9/16/23; 11:15am DST
Robin McKinley's Deerskin is a more mature story than the others I've read so far. I had to be vague about some things, without cautionary notes, since even a minor hint could be a spoiler. It started off slow for me, and at one point I thought I might not finish, but I'm glad I continued. The latter half is much better written than earlier. Recommended.
The Orphans of Raspay
9/10/23; 4:20pm DST
A second review today, another Penric & Desdemona novella. The Orphans of Raspay sees Penric in peril, but he's not alone. He also has to safeguard two orphan girls. Another recommendation.
The Water Outlaws
9/10/23; 12:30pm DST
S. L. Huang's latest book, The Water Outlaws, is a gender-swapped adaptation of what is considered to be one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. It is very good, but also very violent at times. Recommended.
Emissaries From the Dead
8/31/23; 5:05pm DST
Emissaries From the Dead is the second story, and first novel, featuring Andrea Cort, an investigator in the future. As intriguing as the mystery in this story, Andrea may be the biggest puzzle of all. Recommended.
Unseen Demons, an Andrea Cort Story
8/26/23; 1:10pm DST
Along with other books, I will devote the next few months reading novels and shorter works by Adam-Troy Castro, the central character being Andrea Cort, an investigator of murders (and perhaps other crimes) in the future on other planets and habitats. Her first appearance came in the 2002 novella "Unseen Demons."
Masquerade in Lodi
8/24/23; 12:35pm DST
Starting a third page for the adventures of Penric & Desdemona by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first story of which is Masquerade in Lodi. Enjoyable, although I figured out part of the mystery long before Penric did.
The Outlaws of Sherwood
8/22/23; 3:55pm DST
The Robin McKinley book for this month is The Outlaws of Sherwood. I can't give it a strong recommendation, but it's not a waste of time, especially if you are a fan of other tellings of the Robin Hood legend.
The Blue, Beautiful World
8/19/23; 1:15pm DST
Again, compared to the first book in the sequence, I did not like The Blue, Beautiful World as much, but I still recommend the series. Other readers might like the second and third books more than I did, might not like the first as much. The only way to know is to read them.
Babylon 5: The Road Home
8/14/23; 6:20pm DST
The Road Home is a new animated film in the Babylon 5 franchise. I liked it a lot, and I hope we get more of the same. Or live action, or puppets, I don't care, I just need more B5.
8/14/23; 8:15am DST
My original review of Babylon 5 was among the first pages uploaded when The Templeton Gate went live on July 27, 2000. I've edited and updated it a few times since, the last was when it came to Amazon Prime, but that was four years ago. No longer on Prime, and it was pulled off HBO-Max even before that changed to just MAX, but it will be out on Blu-Ray in December. So I've added that information, as well as tweaking some of my comments about the show. Also, I hope to upload a review of the new animated film The Road Home sometime later today. Stay tuned.
The Galaxy Game
8/13/23; 12:50pm DST
The second of Karen Lord's Cygnus Beta novels is The Galaxy Game. I created a new page rather than combine it with the previous review, since most of the action takes place other places besides Cygnus Beta, and the third book, which I've already started, is in another location as well, at least in the beginning. I didn't like Galaxy Game as much due to my confusion on multiple things, but I tried to avoid spoilers. Not sure I succeeded.
The Best of All Possible Worlds
8/11/23; 5:50pm DST
I re-read a book and made very minor edits to the review, but included new information and cover image. Karen Lord's second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds, was published in 2013, and I first read it in January of 2018. It was reissued last month with new cover art, along with another book which will be my next review. A third book in the sequence comes out later this month, and I have an advance review copy of it.
Her Husband's Hands
8/2/23; 2:50pm DST
Her Husband's Hands is a collection of eight stories by Adam-Troy Castro. Grim, gruesome, horrific, no feel-good stories here. But they are well written and compelling. Recommended.
7/24/23; 3:30pm DST
Africa Risen is a thirty-two story anthology by African and African Diaspora writers. I didn't go into details about specific stories, since I don't think I could do them justice. They all deserve to be read without further comment from me, other than giving it the highest of recommendations.
A Knot in the Grain
7/11/23; 4:15pm DST
A Knot in the Grain is a short story collection by Robin McKinley. Only five stories, less than two hundred pages, but all are good, the title story being as good, if not better, than anything else I've read of hers so far. Recommended.
