9/27/18; 3:30pm CDT - Galen
Burning Sky is the start of a new series by Weston Ochse. It is like some of his other books, focusing on a military unit, but instead of a science fiction or horror setting, this one is more mystical in nature. It is also very good. Recommended.
The Black God's Drums
9/25/18; 1:30pm CDT - Galen
P. Djèlí Clark's The Black God's Drums is an exciting adventure, an alt-history/steampunk tale, with magic based on the gods of orisha. It's a novella, but with lots of action and exposition packed into that short frame. Definitely recommended.
9/23/18; 3:20pm CDT - Galen
In spite of information you can find elsewhere, Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace is not a sequel to the earlier Forever War. It does share some thematic elements, but it doesn't follow the same characters or events, nor is it set in the same fictional timeline. However, it is like the earlier book in that it is very good. Both are well deserving of their many awards and accolades, and both are highly recommended.
State Tectonics, Centenal Cycle #3
9/13/18; 9:20am CDT - Galen
State Tectonics is the third novel in Malka Older's Centenal Cycle. It is said to conclude the series, but really its ending is just a new beginning. Even if she never returns to this story I'll be thinking about the possibilities for a long time.
Cloak & Dagger
9/10/18; 3:15pm CDT - Galen
The 10 episode first season of Cloak & Dagger premiered on FreeForm in June, but I watched it on Hulu. It's still available there, although maybe not for long, but you might catch it on FreeForm's website, or buy it from AmazonVideo. Links in review. It's recommended.
Children of Blood and Bone
8/30/18; 7:05pm CDT - Galen
As far as I can tell, Children of Blood and Bone is Tomi Adeyemi's first professionally published work, although she wrote her first story at the age of 5, and there was at least one other novel before this which never sold. It's a young adult title, set in a fictitious African nation patterned after Nigeria. It's also the first book in a proposed trilogy, with a collective title of Legacy of Orïsha, based on dieties worshipped in Nigeria and other West African lands, as well as several Latin American countries. The fact I used orisha in the page's URL does not mean I will be reading the follow-up books. Maybe, maybe not. If I do, then I won't have to change it later.
Borderless, Analog #2
8/28/18; 5:35pm CDT - Galen
Borderless is the second title in Eliot Peper's Analog series. I reviewed the first, Bandwidth, earlier this year. I haven't yet deleted that page, but decided to combine the titles on another. If you haven't read that review, just scroll to the top on the new page. A third title is in the editing phase now, one I will definitely be reading as soon as it's available.
Zero Sum Game, Cas Russell #1
8/26/18; 6:05pm CDT - Galen
Zero Sum Game is not a new book, but it is getting a new edited version. S. L. Huang originally self-published in 2014, but Tor Books bought the rights to it and its sequels. It will be out in hardcover and e-book on October 28. I recommend it.
Rock Manning Goes For Broke
8/24/18; 6:45pm CDT - Galen
Individual parts of this had been previously published, but Charlie Jane Anders' novella, Rock Manning Goes For Broke, was all new to me. It's an incredibly fast paced, stream of consciouness style of narrative, with tragedy and heartache, but also laughter in the midst of the pain. It will be out in a special edition hardcover from Subterranean Press on September 30, but I got an advance e-book from Net Galley. I hope there's a less expensive version out later, either e-book or paperback, because I'd like many others to have the chance to read it.
A Curious Matter Of Men With Wings
8/24/18; 3:55pm CDT - Galen
I received a free e-book of A Curious Matter Of Men With Wings by F. Rutledge Hammes, from Edelweiss this time. A few minor flaws, but it is his first solo novel. Surprisingly good.
8/21/18; 4:40pm CDT - Galen
Ellen Klages' Passing Strange was a finalist for Nebula, Locus, and Mythopoeic awards, and is still in contention for both British Fantasy and World Fantasy awards. I'd be hard pressed to name a love story as beautifully told. Highly recommended.
Embers of War
8/19/18; 4:30pm CDT - Galen
Gareth L. Powell's Embers of War is yet another beginning to a trilogy (at least). It's ambitious, with some intriguing elements, but it didn't quite hook me into being anxious for a continuation. Maybe, maybe not, depending how subsequent books are received by other reviewers and readers.
