Marion chats with Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and grew up in Southeast Asia, Norway and Britain. He won the British Science Fiction Association Award for best novel in 2003, for...

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The Eyes of the Overworld: Vance at his best

Readers’ average rating: The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance I’ve already said, numerous times, how much I love Jack Vance, so I’ll skip all that this time. You can...

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Matt Perkins is a Canadian author, software developer, musician, and all-around decent human being. His first novel, the alternate-Earth sci-fi thriller Winterwakers, is currently...

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WWWednesday: August 24, 2016

This is the World Con edition of World Wide Wednesday.

In the Pat Cadigan Theater

First of all, the Hugos! N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won for Best Novel; Nnedi Okorafor won for Best Novella with “Binti;” Hao JingFang took home the Best Novelette statue for “Folding Beijing,” and Naomi Kritzer won for Best Short Story with “Cat Pictures Please.”

There were two categories where the voters awarded no Hugo: Best Fancast and Best Related Work.  Go here for a detailed list of all the winners.

On a personal note, Pat Cadigan, who hosted, was hilarious. Part of the time she shared the podium ... Read More

The Obelisk Gate: The weight of history crushes the present

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The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate is the second in N.K. Jemisin’s BROKEN EARTH trilogy and the follow-up to her Hugo Award-winning The Fifth Season; expectations were understandably high for this installment, which promises to shed a little more light on The Stillness and the qualities that make its geology and its people so unique. The Obelisk Gate is compulsively readable, filled with characters and circumstances that will transfix the reader’s attention, and effectively picks up right where The Fifth Season ends with very little exposition, so readers should plan to read this series in chronological order.

The Fifth Season was told t... Read More

Foxglove Summer: You can take the constable outta London, but…

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Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

One of the definitive aspects of Ben Aaronovitch's PETER GRANT series is the fact that it's set in the big smoke (aka London, for all you non-Londoners). So it may come as a surprise to discover that Foxglove Summer (2014), the fifth instalment of the series, is actually set in the countryside. But don't be fooled into thinking this is story about sleepy village life and the occasional nosy neighbour. Far from it. Peter Grant is back along with a myriad of supernatural problems, and he's just as incompetent as he's always been...

Two eleven-year-old girls have gone missing in the rural town of Leominster, Herefordshire. Constable Peter Grant is sent on a routine assignment to check up on an old wizard living in the ar... Read More

The Last Days of New Paris: Surrealism comes for us all

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The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

Putting it simply, China Miéville’s The Last Days of New Paris is a “China Miéville” story. For many readers, that’s sufficient information to begin reading.

But here are some additional details, just in case. The Last Days of New Paris is a novella length alternate history in which the Nazis and the resistance fight to control Paris. Something weird is going on in this timeline: surreal creatures called “manifs” wander the streets of Paris after an S-Blast took the surreal creatures out of the artworks and into the world. The “manifs” don’t like Nazis, and so the latter counter the former by m... Read More

All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life

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All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life by Jon Willis

All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life (2016), by Jon Willis, is structured around a simple proposition: if you had four billion dollars to spend (Willis explains why that number late in the book) to seek out non-terrestrial life, where would it make the most sense to spend it? Willis gives his readers a head start by narrowing their choices at the outset to five "plausible scenarios:"

Mars (of course)
An exoplanet

Willis begins by offering up a relatively quick but sufficiently detailed overview of the conditions that apparently were necessary for life on Earth (liquid water, magnetic field, atmosphere, plate tectonics, a basic shared biochemistry, and a few others),... Read More

SFM: Liu, Bisson, Kowal, Landis

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. In honor of the just-ended MidAmeriCon II and the awarding of the 2016 Hugos, this week's reviews are all past Hugo award winners that are available to read free online.

“Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu (2012, originally published in The Future is Japanese anthology, reprinted 2013 and free online at Lightspeed, Read More

The Sunlight Pilgrims: Chills to the bone

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The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

The premise of Jenni Fagan’s 2016 novel, The Sunlight Pilgrims, is entirely plausible: in the not-so-far-off future of November 2020, winter has descended upon the globe, the Gulf Stream is both slowing and cooling, a gigantic iceberg is making its way from Norway to Scotland, and the Thames is overflowing from the extra water created by melting polar ice caps. Rather than focus on climatologists or environmental and economic protestors, however, Fagan presents three average people and the ways their lives intertwine and change as they try to survive the worst winter on record.

Until recently, Dylan McRae lived in a Soho art-house movie theatre with his mother and grandmother, distilling homemade gin and sharing the joys of classic cinema with their dwindling patrons. Both women have died, unfortunately, and... Read More

In the Courts of the Sun: Promising techno-thriller/time travel hybrid can’t quite deliver

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In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D’Amato

In the Courts of the Sun is an interesting novel, built Frankenstein’s-monster-like from the elements of a Michael Crichton techno-thriller, Gary Jennings' Aztec series, and one of Stephen Baxter's unique spins on time travel. I enjoyed the book, but it's uneven. The book was written by artist Brian D'Amato and is the first in the JED DE LANDA two-book series.

The story is heavily character-driven, led by Jed DeLanda, a supremely intelligent, anti-social, hard-core gamer of Mayan descent. DeLanda is one of the few people in the world who can play an... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 12, 2016

This week, Drizzt reflects on living in a Dungeons and Dragons universe.

Drizzt: This week, I set out on a quest again. Ah, I am reminded of the simple pleasures of the campaigning life! The many pleasant hours spent in travel with boon companions! The conversations with the stout-hearted but bluffly parochial villagers! The countless philosophical debates over the nature of a short rest versus a long one. The inevitable band of goblins that's lying in wait at the start of every new journey. The way the paladin keeps doing things that might seem manifestly stupid only to claim that he is only remaining true to his "alignment." The irritating way trained warriors occasionally fail a basic attack for absolutely no reason, and neither height nor weight seems to have any bearing on one's ability to wield an enormous two-handed sword. Ah, friends, is there anything better?

... Read More

The Mechanical Other

Matt Perkins

Matt Perkins is a Canadian author, software developer, musician, and all-around decent human being. His first novel, the alternate-Earth sci-fi thriller Winterwakers, is currently available on eBook and paperback. His writing has also appeared on  Read More