Nexus (Nicholas Wilson; Victory Editing) is the sort of thing that probably would have been unpublishable before e-books, and in this case I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. There’s a lot about this book that makes me unsure, beginning with whether it’s an intentional sex comedy or a work of naive self-projection by… Continue reading Review: Nexus
LSE is a wasting disease. It invades the brains of writers of SF and other genres, progressively damaging their ability to tell entertaining stories until all they can write is unpleasant gray goo fit only for consumption by lit majors. One of the principal sequelae of the disease is plunging sales. If you are a… Continue reading Warning signs of LSE – literary status envy
I’ve been aware for some time of a culture war simmering in the SF world. And trying to ignore it, as I believed it was largely irrelevant to any of my concerns and I have friends on both sides of the divide. Recently, for a number of reasons I may go into in a later… Continue reading SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy
Big Boys Don’t Cry (Tom Kratman; Castalia House) is a short novel which begins innocently enough as an apparent pastiche of Keith Laumer’s Bolo novels and short stories. Kratman’s cybernetic “Ratha” tanks, dispassionately deploying fearsome weapons but somehow equipped to understand human notions of honor and duty, seem very familiar.
2040 (Graham Tottle; Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd) is a very odd book. Ostensibly an SF novel about skulduggery on two timelines, it is a actually a ramble through a huge gallimaufry of topics including most prominently the vagaries of yachting in the Irish Sea, an apologia for British colonial administration in 19th-century Africa, and… Continue reading Review: 2040
Yesterday’s Kin (Nancy Kress; Tachyon Publications) is a surprisingly pedestrian first-contact novel. Surprisingly because Nancy Kress has done groundbreaking SF in the past. While this novel is competently written, no new ground is being broken here.
The introduction to The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 (Rich Horton, ed.; Prime Books) gave me a terrible sinking feeling. It was the anthologist’s self-congratulatory talk about “diversity” that did it. In the real world, when an employer trumpets its “diversity” you are usually being told that hiring on the basis of actual… Continue reading Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014
World of Fire (James Lovegrove; Solaris) is a a promising start to a new SF adventure series, in which a roving troubleshooter tackles problems on the frontier planets of an interstellar civilization. Dev Harmer’s original body died in the Frontier War against the artificial intelligences of Polis+. Interstellar Security Solutions saved his mind and memories;… Continue reading Review: World of Fire
As I write, the author of The Chaplain’s War (Brad Torgerson; Baen) has recently been one of the subjects of a three-minute hate by left-wingers in the SF community, following Larry Correia’s organization of a drive to get Torgerson and other politically incorrect writers on the Hugo ballot. This rather predisposed me to like his… Continue reading Review: The Chaplain’s War
There are so many interesting points being elicited in the responses to my previous post on why the deep norms of the SF genre matter that I think I may have passed a threshold. I think the material I have written on critical theory of science fiction is now substantial enough that I could actually… Continue reading Science fiction from within
Nobody will ever confuse Fortunes of the Imperium (Jody Lynne Nye; Baen) with great SF, but it’s a likeable, fluffy little confection of a book that had me thinking “Wodehouse…in…spaaace!”
In the book reviews I’ve been writing recently I have been applying some very specific ideas about the nature and scope of science fiction, particularly in contrast to other genres such as fantasy, mystery, and horror. I have not hesitated to describe some works found in SF anthologies as defective SF, as non-SF, or even… Continue reading Why the deep norms of the SF genre matter
Solaris Rising 3 (Ian Whates; Rebellion) is billed as an anthology showcasing the breadth of modern SF. It is that; unfortunately, it is also a demonstration that the editor and some of his authors have partly lost touch with what makes science fiction interesting and valuable. As I’ve observed before, SF is not an anything-goes… Continue reading Review: Solaris Rising 3
In Ark Royal (Christopher Nuttall; self-published) the ship of the same name is an obsolete heavy-armored fleet carrier in a future British space navy. The old girl and her alcoholic captain have been parked in a forgotten orbit for decades, a dumping ground for screwups who are not quite irredeemable enough to be cashiered out.… Continue reading Review: Ark Royal
Patton’s Spaceship (John Barnes; Open Road Integrated Media) is a new e-book release of an effort from 1996. Parts of the early action, in which the protagonist loses his family to a vicious terrorist group of unknown (and very exotic) origins, seem sadly dated in light of the even greater viciousness that terrorist groups of… Continue reading Review: Patton’s Spaceship
The Steampunk Trilogy (Paul diFilippo; Open Road Integrated Media) is three short novels set in a now-familiar sort of alternate-Victorian timeline replete with weird science, Lovecraftian monsters, and baroquely ornamented technology described in baroquely ornamental prose. What distinguishes this particular outing is that it’s hilarious. In the first chapter of the first book, a runaway… Continue reading Review: The Steampunk Trilogy
Unexpected Alliances (M.R. LaScola; Two Harbors Press) is, alas, a horrible example of why the absence of editorial gatekeepers in indie publishing can be a bad thing. Here’s a clue: if you see nothing wrong with a near-future first-contact scene in which the commander of an armada of 30,000 starships many light years from Earth… Continue reading Review: Unexpected Alliances
In Soulminder (Timothy Zahn; Open Road Integrated Media), an invented device called a “soul trap” can capture the personality and memories of a dying human in a form that can be restored into the person’s brain if the physical damage that killed them can be repaired. While the device is initially conceived as a device… Continue reading Review: Soulminder
The Human Reach novels are a planned trilogy by John Lumpkin of which two books have so far been published: Through Struggle, The Stars (2011) and The Desert of Stars (2013. A third, The Passage of Stars, is planned. These books bear comparison with Thomas Mays’s A Sword Into Darkness, previously reviewed here, in that… Continue reading Review: the Human Reach novels
Shadow of the Storm (Martin J. Dougherty; Far Future Enterprises) is a tie-in novel set in the universe of the Traveller role-playing game. It’s military SF set against a troubled political background, with the Solomani Confederation facing off against the Third Imperium in a tense peace and the Confederation’s border worlds restive.