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Samuel Rippey's Profile

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Helpful Votes: 30

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Samuel Rippey "onecoatzombie" RSS Feed (Rhode Island, USA)

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Through Shattered Glass
Through Shattered Glass

5.0 out of 5 stars Short horror fiction at its very best, May 9, 2011
Often the best way to be introduced to a writer is through their short stories. I can't count how many authors--some of them all-time favorites--that I've discovered through their shorter work in anthologies, magazines, websites, etc.

I'd heard the name David B. Silva many times, and always in a positive light. When I read comparisons to Ray Bradbury, I knew that I'd have to seek out Silva's shorter work. THROUGH SHATTERED GLASS, an anthology now available on Kindle, turned out to be more than worthy of the Bradbury comparison. But don't think that the collection is all rocket ships and dandelion wine; it's some of the darkest stuff in print.

Silva provokes responses on a deep level. He explores the personal, the intimate, the interior. Themes of illness, failed family relationships, madness, unreality, and loss pervade the work, almost to the point of overload. All this darkness is oppressive, especially if the stories are read back-to-back. But this isn't a weakness--it's just the nature of the beast, and a testament to the skill with which Silva manipulates his subject matter.

To be honest, I was on the lookout for the weak stories, the filler pieces that pop up in every anthology. I was alarmed to find that there weren't any. This is an amazing achievement, and should thrill everyone who cares about contemporary horror.

Silva is a brilliant craftsman. Every story features a striking central idea, and is written in prose which manages to be both plainspoken and lyrical. The best in the anthology were "Dwindling," which reads like Bradbury at his darkest; "Ice Sculptures," a literally chilling tale of art and nature which reminded me of Algernon Blackwood; and "The Feeders," a tale dense with emotion and symbolism which I read twice and want to read again. The only (slight) misstep occurs in "Nothing is as it Seems," which detours into the pulp-SF territory of parallel worlds, yet remains an effective on its own terms.

THROUGH SHATTERED GLASS is lyrical, psychological, disturbing, emotional, and amazingly well-written. Silva is so obviously a master of the form that it's kind of ridiculous. Recommended without reservation.

The Calling: A Supernatural Thriller
The Calling: A Supernatural Thriller
Price: $4.99

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intense, dangerous, emotionally-charged debut novel, March 26, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The biggest fires start as slow burns.

Okay, I made that phrase up, but it's true--at least regarding suspense novels. Robert Swartwood, in his thrilling and merciless debut THE CALLING, has proven himself a master of building suspense--feeding the fire until all the reader can do is watch as the flames grow until the blaze becomes blinding.

But this is a controlled burn, as Swartwood orchestrates his work with deftness and intelligence. The story, which is as dark as they come, avoids the pitfalls of becoming exploitative or shock-value, and reads rather as an unblinking exploration of tragedy and violence in the lives of good people.

The narrator, Christopher, is reeling from the gruesome murders of his parents. For safety's sake, he's shuffled out of his hometown in Pennsylvania to a trailer park in New York. It's here that menace and mystery grows until he finds himself embroiled in a malign supernatural plot, which holds the fate of many innocent (and not-so-innocent) lives in the balance.

Things get complicated fast. In the hands of a lesser writer, the multiple backstories and large cast of characters could have collapsed under its own weight. Yet Swartwood never overwhelms the reader, and the characters live and breathe, with most of them well-drawn enough for a novel of their own. Everyone (and everything) is connected, in compelling and often startling ways.

Tempering the book's darkness is real emotional depth. Each characters has lived and lost and paid for their mistakes, and this intense humanity spills out into the story. Especially noteworthy are an itinerant preacher, Moses, and his strange, precocious son Joey, who are both instrumental in bringing the book's paranormal themes to light.

Swartwood's prose burns bright and clear, strong without becoming intrusive. While some dialogue runs overlong, his ear for speech is an excellent one, especially in the interactions between younger characters.

All told, THE CALLING is a novel of dangerous intensity, growing in every word and chapter, hitting the reader with an emotional punch that lingers long after the last word. An outstanding and auspicious debut.

(P.S. While this is Swartwood's first full-length novel, he's published other shorter titles, all of them available on Amazon. Check out THE SILVER RING or THROUGH THE GUTS OF A BEGGAR.)

DVD ~ Brendan Fletcher
Price: $19.95
17 used & new from $10.96

14 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anti-life, anti-hope, anti-art, anti-everything, September 14, 2010
This review is from: Rampage (DVD)
It took me a while to understand my feelings about this film. After some reflection, I think this worthless filth has changed me, but not in the ways the director might've intended.

