Okay, so I’ve read this new Alien series from Titan Books completely arse-about-face. I started with the middle one in the trilogy, James A. Moore’s Sea of Sorrows, and then moved onto the third instalment, Christopher Golden’s River Of Pain. And here I am now reviewing the first in the series, Tim Lebbon’s Out of The Shadows. It doesn’t matter, of course, as while they’re all billed as being somewhat connected, they’re not – each is a self-contained story. In fact, the only thing they share in common is the fact that, at least when released, they were sold to the readers as canonical. And that’s very important because, having read all three now, for me the most striking thing about them is how authentic they feel. As I said in my review of Sea of Sorrows, that alone does set them apart from some of the earlier tie-in-novels (ALIEN HARVEST by Robert Sheckley, I’m looking at you) which, while perhaps entertaining in their own right, have felt nothing like the movies.
The second book in the Expanse series of space opera goodness by James SA Corey (the pen name for co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), Caliban’s War continues the exploits of likely lad, Jim Holden, and his crew of misfits as they wreak merry carnage across the galaxy. Since the first book, things have become even more volatile, with Earth and Mars going to war and Venus quietly breeding a cross between Ridley Scott’s Alien and George Romero’s zombies. Meanwhile, Holden finds himself wham bam in the middle of it all with a trigger-happy Martian marine, potty-mouthed UN official and wiry little botanist who just wants to find his daughter.
I love these books because they don’t feel like books: it feels more like watching a TV series than reading. And, like all the best TV out there, I just wanted to bomb my way through it all in one sitting.
In short, this is some of the best sci-fi I’ve ever read. If you’re not onboard with this series already, remedy that right now.
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I’m a HUGE fan of pulp fiction and of Hard Case Crime in particular. I’ve read and reviewed books by Donald E. Westlake, Christa Faust, Richard Aleas, Lawrence Block, Jack Clark and more. My own writing is greatly influenced by pulp and noir: I’ve often described my zombie novel FLU as noir with zombies and in his review of my most recent novel, PLASTIC JESUS, fellow genre hack, David Moody said: ‘it’s as if the cast of a hard-boiled crime novel had simply been picked up and dropped into Wayne’s future nightmare.’
That all said, there are still many classic pulp novels and writers that I had yet to read. Mickey Spillane, for one.
The vampires’ grip on London and the rest of Britain strengthens. Their human allies force themselves into positions of power. Even Downing Street is occupied by the Nebuchadnezzars, the undead’s mortal watchmen. But a small band of Britons continues the fight. And with Jake Lawton leading them, there is always a glimmer of hope for humanity…
KRIMSON is the second part of Thomas Emson’s VAMPIRE TRINITY series and the sequel to 2009’s SKARLET. Ex-squaddie Jake Lawton returns, now something of a Robin-Hood-like character, loved by the poor and marginalised, hated by the ruling classes – or Nebuchadnezzars, as they’re known as.
The supporting cast is international: joining our survivors from the first book are a motley crew of Eastern European pit fighters and Chinese immigrants, pushed to make a stand against the ever growing vampire hordes as the English scurry in fear. And just about everyone stands out. Emson has a keen eye for detail and uses it to quickly set one character apart from another, even with minor players.
Style-wise, this is a thriller. Emson doesn’t hold back. The story blasts off the first page and never stops for breath. The proses is as stripped back as ever, so sharp that you might very well cut your fingers while reading. There’s even more of a cinematic quality than before; you can practically hear the swelling strings as you read, tension building to crescendo in true Hollywood blockbuster style.
Like its predecessor, KRIMSON is a cracking read. If you like your vamps dirty and sparkle-free, and your writing pulpy, Emson will see you right.
KRIMSON is available now through Snowbooks.