Lord of Thundertown, By O.F. Cieri

Mar 17, 2021

When I opened this book the text of the preface was printed at an angle which prohibited me from reading all of it. Also, some pages became unglued from the binding and started falling out. Thankfully, the rest of the book remained intact, but it was an ominous sign.

Lord of Thundertown takes place in present day New York City. However, the city has an underground society that consists of all kinds of creatures including those who can shapeshift and others with pseudo-super powers. The “above ground” and “below ground” societies interact but there is a sense of tension between these two cultures.

The main story line involves Alex, Sam, and Nails, twenty-something punks who all at one point or another go missing in the below ground world. Lots of weird characters are encountered and help is needed from one of the Lords, a creature who lives above ground but controls a particular turf of the city. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure how these two worlds related. What is the history of this underground world? When did it come about? Was it just in NYC? I had so many questions about the origins of this fictitious world as I read Lord of Thundertown. It’s quite possible it was in there but if so, it wasn’t elongated.

One prominent theme in the book is the use of aether design, or magic spells. These aethers protect characters from some of the supernatural creatures. The story ultimately revolves around making sure that those missing humans can make their way from below ground to above ground. The ending, however, felt pretty anticlimactic.

Frankly, Lord of Thundertown was a slog for me to get through. I grew up reading a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, but found much of this confusing and lacking good descriptions. I had a difficult time understanding the construct of this world. There were many characters and it wasn’t always easy for me to figure out who they were or why I should even care about them. I believe the author, O.F. Cieri, has talent for this kind of genre, but this world didn’t draw me in and entertain me in a way I would’ve hoped. –Kurt Morris (ninestarpress.com)

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Quit Your Band: Musical Notes from the Japanese Underground By Ian F. Martin, 242 pgs.

January 30, 2019
I’m not sure a book like this would have existed before the internet. The idea of an expansive yet personal overview of new-to-the-reader scenes allegedly forms the basis for much of today’s expository scene writing—I use the word “allegedly” here because the imagined audience of such books often has at least a toe in whatever musical pool the writer discusses. In the case of the sprawling Japanese music ecosystem that Ian F. Martin discusses in Quit Your Band, though, the author knows that readers are unlikely to have much acquaintance with the groups and scenes he mentions, to say nothing of the intricacies of booking shows in Japan. This lack of acquaintance is one of the points he makes: the best way to immerse oneself in any new ’scape is to find a band and start chasing down tendrils: ex-members, aligned groups. If this method sounds familiar, it might be a product of your age, dear reader: we used to do it like this (excuse me for a second while I yell at a cloud. Okay, I’m back now). I think a lot of aging punks who are detached from active music hives feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options that are out there, and as such resort to the hackneyed assertion that there’s no good music being made— even though the number of options and avenues that have yielded the exact opposite of that assertion. Because the history of recorded music is available to everyone, it’s now easier than ever for microscenes to spring up. It takes a little more work to find them, but it’s work that’s fun. Or should be, anyway. Ian F. Martin’s book is more than a book in this age of the internet: it’s easy to forget that all books are now hypertexts. Reading about the bands he discusses in a vacuum is one way to approach this book. It’s much more gratifying, though, to use it as a springboard for discovery. Martin carefully and lovingly details specific, sometimes tiny epochs of Japanese underground music, which are accessible with a little digging. And if you’re a “Back in the Day” kind of person, you’ll remember how immensely gratifying such archeological discoveries could be. If not, now’s a great time to start. –Michael T. Fournier (Awai Books, 1133 Broadway Suite 708, New York NY 10010)
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