Things I Enjoyed: Mar 2023

The Blacktongue Thief

I’m normally pretty reactionary to stuff that Amazon/Audible tries to push on me as hard as it did The Blacktongue Thief, because I assume it’s $1/Kindle Unlimited shovelware but something got it past that, and I’m really glad it did! Buehlman’s novel is about a thief who owes his guild more money than he can repay, and that sets him off on a fun little fantasy story. That’s fine and well, but its delightful affect and very interesting worldbuilding is what made it such a treat.

I listened to it on Audible, and I’d recommend the audio version because it’s full of a lot of pseudo-Gaelic gobbledygook and the narrator (the author) has an accent convincing to my American ears that made it work. I’m not sure how it’d come across in text, but the audio was a lot of fun.

Immediately after finishing it, I went to find other stuff by Buehlman, and was surprised to find that he’s also written Between Two Fires, which recently came up on Bad Books for Bad People (one of the few podcasts I listen to), which is a funny bit of synchronicity. I’ve since read it (and a couple other books), and it’s also excellent and strongly recommended. Buehlman’s going on my list of “Gotta read everything this guy’s done and does” authors.

The End and the Death vol 1

I was really into 40K when Horus Rising was published; I kept up with the Heresy novels until Prospero Burns before falling off of them. At the top of the pandemic, I decided to give the series a read/reread, starting at Rising and working my way through them. I skipped some ones I knew were duds (Battle for the Abyss) and ones I expected to be duds. (And most of the anthologies.) And: Abnett is the master. He’s the S-Tier Black Library author. So: obviously, I’ve been ready for Abnett’s final volume, The End and the Death.

Also, I think the Horus Heresy is probably one of the most ambitious sci-fi series attempted. That there are 60+ books (plus various other works) in the series isn’t why I make this claim: it’s because they were able to weave 30 years of just random made up bullshit minutae into an actual, cohesive narrative. There are some absolute duds, yes, but there truly are some bangers in there: and all of them thread the needle between dumb little fluff quotes that’ve been sprinkled across hundreds of other publications.

Anyway, it delivered. I can’t wait for the final volume, and Sigmar save me I’m going back and rereading some of the books I skipped on the initial reread (the Dark Angels arc; Descent of Angels didn’t really click for me when it was first published).

Cocaine Bear

It is known that I love a good concept film, which is absolutely what Cocaine Bear is: “There’s a bear, it’s on a lot of cocaine. Stuff happens.” There aren’t any surprises here (except how brutal the film is to Margo Martindale), but CB delivers on that concept.

It made me intensely nostalgic for my youth, when SyFy was the Sci-Fi Channel and one of the staples of the channel were low budget monster movies. They’re still making these movies: I can’t complain that I haven’t seen an Alligator rampaging across a small town when I watched Crawl just the other month (it’s actually been several years, but time flows strangely in the Days of COVID)… I just don’t watch as many of them and I’m less aware of them.

Anyway, even though Cocaine Bear was laughing at itself, and was absolutely a comedy, it made me want to watch more of this sort of movie (and ones that take themselves more seriously).