Like on Facebook

"About the best bio you'll find of [Poul Anderson] is at The Templeton Gate. Galen Strickland, the webmaster of Templeton Gate, is in the process of building a useful, critical site." - James Patrick Kelly, On the Net: Mastery,, Issue 0511

A Tunnel in the Sky

Dedicated to the memory of my friend
David Wallingsford

Follow @templetongate on Twitter

This site is an affiliate partner of Amazon, Bookshop, and ReAnimusPress. Qualifying purchases through our links may earn us a commission. Here are a few recently reviewed books, films, and TV to choose from. Click on the title to read the review and the affiliate links for purchase. Links for video titles and ReAnimus books are on the image.

Dune, Part 1 (2021)
On DVD & Blu-Ray

Last and First Men
Streaming on
Thru Jan 31

by Gene Wolfe

The Expanse
Season 6
on Amazon Prime

by Nicola Griffith

Featured title from

Among the Dead
by Edward Bryant

-Site Search

Posted by Galen
January 22, 2022
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.


Operation ARES
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.


2021 Hugo Award Winners
12/18/21; 10:15pm CST
Winners of the 2021 Hugo Awards have just been announced at DisConIII. Click here for the major categories.


12/18/21; 1:15pm CST
Nicola Griffith's Ammonite is one of the best debut novels I've ever read. While it is reminiscent of Le Guin in both style and content, it is still uniquely its own. Highly recommended.


Last and First Men, the film
12/12/21; 5:45pm CST
A film most people wouldn't sit still for, based on a book very few people would read. Olaf Stapledon's books, even while fiction, were more philosophical treatises rather than narrative novels. The director of the film adaptation of Last and First Men wisely chose to keep it just as esoteric. It is currently streaming for a limited time at Metrograph, a service I discovered just before Halloween. Recommended for those who are willing to try something different.


Two more Neon Hemlock novellas
12/6/21; 3:50pm CST
Back in July I reviewed two novellas I got through a Neon Hemlock Press Kickstarter campaign. Two more were published at the end of October, and I finally got to them. The better of the two is & This Is How To Stay Alive by Shingai Njeri Kagunda. The other is a gothic tale set in 1920s Oregon, The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner, which is better in its prose style than its overall story.


Leviathan Falls
12/3/21; 1:40pm CST
Over the last eleven months I have re-read all of the Expanse novels, novellas, and short stories, in preparation for the "finale" Leviathan Falls. The quotes indicate this is the end of the main story, but there will be another novella next March. There is an epilogue to the novel, set many years after the main action, so I have no idea what to expect from the novella tentatively titled "The Sins of Our Fathers." In spite of a few weak spots, I am satisfied with the conclusion, which in retrospect is exactly what should have been expected.


The Veiled Throne
11/22/21; 6:00pm CST
The third book in Ken Liu's Dandelion Dynasty is The Veiled Throne. A very long book, with lots of good things to recommend it, but also many places where editing would have helped.


A Hole in the World
11/13/21; 4:10pm CST
Weston Ochse's A Hole in the World is another action packed military/supernatural adventure. A previous character recurs, and since this is apparently the start of another series, I gave the page the name of Preacher's Daughter (Saves the World).


Far from the Light of Heaven
11/10/21; 12:00pm CST
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Tade Thompson's latest novel, Far from the Light of Heaven.


Even Greater Mistakes
11/7/21; 5:10pm CST
Even Greater Mistakes is Charlie Jane Anders' second story collection, which includes three that had appeared in her first, very short collection in 2017. A lot of varied themes, but with similarities, with protagonists struggling against almost insurmountable odds in a chaotic world. Recommended.


The Wall of Storms
10/31/21; 3:30pm CDT
The Wall of Storms is the second book in Ken Liu's Dandelion Dynasty series. Longer than the first, it might have been better to split it into two books, if not more. I still think it's slightly better than the first book.


