Friday, October 30, 2009

Blood Of the Mantis - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blood Of the Mantis is a significantly shorter book thankfully, and more focused in scope, with several threads throughout the book as Stenwold and his agents spread out to try and achieve various ends. Not so much with the horrific carnage of war in this one, but double dealing and knives (and crossbows) in the dark.

Some of these are diplomatic - the Master Maker wants to barter the Sarn into an alliance with the rifled 'snapbows' as a bargaining chip, and has Sperra and the Aristoi general along. With them the likely next target, and the most progressive Ants - others may fall into line if they agree.

Che goes to a Spiderlands or almost Switzerland of sorts with Nero.

Tisamon, Tynisa and Achaeos have to try and track down the impossible to catch or kill as it seems Spider magician Scyla and the magical Shadow Box.

Salma finds himself a guerilla Robin Hood general, as he sees this is where his responsibilities now lie.

All out war to return in the next book most likely, as Totho and his Colonel in charge look like they are progressing in the art of the massacre from rifles to something nastier.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dragonfly Falling - Adrian Tchaikovsy

Dragonfly Falling picks up the story after the first book and the successful derailing of the Wasp train plan.

The focus is on the students of Stenwold's who have to grow up fast in all the violence, while he continues to try and make some of the other cities and geographical areas inhabited by other Kinden see the Wasps as a threat.

Totho and Salma get caught in the siege of Tark, where an auxiliary race engineer of significant talent has some unpleasant surprises in store. Not the only city siege of interest, either, as all eyes turn to Collegium eventually.
Che works with Achaeos where she can, and Tynisa and her father Tisamon have formed a very effective partnership of bladed death dealing.

This is again a theme that is driven home significantly - the evolution of technology in war, and via war. The Beetles even have a sort of kinden group motto 'for progress'. The other side of course is the horror of all the slaughtered, maimed, blown up, shot down, crushed etc. victims of the conflicts, as well as the displaced.

Wielders of magic have a little bit more to say throughout this novel, as well, and other small Kinden groups have their existence revealed to readers.

While the newness of the insect people idea is going to have worn off after 1300 pages, the novel is still very engaging.


4 out of 5

The Winter Ghosts - Tanith Lee

Reedland Sybil.


3 out of 5

The Reason For Not Going To the Ball - Tanith Lee

Fairy tale reveal.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Digging Up Arthur - Ardath Mayhar

Every day kill.


3.5 out of 5

The Crystal Skull and Other Tales Of the Terrifying and Twisted - Ardath Mayhar

A reasonable type collection of horror and fantasy with a chunk of Texas flavour at 3.32.

Crystal Skull : DOWN IN THE BOTTOMLANDS - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : LONESOME CANEFIELD BLUES - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : COON HUNT WITH DISTRACTIONS - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : THE CRYSTAL SKULL [short story] - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : THE EIGHT WHO HATED - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : FOOTPRINTS - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : GRIMM'S WAY - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : THE ORPHAN - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : YHITAGH - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : BARE BONES, BARE BONES - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : THE CHILDREN BENEATH THE STONES - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : CONCERTO - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : THE LITTLE FINGER ON THE LEFT HAND - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : IN THE GREEN SAND - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : HALLIMORE'S DOG - Ardath Mayhar
Crystal Skull : LIKE MOTHER USED TO MAKE - Ardath Mayhar

Borrowed hunter.

3 out of 5


Hog knife to this chase.

3.5 out of 5


Whatchmacallits, big ones, good dog.

4 out of 5


Head pressure.

3 out of 5


Multiple revenge, mind.

3.5 out of 5


Beach house haunted.

3 out of 5


Shape of death.

3 out of 5


Peter is the Wolf.

3.5 out of 5


Hurn death.

3 out of 5


Cat save.

3 out of 5


Finger's not connected.

3.5 out of 5


Engineering Sacrifice.

3.5 out of 5


Music vamp.

3.5 out of 5


The missing bit is the most annoying.

3.5 out of 5


Alien city sin stay.

3.5 out of 5


He's dead, me too.

3 out of 5


Dinner, me. Ouch.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Like Mother Used To Make - Ardath Mayhar

Dinner, me. Ouch.


3.5 out of 5

Hallimore's Dog - Ardath Mayhar

He's dead, me too.


3 out of 5

In the Green Sand - Ardath Mayhar

Alien city sin stay.


3.5 out of 5

Concerto - Ardath Mayhar

Music vamp.


3.5 out of 5

The Children Beneath The Stones - Ardath Mayhar

Engineering Sacrifice.


3.5 out of 5

Bare Bones - Ardath Mayhar

Finger's not connected.


3.5 out of 5

You Can't Go Home Again - Ardath Mayhar

Cat save.


3 out of 5

Yhitagh - Ardath Mayhar

Hurn death.


3 out of 5

The Orphan - Ardath Mayhar

Peter is the Wolf.


3.5 out of 5

Grimm's Way - Ardarth Mayhar

Shape of death.


3 out of 5

Footprints - Ardath Mayhar

Beach house haunted.


3 out of 5

The Eight Who Hated - Ardath Mayhar

Multiple revenge, mind.


3.5 out of 5

The Crystal Skull - Ardath Mayhar

Head pressure.


3 out of 5

Coon Hunt With Distractions - Ardath Mayhar

Whatchmacallits, big ones, good dog.


4 out of 5

Lonesome Canefield Blues - Ardath Mayhar

Hog knife to this chase.


3.5 out of 5

Down In the Bottomlands - Ardath Mayhar

Borrowed hunter.


3 out of 5

Remorseless Vengeance - Guy Boothby

Leave the hanging to the dead people, bro.


3.5 out of 5

Nightshades - Tanith Lee

An ok collection at 3.19. Dark fantasy to horror, generally speaking.

Nightshades : Nightshade - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : The Mermaid - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : After the Guillotine - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Meow - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Il Bacio (Il Chiave) - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : A Room with a Vie - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Paper Boat - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Blue Vase of Ghosts - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Pinewood - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : The Janfia Tree - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : The Devil's Rose - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Huzdra - Tanith Lee
Nightshades : Three Days - Tanith Lee

Finally shot him.

3 out of 5


Naked is fishy.

3 out of 5


Lopped afterlife.

3.5 out of 5


Winged rat girl chomp no shag.

3.5 out of 5


Dice with Death.

3 out of 5


Dead house.

3.5 out of 5


A bit wet.

3 out of 5


Souls, with electrum lion.

3.5 out of 5


He's dead, Pam.

2.5 out of 5


He's dead, Pam.

3 out of 5


Syphilitic variety.

3.5 out of 5


Dress alike demon story.

3.5 out of 5


Hanging extension coverup.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Huzdra - Tanith Lee

Dress alike demon story.


3.5 out of 5

The Devil's Rose - Tanith Lee

Syphilitic variety.


3.5 out of 5

The Janfia Tree - Tanith Lee

Me, rotten.


3 out of 5

Pinewood - Tanith Lee

He's dead, Pam.


2.5 out of 5

Blue Vase Of Ghosts - Tanith Lee

Souls, with electrum lion.


3.5 out of 5

Paper Boat - Tanith Lee

A bit wet.


3 out of 5

A Room With A Vie - Tanith Lee

Dead house.


3.5 out of 5

Il Bacio - Tanith Lee

Dice with Death.


3 out of 5

Meow - Tanith Lee

Winged rat girl chomp no shag.


3.5 out of 5

After the Guillotine - Tanith Lee

Lopped afterlife.


3.5 out of 5

The Mermaid - Tanith Lee

Naked is fishy.


3 out of 5

Nightshade - Tanith Lee

Finally shot him.


3 out of 5

Red As Blood - Tanith Lee

An ok collection of fractured (or more like broken, in Lee's case) fairy tales, at 3.22.

Red As Blood : Paid Piper - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : Red As Blood [short story] - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : Thorns - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : When The Clock Strikes - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : The Golden Rope - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : The Princess And Her Future - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : Wolfland - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : Black As Ink - Tanith Lee
Red As Blood : Beauty - Tanith Lee

Rat god worship.

3 out of 5


Witch Queen reflection.

3 out of 5


Too sleepy for me.

3 out of 5


Witchy revenge.

3.5 out of 5


Scarlet bloke serving.

3.5 out of 5


Ruler lights out.

3 out of 5


A bit beastly here, Grandma.

3.5 out of 5


No bright swan.

3 out of 5


Alien Lyra.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Beauty - Tanith Lee

Alien Lyra.


3.5 out of 5

Black As Ink - Tanith Lee

No bright swan.


3 out of 5

Wolfland - Tanith Lee

A bit beastly here, Grandma.


3.5 out of 5

The Princess and Her Future - Tanith Lee

Ruler lights out.


3 out of 5

The Golden Rope - Tanith Lee

Scarlet bloke serving.


3.5 out of 5

When the Clock Strikes - Tanith Lee

Witchy revenge.


3.5 out of 5

Thorns - Tanith Lee

Too sleepy for me.


3 out of 5

Paid Piper - Tanith Lee

Rat god worship.


3 out of 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fantasy and Science Fiction 686 - Gordon Van Gelder

Fairly similar in quality to the last issue, at 3.18. A lot of book reviews, as well.

Matthew Hughes oddball throwback fantasy with a twist is easily the best.

FSF686 : DRAGON'S TEETH - Alex Irvine
FSF686 : HELL OF A FIX - Matthew Hughes
FSF686 : INSIDE TIME - Tim Sullivan
FSF686 : I NEEDS MUST PART THE POLICEMAN SAID - Richard Bowes
FSF686 : BAD MATTER - Alexandra Duncan
FSF686 : FAREWELL ATLANTIS - Terry Bisson
FSF686 : ILLUSIONS OF TRANQUILITY - Brendan DuBois
FSF686 : THE BLIGHT FAMILY SINGERS - Kit Reed
FSF686 : THE ECONOMY OF VACUUM - Sarah Thomas
FSF686 : IRIS - Nancy Springer
FSF686 : THE MAN WHO DID SOMETHING ABOUT *IT* - Harvey Jacobs

Paulus, rather fishy.

3.5 out of 5


Infernal double Hourman.

4 out of 5


Prison extension.

3.5 out of 5


Hospital rebuilding.

3 out of 5


Footnote crewe.

3.5 out of 5


Twosome tale Destiny.

3 out of 5


Moon, no thanks.

3 out of 5


Show Them.

2 out of 5


Moon war exile madness.

3.5 out of 5


Rainbow tree capoff.

3 out of 5


Need and earth space bypass.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

I Needs Must Part The Policeman Said - Richard Bowes

Hospital rebuilding.


3 out of 5

The Man Who Did Something About It - Harvey Jacobs

Need and earth space bypass.


3 out of 5

Inside Time - Tim Sullivan

Prison extension.


3.5 out of 5

Iris - Nancy Springer

Rainbow tree capoff.


3 out of 5

The Economy Of Vacuum - Sarah Thomas

Moon war exile madness.


3.5 out of 5

The Blight Family Singers - Kit Reed

Show Them.


2 out of 5

Illusions Of Tranquility - Brendan DuBois

Moon, no thanks.


3 out of 5

Hell Of A Fix - Matthew Hughes

Infernal double Hourman.


4 out of 5

Farewell Atlantis - Terry Bisson

Twosome tale Destiny.


3 out of 5

Bad Matter - Alexandra Duncan

Footnote crewe.


3.5 out of 5

Dragon's Teeth - Alex Irvine

Paulus, rather fishy.


3.5 out of 5

Tomorrow Happens - David Brin

A collection that is a balance of fiction and non-fiction, which none of his best stories appearing here, so is only a 3.20.

There's an introduction by Vernor Vinge.

Tomorrow Happens : Aficionado - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : Stones of Significance - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : Reality Check - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : Paris Conquers All - David Brin and Gregory Benford
Tomorrow Happens : Fortitude - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : The Diplomacy Guild - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : News from 2025 - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : A Professor at Harvard - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : An Ever-Reddening Glow - David Brin
Tomorrow Happens : The Other Side of the Hill - David Brin


Struggle monitors.

