The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl
9/1/19; 6:10pm CDT - Galen
I received an ARC of the third book in Theodora Goss' Athena Club series. The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl will be published in one month. I have to rate this one lower than the previous two. It has as much exciting plot, as much explosive action, but the camaraderie of the women is weaker, thus the strengths of the feminist message is diminished. I still recommend the series as a whole.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
8/28/19; 6:50pm CDT - Galen
After many readings, my opinion of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has NOT changed. It's still my favorite Heinlein novel, which means it's among my favorite books of all time.
Stranger in a Strange Land
8/25/19; 6:50pm CDT - Galen
After many readings, my opinion of Stranger in a Strange Land has changed somewhat. It's not as good as I once thought, but that doesn't mean I don't still like quite a bit about it.
Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight
8/22/19; 3:20pm CDT - Galen
Stories from the Xuya Universe dominate Aliette de Bodard's first major story collection, Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight. Two stories are from her Dominion of the Fallen series. I'd rate individual stories from good, to very good, to excellent, and I gave the collection 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
2019 Hugo Awards
8/18/19; 6:45pm CDT - Galen
The Hugos were announced today in Dublin, and I just finished updating relevant pages, Hugo/Nebula Awards, Books at Amazon, Novel Winners, Dual Award Winners, and the review page that features the latest to accomplish that feat, The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Artificial Condition, Murderbot #2
8/16/19; 2:35pm CDT - Galen
Another Hugo finalist for Best Novella, Martha Wells' Artificial Condition has already won a Locus Award, and was a Nebula finalist. It is the second in a series with the collective title of The Murderbot Diaries. I liked it, maybe not as much as the first, but I'm still interested in continuing the series.
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
8/14/19; 1:45pm CDT - Galen
Kelly Robson's Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is a finalist for a Hugo as Best Novella. I didn't vote this year, and even if I had this would not have been my #1 pick, but it still gets a positive recommendation.
Gideon the Ninth
8/11/19; 12:30pm CDT - Galen
Tamsyn Muir's debut novel, Gideon the Ninth, publishes in one month. It's been getting a lot of positive buzz, but I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped, and I can't recommend it. YMMV.
The Xuya Universe Novellas
8/4/19; 2:40pm CDT - Galen
Aliette de Bodard has been writing stories in her Xuya Universe since 2007. They are up for a Hugo this year for Best Series, and the latest is up for a Hugo on its own after winning a Nebula earlier this year. I will continue with this series one of these days, but for now I take a look at three of the Novellas.
Predators and Other Stories
7/30/19; 6:10pm CDT - Galen
The six stories in Ed Bryant's Predators and Other Stories had previously appeared in another anthology which included stories by others. ReAnimus released it in 2014. I'd give it an overall grade of three out of five stars, even though some of the individual stories would be worth more.
7/29/19; 6:10pm CDT - Galen
Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge won Hugo and Locus awards, and was also a Nebula finalist. In it, he began the consolidation of his various fictional sequences into a unified whole. It starts slow but improves throughout. Several intriguing puzzles, and better characterizations than usual for him. I could have done without the misogyny though.
7/24/19; 4:55pm CDT - Galen
Rainbows End won Vernor Vinge his fifth Hugo award in 2007. It's the only Hugo or Award nominated novel from that year I've read, so I can't say how it compares, but I didn't like it, and I don't recommend it.
7/18/19; 12:20pm CDT - Galen
Rob Hart's The Warehouse is about a future internet based company called Cloud, best described as Amazon on steroids. I can't criticize it too harshly, but neither am I giving it a recommendation. Readable, but not memorable.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two?
7/15/19; 4:55pm CDT - Galen
The answer to that question is no, I don't dream of Terra-Two, and I won't be thinking much about it after posting this review either. Not recommended.
The Dragon Republic
7/10/19; 12:45pm CDT - Galen
The Dragon Republic is a sequel to R. F. Kuang's first novel, The Poppy War, my favorite from last year. I've added comments on that previous page. Do not assume the time it took me to read reflects badly on the book. It's not a light read, it's both brutal and depressing, so I had to take it in short segments. I might not like it as much as the first one, but it's still very good.
6/30/19; 5:40pm CDT - Galen
This may have been the third time for me to read Frank Herbert's Dune, maybe the fourth. Not sure why it hasn't been more than that. A monumental achievement, one of the best novels of any genre.
