Jeannette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun, Angry Robot, 2017.
Under the Pendulum Sun is a Brontë hommage on LSD and it's very, very, good.
This is, as usual, an entirely spoiler-free review. Jeannette Ng was extremely kind in accepting to answer some of my questions, so at the end of the post, after some suitably big and red and very visible warning, you'll also find a spoiler full Q&A with the writer.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ironclads, Solaris, 2017.
Though I'm not a fan of military scifi, I was happy to get Ironclads because, well, Tchaikovsky wrote it. It didn't enthused me as much as Children of Time did but this novella is a delightful post Brexit satire and a cheeky rewriting of Heart of Darkness.
Martha Wells, All Systems Red, St Martin's Press, 2017.
All Systems Red is a fun and entertaining scifi novella. Though part of a larger series with future upcoming volumes, this first book is a stand alone and can be read independently.
Iain M. Banks, Feersum Endjinn, Orbit, 1995.
"Feersum Endjinn? Really? C., you do realise I read it when it was first published and that I still love it as much as on the first day?"
I know, I know... But some of the blog readers were actually born in 1995 and may have missed it. So, dear old hands at scifi, I know, I'm going to kick down an open door.
But this is my love letter to Feersum Endjinn and while I hope it will convince new scifi readers to tackle it, I also hope that old hands at scifi will also share the many reasons of why they love it too.
Art by Josh Kirby for the cover of Hogfather.
Christmas is coming and you want to fill the world with your love of scifi and fantasy? Alas! The ruffians that are your family and friends used The Lord of the Rings to start a chimney fire, they think that Foundation is the name of a beauty product and they said that Harry Potter would be nice if only there wasn't so many spells and invented stuff in it.
But here is a way to sneak upon them science fiction and fantasy novels! All the following books have been tested and approved by people who are usually allergic to space ships and magic.
As usual in the collections, they are by chronological order.
Jy Yang, The Tensorate series,
The Tensorate series comprises so far two fantasy novellas. I finished reading them, unsure whether I'd review them or not, but on balance, I think what were to me the weakest points were very subjective whereas I felt that the strong points weren't. Will you agree with me? That is the question.
Verity Holloway, Pseudotooth, Unsung Stories, 2017.
Weird... Very weird... Weirder... Weirdest... Those words very much defined my reading of Pseudotooth, a fantasy novel that isn't easy to categorise. Nonetheless, it was a very engrossing read and a very satisfying one.
Walter Mosley, Disciple, Tor, 2013.
I was looking for something short to read and decided to pick Disciple which had been on my long term to-be-read list for a while. Don't let yourself be fooled by the cover: it is a novella, 77 pages on my ereader. It may be a short scifi story, but oh my! Is it striking!
Aliette de Bodard,
Aliette de Bodard is a writer I follow keenly. Sometimes, her stories aren't my cup of tea, but sometimes they are. They are a risk I enjoy taking because I know the writing is gorgeous anyway. So when I realised she had two scifi novellas I had never read, I had to try them.
Max Gladstone, The Craft Sequence, Tor,
"My oh my, C..." are you thinking, "Do you really think I have time enough to read something as long as a series with 6 volumes published?"
That's the beauty of The Craft Sequence, a fantasy series by Max Gladstone: each book can be read independently from the others and you could pick one and not go back to the next one for months. Unless, that is, you end up as engrossed into it as I was.
Mur Lafferty, Six Wakes, Orbit, 2017.
Six Wakes takes the old familiar trope of a "closed room" murder mystery, but renews it by having it set on a space ship, and all of the six possible suspects are amnesiac clones.
Ensues an engrossing and gripping story you'll have trouble to put down.
Prayaag Akbar, Leila, Simon & Schuster India, 2017.
Leila is typically the kind of entirely believable dystopia that you end up being completely engrossed into. It is not a happy read but it's chilling and sadly all too easy to imagine it happening.
Nina Allan, The Rift, Titan Books, 2017.
In a sense, this cover is a bit misleading: you'd expect passages to another world or dimension, thrilling discovery of this unknown place... But no, The Rift is a labyrinthine novel with a sedate pace that focuses more on characters than on adventure. And though it's not an easy novel to get into, if you are ready to follow this circuitous route, it is a rewarding read.
Please note this review will hint at things that happen up to page 80, though not beyond.
Adrian Barnes, Nod, Titan Books, 2016 (reprint).
Audio version available on Audible.
When I will begin to talk about Nod, people who are old hands at apocalypse novels will watch me with a raised eyebrow: "But C, why are you reviewing it? It sounds like so many others of the same apart from the concept." Very true, but bear with me, because it has redeeming qualities.
Nicky Drayden, The Prey of Gods, Harper Voyager, 2017.
You don't judge a book by its cover. Except in reality, you often pick a book by its cover. The Prey of Gods' cover was what instantly drew me: it's beautiful and invites curiosity about the story. The novel wasn't such an instant hit with me, but it's a great blend of scifi and fantasy in a story packed with action.
A. Igoni Barrett, Blackass, Graywolf Press, 2016.
Sometimes, you speak of novels blurring the genres, when scifi or fantasy is in the background. Blackass definitely blurs them, very much so. The fantasy element is mainly the starting point to the story and doesn't come back much. But as the novel has been shortlisted for a Nommo Award, it felt only right that, having liked it, I'd review it too.
Emma Newman, The Split Worlds,
Myself: "I thought we said 'Never two reviews for the same author, except in the Collections'!"
Me: "Excuse Me? Are you telling Me off because I'm breaking rules? Furthermore rules of my own making?"
Myself: "But there are so many authors out there, all worth discovering!"
Me: "If I read this five books fantasy series in five days, it's probably for the good reason that I loved it. And we also said that this blog was only for books I loved."
Myself: "But you reviewed an Emma Newman series barely 6 months ago! Couldn't you have waited a bit at least?"
Me *blows a raspberry at Myself and keeps on with the review because that series is too bleeding good to not review it*
Vincent Holland-Keen, The Office of Lost and Found, Fox Spirit Books, 2016.
The Office of Lost and Found wasn't what I expected. But I lost expectations and found a couple of great characters in an unusual world.
Robin Hobb, Fitz and the Fool,
I started reading the Farseer trilogy in 2000. Over the years, and after the completion of the Tawny Man trilogy, Fitz and the Fool became "old friends", the kind we readers have when we often re-read books, old friends we like, sometimes dislike, but always come back to.
When this new trilogy began being published, I waited. Three years until it was completed at which moment I started on it, read it all in six days and ended in tears.
In order that there wouldn't be any spoilers (except for one thing happening in the Tawny Man trilogy), this review deals mainly in feelings and impressions: it may feel a bit frustrating at how vague it is. But better vague than spoilerish.
Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom, St Martin's Press, 2016.
Audio version available on Audible and on Kobo.
Almost ten years ago, I had read Big Machine by Victor LaValle. I had found it ok. Because of this lack of enthusiasm, I didn't really followed what LaValle did after that. But one person told me I had to read The Ballad of Black Tom. Then another. Then another.
Guess what? They all were right. I had to read it, and so do you.