Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective. A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star July 20, 2014 A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star Kathleen Ann Goonan A rocket story. The Angelus Guns July 16, 2014 The Angelus Guns Max Gladstone There's a war in heaven, outside of time. Sleep Walking Now and Then July 9, 2014 Sleep Walking Now and Then Richard Bowes A tragedy in three acts.
From The Blog
July 18, 2014
Summer 2014 Anime Preview: In the Name of the Moon!
Kelly Quinn
July 16, 2014
Picturing Dragons
Irene Gallo
July 15, 2014
Who Should Play The Magicians?
Ryan Britt
July 14, 2014
A Long Overdue Nod to SciFi and Fantasy’s Best Librarians
Stubby the Rocket
July 11, 2014
For Love or Money (And If You Do It Right, BOTH): Choosing a Career in Art
Greg Ruth
Showing posts tagged: reviews click to see more stuff tagged with reviews
Jul 23 2014 3:00pm

Something Wonderful This Way Comes: Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene

review Smiler's Fair Rebecca Levene There’s something for everyone at Smiler’s Fair. Be you young or old, small or tall, green around the gills or hardened by the horrors of war, the travelling carnival will welcome you with open arms before attending to your every pleasure.

Say you want to drink yourself into oblivion or dabble in drugs from distant lands—head on over to the mobile market. Perhaps your deepest desire is to look Lady Luck in the eye at the high stakes tables, or earn enough money wheeling and dealing to make your way in the wider world—well, what’s stopping you? Maybe what you’ve always wanted is to satisfy some carnal fantasy with a well-kept sellcock. Smiler’s Fair doesn’t care... not so long as the coin keeps coming.

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Jul 21 2014 2:00pm

The Legend of Korra Keeps Kicking Butt and Taking Names with “Old Wounds” and “Original Airbenders”

Avatar Legend of Korra

I’m incredibly impressed with this season of The Legend of Korra. No more shaky footing, no more “well, lets see how it plays out,” none of that, no doubt, no wait-and-see, just constant high-quality action. If you have friends who drifted away from the show, or if you are that friend? Grab them (or yourself) by the scruff of the neck and drag them back. I admit, I’m a little worried about Nickelodeon’s commitment; this “let’s air two episodes at a time” doesn’t strike me as a good sign. The show is firing on all cylinders, but I’m worried it will be too late for some of the fans... so trust me, Book Three: Change is pure perfection. “Old Wounds” and “Original Airbenders” really continue the tradition at the heart of what made Avatar: The Last Airbender so great: focusing on character conflict and growth.

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Jul 18 2014 5:00pm

We’re Off To Sue The Wizard: The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice by Tom Holt

Tom Holt The Outsorcerer's Apprentice review

An affectionate send-up of the fairytale from the author of such sarcastic tracts as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages and May Contain Traces of Magic, The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice features overlords and underlings, self-aware wolves and woodcutters, plus a prince from another world: ours.

Benny isn’t a prince of anything hereabouts, however. Point of fact, he’s in a bit of a pickle when the book begins. He has his final exams at Uni in a few weeks, and with his whole future before him, all of a sudden he doesn’t have a clue what he’s been doing. Studying to be a mathematician, maybe? In a moment of inspiration that some might mistake for laziness, he realises what he really needs is a good, long break to take stock of his situation. To that end, he borrows his Uncle’s “omniphasic Multiverse portal” and travels to a parallel reality where he can pretend to be a powerful person... because of course.

[Wouldn’t you if you could?]

Jul 17 2014 10:30am

Teen Wolf: Reboot

Teen Wolf season 4 episodes 2 3 4

Previously on Teen Wolf: Scott makes a series of stupid decisions that turn out in his favor only out of sheer dumb luck; Stiles makes a series of stupid decisions that turn out in his favor only out of sheer dumb luck; Kira grows more comfortable with being both a BAMF and total rom-com ditz; Lydia continues to be awesome and woefully underutilized; Derek and Sheriff Stilinski play Batman and Commissioner Gordon; Peter loses the bank and gets his v-neck bloody; Kate is the worst; Argent needs a shave; the parental McCalls are now living together or something; and WHERE THE HELL IS DANNY?

