These reviews reflect my opinions only so take them with a pinch of salt.
Recently reviewed books are at the top of the list; older ones are sorted
alphabetically by author towards the bottom. All reviews are copyright by Adam
Hough; if you'd like me to expand them for you or quote them for any reason,
just ask. Email address is at the bottom.
Alphabetical Index (by Author):
The New Stuff |
The New Stuff!
- Adam (2003/07/03): Updated the layout; no new reviews...
Previously Reviewed Material
- Dennis Lee Anderson's "Arthur, King" which is another of the Arthur
returns to the present day -- which in this case is 1940 or so. Mordred is back
and is (naturally) on the axis side. It's ok, but nothing special.
- "Happy Policeman" by Patricia Anthony. Set on Earth after a nuclear
war has apparently destroyed the Earth, a small American town is preserved by
mysterious aliens. The story itself is based around a murder investigation by
the title character. It's an interesting premise and Anthony carries it off
- Piers Anthony's Omnivore/Orn/Ox trilogy; again pretty standard
Xanthony writing, but the first book was pretty good even if the others were
- "Gateway to the Stars" by Pierce
Askegren. I picked this up with doubts -- its tied into the old GDW Science
Fiction RPG, Traveller and proudly boasts that it includes "an all new Traveller
module by Marc Miller." Cheap crass commercialism aside, I picked it up (Ok, I
was desperate for something to read.) It's good. Very good. The premise is that
an independent space freighter is looking for work and is hired to carry a
passenger along much of the known galaxy. There's rather more than that to it,
but the politics and suspense are mixed in well. It does appear to be the first
in a series for which the subsequent volumes have not yet appears (not even been
announced) so expect a cliffhanger. I'll be looking for more of Askegren's work.
- "Gorgon Child" by Steven Barnes. Barnes is a well respected SF
writer who has worked with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle on some of their
bestsellers so I was expecting a lot from this book. The first strike was that
it was a sequel to an earlier novel, "Street Lethal." The second was that it
flowed poorly. The third was that I just didn't connect with any of the
characters. I won't be buying the first book now. The plot itself is about a
typical hunky heroic type trying to beat a religious zealot creating a breed of
- "Anvil of Stars" by Greg Bear. This is a sequel to the earlier
"Forge of God." After their world has been destroyed by ships strongly
reminiscent of Saberhagen's berserkers, the children of the survivors take
advantage of the "ships of the law," mysterious forces that exist in opposition.
Their plan is to hunt down the creators of the destroyers and, well, bring them
to justice. This isn't one of Bear's best works by any means, but it's got a
(fairly) sound plot and characterizations.
- "Heads" by Greg Bear. This is a rather bizarre novella about trying
to recover memories from, if you'll excuse the expression, "deadheads." One of
the heads belongs to a fraud who set up an awfully successful religeon and his
current followers believe his memories will destroy them so they will stop at
little to prevent that. Possibly Dennis Potter read this before he wrote "Cold
Lazarus"... Locus magazine liked it, I didn't.
- "Earthborn" by Orson Scott Card. This is the *fifth* in the
Homecoming series and (at last) all but one of the arguing characters have died
off. Unfortunately their genes bred true as their descendents are still
squabbling. In an attempt to set things aright and figure out what the Keeper of
Earth is up to, Shedemei, the sole survivor of the original group goes
walkabout. Even if you did enjoy the original books, this is only for the
hardcore fan (or you're bored and don't recognise any other authors while in the
- "PastWatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus" by Orson Scott
Card. I don't normally get really, really excited about a novel I'm
reading, but this one succeeded. The generation spanning book is based around a
future where humanity has finally reached peace with itself and simultaneously
developed the ability to view the past. While the world is in shabby shape,
things seem to be shaping up. One researcher however notes an anomaly in the way
that the past and the present can't interact and decides to change the past.
Christopher Columbus is the nexus. To say more would be to spoil an incredible
story. This is a must-buy.
