REVIEW SUMMARY: A followup of an urban fantasy novel that builds strongly on its predecessor.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: James Quill and his ‘Shadow Police’ team must deal with the apparent esoteric return of Jack the Ripper in the midst of protests and a possible police strike.
PROS: Excellent followup of theme and character beats from London Falling; strong high-concept elevator pitch that pays off in the execution.
CONS: Grimness and darkness in the book might be too much for some readers.
BOTTOM LINE: A strong, dark drink of dark urban fantasy that successfully builds on the groundwork of the first.
“Jack the Ripper is back, only this time he’s killing rich white men”
Its an irresistible high concept, isn’t it? Amid protests and a possible strike by the London police, men are dying in gory, unexplainable ways. Deaths without a weapon being left on the scene, without physical evidence. Is it the protesters, seeking to turn violent their rage against the system? Is it someone using the protests to settle old grudges? Or is it the spirit of London itself, violently convulsing as its inhabitants do?
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
DC reportedly has at least seven movies in development. Marvel has movies planned out to 2028. Star Wars kicks off a new trilogy next year and has at least two spinoffs already in development. Then there are the upcoming TV shows — Gotham, The Flash, Agent Carter, Daredevil… With that in mind, we asked our esteemed panel…
Q: Is this too much of a good thing? Or a dream come true? Do you ever get sick of the constant movie news updates? What are your thoughts about the recent influx of shows and movies from these big franchises?
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
It was the recent Mind Meld on Favorite Convention Panels, combined with the romance of the phrase “All of time and space. Everything that ever happened or ever will…,” that inspired me to ask our panelists this question:
Q: If you could take one trip in the T.A.R.D.I.S., where would you go?
Here’s what they said:
While you are still marveling over Paul Cornell’s London Falling, the ever-vigilant Rising Shadow is tracking the sequel. Behold, the cover and synopsis of the upcoming (as in April 2014) novel The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell!
Here’s the synopsis:
REVIEW SUMMARY: Hot on the heels of a weekend spent at ConQuest 44 in Kansas City, MO, which featured both George R.R. Martin and Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio, I review the latest Wild Cards stories acquired and edited for Tor.com by Martin himself. Artist John Picacio provides the accompanying art for both novelettes.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the Wild Cards world of Jokers and Aces, two troubled individuals attempt to come to grips with their genetic traits and a world in which they are not entirely welcome.
PROS: Each author captures a strong sense of place; characters whose voices fit well; the first story sets up the Wild Cards world for those unfamiliar with the concept.
CONS: Cherie Priest’s story could have stretched on longer for a more fulfilling ending; Paul Cornell’s style was initially jarring until you realize just how well it fits the protagonist he created.
BOTTOM LINE: I am one of the newbies I referred to above. These two stories were my first foray into the Wild Cards universe and I knew next to nothing about this shared world until I read these stories. I was drawn to read these because of the serendipity mentioned in the opening and also because I have long been a fan of Priest’s writing and follow Paul Cornell on the SF Squeecast and thus have been curious about his writing. Both stories are told with the precision and skill of seasoned authors and, as hand-picked representatives of GRRM’s creation, they do a really nice job of making an uniformed reader like me sit up and take notice. As stand alone stories they each have strengths, but they also have weaknesses that I believe are more a product of being a part of a long-standing series than anything else. Overall these two stories are a good introduction to the world of the Wild Cards and I suspect fans of the series will have much to like in this new material.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Four police officers investigating a mobster’s death are sucked into the arcane and hidden world of London.
PROS: Excellent police procedural elements; believable and realistic portrayal of what such individuals would do with such a gift.
CONS: A couple of the breaks in POV away from the officers, especially a flashback sequence, don’t feel as strong as the remainder of the book; subject matter may not suit certain readers.
BOTTOM LINE: An extremely strong, page-turning novel.
Being a undercover police detective (UC) or an analyst in the London police force is not easy. If it’s not dealing with mobsters and the lowlifes in the department, there’s corruption, bureaucratic incompetence and rigidity, and the general daily grind of what it means to be a police officer. So when an unlikely encounter gives you the ability to see ghosts and other otherworldly things, it’s just one more problem for you to have to deal with. It’s disconcerting, if not bloody terrifying, and it reveals that there are things that do go bump in the night. So, as an officer in the London police force, what do you do?
You keep calm, carry on, and do your bloody job. Even if your remit is now wider, and stranger, than you could possibly have ever imagined.
I talked about Demon Knights, the Paul Cornell-scripted series from DC, in this column not so long ago, and thought it’d be fun to follow that up with a chat with the man himself. Here’s that chat, but first just a word or two of intro.
Paul Cornell’s got a pretty remarkable body of work under his belt, from the writing point of view. He’s a screenwriter, novelist and comics writer of very considerable experience. He’s also a knowledgeable and sincere fan of all things science fictional, as regularly demonstrated on the Hugo-winning SF Squeecast, where he’s a regular.
The two comics series that currently have his name on them are the aforementioned Demon Knights from DC (though since this discussion, it’s been announced he’ll be handing over those writing duties to a successor shortly) and Saucer Country, his creator-owned series from DC’s Vertigo imprint. Also imminent is the first in a series of novels, London Falling, more info on which will be revealed in what follows.
On with the talk …
Last year DC Comics – one of the two corporate behemoths dominating the monthly comics market in the US – cancelled all their superhero titles, some of which had unbroken runs stretching back decades, and relaunched with 52 new #1s. It was a Hail Mary pass, prompted by long-running and cumulatively punishing declines in circulation. (Marvel, DC’s great competitor, is similarly afflicted and they’re also going to try something dramatic, if less ambitious, relaunching 20+ of their titles starting in October).
As a result of the DC relaunch a heap of collected editions is starting to emerge, all introducing new storylines, characters and/or status quos, all notionally good starting points for the new or lapsed reader. As a semi-lapsed superhero aficionado, I figured I’d test these fresh waters, in a quest for nothing more complicated than fun.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I failed to adhere to my self-imposed quest parameters, getting thoroughly distracted by non fun-related things like the structure of certain famous movie endings, the power of nostalgia and the objectification of women in superhero comics. Indeed, despite only trying to talk about a couple of comics, I got distracted at such length that I’ve split what was going to be one column into two.
Today, then, you get the first installment, which is the one in which I get sidetracked by movie endings.