Category Archives: book review

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

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If you like a grim and humorous world, Sandman Slim is one of the best Urban Fantasy novels out there. I can’t see much daylight between his world and a post-apocalypse setting, but the fact that it is bleak and dark doesn’t much improve L.A. (Though the protagonist has less trouble with traffic than I do.)

His protagonist isn’t quite an anti-hero, but he’s not a good person. He climbs out of hell into a burning pile of garbage. That is probably his best moments. He knocks over a drug dealer for his coat and goes about killing his old coven-mates.

I really like the fact that this is a noir novel in the – L.A. is a character – sense. There is a terrible personality to the multiply destroyed town. The weird theme bars, the over-priced sports cars, and the slowly decaying architecture are all features you can get to know. The action (even the action in Hell) all takes place in L.A. Its a town near-empty, for one reason or another, but it was L.A. (Even in Hell, they have flaming palm trees lining the streets. It makes you homesick. (If you lived in L.A. and didn’t want to set those palm trees on fire, just to watch them burn, you are a better person than I.)

An example scene entry from the third novel: “I come up in the Badlands, though I don’t see how this parcel of the L.A. shit-scape is supposed to be worse than any of others I’ve seen. In face, I’d find the area downright restful if it wasn’t for all the blood.”

Maybe I like the destroyed LA too much, but traffic down to Manhattan Beach or up to past Venice Beach or on the 105… ok, anywhere from Pasadena west…makes you appreciate the finer points of a zombie apocalypse. Sandman Slim takes you on a tour of the finer points of his version of the city, while killing evil warlocks, zombies, devils, demons, and weirder stuff.

Most of the universe has it in for our Sandman Slim, lucky he knows how to kill them back real well. He has a handful of colorful friends, a collection which keeps growing with each book. I especially love his unfortunately immortal alchemist friend, and his pet vampire(ish). He has a collection of enemies as well, which despite his killing them off, doesn’t seem to diminish the total number for much.


Is there negatives about the book? Not really. It is grim and dark and humorous. If those get aggravating for you, you probably won’t put the series on speed read. I’ve just got back and re-read, so that I can start book six. I’m only on book three, but will probably finish them all this week. For me, they are light and easy reads, but I like the grim.

The books are full of drinking, fighting, and sex. The sex is actually not terribly explicit. The gore isn’t terribly explicit, but there are bodies getting hacked up. The drinking and smoking is heavy and constant. I want a smoke half-way through the book, and I don’t smoke.

Rating for Sandman Slim:

Sandman Slim is a perfect example of post-apocalypse fiction. The world (LA) is destroyed and the angels and devils and demons and monsters are fighting over the ruins. Our hero is one of the monsters and proud of it. It is fun, emotional, and interesting to turn the pages. It is fun enough for five stars, and there is no technical crap which kills the fun.

So yes, the series, so far as I’ve read it, gets five stars. Read them.

I’ll be starting an urban fantasy book review over at I’m always interested in recommendations, especially if you are a new writer. I’m starting Camp Nanowrimo over at Cabin Sablehawk this week. (Easter and edits coming in, this will be a busy month.)

My first posts will likely be on Superhero novels. I’ve read a few. My own urban fantasy is still unpublished. I may see if Jagi wants to tackle Pure Poison once the Bone God is in the can. P.S. looking for a photographer for the front art for Pure Poison. I’ve got some ideas I found on the net below.

If you are a photographer/artist who can make pretty pictures for my cover, give me a shout.



new hill

I’m starting a book for National November Writing Month. (nanowrimo) I’m going to write a new novel in the Waylaid series…which consists of one novel. No great shakes yet, but I’m working on it.

If you want to join in on my pain, look me up on nanowrimo.  @Sablehawk of course.

This isn’t science fiction, but I’m willing to help anyone who wants it. I know science fiction as well as anyone. This novel is more fantasy/history based.


Wide-Open Interview

Hey guys, Stephanie Osborn here. Hawk gave me permission to do a bit of shameless self-promotion here, right before the holidays. Reason? Lots of you folks read, and I’ve written lots of stuff to be read. Anyway, y’all know that I’m a rocket scientist, astronomer, and writer, but maybe you don’t know much more about me. So I wanted to post a link to what ended up being the longest and widest-ranging print interview I’ve ever done, in case you wanted to know more about me than what you could find out reading here, or looking over my website.

Shiny Book Review has reviewed 4 of 5 of my books, and in general has seemed to like them, whether fiction or non-fiction, and when they asked if they could interview me, I was glad to do so. The interview came out this evening, and I thought I’d stick up a link here. 
So here you go, more about me than you ever thought about. 