3.5 out of 5


Singularity simulations.

3.5 out of 5


Satire. Fermi paradox and boring immortality, what to do?

3.5 out of 5


Even Martians.

3 out of 5


Galactic genealogy slumming.

3 out of 5


Short time philosophy Frankenstein creation.

3 out of 5


Web no fad.

3 out of 5


Kuiper ET compilation.

3 out of 5


Stardrive cosmic pollution problem.

3.5 out of 5


Off this planet necessary, look at this good stuff here!

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Other Side Of the Hill - David Brin

Off this planet necessary, look at this good stuff here!


3 out of 5

A Professor At Harvard - David Brin

Kuiper ET compilation.


3 out of 5

News From 2025 - David Brin

Web no fad.


3 out of 5

Fortitude - David Brin

Galactic genealogy slumming.


3 out of 5

Paris Conquers All - David Brin and Gregory Benford

Even Martians.


3 out of 5

Otherness - David Brin

An okish collection at 3.31, with 3 strong stories. This and extra non-fiction etc. enough to warrant the 3.5.

Otherness is divided into sections:

Transitions
Contact
Continuity
Cosmos
Otherness

The first of which contain short stories, plus some non-fiction or story notes. The last an essay about writing and making stuff up, sci-fi style.

Otherness : The Giving Plague - David Brin
Otherness : Myth Number 21 - David Brin
Otherness : Dr. Pak's Preschool - David Brin
Otherness : Detritus Affected - David Brin
Otherness : The Dogma of Otherness - David Brin
Otherness : Sshhh - David Brin
Otherness : Those Eyes - David Brin
Otherness : Bonding to Genji - David Brin
Otherness : The Warm Space - David Brin
Otherness : NatuLife - David Brin
Otherness : Piecework - David Brin
Otherness : Bubbles - David Brin
Otherness : Ambiguity - David Brin
Otherness : What Continues What Fails - David Brin


Altruism virus messiah.

4 out of 5


Elvis Road Dog.

2 out of 5


Designing the kid.

3 out of 5


Los Angeles archaeology.

3 out of 5


Ship blowup Talent giveup.

3 out of 5


UFO talkback.

3 out of 5


Japanese expedition arrival, sexual relations of human and aliens, and the odd problem with gravity and such.

3 out of 5


Project Lightprobe robot explorer crazy.

3.5 out of 5


VR Long Stick hunt.

3.5 out of 5


Dropping your bundle and bundle.

4 out of 5


I thought there was nothing outside Galaxies.

3.5 out of 5


Gaia War done? Right, it's back to the normal every day study of black hole manipulation then.

3.5 out of 5


Black hole and baby making.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Bubbles - David Brin

I thought there was nothing outside Galaxies.


3.5 out of 5

Sshhh - David Brin

Ship blowup Talent giveup.


3 out of 5

Detritus Affected - David Brin

Los Angeles archaeology.


3 out of 5

Dr Pak's Preschool - David Brin

Designing the kid.


3 out of 5

Myth Number 21 - David Brin

Elvis Road Dog.


2 out of 5

The River Of Time - David Brin

A collection that is mostly science fiction, with a couple of exceptions - goo dones, though. Thor Meets Captain America being the best of this book apart from The Crystal Sphere.

A reasonable collection at 3.41, with several strong stories.

River Of Time : The Crystal Spheres - David Brin
River Of Time : The Loom of Thessaly - David Brin
River Of Time : The 4th Vocation of George Gustaf - David Brin
River Of Time : Senses Three and Six - David Brin
River Of Time : Toujour Voir - David Brin
River Of Time : A Stage of Memory - David Brin
River Of Time : Just A Hint - David Brin
River Of Time : Tank Farm Dynamo - David Brin
River Of Time : Thor Meets Captain America - David Brin
River Of Time : Lungfish - David Brin
River Of Time : The River of Time - David Brin

Elder Race boredom black hole sleepytime.

4 out of 5


Fateful discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Boring Ritual Club androids.

2.5 out of 5


Alien blockade Canaan Breakout.

3.5 out of 5


Time, space, captain?

3 out of 5


Time-Jizz addiction.

3.5 out of 5


Falling apart separately.

3 out of 5


Sludgy space existence solar power.

3 out of 5


The Allies are winning the war, when it all suddenly starts to go bad. The nazis and their mystic crazies have come up with something.

'They... made... the Aesir. That's what Loki meant by thinking that, maybe, his own memories were false. When he suspected he was actually no older than...'

Not that Loki, working with the Allies, can be completely trusted, as the surviving commander finds out about the necromancy.

'Who would we conjure? Chris wondered. If we ever used those spells? Superman? Captain Marvel? Oh, they'd be more than a match for the Aesir! Our myths were boundless.'

At the end of the failed mission, Chris realises Loki has left him with a little superhuman gift, hence Captain America.

4 out of 5


Earth girls are easy?

4 out of 5


ComaSlow Vanisher communication.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The River Of Time - David Brin

ComaSlow Vanisher communication.


3.5 out of 5

Just A Hint - David Brin

Falling apart separately.


3 out of 5

A Stage Of Memory - David Brin

Time-Jizz addiction.


3.5 out of 5

Senses Three and Six - David Brin

Alien blockade Canaan Breakout.


3.5 out of 5

The 4th Vocation Of George Gustaf - David Brin

Boring Ritual Club androids.


2.5 out of 5

Openings - Robert Hood

Lying pixie.


3 out of 5

Losing Faith - Louise M. Steer

Double hanging haunting.


3 out of 5

Interzone 224 - Andy Cox

An interview with Robert Holdstock, and reviews of James Barclay's Ravensoul, and Lauren Beukes' Moxyland, among others. Some movie reviews include moon.

Fictionally, a good issue at 3.50, with Sanford leading the pack in both quality and position.

Interzone 224 : SUBLIMATION ANGELS - Jason Sanford
Interzone 224 : NO LONGER YOU - Katherine Sparrow and Rachel Swirsky
Interzone 224 : SHUCKED - Adrian Joyce
Interzone 224 : THE GODFALL'S CHEMSONG - Jeremiah Tolbert
Interzone 224 : THE FESTIVAL OF TETHSELEM - Chris Butler

Low kid AI mom decay alien Handling.

4 out of 5


Jew memory collection.

3.5 out of 5


Network monster.

3 out of 5


Muskblue mating.

3.5 out of 5


Nexus hole could be everywhere.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Festival Of Tethselem - Chris Butler

Nexus hole could be everywhere.


3.5 out of 5

The Godfall's Chemsong - Jeremiah Tolbert

Muskblue mating.


3.5 out of 5

Shucked - Adrian Joyce

Network monster.


3 out of 5

No Longer You - Rachel Swirsky and Katherine Sparrow

Jew memory collection.


3.5 out of 5

Spears Of Winter Rain - James Enge

Jar Golem avalanche mother trap.


4 out of 5

Interlude How the Story Ends - James Enge

Big queen story.


3 out of 5

Where Nurgnatz Dwells - James Enge

A Gnome There Was. Monumentally.


4 out of 5

Traveller's Dream - James Enge

Wolfbane Dark removal deal.


3.5 out of 5

Interlude the Anointing - James Enge

Little queen tale.


3 out of 5

Whisper Street - James Enge

He built a Crooked House for a reason, daddy-o.


4 out of 5

Monday, October 26, 2009

Asimov's 407 - Sheila Williams

There's a few book reviews here, incuding Gregory's Pandemonium, along with Pratchett and Gaiman.

A bit below average at 3.36, the stories.

ASIMOVS407 : A LOVELY LITTLE CHRISTMAS FIRE - Jeff Carlson
ASIMOVS407 : AS WOMEN FIGHT - Sara Genge
ASIMOVS407 : ANIMUS RIGHTS - John Shirley
ASIMOVS407 : ANGIE'S ERRAND - Nick Wolven
ASIMOVS407 : LEAVING THE STATION - Jim Aikin
ASIMOVS407 : A LARGE BUCKET AND ACCIDENTAL GODLIKE MASTERY OF SPACETIME - Benjamin Crowell
ASIMOVS407 : THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN - Mike Resnick
ASIMOVS407 : SOME LIKE IT HOT - Brian Stableford

Macho bug naked chase capture.

4 out of 5


Bodyswap beating.

3 out of 5


The Game Of Blood and Dust - now threeway.

3.5 out of 5


Collapse isolation.

3.5 out of 5


Antique ghost.

3 out of 5


Galactic Bus diplomacy domination dealings.

3.5 out of 5


Monster romance.

3 out of 5


Gaia Snow Queen tinkering.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Destroyer - James Enge

Problem with running away from monsters is running into bigger ones. Problem for them, too, if it happens to be Morlock the Maker doing the running.


4 out of 5

Some Like It Hot - Brian Stableford

Gaia Snow Queen tinkering.


3.5 out of 5

The Bride Of Frankenstein - Mike Resnick

Monster romance.


3 out of 5

A Large Bucket And Accidental Godlike Mastery Of Spacetime - Benjamin Crowell

Galactic Bus diplomacy domination dealings.


3.5 out of 5

Leaving the Station - Jim Aikin

Antique ghost.


3 out of 5

Angie's Errand - Nick Wolven

Collapse isolation.


3.5 out of 5

Hantu-Rimba - John Hugoe-Matthews

Ghost tiger.


3 out of 5

Animus Rights - John Shirley

The Game Of Blood and Dust - now threeway.


3.5 out of 5

As Women Fight - Sara Genge

Bodyswap beating.


3 out of 5

Analog 945 - Stanley Schmidt

An editorial about changing engineering psychology, a article about what happened to Mars weather over time, and a very interesting one of Dark Matter particle detection experiments.

Fiction only a 3.17, so subpar. Baxter's time gradation planet story the best.

ANALOG945 : FORMIDABLE CARESS - Stephen Baxter
ANALOG945 : A FLASH OF LIGHTNING - Robert Scherrer
ANALOG945 : THE JOLLY OLD BOYFRIEND - Jerry Oltion
ANALOG945 : THE UNIVERSE BENEATH OUR FEET - Carl Frederick
ANALOG945 : WILDERNESS WERE PARADISE ENOW - H. G. Stratmann
ANALOG945 : TO CLIMB A FLAT MOUTAIN 3 - G. David Nordley

Time Pooled.

3.5 out of 5


Dead moth effect time.

2.5 out of 5


Santa project coal transformation makeup.

3 out of 5


Craboid ping.

3 out of 5


Superhuman power experiment failure worlds collide.

3.5 out of 5


Cube World universe Ascendant.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

To Climb A Flat Mountain 3 - G. David Nordley

Cube World universe Ascendant.


3.5 out of 5

Wilderness Were Paradise Enow - H. G. Stratmann

Superhuman power experiment failure worlds collide.


3.5 out of 5

The Universe Beneath Our Feet - Carl Frederick

Craboid ping.


3 out of 5

The Jolly Old Boyfriend - Jerry Oltion

Santa project coal transformation makeup.


3 out of 5

A Flash Of Lightning - Robert Scherrer

Dead moth effect time.


2.5 out of 5

Formidable Caress - Stephen Baxter

Time Pooled.


3.5 out of 5

The Harvest - Vicki Pettersson

Zoe Archer, mortal, has Tulpa plans.


3 out of 5

Dark Matter - Vicki Pettersson

A Shadow and Light shagging mistake creates a Hunter.


3.5 out of 5

Interlude Book Of Witness - James Enge

Motherdeath story.


3 out of 5

An Old Lady and A Lake - James Enge

Mum's sort of gone to pieces because of you, dad.


4 out of 5

Signatures Of the Dead - Faith Hunter

Smelly witch vampire head collection.


2.5 out of 5

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Empire In Black and Gold - Adrian Tchaikovsky

An interesting fantasy, the first part of what appears that it will be a several thousand pages long epic.