Dune, Part 1 (2021)
10/22/21; 1:10pm CDT
I haven't reviewed a movie in a long time since I haven't been going to theaters for a while, but I did subscribe to HBO-Max, the primary reason being Denis Villenueve's new adaptation of Dune, which will be streaming there for another 30 days. If you feel safe going to theaters, do so. While not perfect (what is?) it's as good as I could have expected.


Natural Consequences
10/18/21; 5:30pm CDT
Originally published in Spanish in 1994, Elia Barceló's Natural Consequences finally gets an English translation. It's marketed as a feminist story, and in some ways it is, in others I'm not sure she accomplished what she intended. I'll leave it to women to judge.


The Annual Migration of Clouds
10/16/21; 4:40pm CDT
Premee Mohamed's new novella, The Annual Migration of Clouds, is another post-apocalyptic tale, but as far as I could tell it's not connected to any of her others that I have read. No alien invasion, no cosmic horror, just the aftermath of climate catastrophe, with the added peril of an invasive parasite.


The Dandelion Dynasty
10/12/21; 3:20pm CDT
It has been over five years since I first read and reviewed Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings. At that time I wasn't sure I wanted to continue the series, but I've changed my mind, although I'm not certain that was the right decision. I'll reserve judgment on that for now. I've re-read it, and created a new page under the banner of the collective name for the series, The Dandelion Dynasty.


Nothing But Blackened Teeth
10/5/21; 5:20pm CDT
Cassandra Khaw's new novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth, is a modern day haunted house story with ancient Japanese roots. As much a character study as a horror story, but it works as both, my only complaint being it's too short.


Destroyer of Light
10/4/21; 5:40pm CDT
Jennifer Marie Brissett's sophomore novel, Destroyer of Light, could be considered a sequel to her first book, but there's enough difference in the way the aliens are described to make it an alternate take, and it's not necessary to have read the earlier book. The first book was set on Earth, this is on another planet the remnants of humanity have fled to. It's complicated and confusing, told in a non-linear fashion, but if you have the patience you'll be rewarded with a powerful story of perseverance and hope.


A Spindle Splintered
9/29/21; 1:15pm CDT
Alix E. Harrow's new novella, A Spindle Splintered, is the first in a series with the collective title Fractured Fables. Slightly predictable, but still enjoyable reworking of Sleeping Beauty. Recommended.


Two Updates
9/21/21; 4:30pm CDT
One new page, a long-delayed return to graphic stories. I haven't yet started watching the new series on Hulu, but finally got around to Book One of Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man. No idea when I might continue with that. The other update is for new information concerning the Tensorate series of novelllas. Today marks the publication of an omnibus edition, but they are also still available on their own, so I needed to change the cover images since the author is now publishing as Neon Yang (formerly JY Yang).


Critical Point
9/19/21; 12:40pm CDT
I finally caught up with the most recent book in S. L. Huang's Cas Russell series, published almost a year and a half ago. Critical Point is another fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled adventure with the specially talented (in more ways than one) 'retrieval' expert, tasked with solving the kidnapping of her sometimes partner, ex-cop Arthur Tresting. Recommended.


Light From Uncommon Stars
9/14/21; 5:55pm CDT
All the various elements in Light From Uncommon Stars might not have worked from another author, but Ryka Aoki pulls them all together in remarkable fashion. A mix of science fiction, fantasy, a bit of horror, combined with ruminations on music, fate, and responsibility to oneself and to others. Highly recommended.


Telescope Guide
9/11/21; 2:15pm CDT
I just added this to the Science section on the Links page, prompted by an email from one of the guys who run If you're interested in astronomy, telescopes, and/or astro-photography, let them guide you though the basics, and beyond.


