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7.29.2008

FALL OF CTHULHU: THE FUGUE

This is the first graphic novel reviewed on The Soulless Machine Review. I think that it is fitting that the theme revolves around my all time favorite short story author, H. P. Lovecraft.

Fall of Cthulhu: The Fugue is the compilation of the first five comic books in the Fall of Cthulhu serial published by Boom! Studios. I want to say this right away. This is one of the most amazing modern interpretations of Lovecraft’s Mythos that I have come across yet. If you are a Lovecraft fan, you will need to pick this up right away.

The story starts out with gritty prologue of an unknown figure and his servant on a boat in a swamp. They are looking for something, no someone, who has been dead a long time. This figure is very powerful; he is able to raise, bring back to life (if you can call it that) the famed author of the Necronomicon. This is an amazing way to start.

Then the prologue ends. I wanted it keep going, but on with the plot. We are introduced to Cy, a young man who is working on his masters at Miskatonic University in Arkham, MA. Cy and his girl friend and hopefully fiancée, but the matter seems to be unresolved do the lack of a ring. The banter that takes place here almost made me put the comic down. I’m so glad that I didn’t. The fraternity talk only takes up a few frames before something crazy happens, Cy’s uncle show up, he is supposed to be in Mexico, and shoots himself in the head.

From here the story gets really good. Cy becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what happened that would push his uncle over the top. In his search Cy discovers his uncle’s note books. They are filled with words and scripts that he can’t make out. Everyone that Cy enlists to help him is affected in some horrible way. You’re going to have to read it find out.

I will go on to say this, the story line with the knife that was in his uncle’s bag and Cy’s girlfriend is what puts this over into classic Lovecraft. I’m not saying more.

One more thing, the comic does venture into the Dreamlands where the elder gods and minor demons and spawn sing their hideous songs. These sections are so well done that I’m not sure that I’ll ever see the Dreamlands in any other way.

So if you haven’t caught on yet, I really think that if are a fan, like I am, you should run out and pick this one up right away.

IA! IA! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Fall of Cthulhu: The Fugue. Story, Michael Alan Nelson. Art, Jean Dzialowski. Dreamland Sequences, Andrew Ritchie. Letters (Intro Story), Terri Delgado and Marshall Dillon. Letters (Part 1 – 5), Ed Dukeshire. Managing Ed. Marshall Dillon. Asst. Ed. Joyce El Hayek. Cover Artist, Vatche Mavlian. Back Cover Artist, Tyler Walpole. Las Angles: Boom! Studios, 2008.

7.24.2008

WHERE CREDIT IS DUE by Edward M. Lerner

This is a very short story, Flash Fiction, if you will that treads on the edge of being antidotal.

It is about the economy and politics and presidents who try to appeal to the public in such a way as to placate, calm, and confuse. It is a very timely piece. Bush won’t do anything. McCain believes in the Bush plan. Obama wants to provide more handouts. I don’t like any of these non-solutions.

In the story, the president wants the people to believe that a new computer system will be able to aptly access the problem and provide solutions. This new system will be up and running soon. Until then, the people should hang tight. We wouldn’t want to do anything without the help of a computer.

The writing is very well put down on the page. I’m angry from word one, which seems to be the point of the story, to make the reader angry. However, it is a good story. I’m almost always impressed with the Probability Zero section each month.

Well done!

Lerner, Edward M. “Where Credit is Due.” Analog. October 2008, Vol. CXXVIII, No. 10. P. 74 - 75

7.21.2008

Me Too!

Saw this here: Cool. I'm a Badass

Your result for The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test...

Dunedain

You scored 0% Size & Strength, 71% Morality, 35% Aggression, and 82% Intelligence.


Congratulations, you're one of the Dunedain. You scored high on size & strength, high on morality, low on aggression and high on intelligence. The Dunedain are all that remains of the once great line of men from Numenor. Described as tall, with dark hair and grey eyes, the Dunedain are much greater in stature and spirit than common men. Those of high rank are possessed of enhanced wisdom and occasional prophecy, in addition to just being bigger and stronger. Aragorn himself was described as being 6'6" and was one of only three warriors to come out of the Battle of Pelennor Fields completely unscathed. (Incidentally, only one of the three was not Dunedain). He was also able wrest control of the Palantir from Sauron using just the force of his will. Summary: Dunedain = Bad Ass.

