Tag Archives: #Freedom

Doctorow, Cory; someone comes to town, someone leaves town; New York, Tor Books, 2005

The clerks who’d tended Alan’s many stores—the used clothing store in the Beaches, the used book-store in the Annex, the collectible tin-toy store in Yorkville, the antique shop on Queen Street—had both benefited from and had their patience tried by Alan’s discursive nature. Alan had pretended never to notice the surreptitious rolling of eyes and twirling fingers aimed templewise among his employees when he got himself warmed up to a good oration, but in truth very little ever escaped his attention. His customers loved his little talks, loved the way he could wax rhapsodic about the tortured prose in a Victorian potboiler, the nearly erotic curve of a beat-up old table leg, the voluminous cuffs of an embroidered silk smoking jacket. The clerks who listened to Alan’s lectures went on to open their own stores all about town, and by and large, they did very well.

He’d put the word out when he bought the house on Wales Avenue to all his protégés: Wooden bookcases! His cell-phone rang every day, bringing news of another wooden bookcase found at this flea market, that thrift store, this rummage sale or estate auction.

Alan (or any name beginning with the initial A) reminds me of myself in so many ways. Not only was my mother a washing-machine, my father a mountain and one of my brothers a zombie, but I also like to have bookshelves full of books. But I want to have read the books. Well, actually, my family isn’t exactly like that, but Alan’s family is. We are similar in other ways as well. Like Alan, I tend to want to offer solutions to problems people have. Even when they haven’t asked for one. Maybe that is one way the Asperger brain works. Our passions often express themselves in the same manner Alan’s renovation of his house followed. I could totally live in a house like that, but would not want to go through all the hassle he did. But I have other areas where I can be as focused as Alan was with his house. Registering everything he ever owned onto a database is something I have known Aspies to do. Another way in which the Aspie brain can work is by following our own set of social rules, rules not generally accepted by neurotypicals. Take Alan’s relationship with his neighbors on Wales Avenue in Toronto, Canada.:

Alan rang the next-door house’s doorbell at eight a.m. He had a bag of coffees from the Greek diner. Five coffees, one for each bicycle locked to the wooden railing on the sagging porch plus one for him.

He waited five minutes, then rang the bell again, holding it down, listening for the sound of footsteps over the muffled jangling of the buzzer. It took two minutes more, he estimated, but he didn’t mind. It was a beautiful summer day, soft and moist and green, and he could already smell the fish market over the mellow brown vapors of the strong coffee.

A young woman in long johns and a baggy tartan T-shirt opened the door. She was excitingly plump, round and a little jiggly, the kind of woman Alan had always gone for. Of course, she was all of twenty-two, and so was certainly not an appropriate romantic interest for him, but she was fun to look at as she ungummed her eyes and worked the sleep out of her voice.

“Yes?” she said through the locked screen door. Her voice brooked no nonsense, which Alan also liked. He’d hire her in a second, if he were still running a shop. He liked to hire sharp kids like her, get to know them, try to winkle out their motives and emotions through observation.

“Good morning!” Alan said. “I’m Alan, and I just moved in next door. I’ve brought coffee!” He hefted his sack in her direction.

“Good morning, Alan,” she said. “Thanks and all, but—”

“Oh, no need to thank me! Just being neighborly. I brought five—one for each of you and one for me.”

Not quite understanding what makes up neurotypicals, and having to stand on the outside looking in, brings with it the danger of being deemed less than human, much like Krishna does with Alan. It does not take much for such a thought to take hold. People who work within healthcare are in particular danger of falling into this trap. As are people within the school system and, I suppose, any kind of bureaucrat.  It is something I have observed happen again and again to people who are dissimilar enough to any given average.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town mixes present and past into a tale of a dysfunctional family and a repressed present. Using any excuse to avoid dwelling on his family’s messed up relationships, Alan is a great example of escapism and dissociation. Only one thing can make him try to face his past and that is his neighbour Mimi. She reminds Alan, and us, of his old sweetheart Marci.  Except for the wings. Bat-like wings that get cut off whenever they reach a certain size. Cut off, that is, until her relationship with Krishna changes.

Marci is part of the story about David and his brothers. Or maybe that is Alan and his brothers. David and Alan are intertwined so tightly that only one apparent recourse seems open to the brothers. Or could something perhaps change this doomed relationship?

