Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story As Good As New September 10, 2014 As Good As New Charlie Jane Anders She has three chances to save the world. Tuckitor’s Last Swim September 9, 2014 Tuckitor’s Last Swim Edith Cohn A hurricane is coming.
From The Blog
September 18, 2014
Cast As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Dream Cast
Natalie Zutter
September 17, 2014
How Goldfinger Bound Sci-Fi to James Bond
Ryan Britt
September 15, 2014
Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Servant of the Empire, Part 1
Tansy Rayner Roberts
September 13, 2014
If You Want a Monster to Hunt, You’ll Get It. Doctor Who: “Listen”
Chris Lough
September 11, 2014
The Ghostbusters are an Antidote to Lovecraft’s Dismal Worldview
Max Gladstone
Showing posts by: Liz Bourke click to see Liz Bourke's profile
Tue
Jun 17 2014 10:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

sleeps with monsters The Golem and the Djinni Jinni Helene Wecker It occurred to me a while back that I don’t read enough of what gets named in the James Tiptree Award honour list. And since I loved Hild and Ancillary Justice, to name two of the novels featured on the current list, I decided to try to rectify my oversight.

And—what could be more natural?—share the results of the experiment here. So today, let me talk about Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Djinni (written as The Golem and the Jinni for the US market), a lovely and accomplished book—and one I find myself a bit bemused to see on that Tiptree honour list. It’s a marvellous book, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t quite see how it fits the criteria of a novel that “expands or explores our understanding of gender.”

[In New York, the Golem meets the Djinni.]

Mon
Jun 16 2014 1:00pm

Why I Really Like Malinda Lo’s Adaptation and Inheritance

Malinda Lo Adaptation Inheritance

A natural disaster grounds planes and causes chaos all over North America. Stranded in Arizona after a high-school debate tournament, Reese Holloway and her debate partner—and longtime crush—David Li try to drive home. But they’re caught in an accident. They wake up a month later on a military base, with no memories of the intervening time, and once she gets home, the only thing Reese is really sure of is that she’s different now.

The story of Adaptation (2012) and Inheritance (2013), Malinda Lo’s excellent Young Adult science fiction duology from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is Reese’s story as she tries to figure out what’s changed, who she is now, and—later—how to live with it is a world where her difference puts her at risk from all the parties who want to destroy, control, or use her.

[This is not a review. Reviews contain more balanced opinions.]

Tue
Jun 10 2014 10:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Orphan Black is FREAKING AWESOME

Orphan Black Tatiana Maslany

I was afraid to watch Orphan Black. You see, so many people had told me it was good, that it was excellent, that it was brilliant, that it made me fear it couldn’t possible live up to expectations.

It probably doesn’t help that I enjoy—truly enjoy, as opposed to find sufficiently entertaining for the purposes of distraction—a very limited amount of television, and most of that only ends up disappointing me before the end. But Orphan Black’s first season finally came out on DVD for my region, and I finally had a couple of hours to myself—and seven hours later, I, too, had become an Orphan Black evangelist.

This is REALLY GOOD STUFF, people. REALLY BLOODY GOOD. Make me MORE LIKE THIS.

[“Welcome to Clone Club.”—Spoilers for season one.]

Tue
Jun 3 2014 2:00pm

A Magical Heist: Greg van Eekhout’s California Bones

California Bones review Greg Van Eekhout Greg van Eekhout had already garnered some attention as a short-story writer before the publication of his 2009 California urban fantasy/Ragnarok novel Norse Code. Since then he’s written two books for younger readers, but nothing novel-length for the adult SFF market.

California Bones, the first novel in a new series from Tor, marks his return—and it’s a return with a bang. Part heist novel, part re-imagination of the possibilities of urban fantasy, it’s an immensely fun and compelling read.

[Read more]

Tue
Jun 3 2014 12:00pm

Sleeps With Monsters: More Books! Always More Books!

Sleeps With Monsters book reviews

There are always too many books and never enough time. It seems to be a rule of life—at least, my life. Today, let me take you on a whirlwind tour of some of the fun ones I’ve stuck my nose into lately, from epic fantasy to steampunk to science fiction... all of which have come out over the last couple of months or are due out in the very near future.

[Read more]

Thu
May 29 2014 5:00pm

Supernatural Investigations: A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer

A Barricade in Hell review Jaime Lee Moyer A Barricade in Hell is Jaime Lee Moyer’s second novel. The sequel to 2013’s Delia’s Shadow, it stars the same characters, and combines the ghost story with the detective novel. It’s a much more accomplished book than its predecessor in several respects. I feel it’s important to note, though, that it’s only loosely a series novel, and can stand alone reasonably well.

Mild spoilers below for Delia’s Shadow.