FYI, your polar opposite is the Orc. You know, those nasty little critters you've been beating the living hell out of since you were three. Yeah, those.

Take The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test at HelloQuizzy

YOG-SOTHOTH, SUPERSTAR by Thomas F. Monteleone

I think that I’m on a Lovecraftian kick. I think that is has to do with my fan-story that I just can’t get right. I’m stuck. So, I’ve been reading other fan-stories to see how others have handled their obsession with Lovecraft’s Mythos. I have lots of books that I’ve only cracked once. So, I pulled out Songs of Cthulhu: Tales of the Spheres Beyond Sound and looked though the table of contents, “Yog-Sothoth, Superstar” caught my attention.

I loved this story. It was quick and well written. The style was not the typical third person removed observer that most Mythos uses. This story is completely written in documents, faxes, letters, phone calls, and new broadcasts. These documents give the reader a good lens into the action.

The story is about a play called “Lovecraft, I Love You.” This play is being produced by The Arkham Board of Directors. Everyone who works on the play feels like it is doomed to fail. The Director even tries to leave the play; he did not read his contract close enough and soon mysteriously disappears. However, despite everyone’s fears, the play is a smashing success and the original cast CD is top of the charts.

After a few performances, New York begins to experience earthquake-like tremors. These tremors increase in frequency and strength each time the play take the stage. Soon, there is something, something big ringing up from the harbor.

This is a really good story. I recommend it to anyone, but specifically to fans.

Monteleone, Thomas F. “Yog-Sothoth, Superstar.” Songs of Cthulhu: Tales of the Spheres Beyond Sound. Ed. Stephen Mark Rainey. Hayward: Chaosium, 2001. p 201 - 211

7.19.2008

UNHOLY DOMAIN by Dan Ronco

Unholy Domain by Dan Ronco was the second novel that I read while I was in Puerto Vallarta, to read the review of the first, click here: DARWIN’S PARADOX by Nina Munteanu.

Imagine a world several years after a computer virus called Peacemaker destroyed nearly all internet connections in the world and infected almost all computers. In this world, Peacemaker is indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people do to loss of remote control of utilities, phones, satellites, hospitals; everything that we take for granted stopped working.

In the aftermath, the government has taken control of all technology related R&D; and in the wake of this take over, two opposing forces have arisen: the Technos, who push the envelope, creating new and illegal technologies, which are sold on the black market by the mob; and the Church of Natural Humans, a terrorist-like sect of Christianity that believes all machines, smart-technologies, are spawns of the devil.

In this world, your name is David Brown. You’re smart. You’re good looking and women flock to you. You’re not wealthy, but you don’t want for money. You have everything going for you, except that you are the son of the man who created and unleashed Peacemaker.

Unholy Domain is an action packed coming of age story in which David Brown must uncover hidden secrets about his father, secrets that others have killed to keep, secrets that if uncovered could change everything. In his search, David will go up against the Church of Natural Humans, the Techos, and an intelligent internet program that threatens to suck his consciousness out of his body and into the World Wide Web forever.

Ronco’s writing is clear and detailed. I read every word. The plot is fast. A worthy comparison of Ronco's style would be: Michael Crichton’s action, William Gibson attention to technical detail, and Elmore Leonard’s tough guy attitude. This combination finds a unique and entertaining mix in Ronco’s fiction, creating a book that I couldn’t put down long enough to enjoy the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.

I highly recommend Unholy Domain to anyone interested in the future of human consciousness, technology, and the evolution of the human machine.

Other Blog Reviews:
Unholy Domain reviewed at Bookgasm

Ronco, Dan. “Unholy Domain.” Largo: KÜNATI, 2008

7.13.2008

Copyediting Puzzel

Classical Bookworm posted So You Think You Can Edit? with a link to an article in the Washington Post that challenges you to find all the errors within the text. I'm by no means the best editor, but I found 50 of the 57. How many can you find?

