Back Off! Back Off! ARQ’ing Firestarter

firestarter_novelOne of the excellent side benefits of doing the Stephen King podcast is it gives me a vested interest in re-reading his books.  For our next one we will be revisiting Firestarter. Haven’t read this one in a long time and in my memory it sits below his top stuff works. I think my memory became tainted by the Keith David / Drew Barrymore movie. A flawed effort but with some redeeming qualities.

As to the book, it exists in two parts. The first part is a chase movie with Andy McGee and his seven year old daughter fleeing from the minions of the shop. The second half is an escape story. Both halves are pieces of clockwork precision in execution and ratcheting up the tension. But what really sells the story are not the bombastic set pieces but the quiet moments between Charlie and her father as he tries to help Charlie sort out the moral implications of using her powers. There are also small but twisted moments between Charlie and her assasin to be – Charles Rainbird.

Thoroughly enjoyed my re-read and much more than I thought I would. Also one of my favorite King book covers.


Netflix keeps out pumping new content and one of them was a SF time travel movie – ARQ – that takes place for over 99% of  it, in the same house. It’s Groundhog Day on a three hour loop with plenty of nifty twists along the way. Robbie Amell – Arrow’s Stephen Baldwin’s younger brother and Rachel Hunter – last seen in another Netflix original – Marvel’s Jessica Jones – do great work together as a fractured couple caught in the middle in of a war between a giant corporation and a rebel group. It’s well done and well worth a watch.

Dark Tower movie addendum – a rough print of the upcoming Dark Tower movie trailer leaked for a while on the internet. I’ll defer making any comments on it and will wait for the full fledged trailer expected to drop this Christmas. The quality was terrible and many FX shots were not completed.  I will say that overall the trailer has got me excited with only one sequence causing me doubt.


Book Review: End Of Watch

This is one of King’s smoothest books akin to a very aged Scotch.
So satisfying.
Not only is this one slick puppy it is as tightly crafted as a Swiss watch with genre conventions so seamlessly woven into the characters you never notice them until after the revealing moments.
End of Watch is the end of the Bill Hodges trilogy and in my opinion is the best of the three. It’s not just that King surprisingly brings in some fantastical elements to what has been a grounded mystery/thriller series but our affection for the characters which King is always so good at bringing to life. I still find it surprising that King went this route but am so glad he did. This is one helluva of a page turner and an excellent wrap up to the series.
He really stuck the landing with this one.
When I opened the book, I saw no words. I fell into a shared experience.

The City of Mirrors By Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin




Cronin didn’t just stick the landing, he nailed it and drove it deep into our hearts.

After the wonderful first novel and then the frustrating narrative tack taken with the unnessarily chrononoligically crippled second book – that relayed events better told in a linear fashion IMO – the final state of this series was up in the air pending the third book.

Thankfully and joyfully, Cronin delivers a third book where the breaks from the forward thrust of the narrative, enhance instead of detract. Never in The City Of Mirrors was there a moment where I longed to get back to the main story. Something that occurred far too frequently in the second book.

The strength of Cronin’s writing – throughout this series – is his ability to craft complex, flawed, and oh so wonderfully human characters. This is one of those exceptional series where you feel for all the characters, be they the main or supporting ones.

Cronin’s second biggest draw for me is his ability to tie individual personal moments to large scale events. An amazing talent, all the more so, because like all true gifts, he makes it look so easy.

This is a story about history and legends and people and about how all three intermingle. It is also a story that delivers on its promises and allows the reader the satisfaction of having all three made known to the characters in the story.

Mostly it’s a story about people. A story about love.

On deck – End of Watch by Stephen King. Wow – what a wonderful streak of books I have been reading!

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft

Heads up SF lovers!  This is an interesting collection of free SF short stories.

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft. You can find it on Amazon – Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft


This a heavy hitters collection of SF writers:

Future Visions features contributions from:

Elizabeth Bear
Greg Bear
David Brin
Nancy Kress
Ann Leckie
Jack McDevitt
Seanan McGuire
Robert J. Sawyer

…along with a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

Book Review: Ghostly Mind Frak

A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.


This is one chilling book. Tremblay structures the book in such a way that you are led to believe the expected climax of the book is one that will haunt you but what does haunt and linger with you after reading the last page is something else entirely.
Fifteen years after her older sister Marjorie Barrett was believed to be possessed, twenty-three year old Meredith – Merry – Barrett recounts those events to a writer chronicling those events. Most of the events are recalled from a then eight year old Merry’s perspective making her the unreliable narrator of the story. With her religious father out of work and her mother unable to earn enough to prevent the loss of their home, Marjorie’s medical bills force the Barrett’s to make a tough decision. They reluctantly accept a lucrative offer to have a TV crew come in and air a reality show chronicling Marjorie’s fall into madness and eventual exorcism.
This is one lean and mean scary book.