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Comments on Recently Read Science Fiction Books

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 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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 quite well.
  • Piers Anthony's Omnivore/Orn/Ox trilogy; again pretty standard Xanthony writing, but the first book was pretty good even if the others were dull.
  • "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. Definitely recommended.


  • "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 supermen. Yawn.
  • "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 bookstore.)
  • "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 standout.
  • "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 one's interest.


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  • 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.
  • NEW!"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.


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  • "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.


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  • "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 the franchise.


  • "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, really good.
  • NEW!"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.


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  • "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 at.
  • "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 comic SF.
  • "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.


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  • "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 recommended.
  • "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. Recommended.
  • "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.


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  • "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.
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