Something that does not often happen in this sort of fantasy, which tends to the conservative and reactionary - there's an actual Revolution. Of the Industrial kind.

Lots of secondary world novels seem to have zero explanation for a static. In fact that still explains it, utter brain rot leaking out their ringholes, at least as far as it goes for creativity and invention. It seems that once you take sight of a pointy eared pretty boy, or a pointy hatted git your progress atrophies.

Not the case for the Shadows Of the Apt, however. Actually, it is part of the point of the story.

The people in this world, vaguely similarly to elves, dwarves etc. are speciated only racial ability lines - although here they are insect based.

The Black and Gold are the Wasps. Other major races of interest are the Beetles, the Ants, the Moths, as far as this book goes. The races can cross breed, and there are many others. There is an important Mantis character, a Dragonfly, a Spider (so I guess arachnids are ok, too, and there is a Woodlouse.). There are Scorpions in the desert, and others are mentioned as being rarer, Butterflies, Bees, Thornbugs, Grasshoppers. Others such as Centipedes and Mosquitoes are mentioned as being mythical.

This particular Industrial Revolution is at the early end of the scale. Travel still has pretty serious limits, and for the people of the Lowland areas where this is based, much of the world is unknown, even as far as rough maps go at their most advanced centre of learning, the university at Collegium, a Beetle City. Airships, planes, trains, cars, factories are all coming into being, as are the beginnings of riflery and other automatic weapons.

The various races have abilities determined by their genetic heritage, called 'Arts', so they are somewhat supernatural. The Ants can use unheard group communication, Moths are silent and can see in the dark. Spiders are good at political manipulation. Scorpions and large and strong with pincers, Spiders can walk up walls, Mantis are deadly killers, etc. Also, some have the ability to fly in general where the particular insect associated can. In the case of Beetles, only some can manage it. Wasps could basically join the Avengers with a dose of Pym particles (and a couple of thousand pairs of shoes), they can fly and shoot energy blast stings.

All of this is a little reminiscent of China Mieville's New Crobuzon, without the dark urban underbelly and the florid hypervocabulary. Although Tchaikovsky seems a bit of a cut above the ordinary as far as wordsmithing goes, when it comes to the fillers out of huge piles of fantasy paper.

This latter is a significant advantage when you are an Empire built on military conquest - and here is the source of the conflict for this book. The various peoples are divided into two broad categories 'The Apt' and 'The Inapt'. The former have the mental plasticity to understand machines and advance, and the latter do not. There's no particular justification for this, but possibly it is the author's illustration of different fantasy mindsets as mentioned before - that it is fairly nonsensical. People may call Dragonflies and Butterflies pretty, certainly - and that is how the 'Apt' lines tend to fall - the communal, uglier worker groups are those that develop technology, become engineers, etc. So there's a rough division by appearance, as defined in the novel - I don't see too many people calling Spiders attractive in our world.

The Wasp sociopolitical situation is such that they have to be aggressively expansionist - all males are in the military. The whole lot, so they need slaves to do much of the actual work. To get more slaves you need to take over people, as you can't use all your own people in this manner. To keep a military busy and stop them getting bored and fighting amongst each other - or overthrowing the boss, you have to point them at something. This also involves a military secret police, with internal and external divisions.

The actual character situation is this:

The first chapter has a group of friends participating in the desperate defense of a city against the invading Wasps, and being betrayed so that the artificer's plan (involving a lot of blowing up of the enemy) is thwarted, and they have to flea for their lives by flying machine, not all of them making it.

The artificer in question is Stenwold Maker - surname denoting career, as it used to do. The rest of the book is set close to two decades in the future, and also features a quarter of friends on the same duelling team, who have been students in Collegium and two of them are Stenwold's daughters.

The Wasps are coming, with diplomatic overtures, so Stenwold, who has been asking as a self-made spymaster knows the time is short, and has no choice but to get his young proteges involved. A Beetle girl with good general knowledge, a just qualified halfbreed artificer, a Dragonfly prince from the defeated by Wasps Commonweal nations, and a Spider woman who has a talent for the sword.

They venture into the heart of commerce of the Lowlands, an industrial city that has been selling a lot to the Wasps, and Stenwold has to try and convince people that they need to act, and act together, or the Wasps will easily pick them off a city at a time. The Maker has a spy network there, but the group has to survive to get to it.

Magic does exist, but isn't common, there are magicians with varying abilities in different races, and even one discovery of something that went badly wrong, but it isn't really a focus. There are no gods, avatars, priestly sacrifices or any of that, either.

Very pleasantly surprised by the thematic differences in this novel, and there are two more out with more to come, his website says, so I will look for those as well. It is very hard to get me interested in runs of 600 or more page books, too.

The author also has several short stories in this setting available for free download at his website, if you decide you'd like more of a taste.



4 out of 5

Carnies - Martin Livings

A dark stunning thriller, proclaims the cover.

Rather too slow for a thriller for the first third or so.

Dark fantasy I guess I could go with, though.

A down on scoops reporter asks his vaguely photographically skilled brother to help him do an interest story on a long lived carnival at a small town not too far away.

So, basically your creepy circus with monsters - this time the furry werewolf kind. With some family tree issues to be discovered.


3.5 out of 5

An Alien Light - Nancy Kress

A race of advanced aliens is surprised by human unpredictability and aggression - especially as it comings to contesting them militarily in space.

As an experiment, on a backward human planet they pit two groups of humans against each other so that they can study what goes on with some of the usual blandishments offered to a primitive society, for those that do what they want.


2.5 out of 5

How To Make Friends With Demons - Graham Joyce

Do not meddle in the affairs of crazy veterans, because they might not be.


Or, there are a variety of dodgy blokes to be found here. One that gets involved with more than one bookish scam - and claims he can see demons.

Whether he actually can or not is quite debatable, as this is not populated with a bunch of stable types.

One character, a professional with the skills to do so suggests he may be a functioning schizo - that is, all this demon junk may just be his craziness, too.

Other than that, a lot of meandering from pub to pub with various women.


3 out of 5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 20 - Stephen Jones

A 3.43 average, so not quite as good as some of the others - a bit more average to be found, and no standouts. There are several good stories, however. It is hard to choose the best of the 4 star stories for me, this time. Bishop/Lee/King/Finch, dunno.

The introduction is comprehensive and most excellent, covering horror in all media. Usual long list of real life dead people for the year that I generally never bother reading.

Also, given this is the 20th volume, Jones talks briefly about long running horror series, of which there have been a few make it to 20 plus volumes. In fact, two other Year's Best horror type volumes. Karl Edward Wagner's made it to 22, and Ellen Datlow put her own series down at 21. So if Jones can do three more, he takes Year's Best first place. Talks about how the world was a different place when he started. Although being a publishing type, not surprising his technology tidbits are wrong. No email in 1990? Wrong.

Also some a list of references at the end to publishers, magazines, some websites and other usueful information of that sort.

Best New Horror 20 : FRONT-PAGE McGUFFIN AND THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD - Peter Crowther
Best New Horror 20 : IT RUNS BENEATH THE SURFACE - Simon Strantzas
Best New Horror 20 : THESE THINGS WE HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN - Lynda E Rucker
Best New Horror 20 : FEMININE ENDINGS - Neil Gaiman
Best New Horror 20 : THROUGH THE CRACKS - Gary McMahon
Best New Horror 20 : FALLING OFF THE WORLD - Tim Lebbon
Best New Horror 20 : THE OLD TRADITIONS ARE BEST - Paul Finch
Best New Horror 20 : THE LONG WAY - Ramsey Campbell
Best New Horror 20 : THE PILE - Michael Bishop
Best New Horror 20 : UNDER FOG - Tanith Lee
Best New Horror 20 : ARKANGEL - Christopher Fowler
Best New Horror 20 : THE CAMPING WAINWRIGHTS - Ian R. MacLeod
Best New Horror 20 : A DONKEY AT THE MYSTERIES - Reggie Oliver
Best New Horror 20 : THE ORAM COUNTY WHOOSIT - Steve Duffy
Best New Horror 20 : THE NEW YORK TIMES AT SPECIAL BARGAIN RATES - Stephen King
Best New Horror 20 : OUR MAN IN THE SUDAN - Sarah Pinborough
Best New Horror 20 : DESTINATION NIHIL BY EDMUND BERTRAND - Mark Samuels
Best New Horror 20 : THE OVERSEER - Albert E Cowdrey
Best New Horror 20 : THE BEGINNINGS OF SORROW - Pinckney Benedict
Best New Horror 20 : THE PLACE OF WAITING - Brian Lumley
Best New Horror 20 : 2:00 PM THE REAL ESTATE AGENT ARRIVES - Steve Rasnic Tem

Too superstitious to die properly.

4 out of 5


Very black and greasy.

3 out of 5


Cold Rest.

3 out of 5


Statuesque letter.

3 out of 5


They're coming, djinn ya know?

3.5 out of 5


Throwing yourself at the ground and not missing.

3 out of 5


Back on the home town hobby horse.

4 out of 5


Frugo spin.

3 out of 5


Gorilla macarena curse.

4 out of 5


Golden the Ship Was, Oh, Oh, No!

4 out of 5


Train station Polish punishment.

4 out of 5


Gas bottle bash dad tent flyaway.

3.5 out of 5


Serious classics.

3 out of 5


Old coal One reporting, minus a few h heads.

4 out of 5


Post-crash pre-advice.

4 out of 5


Haboob horseride, maybe.

3.5 out of 5


Tracked circular.

2.5 out of 5


Phantom arm, phantom, phantom maker.

3.5 out of 5


Wereman, dead man.

3 out of 5


Tor ghost re-enactment.

3.5 out of 5


Grave find.

3 out of 5



4 out of 5

By Blood We Live - John Joseph Adams

An almost all reprint vampire anthology. It isn't a best vampire stories of all time, as it pretty much only states with Stephen King's era. Probably not such a bad idea as a ton of anthologies will have the famous Victorian era ghost stories contained therein. I've read quite a lot of vampire anthologies, and a chunk of these tales are new to me, which is always good. King's is from the 70s, but there are 80s, 90s and 00s, and even stories from the last year or two. L. A. Banks excellent immortal meets copy hellbent for revenge on the mob in Atlantic City tale for example.

The new novella by John Langan is actually the best story in the book, so that is very well done, and certainly original. One of the best stories of the year, without a doubt.

At a 3.54 average, a good book. Also great price from Night Shade webscriptions, no DRM, even better! In a timely bundle for Halloween is even better still!

There's a brief introduction, and a short reading list. Also, if you want to indulge in corporate onanist weasel words, in best practice terms Adams has the world leading promotional/informative websites for his anthologies. You'll find sample stories - with no paranoid horrible to use faecal flash interfaces or anything, just html. Interviews, and more.

Something most publishers are absolutely terrible at. If you look up johnjosephadams with the usual suffix you'll find it. Plus links to his several other anthologies, done similarly.

At the end is a suggested reading list of other work of possible interest. Speaking of websites, though, such destinations could still be used for more expansive introductions or lists of interest if the writers in question had more to add.

So for stories etc., a 4.00 - for added extras and cutting edeg anthologising, format, etc. no problem taking this over the mark to round to 4.5.

