The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself? The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized.
From The Blog
March 4, 2015
Writing Women Characters as Human Beings
Kate Elliott
March 2, 2015
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy That Would Please Crom Himself!
Leah Schnelbach
February 27, 2015
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy — What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl
Emily Asher-Perrin
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
Showing posts tagged: reviews click to see more stuff tagged with reviews
Tue
Mar 3 2015 5:00pm

Forget Me Not: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro

Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first new novel since Never Let Me Go a decade ago appears to be another of those elderly odysseys we’ve seen with such zeitgeist-like regularity recently—albeit one with the trappings, and the characters, of a classical fantasy.

There be dragons in this book, to be sure—alongside sprites, ogres, wizards and warriors—and you can practically taste the magic in the air of its Arthurian England. But never mind that, or the fact that its narrative is arranged around an epic quest, because The Buried Giant is at its best when it’s about Axl and Beatrice, a loving couple who leave their humble home ostensibly to travel to a village a few days walk away. There, the pair hope to renew their relationship with their estranged son.

A simple enough thing, you might think, but the kicker—the tragedy, in truth—is that they don’t really remember him. They don’t really remember much of anything.

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Wed
Feb 25 2015 2:00pm

The Great Divide: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Our Endless Numbered Days Claire Fuller

Kids. They’ll believe almost anything if the “truth” comes from someone they trust. And why wouldn’t they? The world is wide and full of wonders we expect our children to accept without question. In that sense, the thought that a big ol’ bunny rabbit brings them chocolate eggs each Easter isn’t much less credulous than the idea that a thing called gravity keeps them from flying into the sky.

But there’s a big difference between a little white lie told with the best of intentions and the apocalyptic fiction Peggy Hillcoat’s father passes off as a fact at the start of Claire Fuller’s disarmingly dark, if indisputably beautiful debut.

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Tue
Feb 24 2015 4:00pm

The Skin I’m In: Touch by Claire North

Claire North Touch

Fresh from the success of The First Fifteen Live of Harry August, Claire North—the second pseudonym (after Kate Griffin) of prose prodigy Catherine Webb—returns with Touch, a tremendously well-travelled science-fictional thriller that’s as disturbing as its predecessor was delightful.

From word one we follow an ancient entity christened Kepler by its enemies; a continuous consciousness of some sort that at the moment of its first host’s murder moved—much to its own amazement—into its murderer’s mind, and took over his body to boot. Several so-called “skins” later, Kepler has a basic understanding of its situation; of its ability, in particular, to essentially possess a person—any person—with but a touch.

“I walk through people’s lives and I steal what I find,” Kepler confesses. “Their bodies, their time, their money, their friends, their lovers, their wives—I’ll take it all, if I want to.”

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Mon
Feb 23 2015 3:00pm

Bad Blood: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House

A slim, sorrowful volume that splits the difference between The Fault in Our Stars and The Girl with All the Gifts, The Death House documents the last days of several students in a school full of Defectives: young people who have been taken from their parents and installed in an isolated location because of something bad in their blood. Something that’ll kill them all before long.

It’s school but not school. Like this whole place is life but not life. At least the teachers, who disappear off to their own wing once lessons are done, will get out of here. Sometimes I’ll catch one watching us as we work as if we’re animals in a zoo. I can never decide quite what the look is. Fascination or fear, or maybe a bit of both.

Maybe a bit of both is appropriate...

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Mon
Feb 16 2015 9:00am

The Map is Not the Territory: Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

Something Coming Through Paul McAuley

Spinning off a series of experimental short stories, Something Coming Through marks the actual factual start of an extraordinary new project by Paul McAuley, the award-winning author of the Quiet War novels. As a beginning, it’s inordinately promising, largely because the world is so wide and relevant and well-developed, and though the characters are a little lacking, Something Coming Through satisfies as a standalone story too.

Allow me to introduce you to the Jackaroo, an advanced race of aliens whose near-as-dammit divine intervention in human history may well have saved us—from ourselves.

