How would you like the world to end?

The End is Nigh, the first installment of The Apocalypse Triptych, a collection of short story anthologies from editors John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead) and Hugh Howey (Wool,  I, Zombie), gives us a deep menu from which to choose.  Alien invasion, artificial intelligence takeover, collision with celestial body, mass suicide (as recommended by THE VOICE OF GOD), drought, killer nano-bots, EMP, all manner of plague (including the zombie variety) . . . and in at least one case, apocalypse by unknown event.

It took a little while to get hooked into this story.  Terms of Enlistment promises to be an action-packed thriller but starts off more like a military memoir.  Sure, that assumes a fair amount of exciting stuff can happen, but I was beginning to despair that it would all be portrayed from a safe distance, instead of sticking me right into the thick of things.

I needn’t have worried.

I began my review of Terms of Enlistment, the first installment in the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos, by stating it took me a little while to get hooked into the story.  The sequel, Lines of Departure, suffers from no such acceleration delay.  We jump immediately ahead five years into Andrew Grayson’s military career, and then we are [literally] shot into almost incessant action for the remainder of the story.

There is a particular quote from Annihilation that sums up my entire experience with it:

“When you see beauty and desolation, it changes something inside you.  Desolation tries to colonize you.”

I teetered between loving and seriously not liking this story.  It wasn’t until the very last scenes that I came to some degree of reconciliation with my reaction to it.  To Jeff VanderMeer’s credit, I think that this is the exact experience he intends for the reader to have, as he skillfully manipulates the reader into the same difficult emotional journey that his main character is taking.

I recently picked up Relish on recommendation from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast (the “Fall Books and Great Detectives” episode, which aired September 26th**).  Wanting to start a new graphic novel and always a sucker for a good foodie experience, I jumped over to the my public library e-book site and was delighted to see it was available for immediate consumption.

One day, in the very distant future, a man decides to go outside for a walk.  Never mind that the outside air is a toxic mix of very unfriendly gases, that no other human would dare volunteer for such a pastime.  Never mind that this walk will be a very short, one way trip.

I introduced myself to John Scalzi’s writing earlier this year with Redshirts, a book that springs from the very important question of just why so many unfortunate space explorers wearing red uniforms die in the Star Trek universe.  I was immediately impressed with Scalzi’s witty choice of story concept, his handling of larger themes, and use of unconventional plot devices.  I enjoyed meeting his characters and engaging in their quick, intelligent dialogue.  The world he built felt fresh, young, and bright.  So, I was very eager to pick up Lock In, hoping to find more of the same, and I wasn’t disappointed.

If you can survive the opening scene of The Last Son of Ahriman, you’ll be doing good.  I don’t mean that in a it-takes-a-while-to-get-into-the-story kind of way.  I mean it in a do-your-best-not-to-get-eaten-by-a-horrible-monster-or-sucked-into-a-terrifying-portal-to-a-hell-dimension kind of way.

A Steampunk fantasy from Harper Voyager, The Clockwork Dagger is Beth Cato’s first novel in what will be a series in this universe. I was a little wary when I noticed that it was not only Ms. Cato’s first novel, but was 354 pages long. (Sorry, but all sorts of red flags go up in my head when I see long page counts on first books.)  Fortunately, Ms. Cato knows what she’s doing, as I quickly got caught up in the very rich and descriptive world she has created.

I love reading novels set in different times and places which is probably why I’m such a huge fan of Steampunk, science fiction, and fantasy. Dragonfly Warrior, Jay Noel’s first novel from 4 Wing Press, is a solid and enjoyable story set in an alternate Steampunk Asia.

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