Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Review: Deep Blue

Deep BlueDeep Blue by Brian Auspice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Tuesday has been postponed until next Tuesday, but Wednesday is still on for this Thursday.”

This, in a nutshell, is Deep Blue by Brian Auspice, a surrealist entry in the New Bizarro Authors Series, a special group of books that publishes untested authors to see how they do on the market. Deep Blue is one of those gems that, without the NBAS, may never have seen the light of day because it is so surreal that it may go over a lot of readers’ heads.

You have a devil that lives in the fridge, a machine that must be “fed” every night, characters that change dimensions to 2D, men-in-cans, and faceless taxi drivers just to name a few elements in this book, and, yes, it all does tie together. This book is like a fever dream after smoking an incredibly exotic herb, and I loved every page of it. Admittedly, this review may not be entirely objective because I’m a total sucker for surrealist works, but it really is that good.

It reminds me a great deal of a NBAS book from a couple years ago called Kitten by G. Arthur Brown, which actually makes sense because Kevin L. Donihe accepted both of them for the NBAS. I’m detecting a pattern here. It’s difficult to really say much about what the book is about without giving anything away because things are tied so closely together that to describe one element out of context would make no sense at all. There are even “puzzles” of sorts to solve, like the machine that speaks only in binary, and it is actually saying something if you take the time to translate it.

Suffice to say that the book does have a point. While very short, I recommend that the reader not rush through it. Deep Blue is a steak that must be eaten slowly to enjoy the intricate flavors of each bite, not a McDonald’s hamburger that must be wolfed down before you can taste anything for fear that if it touches your tongue it will trigger a gag reflex so powerful that it would make Linda Blair jealous.

I can’t find much fault with this book personally. Even from a technical perspective, it’s sublimely produced. So this book is highly recommended but with a warning: This book will challenge you. It is not a brain candy type book nor is it the easiest of reads, but it is rewarding for the time and effort that you put into it.

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Book Review: SuperGhost

SuperGhostSuperGhost by Scott Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever had the experience where you feel sensation or pain in a limb that you no longer have, a phenomenon known as phantom limb? Me neither, primarily because I’ve never lost a limb, but that’s beside the point.

SuperGhost by Scott Cole is based on this phenomenon, putting forth the idea that a phantom limb is really just that: A phantom. The ghost of a severed limb lives on connected to the rest of the body. But what if a mad scientist devised a way to remove the phantom limb? A spiritual amputation, as it were. Then, what if said mad scientist decided to use the phantom limbs to create a ghostly Frankenstein’s monster to destroy the world? MUAHAHAHA!… Oops, got a little carried away there. Sorry.

SuperGhost is part of the New Bizarro Authors Series, where new authors who haven’t had a book published get a chance to prove that they have the chops. And Cole has the chops. First, Cole takes a somewhat unusual approach to his bizarro book, setting it in the “real” world, or a close facsimile. The world is identifiable and entirely believable and could very well be our own world. That is, until a giant ghost made of severed phantom limbs goes rampaging through the city. The characters are well developed, especially give the small space Cole has to work with. It was surprising how the characters could feel so fleshed out in such a short book. And the characters are likable. Heck, even the mad scientist villain is likable. It would have been interesting to see how much more developed he could be in a longer book. As they say, audiences will hate a good villain but love a great one.

It’s both accurate and unfair to compare this book to “Ghostbusters.” The comparisons are obvious, especially given the overall humorous tone of the book. But Cole adds more to it than just a “Ghostbusters” vibe. Comparisons could be made to lots of other sources, such as “Frankenstein,” but they are mashed and stitched together in Cole’s own unique way, creating his own Frankenstein’s monster of literary tones. But it’s all fun. In fact, if I was to describe SuperGhost in one word, it would be “fun.”

Unfortunately, while Cole does an admirable job with the short space he has, I would have liked to have seen this story written in a longer form. It’s a story that feels like it was meant for something bigger, and that it had to be trimmed down to make it fit with the maximum word allowance for a NBAS book. Still, SuperGhost is definitely a lot of fun and worth the short time it takes to read.

SuperGhost by Scott Cole earns earns 4 severed limbs out of five.

Book Review: Pax Titanus

Pax TitanusPax Titanus by Tom Lucas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Titanus is a Veritassian, an alien that is ten feet tall, has four arms, can only speak the truth, and can grow and shrink any part of his body at will. ANY part (being that this is a bizarro book, I’ll leave that bit up to your imagination). When his son is “kidnapped,” the kidnappers force him to enter a galactic gladiatorial contest featuring lots of weird aliens that could only spring from the mind of a deranged lunatic.

Tom Lucas’ Pax Titanus tells this story and tells it well. Then again, this book isn’t for those looking for a terribly in-depth story. The real feature of this book is the increasing amounts of alien carnage and detailed fight scenes to sate the reader’s inner blood lust. The story is more there to move the action along.

The characters are quirky, from Titanus’ inability to tell a lie to his wife (who’s a squid) communicating by secreting emotional ooze based on what she’s feeling. Right? Right. The book is the usual short length for an entry in the New Bizarro Authors Series. In this case, that works well. Lucas is forced to economize and doesn’t waste any time on extraneous details. He focuses on what’s important and gets to the point, which prevents the reader from screaming, “Get to the point!”

Graphic, violent, and simple, Pax Titanus still holds charm and does have a surprise ending. While this type of book isn’t always my cup of tea, it was still a fun read that kept my attention and does make the inner child squeal with joy at the copious amounts of mindless violence. Or is that just me? My inner child might be a little disturbed.

If I have a main complaint, it’s that this book could have used another pass the editor. Basic mechanical mistakes bug me enormously and are a pet peeve, and I have to knock the book down a little for that.

An enjoyable and short read that reminds one of a summer action flick, Pax Titanus definitely scratches a certain itch, although admittedly it may not be an itch that everyone has. If you like excessive amounts of literary violence not counting those brutal writers’ conferences, then Pax Titanusis definitely worth your time.

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas earns 4 out of 5 bludgeoned skulls.