Pillar to the Sky by William R. Forstchen
While reading William R. Forstchen’s Pillar to the Sky, I kept thinking this is what would have happened if, back in the 1960’s, NASA had commissioned Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein to co-write a story that would get Americans excited about space exploration... and then forgot to send it to an editor. Pillar to the Sky has an exciting premise and an appealing nostalgic feel, but it’s marred by some annoying editorial issues.
The story is about a couple of innovative scientists — Ukranian Eva Morgan and her husband Gary Morgan — who want to build an equatorial space elevator à la Arthur C. Clarke’s in The Fountains of Paradise. The proposed “pillar” would make it easier and... Read More
Pillar to the Sky by William R. Forstchen
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
In A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar takes us on a journey that is as familiar and foreign as a land in a dream. It’s a study of two traditions, written and oral, and how they intersect. Samatar uses exquisite language and precise details to craft a believable world filled with sight, sound and scent.
The book follows Jevick, who journeys from Bain, the Harbor City of the land of Olondria to a distant valley, on a quest to settle the ghost that haunts him. Along the way, he becomes a pawn between two warring political factions, and learns much about this strange land he is visiting.
Jevick is the second son of a wealthy pepper grower in the Tea Islands. His father brings back a tutor fr... Read More
Bluecrowne by Kate Milford
In 2010, I put Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker on my list of favorite books of the year. In 2012, I put her The Broken Lands on my list of favorite books of the year. Well, another two years have passed, Milford is out with another story, and, well, you know the rest . . .
Though maybe not all the rest, as there’s a bit of a twist to her newest work, Bluecrowne. Like her last work, The Kairos Mechanism, this brief novel (220 pages) is part of her Arcana Project, a Kickstarter project to self-publish smaller stories that weave in and out of her BONESHAKER world, acting as both a sort of connecting tissue binding together the larger, traditionally published novels and as a tide-you-over gift to those of us impatiently waiting for those lar... Read More
Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
Sky Raiders is the first book in Brandon Mull’s new FIVE KINGDOMS series for Middle Grade readers. It’s about a boy named Cole who takes his friends, including a girl he has a crush on, to a haunted house on Halloween Night. The occupants of the house lure the kids into the basement where they’re abducted, taken to another world called The Five Kingdoms, and sold into slavery.
As you might guess, Cole feels a little guilty about this. He’s determined to escape and free his friends. He outwits enemies and battles giant snakes, scorpions, and even a cyclops. Then he finds an ally in a girl named Mira, a girl from the Five Kindgoms who is also a slave. Can Cole and Mira free Cole’s friends? Can Cole get back to Earth? Well, he does make some progress toward that end in Sky Raiders, but there’s plenty more to accomplish in the next volume of THE FIVE KINGDOMS.
... Read More
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
Expiration Day, by William Campbell Powell, was a book I almost didn’t bother finishing and only ended up doing so because of that added sense of obligation of having received it for free to review. Had I picked it up on my own, I almost certainly would have dropped it somewhere about halfway in. As usual, in these cases, this will be a relatively short review so as not to belabor the issue.
In 2049, humanity has all but died out and is racing to find a cure to this plague of infertility that has been around for some while now. Meanwhile, to give the race hope and meet the parenting instinct, “teknoids” (sophisticated androids) can be rented by couples to be brought up as their own child, with regularly scheduled “revisions” to mirror the physical development due to aging. Everyone knows this happens, but it’s considered ill manners to speak of it too bluntly, so nobody is ev... Read More
The April issue of Apex Magazine opens with Sigrid Ellis’s editorial, in which she explains that the issue is about repair: “It’s an often-broken world we inhabit. Things falter, plans and bodies and hopes go awry. But we, and the world, keep going. Rebuilt, repaired and reformed. The future will not look like the past. It’s out there, waiting for us, anyway.” They are hopeful words, appropriate to the Easter season, and the fiction Ellis gives us this month is equally hopeful.
“Perfect” by Haddayr Copley-Woods doesn’t start out hopefully, though: “Quinn hated everything.” An unhappy soul who includes herself in the everything she hates, Quinn nonetheless attracts would-be friends and lovers in droves, who “mistook her air of biting dislike alternating with weary resignation as intensity, romanticism, and a deep need for help and human compassion.” The one area in which she thrives is sci... Read More
“Sleep Paralysis” by Dale Bailey is the opening story of the April 2014 issue of Nightmare, getting things off to a fine start. Bailey’s first person narrator, a skilled undertaker, has found comfort in his wife, beautiful and young, while he is plain and in the autumn of his years. The wife is extremely active in charity work, gone most days and many evenings, leaving her husband to work and spend nights at his club — a situation that has caused rumors that she married him solely for his money, and is engaged in rather more private charity than she admits to. The narrator refuses to give the rumors any credence, but they begin to weigh heavily upon him despite his resolve. Bailey writes in a formal style appropriate to the narrator’s profession and the time in which his story is set (which is never explicitly stated, but appears to be around the turn of the last century), setting the tone for a classic story with a fine twist at the... Read More
The Mapmaker’s War by Ronlyn Domingue
The Mapmaker’s War might be the ideological and literary opposite of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, bound and printed with lovely woodcut illustrations. While Martin’s scope covers multiple continents and more characters than I could ever truly care about (I’m down to Arya and Tyrion, and godhelpme Jaime), Domingue’s world exists only through the eyes of a single woman. Where Martin glories in the grunge of sex and violence, Domingue contemplates the damaging social constructions that surround both practices. While readers are dragged through every grimy inn, every grueling journey, and every unfortunate wedding in Westeros, The Mapmaker’s War moves at a dreamy, almost fable-like pace that contains a woman’s entire life. The fantasy re... Read More
Happy Easter! Have a rabbit.
El-ahrairah: What fuss the elil make today, the men! Stamping, bellowing, scratching on the earth for bright things they themselves hide! And whenever they see us, ah! Then their noise increases, and increases, and still increases more. It becomes immeasurable. Ah Frithrah!
Bill: No books this week. Graded a boatload of papers. And binge watched all 64 episodes of Veronica Mars in four days. Yeah I did. Anyone got a problem with that?
Brad: Right now I am reading two comic book series that are absolutely incredible! AND I can't imagine fans of SFF not loving both series. One is A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran. It's a series from the late 90s, but it's bec... Read More
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Zita the Spacegirl is one of those perfect YA science fiction stories that you wish had been written years ago so you could have read it as a kid — which means that you’re gonna want to get this book in the hands of a child in your life. Just make sure you get a chance to read it first.
The story begins when Zita and her friend find a strange object that has fallen from space — a square, hand-held device with a big, red button on it. Just imagine what you’d do: Would you press that button? Guess what the young child Zita does? That’s right — she presses the button. Instantly, a door of light opens before her and the arms — tentacles? — of a strange creature reach into our... Read More