Thirteen year old Glory Loomis discovers a second hand book about strange goings on in Roswell that appear to show her parents and much older brother,Thirteen year old Glory Loomis discovers a second hand book about strange goings on in Roswell that appear to show her parents and much older brother, but under completely different names. Before she gets far into the book, strange things start happening around Glory - and to her.
The Evolution of Glory Loomis proceeds to unspool at a great pace - not unlike the pace in which Glory begins her evolution into a metasapien and resolves on ways to save the world. It's snappy, light and fun, more cartoony than realistic with its approach, but very entertaining.
From the start, it's clear that several people have their eye on Glory, who seems a pretty typical teen in the opening chapters. Who these people are, and whether they intend her harm or good, is revealed over time - and some characters motivations switch or become deeper as the story moves on.
The villains can be fairly Scooby-gang level, but author Michael Bassen has done a fantastic job of exploring the impact of the physical and pyschological changes on Glory. She has to cope not only with an intellectual expansion, but catching up with the emotional and philosophical sophistication that is way ahead of her teenaged experienced. Some dark things happen, and she makes some serious mistakes, though she tries from them, especially when it comes to a fellow late-blooming metasapien named Peter.
The story touches only lightly on the ethics of making the world a better place without actually asking anyone in the world about it, but it's a likeable book that flows easily. That it left me with questions about the rightness of Glory's actions - although they are for the greater good - is not, I think, a bad thing....more
Laura K Anile’s Beyond Time is the first book in an action-filled YA series. In this volume, 17 year old Ryder Worthington is on his way to school wheLaura K Anile’s Beyond Time is the first book in an action-filled YA series. In this volume, 17 year old Ryder Worthington is on his way to school when he encounters a pair of bullies. One moment he’s in the midst of a fight, but excruciating pain suddenly takes him out, and the next thing he knows he wakes up 112 years in the future – in someone else’s body.
Trapped in the body of Ziron – the young man who has apparently senselessly jeapardised his whole life to change places with the boy from the past – Ryder must keep the secret of his altered identity from everyone but the two scientists behind the experimental time-shifting tecyhnology. This is almost impossible in a future where the world has been all but destroyed by a catalclysmic war, where the chasm between the haves and have-nots is huge and rebellion against the controlling government is boiling over.
Ryder ends up tangled in the rebellion, falling in love with someone who thinks he’s Ziron and developing a strained friendship (when they’re not enemies) with Jet – who is also a rival for Kira’s attentions.
Beyond Time is snappily paced and builds a bleak but believable world. More could be made of it, I think, but the parts we see are distinctive. Ryder’s attempts to blend in and make sense of his new surroundings are understandably full of slips, particularly as he gets drawn deeper and deeper in to a very dangerous situation. The consequences of discovery, he’s told, could be deadly, but since every turn holds a deadly secret and so many lives are at stake, there are plenty of heart-stopping moments for Ryder and the reader alike.
The teenage posturing between Ryder and Jet over Kira’s affections borders on the wearing, but just as it’s getting way too annoying, one or both of them shows a little maturity and real care and respect for Kira, which seems a pretty realistic way of portraying teenage rivals in love slowly learning how to grow up.
Kira is a bit too perfect and, for someone who shows she can handle herself well, a bit passive at times, but the core of a good character is there. The fact that she’s seen through Ryder’s first-person, besotted eyes naturally paints her more as a subject of adoration, and I hope she gets to shine a bit more in upcoming books.
The young boy, Tom, who befriends Ryder/Ziron (after a fractious beginning) is easily the most sympathetic character, and this younger boy is often the voice of reason when Jet and Ryder get too argy-bargy in their rivalry.
All of these relationships and clashes are happening with a backdrop of rebellion against an unfair system, many mysteries around Ryder’s real identity and the motivations of the time-shifted Ziron, Jet’s difficult past, Kira’s concern for her mysteriously vanished father, Dr Tanaka, and the biggest mystery of all – what happens to the people who have won the lottery to get passage out of this failing world and into Paradise.
The story is very readable, though a bit clunky in parts. A tighter edit could help the story along (and a few typos and errors sneak in on occasion) but otherwise the text flows easily, and Anile keeps up a brisk pace. I’m looking forward to the second novel of the series, to see how Ryder’s teetering secrets and the big reveal in the last chapter will affect both the teenagers who are starting to grow up and the harsh world in which they live....more
I didn't know what to expect before I started - and without expectations I was completely engaged by the story of one man's experience of an alien invI didn't know what to expect before I started - and without expectations I was completely engaged by the story of one man's experience of an alien invasion of earth. Thoughtful, unexpected, human, compassionate, horrifying and deeply humane in turns. In case it isn't obvious - I loved it....more
The book suffers to the modern eye from its colonialist viewpoint, ethical dodginess, patronising tone, and worse it's true. But it must be said thatThe book suffers to the modern eye from its colonialist viewpoint, ethical dodginess, patronising tone, and worse it's true. But it must be said that Conan Doyle could write cracking good adventure prose. ...more
I pick up books for a lot of different reasons: a review makes it sound appealing; word of mouth; the title or the cover has caught my eye; I alreadyI pick up books for a lot of different reasons: a review makes it sound appealing; word of mouth; the title or the cover has caught my eye; I already like the author. Sometimes the thing that sets me reaching for the shelf (or the buy button) is actually meeting the writer.
