UPDATE: Still no response from GRRM’s representation when we contacted them for questions concerning this revelation.
After much thought and research, I have come to a somewhat groundbreaking discovery: the identity of Santa Claus! Despite years of disbelief in this holiday figure, the connection has been made. While many of the commonly accepted details of this character have been proven to be myth, the man himself does in fact exist. It is my pleasure to unveil the findings of my research just in time for the Christmas season.
George R.R. Martin is Santa Claus!
The first, and most noticeable, indication of his alias is in his physical appearance. Both men possess a rather, ahem, full figure and possess awesome beards. Their cheeks are plump and rosy, and both of them wear glasses. They also share a love of rather interesting hats. Does this all sound like I’m stretching? I thought so too at first, but after using advance scientific face morphing software, the truth became undeniable.
So as you can see, the physical appearance is irrefutable. But wait…is that GRRM writing in the second picture? Maybe, or it could be him… CHECKING A LIST! This would make perfect sense as to why finishing ASOIAF has taken so long, as being Santa Claus and attending cons has to be rather demanding on ones time. I’m impressed, but having flying reindeers probably at least reduces the burden a bit.
Now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “But Santa wouldn’t kill all those Starks!” You’re right, the Santa we’ve been raised to believe in wouldn’t do those things. But who here has read the original Grimm stories? Stay with me on this tangent, as I have a point. The original stories aren’t always as nice as the over glorified tales the media spins us in hopes to sell presents and decorations. Perhaps the real Santa is a writer who likes to give us the gift of amazing characters and yank them away to watch us cry. Maybe all of his wintery cheer got frozen over, leaving a murderous white-walker in it’s stead. The clues are there, the case is cracked.
There’s only one thing left to do, wait and wonder when winter will finally come and we’ll all get the gift we really want….
P.S. I’ve been very good.
Book Review: “The Incrementalists” by Steven Brust and Skyler White
The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.
Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.
I was initially very confused. Poker? Las Vegas? I don’t speak that language, and it got a bit technical with the terms in the first few pages. I’m so glad that I continued, though– it was very worth it! In fact, The Incrementalists, by Steven Brust and Skylar White, was one of the better books I’ve read this year.
There were two narrators for the entire novel: Phil and Ren, the two protagonists. Usually I’m a little reserved about more than one point of view, but the authors managed to seamlessly switch back and forth without missing a beat. It was doubly effective since both characters were just so darn real. Even though there was a whole bunch of craziness going on they were still down to earth and relatable. I especially liked that even though they were in love there were doubts about the whole situation, just as there would be in real life. No perfect story here! Yet, in a way, it was perfect, because it was realistic.
The setting, as I previously mentioned, was in Las Vegas. It was limited to a few locations within the city though, so even though there was poker involved the rest of the characteristics associated with the city were mostly absent. I think this was both a good and bad thing. On one hand, if done correctly, a little more of the flavor of Las Vegas could have enhanced the story. On the other…well, let’s just say it could have been a disaster. The point is moot anyway.
The plot reminded me of a time travel movie. Not in any specific way, but in that I was always a few steps behind. There were quite a few twists and turns that I was not expecting. This only added to the excitement! There were several parts that I could not have predicted.
Overall it was an awesome journey through an alternate version of reality that I would gladly revisit. If you’d like to check it out you can find it here!
So this is my first of what will be many reviews of works of short fiction. I’ve long struggled with how to share my thoughts on an anthology as a whole, and I’ve finally come to the decision that I personally cannot. Instead, I’ve opted to review the stories individually. I’ll work my way through multiple books at the same time and periodically update on the blog with the recent reads reviews. Information on the anthology that the stories come from will be made available for your convenience, should you wish to explore any of them further.
Find my name by Ramsey Campbell (from Fearie Tales by Jo Fletcher Books, 2013)
A bit about the anthology: Okay, so the Fearie Tales anthology focuses on retelling fables and classic folk legends and classics, describing them as ‘Grimm and Gruesome.’ Having some of my favorite authors involved, I decided to expand my reading genre a bit and pick this one up, despite knowing it’s geared a bit more on the horror spectrum than I usually review.
This story is a re-imagining of the Rumplestiltskin fable in a modern setting. It’s more suspense than horror, and seemed to be most interested in giving you the heebie-jeebies for creepy weirdness than making you bite your nails or hide under a blanket. Nonetheless, I did find the macabre setting to be interesting. The villain of the story has a mocking, sort of tongue-in-cheek way of haunting that I found amusing. For a short story, I would have liked for the pacing to be a bit more upbeat, but I definitely see why it wasn’t; the slower delivered eerie grim mystery required the extra time to sink in and get under your skin.
The Year Without a Santa Claus by William Leisner (from ReDeus: Divine Tales by Crazy 8 Press, 2012)
A bit about the anthology: The premise for Redeus: Divine Tales is that all of the gods from every religion have come back to earth, literally all of them. Naturally, that could lead to more than a little bit of a problem for us humans. The premise for this one really intrigues me and I’m a big fan of mythology. While I’m not familiar with any of the authors by name, I’m looking forward to being introduced to some fresh voices.