Yanks Thump Sox
Prime rate to remain stable, Bernanke says

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, June 22, 2008; Page W32

DARWIN’S PARADOX by Nina Munteanu

Darwin’s Paradox is one of the two books that I took with me on my vacation to Puerto Vallarta last week. I’ve been meaning to read it for months. I bought a copy close to the release date because I’m a big fan of Nina Munteanu’s short fiction that she posts online (click here and scroll down to the side bar “Nina's short stories:” or check out my reviews of three of them: A BUTTERFLY IN PEKING, JULIA’S GIFT, & VIRTUALLY YOURS).

The other book that I read was Unholy Domain by Dan Ronco. I’ll get to that one later this week. But I bring it up know because both books, to my surprise and delight, covered the exact same subject matter: the evolution of Human and Machine into technological man (Ronco’s term).

Munteanu’s idea of how humanity will evolve to be able to communicate with machines is a deeply fascinating one. It involves merger of three types of consciousness, an evolved Human, Artificial Intelligence, and a Human Virus. How this all works is that an evolved human called a Veemeld, whose genetics allow them connect their minds directly to machines through a special headset, is infected with a Human Various called Proteus, which allows the infected Veemeld to communicate with machines without the special headset. However, it is also necessary for Proteus to have infected the Artificial Intelligence for it all to work.

Have I lost you yet? The communication process, bridge created by Proteus, is made clear through Munteanu’s writing. So, don’t worry. Read the book. If you get lost with all the new jargon, Munteanu has provided a glossary at the end of her book.


I must admit that I’m interested in the idea of an organic, I mean biological, viral, means to communicate with Artificial Intelligence. For this reader, it was a new twist to the idea that as we progress technology so must we evolve or risk or being out paced by our own creations.

Munteanu’s drama is tied up in the character of Julie Crane, the daughter of a brilliant scientist behind Darwin, a self aware virus that killed thousands before correcting itself and becoming Proteus, and the center of a conspiracy that threatens to destroy her family and the known world. It is up to Crane and band of unlikely heroes to uncover the evil mastermind behind the plot that could change things forever. Can Cane overcome her dark past and seek the answer living within her own body and soul?

You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

There is more to Darwin’s Paradox than just the strong and beautiful Julie Crane and her fight against the evil mastermind. There is the ugly and scared cult the Vee-radicators, who want to rid the world of the Veemelds. They consider Julie Crane the evilest person on the planet and hunting down and killing her is their priority number one.

Or you have the adventurous but naïve daughter of Crane, Angel. Angel is a second generation Veemeld and quickly learns that she is better off joining up with Proteus. She then becomes super street-smart with the help of some other children she meets in the city, and in true Scooby Doo style, saves the day, well, almost.

Munteanu’s prose is tightly woven and written without apologies for the complex language and scientific terms that are bounced around, which is refreshing. She assumes a smart reader, a reader not afraid to pick up a dictionary, or at least flip to the back of the book to see she included it in her glossary of terms. I particularly enjoyed the in depth discussion of Chaos Theory and how it played out in the plot.

Speaking of plot, I think that I’ve given much of it away, but I would like to say one more thing about Munteanu’s plot structure. The plot structure does not, in this reader’s opinion, adhere to the male-styled rising plot arch. That is not a judgment. It is just the way the story reads. Instead, the plot has one major peak with subsequent lesser peaks as the plot enters the denouement. It gives the book a never-ending quality, or I should say that it has multiple points where the story could have ended, but it went on and provide hope and a sense of renewal.

I say that if you are interested in the evolution of the Human and AI, then this is a must for your collection.

Munteanu, Nina. Darwin’s Paradox. Calgary: Dragon Moon Press, 2007.

7.12.2008

Puerto Vallarta 2008

My wife, her mother, and I just got back from Puerto Vallarta last night. We were there for a week. It is not something that we could afford on our own; it is good to have mother-in-law who sells vacation packages to travel agents in the family.

The picture to the left is of the Grand Velas Resort, a wonderful place to stay in Nuevo Vallarta. I loved every minute I was there (well, except that I got a nasty head cold after one day at the beach).

The ocean was so warm. I could have stayed in the water all day every day, except that we wanted to see more that just the resort town.

I had such a good time. I want to return to Mexico soon.

I'll post more pictures when I get around to reviewing the two books that I read while traveling.

