Sleep Walking Now and Then July 9, 2014 Sleep Walking Now and Then Richard Bowes A tragedy in three acts. The Devil in the Details July 2, 2014 The Devil in the Details Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald A Peter Crossman adventure. Little Knife June 26, 2014 Little Knife Leigh Bardugo A Ravkan folk tale. The Color of Paradox June 25, 2014 The Color of Paradox A.M. Dellamonica Ruin, spoil, or if necessary kill.
From The Blog
July 3, 2014
Gaming Roundup: Elite: Dangerous Gives You A Universe
Pritpaul Bains and Theresa DeLucci
July 3, 2014
Flintlocks and Freedom: Check Out these Revolutionary War Fantasies!
Leah Schnelbach
June 30, 2014
The YA Roundup: With News from the Capitol!
Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair
June 30, 2014
Queering SFF: Wrapping Up Pride Month Extravaganza (Redux)
Brit Mandelo
June 30, 2014
Change is in the Air on The Legend of Korra!
Mordicai Knode
Showing posts by: liz bourke click to see liz bourke's profile
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]

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]