Elements of a Good Review 4: The Last 300



Spartans. ATTACK!


A righteous one sneaks up on you. Take Wayne Simmons’ SF Dystopian Thriller, Plastic Jesus. Holy shit! He never spells out backdrop detail, but rather uses character interaction, sounds and smells,  even dialect, to paint a future noir similar to Blade Runner. Well… darker. I’ll never look at the web the same after spending two days wet-wired into Mr. Simmons’ future.


I’m super easy on Plot–pacing is more a moneymaker for me–though a good twist helps. Some favorites are Kim Curran’s Shift and Allison Dickson’s Strings. That last one will screw you up bad, too; unless you’re already wired into Plastic Jesus’ Lark City. As far as twist, Alex Black’s novella, Lisa With Child (Writers of the Future 26) delivers a what-if pregnancy and unconventional relationship with some stunning Escher angles.


This is a big one for me. I see a lot of genre fiction as an on-call reviewer. Most of it I don’t get through because it’s tired. Zombies are VERY tired at this point. Unless they are on a submarine, came from an even more gruesome source, and the world around them is a horrific glimpse of our eco-future. Suzanne Robb’s Z-Boat sent me to a whole new level of oh-shit discomfort, and the technical accuracy drove a spike right through “tired horror.”


True, I love a theme-driven story, but I won’t get butt-hurt if it’s not there. A.E. Rought’s Broken has a fantastic theme of healing, that plays counterpoint to her title and motif. Yet it is an invisible, living thing throughout, up until the end when it reaches out and gives you a hug before leaving you just as broken as her characters. Now THAT’S writing!

Hey, it’s been fun! Thanks so much for reading.



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1 Response to Elements of a Good Review 4: The Last 300

  1. sarobb says:

    I need to start doing reviews, and this is a great way to learn how to do it right. Thanks!

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