Thursday, October 09, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (edd.), Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA science fiction and fantasy stories. Twelfth Planet Press, 2014. Pp. 439. ISBN 978-1-9221011-1-2. $16.99.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Kaleidoscope is an anthology of short fiction, published by Twelfth Planet Press, and crowdfunded via the Pozible platform, that collects together twenty stories of “diverse young adult science fiction and fantasy.” One might wish that a theme as broad as “diversity” would be a sine qua non in any work of this size, that twenty short stories around topics of family, coming-of-age and socialization, would be bound to include many examples of protagonists and other characters who are not straight, cis, abled, white, Anglo etc.; as with speculative fiction on the whole, though, we know this just ain’t so. Reading this anthology it becomes clear how unusual it is to really focus on the diverse, on the marginalized, on all the inhabitants of our world, not just the popular and preppy ones. In very few of the stories do we feel that diverse characters or issues have been shoe-horned in—they are there just as they are there in our lives; the stories are about them because they are their stories. There is nothing “worthy” or “dry” or less than entertaining about these tales. They are as suitable for young adults and fans of speculative fiction alike as any other collection of stories. If the word “diverse” weren’t in the title, I wonder how would even notice, except for a sense that this anthology presents a world a little more complete than most.
Monday, September 08, 2014
Stephen Baker, The Boost. Tor Books, 2014. Pp. 336. ISBN 978-0-7653-3437-4. $24.99.Reviewed by RJ Blain
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Robert Earl Sutter III, Hobo Fires. Self-published, 2014. Pp 336. ISBN 978-0-692-20603-4. $30.00.Reviewed by Nino Cipri
The universe began when a flood burst thru a dam. Matter flowed forth. It was darkness. As the flood matter it also coalesced & became the stars & planets & galaxies. You can still see the flow today in the way that galaxies are strung together across the universe. Or in the flowers on a tangled vine.
In 2137, hobos have evolved, just like the rest of the world. The characters in Robert Earl Sutter III’s graphic novel Hobo Fires have hacked a system that is made to entrap them into a life of drudgery and unquestioned consumption. The main character, Poenee, hitches rides on robotic freight trains with a smartphone-like technology that seems almost as good as a sonic screwdriver. Railroad bulls and many police officers have been replaced by androids. Surveillance technology has been fully incorporated into society. She meets a number of people on the road, most importantly Raukkus, a fellow hobo who becomes her companion.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Susan Dworkin, The Commons. Self-published, 2014. Pp. 208. ISBN 978-0-9892-8484-4. $14.99/$5.15.Reviewed by Kate Onyett
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
John Lauricella, 2094. Irving Place Editions, 2014. Pp. 390. ISBN 978-0-6158-6881-3. $14.00.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
This self-published novel is a none-too-subtle pastiche of 1984, also riddled with internal references to Brave New World and other classic dystopias. Featuring a prodigious cast of characters and range of subplots, some of which impact directly on the core story, others contribute to the tone and themes on through flavor and imagery, and some apparently neither. Set less than one hundred years in our own future, the world has become a labor-free, immortal utopia—for the very few. And at a great cost. Although the novel contains patchy writing and characterization, and sometimes unconscionable stereotyping, it is an ambitious vision from a promising new writer who will no doubt continue to produce interesting work.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Douglas Thompson, The Brahan Seer. Acair Books, 2014. Pp. 164. ISBN 978-0-86152-562-1. £9.99.Reviewed by Kate Onyett
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Bascomb James (ed.), Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures. World Weaver Press, 2014. Pp. 280. ISBN: 978-0-6159-5924-5. $13.19.Reviewed by Margrét Helgadóttir
The anthology, edited by Bascomb James and published by World Weaver Press in April 2014, is a well-crafted collection of thirteen stories, each with elements from Grand Tradition—science fiction usually associated with the 1940s-1960s, optimism, wonder, adventure and respect for science. Space and space adventure is the dominant frame of this book, but it has a broad range of themes and plots. In addition to asteroid hunting and crashing space ships, the characters in this book deal with issues like alien bunnies, walking plants, a spaceship landing behind your trailer when your ex-wife stands at your front door, war-traumatized alien babysitters who associate microwave sound with sonic weapons, space pirates at Saturn, a poker game with high stakes and something old awakening in the alien graveyard at Necropolis. These tales are grand, terrifying, dark, beautiful, disturbing and funny. I recommend the book for lovers of science fiction set in the far orbit and for all who want to read fiction filled with enthusiasm, adventure and exploring of new worlds.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Brendan Connell, The Galaxy Club. Chômu Press, 2014. Pp. 202. ISBN 978-1-907681-25-7. £10.00.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Rhys Hughes, More Than a Feline: Cat Tales and Poems. Gloomy Seahorse Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-291-61927-0. £3.99/£4.99.Reviewed by Kathryn Allan
Touted as “an illustrated volume of cat stories and poems by cult author Rhys Hughes written over the past two decades and collected together for the very first time,” More Than a Feline is a sometimes irreverent, mostly fun book about cats. If you really like cats and have a generous sense of humour, then you will probably enjoy at least a few of the stories in this short collection (27 stories and poems, totalling 103 pages). I had brought More Than a Feline along with me while attending a conference in Orlando, Florida. The home-spun image on the front cover and a quick skim of its contents told me that this is the kind of book best meant for vacation reading.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Stephen Jones (ed.), Psycho Mania. Skyhorse Publishing, 2013. 978-1-628-73816-2. $14.95.Reviewed by Rachel Verkade
The shadow behind the shower curtain. The figure in the alley. The face behind the mask. The psycho, or homicidal maniac, has been a staple of horror ever since it awakened as a genre. From Norman Bates to Michael Myers and all of their ilk, the “psycho killer” has become one of horror’s most popular tropes. Add one of horror literature’s most celebrated editors and some of its most popular authors (including the original author of Psycho, Robert Bloch) to the mix, and it seems like a match made in heaven. So, does the book live up to the hype?