the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Lavie Tidhar’ Category

apex book of world SF 3The Apex Book of World SF 3, edited by Lavie Tidhar

published June 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Apex!)

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This newest anthology from Apex opens with  poetic visuals and then gently whirls around the planet – touching on ghost stories, political skewerings, the surreal and the horrific, and finally the whimsical. This is Lavie Tidhar’s third World Book of SF, and if you are looking to expand your international speculative fiction reading, this series of anthologies is a perfect place to start.

 

I love that we are getting more and more World Science Fiction. When I read the first Apex Book of World SF, I think I recognized two authors in the Table of Contents. I’m not suggesting you read a particular anthology only because you recognize names in the ToC, but my point is that it’s nice to see more and more non-anglo and non-Western authors known more widely every year. You’re sure to recognize a number of authors in the ToC of the third volume in this series: Benjanun Sriduangkaew is on this year’s Hugo ballot,  Karin Tidbeck garnered a lot of attention for her 2012 collection Jagannath, Xia Jia and Ma Boyong’s stories were originally published in Clarkesworld, and Biram Mboob and Uko Bendi Udo’s stories first appeared in Afro SF.

 

For the most part, the stories are subtle and understated, often with meanings that bloom in your mind a few hours or days after the reading, (excepting of course, City of Silence, which bashes you over the head in a darkly humorous way with what’s going on). The prose is often lush and poetic, with slang terms that taste exotic and  maywill have you googling a word to learn what it means. And it’s ok if you don’t know all the words you come across.  Aren’t we reading science fiction because we want to learn something new?

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clarkesworld4Folks, this is it. With this post I’ve let you know about all the original fiction Clarkesworld published during their fourth year. They just celebrated seven years, by the way. Pretty awesome, right?

just joining us? catch up with parts one, two, three, four and five.

This “go through their entire year” project was fun. You interested in me doing something like this again? I only did one year out of seven, but I feel like a bit of a completest anyway.

These final stories involve memory theft, magic candies, murderous whirlwinds, a vengeful astronaut, and a tragic military science fiction story. Let’s dive in!

Between Two Dragons, by Yoon Ha Lee – The nation of Cho has tried to stay neutral. On one side is the war like Yamat rattles it’s sabers, and makes plans to invade Feng-Huang, located on the far side of Cho. Avoiding violence from one side all but forces them to betray the other neighbor. And the famous Admiral Yen Shemar will remember none of it. Knowing the fate that awaits him after the war, he opts to face it on his own terms, and pays a visit to a woman who can erase his memories and in the process change his personality. This was the part of the story that struck me the hardest. The person being “re-written” doesn’t remember the procedure, doesn’t understand why their mother or child or sister looks at them funny afterwards because they no longer love their favorite foods, or claim to have never seen the film or read the book or poet that they used to always quote from. Your loved one becomes a stranger. At work recently, I overhear two people comparing their closed head injury recoveries. What they both agreed on was that the injury changed their personality. they could remember who they were before, but their personality changed afterwards. Is being “rewritten” a little like that, except you can’t remember who you were before? It was uncanny, to overhear that conversation shortly after reading this story. Between Two Dragons is a military science fiction story, but it doesn’t read like you’d expect a military scifi story to read.  It reads like a list of fears, of regrets. It’s not told in chronological order either, as if the characters are writing down fleeting memories before they can be forcefully taken.

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Osama, by Lavie Tidhar

Published in 2011

where I got it: received review copy from the author

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Sacred cows taste the best, and I wish more writers had a thing for sacred cows the way Lavie Tidhar does.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make Tidhar’s recent novel, Osama.  Was it a mystery? Parallel world noir? A dream like mirror?  Lavie Tidhar writes like he’s never heard of genre labels, and that is a good thing. Ever see the movie Dark City?  In texture, Osama reminded me a little it of that, but only a little.

Private detective Joe is on a new case. He’s been hired to find the reclusive author Mike Longshott, who just happens to be the author of Joe’s favorite pulp series, the Osama Bin Laden Vigilante series. Throughout Osama we get snippets of the Longshott books – mediocre pulpy writing with too much detail about people and places and weapons and times and carbombs, all those details that so many of us have desperately tried to live in denial of.

Joe’s world is not our world. In Joe’s world, terrorism does not exist. Carbombs, cell phones, unmanned drones, none of these things exist. Longshott’s books are seen as sensational garbage pulp, sold alongside cheap sexploitation novels.  From Southeast Asia to Western Europe, from market stalls to dusty bookstores  who specialize in “that kind of thing”, Joe gets closer to the truth.  Between seedy hotels and filthy taverns, Tidhar subtly hints that although this isn’t our world, something, or some one, is leaking through.

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  It’s Chanukah, so the timing is just right for my review of Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv’s The Tel Aviv Dossier. Yet another book that looks like it would be religious, but isn’t. 

Taking place in an Israeli metropolis and peppered with Hebrew slang, this story of destruction, horror, and rebirth could happen anywhere. But trust me, you don’t want it to. The blurb on the back of the book says something about “Lovecraftian echoes”, and I got every bit of Lovecraftian horror I was hoping for. 

Something is happening in Tel Aviv. Something unexplainable, something horrible, and it’s happening right now. Tornadoes come out of the ocean, high winds pull people out of open windows and death is everywhere. Is it the apocalypse? The Messiah? Something else entirely? 

The first half of the book,  includes testaments, recordings, transcripts and digital recordings of people’s initial responses during the “event”. Jumping from character to character and neighborhood to neighborhood, there is Eli the sociopathic and demented fireman, Hagar the videographer, Daniel the Yeshiva dropout, and letters from random people, a child who sees the wind rip someone out of the sky and thinks it would be fun to fly. Some of these people survive the event, some of them don’t. 

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Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman is part alternate history, part steampunk, part rolicking adventure, part futuristic scifi, and like another steampunk I recently reviewed the twist starts fairly early, and if I mentioned anything at all about it, it would wreck the surprise. I’ll try my best to make this review as spoiler free as possible.

In a (very) alternate history London, the British Empire has been taken over by Les Lezards, a humanoid race of intelligent lizards that evolved parallel to humanity. The lizards treat the humans fairly well, and heavily promote science and technology over warfare. Even Jules Verne’s dreams have come true, and thanks to patronage by the Les Lezards, unmanned satellites and space probes have been launched. The only fly in the ointment is The Bookman. Almost a V for Vendetta type character, he stays to the shadows, orchestrating bombings and chaos around events sponsored by the Les Lezards.

Strange yes, but the human populace of Great Britain has adapted pretty well to being ruled by giant talking lizards, and for most Britons, this is how it’s always been. The Les Lezards have been the ruling class for a few generations at least. Royal lizards aside, Tidhar populates his book with characters both historical and fictional, life like simulacrums, social revolutions, and much in the way of punny deliciousness.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.