Tag Archives: David Constantine

BOOK REVIEW: The Pillars of Hercules by David Constantine

SYNOPSIS: In an Ancient World that wasn’t, Alexander the Great’s ambition is aided and opposed by an unlikely set of characters…and clockpunk/steampunk technology.


PROS: An interesting premise that maintains its freshness by being audacious; interesting plot twist causes readers to reexamine the premise.
CONS: Undeveloped and unchanging characters; unclear and muddled point of view; pacing.
VERDICT: A disappointment that never quite lives up to the promise of its concept.

The year is 330 B.C. and Alexander, in a bold campaign after conquering the Persian Empire, has decided (against his father’s wishes) to take on the Athenian Empire directly, starting with their rich province of Egypt. This is a very alternate history, one where Philip isn’t dead and Athens is still a power to be reckoned with.  Also: Alexander is fighting this war with steampunk and clockpunk technology, ranging from giant machine men to gigantic siege engines to incendiary devices — not to mention strange power sources, large maps rotated on gimbals, and much more.  This is not your typical Ancient Historical Novel, or Alternate History novel, either.

Continue reading

MIND MELD: Which SF/F Series Are Too Good To End?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Recently I was talking to a friend who had just finished reading Patrick Lee’s Deep Sky. He commented that the series was so good, it was a shame it had to end. That’s an intriguing statement, which I totally stold and repackaged for this Mind Meld! Here’s what we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Which SF&F books/series do you think are so good that it’s a shame they had to end?

Here’s what they said:

Jeremiah Tolbert
Jeremiah Tolbert is a writer and web designer living in Northern Colorado. His stories have appeared in magazines such as Interzone and Fantasy Magazine, and in anthologies such as Way of the Wizard and Seeds of Change. Zelazny’s stories have led to a life long fascination with the idea of multiverses. He’s thinking of naming his next computer “Ghostwheel.”

I’m most often happy to finish a series or book; there are so many wonderful authors I want to read, it’s a blessing that good books actually do end so I can move on to the next one. Thank you, great, established authors, for giving newer authors a chance to captivate an audience by not dragging your series out to thirty-plus titles.

That said, if perhaps some lucky soul, while digging through an old and mysterious steam trunk, found the manuscripts to six more Chronicles of Amber books by Roger Zelazny — well, no earthly force could stop me from acquiring them and devouring their contents. As it is, I battle constant temptation to reread the existing 10 books in the giant omnibus collection I picked up in college as a graduation present to myself.

(Heading into spoilers territory here!), I always felt like the second Amber series ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. As a young teen in the 90s reading the books for the first time, the biggest question remaining for me was, what lies on the other side of Corwin’s Pattern? As a writer, this series has influenced me more than anything else, at least in terms of what I want to accomplish. If I can have the effect on some 13 year old kid the way Zelazny did me, then I’ll consider my work a success.

As much as I wish Zelazny had written another sub-series of titles before his death, I have never been tempted to read the prequels. It’s clear from accounts by authors such as George R.R. Martin that Zelazny intended Amber to end with him. But, perhaps, in another Shadow…alas, I have not walked the Pattern, and the way is closed to me.
Continue reading