- "Treason" by Orson Scott Card. This is a reworked version of an
earlier book by Card, and the premise is that the protagonist lives on a world
inhabited by the descendants of a planet of galactic traitors, each of which has
descendants with their own particular genetic abnormality. It's rather peculiar,
but still quite interesting.
- Michael Crichton's "Lost World" is not as good as "Jurassic Park."
Period. None of the novel (pun intended) elements are there -- the fascinating
exploration of chaos theory is replaced by a hacked tie-in to quantum theory and
the dinosaurs just aren't as much fun the second time around. The children seem
to be a copy and paste job with just their origins changed and people still act
as idiotically as possible. Suffice to say, it didn't suck me in as the first
one did. I ought to note that it's slightly better than the movie.
- "Sundowner" by Chris
Claremont. The third in the Nicola Shea series, I accidentally read this
second. Well, I guess it's a reasonable piece of work, but hardly stunning. For
those interested in blurb, this segment of the saga follows the heroine heading
back out into space after having been grounded after the troubles of the first
book. Only pick this one up if you liked the first.
- "Richter 10" by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike McQuay. A person has
figured out how to stop earthquakes forever and plans to do so. Unfortunately
not everyone agrees. This really is not a terribly good book, but the Clarke's
recent output hasn't been terribly good either. While purporting to be dealing
primarily with a more science based story, the novel spends more time blasting
black Islamic culture. Under the guise of science fiction you could do
interesting things with that, but the result is just a mess of plotlines and
proselytising. Don't bother.
- "Branch Point" by Mona Clee.
Mona Clee is like a somewhat more serious Connie Willis. Her first book, "Branch
Point" is a wonderfully constructed novel dealing with man's incessant need to
destroy himself. The title is derived from the concept of there being specific
points in time that influence the future in significant ways. As can be surmised
from that comment, this is a novel about time travel. Starting off in a world
ruined by a nuclear war resulting from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the three
protagonists attempt to save humanity from annihilating itself in assorted times
and alternate histories. Very highly recommended.
- "Overshoot" by Mona Clee.
Having done the time travel thing, Clee now moves onto extending her
environmental message. As with the previous novel the title is a significant
view into the content of the book. Here an overshoot refers to the inability of
mankind to deal with the environmental crisis before it's too late. While the
ending is a little pat, the process of getting there is extremely well done.
Again, strongly recommended.
- "World Without End" by Molly
Cochran and Warren Murphy. Written by the authors of the Arthurian "Forever
King", this is a somewhat smoother and better developed novel. It blends
Atlantean fable with Greek myth, time travel, world conspiracies, psychic
abilities and host of other strangeness. Not bad.
- "Computer One" by Warwick
Collins. The book is very much a cautionary tale about significant reliance
on technology in the sense that complexity on the scale of a worldwide
'benevolent' computer can never truly be debugged. It's an interesting variation
on the old "Colossus" story and quite well executed, although the characters
never strike one as much more than plot devices.
- "Hackers" ed. Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois. As expected, this is a
compilation title. Also as expected it's a mix of the worthwhile and the why.
Worth reading are Robert Silverberg's "Pardoner's Tale," Alexander Jablokov's
"Living Will" and Bruce Sterling's "Our Cultural Chernobyl." I won't bother
mentioning the ones I don't like!
- "Timeshare" by Joshua Dann.
As part of my on going project to read every time travel novel there
is, this is just another entry. The spin on time travel in this one is that
people are now taking extremely expensive holidays back in time to bask in the
early twentieth century, catching film premieres and authentic atmosphere. The
book is entertaining and better than some, but still it's not really a
- "Forbidden Knowledge" by Stephen
Donaldson. This is the sequel to the frequently puzzling "Gap into
Conflict" and carries on the story from when Ensign Morn Hyland leaves Com-Mine
apparently not kidnapped with the pirate, Angus Thermopylae. In true Donaldson
fashion, now that we know a bit more about the characters, we get to find out
how neurotic they all actually are. While the circumstances may justify it, it's
disheartening to find a total lack of idealism and heroism in the future. Oh
well. Space opera this isn't. If you like your science fiction gritty and
depressing, this is the book for you. I found it intriguing enough to read the
next three, so there's something here, but you'll have to look a little hard for
it. Find a friend with the series and nab the lot.
