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Hugh Likes Comics: Heist

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Heist, or How To Steal a Planet #1
Written by Paul Tobin
Drawn by Arjuna Susini
Colored by Vittorio Astone
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
Published by Vault Comics

HLC Heist

The Skinny: A love letter to Science Fiction Noir and the start of something great.

Theirs something about Sci-Fi Noir that I find inexplicably cool. GIve me the rain-soaked neon of Blade Runner, the pitiless urban sprawl of the BAMA. Heist delivers a whole new world of grimy future crime, and it does it with a love for the grubby subgenre on its sleeve. Welcome to Grave City.
The planet Heist was the last Independent hold-out against the monolithic Dignity Corporation. Glane Breld took the fall when Dignity took over. And the man who set him up took his car. Now Glane’s a free man again, and he has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to put together a crew skilled enough to steal the planet back again.
Heist #1 is one of those rare great comics where the writer and artists are working in perfect synchronicity. Tobin’s writing sets up the characters and the world well, without being too dense. Susini’s art is grimy and evocative of the great indie sci-fi comics of the 80’s and 90’s. This comic feels like how fans talk about 2000 AD. Astone’s colors wash the whole thing in a murky shadowscape that is absolutely perfect and sets the right level of menace for the underground of Grave City.
Heist #1 is a dirty, rotten jewel of a Sci-Fi Crime comic. This is going to be a big one, and you can pick it up at your local shop, or digitally from Comixology. Go out and get it.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Gideon the Ninth

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Gideon the Ninth
Written by Tamsyn Muir
Audiobook read by Moira Quirk
Published by Recorded Books

The Skinny: Shirley Jackson’s Lesbian Space Necromancers.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth is an extraordinary novel that is a bit difficult to describe, pithy sentence above not withstanding. In a crumbling space empire built on necromancy, eight Necromancers, along with their Cavalier bodyguards, return to a long-abandoned planet to search for a secret power that could save their civilization. It’s a dense concept, and my attempts don’t do it justice, but Tamsyn sells it with from the first incredible opening line.

“In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!— Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.”

A postmodern space fantasy/ghost story, Muir fills her novel with deeply rich characters like the eponymous sassy swordswoman Gideon and her Necromancer charge, Harrowhawk. Harrow is the teenaged leader of the Ninth House, and Gideon’s only childhood companion, so of course they hate each other, and are only working together to keep the other houses from finding out that a tragedy befell their planet, and they are literally the only suitable candidates. Her characters are outstandingly drawn and painfully real. And her setting, from the nearly-lifeless frozen tomb planet the Ninth House calls home to the abandoned, crumbling palace of Canaan House is a character in its own right; melancholy, ferocious, and disarmingly witty.
Muir’s handling of equal parts tension and farce are deft, constantly surprising, and utterly delightful.
Just as delightful as the writing is Moira Quirk’s narration on the audiobook version. Quirk does an excellent job brining Muir’s already vivid characters to life. She does a stunning job performing a large cast of strange and complicated characters.
Gideon the Ninth draws from the work of masters like Agatha Christie, Shirley Jackson, and Ursula K. Le Guin, while also building something modern and wholly unique. It is unlike anything I’ve read in a very long time, and not to be missed. You can listen to the remarkable audiobook version via Audible, or purchase a physical or ebook copy from your retailer of choice.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: This Is How You Lose the Time War

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This Is How You Lose the Time War
Written by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Audiobook read by Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller
Published by Simon and Schuster Audio

The Skinny: Two time-traveling agents begin a correspondence that will have epic consequences.