Black Stars
9/10/21; 3:50pm CDT
Black Stars is a group of six Amazon Original Stories, available only for Kindle at this time. Not an anthology per se, since they are available separately, either free for Prime readers, or 99˘ each for everyone else. They do share a theme though; Black people confronting society, the world, all of space and time, to combat ever-present oppression. They range from good to excellent, and I'm not sure I could pick an overall favorite. Recommended.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia
9/8/21; 6:00pm CDT
Several of Silvia's early books went out of print. Yesterday marked the re-release in paperback of her second novel by Tor. The original imprint no longer exists, even though it was a part of the same corporate structure as Tor, the Macmillan empire. I should have mentioned a similar situation back in April when her third novel was reissued. Because purchase links and cover art have changed, I edited those two pages, as well as all of the other reviews, adding a link to her official website, and to a new page I created, the Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Index of Articles.


No Gods, No Monsters
9/7/21; 1:40pm CDT
Cadwell Turnbull's sophomore novel, No Gods, No Monsters, is the beginning of a new series, so I gave the review page the collective name, the Convergence Saga. Recommended.


The All-Consuming World
8/29/21; 3:55pm CDT
Cassandra Khaw's debut novel, The All-Consuming World, is a fast paced blend of cyberpunk and space opera. Interesting concept, but confusing and unsatisfactory exposition. It's like a high speed auto chase, except it's not firing on all cylinders.


8/22/21; 5:10pm CDT
Jennifer Marie Brissett's debut novel, 2014's Elysium, can be interpreted different ways. It's either a corrupted computer sequence relating events of an alien invasion of Earth, or it could simply be a series of dreams. Either way, it's very good, while still confusing and challenging. Recommended.


Velvet Was The Night
816/21; 1:00pm CDT
Two non-SF book reviews in a row. Silvia Moreno-Garcia's seventh novel, Velvet Was The Night, is a noir mystery based on historical events in early 1970s Mexico City. Interesting, but the execution is lacking, pacing is a problem. Unfortunately I have to say this is my least favorite of Silvia's work I've read, but I will re-read it to see if that opinion changes.


Together We Will Go
812/21; 1:40pm CDT
The third non-SF book review. Other than Babylon 5 and a few other shows and films, I haven't experienced the writings of J. Michael Straczynski until now. He has worked on multiple comics titles, three other novels, and his memoir was a Hugo finalist last year. His latest is Together We Will Go, about a group of people who come together for a cross-country trip, the final destination being suicide. It's not for everyone, will probably hit too hard for some, but it is very, very good.


The Rosewater Redemption
8/8/21; 5:50pm CDT
Tade Thompson's Wormwood Trilogy comes to a satisfactory conclusion in The Rosewater Redemption. I'll be thinking about it a long time, including some scenarios that could happen in this world's future, even though I doubt the author will revisit it. Highly recommended, and that goes for the complete series.


Report From Planet Midnight
8/3/21; 2:40pm CDT
Report From Planet Midnight is a too-short collection from Nalo Hopkinson. Part of PM Press's Outspoken Author series, the non-fiction is even more important than the fiction, just two stories, both of which appeared in a later collection.


Black Water Sister
8/2/21; 1:25pm CDT
Zen Cho's Black Water Sister is set in Penang, Malaysia, and based on common religious customs there. Tense, exciting, informative, with a great lead character, struggling to find her way in the world.


She Who Became the Sun
7/28/21; 12:45pm CDT
Shelley Parker-Chan's debut novel, She Who Became the Sun, is a well-written, exciting historical fantasy, based on the beginnings of the Ming Dynasty, but with a twist beyond the fantasy elements. It's the first in a proposed duology knows as the Radiant Emperor. I liked parts of it, but grew discouraged by all the ruthless machinations by almost everyone, and even those who weren't ruthless went along with those who were.


Two New Novellas
7/23/21; 4:40pm CDT
Two reviews of new novellas today, both from Neon Hemlock Press. Premee Mohamed's And What Can We Offer You Tonight, and E. Catherine Tobler's The Necessity of Stars. Both are recommended.


The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng
7/22/21; 1:40pm CST
The conclusion to the Bitch Queen series, The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng, was a disappointment, but that may have more to do with epic fantasy just not being my thing rather than the quality of the book. As in all things, YMMV.


