Reviews in Brief — The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, Dust, NYX

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats is the first of a new series of vampire stories writtenby Mario Acevedo. This was fun — Acevedo took some genre standards (nymphos, tortured vets/vamps, etc) and breathed a bit of new life into them. The plot is basically that Felix Gomez became a vampire after serving in Iraq. His guilt over having killed civilians continues to torture him, and when he takes on some detective work for a friend, he’s forced to both confront his experiences as a soldier AND the vagaries of female sexuality. This is what Anita Blake’s world COULD have been, if LKH hadn’t sexed it up in a pretty fail way. Pros: Several interesting female characters (including a dryad!), amusing prose, interesting narrator, quirky details about everyday vampiric life. Cons: Reductive, simplistic resolution re: war guilt.

I was originally really hesitant to review Dust because of Bear having been the author that launched RaceFail ’09. But, you know, I heart a good generation ship space opera, and Dust delivers in spades. The generation ship Jacob’s Ladder had a catastrophic malfunction. It skidded to a stop in orbit around a white dwarf/red giant double star system. In the five thousand years since that OMGWTFBBQ wheel-breaking, the ship’s infrastructure has crumbled; various parts of it are uninhabitable or out of contact, and the two main human factions (Rule and Engine) are trying to duke it out. There are holdes and Heavens. These are basically like small self-contained duchies. Percevel is an asexual knight errant from Engine captured by Ariane, the heir apparent to the Commodore’s chair in Rule. Ariane tortures the good knight by cutting off her wings, shaving her head, and, after declaring a coup against her father, leaves Percevel to rot in prison. Percevel is rescued by Rien, the Mean (un-nano-botted out) sister she’s never met. Together, they must prevent a war. Their journey across the ship will take them to places out of time, where a belle dame sans merci keeps captive a tree of souls, and to forgotten holds, filled with bats and abandoned white rats.  Along the way, they meet the angels of the ship, including Jacob, the Angel of Knowledge; Samael, the Angel of Death and Biosystems; and Asrafil, the Angel of Blades. They will also find their father, the secret of the Captain’s chair, and the nature of the danger forcing Engine and Rule to unite. Pros: Um, did you not just read that rousing plot? I think I just had a nerd-gasm. Cons: Bear’s got an ongoing fascination with whiteness/pale skin as a motif. I get that Percevel is supposed to remind you of the ascetic, celibate knights of old, but I’m not sure why Rein’s got such a fascination with how everyone’s hair is straighter than hers. It seems like there are some weird things going on with race there that I’m not sure I’m picking up on.

NYX: No Way Home collects the 6 issues of the NYX series that Marjorie Liu wrote. Liu is an amazing writer, and ably develops the thinly fleshed conceit Joe Quesada left her with (what happens to the teenage mutants Xavier is unable to rescue?) into a sympathetic, emotionally resonant cast of young adults. Plus, the art’s amazing. While Josh Middleton is an amazing artist, some of his character designs fetishized and objectified his subjects. Check out the difference between Kiden here, in Middleton’s design, and Kiden here, in Andrasofsky’s. Which one looks like a troubled teen with an actual personality, versus a sexified imaginary version of such a teen? Pros: much better art, intriguing plot (you’ll never look at parental protection from beyond the grave in the same way!!), and funny, compelling moments (when Tatiana is forced to confront the fact that she’s willing to kill to protect herself and others? WOW!). Cons: IT’S TOO SHORT OMG. Why isn’t it longer?? :pout:

Comments

  1. says

    I skimmed through Mario Acevedo’s next book in that series “Jailbait Zombie” in the bookstore the other day. Hm. I think it’s the fourth book in the series. He’s got an interesting take on vampires (but not so interesting with an over-arching vampire council. yawn) and I like his main character. I *almost* bought it, but went for Mermaid’s Madness by Jim Hines instead.

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