Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 13000
Percent of complex words : 6.7
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 12.8


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.8
Flesch : 74.1
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.1

: The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett


CHARACTERS

Dr Matthew Carey : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

A Low Canaller on the run. Against the Rehabilitation Project.

Derech : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Owes Carey, so helps him get away.

Howard Wales : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Earth Interpol man.

Alan Woodthorpe : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Rehabilitation Project administrator.

Arrin : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian woman of the old school, travels with them.


PLACES

Jekkara Low Canal : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Full of black water.

Barrakesh : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Low Canal city.

Kesh : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian dryland area.

Shun : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian dryland area.

Sinharat : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

The Ever-Living. The Forbidden city.

Valkis : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian Low Canal city.

Kahora : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian city.

Kharif : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Suffered from the Ramas by proximity.


RACES

Ramas : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Ancient Martian immortals by body transfer.

Shunni : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian Dryland tribe.


CONCEPTS

Low Martian : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Common dialect.

High Martian : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Ancient language.


ORGANISATIONS

United Worlds Court : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Body for justice.

Rehabilitation Project : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Carey tried to sabotage this project to irrigate Mars.

Council of City-States : The Road To Sinharat - Leigh Brackett

Martian political body.

United Worlds Planetary Assistance Committee

Rehabilitation organisation.


PLOT

Dr Matthew Carey has done his best to hinder and slow down the Rehabilitation Project, but now is on the run, with the Interpol variant after him. An old acquaintance helps him escape, and they go on the run in the desert along with a Martian woman.

The end up in Sinharat, and see that this sort of thing has happened before, with the Ramas - and the Dryland tribes are willing to go to war over the Rehabilitation Project. When Wales catches up to Carey and realises the precarious situation and they see some Rama history tapes he agrees it is a bad idea, and tells the chiefs they will shut down the Project.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hallucigenia - Laird Barron

Novella

Number of words : 25000
Percent of complex words : 10.0
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.7


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 8.3
Flesch : 68.3
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.4



CHARACTERS

Wallace Smith

Trust fund no-longer baby, son of a senator. A bit of an adventurer. Runs into serious injury and madness.

Delaney

Chauffeur and bodyguard and muscle for Wallace.

Helen Paxton

Smith's young wife, a photographer.

Mr Woo

Best drycleaner this side of Tacoma.

George Paxton

Helen's ancestor of WWII vintage.

Dalton Smith

Wallace's ancestor of WWII vintage. An ex-senator.

Harold Carter

Bloke Wallace punched.

Gracie

Wallace's ex-wife.

Beth

Ex-wife 2.

Doctor Green

Wallace's medical man for his injury recovery.

Skip Arden

Wallace's friend.

Cecil

Helen's aide.

Kate

Her other aide.

Earl Hutchison

Wallace's dog trainer from Yelm.

Skip Freeman

Friend of Wallace's. An attorney.

Randy Freeman

Friend of Wallace's. A radical biologist.

Janice Freeman

Randy's wife.

Barret and Macy Langan

Friends of Wallace's.

Manfred and Elizabeth Steiner

Friends of Wallace's.

Jerry Premus

An attorney.

Detective Adams

Local law enforcement.

Morgan Choate

Owns the Black Hills property.

Anton LaVey

Famous Satanist.

Barb and Michael Cotter

Dinner guests of Wallace's.

Mel Redfield

Former California poet laureate.

Old man Bloom

Former city councilman

Regis

Tobacco lobbyist. Bloom's nephew.

Jacob Wilson

Heir to the Wilson fortune

Frank

Jacob's bodyguard.

Tommy Tune

Famous theatre guy.

Lonnie Chavez

One of Delaney's old gang.

Ruby Pharaoh

One of Delaney's old gang.

Billy Savage

Security expert of Savage and Sons, puts in a system for Wallace.

Lance Pride

Private investigator Wallace hires to dig into the Choates.

Hesse

Wallace's physical therapist.

Kurt Bruenig

Witness to the unsavory Choates. From Otter Creek.

Josh Choate

Morgan's son. Ex All-America offensive tackle. Degree in physics at Northwestern, advanced degrees in theoretical physics from Caltech and MIT.

Tyler Choate

His other son. Ex-cop in Thurston County and now convict in Walla Walla. Likely devil worshipper, part of a ring. Moved to Station 3, where appears to be quite insane in a Call of Cthulhu manner.