[Read more]

Wed
May 21 2014 4:00pm

Cryogenic Colonialism: Karen Healey’s While We Run

While We Run Karen Healey review The more I read of Karen Healey’s work, the more impressed I become. While We Run is only her fourth novel, a sequel to last year’s truly excellent When We Wake. Set in Australia a little over a hundred years from now in a time of grave resource depletion, when the human species may well be facing extinction from the changed climate within two generations, When We Wake was the story of Tegan Oglietti, cryogenically frozen in 2027 and brought back to life by the Australian government—the first ever successful revival—who stumbles across a horrifying government conspiracy to do with cryonics and resolves to reveal it to the public.

While We Run is the story of Abdi Taalib, the son of a Djibouti politician. Abdi came to Australia to study, and ended up Tegan’s boyfriend, playing a vital part in Tegan’s spilling of the secrets behind the government’s cryonics conspiracy. It’s not possible to talk about the events of While We Run without mentioning many of the things revealed in When We Wake, so if you haven’t read the first book (and if so, why haven’t you? I recommend you go read it right now), be warned: there are spoilers ahead.

[Spoilers for things that happen in While We Run, too]

Mon
May 19 2014 4:00pm

Science Fiction in a Fantasy World: Jane Lindskold’s Artemis Awakening

Jane Lindskold Artemis Awakening review Jane Lindskold has written or co-written twenty-two novels to date, in a career spanning twenty years. Artemis Awakening is her twenty-third, and the first novel in a new series.

It’s a pretty good read.

The planet of Artemis was created by a technologically advanced human empire as a rustic, “primitive,” playground for its most elite citizens. Technology was concealed, and the human and animal inhabitants of Artemis were biologically and socially engineered to help their guests enjoy their visits. But the empire fell apart in a terrible war, and its successors lost many of their technological marvels.

[Occasional spoilers]

Tue
May 13 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Sophia McDougall Answers Five Questions

Sophia McDougall Sophia McDougall set her first three novels, Romanitas, Roman Burning, and Savage City, in a world where the Roman empire had survived to the modern day. They’re genre-bending work, with the sweep of epic fantasy and the sensibility of science fiction, and I recommend you give them a shot. She’s also well known as the author of “The Rape of James Bond,” an incisive, biting article about “realism” and sexual violence in fiction.

Her most recent novel is Mars Evacuees: something of a change of pace from her earlier books, for Mars Evacuees is a bit of old-fashioned adventure science fiction, written for the nine-to-twelve age-group. I think you guys in the US would call it a middle-grade book. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I want to read the sequel as soon as humanly possible.

Sophia has graciously agreed to answer a handful of questions. Without further ado...

[Questions and answers]

Fri
May 2 2014 4:00pm

Easy Exoticism: Douglas Hulick’s Sworn in Steel

Sworn in Steel Douglas Hulick Douglas Hulick’s debut novel, Among Thieves, came out in the spring of 2011. It’s taken three years for the sequel, Sworn in Steel, to be ready to hit the shelves (and ebook vendors) of the world. With such a long wait, it’s hard not to expect great things.

That’s probably an unfair expectation.

[Spoilers for Among Thieves]

Tue
Apr 29 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: “It is Very Simple, but in War the Simplest Things Become Very Difficult”

Alice Sheldon James Tiptree Jr

“What makes for the most effective presentation and treatment of female characters in fantasy fiction?”

This is the text, more or less, of a question someone asked me recently. It’s a question for which I’ve been having some difficulty formulating an answer, because to me that’s like asking, What makes for the most effective presentation and treatment of human characters in fantasy fiction? It is a question so broad it has no effective answer, because it essentially asks Well, what are women like? as though that were one whit less dependent on context, and socialisation, and individual experiences of the world than Well, what are Germans like? What are South Africans like? What are Brazilians like? What are Americans like?

[Read More]

Fri
Apr 25 2014 3:00pm

YA Without the Emotional Pitch: Kelley Armstrong’s Sea of Shadows

Kelly Armstrong Sea of Shadows Kelley Armstrong has a history of writing entertaining novels, from her long-running Women of the Otherworld series to her moderately well-received Darkest Powers/Cainsville and Darkness Rising Young Adult trilogies. Sea of Shadows marks the start of a new trilogy aimed at the YA market.

To the best of my knowledge, it also marks the first time Armstrong has written a novel entirely in a second-world setting: where her other works are working within the urban/contemporary fantasy subgenre, Sea of Shadows takes its inspiration from the epic fantasy tradition.

[Spoilers]

Mon
Apr 21 2014 12:00pm

Sleeps With Monsters: How About Those Hugos?

Hugo Awards Well. It’s an interesting year for the ballot, isn’t it? I confess I’m rather disappointed to see indications of organised bloc voting in the fiction categories: it strikes me as not entirely in keeping with the spirit of the matter. (It is entirely understandable, even at times inevitable, in anything awarded by popular vote, and yet it still disappoints the idealist in me.)

Yet set the fiction categories aside for the moment, and we see an awards shortlist reflecting a decidedly newer, and in many cases—like the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which is not, as is constantly repeated, actually a Hugo, despite being voted on during the same process)—a more diverse vision of the SFF community than has often been the case.

