Well, considering that it was a long holiday weekend in which I accomplished nothing, I kind of expected the rest of the world to be lolling around on their Mom’s couches too. But they weren’t. The first news is that the GoodReads Choice awards have been announced, with almost 2 million votes. The Ocean at the End of the Lane won the fantasy category, which is fun because people keep trying to label it as a “kid’s” book. Even more entertainingly, Atwood won the science fiction category with MaddAddam. This is awesome because she’s been very vocal about how nobody should call Her Great Literature “science f... Read More
One of my favorite bookstores is small but mighty. Treehorn Books, specializing in used, out of print, and antiquarian volumes, occupies a simple storefront at 625 4th Street, Santa...Read More
American Elsewhere is Robert Jackson Bennett’s fourth novel. Every book by Bennett is a little bit different; American Elsewhere (which I’ve reviewed) is a meditation on the...Read More
The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
In The Last Continent, Terry Pratchett sends Rincewind and the Unseen University wizards to Xxxx (Fourecks), which, the narrator explains, is not Australia.
In Interesting Times, Unseen University wizards inadvertently sent Rincewind to the Counterweight Continent (China), and now they inadvertently travel into the past of Fourecks — the Last Continent being created on the Discworld — while trying to figure out the Librarian’s name. Ponder Stibbins is the first to realize that the wizards have traveled into the past, and he warns the wizards that they must be careful to not change the future. Certainly, they must not kill one of their ancestors. But why would they want to do that? interrupts Ridcully. The Archchancellor argues that they’re already in the past, changing things, so the changes have already happened. And so a continent is created. The wizards meet t... Read More
The Plagiarist by Hugh Howey
The Plagiarist is a science fiction novella written by Hugh Howey, who recently became famous for his self-published WOOL series. The plagiarist of the title is Adam Griffey, a college professor who uses newly discovered technology at his university to visit virtual worlds where he seeks out brilliant authors, memorizes their works, and brings them back to our world. Everyone knows the works are plagiarized, but since the author doesn’t live in our world, it doesn’t count, and our protagonist gets the credit for discovering the talent and, most importantly, he gets the money for the sales. This sort of plagiarism isn’t just for literature, though. Adam has colleagues in other departments who do the same thing, and now all fields of knowledge — science, technology, art, etc. — are advancing rapidly because of the discoveries made in virtual worlds.
All is going well for Adam — his w... Read More
Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
Despite the similarities in name, Joe Haldeman’s 1997 Forever Peace shares nothing in common with his huge success, The Forever War, save the military science fiction motif. Winning its own accolades (the Nebula, Hugo, and John W. Campbell Awards), Forever Peace is a novel less focused on the portent of war and more on the idea of universal understanding. Not without its share of action, however, readers will find Haldeman back in The Forever War form, the novel containing both depth and entertainment.
Forever Peaceis the story of Julian Class, both scientist and operator of a mechanized robot called a “soldierboy” for the US military. By jacking in to a device that collectively links operators... Read More
Bared Blade by Kelly McCullough
Bared Blade is the second book in the FALLEN BLADE series. Kelly McCullough continues the story of Aral Kingslayer, survivor of the destruction of the Goddess Namara turned petty thief and spy.
Aral is still struggling with the revelation that other members of his cult survived the fall of his goddess. His experiences in Broken Blade have started to give him an inkling that there may be more to look forward to than alcoholic oblivion. The relationship between Aral and his familiar/partner Triss has been an interesting twist on typical sword and sorcery tropes.
When a couple of oddly matched women are suddenly attacked in front of Aral, he chooses to get involved. The women have powers and skills far beyond the ordinary, which changes everything immediately. As further evidence of Aral’s re-orientation away from self-destruction via Kyle’s whiskey, Ara... Read More
The House of Souls: The Best of Arthur Machen by Arthur Machen
I had been wanting to check out Arthur Machen's 1906 collection of short stories, entitled The House of Souls, for quite some time; ever since I had read two highly laudatory pieces written about this work and its author. The first was H.P. Lovecraft's comments in his widely referred to essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," in which he claims "Of living creators of cosmic fear raised to its most artistic pitch, few if any can hope to equal the versatile Arthur Machen." And, in Jones & Newman's excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books, T.E.D. Klein, in his essay on The House... Read More
She Walks in Darkness by Evangeline Walton
Many of us who have read Evangeline Walton have her, mentally, on our epic fantasy bookshelf with people like J.R.R. Tolkien and Mervyn Peake, for her retellings of the Welsh mythic cycle The Mabinogion. For us, She Walks in Darkness is a surprise. This previously unpublished novel, brought out by Tachyon Press, is not epic fantasy at all but a gothic thriller.
Written in the early 1960s, She Walks in Darkness was a casualty of Walton’s dispute with a publisher. The publisher had handled Dark Runs the Road badly, and Walton’s contractual agreement stipulated they got first crack at her next book, which happened to be She Walks in Darkness. Walton put the book in a drawer, along with ... Read More
This week, Corum Jhaelen Irsei gives us an account of a most troubling nature (honestly, Mr. Moorcock... this plot was just silly).
Corum: It has been a most eventful fortnight. I learnt, to my grief, that my entire race has been slain. I alone stand between the ancient kindred called Vadhagh and extinction, and I... what exemplar am I? There is naught left to see of my departed people but a maimed and forlorn wanderer, bereft of home and succour, adrift on the vagaries of Fate. Yesterday, those vagaries bore me to a fortress of men, Moidel's Castle. Its ruler is Margravine Rhalina, a kindly woman of the younger race and now my sole friend in all the world. It gives me hope to think that disinterested compassion may spring from the hearts of these humans. Perhaps I am not so alone.
Later -- I was drugged at dinner and passed out. I awoke in my hostess'... Read More
Runaways: Pride & Joy (Vol. 1) by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Adrian Alphona (pencils)
What do you do when you find out your parents aren’t who you thought they were? Brian K. Vaughan deals with ages-old drama of teenagers confronting the fallibility of their parents in an interesting and exciting way. Though most of us have never discovered that our parents are part of a super-villain syndicate that includes a couple of crime lords who put Kingpin to shame — as well as mutants, aliens, time travelers, sorcerers, and mad scientists — most people can remember the day they realized that their parents are human and fallible, and maybe just a bit hypocritical. While most teenagers feel at some point that their parents are evil, Vaughan’s fantastic teenage heroes know their parents are EVIL. We follow them in this first volum... Read More
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]
Jeanette Winterson is the author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry and Passion. She writes beautiful prose about fascinating characters, some of whom really existed, and there is always an element of magic or the fantastical in her work. Her latest book, The Daylight Gate, is set in Lancashire, England, early in the 17th century, and reimagines the infamous Pendle Hill witch trials, focusing her storyteller’s lens most closely on the character of Alice Nutter.
Alice Nutter, a real-life person, was a wealthy, land-owning widow who was tried for witchcra... Read More