Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land August 20, 2014 Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land Ruthanna Emrys Stories of Tikanu. Hero of the Five Points August 19, 2014 Hero of the Five Points Alan Gratz A League of Seven story. La Signora August 13, 2014 La Signora Bruce McAllister If love is not enough, then maybe death... Sleeper August 12, 2014 Sleeper Jo Walton It is best to embrace subjectivity.
From The Blog
August 15, 2014
“Perhaps It Was Only an Echo”: The Giver
Natalie Zutter
August 15, 2014
We’re Holding Out for a (New) Hero: How Heroes and Villains are Evolving
Leah Schnelbach
August 14, 2014
Doctor Who: “Deep Breath” (Non-spoiler Review)
Chris Lough
August 13, 2014
Eight Essential Science Fiction Detective Mash-Ups
David Cranmer
August 12, 2014
Robin Williams Taught Us the Joy of Being Weird
Stubby the Rocket
Showing posts by: Liz Bourke click to see Liz Bourke's profile
Mon
Aug 11 2014 4:00pm

The Streets of Londinium-town:The Ripper Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

The Ripper Affair review Lilith Saintcrow The Ripper Affair is the latest instalment in Lilith Saintcrow’s “Bannon and Clare” steampunk mystery series, after The Iron Wyrm Affair and The Red Plague Affair. Well, I say “steampunk,” but Saintcrow’s world isn’t content to be an alternate Victorian England with flashier gadgets, more airships, and magic: her England isn’t England at all, but a greatly altered facsimile, where the capital is Londinium and Britannia, the “spirit of rule,” inhabits the mortal flesh of the woman who sits upon the throne.

After the events of The Red Plague Affair, sorceress Emma Bannon’s formerly good working relationship with her sovereign is rather irreparably broken—this is what happens when the queen decides to cover up a plague that members of her government thought it’d be a fine thing to cause. Mentath Archibald Clare is unaware of the tension between his sorceress friend and the crown. As The Ripper Affair opens, he’s testifying in court.

[Then a bomb goes off.]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Vampire Academy (2014) and Byzantium (2012)

Vampire Academy Byzantium

Vampire Academy and Byzantium have two things in common. Each of them centres around a strong, vital relationship between two women: in Vampire Academy, this relationship is between adolescent best friends Rose and Lissa, while in Byzantium the central thread is the relationship between mother-daughter pair Clara and Eleanor Webb. They are also both films about supernatural creatures who require blood to survive—vampires, although Byzantium never uses the word.

[Read More]

Fri
Jul 25 2014 5:00pm

Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell

Hurricane Fever Tobias Buckell review Hurricane Fever is the second of Tobias Buckell’s near-future thrillers, set in a world where global warming has had its inevitable effects and competition for natural resources is even more cut-throat than it is today. It’s a loose sequel to Arctic Rising, in that one of Arctic Rising’s secondary characters, Caribbean intelligence operative Prudence (“Roo”) Jones, takes centre stage. But Hurricane Fever stands alone: it’s not a series novel. Frankly, that’s always something of a relief.

Roo’s been out of the espionage game for a while. Now he tools around the Caribbean on his catamaran, dodging hurricanes and taking care of his nephew, the orphaned adolescent Delroy. He stays under the radar and out of trouble—at least, until he receives a message from an old friend and former colleague, Zee. But this isn’t your average message: no, this is a voicemail asking Roo to investigate Zee’s death. From Zee, Roo inherits some information, some puzzles, and a whole lot of peril. Peril that only gets worse once a woman accosts him, demanding answers—a woman who claims to be Zee’s sister.

[Full review, with some spoilers...]

Wed
Jul 23 2014 2:00pm

Things Go BOOM: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks Iona Andrews Kate Daniels review

Magic Breaks is the seventh novel in wife-and-husband writing team Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, set in a version of our world where the return of magic has made technology unreliable, and made surviving in a world of werewolves, necromancers, witches, mythological beasts, and carnivorous things in the night more dangerous than ever.

Fortunately for her, Kate Daniels is one of the most dangerous people around. Unfortunately, her father is even more dangerous still. And now that he knows of her existence, he’s coming for her.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Sarah McCarry All Our Pretty Songs Sarah McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs is another member of this year’s James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List. (I previously wrote about Tiptree honoree The Golem and the Djinni.)  Only a little over two hundred pages long, this is a short, beautiful novel—and one about which I can say very little without spoiling the quiet inevitability of its development and ending.

So if you haven’t read it, and you want to read it pristine and spoiler-free, look away now. (You can read an excerpt from the novel here on Tor.com in the meantime.)

