The lovely thing about this collection is that even if you have not yet discovered Wells’ magical fantasy adventures about the alien Raksura, you canThe lovely thing about this collection is that even if you have not yet discovered Wells’ magical fantasy adventures about the alien Raksura, you can fall in love with them here. Written with swift yet intricate grace, Wells gives you ground to stand on and open skies for unexpected adventure. The Raksura are shape shifting, flying sentients, their complex society matriarchal, their lives filled with danger around every turn. This world has dozens of disparate sentient peoples, most of them wary and interacting only for trade. The Raksura are among the few who are both cautious and yet open to alliances and even friendship with new peoples.
The collection includes two novellas as well as a scattering of short fiction. Both long stories feature Moon, the male protagonist of the Raksura trilogy; he’s a foundling who finally finds his place in the world. One novella, “The Dead City,” takes us back a few cycles when Moon is still very young, on the run, and has no idea what he is or what name his people use. In it we see him as he cannot see himself—curious, inventive, adaptable, strong. Also bitter, as winged he looks all too much like a species feared the length of his world. He can never stay anywhere for long.
In “The Dark Earth Below,” longtime readers finally get to see Moon handle impending fatherhood, as he is now consort to Jade, the Sister Queen of the Indigo Cloud court. We are given a many-layered tale that weaves together family, external threat, mystery, and claiming a home into one satisfying whole.
I highly recommend starting with the novel The Cloud Roads, but there’s no reason not to try a taste of The Three Worlds through this collection. Looking forward to more Raksura! ...more
I was lost in the worldview of Rosemary Kirstein's The Steerswoman. This was the original first novel of The Steerswoman series, more recently combineI was lost in the worldview of Rosemary Kirstein's The Steerswoman. This was the original first novel of The Steerswoman series, more recently combined into The Steerswoman's Road. I'm going to need to get my hands on The Outskirter's Secret, the original #2 of the series, now rolled into an omnibus with The Steerswoman. This is character-driven fantasy/SF at its finest. Rowan has been trained as a steerswoman--explorer, cartographer, investigator, walking encyclopedia. Unable to lie, steerswomen wander freely asking questions and answering them across their known world. But when her questions about a tiny jewel attract unfriendly attention from the wizards, mysterious individuals of power, her own fate and that of her entire guild is at stake.
Kirstein has created a world where the steerswomen (and the very few steersmen) look at the world differently, and their presence, their questions, and how they answer others, keenly impacts their world. Every group Rowan interacts with has a different flavor to their speech, their concerns, their lives, that make the simple (and yet deeply complex beneath the surface) world come alive. It's anthropology, adventure, and also one of those fantasies that is really SF, if you're paying attention. But it's so well done you don't resent the intrusion of SF into the narrative.
Really enjoyed this--to the point that I resented a new POV cropping up about halfway into the book! ...more
This is a short story about one of the times that the military solves a problem and saves the day, but people rarely hear anything. I enjoyed the SF mThis is a short story about one of the times that the military solves a problem and saves the day, but people rarely hear anything. I enjoyed the SF military feel, the alien race, the fact that there was a reason behind the terrorist act that the protagonist could understand. This feels like "back story" to a novel about Lieutenant Joey Maverick, so I hope we get a novel! I think that fans of mil spec from writers like Drake, Moon, and Webber will appreciate the technical competence shown here....more
This is science fiction, but your clues at the beginning are subtle. This finely-written short piece is about Joey Maverick, a newly-minted ensign inThis is science fiction, but your clues at the beginning are subtle. This finely-written short piece is about Joey Maverick, a newly-minted ensign in the Atlantean Union, introduced through the eyes of an ancient storyteller. Joey is competing in a low-tech sailing regatta on a watery world where he has extended family and friends. Weather patterns and complications change the race and the stakes involved, and many lives depend on the choices Joey is forced to make.
I enjoyed meeting Maverick. I think that fans of mil spec from writers like Drake, Moon, and Webber will appreciate the technical competence shown here--sailors especially will enjoy the work. It was almost too accurate for me; I got lost once in the nautical detail, although I am sure that anyone familiar with large craft sailing would swoop through the story.
Michael B. Caffrey has gone on to the next regatta, but his wife is re-releasing his work to a larger audience, and I look forward to seeing more of it!...more
This is a collateral book in the Liaden World series by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Two of the major POV characters are children, albeit children wThis is a collateral book in the Liaden World series by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Two of the major POV characters are children, albeit children who have faced adult problems and concerns. But the third major POV is adult (very adult at times) so can't call this a book for middle grade.
An interesting segue on Surebleak, with all the curious touches of culture examination that Miller & Lee are so well known to use. Another Agent of Change has slipped the leash--can he stay off it? We get to know Boss Nova and her gang a bit better, too!...more
This book falls into the heavy techno-babble form of SF from the late 80s/early 90s. The characters take a long time to gel, and only two of them haveThis book falls into the heavy techno-babble form of SF from the late 80s/early 90s. The characters take a long time to gel, and only two of them have any real personality. This is a major flaw for me, and earns it 2.5 stars -- I won't reread it, and would not look for other books by the author.
