Log in

No account? Create an account
The SF Book Review's Journal [entries|friends|calendar]
The SF Book Review

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ calendar | livejournal calendar ]

My 2014 Hugo Reviews and Predictions [31 Jul 2014|06:25pm]

I discuss my Hugo votes and predictions on bookish.
Add a footnote

Hugo Reviews 2014: Best Novelettes [20 Jul 2014|01:54pm]

I've now read all the Hugo nominees for Best Novelette (a category I still think is an unnecessary insertion between "short story" and "novella"), and I was more impressed than I was by the Short Story nominations. That said, nothing stood out as something destined to be a classic of the genre.

Ted Chiang, Vox Day, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Brad Torgersen.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Inverarity's reviews [07 Sep 2013|05:04pm]

Hey all (anyone still reading this),

This comm seems to be pretty much dead. For a couple of years now I've been posting my SF book reviews here, but as I seem to be the only poster and I suspect anyone still watching this comm is also watching bookish and/or bookshare, I don't see much point. I will continue to post reviews on those communities as well as on my own LJ.


Add a footnote

Little Fuzzy/Fuzzy Sapiens/Fuzzy Nation (H. Beam Piper & John Scalzi) [01 Sep 2013|12:10pm]

The original classic sci-fi novels and the modern fanfic rewrite "reimagining"

The Fuzzy Papers

Fuzzies predate Furries, thank gawdz.

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream, The God Engines, and Agent to the Stars.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Seven Against Mars, by Martin Berman-Gorvine [29 Aug 2013|11:05pm]

A Jewish Princess of Mars!

Seven Against Mars

Wildside Press, 2013, 242 pages

Trapped in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942, teenager Rachel Zilber escapes the horror by writing about the adventures of Zap-Gun Jack and Princess Anya of Mars. When her parents are captured by the Nazis, Rachel's transported into her make-believe world, but the danger is far from over. Together with Katie, a girl from the future, Rachel joins Jack and a rag-tag band of misfits to fight the evil Lord Ares III of Mars and restore Princess Anya to her rightful place on the Martian throne.

Jews and Texans on Mars — Oy vey!

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge [27 Aug 2013|10:09pm]

A Hugo-award winning post-cyberpunk novel by one of my favorite SF authors.

Rainbows End

Tor, 2006, 381 pages

Set a few decades from now, Rainbows End is an epic adventure that encapsulates in a single extended family the challenges of the technological advances of the first quarter of the 21st century. The information revolution of the past 30 years blossoms into a web of conspiracies that could destroy Western civilization. At the center of the action is Robert Gu, a former Alzheimer's victim who has regained his mental and physical health through radical new therapies, and his family. His son and daughter-in-law are both in the military, but not a military we would recognize, while his middle-school-age granddaughter is involved in perhaps the most dangerous game of all, with people and forces more powerful than she or her parents can imagine.

No, there is no punctuation error in the title. Just had to mention that. It bugged me too.

Also by Vernor Vinge: My reviews of A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, and The Children of the Sky.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Nobody Gets the Girl, by James Maxey [13 Aug 2013|09:50pm]

Nobody is a hero. Nobody gets the girl. Nobody saves the world.

Nobody Gets the Girl

Phobos Books, 2003, 244 pages

Richard Rogers was an ordinary man until the super-genius Dr. Nicolas Knowbokov built his time machine. On the machine's maiden voyage, Dr. Knowbokov accidentally changes history so that Richard is never born. Now trapped in a world that has no memory of him, Richard is an invisible, intangible ghost to everyone but Dr. Knowbokov and the scientist's two superheroine daughters, Rail Blade and the Thrill.

Assigned the codename Nobody, Richard becomes the world's ultimate spy, invisibly battling the super-powered terrorist army run by the mysterious mastermind Rex Monday. The fate of the free world is at stake as the superhuman battles escalate, wiping entire cities from the map, threatening the survival of all mankind.

Who can save us from the looming apocalypse? Nobody!

Gleefully rolling in superhero tropes. Three parts awesome, one part flat.

