Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
From The Blog
April 13, 2014
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
Theresa DeLucci
April 11, 2014
This Week’s Game-Changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Exactly The Problem With The Show
Thom Dunn
April 8, 2014
Let’s Completely Reimagine Battlestar Galactica! Again. This Time as A Movie!
Emily Asher-Perrin
April 4, 2014
The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Chris Lough
April 3, 2014
A Spoonful of Music Makes the Nanny: Disney’s Mary Poppins
Mari Ness
Showing posts by: Stefan Raets click to see Stefan Raets's profile
Apr 3 2014 3:30pm

Aidan Harte IreniconThe city of Rasenna is divided, in more than one sense of the word. Geographically speaking, the city is split in two by the river Irenicon, which was blasted straight through the middle of the ancient city using Wave technology, a major feat of engineering by the Concordian Empire to subdue its main rival.

Maybe more importantly, though, the people of Rasenna are divided into factions. Competing families on each side of the river continually launch deadly raids and vendettas against each other. Bandieratori fight on the streets and roofs for dominance. Sofia, heir of the old Scaligeri ruling family and soon-to-be Contessa, is powerless to stop the waves of violence that weaken the already-divided city.

Then everything changes: Giovanni, an engineer of the same Concordian Empire that originally caused the Wave, arrives in Rasenna to build a bridge across the Irenicon. Concord once again wants to expand its reach, and Rasenna is in its way…

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Mar 25 2014 2:00pm

Lockstep Karl Schroeder reviewToby is the seventeen-year-old scion of the McGonigal family, which is in the process of colonizing Sedna, one of the countless unclaimed orphan planets that can be found in interstellar space, far beyond Pluto but light years away from the next-nearest star. To secure ownership of the planet, the McGonigals must also claim every single one of its moons, so when a distant satellite of the planet is discovered, Toby is dispatched to go claim it for the family. But then something goes horribly wrong…

When Toby wakes up from coldsleep, he makes a number of startling discoveries. For one, his ship has been drifting through space for 14,000 years. In that time, humanity has spread out across the mostly lifeless universe, populating 70,000 or so planets that are now collectively known as the “Lockstep Empire.” And, somehow, his own family is at the center of all of this: his brother Peter is the tyrant-like figure known as the Chairman.

So begins Lockstep, the newest standalone science fiction novel by Canadian author Karl Schroeder.

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Mar 24 2014 5:00pm

Peter Higgins Truth and FearWolfhound Century by Peter Higgins was one of last year’s strongest debuts, a unique dystopian fantasy set in an alternate Stalin-era USSR with Russian mythological elements and vague hints of something science fictional happening out in space.

The story of downtrodden investigator Vissarion Lom hunting down the terrorist Josef Kantor at the behest of the totalitarian Vlast was mostly set in Mirgorod, a gray, rainy city that seemed to fall somewhere between New Crobuzon and Moscow. Wolfhound Century was one of the first novels in a long time that actually deserved the frequent comparisons to China Miéville, thanks in large part to Peter Higgins’ beautiful prose.

Truth and Fear is the direct sequel to Wolfhound Century and, as expected, picks up more or less directly where the previous novel left off—“as expected” because the one major disappointment about Wolfhound Century was its ending, which was, well, really not much of an ending at all.

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Mar 18 2014 2:00pm

Her Husband's Hands short story collection Adam-Troy CastroI came to the works of Adam-Troy Castro quite late. Specifically, the first story I remember of his is “Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs” in the excellent dystopian anthology Brave New Worlds, edited by John Joseph Adams. (This anthology ended up being my springboard to a number of other great authors, but that’s another story.) Shortly after I read that collection, the author’s name popped up on the Nebula short list a few times, for “Her Husband’s Hands” and “Arvies.”