The title of this story made it a perfect fit for a bit of holiday season reading, am I right? Okay, so this story really hammers the anthology theme home. The returned gods demand patronage try to assert themselves, and in a short period of time they change everything about our normal lives. This story has a lot of religious implications and also has a strong message about the resilience and will of people to resist oppression and servitude. It’s a good message and a fairly quick read. While it didn’t blow me out of the water, it was definitely a very competent story. The writer also gets some bonus points for using a lesser known god like Jiibayaabooz; because nothing says ‘worship me’ like a giant bunny!
The God-Sword by Diana L. Paxson (from Excalibur by Warner Books, 1995)
A bit about the anthology: Over 25 stories and poems about Excalibur, the mythical sword of Arthurian legend. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, well how about stories from Marion Zimmer Bradley, Charles de Lint, Diana Gabaldon, Mercedes Lackey and many more? There are a few other heavy hitters in here, but name dropping is tiresome. Suffice to say, this lineup is loaded. Due to some bargain shopping, this little gem fell into my hands. While I was too young to know about it and enjoy it in ’95, I am sure I’ll love it now.
Stories like this one are why I read short fiction. It’s impressive when an author is able to write such a complete story in so few words and pags. Diana somehow manages to balance the action, courage and overall spirit of an Arthurian legend. The story is very well paced, and the story was surprisingly very heatfelt, in no small part due to a bittersweet ending that feels so very right for the hard times. Another thing I really enjoyed about this story is how it read a lot like a historical fantasy, downplaying the fantastical elements for a very genuine authentic feel. The world is not devoid of magic, but it’s contained in realism.
Have an anthology or a short story you’d like to see me review? Here’s a link to my book review policy, which states the genres I read. For individual short stories, I do not require print editions: REVIEW POLICY!
I hope you all enjoy this new style of reviewing for short fiction. I’ve really enjoyed reading these first three stories, and I think breaking them up into individual stories instead of entire books will allow me to more accurately convey my opinions of the book content.
Book Review: “The Goliath Stone” by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington
Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer’s controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer’s nanites also have the potential to make everyone on Earth rich from the wealth of asteroids.
Twenty-five years ago, the Briareus mission took nanomachinery out to divert an Earth-crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, only to drop out of contact as soon as it reached its target. The project was shut down and the technology was forcibly suppressed.
Now, a much, much larger asteroid is on a collision course with Earth—and the Briareus nanites may be responsible. While the government scrambles to find a solution, Glyer knows that their only hope of avoiding Armageddon lies in the nanites themselves. On the run, Glyer must track down his old partner, William Connors, and find a way to make contact with their wayward children.
As every parent learns, when you produce a new thinking being, the plans it makes are not necessarily your plans. But with a two-hundred-gigaton asteroid that rivals the rock that felled the dinosaurs hurtling toward Earth, Glyer and Connors don’t have time to argue. Will Glyer’s nanites be Earth’s salvation or destruction?
I’m not a huge fan of hard core science fiction. I tend to get lost in the rambling scientific terms and my lack of a rocket science degree makes me feel like I’m missing out on half the story. However, The Goliath Stone (by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington) was actually pretty enjoyable.
As far as the techno-babble went, it had both high and low points. I enjoyed the parts that were written from the nanites’ point of view. Those were just another (easily understandable) part of the story, and an interesting one as well. Who honestly doesn’t want to read about the evolution of a nanite colony in progressive order? As the book progressed, though, I found my eyes glazing over more than once as the conversations became more and more scientifically oriented. If you’re used to that sort of thing I’m sure it’s easy to follow. If you’re not, well… have to start somewhere, right?
I respected the characters in the book. Part of the reason for this was because of the questionable motives some held, such as the personal crusade of William Conners to “fix” humanity. Tempting, but really, how well could that actually work? It provokes multitudes of questions to ponder. The conversations were lightning fast. Indeed, sometimes I found it necessary to re-read a passage to make sure I hadn’t missed anything (especially the literary references, given mostly by Conners).
The one thing I was truly let down over was the pacing. The book itself isn’t really that long– only 320 pages. So when the plot kept building with no resolution in sight as the pages dwindled I became concerned. The ending came abruptly, with a rather dull climax. It seemed that the entire book was a preface. I suppose you could call the final paragraph or so “inspiring”, but I really think it could have been developed more instead of adding more witty dialogue.
Overall, it was one of the more understandable science fiction books I’ve read. If you want to check it out then look here!
Movie Rant – Hunger Games: Catching Fire
(FIRST MOVIE SPOILERS)
Okay, so the first film in this series based on the YA novels by Suzanne Collins was good, but left me with a bad taste in the mouth due to the borderline plot rip-off from Battle Royale, a novel by Japanese writer, Koushun Takami; it was later adapted to film in 2000 (Japanese language). Now I am assuming you are aware of the plot of the first film in THG (The Hunger Games) if you’re reading this; if you’re not, well you can stop reading now. Buckle your seatbelts and prepare for ranting, raving and maybe a bit of reviewing!
