Tag Archives: #Amnesia

Cornell, Paul: London Falling (James Quill I) (2012)

London Falling

I think the novel actually has a few things in common with Mary’s Glamour books, that, while not realising it at the time, I’d been influenced by her in the writing of it. The force our heroes encounter is ‘the paramilitary wing of feng shui’, something similar to the Psychogeography of the Situationist movement, the power of buildings and landscape (in this case, London) to ‘remember’ beings and events. In other words, it looks and feels like magic, but my inclination (and the police instinct of my leads) is to pick that concept apart, to ask what that means. So, actually, rather as becomes clear of Mary’s series in Glamour in Glass, London Falling is an SF novel wearing another genre’s clothes. It’s actually a ‘clever people solve a problem’ book, in the tradition established by SF editor John W. Campbell. (Paul Cornell)

There is a section in London Falling where Sefton explains the whole concept of “remembering”. You should read it. The concept is rather thought-provoking and essential to the character of Mara Losley and her cat.

Mara Losley is a person whose road was paved with the best of intentions. Then the rule of unintended consequences stepped in, and Mara was drawn onto a much darker path than she had started out on. We meet her at her darkest. As with all good gruesome characters, Mara lets nothing stand in the way of her goals and her beloved team West Ham United F.C.

I feel the need to get this off my chest right away, however small that chest might be. Football fans are insane. Each and every one of them. Completely and utterly bonkers. Seriously. Insane. It doesn’t matter if we are talking US sissy football or European proper football. ALL football fans are deranged. Mara Losley just takes her fandom to another level. She shines in her madness. There is no doubt in her mind that WHUFC is the bestest team in the universe and any player daring enough to challenge that belief is in for a rough time. The player and the sacrifices needed for his punishment.

Paul Cornell has written a wonderfully gruesome antagonist. Mara Losley has spent years upon years honing her creepiness and people’s forgetting and remembering when it comes to who she is. Now all of that work is in danger. And all because of the Smiling Man and his shenanigans.

I loved DS Quill. He heads his team of four and the four of them have to solve the riddle of what happened to Rob Toshack, the crime lord supreme of London. All of a sudden the guy exploded in a shower of blood. Blood everywhere in the interrogation room. On the officers, Mr. Toshack’s brief and the furniture. Four liters can cover a lot of space. Mr. Cornell’s goriness is perfect in its gooey, disgusting and awful description. I’m guessing some of the readers out there will find it too much.

Back to DS Quill. Why him and not one of the others? At the beginning Quill seems like an utter piss-pot. Then Cornell begins opening the cover of Quill’s head. Suddenly I find myself slowly but surely driven to accepting that my suspicions about him are about to come true. Shudder. What a fate! He isn’t the only one to have a terrible shadow hanging over him but he is the one whose remembering/forgetting I understand best. And poor Harry. What a father to have.

Second Sight is something a lot of people think they want to have. As London Falling demonstrates, the reality of Sight is not the blessing some might believe it to be. When the foursome of Quill, Ross, Costain and Sefton receive their curse all at the same time, they will have to dig deep into themselves to manage the trauma that follows. That trauma is intense and it takes a while for each of the four to realize that they are not going mad.

A thanks to Paul Cornell for writing London Falling and another thanks to Suzanne McLeod for recommending this series.


Reviews:


London Falling

  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230763219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230763210
  • ASIN: B00AER81ZU

Sipe, Marion: A Servant In This House (2011)

A Servant in This House
Cover design by Marion Sipe
Cover art by Andy Cart and Blackburn Photo

In A Servant In This House we find a worried Chancellor Toviani, the memory-impaired servant Rana, a greedy and murderous Duchess of Bordevere (Marcalli De’Resario), an ill Princess Denya, a murdered King and Princess and a country, Selari, needing a new monarch. Selari gets it monarch in the duchess and the servant Rani’s days become more difficult. It seems that for some reason the duchess is on the hunt for her. Rani finds herself terrified of what would happen if the duchess finds her.