The Prisoner of Limnos
7/9/23; 12:10pm DST
Continuing with the adventures of Penric & Desdemona, we come to the sixth novella I've reviewed, the third in the second omnibus. The Prisoner of Limnos sees Penric still with Nikys, attempting to rescue her mother from incarceration in a very formidable island complex. Recommended.
The Deep Sky
7/6/23; 3:30pm DST
The Deep Sky, the debut novel from Yume Kitasei, presents some interesting characters and scenarios, but it is hampered by not enough background information, and a lot of the science is wonky.
For All Mankind Update
7/5/23; 12:30pm DST
I finished watching Season 3 yesterday and have edited some previous comments, and added a few more paragraphs to my review of For All Mankind, AppleTV+'s alternate history space race drama.
6/28/23; 2:30pm DST
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's new novel is a bit deceptive, with Silver Nitrate seeming to be more like one of her mainstream mysteries, then the fantastical elements ramp up toward the end. Not without its faults, but still a very exciting narrative.
Mira's Last Dance
6/24/23; 1:10pm DST
I continue with Bujold's Penric & Desdemona series with Mira's Last Dance, which is a direct sequel to Penric's Mission. Another good look at Penric's talents, as well as the myriad possibilities if he utilizes all the other personalities that make up Desdemona.
The Ghosts of Trappist
6/23/23; 12:45pm DST
The conclusion(?) of the NeoG series is The Ghosts of Trappist, which is exciting and multi-layered, but there are hints of possible future events.
Hold Fast Through the Fire
6/16/23; 1:00pm DST
The second NeoG book is Hold Fast Through the Fire. A new mystery, one which threatens to tear the NeoG apart, or at least significantly limit their effectiveness. Still a lot of emphasis on character, which is the better part. Recommended.
For All Mankind
6/12/23; 3:20pm DST
Currently an exclusive on AppleTV+, For All Mankind is an alternate history where the Russians landed a man on the moon first, and the space race continues at a feverish pace. I'm two episodes into the second season now, and while I don't like everything about it, I will finish the three seasons currently available, and may extend my subscription beyond the free trial, depending on when Season 4 will premiere. [Update a day later: I guess I should have waited to start the review, since after just one more episode I felt the need for a couple of edits.]
A Pale Light in the Black
6/11/23; 1:10pm DST
A Pale Light in the Black is the first book in K. B. Wagers' NeoG series, that standing for the Near Earth Orbital Guard. Equivalent to our Coast Guard, although its reach has expanded to wherever humanity has set foot across the solar system, and beyond. I can recommend it, although I have reservations about how much time was devoted to one aspect instead of the major mystery.
The Hero and the Crown
6/4/23; 12:45pm DST
The Hero and the Crown is generally regarded as the second book in Robin McKinley's Damar series, but since it's a prequel maybe it should be #1 instead, or perhaps .5, and why wasn't it "Heroine" of the Crown? A slow start, redeemed by a dynamic second half. Recommended.
The Wild Girls
5/31/23; 1:15pm DST
The Wild Girls by Ursula K. Le Guin was the sixth volume in the PM Press "Outspoken Authors" series. The title story, originally in Asimov's in 2002, was revised for this book, but I'm not sure by how much. Hard to say how to classify it; not exactly fantasy, but maybe horror? Two essays, five poems, an interview, a bibliography, and a short biography fill out the volume. Recommended.
The Beginning Place
5/29/23; 4:30pm DST
A stand-alone novel from Ursula K. Le Guin, 1980's The Beginning Place is a portal fantasy, but different from most any other I've read. It's short, too short perhaps, but still recommended.
The Blue Sword
5/25/23; 1:20pm DST
Robin McKinley's second novel, The Blue Sword, was the first in the Damar series. It's Young Adult, coming-of-age, as well as a chosen one epic. Interesting, but not as good as it could have been if she had been writing for a more mature audience. I'll give it a reserved recommendation.
5/21/23; 12:30pm DST
There were a couple of times I thought this might turn into a ghost story, but R. F. Kuang's new novel, Yellowface, is contemporary fiction set in the world of publishing. From a certain perspective it could be considered a thriller, but either way you look at it, it is very good. Highly recommended.
5/17/23; 2:45pm DST
Starting a new page for the Penric & Desdemona series, the first story being Penric's Mission. The longest of all the novellas, probably close to novel length, and so far my favorite of the series.
