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Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction

Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction is a series of capsule reviews first published in the Saturday Books section of The Montreal Gazette and archived online at infinity plus. Beyond Fantastic Fiction is a further selection of Claude's reviews.

Claude Lalumière is the editor of three anthologies published in 2003: Open Space: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction, Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic and (in collaboration with Marty Halpern) Witpunk. His website can be found at http://lostpages.net.

In addition to Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction, infinity plus publishes many more book reviews. The most recent can be found in our main reviews section, and all, including Claude's, are archived in the reviews archive.


The reviews

Recent additions: The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke, Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez, The Baldwins by Serge Lamothe, The Man from the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman, The Line Between by Peter S Beagle, Monster Island by David Wellington, Tarzan Alive by Philip José Farmer, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt, City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer, Passarola Rising by Azhar Abidi, The Healer by Michael Blumlein, Fallen by David Maine, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips, DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke, Gravity Wells by James Alan Gardner, The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle, The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures edited by Mike Ashley and Eric Brown.

Complete listing of reviews (dates refer to first publication in The Montreal Gazette):

  • Passarola Rising by Azhar Abidi (18 March 2006)
    "Drawing on the fantastic voyage genre popularized by Jules Verne, Abidi creates a wonderful and poignant adventure story."
  • Coyote Cowgirl by Kim Antieau (26 July 2003)
    "...has all the right ingredients for a fun, breezy summer read."
  • The Bone House by Luanne Armstrong (1 February 2003)
    "An emotionally rich tale ... peopled with memorable characters whose actions, reactions, and emotions are startling and striking."
  • Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok K Banker (16 August 2003)
    "Likely to become an essential cornerstone of fantasy."
  • Jennifer Government by Max Barry (22 February 2003)
    "An entertaining romp that delivers mordant social commentary and suspenseful thrills, both woven into a cleverly convoluted plot."
  • Coalescent by Stephen Baxter (24 January 2004)
    "Combines a vast historical scope a la Olaf Stapledon with an astronomical scenario reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke."
  • The Line Between by Peter S Beagle (2 September 2006)
    "The stories in this volume yearn for the space and scope of novels ... leaves no doubt that he is, first and foremost, a novelist."
  • Damage Land: New Scottish Gothic Fiction edited by Alan Bissett (13 October 2001)
    "...celebrates Scottish fiction's predilection for the bizarre ... a treasure chest of creepy and quirky treats showcasing the diversity of gothic fiction and 20 of its newest voices."
  • The Healer by Michael Blumlein (11 March 2006)
    "The Healer is filled with intense moments and powerful imagery, but it's also a mess."
  • Sleeper: Out in the Cold / Sleeper: All False Moves by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (4 September 2004)
    "An unabashedly nihilistic and darkly sardonic crossgenre espionage series ... a tensely involving saga that never flinches and never fails to surprise."
  • Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (26 June 2004)
    "A great start to a fascinating comics series: a police procedural taking place on the edges of the superhero genre."
  • Things Unborn by Eugene Byrne (15 September 2001)
    "A fun romp, told in a compelling, off-beat voice ... spiced with the author's knowledge of history."
  • The Ultimate Cyberpunk edited by Pat Cadigan (19 October 2002)
    "A celebration of the genre that addressed both the anxieties and the excitement generated by the revolutionary potential of home computers, portable technology, rapidly evolving telecommunications systems, and an expanding array of possibilities for body modification."
  • The Hauntings of Hood Canal by Jack Cady (12 January 2002)
    "...the chunky and delicious soup that is Jack Cady's The Hauntings of Hood Canal."
  • Impakto by Richard Calder (2 March 2002)
    "Explodes with vivid contrasts ... a work of beauty, yet its characters are revolting in both appearance and behaviour."
  • Lord Soho by Richard Calder (21 September 2002)
    "Calder's bizarre imagination and idiosyncratic prose style provide the momentum, perversely seducing with their fetishistic overindulgences."
  • White Apples by Jonathan Carroll (28 December 2002)
    "It's hard to admire Jonathan Carroll's twelfth novel, White Apples."
  • The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll (4 August 2001)
    "A feast of challenging ideas, profoundly imagined characters, elegant prose, and baffling strangeness."
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (24 August 2002)
    "With a total of eight stories in thirteen years, Chiang may not be prolific, but he is an uncommonly -- and justifiably -- lauded writer."
  • DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (10 September 2005)
    "A complex saga of political confusion and strange invasion ... sophisticated in both content and appearance."
  • Futures edited by Peter Crowther (15 September 2001)
    "New novellas by four of the top names in British science fiction."
  • Mars Probes edited by Peter Crowther (10 August 2002)
    "A very strong anthology ... two stories stand out as masterpieces."
  • The Watch by Dennis Danvers (1 June 2002)
    "So incisive and well-informed that I wanted nothing to stand in the way ... Alas, The Watch is a dreadful mess."
  • Aye, and Gomorrah and Other Stories by Samuel R Delany (10 May 2003)
    "Most of Delany's stories now strike me as interesting, but failed and excessively affected, experiments."
  • Babel-17: Including Empire Star by Samuel R Delany (2 March 2002)
    "Both works are typical 1960s Delany. Linguistics is inextricably woven into their narratives."
  • Neutrino Drag by Paul Di Filippo (7 August 2004)
    "Showcases the lighter side of Paul Di Filippo. The result is generally fun, with some memorable moments of brilliant wit and storytelling."
  • Strange Trades by Paul Di Filippo (1 December 2001)
    "Paul Di Filippo plies a strange trade. He writes science fiction short stories. Lots of them. Weird ones. Funny ones. Postmodern funky ones."
  • Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow (17 April 2004)
    "Fast-paced adventure ... This is a fun read, especially because of the hilariously drawn characters and the density of intriguing throwaway ideas, but it's ultimately disappointing."
  • In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales by Lord Dunsany (24 April 2004)
    "A selection of Dunsany's fiction spanning the legendary author's entire career, from his innovative mythological tales of the early 1900s to his more realistic texts of the 1950s."
  • Orbiter by Warren Ellis and Colleen Doran (2 August 2003)
    "Fuelled by a fervent desire to see humanity reach the stars ... suffused with the sense of wonder that is science fiction's lifeblood."
  • Budayeen Nights by George Alec Effinger (23 August 2003)
    "A seductive mosaic, empathically beautiful, painfully tender, excitingly imaginative, and deeply personal."
  • Tarzan Alive by Philip José Farmer (17 June 2006)
    "A fun and endlessly intriguing classic."
  • The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust (9 October 2004)
    "Constructs its own reality -- one in which Alberta is a nexus for cannibal cultists, secret histories, magic, and superpowered villains -- with a twisted but loving take on superhero comics logic."
  • Bride of the Fat White Vampire by Andrew Fox (14 August 2004)
    "This time around, Fox concocts a convoluted mystery in the hardboiled tradition of Raymond Chandler, explicitly perverts the Anne Rice brand of vampire fiction, and spices the plot with elements from James Whale's film Bride of Frankenstein."
  • Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox (9 August 2003)
    "A relentlessly entertaining romp through New Orleans's supernatural underworld."
  • Gravity Wells by James Alan Gardner (25 June 2005)
    "A versatile writer with a confident command of diverse narrative voices."
  • Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez (16 December 2006)
    "His strongest non-Love & Rockets work to date."
  • The Vampire Sextette edited by Marvin Kaye (23 November 2002)
    "Three outstanding novellas, two interesting near-misses, and only one dud add up to anthology well worth seeking out."
  • The Baldwins by Serge Lamothe (28 October 2006)
    "A series of random anecdotes without rhyme or reason."
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (19 November 2005)
    "These stories shimmer like impressionist paintings ... a joyful experience."
  • Fallen by David Maine (7 January 2006)
    "David Maine retells the saga of humanity's mythical first family ... backwards."
  • ¡Caramba! by Nina Marie Martínez (5 June 2004)
    "Spiritual quests, complex love stories, sibling incest, the secret agenda of the mysterious volcano cult the Sons and Daughters of San Narciso, and much, much more ... an entertainingly zany ghost story."
  • White Devils by Paul McAuley (20 March 2004)
    "A well-informed and engaged confluence of biology, genetics, racial politics, globalization economics, and environmental issues."
  • Nekropolis by Maureen McHugh (12 January 2002)
    "A haunting meditation on desire, escape, identity, and transformation."
  • Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (2 June 2001)
    "An unlikely amalgamation of disparate influences, an alchemical potion striving to transmogrify ink, paper, and imagination into literary gold."
  • The Scar by China Miéville (27 July 2002)
    "A baroque and picaresque odyssey, peopled by strange species and ambiguous characters."
  • The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller (21 September 2002)
    "Sadly, the script lacks the emotional nuances of its predecessor, and, most noticeably, the artwork is rushed and garish."
  • The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (11 December 2004)
    "An unforgivingly savage (if still hilarious) horror tale."
  • Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata (2 June 2001)
    "Linda Nagata is possessed of a wild speculative imagination ... Sadly, this promising tale collapses under the weight of too many unanswered questions."
  • The Man from the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman (30 September 2006)
    "The adventures ooze glam and mod stylishness... erudite pastiches in which the dangers are always immediate, the thrills always genuine."
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (3 January 2004)
    "Niffenegger's storytelling is bold, confident, and entrancing. Her prose is warm and inviting ... There's a lot to love in this book."
  • Falling out of Cars by Jeff Noon (22 March 2003)
    "Ever since the release of Vurt ... Jeff Noon's work has been consistently idiosyncratic, strange, and uncompromising. His eighth book, Falling out of Cars, is no exception."
  • The Impossible Bird by Patrick O'Leary (4 May 2002)
    "...creates a truly unusual scenario of alien invasion, conjures extraterrestrials that are unlike anything on Earth, and spins a tale in which his aliens and their plot become inseparable from his thematic concerns."
  • Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (20 September 2003)
    "Palahniuk's startlingly engaging voice has stayed fairly consistent so far, and, by now, it's starting to lose its freshness."
  • Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (28 September 2002)
    "With his fifth novel, Lullaby, Palahniuk steps firmly and boldly into the realm of the impossible."
  • In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips (1 October 2005)
    "Every story showcases Phillips's deft understated touch, her evocative allusions, her depth of vocabulary, her knack for beautifully complex sentences."
  • Graphic Classics: HP Lovecraft edited by Tom Pomplun (31 May 2003)
    "A gorgeously produced book. The bizarre and compelling artwork, on nearly every page, deliciously spices the mix with humour and terror."
  • The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt (20 May 2006)
    "A rollicking adventure -- an imaginative and unusual blend of superhero comics, classic fantasy, western pulp, and romantic comedy."
  • The Holy by Daniel Quinn (25 January 2003)
    "A mosaic of interlocking quests, robustly written and filled with astonishing ideas."
  • The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (13 July 2002)
    "A subtle fiction within a fiction, a novel about the history of another world written as if by someone from that same world."
  • Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo (7 April 2001)
    "A grab bag of science-fiction goodies ... thrilling and exciting."
  • Maniac Killer Strikes Again! by Richard Sala (31 January 2004)
    "The literary equivalent of a grab bag of unwholesomely delicious Halloween treats."
  • Conqueror Fantastic edited by Pamela Sargent (29 May 2004)
    "A fairly strong assemblage, with only one out-and-out dud."