8/15/18; 9:20pm CDT - Galen
Irontown Blues is a book John Varley mentioned well over twenty years ago. Since he's one of my favorite writers, and it's an addition to the Eight Worlds sequence, I had been anxiously awaiting it. Unfortunately, even though it's not a waste of time, it did not meet my expectations.
The Apple-Tree Throne
8/15/18; 9:15pm CDT - Galen
Premee Mohamed's The Apple-Tree Throne is a novella, self-published and only available for Kindle or Kobo e-readers at this time. It's short, inexpensive, and recommended.
8/13/18; 5:15pm CDT - Galen
Lara Elena Donnelly's debut novel, Amberlough, was a finalist for this year's Nebula, although it is neither science fiction or fantasy, not even steampunk. It is set in a fictional world reminiscent of the Weimar Republic of the early 1930s. Well written, sparkling dialogue, a few interesting characters, with some parallels to current events, but ultimately unsatisfying. It's the first of a trilogy, but I doubt I'll continue with the series.
The Stars My Destination
8/10/18; 7:15pm CDT - Galen
As with the previous book review, Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination is an example of something nearly extinct in modern SF; a short, stand-alone novel. In many ways it was a pioneering work, with many elements that pre-date cyberpunk. Unfortunately, it also has some problematic elements, primarily the way the women are depicted. That's my only reservation, otherwise it's a very good book.
The Forever War
8/8/18; 4:00pm CDT - Galen
Joe Haldeman won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Ditmar awards for his first SF novel, 1974's The Forever War. Still a remarkable book. Many authors can't accomplish in a trilogy what Haldeman did in a little more than 200 pages.
The Descent of Monsters - Tensorate #3
8/5/18; 5:30pm CDT - Galen
The Descent of Monsters is the third part of JY Yang's Tensorate series. It's shorter than the previous two, but the author says it's also a novella. It's a quick read and in a different style as the others, and it raised a few questions about things I might have forgotten about the earlier stories. After finishing, I went back and re-read all of them again. All are recommended, but the second one is still my favorite. I made minor edits to the previous sections of the review, so if interested just scroll up to the top of that page.
8/1/18; 5:00pm CDT - Galen
It's difficult writing about a book I'd hoped to like a lot, which many others obviously did, since Fonda Lee's Jade City has received multiple award nominations. I can't say I'm sorry I read it, but it didn't wow me, and I doubt I'll continue with what is yet another multi-volume series.
7/17/18; 1:00pm CDT - Galen
Robert Jackson Bennett begins a new fantasy trilogy with Foundryside. Recommended, but with minor caveats.
7/12/18; 2:50pm CDT - Galen
The book, not the movie. Some may wonder why I like Heinlein so much, considering my own personal and political opinions. I doubt our thoughts clashed more than in his second Hugo-winner, Starship Troopers. I'm not sure if I was successful in explaining why I still like it.
7/10/18; 5:25pm CDT - Galen
It's been almost two years since I reviewed the first novella in this series by Seanan McGuire, even before it won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. I should have known there would be sequels, since she has multiple ongoing fantasy and science fiction series, including under her alternate pseudonym Mira Grant. There's already a third title, which I don't have yet, and a fourth announced for next January. I haven't deleted the previous review yet, but decided to combine the titles into one page. I did re-read the first, Every Heart a Doorway, and made some edits to my comments, and then continued with the second title, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, on a page using the collective name of Wayward Children.
The Defeat of the 12 Monkeys
7/7/18; 6:00pm CDT - Galen
Syfy's 12 Monkeys concluded this past Friday night. While not perfect, I still regard it as one of the best shows for this century at least. New comments for Season 4 include quite a few spoilers, but they're clearly marked as such and easily skipped. I made minor edits to the other sections, so scroll up on that page to see all of my comments even if you read that before.
7/7/18; 2:30pm CDT - Galen
Mur Lafferty's Six Wakes was a finalist for Nebula and PKD awards, winning neither. It is also up for a Hugo. It would not have been one of my nominations if I had read it before that deadline, and if voting it would be no higher than #4 (out of 6) on my ballot.
The Expanse, Season 3
7/2/18; 10:05pm CDT - Galen
Now that SeasonThree of Syfy's The Expanse is done, I have a few, hopefully non-spoilery, comments about it.