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Mon
Feb 9 2015 11:00am

The Walking Dead, S5 E9: “What Happened and What’s Going On”

If the midseason premiere is any indication of where the show is headed and at what level of quality, well, your guess is as good as mine. While I admire the risk of an episode like “What Happened and What’s Going On,” I’m not sure I would’ve picked it for the premiere. I mean, closing out one arc with the death of a good character who still believes in kindness and empathy only to start a new arc by killing off the last remaining character not consumed by nihilism is a bold choice. Surrounding that death with a meaningless, empty plot probably didn’t help matters...

[“I’m a struggling man, and I’ve got to move on.”]

Thu
Feb 5 2015 9:00am

Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason Superheroes

Welcome back to “Don’t Touch That Dial,” a seasonal series in which I, your friendly neighborhood television addict, break down some of the shows screaming for your attention. I already told you what’s new this spring, so now we’re diving a little deeper. In this very special episode we’re covering a kickass secret agent (Agent Carter), a dead hero (Arrow), an adorable speedster (The Flash), and a Batman show for people who don’t like Batman (Gotham).

[“For God’s sake, will you please stop shooting things?”]

Wed
Feb 4 2015 5:00pm

Memorylost: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes Anna Smaill

London comes alive like never before in Anna Smaill’s deeply unique debut, The Chimes: a dystopian love story about a boy who comes to the capital on a quest to find out what happened to his late parents, and why. Along the way unspeakable secrets will be revealed about a world in which “words are not to be trusted” and memories are temporary—the unintended consequences of a musical final solution:

At the height of dischord, at Allbreaking, sound became a weapon. In the city, glass shivered out of context, fractured white and peeled away from windows. The buildings rumbled and fell. The mettle was bent and twisted out of tune. The water in the river stood in a single wave that never toppled. What happened to the people? The people were blinded and deafened. The people died. The bridge between Bankside and Paul’s shook and stirred, or so they say. The people ran but never fast enough. After Allbreaking, only the pure of heart and hearing were left. They dwelled in the cities. They waited for order; they waited for a new harmony.

It never arrived. But now, if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of a beautiful new movement beginning...

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Fri
Jan 30 2015 11:00am

Song of the Shennachie: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

The Visitors Simon Sylvester review

A contemporary twist on an old fisherman’s myth complete with an immensely atmospheric setting, a strong yet sympathetic central character and a missing persons mystery that’ll keep you guessing till all is said and done—and then some—The Visitors by Simon Sylvester has everything including the girl going for it.

For all it has to offer, Bancree has seen better days. As a remote island off the coast of Scotland—bleakly beautiful, to be sure, but truly brutal too—it and its inhabitants have been hit hard by the economy’s catastrophic collapse. “There was nothing on the island that wasn’t already dying. Half the houses were for sale. The island population numbered only a few hundred, and that dripped away, year on year.”

Little wonder, as the only booming business on Bancree is whisky, and Lachlan Crane, the son set to inherit the local distillery, is at best “a bully and a womaniser,” and at worst? Well. Time will tell. For him and for Flo.

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Wed
Jan 28 2015 12:00pm

Pull List: Nimona

Once upon a time, a bored blogger was endlessly scrolling through Tumblr when she came across some really awesome fanart. She checked out the OP and was pleased to discover a gem of a webcomic. The blogger was immediately hooked and spent the next few hours devouring everything the artist had ever created. She reblogged the artist’s mini-comics, bought copies of her fanart, and devoured her webcomic with the kind of single-minded intensity she usually reserved for 40,000+ word fanfics. Even though the webcomic has come to an end, the blogger still keeps the RSS feed on her bookmarks toolbar, because every now and again she gets a craving.

And now it’s time for you, dear reader, to fall in love with Nimona, Ballister, and Goldenloin just as your fair blogger did...