  • A Handbook of American Prayer by Lucius Shepard (31 December 2004)
    "A testosterone-fuelled yet rawly introspective exploration of the confluence of masculinity, celebrity, and spirituality in contemporary US culture."
  • Louisiana Breakdown by Lucius Shepard (26 April 2003)
    "Sumptuously written, oozing sweat, sex, and strangeness with heady insouciance."
  • Phases of the Moon by Robert Silverberg (26 September 2004)
    "Documents one of the most significant careers in the history of science fiction, presenting some of the genre's finest stories."
  • Roma Eterna by Robert Silverberg (12 July 2003)
    "An entertaining read, with a generous handful of exceptionally engaging stories."
  • Fantasy: The Best of 2002 edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber (28 June 2003)
    "A diverse and thrilling read that spans the broad range of fantasy fiction's subgenres."
  • Science Fiction: The Best of 2001 edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber (10 August 2002)
    "Overlook(s)
    most of what is still exciting, vibrant, and cutting edge in science fiction."
  • Coyote by Allen Steele (15 March 2003)
    "A subversive grand adventure, both intelligent and emotionally involving."
  • Coyote Rising by Allen Steele (12 February 2005)
    "A rousing read. Steele can really spin a good yarn, and he has a true feel for adventure."
  • Jetcat Clubhouse by Jay Stephens (30 November 2002)
    "Fully enjoyable either as zany kid superhero fun or as ironic postmodern pop-culture artefact."
  • The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (12 June 2004)
    "Stross seductively creates an entire secret history of international intelligence agencies working to keep the other levels of reality from spilling out."
  • A Telling of Stars by Caitlin Sweet (15 February 2003)
    "...swathed in portentous sentences. Sweet trusts neither her story to convey its own worth nor her readers to get it."
  • The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle (18 June 2005)
    "Tuttle delves into those terrifying primal regions where the mysteries of the world infect the human imagination."
  • City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (8 April 2006)
    "A fascinating mosaic of interlocking texts whose meanings change as readers delve deeper."
  • Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer (10 July 2004)
    "The title story ... at times savagely horrific, at others deliriously funny, it's a roller-coaster ride filled with fascinating characters caught in strangely resonant conflicts and situations."
  • Monster Island by David Wellington (22 July 2006)
    "A delightfully inventive and fast-paced hybrid of several genres."
  • The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld (19 July 2003)
    "A space opera played on a grand stage against an admirably complex political backdrop ... a cold and uninvolving read."
  • The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson (13 October 2001)
    "Revels in exciting speculative ideas while offering a poignant personal tale of coping with extraordinary circumstances."
  • The Knight by Gene Wolfe (28 February)
    "...recalls filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1, also half of an epic story."
  • Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe (29 March 2003)
    "An evocative labyrinthine puzzle, drenched in melancholy beauty and peppered with thrilling adventure."
  • Swift Thoughts by George Zebrowski (13 July 2002)
    "An interesting writer who obviously puts a lot of thought behind his stories, most of which are dense, idea-packed thought experiments ... But one thing authors should never do when discussing their own work is brag."