- "A Dark and Hungry God Arises",
"Chaos and Order" and "This Day All Gods Die" by Stephen R. Donaldson.
These are the last three books of the "Gap" series. Donaldson continues
portraying the most excruciating flawed characters within an otherwise
compelling story. Assume you can get past the
slap-your-forehead-because-someone-just did-something-else-boneheaded stage,
they're a decent read. "ADAHGA" covers the trip of the Trumpet into Amnion space
to a pirate facility. "CAO" suffers from intermediate book status as it's a
build up to "TDAGD" which brings the whole saga to conclusion back in Earth
space. There's not much point in putting a recommendation on these -- if you've
managed to get past the first two, you'll want to read these; if not, well,
there's not a lot of point really, is there?
- "Roads Not Taken" by Gardner Dozois
and Henry Schmidt. This anthology reaches into one of my favorite areas:
the what-if fiction. Ten stories long, it is remarkably consistent in the
quality of writing and interest inherent in each short story. L. Sprague du
Camp's "Aristotle and the Gun" is my personal pick of the collection, but close
runners up are A.A. Attanasio's "Ink From the New Moon" written in his usual
flowery style and Greg Costikyan's "The West is Red" which covers soviet
domination of the west from a very different angle. Recommended.
- "The Two Georges" by Richard
Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove. Normally when I see a joint collaboration between a
celebrity (be it an actor, politician or whatever) I get a little concerned
about the quality of the content. Fortunately in this case I didn't need to be.
"The Two Georges" is set in an alternate time where George Washington remained
loyal to the British crown and the American revolution never got started. In
this world in the present however a painting cementing the alliance between
Britain and her colony has been stolen by a revolutionary group that wants
Britain to grant the Americas their independence. Turtledove does an excellent
job of taking this massive assumption and staying consistent within it while
adding a few contemporary real life characters into an entirely different
setting. Highly recommended. For what it's worth, this book also got bonus
points for painting the British as the good guys and the new revolutionaries as
the bad ones; it's rare and I quite appreciated it.
- "Time Station London" by David Evans. I was somewhat warned by the
blurb on the back stating that this would be the first in an ongoing series. For
what it's worth, if you're seen the derisable "TimeCop" series on TV you pretty
much know everything about this book, regardless of that fact they come from an
entirely different source. The premise of this book is that a Nazi sympathiser
from the future has headed back to World War II in order to change the future;
the heroic blah blah blah Time Wardens want to stop him. While competently
written, there's no new ground covered in this book and nothing to really hold
- The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. If you translate the old sea
stories (like Horatio Hornblower) into space set a few centuries from now you
should get the general feeling for the book. The first book ("Midshipman's
Hope") is excellent, but you do get a little tired of the lead's constant
agonising as the series goes on. On the other hand the plotline is good, and
really keeps you involved. "Fisherman's Hope", the last of the series currently
in print, is also worth reading to.
- "Voices of Hope" by David Feintuch. This is a sequel of sorts to
the earlier Seafort Saga. Here however Feintuch uses a varying observer to tell
a story from several perspective simultaneously. It's based around the fate of
the trannies (urban dwellers of a collapsing New York) which had been left lying
around from the previous books. Old characters do make a return but fortunately
the eternal agonising of Nicholas Seafort does not take precedence over the
entire story. Recommended.
- "Jed the Dead" by Alan Dean Foster. Light, escapist ADF fare, but
it's rather well done. Jed is an alien discovered by a naieve Texan who adopts
him with some interesting consequences. It's not farce per se, but periodically
gets close to it. If you want comic SF, take a look.
- "Mid-Flinx" by Alan Dean Foster. This is the novel that ties
together Foster's earlier "Midworld" with his Flinx/Humanx Commonwealth
franchise. It's a little vapid with characters popping in and out rather quicker
than the novel form normally allows but overall is an entertaining read. If you're
an ADF fan you'll enjoy it. If you're not or if you've not heard of him before
there are better options.
