's “I, Human.” And it can\'t be seen on Nickelodeon, unless they make some very abrupt changes.

It's an intense, brutal hard science-fiction thriller about the divide between technology and spiritualism. It's brought to life in a guy with neural implants amid a society that isn't dealing well with their implants. Emotional breakdowns are the hijinks that ensue when this society uses tech to improve itself.

This book could use another round of copy-editing. One character is introduced as “He's pudgy and smarmy and nobody liked him.” I would prefer to see that acted out in the story than just being told about it.

I'm a copy editor in my real life. In fact, I will gladly copy-edit sci-fi novels, if only to make sure that the contraction “it's” always has the apostrophe. This is my job. I can't un-see it.

Beyond that, it's a very good story. The characters are lived-in and detailed, and the drama plays out while also asking tough questions. That's a rare feat.

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey

Secret of Dreadwillow Carse is a sweet, funny high-fantasy book with female heroes. My daugher loves it. I also love it.

Clearly, Brian Farrey loved writing this book. The details, the imagery, the characters within it jump off the page.

Farrey has created a fantasy world that he needs to revisit. Right now.

I know the book just came out. I don't care. (I could just reread it. That'll do for the moment. Get to work, Farrey!

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