Adrian Tchaikovsky, Walking to Aldebaran, Rebellion Publishing, 2019.
Good day, and welcome to your annual review of a Tchaikovsky story (and I haven't even read yet Children of Ruin...)!
This latest offering is a dark and compelling scifi novella that will take you into a maze full of monsters...
Alex Acks, Murder on the Titania, and Other Steam-Powered Adventures, Queen of Swords, 2018.
The title says it all really: murder mysteries, adventures, steampunk. What it leaves aside is that it is a very, very entertaining read and it'll be a perfect addition to your summer reading list.
Lavie Tidhar, Unholy Land, Tachyon Publications, 2018.
I haven't liked what I've read of Lavie Tidhar as much as some reviewers have, but Unholy Land has certainly fascinated me. This tangle of uchronic worlds that some people are able to visit centre around the question of Zionism and identity. I've found it an intriguing novella despite some niggles.
Joyce Chng, Starfang, Fox Spirit Books,
"Werewolves in space!" is the tagline of this trilogy of novellas. Now, the word "werewolves" usually has me running very fast in the opposite direction, but in my never ending quest for space operas, I gave it a try.
Samuel Delany, The Ballad of Beta-2, Ace Double, 1965 (original publishing).
Reprinted in A, B, C, Three Short Novels by Vintage, 2015.
Some classic scifi stories are very much stories of their times. Some have aged well; others... less so. When I picked The Ballad of Beta-2, a Samuel Delany novella I had never read, for my series of classics reviews, I didn't really know what to expect.
But I suppose this is how you recognise a true master of scifi, when their story, more than fifty years later, still feel incredibly modern.
Fourth in the series of "Stories published before 1978."
Aliya Whiteley, The Loosening Skin, Unsung Stories, 2018.
Once upon a time, if you had told me "weird fiction", I'd have run screaming. It conjured images of ick and ick-ier in the vein of Burrough's Naked Lunch. But a couple of writers have reconciled me with the genre until I finally read Aliya Whiteley last year. I would now cross a sea to buy her latest books and this latest novella of hers is another brilliant story.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Expert System's Brother, Tor.com, 2018.
Tor.com's novellas can be hit and miss. But... What am I seeing in the distance? It is a Tchaikovsky scifi novella at Tor! Obviously, this one goes into the "hit" category.
Tina Makereti, Once upon a time in Aotearoa, Huia Publishers, 2013.
Tina Makereti came to my attention because she contributed to the Pacific Monsters anthology by Fox Spirit Books, a small press I'm following, and I was keen to read her short stories. This collection contains 13 short stories, and it is a hidden gem that deserves to be read.
Peter Watts, The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Tachyon Publications, 2018.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution is a hard scifi novella whose title is actually pretty self explanatory once you start reading. It's a clever mix of good concepts and old concepts, though some more allusive aspects may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Prime Meridian, JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2018 (reprint).
About six months ago I was told of this novella, too late to be a part of the fundraiser and get a copy when Moreno-Garcia released it as an indie novella. Ever since, I've been waiting for its reprint and wider availablity.
So, yes, I know that barely a few weeks ago I reviewed a novel by Moreno-Garcia, but this scifi novella was everything I hoped for, and some more.
Cassandra Khaw, Food of the Gods, Abaddon, 2017.
Audio version available on Audible.
I had already read and enjoyed (and reviewed here) Hammers on Bone, but I had yet to try the Rupert Wong series, also by Cassandra Khaw. As it is shortlisted for the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards, it was the perfect occasion to dive into it. Food of the Gods (which comprises two novellas, Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef and Rupert Wong at the Ends of the Earth) proved to be a delightful and funny read, despite some "Eeks!" and some minor nitpickings.
Ellen Klages, Passing Strange, St Martin's Press, 2017.
I'm pretty sure there are many readers of this blog who will look at the cover of Passing Strange with raised eyebrows, wondering how come I'm reviewing a novella that, quite evidently, features heavily a romance, since romance isn't my cup of tea at all.
Let's face it: I'd never have read Passing Strange had it not ended up on the SCKA shortlist. And my initial reaction was "Meh". It took some conversation with fellow readers of the SCKA to go past my disinterest to consider the objective qualities of this fantasy story, which, in the end, make it a novella well worth reviewing.
Tade Thompson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne, Tor, 2017.
I had been very impressed by Rosewater, Thompson's previous novel (1), so I had to read this new story. Nonetheless, I was a bit wary of reading this novella that Tor, the publisher, presented as horror. It turns out that, yes, there is gore. But it's not so much the gore than the very dramatic story that makes it so striking.
W. E. B. DuBois, "The Comet", Darkwater, 1920.
Audiobook available on Audible.
Reprinted in Dark Matter: The Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction by Black Writers, edited by Renee Sheree Thomas and Martin Simmons (2000).
It's not my habit to read nor review short stories. They are, as it says on the tin, a tad too short. Nonetheless, I really wanted to read "The Comet", which is not only considered as a scifi classic but also written by one of the earliest Black American scifi writers. I wasn't disappointed.
First story in my series of reviews for stories written before 1978.
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.
Audiobook available on Audible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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