Jonathan Ward, Caleuche, Fox Spirit Books, 2019.
Caleuche is a space opera thriller after a technological apocalypse occurs. It uses tropes and has some stereotypical elements, but it is a gripping read for a cosy evening in.
Claire G. Coleman, Terra Nullius, Hachette Australia, 2017.
Audiobook available on Audible.
I'm sorry I missed this book when it was published in 2017. It feels like being late to a party, but better late than never. This scifi dystopia certainly makes for a grim party, but it is a powerful, unmisseable one.
Suyi Davies Okungbowa, David Mogo, Godhunter, Rebellion Publishing, 2019.
David Mogo, Godhunter is an interesting debut fantasy novel. It has its flaws but who could resist the lure of a deserted post-apocalyptic Lagos as the setting?
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...
Jan Morris, Hav, Faber & Faber, 2006.
I came into Hav by chance. I lost myself in its maze for two weeks, walking its streets, never wanting to leave. I had to, of course, other books were waiting. But Hav will probably one of my favourite encounters of the year.
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.
One Way and No Way are a duo of hard scifi novels set on Mars and written by Simon Morden. I'm usually not big on techno thrillers but I had so much enjoyed Morden's Books of Down that I gave it a try. Despite a slow start for me, I ended up loving it.
Temi Oh, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? Simon and Schuster, 2019.
Audio version available on Audible.
I had mixed feelings at the end of Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, a near-future scifi novel. Without a doubt, Temi Oh has written a story which has many strong points, but other aspects were less convincing to me. Nonetheless, it is an interesting novel with a lot of potential.
"C., " are you saying because you faithfully follow my reviews, "I clearly remember you reviewing Rosewater in 2017. Why are you doing a new review rather than add to the original?"
Well, dear faithful reader, when I first read Rosewater, I thought it was a stand alone and I reviewed (and enjoyed it a lot) as such. But it's now a series. So rather than retconning the review, I'm writing a new one.
Because as you'll see, it changes things. When a story moves forward, you lose some things, but you also gain others.
REVIEW UPDATE: On 28 October 2019, this review was updated to include my thoughts on The Rosewater Redemption.
R.F. Kuang, The Poppy War, Harper Voyager, 2018.
The Poppy War is the first volume in a trilogy of fantasy novels. I was immediately drawn to this world and the main character, but the second part of the book wasn't what I expected.
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.
Kate Mascarenhas, The Psychology of Time Travel, Head of Zeus, 2018.
Available as an audiobook on Audible.
One of my favourite trope in SFF is time travel. It can be done magnificently or it can fail miserably. But The Psychology of Time Travel isn't so much about time travel than about what make humans tick. Time travel becomes the means to illuminate power, the sense of belonging, mental health issues, love and revenge.
Simon Morden, The Books of Down, Gollancz,
"No, I'm sorry, I don't review an unfinished series," I usually say. Except that it's exactly what I'm doing here. So be warned: The Books of Down is a trilogy and the third volume hasn't got a publication date yet. But it's the best portal fantasy I've read in a long time and it deserves some love bombing so that this third volume can finally hurry our way.
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, including Aliya Whiteley.
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.
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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