Memory-loss, amnesia, is a strange phenomenon. Sometimes amnesia is brought on by severe trauma. A person risks losing memory of parts of or all of their lives before that event. Rani is going through such a memory loss and almost from the first paragraph we understand who she must be. But that does not detract from the appeal of this story.

As I was supposed to, I found myself rooting for Rani throughout the short story. I wanted her to figure out what was going on but also found myself understanding why she would flee from remembering. Remembering would mean confronting her grief and taking upon herself the mantle she needed to. Instead being “just” a servant, one who is told what to do and where to do it, was a comfortable place for her to be.

The ending fit with the tone of Sipe’s story. Lately, I seem to be reading stories that have sad undertones. If you think about the name of my blog, it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of the darker side of life and A Servant In This House is a story that illustrates that side.

A Servant In This House does not seem to be a short-story written for young adults, but its contents are about as “safe” as an author can make a fantasy story.


Beck, Ian: Pastworld (2009)

7156_TB_Pastworld.indd
Cover image by David Calub

Pastworld is a Young Adult dystopian, steam-punkish and semi-violent look at what could happen when the future is so bored with itself it seeks relief in pretending to travel to the past. Pastworld is the creation of such a future.

Not all participants know that it is all pretense. Eve is one such character. One of our main mysteries in Pastworld is the reason for Eve’s short memory. Why does she only remember events from the past two years? Why is she being kept hidden in Pastworld? Why does her protector/jailer/friend Jack get killed while keeping her from public attention? These are all questions that are answered.

Eve is 17 years old. I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 17 and decide if Eve is a proper representative of a Victorian 17-year-old young woman with an apparent memory loss. I have a couple of biographies to lean on (not the memory loss part). Girls of a certain class were pretty sheltered back in the day. They were not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone. Accepted interests beyond home and family were nature. Education was so, so. They were taught how to read, some maths, etiquette, embroidery, housekeeping and painting. I guess with that as a guide, Eve was kind of representative for that group.

When Jack gets more and more eccentric after a mysterious person comes sniffing after Eve, Eve runs for her life. Quite stereotypically she decides that the circus must be the place to go. And she does – Jago’s Acclaimed Pandemonium Show.

In Buckland Corp. Comm. Center Sgt Charles Catchpole becomes aware that something is afoot in Pastworld. A murderer has returned (the Phantom), one who leaves his victims dismembered and sometimes headless. One can certainly see how this would keep his minions in line and whet the appetite of the Scotland Yard.

Much of what we see in Ian Beck’s novel seems probable. 2048 is in 35 years and quite a bit could happen in that time. We already have plenty of theme parks around the world. Making a city into one might not be the stretch I would like to think it is.


Reviews:



Violante, Maria: Hunting the Five (La Roca Chronicles) (2011)

Hunting the Five
Cover art by Blake Eason

I must say I loved what the reviewer Justin Robinson-Prickett said of Hunting the Five:

“The classic pulps are oppressively masculine, chock full of male wish fulfillment. That’s all well and good for guys who want to read two-fisted tales of adventure.  But where are the ladies to turn?  Well, now they have something to scratch that itch.”

It is true that the fantasy pulp market has been mainly written by and probably for males. While using many of the same tools as the masculine species in her writing, Maria Violante has managed to give her protagonist, De La Roca, her own twist. There is plenty of violence in Hunting the Five but is wholly appropriate in its setting.

I do not understand why some reviewers have found the first chapter out of place. Perhaps it has been changed since the time of their reviews or perhaps I just feel differently about her need to get her gun back. Her methods of achieving her goals are anything but gentle but extremely effective.

Alsvior is a fascinating creature. While we see that he has interesting talents there is also a feeling of mystery left behind by the story. Lots of questions in my mind about that horse.

What would it be like to have had to be a mercenary for the Angel for three centuries? 300 years seems an awful long time to pay for whatever you might have done but being told that she has only five kills left before her stay in Hell is over seems like a set-up to me. Something just seems off about that.