I’m bringing this up because I believe that, based on the three stories I’ve mentioned so far, there may be many people who labor under the misapprehension that Castro only writes short fiction that is so extraordinarily dark that it borders on the disturbing. In the afterword for his newest collection, Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories, the author explains at length that he has also written many optimistic, entertaining and uplifting stories and novels, and that he is “not just a sick bastard.” Well, sure. I’ll take his word for it. However, you really couldn’t tell from the stories in this collection, which is as grim as it is brilliant.

[Bad people doing evil things]

Mar 11 2014 2:30pm

The Fell Sword Miles Cameron Traitor Son CycleDespite some minor misgivings, I absolutely loved Miles Cameron’s debut fantasy novel The Red Knight, the gritty and stirring story of a mercenary company, led by the titular Red Knight, who gets drawn into an epic battle that turns out to have much wider implications than he initially bargained for. The Red Knight is a wide-ranging tale full of complex characters and some of the best medieval combat scenes I’ve ever read. As the story progresses, and especially in its final section, it becomes clear that there’s much more going on here than initially meets the eye, with the epic battle for Lissen Carak just an opening skirmish (or, maybe, just the latest flare-up) of a much wider-ranging conflict.

And now, just about a year later, Miles Cameron delivers Book Two of the Traitor Son Cycle, entitled The Fell Sword.

[Nothing about a coin is separate]

Feb 27 2014 12:00pm

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.

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Feb 3 2014 4:00pm

Empress of the Sun Ian McDonald EvernessI don’t usually get this effusive about books, but I’ve rarely had as much fun with a Young Adult SF series as I have with Ian McDonald’s Everness—now up to three books with the brand new, shiny addition of Empress of the Sun, possibly the best book of the bunch so far.

Quick intro to the series: young Everett Singh is a math whiz who, early in the series, gets access to the Infundibulum, which is essentially a map of all the parallel universes and alternate Earths. Combined with the Heisenberg trans-dimensional gates, this allows for travel to the Nine Known Worlds: alternate versions of our planet where, for example, there’s no oil or everyone has a telepathic twin or there are five different species of mankind.

[Everett Singh: goalkeeper, mathematician, traveller, Planesrunner.]

Jan 27 2014 5:00pm

Simon Morden ArcanumWhat happens when the magic goes away? More specifically, what happens when a small but strategically located region that has relied on its hexmasters for centuries is forced to deal with the sudden disappearance of its all-powerful magic? Simon Morden explores the answer to these questions in his new fantasy novel Arcanum.

So far, Simon Morden is best known for his neo-cyberpunk trilogy-plus-one starring Samuil Petrovich. The original trilogy won the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award. I bounced off its first book Equations of Life and never went back, but decided to give Arcanum a try anyway, mainly to see how the author would handle this very different genre. Despite some reservations, I’m glad I did.

[Read more]

Jan 24 2014 12:00pm

Shadow Ops Breach Zone Myke ColeBreach Zone is the third entry in Myke Cole’s contemporary military fantasy series Shadow Ops, after series opener Control Point and last year’s Fortress Frontier. “Contemporary military fantasy” is probably not the most evocative way to describe these books. Peter V. Brett’s blurb “Black Hawk Down Meets The X-Men” is much better—and the publisher seems to agree, as this line has now been featured prominently on the covers of all three books in the series.

You see, in the world of Shadow Ops, random people suddenly discover they have supernatural powers. Some can control fire, or water, or air. Some can control the dead or create portals between our dimension and the Source, a realm filled with alien creatures that also appears to be where all the magic actually originates from.

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Jan 9 2014 11:00am

The Bread We Eat in Dreams Catherynne M ValenteAt first the narrator of “The Consultant,” the opening story of Catherynne M. Valente’s excellent new collection The Bread We Eat in Dreams, sounds like your standard, tired Raymond Chandler private investigator:

She walks into my life legs first, a long drink of water in the desert of my thirties. Her shoes are red; her eyes are green. She’s an Italian flag in occupied territory, and I fall for her like Paris. She mixes my metaphors like a martini and serves up my heart tartare. They all do. Every time. They have to. It’s that kind of story.