Verdict: You can't ask much more from a superhero story than that it be fun and not terribly, terribly stupid. Nobody Gets the Girl is fun and (for the genre) fairly intelligent. The writing will not blow you away, but any superhero fan should find it enjoyable, and I liked it enough to put the sequel on my TBR list, even though it looks like the next book is a self-published effort.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Move Under Ground, by Nick Mamatas [08 Aug 2013|09:29pm]

The Beats go on the road to stop Cthulhu in this Lovecraft/Kerouac mashup.

Move Under Ground

Wildside Press, 2006, 158 pages

The year is nineteen-sixty-something, and after endless millennia of watery sleep, the stars are finally right. Old R'lyeh rises out of the Pacific, ready to cast its damned shadow over the primitive human world. The first to see its peaks: an alcoholic, paranoid, and frightened Jack Kerouac, who had been drinking off a nervous breakdown up in Big Sur. Now Jack must get back on the road to find Neal Cassady, the holy fool whose rambling letters hint of a world brought to its knees in worship of the Elder God Cthulhu. Together with pistol-packin' junkie William S. Burroughs, Jack and Neal make their way across the continent to face down the murderous Lovecraftian cult that has spread its darkness to the heart of the American Dream. But is Neal along for the ride to help save the world, or does he want to destroy it just so that he'll have an ending for his book?

Lovecraft. Kerouac. Crackfic.

Verdict: Dense, sometimes almost turgid prose deliberately imitating the style of the first-person protagonist Jack Kerouac, Move Under Ground is deeply weird and succeeds at being exactly what it's supposed to be: the bastard lovechild of a Beatnik Shoggoth orgy, with seminal contributions from two very different generations of writers. The style may or may not be to your liking, but if you're a fan of either half of this bizarre literary cross-breeding experiment, it's short enough that you should consider it worth reading.

Also by Nick Mamatas: My review of Starve Better.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

When Gravity Fails, by George Alec Effinger [28 Jul 2013|02:21pm]

Neuromancer in the Middle-East.

When Gravity Fails

Orb Books, 1987, 288 pages

In a decadent world of cheap pleasures and easy death, Marid Audrian has kept his independence the hard way. Still, like everything else in the Budayeen, he's available for a price.

For a new kind of killer roams the streets of the Arab ghetto, a madman whose bootlegged personality cartridges range from a sinister James Bond to a sadistic disemboweler named Khan. And Marid Audrian has been made an offer he can't refuse. The 200-year-old godfather of the Budayeen's underworld has enlisted Marid as his instrument of vengeance. But first Marid must undergo the most sophisticated of surgical implants before he dares to confront a killer who carries the power of every psychopath since the beginning of time.

Wry, savage, and unignorable, When Gravity Fails was hailed as a classic by Effinger's fellow SF writers on its original publication in 1987, and the sequence of Marid Audrian novels it begins were the culmination of his career.

Another cyberpunk classic that has lost its luster thanks to imitators.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Apollo's Outcasts, by Allen Steele [20 Jul 2013|11:48pm]

A fresh Heinleinesque juvenile, a boy's adventure on the Moon.

Apollo's Outcasts

Prometheus Books, 2012, 311 pages

Jamey Barlowe has been crippled since childhood, the result of being born on the Moon. He lives his life in a wheelchair, only truly free when he is in the water. But then Jamey's father sends him, along with five other kids, back to the Moon to escape a political coup d'etat that has occurred overnight in the United States. Moreover, one of the other five refugees is more than she appears. Their destination is the mining colony, Apollo. Jamey will have to learn a whole new way to live, one that entails walking for the first time in his life.

It won't be easy and it won't be safe. But Jamey is determined to make it as a member of Lunar Search and Rescue, also known as the Rangers. This job is always risky but could be even more dangerous if the new US president makes good on her threat to launch a military invasion. Soon Jamey is front and center in a political and military struggle stretching from the Earth to the Moon.

Teens in space! Maybe YA isn't hopeless after all.

Verdict: A damn fun novel for anyone nostalgic for old Heinlein juveniles. Highly recommended for anyone fond of YA SF, or looking for some good YA for boys.

Also by Allen Steele: My review of Coyote.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Crystal Soldier, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller [19 Jul 2013|07:18pm]

I struggled to come up with a more descriptive summary than "Space Opera."

