The Fountains of Paradise
3/19/19; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
The Fountains of Paradise is another Hugo & Nebula winner from Arthur C. Clarke, but not as good as Rama. It could have been much shorter if it only concentrated on the construction of the space elevator and forgot about Taprobanean history and religion, which was a fictionalized version of Clarke's adopted homeland of Sri Lanka. I guess I could say I recommend about half the book.
3/16/19; 2:50pm CDT - Galen
Particle Theory is a story collection by the late Edward Bryant, originally published in 1981. Highly recommended, with several that are among the best stories I've ever read. It is one of eleven of his titles I bought from ReAnimusPress a few years back, just the third to be reviewed, but I hope to get to the others throughout the year.
Rendezvous With Rama
3/12/19; 4:00pm CDT - Galen
In spite of Arthur C. Clarke's weakness in regards character development, Rendezvous With Rama is still highly recommended.
3/10/19; 5:00pm CDT - Galen
Not sure why I waited til Incredibles 2 was on Netflix. I think the story is just as good as the first one, with the animation detail being even better.
Alita: Battle Angel
3/8/19; 6:35pm CST - Galen
A short, not so sweet review. There's a reason I don't go to the theater much these days, nor review many films at all. I'm tired of FX blockbusters with plots interchangeable with every other FX blockbuster that comes along. It that's what you like, you may enjoy Alita: Battle Angel, but I don't recommend it.
The Book of Flora
3/7/19; 7:50pm CST - Galen
I'm pretty sure The Book of Flora concludes Meg Elison's Road to Nowhere series, even though it ends on a shocking revelation. That scenario is far-fetched, which reduced my overall rating for the book, but up until then I was thinking it was the best of the trilogy.
Alice Payne Rides
3/5/19; 5:45pm CST - Galen
The second entry in Kate Heartfield's time-traveling adventure tales is Alice Payne Rides. In some ways it's just as good as the first one, in others it stretches credibility, risking being almost as confusing as it is entertaining.
3/4/19; 5:15pm CST - Galen
Atlas Alone is the fourth book by Emma Newman to be set within the same fictional universe, although this is the first one that I feel can't be read as a stand-alone. It closely follows the events from the second book, After Atlas. Even though I have once again created a separate page for the new book, I strongly suggest you not read it until you've read at least that second book, the climactic event of which I did not spoil in the earlier review.
The Murders of Molly Southborne
2/28/19; 3:05pm CST - Galen
Tade Thompson's novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne won last year's Nommo Award from the African Speculative Fiction Association, and was also a finalist for the British Fantasy, British Science Fiction, and Shirley Jackson (Horror) awards. It is a mix of genres, with the SF element only revealed toward the end. Not a completely satisfying story, but intriguing enough to look forward to its sequel coming out in July.
2/27/19; 2:50pm CST - Galen
Witchmark by C. L. Polk is a finalist for the 2018 Nebula for Best Novel. It starts slow, but I gave it a chance, and it didn't take long to fall under its spell. It falls short of a 5 star rating, but I won't elaborate to avoid spoilers. I've now read four of the six finalists, and while this isn't my favorite, it would not be a disappointment if it wins.
2/25/19; 1:00pm CST - Galen
Seraphina's Lament is the debut novel from book blogger Sarah Chorn, and also the first of a series known as The Bloodlands. Described as within the fantasy sub-genre of Grimdark, it is definitely that. Grim, dark, bloody, violent. But also very good, and recommended, unless you only want lightness and positivity in your fiction.
The Haunting of Tram Car 015
2/19/19; 3:50pm CST - Galen
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a new novella from P. Djèlí Clark, set within the same milieu as his 2016 novelette "A Dead Djinn in Cairo," which I also mention in the review. Both are full of remarkable characters and situations, packed with visual details of this alt-history/steampunk/mythological fantasy world. Highly recommended.
Gateway, Heechee Saga #1
2/18/19; 3:10pm CST - Galen
Although not the first Frederik Pohl story to mention the Heechee, the first novel in the sequence was 1977's Gateway. I've used the series title for the URL of that page, and while I have all of the other books, there's no telling when I might get to them. A couple of them were finalists for various awards, but Gateway was the only winner, for both Hugo and Nebula, as well as several others.
The City in the Middle of the Night
2/15/19; 6:00pm CST - Galen
Charlie Jane Anders' second SF novel is The City in the Middle of the Night, a complex tale of humans settled on a tidally locked planet, one side always facing its sun, the other in perpetual cold and darkness. The only complaint I have is it wasn't long enough. So many things about Earth and the Mothership's voyage, plus other events after they reached January, that cried out for more elaboration. Other than that, it is recommended.
2/12/19; 2:20pm CST - Galen
Sylvain Neuvel's The Test is a new novella from Tor, released today. Only about 100 pages, but full of ideas that will keep me thinking for quite some time. More than one test going on, and I'm not sure I could pass any of them.
2/11/19; 6:40pm CST - Galen
Frederik Pohl's Man Plus won the Nebula in 1977. I recall liking it when I read it around forty years ago. This time, not so much. I'm not adding this to the banner announcment above since I don't recommend it, and I will probably have another review ready tomorrow anyway.
