Monday, April 22, 2013

Family matters

So, book #2 was a return to Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series, with Midnight Blue-Light Special. Verity Price is at it again, trying to save the cryptids from an impending purge by the Covenant of St. George. Thankfully, her occasional boyfriend, Dominic informs her of their impending inspection of readiness for a purge prior to their arrival. Unfortunately, since he's part of the Covenant....

What follows is more exploration of Verity's private life, working at a cryptid cabaret, dealing with a man she loves and hates...

And then gets kidnapped halfway through by one of her relatives from the branch of the family that stayed in the covenant. Which transitions the narrative to the Cuckoo cousin, who takes over narrative duties for a time.

Really, this one was less of an extension of the first volume, and more a chance to finish off Verity's story for a time. A note at the end of the book states the next book will be following around one of the cousins, which, while sad, will hopefully allow for some less.... condensed plotting. Because really, I felt like the plot would get derailed in exposition, followed by a couple pages of intensity, only to fall back into the quagmire.

Dark Lady won't live to turn a card again...

So, while I was out of town, I managed to finish 2 books and start another 2, thanks to the Nook and some Library Wi-Fi. Also picked up St. John's Lutheran Church's recipe book, which has become a sacred relic. (Whomever used it last added annotations that had everyone laughing. That, and being published in 1979, some of the recipes are quite dated.)

None of which has to do with the two-fer I plan on posting tonight. That, and I will not likely be posting about the one book I got digitally, since I don't really think people want to hear about what turned out to be Gay Amish Romance Porn written about the level of USA today.

Anyway, I had started R. S. Belcher's The Six Gun Tarot before I left, but I finished it while I was gone. And since I wasn't about to try to type a blog post on a tablet with a stylus...

This was a fun book that left almost no cliche unused in places, and had a few parts that disturbed me, but probably not for reasons the author anticipated. (One involved the drinking of a mythological creature's menstrual blood, the other involved a hentai like scene wen something in the silver mine claimed its bride.)

However, there is quite a mythological mess contained within. Which, as written, works out well, since none of the characters involved in the mystical shenanigans seems aware of other characters' special place in their respective mythologies.

We get introduced to Jim, trying to cross the 40 mile desert on his was to Golgotha, Nevada. It's post Civil War Era, but not quite past the Gold and Silver Rushes of the mid to late 19th century. Jim nearly dies, talks to a Coyote, and winds up getting saved by Mutt, a Native American who's been outcast by his tribe.

Mutt refers to one of the coyotes as as his brother.

Then we meet Sheriff Jon Highfather, who strangely has several noose marks around his neck, where they tried and failed to hang him.  Who saves Maude and Auggie from a man rambling about worms while trying to rob the general store. Maude is married to the local banker and is training her daughter to be one of Lillith's avengers. Auggie, with help from the local taxidermist, is keeping his wife alive in a fish bowl of chemicals in a Frankenstein way. 

You get the idea.

Add into this mix the Mormon mayor with two wives and a boyfriend who plays piano at the Chinese brothel (and access to such Mormon paraphenalia as the plates, the glasses, and the sword of Latham), The mysterious man who owns most of the town, and seemingly unrelated passages relating to Biqa, an Angel guarding something on the Earth when not being tempted to rebel by Lucifer Morningstar. (This proves what Uncle Milton already know. Lucifer is a scene stealer.)

Then there are the mad preachers who somehow got control of the mine and start waking up what's bound inside. Which is when all the Lovecraftian incantations start coming out and someone gets tentacles in her private parts.

I know this sounds like a corny train wreck, and there are a few parts where is really is, but there are some rather fascinating meditations of what is real, and how our perceptions of reality are colored by what we believe. Because there are about 5 different explanations of what exactly lies under the mountain, and all of them are treated as equally valid.

It really is a supernatural western, and quite the enjoyable ride. Almost makes me wish I could find that picture of Cthulhu in a stetson.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

It's like a Tom Petty song...only with cyborgs...

I discussed The Company novels by Kage Baker after reading the second book, and now just finished Mendoza in Hollywood.