By Blood We Live : Snow Glass Apples - Neil Gaiman
By Blood We Live : The Master of Rampling Gate - Anne Rice
By Blood We Live : Under St. Peter's - Harry Turtledove
By Blood We Live : Child of an Ancient City - Tad Williams
By Blood We Live : Lifeblood - Michael A. Burstein
By Blood We Live : Endless Night - Barbara Roden
By Blood We Live : Infestation - Garth Nix
By Blood We Live : Life is the Teacher - Carrie Vaughn
By Blood We Live : The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick
By Blood We Live : The Beautiful The Damned - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
By Blood We Live : Pinecones - David Wellington
By Blood We Live : Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu - Norman Partridge
By Blood We Live : Foxtrot at High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko
By Blood We Live : This is Now - Michael Marshall Smith
By Blood We Live : Blood Gothic - Nancy Holder
By Blood We Live : Mama Gone - Jane Yolen
By Blood We Live : Abraham's Boys - Joe Hill
By Blood We Live : Nunc Dimittis - Tanith Lee
By Blood We Live : Hunger - Gabriela Lee
By Blood We Live : Ode to Edvard Munch - CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
By Blood We Live : Finders Keepers - L. A. Banks
By Blood We Live : After the Stone Age - Brian Stableford
By Blood We Live : Much at Stake - Kevin J. Anderson
By Blood We Live : House of the Rising Sun - Elizabeth Bear
By Blood We Live : A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow
By Blood We Live : Twilight - Kelley Armstrong
By Blood We Live : In Darkness, Angels - Eric Van Lustbader
By Blood We Live : Sunrise on Running Water - Barbara Hambly
By Blood We Live : Hit - Bruce McAllister
By Blood We Live : Undead Again - Ken MacLeod
By Blood We Live : Peking Man - Robert J. Sawyer
By Blood We Live : Necros - Brian Lumley
By Blood We Live : Exsanguinations - Catherynne M. Valente
By Blood We Live : Lucy in Her Splendor - Charles Coleman Finlay
By Blood We Live : The Wide, Carnivorous Sky - John Langan
By Blood We Live : One for the Road - Stephen King

Prefer heartless little girls.

4 out of 5


Burning down the house as dead dad suggested a better move.

2.5 out of 5


Papal Christ feeding.

4 out of 5


Sad stories say so much, says the vamp.

4 out of 5


If a vamp's gonna get you, maybe any religion will do.

2.5 out of 5


Cold and scary.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire$ slayer scenario not alien to Judas.

4 out of 5


New vampire city seduction.

3.5 out of 5


Stuck by old style.

3 out of 5


Fictional disappearance.

2.5 out of 5


First colony suckers.

3 out of 5


Quincey not dead, Drac not dead, Lucy not dead. Blimey.

4 out of 5


Vampire anti-vampire gang.

4 out of 5


Think we'll stay away from the suckers.

3 out of 5


Undeath requires child offering.

3.5 out of 5


Vamp a bye baby.

3 out of 5


Finding some horror in dad's other job, and weapons.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire princess scares Snake.

3 out of 5


Band feeding.

4 out of 5


Old drinker meeting.

3.5 out of 5


Mob revenge good, but temporary.

4.5 out of 5


Ultra vampire Master diet.

3.5 out of 5


Lugosi and Tepes, temporal communication.

3.5 out of 5


Tenacious, Da Tribute.

3.5 out of 5


Private detective undead.

4 out of 5


Birthday lifetaking.

3.5 out of 5


Wing change.

4 out of 5


Titanic vampire hunt sunk.

3.5 out of 5


On a Mission From God. Of the killing vampire kind.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire generation ship.

4 out of 5


Stoneage vampires.

3 out of 5


Summer lovin' cut horribly short.

3.5 out of 5


Death is colourless. But stinky and rather academic.

3.5 out of 5


Voyeuristic adjustments.

3.5 out of 5


The Shadow Out Of Space Vampire.

4.5 out of 5


What sort of people go to 'Salem's Lot? Not smart ones, that is for sure.

4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

2:00 Pm The Real Estate Agent Arrives - Steve Rasnic Tem

Grave find.


3 out of 5

The Place Of Waiting - Brian Lumley

Tor ghost re-enactment.


3.5 out of 5

The Beginnings Of Sorrow - Benedict Pinckney

Wereman, dead man.


3 out of 5

Destination Nihil by Edmund Betrand - Mark Samuels

Tracked circular.


2.5 out of 5

Our Man In the Sudan - Sarah Pinborough

Haboob horseride, maybe.


3.5 out of 5

The Oram County Whoosit - Steve Duffy

Old coal One reporting, minus a few h heads.


4 out of 5

A Donkey At the Mysteries - Reggie Oliver

Serious classics.


3 out of 5

The Camping Wainwrights - Ian R. MacLeod

Gas bottle bash dad tent flyaway.


3.5 out of 5

The Wide Carnivorous Sky - John Langan

The Shadow Out Of Space Vampire.


4.5 out of 5

Sunrise On Running Water - Barbara Hambly

Titanic vampire hunt sunk.


3.5 out of 5

Twilight - Kelley Armstrong

Birthday lifetaking.


3.5 out of 5

A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow

Private detective undead.


4 out of 5

Finders Keepers - L. A. Banks

Mob revenge good, but temporary.


4.5 out of 5

Ode To Edvard Munch - Caitlin R. Kiernan

Old drinker meeting.


3.5 out of 5

Hunger - Gabriela Lee

Band feeding.


4 out of 5

Foxtrot At High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko

Vampire anti-vampire gang.


4 out of 5

Pinecones - David Wellington

First colony suckers.


3 out of 5

The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick

Stuck by old style.


3 out of 5

Life Is the City - Carrie Vaughn

New vampire city seduction.


3.5 out of 5

Arkangel - Christopher Fowler

Train station Polish punishment.


4 out of 5

Under Fog - Tanith Lee

Golden the Ship Was, Oh, Oh, No!


4 out of 5

The Long Way - Ramsey Campbell

Frugo spin.


3 out of 5

The Old Traditions Are the Best - Paul Finch

Back on the home town hobby horse.


4 out of 5

Through the Cracks - Gary McMahon

They're coming, djinn ya know?


3.5 out of 5

Feminine Endings - Neil Gaiman

Statuesque letter.


3 out of 5

These Things We Have Always Known - Lynda E. Rucker

Cold Rest.


3 out of 5

It Runs Beneath the Surface - Simon Strantzas

Very black and greasy.


3 out of 5

Front-page Mcguffin And The Greatest Story Never Told - Peter Crowther

Too superstitious to die properly.


4 out of 5

Catalyst - Leanne Frahm

Middle aged women slash, too.


3.5 out of 5

Must Love Hellhounds - Anonymous Anonymous

A dumb title, but actually relevant. Deliberately cheesy, too, I think. A mixed bag this original anthology at only 3.13 The Harris story is a bit like what Leinster or Kuttner might have come up with in the 30s - and funnily enough it has a 30s character in it, so may be deliberate. She just doesn't have their talent or ability to pull it off, though.

The Singh story is cheesy in a bad way, Vampires vs Angels like they are about as different or strange as a litre of milk.

The Brook story is amusing, and a little along the Lara Croft lines without any tombs being raided, as cuh.

The pick of the bunch is the Andrews story, that features one of the minor characters from her Kate Daniels novel, the other Order Knight, Andrea - who is also not human, and a gun nut. You need a big gun, too, for 20 foot tall three headed dogs of Hades. This is very good, pretty much on a par quality-wise with the latest book, and set not too long after it.

So if you know nothing about these authors, I'd start with the second half of the book. Hard to have missed Harris, of course. Also probably the reason the poor editor nobody isn't mentioned, not being able to shift truckloads of books like the former.

Must Love Hellhounds : The Britlingens Go to Hell - Charlaine Harris
Must Love Hellhounds : Angels' Judgment - Nalini Singh
Must Love Hellhounds : Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews
Must Love Hellhounds : Blind Spot - Meljean Brook

A Crick in Lucifer's Earhartless.

2.5 out of 5


Deacon dog.

2.5 out of 5


Hyena duos' monster dog destruction apple today doesn't keep the hydra away thanatos team-up.

4 out of 5


Good Pup. Eat demon.

3.5 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews

Hyena duos' monster dog destruction apple today doesn't keep the hydra away thanatos team-up.


4 out of 5

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oceanic - Greg Egan

Easily one of the best science fiction collections ever, at 4.29. At least as far as one goes that hits double figures in stories, probably the best ever. No less than three 5 star stories after a reasonably recent outpouring of new work.
Put together with some older gems, and it is unmissable.

Only one story less than very good, the deliberately issue drive Lost Continent. That is still fine, too.

The new story is 'Hot Rock' - set in his Amalgam universe, where two scientist explorers go out to investigate a wandering planet that seems to have a heat source that has kept it alive for aeons.

Oceanic : Lost Continent - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Dark Integers - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Crystal Nights - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Steve Fever - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Induction - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Singleton - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Oracle - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Border Guards - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Riding the Crocodile - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Glory - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Hot Rock - Greg Egan
Oceanic : Oceanic - Greg Egan

Future detention centre.

3.5 out of 5


Mathematical Border Guards detente conflict resolution.

5 out of 5


AI research society universal escape flareup.

5 out of 5


Resurrection nanobuild permutation recreation.

4.5 out of 5


Orchid Flower followup Duty.

4 out of 5


A scientist couple decide to have an artificial child, some years after a natural pregnancy miscarries.

'Carlos said breezily, “Why not? There are so many others now. Sophie. Linus. Theo. Probably a hundred we don't even know about. It's not as if Ben's child won't have playmates.” Adai — Autonomously Developing Artificial Intelligences — had been appearing in a blaze of controversy every few months for the last four years. A Swiss researcher, Isabelle Schib, had taken the old models of morphogenesis that had led to software like Zelda, refined the technique by several orders of magnitude, and applied it to human genetic data. Wedded to sophisticated prosthetic bodies, Isabelle's creations inhabited the physical world and learnt from their experience, just like any other child.'

There is plenty of discrimination, but their daughter has plans for all the other quantum branches in the long run, given the technology she has already.

4 out of 5


In a reality where a man, similar to Alan Turing is working for the government in rather more unpleasant circumstances is visited by a reality hopping android woman things change rapidly. A man somewhat similar to C. S. Lewis has problems coping and believing.

4 out of 5


It is about human immortals, and how they deal with people and society when living so long. One man joins back into life, and meets the best quantum soccer player going around, and loses a friend.

The discovery is made is that she is one of the earliest immortals, instrumental in posthuman travel to other planets, and knows what death is actually like, and has to work out how to relate to the new people.

Now, I can't get this story out of my head, like happens with songs sometimes, so, I am upgrading this, 5 stars, given I reread it recently and hadn't read it for quite a wihle.

And, as far as Australian goes, as far as pixel-stained technopeasant wretches, well, I'd hate to be caught paraphasing the Devil Went Down to Georgia, but, he's the best there's even been.

5 out of 5



A couple of then 10K year old posthumans decide to attempt to contact some aliens known as the Aloof for obvious reasons. This inspires others to some innovation.

4 out of 5


Antimatter lightspeed starblast instantiation means mathematical archaeology discovery decision.

4.5 out of 5


Amalgam wanderer exploration mission femotech discovery invasion hoaxing Spiral Out delegation.

4 out of 5


A boy growing up in a backward fundamentalist community on another planet begins to understand how much the local biology has altered the people that live there, and why a religion surrounds this.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5

Dream Weavers - Paul Collins

An anthology as it turns out, mostly for kids. So lots of the stories are poor from an adult perspective. Whereas Shillitoe, McMullen, Blackford, Routley etc. mostly sidestep that sort of dumbed down restriction. So read those, and skip the rest if you have passed the double figure age marker.

The introduction, however, is worth a look, as Collins traces the (very brief) history of European style secondary world fantasy. A publishing category that did not actually exist in Australian until the 80s - mass market anything, really.

Not sure what Robinson was thinking calling his female heroine Magilla? A double take there, unless this is a famous name for other reasons than being a cartoon gorilla.

Dream Weavers : The Innkeeper - Tony Shillitoe
Dream Weavers : The Scribe of a Hundred Lies - Melinda Ross
Dream Weavers : Lucky Jonglar - Sean McMullen
Dream Weavers : The Empty Quarter - Jane Routley
Dream Weavers : The Weakest Link - Roger Wilcox
Dream Weavers : Sunchosen - Cadmus Evans
Dream Weavers : Walk the Wildwoods - Shannah Jay
Dream Weavers : Dream Weaver - Howard Goldsmith and Paul Collins
Dream Weavers : The Keystone - Isobelle Carmody
Dream Weavers : Princess Melodia and the White Catherine - Beverley Macdonald
Dream Weavers : The Sword of God - Russell Blackford
Dream Weavers : The Crypt of Fleeting Hope - Ian Hayward Robinson
Dream Weavers : At the Edge of the Sea - Keith Taylor

No magic sword mercenary rate. Got a magic ring though.