The Ikessar Falcon
7/15/21; 2:35pm CST
The second book in K. S. Villoso's Chronicles of the Bitch Queen is The Ikessar Falcon. Not as good as the first, but mainly due to issues of pacing and repetitive action. Still good.


Skin Folk
7/9/21; 2:00pm CST
Nalo Hopkinson's first story collection was 2001's Skin Folk. Three of the stories were award finalists on their own, the collection winning the World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst. I would have arranged them in a different order, saving the best for last, but other readers might like some that didn't have as much of an impact on me. Regardless of the order, it's still a powerful collection, highly recommended.


Catalyst Gate
7/5/21; 4:00pm CST
The conclusion of the Protectorate trilogy is Catalyst Gate. Not as good as the second book, but its faults are more about the execution and pacing rather than the plot. The whole series is still highly recommended.


Chaos Vector
6/30/21; 2:10pm CST
The second book in Megan E. O'Keefe's Protectorate trilogy is Chaos Vector. It's twice as good as the first book, one of the best SF adventures I've read in quite a while.


The Return of the Sorceress
6/21/21; 5:40pm CST
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest is The Return of the Sorceress, a sword and sorcery novella. It was announced for June 30, but Subterranean Press shipped early. E-books will be available at the end of the month. Recommended.


A Psalm for the Wild-Built
6/19/21; 2:05pm CST
Becky Chambers starts a new series with the novella "A Psalm for the Wild-Built." The series name is Monk and Robot. I recommend it, and I look forward to more adventures with Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap.


Sister Mine
6/18/21; 12:45pm CST
Nalo Hopkinson's most recent novel, 2013's Sister Mine, won the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Novel, although it has several adult themes. It is very, very good. Highly recommended.


Sibyl Sue Blue
6/12/21; 7:20pm CST
I cannot recommend Rosel George Brown's Sibyl Sue Blue, originally published in 1966, but getting a reprint this year. Her life story is intriguing enough that I may be reading some of her short stories, and if so I may review them too. I have no idea when that might happen though.


Hummingbird Salamander
6/10/21; 1:30pm CST
Jeff VanderMeer's latest novel, Hummingbird Salamander, follows several of his frequent interests, the most prominent being environmental activism. Instead of the hallucinatory nature of the Southern Reach or Dead Astronauts, this is more of an eco-thriller, although it's not straight-forward. The narrator is the quintessence of unreliability, and so is the person who sends her down the rabbit hole.


The Midnight Bargain
5/31/21; 4:45pm CST
C. L. Polk's The Midnight Bargain is up for a Nebula. Unfortunately, I don't think it's worthy of that honor.


The Witness for the Dead
5/29/21; 12:10pm CST
Katherine Addison's The Witness for the Dead is billed as a stand-alone sequel to The Goblin Emperor. I think it can be appreciated by those who haven't read the previous book. I liked it, and can recommend it, whereas my opinion of Goblin is far less positive than the consensus.


5/19/21; 1:00pm CST
Soulstar concludes C. L. Polk's Kingston Cycle. It's another complicated, multi-layered mystery, laced with political chicanery and magic. I'd welcome a return to this world, but all the major issues are resolved. Highly recommended.


The Kingston Cycle
5/16/21; 4:10pm CST
I finally got around to Stormsong, the second book in C. L. Polk's Kingston Cycle. I re-read the first one and made a few minor edits to that review, so the link is for both. The conclusion will be my next read.


The ChaOs
5/12/21; 3:10pm CST
Nalo Hopkinson's fifth novel, The ChaOs, is a lot like a fever dream, or a bad acid trip. As with a lot of dreams, events are interesting while they are happening, but they don't make much sense, and they don't leave a lasting impression.