Trail of Lightning, The Sixth World Book 1
6/29/18; 1:05pm CDT - Galen
An intense and thrilling post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy/horror hybrid, Trail of Lightning is the debut novel from Rebecca Roanhorse. It is recommended, and I know I'll want to read the further adventures, so I've given the page the collective name for the series, The Sixth World.
The Collapsing Empire
6/27/18; 6:15pm CDT - Galen
John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire recently won a Locus award, and is also a Hugo finalist. I'm not voting this year but still wanted to sample all the novels. If I was voting, this would be at the bottom of my ballot, maybe even below No Award. YMMV.
6/25/18; 8:00pm CDT - Galen
Ann Leckie's Provenance is set within the same fictional universe as her Imperial Radch trilogy, although it is not a direct sequel. It introduces new characters, new planets, new settings, and it is not necessary to have read the trilogy to understand it. I'd still recommend the trilogy over this, or at least Ancillary Justice, one of the best books of this decade at least. This one...not so much, even though it's up for a Hugo.
The Stone Sky, Broken Earth #3
6/21/18; 2:30pm CDT - Galen
The conclusion of N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, The Stone Sky, answers all my questions satisfactorily, including whether or not to consider it science fiction or fantasy. It's Science Fantasy. And very good, recommended, although still not my absolute favorites from the past few years.
6/13/18; 2:25pm CDT - Galen
Rachel Heng's debut novel is Suicide Club. It has an interesting premise, and it is unpredictable, but that's mainly because the plot development and world-building are inconsistent, and characters don't act logically a lot of the time.
Time Loop Back to 12 Monkeys
6/11/18; 3:20pm CDT - Galen
I've updated the page for Syfy's 12 Monkeys with thoughts on Season 3. I've made a few edits to the previous portions of the review as well.
The Moon and the Sun
6/10/18; 5:40pm CDT - Galen
Vonda McIntyre's Nebula winner from 1997, The Moon and the Sun, is another I didn't like as much as I'd hoped.
Sense8 - Updated
6/9/18; 5:30pm CDT - Galen
With the 2½ hour Sense8 finale dropping June 8 on Netflix, I've rewatched the previous 23 episodes and started a page on why I love the show. I'll update soon. I'm of two minds on that; anxious to see it, but not anxious for it to be over.
EDIT: Now updated with my thoughts on the finale.
More 12 Monkeys
6/3/18; 5:50pm CDT - Galen
I've updated my review of the Syfy series 12 Monkeys with a few comments about Season 2. More to follow soon.
5/31/18; 3:55pm CDT - Galen
This was my first time reading Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake, which won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards in 1979. I liked it, but not as much as I had hoped. My tastes have changed over the years, no idea what my reaction would have been back then, and I wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from reading it now.
Revenant Gun, The Machineries of Empire #3
5/25/18; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
At least the author was consistent. Revenant Gun was just as confusing and frustrating as the first two books in the series.
Syfy's 12 Monkeys
5/22/18; 9:50pm CDT - Galen
Long time coming for this review. The fourth and final season of Syfy's 12 Monkeys is approaching (June 15) and I've been rewatching the earlier episodes on Hulu. I've finished with Season 1, and for the most part I've kept my comments limited to that, but I will add to the page as I continue with the series.
Raven Stratagem, The Machineries of Empire #2
5/17/18; 12:45pm CDT - Galen
Raven Stratagem, the second book in Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire series, is up for a Hugo this year. Maybe a bit less confusing than the first, but disappointing since it was mainly a set-up for the conclusion, due out next month.
Ninefox Gambit, the Machineries of Empire #1
5/9/18; 10:35pm CDT - Galen
I read Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit last year since it was nominated for a Hugo. It didn't win, and I didn't review it then because it was so confusing I felt a re-read was necessary. I've done that, and will also read the second book in the series next, since it's up for a Hugo this year. I'm still confused, but still looking forward to more.
Bruja Born, Brooklyn Brujas #2
5/4/18; 7:40pm CDT - Galen
Bruja Born is the second book in Zoraida Córdova's Brooklyn Brujas series. It's just as good with plot and character development, opening up the story to reveal lots more magical/supernatural activities going on around New York. Recommended.