Hank Choate

Morgan's dead son.

Carlotta Choate

Morgan's dead daughter.

Kaleb Choate

Family patriarch. New Tesla.

Paul Choate

A physicist at Evergreen State College.

Nikola Tesla

Famous inventor. The coil guy.

Teagues

Swears Choate was a black magician. From Waddel Creek.

Bakers

From Knob Hill. Thought likewise.

Wooly Clark

Boy who claimed Josh Choate could levitate.

Carl Sagan

Famous astronomer and xenobiologist.

Miranda Carson

Local artist and sculptor.

Lyle Ferguson

A developer, going to work on the barn of problems.

Tom

Wallace's graveyard shift security guard. Ex bus driver.

Elijah Salter

Ex-army sergeant, bronze star, sold the Choates some supplies. Calaban employee.

Warden Loveless

Runs Station 3.

Charlie

Wallace's last security guard.


CONCEPTS

Belphegor

A demon. Also Chemosh and Baal-Peeor.

Mima Mounds

A term used for low, flattened, circular to oval, domelike, natural mounds found in the northwestern United States


WEAPONS

Browning .45 automatic

Handgun.

Model 76 African .416

Big game rifle.

Holland & Holland .500

Bigger game rifle.

.357 magnum

Handgun.


ANIMALS

Bruno

One of Wallace's mastiffs.

Thor

His other mastiff.


ORGANISATIONS

VFW

Veterans of Foreign Wars support.

Elks Lodge

A fraternal society.

BLM

Bureau of Land Management.

Savage and Sons

Private security firm.

Calaban Industries

"This plant makes all kinds of interesting stuff, mostly for aerospace companies and a certain east coast college that was rigging a twenty-mile-long atom-smasher—more on that later."



PLACES

Old Choate place

In Black Hills, old farm Strange rundown place where Wallace and his wife are kicked by an horse.

Olympia

Capital of Washington State.

Snoqualmie

Town in Washington State.

The Marlin

Restaurant near Wallace's. Over the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

Malloy's

Jewellery shop on State street.

Drover Clinic

Wallace's physical therapy centre.

Lucky Bucket

Takeaway joint.

Centralia

Washington State town.

Oddfellow Cemetery

Graverobbed by the Choates.

Lucky Badger

Site of a family brawl between Choates and Bruenigs.

Capitol Forest

Site of strange lights.

Oyster House

Restaurant with lobster night.

Lone Tree Motel

PI calls from here with info on Tyler Choates.

Station 3

Maximum security prison between Lind and Marengo on the Rattlesnake Flat. On the outskirts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation



FOOD

Hennessy Private Reserve

An expensive cognac.


TECHNOLOGY

Brillo

Scourer for washing.

Pylons

Used for Choates' strange experiments.

SQUID

Superconducting quantum interference device.


MEDIA

Remembrance

Sculpture in wax of a dead woman owned by Wallace. By Carson.


PLOT

Wallace and his wife Helen, a photographer, take an excursion in aid of his work, with Delaney driving. A strange encounter leads his wife to being critically injured, thanks to a kick in the head by a horse, and Wallace lamed and in recovery - while his wife is not recovering. Delaney shot the horse, but it disappears, no-one can find it.

Wallace won't move on and move his wife elsewhere, and she begins to spout strange sayings. The local detective still thinks this is odd, so eventually Wallace begins to dig further, worrying Delaney. Wallace also hires a security firm.

He finds some people who fill him in on the Choates - who could be an evil team of super adventurers if put together in Innsmouth - lots of PhD physicist star athletes there, and a history of black magic and crime and maybe worse.

He then hires a tough PI he has used before to look into it further, and he does talk to the brothers - one in jail - and finds disturbing insanity, demonology, and super science runs in this family. As well as old mystic artifact research, etc.

Wallace is freaked out more - but he is only one injured older man, and there is a whole family of Choates. Delaney, the level-headed ex-hood decides to get the hell out of Dodge when he detects his boss has lost it and finds the house in disarray. A possible sequel hook here.

5 out of 5

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 12000
Percent of complex words : 5.9
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 11.8


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.1
Flesch : 77.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.4

: The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett


CHARACTERS

John Ross : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

An anthropologist studying Mars on a Terran foundation grant.

Kardak : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Jon Ross' head drover.

Corin : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Shandakor man John Ross meets in a bar.

Duani : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Young Shandakor woman.

