Friday, November 21, 2014

Thinking About Reading...


Blurb:
In this first-ever anthology of Indigenous science fiction Grace Dillon collects some of the finest examples of the craft with contributions by Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors. The collection includes seminal authors such as Gerald Vizenor, historically important contributions often categorized as "magical realism" by authors like Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie, and authors more recognizable to science fiction fans like William Sanders and Stephen Graham Jones. Dillon's engaging introduction situates the pieces in the larger context of science fiction and its conventions.

Organized by sub-genre, the book starts with Native slipstream, stories infused with time travel, alternate realities and alternative history like Vizenor's "Custer on the Slipstream." Next up are stories about contact with other beings featuring, among others, an excerpt from Gerry William's The Black Ship. Dillon includes stories that highlight Indigenous science like a piece from Archie Weller's Land of the Golden Clouds, asserting that one of the roles of Native science fiction is to disentangle that science from notions of "primitive" knowledge and myth. The fourth section calls out stories of apocalypse like William Sanders' "When This World Is All on Fire" and a piece from Zainab Amadahy's The Moons of Palmares. The anthology closes with examples of biskaabiiyang, or "returning to ourselves," bringing together stories like Eden Robinson's "Terminal Avenue" and a piece from Robert Sullivan's Star Waka.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kickstarter Shout-out


I found out today that sci-fi author Tobias S. Buckell has started a Kickstarter project to publish his third collection of short stories.  This is his second Kickstarter project, the first two being the fourth novel in his Xenowealth series and titled The Apocalypse Ocean, and the second was his second story collection, Mitigated Futures.  Both were well written, well-put together, and delivered in a timely manner. 

 Xenowealth: A Collection


This project is called Xenowealth: A Collection. a collection of stories set in the Xenowealth universe.  I believe all of the stories star the character, Pepper.  If you're a fan of the books, I'm sure you're familiar with him.  The project only started today, but it's already reached its funding goal as well as two stretch goals.  It would be nice to see the project get even farther.  If you're a fan of Buckell, I think this would be a worthy project to invest in.  You can visit the project site here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: more mini-reviews


The Vanished Library, as library fans may guess, is about the lost library of Alexandria.  It imagines what the library might have been like by examining contemporary accounts from the ancient world.  Somewhat interesting for history buffs, but it's a little dry and I feel it doesn't really go far enough to bring the accounts across to a more modern audience. 

Rating: 7/10.

Being a huge fan of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire as well as a sucker for world-building, it's not a big surprise that I just had to pick up this book.  Sort of an artbook, sort of a fictional history book, you could probably call this a sourcebook/guidebook to the history and world of the series.  Sometimes Martin gets a little carried away with the details, but the details are certainly worth it for more background on the characters, lands, and houses.  I also really loved reading about areas of the world that we haven't seen yet in the books though the lack of entries for Qarth and Slaver's Bay seems rather curious.  Possibly an oversight?

Rating: 9/10.


Wow, this is an oldie.  Written in 1960, a full eight years before The Last Unicorn, this is Peter Beagle's debut novel.  It's a short, quiet, introspective little book about two ghosts, a man who lives in a cemetery, and a cynical, talking raven.  There is a great deal of examination about issues of death, dying, and living by those on both sides of the great divide.  Perhaps worth a look if you're a fan of Beagle.

Rating: 7.5/10. 



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thinking About Reading...


Blurb:
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.

Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thinking About Reading...


Blurb:
For two hundred years the people of the Five-and-One Islands have survived by raiding the mainland. By shaping the reefs around their islands into magical ships, they can cross the great ocean, take what they want, and disappear where no normal ship can follow. 

When Jala meets King Azi of the Five-and-One, she forgets everything her family told her to do. She was supposed to be meek and charming. She wasn't supposed to be herself. And she wasn't supposed to fall for him. When the king defies his family and proposes to her, Jala finds herself the islands' new queen. Now she's cut off from her family and despised by the king's advisers. Even her feelings for Azi, that seemed so clear when they were alone, are anything but clear amid the politics of the islands' ruling families. 

On the second night after Jala's wedding, the islands are invaded by ships arriving on a tide of magical fog. One of the islands is left in ruin. Others haven't been heard from. And there might be more invaders on the way. If Jala can convince the noble families to work together, they might stand a chance, but she must choose between her family, her love for Azi, and saving her people.

Hm, I'm not sure about this one.  The book seems to have a strong romantic element, but on the other hand the world sounds really interesting, especially as it seems to be based on a boat/island culture like the Polynesians.  I already have so many books to read...

Review: some mini-reviews


Time to catch up on some reviews:

This book from the author of the seminal The Handmaid's Tale is set in the future in the wake of an apocalyptic disaster.  Snowman, aka Jimmy, may be the last human on earth after a genetically engineered virus wipes out most of mankind.  His story is told mostly in flashback, showing us the events that led up to the disaster and showing us not only what happened but why.  This book is cautionary tale from multiple angles on some of the dangers from capitalism, rampant genetic engineering and so on, but also from the other side if we go too far to try to correct things.

Rating: 8.5/10. 

Dream Houses is a limited edition novella written and published for this year's Capclave, a SFF convention in Washington D.C.  The story is about a woman who works as a grunt on a freighter run to a nearby star system, but wakes up early to find her crew dead and she faces a long voyage alone with the ship's A.I.  It's basically a tale about what happens to a person when they face madness from a long time alone with no people for company.   The story is well told, though it didn't feel like anything that I hadn't already read before.