I met Daniel O’Malley at Genrecon in 2012 and was instantly engaged by his wit, sardonic humour and, very possibly, his mop of endearing curly hair. It was an obvious conclusion that a man that funny and smart had probably written a funny and smart book, and as soon as I got home I bought his debut novel, The Rook, and began to read.
The Rook is indeed as smart and funny as its creator. A young woman wakes up in a London park with no memory, surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves and a bearing a remarkable letter in her coat pocket. It reads:
The body you are wearing used to be mine.
Thus begins Myfanwy Thomas’s frightening, dangerous and often very funny adventure into paranormal powers, even-more-secret-than-usual secret agents, just-as-secret histories and murky threats of world domination.
Myfanwy soon learns that she is a woman of strange powers, although her former self was more proficient at being a superb beaurocrat than any kind of superhero, and that she’s part of a secret British organization full of people more adept with their superpowers than she is. It’s treacherous ground to be walking when you know who you are and what you can do: when you’re a woman coping with amnesia, it’s the devil’s own business to know who to trust, let alone work out which of your super-powered colleagues is trying to kill you and why.
The Rook has sets an energetic pace, but doesn’t neglect character development as it tears along. Myfanwy may be rebuilding who she is nearly from scratch, but she has another past, and the emotional texture of her history is important to the Myfanwy she is becoming. It’s also relevant to the motivations behind the events that have led her to bluffing her way through daily paperwork as well as monstrous incursions in the field.
The humour and horror are just as well balanced as the action and reflection, and the central mystery is finally unveiled and addressed in a very satisfying manner.
I’m delighted that The Rook lived up to the promise inspired by its author, and I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series, which O’Malley assured us he was writing at the time of Genrecon....more
I reviewed the first of George Ivanoff’s YA adventure series, Gamers’ Quest, on my old blog, and said how much I enjoyed it.
I was delighted, then, thaI reviewed the first of George Ivanoff’s YA adventure series, Gamers’ Quest, on my old blog, and said how much I enjoyed it.
I was delighted, then, that this fast-paced fresh book had a sequel – Gamers’ Challenge – and even moreso to find out that George is in the throes of writing a third book in the series.
Gamers’ Challenge follows not long after the end of Gamers’ Quest where two games characters, Tark and Zyra, have defied the game designers, broken their programming with a kiss and chosen to live outside the rules of the game.
Of course, breaking the rules has consequences. They are no longer perennial teens who find game-play convenient tools and challenges as part of the game they once played: they need to sleep now, their hair grows and they get acne, for a start.
A more serious consequence is that balls of static energy now appear to be trying to kill them too.
Tark and Zyra finally meet with other people who have broken their programs and become ‘Outers’. They also learn that there are ‘cheats’, prophecies about escaping into the real world.
Gamers’ Challenge builds logically on the original world, where the characters inhabit a gaming environment full of strange magic, technomagic and technology. We find out more about Tark and Zyra’s environment, and the other gaming environments around them. There are new friendships (and not so friendly relationships) and mysteries to explore, but there’s also plenty of action and tension.
The characters are engaging and are certainly more than the simple gaming characters they were designed to be. Brave, loyal and flawed, Tark, Zyra, Hope and the others keep you caring about their fates and the fate of their world. Even the Ultimate Gamer and the Outers, though less the point of focus, have more going on that initially meets the eye.
George Ivanoff continues to write fun, fast-paced adventures for younger readers. The Gamers series might particularly appeal to boys, and the original book was listed on both the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge and the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge....more
I’ve heard a lot about the publisher, Angry Robot, spoken of with enthusiasm and maybe a little awe by the likes of Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth PlaneI’ve heard a lot about the publisher, Angry Robot, spoken of with enthusiasm and maybe a little awe by the likes of Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press and Tasmanian writer, Tansy Rayner Roberts. I had no idea Walking the Tree was an Angry Robot book, so I was killed two curiosity-birds with one e-purchase. The main reason for the purchase was to find out more about Kaaron Warren, who was also spoken of with much admiration.
Walking the Tree tells of a group of women who chosen to be ‘teachers’, who take a group of kids from their home village of Ombu on a pilgrimage around their island home, Botanica. The women are seeking other communities in which to settle and bear children (doing so within their own communities is taboo, because they are too closely related to the menfolk). The children go to learn about their world and the different societies that inhabit it. We see the journey mainly through the eyes of Lillah.