Something New – National Novel Writing Month


A lot of you are writers. I’ve seen work from Dr. DNA and many others – but not a lot of them have seen the light of day. Since this is November – and a traditional writing month. I’m suggesting that you all put out samples of your work.

Now, some of us are better than others and more importantly, some of us are published. My good friend Stephanie Osborne is going to treat us to some samples of her published novels, novellas, and possibly a short story. This should be a lot of fun. Given that will drive my hits up and assuming that the website runs to 10’s of thousands of hits a month…do you want your short writing out there? 

I’d be happy to help, and will put out up to 5,000 words of whatever you think you’ve done well. Maybe yes? Maybe No? well, think about it.  Steph is pushing me to put “more stuff out there” … so I’m thinking about it. PurePoison is a couple chapters in, so maybe I’ll think about one of the scenes…

Back to the Moon

Back to the Moon

Les Johnson is a good friend of mine. He writes a fine novel. This is science fiction of a solid style. I am never satisfied with the magic crystals most authors try to pass off as science. This is reliable tech from a pair of rocket scientists.To be honest, I worked on some of the items used in this novel…and cried that those projects were canceled. Otherwise, this novel would be true-to-science of around 2020 – the near future.  

What kind of book is it? If you’ve ever read a Jack McDevitt novel, you’ll recognize his “What else can go wrong?” style of science fiction. Basically, if it can go wrong, it does. It seems like a crazy mix of problems and problem solving, but it keeps your brain going. I like the characters and motivations, but it really is a book about people climbing the biggest mountain, the Moon, just because it is there.

Do they get home? Do they all die? Read the book.

The Displaced Detective

Stephanie Osborn has come out with a new series. At Speed just showed up on the shelves, electronic shelves, and I bought that for my Nook. (I see less and less of the bookstore these days.) 

Now, as a point of conflict, I know Stephanie personally. She is one of the Huntsville locals, and part of the Science/Sci Fi team which includes several PhD physicists, including (TV’s Redneck Rocket Scientist) Travis Taylor and a few of us notables (multiple science degrees 15+ years experience). Simply said, I’ve known her for years. But, this is an honest review because she asked for it.

Super short review: Good novels. Science is reasonable. Character interactions are excellent. Worth the price.

Long Review: While I enjoyed Burnout (Steph’s first novel), her development of inter-personal relationships has grown immensely. I’m not a fan of romance, but her characters choked me up on a few occasions. Good stuff. This is NOT a military sci-fi. This is a spy novel, using the two-person mystery solving team, in a modern setting, with strong romance and science fiction elements. Sci Fi/ Mystery/Romance

The science involves development of a multi-dimensional object, which effectively forms gates across time or alternate dimensions. Feel free to argue her tesseract math, it is reasonably sound given the concepts she outlined in her book. Even more so, this is a major project with all the trappings of real-world science. (including paperwork.) Yes, the science is as accurate as anything in science fiction. (I know, low bar.) 

Frankly, her most reasonable science for the amateur is medicine. Look, I absolutely hate a hero who runs a marathon with a bullet in his lung. Come on, a broken wrist is a show-stopper. Ribs? ok, I’ve run and fought with displaced ribs, but it hurts and recovery was months. She takes beatings seriously, no teflon skin or magic internal organs. As a man who takes damage for a hobby, I really appreciated her medicine.
Her one dime-store aspect: Sherlock Holmes is real. But hey, infinite possibilities and writers receiving inspiration from them is a science fiction tradition (Certainly since Heinlein and Number of the Beast).
The character of Holmes, and Chadwick are well developed and make an interesting pair. Frankly, most of the characters are given a decent treatment, but there are rafts of them, Colorado Springs itself is one of them. I love the area, may move there myself someday, and she treats it very well. I think I fell in love with her ranch, and wouldn’t mind spending a few more days there. 

Honestly, the series feels complete in two volumes. However, I would shell out the cash to follow the characters around for a few more days of mystery solving. Good Novels, worth the read.

Book Review

Ok, Books review. There are several authors and books I have been trying out lately. Here is a short list of the ones of interest. Sadly enough, this doesn’t even cover July, I go through most of a dozen books a month. I’ve included book covers or book art with each one. I hope my ratings are usefull, feel free to comment on any of this. Oh, I read them all on the nook, so if you are still in paper, I’m not sure what you find in the store.

The Princess Bride : William Goldman
    Genre: Fantasy Stars: 4/5
    Yes, it is as good as the movie. go ahead and read it. The author asides are actually very interesting as well. I was as fascinated with his life and the making of the movie as i was in the book, which essentially is the same as the movie.

