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
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Kalimpura by Jay Lake
Tunnel Out of Death by Jamil Nasir
As a consumer of media, I’m usually OK with works that aren’t particularly focused on plot. Some of my favorite books and films are uber-quiet stories where “nothing happens.” Heck, I’m really looking forward to the new Terence Malick film, even though it appears to have the same narrative quality of a screensaver program. Character-driven works, works where the images sweep you away, works where the ideas make up for lack of story — I’ve enjoyed all of them. Unfortunately though, Jamil Nasir’s newest, Tunnel Out of Death, managed to test even my patience for non-story-driven fiction. I think partially because it tries so hard to have a story, at least at the start. If it hadn’t, if it had dispensed with all that, I might have been more open. As it is, though, this was a tough go for me from beginning to end, though it has its moments.
Heath Ransom is an endovoyant priv... Read More
Swarm by B.V. Larson
Professor Kyle Riggs and his kids were asleep in their house when the alien spaceship arrived. It killed the kids, kidnapped Kyle, and put him through a series of grueling tests. Since he was still alive afterward, the ship made Kyle the captain. This has been happening all over Earth. Most of the captured humans have been killed because they couldn’t make it through the rigorous tests, but all the survivors are now piloting spaceships and in the perfect position to fight off an alien invasion that’s coming to enslave humanity. Add in a beautiful naked coed who’s chained up inside Kyle’s spaceship and you have a silly, but exciting, male wish-fulfillment fantasy.
I want to admit straight up that even though I’m giving Swarm only two stars (it’s just not a very good book), it entertained me. I think many readers will love Swarm — those who just want a fast-moving exhilarating ride ... Read More
A Man and His God by Janet Morris
In A Man and His God, by Janet E. Morris, Tempus brings his Sacred Band of Stepsons to Sanctuary, a city in the midst of preparations for war. Tempus is a tough man to kill, one who has watched severed limbs return as his god, Vaschanka, heals him. Though their relationship is not always so smooth that he can afford to take Vashanka’s intervention for granted, Tempus is one soldier that Prince Kadakithis cannot afford to offend as they prepare to improve Sanctuary’s defenses.
For some fantasy readers, the presence of a sacred band alone will be reason enough to seek out A Man and His God, a novella that was first written in 1981 and that is now being rereleased. The Sacred Band of Stepsons is an elite band that has appeared in THIEVES’ WORLD, a shared universe that has attracted writers like ... Read More
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Dante Valentine is a freelance Necromance — clients hire her to communicate with dead people so they can solve murders, settle estate disputes, etc. When the Devil wants to hire Dante to find a rogue demon named Vardimal Santino, and to recover the important object he’s stolen from Hell, he gives her no choice but to obey. Dante doesn’t want to work for the devil, but she does want to keep living. To help with that, the Devil assigns her a bodyguard — the demon Japhrimel. While Dante and Japhrimel are trying to track down Santino, they run into Dante’s ex-boyfriend, Jace, who seems all too willing to help. Eventually they discover that the demons have been doing some genetic experiments with humans and that not only is the future of humanity at stake, but so is the guardianship of Hell. If Vardimal isn’t stopped... um... all Hell will break loose.
I don’t typically read these urba... Read More
The Suburban Strange by Nathan Kotecki
Celia is a high school sophomore who’s grieving the death of her father and starting at a new school. She is swept up into a clique called the Rosary, a group of friends who pride themselves on their “darkness” and their sophistication. Celia feels awkward with them at first but gradually begins to gain confidence from these friendships. Meanwhile, something eerie is going on at Suburban High. Girls are suffering injuries or sudden illnesses on the day before their sixteenth birthdays. Will Celia find out what’s going on before her own birthday rolls around?
The main problem with The Suburban Strange is that the plot doesn’t pick up until well after the 200-page mark. Before that, it’s heavily focused on scenes of Celia and her friends hanging out and talking about music and books. It reminds me of when I was in college and thought all my circle’s late-night conversations were... Read More
Impulse by Steven Gould
Impulse is the third book in Steven Gould’s JUMPER series. The first book, Jumper, which was more thriller than science fiction, told the story of Davy, a teenager who discovered that he could teleport. He used his ability to fight the terrorists who caused him some personal pain. In the second book, Reflex, Davy is captured by people who want to use his power for their own purposes and Davy’s wife Millie sets out to find him. Both Jumper and Reflex were exciting stories.
Many years have passed and now Davy and Millie have a teenage daughter named Cent (short for Millicent) who has just learned that she can jump, too. Davy is still paranoid because of the kidnapping ordeal he experienced so the family lives in a remote cabin in the Yukon, jumping in and out to travel the world and do humanitarian work. Cent, a very bright girl, is home-sch... Read More
The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson
[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.]
The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson is the story of three young women in academia, all of whom become involved in a particular type of game that combines urban exploration with LARPing (live-action role-playing). Logical Ruth is primarily interested in games as teaching tools. Anna, a more right-brained sort, prefers visceral games that effect a psychological transformation on their players. Their more reserved friend Lucy is along for the ride. The novel is primarily narrated by Ruth and Lucy, with occasional Internet posts from Anna interspersed.