Mendoza narrated the first book, The Garden of Iden, where we met our little immortal cyborg as she was recused from the Inquisition in Spain, made an immortal cyborg, then became one of Dr. Zeus Inc.'s botanists. She met a wonderful young man whom she loved in England under the reign of Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots, and had her heart destroyed when the Papists burned her heretical Lutheran lover at the stake.

After the events in Sky Coyote, Mendoza remained in California, preserving plant species in relative isolation beforfe being reassigned by the company to a Stagecoach way station outside of Los Angeles in 1862. (Also American Civil War period. there's a lot of plot and counterplot in the background as Mexico and Britain try to interfere with Union supplies from the coast using Confederate plotters.)

We meet Porfirio, who remembered enough of his family to become a special guardian to them even into his immortal life, which come back to bite him about halfway through the novel; Einar, who's preserving coyotes and longhorns and also is a huge fan of Early Hollywood (which in this time period hasn't started yet); Oscar, the anthropologist who peddles wares to get information from the locals; Juan Batista, the bird guy with evil condor Erich von Stroheim; and Imarte, posing as the stagecoach lady of negotiable virtue.

Given that Mendoza's part in all of this really doesn't get going until the last few chapters, most of the book focuses on Early Statehood residents, as well as Einar's obsessions of what will be  where in several decades. (During the latter part of the book, Mendoza and her beau wind up on a spot marked "Harrison Ford's front porch".) There's also the Immortal Film Festival, easily disguised from mortals due to a drought and the Civil War interrupting stage coach traffic. Which leads to one very long and interesting chapter detailing D. W. Griffith's follow up to Birth of a Nation, Intolerance. (Which I had to Wiki, since I'd never heard of it. I was kind of amused to find that Lillian Gish was in both of the aforementioned movies, since she at one point lived in the house next to where my mother currently resides.) That particular movie sets off Imarte, who was made immortal during the days of Babylon. Watching the Persians at the gate destroying her city again, combined with lots of whiskey, has her chasing off into the valleys of SoCal for a night, reliving her past. It's another glimpse into the hell of being a being who won't die and can't forget anything.

There's also a chapter of what I assume is foreshadowing for a later part of the series, wherein we get more of a glimpse of Mendoza's latent psychic abilities. (As of yet, these are largely undefined. They weren't really mentioned at all in the first book, and Joseph mentions them in passing in the second. In here, a trip to Laurel Canyon winds up interacting with "Chrome radiation" [also not really well defined, but something that some beings generate that also builds up in crystals] and sends Porfirio and Mendoza very briefly to modern era LA, complete with smog, cars, and gang warfare. They get sent back to where they started fairly quickly (since 2 people in 19th century clothes on horseback appearing from nowhere might set off a few alarms), but not before Lewis, another character from earlier in the series, tries to warn her not to go back.

Anyway, in the last part, as pretty much everyone else is gone from the Inn, Mendoza ends up meeting British spy Edward, there to pick up a valise left by a colleague who left it there during an...interlude...with Imarte. Since the valise has plans dealing with the British backing the Confederate privateers trying to cut Union gold supplies (centered on Catalina Island).

Anyway, Mendoza sees her lover Nicolas (last seen burning on a stake) in Edward, and winds up trying to help him in what she already knows to be a failed plot.

Much of the conclusion tells us of what her punishment is for doing so, and meditates on reincarnation and whether or not being immortal is always such a good things. We also get more of the "What is Dr. Zeus Inc really up to?" that Joseph ran in to towards the end of Sky Coyote, as Dr. Zeus Inc. has interests in Catalina, and there are tales of giant white men out there who some presume to be aliens.

Really, this entire series has shown more improvement as I read further in to it. Not that I didn't like Iden, but much of the hints of a greater metaplot weren't really present within, and it got bogged down in comparative theology. Now, though... my curiosity is piqued as to what will happen now as the series continues. (Ms. Baker evidently died, but she did finish the series before that, at least according to wikipedia.)