David (or any name starting with D) is the brother wronged by the rest. We find out how as the story moves along, but the reason is a common one in sibling relationships. Suffice it to say that being wronged had left its marks on him and his anger is most definitely deserved. Alan was the first of eight brothers. While the Golems tried to help, Alan ended up being the one who had to take care of his younger brothers. B and C had been easy to take care of.

Billy, the fortune-teller, had been born with a quiet wisdom, an eerie solemnity that had made him easy for the young Alan to care for.

Carlos, the island, had crawled out of their mother’s womb and pulled himself to the cave mouth and up the face of their father, lying there for ten years, accreting until he was ready to push off on his own.

However, the needs of the other four brothers were much more difficult for a child to understand.

Daniel had been a hateful child from the day he was born. He was colicky, and his screams echoed through their father’s caverns. He screamed from the moment he emerged and Alan tipped him over and toweled him gently dry and he didn’t stop for an entire year.

It is difficult to love colicky and needy children. Daniel had been both. Plus his first reaction to most things was violence. Some years later, Edward, Fredrik and George came along with one month between them.

Ed was working on his suspenders, then unbuttoning his shirt and dropping his pants, so that he stood in grimy jockeys with his slick, tight, hairy belly before Alan. He tipped himself over, and then Alan was face-to-face with Freddy, who was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts with blue and white stripes. Freddy was scowling comically, and Alan hid a grin behind his hand.

Freddy tipped to one side and there was George, short and delicately formed and pale as a frozen french fry. He grabbed Freddy’s hips like handles and scrambled out of him, springing into the air and coming down on the balls of his feet, holding his soccer-ball-sized gut over his Hulk Underoos.

What began as a relationship where their need for each other comforted them, slowly deteriorated into one of resentment and possibly hate. Doctorow does a great job of creating brothers that represent their role in their family’s dysfunction through their bodies and minds.

In spite of all of the commentary I have read, Someone comes to town is not particularly unusual for a reader of science fiction and fantasy. But it is well-written and well-edited and flows, even through the geeky parts. Retro-techno junkies are always fun.  Recommended.


Reviews:


Available at:


Translations:

Turner, Tej; Dinnusos Rises (2017)

I recommend reading The Janus Cycle before you continue with Dinnusos Rises. Dinnusos continues some of the stories from it. Toward the end of The Janus Cycle, we read:

“… Janus was once this great place where nobody gave a fuck and you could just have fun, but then some bloody kids who don’t have a clue tried to steal your vibe.”…

“You just need to move on, he declared. “Look around you – this, what we have here tonight – isn’t it that feeling, that craziness you were looking for? You are Janus. Let those kids keep the empty shell. You can make a new one!” (The Janus Cycle, p. 217)

That place is, Dinnusos.

“… Victorian, with high ceilings and sash windows. It’s big, too. … If the main bar ever gets too rowdy and you fancy some quiet, there’s a whole labyrinth of rooms on the upper floors you can get lost in. One of the city’s old canal ways runs along the back of the building.” (Dinnusos, p. 14)

You can find Dinnusos in Yesterville:

“A place of urban decay and broken streetlamps. Vagrants and outcasts. Faded signposts and overgrown gardens. Thrifty means and humble dreams.” (Dinnusos, p. 14)

Dinnusos is owned by Neal. Neal and Tristan became a couple in The Janus Cycle. Tristan is a painter and he has painted murals on most of Dinnusos’ walls, murals that magically change during the story behaving as prophetic tools.

We reconnect with the paranormal members of Sunset Haze: Patrick (violin+half-fey), Faye (flute+dream walker), Jack (acoustic guitar+half-fey), and Ellen/Jessica (voice+medium/ghost). Neal lets them practice in one of the club’s rooms in exchange for the occasional session downstairs. Their abilities draw people. We also reconnect with Tilly, Pandora and Frelia.

