The Devil You Know – by Mike Carey

I had to cut bait on Connie Willis‘ The Doomsday Book.  After reading half way through a 575 page book, I finally realized that a comedy of manners about time-travel into medieval Oxford was not going to do it for me.  I believe it is a fine work of literature and the author an artist of exceptional talent, but, personally speaking, I needed a bit more sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

All that being said, I landed a pretty good title with Mike Carey‘s The Devil You Know.  Carey became known to me via his work on the DC/Vertigo comic Hellblazer, which itself is a spinoff from the iconic Saga of Swamp Thing and Sandman series.  Carey wrote John Constantine, the Hellblazer himself, as a wonderfully sarcastic anti-hero in a trench coat, prone to making VERY bad decisions, but also possessing a surprisingly strong moral compass.

Felix Castor is John Constantine, but belonging solely to Carey.  In Hellblazer, Carey has to conform to a character that is not of his creation and managed by several authors over time.  With Castor, Carey is the boss from word go.

Castor also operates in a slightly different professional capacity.  Whereas Constantine made a living going back and forth between the temporal plane and the underworld, Castor is merely a privateer exorcist, using his tin whistle to move the undead away from a haunted realm to god-knows-where.  But that little moral qualm of “killing the dead”, along with a suitably wrecked personal life and a weakness for the ladies makes this Chandler-esque supernatural romp most enjoyable.

It’s a READING frenzy!!

After having (finally) finished Jay Lake‘s stunning new book, ‘Green‘, I’m all charged up to do some serious reading.  Em is out of town for the next two nights, so it will just be me and the four-letters.  Right away, there a ton of decent-looking selections close at hand.

Firstly, I have to give a special shout to John Scalzi’s ‘Big Idea‘ project. On his ancient blog ‘Whatever‘ he’s been highlighting a veritable cornocopia of tasty sci-fi, fantasy and more. I would never have heard of ‘Green’ or ‘W.W.W Wake‘ if it hadn’t been for Scalzi. And, as of today he’s now featuring ‘The Big Idea’ on his Twitter feed, so check it out.

The next novel I’m reading comes right off that list and tells the story of a Louisiana detective who uses demons to help her solve crimes. I’m not completely sold on the premise of the appropriately titled ‘Mark of the Demon‘, but it’s a good choice for Halloween and the reviews are very positive so far.  Plus, Scalzi hasn’t really steered me wrong yet.

In a piece of conceptual continuity, a great mystery writer whom I enjoy is taking up a great all-time graphic novel character. Ian Rankin of Rebus fame has written a nice fat graphic novel in the John Constantine series for Vertigo called ‘Dark Entries‘. As if that weren’t enough to get me on board (it is), the story puts Constantine, paranormal investigator, in the midst of a reality TV show – Brilliant!

In addition to those items, I’ve picked up ‘Sandman Slim’ by Richard Kadrey for after ‘Mark of the Demon’.  I think this is an urban fantasy about revenge from beyond the grave.  Again, it seems to fit in nicely with the theme I’ve got going.

In the realm of shorter works, the incredible Aliette de Boddard has just published a short story over at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  This site takes the traditional sci-fi fiction journal and puts it online.  I paid about $2.50 for the September issue and I get de Boddard’s On Horizon’s Shores, which is the featured work, and a number of other tasty looking goodies.  It’s actually a novelette (as opposed to short story) and after just reading the first few paragraphs, I know it’s going to be great.

The other shorter work I’m excited to look at is a crazy-looking new wave script from 1980 that was linked on io9 today.  The Tourist would probably have made a great movie if it hadn’t been for infighting and development hell.  In present day (well, 1980, anyway) Manhattan, there are aliens living among us, in disguise.  In real life they look like amazingly icky H.R. Giger creatures, because he was brought in (following the groundbreaking success of Alien) to do the concept art.  There’s a link that lets you download the script and I’m hoping for something partway between Cronenberg and The Hunger.