It took a little while to get my head around Walking the Tree. I definitely liked the writing style and the ideas. The world of Botanica was intricately built, both in its people and in the societies that lived around the girth of the giant tree that swallowed up the middle of the island. And when I say ‘giant’, I mean that the characters who go on the traditional pilgrimage around the tree know it will take five years to do so.
Five years. That’s one big-ass tree.
It took a little while to warm to the voice Warren use to tell the story. It has a quality of fable about it, like a very old fashioned fairy tale or Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia. The story didn’t unfold the way I expected it to, either. I’ve was expected an adventure story, following Lillah’s journey of self-discovery, perhaps. And it’s not that there isn’t one of those. But while Lillah seems to be at the centre of the story, she’s actually just the eyes through which we see the centre. Which is the tree and all the societies around it.
And about half way through the book, I got it. The purpose of the story is not to unravel and delve into the person of Lillah – it’s to unravel the world.
Walking the Tree is not one woman’s ‘adventure’. It’s more like a modern Chaucer’s Tales or The Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s a science fiction fable.
The quality of the writing and the vividly drawn world kept me involved even when I wasn’t sure what kind of story I was reading. And once I cottoned on, well, the whole book crystallised for me.
Kaaren Warren, in taking us on this pilgrimage around the tree, shows us intricate layers of ideas and meaning about women, relationships, belief and society. Each society has different attitudes to the tree, to men and women, to the ocean and to death, creating a fabulous well that Lillah and the other pilgrims can dip into to unravel the ways that humanity is still, well, very human.
The characters are more than archetypes, though they are less individual, perhaps, than the world they inhabit. Lillah and her young charge, Morace, are intriguing and able guides to the world.
I’m glad I found a way to look at the book that clicked for me. It took my enjoyment of the prose to another level, to enjoy the entire spirit of the book. ...more
The Essential Lucy Sussex is 500-odd pages of some of the most textured, intelligent, witty, erudite and imaginative spec fic ever produced. That’s noThe Essential Lucy Sussex is 500-odd pages of some of the most textured, intelligent, witty, erudite and imaginative spec fic ever produced. That’s not what took me so long to read it, though. The book is also bloody heavy, which created certain problems with trying to keep it open as I read over breakfast. The whole experience prompted a blog post about some things I really like about e-books.
The physical weight of the thing notwithstanding, this collection is full of heft on its own accord. Which isn’t to say it isn’t also sometimes melancholy, funny or even surprising. The 25 stories that make up this collection are textured and fabulous.
Particular favourites in a book stuffed full of goodness are:
My Lady Tongue: This SF story about the vibrant Saffy, from a wimmin’s commune, getting injured and ending up in the care of her natural enemy, a man remains as fresh and exciting as the first time I read it. It references Shakespeare, particularly Beatrice and Benedick and their sharp, sparring dialogue. Such a fresh, lively voice in Saffy, is a joy to read and re-read.
Duchess: I’m not much into fashion, but this story make me see the attraction, with this intelligent, outrageous character and the suggestions of displacement in time, though it could just be madness.
Ardent Clouds: Love, volcanoes and disaster. Beautiful.
La Sentinelle: An intriguing take on the legendof the golem. I’ve always thought lifelike dolls were kind of creepy. This story has set the seal on that opinion.
Something Better than Death: This is a modern take and entertaining analysis of the folk tale of The Musicians of Bremen. It demonstrates Lucy’s capacity to go off in surprising directions, though admittedly, most of her stories do that.
Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies: A sly and entertaining retelling of the Waltzing Matilda story by the other witness to those (and related) events.
The collection contains a lot of stories playing with history, versions of reality, research and discovery, and twists on old folk tales. Every story shines a lot on something you knew nothing about, or thought you knew but didn’t really.
LucySussex was born in New Zealand but now lives in Melbourne. She’s researched and travelled widely, and has done Australian literature the great service of rediscovering one of the nation’s (and first) nineteenth century crime writers, Mary Fortune. Her awesomeness has many facets and very possibly no limits.
If you haven’t heard of Lucy Sussex, you should have. This amazing collection of her body of work spannign almost 20 year is not the whole of Lucy Sussex, but I’d agree it’s essential.
If you feel a bit daunted by the size of the book, get Lucy’s Twelve Planets book, Thief of Lives, first. You’ll be rushing to get her back catalogue once you’ve whet your appetite....more
As a former resident of Perth and current resident of Melbourne it was a double pleasure to read Nightsiders, a collection of post-apocalyptic storiesAs a former resident of Perth and current resident of Melbourne it was a double pleasure to read Nightsiders, a collection of post-apocalyptic stories set after the environmental, military and social consequences of severe climate change. The connected stories examine the new, marginal society and carefully weave their way to a new, potentially more hopeful future. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the parched environment in which they live made me thirsty to read it. another gem from the Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press. (disclaimer: a collection of my own is forthcoming in this series. I'm so proud and honoured to be in such excellent company!)...more