The finest and best fairytales about witches that I have ever read were written by Terry Pratchett when writing about Esme Weatherwax and her successoThe finest and best fairytales about witches that I have ever read were written by Terry Pratchett when writing about Esme Weatherwax and her successor Tiffany Aching. Those tales had warmth, tenderness and humour to them, and a perhaps more importantly a solid sense of decency and practicality. There's something of that spirit running through Uprooted, which is perhaps a bit like a Tiffany Aching novel, had it only been written by Patricia McKillip. That may sound like an odd comparison or combination, but it gives a pretty good idea of the how the tale of Agnieszka and her travels with the dark, corrupted Wood manages to marry the stuff of fairytale with a sort of down-to-earth practicality. It's the story of a village girl who didn't expect to be taken by Dragon but was, who then surprised him by taking him back. I rather loved it....more
A strong short novel from Elizabeth Hand that looks back at a strange event that happened during the early 1970s when a classic folk rolk band, very rA strong short novel from Elizabeth Hand that looks back at a strange event that happened during the early 1970s when a classic folk rolk band, very reminiscent of Fairport Convention, laid down there classic second album in a strange English country manor. It has echoes of Hand's own Waking the Moon, and the influence of myth and the wood reminded me of Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood. The story is told in retrospect, as though for a documentary, where from early in the story we know something bad has happened, but don't know what, though everyone telling the story does. Well worth reading....more
Basically The Moon is a Very, Very Harsh Mistress, Luna: First Moon is the opening salvo in a pair of novels set on the moon in the not too distant fuBasically The Moon is a Very, Very Harsh Mistress, Luna: First Moon is the opening salvo in a pair of novels set on the moon in the not too distant future. Smart, funny, passionate and at times quite dark, McDonald brings the touch we've seen in River of Gods and Dervish House to an entirely new culture as it evolves in a distant hostile place where business or family rules all. I've seen him describe it as Dallas (the 80s TV show) on the moon, and there is something of that too, with all of the dynastic craziness that involves.
The publisher describes it like this:
""he Moon wants to kill you. Whether it's being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon's ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon's near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.
As the leader of the Moon's newest "dragon," Adriana has wrested control of the Moon's Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family's new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana's five children must defend their mother's empire from her many enemies... and each other."
I actually want to give it 4.5 stars, but Goodreads doesn't seem to allow that. I found it a little slow to start, but when it gets going, it's terrific. My only complaint: it leaves you wanting the second book right now!...more
The Goblin Emperor is a fine secondary world fantasy by Sarah Monette writing as Katherine Addison. It tells the compelling story of a young boy Maia,The Goblin Emperor is a fine secondary world fantasy by Sarah Monette writing as Katherine Addison. It tells the compelling story of a young boy Maia, cast-off half-breed son of a pureblooded elf emperor, who finds himself suddenly and unexpectedly forced onto the throne when his father and three brothers are all killed in an airship accident.
Maia’s life to this point had been a simple and rather miserable one. His father, the emperor, had no love for him or his mother, a goblin he wed for diplomatic reasons. When she died just before his eighth birthday, the emperor banished Maia to a remote manor to be raised by a man who hated him and treated him poorly.
With little education and no knowledge of a large politically complex court, Maia is faced with an almost insurmountably difficult task, which he attempts with a grace and kindness far beyond seems reasonable to expect from him. And this may, ultimately, be the one small flaw in this immensely likeable book. Maia is far from welcomed at court, and his little reason to like or love the people he finds there. He is a nineteen year old boy, used and abused by circumstance, and yet he is consistently resourceful, intelligent and kind to the people he encounters. He shrugs off casual racism, attacks entrenched sexism, and even when his life is threatened, he is forgiving and almost regretful of having to allow the law to run its course in dealing with such crimes. It’s a little hard not to question whether there might have been more anger, more lashing out from a young man.
The core question of the book, though, seems to be whether a genuinely good person can wield power without being corrupted or damaged by it. Is it possible for Maia to hold imperial power and not be forced to make difficult questions that have no good outcomes, just different ones? Maia doesn’t really have to face this in The Goblin Emperor. On several occasions he is faced with situations that have genuinely upsetting outcomes - he takes no pleasure in the honour suicide of a personal guard who betrayed him or in the execution of several traitors to the throne - but he is not really tested by the moral grey areas of a complex world.
