Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but when faced with a terminal illness, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.
When Michael J. Sullivan contacted me about reviewing his new SF novel Hollow World, I did a double-take. As I’d only been aware of him as a fantasy author, I was surprised that his newest publication would be a time-travelling SF novel. Still, the synopsis sounded fun and some of my favourite bloggers adore Sullivan’s writing, so I gladly accepted. And Hollow World wasn’t what I’d expected at all. There was an unexpected mystery at the heart of the narrative and an eloquent exploration of the nature of love, which made the time-travel element feel almost accidental. Continue reading
By 16 April, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction
Like every child in Is-Land, Astra Ordott is looking forward to her Security shot so she can one day do her IMBOD Service and help defend her Gaian homeland from Non-Lander infiltrators. The one of Astra’s Shelter mothers, the formidable Dr Hokma Blesser, warns her that the shot will limit her chances of being a famous scientist – or helping raise the mysterious data-messenger Owleons that Hokma breeds – and Astra reluctantly agrees to deceive the Is-land authorities and all her family and friends in Or.
Astra grows up increasingly conscious of the differences between her and the other Or-kids – then Lil, an orphaned wild child of the forest, appears in Or and at last she has someone exciting to play with. But Lil’s father taught her some alarming ideas about the world, and Astra is about to learn some devastating truths about Is-Land, Non-Land, the Owleons, and the complex web of adult relationships that surrounds her.
Last year I reviewed Naomi Foyle’s Seoul Survivors and while the book and I didn’t really get along, I was very impressed with Foyle’s writing. And the premise of Astra sounded quite interesting, so I was really looking forward to seeing whether I’d get along better with Foyle’s sophomore effort. And I’m glad to say I did. Astra is just as thought-provoking as Seoul Survivors was, but without the problematic elements and Foyle’s use of language and imagery is just as good, if not better as it was in her previous novel. Continue reading
By 14 April, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction
The fact that someone had decided I would be safer on Mars, where you could still only SORT OF breathe the air and SORT OF not get sunburned to death, was a sign that the war with the aliens was not going fantastically well.
I’d been worried I was about to be told that my mother’s spacefighter had been shot down, so when I found out that I was being evacuated to Mars, I was pretty calm.
And despite everything that happened to me and my friends afterwards, I’d do it all again. because until you’ve been shot at, pursued by terrifying aliens, taught maths by a laser-shooting robot goldfish and tried to save the galaxy, I don’t think you can say that you’ve really lived.
If the same thing happens to you, this is my advice: ALWAYS CARRY DUCT TAPE.
I love Sophia McDougall’s short fiction; I think she’s one of the most talented short fiction writers out there. I still have to read her Romanitas series; the first book in said series is patiently sitting on my TBR-pile. But when I heard about Mars Evacuees, learnt about McDougall’s inspiration for the book and read the flap text, I was sold and really wanted to read it. So I was gutted to learn that I had missed snagging an ARC of the book at World Fantasy last year, but made up for it by winning a competition McDougall ran for an ARC. There was much rejoicing in Casa Librarian at that news. And Mars Evacuees was everything I expected. It’s funny, smart, well-written and has oodles of character. Continue reading
In 2075, Luna is no longer a penal colony, but it’s still a prison for everyone except its rulers …
A strange group of plotters are brewing up a revolution: an engaging jack-of-all-trades, his luscious blonde girlfriend, and a lonely talking computer. Their aim is the overthrow of the hated Authority and real freedom for the freebooting individualists who make up the moon’s population.
Set in a strangely familiar yet utterly alien human civilization of the future, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the most imaginative science fiction novels ever written.
Reading Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and writing this review filled me with trepidation. Hodderscape had impeccable timing with the selection of this title as March’s Review Project Title as there was a discussion (to put it in the kindest terms) over whether one could be a “real SF fan” without having read and enjoyed Heinlein. I’d read Starship Troopers in days long past and thought it was okay. But after this debate and also because I’ve become a more critical and socially-aware reader since that time, I really was a little apprehensive starting The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And with reason, because oh boy, I had issues with this book. Continue reading
By 9 April, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction
E.J. Swift’s debut Osiris had some interesting reviews when it came out, but since it was published by Nightshade Books and at the time didn’t have a UK publisher, I never got around to reading it. However, I did get an e-copy in one of Nightshade’s giveaways at some point and when I received an ARC for Cataveiro, the second book in The Osiris Project, it seemed like the universe was giving me a hint, so I’ll be reading both books in early June. In the meantime, I’m happy to bring you a guest post by E.J. Swift explaining some of the ecological politics in her series The Osiris Project. Continue reading
By 8 April, 2014
Posted in guest post, science fiction
The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.
