(from M.Christian's Technorotica)
This is just plain wonderful: check out this kick-ass review of my sf/f/h collection, Love Without Gun Control by the very-great Terrance Aldon Shaw on the book's amazon page.
Btw, Love Without Gun Control is currently FREE for a limited time!
Is there any style or genre that M. Christian can’t (or won’t) write in?
After reading this very fine short story collection from one of today’s
most prolific professionals, I’m leaning heavily towards “no”. The ‘m’
in M. Christian seems to stand for “multi-faceted”, or possibly
“mega-multi-tasker”. The guy certainly is versatile, as well as daring,
imaginative, often funny, and seldom—if ever—unentertaining, one of
those writers who seems to be everywhere at once, though if he has, in
fact, cracked the saintly secret of bi-location, he’s not talking.
get a broad sense of Christian’s incredible range in “Love Without Gun
Control”, the author’s 2009 self-compiled and –published collection of
short fiction, most of which originally appeared in genre anthologies,
now-defunct niche-specific literary magazines and long-since cached or
dead-linked websites. These fourteen stories run a dizzying—and
impressive—gamut of mood and style, each with its own carefully measured
ratio of light to shadow, buoyancy to seriousness, horror to humor, and
hope to despair.
Christian has clearly learned from, and
distilled the essence of the best examples of twentieth-century American
fiction, everything from Ray Bradbury and Jack Kerouac to Cormac
McCarthy and Stephen King. He does not shy away from his influences, but
has wisely allowed them to sing through him as he delves the deep,
sometimes silly recesses of the American psyche. The title story is a
broad, campy social satire in addition to being a pitch-perfect sendup
of old Western movies and TV shows, while “Wanderlust” and “Orphans” pay
dark homage to the uniquely American mythos of “the road”—think
Steinbeck’s musings on Route 66 in “The Grapes of Wrath”, or the arid,
windswept, dread-haunted vistas of Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” and
In “Needle Taste”, Christian shows that he is no
less adept at horror of the decidedly psychological variety.
Techno-thriller melds seamlessly with High Fantasy in “The Rich Man’s
Ghost”; political satire meets The Zombie Apocalypse in “Buried with the
Dead”, while knotty existential drama and the classic Post-Apocalyptic
narrative come together in “1,000”, and “Nothing So Dangerous”, a story
of love and betrayal in a time of revolution. Perhaps my favorite
stories in this collection are the beautiful, elegiac, Bradbury-esque
“Some Assembly Required,” a narrative at once clever and poignant, and
the brilliantly breezy “Constantine in Love”:
“It was called The
Love Shack, and it sold all kinds of obvious things: candy, flowers,
poetry books, jewelry, balloons, perfume, lingerie, and many other
sweet, frilly, and heart-shaped items. It stood alone, bracketed by two
vacant lots. Its busiest days were just before Valentine’s and
Christmas. It was described by many newspapers and tourist guides as “. .
. the place to go when love is on your mind.”
The night was dark, the place was closed. The streets were quiet.
the Love Shack exploded—with a fantastic shower of fragmented
chotchkes, and flaming brick-a-brack, it went from a shop dedicated to
amore to a skyrocket of saccharine merchandise. Flaming unmentionables
drifted down to land in smoking heaps in the middle of the street, lava
flows of melted and burning chocolate crawled out for the front door,
teddy bears burned like napalm victims, and cubic zirconia mixed with
cheap window glass—both showering down the empty, smoldering hole that
used to be the store . . .”
I do have a few complaints as well.
In several of these stories, I found myself wishing for a stronger
editorial hand. The text needs a good, personally-detached copyedit.
Several otherwise excellent stories (“Hush, Hush”; “1,000”; “Friday”)
are simply too long to effectively maintain the emotional impact for
which the author aims. I found them overly repetitive and rather dull,
with the narrative lines collapsing into nebulous incoherency. After
all, the “short” in short fiction should be a clue to the essence of the
form; all unnecessary baggage and ballast summarily jettisoned to
achieve an economy of language, and, with it, maximum expression.
Christian is an established and well-respected editor in his own right,
but no matter how skillful or perceptive an author may be as an editor
of other people’s work, when it comes to self-editing, even the best and
brightest have their blind spots.
Still, there’s far more to
like and admire in this collection than to kvetch about or pan. Readers
will be well-rewarded for what is, in the end, a ridiculously modest
price of admission.