However, there is a fascinating hyperdrive ship meticulously constructed, every ounce of it squeezed into the plot. Even better, Stith weaves the overall theme and journey of the hero with the fact that everything seen on the ship is slightly in the past. So -- for heavy tech SF lovers, this book will be a solid 3 stars or possibly a 4 star reading.
Recommended for SF readers who love spending time discussing imaginary tech theory with friends!...more
Lots of great stories in here. I really enjoyed the mythology of Jane Lindskold's tale. My end-of-the-world-beginning-of-the-next-world tale is in thiLots of great stories in here. I really enjoyed the mythology of Jane Lindskold's tale. My end-of-the-world-beginning-of-the-next-world tale is in this collection....more
As I recall, Balance of Trade won the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature—but don’t let its YA/As I recall, Balance of Trade won the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature—but don’t let its YA/teen origins keep you from reading the book. It’s not only an excellent coming of age story, it’s also one of the back door entries into the Liaden Universe®.
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s rousing, sometimes intricate romantic space adventures span centuries and many characters. Balance of Trade is a nice, clean explanation of why you’ll want to read more in the Liaden Universe. In this tale, we meet Jethri Gobelyn, a young teen living on a family space-faring trade ship. He knows a great deal about living and working in space, more than most about spotting a good trade, and a little bit about the mysterious people called Liadens.
In the best stories, of course, it’s what you don’t know that can hang you, and that’s what Jethri finds out. He knew Liadens were crazy about their honor, but he didn’t know that sometimes humans are not. He didn’t know that a poorly chosen word or an incorrectly performed bow could generate a duel—and he definitely didn’t know that his entire life, even his existence, was a carelessly constructed house of cards built upon his famous late father’s singularly poor decision, and his mother’s inability to forgive.
In the end, Jethri has to find his own apprenticeship, and he’s offered a unique chance—to train with a Liaden Master Trader, who believes that Terrans and Liadens must learn to deal with each other, and even learn from each other. What Jethri will find is that for himself, his friends and comrades, and even for his enemies—a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Jethri’s adventures make complete sense for someone who has lived on a small ship and is transitioning to larger ships and even (gasp!) planets, and by the end of the book, you’ll be glad to find out that another adventure, Trade Secret, awaits. I can’t promise you that all the mysteries will be solved—there are too many to be contained in one tale—but I think you’ll enjoy the ride, and there’s that second book, if you want it! ...more
This is a reprint of several SF short pieces that first appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine. They all concern the adventures of eccentric kiltThis is a reprint of several SF short pieces that first appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine. They all concern the adventures of eccentric kilt-wearing anthropologist/archaeologist/xenologist Rhys Llewellyn and his trusty assistants Yoshi Umeki and Roderick Halfax. These are not merely tales of first contact – they are also tales of how an innovative senior officer at an exploration corporation hires an anthropologist to make sure that both the corporation and the natives are dealt with fairly.
Rhys both listens and watches very closely, and he rarely, if ever, assumes anything. Such is his genius. In these tales, he grows and changes, using his strengths and working on his weaknesses. All too often he is misunderstood and underestimated by his peers, and that just adds to the fun.
These look like they might be simple tales, but they are anything but, with lots of social commentary. They also have a deep respect for the concept of spirit. I really enjoyed them, and hope that Bohnhoff writes more tales of Rhys Llewellyn! ...more
This is perhaps the oddest review I have ever written, because I am a big fan of Lois McMasters Bujold's works, have read most of what she's written,This is perhaps the oddest review I have ever written, because I am a big fan of Lois McMasters Bujold's works, have read most of what she's written, and for the first time...I didn't finish the book. I reached page 184, set it down for the night...and never picked it up for two months. This is not like me with a book I like, an author I like, a series I like.
I love the Vorkosigan Saga. I adored Paladin of Souls--I think it was the best book I read that year.
But this book lost me. I finally picked it up and flipped through the end, but nothing, not all the great bits I could see where there, got me to sit down and finish the book. I don't know if this is because I found that Ivan made a better second banana than a protagonist, or because I didn't like the characters, or life circumstances. But the book did not take me out of my own problems, and the characters did not draw me on into the next stage of the plot.
I borrowed this from a friend, and I will eventually try again. But for some reason, it didn't work for me. This isn't because it is not a frenetic Miles book--I liked A Civil Campaign. Loved Winterfair Gifts. So the quieter books are fine with me.
Don't avoid the book based on this response. But if for some reason you're having trouble getting into it? Know that you're not alone.
I actually read the hardcover edition of this book, but I cannot get the system to accept the change!...more