Rhul : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

He is a leader in Shandakor.

Millikan : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Nobel prize winner for physics, for work on the electron.


ORGANISATIONS

Shunni : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian desert tribe.

Keshi : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian desert tribe.

Kings of Mekh : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Ancient Martian rulers.



PLACES

Jekkara : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian Low Canal city.

Valkis : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian Low Canal city.

Barrakesh : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian Low Canal city.

Drylands : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Desert area of Mars.

Upper Shun : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

High plains in the Shunni tribal region.

Kahora : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian Trade City.

Shandakor : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Fabled Martian city, almost dead.

Wells of Karthedon : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

On the way to Shandakor. The locals will not go past this point.

Outer Kesh : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Boundaries of this desert tribal region.

Mekh : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian barbian region to the east.

Taarak : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Far eastern region of Mars.

Norlands : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian barbarian region.

Marches : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Martian barbarian region.

Western Gate : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Entrance to Shandakor.

Place of Sleep : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Final resting place the denizens of Shandakor have chosen.


TECHNOLOGY

Cinnabar : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Mercury sulfide, red colored.

Globe : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Shandakor illusion generator.


CONCEPTS

High Martian : The Last Days of Shandakor - Leigh Brackett

Ancient Mars language.


PLOT

John Ross is an Earth anthropologist who comes across a resident of Shandakor and his story while stopping for a drink. He offers to travel back with him, but Corin doesn't make it. There are literally barbarians at the gates of Shandakor, but Ross enters anyway.

The locals won't let him leave, because it would show they are weak. Which is actually true, as their water supply is cut off, and they have no weaponry capable of dealing with a vastly superior numerical force. Despite the chained Ross' pleas, they decide to go to The Place of Sleep, but Duani makes sure he is free first.


4.5 out of 5

Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Short Story

Number of words : 5700
Percent of complex words : 6.2
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 9.7


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.3
Flesch : 79.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.6


: Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

CHARACTERS

Bert Quintal : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Exploitative explorer.

Butch : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Quintal's indentured small Venusian lifeform with mental powers. He keeps him working for him due to threats against his wife.

Chika : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Chief of a group of winged Martians, the People of the Sky.

Hjan : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Chika's mate, he also heads a working group.


VEHICLES

Starhope : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

Quintal's spaceship.


TECHNOLOGY

Cyclotron : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

A type of particle accelerator.

Anti-gravity metal : Quest Of the Starhope - Leigh Brackett

The People of the Sky have access.


PLOT

Quintal is exploring Mars with Butch, looking to make money in an unsavoury manner. Already forcing Butch to work for him, he discovers the People of the Sky, and the technology they have access to.

This will be worth a fortune, so he tries the same hostage taking intimidatory tactics he has used before. Eventually, Butch and Chika decide they have had enough and take the offensive to take care of Quintal.


4 out of 5

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Short Story

Number of words : 6900
Percent of complex words : 8.5
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 14.8


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 9.3
Flesch : 68.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.3

: Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett



CHARACTERS

Harvey Selden : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

An artifact expert working for the Bureau of Interworld Cultural Relations.

Bentham : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Third Officer on the Goddard.

Firsa Mak : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

A Martian, concerned with the old rituals.

Altman : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

An Earthman, guest of Mak's.

Mrs Altman : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Altman's wife.

Lella : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

A Martian woman who participates in the old rituals.

Loughlin Herbert : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

A diplomat who died while looking into the Mad Moon ritual.


VEHICLES

TSS Goddard : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

An observation ship.


PLACES

Kahora : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian city, growing. Now an eight-domed administrative centre of the planet.

Triangle : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Part of Kahora, representing the Three Worlds.

Vashna : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian moon. Also called Deimos.

Denderon : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian moon. Also called Phobos, and the Mad Moon in certain phases.

N'York : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Earth city.

Jekkara : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian city.

Valkis : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian city.

Low Canals : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

An area of Mars these cities are in.



CONCEPT

Umbrella Treaty : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Old Martian corruptible agreement.

High Martian : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian dialect.

Low Martian : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian dialect.

Purple Priestess : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Ancient servant of a Dark Lord, and not so ancient, as it turns out.



ORGANISATIONS

Bureau of Interworld Cultural Relations : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Selden's employer, concerned with the arts on various planets.

World Government of Terra : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Earth political body at the time of the Umbrella Treaty.

