Review – The Green and the Black by William Meikle

October 19, 2018 at 10:26 pm (dark fantasy, horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

When I was growing up, I owned an encyclopedia of fairies that I loved to revisit on a regular basis. My favourites were some of the darker tales from the mines, such as those of the knockers and redcaps. I also had a fascination for rocks – I even joined the Dawson Geology Club in university and ended up a member of the Science Society despite the fact that I was an arts student at the time. For these reasons, and others, this book really spoke to me.

I could relate to the characters in the story, their excitement about the historic site (providing the setting for the story) and being from Atlantic Canada, I could appreciate how well the author described their surroundings. It was almost like venturing out on another geological field trip, abandoning civilization for the deep woods. Along with well-executed scene-setting and atmosphere, I also enjoyed the author’s method of tension-building. In my opinion, there aren’t enough horror stories anymore that do that as well as this one does. There’s too much focus on an intro “hook”, on gore, and on spectacle and not enough on the development of the psychological elements of horror. I prefer the slow build that establishes and then grows a sense of the eerie, so that the reader is given a chance to become invested in both the characters and the story-line before things go terribly wrong.

The only two very minor complaints I have about the book is that I would have preferred more character development for Bill and Doug, who felt a little two-dimensional, and I would have preferred to see at least one female character with a role other than just supporting ones … girlfriend and mother. I can understand the reasoning behind not including women in the field group because there are fewer women studying in those fields, but I can attest to the fact that they do exist and are becoming more common. I have female friends who are geologists, engineers, archeologists and botanists and they have done fieldwork. I think the added diversity would have been nice (but this is strictly a personal preference.)

This book was a quick, chilling, and entertaining read with an intriguing combination of the historic and the supernatural. Definitely worth my time and highly enjoyable. I would recommend it to horror and dark fantasy fans alike.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Triggers

October 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , )

Triggers – by Robert J. Sawyer

I love science fiction, but I rarely read it. The reason I rarely read it is because I don’t like the way most people write it. There are exceptions to the rule. I’m a big fan of Arthur C. Clarke; Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End are two of my favourites. I also adored Asimov’s I, Robot, and enjoyed science fiction by Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card and Robert Heinlein, but these are the exceptions. I find the majority of science fiction writers who take a hard science approach to their stories turn the science into the protagonist or antagonist of the tale, rather than allowing that privilege to one or more of their characters. It accentuates the science, but makes the story feel cold and analytical. It loses its heart. Thankfully, Robert J. Sawyer is not one of those writers, and that’s why I continue to enjoy his books.

Triggers is another one of those delights. The science is woven into the core of the plotline and his research is obvious, but his characters are not just part of the backdrop presented to highlight the science. There is a strong human element to his tale, and he uses the scientific anomaly in the story to touch on such topics as racism, domestic and sexual abuse, professional ethics, and the conflict that sometimes occurs between human rights and the need for national security. I was very impressed by the multiple story threads he had entwined around the central theme, none of them more significant than another, and all of them tied to the science of his fiction. I also like the way he plays with a few extraneous ideas, like the thought processes of those on the autism spectrum (something that impacts me directly) and unusual but notable occurrences like “nominative determinism” (which I just happened to be discussing with my co-workers a couple of days before I read that section of the book, coincidentally.)

I’ve always been fascinated with the concepts of telepathy and the science of memory, so this book probably ranks as one of my favourites by Mr. Sawyer, along with Rollback and The Terminal Experiment (the first book of his I ever read.) I would definitely recommend it as both an enlightening and an entertaining read.

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