7.04.2008

SECOND SHORT STORY PUBLICATION CREDIT

Rock, Paper, Scissors is going to take another of my short stories, "The Methuselah Project." This is my second fiction publication credit. They published "The Paperless Doctrine of 2152" last year.

"The Methuselah Project" is a story that will be included in my Master's thesis, "Keeping Watch," along with "The Paperless Doctrine of 2152" and a few others. It is about a drug that was sold to pregnant couples that wanted to give their child an edge in life, that of a long life. The problem is that no one new the true power of the drug. There is also a faction composed of religious zealots that believe that any child or person affected by the drug is an affront to God's glory.


The story is told from many perspectives, including M1 or Methuselah, the first to have been treated with the drug. At the time of the story is already more than 150 years old, but looks and feels like someone between 25 and 30.


The government, now run by the religious zealots has rounded every last person affected by the drug for execution. This is where they discover what M1 already new, a person affected by the drug can not be killed. They can be dismembered, they can be incinerated, but eventually they will live again.


Here is a short unedited teaser (the journal will be available in the late fall):



The Methuselah Project


The Interviews 10/25/2150 – Tessa Roy



TR: I didn’t choose this.

M1: None of us did. Tell me when you realized your gift.

TR: Gift. We’re been rounded up and numbered. How could you?

M1: It will be easier for both of us if you answer without the hostility. Please. Tell me when you realized your gift.

TR: I hate you. I really do.

M1: I know. Please.

TR: It was my fortieth birthday party. My father and a few friends knew that I loved old cars. The tail fins. The stripes. The leather bench seats made for sex. My father picked me up at 3:30. It was going to be just him and me. I had just divorced my second husband. The paper work had gone though two days earlier. My father surprised me by pulling up in classic black 1956 Cadillac El Dorado Seville with chrome rails and a pearl hardtop. We drove up the PCH along the coast until we got to a lookout and he parked the car and got out.

M1: So he told you?

TR: He had pictures from my twenty-fifth birthday. Close ups.


...

7.03.2008

CthulhuTech

I just found this great new RPG that I'm going to call my local game store, Tower Games, about tomorrow.

I'm already a big fan of the old school Chaosium version and the newer D20 that came out a few years ago.

I can't belive that I missed CthulhuTech. This is a great idea that combines two of my favorite genres, Horor and Science Fiction (anime style).

Check out their website http://www.cthulhutech.com/, they have a lot of free stuff that you can download, including a sample of the core book: CthulhuTech Core Book Sample.

I hope to get my hands on a copy of the core book soon. I see that it will be out some time in July. When I get a copy and have some time to sit with it, I'll put up more information about out it all shakes out. Untill then, check out their website and click the ad to the right (it will get bigger so that you can read it) that ran some time in 2007.

7.02.2008

MYLAKHRION THE IMMORTAL by Brian Lumley

This is the story of a sorcerer’s, Teh Atht, search for immortality. He is the descendent of one of the most powerful sorcerer’s of all time, Mylakhrion. Teh Atht is plagued with a question. Why did Mylakhrion not discover the secret to immortality?

Teh Atht’s question takes him into the mountains where he performs the necessary rites to summon his ancestor and put the screws to his ghost.

Mylakhrion answers the question of immortality with a story of madness and obsession that ended with the slumbering Cthulhu; Cthulhu being the only true immortal known to exist, to have escaped the cold vastness of space and time.

The trouble is that once you have stood in audience of the Great Lord Cthulhu, you are changed forever. You can’t escape he who rules the lands of dreams.

Teh Atht soon learns that he has been playing with fire. Mylakhrion has discovered the secret of immortality, the immortality that is available to the week flesh of humanity. The secret is possession. Mylakhrion’s ghost must inhabit the body of a relative, and what relative better to possess than that of sorcerer.

Teh Atht believes he has escapes Mylakhrion’s plan. But has he? That is the question the reader is left to ponder as the story closes.

A good read. Check it out!

Lumley, Brian. “Mylakhrion the Immortal.” The House of Cthulhu: Tales of the Primal Land, Volume 1. New York: TOR, 1991. p. 162 - 172

7.01.2008

Calls For Cthulhu

I found this today. I hope you enjoy it. There are many more where this came from. Check out http://www.callsforcthulhu.com/category/shows/.