4 out of 5


Leopard thieving.

3 out of 5


Clown gladiator kill rebound betrayal setup escape.

3.5 out of 5


Demon thief desert pursuit sorceress servitude escape story.

4 out of 5


Metal fighter mail bits.

2.5 out of 5


Give us the god king.

2.5 out of 5


Must do silver.

3 out of 5


Marduk ruins.

2.5 out of 5


Vegas Valoria.

3 out of 5


Mouthy girl's psychic power pact.

3.5 out of 5


The Queen of Palmyra's domain is being slowly strangled by Aurelian, Imperator of Rome and his sun god priests. She hires the blood-fueled mage Simeon Africanus to help her turn the tide.

4 out of 5


Magilla, Ogre's Bane.

3 out of 5


Fishy boy.

2.5 out of 5





2.5 out of 5

The Centauri Device - M. John Harrison

Truck you, retrieval.


A powerful artifact, a leftover, is discovered.

It inspires some frantic attempts to retrieve it and gain its power.

You know, the usual.

The LibraryThing rating for this is very poor, and it is not surprising.

It is pretty much dyed-in-the-wool average or mediocre, or whatever other adjective you may care to come up with that describes extremely middle of the road.

A few dodgy characters that don't ring particularly true.

Nothing new here, to be sure.


3 out of 5

At the Edge Of the Sea - Keith Taylor

Fishy boy.


2.5 out of 5

Hot Rock - Greg Egan

Amalgam wanderer exploration mission femotech discovery invasion hoaxing Spiral Out delegation.


4 out of 5

Against A Dark Background - Iain M. Banks

Lazy Gun story.

On a planet that is out of the way, and so prone to historical cycles isolated to its own environs--the story of a soldier.

That is, the place can have collapses, rises and falls, etc.

The veteran in question is after a powerful weapons artifact. Because of the situation on the planet, this is now a unique item, the ability to utilise this technology level disappeared.


3 out of 5

Blind Spot - Meljean Brook

Good Pup. Eat demon.


3.5 out of 5

Angels' Judgment - Nalini Singh

Deacon dog.


2.5 out of 5

The Britlingens Go To Hell - Charlaine Harris

A Crick in Lucifer's Earhartless.


2.5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Excession - Iain M. Banks

One of the more entertaining Banks outings, that is, if you don't mind the usual tendency to Mind suicide he has a thing for.

A young (for this setting) woman who aspires to Culture Contact and Special Circumstancesness is given an opportunity by a drone long involved with their family to get involved.

A strange alien Big Not So Dumb Object in a strange part of space is involved. Also an alien race called the Affront. (Yes, they liked their nickname).

Plenty of appropriately named ships for this strange in space action, too.


3.5 out 5

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sands Of Mars - Arthur C. Clarke

An early look at trying to live on Mars.

Clark says in the intro of this early novel of his that it was a departure from Lowell, Burroughs and Brackett.

Although it is still rather different from the planet we know todary.

A rather quaint novel as the people on the red planet learn to get along, and get along with what they find there and the conditions.


2.5 out of 5

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Digital Plague - Jeff Somers

The second Avery Cates novel is somewhat more straightforward than the first. He is also a rather more well-resourced criminal at this point in time.

Lost of violent facings-off with opponents. Not that that didn't happen in the first novel, but seems to be more of it here.

There's also the case of the enemy of my enemy. The term of endearment for the police being 'System Pigs', they don't really think much of Cates, him being a killer of them.

However, to stop the plague that he has been exposed to, they need to help him. Along with a gearhead to handle that side of things.

Much fuck you arsekicking fun and games to be had.


3.5 out of 5

The Electric Church - Jeff Somers

A nightmarish dystopian cyberpunk future finds the protagonist of this novel trying to survive.

Avery Cates, luckily for him, is streetwise enough and good enough at the violence thing to get by. He is a killer, after all.

A good thing too, with a religion of cyborg immortality seekers who would be happy to see him not exist - can he get to their leadership first?


3.5 out of 5

Starship Rebel - Mike Resnick

The fourth in a series, and again rather similar in style and content.

Here Wilson Cole is slowly gathering a mercenary fleet so that he has dozens of ships. Too many for most of the jobs that require such. He also draws the intention of a crimelord, The Octopus, working on a much large scale.

However, when an event really pisses him off - something the Republic Navy does - he decides to put his ships to what he sees is a better use. The aim to eventually kick them out of the Inner Frontier.


3 out of 5

The A'Rak - Michael Shea

The A'Rak might sound like an odd name, or maybe a comic about a dinosaur fighting warrior perhaps.

However, think Arachnid is what Shea is trying to get at.

As his chronicler Shag Margold tells us, arachnid is what we get, spider god, spiders, many. Hordes in fact. Spider god sacrifices and how to avoid being one.

Two character threads run through this book, mostly alternating, Nifft, plus another.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Labours Of Hercules - Agatha Christie

A Poirot considering giving it away decides, after a remark at a dinner that he can do what a musclebound demigod could do. Less likely to be eaten, though.

An ok collection at 3.29.

Labours Of Hercules : The Nemean Lion - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Lemean Hydra - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Arcadian Deer - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Erymanthian Boar - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Augean Stables - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Stymphalean Birds - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Cretan Bull - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Horses of Diomedes - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Girdle of Hyppolita - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Flock of Geryon - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Apples of the Hesperides - Agatha Christie
Labours Of Hercules : The Capture of Cerberus - Agatha Christie

Poirot's ankle biter.

3 out of 5


Poirot's rumour monster.

3 out of 5


Poirot's graceful girl.

2.5 out of 5


Poirot's snow punt.

3.5 out of 5


Poirot's political muckracking.

3.5 out of 5


Poirot's two crow holiday.

3.5 out of 5


Poirot's mad fiance.

3 out of 5


Poirot's General girl trouble.

3.5 out of 5


Poirot's Rubens school.

3.5 out of 5


Poirot's mystic twist.

3 out of 5


Poirot's goblet gamble.

4 out of 5


Poirot's escalator hell.

3.5 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Vulture Women - Agatha Christie

Poirot's two crow holiday.


3.5 out of 5

The Stymphalean Birds - Agatha Christie

Poirot's two crow holiday.


3.5 out of 5

The Case Of the Kidnapped Pekinese - Agatha Christie

Poirot's ankle biter.


3 out of 5

The Nemean Lion - Agatha Christie

Poirot's ankle biter.


3 out of 5

Invisible Enemy - Agatha Christie

Poirot's rumour monster.


3 out of 5

The Lernean Hydra - Agatha Christie

Poirot's rumour monster.


3 out of 5

The Drug Peddler - Agatha Christie

Poirot's General girl trouble.


3.5 out of 5

The Horses Of Diomedes - Agatha Christie

Poirot's General girl trouble.


3.5 out of 5

The Disappearance Of Winnie King - Agatha Christie

Poirot's Rubens school.


3.5 out of 5

The Girdle Of Hyppolita - Agatha Christie

Poirot's Rubens school.


3.5 out of 5

Weird Monster - Agatha Christie

Poirot's mystic twist.


3 out of 5

The Flock Of Geryon - Agatha Christie

Poirot's mystic twist.


3 out of 5

Murder Mountain - Agatha Christie

Poirot's snow punt.


3.5 out of 5

The Erymanthian Boar - Agatha Christie

Poirot's snow punt.


3.5 out of 5

Meet Me In Hell - Agatha Christie

Poirot's escalator hell.


3.5 out of 5

The Capture Of Cerberus - Agatha Christie

Poirot's escalator hell.


3.5 out of 5

Midnight Madness - Agatha Christie

Poirot's mad fiance.


3 out of 5

The Cretan Bull - Agatha Christie

Poirot's mad fiance.


3 out of 5

The Augean Stables - Agatha Christie

Poirot's political muckracking.


3.5 out of 5

The Arcadian Deer - Agatha Christie

Poirot's graceful girl.


2.5 out of 5

The Poison Cup - Agatha Christie

Poirot's goblet gamble.


4 out of 5

The Apples Of the Hesperides - Agatha Christie

Poirot's goblet gamble.


4 out of 5

Spell Games - Tim Pratt

The Fourth Marla Mason book isn't up to the standards of the others.

Where there others are involved with particularly outre supernatural or sorcerous goings on, this novel introduce's Marla's brother.

And, as it turns out, he is a grifter who is basically unaware of the sorcerous world that she inhabits. Like his sister, he isn't above some kicking and killing - or shooting and stabbing as the case may be.

Marla is also trying to break in a new apprentice at the same time.

Time for some sibling home truths.


3 out of 5

Sins Of the Father - Mitchell Scanlon

Rather than a series of killings, this time Judge Anderson is called in to ride herd on a rookie Judge. The division suspects she may not be up to the job, being a borderline candidate.

Anderson is not pleased by the spy role, but knows what can happen if psychics lose the plot.

The case turns out to be a murder committed by a superstrong giant and a child of an organised crime figure of multiple rejuvenations, and another message carved in blood.

So rather weird, even for Mega City One.


3.5 out of 5

Red Shadows - Mitchel Scanlon

Again a series of killings for Judge Anderson to solve, but this time no other dimensional demonic entities are involved, just some rogue psychics and far more material concerns.

The institutionalisation and abuse of a young boy leads him to becoming the tool of shadowy interests looking to cover their trails.

Anderson and a hardarse Street Judge with his own problems in his heads thanks to the Necropolis incident clash over jurisdiction and methodology in trying to crack this case. Luckily they have professional Tek and Med Judges to intervene and referee to try and stop the clever psychic killer.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fear the Darkness - Mitchel Scanlon

A firebombing by a religious nut 15 years earlier has repercussions for a case Judge Anderson is called in on, shortly after dealing with a bunch of Satanist types.

The Sector 12 house has problems with crazies and deaths in custody and disturbing messages being written in blood.

It is also the subject of an internal affairs investigation, and has a chief that is being basically made to retire, and a passed over subordinate.

So politics here may be just as dangerous to Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson as demons from other dimensions wanting to eat her soul.


3.5 out of 5

Night Shade Books September 2009 - Jeremy Lassen

An interesting anthology of books, a 5, a 4.5, a 4.0, a 3.5 and 3.0! So nicely ordered and very good value. Basically a webscription to me is a good deal if you have two books that you want, as then you get 3 of 4 others for a few dollars. Less than the price of a newspaper each! (Not that I buy those, anyway).

When there are three, such as this one (Bacigalupi, Strahan, Cook), then you are making out like a bandit. The Cook has a new Vengeful Dragon story to go along with the fine others.

Was pretty sure I wouldn't dislike something called The Mall Of Cthulhu, either.

Great deal. The Windup Girl though is pretty much good enough on its own to make this worth considering.

DRM free publishing should be applauded, too, so go buy.

An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat - Glen Cook
The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
The Mall of Cthulhu - Seamus Cooper
The King's Daughters - Nathalie Mallet
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year III edited - Johnathan Strahan

A very pleasant surprise to see this, as Cook pretty much doesn't write short fiction for some time. Even better to see that there is a third story about the crew of the Vengeful Dragon - Hell's Forge. The other two, Ghost Stalk and Call For the Dead are excellent. The third is good, too, if not quite at the level of those two.

The other couple I hadn't read were apparently possible Norse legend/folktale type stories that with very minor tweaks could be set in the appropriate region of the Dread Empire. So Finding Svale's Daughter and Silverheels have a different style and tone to the other heroic or low fantasy entries.