This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more.
Over the last almost four years that I’ve been running A Fantastical Librarian, I’ve come to appreciate the art of short form more and more. But most of my short fiction consumption comes from reading anthologies and listening to podcasts such as Escape Pod, PodCastle, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld; most of the fiction published in magazines completely passes me by. And when the email about a review copy for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year volume 8 arrived, it plugged that gap nicely, especially given the fact that I was in the process of putting together my nominations for this year’s Hugo’s. What I found in this continuation of Jonathan Strahan’s series of ‘Best of the Year’-anthologies with a new publisher, was a fantastic set of stories, some of which didn’t completely work for me, but all of them interesting. Below I’ll call out some of the stories I really liked and talk in more detail about my favourites. Continue reading
By 3 April, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, science fiction
Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room -an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.
If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.
Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.
She doesn’t plan on making friends.
She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.
Sarah Harian’s The Wicked We Have Done is the first novel I’ve read that was labelled New Adult and I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. I’ve always found the New Adult moniker a little vague and wasn’t sure how to interpret it. Was it YA but with slightly older protagonists and a little more risqué content in both action and language? Was it a novel for adults with YA themes, such as self-discovery and finding your feet when going out into ‘the real world’? The nature and necessity of a New Adult category in publishing has been debated and expounded on in great detail, so I won’t go deeper into that here. Still, Harian’s debut hasn’t really answered my questions in that regard and more importantly, it shouldn’t have to. What it did have to do was entertain me and tell a good story, which it certainly did. Continue reading
Welcome to the twelfth blog tour stop on the Under Nameless Stars blog tour. Today you’ll not only find the next question in the giveaway competition, but also a guest post from Christian. When I read Zenn Scarlett last year I fell in love with Katie, the rikasett and some of the other animals in the Ciscan cloister on Mars where Zenn lives. Coupled with Christian work in horse rescuing, it triggered the following question:
Almost every little girl and many boys go through a horse-mad phase at some point in their life. What would be the equivalent in Zenn’s world? Would it be the rikasett or is there another animal that every child goes mad for?
Below you can find Christian’s answer to that question and the giveaway competition. Continue reading
By 25 March, 2014
Posted in guest post, science fiction, YA
Today I’m stoked to be able to share the cover for the final book in Kim Curran’s Shifter series, Delete. I loved the first two books in the series, Shift and Control, and I can’t wait to see how Scott’s story ends. To refresh your memories, here are the covers for the first two books:
By 7 March, 2014
Posted in article, science fiction, YA
The Great Spa sits on the edge of London, a structure visible from space. The power of Britain on the world stage rests in its monopoly on ‘The Treatment’, a medical procedure which transforms the richest and most powerful into a state of permanent physical youth. The Great Spa is the place where the newly young immortals go to revitalise their aged souls.
In this most secure of facilities, a murder of one of the guests threatens to destabilise the new order, and DCI Oates of the Metropolitan police is called in to investigate. In a single day, Oates must unravel the secrets behind the Treatment and the long-ago disappearance of its creator, passing through a London riven with disorder and corruption. As a night of widespread rioting takes hold of the city, he moves towards a climax which could lead to the destruction of the Great Spa, his own ruin, and the loss of everything he holds most dear.
A science-fictional crime novel set in a near-future London. I was sold on reading The Happier Dead, novelist and play-wright Ivo Stourton’s first SF novel, by those elements alone. Add some fascinating thought exercises about immortality, memory, and morality to that mix and The Happier Dead was a novel that was equal parts riveting action and thought-provoking ideas. Although the ending bothered me somewhat in its sudden shift away from our protagonist Oates, I very much enjoyed this book, both for its story and its prose. Continue reading
By 25 February, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction