Friday, June 29, 2012

Shadow Swans by Laura Thomas

OK, so odd couple stories are nothing new.  Holmes & Watson.  Oscar & Felix.  Burt & Ernie.  Mulder & Scully.  Gilgamesh & Enkidu (look it up).  There's something that resonates in these sorts of pairings, the idea that we often need to cooperate with people who are seemingly our polar opposites in order to discover new aspects of ourselves.  So on the surface, the tale of independently wealthy Ruby Cooper befriending homeless Credenza R doesn't seem like anything new.

But the best pairings of this sort occur when both members are odd, extreme in opposite directions.  Laura Thomas wisely casts Ruby not as a worldly-wise everywoman, but rather as a Howard Hughes-ian style recluse who spends her spare time in an otherwise abandoned building crafting hummingbirds from garbage.  It is, therefore, completely plausible that she would befriend a homeless woman.  Likewise, Credenza isn't some naïve runaway living off the streets, but a clever survivor belonging to a homeless community just as valid and complex as any society to which the average reader might relate.  While both women struggle with their own unique problems, we are never presented with a platitude about how one or the other lifestyle is the "right" way to live.

The story begins with a chance encounter between Ruby and Credenza on a subway platform.  Credenza has never left the tunnels beneath the New York subway system, due to a severe allergy to sunlight (which may or may not be psychosomatic), and so employs Ruby to make shopping trips for her.  After several such trips, Ruby finally dares to follow her friend back to a vast community of homeless people who live far beneath one of the wealthiest cities on Earth.  Perhaps inspired by Ruby's daring, Credenza finally works up the courage to take on a journey of her own.  However, her journey doesn't take her to the surface (as most readers might predict), but rather further into the tunnel systems, into a secret network of shelters whose ultimate purpose is disturbing to both women.

It's probably inaccurate to classify Credenza and the other subterraneans as homeless, since we see repeatedly that they have not only manufactured shelters with lighting and plumbing; but that their community has its own laws and means of enforcing them.  Each of the characters introduced has his or her own backstory and it would be easy to imagine Laura Thomas returning to this setting to tell further tales of Ben, Ghostface & Ali or Leopold the conspiracy nut.  The community she describes is based off the real-life communities existing beneath New York (which don't officially exist).

As a whole, I enjoyed this book, although there were elements which seemed to ring false (Ruby Cooper is a twenty-two year-old millionaire social network designer who shows no interest in computers or social networking).  The second half of the story presents an adventure setting normally reserved for post-apocalyptic fiction, but which is likely to actually exist in one form or another beneath the streets we walk.  This is the first novel by Laura Thomas and I will certainly be watching for future work by this promising new author.

You can order a copy of the book here and here or a copy of the e-book here and here.  You can also go the Shadow Swans website to learn more about the book and its author.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things review on Black Gate

Just posted my review of Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things by Ted Naifeh on Black Gate. It's recently been re-released as a deluxe hardcover and I'm hoping Ted Naifeh makes a lot of money off this amazing series of comics.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Burnham Society review on Black Gate

My review of The Burnham Society, a podcast series hosted by Made of Fail Productions, went up on Black Gate today. Check out the review and let me know what you think. Or forget what I have to say about it and just go to The Burnham Society home page.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mage review on Black Gate

My review of Mage: The Hero Discovered went up on Black Gate a few days ago. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Her Words Make It Go Away in One Buck Horror, Volume Five

Volume five of One Buck Horror is finally available and it leads with one of my stories, "Her Words Make It Go Away".  There's also stories by Brendan Detzner (author of "Scarce Resources", a fine collection of stories that I reviewed on this blog last year), Genevieve Rose Taylor (author of the e-book, "Prince of Kriti"), Grá Linnaea (check out a list of everything he's published here), Michael A. Pignatella (who received an honorable mention for his story, "Remember the Face of Your Son") and Richard Thomas (author of "Transubstantiate" and over fifty published stories).

If you want to read a section of my story, you can go to the Amazon page and Click to LOOK INSIDE.  If you want to find out more about the book, go the One Buck Horror page.  As always, if you pick up a copy, let me know what you think.