Category Archives: Books

Khalakovo

The Winds of Khalakovo
(Lays of Anuskaya #1)
by Bradley P. Beaulieu (2011)

Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo’s eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo’s future.

When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo.

Firstly, this is long.. how long ?
The first book of this trilogy is 180,000 words. The second is 233,000 and the third is 204,000. Second, it’s very Russian. People and places have Russian styles names. How do you pronounce them ? Who Knows ?

So it better be good……. well…….. it’s not badly written. But after 20% of the first novel I have given up. The problem is partly all those Russian names (the main protagonist has two !). Then there is the slow pace and all that talking (and no action) that goes on. The only noteworthy action I read of was a hanging. But ultimately it doesn’t grip or intrigue the reader. It’s just flat and after a while it feels like work rather than pleasure.

 

 

Linda’s Memory

Memory
By Linda Nagata (2010)

A quest, a puzzle, and multiple lives: On an artificial world with a forgotten past, floods of “silver” rise in the night like fog, rewriting the landscape and consuming those caught in its cold mists. Seventeen-year-old Jubilee knows that no one ever returns from the silver–but then a forbidding stranger appears, asking after her beloved brother, lost long ago to a silver flood. Could he still be alive? And why does the silver rise ever higher, threatening to drown the world? Jubilee pursues the truth on a quest to unlock the memory of a past reaching back farther than she ever imagined.

This was  a strange  experience to read. The plot can be exceedingly slow, normally I would abandon such a book. But somehow it just kept drawing me on. Essentially it’s a long road movie, a quest to understand what’s happening to a world. Having read the ‘Red’ series; this is like a completely different author. Maybe it’s an early book (it could do with a good edit as it’s about 130,000 words long) with a different voice. I would only recommend this to someone who  has read and enjoyed other Linda Nagata novels.

2015 Nebulas

 

Novel

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
My Review

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Started the first book, never finished it

The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)

Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Read it, would recommend it

Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)

Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)
Novella

Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
“The Bone Swans of Amandale,” C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
“The New Mother,” Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn,” Usman T. Malik (Tor.com 4/22/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
“Waters of Versailles,” Kelly Robson (Tor.com 6/10/15)

Novelette

“Rattlesnakes and Men,” Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead,” Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
“The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society,” Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
“The Deepwater Bride,” Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
“Our Lady of the Open Road,” Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

“Madeleine,” Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
“Cat Pictures Please,” Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
“Damage,” David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
“When Your Child Strays From God,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
“Today I Am Paul,” Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

 

And the Winners Are:

Novel

  • Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Novella

  • Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)

Novelette

  • ‘‘Our Lady of the Open Road’’, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

  • ‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

 

2015 Hugos

Best Novel

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie 
  • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Best Novella

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

Best Novelette

  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015)
  • “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
  • “Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
  • “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)

Best Short Story

  • “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
  • “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)

100 Top Female Books

From Book Riot – 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Female Authors

(with comments from me)

1. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Have read a few of her short stories

3. Among Others by Jo Walton

Tried it, gave up half-way through

4. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Couldn’t get into it.

5. Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

6. The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

7. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Tried to read two of her books, gave up early.

8. Ash by Malinda Lo

9. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

One of my top-rated books

10. The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Wright

11. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

12. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish

13. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Another good read

15. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

16. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

17. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

18. Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto

19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First in a series. Recommended.

20. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

21. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

22. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

23. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

24. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

25. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

26. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

27. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

28. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

29. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

30. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara

31. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Tried reading it – not very interesting

32. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

33. The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

34. The Female Man by Joanna Russ

35. Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

36. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

39. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

40. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

42. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

43. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

44. Hild by Nicola Griffith

45. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

First of another good series.

46. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

47. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferré

48. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

49. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

50. Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

51. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

52. The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano

53. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Now a TV series

54. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

55. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

56. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Started, gave up due to boredom.

57. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

58. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

59. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

60. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

61. Moving the Mountain by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

62. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

63. My Christina & Other Stories by Mercè Rodoreda

64. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

65. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

66. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

67. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

68. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

69. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

70. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

71. The Red by Linda Nagata

Just Read – see review

72. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

73. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

74. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai

75. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

76. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Read it – very average

77. Shikasta by Doris Lessing

78. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Read this in 1990 – recommended

79. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

80. So Far from God by Ana Castillo

81. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

82. Soulless by Gail Carriger

83. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

84. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

85. Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala

86. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

87. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

88. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

89. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

90. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

91. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

92. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

93. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

94. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

95. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

96. Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

97. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

98. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

99. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

100. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

1941 Hugo Awards

The 1941 Retro-Hugo Awards will be presented at a ceremony on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention.