Martian Federation of City-States : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Martian political body at the time of the Umbrella Treaty. Broke.

Khalide Kings of Jekkara : Purple Priestess Of the Mad Moon - Leigh Brackett

Two thousand years ago, their Seventeenth Dynasty. Lella has jewellery from that time.




PLOT

Selden goes down to Mars from an observation ship, and visit Mak's house with Bentham. He meets a woman Lella, of a type he has not seen before. From there he is shanghaied into observing the Purple Priestess Mad Moon ritual and isn't able to cope, but survives. The others want him to tell the Bureau, but he runs for Earth instead, into therapy. However, at the end a communique arrives from Lella, saying she is waiting for him at the next ritual.


3.5 out of 5

Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Short Story

Number of words : 6200
Percent of complex words : 6.8
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.4

: Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

CHARACTERS

Martin Drake : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

A chemist pretending to be a secretary coming to the Martian reclaimed area.

Terra Brooke : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

A girl, neighbour of Drake's in his new area.

Tels : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Venusian settler in the reclaimed area. Drake's land is next to his.

George Breckner : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Martin Drake's businessman uncle.


PLACES

Rivatka : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

A Martian reclaimed area.

Tchava : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

A Martian reclaimed area.

Thern : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

A city, centre of Rivatka.


ORGANISATIONS

Tri-Council : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Solar System political organisation.

Interworld Enterprises : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Company of Martin Drake's uncle.


ANIMALS

Vaard : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Martian hairy, ugly hairless horselike animal.

Khom : Martian Quest - Leigh Brackett

Great Martian desert lizard. "Wicked triangular heads shot up from the ruined vines, horny reptilian heads framed in ruffs like Triceratops. Bodies two feet longer than a tall man raised high in ominous preparation on strong clawed legs, and tails—...Khom had a tail as long as his body and his head together; a mighty, supple flail armed with rows of deadly spikes."


PLOT

Martin Drake comes to Mars, an Earthman basically indentured to a wealthy uncle who took him in. After a lab incident, the chemist leaves, and decides to settl e in the Martian reclaimed area. He meets his neighbour, who begins to fill him in on the problems they face.

The chief of these other than hard work and hard living in a dry desert landscape is a giant lizardlike creature that eats all their crops, and is mostly impervious to standard weaponry. Tels discovers Drake is no secretary, but a chemist, and implores him to study the problem - as the program will have its funding cut off in less than two weeks.

Drake gets nowhere until one of the Khom is killed, and he gets to dissect the body, uncovering how the beasts feed - and what he can do to their food cycle to basically wipe them out, much like poisoning rats or ants to go back and spread the damage to their fellow.


3.5 out of 5

Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Novelette

Number of words : 8000
Percent of complex words : 6.5
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Number of sentences : 689
Average words per sentence : 11.4


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.2
Flesch : 78.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.2

: Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett


CHARACTERS

Fraser : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

An Earthman and doctor. Working on Mars on a Grant.


Bisha : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Martian outcast girl. Thought to be carrier of an epidemic.


Tor-Esh : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Martian healer.


ORGANISATIONS

Medical Foundation : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Terran organisation that gives charitable grants to allow doctors to work with people that need it. In this case on Mars.

Old Men : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Martian elders.


PLACES

Karappa : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Martian city. Site of the Terran consulate.


VEHICLES

Trac-car : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

Desert transport.


TECHNOLOGY

Quonset : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

A small temporary dwelling.


MEDIA

Wagner's Fire Music : Mars Minus Bisha - Leigh Brackett

A favorite of Fraser's.


PLOT

A Terran doctor working for charity on Mars comes across a girl who has been outcast by her tribe. He thinks she may be carrying a disease. However, when he starts to feel bad and thinks he may be catching it, he talks to a Martian healer:

"You have come with your thundering ships, your machines and your science, giving the lie to our gods, who we thought had created no other men but us. You look upon us as degraded and without knowledge—and yet you too are an ignorant people, not because you have forgotten, but because you have not yet learned. There are many sciences, many kinds of knowledge. There have been races on Mars who could build the canals. There were others who could see without eyes and hear without ears, who could control the elements and cause men to live or die as they willed it, who were so powerful that they were stamped out because men feared them. They are forgotten now, but their blood is in us. And sometimes a child is born—"

He realises that the girl is a sort of parasitical vampire, a throwback to an older race, living off others, although with those of her kind, of whom there apparently are more. Which is why her tribe wanted to kill her. The doctor still wants to try and find a way to save her, even at risk to himself, which is where it finishes.


