Will McIntosh wrote a book about love and I’m wondering whether I’ll ever read another that does it better. Love Minus Eighty isn’t a romance. In fact, it’s often antithetical to that idea. Instead it’s a charming, frightening, and all together confusing (as only love can be) treatise on the nature of relationships, their unpredictability and capability for crippling despair.
Based on McIntosh’s Hugo Award winning short story, Bridesicles, Love Minus Eighty is set years in the future where cryogenics and life extension technology have reached the point that the only thing standing in the way of death is money. For the particularly beautiful and female, dying young means ending up in cryogenic dating farms where the creepiest rich men briefly resurrect them to determine how depraved they’ll be in exchange for another chance at life. It’s a horrific idea driven home by the character of Mira, who throughout the novel is killed and awakened untold times by curious ‘Johns’ (for lack of a better words).… Read the rest
Since the moment I finished Wesley Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, I called reading it ‘the most fun I’ve had this year.’ I wouldn’t call it the best novel, and maybe not even the best debut, but it’s one of those reads that puts a smile on my face that won’t go away. In reading Mur Lafferty’s ‘debut’ (I put that in quotes since it’s only a debut in that it’s her first novel published by a SFWA approved house) A Shambling Guide to New York City, I found myself less joyful despite nearly identical character arcs and plot structures. My responses to myself ranged from ‘well everyone’s mileage varies’ to ‘oh my God these two books are incredibly similar why do I love one and not the other?’ Considering that question is what this review is about.
Lives of Tao tells the story of out-of-shape IT technician Roen who hears a voice in his head that turns out to be an ancient alien life-form named Tao who’s hitching a ride.… Read the rest
The Ramal Extraction by Steve Perry
In the 24th Century, the Galactic Union’s Army is stretched thin and mercenary units fill in the gaps. Headed up by retired Colonel R.A. Cutter, the Cutter Force Initiative is a multi-species contractor for training, protection, extraction, or assassination. If the price is right, and it won’t run them afoul of the real Army, they’re game. This time around it’s a kidnapping. Rags’ and his crew are called in to find and rescue the daughter of the New Mumbai rajah. Rest assured, things are a little more complicated, both militarily and politically, than a simple rescue operation.
Unfortunately, Ramal Extraction is about as entertaining as a tooth extraction. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of action, or things going on, it’s all just very conventional–a small squad military thriller that just happens to be set in science fictional milieu. There’s the expected banter between different members of the squad, some secrets about its leader, and a green recruit or two to contrast how hardened the veterans truly are.… Read the rest
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
-Roy, Blade Runner
Fan fiction is a dirty word, isn’t it? It carries with it a connotation of corrupting someone else’s intellectual property. Unfortunately, that connotation tends to ignore homage, an allusion to previous work on which a current project is based. To call Rosa Montero’s Tears in Rain fan fiction is a bit of a stretch. There’s no inclusion of characters from another’s work or a continuation of any particular plot point, but it is, as the quote above indicates, fundamentally based on Blade Runner, the Ridley Scott film sourced from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Montero posits a world in which Blade Runner the film existed and also came true.… Read the rest
Earlier this year I reviewed China Mièville’s newest novel, Railsea. It’s a young adult styled novel that’s equal parts Moby Dick and science fiction, with giant moles, endless railways, and a cumbersome narrative voice. Published by Pan Macmillan, they just unveiled a new cover for the paperback release. Behold:
Did Baen take over Pan Macmillan? I mean stick some cleavage on the front of that train and we’re on to something! Once again, I’m annoyed with covers that sell themselves as something they’re not. This is a literary novel with some young adult trappings. It is not, an adventure yarn akin to the Hardy Boys on a train. I can’t get behind this cover, despite the fact that I think it’s awesome. And it is awesome.
Discuss.… Read the rest
I’m traveling again. This means two things, lots of reading time and very little time to write. During my trip I’ve been reading a lot of YA. I’m not sure why, other than I’ve been putting them off for another day. It’s been fortuitous though as I find YA to be perfectly suited to the traveling reader — short, easily consumable, and often obvious in its subtext.
Below are three novels I read this week and my thoughts:
London Eye by Tim Lebbon
The most glaring observation almost anyone will make about London Eye is how short it is. Just over two hundred pages hardbound, it looks like a book cut in half. It reads that way too.
Cut off from the rest of the world, London is two years into the fallout of a devastating incident that’s left the city toxic. Jack and his friends all lost family on what has become known as Doomsday.… Read the rest
Jack McDevitt wrote a story for Lightspeed Magazine in 2010 titled ‘The Cassandra Project’. It features the same protagonist and concept as his new novel with Mike Resnick by the same title. The short, told in the first person as opposed to the third person used in the novel, would not be recommended reading prior to The Cassandra Project novel. It’s essentially a 5,000 word spoiler. Nevertheless, I think it informs the review.
Based on my experience, it seems McDevitt and Resnick might be analogized as the science fiction equivalent of Lays Potato Chips whose famous slogan reads, “betcha can’t eat just one.” Both have strong followings who turn out time and again to buy their novels, many of which seem to have similar premises and styles. Having not read either at novel length, Cassandra Project was, I suppose, my test ground to see whether the analogy holds up.… Read the rest
When I began this blog, some eighteen months ago, I wasn’t sure if anyone would read me, or if I’d ever get a review copies. Strangely enough, two books I finished this past month were sequels to the first review copies I ever received: The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer, sequel to The Whitefire Crossing, and Chimera by T.C. McCarthy, sequel to Germline and Exogene. I write about them together not because of their coincidental significance to this blog, but because of the vastly different styles between the two and the fact they ultimately succeed for the same reason.
Whitefire, Schafer’s debut novel, was an adventure novel about smuggler Dev, and his human cargo Kiran, a blood mage looking to escape his powerful mentor. A mountain climber herself, Schafer spent most of the novel in the Whitefire Mountains crossing the natural barrier between two nations with very different ideas about the proper use of magic.… Read the rest
Having been on a work trip, I find myself spending a lot of time in the car commuting and driving to various meetings. The result is a lot of time with audio books. It’s been a nice break and an opportunity to catch up on a few things I haven’t been able to get into in print. The following three books are what I’ve recently finished. Before my trip is over I suspect to finish two more, John Steakley’s Armor, and probably Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint.
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregellis
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m pretty much done with World War II. It’s just been done to death, hasn’t it? The History Channel might as well be Hitler Channel for crying out loud. Or at least that’s what I said before I listened to Ian Tregellis’ Bitter Seeds.
Beginning in the early stages of World War II, Bitter Seeds shows the secret history of the conflict between Germany’s Gotterelektrongruppe (Nazi mutants, a la X-Men) and Britain’s warlocks.
… Read the rest
Jack Campbell came highly recommended. Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops: Control Point, instructed an entire room of people at a recent convention to read Dauntless. Putting aside the fact that Cole and Campbell share an agent and a publisher, his strong opinion on the subject piqued my interest. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my fellow bloggers Rob and Kathryn of SFFWorld like wise urged me. What I discovered is quintessential military science fiction that extrapolates naval combat into the vacuum of space with a real knack for storytelling despite archetypal characters, an extremely linear plot, and workmanlike prose.
Read that last sentence again. Dauntless is uninspired in a lot of ways except one and it’s a big one. It’s an absolute blast to read. In fact, it’s such an entertaining read that I don’t hesitate to call it the perfect cozy novel for the military science fiction fan.… Read the rest