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Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim (edition 2010)

by Richard Kadrey

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2921096,064 (3.8)80
Title:Sandman Slim
Authors:Richard Kadrey
Info:Harper Voyager (2010), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Tags:santathing 2012, read 2013

Work details

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

  1. 50
    Storm Front by Jim Butcher (enrique_molinero)
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    Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (Anonymous user)
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  3. 30
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» See also 80 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
I don't normally like urban fantasy, nor do I care much for anything involving Heaven, Hell, or any of the mythical beasts roaming around those lands. The difference here is Richard Kadrey's writing. His prose is faster than a bullet and as vulgar as a sailor pounding the back door out of a two dollar lady of the night. If that last sentence offended you, please stay away from Sandman Slim. The main character's first-person narration is far more blue. If you like crass descriptions and foul-mouth anecdotes, Sandman Slim is stuffed full of hilarity and offensive charm.

Another reason I should have hated this book is the present tense storytelling, but once again, Richard pulled it off. I normally put down a book as soon as I see the first "is" instead of "was," because I don't feel present tense is believable. I mean, how is the story being related? The only present tense stuff I can stand is normally short fiction and blog posts. I constantly wonder whether or not the narrator has a voice recorder in his pocket. If your doing this right now, how the hell are you writing it. I know, I know, I'm being to damn literal, but that's how I feel. I have no idea why I was able to withstand the tense of this book and not others. I just did.

I loved the fact that the main character, James Stark, (aka Sandman Slim) doesn't care about anything else aside from his own revenge. The world is going to end, and the only reason he's saves it is because the person bringing about hell on earth is the guy who killed his girlfriend. It's a very human story surrounded by magic and supernatural evils. Not to mention, one fun ride.

For those of you that care about typos and grammatical foibles, I will say that the book is full of words left in after editing, missing words and several instances where "bought" is used instead of "brought." I could almost see someone using the find function in word and accidentally replacing every instance with the wrong word. Oh, and for the ebook version, there are several formatting issues. Mostly with the dialogue. One person will talk and the quotation marks will close out the speech, but then another piece of dialogue, from a completely different person, will start up without a new paragraph. Nobody's perfect, not even the Big Six guys. But most of you already know that. The only reason I even mention it is because I know some of you will care enough to stop reading, which, in my opinion, would be a grand mistake, indeed.

I will definitely be checking out the rest of the Sandman Slim series.

E. ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
I enjoyed this novel a lot.
The protagonist is a man who spent 11 years in hell (literally) while still alive. He was the first one to do so. He survived every horror, eventually becoming a sort of gladiator in their arena and an assassin for one of the Devil's top generals.

He eventually escapes to revenge his murdered girlfriend and himself. That is where the book starts. Its about his revenge. He's not out to save the world, although it apparently needs saving. He finds angels nauseating and tells them so.

But he will go to any length to save a friend, even in the face of ignoring possible world annihilation.

The book is a bit light and humorous while still being cynical about God and the Devil and their relationship to humans. Its a quick read and enjoyable. ( )
  blatherlikeme | Sep 28, 2014 |
I enjoyed this story, the characters, the voice of Sandman Slim, and the action, for the most part.
I'm not normally a hardcore fantasy person: I don't go for the straight up magical, I generally need it cut with a little realism. But I'd heard good things about this series and Richard Kadrey's writing, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The book starts out with very little magical stuff -- besides the guy returning from Hell. Slim navigates Los Angeles some fifteen or so years after he's left and he's back to hunt down some of his old gang who let him down. In fact, I forgot that the book was supposed to be more in the fantasy genre until the prospect of a magic circle popped up. When it did, and other magical things were referenced, almost ad nauseum, I did get jarred out of the story for a little bit, my suspension of disbelief rattled a bit. But I stuck with it, the magical stuff sunk to the background again and Kadrey's story telling took over again.
I think I might come back to the series for those flashes of humor, the hard-nosed voice of a man who's been, literally, to Hell and back, and Kadrey's dark vision, and just be ready to skim when the fantastic -- the type of fantastic elements that make it too easy or just a little too ludicrously difficult for our hero -- rears its eight-eyed, fire-breathing, lizard pelted head again. ( )
  mhanlon | Sep 15, 2014 |
I recently purchased my very first Humble Book Bundle, and this book was part of it. I had wanted to read it for a long time and was excited to get a copy. In the end, my feelings about it were mixed.

When we first meet Stark, he has just managed to make it out of Hell, after having spent 11 years there. Adjusting to the human world again is hard, but Stark has a goal. He plans to track down all his former magician buddies and kill every last one of them, not just because they sent him to Hell, but because one of them killed his girlfriend, Alice.

At first, Sandman Slim worked really well for me. I loved Stark's “voice” and his dry humor. I enjoyed learning about how he ended up in Hell in the first place, and why and how he made it back out. He didn't make it out of Hell with many resources, but what he did have was really useful: a coin that would truthfully answer any question he asked, a magic knife, a key that could take him anywhere he wanted to go, and his own body, which was on its way to becoming indestructible. Unfortunately, I eventually realized something, and it reduced my enjoyment of the book a lot: Stark was not a nice guy.

