Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Neal Barrett Jr. and Other Stuff

I blather on a lot about what I've read by the late Neal Barrett Jr. over on Black Gate in my review of his very excellent The Prophecy Machine today. But really, I absolutely love everything I've read by him. I think Through Darkest America and Dawn's Uncertain Light are the best post-apocalyptic books I've ever read. Brutally written and well written. Not fun reads by any stretch but ones that will sear your brain and never leave
   I'm still working my way through Max Allan Collin's first Nolan book, Bait Money. I've had to fit it in-between The Prophecy Machine and few other reading projects I've got going on. Decent enough so far and I'll definitely read the sequel, Blood Money.

Next week for Black Gate I'm going to review Glen Cook's Dread Empire short story collection An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat. Regular readers here know I'm huge fan of Cook's story "Filed Teeth" (which is in this book). I'm not sure if I've ever said what a big fan of his I am in general. 
I think the Black Company books (except for maybe the last one or two of the second series) are the apex of tough, military fantasy. Unlike Steven Erikson's laudable Malazan series, they aren't too long and overstuffed with stuff. 
Cook's novels are short and sharp, something I can't praise enough. He loses the thread a little in the later books but even they give the satisfaction of bringing the story and the characters home as it were.

This week's music was an extension of my Detroit kick from last time. I went to the original Alice Cooper band, especially music from the live Good to See You Again. The performances are from Texas shows in 1973 during their Billion Dollar Babies tour.
If you only know Alice from his later metal period this is the reason he's still a star (albeit a smaller one) today. At their height AC was one of the biggest bands in America. The musicianship is killer and the shock of the performance is actually shocking. This isn't the goofball who capered on the Muppet Show a few years later.
Their run of albums from Love it to Death, Killer, School's Out, and Billion Dollar Babies is one of the best of any band I know (and their final album Muscle of Love is no slouch either, just not as stellar). They caught grief from a lot of the professional rock critics because they didn't worship at the altar of traditional blues based rock instead looking to Broadway and horror movies. The kids knew better and made them stars.

Who can resist muppet ghosts?


  1. Glen Cook is my favorite. I still have a ton of his stuff to read, though. I've read all the Black Company novels. I still need to read Dread Empire - I've only read An Ill Fate Marshalling. I've read a half dozen Garrett novels, the first two Instrumentalities and a couple of his stand-alones.

    My New Year reading resolution is to get more Cook read this year.

    1. I've had the Instrumentality books sitting unread for years now. I should get at them. Dread Empire has moments of perfection but it wanders off track a little sometimes, sort of like the later Black Company books. Still, they're what got me into him and I've reread them a couple of times of the years. Ill Fate is a weak introduction to the series.

  2. Oh, and you had the comparison to Erikson, which is fair enough. I always thought that Cook did more with his Ten Taken in the original Black Company trilogy, than Robert Jordan did with his (13?) Forsaken in the Wheel of Time.

  3. I like that Cook basically made his own Nazgul and gave them some sort of personality. I think he plays with the LotR stuff in the later BC books with the building of the giant castle Shadowreach (?) which reminds me of Barad Dur. Great stuff. Maybe I'll reread the Books of the South this year.