Rating: 7.5/10. 

Like the forward of this book says, "you may not want to buy this book."  The reason why is because it's a short story about Auri, a secondary character from The Kingkiller Chronicles.  It doesn't further the main trilogy storyline, nor does it feature any other characters from the books.  All it does is follow Auri in a small period of time to show us what her life is like in the tunnels of the city and university.  On the other hand, being a Rothfuss story, it is of course very well told and certainly worth a read if you don't mind something a bit different.

Rating: 8/10.

Anansi Boys is sort of a sequel to 2001's American Gods in that it is set in the same world with one character from that book.  However, that character, Anansi, has only a very small role and the story is really about his sons.  The style of the book is also different in that it is smaller in scope, more about family, and is also much lighter and funnier in tone.  If you're a fan of Neil Gaiman, then this book worth a look. 

Rating: 8/10. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Releases for November 11, 2014


 (B&N, Amazon)

Synopsis:
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

 (B&N, Amazon)

Synopsis:
Yamada no Goji is a minor nobleman of ancient Japan who has lost everything - except a single purpose: keep a promise to the woman he loved. In order to fulfill his vow, all he has to do is fight a horde of demons and monsters, bargain with a few ghosts, outwit the sinister schemers of the emperor's court, find a way to defeat an assassin who cannot be seen, heard, or touched - and change the course of history. Fortunately, Yamada specializes in achieving the seemingly impossible, so he is sure in some way to succeed...if he doesn't drink himself into oblivion first.


UK (11/13):

Synopsis:
In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London - to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can't take the London out of the copper.


Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what's more all the shops are closed by 4pm...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

World Fantasy Award winners


The World Fantasy Convention was this weekend and the winners were announced earlier today.  Without further ado:

Novel
  • Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press)
  • Richard Bowes, Dust Devil on a Quiet Street (Lethe Press)
  • Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Tor Books)
  • Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (William Morrow/Headline)
  • Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni (Harper/Blue Door)
  • Gene Wolfe, The Land Across (Tor Books)

Novella
  • Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages “Wakulla Springs” (Tor.com, 10/13)
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan Black Helicopters (Subterranean Press)
  • KJ Parker “The Sun and I” (Subterranean magazine, Summer 2013)
  • Veronica Schanoes “Burning Girls” (Tor.com, 6/13)
  • Catherynne M. Valente, Six-Gun Snow White (Subterranean Press)

Short Story
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan, “The Prayer of Ninety Cats” (Subterranean magazine, Spring 2013)
  • Thomas Olde Heuvelt, “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” (Tor.com, 4/13)
  • Yoon Ha Lee, “Effigy Nights” (Clarkesworld, 1/13)
  • Sofia Samatar, “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” (Strange Horizons, 1/13)
  • Rachel Swirsky, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” (Apex Magazine, 3/13)

Anthology
  • George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds. Dangerous Women (Tor Books/Voyager UK)
  • Kate Bernheimer, ed., xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths (Penguin Books)
  • Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy (Tor Books)
  • Stephen Jones, ed. Flotsam Fantastique: The Souvenir Book of World Fantasy Convention 2013 (Smith & Jones/PS Publishing)
  • Jonathan Oliver, ed., End of the Road: An Anthology of Original Short Stories (Solaris Books)
  • Jonathan Strahan, ed., Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy (Solaris Books)

Collection
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Ape's Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean Press)
  • Nathan Ballingrud, North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
  • Laird Barron, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
  • Reggie Oliver, Flowers of the Sea (Tartarus Press)
  • Rachel Swirsky, How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future (Subterranean Press)

Artist
  • Charles Vess
  • Galen Dara
  • Zelda Devon
  • Julie Dillon
  • John Picacio

Special Award—Professional
  • Irene Gallo, for art direction of Tor.com
  • William K. Schafer, for Subterranean Press
  • John Joseph Adams, for magazine and anthology editing
  • Ginjer Buchanan, for editing at Ace Books
  • Jeff VanderMeer & Jeremy Zerfoss, for Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (Abrams Image)
Special Award—Non-professional
  • Kate Baker, Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace, for Clarkesworld
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Marc Aplin, for Fantasy-Faction
  • Leslie Howle, for Clarion West administration
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press     

Winners of the Life Achievement Award (anounced last night):
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Friday, November 7, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Marc Simonetti



With the release of The World of Ice and Fire, it seems appropriate to highlight Marc Simonetti.  Simonetti has done a lot of work for A Song of Ice and Fire, including George R.R. Martin's preferred artwork of the Iron Throne.  Marc has also self-published an artbook of his work, which you may be able to find on Amazon.  You can visit his website here.








Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Releases for November 4, 2014



Synopsis:
Decades after an alien virus changed the course of history, the surviving population of Manhattan still struggles to understand the new world left in its wake. Natural humans share the rough city with those given extraordinary—and sometimes terrifying—traits. While most manage to coexist in an uneasy peace, not everyone is willing to adapt. Down in the seedy underbelly of Jokertown, residents are going missing. The authorities are unwilling to investigate, except for a fresh lieutenant looking to prove himself and a collection of unlikely jokers forced to take matters into their own hands—or tentacles. The deeper into the kidnapping case these misfits and miscreants get, the higher the stakes are raised.