I've liked anti-heroes in the past. The first one that comes to mind is Jeff Lindsay's Dexter, the serial killer who kills bad guys. Although Dexter hid his true self from others in order to avoid going to prison, I also got the impression that he genuinely liked his sister, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend's kids, at least as much as he was able. One of my biggest problems with Stark was that I didn't get the impression there was anyone he really cared for, except maybe Alice, and even that was debatable.

Oh, he said he considered Vidocq a friend, and he said he loved Alice, and he was upset when Allegra got hurt because he didn't stop to think things through. However, there's a difference between saying you care for someone and actually demonstrating it. Stark was so screwed up by his years in Hell that the only way he could demonstrate that he cared was by killing things. Wait, no, it was worse than that. He needed to kill, so maybe “I cared about them” and “I feel guilty they were hurt because of me” were just his excuses for more violence. Some of it might have even started before he was sent to Hell. Alice, the woman he said he loved, wanted him to quit meeting up with his magician buddies, I think because they frightened her. Even though he didn't really like them, he ignored her and went anyway, just because he wanted to. Stark was a selfish man who didn't truly care about anyone's wants or needs but his own, and I think Alice would have been horrified by what he became.

I can't remember when I had my epiphany about Stark. Maybe it was when he and Vidocq were doing a dangerous job together, and he abandoned Vidocq the instant he realized he was near a chance to exact some of his revenge for Alice's death. Maybe it was the many times women died or were hurt around Stark, and he felt guilty because they were “innocent” and he couldn't save them. Whether he knew the women really well (like Alice) or didn't know them at all, the language of his guilt was similar enough each time that it disturbed me a little. I don't know that I can articulate why, but it turned me off. In general, friends' or bystanders' deaths or pain didn't make Stark more careful, they just gave him more excuses for revenge.

I'm probably not going to continue this series.

Additional Comments:

I noticed one inconsistency in the text. Kadrey first describes Allegra like so: “She’d look like Foxy Brown’s little sister, except her head is shaved smooth.” (29) Near the end of the book, we get this: “He pulls the tape off Allegra’s mouth. Grabs her by the hair and gives her a peck on the lips.” (197) I could be wrong, but I don't think enough time has passed for Allegra to have grown a grabbable amount of hair.

Also, not really an inconsistency, but Kadrey never did say what Stark did with the golem. You'd think it would have been mentioned, at the very least as part of a fresh boatload of violence fuel, I mean guilt.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 12, 2014 |
An interesting, quick read - fun once - but nothing I want to keep or continue reading. It was irreverent, which I liked, but over-done. It got old by the end. All the revelations at the end were a bit much, too. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
It's the kind of book where suffering and slim hopes are the reality for almost all the characters, and where goals are not achieved without the kind of sacrifice and revelation that change people's lives forever. And by the standards of that kind of book, Sandman Slim is very, very good indeed.
added by lampbane | editSF Site, Greg L. Johnson (Oct 15, 2009)
This is a tightly plotted revenge story that grabbed me by the throat and didn't let go.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Jul 24, 2009)
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Just judge of vengeance, grant the gift of forgiveness, before the day of reckoning. - Dies Irae, Requiem Mass
The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they're going to be when you kill them. - William Clayton
For Nicola
First words
I wake up in a pile of smoldering garbage and leaves in the Old Hollywood Forever cemetery behind the Paramount Studio lot on Melrose, though these last details don't come to me until later.
Nothing nice happens to murdered women, except that maybe someone cares about how they got that way.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Metatron's Cube. One of the holiest of holy glyphs. The soul of the angel Metatron, the voice of God. Good for keeping away imps, flesh-eating zombies, and ants at a picnic. It slices. It dices. It has a thousand and one uses. A thousand and two if you draw it on a brick and throw it through the windshield of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend's car.
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Book description
When he was 19, James Stark was considered to be one of the greatest natural magicians, a reputation that got him demon-snatched and sent downtown - to Hell - where he survived as a gladiator, a sideshow freak entertaining Satan's fallen angels.

That was 11 years ago. Now, the hitman who goes only by Stark has escaped and is back in L.A. Armed with a fortune-telling coin, a black bone knife, and an infernal key, Stark is determined to destroy the magic circle - led by the conniving and powerful Mason Faim - that stole his life.

Though nearly everything has changed, one constant remains: his friend Vidocq, a 200-year-old Frenchman who has been keeping vigil for the young magician's return. But when Stark's first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head that belongs to the first of the circle, a sleazy video store owner named Kasabian, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than he counted on, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Haiku summary
Stark ends up in hell. 
Girlfriend dead, breaks out, revenge. 
Heaven and Hell, Scared.

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Working as a sideshow gladiator in Hell after being snatched by demons at the age of nineteen, James Stark escapes and returns to Los Angeles, where he plots to destroy the magic circle that stole his life.

(summary from another edition)

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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2 editions of this book were published by Eos.

Editions: 0061714305, 0061976261

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