The True Queen
2/10/19; 3:50pm CST - Galen
The True Queen is the second novel in a series by Zen Cho, which has been called the Sorcerer Royal series, while the cover of this one says "A Sorcerer to the Crown Novel," even though neither of those really apply anymore. The heroine of the first book is now the new Sorceress Royal. Another thing that is slightly wrong is the title of this book, but I won't spoil why. I'll just say it's good, perhaps even better than the first. Recommended.
Mars: Stories by Asja Bakić
2/6/19; 8:00pm CST - Galen
Asja Bakić is a Bosnian writer now living in Croatia. Her first story collection was published there in 2015, but now there's a US edition coming out next month. I got a free ARC from Edelweiss, and I really liked it. Mars is the book's title, but it's not the title of the only story set on the Red Planet. A mix of mainstream, fantasy, quasi-horror, and science fiction.
2/3/19; 4:00pm CST - Galen
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was honored as one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" authors last year. His first book, Friday Black, is a collection of twelve stories, some mainstream, others either science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Most are dark and violent. Not all are recommended, but the collection as a whole is.
Today I Am Carey
1/31/19; 4:00pm CST - Galen
In 2016, Martin L. Shoemaker's short story "Today I Am Paul" was a Nebula finalist, and winner of the Small Press Award from the Washington Science Fiction Association. Now he has expanded it into the novel Today I Am Carey. It comes out March 5, but I got an ARC from Edelweiss. It's about a self aware caretaker android, and it's very good, as was the short story, which I link to at the end of the review.
1/30/19; 10:50am CST - Galen
Robert Jackson Bennett's Vigilance is another novella from tor.com. It's like the darkest Black Mirror episode imaginable. Outrageous, yet all too believable in this gun-obsessed culture.
A Study in Honor
1/29/19; 2:30pm CST - Galen
A Study in Honor is the first book in The Janet Watson Chronicles by Claire O'Dell. It is a new variation on Sherlock Holmes, set in the near future with both Watson and Holmes gender and race flipped. Two strong, intelligent, resourceful Black women, who team up to investigate a mystery during the Second American Civil War against the New Confederacy. Highly recommended, and I will be following this series in the future.
Dealing in Dreams
1/28/19; 2:50pm CST - Galen
Lilliam Rivera's first novel was a mainstream YA story, which I read and enjoyed, but didn't review since it wasn't SF. Her second is, but unfortunately, I didn't like Dealing in Dreams as much. It's the beginning of a series, which I doubt I'll want to continue with.
How Long 'Til Black Future Month?
1/25/19; 5:30pm CST - Galen
In the introduction to N. K. Jemisin's first story collection, How Long 'Til Black Future Month?, she says she was initially only interested in novels, and didn't think she would be any good at short stories. Oh, how wrong she was. This is a major collection, highly recommended.
The Fated Sky
1/19/19; 7:30pm CST - Galen
The second novel in Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut series is The Fated Sky, continuing the adventures of Elma York in an alternate history space expedition to Mars. An optimistic story reminiscent of the Golden Age, with a modern sensibility. Highly recommended.
1/17/19;11:30am CST - Galen
A. E. van Vogt's Slan won a Retro Hugo in 2016, 75 years after it would have been eligible if Hugos had been established then. It is not good, not recommended, an example that at least some of the Golden Age classics show considerable tarnish. I'm not featuring it in the promotional banner above since it doesn't deserve the extra exposure.
Lord of Light
1/14/19; 7:45pm CST - Galen
Roger Zelazny won his second Hugo for 1967's Lord of Light. Humans pretending to be Hindu gods on an alien planet. An interesting literary experiment, but not completely successful. YMMV.
Snow White Learns Witchcraft
1/5/19; 7:25pm CST - Galen
Theodora Goss, whose novels of the Athena Club I've really loved, now has a story and poem collection coming out next month. I was lucky to get an advance copy, and I can recommend Snow White Learns Witchcraft for anyone who loves fairy tales.
1/3/19; 4:00pm CST - Galen
Bloodleaf is the debut novel from Crystal Smith. It's a YA epic fantasy, of which I acknowledge I'm not in the target demo. As impossible as it was, I tried to read it from the perspective of a younger reader. The protagonist is a 17-year-old woman, flawed but admirable, who could be successful if she trusts herself and those who depend on her.
Happy 2019 + A Look Back
1/1/19; 10:45am CST - Galen
May your New Year be better in every way! I'm not setting any reading goals this year, other than hoping I can make a dent in my enormous TBR pile + I have quite a few ARCs waiting, so I need to be sure I review them in a timely manner. The book I'm currently reading is a paperback ARC I got directly from the author. It might be a couple of days before I finish it. As far as 2018, I was able to continue my rising book review count, 80 titles, an increase of 24 over 2017. Also 5 movies and 3 TV shows, with plans for many more this year, but again no promises. Didn't review any comics last year, although I have quite a few I need to get to. One of these days. All of last year's updates have been moved them to the Archives page.
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