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure [Book]

Kraken: China Mieville
    Genre: Urban Fantasy Stars: 3/5
    Look, this really is good writing, but it can be a bit tedious. You really don’t LIKE a lot of the characters. Some characters you really despise are good guys, some you like are villains. Some you hate are villains as well, which is good. Some are mysterious for no damn good reason, and some just cuss a lot. A LOT. Extremely British. The plot does make sense in the end, though not while reading it. Look, I’m considered a genius at twisted plots. This book contains several twisted plot elements that will take some thinking. I like that a lot. 
    Kraken [Book]
I Shall Wear Midnight: Terry Pratchet
    Genre: Comedy Fantasy Stars 5/5
    Amazing as always. 4th in the Wee Free Men Trilogy. I love the Nac Mac Feegle. I love the witches. etc. etc.

John Carter of Mars: Edgar Rice Burroughs
    Genre: Science Fiction Action Adventure Stars: Lord, how do you rate your childhood? 4/5
   Look, John Carter of Mars is a cliche’ these days…but it was original once. When I read it 30 years ago, they were cool and interesting. Heck, still probably cliche’ then, but I didn’t know what that meant. This is the core of the science fiction action adventure novel. If you haven’t read them, you should.
John Carter of Mars Live Action Film
Zero History: William Gibson
    Genre: Science Fiction Stars 5/5
This is a damn good book. It never really exploded off the page, but it never stopped being “real.” This isn’t the future, it happened today, yesterday. The book is more a social deconstruction than anything else, a social science paper run amok. Loved it.

Matter: Iain M. Banks
    Genre: Science Fiction Stars 2/5
I still recommend everything written by Iain M. Banks, including this book. However, this is probably the “least good” of his Culture novels. It has its high-points, but I could argue about something in every chapter. He just didn’t give this one the thought he gave previous novels.

The Windup Girl: Paolo Bacigalupi
    Genre: Science Fiction Stars 4/5
Paolo previously gave us a Steampunk novel, this isn’t one of those. His love of period pieces is clear in the development of 1970’s Thailand, in the future. As long as you understand that a lot of the “future history” constructed is to get you back to Pre-industrial Thai, well, it gets you there. The science fiction takes a point in our future not terribly far from today, and posits some interesting possibles. Absolutely solid science fiction. Very much worth reading, I recommend it solidly.

Friday Information

Hey Everyone!
 Sorry I ditched out this week, it has been hectic at work. Computer issues, health issues, money issues. I also managed to double up my work-outs for this week, so I am pretty beat.

Beer Review or What has Hawk been Drinking?

Magic Hat

They have one dark beer, their winter seasonal, called “Howl.” Looking at their website, I can see that there are several of their beers that I haven’t tried yet. BUT, from the trials of Wacko, Vinyl, #9, Choir Boy, and something else… well … Howl Doesn’t Suck.
Magic Hat makes an ok beer, but it is off my buy list. Sure, there are a lot of worse beer out there, but for my $9… well… I can get anything by flying dog and not have a metal taste in my mouth when I am finished. Beet Juice? Come on…it was nasty.

Samuel Adams:

Sam Adams puts out a lot of beer, and a lot of it I do not like. I really can’t care about Boston Lager. It isn’t bad (if you are wise, serve it just cooler than room temperature) but cold it is bad. Their Boston Ale is more “Lagery” than their Lager. Heck, most of their ales are lagers, and most suck. I like their Scotch Ale, which tastes like a Bock, but it a good beer. BUT lets talk about their new line of high alcohol beer.

Imperial White, Imperial Stout, and Dopple Bock. – wow.

K? Was that clear enough?

The Imperial White is what you wanted when you bought those expensive Monk Ales. Some of them produce this, but most do not.

The Dopple Bock is essentially a dark Monk ale. It is all but a Barley Wine. So high in alcohol, I get drunk thinking about it.

I’m heading out tonight to try the Imperial Stout. I’m sure it will be good. So if you see a drunk guy in a kilt, well, it MIGHT be me.

Speaking of Beer – Important Link: Less Beer for Fewer Mosquito Bites!

Summer Reading

Old novels make great summer reading, don’t cost a lot, especially on a Nook, and you can go through six or seven without feeling guilty.

Right now I’m reading an Old Jane Fancher novel. She is a great writer. Her work needs to be explored a lot more than it has. Buy a copy of Groundties today. Or check out her Ring of Lighting series. Both are really solid novels. Also reading the C.J. Cherryh novels from her Merchanter series. Love em. I’ll do titles when I’m not late for a meeting.
groundties slide show

Go to Closed Circle to buy books.