Crystal Soldier

Ace Books, 2005, 352 pages

Centuries in the past, mankind fought a seemingly unbeatable adversary from sector to sector across the Spiral Arm until the war ground to a standstill and the Enemy withdrew. Believing that they had won, the citizens of the galaxy rebuilt. The Inner Worlds, which had escaped the worst of the war's ravages, became even more insular, while the Rim worlds adopted a free and easy way with law and order. Now, hundreds of years after their withdrawal, the Enemy is back - and this time they'll be satisfied with nothing less than the extinction of the galaxy.

Classic space opera, neither good nor bad.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Tau Ceti, by Kevin J. Anderson & Steven Savile [03 Jul 2013|10:59pm]

Earth's first colony, fleeing an autocratic Earth. I think I've read this before.

Tau Ceti

Phoenix Pick, 2012, 202 pages

Jorie Taylor has lived her whole life on the generation ship Beacon. Fleeing an Earth tearing itself apart from its exhaustive demand for resources, the Beacon is finally approaching Sarbras, the planet circling Tau Ceti they hope to make humanity’s new home.

But Earth has recovered from its near-death experience and is now under the control of a ruthless dictator whose sights are set on Tau Ceti as well. President Jurudu knows how to get what he wants—and he wants Sarbras.

A new spin around the block in a classic SF vehicle.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell [30 Jun 2013|02:05pm]

Six genres, six centuries, six stories, lives repeated.

Cloud Atlas

Random House, 2004, 509 pages

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

A grand tapestry made of shiny threads, a Buddhist sci-fi novel, a matryoshka doll manuscript, a writing stunt.

Verdict: A great book by a great writer, and while some have dismissed it as a show-offy writing stunt, I thought it worked very well. Some literary authors go slumming in genre fiction, but David Mitchell is more like a genre author who has snuck into the ranks of litfic.

Also by David Mitchell: My review of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Factoring Humanity, by Robert J. Sawyer [20 Jun 2013|10:24pm]

A slow-paced First Contact novel with lots of SF Big Ideas.

Factoring Humanity

Tor, 1998, 352 pages

In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.

When Heather achieves a breakthrough, the message reveals a startling new technology that rips the barriers of space and time, holding the promise of a new stage of human evolution. In concert with Kyle's discoveries of the nature of consciousness, the key to limitless exploration - or the end of the human race - appears close at hand. Sawyer has created a gripping thriller, a pulse-pounding tour of the farthest reaches of technology. Factoring Humanity is a 1999 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.

Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, tesseracts, first contact, and child abuse.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Jane Carver of Waar, by Nathan Long [01 Jun 2013|04:47pm]

If John Carter were a biker chick.

Jane Carver of Waar

Night Shade Books, 2012, 320 pages

Jane Carver is nobody's idea of a space princess. A hard-ridin', hard-lovin' biker chick and ex-Airborne Ranger, Jane is as surprised as anyone else when, on the run from the law, she ducks into the wrong cave at the wrong time - and wakes up butt-naked on an exotic alien planet light-years away from everything she's ever known. Waar is a savage world of four-armed tiger-men, sky-pirates, slaves, gladiators, and purple-skinned warriors in thrall to a bloodthirsty code of honor and chivalry. Caught up in a disgraced nobleman's quest to win back the hand of a sexy alien princess, Jane encounters bizarre wonders and dangers unlike anything she ever ran into back home. Then again, Waar has never seen anyone like Jane before.

Both a loving tribute and scathing parody of the swashbuckling space fantasies of yore, Jane Carver of Waar introduces an unforgettable new science-fiction heroine. Nathan Long is a screen and prose writer with two movies, a Saturday-morning adventure series, and several TV episodes to his name. His official website is: www.sabrepunk.com.

Nathan Long treats John Carter better than Disney did.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, by Suzette Haden Elgin [21 May 2013|10:38pm]

A sequel to the Ozark trilogy, in which the author introduces the main character from her other sci-fi series to Planet Ozark.

Yonder Comes the Other End of Time

Daw Books, 1986, 302 pages


The Communipaths have traced a mind message of incredible strength to a seemingly empty sector of space, and now Tri-Galactic Federation agent Coyote Jones must find an invisible planet and bring back the unknown telepath who threatens to disrupt the entire Communipath system.