Gods of Jade and Shadow
6/24/19; 3:30pm CDT - Galen
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's fourth novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow, will be published next month, but I got an e-ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. It's about Mayan gods in Jazz Age Mexico. Silvia remains one of my favorite current authors, she hasn't disappointed me yet.
Speaker for the Dead
6/20/19; 3:15pm CDT - Galen
Orson Scott Card accomplished something no one else has done, winning both the Hugo and Nebula two years in a row. The second time was for Speaker for the Dead.
6/13/19; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
I almost didn't bother reviewing this. Edward Bryant's Wyoming Sun is another short collection, just five stories. Trouble is, three of them, the best three, were repeats from a previously reviewed title, which I recommend over this one.
The Philosopher's War
6/12/19; 7:20pm CDT - Galen
The second book in Tom Miller's series about flying alchemists is The Philosopher's War. I'd rate it a bit below the first book, but only because of my typical aversion to stories of war, of man's inhumanity to man. It's still very well written and exciting.
6/9/19; 7:10pm CDT - Galen
Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue was originally published in 1984. A new edition comes out next month, and I got an ARC of it from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. It has multiple interesting elements, but none are developed completely, but it is just the first book in a trilogy. Not sure if I'll read the other two, but if I do I doubt it will be soon.
This Is How You Lose the Time War
6/4/19; 4:25pm CDT - Galen
This Is How You Lose the Time War is a novella (I think), a collaboration by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Two rival time travel agents begin a secretive correspondence, which leads to sympathetic feelings towards the other, perhaps even love. Beautiful, lyrical, prose as poetry. Highly recommended.
6/3/19; 2:10pm CDT - Galen
Rory Power's debut novel, Wilder Girls, might be considered Young Adult, but there's plenty of adult content. The actions of several of the characters, the gruesome descriptions of their physical changes, and their psychological state could be traumatic for some readers. It's still recommended.
Null Set, Cas Russell #2
6/2/19; 2:55pm CDT - Galen
S. L. Huang's Cas Russell series continues with Null Set. Similar levels of action and intrigue, but too much repetition of action and dialog, with nary a resolution at the end. I'll still be on the lookout for the third book.
5/31/19; 1:10pm CDT - Galen
Ending the month with a look at another story collection by Edward Bryant. Neon Twilight is just two short stories and one novelette, all of the space opera variety, plus a quirky introduction by the author. Not great, but not a waste of time either. The first and third stories are best.
The Uplift War
5/31/19; 10:40am CDT - Galen
The Uplift War won Hugo, Locus, and Seiun awards, and was also a Nebula and Prometheus finalist. It is the best of the original trilogy, but still frustrating, since the mystery of Streaker's discoveries has yet to be revealed.
Startide Rising, Uplift #2
5/26/19; 3:20pm CDT - Galen
David Brin won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for Startide Rising, the second book in the original Uplift trilogy. It's much better than the first, well deserving of its awards, but there are a few weaknesses.
5/21/19; 1:30pm CDT - Galen
Megan E. O'Keef'e Velocity Weapon is the first book in a proposed series with the collective title of The Protectorate. A twisty, fast-paced plot, with several interesting characters, including a traumatized AI spaceship. Recommended.
Sundiver, Uplift #1
5/18/19; 2:30pm CDT - Galen
Sundiver was David Brin's first novel, as well as the first book in the original Uplift Trilogy. Some good concepts, but also quite a few plot elements not fully developed. I'll follow up with thoughts on the second book soon, but another ARC will come first.
5/14/19; 4:45pm CDT - Galen
Thanks again to Edelweiss for an ARC of Cadwell Turnbull's debut novel, The Lesson, an alien invasion story from a unique perspective. Recommended.
5/10/19; 12:40pm CDT - Galen
Another Edelweiss ARC, this time a short story collection by Brian Evenson. Song for the Unraveling of the World includes 22 stories, ranging from fantasy to science fiction, from horror to existential dread, even a few set in the mundane world. Recommended, but with this reservation. As individual stories they are mostly very good, but taken as a whole there's too much repetition of themes, not enough uniqueness.
5/7/19; 12:40pm CDT - Galen
This time the ARC came from Net Galley. Karen Lord's fourth novel, Unraveling, will be released June 4. The blurb at Amazon says it's a stand-alone fantasy, but it could also be considered a sequel to her first book, Redemption in Indigo, which I reviewed last year. I was confused through most of the book, but that says more about possibly missing clues or not being able to read between the lines. I think I know the answer to the riddle, but may be mistaken. A re-read is in order, but that will have to wait for later. Recommended.