[Spoilers ahead]

Tue
Jul 15 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Recent Reading

What have I read lately that’s good? Or at least fun? Let me tell you about it!

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to, which most likely just goes to show how much I’d like to. But there are eight books I’d like to draw to your attention in this column, though—even if two of them were part-authored by a bloke.

[Read More]

Fri
Jul 11 2014 3:30pm

Space Opera and Bad Porn: Vicky Peterwald: Target by Mike Shepherd

Vicky Peterwald Target Mike Shepherd review Content warning: spoilers, cursing, discussion of rape scene.

I spent two days casting around trying to think of a way to write this review that didn’t involve screaming, punching walls, and turning the air bluer than a sailor on a bender. But, ladies and gentlemen and honourable others, I’m not entirely sure I’ve succeeded. Because Vicky Peterwald: Target, Shepherd’s first entry in his spin-off from the long-running Kris Longknife series, is... well.

[WHAT THE HELL, BOOK?]

Wed
Jul 9 2014 1:00pm

“A Contract Requires Payment, or it Doesn’t Take.” Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five

Full Fathom Five review Max Gladstone Full Fathom Five is Max Gladstone’s third novel, after 2013’s Two Serpents Rise and 2012’s Three Parts Dead. This might be his third novel in as many years, but one could be forgiven for believing Gladstone had an entire previous career writing books under another name: Full Fathom Five reads like the work of a mature writer, one in full control of his craft and style. Not only that, but a writer conscious of his thematic arguments, and actively involved in a conversation with the fantasy genre.

[Spoilers be mild ones]

Tue
Jul 8 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Eleanor Arnason’s Big Mama Stories and Aliette de Bodard’s “Heaven Under Earth”

Big Mama Stories Eleanor Arnason I mentioned in a previous column that I’m trying to read more of the James Tiptree Award nominees this year. I have to say, I’m not entirely sure to what extent my tastes and the judges' quite match up... but it’s proving an interesting experiment.

Both Big Mama Stories and “Heaven Under Earth” were named on the Tiptree Honor List this year. Stylistically, and thematically, they have very different concerns. Reading them back-to-back makes for a rather odd experience: one that heightens their contrasts—and reaffirms how much de Bodard’s short fiction just consistently blows me away.

[Possibly I have a bias. I’m okay with that.]

Tue
Jul 1 2014 2:00pm

Fantasy French Revolution with Lesbians: The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

The Shadow Throne Django Wexler Let’s get one thing out of the way first. This novel kicked far too many of my narrative kinks. Wexler has written us a second-world fantasy version of the French Revolution starring women (doing intrigue, running criminal gangs, in disguise and/or drag, arguing over politics in pubs, stabbing people, rescuing people, shooting people) and including a central, significant, queer relationship between two women.

FANTASY FRENCH REVOLUTION WITH LESBIANS. That’s basically, “Shut up and take my money,” territory, as far as I’m concerned.

[Read more]

Tue
Jul 1 2014 11:00am

Juicy and Interestingly Complex: Amanda Downum’s Necromancer Chronicles

Amanda Downum’s first three novels, The Drowning City, The Bone Palace, and The Kingdom of Dust, came out between 2009 and 2012. (Her next novel, the Lovecraftian Dreams of Shreds and Tatters, comes out next June from Solaris Books.) I really love these books. And I’m not the only one to admire them: in 2010, The Bone Palace made the James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List for that year.

Entirely deservedly.

And I get to talk about them right here and now.

[This is not a review.]

Wed
Jun 25 2014 3:00pm

Modern Magic: Shattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier

review Shattering the Ley Joshua Palmatier Joshua Palmatier has had a rather ragged career to date. After his first trilogy from DAW Books—The Skewed Throne (2006), The Cracked Throne (2007), and The Vacant Throne (2009) — he published two novels under the name of Benjamin Tate, The Well of Sorrows (2011) and Leaves of Flame (2012). Shattering the Ley marks a return to his Palmatier name and, it appears, lays the groundwork to begin a new series.

Shattering the Ley stands apart from the majority of second-world fantasy by having a distinctly modern cast to its world-building.

[Read more]

Tue
Jun 24 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Books To Look Forward To, July-December 2014

The second half of 2014 is upon us! (Already? Where did this first half of the year go? Seriously, I want some of that time back.) Which means it’s time for my semi-regular post about which books* I’m looking forward to seeing in the latter part of the year.

*By persons who aren’t blokes. Though as always: yes, there are books by guys which I’m looking forward to, too.

[Read More]

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]