Bursting through a Spell of Invisibility and straight into Brightwater Kingdom on the planet Ozark, Coyote discovers a realm ruled by a iron-willed young woman named Responsible — perhaps the very telepath he seeks. But on this world where Magicians of Rank can call up a storm or cure a wounded and unwelcome offworlder with equal ease, will Coyote's psience or Ozark's spells prove the stronger?

Ozark magic vs. intergalactic telepaths. Fun, charming, and awfully damn silly.

Verdict: This is not a book you'd want to read as a stand-alone. If you have not read the Ozark Trilogy first, and preferably a couple of the Coyote Jones books as well, then Yonder Comes the Other End of Time is going to seem awfully silly and nonsensical. If you have read those books, then this book is still a little silly, but you'll enjoy it more.

Also by Suzette Haden Elgin: My review of The Ozark Trilogy.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

The Coldest War, by Ian Tregillis [15 May 2013|10:00pm]

An alt-history in which demons and supermen threaten Mutually Assured Destruction.

The Coldest War

Tor, 2012, 352 pages

Someone is killing Britain's warlocks.

Twenty-two years after the Second World War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Great Britain and the USSR. For decades, the warlocks have been all that stand between the British Empire and the Soviet Union-- a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. But now each death is another blow to Britain's security.

Meanwhile, a brother and sister escape from a top-secret research facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. Once subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary humans with extraordinary abilities, then prisoners of war in the vast Soviet effort to reverse engineer the Nazi technology, they head for England.

Because that's where former spy Raybould Marsh lives. And Gretel, the mad seer, has plans for him.

As Marsh is drawn back into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain's darkest acts didn't end with the war. And as he strives to protect Queen and country, he's forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.

The sequel to Bitter Seeds fast-forwards from World War II to the Cold War.

Verdict: A great sequel, and a book that makes me eager to finish the trilogy. Mixing superpowers, magic, and alternate history in a very grim world of 1963, The Coldest War is a fast-paced bombshell of an adventure not afraid to threaten to destroy the world.

Also by Ian Tregillis: My review of Bitter Seeds.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Ship of Fools, by Richard Paul Russo [09 May 2013|09:19pm]

The crew of a generation ship encounters an alien vessel that practically screams "Get out!" so of course they poke around.

Ship of Fools

Ace Books, 2001, 370 pages

Home to generations of humans, the starship Argonos has wandered aimlessly throughout the galaxy for hundreds of years, desperately searching for other signs of life. Now a steady, unidentified transmission lures them toward a nearby planet, where the grisly remains of a former colony await the crew. Haunted by what they have seen, the crew has no choice but to follow when another signal beckons the Argonos into deep space — and into the dark heart of an alien mystery.

Scarier than Alien and hella smarter than Prometheus.

Verdict: I sometimes make fun of books that seem to be Hollywood-bait — "Please, please Ridley Scott, option me!" — but dayyum, Ship of Fools would make an awesome, pants-shittingly scary movie. This is the manuscript that Prometheus should have been.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Deadline, by Mira Grant [05 May 2013|11:49pm]

Book two of the Newsflesh trilogy is a thrill-ride like the first, though the twists and turns had me cocking my eyebrow a bit more.


Orbit, 2011, 420 pages

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news - he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

Things can always get worse, even after a zombie apocalypse.

Verdict: The Newsflesh trilogy is a real page-turner. Even if the story sometimes stretches credibility (come on, it's zombies!), there aren't a lot of books I've read lately that make me want to zoom through them so quickly. Deadline has a few weaknesses that make it slightly less convincing than the first book, but I'm still eager to read book three.

Also by Mira Grant: My review of Feed.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan [22 Apr 2013|11:17pm]

Dashiell Hammett + William Gibson in a noir cyberpunk thriller which is better than most.

Altered Carbon

Del Rey, 2002, 526 pages

In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched 180 light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats "existence" as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning.

Yes, it's everything Requires Only That You Hate said it was, but it's still pretty entertaining.

My complete list of book reviews.
Add a footnote

[ viewing | most recent entries ]
[ go | earlier ]