5/15/23; 2:45pm DST
Francesco Verso's The Roamers is the English translation of just the first part of a 2018 book originally in Italian. Some interesting concepts, but hard to believe within the very near future timeline, and there were characters I didn't care for. I hate to say not recommended, but I would also hesitate to say the opposite.
2022 Nebula Awards
5/15/23; 9:45am DST
Winners and all finalists for the 2022 Nebulas, including links for purchase or for reading online, are now on the main Awards Page.
5/11/23; 1:40pm DST
Sue Burke's fourth novel, Dual Memory, is the first of hers I have read, but it won't be the last. Equal parts post-apocalyptic tale showing the ravages of climate change, refugees displaced from their homelands due to wars and private vendettas, but also the emergence of independent A.I.s, and the consequences of bringing alien life back to Earth. Lots to pack into just 350 pages, but Burke does it well. Recommended.
No One Will Come Back For Us
5/7/23; 12:50pm DST
Premee Mohamed's first story collection, No One Will Come Back For Us, will be published next week but I got an advance digital review copy. Lots of Lovecraft inspired stories, but also enough variety to please most readers with several others. Recommended.
Promises Stronger Than Darkness
4/30/23; 1:00pm DST
The conclusion of Charlie Jane Anders' Unstoppable series, Promises Stronger Than Darkness, is filled with darkness, but also hope, compassion, and cooperation. Things are left hanging at the end, and I would welcome further exploration of the situations and characters, particularly a certain "princess." Recommended, with a few caveats.
Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak
4/24/23; 3:35pm DST
After a re-read of the first book I now add comments about the second of Charlie Jane Anders' Unstoppable series, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak. This one is in third-person instead of first, with the various characters taking different paths, although the majority get back together at the end. But still more adventures to come in the third book, which I've already started.
Hamra and the Jungle of Memories
4/18/23; 5:35pm DST
Hanna Alkaf's fourth novel, Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, is a twist on Red Riding Hood infused with many Malaysian legends. It's directed toward Middle Grade readers, but I loved it. Highly recommended.
4/16/23; 1:40pm DST
Continuing with Bujold's Penric & Desdemona series, I now review the third novella, in character chronology that is, even though it was the fifth published. Penric's Fox is better than the previous two, and I look forward to more.
The Door in the Hedge
4/15/23; 1:40pm DST
There are four stories in Robin McKinley's The Door in the Hedge, although none of them have that title. It is used more as a metaphor, as a transition from one reality to another.
The Wishing Pool and Other Stories
4/12/23; 2:35pm DST
Tananarive Due's new story collection is The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. Ghost stories and other horror elements abound, most tied to recurring fears in the lives of black people. Very good.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
4/12/23; 2:30pm DST
Nearly a year and a half since I reviewed a graphic story. I read Tom King's eight issue mini-series Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow when another blogger kept singing its praisies, saying it would be on their Hugo nominating ballot. The art is great, the story less so, and it could have been told in fewer issues.
4/4/23; 1:40pm DST
Victor LaValle's new novel Lone Women is a mixture of alternate history, creepy folktale, with a dash of horror. Just remember, not all monsters look like monsters on the outside.
4/1/23; 12:50pm DST
The second of Kate Elliott's Sun Chronicles is Furious Heaven. Much longer than the first book, but also better in both action and character development. A grand space opera, highly recommended.
3/19/23; 5:50pm DST
Unconquerable Sun is the first book in Kate Elliott's space opera trilogy, The Sun Chronicles, the publisher's blurb for which is "a gender-swapped Alexander the Great in interstellar space." The gender-swap fits, not so sure about Alexander. Lots of action and intrigue, fast paced, with some interesting characters, even though some of them are also frustrating. I have an advance copy of the next book, due out in a month.
3/12/23; 1:50pm DST
Arkady Martine's Rose/House is a novella coming out at the end of the month. Is it a murder mystery, a haunted house tale, or an examination of artificial intelligence? All of the above. And it's very good. Recommended.
3/11/23; 11:45am CST
Robin McKinley's Spindle's End is the third novel generally grouped with two others as Folktales, although looking ahead to some of her other books, almost all could be described in that way. We shall see. As for this one, it's a remarkably different retelling of Sleeping Beauty, wherein almost everything has been changed from any other version you may have read or seen. Very good, and highly recommended.