Multiformat, DRM free, great price. Highly recommended, as these stories are my favorite Cook work outside the Black Company.

An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Soldier of An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : The Nights of Dreadful Silence - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Finding Svale's Daughter - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Ghost Stalk - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Filed Teeth - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Castle Of Tears - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Call For The Dead - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Severed Heads - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Silverheels - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Hell's Forge - Glen Cook

Old soldiers, beware of.

4 out of 5

No trusting wizards or kings.

3 out of 5

Trolls, dragons and thunderers.

3.5 out of 5

Crazy pirate spook ship hunt.

4.5 out of 5

We had a Lord Hammer.

3.5 out of 5

Bowman's pirate purgatory.

4 out of 5

Great death entry.

3 out of 5

Kitten vs dragon transformation.

3.5 out of 5

Vengeful Dragon's Fish portal sorcery.

4 out of 5



4.5 out of 5

--

Thai generip terror.

It Bacigalupi ever writes anything that is sweetness and light, that right there would be likely proof of the Many Worlds Theory and the fact that you had slipped into an alternate universe.

The setting is Bangkok, or, colloquially, Krung Thep. It is also a near future dystopia. The city now houses many displaced Chinese refugees from a Malaysia turned fundamentalist muslim fanatics. (See his story Yellow Card Man for background) Bangkok itself is only kept from drowning by engineering and technology.

This is a post-oil world, with very little petroleum technology available, remaining. No evidence of solar tech, either, really. Power is provided by human labor and genetically engineered highly efficient animals pourding kinetic energy into springs, which then can be used to power machines. Treadle computers, even. Countries have shrunk in upon themselves as a result, but are beginning to look outward again, with ships, and dirigibles. This makes this setting rather unlike the mass-media or AI ridden future India and Brasil etc. of Ian McDonald's devising.

Particularly nasty are the 'calorie companies' - organisations that have the ability to manufacture crops in large supply: but their crops are sterile, so you always need to go back for more. That is if bugs and plagues 'weevils' and 'blister rust' do not get them. Much dirty, violent dealing in support of this activity (see his story The Calorie Man) and there are mentions of it going horribly wrong in other countries. One of the questions this raises is how they manage to stay around - why, with such hatred of them, are the calorie men and women not mercilessly hunted and slaughtered. The only intimations you get of this are economic power, based in the USA. Also China is apparently dysfunctional, and many other countries are devastated. Thailand, through foresight, is struggling on, and is hence a point of interest. Their genetic stocks and the genetic engineering expert they have on hand to help defend them are of interest to all.

The rapidly mutating diseases caused by genetic engineering meddling and conflict kill many - with mainly the calorie companies having the resources to combat their own hellish offspring, if they care to. Mutated cats with no real predators except humans have also destroyed a lot of the food chain.

The novel has many viewpoints:

Anderson Lake, An American calorie man representative, brought in to try and increase productivity at a factory working on more efficient power springs. More than he seems, however.

Hock Seng, The Yellow Card Man, an elderly fallen Chinese merchant who escaped massacres and now works for Lake.

Emiko, The Windup Girl. A Japanese artificially created human. Unable to reproduce, overheats easily but has many unknown talents. Left behind by her owner, currently a working bar girl.

Kanya, an officer in the Environment Ministry's corps of field soldiers responsible for protecting the city from incursions of disease, animals and artificial humans.

Conflict develops from many angles - there is longstanding resentment between the Environment Ministry and Trade Ministry because of different philosophies, inward, and outward looking, respectively. The foreign merchants look to exploit this. Then there is of course anti-refugee racism. As mentioned before, and historically, the Asian against Asian racism or nationalism is quite horrific.

The novel leaves you uneasy the whole way through, but fascinated. After many thousands of stories I am not easy to surprise. I had no idea what the hell was going to happen in this book, apart from the fact that it was likely to be bloody. The writing is excellent. Bacigalupi is a major talent, if unfortunately not very prolific.

Hard to predict, but I think this novel is quite likely to be important in the sense of SF history. It is brilliant, in its all sweating dystopian style.

Forget whatever else you are reading, and speed browse to Webscriptions where this is a available multiformat DRM free (thankfully, given its theme). Hopefully it will do well enough so his collection 'Pump Six' becomes available, too. This is good enough to buy in any or all varieties, however.

It is that rare beast, a 5 star novel. Great at the start, great in the middle, great at the end.


5 out of 5

--

Light hearted fantasy about two friends who happened to stumble into a sorority full of vampires and be somewhat emotionally scarred by the experience of slaying and head removal.

One, a barista, follows around the other, who is now an agent of the FBI.

The former, Ted stumbles across a CD left at his work that has a decidedly Lovecraftian bent - and they uncover a cult.

FBI mate puts him undercover in a mall to try and uncover what is going on and stop it, so Cthulu stays sleeping.

3.5

--

Not really my sort of book, but part of a bundle from a high quality publisher.

The adventures of Amir from the previous volume continue.

This book is a bit slower, but I think the writing is actually a little improved, which makes it easier to take.

Also, Baba Yaga, who usually can make a story more interesting.

A rather broader scope for this than previously, but still has some skullduggery among the nobility. Done in a very light tone, though, as you may expect from the title.

If you like the whole fantasy princesses thing you will likely rate this a little higher than me.

3 out of 5

--

A reasonable volume for a Year's Best, at 3.70.

However, here's a quote from the editorial introduction: 'The other trends that stood out in 2008, beyond the simple dominance of science fiction over fantasy (it seemed this year that there was much more interesting SF published than fantasy at shorter lengths—something that may directly correlate with the dominance of SF in the anthology market)'.

I have to agree, if I split it out in to the two books, so there are 14 in each (some you could maybe call either SF or fantasy - Kessel, Lanagan for example) then there is a stark difference :-

Science Fiction - 4.04
Fantasy - 3.36

The fantasy is singularly unimpressive, even allowing for the fact I don't like fantasy as much in general - you could call it 3.50 for that if you like to allow for that. Still not very good, Bear and King aside. Whereas the SF selection has a couple of 5's and multiple 4.5's.

The fantasy section also suffers from a lot of the contemporary not very fantastic sameness whether written by the writers for kids like Black and Aiken, or not in McCarron and Scholes.

With Night Shade going to do a horror volume too, not sure how that impacts on the selecting of stories, not much along the horror or darker line on the fantasy side. This is possibly editorial predilection, too. So you get the feeling of it all being a bit fluffy at times (not the case for the sf stories though). The majority of the fantasy is by women, and it seems a bit like the horniness of teenage girls (and lusting after older men) overshadows any fantasy elements in multiple stories. Men writing about older men have sex with young females will often be accussed of being creepy - not so women writing about the same thing?

Perhaps doing some of what the editor has said he mostly excludes the same sort of thing from mainstream writers for. He also says he is looking for stuff that 'transgresses the boundaries'. Not quite sure how you reconcile all that. Not very successfully as far as the fantastic goes in this volume, certainly.

To sum up all the boring waffle :

Great year for SF stories
Poor year for fantasy stories

Book approaching 4.25.

SF and F Best 03 : Exhalation - Ted Chiang
SF and F Best 03 : Shoggoths in Bloom - Elizabeth Bear
SF and F Best 03 : Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel - Peter S. Beagle
SF and F Best 03 : Fixing Hanover - Jeff VanderMeer
SF and F Best 03 : The Gambler - Paolo Bacigalupi
SF and F Best 03 : The Dust Assassin - Ian McDonald
SF and F Best 03 : Virgin - Holly Black
SF and F Best 03 : Pride and Prometheus - John Kessel
SF and F Best 03 : The Thought War - Paul McAuley
SF and F Best 03 : Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe - Garth Nix
SF and F Best 03 : The Small Door - Holly Phillips
SF and F Best 03 : Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter
SF and F Best 03 : The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates - Stephen King
SF and F Best 03 : Five Thrillers - Robert Reed
SF and F Best 03 : The Magician's House - Megan McCarron
SF and F Best 03 : Goblin Music - Joan Aiken
SF and F Best 03 : Machine Maid - Margo Lanagan
SF and F Best 03 : The Art of Alchemy - Ted Kosmatka
SF and F Best 03 : 26 Monkeys Also the Abyss - Kij Johnson
SF and F Best 03 : Marry the Sun - Rachel Swirsky
SF and F Best 03 : Crystal Nights - Greg Egan
SF and F Best 03 : His Master's Voice - Hannu Rajaniemi
SF and F Best 03 : Special Economics - Maureen McHugh
SF and F Best 03 : Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment - M Rickert
SF and F Best 03 : From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled - Michael Swanwick
SF and F Best 03 : If Angels Fight - Rick Bowes
SF and F Best 03 : The Doom of Love in Small Spaces - Ken Scholes
SF and F Best 03 : Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link

Brain dissection end of universe equilibrium optimism.

5 out of 5

Prehistoric mutant master replacement martial decision.

4.5 out of 5

Dybbuk painting possession.

3 out of 5

Airship engineer escape extreme prejudice recovery.

4 out of 5

Laosy science news not enough until girlpopped.

4.5 out of 5

Black Widow water rights kiss.

4 out of 5

Unicorn gone.

3 out of 5

It's Alive with Prejudice.

3.5 out of 5

Boltzman brain zombie survival.

3.5 out of 5

Giant starfish cat Fury.

3.5 out of 5

Weirdo defender, tired.

3 out of 5

Post-crash pre-advice.

4 out of 5

G. M. Joe.

4 out of 5

Slight connection.

3 out of 5

Short, biked and buried.

3.5 out of 5

Feeling up the sexbot.

3.5 out of 5

Carbonised razor-sharp corporate competition.

4 out of 5

Not going ape for this list.

3 out of 5

Toasting the wife rebound.

3.5 out of 5

AI research society universal escape flareup.

5 out of 5

Plural copy execution pet team-up comeback.

4.5 out of 5

Getting a Chinese Wal-Mart New Life revolution.

3.5 out of 5

Friday night mum executing lights.

3.5 out of 5

Trust debt.

3 out of 5

Jumper boy.

3.5 out of 5

Many bath red dress replacement refusal.

3.5 out of 5

Clementine jailbait goat ordeal.

3 out of 5

A reasonable volume for a Year's Best, at 3.70.

However, here's a quote from the editorial introduction: 'The other trends that stood out in 2008, beyond the simple dominance of science fiction over fantasy (it seemed this year that there was much more interesting SF published than fantasy at shorter lengths—something that may directly correlate with the dominance of SF in the anthology market)'.

I have to agree, if I split it out in to the two books, so there are 14 in each (some you could maybe call either SF or fantasy - Kessel, Lanagan for example) then there is a stark difference :-

Science Fiction - 4.04
Fantasy - 3.36

The fantasy is singularly unimpressive, even allowing for the fact I don't like fantasy as much in general - you could call it 3.50 for that if you like to allow for that. Still not very good, Bear and King aside. Whereas the SF selection has a couple of 5's and multiple 4.5's.

The fantasy section also suffers from a lot of the contemporary not very fantastic sameness whether written by the writers for kids like Black and Aiken, or not in McCarron and Scholes.

With Night Shade going to do a horror volume too, not sure how that impacts on the selecting of stories, not much along the horror or darker line on the fantasy side. This is possibly editorial predilection, too. So you get the feeling of it all being a bit fluffy at times (not the case for the sf stories though). The majority of the fantasy is by women, and it seems a bit like the horniness of teenage girls (and lusting after older men) overshadows any fantasy elements in multiple stories. Men writing about older men have sex with young females will often be accussed of being creepy - not so women writing about the same thing?

Perhaps doing some of what the editor has said he mostly excludes the same sort of thing from mainstream writers for. He also says he is looking for stuff that 'transgresses the boundaries'. Not quite sure how you reconcile all that. Not very successfully as far as the fantastic goes in this volume, certainly.

To sum up all the boring waffle :

Great year for SF stories
Poor year for fantasy stories

Book approaching 4.25.

