Quick Review: WAITING FOR LIPCHITZ AT CHATEAU MARMONT by Aris Janigian (Rare Bird Books)

JanigianA-WaitingForLipchitzSomeone does not like Hollywood/Los Angeles culture and society…

Set in two iconic locales — Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont and luxurious Fresno’s Forestiere’s Underground Garden — Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont is a bold and colorful critique of the California Dream through the perspective of a once-upon-a-time successful screenwriter and the wealth that taunts him. Caught between John O’Brien’s Better and, perhaps, a Christopher Guest adaptation of Waiting for Godot, Janigian’s Lipchitz is a new take on the absent protagonist and what’s inevitably illuminated by its void.

This is a strange novel. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t love it. There are plenty of interesting and sharp observations about the fickleness and shallowness of Los Angeles and, particularly, Hollywood life, culture and business practices. It’s a well-written novel, but one that I didn’t find as satisfying as I had hoped. Continue reading

Interview with SAM PETERS

PetersS-FromDarkestSkiesUKLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Sam Peters?

Sam Peters is a writer and a… something else that is kind of hard to pin down exactly but right now is somewhere on the boundaries of a mathematician or a physicist (except not the sort who actually pushes the boundaries of anything new) and an engineer (except not the sort who actually makes anything). The sort of technology middleman who might have ended up on the Golgafrincham second ship if real physicists and real engineers ever actually got together. Right now Sam is something of an expert on Fast Fourier Transforms, which should have everyone zoning out right about now so unless you want to discuss the Cooley-Tukey algorithm and optimization of the Split Radix method let’s talk about something else, quick!

Your debut novel, From Darkest Skies, will be published by Gollancz in April. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’d call it a Science Fiction thriller wrapped around a love story. It’s partly Keon’s search for the truth about what happened to his missing wife Alysha and partly about him coming to terms with her loss and the consequences of where his grief has taken him – the recreation of Alysha as a simulacrum wrapped around an Artificial Intelligence. Keon and Alysha were basically spooks so the truth he’s looking for turns out to be a lot more complicated than he first thinks. A lot more complicated and a lot more dangerous. Continue reading

New Books (March-April)

Featuring: David Annandale, Neal Asher, J.D. Barker, Giacomo Bevilacqua, Edward Carlson, Don Carpenter, Jonathan Dee, William C. Dietz, Omar El Akkad, Michael R. Fletcher, L.R. Fredericks, L.J. Goulding, David Grann, Richard Kadrey, Paul Kearney, Jardine Libaire, Leena Likitalo, Sarah Lotz, Melissa Scrivner Love, Robbie MacNiven, Graham McNeill, Sarah Menkedick, Peter Newman, Tom Perotta, Ivy Pochoda, Ben Sanders, John Scalzi, Anna Stephens, David Swinson, Marcus Thompson II, Karen Tidbek, C.L. Werner, Timothy Zahn

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Trailer: THE LAST JEDI (!!)

The promotional blizzard for The Force Awakens was incredible. Actually, it was probably excessive. It ultimately left me a little disappointed with the movie on first viewing — my expectations had been ratcheted up so high that it was pretty much guaranteed that the movie wouldn’t live up to my hopes.

Now, we have the trailer for the eighth episode in saga. I’m really looking forward to this. I’m going to make a better effort at just waiting for the movie to come out, rather than consume all the coverage. Crossing fingers…

Interview with ALIYA WHITELEY on 2084

Above you can watch an interview with Aliya Whiteley, one of the authors whose work will feature in the new anthology 2084. Published by Unsung Stories, the anthology has been funded through Kickstarter. It sounds like a really interesting collection, and I’m looking forward to reading it. At the time of writing, it has raised three times its original goal (stretch goals have been added). Continue reading

Review: ROBOUTE GUILLIMAN by David Annandale (Black Library)

The first in a new series focusing on each of the Emperor’s Primarchs

Long before the coming of the Imperium, the realm of Ultramar was ruled by Roboute Guilliman, the last Battle King of Macragge. Even after learning of his true heritage as a primarch son of the Emperor of Mankind, he strove to expand his domain as efficiently and benevolently as possible, with the XIII Legion Ultramarines as his alone to command. Now, facing a rival empire on the ork-held world of Thoas, Guilliman must choose his weapons carefully – otherwise his dream of a brighter future could be lost forever.

It’s no surprise to regular readers of CR that I’m quite fond of the Horus Heresy series. I was both surprised and pleased, therefore, when Black Library announced a companion series — one that would comprise one novel for each of the Primarchs, loyal and traitor, set before the Heresy. Given recent developments in the WH40k game universe, it’s perhaps not surprising that the series would kick off with Roboute Guilliman. And it’s a very strong start, too. Continue reading

Quick Review: TRAJECTORY by Richard Russo (Knopf)

russor-trajectoryusA new anthology from the Pultizer Prize-winning author

Russo’s characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we’re familiar with from many of his novels. In “Horseman,” a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer: “And after that, who knew?” In “Intervention,” a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father’s shadow while he presses forward – or not. In “Voice,” a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale, fleeing a mortifying incident with a traumatized student back in Massachusetts but encountering further complications in the maze of Venice. And in “Milton and Marcus,” a lapsed novelist struggles with his wife’s illness and tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he’s called to an aging, iconic star’s mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.

I’m a relatively recent convert to Russo fandom. I read the author’s campus novel, Straight Man a few years ago, and started to collect all of his other novels. I finally got around to reading the Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls, which I very much admired. Ever since, I have been eager to read more of his work. Trajectory collects four of Russo’s shorter fictions, and offers an excellent entry point in to his fiction. I very much enjoyed this book. Continue reading