Thursday, November 20, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Anne Michaud, Hunter’s Trap. Sad Ghost Press, 2014. Pp. 256. ISBN 978-1-501008-82-5. $15.99 pb/$3.99 e.Reviewed by Valeria Vitale
Friday, November 07, 2014
L.A. Witt, Precious Metals. Riptide Publishing, 2014. Pp. 150. ISBN 978-1-62649-174-8. $4.99.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Precious Metals is a light, steampunk, gay romance novella, set during the Klondike Gold Rush, featuring a race across frozen landscapes (and in the obligatory brass-and-cog-clad airships), graphic but rather vanilla sex and a hazard-filled crescendo. Aside from the steam and mech technologies, there’s very little that’s fantastic or ahistorical in Witt’s world; even social mores are more or less what we’d expect of the end of the Nineteenth Century. Although perhaps somewhat formulaic and a little flatly written in places, this is a well-paced read that passes the time well enough, with polished writing and professional production values, a pleasant contribution to its genre.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Scale Bright. Immersion Press, 2014. Pp. 110. ISBN 978-0-9563-9249-7. $14.00.Reviewed by Su J. Sokol
In Scale Bright, Benjanun Sriduangkaew takes an ancient Chinese legend and pulls it forward into modern-day Hong Kong, crossing centuries, gender and genre along the way. A mythical tale of goddesses and demons, Scale Bright is also an urban fantasy set in the contemporary world, and a coming-of-age new adult story that explores family, love, and courage. That Sriduangkaew can pull this off without too much strain on the reader’s suspension of disbelief is impressive. That she can do this while creating so many moments of literary beauty is what makes this work exceptional. She has also presented a tale that challenges mainstream and western readers to step outside their comfort zones. Winning these readers over is perhaps her biggest challenge.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium. Aqueduct Press, 2014. Pp. 199. ISBN 978-1-61976-053-0. $18.00.Reviewed by Cait Coker
Elysium is the sort of novel you read once, and then read again to make sure what you think happened was, in fact, what happened. This is a complex, dense book, and reminds me of the best parts of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Brissett’s novel, her first, is as ambitious and experimental as those works, and I hope it receives similar attention. As the reader perhaps knows, Elysium is the ancient Greek equivalent of Paradise, reserved for righteous heroes. Usually discussions of Paradise prompt one to ask, “How does one get there?” Rather more interestingly, Brissett asks a different question altogether: “How does it function?”
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Aliya Whiteley, The Beauty. Unsung Stories, 2014. Pp. 99. ISBN 978-1-907389-23-8. £9.99.Reviewed by Cait Coker
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.