SF and F Best 03 : Exhalation - Ted Chiang
SF and F Best 03 : Shoggoths in Bloom - Elizabeth Bear
SF and F Best 03 : Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel - Peter S. Beagle
SF and F Best 03 : Fixing Hanover - Jeff VanderMeer
SF and F Best 03 : The Gambler - Paolo Bacigalupi
SF and F Best 03 : The Dust Assassin - Ian McDonald
SF and F Best 03 : Virgin - Holly Black
SF and F Best 03 : Pride and Prometheus - John Kessel
SF and F Best 03 : The Thought War - Paul McAuley
SF and F Best 03 : Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe - Garth Nix
SF and F Best 03 : The Small Door - Holly Phillips
SF and F Best 03 : Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter
SF and F Best 03 : The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates - Stephen King
SF and F Best 03 : Five Thrillers - Robert Reed
SF and F Best 03 : The Magician's House - Megan McCarron
SF and F Best 03 : Goblin Music - Joan Aiken
SF and F Best 03 : Machine Maid - Margo Lanagan
SF and F Best 03 : The Art of Alchemy - Ted Kosmatka
SF and F Best 03 : 26 Monkeys Also the Abyss - Kij Johnson
SF and F Best 03 : Marry the Sun - Rachel Swirsky
SF and F Best 03 : Crystal Nights - Greg Egan
SF and F Best 03 : His Master's Voice - Hannu Rajaniemi
SF and F Best 03 : Special Economics - Maureen McHugh
SF and F Best 03 : Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment - M Rickert
SF and F Best 03 : From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled - Michael Swanwick
SF and F Best 03 : If Angels Fight - Rick Bowes
SF and F Best 03 : The Doom of Love in Small Spaces - Ken Scholes
SF and F Best 03 : Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link

Brain dissection end of universe equilibrium optimism.

5 out of 5

Prehistoric mutant master replacement martial decision.

4.5 out of 5

Dybbuk painting possession.

3 out of 5

Airship engineer escape extreme prejudice recovery.

4 out of 5

Laosy science news not enough until girlpopped.

4.5 out of 5

Black Widow water rights kiss.

4 out of 5

Unicorn gone.

3 out of 5

It's Alive with Prejudice.

3.5 out of 5

Boltzman brain zombie survival.

3.5 out of 5

Giant starfish cat Fury.

3.5 out of 5

Weirdo defender, tired.

3 out of 5

Post-crash pre-advice.

4 out of 5

G. M. Joe.

4 out of 5

Slight connection.

3 out of 5

Short, biked and buried.

3.5 out of 5

Feeling up the sexbot.

3.5 out of 5

Carbonised razor-sharp corporate competition.

4 out of 5

Not going ape for this list.

3 out of 5

Toasting the wife rebound.

3.5 out of 5

AI research society universal escape flareup.

5 out of 5

Plural copy execution pet team-up comeback.

4.5 out of 5

Getting a Chinese Wal-Mart New Life revolution.

3.5 out of 5

Friday night mum executing lights.

3.5 out of 5

Trust debt.

3 out of 5

Jumper boy.

3.5 out of 5

Many bath red dress replacement refusal.

3.5 out of 5

Clementine jailbait goat ordeal.

3 out of 5



4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

http://www.webscription.net/p-1125-ns200909-september-2009-night-shade-books.aspx

The King's Daughters - Nathalie Mallet

Not really my sort of book, but part of a bundle from a high quality publisher.

The adventures of Amir from the previous volume continue.

This book is a bit slower, but I think the writing is actually a little improved, which makes it easier to take.

Also, Baba Yaga, who usually can make a story more interesting.

A rather broader scope for this than previously, but still has some skullduggery among the nobility. Done in a very light tone, though, as you may expect from the title.

If you like the whole fantasy princesses thing you will likely rate this a little higher than me.


3 out of 5

The Mall Of Cthulhu - Seamus Cooper

Lighthearted fantasy about two friends who happened to stumble into a sorority full of vampires and be somewhat emotionally scarred by the experience of slaying and head removal.

One, a barista, follows around the other, who is now an agent of the FBI.

The former, Ted stumbles across a CD left at his work that has a decidedly Lovecraftian bent - and they uncover a cult.

FBI mate puts him undercover in a mall to try and uncover what is going on and stop it, so Cthulhu stays sleeping.


3.5 out of 5

Who? - Algis Budrys

A cold war type of a man with identity and memory issues - something that spooks on either side will not be a fan of.

Brought about by an accident that needs some serious patching up - how do you know if you are vetting someone that is rather changed if they are who they say they are?


3 out of 5

Walk the Wildwood - Shanna Jay

Must do silver.


3 out of 5

In the Western Tradition - Phyllis Eisenstein

Prefer the dead gunslinger.


3.5 out of 5

One-Wing - George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle

Wooden Flyer tradition.


3.5 out of 5

Hawk Among the Sparrows - Dean McLaughlin

Putting a rocket up Operation time.


3 out of 5

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daughters Of Earth - Judith Merril

Planetary intelligence correspondence.


3 out of 5

The Watched - Christopher Priest

Boring pervert wanker.


1.5 out of 5

Piper At the Gates Of Dawn - Richard Cowper

Lad tale.


2.5 out of 5

The Mercenary - Jerry Pournelle

Martial law stadium massacre.


2.5 out of 5

The White Otters Of Childhood - Michael Bishop

Birth revenge.


3 out of 5

Death And Designation Among The Asadi - Michael Bishop

We killed the pygmies.


3 out of 5

Vicious Circle - Mike Carey

The second Felix Castor is slower than the first and suffers a bit from that. Which is odd given he gets strangled and beaten a lot.

Here he is tasked to find a missing girl, who happens to be dead - so has to find her ghost.

His friends from the previous novel are h ere, Juliet the succubus, Nick the Demon.

Plus some nasty demon summoning (Asmodeus, anybody?) and loup-garou antagonists.

So, pretty average, and I'd hope for improvement in the next installment of Helllblazer lite.


3 out of 5

Sunchosen - Cadmus Evans

Give us the god king.


2.5 out of 5

As the Crow Flies - Dave Hutchinson

A pretty nice collection of science fiction and fantasy at 3.40. No poor stories, quite consistent with some stronger work at the start and the end. Why it is titled as it is, I am not sure, apart from the fact that each story has an illustration at the start. Each of an odd anthropomorphised avian, so that could be the reason, perhaps. If you see the cover, you'll get the idea.

Hutchinson seems to like transforming, blasting or destroying England, usually not in a nice way, so that can be rather funny.

Basically a 3.75 book, but has me predisposed with odd ducks and humour to round up.

As the Crow Files : The Pavement Artist - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : You Can't Get Off at Cockfosters - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : The Trauma Jockey - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Tir-na-nOg - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Suburban Angels - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Pavane of the Sons of the Morning - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : On the Windsor Branch - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Henry's Eden - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Discreet Phenomena - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Life on Mars - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : A Dream of Locomotives - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Scuffle - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : When We Learn to Fly - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Mice - Dave Hutchinson
As the Crow Files : Fear of Strangers - Dave Hutchinson


Stay away from me, cracker.

3.5 out of 5


World simulation health disaster solution.

3.5 out of 5


Psychopath emotion replay overload.

3.5 out of 5


Hey, I'm outta here.

3.5 out of 5


The Greenhills of all over the place.

3 out of 5


Fusion Gang Calling.

3 out of 5


Alternative Survey variety.

3 out of 5


Women rooted outbreak.

3.5 out of 5


Maybe not enough ghosties and ghoulies.

3 out of 5


Flu-ridden and Godzilla rocked

3.5 out of 5


Duck bomb magic runaway.

3 out of 5


'It's an elf,' she says calmly and matter-of-factly.

'It's a what?'

'An elf,' she says. 'An Earth Spirit. Don't you have them in Australia?'

3.5 out of 5


Baseline Sara's breakdown, three's first contact.

3.5 out of 5


Party-Pooper flu and alien Crash pommie wipeout.

4 out of 5


Alien space nazis must go.

4 out of 5



4 out of 5

Mice - Dave Hutchinson

Party-Pooper flu and alien Crash pommie wipeout.


4 out of 5

When We Learn To Fly - Dave Hutchinson

Baseline Sara's breakdown, three's first contact.


3.5 out of 5

Life On Mars - Dave Hutchinson

Flu-ridden and Godzilla rocked.


3.5 out of 5

Henry's Eden - Dave Hutchinson

Women rooted outbreak.


3.5 out of 5

On the Windsor Branch - Dave Hutchinson

Alternative Survey variety.


3 out of 5

Suburban Angels - Dave Hutchinson

The Greenhills of all over the place.


3 out of 5

You Can't Get Off At Cockfosters - Dave Hutchinson

World simulation health disaster solution.


3.5 out of 5

The Man Of Bronze - James Alan Gardner

Something a little different: a Lara Croft adventure told in the first person.

An expert friend of Lara's asks for help, and she soon finds herself in a hospital fighting for her life against Silver freezing cold forcefielded mercenaries. Said friend along for the trip with a briefcase locked to his wrist.

This courier jobs leads her to being involved with an interfaith group of priests in a secret society devoting to the reassembling of a bronze android of unknown origins and super abilities.

When Lara's friend is murdered, she volunteers to help retrieve the rest of the robot, so to speak.

Lancaster Urdmann is after the same thing - and a series of encounters with mammoths in Tunguska, giant eelmen and zombies in a William Hope Hodson sea-going episode, giant crocodiles and spiders in Queensland, and more. Alien android body parts make big mutant monsters you see.

Quite a few funny lines running through Lara's head at the continual trouble she gets herself into.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Triumff - Dan Abnett

Triumff is set in an alternate Elizabethan era that hasn't ended, and where magic works, and is a viable power source--so the technology level is considerably lower than in our own comparably currebnt time period.

The hero of the piece is Sir Rupert Triumff, who is a rapier-wielding rapscallionsly rogue.

Of course, it is de rigeur for a story in a setting like this to have a plot against the queen. Where magic works and monstrous beasties lurk, this could be a very bad thing. Especially if it all might boil down to whether a gentleman of uncertain moral fibre proves to be important, no matter the class of his allies.

A fun book (even with Clint Eastwood jokes), which an excellently entertaining ending, and notes, even about Australia.


3.5 out of 5

Hotel Midnight - Simon Clark

A good horror collection at 3.50, with three strong stories.

Hotel Midnight : On Wings That So Darkly Beat - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : The Burning Doorway - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : The House That Fell Backwards - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : Demon Me - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : The Whitby Experience - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : Goblin City Lights - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : Two Dead Detectives - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : The Hand of Glory - Simon Clark
Hotel Midnight : The Electra Suite - Simon Clark

Scripted to get me.

3 out of 5


Crematory horror.

3.5 out of 5


You're not the Man silly toe, so kill them all. Dog is ok but.

4 out of 5


Househead supermarket security scare.

3 out of 5


Second honeymoon was really stone cold dead.

3.5 out of 5


Constantine-Cuspidor chanteuse conjoined spirit team-up retreat.

4 out of 5


Ghost addition.

3 out of 5


Broadcast appendage horror.

4 out of 5


Vampyrhhic Outcast
Wall Eye
Jack Of Bones

Interloper redux.

3.5 out of 5


Hidden sucker.

3 out of 5


Sick spread not sick community.

3.5 out of 5


3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Electra Suite - Simon Clark

Vampyrhhic Outcast
Wall Eye
Jack Of Bones

Interloper redux.

3.5 out of 5


Hidden sucker.

3 out of 5


Sick spread not sick community.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Jack Of Bones - Simon Clark

Sick spread not sick commuinty.


3.5 out of 5

Wall Eye - Simon Clark

Hidden sucker.


3 out of 5

Two Dead Detectives - Simon Clark

Ghost addition.


3 out of 5

Goblin City Lights - Simon Clark

Constantine-Cuspidor chanteuse conjoined spirit team-up retreat.