5/9/21; 5:35pm CST
S. B. Divya's debut novel, Machinehood, is a fast-paced adventure set in a near future transformed by advanced robotics and bio-engineering. The technology is just the icing; as with a lot of the best SF, it's the characters that make the story. Highly recommended.


The Chosen and the Beautiful
5/6/21; 1:40pm CST
In year's past, Nghi Vo's debut novel, The Chosen and the Beautiful, would have been considered fan fiction. But The Great Gatsby is now in the public domain, and this might be just the first of many other writers' take on the characters and themes. I don't care what you think of Fitzgerald's book, this is much, much better.


The New Moon's Arms
4/29/21; 6:10pm CST
I'm not the sort to say all characters have to be sympathetic, but it doesn't help when the main character continually does and says things that are objectionable. She's not completely unredeemable, and I did like a lot of other things about Nalo Hopkinson's The New Moon's Arms.


The Galaxy, and the Ground Within
4/26/21; 3:40pm CST
As many times as I've said I prefer standalone novels, or at least not long series, I am truly sorry that The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is the last of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series. Four books, each unique, with different characters and different settings, but all combine into a comprehensive look at a complex construct of multi-species cooperation (and sometimes conflict). Highly recommended.


We Are Satellites
4/23/21; 5:20pm CST
Sarah Pinsker's second novel, We Are Satellites, is good, but not as good as her first. The concept is not that unique, there are some interesting characters, but too many plot holes and things left unresolved for a book I assume was intended as a standalone.


A Master of Djinn
4/20/21; 2:15pm CST
A Master of Djinn is the first novel from P. Djčlí Clark, a return to his alternate history of Cairo in 1912 that began with the 2016 novelette, "A Dead Djinn in Cairo." A fascinating multi-layered mystery. Highly recommended.


4/16/21; 3:10pm CST
Rivers Solomon's third book, Sorrowland, is a combination of many genres; gothic thriller, horror, fantasy, science fiction, etc, etc. It begins with a fifteen-year-old runaway from a religious cult giving birth to twins in remote woods. After four years alone in those woods Vern decides it's time to venture back into the wider world. Their journey is fraught with peril, pursuit never far behind, but also with occasional allies. One thing this story is NOT is predictable. Recommended.


The Echo Wife
4/4/21; 10:25am CST
Sarah Gailey's The Echo Wife is about more than just the ethics of cloning. Identity and memory, the nature/nurture debate, and psychological and physical abuse perpetrated against both humans and clones. It's good, and I give it a reserved recommendation, in spite of several lapses in logic.


Fugitive Telemetry
3/31/21; 6:30pm CST
Martha Wells returns to novella length for the latest Murderbot adventure, Fugitive Telemetry. Another mystery that taxes Murderbot's considerable talents, but it proves it is a thorough investigator. Recommended.


A Broken Darkness
3/29/21; 4:10pm CST
It seems Premee Mohamed's debut novel, Beneath the Rising, was not a stand-alone after all, but I feel confident the story concludes in its follow-up, A Broken Darkness. If not, a third book should prove as unpredictable as the first two.


Victories Greater Than Death
3/21/21; 4:50pm CST
I'm decades past the target demo for Charlie Jane Anders' new YA space opera, Victories Greater Than Death, but I still enjoyed it a lot. There is tragedy, death, destruction, but also hopeful optimism, in a story that might remind you of Guardians of the Galaxy, The Last Starfighter, or the Wayward Children book series by Seanan McGuire. Recommended.


New Awards Page
3/18/21; 4:10pm CST
Since the Hugo/Nebula Awards pages are grouped by decade, I needed to create a new page for The 2020s. Only this year's Nebulas are listed so far, with just a date for the Hugos although that may still be subject to change. I've read all but one of the novels, but just two of the novellas. I've provided links for purchase or to read online where available.


The Salt Roads
3/11/21; 4:10pm CST
Nalo Hopkinson's third novel, The Salt Roads, was a multiple award finalist. If follows the plights of three women in different eras and locales, all of whom are struggling towards freedom. The prose is more direct, less of the Haitian Creole dialect than in her first two, and as such perhaps more accessible. Recommended.