Penric and the Shaman
3/4/23; 4:15pm CST
The second novella in Bujold's fantasy series is Penric and the Shaman. Good, but with a few weak spots. I'm still looking forward to more, which will come next month.
3/4/23; 4:10pm CST
Raising Hell by Norman Spinrad is part of the "Outspoken Authors" series from PM Press. It consists of one novella, one essay, an interview with the author, and a bibliography. Very good, and a good companion to the previously reviewed Fragments of America.
Two Non-Fiction books by Norman Spinrad
2/27/23; 5:45pm CST
I reviewed Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron over ten years ago, with a free review copy from ReAnimus Press. Later I bought several others, ones I didn't already have in print. Two of them are non-fiction, one being a short essay from 1976 about the history of the writing of that novel, so I amended my review with comments about Experiment Perilous. The other is a collection of essays originally in different magazines or newspapers, together now in Fragments of America.
2/25/23; 11:25am CST
I will be reading all of the Penric and Desdemona stories by Lois McMaster Bujold, one a month through the rest of the year. Since there are currently ten novellas and one novel, I'll create different pages, the first of which begins with Penric's Demon, which was a Hugo and Locus finalist.
The Mimicking of Known Successes
2/21/23; 5:05pm CST
The Mimicking of Known Successes is a new novella from Malka Older. A sequel due about this time next year has already been announced, but a collective name for the series hasn't been decided yet. If that happens I can change the URL for the page. I am very interested in following the adventures of Mossa and Pleiti (which might end up being the collective title).
2/18/23; 3:10pm CST
Rose Daughter is the second of Robin McKinley's Folktales, but I had a mistaken notion it would be about Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty, but it is like the novel I reviewed last month, another version of Beauty and the Beast. There are enough differences to make it interesting, and I'd say it's better than Beauty in several ways.
2/11/23; 12:00pm CST
Meru is S. B. Divya's second novel, and the first in a new series called the Alloy Era. It started slow for me due to several confusing concepts, some for which I originally had a mistaken notion. That soon passed, and I enjoyed this unique space opera very much. Recommended.
The Lathe of Heaven
1/31/23; 1:15pm CST
It has been several years since I've read Le Guin, and this time is another re-read. I highly recommend her first standalone novel, The Lathe of Heaven.
1/27/23; 12:50pm CST
I normally like to read a book before its film or TV adaptation, but I watched the first couple of episodes of the Prime series first, then stopped to read William Gibson's The Peripheral, which I liked but also have some reservations about.
1/22/23; 12:30pm CST
Annalee Newitz'a third novel, The Terraformers, comes out at the end of the month, but I received an advance ebook from Edelweiss. It is a good example of the necessity of employing the "suspension of disbelief." Many of the events and characters may seem preposterous, but considering the timeframe involved the reader should be able to understand and accept them.
The Hallowed Hunt
1/15/23; 4:30pm CST
The Hallowed Hunt is the third novel in Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series, or the first since it is a prequel to the other two. At this time I'm thinking I like it best, but a re-read might change that opinion, but who knows when that might happen.
Beauty by Robin McKinley
1/6/23; 1:50pm CST
Robin McKinley is the most recent honoree for SFWA's Grand Master Award. I'm sure I had not read her before, so decided to start with her first novel, Beauty, which is also the first of three Folktales.
More Wayward Children
1/1/23; 6:10pm CST
New Year, new review. This time I talk about four different stories, two novellas, one novelette, one short story, all the latest in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series, the last of which may be my favorite among all ten so far.
Happy New Year
1/1/23; 6:00pm CST
The best of wishes for a better new year. My review count went down last year, but I'm still satisfied since I enjoyed most of the books and the shows and movies I saw. Again I'm not setting any goals for 2023, that way I won't be disappointed if I don't fulfill them. I'll leave last year's updates here for a while, but will eventually move them to the Archives page. First review of the year coming up soon.
One Book, One TV Show, Same Story
12/27/22; 6:10pm CST
Today's update includes two different reviews, but the same story; Octavia E. Butler's novel Kindred, and the first season of its TV adaptation, which is an FX on Hulu exclusive.
The Urth of the New Sun
12/21/22; 10:00am CST
Five years after New Sun concluded Wolfe wrote an afterword, or in essence the point of the entire series. The final book is The Urth of the New Sun. Even if you've read the previous sections of the review you might want to scroll up to the top of the page and read it all again, since I have made some edits. And I wouldn't doubt I'll edit it again in the future.
