Review of The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams up on SFSignal

Tad Williams is one of my “read-everything-he-puts-out” authors…except for the cat book. No cat books.

My review of the first book in his latest series, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, is up on the Hugo award winning and 2013 Hugo nominated SFSignal.

An excerpt:

Tad Williams in known for his LARGE (door stoppingly LARGE), genre-jumping, hard to categorize series:ShadowmarchOtherlandMemory, Sorrow and Thorn. (And apparently he’s known for a cat book, which, since I’m a dawg guy, I probably won’t read.) One characteristic that runs through all of these is that Williams not only follows the “show don’t tell” writers’ philosophy, he also follows “show, but don’t show everything.” Both Otherland and Shadowmarch possessed some pieces that were never quite explained, which made me wonder about them even long after I’d finished. (And sometimes tempt me to re-read…but re-reading is a no-no…there are too many books in this world!)

I appreciate Williams thoughtfulness for those of us who can’t remember the last book…as he always adds in a Here’s-What-Happened-Before synopsis to the front of books that come later in his series. I’ve also read his short story collection A Stark and Wormy Night (no synopsis needed, they were short enough that they didn’t test my old memory). But Williams’ new Bobby Dollar series is different from all of the rest. It is, again, a hard to categorize tome some call it urban fantasy, but that label reminds me retchingly of Twilight  but it differs from his previous works in several aspects:

  • It is based in a somewhat modern locale, as opposed to a world built in fantasy or cyberspace. The fictitious city of San Judas is mapped to the Palo Alto/ Silicon Valley area (and includes Stanford U.), which is the area where Williams grew up.
  • It is written in 1st person. Bobby Dollar spends quite a bit of time talking to the reader.
  • While it still “shows”, this novel does an awful lot of telling. (I smell misdirection here, but a bit on that later.)
  • It is not door-stoppingly LARGE, on my shelf next to the Otherland and Shawdowmarch hardbacks, it looks like it has been on an Atkins diet compared to the rest.

With Bobby Dollar, an advocate angel, Williams explores the people and beings that populate Heaven, Hell and Earth and the rules that keep Armageddon from a’comin’. There is a mystery to be solved, and there is more than a bit of crime noir bent to the telling. But rules that Dollar tells the readers in the beginning and what actually happens to Dollar turn the rules upside down.  And while some of the rules follow the norm of the Western cultural definitions of Heaven and Hell, this is the unknown fringe that Williams enjoys playing in, and he definitely seems to enjoy  himself.

Quotes and spoilers from here down, so turn back now if you haven’t read the book and are planning on it.

Read the rest here.

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