The Human Division by John Scalzi
The Human Division is a fast-paced roller coaster of a book. At the Nebula Awards this weekend in San Jose, California, John Scalzi politely informed me that this was the fifth book in a series, which starts with Old Man’s War. I haven’t read the other four (which I will be correcting soon) but I understood pretty well what was going on in this universe, although I may have missed some nuance.
The Colonial Union left earth to colonize space about two hundred years ago. During that time, space-faring humans met several other races who didn’t like humans very much. They also met some who did, or were at least willing to trade with us. From Earth, the Colonial Union recruited people over the age of seventy to create soldiers, decanting them into younger bodies with enhanced features like “smart blood” and a BrainPal computer in their skulls. Earth is also the source of the c... Read More
Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just published its 100th issue, and it’s a double issue in celebration. That means there are four stories instead of two, and they’re very good...Read More
The Human Division by John Scalzi
Kalimpura by Jay Lake
Kalimpura is the third and supposedly concluding book in Jay Lake’s series about Green, the young girl who becomes enmeshed in both worldly and godly politics, much to her dismay. I had lots of issues with the first book, Green, fewer but still some issues with the follow-up, Endurance, and I have to say that Kalimpura, while better than Green, didn’t wrap up the series in any way that would have me recommend readers pick up the trilogy.
Kalimpura picks up soon after Green has given birth to twins, a son and daughter. Still unresolved from Endurance is the fate of the two girls stolen away and taken to Green’s homeland city of Kalimpura. After several attacks in Copper Downs, and attempts by Green to resolve her standing issues with the gods of that city, including Divine and Blackblood, Green takes ship with a small group of allies... Read More
Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter
K.W. Jeter’s Morlock Night (1979) is often cited as the first novel to be categorized at “steampunk.” In a 1987 letter to Locus magazine, Jeter coined the term in an effort to describe the types of stories that he and his friends Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock were writing:
Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of that era; like ‘steam-punks’, perhaps.
As Tim Powers explains in his introduction to Morlock Night, Jeter wrote this book in 1976 for a British publisher who requested ten novels about King Arthur being reincarnated to co... Read More
Nightmare Magazine has been very good from its first issue, but the May 2013 issue, the eighth, is extraordinary.
The magazine opens with “Centipede Heartbeat” by Caspian Gray. Lisa believes that centipedes have invaded the home she shares with Joette, her lover. Worse, she believes that the centipedes have actually invaded Joette: “Each time Lisa rested her head against Joette’s breats, she heard the centipedes. In between heartbeats there was the tiny sound of hundreds of chitinous footsteps against bone, of miniature mandibles tearing at organs.” It’s a horrible situation, especially because Joette refuses to admit what is happening — or is Lisa insane? At any rate, Lisa feels she has to cure Joette of her infestation. Her behavior is logical, from her perspective, though Lisa’s perspective seems warped. But is it? The exterminator she has had in to consult says the place is crawling with the insects, but it d... Read More
Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull
Chasing the Prophecy is the final book in Brandon Mull’s BEYONDERS series aimed at a middle grade audience. Jason and Rachel have joined a group of rebels who hope to take down the evil emperor Maldor. An oracle has told them that they have very little chance for success, but she’s also told them exactly what they need to do to have that small chance. Therefore the group has split up into separate teams which hope to fulfill different parts of the oracle’s instructions. Rachel is trying to muster up an army while working on her magic and Jason’s team visits a library (I loved the library!) to try to find the location of an ancient seer who has information they need. Both kids face hard work, difficult decisions, and life-threatening circumstances. Each must be willing to bend a lot to accomplish their goals.
Readers who’ve enjoyed the first two BEYONDERS books, A... Read More
Endurance by Jay Lake
Endurance, Jay Lake’s follow-up to Green, is in some ways an improvement and in some ways marred by similar issues. Overall, though, I found it a more consistently enjoyable read, if still not a great one.