The Citadel of the Autarch
12/11/22; 4:00pm CST
The Book of the New Sun ends (but not really) with The Citadel of the Autarch. Severian talks about a task ahead of him, but it took another five years for Wolfe to complete that book, which I am re-reading now.
The Sword of the Lictor
12/4/22; 3:30pm CST
Continuing with Gene Wolfe's New Sun series, the third novel is The Sword of the Lictor. Still fascinating, but also still puzzling about a number of things.
The Claw of the Conciliator + The Castle of the Otter
11/30/22; 4:15pm CST
The second book in the New Sun series is The Claw of the Conciliator, but the update today starts with discussion of the essay collection The Castle of the Otter.
The Shadow of the Torturer
11/25/22; 2:20pm CST
Among the first pages when the site went live in 2000 was a profile article on Gene Wolfe. In it I devoted several paragraphs to The Book of the New Sun, but now I've started a re-read, and created a new page - New Sun - with comments only for the first book so far. I will update that page as I finish each book.
11/19/22; 12:20pm CST
Some scholars consider Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to be the first true SF novel. Not sure I agree with that, but it is a seminal work worthy of study. Just not one most modern readers would enjoy.
The World We Make
11/15/22; 1:10pm CST
What I thought was going to be a trilogy turned out just a duology. N. K. Jemisin's The World We Make completes the Great Cities series in dynamic fashion. Highly recommended.
Even Though I Knew The End
11/11/22; 1:10pm CST
Even Though I Knew The End by C. L. Polk is a detective noir set in 1941 Chicago, with supernatural elements, and a beautiful romance. I hope they write more stories about these remarkable characters. Highly recommended.
Into the Riverlands
11/10/22; 12:10pm CST
The third entry in Nghi Vo's Singing Hills series is the shortest, but it is still full of insight as to this world's customs and traditions. Into the Riverlands sees Cleric Chih traveling along the Huan River, where they meet several colorful characters, and get into, and out of, some dangerous trouble.
11/9/22; 4:20pm CST
Totalitopia by John Crowley is another in the Outspoken Author series from PM Press. Short, but oh so fruitful in ideas and speculation, both the fiction and non-fiction. Recommended.
11/6/22; 5:00pm CST
Red Unicorn by Weston Ochse shares a few plot elements with his previous Bone Chase, but they are not directly connected. It's a fast-paced combo of action/adventure with a supernatural horror overtone. Violent at times, even occasionally repellent, but exciting from beginning to end.
11/1/22; 12:35pm CDT
John Crowley's fourth novel won World Fantasy and Mythopoeic awards, and was finalist for many others. Little, Big is a beautiful, lyrically told tale of magic and wonder among multiple generations of an eccentric family. It's not all neat and tidy, there are many diversions and frustrations within, but I still recommend it.
Otherwise, the first three novels by John Crowley
10/21/22; 6:35pm CDT
John Crowley's first three novels were published separately, later collected in the omnibus Otherwise. It is not a trilogy, each are standalones. The individual titles are The Deep, Beasts, and Engine Summer. All are short, all are good, with Beasts probably the most accessible for most readers.
10/12/22; 4:00pm CDT
A few brief words about Memory's Legion, the collection of short fiction in The Expanse book series. I had mentioned it before, but this update is serving two purposes. There has been an upgrade in the PHP file the site uses, supposedly controlled by the hosting service, but they said problems might arise, and if so I'd have to drop back down to the previous version. Updating regularly is supposed to be best to see if it sticks, and it was going to be several days before my next review would be ready. We'll see how it goes.
It took a very long time to read Ken Liu's Speaking Bones, the conclusion of the Dandelion Dynasty, but since I couldn't think of much to say about it without spoilers the review is very brief. Bottom line: Lots of it is good, some parts are superfluous and rambling, even tedious.
The Spare Man
I believe that Mary Robinette Kowal's new novel is a standalone, but even if it's the beginning of a series The Spare Man is a complete and satisfying story on its own. A locked spaceship mystery set aboard a cruise vessel heading to Mars. Recommended.
Signal To Noise
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's debut novel, Signal To Noise, has been reissued with some content edits, so I had to read it again. For the fourth time. Yes, it's that good. Music and mayhem in Mexico, as Meche and her friends try to control their life through magic. Highly recommended.
