the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Scifi / Fantasy’ Category

Which I’m not.

Well, not yet, at any rate*.

If you’ve been following the big guys on Twitter, you’ve probably seen this link to NPR’s article about their work-in-progress “100 best SF/F titles ever written list”.  Nominations are closed, but that is just the first in this series of articles.  Recently,  Patrick Rothfuss hopped on the bandwagon as well of discussing SF/F books that a fan new to the genre should seek out. I highly suggest checking out the NPR article and Rothfuss’s blog, but beware, you’ll be kissing your afternoon goodbye, as there is pages upon glorious pages of comments to read.

Now it’s our turn.  What books would you recommend to someone who is just getting into scifi, fantasy, epic fantasy, sci-fantasy, etc? What do you consider “must reads” for any SF/F who wants to become more well read in the genre?

here is a small handful of my most recommended SF/F for new fans. These are at/near the top of my list for a very simple reason:  they made me want to read more SF/F.  Because of these books, I fell in love with the genre over and over and over again.

Last Call, by Tim Powers

The Scar, by China Mieville

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Sideshow, by Sheri S Tepper

Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Yes, I know, the comments this post may generate is going to make my “books I want to read” list explode, again.  The timing is not good for that. But I like torturing myself. Even better,  my favorite part of the blogosphere is the opportunity to share information just like this, and it’s always fun to have those “you love Tim Powers?  I love Tim Powers too!!!”  or the “You love Dune but don’t care for the prequels? omg, me too!” conversations.

*btw, I consider myself a decently well read SF/F fan. There are a handful of favorite authors whose discographies I’ve read extensively. There is a much, much larger list of authors I’ve never read, and in some cases, never heard of.

Because I love you, here’s what you can look forward to on LRR in the next little while:

Review of The Sinful Stars*, an anthology based on the Fading Suns role playing game. Edited by Bill Bridges, one of the creators of the Fading Suns universe, of stories I’ve read so far, I’d say about half of them are very good to excellent. If all goes well, the review will post on Saturday. Also, thanks to Sinful Stars, I’ve discovered my new favorite bookish work: bibliothecary.

Any PRG’ers among my readers? Have you read or written fiction based on your table top game of choice? This shared universe thing is pretty cool as well, it’s got me interested in maybe giving the Martin edited Wild Cards a shot.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, by Mark Hodder

Published March 2011

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher

why I read it: adored the first book in the series, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, reviewed here.

Enter to Win a Copy of The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, here. Contest is open until March 21.

Welcome to Victorian England, just not the Victorian England you know.  The Queen is dead (so perhaps I should call it Albertian England?), scientists are having a field day with steam powered inventions, eugenicists are having a ball with genetically modified foodstuffs and insects grown to obscene proportions and magic is real.  Well, not magic exactly, but mind control, astral projections, spiritualism, mediumistic techniques to read the future is all very, very real. And it all started back in 1837, when a certain someone had such very good intentions and tried so very hard to fix what had gone horribly wrong.

It’s now 1862, and Sir Richard Francis Burton and his assistant Algernon Swinburne have recovered from the Spring Heeled Jack Affair. The Technologist faction is under control, Isembard Kingdom Brunel has made his new life public, the British government is playing favorites regarding the American War between the states, and Burton continues to be bitter about being passed over for funding for African expeditions.    Although Hodder provides plenty of background information and these are fairly episodic adventures so far, I am reluctant to say you can read The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man as a standalone, as there is a overarching plotline that I believe will become more important than any one adventure.

Hodder  gets the action, adventure, and mystery started right off the bat. Burton and Swinburne investigate an abandoned yet beautifully constructed clockwork man in the middle of a public square, which leads to a theft of famous black diamonds, the untimely death of Charles Babbage, a disturbing  vision of Burton’s future, a homeless philosopher who seems to suffer from multiple personality disorder, the mythology behind the rest of the black diamonds, and a haunted estate. Oh, and fairies, whatever you do, don’t forget the fairies. Read the rest of this entry »

A few days ago I got an e-mail from my favorite public library:

The material you’ve requested is ready for pick up: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, by Charles Yu.

So I went and picked it up, grinning like a fool the whole time. Yesterday I read the first half of the book. It’s a fast-ish read, much stream of consciousness, social commentary, funny little digs at companies, good stuff. It’s also very, very depressing at times. To the point where half way through, I had to put it down. That’s gonna be an awkward book review to write. How do you say “this book was freaking depressing!” and make it sound like a compliment?

So I picked up Jasper Kent’s Thirteen Years Later instead. I always love me some suspense and scary bad guys. Got about 50 pages into it last night and early this morning. And as to be expected, it’s very good.  No pun intended, but it sucks you right in.