Okay, so Battle Royale is a story where children are picked from school districts in Japan and imprisoned in a man made dome-like wilderness. Only one student can survive, and they are forced to kill each other to win. Sound familiar? Why yes, yes it does. Despite the unoriginal content of THG, it was still an entertaining movie due to entertaining action sequences and the breakout star, Jennifer Lawrence. So it achieves an award for being a good popcorn flick, but the second film, luckily, has a considerably more ambitious goal.
Catching Fire is a good movie, with a great cliff hanger, possibly even too good, as it leaves you feeling the story segment is a bit incomplete. Now try not to judge me too harshly for not knowing the story going in, but the books just didn’t interest me. I read what I personally enjoy, and that does not often include YA books. But the impressive thing is the vast increase in the stories scope. With so many plot opportunities opened up with this installment in the series, I am rather intrigued to see what will be done to tidy everything up with a pretty bow and leave moviegoers with the warm and fuzzies.
The other drastic change from THG to Catching fire is the significant increase in scope, both politically and in cast. We always knew there was a darkness in the capital, but now we’re really getting to see the politicians of the infrastructure up close and personally. On the other hand, some of the pompous rich people start to seem a bit more human as well. Could that be a tiny conscience sneaking up on the heartless buggers? I think “yes.”
The first film was a solid 6.5/10 for me. While Catching Fire was not quite amazing, the increase in plot originality and character base has me excited to see the conclusion. The film struggles with pacing at times, and the newer character members don’t quite get the backstory and screen time I would have liked to flesh them out, but it’s heading in the right direction and I can confidently say the film improves an entire point, to rest at the respectable rating of 7.5. There’s something to be said for ending strong, and this certainly did that.
Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World
As many of you are probably aware, Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor, premiered semi-recently. There was (and still is, for those who haven’t seen it) a huge amount of hype about the movie. As an avid fan of the Marvel movies, I was very excited to go see it–I was not disappointed.
First of all, I was extremely pleased with the character development. I was so glad that Taylor decided to give the characters more dimensions. This was especially evident with Thor and Loki. Thor, for one, was not simply an attractive lump of muscle. He had feelings. He showed his feelings. He did not explode (that hardly counts as a spoiler). Loki’s development was similar; we see a little bit of the deranged reasoning that makes him tick. The dynamic between the two, however, was priceless. Thor is no longer the naive, trusting fellow he once was, and Loki is forced to realize this. Their subsequent actions reflect this change. While a was a bit let down about Jane Foster, it wasn’t the end of the world. She simply was someone to rescue (albeit a sassy someone).
The scenery was breathtaking and the action was not overdone. If you have problems with objects moving too quickly though, be warned; there are several fast-paced scenes that were somewhat hard to follow. On the opposite end of the spectrum there were also parts that I wanted them to get on with it. Taylor managed to strike a happy medium most of the time though.
The plot (I shall reveal nothing important) was good. It was a continuation of both the first Thor film and the Avengers. Though if you prefer all of your loose ends wrapped up neatly at the end of a movie it would be misleading to say that this was perfect. Of course, we will just have to look forward to the next Thor movie!
I was very satisfied with Thor: The Dark World in the end. If you go see it I hope you are as well.
Book Review: “Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love” by Mercedes M. Yardley
Her mama always said she was special.
His daddy called him a demon.
But even monsters can fall in love.
Montessa Tovar is walking home alone when she is abducted by Lu, a serial killer with unusual talents and a grudge against the world. But in time, the victim becomes the executioner as ‘Apocalyptic’ Montessa and her doomed lover, ‘Nuclear’ Lulu, crisscross the country in a bloody firestorm of revenge.
I’m going to start with this statement: Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A tale of Atomic Love is a very short book that packed an enormous punch. I have never been so sucked into a story in only 98 pages–and I am very serious about this. Wherever Mercedes Yardley is, she should get a high five.
Now let me explain.
My first qualm was about the length. 98 pages (at least on my device)? That’s it? That’s barely filler for many sci-fi/fantasy/horror books. I was concerned that the plot would suffer, not to mention the development of the characters. However, although I did read the book in one setting (I couldn’t stop), I shouldn’t have worried. The plot unfolded quickly, but it wasn’t forced. It flowed naturally until the very end. I was actually impressed with how thorough the storyline was–it was better than some books I’ve read that weigh in at over one thousand pages.
The characters also came to life for me as I read. While there were a couple of supernatural elements involved, the two protagonists (Montessa and Lu) are very real people that I could relate to. Well, not the serial killer part, but their humanness. I was impressed with Yardley’s subtle addition of clues to each of their pasts that gave a sense of why they are the way they are. I quickly became very attached to both of them, and may have shed tears at certain points throughout the novel.
The last point I’m going to touch on is the actual writing. I think that this novel was one of the most enthralling and fascinating, and it was the engaging writing style that made it so. I enjoyed the descriptions (they were all very fiery and destructive, but in a beautiful kind of way), and of course the dialogue. While I would like to warn potential readers that the novel is very violent and bloody in parts, that only made it even more interesting for me. After all, it’s not every day that you identify with two serial killers.
I would highly recommend this book, and right now it’s on sale for $2.99 here!