Beyond Fantastic Fiction...

A further selection of Claude's reviews (added to infinity plus in September 2004):

  • The Alternate Worlds of Science Fiction: a combined review of Irrational Fears by William Browning Spencer, Roads Not Taken: Tales of Alternate History edited by Gardner Dozois and Stanley Schmidt, Judgement of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959 by Kim Newman and Ribofunk by Paul Di Filippo (19 December 1998)
    "Make no mistake, no matter how outwardly exotic fiction appears, deep down it's always about the reality of the culture from which it sprang."
  • The Complete Short Stories by JG Ballard (30 March 2002)
    "With surgical precision, Ballard diagnoses the cultural diseases of post-industrial society."
  • Dead Air by Iain Banks (18 January 2003)
    "Sexual tension aplenty, enthusiastic and intense erotic encounters, passionate politics, sudden violence ... yet the energy remains unfocused."
  • Dreamer by Jack Butler (31 Oct0ber 1998)
    "This could have been entertaining, and at times it almost is."
  • Lost Pages by Paul Di Filippo (30 January 1999)
    "Wickedly funny."
  • Northern Suns edited by David Hartwell and Glenn Grant (24 April 1999)
    "'Welcome to the Canadian invasion,' proclaims Montreal-based writer and illustrator Glenn Grant."
  • The Second Angel by Philip Kerr (13 January 1999)
    "A welcome return to the more ambitious scope of Kerr's earlier novels."
  • Bag of Bones by Stephen King (26 September 1998)
    "A ghost story and not a very good one, despite the valid social issues it raises."
  • The Unburied by Charles Palliser (17 April 1999)
    "A skilfully structured edifice, a story within a story within a story."
  • The Alien Years by Robert Silverberg (6 February 1999)
    "In The Alien Years everything is bigger. Silverberg's Entities tower over even the awesome tripods of Wells' Martians."
  • Legends edited by Robert Silverberg (13 February 1999)
    "Of the eleven tales, three stand out ... The rest of the book is a sad, unimaginative foray."
  • The Cleft and Other Odd Tales by Gahan Wilson (31 October 1998)
    "These short stories are written with great love for the form ... It's all deliciously scrumptious--and oblique."

  • A complete listing of all infinity plus reviews is available in the Reviews Archive.


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