The novel begins slo... Read More
The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
The Woodcutter lives in an enchanted wood. His job, which he inherited from his ancestors, is to maintain peace and the delicate balance of good and evil in the neighboring realms of humans and fairies. One day when he discovers Cinderella lying dead on the forest floor, he knows that something has gone wrong. Further investigation shows other fairytale characters are in danger, one of Odin’s hellhounds has escaped, and someone is murdering pixies so they can sell pixie dust on the black market. The Woodcutter must figure out who is behind these evil events and set things right again.
Kate Danley originally self-published The Woodcutter a couple of years ago and then, after glowing reviews and some awards, it was picked up by 47North, Amazon’s SFF label. Brilliance Audio produced it (read by Sarah Coomes) and sent me a copy. As I can see from reviews at Amazon and Goodreads, most readers like Read More
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
So, I put this as my status on Facebook:
Guess which book I’m talking about. I’m reading this YA post-apocalyptic novel where the United States of America has been torn apart by War and now it’s all separated into regions and you can’t move between regions without permission from the central government that is set on enforcing its rules on everybody and then the girl that’s the main character gets abducted from her home by the government and sent to this brutal place with a bunch of other kids but she survives because of this guy that she’s known forever and he loves her and protects her and then they join the rebellion.
My friends have come up with six different novels that match this description, and none of them are correct. That’s the problem with Article 5. It’s been done. Multiple times. And better than this as well.
Article 5... Read More
Iced by Karen Marie Moning
Iced is the first novel in Karen Marie Moning’s new DANI O’MALLEY series, which is a spin-off from her excellent FEVER series. Readers of FEVER know who Dani is — she’s the 14-year-old sidhe-seer that Mac befriends. Besides being able to see the fae, Dani has other superpowers — she moves “super-fast” and has super senses, too. Dani also has the Sword of Light — one of only two magical objects that can kill the fae.
Dani lives in Dublin during the year 1 AWC (After the Wall Crash). The wall separating our world from the fae has fallen down and the dark fae are preying on humanity. Dani, with her superpowers and magical sword, can handle this new world, but most people can’t and half the world’s population is dead. Dani does what she can, publishing a newspaper, helping people find food and shelter, and killing as many fae as she can every day.
Dan... Read More
Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has covered two eras and two separate characters and tied them together with a theme of great power and great responsibility. L.E. Modesitt Jr. has taken the time to show the evolution of magic (imaging) in a low-tech world and has given us some pretty amazing world-building. The challenge for readers, however, is that it has been at times dreadfully boring, endlessly repetitive and so heavy-handed in its statements about the social conditions and the inherent prejudices that exist in that world that even the most stalwart fan gets… tired.
Imager’s Battalion covers the war between Telaryn, the more moderate, socially progressive nation, and Bovaria, the more conservative, aggressive and socially repressive nation. Quaeryt, recently recovered from the typical almost deadly over-exertion of a Modesitt hero, is called back to lead his formation of Ima... Read More
Hardcase by Dan Simmons
Readers of Dan Simmons have been spoiled by his numerous great works: THE HYPERION CANTOS, Song of Kali, and The Terror, for example, which sold well around the world and in many languages. Hardcase, unfortunately, finds Simmons returning to earth from the heights of this success. Hardcase is run-of-the-mill action — well told, but still average.
Before buying the book, I noted that many reviewers enjoyed Simmons’s delving into detective noir to tell the story of hardened private eye Joe Kurtz, who solves a mystery while trying to stay alive with killers on his trail. Having now read the book, I’m at a loss to see where the spirit of Raymond Chandler can be seen glowing in the text. Certainly some of the elements speak to the noir genre — Kurtz’s office below a porno shop, his moral position outside the law but fighting for justice, and t... Read More
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Breathe, by Sarah Crossan, is an unremarkable new entry in the teen dystopia field. Its premise is relatively simple: in the far future, the world’s oxygen level has dropped so far that people are relegated to living in oxygenated “pods,” where “Premiums” get all the oxygen they want and the commoners have to get by with far less. One result of this disparity is that the average person has to carefully moderate their physical activity (there are “speeding” laws with regard to walking) while the Premiums can go for a nice little job with their personal oxygen tanks. The company that controls the oxygenating process, Breathe, controls the pod. It will come as no surprise that they’re just a little corrupt and power-hungry.
We’re introduced to this world via three teen points of view. Alina is a commoner who is also a member of the resistance, a group trying to take down Breathe as well as... Read More
Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Snuff is Terry Pratchett’s latest DISCWORLD novel to feature the City Watch. Well, actually, the City Watch is largely absent. Lady Sybil, insists that she and Commander Sam Vimes take their son, Young Sam, to the countryside for a vacation.
The vacation begins smoothly. Vimes and his family retreat to the country, where Vimes encounters Sybil’s well-to-do peers. Vimes hobnobs, or tries to, but he finds the nobility a bit stuffy. Still, he is the Duke of Ankh and does not want to disappoint Sybil, so he tries to fit in. The awkwardness of these exchanges makes up the much of the humor of the novel’s opening scenes. The rest of the humor in the novel consists of Young Sam’s enthusiasm for “poo,” a word that Young Sam and Pratchett can’t get enough of in Snuff.
Vimes has moved up in the world, ... Read More