4 out of 5

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Whitby Experience - Simon Clark

Second honeymoon was really stone cold dead.


3.5 out of 5

Demon Me - Simon Clark

Househead supermarket security scare.


3 out of 5

The House That Fell Backwards - Simon Clark

You're not the Man silly toe, so kill them all. Dog is ok but.


4 out of 5

The Burning Doorway - Simon Clark

Crematory horror.


3.5 out of 5

On Wings That So Darkly Beat - Simon Clark

Scripted to get me.


3 out of 5

Midnight Bazaar - Simon Clark

A reasonable collection of horror at 3.38.

Midnight Bazaar : Langthwaite Road - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : Ascent - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : The extraordinary limits of darkness - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : The pass - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : Blast from the past - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : A bridge to everywhere - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : Pond life - Simon Clark
Midnight Bazaar : She loves monsters - Simon Clark

Guitar raising.

3 out of 5


Levitator snacking, fallen.

3.5 out of 5


Native train sport haunting.

4 out of 5


Shoot 'em, piggy or not.

3.5 out of 5


No, the undead nazis are on our side, son.

3.5 out of 5


Yes, I see.

2.5 out of 5


Bloody robot horsey bite.

3.5 out of 5


I'm your Venus. Got a bit of a Kali vibe going recently, though.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

She Loves Monsters - Simon Clark

I'm your Venus. Got a bit of a Kali vibe going recently, though.


3.5 out of 5

Pond Life - Simon Clark

Bloody robot horsey bite.


3.5 out of 5

A Bridge To Everywhere - Simon Clark

Yes, I see.


2.5 out of 5

Blast From the Past - Simon Clark

No, the undead nazis are on our side, son.


3.5 out of 5

The Pass - Simon Clark

Shoot 'em, piggy or not.


3.5 out of 5

Langthwaite Road - Simon Clark

Guitar raising.


3 out of 5

Excavation - James Rollins

A professor of archaeology has uncovered a mummy that he think may be a breakthrough find in some Peruvian history - and has a team of student on the dig while he gets it analysed back in the USA.

A big surprise when it is actually a catholic priest with a skull full of a metal amalgam that is not of this world.

His team has likewise made a breakthrough, leading to death traps, gangsters, killer priests, albino tarantula hordes, bat swarms, ape men colonies, and, of course a lost Incan civilisation.

An okish SF thriller here. Call it about a 2.75.


3 out of 5

The Third Claw Of God - Adam-Troy Castro

There's a large pitfall if you decide to do an investigation sort of book in the first person. If the character is not interesting, you are toast.

That is how I find Andrea Cort after two tries at it - somewhat dullsville.

The plot here isn't as interesting as in the first novel either, involving assassins, the stopping of such and the prevention of a large outbreak of mortally challengedness.

One target of such is said Cort, of course.

It is all serviceable, but just too blah.


2.5 out of 5

John Grimes Rim World Commodore - A. Bertram Chandler

An omnibus collection of the last stage of John Grimes' career. Also the most interesting.

John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : The Way Back - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : Into the Alternate Universe - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : Contraband From Otherspace - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : Gateway to Never - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : The Rim Gods - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : Alternate Orbits - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : The Dark Dimensions - A. Bertram Chandler
John Grimes Rim Worlds Commodore : Catch the Star Winds - A. Bertram Chandler

Out from Kinsolving's planet still leaves John Grimes and Sonya Verrill a problem after leaving that strange joint.

Where do they go now?

Or if you want an easy trip, stay away from there :-

'Put the Macbeth and Kinsolving suns in line astern, thought Grimes, and keep them so. Run out fifty light years on the leads . . . He thought the words but refrained from saying them aloud. Those steering directions had been valid when Faraway Quest had lifted from Port Forlorn only a few weeks ago—as Time had been measured by her chronometers, experienced by her people. But the Clock had been put back—not by minutes, hours, days or even centuries, but by millennia. Faraway Quest was lost—in Time and Space. Grimes could envisage dimly the sluggish writhings of the matter-and-energy entity that was the Galaxy, the crawling extension of the spiral arms, the births and the deaths of suns and planets. Was there yet Earth, the womb and the cradle of Humanity? Did Man—in this Now—already walk upon the surface of the home world, or were the first mammals still scurrying in terror under the great, taloned feet of the dinosaurs?'

3 out of 5


John Grimes is pleased to see Sonya Verrill, although perhaps a little disappointed when she talks about looking for old flames and maybe settling down.

Of interest, however, is hunting for Rim Ghosts - and especially when you find more - an ancient, stranded ship from the early days of exploration.

Especially with the possible of information, or even revival of some of the frozen crew.

3.5 out of 5


Grimes and Verrill are now married, and are mostly aware of what they are going to be up to.

However, something strange appears - and it is up to the telepathic abilities of a psionic officer to try and found out what.

What appears to be somewhat scary - another race of spacefarers with technology levels that could provide competition.

Decidedly not monkeyboys - they have tails and sharp teeth.

3.5 out of 5


Grimes gets involved in some anti-drug activity. Where there is dodginess and crime likely you will find Drongo Kane, his enemy.

''I don't know what today's young people are coming to,' complained Captain Dunbar as he and Grimes left the jail. 'Drugs. Orgies.'

'I've never taken part in an orgy,' said Grimes rather wistfully. 'Have you?'

'Of course not!' snapped Dunbar, looking at his superior in a rather dubious manner. Then, apparently having decided that the Commodore must have been joking, he went on, 'Until now we've been clear of all this sort of thing on the Rim Worlds. I always said that it was a big mistake to open these planets to intergalactic trade.'

'Mphm. Where am I staying, by the way?'

'We've booked you into the Rimrock House, Commodore.'

Grimes sighed. There was a Rimrock House at Port Forlorn, on Lorn, another one at Port Farewell, on Faraway, yet another at Port Edgell, on Thule. From time to time he had stayed at them all. They were the most expensive hotels on the Rim Worlds—but by no means the best. He would have preferred some place with a less pretentious menu but far better food, with the staff not rigged out like Galactic High Admirals, but with far better service. But it would be only for a few days, until he had this Rim Caribou mess sorted out.'

2.5 out of 5


The Baen edition of the Rim Gods has added on five of the Kitty Kelly/John Grimes interview tales, rather than just doing a separate book for them perhaps when they didn't get Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo as explained in Paul Collins' notes in Dreaming Again, wanting it to be published in dead tree format first. The Kitty Kelly stories are generally pretty amusing, although of course the Glenrowan time travel piece is a bit more serious.

Rim Gods : The Rim Gods - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : The Bird-Brained Navigator - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : The Tin Fishes - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Last Dreamer - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Grimes at Glenrowan - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Grimes and the Great Race - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Grimes Among the Gourmets - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Grimes and the Odd Gods - A. Bertram Chandler
Rim Gods : Grimes and the Jailbirds - A. Bertram Chandler

None of that sanctimonious stuff please

3 out of 5

Machines can be easier to rig.

3.5 out of 5

A starfish fatale bust.

3.5 out of 5

Grimes gets a bit stuck in fantasyland.

3.5 out of 5

Grimes discovers he had an ancestor at Glenrowan on the fateful day, thanks to two blokes named Kelly and Byrne. A reporter that asks him for a story of a weird happening gets the tale. She is, of course, named Kitty.

4 out of 5

Nude airship competition impresses the brass slightly more if you win.

3.5 out of 5

Kitty Kelly is no fan of sushi, but does get another dodgy food story out of Grimes.

3 out of 5

Lady Bishop's morose bible-bashing bastich, post burn.

3.5 out of 5

The story Kitty Kelly gets this time is of mood opals and prison breaks.

3 out of 5



3.5 out of 5


A short collection, starting and finishing on that odd planet Kinsolving, which leaves Grimes in strange places.

Plus, Chandler slips in a bit of sailing stuff, of the on water, not in space variety.

Alternate Orbits : Hall Of Fame - A. Bertram Chandler
Alternate Orbits : The Sister Ships - A. Bertram Chandler
Alternate Orbits : The Man Who Sailed The Sky - A. Bertram Chandler
Alternate Orbits : The Rub - A. Bertram Chandler

The case of the kidnapped commodore fictional immortality.

3.5 out of 5

Some luddite sailing time for Grimes, after a trip.

2.5 out of 5

"“Because this world is the bitter end. I always thought that the Rim Worlds were bad enough, but I put up with them for your sake and, in any case, they’ve been improving enormously over the past few years. But Aquarius ... It’s way back in the twentieth century!”

That’s why you don’t squirm, as we do, every time that you hear one of these blown away Aussies drawl, ‘She’ll be right.’”

back into space, but more primitives at the other end of some Mannscheim driving:

"“Tell His Majesty, Commander Verrill, that if he has any ideas about seizing my pinnace he’d better forget ’em. Tell him that those odd-looking antennae poking out from their turrets are laser cannon, and that at the first sign of trouble this plateau will be one big, beautiful barbecue."

...

"Sonya snarled, “What the hell are you nattering about?” Grimes chuckled again. “How often, in thrillers, have the baddies tied up the goodies and then carelessly left them with something sharp or abrasive to rub their bonds against ... “You aren’t kidding?” she asked. Then—“And since when have you been a goodie?”"

3.5 out of 5

Kinsolving throws Grimes another curveball.

3 out of 5


3 out of 5



The Faraway Quest, Grimes, and Kinsolving's planet. Out on the edges of the rim where the crack of opening a cold tinnie might be enough to send you onto an alternate time track or into an alternate universe.

When that can happen, you can get crossover! Here we have Grimes and Verrill, the ex-Empress Irene from another series, and Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry teaming up to take on some nogoodniks, even if this, plus a second Grimes instance constitutes a rather shaky alliance. Interesting to see Flandry from another major character's viewpoint for a fair amount of time to contrast to how he sees himself.

Plenty of fun and entertainment to be had here, complete with space witches.

Definitely one of the best of this series.

4 out of 5


Baen's collection called Catch the Star Winds obviously has the same Catch the Star Winds novel as the earlier book, but has five different stories, instead of Zoological Specimen, to avoid any confusion.

The stories centre around the development of Lightjammer technology, and a breakthrough a clever (or crazy) engineer marks when her modifications allow the weird sort of ship and its contraterrence iron based propulsion with sails to actually travel FTL, as opposed to the more timewarp manoeuvre of other drives.
They initially get their own time warp problem in the novel, though.

This enables them to reach a region of space no-one else has before.

Nautical and a bit of Australian flavored space opera crewed with your nuts and bolts ordinary spacemen and spacewomen can be found here.

Along with giving the orders, the Commmodore and his better half get some Grimes in on the action in some of the stories.
Catch the Star Winds : CHANCE ENCOUNTER - A. Bertram Chandler
Catch the Star Winds : CATCH THE STAR WINDS - A. Bertram Chandler
Catch the Star Winds : ON THE ACCOUNT - A. Bertram Chandler
Catch the Star Winds : THE DUTCHMAN - A. Bertram Chandler
Catch the Star Winds : THE LAST HUNT - A. Bertram Chandler
Catch the Star Winds : RIM CHANGE - A. Bertram Chandler

Fear Of the Dark. With purple octopi.

4 out of 5

A crew is given the chance to test a ship with a new sort of propulsion - a lightjammer.

Grimes wants this crew because one of them has actual sailing experience, which will come in handy when using sails in space.

What would seem to be a straightforward story gets a bit odd, given one of the key elements for this is antimatter.

Said crew ends up experiencing way more than one voyage on the way, and the various psychological permutations of who is pining for who in the crew gets played out.

3.5 out of 5

Space pirates and a broadside miscalculation.

3.5 out of 5

Grimes and Sonya get to go FTL with the original lightjammer crew, and a medium.

3 out of 5

Grimes Moebius energy eater obsession fight observation.

3.5 out of 5

Grimes, Sonya, a captain, his crew, and a couple of telepaths head for Kinsolving. Cue one weird city escape.

3.5 out of 5


4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5