[“Can someone in this town stay dead?!”]

Jul 14 2014 4:00pm

Endgame: The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Causal Angel Hannu Rajaniemi review

The finale of the stellar science fiction saga that The Quantum Thief kicked off begins days after the devastating denouement of The Fractal Prince, with Jean le Flambeur, the trilogy's fin de siècle frontman, finally free... if crestfallen after the abject failure of his latest caper. His partner in crime, meanwhile, finds herself in terrible peril, in part because of the last act of her sentient spidership Perhonen:

When a Sobornost hunter attacked us, the ship tried to save Mieli by shooting her into space. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. [...] The problem is that Mieli served the Sobornost for two decades and carries a Founder gogol in her head. There are too many forces in the system that was access to that kind of information, especially now. For example, the Great Game Zoku, the zoku intelligence arm. They might be nice about it, but when they find her, they are going to peel her mind open like an orange. The pellegrinis, the vasilevs, the hsien-kus or the chens will be less polite. Let alone the mercenary company she infiltrated and betrayed on Earth.

The Causal Angel is as daunting a novel as this early excerpt suggests, requiring from its readers such deliberate commitment that those who come to their fiction for fun—though there is some—would be best to leave this baby be. Accessible it ain't, I'm afraid. What it is is brilliant: far more focused than the books before it, and as fulfilling, finally, as it is indubitably difficult.

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Jul 14 2014 1:30pm

The Legend of Korra’s “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” Are All About Family

Legend of Korra

This season of The Legend of Korra is really sticking to its eponymous theme of Change. At the end of “In Harm’s Way,” Team Avatar acknowledges that they’ve made new enemies, but they’ve also made new friends. In the most basic way, the story is about the way the Avatar is changing the world—just this time at a political level. The characters embrace the changes, following the path they think is best, and because of that they succeed. This is true both for our heroes and for our erstwhile villains, as each group pulls off a massive escape.

“The Metal Clan” shows the opposite: what happens when change is resisted, when the chi is blocked, so to speak. I suspect Lin’s grievances with her sister are more legitimate than they seem at first—there’s always a worm in the apple when it comes to cutting-edge utopias—but either way, the conflict is clearly tearing her apart. The Legend of Korra doesn’t give us the expected emotional beats, opting for realism and character development over tropes and trite moralizing. Finally, everyone please take note. It is an abstraction of the Harmonic Convergence.

[It is not a banana.]

Jul 3 2014 3:00pm

Playing the Fool: The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack

The Child Eater review Rachel Pollack

Representing Rachel Pollack’s first original genre novel since Godmother Night in 1996—a World Fantasy Award winner in its day, and a classic now, by all accounts—the release of The Child Eater is bound to be a big deal in certain circles. How her returning readers respond to it remains to be seen; this was my first of her works, I’m afraid... but not likely my last.

Based on a pair of tales from The Tarot of Perfection, Pollack’s last collection, The Child Eater tells two separate yet connected stories. Separate in that the boys we follow are worlds apart, and divided in time, too; connected, though neither knows it, by the parts they’re fated to play in the downfall of the eponymous monster: an immortal man wicked in the ways you’d expect, not least because of the innocents he eats.

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Jul 3 2014 1:00pm

Watch All the Movies That Earth to Echo Was Derived From Instead

Earth to Echo

Here to suck some time out of your precious holiday is perhaps one of the most unoriginal sci-fi films of the past decade. It’s not just that it lifts material—it’s that it lifts that material in the laziest way possible. And if I sound a bit too harsh on a children’s film, it’s probably because this sort of film is always an easy sell for me. Alien/robot making connection with kids in need of a friend, the evil adults who are simply missing out on the wonder and trying to drag it down to the dirt.

I was less moved by Earth to Echo than I was by Real Steel, for god’s sake. That’s right, a Rock’em Sock’em Robot film was better at eliciting an emotional response from me than this movie.

[They should have called him Space Ninja, like Tuck wanted.]