Taty Went West
4/29/18; 8:50pm CDT - Galen
I got Nikhil Singh's Taty Went West from Net Galley. It is the first book I've reviewed without finishing. It's a crazy kaleidoscope of weird imagery and even weirder characters, but it was difficult connecting with it. There were parts I liked, others were frustrating and confusing, and I can't recommend it at this time. I might finish it one of these days, but I have too many other books waiting.
4/21/18; 4:50pm CDT - Galen
Eliot Peper's Bandwidth is the first of a series under the collective title of Analog, with another book due in October. It seems to be set in the same world as his previous Cumulus, since that company gets a very brief mention, but it's many years later. Tech has advanced quite a bit from the earlier book, and climate change has also wreaked havoc on the world. The main character has had a hand in that, but slowly but surely he develops a conscience that leads him in another direction.
The Poppy War
4/17/18; 9:15pm CDT - Galen
R. F. (Rebecca) Kuang's debut novel, The Poppy War, is the best new book I've read this year. It's complex and unpredictable, frequently unpleasant, with characters you can love and hate at the same time. Highly recommended.
4/15/18; 11:05am CDT - Galen
Sylvain Neuvel's Themis Files comes to a satisfactory conclusion with Only Human. That link takes you to the new comments. If you haven't read the previous parts of the review, just scroll up to the top of that page.
The Terminal Experiment
4/13/18; 1:15pm CDT - Galen
I needed to read and review Robert Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment as part of my project of covering all past award winners. It won the Nebula for 1995, and was nominated for a Hugo and others. Unfortunately, I can't recommend it.
I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land
4/10/18; 1:45pm CDT - Galen
I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land is a novella by Connie Willis. When I requested it from Net Galley I only knew it was by her, but thought it was a novel. I wasn't aware it had already appeared in Asimov's late last year, which I found out when I borrowed those from my brother-in-law to read for Hugo consideration. I thought maybe the e-book, a promotion for an special edition hardcover, would be an expanded version of the story, but it's not, or at least the e-book wasn't. It's okay, but I don't recommend it, certainly not for the $40 Subterranean Press will be asking.
4/9/18; 1:15pm CDT - Galen
Emma Newman's Before Mars is the third novel in a future history sequence, although each can be read and enjoyed as individual stories. In spite of some heavy-handed expostion toward the end, I liked this just as much as the other two. Ms. Newman is good at creating characters you can care about even if they aren't the most noble and sympathetic.
The City of Lost Fortunes
4/7/18; 3:30pm CDT - Galen
Bryan Camp's debut novel, The City of Lost Fortunes, is a magical journey through a magical city, New Orleans. Set six years after Katrina, neither the city or its people, not even the demigods that control its fortunes, have fully recovered from the devastating storm.
4/4/18; 1:15pm CDT - Galen
Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction is a collection of twelve stories from around the world, a collaboration of editors Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing in the US and Francesco Verso of Italty's Future Fiction. One story is fantasy, the others SF concerning tech innovations, in both positive and negative situations. Very good mix of styles. Recommended.
No Enemy But Time
3/27/18; 9:20pm CDT - Galen
Michael Bishop won a Nebula for 1982's No Enemy But Time, a thoughtful, introspective look at a man who doesn't feel at home in the modern world. Maybe he actually belongs in Pleistocene era Africa, which he is able to visit as participant in a time-travel experiment. Highly recommended.
School For Psychics
3/22/18; 12:00pm CDT - Galen
I'm not putting this in the banner image above because it doesn't deserve the extra exposure. The title alone should have been warning enough. School For Psychics is another title I got free from Net Galley, but one offered in an email rather than me seeking it out. The only reason I finished it was I feel obligated for any I download from them, in order not to lose free e-book privileges in the future. Reviewed, but not recommended.
3/20/18; 8:25pm CDT - Galen
I got a free e-book of Julia Whicker's Wonderblood from Net Galley. It is a dark, post-apocalyptic dystopia, the beginning of yet another multi-book saga. I doubt I'll be interested in continuing the journey in later books. YMMV.
Under the Pendulum Sun
3/16/18; 8:00pm CDT - Galen
Jeannette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun is a remarkable debut. Quite different than I expected, more subtle in approach, as much a gothic romance as it is high fantasy, although there are plenty of fantastical elements. Tonight is the deadline for Hugo nominations, and I'll probably be struggling up to the last minute whether this one should bump one of the other five, very strong titles that were already on my list. It's that good. Highly recommended, and I don't even mind it's the first of a series, although no word yet on a second title. I'm anxious to travel to Arcadia again, very soon.
