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Idoru: More delicious futurology from Gibson

Idoru by William Gibson

Idoru, William Gibson’s 1997 middle entry into the BRIDGE trilogy, takes the baton of Virtual Light’s conclusion and runs with it. Celebrity worship, pop culture, media influence, and the futuristic tangents advanced technology offers these take-it-or-leave-it facets of modern existence are the centerpiece. Less standard noir than Virtual Light, Idoru expands the themes into an imaginative, singular story that develops the series positively.

Like Virtual Light, Idoru features a young woman and man as main characters. Chia MacKenzie is a fourteen year old member of the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club who has been asked to go to Tokyo to investigate wh... Read More

Game Review: The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu

The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius Games

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a character in your favorite story? I think everyone has wondered this at some point. Using the imagination to transport you to a place that doesn’t exist in the real world is one of the fundamental reasons we read speculative fiction. It’s a chance to escape reality for awhile. You can take your imagination a step further by actually playing the role. I’m talking about Role Playing Games — games in which you become the character you’re reading about and partake in pseudo-imaginary adventures with your peers.

I was never into RPGs and wrote them off as mostly a past-time for the more “serious nerd.” I chose to occupy myself with way less nerdy endeavors like making Anime Music Videos or painting Steampunk robots. My introduction to RPGs really began at Gen Con. I started Read More

Dreams of Gods and Monsters: A spectacular close to an epic trilogy

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

What do you get if you cross Paradise Lost with Romeo and Juliet? Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, a story that centres on an epic war between angels and demons with a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the middle. Only the angels and demons aren’t exactly what you’d expect. In the world of Eretz, “angels” are winged humanoids known as seraphim and the “demons” are half-human, half-animal hybrids known as chimaera. Their conflict has been going on for centuries — and has finally spilled over into our world.

Whe... Read More

Virtual Light: Examines the intersection of technology and culture

Virtual Light by William Gibson

William Gibson’s SPRAWL, as seminal a trilogy of books if ever there were in modern science fiction, is a tough act to follow, let alone by the man who wrote the books. But if the series can be considered raw steel, then the follow up has to be considered the bare blade. Honing in on the present, Gibson shows no shortage of the futurological imagination and wordsmithing that made him famous. 1993’s Virtual Light, the first book in the BRIDGE series, is every bit as genius.

Virtual Light, and th... Read More

Plague Ship: A marvelous entertainment

Plague Ship by Andre Norton

Plague Ship (1956) is the second installment in Andre Norton's so-called DANE THORSON (SOLAR QUEEN) series, and is a direct continuation of the previous volume, Sargasso of Space. (A reading of that earlier novel is highly recommended before going into this one.) Plague Ship does everything that a good sci-fi sequel should: It expands on the possibilities of the previous book, deepens the characters, increases the action and leaves us wanting still more. It's a very fast-moving and suspenseful tale, full of unusual detail and unexpected turns.

There are several highlights that make Plague Ship really shine, such as the gorp hunt early in the story. (And when I say "gorp," I'm not talking about high-energy nut-and-raisin trail mix, but rather reptilian, crablike monsters!) This gorp hunt takes place at sunset on the reefs of an... Read More

Edge: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

[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.]

“…I would see his hand on the doorknob, the door beginning to swing shut. I have something to say! I’d tell him, and the door would stop part way.

“Start in the middle, then, he’d answer, a shadow with the hall light behind him, and tired in the evenings the way grownups are. The light would reflect in my bedroom window like a star you could wish on.

“Skip the beginning. Start in the middle.”

As frustrating as it is, I am going to try to discuss Karen Joy F... Read More

Terminal Café: An existential examination of nanotechnology

Terminal Café (Necroville in the UK) by Ian McDonald

“’Am I a ghost in a meat machine, am I God’s little seed stored in heaven for all eternity and glued one day on to a blastocyst in Mama Columbar’s womb; has this me been recycled through countless previous bodies, previous worlds, universes?’ He pressed his finger between Trinidad’s eyes… ‘This is the final frontier. Here. This curve of bone is the edge of the universe.’”

Existentialism is a main theme of Ian Mcdonald’s brilliant 1994 Terminal Café(published in the UK as Necroville). Pyrotechnic poetry blasting from the pages, the possibilities of nanotechnology have never been related in such vivid profundity. In southern California of 2063, the dead live again in this flames-and-leather cyberpunk exploration of the meaning of life and death in a world gone mad with possibility.... Read More

Annihilation: Discussed by Bill, Kat, and Terry

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

So yeah. That was strange. You should read it.
Here endeth the review.

 Uh.... Seriously? Try again, please, Bill.

What? It’s Kat, our managing editor, sticking her bold red italic text into my review! Oh, alright. Start over:

Loren Eiseley, Charlotte Perking Gilman, Sigmund Freud, and Franz Kafka have a literary baby. And it’s adoooorable!

C’mon, Bill....

A biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist walk into a bio zone. And the creepy bartender says . . .

Bill. This is getting annoying. Am I going to have to get out the electric cattle prod? It seems like sometimes that’s the only way to keep you in line.
Wait, don’t you want to at leas... Read More

Words of Radiance: Worth the trip so far

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance is book two in Brandon Sanderson’s huge STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE series, projected to be ten books. In fact, at 1100 pages, Words of Radiance is almost large enough to be its own series (at least once upon a time — I’m thinking say of Zelazny’s AMBER series, or Donaldson’s original COVENANTtrilogy). With another eight thousand pages to go, who knows whether the trip will be worth it, but at this point the car is humming along, the scenery is nice, and the kids are getting along in the back seat.

Part of the reason the series is off to a smooth start is Sanderson’s consistent facility with regard to pace and plot. I have always found his books to regularly feel shorter than ... Read More

Fanboy Friday! Paul Pope’s Battling Boy

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

The more graphic novels I read from First Second publishers, the more impressed I am: Paul Pope’s fairly recent Battling Boy is yet another excellent release from :01. Paul Pope, known for his distinctive art style, mainly writes for an older crowd with books I enjoy but am not willing to hand over to my 8- and 11-year-old children. However, Pope changes direction, if not his wonderful art style, with Battling Boy, and I hope I can talk both my kids into reading it soon. I know they’ll love the story, but I’m curious to see how they respond to his unique art.

The story is a great one and is comprised of two main sets of good characters directed toward a third set of bad characters. Basically, the stor... Read More

Edge: A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or; a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World

A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or; a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor

[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.]

When I distill down my responses to Rachel Cantor’s debut novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or; a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World, I find that what moved me the most profoundly was the main character, Leonard’s, relationship with his nephew, Felix. Leonard’s connection to his now-dead grandfather is important, and Sally the neo-Baconian librarian (not Read More

Fanboy Friday! Rick Veitch’s Shiny Beasts

Shiny Beasts by Rick Veitch (with Alan Moore & S. R. Bissette)

Shiny Beasts is a 2007 collection of short story pieces dating from 1978-1994. Rick Veitch is an artist who worked with Alan Moore on his early run of Swamp Thing and eventually took over writing duties as well. Since Swamp Thing is a horror title, it's no surprise that Shiny Beasts deals with the horrific at times as well, but usually in terms of the horror that man inflicts on himself and other men. However, though not all the stories are horrific, all are a bit unsettling. Finally, Shiny Beasts, like most story collections, is uneven in its content; however, the best pieces make it worth having, particularly if you like art that challen... Read More

Night of Cake & Puppets: Charming YA romance

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

For years Laini Taylor’s been a favorite here at FanLit, and now I know why. I picked up Night of Cake & Puppets, a stand-alone novella set in Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE world, because it was short and available on audio at exactly the length I needed for a recent car trip: two hours and forty-five minutes. Perfect. That’s not all that was perfect about Night of Cake & Puppets. Everything was perfect about Night of Cake & Puppets. Well, except I wish it had been longer. Longer would have been perfect.

Night of Cake & Puppets is about Zuzana and Mik’s first date. Zuzana, in case you don’t know, is the best friend of Karou, Laini Taylor’s heroine in the SMOKE & BONE books. I haven’t read those books, but that didn’t decrease my enjoyment at all. (Or at least I don’t thin... Read More

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making: A braver and more clever Alice

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

I never really trusted Alice, as a young reader. Partly, that’s because the blonde vacancy of the Disney version was lodged firmly in my brain, and I could only read her lines in that breathy, 1950s voice. But it’s also because Alice always seemed like the wrong little girl to fall down the rabbit hole. She’s continually surprised at strange things (you’re in Wonderland, for godssake), she never makes any real friends or real enemies, and she hopes she’ll be home in time to feed her cat. September, the heroine of Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, is a bit more adventurous. Read More

King Arthur: Admirable

King Arthur by Daniel Mersey

King Arthur is another in Osprey Publishing’s MYTHS AND LEGENDS series, this one written by Daniel Mersey and illustrated by Alan Lathwell. Compared to the subjects of the prior two I’ve reviewed (Jason and the Argonauts, Thor), King Arthur is a much more complex and difficult figure to try and explain in concise fashion, seeing as how his stories span multiple centuries, cultures, styles, and how each leap from one to the other brings with it an accordant change in content and even characters. That being the case, I have to say Mersey does an admirable job in streamlining Arthur’s legend, walking us through... Read More

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