De La Roca is something as strange as a demon killing demons for Heaven. How weird is that? She has been told that she is a demon by her personal Angel. Could be, but then again what role would Alsivor play in all of this as he is a tool from heaven. Lots and lots of questions. To me De La Roca seems like a bounty hunter with her soul as the reward for her kills.

Another reviewer felt a Mexican vibe a là Antonio Banderas. That could be. His part in the Mariachi trilogy certain was gritty enough. I think that is what I liked so much about Hunting the Five. Dark and gritty and plenty of action is important ingredients in a novel like this. Hunting the Five is also easy to read. Maria Violante manages to keep herself in the flow for the most part. There are some places where she falls out of it but she manages to pull herself back in.

122 pages isn’t a whole lot but Hunting the Five is after all billed as a novella. Thankfully you can pack a whole lot of fun into 122 pages and Maria Violante has managed to do that.

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  • File Size: 294 KB
  • Print Length: 122 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Airam Publications; 5th edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Q4LZPE

First chapter in audio

Monk, Devon: Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom) (2009)

Cover art by Larry Rostant and Roc

In Magic in the Blood Devon Monk continues to provide us with excellent entertainment. Devon Monk manages to show us a three-dimensional Allie Beckstrom. But Allie is not alone in her three-dimensionality. Her side-kicks also have a feeling of life to to them. This is quite a talent for an author.

As we saw in Magic to the Bone, one of the consequences of using magic in this version of Portland is memory loss. Allie has forgotten the previous couple of weeks – including who Zayvion is. This book deals with what happens when you forget important events in your life, having to get to know friends all over again. I guess that is what it must be like to be senile.

Someone has gone missing. Allie is asked by the police’s magic enforcement division to help on the case. It seems their own investigators are turning up dead while investigating the case.

Along with all of this Allie is beginning to see and hear things that cannot be explained. She wonders if she is going crazy.

Wright, Melissa: Pieces of Eight (Frey Saga)

Cover art by Robin Ludwig

Pieces of Eight is the second book of the Frey Saga trilogy. What we saw in Frey was someone whose world had been turned upside down. What she thought had been self-evident truths, weren’t. For some reason she was hunted as the witches of “the good ol’ days” were.

When we begin Pieces of Eight Frey realises just how little she knows about who and what she is. But what she thinks she knows is that there are seven other elves who are there to protect her. But even they raise doubts in Frey’s mind. I guess that would be the problem with memory loss. Who do you believe?

In Pieces of Eight the Grand Council is still hunting for Frey because of her supposed abilities. Yet Frey is in no way able to utilise these abilities properly. She is getting better at fighting but magic – not so much. There is plenty of action and frustration in the novel.

Melissa Wright writes well. She gets Frey’s frustration across to me as a reader and her fear of the Grand Council is believable.

Wright, Melissa: Frey (Frey Saga) (2011)

Cover art by Robin Ludwig

In the same manner Catherine M. Wilson writes in minor key, Melissa Wright writes in major. Initially I read Frey because it was a freebie on Kindle. That is not why I continued reading the rest of the trilogy. Some authors just seem to have fun thinking up their stories and writing about them.

Part of the story was rather obvious, but the rest worked out a whole lot better than expected. I think it was the cover that fooled me. The blurb of Frey reads: “Unaware she’s been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she’s sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark starts a fury of changes and she finds herself running from everything she’s ever known.

Hunted by council for practicing dark magic, she is certain she’s been wrongfully accused. She flees, and is forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she begins to suspect all is not as it seems.”

The first sentence kind of sets the tone for the rest of the novel and kind of demonstrates what I mean by writing in major key: “Crap!” I complained as I stubbed my toe on a root, one of the pitfalls of living in a tree. It says quite a bit about an author that begins her story like that.

Frey is an interesting character. As she realizes just how lost she is she also reacts in a manner that I could sympathise with. Frey was a fun read and brought me on to the next two books of the trilogy.