The Legacy of Molly Southbourne
I assume Tade Thompson's The Legacy of Molly Southbourne is the conclusion of the story, although a few minor plot threads are left dangling, or else I missed the clues while reading. Recommended.
Babel: An Arcane History
R. F. Kuang's fourth novel, Babel, is the best I've read this year, and perhaps for several years. A multi-faceted plot, great characters, a fascinating look at academia and the joy of learning, but also an indictment against colonialism. I say, without hyperbole, it is a staggering work of genius.
2022 Hugo Awards
9/5/22; 9:40am CDT
The winners of the 2022 Hugo Awards were announced last night at Chicon 8. I've just updated our Awards Page, but since that doesn't include every category, you should also check the full list at Locus Online.
The Genesis of Misery
9/4/22; 1:00pm CDT
Unfortunately, I can not recommend my latest read, Neon Yang's The Genesis of Misery.
Dragons and Blades
9/3/22; 5:50pm CDT
Two years ago I reviewed a novella by Aliette de Bodard. It was a spin-off from one of her novel series. Now there is a sequel so I have combined them on one page with a different URL. The collective title is Dragons and Blades. They are recommended, and I hope there are more in the sequence one of these days.
Good Omens, the Amazon Prime series
9/3/22; 2:10pm CDT
After finally reading the book I rewatched Good Omens on Amazon Prime, since I'm canceling at the end of the month. There will be another season, but I have no idea what will happen in it since the first season completed the novel's story. It is recommended, and I'm sure I will eventually see Season 2 if it's available anywhere other than Prime.
A Mirror Mended
8/26/22; 2:20pm CDT
I remember reading somewhere that Alix E. Harrow said her Fractured Fables series would be just a duology. I can't find that source now, but the second novella, A Mirror Mended has a satisfactory ending, if not a definitive one.
8/24/22; 2:00pm CDT
Thirty-two years after publication, and at least fifteen since I bought it, I finally got around to Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I liked it quite a bit, but maybe not as much as its reputation led me to expect. Still recommended, and a review of the Amazon Prime show might be just over the horizon.
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy
8/20/22; 11:55am CDT
The second book in Becky Chambers' Monk & Robot series, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, is every bit as good as the first one. I give it the highest of recommendations, and hope there are many more stories in the future about Sibling Dex and Splending Speckled Mosscap.
Children of God
8/17/22; 11:30am CDT
Those who read and enjoyed The Sparrow will want to read it's sequel, Children of God. I didn't like it as much, others might like it more. It was worth reading for insightful comments about religious and secular matters. Your enjoyment might hinge on your level of faith, or your lack of it.
8/9/22; 1:45pm CDT
Probably intended to be a theatrical film in the beginning, for some reason it wound up a Hulu "Original." If you have Hulu it's a must see, if not a good reason to check out at least a free trial. Prey is another film in the Predator franchise, this time a prequel set about 300 years ago in the land of the Comanche. Naru (Amber Midthunder) proves to be as formidable a foe as Schwarzenegger ever hoped to be. Highly recommended.
8/8/22; 4:20pm CDT
Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is an example of the best of literature, regardless of genre. Insightful examinations of human nature, realistic and believable characters, even when they are not sympathetic, spiritual and secular contemplations. Highly recommended.
The Devil Takes You Home
7/26/22; 1:00pm CDT
For at least the first half of the book I was thinking the review would go in the Non-SF section, but then a few supernatural elements were introduced. Those elements didn't necessarily make Gabino Iglesias's The Devil Takes You Home any more brutal, but they definitely made it weirder. Strong stuff, very violent, not to everyone's taste I'm sure, not even my usual taste. I'm still recommending it.
Two TV Series Reviews
7/25/22; 4:00pm CDT
It's been a while since I reviewed some TV. The first season of one of them, Undone on Amazon Prime, was three years ago, the second season now three months gone. It's very good and recommended. Next up is on DisneyPlus, Ms. Marvel, which I liked a lot too, even though I was disappointed about a few things. Not enough to not recommended it though.
Three Miles Down
7/21/22; 10:00am CDT
Some might find it hard to believe this is the first Harry Turtledove novel I've read. I would have enjoyed Three Miles Down more if he had wrapped up the story in this volume, but it is the beginning of a new series, with a huge cliffhanger at the end. If the second book was ready now I'd read it, but my interest will probably fade over time.
