Archive for J.B. Zimmerman

Holiday Gift Bag: Spacelore

It’s almost Christmas! But there’s still time to do some last-minute shopping! So let’s dive back into the Holiday Gift Bag to look at J.B. Zimmerman’s Spacelore.


I previously reviewed Zimmerman’s first book, “The New York Magician,” a modern urban fantasy novel, a couple years back. This one collects a bunch of his short science fiction stories, and they’re pretty dang keen.

Among the stories we get here are:

  • “Radar Ghosts and Dead Cosmonauts” – A motley band of techno-shamans try to save the lives of astronauts who died long ago.
  • “The Screams Grow in Green Ice” – An astronaut lost in space, a secret military space station, and something deeply terrifying make for an astonishingly tense sci-fi thriller.
  • “Universal Destructor” – Sometimes, when you get the right genius working on the right project, the whole universe can open up for you.
  • “Notes from the Long Dark” – Deep space exploration sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Of course, it’s best when you’re a willing explorer. And when you’ve got more than just your brain tethered to a spacecraft…
  • “The Bleeding Machine” – A salvage crew encounters a wrecked spaceship, but once on board, they find themselves being attacked and separated by unseen forces. Who’s trying to kill them? And why?
  • “A Trembling in the Sun” – A group of AIs seek to solve the mystery of what’s killing the sun before all life on their planet is ended.
  • “Elevation” – A religious pilgrim in a primitive society undertakes a quest to climb a massive rope into the heavens — but where does the rope really lead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. You get over a dozen fantastic science fiction stories in this book — and they’ve got a serious classic feel to them. I think when we all discovered science fiction for the first time, what brought a lot of us in was a fascination with outer space, rocketships, astronauts, robots, and science so wild it’ll break both your brain and the laws of physics. Zimmerman grew up with the same fascination, and the result is this collection of space-based wonder.

And space-based horror, too. Quite a few of these tales feature strong elements of terror, fright, and suspense. Spaceships that keep themselves lubricated on human blood, voices of long-dead astronauts whispering through the radio, space zombies, and more remind us that space can inspire us — but that doesn’t make it safe.

But there’s also adventure and humor and science and daring men and women exploring the galaxy and fighting aliens and performing miracles with newly invented propulsion systems and doing all the things we’ve always dreamed of getting to do out there in the vast, cold, wonder-filled darkness between the stars. There are stories that’ll scare you, but there are also stories to excite you and make you laugh and make you wish we were focusing more of our efforts on making our science fiction dreams come true.

If you know someone who loves science fiction and great writing and the glories of space travel, they’ll definitely love this book. And hey, it’s late enough that you can’t get anything shipped on time, and the malls are just ridiculous, and you still need a good stocking stuffer — well, you can get this one on the Kindle, and it’s inexpensive enough that you can surprise the sci-fi fan with a little extra present without breaking the bank. So go pick it up.

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Fairy Tale of New York


The New York Magician by J.B. Zimmerman

Hey, here’s a new novel — brand-spankin’ new, actually — that I think you’re gonna love.

The novel — well, really more of a collection of interconnected short stories — follows the exploits of Michel Wibert, a lifelong New Yorker working in the finance industry. But his real job is in communications. You see, Michel is able to see and speak to the gods, spirits, and magical beings who call the Big Apple home. His grandmother taught him about the city’s secret residents, and he now uses this knowledge to negotiate and bargain his way across New York, offering some of these beings their own lost possessions, some vital information, and many the one thing they crave the most — a friendly, sympathetic ear.

So Michel ends up meeting everyone from Baba Yaga (dishing drinks in a trendy bar), Cthulhu (hangin’ in the sewers), Malsumis (an evil Algonquian god), Hapi (the friendly god of the Nile), and Shu (Hapi’s much less friendly brother). He also encounters plenty of other interesting characters, though a bit more mundane — firemen with an unusual haunting, the Jamaican arms dealers who sell him guns, and Kevin, a big Irish immigrant who saves Michel’s bacon when he gets in over his head.

Michel himself makes a pretty interesting, distinctive character — almost always found wearing his custom enchanted Burberry coat, bandolier, pocket watch, ancient spearhead, and Desert Eagle handgun, just about his only special talents are his ability to see and talk to supernatural creatures and his lightning-quick wits. Even the few spells he can cast are tricky work-arounds using special magical items, along with the energy generated by a blast or two from his Desert Eagle. He functions as something of a hard-boiled private eye combined with a medieval knight, always looking to improve things — sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally — for the supernatural entities of NYC, as well as the everyday citizens who need him.

Verdict: A very enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s an incredible book, wildly charismatic and likable, with great glorious tons of action, excitement, mystery, humor, everything you want from great fantasy. It’s completely steeped in the feel of New York City — Zimmerman is a native of the City that Never Sleeps, and the description of the setting is close to perfect. This is perfect urban fantasy — you couldn’t separate the fantasy from the urban setting if you tried.

Characterization is a massive strong point — yes, Michel is a great character, as I’ve already said, but everyone else we meet is a great character, too. Baba Yaga has the loneliness of someone far from home, the wisdom of someone incomparably ancient, and the cruelty of, well, Baba Yaga. Malsumis is an absolute bastard and yet still intensely likable. The djinn who can’t stop switching bodies combines the desperation of someone who just wants someone he can talk to with inhuman intelligence and motives. Even Cthulhu manages to come across as someone who’d be fairly cool to have a beer with — except for the whole “vastly monstrous elder god who will drive mankind insane and destroy the Earth” thing. The humans are just as unique and fascinating, too.

I’m putting this in the strongest possible terms, people. This is an outstanding book, and I think you should read it. Go pick it up.

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