Archive for the ‘Dust Jacket’ Category

You may be wondering about the title of this article. Let me explain.

I have recently been made aware of the writing of Mr Andrez Bergen, an Australian writer and musician, now living in Japan, and after reading the 3 books of his that I knew of, I wanted to spread the word. But when I contacted him (and after I embarrassing both myself and him with my fanboyish praise), he mentioned that he was working on a new novel, featuring SUPERHEROES!!! I un-ashamedly begged for the chance to preview it and he graciously agreed and we’ll be covering it on the podcast! 🙂

That of course meant that I then had to change the title of this article and this is what I came up with. Please send notes of adoration and/or prayers for my now condemned Soul to our usual email.

But I digress.

This article will cover Tobacco-Stained Mountain GoatOne Hundred Years of Vicissitude & The Condimental Op.

(Andrez also has an anthology called The Tobacco-Stained Sky but I haven’t read that – yet!)


Coolhunting by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Posted by Crystal On April 17, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

I read a story recently that blew me away, and I don’t use that phrase lightly.  I actually sat back after finishing it and said, “Wow!” out loud. The story, or novella to be accurate, is called Coolhunting and it will come as no surprise that it is by my favourite author, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It is a part of a collection called ‘Five Short Novels’ that I bought from the iTunes book shop some time ago, but have only just gotten around to reading.

It begins with the story’s protagonist, Steffie, doing what she does best – coolhunting.  The opening scene is skilfully written to, not only to introduce you to Steffie but also explain what coolhunting is all about. It reminded me of William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition, and Steffie strongly reminded me of Gibson’s character, ‘Cayce Pollard’. Their style is similar, they do similar work, and both appear to be loners, outside the norm.  However, although I read Pattern Recognition first, it was published in 2003, whereas Coolhunting was first published in ‘Science Fiction Age’, July, 1998.   Whether or not Gibson got some inspiration from Rusch’s story, I can’t tell you, but I enjoyed making the comparison.

Though the characters, Steffie & Cayce, are similar and what they do for a living is similar, the stories are completely different. Much to my enjoyment!

This is the first Kristine Kathryn Rusch story I’ve read that I immediately identified as ‘cyber-punk’ (although there are many cyber-punk elements in her Retrieval Artist series), which immediately made me dive into the story.  The core of this story is buried under layers, and as she reveals each layer you are immersed more and more into the not-to-distant future universe she’s created.  So much so, that it wasn’t until after I read the story and was reflecting on it later, that the true horror of KD’s situation (Steffie’s sister) really set in.

What happens to KD is so horrendous; you wonder how it was allowed to happen.  How could people do something like that?  It speaks toward the society the characters live in and, I realise as I write this, that it has as much to say about listening to, and conforming to the wills and whims of society rather than thinking for yourself. Much like Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451.

I have deliberately not explained what coolhunting entails in this futuristic world (though if you’ve read Pattern Recognition, you may have some idea) or explained what KD’s situation is, as I feel it will detract from the experience of reading this story if you know these things before hand.

This is a rich immersive story that draws you in and takes you on tangents you don’t expect. I have read many of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s works, (including many written under her pen names), and, out of a mountain of great works, this is my stand out favourite to date. I would dearly, dearly love to see this expanded into a full novel if she hasn’t already done so.

As of this writing, ‘Five Short Novels’ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is still available from the iTunes book shop so please look it up. And don’t forget, Coolhunting is only one of the five stories on offer, so there’s four other excellent tales in there for you to enjoy.

5 Lukes

The Demolished Man

Posted by Richo On February 15, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to the twelfth instalment of Dust Jacket and our first for 2012. For those of you new to the site, Dust Jacket is NCP’s ongoing column ranking and reviewing the greatest SF novels of all time. Past columns can be found at the Dust Jacket Archive

To kick off the new year, we’re delving into the realm of corporate intrigue, murder and telepathic powers with Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man. As always, I’m joined by co-conspirator Luke, who uses his own psychic powers for evil as the World’s Harshest Critic.