[“Aw yeah! Let’s make some evil plans!”]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 5:00pm

Delicate and Sincere: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest review Holly Black In her newest stand-alone young adult novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black returns to familiar and exciting territory: faeries and dark magic at the crossing between human and nonhuman worlds. Most folks are familiar with Black’s series “A Modern Tale of Faerie” (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside) which ran from 2002 to 2007; that series set up Black as a daring and clever writer of young adult stories that tend to feature queer kids and deal honestly with complex emotional and social issues.

The Darkest Part of the Forest follows also on the heels of Black’s last young adult novel, another stand-alone (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown)—and I like the trend that these two books have been setting for her work going forward. Both are solid, well-paced and play interesting games with the tropes of the genre of supernatural YA; both star girls who make fucked-up decisions and are trying to learn to care about themselves and others in the aftermath. The shared narrative of growth here is more complex than just “getting older” and instead deals more with “learning to cope and be whole.”

[That’s the sort of thing I’m interested in seeing…]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 5:00pm

Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason SFF

Midseason Television

Caped crusaders not enough for you? Need an SFF fix? Well, you’re in luck. On our second misdseason installment of “Don’t Touch That Dial,” let’s take a gander at a time-traveller trying to prevent the end of the world (12 Monkeys), an exorcist with a chip on his shoulder trying to prevent the end of the world (Constantine), and a pair of holy witnesses trying to prevent the end of the world (Sleepy Hollow). I’m sensing a theme here...

[“Without the threat of apocalypse, what is my place in the world?”]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 3:00pm

Supernatural: Dark and Monstrous

Supernatural

Previously on Supernatural: Dean creeps closer to evil, Sam becomes a total worry wort, Cas tries to figure out what women want, Crowley goes full mama’s boy, Rowena cackles and stabs her way through Hell’s hierarchy, Hannah takes a timeout, and Claire has some issues.

[“Ok, who talks like that?”]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 10:00am

Creatureville: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society review

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen proposes that places, like people, have particular interests. Some specialise in film; some in food. Others areas boast about an abundance of athletes, or artists, or authors. The small town of Rabbit Back “was known to have no less than six writers’ associations, and that was without counting the most noteworthy writers’ association, the Rabbit Back Literature Society, which accepted members only at Laura White’s invitation.”

Laura White is an almost mythical figure in the Finland of this baffling but beautiful English-language debut, which is fitting considering the contents of her Creatureville series:

The local ceramicists for the most part produced water sprites, pixies, elves, and gnomes. Laura White had made these creatures popular all over the world through her children’s books, but in Rabbit Back in particular you ran into them everywhere you looked. They were presented as prizes in raffles, given as presents, brought to dinner as hostess gifts. There was only one florist in Rabbit Back, but there were seven shops that sold mostly mythological figurines.

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Wed
Jan 7 2015 3:30pm

This Awakening World: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven Emily St John Mandel review

The “lost world” of Station Eleven, our world, is not recovered—it can never be that, alas—but it is remembered in Emily St. John Mandel’s aching account of the apocalypse: a tale of two times which takes as its basis the affairs of the folks affected, both before and after the fact, by the actor and philanderer Arthur Leander.

The man himself dies of a massive heart attack in the first chapter, passing away onstage during the climactic fourth act of a performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, an apprentice paramedic in the audience that evening, does his level best to save the day, but Arthur Leander is already lost: the last celebrity to fall before the Georgia Flu takes them all.

[Read More]

Wed
Jan 7 2015 2:00pm

Rich and Strange: “The Boatman’s Cure” by Sonya Taaffe

Ghost Signs Sonya Taaffe Happy New Year, and welcome back to Rich and Strange, where I look with some depth at short fiction that has astonished and delighted me. This week I want to draw your attention to Sonya Taaffe’s novella “The Boatman’s Cure,” included as the concluding portion of her just-released poetry collection Ghost Signs, from Aqueduct Press.

Full Disclosure: I would be honoured to consider Sonya Taaffe a friend, but for the fact that she keeps my heart in a salt-encrusted bottle on her window-sill, and will insist on giving the bottle a shake whenever she knows I am reading her words.

