I have often said that we acquire books in this household the way dryers acquire lint; they just show up and stick to us. But it’s not always because I have poor impulse control (though I have to admit that’s mostly the reason.)
Sometimes, though, people mail them to me completely unsolicited. So here’s the rundown on a couple of those.
I thought then, and still think today, that this was a remarkably deft and twisty thriller. It starts as a kind of caper story about a group of small-time thieves and then takes an abrupt left turn into Hannibal Lecter territory when it turns out they’ve picked the wrong house to burgle. Neil Gibson’s script stayed ahead of me all the way through, which is rare with me and crime stories. The art is amazing as well, though for whatever reason that person no longer wishes to be credited (hence “the Artist” listed as the collaborator on the cover.)
Now, full disclosure– in the years since then Neil and I have corresponded a bit, and have even exchanged books. (I sent him a copy of Manhunter because I was horrified he hadn’t seen it, and in return he sent me a copy of the first volume of Twisted Dark, his horror anthology done with a variety of artists.)
I liked Twisted Dark a great deal as well, though not quite as much as Tabatha. Other folks clearly liked it too because there are six volumes to date and I believe volume seven is going out to Kickstarter backers as I write this. Their books are all available digitally also, here.
All that is preamble. What I really want to tell you about is The Theory.
This is a remarkable piece of SF, again from Mr. Gibson and a variety of artists; in fact, it’s kind of the same loosely-linked anthology as Twisted Dark, but more intricate and clever.
The blurb: Humans have achieved the seemingly impossible – faster than light travel. Despite discovering hundreds and hundreds of planets that once contained intelligent life, we have yet to discover a single planet where that life remains. These planets have one thing in common – they were wiped out, either by accident or by design. To track and study these dead civilisations, a group of astro-archaeologists have been created to help educate humans on how to avoid the same fate. Seemingly working on the other end of the spectrum, an elite team of time travellers have been created in secret to help minimise human suffering. They travel through time performing ‘minimal alterations’ to the timeline to help achieve this. Join Linda, the astroarchaeologist and Jemm-r, the time traveller, on an adventure to save our future and our past.
This immediately leapfrogged over everything to become my favorite thing I’ve seen from Mr. Gibson. Part of it’s that I am more of a science fiction guy than a horror guy; but I really do think it’s leveled up considerably in craft from what I’ve seen of his previous work, and I thought that work was already pretty good. The art from the various contributors is stunning as well. Here’s a Phil Buckenham page from Battlesuit.
As it happens, the Battlesuit chapter has been adapted for animation by Hasraf Dulull and Razer Studios. (Info here.) The thing that’s really quite wonderful about it is because of the quarantine lockdown, it was all done remotely, on home computers.
Didn’t hurt the quality AT ALL, as you can see here.
My understanding is that this is a pilot for an animated series adapting The Theory in its entirety, something I wholeheartedly support. In the meantime, I cannot recommend the comics strongly enough. You can get a taste here, but really you should just get the book.
Hard Case… Bradbury? My favorite perk of this job for at least a decade has been getting advance reader copies of things from Hard Case Crime. I almost always enjoy the books but this new one is really something special. Killer, Come Back to Me by Ray Bradbury.
Yes, that Ray Bradbury. Martian Chronicles, Illustrated Man, all the rest. That guy. Most of you probably know that he got his start in pulp magazines, like a lot of SF writers of his generation, but you may not be aware he did crime stories for the pulps as well.
Several of them were adapted for television, on the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as the newer Ray Bradbury Theater. (Here’s a very young Drew Barrymore in “The Screaming Woman.”)
That one and a bunch of others are gathered in this new Hard Case collection, along with a very informative introduction from Jonathan Eller and the original introduction to A Memory of Murder from Ray Bradbury himself; though Bradbury dismissed these as being lesser works, they’re still terrific stories. Really invaluable for Bradbury fans and crime fiction scholars alike. Due out in August, and hugely recommended. Pre-order it here.
And there you have it. Back next week with something cool.