One of two highly influential novels written by Bester in the 50’s, The Demolished Man holds the singular honour of being the inaugural Hugo Award winner. The books influence permeates through the SF that followed it, from the cyberpunk movement of the 80’s,  to television shows like Babylon 5.


In the 24th century, beings with telepathic powers have become an integrated and integral part of human society. Known as Espers, these telepaths are divided into three levels, dependent on power and ability. Class 3 Espers are the most common type, able to ‘read’ only conscious thoughts and serve roles as assistants and administrators. Class 2 are more powerful, able to dig into another’s pre-conscious thoughts. They serve in greater positions of power, such as lawyers and psychologists. The most powerful telepaths, the Class 1 Espers can read all conscious and subconscious thoughts and urges and serve in high ranking positions of power in the police force and the government. They also control the Esper Guild, the powerful government body designed to detect, train and enforce the ethical guidelines for the use of telepathic abilities.

The world of the Demolished Man is also one free from murder – due to the presence of telepaths it has been 70 years since the last murder was committed.



Posted by Richo On September 30, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to the eleventh instalment of Dust Jacket. First, an apology:

Due to forces beyond my control, our scheduled review of The Windup Girl has been set back. We’ll return to that novel when we can.

And now a special thanks:

Thanks to David and Miztres for their review of American Gods. Luke and I were exhausted after completing five reviews in five weeks, and we needed a much deserved (IMO at least) break. David and Miztres stepped up and delivered a fantastic review.

But now we’re back from Hugo month with our regularly scheduled look at some of the classics of science fiction literature. This week, we’re off to explore the wonders of Ringworld, Larry Niven’s Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award-winning 1970 novel.

As always, I’m joined by my co-conspirator Luke, the world’s harshest critic. Special thanks are due to Luke this week, since he was the one that brought Ringworld to my attention and provided me with my copy of the novel.


Louis Wu is celebrating his 200th birthday, but finds himself bored. He believes he’s experienced all life has to offer. He is contemplating a solo trip into deep space when he is recruited by Nessus, a Pierson’s Puppeteer, for an exploratory voyage beyond known space.

Wu is joined by Speaker-To-Animals, a cat-like Kzin, and Teela Brown, a young human woman and Louis’ love interest. Guided by Nessus, they travel to the homeworld of the Puppeteers, where they learn of the existence of Ringworld, an artificial ring planet about one million miles wide, encircling a Sol-type star. The Ringworld has a habitable flat inner surface equivalent in area to approximately three million Earth-sized planets. Night is provided by an inner ring of shadow squares which are connected to each other by thin ultra-strong shadow square wire.

Together, the intrepid group begins their exploration of Ringworld, encountering primitive humans, a native barbarian hero called Seeker, ruined cities, automated security systems and Halrloprillalar, a crew member on a starship once used for trade between the Ringworld and other inhabited worlds.

They also find themselves stranded on the planet, and Louis is forced to devise an escape plan to get them home again.


American Gods

Posted by David On September 23, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to another instalment of Dust Jacket.

Richo and Luke need a break from Dust Jacket to recover from their awesome Hugo Award nominees roundup so this edition will be a collaboration between Miztres and myself on one of our favourite books – American Gods by Neil Gaiman.


In a land that is the melting pot of the world, where people have come with the customs, stories and Gods from the old countries, a god has got to make a living the best way they know how. The characters from mythology, folk legends and the divinities of nations across time have come to America, a land that does not know or need them, and they find themselves forgotten, and un-worshipped.

Shadow, our hero, stumbles into this underworld of gods and mythological characters when he takes the job as Mr Wednesday’s right hand man. Mr Wednesday is a con man who’s working towards the biggest con ever perpetrated, a war to end all wars, between the old Gods and the modern Gods of America. He lives a half-life, befitting his name, doing what Mr Wednesday tells him to do, regardless of how stupid or dangerous it seems.