- Alan Dean Foster's "Nor Crystal Tears". Part of the Humanx
Continuity, it's the story of the first meeting between Thranx and Humanity.
Traditional ADF so I quite enjoyed it.
- "The Howling Stones" by Alan Dean
Foster. Set in the universe of the Humanx Commonwealth, the story deals
with the ongoing detente between the Humanx and the reptilian AAnn. In this case
a set of mysterious but incredibly powerful relics appear and the two groups try
to acquire them. It's as usual standard ADF so if you find him entertaining as I
do, it's worth reading. If you're merely a casual reader, it adds nothing to the
canon. If you don't like him, well, then it'll probably justify everything you
dislike about his writing!
- "The Dig" by Alan Dean Foster. Imagine you're Stephen Spielberg and
you want to have a novel tie-in to your new computer game. Where else do you go
but to the prince of novelizations, Alan Dean Foster? The book isn't bad, but
it's not very good either. Its computer game heritage shows up in the almost
Piers Anthony preoccupation with puzzles taking the place of characterization.
Save your money.
- "Making History" by Stephen Fry. This is the third novel of British
comedian Stephen Fry. Set in contemporary Cambridge University, the novel
chronicles the involvement of a history student in rewriting history through
judicial use of a time machine. Alternately funny and pretentious, the story
follows the protagonist through the after effects of killing Hitler. While many
of Fry's personal beliefs guide the plotline and its outcomes, the overall
result is not unfavourable.
- "Double Planet" by John Gribbin and Marcus Chown is old style
science fiction about a potential collision of the Earth with a comet and the
preparations to take advantage of this. While not the best book I've read, it's
not a bad choice if you're fond of the Asimov/Brin/Niven school.
- "The Turing Option" by Harry Harrison and Marvin Minsky. This
should have been a superb book drawing from one of the more imaginative minds of
science fiction and from the leader of AI theory. Unfortunately it reads rather
like a cut and paste performance. When AI is being discussed, it's a lucid,
interesting read which sticks out like a sore thumb from the general narrative.
The plot revolves around an AI scientist being nearly killed and then revived
using his own AI techniques in a corporate espionage environment. The book has
its moments but overall feels a little flat.
- "Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic"
by Terry Jones. By all accounts the computer game that this novella is
based off is very good. This isn't. It reads like a cheap knock off of Douglas
Adam's work, which I suppose, is really what it is. The premise is that someone,
somewhere, has built the universe's largest space liner which due to cost cutting
measures disappears shortly after launch only to turn up prow first in someone's
country cottage. While there are a few amusing moments, the book feels forced
and, well, not funny. Distinctly not recommended and considering the $17 CDN
price for the paperback, that recommendation goes double. Avoid.
- "Freeze Frames" by Katherine Kerr. This is a loosely connected
collection of vignettes anchored by an earlier novella, "Resurrection".
"Resurrection" was worth reading; this adds just about nothing to it.
- "Palace" by Katherine Kerr and Mark Kreighbaum is probably the
science fiction book I've enjoyed most out the recent collection. Set on a world
on the edges of explored space but with generations of technical advancement and
loss, the book covers the interracial intrigue of a world recovering from war.
The feeling could be summed up by crossing the world of the Traveller Imperium
with one of the many recent cyberpunk novels. The only problem is that it ends
on a cliffhanger, clearly leading into an ongoing series -- and that's not been
written yet. Highly recommended.
- "Planet Pirates" by Anne McCaffrey (with others). Large compilation
novel involving suspended animation, multiple generations, starship combat,
treacherous allies and all the works. Quite readable.
