RRS Roundup: Serial Steam

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m taking us back into the world of steampunk. But this ain’t your daughter’s steamy McSteampunk. This is genuine anachronistic steampunk.

Spring-heeled Jack and the President’s Ring (The Magnetron Chronicles)

First I have to clarify. This is a steampunk serial adventure, but it is not the The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. This one is by D.L. Mackenzie. Part of a planned 5 novelette serial, this second installment picks up with the solving of the mysterious death of Dr. Hogalum by Phineas Magnetron and the rest of the Hogalum Society (Think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with the emphasis on gentlemen).

Truly anachronistic, witty and fun these stories embrace a vocabulary-stretching voice that reflects the Victorian era while sneaking in a bit of the post-modern sense of humor. With a Sherlock Holmes sort of intellect Magnetron endeavors to unwrap the mystery of his deceased mentor all the while coming up against Compost, his arch-enemy.

The supporting cast of gentleman are noteworthy as well. Despite the number of characters, Mackenzie manages to keep them set apart with unique names and backgrounds. There is not a tremendous amount of character development to slow down the story, but each of the gentlemen stands in a position to be called upon to carry a storyline when needed. (A nifty feat for a serial).

While there is a smaller story arc that comes to resolution within this serial, it feels like a minor note in the overall arc. This frustrated me somewhat, but I suppose that is the point of a serial. (Think TV mini-series in print.) At around 100 pages I recommend you Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Wonderful Horribles

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’ve whipped up a look at the short story. To be specific, a collection of them dealing with mortality and eternity!

Paths to Divinity

Paths to Divinity is not a helter-skelter collection of short stories (rather popular these days), but rather a reviving of a hibernating medium. Some stories require such diverse voice and point of view as to strain against the classic story arc of the novel. Yet they are still stories deserving to be told and which we yearn to hear.

Thus enters Paths to Divinity, a story of nothing less than the veil between worlds. With each of the shorts in this collection Dicristofano toys with a different human perception of ultimate reality. With startling vividness Dicristofano delves into one world view after another, leading the reader down disturbingly provocative and terrifying bunny trails only to yank her from the threshold at the moment of transition and toss her back into the darkness yet again.

Fresh and cunning, Paths to Divinity leaves nary a stone unturned. A few of my favorites involved a tennis playing Grim Reaper, an evolving relationship between the Angel Uriel and the original serpent, and a terrifying twist of the demonic.

Amidst a sea of vampires and perky, pre-teen-on-angel romance, Paths to Divinity offers a hardy meal of venison and mead for the mind. Each course of the feast provides a new complexity of flavor begging the reader to either thrill or shiver under the implications. What does this life hold? What of the next? What of the in-between? And how will I respond when the moment finds me?

Horrible and beautiful at the same time, my only contention with the work is that more than once it kept me up at night. So what are you waiting for? Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Mule Tamer-er

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! we’re gonna’ reload a western I recently blabbered on about right here on the Green Porch. So saddle up! Again.

The Mule Tamer II, Chica’s Ride

In the first Mule Tamer adventure Arvel Walsh meets the wild Chica (who becomes his wife). The sequel focuses on Chica as the title indicates (says Captain Obvious). In the time since the first story she has had a daughter and become quite the civilized and domesticated mother (even to the approval of her mother-in-law).

But in tried-and-true western fashion, Mule Tamer II opens with a train heist at the hands of the despicable Sombrero del Oro. Chica’s daughter is taken out from under her and her abuelita. In response she goes old-school in a brutally splendorific manner.

Combining nice amounts of family saga and action, this is a great Western story at a time when Westerns are just beginning to crawl back into the mainstream awareness. If you like kick-butt heroines you certainly won’t be disappointed.

The main negative for me was a difficult to navigate point of view jumble in the opening chapter in which the author jumped from intimate POV’s without even so much as a paragraph break. While I appreciated the attempt to grasp an overall picture of the train and its occupants, I desperately wanted a double return (or something) between each jump. But the madness subsided quickly, and the action drew me back in. Read it! Review it! Share it!