Archive by Author

Book Review: A Man from Planet Earth by Giancarlo Genta

16 Jun

Starting in 2014 Springer began publishing books in their Science and Fiction series, a collection “born out of the recognition that scientific discovery and the creation of plausible fictional scenarios are often two sides of the same coin.” Envisioned as “hard” science fiction that is largely written by practicing scientists, the series includes novels, collections of short stories, critical analysis, and covering topics in a relatively non-technical matter, as they could be applied in genre speculation.

I’m not one to leap at the chance to read works that promote themselves as hard science fiction. In general I find they are too conservative in their political and social outlook and too focused on technology or engineering rather than science. The science that is present seems dominated by physics and astronomy, and any literary aspects become utterly expendable. Obviously this isn’t always true, and even if not often literary, a hard science fiction story like one in Analog can be entertaining while teaching the reader about something new.

As a scientist myself I was excited when I heard about this series from Springer, I think more scientists should develop skills at bridging the science and the fiction universes. I hoped (and still do) that their curated series would tilt towards the type of technically focused science fiction that I could still find entertaining. Continue reading

Book Review: Everfair by Nisi Shawl

26 May

Approximately nine years ago, while browsing a local library’s new release section, I came across Filter House. A short story collection by Nisi Shawl, its description and critical blurbs promised rich literary fantasy from a talented and distinctive voice that was new to me. Reading it, I realized that promise was no exaggeration. Filter House is significant in both its quality and its revelation of a culturally non-dominant perspective (particularly within the SFF community). Nominated for a World Fantasy Award and winning the James Tiptree Jr. Award, Shawl’s collection did not go unnoticed within the critical community.

Yet, I somehow felt unfulfilled after completing the collection. I had no regrets reading it; I appreciated it. But it still baffled me in its unfamiliarity and its thematic focus. Its Otherness required contemplation, attentive to the subtle graces of Shawl’s writing and listening to her viewpoint. For me, one read-through wasn’t sufficient to fully experience it. Continue reading

Book Review: Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

12 May

Stories dealing with those often-painful transitions of adolescence dominate mainstream young adult fiction. On the genre side of the fiction divide, post-apocalyptic settings contain characters constantly beset by external dangers, characters that simultaneously must struggle to adapt themselves to their civilization’s collapse. In both cases these tales combine peripheral threats with internal struggles, shaping varying degrees of character growth and/or plot development.

Thus, it’s fitting that S.C. Flynn combined aspects from both sides of young adult fiction’s spectrum in his debut novel Children of the Different. Though comprised of many familiar elements, the novel is aptly named. Flynn’s story feels fresh and intriguingly different. With inspirations from analytical philosophy and biological metamorphosis, Children of the Different explores the transformation of his young characters into adulthood within post-apocalyptic settings that merge science fiction and mythical fantasy. Continue reading

Book Review: CONGRESS OF SECRETS by Stephanie Burgis

5 Apr

Known for her Regency-era fantasy series for middle-grade readers that began with A Most Improper Magick (published as Kat, Incorrigible in the US), Stephanie Burgis’ debut novel for adults, Masks and Shadows, similarly combined romanticism with the fantastic. Her sophomore novel, released at the end of 2016 by Pyr, continues this formula. Well paced and passionately infused with historical details and characters, Congress of Secrets will appeal to readers who enjoy a touch of magical darkness balancing Austenesque romance and historical intrigue. Continue reading

Book Review: Defying Doomsday, Edited by Tsana Dolichva & Holly Kench

9 Aug

“People with disability already live in a post-apocalyptic world.” – Robert Hoge

This crowd-funded anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction showcases the theme of disabled or chronically-ill protagonists. Edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, the collection features many Aussie female writers (though not exclusively) and names likely both familiar and new to speculative fiction readers. With all of its diversity in characters, apocalyptic setting, and featured disability/illness, Defying Doomday is remarkably consistent in tone and quality. Continue reading

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