That said, The Goblin Emperor is, as I said, immensely likeable. Maia is an engaging protagonist, the Elflands and the elf court that Addison creates are complex and interesting, the secondary characters are deftly drawn, and the story is one of those that seems to run before you until you’re faced with the sad realisation that those last few pages are appendices and not more story (one of the saddest realisations in all fantasy, surely!).
The Goblin Emperor is nominated for the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and is a worthy nominee for both. It will likely get my vote for the latter, though it is hard to decide between it and The Three Body Problem. I also expect to see it on the World Fantasy and other ballots later this year. A strongly recommended book that has left me looking forward to Addison/Monette’s next novel with great anticipation.
You will all be unsurprised to hear that Paolo Bacigalupi's Water Knife is very, very good and contains very few chuckles. It's the dark apocalyptic fYou will all be unsurprised to hear that Paolo Bacigalupi's Water Knife is very, very good and contains very few chuckles. It's the dark apocalyptic funhouse mirror reflection of Stan Robinson's Pacific Edge. It's his second novel for adults, and it's SO much better than The Windup Girl (which was very good, indeed). One of the best books of (any kind) of 2015 ...more
It seems unfair to say too much when we are still several months out from the release of the book, but I enormously enjoyed this new novel. It feels lIt seems unfair to say too much when we are still several months out from the release of the book, but I enormously enjoyed this new novel. It feels like a long distance pendant to 2312, and I mean that as a compliment. Of course it's smart, sensitive and beautifully written. Of course it's going to engage with issues that we need to be engaging with, and of course it's not going to lecture us.
If you read this, and I think you should, then I want to say that I ended up falling for the narrator of the book, who I think becomes a fabulous character.
Which Robinson is this? I think it's the one who is punch drunk in love with geography and astrophysics and the wonder of the interconnectedness of things who just has to TELL you how the universe works, how wonderful it is, and how wonderful it is to feel as though you understand it.
Oh, and it's a generation ship story about a voyage to Tau Ceti, what happens to the people who go, and a little about what happens to the people who stay behind.
I honestly loved this sequel to HALF A KING. It had the incredible narrative drive of the first book, but had deeper characterisation, was funnier, anI honestly loved this sequel to HALF A KING. It had the incredible narrative drive of the first book, but had deeper characterisation, was funnier, and avoided any of the predictability of the first book. Where Half a King had moments towards the end where I felt it was taking a path more trodden, Half the World doesn't. It's a war story, it's a fantasy, it's a love story - I think it's YA and I think my thirteen year old daughter might love it. She'd love Thorn Bathu, for sure....more
More than just a prequel, Garth Nix's Clariel is a smart, beautifully written fantasy that in it's own way is as quietly subversive as any published iMore than just a prequel, Garth Nix's Clariel is a smart, beautifully written fantasy that in it's own way is as quietly subversive as any published in recent years. The book is most calls to mind is Le Guin's superb Tehanu, which acted as counterweight to the Earthsea books. One of my favourite books of the year. ...more
Karl Schroeder's Lockstep is an enjoyable and entertaining young adult SF thriller set in a world where suspended animation technology has been used tKarl Schroeder's Lockstep is an enjoyable and entertaining young adult SF thriller set in a world where suspended animation technology has been used to maximise the use of resources on planetary bodies orbiting far from the warmth of a distant sun. Structurally it echoed Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy just a little, or it least it recalled that book for me. Well worth reading....more
River of Stars is a follow-on of sorts to Under Heaven, though it's a better book in almost every way. A deeply moving historical fantasy, it recastsRiver of Stars is a follow-on of sorts to Under Heaven, though it's a better book in almost every way. A deeply moving historical fantasy, it recasts events from Northern Song Dynasty China, the fall of the city of Kaifeng, and the stories of the great general Yue Fei and poet Li Qingzhao. Gripping from the first pages to the last, Kay has never written a better book. Extraordinary....more