[Read more]

Fri
Apr 18 2014 1:00pm

Wings Gleaming Like Beaten Bronze: Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky Trilogy

Eternal Sky Elizabeth Bear

“Better a storm crow than a carrion bird.”

–Range of Ghosts, Elizabeth Bear

This is not a review. The Powers That Be here at Tor.com have asked me to write about Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy as a whole now that it’s available in its entirety for your reading pleasure. Because I love it, you see. I love it so much, now that it is done, that the small criticisms I may have had for the middle book fade into insignificance: it has the kind of conclusion that raises up everything that has gone before, that adds fresh meanings to previous events in the light of new knowledge, new developments, new triumphs and griefs.

[Read more]

Tue
Apr 15 2014 5:00pm

Wandering America’s Highways: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire InCryptid Sparrow Hill Road I’ve lost track of how many novels the amazingly prolific Seanan McGuire, and her alter ego Mira Grant, have published between them. Suffice to say that at this point, McGuire’s had a great deal of practice, and it shows.

Sparrow Hill Road is her latest book, set in the same universe as her InCryptid series but not featuring any overlap with characters or events introduced in those novels. It is more a collection of linked stories than a single unified novel—which makes sense, because Sparrow Hill Road originated as a series of short stories first published at Edge of Propinquity in 2010. These are the stories of Rose Marshall, dead at the age of sixteen in 1954, killed by a man called Bobby Cross who made a deal at the crossroads to live forever.

She’s been wandering America’s highways as a ghost ever since.

[Read more. Some spoilers for the book.]

Fri
Apr 11 2014 1:00pm

Dragon Age: The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes

This is the first videogame tie-in novel that I’ve had for review. It’s been a little difficult for me to figure out where to start talking about it. Do I start with the world, with the games, or with a story that should stand on its own: a story that, without the context provided by Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2, never actually will?

Maybe a media franchise tie-in novel doesn’t need to stand on its own, though. Certainly I’m not alone in really having enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins and DA:2 (for all their flaws) and in wanting to see more exploration of the interesting aspects of the world of Thedas, and places that have not yet been visited in the videogames. Dragon Age: The Masked Empire does a little of this, but it fails to avoid the major problem with the majority of media franchise tie-ins.

[Minor spoilers follow.]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Between Lagos and Mars and LA and the Stars

Someday soon again, I imagine, I’ll use this column to focus on a single work or single writer in detail—or even a single theme. But not until I escape the gravitational pull of my present black hole. (Ask me about the cult of Asklepios in Greek antiquity sometime, but only if you think you can handle the screaming.)

Meanwhile, let me tell you about some books I’ve had the privilege of reading lately.

[Some of them are set in Lagos. Some of them are set on Mars.]

Tue
Mar 25 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Always So Many Books, So Little Time

It’s March, and I’m still nowhere near caught up on needful reading. Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Djinni eyes me accusingly from my shelf, from alongside Ioanna Bourazopoulou’s What Lot’s Wife Saw and Chris Moriarty’s Ghost Spin, to say nothing of Glenda Larke’s The Lascar’s Dagger... and as of this writing, I’m still not more than halfway through Nnedi Okorafor’s odd, brilliant, alienating Lagoon.*

[But let me tell you about some books that I have managed to read.]

Fri
Feb 28 2014 4:30pm

Symbols Without Substance: Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky

Unwrapped Sky Rjurik Davidson Some years ago, I attended a French literature lecture. The specific topic was—if I remember rightly—19th century French poetry, and during the course of the hour the speaker delivered a lengthy encomium on the meaningfulness of its meaninglessness: a paean to the anomie and empty symbols of existential nihilism.

Reading Rjurik Davidson’s debut novel, Unwrapped Sky, I was ineluctably reminded of that incredibly frustrating, unforgettable hour. For Unwrapped Sky takes all the creative power of language and sets it in service of hollow symbols of dissolution and decay. It turns revolution into a directionless treatise on corrupted wills and compromised moralities: its characters are more symbols than affective individuals.

[Symbols without real substance]

Thu
Feb 27 2014 12:00pm

Bite And Sting: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse Marie RutkoskiKestrel is the daughter of General Trajan, the Valorian general who conquered the Herran peninsula and enslaved its people. She leads a comfortable, even pampered life in the subjugated Herrani capital. Her real love is music, but with her eighteenth birthday approaching, she will soon be forced to choose between enlisting in the army or marrying. In the first chapter of the novel, Kestrel finds herself purchasing a young male Herrani slave named Arin, who comes advertised as a blacksmith as well as a singer of some talent...

One of the signs you’re reading a good—or at least interesting—book is that you can’t wait to discuss it with friends. So it went with The Winner’s Curse, a promising new YA novel by Marie Rutkoski. Liz Bourke and I ended up reading it more or less simultaneously and, in the process, started chatting about it. After a while, we decided it would make more sense to make this a collaborative review of sorts. So, here we go.

[Read more]