4 out of 5

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year 4 - Jonathan Strahan

Last year 3.70, this year, 3.21. A rather large drop. A whole lot of not very fantastic fantasy being the culprit. A rather serious lack of imagination shown here - in fact the SF you could say is more fantastic than the fantasy, which is a worry. Considering the whacky loopiness of the Swanwick/Gunn or the inventive space denizens of the Bear/Monette teamup.

Even Valente, not taking the contemporary Northern Hemisphere not much going approach fell into the belabor the point trap that she has tended to in the past. Sort of like being hit in the head repeatedly with a 2x4 marzipan.

More than one story just sort of stops.

Peter S. Beagle fortunately delivers a solid piece.

The standout story by some margin is Nicola Griffith's 'It Takes Two'.

I'd give the SF part a 3.75 or so and the fantasy 2.50.

The yearly overview is deeper and more interesting than in the past, and of course as a multiformat webscription book it is a pleasure to use and read.

Around the 3.25 mark, and being free of useless DRM and available to everyone certainly has a lot to recommend it.

SF and F Best 04 : It Takes Two - Nicola Griffith
SF and F Best 04 : Three Twilight Tales - Jo Walton
SF and F Best 04 : Unknown Story - Andy Duncan
SF and F Best 04 : The Island - Peter Watts
SF and F Best 04 : Ferryman - Margo Lanagan
SF and F Best 04 : A Wild and Wicked Youth - Ellen Kushner
SF and F Best 04 : The Pelican Bar - Karen Joy Fowler
SF and F Best 04 : Spar - Kij Johnson
SF and F Best 04 : Going Deep - James Patrick Kelly
SF and F Best 04 : The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black
SF and F Best 04 : Zeppelin City - Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn
SF and F Best 04 : Dragon's Teeth - Alex Irvine
SF and F Best 04 : This Wind Blowing and This Tide - Damien Broderick
SF and F Best 04 : By Moonlight - Peter S. Beagle
SF and F Best 04 : Black Swan - Bruce Sterling
SF and F Best 04 : As Women Fight - Sara Genge
SF and F Best 04 : The Cinderella Game - Kelly Link
SF and F Best 04 : Formidable Caress - Stephen Baxter
SF and F Best 04 : Blocked - Geoff Ryman
SF and F Best 04 : Truth and Bone - Pat Cadigan
SF and F Best 04 : Eros Philia Agape - Rachel Swirsky
SF and F Best 04 : The Motorman's Coat - John Kessel
SF and F Best 04 : Mongoose - Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
SF and F Best 04 : Echoes of Aurora - Ellen Klages
SF and F Best 04 : Before My Last Breath - Robert Reed
SF and F Best 04 : Jo Boy - Diana Wynne Jones
SF and F Best 04 : Utriusque Cosmi - Robert Charles Wilson
SF and F Best 04 : A Delicate Architecture - Catherynne Valente
SF and F Best 04 : The Cat That Walked a Thousand Miles - Kij Johnson

Strip memory contract.

4.5 out of 5


Cheesy inn.

2.5 out of 5


Trooper find.

2.5 out of 5


Gate Mission live Dyson sphere violence Chimp conflict.

4 out of 5


Acheron swim.

3 out of 5


Swordspoint origin.

3 out of 5


TAP.

2.5 out of 5


Alien fucked.

3.5 out of 5


Space call is genetic, kid.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire voucher swap.

3.5 out of 5


Spindizzy autogyro Naked Brain liberation.

3.5 out of 5


Paulus, rather fishy.

3.5 out of 5


Dragon ship discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Finding the best Italy.

3.5 out of 5


Bodyswap beating.

3 out of 5


Stick a fork in him.

2.5 out of 5


Time Pooled.

3.5 out of 5


Go Down among the dead men.

3.5 out of 5


Fuckhead Final Destination.

3.5 out of 5


Be a robot.

2.5 out of 5


Unclothed deal.

3 out of 5


Station Dreamquest Wonderland abortion.

3.5 out of 5


Crank dance.

2.5 out of 5


Alien Graveyard Project.

3.5 out of 5


Brain redo dragon.

3 out of 5


Dark matter universe jumping Invisible Enemy Rapture, go fast, kid.

3.5 out of 5


Too sugary, rather eat crunchy kids.

