Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes

This month the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour is highlighting Beckon by Tom Pawlik, which carries the tag line 'Come. And live forever.' In which spirit it is time to introduce the Top Ten Songs About Living Forever, painstakingly chosen by a mysterious tribe who have been holed up in a cave for centuries with nothing but Spotify to teach them about the way of the world above ground.

10. Jeff Buckley: Eternal Life A song inspired by anger over "the man that shot Martin Luther King, World War II, slaughter in Guyana and that weird millionaire in Beckon, Wyoming who was kidnapping immigrants."

9. The Primevals: Elixir of Life The Scottish garage rock band categorically deny hunting dinosaurs through anomalies. Which is kind of a shame, because taht would be an interesting TV show.

8. Ookpikk: Soda Fountain of Youth Every top ten needs at least five minutes of quality electronica, and, well, who can resist a title like that?

7. Queen: Who Wants To Live Forever? Which is, in fact, the question asked by the book of the month.

6. Arrested Development: Fountain of Youth Unnecessarily catchy and suitably summery funky hip-hop.

5. Madness: Forever Young They just are, aren't they? I mean, Suggs is like 50, but he's still the naughty schoolboy from Baggy Trousers.

4. Dave Davies: Life After Life (Transformation) I couldn't come up with a suitable Kinks song for this month, so here's a 2002 solo offering from Dave. It couldn't be much further from the power chords of You Really Got Me if it tried though....  

3. Pretenders: Forever Young Not a cover of the Madness song. A cover of a Dylan song.

2. Gym Class Heroes: Live Forever [Fly With Me] More catchy hip-hop, of a slightly mellower flavour this time.

1. Evanescence: My Immortal Stunningly, hauntingly, gorgeously beautiful. But enough about Amy Lee, enjoy the music :)

Now Spotify the Top Ten, and pop back to yesterday's post for the links to the rest of the tour.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Review: Beckon by Tom Pawlik

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Tyndale House. Bonus points to them for mailing a copy outside the US, but that won't affect my review.

Beckon is named after a barely noticeable Wyoming town, lurking somewhere on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone, where things are not quite as they seem. Which is odd in itself, because it's not until about a third of the way into the book that we actually arrive there.

The first part of the story is divided, somewhat unequally, into three parts, each introducing one of the main characters and their reasons for visiting Beckon. George Wilcox is looking for a cure for his wife's Alzheimer's; Elina Gutierrez is a disgraced cop on a personal mission to find her missing cousin; and our hero, Jack Kendrick, is on a quest to find out what happened to his father, guided by the wise and enigmatic Old Ben (wait, what?).

I found the story a bit of a slow burner; I wanted to discover what was going down in Beckon, not go potholing with Jack and Ben. However, when Jack does eventually arrive, and we flashback to see how Elina and George came to be there, the story of Beckon is slowly fleshed out and the stage is set for the final showdown.

I thought the way the three stories were split was a bit odd to start with, but it works well enough to make the ending satisfying, and helps maintain that air of mystery around the town of Beckon while you're on the way.

For all the story started slowly, once we were in those caves, I was absolutely in the caves. The writing totally took me in, I could picture every scene (although, it may have helped that the cave scenes were pretty much darkness throughout...) and absolutely believed it - except once.

*Spoiler approaching!*

Giant alien zombie cave spiders I could believe. Weird, barely human creatures covered in strange tattoos that seem to co-exist with the spiders, I could believe. But when we are given a physical demonstration of how quickly the people of Beckon are able to heal themselves, that was just a little less believable than the rest, and took me out of the story for a moment.

*End of spoiler*
I tend to find stories like Beckon - supernatural suspense novels with a Christian motif - often come across a bit Stephen King-lite, and the same could be said here, but in this instance it's not entirely a bad thing. King would have had a lot more gore and swearing, certainly; there are gory moments in Beckon, but not too many or too graphic - I wouldn't be surprised if the author had to work very hard to get the right balance. And Beckon clearly demonstrates that novels like this do not need an f-bomb every three pages, or indeed at all.

All in all, Beckon is a well-written story with plenty of action and suspense, a dash of humour, an interesting evil and a subtle but present hopeful note as befits a book aimed at a Christian audience.

Your tour, as ever, continues this way:
Noah Arsenault Julie Bihn Thomas Clayton Booher Thomas Fletcher Booher Beckie Burnham Brenda Castro Theresa Dunlap Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Janeen Ippolito Becky Jesse Jason Joyner Carol Keen Leighton Rebekah Loper Katie McCurdy Shannon McDermott Karen McSpadden Rebecca LuElla Miller Nissa Joan Nienhuis Faye Oygard Crista Richey Kathleen Smith Jessica Thomas Steve Trower Fred Warren Shane Werlinger