Where the Bird Sings Best
3/6/21; 5:05pm CST
Alejandro Jodorowsky's Where the Bird Sings Best might be considered a memoir, a history of his family, but it has to be mostly fictional. And surreal. And violent. The latter is the reason I can't recommend it, although there are some good things about it.


Record of a Spaceborn Few
2/22/21; 12:30pm CST
Becky Chambers' third Wayfarers novel, Record of a Spaceborn Few, continues the character-driven, contemplative narrative, this time from the perspective of several characters within the Exodus Fleet. I loved it, another 5 star read, highly recommended.


Midnight Robber
2/16/21; 12:10pm CST
The second novel by newly named SFWA Grand Master Nalo Hopkinson was Midnight Robber from 2000. As with her first, I originally had trouble with the Creole patois, but found reading out loud helped a lot. It's one that may have worked better in audio form.


These Lifeless Things
2/9/21; 1:50pm CST
Premee Mohamed's These Lifeless Things is the first novella from the new Solaris Satellites imprint from Rebellion Publishing. It's good, recommended, but also a bit confusing. It's possible the narrator(s) are unreliable. I need to read it again as soon as possible.


A Desolation Called Peace
2/2/21; 12:00pm CST
I re-read last year's Hugo winner, A Memory Called Empire, which I consider a brilliant novel. That might be why I didn't like the second in the series as much, but A Desolation Called Peace is still very good.


Fireheart Tiger
1/29/21; 12:50pm CST
I should have been able to finish Aliette de Bodard's new novella, Fireheart Tiger, in just a few hours, but I kept finding other things to do besides read. It's the first of her stories to disappoint, although I know it will appeal to many other readers.


A Closed and Common Orbit
1/25/21; 2:15pm CST
The second book in the Wayfarers saga is A Closed and Common Orbit, which I had previously reviewed four years ago. I edited that to correct some statements I had made without knowledge of the first book. I liked it just as much, maybe more, the second time. Highly recommended.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
1/20/21; 2:30pm CST
The first three books in Becky Chambers' Wayfarers won the Best Series Hugo in 2019. I had read the second book out of sequence when it was a Hugo finalist on its own in 2017. I finally got around to the first one, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and have deleted comments on the second book for now, pending edits after a re-read, which I started last night. I plan to read the third one next month, and the fourth, reportedly the conclusion, comes out in April.


The Best of R. A. Lafferty
1/15/21; 6:35pm CST
Another instance of a book taking much longer than it should have, and for the same reasons. The Best of R. A. Lafferty is a relatively short book, 22 stories in less than 300 pages, but it seemed so much longer. Some very good stories, some very frustrating ones too.


A History of What Comes Next
1/8/21; 5:05pm CST
Entirely too long since the last book review, even beyond how long it took to re-read the first Expanse novel. But a lot has been going on in the world and personal life to distract me, and it didn't help that I didn't like Sylvain Neuvel's A History of What Comes Next as much as I'd hoped. The beginning of yet another series, but my interest in the sequels is low at this time.


Happy New Year!
1/1/21; 1:00pm CST
May it be better in every way than the last one. I'm not making any resolutions this year, I'll just continue reading as much as possible. So many books I want to get to, new, old, and in between, and I need to get back to several graphic novels that have been waiting way too long. Can't say when the next review will be. I'm currently halfway in a re-read of Leviathan Wakes, the first Expanse novel, which I reviewed eight years ago. I hope to finish all of them before the ninth novel comes out. No word yet on when that will be. After LW I may go back to one I stalled on last month, or read one of the ARCs I have, two of which publish early next month. All of last year's updates have been moved to the Archives page, although I'm also keeping the 20th Anniversary notice at the top for a while longer.



We would appreciate your support for this site with your purchases from Amazon, Bookshop, and ReAnimusPress.