On My Shelves: Wonder Woman

(technically it WILL be On My Shelves but was On The Screen) I recently had the opportunity to see the new Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot. This means I get to post a review of something that ISN'T ten years out of date! Short and unspoilery: This is what the DC-Cinematic universe has been waiting for, a movie with a superheroic main character who's allowed to be – who insists on being – a Super Hero, one whose conflicts stem from idealism versus the real world's limits, and that refuses to accept the real world's [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Annihilation Score

Dominique "Mo" O'Brien is a combat epistemologist, expert violinist, and field agent for The Laundry, the same ultra-top-secret bureaucracy that Bob Howard works for. In fact, Mo is married to Bob. Their marriage has had… stresses on it. All Mo has to deal with is her eldritch violin trying to either seduce her or control her (it's hard to say which), being suddenly assigned to run a brand-new division of law enforcement, having to work with Bob's fearsome ex Mhari, the sudden outbreak of superheroes (and villains) popping up everywhere, the [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Persona 5

"We will definitely take your heart!"   The Persona series of JRPGs, the most successful component of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, is simultaneously unique in its approach, and at the same time something of a perfect distillation of what makes console JRPGs work. I have previously reviewed Persona 3 and Persona 4, as well as Persona 4 Arena, a fighting game spinoff of 4 which had startlingly deep story and character elements. Those prior experiences set a terribly high bar for the sequel to clear. It succeeded. Like its [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: RUSH

"In the constellation of Cygnus there lurks/A mysterious, invisible force:/The black hole of Cygnus X-1…"   Many are the rock bands that emerged from the 1970s; few are those who survived the decades since. Even fewer are those that impressed me, not with one or two songs, but with entire ALBUMS that I would collect and listen to most of. My usual music-listening habits involve picking one or two songs out of an entire band's career that I like, which is why I rarely will say I like a given band. But there is one huge exception: the [ Continue reading... ]

The Rhesus Chart

Bob Howard, former eldritch IT manager, now field agent and applied computational demonologist and suit-in-training for the no-such-agency called the Laundry, really isn't having a good day. The strain of being involved in Lovecraftian peril isn't helping his marriage – especially when his wife Mo is also a field agent with a combat violin made by Erich Zann. He's barely got a grip on the responsibilities that are headed his way as the newest member of External Assets on "Mahogany Row". And then Andy, another Laundry employee, unleashes [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Rimsky-Korsakov’s _Scheherazade_

The Arabian Nights is a classic tale centering around Scheherazade, a young woman about to marry, who is faced with a truly daunting problem: the Sultan or king she's about to marry has all his wives executed the day after their wedding, to prevent any possible infidelity. (apparently his first wife had in fact been unfaithful). Scheherazade of course has no desire to be wed on one day and executed the next, so she devises a unique strategem: she asks to be allowed to say goodbye to her sister, who – according to plan – asks Scheherazade to [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Apocalypse Codex

Bob Howard, former network admin, now applied computational demonologist and sometime field agent for the it-doesn't-exist agency called the Laundry, has managed to survive the nearly soul-shattering events of The Fuller Memorandum, which puts him directly in line for something more terrifying: promotion, possibly into even having responsibility for other people. Unfortunately, as with many things Laundry-related, promotion is an offer you can't refuse – at least, not safely. And with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (more colloquially known as "When [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Danger of Metawriting, OR, How I Wrote A Book That Did Exactly What I Wanted And Screwed It Up Anyway

The Arenaverse novels – Grand Central Arena, Spheres of Influence, and now Challenges of the Deeps – are inarguably my most successful solo novels. Grand Central Arena itself has continued to bring in significant amounts of money for me even now, seven years after release. I'm also very proud of the Arenaverse itself; developing it was, and continues to be, a huge challenge. One of the Arenaverse's key aspects from a writer's and reader's point of view, of course, is that it is not merely a story but a salute to, and occasional commentary [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files #3)

Bob Howard, IT expert, computational demonologist, and sometime field agent for the ultra-top-secret U.K. agency called The Laundry, is back. Fresh from the James Bondian adventure of The Jennifer Morgue, Bob's married to Mo, who he rescued in the first book and who returned the favor with a vengeance in the second, and while any marriage that includes two people who know about the Great Old Ones and their impending arrival in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN isn't going to be filled with picket fences and cheery nights all the time, you might hope that [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Nero Wolfe, Revisited

Recently, I was in a discussion where I referred someone to the first version of this review/overview of one of the best series of mysteries ever written. To my surprise, the point I referred them to… wasn't there. I then found that, somehow, several pieces of the review had been left out. Thus, having also recently re-read the entire series, I decided it would be worthwhile to re-publish this review – with some considerable and considered additions! In a timeless brownstone in New York City, on West 35th Street, there lives a very [ Continue reading... ]