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 6 2015 10:00am

Primal Scream: Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Monkey Wars Richard Kurti review

Imagine a marketplace in Kolkata. Can you see the vendors selling stalls full of colourful fruit? Smell the heady scent of spices lacing the hazy air? Hear the buzz and the bustle of customers bargaining and bartering? Good.

Now picture the marketplace populous with as many monkeys as men and women.

Were they peaceful creatures—the monkeys, I mean—it’d be a magnificent thing; a memory to truly treasure. But they aren’t, and it isn’t. These monkeys have no money, no manners, no morals. They take what they want, when they want it, and if someone comes between them and their ends... well. People have been hurt. But because “devout Hindus believe that all monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god, Hanuman,” authorities are unable to take action against said simians.

A true story, I’m told, though the tale screenwriter Richard Kurti spins out of it—an all-ages allegory of the rise of the Nazis arranged around a tragic romance right out of Romeo and Juliet—is as much fiction as fact.

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Mon
Jan 5 2015 5:00pm

Messenger as Metaphor: The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

Like The Best of All Possible Worlds before it, The Galaxy Game is a restrained space opera committed to splitting the difference between sweeping themes and smaller, sweeter story beats. It achieves this by focusing on unsuspecting characters caught up in machinations more elaborate than they can imagine—a pretty typical trajectory, to be sure, but don’t be fooled, folks: This is the most normal thing about these extraordinary novels, which take the tropes of science fiction as starting points and twist them both conceptually and intellectually.

In place of the love story of Karen Lord’s last, The Galaxy Game gives us a study of spacefaring infrastructure-cum-coming of age chronicle of a boy from The Best of All Possible Worlds. The son of the previous protagonist’s sorry sister, Rafi Abowen Delarua also happens to have inherited the same ability to influence that his abusive father made such dubious use of—so, for a year he’s been left to languish in the Lyceum.

The sinister facility’s mandate—“to bring together all the rogue and random psi-gifted of Cygnus Beta and teach them ethics, restraint and community”—is simple; deceptively so, Rafi realises, when his masters make plain their plans to cap him.

[Read more]

Mon
Jan 5 2015 2:00pm

Here Be Lions: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown reached for the stars in Red Rising—a non-stop sprawl of story about striving and surviving as a slave to the lies of society that reminded readers of Katniss Everdeen’s plight in Panem—and almost hit that monumental mark. In Golden Son, he gorydamn does. It’s a far superior sequel, in fact: one of the rare breed of reads that improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable category.

In the first instance, this is a bigger book, with still bigger ambitions, played out across a markedly larger and more elaborate canvas—which is to say, we are no longer stuck in the Institute, where the games our carved protagonist Darrow had to play to prove his worth to the masters of Mars took place. Rather, the central Red—a rebel determined to unseat the same Society that hung his young lover for daring to sing a song—has already risen.

But that which rises must also fall...

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Mon
Jan 5 2015 12:00pm

Philosophilia: The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City Jo Walton

There’s a touch of time travel in The Just City, and a rabble of robots that may well be self-aware, but please, don’t read Jo Walton’s thoughtful new novel expecting an exhilarating future history, or an account of the aggressive ascent of artificial intelligence. Read it as a roadmap, though, and this book may well make you a better person.

A restrained, if regrettably rapey fable with a focus on exposing the problems with philosophy when it’s applied as opposed to lightly outlined, The Just City takes as its basis a certain social experiment proposed by Plato:

The Republic is about Plato’s ideas of justice—not in terms of criminal law, but rather how to maximise happiness by living a life that is just both internally and externally. He talks about both a city and a soul, comparing the two, setting out his idea of both human nature and how people should live, with the soul a microcosm of the city. His ideal city, as with the ideal soul, balanced the three parts of human nature: reason, passion, and appetites. By arranging the city justly, it would also maximise justice within the souls of the inhabitants.

That’s the idea, at least. Alas, in reality, justice is far harder to achieve than the great Greek believed.

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