Drunk On All Your Strange New Words
7/18/22; 11:50am CDT
I'm not giving this a strong recommendation, but I'm not saying it won't appeal to some. Eddie Robson's third novel, Drunk On All Your Strange New Words is a mystery with SF trappings. I'm not sure which type of reader it will appeal to most, but it's short and not boring, but also not without a few faults.
The Album of Dr. Moreau
7/12/22; 4:50pm CDT
Another Moreau inspired story, this one quite a bit different than the one reviewed yesterday. Daryl Gregory's novella, The Album of Dr. Moreau, is a finalist for a Sturgeon Award (short speculative fiction) and an Edgar (mystery). The hybrids here are members of The WyldBoyZ, the second most popular boy band in the world, whose manager is murdered.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
7/12/22; 4:20pm CDT
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is in grand form in her latest novel, an alternate version of a H. G. Wells book. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau has a different setting, Silvia's native Mexico, and includes a few historical people and events. But the true star is Carlota, another in a long line of strong-willed women Silvia always includes. Highly recommended.
7/7/22; 5:15pm CDT
Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood began as a novelette in 1981, then expanded to novel length three years later. Many printings over the years, including a new one from Tor Essentials coming out next week. It's very good. Highly recommended.
6/27/22; 10:50am CDT
Robert Jackson Bennett's Founders Trilogy comes to a (somewhat) satisfactory conclusion with Locklands. I'm pleased with some things, frustrated about others. The trilogy as a whole is still recommended.
6/18/22; 12:40pm CDT
The opening chapters of Michael Bishop's 1979 novel Transfigurations are from a previously published novella, although I'm not sure if they were edited or revised. It's anthropological SF, with aliens that are truly alien, as repellant as they are fascinating. Recommended.
Mammoths of the Great Plains
6/8/22; 1:35pm CDT
Mammoths of the Great Plains is a novella by Eleanor Arnason, a finalist for several awards, included in a short book in the PM Press Outspoken Author series. Along with the novella, I mention an essay she wrote, along with an interview by series editor Terry Bisson. The story is very good, the other commentary interesting, even if I might not agree with several things.
A Woman of the Iron People
6/7/22; 12:30pm CDT
Eleanor Arnason's A Woman of the Iron People is an exciting first contact story, in which the aliens probably have as much to teach the humans as the other way around. Highly recommended.
The City Inside
5/30/22; 3:00pm CDT
Samit Basu's The City Inside is not a new novel. It was published two years ago in India under the title Chosen Spirits. Since it is several years old, and I can't find any info on a potential sequel, my frustration with the book is strong. Interesting characters, all too believable scenarios, but hardly any resolution to multiple story lines.
Up Against It
5/24/22; 12:55pm CDT
Up Against It was published in 2011 under the pseudonym M. J. Locke, but has recently been reissued under the author's real name, Laura J. Mixon. I read the original, which is very good and recommended, but I don't know how many revisions the new edition might have had.
The Nebula Awards
5/22/22; 6:00am CDT
This year's Nebula Awards were announced last night in a virtual ceremony. Click that link to check out all the winners and the other finalists.
The Void Ascendant
5/12/22; 1:15pm CDT
The concluding volume of Premee Mohamed's series that began with Beneath the Rising is in some ways better than what came before, although the ending of The Void Ascendant was not what I expected. Still highly recommended, which applies to the whole series, and I can't wait to see what Premee creates next.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
5/5/22; 6:25pm CDT
What would you do if you got a glimpse of how your life might be if you had made different choices? Embrace the chance for redemption, or cower away in fear of causing even more havoc? Michelle Yeoh is faced with that dilemma in Everything Everywhere All At Once, which is highly recommended. I doubt it will be in theaters much longer, but hopefully a video release is not far away. Catch it when and however you can.
Two Book Reviews
4/26/22; 6:25pm CDT
Two reviews today, one non-fiction, one fantasy. The first is by someone who has written two SF novels in addition to their other journalistic work. Four Lost Cities by Annalee Newitz concerns four ancient cities that were either abandoned (for the most part) or destroyed. Great for history buffs, or anyone interested in archaeolgy and anthropology. Next up is a brilliant new fantasy by Nghi Vo, Siren Queen, about a Chinese-American girl who stumbles onto a movie set and eventually becomes a star. But she had to pay a high price, some of which came in the form of magic.