- "Dragonseye" by Anne McCaffrey. Another in the Dragonriders of Pern
series, this particular book tells the story of how the Dragonriders kept track
of when threadfall was due over the aeons. It's a fun read but hardly extends
- "N-Space" by Larry Niven is an annotated collection of short
stories and references to assorted novels that he's written over the course of
his career. Frankly the novel sections fall flat without the body of the rest of
the novel to carry them. But the short stories are excellent. Really, really,
- "Don't Forget Your Spacesuit Dear"
by Jody Lynne Nye. Another anthology, this is a mix of comic and serious
tales. Some of them are predictable, some are remarkably alien in approach,
while others are science fiction only in passing. Pick of the litter is Robert
Lynn Asprin's "you Never Call." Pick up from a library or second hand store.
- "The Callahan Chronicles" by
Spider Robinson. This is a compilation comprised of "Callahan's Crosstime
Saloon", "Time Travellers Strictly Cash" and "Callahan's Secret." Out of all of
the comic SF series ever mentioned, this one seems to have had the best press.
There are usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, fan clubs, games (computer and
roleplaying) and heaven knows what else dedicated after it; it has been
favourably mentioned by all sorts of excellent SF writers; and I really wasn't
impressed with it. Maybe my sense of humour is not Robinson's, maybe I missed
the deep meaningfulness behind the characters' endless breastbeating, or maybe I
just don't like Robinson's writing. I don't know, but the book fell flat for me.
It had its moments but at the end I could really have cared less about Callahan,
his bar and his regulars. Buy it from a second hand book store or steal it from
a friend (and then return it.)
- "Veils of Azlaroc" by Fred Saberhagen. Sometimes you finish a book
and wonder to yourself what it was all about. This one does that. It takes a
muddled plotline, plethora of characters and some very pseudo-science and really
does very little with them. Not recommended.
- "Berserker Man", "Berserker Blue Death", and "Berserker Base" by Fred
Saberhagen. These three all fall within Fred Saberhagen's ongoing Berserker
series. A berserker is a robot programmed to extinguish all life in the
universe, and the stories record the millennia old struggle of mankind to fight
against and defeat the menace. It's been a tie for a long time. In "Berserker
Man" it's been decided that the only life capable of defeating the berserkers is
a very unusual boy and a lethal bit of equipment. But nothing's ever that
simple. "Berserker Base" is a collection of short stories by a variety of SF
authors fit within a single scenario, some funny, some very serious. "Blue
Death" retells the story of a man trying to avenge the death of his family at
the hands of the machines. All three are very readable and worth taking a look
- "Manhattan Transfer" by John E. Smith. With the slightly jokey
title I was expecting a more comical novel. It's not. This one is dead serious.
Aliens steal Manhattan Island from the face of the Earth and the inhabitants
have to figure out why and what they're going to do now. Characterizations are
somewhat forced and the plot is a bit weak, but there are a few highlights in
the book that make it worth reading. Take a look, but borrow it from a library
or buy it second hand.
- "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson is set in the far east around
the beginning of the next century and is drawn from pure cyberpunk dystopian
background. A mixture of the amusing, futuristic and downright bizarre, the book
follows the lives of two characters over the course of 20 years and their
interactions through the ultimate of hypertext books, the Young Girl's Primer.
Despite the fascinating premise, it ends up as with "Snow Crash", Stephenson's
previous novel: excellent start but no ending. It just trails off. Despite that,
take a look.
- "Heavy Weather" by Bruce Sterling. The first thing I noticed while
reading this book was how closely it seemed to be related to the premise of
"Twister." Now admittedly there're only so many ways to portray a group of
stormchasers but this one doesn't go out of its way to create a new one. That
said, it's all placed in a science-fiction setting wherein the world's climate
really has gone to bad. It also allows Sterling to add some nifty futuristic
hardware. Less cyberpunkish than his standard product, Heavy Weather still
carries a bit of the baggage. Take a look.
- Michael Swanwick's "Iron Dragon's Daughter". This almost defies
description. It's a cross between a bad 18th century workhouse novel,
contemporary techno-thriller and bizarre fantasy novel. It may appeal to other
people, but didn't to me.