But before you get the chance to roll your eyes and maybe double-check that you are in fact holding the right book, things right themselves. The dame explains her troubles, and it soon becomes clear that this is not your standard noir P.I.:

I’m not so much an investigator as what you might call a consultant. Step right up; show me your life. I’ll show you the story you’re in. Nothing more important in this world, kid. Figure that out and you’re halfway out of the dark.

Call them fairy tales, if that makes you feel better. If you call them fairy tales, then you don’t have to believe you’re in one.

[Read more]

Jan 9 2014 10:00am

LE Modesitt Jr Rex Regis Imager Portfolio

Rex Regis is the eighth overall novel in L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager Portfolio and the fifth one in the series-within-a-series about Quaeryt. The first three novels, with Rhennthyl as their protagonist, were set later in this fictional world’s timeline. Scholar, the first Quaeryt novel, moved the story several centuries into the past, initially making these books feel somewhat like prequels that mainly served to show the origins of the world of Imager, Imager’s Challenge and Imager’s Intrigue.

However, five books later, this second series of Imager books actually feels more solid than the first one. Quaeryt has become a more interesting character, and the plot has slowly but inexorably gained momentum. Even though I was initially sceptical about benching Rhenn, I now feel that the five Quaeryt novels are stronger and more rewarding than the initial three Imager books.

[Read more]

Jan 2 2014 4:00pm

The Cormorant Chuck WendigThe Cormorant is the third installment in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series, after the excellent Blackbirds and equally excellent Mockingbird. And, you know what, just to get it out of the way before we get to the meat of the matter: The Cormorant is excellent too.

I called Mockingbird a “shocking, twisting beast of a book,” and that description applies here again. The Cormorant is prime Wendig, dark and foul-mouthed and not afraid to go there and then some. If you liked Blackbirds and Mockingbird, there’s no way you wouldn’t like this one.

The Cormorant starts in a similar way as Mockingbirds: with the illusion of stability. At the start of the previous novel, Miriam had a job, of sorts, until the crazy caught up with her and things went haywire, before you even got the chance to settle into the novel and get used to the idea of Miriam Black punching in at work.

[What the f**k is that thing? It looks like some kind of Satanic duck.]

Dec 19 2013 10:00am

Janny Wurts The Curse of the Mistwraith Wars of Light and ShadowFor this installment of Under The Radar—the biweekly column where we highlight books that have unjustly gone unnoticed—I’m going to stretch our definition a bit by highlighting Janny Wurts, an author who has been, well, definitely not unnoticed, but at least underappreciated by readers and critics alike.

Yes, Wurts has published well over a dozen novels with major publishers over the course of her three decade career, but still, somehow her name rarely comes up whenever someone asks for epic fantasy recommendations.

Since I happen to believe that, once it’s completed, her Wars of Light and Shadow series will be counted among the great enduring classics of epic fantasy, I thought I’d take this opportunity to spread the word a bit.

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Nov 12 2013 1:00pm

In the Company of Thieves Kage BakerKage Baker had many different audiences. After all, she wrote in many genres and formats: fantasy, science fiction, horror, novels, novellas, short stories, series, standalones. (Oh, and: blog posts!) It occurred to me recently that, because of this range and variety, readers must have found—and still find—their way to Kage Baker’s works by distinctly different routes.

Just recently a friend mentioned he read one of her fantasy novels, at which point I launched into my standard “Yes, those are awesome, and there are two more novels and a bunch of short stories set in the same universe, but you really also have to read her SF, and there are all these wonderful other short stories, and and and…”

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Nov 7 2013 10:00am

The Gaslight Dogs Karin LowacheeWhen we came up with the idea for Under the Radar, a column that tries to highlight books that for some reason didn’t get as much attention as (we feel) they deserved, there were three books that immediately popped into my mind. The first one I’ve already reviewed: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata. The second one I’m keeping under wraps for now, mainly because I have no idea how to write about it yet. And the third one is Karin Lowachee’s excellent fantasy novel The Gaslight Dogs.

