Almost halfway through the season, this is the guest author contribution. I've only known Fran Wilde as author of second-world Fantasy before, so thisAlmost halfway through the season, this is the guest author contribution. I've only known Fran Wilde as author of second-world Fantasy before, so this seemed a somewhat surprising choice, but it is obvious throughout the installment that the author was having lots of fun with this, and even appears to have some done research (or maybe just happens to know Prague well), going by the extensive name dropping of street and place names.
In short, another enjoyable episode, in a second season that so far I'm enjoying even more than the first: things come to a first crisis here as almost everyone of any relevance is converging at a boxing match, and complications are piled upon complications. Like in Season One, the plot is a mess but it seems a far more focused mess as the various intrigues actually are related to each other (even if most of the players are at this stage unaware of that). Utterly delightful....more
Just - no, at least as charming as the first novella in the series, The Lost Child of Lychford re-introduces readers to the unlikely trio of witches.Just - no, at least as charming as the first novella in the series, The Lost Child of Lychford re-introduces readers to the unlikely trio of witches. Not really much to say here except that Paul Cornell has packed an insane amount of fun into these comparatively few pages. Where the first volume was mostly focused on Judith, this time the spotlight is mostly on Lizzie, which makes me hope that there will be a third, Autumn-centric novella. If not, I guess I'll have to re-read this next Christmas......more
One of the fascinating things about this series is that there never seems to be anything happening even when there is a lot going.... or, conversely aOne of the fascinating things about this series is that there never seems to be anything happening even when there is a lot going.... or, conversely and simultaneously that there appears to be a lot going on even if there isn't anything happening. I'm finding myself utterly unable to tell whether this second installment of the second season brought the plot forward or whether it was treading water, but I can say with confidence that I had a blast reading it. Things may get clearer as the series progresses... or they may not; and I have a nagging doubt whether I'll be actually know the difference. In short, I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment....more
After being slightly disappointed with the previous installment in the series, I liked this one better: where The Dead Place was somewhat muddled anAfter being slightly disappointed with the previous installment in the series, I liked this one better: where The Dead Place was somewhat muddled and indecisive about where it wanted to go, Scared to Live is firmly focused on the mystery, with the personal life of Cooper and Fry taking place mostly in the novel's background. Which, paradoxically, leads to more time spend with some - I think of all the seven novels so far, this one is the one with the least points of view, the narrative straying only very rarely from our two protagonists.
So even though it is more of a sideshow this time, there still are some developments in the private lives of both Cooper and Fry (who, unlike most readers, I continue to think the more interesting character of the two). But the main focus is clearly on the police procedural, and this is something that Stephen Booth is really good at, his description of the inner workings of a police investigation strike me as utterly plausible and convincing. The plot itself relies maybe a bit too much on the Evil Empire myth of the Eastern European mafia and its ubiquitousness and omnipotence, particularly in the novel's final third things seem a bit over the top which clashes strangely with the realistic depiction of police work.
Another small niggle is that Booth's other strength, namely his striking nature descriptions of the Peak District are largely absent here. Still, Scared to Live is another solid entry in the series, and I'm definitely planning to stick with it....more
I loved Nnedi Okorafor's novella Binti and had only the small and very minor niggle that the story was a bit plain and resolved rather too easily. MI loved Nnedi Okorafor's novella Binti and had only the small and very minor niggle that the story was a bit plain and resolved rather too easily. Minor niggle to me at least, other readers thought different about that, and apparently so did the author herself - if there is one thing that it is impossible to say about Binti's sequel Home, then that it presents its reader with pat and easy solution. In fact, it leaves us with so many narrative threads dangling (not to mention ending on a cliffhanger) that one cannot help but suspect some kind of Hegelian dialectics at work here: If Binti presented a bold and simply stated thesis, then Home is the antithesis to that, negating and dismantling every apparent certainty established in the first novella.
This makes Home an unsettling and occasionally outright uncomfortable reading experience which is far removed from the exuberance of Binti. It is no less fascinating however, the world building continues to be jaw-droppingly bizarre, and the character of Binti only becomes enriched when we learn that the events of the first novella did not pass her by without leaving a trace, something she has to struggle with during her time at Oomza Uni and which leads her to return home where she plans to make a pilgrimage in order to cleanse herself. The pilgrimage however, turns out to be not the one was she was expecting and in the course of it she - and the readers - discover a third culture besides the Khoush and the Himba, along with some reveals about Binti's and her world's past.
There really should be a third novella which harmonizes everything into a synthesis, and I find myself hoping that it will be released very soon. Great stuff, and I really need to read more by Nnedi Okorafor....more
"Doing interesting things with genre" might be the motto for this issue - but then I guess, it is for most of issues of this magazine.
Grace Seybold's"Doing interesting things with genre" might be the motto for this issue - but then I guess, it is for most of issues of this magazine.
Grace Seybold's "Gravity's Edge" gives us what is in many ways a very traditional Planetary Romance, in others.... not so much. That starts with the interesting but mostly unexplained world building (possibly this is part of a series?), continues with an all-female cast and the moral ambiguity of the ending.
Jeremy Sim's “The Last Dinosaur Rider of Benessa County” is a very traditional Western... with dinosaurs. And yep, you read that right.
This is one of those issues where Beneath Ceaseless Skies takes its claim of being a "Magazine of Literare Adventure Fantasy very literal; and while neither of the stories may be particularly deep or moving they're both a hell of a lot of fun to read....more
I rather enjoyed the first season of this interesting mash-up between paranormal Fantasy and spy novel, in spite of its somewhat annoying tendency toI rather enjoyed the first season of this interesting mash-up between paranormal Fantasy and spy novel, in spite of its somewhat annoying tendency to pull its punches every time anything even faintly resembling a big showdown or a major reveal came in sight. In consequence, we start into Season Two with dozens of dangling threads from the previous season and, quite unsurpringly, none are taken up in the season opener. Well, almost none, for we do meet an old acquaintance which we weren't really expecting to see again, at least not this soon.... but let's avoid spoilers.
Awakening sends Seasons Two off with an explosive opening, and - as has been a constant through all instalments of this series so far - is great fun, whetting the reader's appetite for more magic and espionage mayhem in 1970's Prague....more