Wilder Mann mit Wappenschild copper engraving by Martin Schongauer

Tej Turner has used the same writing style he used in The Janus Cycle. Each chapter is told from a different person’s point of view. That lets us catch up with the life of the individual and keeps the story going at the same time. Taxus Baccus (TB) is an environmental organization led by Jardair, Jack’s wuduwāsa father (Turner plays with the Greek and Roman pantheons throughout the story). Until TB arrived at Jack’s house, Jack and his pet squirrel, Nuttles, lived on their own. Their lives go from quiet to chaotic in a matter of hours. TB travels from town to town addressing, in their own way, environmental issues each town struggles with. Tej Turner uses Taxus Baccus to address the fragility of our supposed right to free speech and the right to live our lives as we wish.

“It seems to me that this country is run by sociopaths with gloating expressions and oily hair. They wander around Westminster with their leather briefcases, selling off public assets to their pals from boarding school and members of their extended family who have vested interests. All the while, class war is waged through an ever-encroaching succession of draconian legislations. They will not rest until they have rounded up everyone into the rat race because they, by fortune of birth, are the big cats. The the more rats there are, the more they have to dig their paws into.” (Dinnusos, p 62)

Dinnusos Rising contends that it we, the general populace, make such methods possible through our complacency and docility. The percentage of people who turn up for various elections certainly seem to agree with that contention. Westminster uses various media to pimp their message to the public

“… the news channels and tabloids were doing their utmost to demonise us. Footage and photos were being carefully selected, and it seemed their cameras only had spare film for the more outrageous members f the movements … They never told the public why were were doing the things we were doing. They made us seem like rebels without a cause.” … (Dinnusos, p. 72)

Through The National Conciliation Act, Westminster intends to cement the corporatocracy we see strengthening its hooks into various governments around the world.

“Later on we will be interviewing MP, Mr. Ben Fitzgerald, to see if he can shed any light upon rumours Westminster is considering bringing in new legislation which will grant authorities more power to dismantle anti-social behaviour.” (Dinnusos, p. 92)

The NCA bans political demonstrations and movements like Taxus Baccata.  It would give Westminster the power to shut down any business charity or organisation which was perceived as having a “subversive agenda“. They could tighten restrictions on the internet. It would become illegal for employees to speak badly about the companies they work for, and turn civil disobedience into a criminal – rather than civil – offence.

Pandora’s workplace, Fibertine Investment Bank, is a great example of a corporation that wants the NCA voted through. FIB invests in corporations around the world and outwardly appear to be concerned about ethical corporation issues. They even have their own Ethical Practices Officer. However, when Pandora tries to bring ethical issues to the attention of her boss, Mr. Watts, he reminds her of FIB’s business motto:

“Business is blameless,” … there is no need to feel guilt, or worry about facing consequences. (Dinnusos, p. 92)

Corporatocracy is not the only topic Turner addresses. Friendship represented by Pandora and Frelia, Faye and Tilly, and Jack and Tilly is a complicated subject. Trust is betrayed, destructive and healthy decisions are made, and new beginnings are all part of the friendships in Dinnusos Rising. Turner also shows us individual experiences with self-harm, suicide ideation, drugs, abuse,  sexuality, and gender. We see how falling in love may affect other relationships. Again, Tilly is the one who meets the most challenges. She is also the youngest of our characters.

Dinnusos Rises is well-edited, well written, has fleshed out characters, and presents current issues in a package filled with action and adventure. Both Dinnusos Rises and The Janus Cycle are excellent contributions in discussions about the above topics. Dinnusos Rises has my whole-hearted recommendation.

I was given an ARC copy to review.


My review of The Janus Cycle

Thoma, Chrystalla: Rex Rising (Elei’s Chronicles) (2011)

Rex Rising
Cover design by Chrystalla Thoma

Like so many others, I really like this cover. It is probably the eye that does it for me. I am a sucker for eyes.

Kabam is how Rex Rising begins. Elei is on the run and working to stay alive. Rex Rising keeps on going at that pace. We are thrown from one action scene to another never really able to catch our breaths. Chrystalla Thoma does it so well. She links the different episodes and never goes over the top. If you want action Rex Rising would be a good choice.

While a page turner Rex Rising is also about the effect parasites have on us and could have on us given certain circumstances. At the end of the novel Chrystalla Thoma links to books and studies dealing with the subject. I love what she has made of a topic that could have easily become boring. But Ms. Thoma did not let me withdraw. Perhaps one of the parasites jumped from the novel and “made me do it” as in read the novel almost without stop.