3 out of 5


Pussy footer, beast who cannot drive.

2.5 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

A Delicate Architecture - Catherynne M. Valente

Too sugary, rather eat crunchy kids.


3 out of 5

Jo Boy - Dianna Wynne Jones

Brain redo dragon.


3 out of 5

The Fire Wolves - Tim Lebbon

A desperate young woman in Amalfi, Italy asks for BPRD help, and the Big Red Guy investigates, finding that her claims of a family curse that causes the death of young women is, in fact, real.

Flaming hot werewolf real, in fact. There's a twist, though. This lovely practice of human sacrifice just might be keeping Vesuvius from erupting and killing thousands and thousands of people.

Things are hot and people are toasted as Hellboy and two brave family members try and put a stop to said curse.


3 out of 5

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interzone 225 - Andy Cox

The same quality as the last, a 3.50 right on the knocker. Therefore, a good issue. One leaning a lot more to the fantasy side, even a superhero story by Tidhar.

Interzone 225 : HERE WE ARE FALLING THROUGH SHADOWS - Jason Sanford
Interzone 225 : BY STARLIGHT - Rebecca J. Payne
Interzone 225 : THE KILLING STREETS - Colin Harvey
Interzone 225 : FUNNY PAGES - Lavie Tidhar
Interzone 225 : BONE ISLAND - Jay Lake and Shannon Page

Ripper family, not.

3.5 out of 5


Bullship descent.

3 out of 5


Snark attack Blacktongue double support.

3.5 out of 5


Doctor Meshugeh peace plan.

4 out of 5


Witch axed.

3.5 out of 5





4 out of 5

Bone Island - Jay Lake and Shannon Page

Witch axed.


3.5 out of 5

Funny Pages - Lavie Tidhar

Doctor Meshugeh peace plan.


4 out of 5

By Starlight - Rebecca J. Payne

Bullship descent.


3 out of 5

Here We Are Falling Through Shadows - Jason Sanford

Ripper family, not.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Skull Ring - Scott Nicholson

This is a solid novel of the good old Satanist menace variety.

The protagonist has a dysfunctional love life, and is in therapy for her issues. We come to realise that there is something a little off about her as the novel goes along, and she just may be a rather unreliable narrator.

With a title like this novel bears you hope it just won't involve one woman's descent into madness, that would be way too mundane and boring. Thankfully it does not.

Her own mental problems also do not mean that a Satanist group doesn't want to sacrifice her to the dark lord, and it does involve some rather odd jewellery.

Her paranoia and stress and instability is somewhat justified, and she has little evidence that any of the men around her can be trusted, or worse actively are working against her.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Judgment Night 1 - C. L. Moore

One man, one woman, one possible Galactic war.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Best of Sci-Fi 5 - Judith Merril

Only a 3.18 average, but a few strong stories including the famous Keyes work.

Judith Merril 05 : The Handler - Damon Knight
Judith Merril 05 : The Other Wife - Jack Finney
Judith Merril 05 : No Fire Burns - Avram Davidson
Judith Merril 05 : No No Not Rogov! - Cordwainer Smith
Judith Merril 05 : The Shoreline at Sunset - Ray Bradbury
Judith Merril 05 : The Dreamsman - Gordon R. Dickson
Judith Merril 05 : Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
Judith Merril 05 : A Death in the House - Clifford D. Simak
Judith Merril 05 : Mariana - Fritz Leiber
Judith Merril 05 : Inquiry Concerning the Curvature of the Earth's Surface - Roger Price
Judith Merril 05 : Day at the Beach - Carol Emshwiller
Judith Merril 05 : What the Left Hand Was Doing - Darrel T. Langart
Judith Merril 05 : The Sound-Sweep - J. G. Ballard
Judith Merril 05 : Plenitude - Will Worthington
Judith Merril 05 : The Man Who Lost the Sea - Theodore Sturgeon
Judith Merril 05 : Make a Prison - Lawrence Block
Judith Merril 05 : What Now Little Man? - Mark Clifton

Dwarf act gotcha.

2.5 out of 5


Alternate wife pleasing.

4 out of 5


Psychopath weeding.

2.5 out of 5


Soviet science couple's brain needle journey.

4 out of 5


Real dummy.

2.5 out of 5


Let those psionic mutants go to get Galactic.

3 out of 5


A scientist is experimenting on raising the intelligence of animals, in this case, mice. When the same technique is tried on a man who is intellectually disabled, it succeeds beyond the scientist's wildest dreams. He has actually produced a superintelligent man from his initial subject.