Endurance picks up not long after Green, with the titular character lying low in the High Hills outside Copper Downs, growing more and more dismayed by how her ongoing pregnancy is affecting her physical abilities. Lying low, though, is not an option for Green, and soon she is drawn back into a host of problems (and I mean a host) bedeviling Copper Downs: gods being killed, political infighting, increased crime and chaos since Green killed the centuries-old Duke (who is still hanging around in ghost form), a troublesome rise in Pardine (the feline race of Dancing Mistress) anger towards being displaced by humans and robbed of a great magic. Then there are the is... Read More
This week, Drizzt Do'Urden again. Frankly, it's fertile ground.
Drizzt: This week, whilst roaming in the city with my good friend Bruenor Battlehammer (he is a dwarven king, as those I speak to seem to somehow intuit when I have but mentioned his name... doubtless it is his well-justified fame) we came upon a number of suspicious-looking characters lurking in the shadows beside by a tanner's shop. This was most suspicious, as the odor emanating from the establishment was such that it triggered a flashback to my woeful days in Menzoberranzan, ere my liberation to the sweetness and friendship of my surface life, tainted though it ever is and shall be by my drow features. Oh, can one elf alone redeem the reputation of his race? Would such redemption, even sweet, be of any true value in the passage of time, as the evil of my kindred perpetrates further atrocities against which I must strive? Wh... Read More
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre
Mari Thistle is just trying to survive and take care of her two younger siblings. Because she lives in the Red Zone and not in the safety of the walled and guarded fortresses where the rich people live, she has to take on some dangerous jobs. Her latest job, which involves sneaking into one of the fortresses and stealing something, has gone bad and she knows she’s likely to be killed by Stavros, the boss who hired her. When she’s rescued by a guy named Thorne Goodman who’s planning to challenge Stavros’ leadership, she finds herself caught in a brutal turf war.
Thistle & Thorne is a novella which was originally published in the post-apocalyptic anthology ‘Til The World Ends earlier t... Read More
John Constantine, Hellblazer: All His Engines by Mike Carey (writer) & Leonardo Manco (artist)
There are so many options available to the reader who wants to meet John Constantine for the first time. He was created by Alan Moore in his groundbreaking run on Swamp Thing (Moore's entry into American comics). Another good place to start is with Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer: Original Sins, the volume collecting the first issues of Constantine's solo title Hellblazer — the longest running title in the history of Vertigo, DC's line of comics with adult content and adult themes (both in terms of being explicit and being intellectually complex). Unfortunately, DC just recently canceled this title at issue #300 and has replaced i... Read More
The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow
It is never easy to start a series with a sequel, and The Red Plague Affair is the sequel to the first book in Lilith Saintcrow’s BANNON AND CLARE series, The Iron Wyrm Affair, which introduced these characters. (The Damnation Affair is a related novel set in the same world with different characters.) I haven’t read The Iron Wyrm Affair, but The Red Plague Affair was still pretty accessible. Saintcrow takes the steampunk London we love and creates a different, almost mythological spin.
The 19th century city where these stories take place is called Londinium, and it is ruled by Queen Victrix, who is a human but also the Vessel for Brittania. Brittania is the deity or spirit of the land, who rules through a human agent. Emma Bannon is a Prime Sorceress, trained in the college of sorcery, and her arts are those of the Endor... Read More
The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf by Tia Nevitt
I rarely read fairytale retellings, but I picked up The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf because its author, Tia Nevitt, is a friend of mine. She’s a former fellow SFF blogger and she lives just a few minutes away from me, so we chat occasionally and have gotten together a few times. Also, I enjoyed her first published novel, the first in her ACCIDENTAL ENCHANTMENTS series, The Sevenfold Spell, a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty which focuses on the minor characters in the story. I read it without telling her I was reading it, just so I wouldn’t have to admit I didn’t like it if it failed to please. (Fortunately, I did like it!)
The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf has a similar set-up. In this case, Tia delightfully mangles the story of Snow White ... Read More
Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in April 2013. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:
1. The number of the cover (1-12)
2. The author
3. The book title
Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more. Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks.
Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days.
Good Luck! Read More