- "Star Wartz" by Patrick Tilley. Tilley has written some excellent
serious SF -- specifically "Fadeout" and "Mission" -- and some passable pulp SF
("The Amtrak Wars") but this is his first outing into comic SF. It's not a bad
job in that it does have a plot and there are some amusing events but it is an
uneasy mix. He keeps on trying to switch between genres and somewhere between
them the point of the book is lost. Still, it's better than Terry Pratchett's
- "Xan" by Patrick Tilley. "Xan" is a move into almost horrific
science-fiction. A spacecraft lands in Kansas and people start disappearing or
dying of a very untimely old age. This one has a worthwhile payoff with an
unexpected ending. Take a look but you'll really have to hunt through the
secondhand book stores for it.
- "Persistence of Vision" by John Varley. Part of Varley's ongoing
series of "Steel Beach" and "The Ophiguchi Hotline", this is a collection of
short stories in a universe where mankind has been kicked off the earth by an
all-powerful race and exiled to the rest of the solar system. It's a strong
collection of stories, assuming you like Varley's somewhat twisted future.
Recommended to the extent that it's the best of the lot.
- "Sci-Fi Private Eye" edited by Charles G. Waugh and Martin H.
Greenberg. Having thoroughly enjoyed (well, mostly) the earlier
"Whatdunnits" collections, I figured this compilation would be a good bet. It's
a collection of early SF (most recent is from the mid 70s) with a detective
theme. Asimov's "Singing Bell" revolves around decent detective work, Poul
Anderson's "Martian Crown Jewels" plays with some good physics; Tom Reamy's "The
Detweiler Boy" might as well have been an X-Files script for all the investigative
work it had. The pick of the collection however is Philip K. Dick's "WarGame"
which while having between little and nothing to do with crime fiction is one of
the subtlest and nasty little stories I've ever read. "Sci-Fi Private Eye" is a
good collection with very few poor entries.
- "Otherland" by Tad Williams. Tad Williams is the master of the
highly extended novel. In other words, it seems every time he even approaches a
wordprocessor, the result is a trilogy --and a big one at that. "Otherland" is no
exception, other than it's really a four book outing this time. This is his
first science fiction story and relies heavily on the virtual worlds created by
cyberpunk authors such as Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. The good art is
that it is far more accessible than the majority of novels written by those two.
The protagonists are African although for the most part seem to react like North
Americans, but it does permit a little extra colour
into the lot. Even though it's the first part of yet another multi-book series, it
did read rather well so is recommended.
- "Impossible Things" by Connie Willis. Willis is in my mind one of
the better SF writers out there at the moment and this is a compilation of some
of her earlier short stories. My usual opinion on compilations still applies,
although this does seem to be more even than usual. Recommended are "Spice
Pogrom," In the Late Cretaceous" and "Ado." Perhaps I ought to restate that
earlier comment. Connie Willis is a brilliant (black) comic SF writer who shows
a lot of skill in more serious areas as her "Domesday Book" affirms.
- "Uncharted Territory" by Connie Willis. I think that this is
probably the best "surveying a new planet with an intelligent but primitive
race" novella I've ever read. Willis keeps the hilarious dialogue and plot well
within the realms of a serious story while examining the conscience of a race
trying hard to follow the infamous Star Trek "Prime Directive." This also gets
kudos for a glorious piece of sexual misdirection. Highly
- "Bellwether" by Connie Willis. I'm truly not sure that this is a
science fiction title despite the publisher's categorization. What I am certain
of is that it is the best book I've read this year and probably the best I've
read in the last five. Willis has set the book in a research institute with the
protagonist researching the development of trends in an effort to gain
commercial financial assistance. Willis's style is hilarious and her knowledge
of apparently useless trivia is stunning. The book is scattered with throwaway
lines and an extraordinary quality of writing. If you buy nothing else published
this year, buy this book. Highly recommended doesn't describe it.