4/10/22; 6:15pm CDT
It's difficult to know where and when the myths of King Arthur began. Each version has cribbed notes from earlier ones, sometimes names and events are slightly different. I haven't read that many of them, but I'm assuming some of Nicola Griffith's new novel, Spear, comes from research for this story, as well as her earlier novel Hild, and its upcoming sequel. I think it's safe to say the main character here is her own invention. Beautifully lyrical prose, intricately described action, a strong and resilient protagonist. Excellent all around.
The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)
4/5/22; 3:45pm CDT
I've created another category for reviews, although I don't know how many there will be, or how frequently I'll add to the Non-Fiction Book section. First up is Katie Mack's The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), an excellent exploration of the various current theories as to the possible fate of the universe(s). But before contemplating the end, the beginning is considered as well.
Until the Last of Me
3/29/22; 6:00pm CDT
The second book in Sylvain Neuvel's Take Them To The Stars series is better than the first. Until the Last of Me was published today, but I finished it last night, thanks to an ARC from Edelweiss.
The Sins of Our Fathers
3/17/22; 3:50pm CDT
The Expanse book series is complete. The final novella, The Sins of Our Fathers, is set immediately after the main action from the previous novel, but long before its epilogue. The entire series is still highly recommended.
The Atheist in the Attic
3/13/22; 7:45am CDT
Delany's The Atheist in the Attic is non-SF, although one part of it relates to the genre. Short but powerful, and recommended.
The Fall of the Towers
2/28/22; 7:45am CST
Samuel R. Delany's The Fall of the Towers trilogy has a long history, with multiple revisions through many editions. It comprises the second-fourth of his books ever published. Beginning in 1963 with a short novel (or novella) that was later expanded and retitled. Each has been published separately, but the trilogy is still short by most standards. It has some interesting parts, but is ultimately disappointing.
Reclaim the Stars
2/13/22; 6:55pm CST
Reclaim the Stars is an orignal anthology edited by Zoraida Córdova, who also contributes a story. All the authors are Latin American, either still living in their native countries, or part of the diaspora. Zoraida was born in Ecuador but currently lives in Queens, New York. I was not familiar with most of them, but their work is recommended.
The Devil in a Forest
1/31/22; 3:15pm CST
Gene Wolfe's third novel, The Devil in a Forest, would be a good introduction for most readers. It has minimal fantastic elements, and is basically a juvenile tale set in medieval Europe, although some of the characters may be based on English stories.
1/28/22; 5:00pm CST
Tochi Onyebuchi's first adult novel is good, but also confusing, and also brutal and traumatic at times. Goliath came out this past Tuesday, although I started it before then since I got an ARC from Edelweiss. Recommended, but with caveats.
1/22/22; 4:50pm CST
Gene Wolfe's second novel, Peace, is exceptionally better than his first. It has more in common with Cerberus, but only in style, not content. It can be read as a straight memoir, or if you look hard enough you can see a bit of fantasy, possibly horror. Still confusing on the third reading, but still highly recommended.
The Expanse, Season 6
1/14/22; 3:35pm CST
Sad now. The very short sixth season of The Expanse is over. Hopefully not the last, and I won't give up until the creators say there is no hope. My comments are brief, and hopefully spoiler free.
The Fifth Head of Cerberus
1/13/22; 5:15pm CST
Compared to Operation ARES, the three linked novellas in Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus read as if by a completely different writer. Still one of my favorites, and very highly recommended.
1/9/22; 12:45pm CST
To put it bluntly, Gene Wolfe's first novel, Operation ARES, is not recommended.
To Be Taught, If Fortunate
1/3/22; 1:40pm CST
Becky Chambers' To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a mix of the best of old style Hard-SF, blended with the compassion of new sensibilities. Plenty of scientific rigor, but more character development than what most Golden Age authors gave us. Highly recommended.
1/1/22; 4:10pm CST
The first review of the new year is another by Nicola Griffith. Hild was a finalist for a Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, but it is not fantasy, and certainly not science fiction. It is speculative fiction though, since almost all of the events in the life of Hild was a fabrication of the author. It's very good.
Happy New Year!
1/1/22; 4:00pm CST
At least I hope it's happier than last year. I'll be back shortly with the first review of the year, and sometime in the near future I will move all of last year's updates to the Archives page.
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