Archive for science fiction

Jared Shurin (ed.) – Irregularity

shurin-irregularityIrregularity is about the tension between order and chaos in the 17th and 18th centuries. Men and women from all walks of life dedicated themselves to questioning, investigating, classifying and ordering the natural world. They promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual rigour in the face of superstition, intolerance and abuses of power. These brave thinkers dedicated themselves and their lives to the idea that the world followed rules that human endeavour could uncover… but what if they were wrong?

Irregularity is about the attempts to impose our order on nature’s chaos, the efforts both successful and unsuccessful to better know the world.

From John Harrison to Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton to Émilie du Châtelet, these stories showcase the Age of Reason in a very different light.

Reading Irregularity, Jurassic London’s sixth full-length anthology and the second edited solo by Jared Shurin, was a strange reading experience, as I’ve read a lot of seventeenth and eighteenth century literature at university. Much of that was in the Penguin Classic editions (the ones with a black spine and a red bar at the top) and while the cover is in no way reminiscent of those, the font used for Irregularity really resembles the look of those editions. Add to that the fact that a lot of the stories are written in the same language and with the same sensibility as those classics and for a moment it seemed as if I’d traveled back in time to my student days. Thankfully, reading Irregularity in no way felt like an essay assignment, in fact it was fantastic fun.   Continue reading »

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Laure Eve – The Illusionists

laureeve-theillusionistsA shocking new world. A dangerous choice. Two futures preparing to collide . . .

Having left her soulmate White behind her in Angle Tar, Rue is trying to make sense of her new and unfamiliar life in World. Its technologically advanced culture is as baffling as is it thrilling to her, and Rue quickly realises World’s fascination with technology can have intoxicating and deadly consequences.

She is also desperately lonely. And so is White. Somehow, their longing for each other is crossing into their dreams – dreams that begin to take increasingly strange turns as they appear to give Rue echoes of the future. Then the dreams reveal the advent of something truly monstrous, and with it the realisation that Rue and White will be instrumental in bringing about the most incredible and devastating change in both World and Angle Tar.

But in a world where Life is a virtual reality, where friends can become enemies overnight and where dreams, the future and the past are somehow merging together, their greatest challenge of all may be just to survive.

The Illusionists is Laure Eve’s second novel in the Fearsome Dreamer sequence. While I really enjoyed Fearsome Dreamer, I did have some niggles with it, mostly to do with pacing and structure. In The Illusionists these problems have all been ironed out and the book is a far smoother read and the story is still as interesting and complex as Eve’s debut. As an added bonus, the protagonists are easier to relate to as well, having lost some of their rougher edges.   Continue reading »

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Author Query – Benjanun Sriduangkaew

benjanunsriduangkaew-scale-brightYesterday I reviewed Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s latest novella Scale-Bright, which I loved. This wasn’t that big of a surprise as I’ve sort of fallen in love with Benjanun’s writing over the past few months. She’s also my number one vote for the Not-a-Hugo Campbell Award for Best New Writer. So when Benjanun sent me my review copy I quickly asked her for an interview and she graciously agreed. So I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did and go check out her wonderful fiction, most of which is available online!    Continue reading »

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Pierre Ouellette – The Forever Man [Blog Tour]

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pierreouellette-theforevermanPortland, Oregon, was once a beacon of promise and prosperity. Now it’s the epicenter of a world gone wrong, its streets overrun by victims and hustlers, drifters and gangsters. Lowly contract cop Lane Anslow struggles to keep afloat—and to watch out for his brilliant but bipolar brother, Johnny, a medical researcher. Lane soon discovers that Johnny is part of an experiment veiled in extraordinary secrecy. But he has no idea who’s behind it, how astronomical the stakes are, or how many lives might be destroyed to make it a reality.

Now Johnny’s gone missing. To find him, Lane follows a twisting trail into a billionaire’s hilltop urban fortress, a politician’s inner circle, a prison set in an aircraft graveyard, and a highly guarded community where people appear to be half their biological age. Hunted by dueling enemies, Lane meets a beautiful and enigmatic woman at the center of a vast web of political and criminal intrigue. And behind it all is a sinister, desperate race to claim the biggest scientific prize of all: eternal life.

From its synopsis The Forever Man sounded like an interesting near-future SF thriller and it was. Pierre Ouellette’s latest novel from Random House Alibi was an interesting story, with some original world building and a sympathetic main character. Yet while I enjoyed reading the book, I had a number of problems with it that made the book less compelling than it could have been.   Continue reading »

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Guy Adams – The Clown Service

guyadams-theclownserviceToby Greene has been reassigned.

After one screw up too many, he finds himself at a largely forgotten branch of the British Intelligence Service, working for August Shining, a Cold War relic, and charged with defending the country from paranormal terrorism.

But when an ex-Soviet-era enemy returns with an insidious plan to raise the dead and destroy London, it seems Toby’s impossible job is to save Great Britain – whether he believes it or not.

When The Clown Service arrived the cover grabbed me as it was seemingly so at odds with the title. It evokes a classic cold war spy thriller, but in a colourful way. It is also set in a supernatural London; that fact alone would have sold me. But it was not just the supernatural London setting that made this book so much fun, it was its tone and sense of humour as well. In addition, The Clown Service’s plot was extremely entertaining and very well put together. I was really pleased with the book and while the story was impeccably paced, I would have loved for it to have been a bit longer, so I could have spent just a bit more time with the characters.   Continue reading »

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Elliott Hall – The First Stone

elliotthall-thefirststonePrivate eye Felix Strange doesn’t work homicide cases. He saw enough dead bodies fighting in Iran, a war that left him with a crippling disease that has no name and no cure. So when Strange is summoned to a Manhattan hotel room to investigate the dead body of America’s most-loved preacher, he’d rather not get involved.

Strange knows that his hiring is no accident. He can’t see all the angles, and he knows he’s being watched. He’s got a week to find the killer, and even less time to get the black-market medicine he needs to stay alive. In a race against time Strange must face religious police, organized crime and a dame with very particular ideas, while uncovering a conspiracy that reaches the very heart of his newly fundamentalist nation.

June’s Hodderscape Review title was an interesting choice. At first blush, Elliott Hall’s The First Stone seemed more a crime thriller than an SFF novel, however there are certainly speculative elements to the story. Most of these are due to the narrative’s dystopian tendencies and near future setting. It made for a fascinating and somewhat chilling world and one whose elements are frighteningly plausible.   Continue reading »

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Carrie Patel – The Buried Life

carriepatel-theburiedlifeThe gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

The Buried Life, Carrie Patel’s debut novel, intrigued me with its synopsis. It reads as a noir crime novel in a fantasy setting and the lovely cover gives off a bit of a steampunky vibe for me. Yet Angry Robot has filed the book under Science Fantasy, which confused me a bit. Still, I’ll never say no to a crime fantasy novel and I cracked open my ARC for The Buried Life looking forward to discovering where exactly the book would fall on the genre scale. Two chapters in and any such considerations where completely forgotten as I became drawn into the narrative.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Carrie Patel

carriepatel-theburiedlifeOne of this summer’s titles from Angry Robot is Carrie Patel’s debut The Buried Life. Though the synopsis read more like a steampunkish crime novel, Angry Robot dubbed it science fantasy and it intrigued me enough to really want to dig into the story. I also wanted to ask Carrie some questions, to which she gracefully agreed. You can find her answers below. If you’d like to see more of Carrie talking about her book and and writing itself, check out this third Angry Robot Live vidcast with Carrie, Chuck Wendig, Anne Lyle, and Adam Christopher, moderated by Mike R. Underwood. But first, Carrie’s answers to my questions!  Continue reading »

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Elizabeth Moon – Speed of Dark

elizabethmoon-speedofdarkLou is different to ‘normal’ people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic.

One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become ‘normal’ like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

SPEED OF DARK is a powerful near-future thriller, the theme of which is both universal and intensely personal. It is dedicated to the author’s own autistic son, and to other parents of autistic children, ‘in the hope that they also find that delight in difference’.

Speed of Dark was May’s Hodderscape Review Project title. It wasn’t my first Elizabeth Moon as I’ve read and enjoyed her Serrano Legacy books. However, while Speed of Dark is ostensibly SF, it is so in a very different way from her Serrano Legacy series which is far more space opera and military SF. Speed of Dark takes the question ‘What if medicine has advanced so far that we could cure almost anything, including extending life and repairing spinal cord injuries? What if this could also cure autism?’ as its central concept  It takes this question and looks at the many ethical and moral complications connected to it and does so in a compelling and sensitive manner.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Reads (Summer-Fall) 2014

2014In the past week and a half I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Summer/Fall 2014 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Tom Pollock’s final book in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets, Liz de Jager’s second book Vowed, and Mark Charan Newton’s Retribution, the sequel to the excellent Drakenfeld. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?  Continue reading »

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