Jul 3 2014 11:00am

Je Reviens: Touched by Joanna Briscoe

Joanna Briscoe Touched review

From the author of a selection of elegant bestsellers, not least the sensational Sleep With Me, comes a creepy period piece, positively drenched in dread, that documents an old-fashioned family’s decision to leave London for a crumbling cottage in the countryside.

For Rowena, mother and matriarch of the many and various Crales—including her dullard of a husband Douglas—the move is meant to demarcate a break from the bland patterns of the past, but from the first, the house seems set on rejecting its new tenants. A retaining wall can’t be broken through; a damp problem proves impossibly pervasive; and in the interim, “an impression she couldn’t pin down, that the house was already inhabited [...] overlaid with memories of all the years her mother-in-law had lived there,” eats away at Rowena.

It’ll be worth all the blood and sweat in the end, she tells herself. But that’s before her daughters start disappearing...

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Jul 2 2014 2:00pm

Children’s Crusade: The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall

The Garden of Darkness Gillian Murray Kendall

A teenage take on The Walking Dead blissfully free from that franchise’s most mercenary elements, The Garden of Darkness is an astonishingly good debut about a cheerleader and a chess club member’s struggle to survive absent adults in a landscape ravaged by the Pest pandemic.

Though they went to school together way back when, the odd couple we quickly come to care about only really meet a matter of months after Pest lays waste to the world as we know it, killing all the afflicted adults and sentencing every single survivor to death at the onset of adolescence.

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Jun 30 2014 3:00pm

“Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe.” Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, Chris Evans, Jamie Bell

Going into Snowpiercer, the most important thing to remember is this: at its core, it is a horror film, though its sci-fi packaging would suggest otherwise. Remember how Danny Boyle’s Sunshine sucker-punched you the same way? Well, this stars Chris Evans, too. He seems to have an affinity for these sorts of films when he’s not wearing spangly outfits.

[Living at the tail]

Jun 30 2014 11:30am

Change is in the Air on The Legend of Korra!

The Legend of Korra Book 3 Change

When they announced that The Legend of Korra was coming back in just a few weeks, I was surprised; now that they’ve aired, I’m ecstatic. The fact that the debut of the new season was three episodes long means I’m going to leave my excitement at the door, put it aside and jump right into the thick of it, because Book Three: Change starts off strong with big ideas, nostalgia, momentum, new characters and multiple plotlines. I quite liked last season, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admit that there weren’t mistakes made. But three episodes into this newest arc, I think I can say with some authority that it seems this new story doesn’t share the same problems. Plus new airbenders, an evil airbender, and Zuko!

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Jun 25 2014 2:00pm

An All-New Context: The Spectral Link by Thomas Ligotti

The Spectral Link review Thomas Ligotti

An anachronism in an age when authors are expected to be out there, selling themselves every second, Thomas Ligotti has never been particularly prolific, however he did, for a period of years, publish new short stories on a semi-regular schedule, every one of which represented an event among enthusiasts of his existential efforts.

Then, a decade or so ago, Ligotti was laid up with a crippling case of writer’s block. Perniciously, this persisted until 2012, when a near-death experience moved him to pick up his pen again. The Spectral Link is the result: a slender collection of novelettes that is no less essential for its relative brevity.

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Jun 18 2014 3:00pm

Who Goes There? Zodiac Station by Tom Harper

Tom Harper Zodiac review

An uncanny account of the circumstances surrounding the murder of the members of a remote outpost near the North Pole, Tom Harper’s taut new novel—a conspiracy-ridden riff on The Thing—is thrilling and quite literally chilling.

I suppose you know about Utgard. It’s the last place in the world, the most northerly scrap of land on the planet. Easy to miss—so easy, in fact, that no one realised it was there until the twentieth century. Most of it’s covered in ice, so much that the weight has actually pushed the land below sea level. Not that there’s much sea, either: for ten months of the year it’s frozen solid. The only notable population is polar bears, and a couple of dozen scientists at Zodiac Station. I wouldn’t like to say who’s hairier.

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Jun 18 2014 12:00pm

Built to Last: Barricade by Jon Wallace

review Barricade Jon Wallace

Battlestar Galactica meets Mad Max in a dystopian debut that doesn’t disappoint: Jon Wallace’s Barricade is a bona fide barnstormer of a book about a dysfunctional future in which people are a problem our genetically engineered successors have almost solved.

In the first, the Ficials were created to help humanity. To do our dirty work—to serve and slave and slog and so on—thus they were bred to be better. Some have superhuman strength, others endless endurance; many are exceptionally intelligent, most are massively attractive. None of them have a heart, however. Pesky emotions would only have distracted them from their duties.

[What could possibly have gone wrong?]

Jun 18 2014 10:00am

Don’t Touch That Dial: Summer Reruns—British Edition

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 summer and what television I’m pulling out of my back catalogue to fill in the long days and warm nights. Now we’re diving a little deeper. In this very special episode we’re covering summer reruns: shows that have ended but deserve to be seen.

[“Oh my God...I’ve got some f**king Jaffa Cakes in my coat pocket!”]

Jun 17 2014 5:00pm

Lost and Found: Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan

Ajax Penumbra 1969 Robin Sloan review Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore was, without question, one of last year’s most endearing debuts. A short novel about a tech-savvy shop assistant drawn inexorably into what is a magnificent mystery, at least initially, Robin Sloan’s fontastic fantasy began brilliantly, before revealing itself to be a book about the absolute good of Google—and as I concluded in my review, “that’s not what I come to my speculative fiction for, frankly.”

Happily, this brief prequel isn’t half as distracted as the originating fiction, in large part because it’s set in the sixties: in 1969, specifically, during the last days of the Summer of Love. But that’s not what motivates our narrator. That’s not why he’s travelled to San Francisco. As one of his accomplices allows, “drugs, music, a new age dawning... and you came for an old book.”

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Jun 17 2014 12:10pm

“They Are the Children of Loki, the Brothers of Coyote”: Rogues, ed. George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Rogues Anthology review Give genre fiction fans a fat fantasy novel each and they’ll read for a week. Give ’em an anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and they could be rolling in stories forever more.

Rogues is the latest in a long line of collaborations by the pair, and like Warriors and Dangerous Women, it represents a commingling of forms of fiction. Fitting insofar as the rogue is “a character archetype that cuts across all mediums and genres,” as the author of A Song of Ice and Fire asserts in his introduction, thus the fantasy narratives forecast are accompanied by stories of historical heroics, replete with romance, ghosts, and gunslinging. Which is to say there are Westerns as well, in addition to efforts emblematic of a small army of other categories, including horror, mystery and the mainstream. Herein, expect to see science fiction rubbing shoulders with the traditional thriller.

[In that regard, Rogues is rather a throwback.]

Jun 13 2014 11:00am

Teller of Tales: The Way to Babylon by Paul Kearney

Paul Kearney The Way to Babylon review

The year of Paul Kearney continues with a reissue of the underrated author’s second novel, and if The Way to Babylon can’t quite hit the highs of his astounding debut, A Different Kingdom, its expansive narrative nevertheless fondly recalls some of the finest in fantasy.

In the beginning, Michael Riven—the author of a successful fantasy saga himself—is miserable. Months after a tragic climbing accident, we find him broken in body and soul, and not a little bitter. Slowly but surely, he’s coming into his own in a home, however he’ll never be whole again, as the aforementioned catastrophe also claimed the love of his life: a ravishing lass from the Isle of Skye.

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Jun 12 2014 3:00pm

Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan

Reach for Infinity anthology book review

Anthologist Jonathan Strahan presents an extraordinary assemblage of hard science fiction stories in Reach for Infinity, the latest phase of a great undertaking that started with a simple idea six years ago and has gone from strength to strength since.

“The stories that went into that book, Engineering Infinity, were a diverse bunch,” the estimable editor quite rightly reminds readers, and “that diversity, that lack of an attempt to force an editorial perspective on hard SF, was the book’s strength.” So it was that Strahan set about expanding the purview of what he calls The Infinity Project, by way of “a book that gathered together stories of an achievable future, one where we had taken our first steps off our home world and into space, but hadn’t yet left our solar system.”

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