However, the mouse Algernon is starting to exhibit problems because of this treatment.

4 out of 5


Smelly not a cow.

3 out of 5


Switch off.

3 out of 5


Roundly conservative.

3 out of 5


Bald and hungry.

3.5 out of 5


Society fringe governance.

3 out of 5


Ultrasonic vacuum diva crazy.

3 out of 5


City hookup.

3 out of 5


Moon wreck fear.

4 out of 5


Flight risk.

3.5 out of 5


Goonie smart strain.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5

Make A Prison - Lawrence Block

Flight risk.


3.5 out of 5

Plenitude - Will Worthington

City hookup.


3 out of 5

What The Left Hand Was Doing - Darrel T. Langart

Society fringe governance.


3 out of 5

Inquiry Concerning The Curvature Of The Earth's Surface - Roger Price

Roundly conservative.


3 out of 5

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Death In the House - Clifford D. Simak

Smelly not a cow.


3 out of 5

The Shoreline At Sunset - Ray Bradbury

Real dummy.


2.5 out of 5

Warm Worlds and Otherwise - James Tiptree Jr

A decent collection at 3.38, but far from her best.

Warm Worlds and Otherwise : All the Kinds of Yes - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : The Milk of Paradise - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : And I Have Come Upon This Place by Lost Ways - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : The Last Flight of Dr. Ain - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : Amberjack - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : Through a Lass Darkly - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : The Girl Who Was Plugged In - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : The Night-blooming Saurian - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : The Women Men Don't See - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : Fault - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death - James Tiptree Jr.
Warm Worlds and Otherwise : On the Last Afternoon - James Tiptree Jr.

RT outta here.

3 out of 5


Big grotty Crotties.

3 out of 5


Mountaineering misuse of resources.

3 out of 5


System under strain.

4 out of 5


Rue it.

2.5 out of 5


Tempsync lingo.

3 out of 5


Remote media darling.

3.5 out of 5


Getting a politlcal trophy.

3.5 out of 5


Crash alien intro.

4 out of 5


Friction removal behind.

3.5 out of 5


I'm for dinner, mum.

4 out of 5


Not ripe human herd.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

All the Kinds of Yes - James Tiptree Jr

RT outta here.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Silver Skull - Mark Chadbourn

A fine novel where the unrealities of the spy trade, if you like, are not overshadowed by the fantasy.

The spies that work for Walsingham, with Swyfte as point man have it about as easy as they do on Spooks. That is, they are likely to die or fall apart a lot, and descend into vice. Here the spies have the added pressure of the Call of Cthulhu style investigator - there are actual horrors in the night that can drive you mad.

A secret war with the Unseelie is kept from the public eye, and even those involved do not know the whole story about what is going on, except right at the top - that is, Queen Elizabeth and her direct coterie.

A detente has been struck as Dr John Dee managed to erect a defense that lessened the depradations of the monsters upon English humanity, but those in other countries still suffer, particularly in Scotland. The inhumans are not happy about this, and are looking to gain back the advantage.

Swyfte and his Bond style exploits are used as PR and propaganda. There is also the very real conflict with Spain going on - so the secret agents have multiple enemies to deal with, and in fact, this novel is set during the time of the invasion of King Philip's Spanish Armada. In fact, Swyfte's Spanish counterpart plays a significant role.

Several items are key - the titular object and its very disturbing past, a Shield, and a Key. With these weapons, some rather more modern-style weapons of war are available to those controlling them.

More of Swyfte's adventures, along with his sardonic assistant Nathaniel can be found in the Solaris Book of Fantasy, the long story therein shedding further light on what is going on in the background to this Elizabethan milieu. Also a highly recommended piece.


4 out of 5

Altar of Eden - James Rollins

Here's a solid thriller with more than a touch of the Island of Dr Moreau about it.

An opening in Iraq and a secret animal research facility cuts to the hunt for an odd escaped jaguar in cajun country. And yes, there are alligators!

Here an animal researcher comes into contact with the brother of a boyfriend in teenage years lost to tragedy.

When they begin to discover these animals are more than they seem - such as parents that can recite Pi to astounding numbers of significant digits things turn deadly. Raids to be defended and made, rescues to attempt and shocking science to uncover.

As usual, grounded in some interesting research speculation.


3.5 out of 5