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
Sep 16 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Laurie R King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Sleeps With Monsters The Beekeeper's ApprenticeThe Beekeeper's Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen is the first in a series of mystery novels by Laurie R. King, which feature an elderly Sherlock Holmes and a youthful half-American student of theology, one Mary Russell. It was first published in 1994, and has to date seen eleven novel-length sequels. It’s not science fiction or fantasy—I may have felt the need for a wee break from SFF—except inasmuch as it involves Sherlock Holmes, a character frequently beloved of many people who’re also SFF fans—but it is a brilliant book.

I may be the last person in the world to realise that this book existed, and that it was good. But in case there are any other poor benighted souls out there who, like me, somehow escaped hearing about its virtues in the last couple of decades, I propose to tell you about them.

[It has many admirable virtues.]

Tue
Sep 9 2014 9:30am

Sleeps With Monsters: Another Post About Some Books

sleeps with monsters reviews

I’m a little bit too tired and short of brain to address any of the controversies cropping up in the realms of SFF this month. Or to get my teeth into a properly juicy matter for discussion: forgive me, friends. The spirit is willing, but the rest is weak.

So instead of proper thoughtfulness, this week I’m talking about all the lovely books I’ve read recently. And maybe mentioning the books I wish I was reading right now. (For some reason, there’s never enough time to read all the things I want to read. This is deeply unfair. Had I but world enough and time! etc.)

[Read More]

Tue
Sep 2 2014 9:00am

A More Intimate Scale: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Sword Ann Leckie Ann Leckie’s debut novel, Ancillary Justice, has won six awards—latest and not least the Hugo Award for Best Novel—and appeared on the shortlists for at least two more. After such a successful first outing, the major question with Ancillary Sword has to be: how does it compare? Has Leckie caught the same lightning in a bottle twice?

I loved Ancillary Justice. For me, it was one of those books you’ve wanted to read your whole life, an empty gap where you didn’t realise how wide a gap existed for it to bridge until you read it. I had a very strong positive emotional response to Ancillary Justice, is what I’m saying.

Only time will tell whether Ancillary Sword achieves the same success in the wider world, but for me? It already has. It turns out that I love Ancillary Sword just as much as its predecessor, if not more.

[Read More]

Fri
Aug 29 2014 9:00am

Werewolf Mercenaries and Mentors: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Shifting Shadows Patricia Briggs switched to writing urban fantasy after her first eight novels—which took place in various different second-world contexts—and has achieved no small measure of success with them. The Mercy Thompson series—about a coyote shapeshifter car mechanic set in a world where werewolves, vampires, and fae live among humans—has many flaws, but Briggs knows how to tell an entertaining story.

Shifting Shadows is her first short fiction collection, and consists of stories set in the Mercy Thompson continuum.

[A review]

Thu
Aug 28 2014 9:00am

Tasty, Tasty Angst: Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire

Throne of Glass Heir of Fire Sarah J Maas review I have a confession to make. A guilty secret, if you like: Sarah J. Maas’s first two novels, Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, are the kind of books I love to hate. Implausible, inconsistent in characterisation, populated by protagonists who are all in their own way some variety of Mary Sue, operating according to Opposite World logic, and with the kind of scattershot worldbuilding and wrongness-in-small-details that makes me bang my head against walls, they nonetheless possess an indefinable quality that keeps me reading all the way to the end. I think it may be the tasty tasty angst.

Heir of Fire is the third volume in Maas’s ongoing series about youthful assassin Celaena Sardothien. It marks the first occasion where I feel that Maas may one day mature into a writer whose work I enjoy in its own right, and not mainly for the pleasure I find in taking it apart.

[Read More]

Tue
Aug 26 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Some Books and a Night of Awards

Fairs' Point Queen of the Tearling Hardship

Fairs’ Point by Melissa Scott (Lethe Press, 2014) is the long-awaited novel-length continuation of the novels of Astreiant. The first two Astreiant books, Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams, were co-written by Scott and her late partner, Lisa A. Barnett, over a decade ago. In 2012, Scott released a novella, Point of Knives, whose events take place between the original two novels, but this is the first true sequel.

And damn, is it an excellent book. The city of Astreiant is a vivid and compelling setting, in all its early-modern-approximate glory—it feels like a real and complex city, with a real city’s currents swirling through its streets. The magic of Astreiant’s world is the magic of Hermetic science, reliant on astrology—but astrology is a key part of everyone’s lives, and everyone consults horoscopes: I love it.

[Read More]

Mon
Aug 25 2014 2:00pm

“Brave People are Afraid. I’m Not Afraid Anymore.” Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire

The Mirror Empire Kameron Hurley review Kameron Hurley’s nonfiction writing recently won awards in two separate categories at this year’s Hugo ceremony (Best Fan Writer and Best Related Work, to be exact). Her first science fiction novel, God’s War, was shortlisted for, among others, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the BSFA Award. The Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy (God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture) heralded the arrival of new, uncompromising voice in the SFF field. Hurley’s first outings proved her ability to innovate: to mix really weird elements of worldbuilding with visceral brutality and strong characterisation, in stories that have interesting arguments about social change, war, and survival at their core.

Stories with a deeply, angrily, feminist vein.

The Mirror Empire takes what Hurley’s already shown us she’s capable of with regard to science fiction, and applies it to the vast canvas of epic fantasy. This isn’t the epic fantasy we’re all used to, though, recognisably inspired by cultures from our own history—and that mostly northern European ones. No: this is epic fantasy that builds its world from the ground up, and that world is deeply, fascinatingly weird.

[Filled with bad shit on its way...]

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]