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| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| Things that go bump in the night seems a particularly appropriate topic to cover in a SF/Fantasy-themed column, given that horror is often considered an integral aspect of what I like to term ‘genre fiction,’ but before we get into all that malarkey, I did promise an awards catch-up last time, so here goes . . . Last issue, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie captured various UK awards, and I mentioned it was also up for a Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, awarded by the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) . . . well, sure enough, it took that one, too, making it almost a clean sweep this year for Ms Leckie, on both sides of the border. If she miraculously takes the Hugo Award for Best Novel as well later this year, to be announced at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention over here in London (aka Loncon 3, Aug 14–18), then I will indeed eat my proverbial hat as there is no precedent for this—surely it’s not that good, is it? The term ‘essential reading’ springs to mind . . . As seems appropriate for a horror-themed issue, the 2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners were announced a while back— Doctor Sleep by Stephen King nabbed the Superior Achievement in a Novel Award this time round, and I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read this one yet. However, I have been fortunate enough to read some works by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) this year, of which NOS4R2 (bizarrely entitled NOS4A2 over there in the United States) struck me as quite simply brilliant, frankly. NOS4A2 is a book of horror and psychological terror and centres around a basic battle of good vs. evil, with Vic McQueen as our heroine and the only person to ever have escaped the clutches of Charlie Manx, our child-stealing baddie. With writing that is, at times, startlingly witty and scarily grotesque, the author introduces us to a bizarre and corrupt fantasy world called Christmasland, an adjunct to our own but also an alternative reality of the mind where it’s Christmas every day, and children are stolen from their parents and forced to stay whether they like it or not. Manx drives a 1938 black Rolls Royce Wraith which is not all it seems, and his childlike psychotic partner in crime is Bing “The Gasmask Man” Partridge, a despicable character who we still somehow manage to understand and feel for by the end. Of course, Vic McQueen has some tricks of her own, including a handy bridge that takes her pretty much wherever she wants to go in a matter of seconds. . . . This is a twisted tale indeed, but it’s also really rather cool and dangerously addictive. A truly fabulous and frightening read if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, but I would recommend avoiding it around the festive season, just saying like . . . Now, I mentioned Sarah Pinborough’s beautifully written The Language of Dying in my last column and promised to cover more of her work this time round, so please be upstanding for a trilogy with a difference: Poison, Charm, and Beauty is a charming set of twisted fairytales that adopt a modern spin on the old classics and can be described suitably thus: “Yes, it’s those lovely Disney Princesses, but not as you know them . . .”—I really liked these, they’re also quite short (200+ pages), and the complete set looks very pretty on any bookshelf if that’s important to you! 108 | btsemag.com

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BTS Book Reviews September/October 2014  

Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring New York Times Bestselling author Dianne Duvall, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, and m...

BTS Book Reviews September/October 2014  

Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring New York Times Bestselling author Dianne Duvall, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, and m...

Profile for btsemag
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