Brown Girl in the Ring
3/12/18; 1:00pm CDT - Galen
Nalo Hopkinson's debut novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, received a Locus Award for Best 1st Novel, and she also was awarded the John W. Campbell for Best New Writer in 1999. Both were well deserved.
2/23/18; 2:00pm CST - Galen
Annihilation is Alex Garland's adaptation of the first novel in Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. I loved the books, love the movie, even with its changes. Highly recommended.
The Tensorate Series by JY Yang
2/18/18; 9:25pm CST - Galen
The Tensorate Series is, so far, two novellas released on the same day last year. Both are good, the author seeming to think the first is better, but I liked the second more, if only just a little bit. I suspect one or the other, if not both, with get a lot of Hugo nominations. There is already at least one more story in the sequence planned, to be released in July, but I suspect there will be several others. I hope so.
2/16/18; 1:55pm CST - Galen
I saw Black Panther in an advance screening last night. It's great, recommended.
2/5/18; 5:45pm CST - Galen
Roger Zelazny won his first of two Hugos for This Immortal, originally serialized in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the title "...And Call Me Conrad." It actually tied with Dune, which is a much better book.
The Philosopher's Flight
2/2/18; 7:50pm CST - Galen
The Philosopher's Flight is the debut novel from Tom Miller. It's a flight of fancy, an alt-history story with a magical touch. Highly recommended.
Blood Binds the Pack
1/29/18; 8:00pm CST - Galen
Blood Binds the Pack is a sequel to Alex Wells' Hunger Makes the Wolf so I've continued on that same page. If you haven't read the review of Hunger just scroll up to the top of that page. I think there will be at least one more book in the sequence, but it has not been announced yet.
The Only Harmless Great Thing
1/24/18; 6:25pm CST - Galen
The Only Harmless Great Thing is a novella by Brooke Bolander. It's well written, but emotionally devastating. I rate it highly in a literary sense, but it's difficult to know if I should recommend it. It may be too intense for some readers.
The Best of All Possible Worlds
1/23/18; 7:15pm CST - Galen
The Best of All Possible Worlds is Karen Lord's second novel. Quite different than her first, this is science fiction on a grand scale, highly sociological and psychological in nature. It's also a love story, although very different in that regard too. Recommended.
The Shape of Water
1/21/18; 1:50pm CST - Galen
Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water is good, while not up to the masterpiece level of Pan's Labyrinth, but still recommended. The performances of Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins outshine some of the cliche elements.
The Night Masquerade
1/17/18; 8:10pm CST - Galen
Nnedi Okorafor says The Night Masquerade completes the Binti trilogy, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes she changes her mind one of these days.
Redemption in Indigo
1/15/18; 10:30pm CST - Galen
Karen Lord's debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, is at least partially a retelling of a Senagalese folktale, although it may also have influences from her native Barbados. It's an excellent book, and it would be so simple just to quote another review, from Booklist: "One of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed."
A Time of Changes
1/14/18; 7:00pm CST - Galen
Robert Silverberg's A Time of Changes won the Nebula Award for 1971. It is good, full of interesting characters and intricate world-building, but it does have a few flaws. Comparing it to other books nominated that year, including for the Hugo, I'd say it might have received my #3 vote.
1/10/18; 9:00pm CST - Galen
Shadowhouse Fall is a continuation of Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper Cypher. Still good, still exciting, still recommended.
1/1/18; 2:00pm CST - Galen
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has already become one of my current favorites, and she continues to fascinate with her novella, Prime Meridian, which she self-published via an Indiegogo campaign. It's copyright 2017 and eligible for current award consideration, but won't be in general release until July 10. I recommend you pre-order.
Happy New Year + 2017 in review
1/1/18; 1:45pm CST - Galen
I hope everyone's new year is starting off great. I'm trying to maintain a postive outlook for the future, but I want to also recognize what went on last year, the most productive year for the site so far. I read more than ever before, a total of sixty-two individual titles, although three of those were re-reads before going on to their sequels, and three non-SF titles I did not review. Also, five movie reivews, three for TV, and three pages on graphic novels covering six titles. Can I do even more this year?
All of 2017's updates have been moved to the Archives, and my first new review will be added shortly.
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