- "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis. Following from her
earlier "The Doomsday Book", this novel is set in Oxford's historical research
institute -- that is to say a future Oxford with a time machine. Written in a
similar style to "Bellwether," this book is superb. A maniacal American
millionairess is trying to rebuild the prewar Coventry Cathedral in Oxford and
has hijacked the entire Oxford history department to do research in order to
make it as authentic as possible. While not as brilliant as "Bellwether" it is
close. Read. Enjoy. You won't sleep for a day or two.
< LI>"Remake" by Connie Willis. Set in Hollywood of the future,
Computer Graphics (CG) have destroyed the motion picture industry as we know it.
Instead computer technology has advanced so far that dead film stars can be
brought back to life to star in new movies -- typically remakes of other ones.
For aspiring young actresses with a penchant for the long dead dance musical
this poses a significant problem. This novella is true Connie Willis -- it's smart and it's funny. Recommended.
- "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis. This short story collection is named
after the opening tale, based in the world of the "Domesday Book" and "To Say
Nothing of the Dog." Unfortunately it's also the weakest entry of that series.
The other stories are equally not up to Willis' normal standards, although "Mail
Order Clone" does demonstrate her wicked sense of humour. Having just (more or
less) panned the collection, "Blued Moon" is one of the funniest and cleverest
short stories I've come across in a fair while. The cover price is worth it for
this story alone.
- "Water Witch" by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice. The 1982
publication date ought to give away the fact that this book was written when
Willis was learning her trade. It lacks both the sophistication and the humour
of her later work although the plot and imaginative description are there. The
story is set on a 'Dune'-like planet where the water tables are controlled by a
nearly extinct group of water-sensitive individuals; naturally tensions exist
and a palace coup reduces the numbers still further. The book is worth a read
but don't expect it to be superb.
- "Light Raid" by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice. This is a far
better book from Willis and Felice than "Water Witch." Again it deals with
palace intrigue, but this time on Earth in a time somewhat closer to the future.
War satellites patrol a North American suffering from drought and conflict
between a divided US and Canada and a young woman evacuee tries to return to her
parents. Using a wonderful "don't ask, don't tell" system for the backdrop (we
never do find out why Quebec is at war with Colorado nor where the pseudo-Greek
society comes from) Willis and Felice paint come up with an engaging and
atmospheric story of families in a time of upheaval. Recommended.
- "Promised Land" by Connie Willis
and Cynthia Felice. I'm happy so long as Willis puts out at least one book
a year. This is probably my one book. "Promised Land" builds on the old west
tale of woman inheriting land in a place she has no interest in with the rider
that to really inherit she has to live there for a year. In this case, the old
west is a planet in the middle of nowhere, but the plot holds true. It's well
written as per normal for a Willis book with characters whom remain believable.
- "Faraday's Orphans" by N. Lee
Wood. While Connie Willis is still the Queen of intelligent science
fiction, and Mona Clee the crown princess, Ms. Wood is a close pretender.
"Faradays' Orphans" is a clever post-apocalyptic fable of what happens when the
'civilized' and 'uncivilized' cross paths. Recommended.
- "Looking for the Mahdi" by N. Lee
Wood. Set in a Middle Eastern country not too far from this world, the book
follows a journalist duped into smuggling technology into a byzantine global
intrigue. Barely sparing a political stance, Woods produces that rare bird -- a
truly intriguing story wrapped with a lot of research and political statement.
Better than "Faraday's Orphans" so very highly recommended.
- "The Doors of his face, the lamps of his mouth" by Roger Zelazny.
This is a collection of short stories that's been sitting unread on my bookshelf
for a few years now. It's a pity I left it there for so long. Not every story is
excellent, but a large proportion of them are. Pick of the collection is "The
Great Slow Kings."
- "Last Defender of Camelot" by Roger Zelazny. Yet another
compilation of Zelazny's short stories, this one contains some worthwhile
stories. Notable are the original short story versions of "Damnation Alley" and
"The Dream Master"; standing on their own are "The Stainless Steel Leach," a
robotic vampire story, and "The Game of Blood and Dust," a rather manipulative
revisionist history. Sadly enough, the title story is rather weak. Take a look
at the collection anyway.