Another thing Chrystalla Thoma has conquered is the art of the flow. Words falling together like water in rapids is a beautiful thing to be part of. I love words when they are treated in such a manner.

The novel concentrated itself mainly on Elei and his adventures and not so much on the world he lives on. We get glimpses and an understanding of the political situation, but there is not room for an in-depth study of the landscape. But we certainly get an in-depth look at sweet Elei. He is such a loveable character. Hera is another character whose qualities become more and more apparent through Rex Rising. Like the author states on her website, she likes her female characters a bit gung-ho. So do I.

Anyways, this is one YA series I highly recommend.



  • File Size: 955 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1475096852
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Amazon.com (August 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GZPOQE

Angell, Lorena (co-authored by Joshua Angell): The Diamond of Freedom (The Unaltered III) (2013)

Cover design by Lorena Angell

Great cover. You will find each item in the novel.

Thanks again to Lorena Angell for providing me with a reviewer’s copy. Does receiving a copy influence the review I write? I would hope not, but knowing human nature it probably does to some extent. I try to be aware of this possibility. Hopefully that does not make me harder on the author than I need to be.

A Diamond in my Heart is my favorite of the three novels. Brand is probably part of the reason. I like him a lot more than Chris.

Chris is difficult to get a handle on. I’m sure that is Angell’s intention. Is he for Mathea’s work or is he against? How does he tackle the whole situation with Calli? It is obvious he at least lusts for her and he has previously seemed to love her (according to surface thoughts). But loving a person does not necessarily mean that we look out for their best interests.

Calli is even more confounded by Chris’ behavior than I am. It must be weird having a person change their behavior toward you almost from day to day. Realising the seriousness of having a shard of diamond lodged in her heart is a process. Coming to accept that protecting her heart also means keeping a distance between herself and Chris would also be difficult.

Freedom craves having Calli’s shard in his possession. He will go to any length to get it. Killing her is only part of it.

Brand’s ability to repeat comes in quite handy in The Diamond of Freedom. Life would be a whole lot more difficult without him.

There was plenty of action in The Diamond of Freedom. At the beginning of the novel Chris and Calli are on the run after Brand saved their lives. They are trying to stay off-radar but are finding that a challenge. From there on we go from one adventure to the other. Some of it is kind of funny (like the biker gang) and Chris’ uncle was adorable (yes I mean that). Kind of cute in his own way.

We are told a bit more about the world of Mathea and meet some of the other Diamond-bearers. I’m left wondering what sort of person I would be after 5000 years. How would it be possible to keep up her motivation for keeping the world in balance for all that time? Is it even possible to retain all of the flighty emotions we short-lived people have? Thankfully I will never find out.

How do I know Lorena Angell (and her son Joshua) have created a well-written fantasy novel? I am left wondering and pondering the characters and their future. That really is the sign of a good series/serial. The author has to keep her readers interested in the story-line and characters that live in it. Good job Lorena. I certainly want to read the next addition to The Unaltered series.


My reviews of books no. 1 (A Diamond in my Pocket) and 2 (A Diamond in my Heart).

Carlon, Lee: The Godslayers’ Legacy (The Bastard Cadre II) (2013)

Cover design by Lee Carlon

First of all I want to say thank you to Lee Carlon for sending me a reviewer’s copy of The Godslayers’ Legacy.

I liked book no. 1 of the series: A God-Blasted Land and had hopes for the rest of the series. I wonder what it must be like to be an author writing a series/serial??? I imagine the pressure you put on yourself to perform well the second time around must add to the stress whenever you feel lost in your own work. The excellent writer is like any excellent performer out there. We as a public aren’t supposed to guess how much work goes into their art. They get the tears. We get the pleasure.

Lee Carlon is turning out to be such a writer. To me he writes in minor key and plays those black tangents on his keyboard like an expert.

When Avril Ethanson decided he would fight Lord Obdurin’s bond, he did not know it would be so difficult. His reins are not as tight as those of the other cadres living up on Frake’s Peak, but they are nevertheless reins. Ronara enjoys being able to live there but she does not have to fight the bond that Lord Obdurin has tied between himself and Avril.

Not only Ronara and Obdurin add to Avril’s conflicted feelings. He is first sworn of his cadre and feels the need to seek out his other cadre members. For some reason Lord Obdurin wanted a semi-independent cadre to play his games with, and Avril’s is it.