The finalists for the 1941 Hugo Awards are:

Best Novel

  • Gray Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Jan 1940)
  • The Ill‐Made Knight by T.H. White (Collins)
  • Kallocain by Karin Boye (Bonnier)
  • The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Mar 1940)
  • Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Dec 1940)

Best Novella

  • “Coventry” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, July 1940)
  • “If This Goes On…” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “Magic, Inc.” by Robert A. Heinlein (Unknown, Sept 1940)
  • “The Mathematics of Magic” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “The Roaring Trumpet” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, May 1940)

Best Novelette (310 nominating ballots)

  • “Blowups Happen” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Sept 1940)
  • “Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Dec 1940)
  • “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Oct 1940)
  • “It!” by Theodore Sturgeon (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, June 1940)

Best Short Story (324 nominating ballots)

  • “Martian Quest” by Leigh Brackett (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Jan 1940)
  • “Robbie” by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, Sept 1940)
  • “The Stellar Legion” by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, Winter 1940)
  • “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges (Sur, 1940)

 

Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria
Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Drama (1999)

The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood…

The time travelers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand.

It’s a Stuart era monster/detective story. And rather pedestrian one at that.  Of course the ‘monster’ turns out to be an alien.

 

 

Cast
The Doctor — Peter Davison
Turlough — Mark Strickson
Henry Gaunt — Nicholas Briggs
Quincy Flowers — David Walliams
Edmund Carteret — Jonathan Rigby
Jasper Jeake — Mark Gatiss
Poltrot/Librarian/Major Billy Lovemore — Jez Fielder
Sir Nicholas Valentine — David Ryall
Dr Samuel Holywell — Steven Wickham
Hannah Fry — Julia Dalkin

Bloodline

Bloodline (Star Wars)
by Claudia Gray (2016)

A prequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set roughly six years before the events of the film.

Despite the positive reviews, this just isn’t as good as her previous book ‘The Lost Stars’ The main problem is the pacing and plot. The first two-thirds feel too slow. Not much happens and around the half-way mark I was not sure if I could continue. Then the action and pacing occurs in the last third of the book. Where ‘The Lost Stars’ had the grand sweep of the original trilogy as background, this feels very restricted to a few planets. And despite mostly taking place at the administrative centre of the galaxy, it lacks an epic space-opera feel expected of a Star Wars novel. I kept going to the end and a new beginning for Leia.

 

Lost Stars

Lost Stars
(Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens)
by Claudia Gray (2015)

Eight years after the fall of the Old Republic, the Galactic Empire now reigns over the known galaxy. Resistance to the Empire has been all but silenced. Only a few courageous leaders such as Bail Organa of Alderaan still dare to openly oppose Emperor Palpatine.

After years of defiance, the many worlds at the edge of the Outer Rim have surrendered. With each planet’s conquest, the Empire’s might grows stronger.

The latest to fall under the Emperor’s control is the isolated mountain planet Jelucan, whose citizens hope for a more prosperous future even as the Imperial Starfleet gathers overhead…


This acclaimed novel really is as good as everyone says. It traces the journey of two individuals through the events of Stars Wars ‘A New Hope’ to ‘Return of the Jedi’. The story has two points of view. We follow Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree from trainees on both sides of the war to the end of the Empire.  This would suit anyone who wants to go deeper into the Star Wars universe. There is an audio-book available.

 

Genocide Machine

The Genocide Machine
a Dr Who Big Finish audio drama (2000)

Genocide_Machine

On the planet Kar-Charrat, the Seventh Doctor and Ace try to prevent the Daleks acquiring a technology called the Wetworks Facility.

A decent Dr Who story, with a science fiction theme of misused technology. It’s also a straightforward plot which helps with the increasing tension in the story. There is even an interesting twist and reveal in the forth part. (4/5)

Cast
The Doctor — Sylvester McCoy
Ace — Sophie Aldred
Rappell — Daniel Gabriele
Bev Tarrant — Louise Faulkner
Chief Librarian Elgin — Bruce Montague
Cataloguer Prink — Nicholas Briggs
Dalek Voices — Alistair Lock and Nicholas Briggs
Phantom Voices — Daniel Gabriele