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Messages - jdiddyesquire

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406
I just finished Roil by Trent Jamieson and just picked up Germline by T.C. McCarthy.  Still struggling through The Dragon's Path.  It's wonderfully written, but at the end of every chapter I just don't feel like reading the next one.

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Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / Re: Robopocalypse
« on: June 15, 2011, 09:24:36 PM »
Is anyone else reading this? It is not quite out yet, but there are a few bloggers on this site, so I figure I can't be the only one.

It has been a while since I last read a book that follows the middle of the road this accurately. It is an interesting book, as interesting as a robot uprising can be, but it is just bland. It feels like any other apocalyptic media that I've read or watched over the years. However, I am immediately reminded of Maximum Overdrive and really, finding anything similar to that movie just puts a grin on my face for no reason that I can discern. Of course, Robopocalypse lacks that sweet 80's vibe and has no Emilio Estevez, which takes a few points off.

I've read it and reviewed it some weeks back.  It's World War Z almost verbatim with robots instead of zombies.  Despite that, it's a good read.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: The Alloy of Law
« on: June 15, 2011, 08:59:06 PM »
Refuse to read anything... don't want to spoil even a moment of it!!

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Photos of your to be read pile
« on: June 15, 2011, 08:58:35 PM »
I'd post mine but it's just lines in my kindle for the most part... haha  Kind of sad looking relatively speaking.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Roil - Trent Jamieson
« on: June 15, 2011, 08:56:31 PM »
Really enjoyed this.  It's not due out for two months or so, but really worth checking out if you like steampunk and/or fantasy.

Quote
http://staffersmusings.blogspot.com/2011/06/roil-trent-jamieson.html
Is steampunk the new vampire urban fantasy?  I feel like there's been a huge outbreak of steampunk this year.  I guess it makes sense as a natural out growth of the huge boom in urban fantasy.  For the most part steampunk tends to be more familiar to people than second world fantasy or space opera with no connection to the "real world".  It is traditionally set in a Victorian or Old West environment with historical elements that make sense to mainstream readers and doesn't require vast amounts of information to understand.  I would point out that Roil by Trent Jamieson isn't that kind of steampunk.

One of the real up and coming publishers Angry Robot Books, has definitely seen an uptick in steampunk novels.  Unfortunately, I hadn't found a title of their's that really called to me until I saw Roil.  Billed as steampunk in a second world fantasy setting, it reminded me of The Last Page, Anthony Huso's debut steampunk novel from Tor.  Ever since I read Huso's debut, I have been looking for something similar that captured his talent for world building but exceeded his uneven storystelling.  Roil did just that.

In Shale, the Roil is spreading.  A black cloud of heat and madness has crept through the land, absorbing city after city.  Where the Roil goes, life ends.  Once there were 12 metropolises, now only 4 remain.  Only the cold can stop the Roil and it's getting hotter.  A young drug addict, an orphaned girl seeking vengeance, and an Old Man are all that stand between total darkness and the annihilation of humanity.  Armed with cold suits, ice rifles, and the mysticism of Old Men the three begin a journey north to the Engine of the World - the only force capable of beating back the inexhaustible Roil.

If it seems curious that I capitalized Old Men thus far, it should.  In Jamieson's world the Old Men are something akin to the Apostles of Christ if the Apostles had an insatiable hunger (use your imagination) and the ability to conjure ice at will.  In this bad analogy the Engine of the World would be Christ.  Throughout the novel who, and why, the Old Men are is of utmost interest.  It is clear from early on that the Old Men are a bastion against the Roil.  Where the Roil is hot as the sun, the Old Men are cold as hell.

One of the most frustrating things with steampunk for me is the lack of fantasy.  Not in a genre sense, but in the sense of imagination.  I always find myself asking the question, if I wanted to read about Victorian England why am I reading a steampunk re-imagining of it?  Jamieson has totally sloughed off this genre standard in creating an entire second world fantasy.  The Roil, the four metropolises, ice cannons, Engines of the World, and other epic sounding steampunk elements compose a beautifully dark, wholly imagined world that bears no resemblance to our own.

Jamieson populates his worlds as much with "villains" as with heroes.  I put quotes around villains because to be frank, I'm not sure Roil has a villain.  It's clear Jamieson wants his reader to hate Stade, the leader of the city of Mirrlees.  He begins the novel by murdering his rivals in the street and doesn't get much friendlier from there.  The truth is, he's trying to do right by his people.  He sees the Roil as an inevitability and he wants to protect as many of his citizens as he can (everyone else can kiss his ass).  Even the Roil itself, which is about as evil as it gets on the surface, is more a force of nature than a malevolent force.

Of course given that, it should be no surprise that Jamieson's heroes aren't particularly heroic.  David, a young man of privilege is addicted to a drug called Carnival (heroinesque).  He is often more concerned about scoring than he is about staying alive.  His companion, an Old Man named John Cadell, isn't all roses either.  In fact, he killed David's uncle a few years back.  He's feels bad about it though.  The list goes on and on.  If a novel's strength is judged on its characters, then Roil is She-Hulk.  Not the Incredible Hulk mind you (there isn't an iconic character in the bunch), but Jamieson has created a smorgasbord of captivating characters that bring everything to life.

That said, Roil is not without some fault.  For all his exceptional world building and lush characterizations, Jamieson's narrative is decidedly standard to anyone who's read a surfeit of fantasy novels.  Yet so are many of the paragons of the genre.  Moreso than any genre, speculative fiction excels foremost through characters and setting.  A strong, original narrative is all well and good, but without fantasy a novel will fall flat.  On the strength of his setting and characters alone, I believe Jamieson has begun something that has the potential to be a standard bearer for Angry Robot and the steampunk subgenre.

And don't forget, Roil is the first in The Nightbound Land series - I'm sure Jamieson has a few twists and turns in store.  So get back to work Trent, I'm ready for the sequel.

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