When Lowachee released The Gaslight Dogs in April 2010, she had already published a trilogy of highly acclaimed SF novels (Warchild, Burndive, and Cagebird). Even though there was no indication of this on the novel’s cover or, as far as I can tell, anywhere else in the book, The Gaslight Dogs was actually the opening volume in a trilogy. The author since confirmed with me that the new series was pitched as a trilogy, but that the publisher only contracted for one book.

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Oct 22 2013 4:00pm

Fortune's Pawn Rachel Bach

Fortune’s Pawn is the story of a talented space mercenary who is addicted to adrenaline, drinks like a fish, sleeps around, and wants nothing more than to become a member of the elite force known as the Devastators.

Thanks to raw talent, a never-ending thirst for action, and a rare, custom-built set of combat armor, this mercenary has successfully climbed the ranks and now has nowhere else to go but a boring desk job. Then, a dangerous and lucrative assignment comes along. It may just prove to be the final stepping stone to that ambitious dream career with the Devastators, so the mercenary drops everything and joins the group of armored badasses applying for the job.

Her name is Devi.

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Oct 21 2013 5:00pm

Burning Paradise Robert Charles Wilson As similar as the reality in Robert Charles Wilson’s new novel Burning Paradise may seem to ours, it’s actually very different. The world is preparing to celebrate a Century of Peace since the 1914 Armistice that ended the Great War. There was no Great Depression or World War II, and  segregation in the US was abolished in the 1930s. The world has become a little safer and wealthier every day.

Most of humanity is unaware that the seemingly benign changes that led to all of this are actually the result of interference by an extraterrestrial intelligence that resides in the Earth’s radiosphere. A small group of scientists—the Correspondence Society—discovered the truth a few years before the start of the novel. As a result, many of them were massacred… and now the alien agents known as “simulacra” are coming for the relatives of those who were murdered.

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Oct 3 2013 4:00pm

Republic of Thieves Gentleman Bastards Scott LynchSome books deserve more than just a straightforward review. Books that are such huge releases that there’ll be a gazillion straightforward reviews anyway. Books people have been waiting for so long that the wait itself has become its own sort of narrative…

The long-awaited new Gentleman Bastard novel The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is definitely one of those books, so I hope you’ll forgive me for this very unconventional review of a novel I was extremely eager to get to.

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Oct 2 2013 3:30pm

Jewels in the Dust Peter CrowtherI’d never read anything by Peter Crowther before Jewels in the Dust, a new collection of thirteen stories published between 1996 and 2006 and collected here for the first time. I was, however, very familiar with Crowther’s name, mainly as one of the founders of PS Publishing, the award-winning UK publisher that’s known for high-quality, collectible limited editions of SF and fantasy—somewhat similar to Subterranean Press on the other side of the Atlantic, come to think of it. (Subterranean also happens to be the publisher of this collection.)

Turns out that the person I mainly thought of as a publisher has actually written about half a dozen standalone novels, again as many short story collections, and has edited about twenty anthologies. I’ve got some catching up to do, it seems.

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Sep 30 2013 9:00am

Antigoddess Kendare BlakeI’ll start out by making an admission: the main thing that drew my attention to Antigoddess, the first installment in Kendare Blake’s new series The Goddess War, was its title. The book didn’t really look like my cup of tea, but, hmm, an Antigoddess... Sounds intriguing, right? Sometimes a good title can be a very effective hook all by itself.

Antigoddess is the story of two separate groups of characters, told in alternating chapters. On one side, you have Athena and Hermes, two gods you may recognize from Greek mythology. (If not, there’s always Homer, or if all else fails, Wikipedia.) These gods are still alive in our present day, but Athena is ill: feathers keep growing inside her body and working their way out. Hermes is also wasting away. Clearly, some big changes are afoot in the world of the gods. Impossible as it seems, someone or something is threatening the lives of these seemingly immortal beings.

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