The Great Eastern
5/4/19; 9:00pm CDT - Galen
I got an e-book ARC of Howard Rodman's first novel The Great Eastern from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. It is an alternate history, as well as a mash-up of real life people and events with fictional characters from other books. Starts slow, but builds in excitement, but with an anachronistic style that might not suit some readers. I liked it.
5/1/19; 1:55pm CDT - Galen
Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver is a finalist for both Nebula and Hugo awards. It's very good, as much for the human drama as it is for the magic. Recommended.
The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria
4/29/19; 4:45pm CDT - Galen
The first story collection from Carlos Hernandez, The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria, is a remarkable mix of fantasy and science fiction, with one story not really either. Very good, and recommended.
The Baku by Edward Bryant
4/26/19; 4:25pm CDT - Galen
The Baku is another story collection from Edward Bryant. Three short stories and one television script, all of which are very good, but also depressing. You'd know that without reading if only you were aware some editions of the book have a subtitle, "Tales of the Nuclear Age."
4/26/19; 4:25pm CDT - Galen
A short, mostly positive review of Captain Marvel, which I finally got around to seeing yesterday. I will want to see it again, maybe even in theaters, since her appearance in Avengers: Endgame will likely boost ticket sales for a few more weeks.
Storm of Locusts
4/23/19; 7:25pm CDT - Galen
Rebecca Roanhorse's Sixth World series continues in Storm of Locusts. Just as exciting and action-packed as the first book, with some returning characters plus new faces, and new perils. Highly recommended.
4/22/19; 9:10pm CDT - Galen
Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City is a finalist for the 2018 Nebula. It's unique, quite unlike anything I've read before. Strong worldbuilding, intriguing premise and characters, totally unpredictable. Recommended.
The Diamond Age
4/21/19; 6:50pm CDT - Galen
Neal Stephenson's Hugo award winner, The Diamond Age, is a complex novel, part cyberpunk, part steampunk, with many other social and literary references. Maybe not completely successful in developing all its various parts, but still a remarkable book. Recommended.
The Gods Themselves
4/14/19; 7:20pm CDT - Galen
Some may still consider Asimov to be one of the SF gods, but even The Gods Themselves has to be viewed in modern context, which sometimes proves some "classics" don't stand the test of time.
Gather the Fortunes, Crescent City #2
4/10/19; 6:35pm CDT - Galen
I debated whether to create a new page for this or combine it with a previous review. I decided on the latter, so Bryan Camp's first two novels are now reviewed as the Crescent City series.
Breach, Analog #3
4/3/19; 6:35pm CDT - Galen
Breach is the third, and I assume final book in Eliot Peper's Analog series. Not as good as the two previous books, although I do like the situation at the end, just less so for the actions that bring us to that point. I still recommend the whole trilogy.
A Memory Called Empire
3/30/19; 3:30pm CDT - Galen
Another excellent debut novel, my favorite of anything I've read so far this year, new or old. Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire is the first in a new series, with the collective title of Teixcalaan, which is the interstellar empire at the heart of the story. Highly recommended.
Tiamat's Wrath, Expanse Book #8
3/27/19; 5:50pm CDT - Galen
Tiamat's Wrath is the eighth novel in the Expanse book series by James S. A. Corey. Just as action-packed as all the others, lots of shocks and surprises, but also plenty of strong character moments. Hard to believe they'll be able to wrap up the story in just one more book, but I'm ready for it no matter how long the wait.
Sooner Or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea
3/24/19; 8:05pm CDT - Galen
Sarah Pinsker has only been publishing stories for a little more than six years, and yet has racked up an impressive number of award nominations, with wins for Nebula and Sturgeon awards. Her first collection, Sooner Or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea, is highly recommended.
The Weight of Our Sky
3/21/19; 1:55pm CDT - Galen
A very impressive debut novel, and contender for best new book I've read this year. Hanna Alkaf's The Weight of Our Sky is set in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, during the riots known as the 13 May Incident. The first-person narrator is 16-year-old Melati Ahmad, separated from her mother, and also tormented by a Djinn. Highly recommended.
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 should still be regarded a genre classic.
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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