This beautifully written novella follows Red and Blue, two agents of opposed possible futures working to ensure their side wins history, as they begin an exchange of letters that will, well, change history.
El-Mohtar’s and Gladstone’s writing is lyrical and beautiful. The locations for the two agents’ missions are tiny glimpses into beautiful and compelling worlds. From neolithic labyrinths to ruined battlefields on crumbling, distant planets. But the letters themselves are as fascinating as their correspondents’ adventures. The reader watches as their exchange starts as a taunt, gradually becomes more friendly as the two begin to understand one another, and eventually become something more intimate, in letters written on plain paper, and hidden in more devious methods, in the bottom of a teacup, in the rings on a fallen tree, or the boiled water in an abandoned hospital MRI machine. Each exchange is surprising and engaging, and the reader is left to wonder what they’ll think of next, and to worry as a shadowy figure stalks behind them.
The audiobook, although short, was particularly good, which a pair of excellent narrators that give the poetic descriptions and intimate epistolary sections real gravitas. Often an audiobook is either well narrated or well acted, and finding not one but two narrators that excel at both is a triumph in and of itself.
This Is How You Lose the Time War is a confection of time travel mystery romance that will leave you aching for more, and heading back through to see how they pulled it off when you’re done. It’s certainly award-fodder, and it breathes new imagination into it’s sub-genre. Don’t miss this one!

Fiction: 5(n) Guys

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The mad scientist’s cloning machine was complete! He’d tested it (on himself, naturally) and the five replicas were perfect. They weren’t quite as brilliant as he was, but they were healthy, and loyal.
But he was out of funds to continue his research.
Some time later, a car pulled up to the drive-through at a local burger joint.
“Greetings! Recite your demands into the listening device!”
The driver pulled through and picked up their order. As she turned back into traffic, she turned to her passenger.
“You ever notice how the guys at this place all look the same?”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
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Fiction: The Invader

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The mech suit rumbled along the sandy track, making more noise than the pilot liked. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The foundation of the colony was supposed to be glorious, even easy!
He had been assured that the locals would be either awed by their technological majesty or cowed by their firepower. So why was he the only unit left?
He spotted something laying in the road and paused. It was a broken toy, a mech suit action figure with the arms and legs ripped off. By the time the message registered, it was already too late.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
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Fiction: After the Accident

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“How long has it been since we crashed on this god-forsaken planet,” the old man asked his robot companion.
“Forty-one years, nine months, twelve days, and… my apologies, my chronometer isn’t so accurate these days.”
“And no hope of rescue.”
The robot shrugged. “That’s the danger of superluminal exploration. Our distress signal won’t reach human space for another hundred years.”
“At least you’ll still be there to tell them what happened,” the human said. They didn’t have the heart to tell him the only thing that kept them going was the man’s maintenance, something they couldn’t do themself.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Fiction: The 5th Gender

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The 5th Gender: A Tinkered Stars Mystery
Written by G. L. Carriger
Published by the author
Reviewed from an Advance Reader Copy

5th Gender Cover

The Skinny: A sweet, fluffy queer sci-fi romance with a few bits of mystery thrown in for good measure.

Alien diplomat Tistol and space station security detective Drey Hastion have been making eyes at each other for months. But just as they finally get together, to the mutual relief of their friends and coworkers, Drey gets a case that he’ll need his new romantic partner’s help with. A ship from Tristol’s notably reclusive home world has arrived, and there has been a murder, something so unthinkable in Tris’s society as to be unprecedented.
Going in, I was worried that this book was trying to do too much, but the author comes through with flying colors. Carriger, who may be better known for her best-selling steampunk adventures, brings her characteristic sense of style and dry wit to this romantic cozy mystery. The Galloi are a fascinating and well realized species. The sex scenes are well written and feel natural.
As a cozy, there isn’t a lot of tension in this book. Even places where I expected there to be, such as Tris’s naive misunderstanding of human gender and racial concepts is breezily but respectfully handled. Although as a cis-gendered white man, it’s not my place to make final judgement on that. Drey’s space station seems much more of a utopian one than Carriger’s Dickensian Wheel in Crudrat, which is implied to share a universe. But the story is charming and sexy, with delightful characters you’ll want to see more of when you get to the back cover.
The 5th Gender is directly available from The Author’s Website, as well as Amazon, the usual online stores, and can be ordered by Your Local Independent Bookshop.
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