I'm no prude. I've watched many, many violent films in my day. HELLRAISER, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, HARRY BROWN...the list is pretty much endless. I've enjoyed them, and been shocked but never overly offended by violence, murder, gore. I don't know quite how to articulate it, but many of these films had other qualities that made them worthwhile: the pitch-black humor of CLOCKWORK, the sympathetic protagonist in HARRY BROWN, the elegant storytelling of HELLRAISER, etc.

That being said, RAMPAGE offended me, made me sick to my stomach and in my spirit, and defined for me what the glorification of violence is really about.

As other reviewers have said, the plot is a wisp of a thing: spoiled self-involved suburban twentysomething constructs body armor, arms himself with machine guns, knives, and bombs, and goes through his town killing everyone he sees without rhyme or reason. And he gets away with it by framing his best friend.

And that's it.

The motives for his actions are never fully revealed. There's some noise made about world overcrowding and how he believes he's doing some kind of service by reducing the population. Wow, what a guy! Thanks, buddy! The character himself is a hollow shell, a cipher, an automaton on which to drape high-powered weaponry. I had no feelings for him other than sadness and disgust.

As I mentioned, I never fully understood the term 'glorified violence'. But when his little rampage begins, the relish with which it's presented brings the phrase fully alive. The character's first victim is a random truck driver, which he shoots through the windshield. Next are random people walking down the street. Then he must stop because he's out of ammo, and stops to have a chat with a horrified girl who he kills when he's reloaded. Then off to a beauty salon, where he rounds up the women like cattle, has a drink and complains about how hot is suit is, and executes them in a corner of the shop.

And on and on and on and on. All presented in loving detail.

I think Boll might have been trying to comment on the state of the world; he might have been going for a Big Statement Film that sums up the violent zeitgeist of modern America. Instead, what he's done is add a little more evil into an already depraved society. I never thought I'd say these things about a film--I'm pro-artistic freedom, anti-censorship, pro-artist, etc. I think I just had to be exposed to the face of true artistic worthlessness and--yes, I'll say it--EVIL to have my views shaken up.

I could go on for pages, and probably will in arenas outside of an Amazon review. For now, I think my title sums it up: this film is anti-life, anti-hope, anti-art, anti-sense, anti-everything.

ZERO stars.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2012 12:46 PM PST

Blue Earth
Blue Earth
by Jeff Stover
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.69
29 used & new from $7.70

4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning SF debut, April 5, 2010
This review is from: Blue Earth (Paperback)
I think one of the best compliments for a writer is that `he knows what he's doing.' Though it sounds like a backhanded compliment, it's just the opposite. To know what you're doing takes hours and days and weeks and years. To know what you're doing -- to hone your craft and your creativity into a coherent, intelligent, exciting work of art -- is what every novelist, beginning or established, is after.

This being said: Stover knows what he's doing.

BLUE EARTH is a near-future SF novel, centering around two protagonists: Jamal, a bitter, scarred ex-soldier; and Ruth, an incongruously attractive academic. In their world, beings called the Thrones are the center of a massive religious and secular debate. Are the Thrones a threat? Are they aliens or demons or saviors? Are they genetically-altered humans? What are the implications their existence has for humanity? Ruth and Jamal find themselves at the heart of this controversy, with radically different consequences than either could imagine.

BLUE EARTH balances the story between Ruth and Jamal's experiences, creating well-managed parallel narratives. The characters are a study in contrasts-- Jamal's brutality and bitterness with Ruth's essential idealism and femininity. They're excellently drawn and believable, even when their behavior becomes extreme. Both are constantly at war with bureaucratic authority, whether it be the military, academia, government organizations, or ruthless employers -- a common thread between their disparate experiences and personalities.

BLUE EARTH succeeds as both a book of action and ideas. This is a hard trick to pull off in SF, as too many authors lean too heavily in either direction, resulting in either boring pendantry or mindless chest-thumping. Stover avoids these pitfalls, and the story appeals to both the brain and gut.

The action is, in a word, awesome. Think of the best of Heinlein (in his STARSHIP TROOPERS days), or John Steakley, and you'll get the idea. Stover served in the US Navy, and his portrayals of a soldier's life -- in ts excitement and boredom and exhilaration and banality -- have the ring of authenticity. The battles themselves are breathless and brilliantly paced, and will satisfy any SF junkie or fan of military fiction.

The ideas in the novel are breathtaking, and are alone worth the price of admission. Stover works in the best SF traditions of forward-thinking and imaginative extrapolation.
His society, circa the 2030s, is fully-developed and believable, taking into consideration everything from academia to genetic engineering to media technology.
Religion figures prominently, and Stover handles the subject with a deft touch. Jamal and Ruth's relationship with the Thrones takes a turn for the spiritual, with consequences that are moving but never sentimental or precious.

Overall, BLUE EARTH is a stunning debut. Stover has taken all the best aspects of SF and made them his own, creating a novel of excitement and reflection, grace and strength, hardness and heart. Highly recommended.

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