Then, this morning I got one of the best e-mails I’ve ever gotten.

Better than Cory Doctorow’s response to my drunken fanletter, and almost better than Scott Lynch’s response to my drunken fanletter/love letter. BTW, awesome audio interview with Scott Lynch here. The man has a lovely voice, I wonder if he’s ever contemplated a career as a newscaster? 

Back to this mornings awesome e-mail. It was from my favorite Public Library. It read:

 The material you’ve requested is ready for pick up: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.  Read the rest of this entry »

I originally reviewed this book here for SFRevu.

The Ashtheans have never known hatred, they have never known murder, they have never known distrust. The Earthlings bring them all these things, and such gifts can never be taken back.

On the edges of human colonized space, lies the planet Ashthe, or as the humans call it, New Tahiti. Soldiers, most ill equipped to be ambassadors to another race, are put in charge on a local level, told they have so many years until the colonists arrive, and told to make the island ready for human habitation. Far away from their central government, the soldiers can pretty much do whatever they want with no repercussions. And they do.

When the Ashtheans fight back with violence, the invaders are flabbergasted. They’ve brought civilization to these pathetic creatures, these creechies, how dare they fight back? What’s their problem? The problem is that the Earthlings refuse to believe this diminutive, undomesticated race could possibly be their equals in sentience or intelligence.
Read the rest of this entry »

 Assassin’s Quest is the third book in Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. Click on the titles to read my reviews of the first two books in the series, Assassin’s Apprentice, and Royal Assassin.

If you haven’t read those books, but plan to, you want to skip this blog post because there are major spoilers ahead.

You’ve read the entire Farseer series and what to see if we have similar opinions on the final book, Assassin’s Quest? hook up w/me after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

This is book 2 in Swann’s Apotheosis series. To read my review of the first book in the series, Prophets, click here. The 3rd book in the series, Messiah, is due out early next year.

* * * * *

As the second book in S. Andrew Swann’s Apotheosis series, Heretics keeps the action going, along with healthy doses of intrigue, betrayal, destruction, and an unkillable bad guy armed with self replicating nanomachines.

As the crew members of the Eclipse try to regroup, all hell is breaking loose around them. Along with Mosasa, Mercenaries Parvi and Wahid, and lowly data analyst Rebecca have been taken hostage on the Caliphate ship The Prophet’s Voice, while the rest of the crew, including Nickolai, Father Mallory, and Kugara have made it to the surface of Salmagundi, where they team up with Flynn/Tetsami and the Protean construct.

When Adam confronts Mosasa on The Voice, they both know only one can survive, and facing Adam’s unparalleled strength, how can Mosasa hope to survive? Setting himself up as a God, Adam promises paradise and unrivaled power to those who join him, and instant death to those who don’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you have not yet read Assassin’s Apprentice (review here), you may want to skip this blog post. because I can’t adequately discuss the second book in the series without offering some major spoilers on the first. I’ll wait while you get the first book and read it. Seriously, I’ll wait. it’s worth it.

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there’s spoilers for the first book in the series coming up!

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don’t say I didn’t warn you! Read the rest of this entry »

I wrote this review quite a while ago, but the book came out quite a while ago as well. So everything might be a little dated.

What images would we choose to define our lives? Or a moment in our life? A couple embracing? A bird flying? The face of a parent, or of a child?  An empty plastic bag floating on the wind, just grazing the ground?

As the only Gibson book that I’ve come across to take place unmistakably now, Gibson works his usual ubersleek cyberpunk magic, however in a somewhat tempered manner. Missing is the plethora of Often dripping with amusing similes, this is a sleek and polished piece of intellectual science fiction.

Has Gibson (gulp), gone. . . . normal?? Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most talented and underrated authors of our time, Gene Wolfe is a master of subtle story telling. The Sorcerer’s House is told entirely through letters, and if you’ve ever written a letter to someone, you know how easy that selective memory or urge to exaggerate can kick in.

Baxter Dunn has just been released from prison. He needs to find a job, and a place to live, and fast. After squatting in an old abandoned house, he inquires about purchasing the property. When the real estate woman informs him that he is already the owner of the home as per the last will and testament of a mysterious Mr. Black, Baxter only appears a little surprised.

Baxter spends a few weeks working on the house, getting it cleaned up, moving old furniture out, and new furniture in. He even writes some letters to his twin brother George and George’s wife, Millie, hoping to patch up that relationship as he is patching up an old house. Things begin to get a little strange when Bax catches an adolescent boy running through his house. Thinking the child might be stealing or vandalizing, Bax tries to catch him, and the boy drops what he was carrying. Bax watches him jump out a second story window. However, the window is closed, the glass unbroken, and there are no footprints in the shallow snow outside. Read the rest of this entry »


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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.