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—Thomas M. Wagner (If you're a first-time visitor, check the Greeting page.)
John Scalzi's Redshirts wins 2013 Best Novel Hugo | Review here
TOTAL BOOKS REVIEWED: 700
APRIL 2013 LISTINGS
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane / Neil Gaiman (added 4/28)
Another eerie piece of bedtime baroque by perennial fan-favorite Gaiman, in which a man recalls his childhood experiences with a curious family of women protecting their little corner of the world from invasive evil forces. Gaiman has a history of prioritizing style over substance, but here he's found the right narrative for his haunting, poetic visions.
- The Goliath Stone / Larry Niven & Matthew Joseph Harrington (added 4/28)
Feeble, forgettable hard SF throwaway about nanotech that becomes its own autonomous civilization after being shot into space to deal with an encroaching asteroid. Potentially interesting subversion of the first-contact premise is undone by dreadful (and way too pleased with itself) storytelling that is utterly bereft of suspense or excitement.
- And Blue Skies from Pain / Stina Leicht (added 4/15)
Two-time Campbell nominee Leicht's sequel to her acclaimed debut Of Blood and Honey is written to the same high standards of excellence, but it's even more grim, violent and brutal. Its relentlessly bleak tone almost overwhelms the narrative, and even admirers of the previous book may find this one off-putting.
- River of Stars / Guy Gavriel Kay (added 4/10)
Guy Gavriel Kay is fantasy's great cryptohistorian. In this elegiac novel, set several centuries after the events in Under Heaven, Kay essays the collapse of an empire with an understated grace that conveys a sense of true sorrow over humanity's endless march of folly.
MARCH 2013 LISTINGS
- The Human Division / John Scalzi (added 3/31)
Scalzi has returned with all guns blazing to his Old Man's War universe, in this novel of diplomacy, politics and war that was first serialized as downloads. Not only a career-best for him, but one of SF's most electrifying space operas of the new century.
- Ack-Ack Macaque / Gareth L. Powell (added 3/31)
Alternate history, video games, mad scientists, assassins, royal conspiracies, airships, and a smack-talking, cigar-chomping simian who's a fighter pilot. What's not to like?
- The Silver Skull / Mark Chadbourn (added 3/26)
Smashing action-driven historical fantasy, the first in a series of Elizabethan adventures about Will Swyfte, England's greatest spy. The Unseelie Court seek the utter destruction of England by obtaining the titular artifact. Great swashbuckling fun, with clever parallels to the contemporary war on terrorism.
- Quintessence / David Walton (added 3/25)
A sea voyage to an island at the edge of a flat Earth, searching for the alchemical prima materia, encounters perils, high adventure, and thrilling discovery. The second novel by PKD Award winner Walton is a stunningly imagined saga written with an assured hand. Just fantastic stuff.
- The Last Policeman / Ben H. Winters (added 3/5)
With only six months left until an asteroid slams into the Earth, a New Hampshire detective doggedly pursues the case of an apparent suicide he actually believes was a murder. A sensitive, quietly powerful (and not bleak or depressing) drama, free from pathos, about how people choose to face death.
JANUARY 2013 LISTINGS
- Redshirts / John Scalzi (added 1/18)
About as meta as meta gets, this comedy about a team of starship ensigns who race against time (and alternate universes) to save themselves when they learn the reason why so many low-ranking crewmen on their flagship die horribly while on away teams is told with Scalzi's trademark mixture of broad humor and four-hanky sentimentalism.
- Scourge of the Betrayer / Jeff Salyards (added 1/15)
A naive young scribe accompanies some soldiers on a secret mission, and finds himself having to grow up fast. Taut and extremely confident fantasy debut from Salyards is epic in scope but intimate in execution. Promises good things to come from this emerging talent.
- The Explorer / James Smythe (added 1/15)
Spoilers. Crew of humanity's first manned voyage to the outer solar system comes to grief, and the last survivor finds himself faced with a genuine enigma. Despite tense storytelling, the book cannot resolve its gimmicky premise satisfyingly.
- The Ramal Extraction / Steve Perry (added 1/14)
First in a new series by fan-favorite military SF mainstay Perry, about a team of mercenaries hired to recover the kidnapped daughter of a colonial Rajah, discovering plots within plots. MilSF mavens will hike the rating upwards a tad.
- The Man Who Never Missed / Steve Perry (added 1/14)
Perry's 1985 debut, first in his popular Matador series, suffers from a near-complete absence of character development, suspense or even dramatic conflict, which is kind of counterproductive in a story that's supposed to be about a freedom-fighting rebel.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Johnny M. Lee, who passed away tragically in 1991. Johnny was something of a mentor figure to me when I got into SF fandom as a teenager in the 80's, and he is still missed.
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