Mar 24 - Apr 29, 2013
The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World
In the frighteningly near future, man's excess and lack of respect for the planet have resulted in a massive garbage heap off the coast of California. Concerned at the gyre's swift growth, the government sends a crack team to investigate. Unfortunately, they lost contact and disappeared without a trace. So a not-so-shit-hot team is assembled (because you can't lose TOO MANY great employees in THIS economy) to unfold not only the mystery of the trash, but to find the missing team members from the previous unsuccessful foray. But what they discover is even more horrifying than an island made of garbage three times the size of Texas, and they have no way of knowing just how bad Garbage Island can get...
Adventure. Gore. Kinky sex. These are the things that give me the warm and tinglies. In the good way, I mean. Not the flies-that-lay-eggs-in-your-head kind of tinglies.
Although, because I'm sick, this also gives me the tinglies.
God, I'm a mess.
Anyways, when I got this book in the mail, I was pumped. Not only because the subject matter tickled me just so (again, not unlike those sweet little bot flies) but because the book was freakin' MASSIVE and I was totally in the mood (heh heh) for a good, long, epic adventure (double heh heh). And the thing is, a book has to be GOOD if it wants to be an epic epic, and not just a snooze-a-thon like the dictionary - though the dirty words were always good for some giggles in my younger years. And lucky for me, The Gyre Mission did not disappoint (yes, I'm giving you the shifty side-eye, dictionary).
Edgar Swamp has a rare talent for combining the best of both literary worlds: on the one hand he's got a crazy cast of over-the-top characters, sex, violence, and gore, and a redonkulous situation. Well, I'm hoping it's redonkulous. You never know, though, with these government types and their secrets and conspiracies and the assassinations GLAVEN. But basically, he's got all the hallmarks of classic pulp horror in place. However, Swamp also takes the time to introduce his characters, giving us a chance to get to know them and even *gasp* care about what might happen to them. At the very least, a chance to recognise them by name. Actually, the majority of the characters were introduced with their own chapters in the beginning, which was a mighty handy cheat sheet for someone like me who has difficulty recalling where I leave my keys every morning. The other thing Swamp does for us is attempt to offer an explanation for his zany situation, instead of "It's beyond our comprehension" or " 'The secret is...' and then he was carried off by mermen TO BE CONTINUED, LOSER" or "Aliens":
Did I mention his vocabulary is pleasantly surprising?
I loved the characters (and loved hating the assholes) couldn't get enough of the monsters, and the pacing was delightful - a slow rumbling that built up and just got more and more awesome until shit went totally cray-cray (in a good way-way). I was actually just telling one of my buddies about a particularly rad moment involving a massive carpenter ant/centipede/nightmare and its delightful accompanying birth scene. My friend was suitably impressed. And grossed out. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book, and the looks on my friends' faces when I read them bits of it.
Basically, Edgar Swamp isn't treating us like some stupid bimbo he doesn't care about satisfying that he plans to punp-and-dump out of a Bang Bros. bus on the side of a highway. No no NO. Instead, he wants to wine us and dine us, slip a little LSD in our drink, take us on a magical fantasy ride and make us quiver with excitement until the very Gods themselves stand up and applaud. Or at least Jenna Jameson. Old Jenna, though. Not new Jenna. She frightens me.
To put it more simply (and PG) The Gyre Mission has the style of pulp and the substance of fiction. I was most definitely pleased.
All those points alone would have made The Gyre Mission a 10/10. The reason I've given it a 9/10 is because there was a major ass-load of editing atrocities. Pretty much all of them involved the abuse of the apostrophe and the dash with the issue being the distinction between "its" and "it's", and not putting a space on either side of the dash when interjecting a thought into an already existing sentence, and instead making really strange compound words. Seriously, editing errors piss me off to no end and are ridiculously distracting to someone as neurotic as I am. I read with a pencil on hand at all times so I could circle them all; losing the pencil regularly and then hunting for it became a companion sport to keep me nimble in the face of all the perusing. So I'm just putting this out there: Edgar Swamp, if you're going to write another book as rad as The Gyre Mission, I will be happy to offer you my proof-reading services, free of charge. Because if I get my hands on another one of your books and I have to find that many errors again, it won't be pretty.
All in all, my neurosis aside, I had a blast reading this. Go get The Gyre Mission, guys. And then prepare yourself for some sleepless nights and an even greater desire to recycle.
PS: Did I mention his book is dedicated to a dog named Lily Swamp? So now not only is Edgar Swamp a dude with an extremely dirty mind filled with some disgusting ideas (my favorite - swoon!) but he likes animals, too. Double swoon.
Dec 30, '12 - Jan 2, '13
Published June 2008
Nobody is happy to get called into work on a weekend; but when the employees at Murphy, Knox head in for a Saturday morning meeting, they discover there are things far worse than a boring presentation in store for them...
You know, I saw an ad for Severance Package in the back of a horror book or an affiliated site or possibly carved into the chest of a dying murder massacre victim, because danged if I didn't think this was a horror novel. And I totally coveted it for that very reason.
Then !BAM! Cara put it into my hot little hands and as soon as I get a good look at it, I realize - this is no horror novel. This is a crime novel. Possibly even hard-boiled (whatever that means). But the premise was intriguing enough that I dove in anyways. Plus, you know... Cara touched it. Score.
Even for someone who isn't drawn to the genre, this turned out to be pretty gripping stuff. Normally there either has to be a lot going on (not too much going on though, Mr Chatty McExcessiveCharacters) or the writing has to be fuckin' DIALED to keep my attention for long. And this book provides both those attributes in spades.
It took me a bit to get all the characters straight and the buildup was a lot of blah blah blah and operative misdirection, but in this instance it was done well enough that it just got better and better. Like a giant cheesecake or 2 Girls 1 Cup. I mean, I read the majority of this in a day, so that goes to show that the readability factor was cranked all the way up to 11.
Plus, there wasn't a lot to do at the old jobstead that day, so that helped, too.
The characters were all pretty lifelike and well-done, though I have a sneaking suspicion that the antagonist was some sort of future cyborg. Hell, maybe the author didn't know if that was the case or not, because while this character seemed pretty normal, they did things and recovered from stuff that most people just don't handle well. Come to think of it, the antagonist also had a pretty liberal sprinkling of cheese (unlike the other characters) but that makes sense. It is a HARD-BOILED novel, after all! YUK YUK YUK. I slay myself.
I mean, really, I was just straight up interested to read about these guys and their secrets, spies, guns, and titties (of which there was plenty to go around). Perfect action-filled fun. Topped off with a killer (ho ho!) ending, I really REALLY enjoyed this.
Also? Never go in on a weekend.
Feb 6 - Feb 9, 2012
Edo Van Belkom
Hitchhiking across Canada just become even more dangerous, because there's a trucker out there who will do some bad BAD things to you before he kills you... and he's had a lot of time to hone his craft. So if you're a pretty young thing trying to get away from a bad situation at home like Amanda Peck, consider saving up for a Greyhound ticket before you throw caution to the wind and decide to stand on the side of the road with your thumb out...
This had all the makings of a pulp horror novel - an evil monster, a helpless victim, an asshole of a boyfriend, a likable gumshoe detective determined to crack the case, all wrapped up in an innocuous paperback with a pun on the cover. But I hesitate to call this pulp, because it was too damn good, and too damn surprising to entirely fit into that category. The evil monster (while horrifying) is also nearly pathetic; the helpless victim doesn't wait around to be rescued and takes matters into her own hands; the asshole decides to get his shit together; the gumshoe... well, he's still that, but he's likable because he's written well, not because he's some clumsy Clouseau-esque inspector simply penciled in for a laugh.
As for the pun on the cover, well, I fucking love puns. Shoot me.
Really, it was an enjoyable read. When I was certain I had the plot figured out (and wondered how the hell the author was going to drag the book out for another 150 pages) shit went haywire and the story moved along in a totally new (but totally plausible) direction, which is a huge plus in my books because it takes a lot to hold my interest, and I get bored pretty easily. I'm the proverbial tough critic, and you've got to be on point to keep me from heckling you like an asshole.
The best part about this book was that it was SURPRISING. Good surprising. Not The Crying Game surprising. While our lady protagonist was enough of a stereotype to get herself into such a massively shitty situation, she turned out to be badass enough to deal with it, and her evolution as a character warmed the jaded cockles of my heart. You get stereotypes in pulp - you get evolution in literature. Really, Amanda Peck is pretty fuckin' awesome, and unquestionable my favorite character, though the crusty mess that is our antagonist comes in at a close second. He's nasty in appearance and nastier in personality, disgustingly gross but disgustingly powerful. Much like a traumatized hobo living on the edge of a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl.
Sure, there were a few persnickety bits that irked me; certain wording in a sentence here and there, calling semen "seed". That's all personal preference though, and the author couldn't have foreseen that the term "seed" will forever and always immediately catapult me to THIS:
More than anything though, this book was FUN. Likable characters, excitement, action, surprises; all these elements make for an enjoyable read that you can't wait to get back to, and Blood Road had all of it. There was an excellent balance between Pulp (humor, stereotypes, blood and gore) and Damn-Good-Reading (couldn't put the goddamn thing down). Even the ending was a perfect fit. Really, it might have been the best part, and there were a LOT of good parts.
So go out, find Blood Road, read the fuck out of it, and thank me after. I am fully willing to accept Nicholas Cage memorabilia in place of gratitude, by the way.