We get to meet four of the other cadre members in this novel. Telling all of their names would only be a spoiler, but one of them is safe to share. Dune d’Turintar is on a mission to kill Lord Obdurin. Doing so is bound to bring her within reach of Avril.

Newterra is a bleak place. The world has been left in ruins by the Gods and the Gods pretty much rule the world. Who and what the gods are will probably be revealed later on, but I’m guessing Gods aren’t it.

Carson, Rae: Dangerous Voices (2012)

Cover artist Jenn Reese

Freedom of Speech. How far are we willing to go to let our voices be heard? How far are others willing to go to stop our voices from being heard?

Dangerous Voices is a wonderfully terrible short story about the lengths people are willing to go to let their voices be heard and to stop those voices from reaching out. What would my choice have been? Hmmmm.

If it was not for the magic, this could be a story right out of Amnesty International‘s archives.

I  am thankful I got to meet Rae Carson.

Briggs, Patricia: The Hurog duology

“The Five Kingdoms” by Michael Enzweiler

Patricia Briggs has written the Hurog duology. As you might have surmised from this blog she is quite a prolific writer. Her books fall into the light entertainment category. The Hurog duology’s version of the Briggsian world-creation is placed in a world reeking of the middle-ages with all of its dragons, shape-changers, magicians and various other people.

I absolutely loved the Danish covers. Wow, what a cool dragon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interpretation like that. And it fits with the dragon of the story. This is probably one of the better stories that Briggs has written. Ward is a wonderful character, caught in his own trap, yet never quite giving up hope.

DRAGON BONES (2002)

Danish cover by Bent Holm

Dragon Bones is a stand-alone novel. Its main character is Ward, heir to Hurog. What you need to know about Ward is that his dad was, to put it mildly, a monster. Child-, spouse and animal-abuse were his main hobbies. Until he had managed to damage Ward enough to affect his thinking, he saw Ward as his rival. So when he dies at the beginning of the book, it would be fair to say that Ward did not feel like grieving.

Unfortunately for Ward, the damage done to him had enabled him to pretend to be quite dense. Undoing other people’s perception of himself turns out to be more difficult than Ward would like. Discovering a damsel in distress and the secret of Hurog both play a part in enabling Ward to figure out how to show himself as someone to be trusted. This brings the king’s attention to the Hurog family, driven by his paranoia of the world being against him.

Ward comes across as a believable character. He clearly struggles with the long-term effects of his childhood. But in learning about Hurog’s very secret secret and some truths about the people around him, Ward manages to feel less alone in his struggles. One of the first things Ward must do in getting people to take him seriously is to prove himself a warrior, taking him and a small group accross the kingdom.

The story is told in first-person, through the eyes of Ward. This is part of what makes Ward such a real person, but it also shows us the world around him through his experiences. The people around him are clearly filtered through the life of Ward, making us care more for him and for the people around him. Dragon Bones is quite an enjoyable introduction to the world of Ward of Hurog.

DRAGON BLOOD (2002)

Danish cover by Bent Holm

While Dragon Bones is a stand-alone story,  Dragon Blood depends on the reader having some knowledge of the world. It continues the story of Ward, and in this case Tisala the rebel, and love of Ward. Neither book is a romance, something I quite enjoy. I’m weird like that. For some reason I both dislike romance in books and yet really enjoy it at times. Romance done the Hurog way is great.

The beginning of Dragon Blood is quite brutal. We come upon Tisala while she is being tortured for information about the rebellion that has been realized in the wake of Ward’s exploits in Dragon Bones. She escapes and runs to Hurog. This implicates Ward in the mind of the king and the king demands that Ward be committed for mental illness. All of this comes on top of Ward having to prove himself politically able to his little kingdom. One might say that Ward’s life has a bit more excitement than is good for a person’s health.

Hurog means dragon, and dragons are showing up on the door-steps of the kingdom once more. Dragons have played an important part in the whole kingdom’s past history, not only Hurog’s. Thankfully neither book is very graphic, enabling them to be read by a younger audience (not too young). Neither violence nor romance is explicit. Upon finishing the Hurog duology, I was left with a sense of wanting more.


<

p>Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood are available as audiobook.

Use public libraries

%d bloggers like this: