Archive for science fiction

Sarah Pinborough – The Death House

sarahpinborough-thedeathhouseToby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

Sarah Pinborough is not only one of the more prolific British SFF writers, she’s also a very varied writer who switches between sub-genres with remarkable ease. Fantasy, racy fairytale retellings, science fiction, YA, she writes it all. When I heard about The Death House I was immediately intrigued. A dystopian YA story set at a boarding school from which no student ever graduates, it sounded but creepy and fascinating. Because why are they there and what is this disease that condemns them to be inmates of The Death House? Pinborough gives us some of the answers, but mostly she delivers an exquisite exploration of life and love in the face of death.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in review, science fiction, YA | 1 Comment

Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning

neilgaiman-triggerwarningIn this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A new Neil Gaiman book or collection is usually greeted by lots of cheers of readers all over the world. When his third short story collection was announced, this was readily apparent all over the internet. And then the title was announced and things got a little less cheery. Gaiman decided to title his collection Trigger Warning: short fiction and disturbances. For various reasons people were unhappy about this. The announcement came at a time when mainstream discussion on trigger warnings and whether to include them on prescribed reading lists at universities and colleges  was turning heated and the discussion was quickly co-opted by the ‘feminism is ruining everything’-crowd. In his introduction to his collection Gaiman explains that he was fascinated by the phenomenon of trigger warnings in an academic environment and his thoughts on the subject led him to decide to slap some trigger warnings on his own fiction before someone else did.  Continue reading »

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Kate Elliott – The Very Best of Kate Elliott

kateelliott-theverybestofkateelliottStrong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmarks of groundbreaking fantasy author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars, Crossroads). Her long-awaited first collection showcases twenty years of her finest work. Captured here are many of Elliott’s previously out-of-print tales, four previously unpublished essays, and a brand new Crossroads story, “On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New.”

Elliott’s bold adventuresses, complex quests, noble sacrifices, and hard-won victories shine in classic, compact legends. In “The Memory of Peace,” a girl’s powerful emotions rouse the magic of a city devastated by war. Meeting in “The Queen’s Garden,” two princesses unite to protect their kingdom from the blind ambition of their corrupted father. While “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” a chieftain’s daughter finds an unlikely ally on her path to self-determination.

Elliott’s many readers, as well as fantasy fans in search of powerful stories featuring well-drawn female characters, will revel in this unique gathering of truly memorable tales.

Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series remains one of my favourite series ever. It’s got all the drama and sweepingness you might hope for in an epic fantasy setting, but with more than your average, garden-variety western medieval setting and world-building. It took me a while to start the series – I think Elliott was up to book four at the time – but once I did I couldn’t wait for the next instalment to come out. I’d always wanted to read more by Elliott, but somehow never got around to it. Going into her backlist seemed risky, because availability in the Netherlands was always a gamble – mind you, this was before I started ordering books of the internet – and with her latest completed series there were all the review copies that meant I never got around to buying them. All of this is a rather lengthy way of explaining why there was much rejoicing at Casa Librarian when I was approved for a review copy on Netgalley for Elliott’s short fiction collect The Very Best of Kate ElliottContinue reading »

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By Published Posted in fantasy, review, science fiction | 4 Comments

Author Query – Naomi Foyle

naomifoyle-rooksongIn a fortnight Jo Fletcher Books is publishing Rook Song the second book in the Gaia Chronicles. Having had a complicated reaction to her debut Seoul Survivors, I got along far better with the first book in her current series called Astra. I enjoyed this world teetering between utopia and dystopia and Astra was a marvellous protagonist. I’m very much looking forward to Rook Song, which promises to be an exciting read after the conclusion of Astra. Today I get to bring you an interview with Naomi, in which I get to ask her about Astra, Rook Song, the potential pit falls of Gaia Play and what is next on her docket. I hope you enjoy this Author Query and don’t forget to check out Rook Song out on Thursday 5 February.  Continue reading »

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Jennifer Brozek – Apocalypse Girl Dreaming

jenniferbrozek-apocalypsegirldreammingPeek into the mind and dreams of award winning editor and author Jennifer Brozek. Travel from the weird west to the hidden worlds of Kendrick all the way to the far reaches of space. This collection contains twenty previously published short stories and includes the brand new Kember Empire story “Found on the Body of a Solider.” Enjoy your journey and don’t forget your survival gear. Apocalypse Girl is waiting.

Includes a foreword by science fiction author Jody Lynn Nye.

When I was contacted about reviewing Jennifer Brozek’s new short story collection Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, there were two things that sprung to mind: I remembered hearing her on the SF Signal podcast and really enjoying the episodes and I remembered reading her Valdemar story in Under the Vale and liking her angle of looking at those who are rejected for Collegium instead of the ones who are Chosen. So I was pleased to get the opportunity to read more by Brozek and discover what else she had written. It turns out Brozek is a versatile writer as at home in fantasy as she is in military SF or the Weird West and everything in-between.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, horror, review, science fiction | 1 Comment

Thomas Sweterlitsch – Tomorrow and Tomorrow

thomassweterlitsch-tomorrowandtomorrowIt is ten years since the attack that reduced Pittsburgh to ashes. Today all that remains is the Archive: an interactive digital record of the city and its people.

John Dominic Blaxton is a survivor, one of the ‘lucky ones’ who escaped the blast. Crippled by the loss of his wife and unborn daughter, he spends his days immersed in the Archive with the ghosts of yesterday.

It is there he finds the digital record of a body: a woman, lying face down, half buried in mud. Who is she … and why is someone hacking into the system and deleting the record of her seemingly unremarkable life? This question will drag Dominic from the darkest corners of the past into a deadly and very present nightmare.

When I started Tomorrow and Tomorrow, I was a bit unsure as to what to expect. Was it a murder mystery? An SF novel? A dystopia? It turned out the book is all three. Thomas Sweterlitsch delivers an immersive and thrilling tale of a man whose barely patched-together existence comes crumbling down around him when he discovers a murder in the City Archive that its perpetrators would rather stay buried with the city it happened in. The narrative is fascinating, though at times a little hard to follow. But staying on its tracks paid off beautifully in the end.  Continue reading »

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Stephanie Saulter – Binary

Stephanie Saulter - BinaryZavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.

Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.

Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after – not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…

When I received a review copy for Binary I was super stoked as its predecessor Gemsigns topped my 2013 favourite debuts list, by a mile I may add. And then I was hit by a gigantic case of book fear—the fear you get after being swept away by an author’s book that their next book couldn’t possibly live up to your expectations. And thus Binary languished on my to-read-pile, until last Christmas, when I gave you my heart kicked myself in the behind and told myself to get it in gear and pick up this book I’d wanted to read so badly before it was out. Thank you past-me, because I have to admit that Binary was fantastic and every bit as good as I could have wished for.  Continue reading »

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Nnedi Okorafor – Lagoon

nnediokorafor-lagoonA star falls from the sky.
A woman rises from the sea.
The world will never be the same.

Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before.

But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves.

Before I say anything about the actual story of Lagoon, I have a PSA for publishers: if you want me to check out your books give them a Joey Hi-Fi cover. I’ll never not look at a Joey Hi-Fi cover. His work is just amazing! </fangirlrant>

Of course, while the cover certainly drew me to the book, Nnedi Okorafor is an author I’ve long meant to read, as she’s one of the names that always pops up in discussions of writers of colour and especially those writing in English.  When I discovered the synopsis for Lagoon I was immediately taken with the book because it sounded both fun and exciting. It was those things, but it was also a searing examination of humanity and the way we treat each other and the world around us.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, review, science fiction | 6 Comments

Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (eds) – Kaleidoscope

krasnosteinrios-kaleidoscopeWhat do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgender animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!

Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Featuring New York Times bestselling and award winning authors along with newer voices:

Garth Nix, Sofia Samatar, William Alexander, Karen Healey, E.C. Myers, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, Sean Williams, Amal El-Mohtar, Jim C. Hines, Faith Mudge, John Chu, Alena McNamara, Tim Susman, Gabriela Lee, Dirk Flinthart, Holly Kench, Sean Eads, and Shveta Thakrar.

One of the most buzzed about anthologies of 2014 was Twelfth Planet Press’ kickstarted title Kaleidoscope. Edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, Kaleidoscope collects twenty YA stories around the theme of diversity. Diversity of gender, of sexuality, of origin, ability, and race; it’s all present in Kaleidoscope. The result is a wonderful book filled with wonderful stories, some of them funny, some scary, some heart-breaking, but all of them engaging and emotionally touching. None of the stories disappoint, there wasn’t a single dud for me, but the following five were my favourites.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: YA April-June

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the second one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Continue reading »

By Published Posted in article, contemporary, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, thriller, YA | 3 Comments
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