the Little Red Reviewer

While you’re patiently waiting for reviews that I’m writing (I’m writing them, I swear I am!), here’s some fun stuff from ’round the web!

at SFSignal a Mind Meld roundtable on The Intersection of SF/F Games and Genre Fiction, curated by Paul Weimer

Have you checked out the All Good Things podcast yet?

My Bookish Ways is looking to add Suspense and Mystery reviewers to her team

Far Beyond Reality reviews Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Over the Effing Rainbow reviews The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick

Lynn’s Book Blog shows some love for Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy and what makes it a future classic

Fantasy Review Barn has a nice review of Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill

I’m loving these gloriously geeky Valentine’s over at Beamer Books

The Book Stop reviews The Martian by Andy Weir (a book I freakin’ LOVED)

Civilian Reader reviews The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

The Guilded Earlobe reviews The World House by Guy Adams

and here’s a silly owl. or possibly it’s a muppet. i can’t tell.

owls13

Cold Comfort and other talesCold Comfort and Other Tales by David McDonald

published December 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the author (Thanks David!)

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Beginnings are important.

 

Like a first impression, an author has one sentence, one chance to make in initial impression on the reader. We’ve all come across lackluster openings, openings that didn’t inspire, or confused, or simply made you scratch your head. Maybe you kept reading, maybe not.

 

For me, the ideal opening sentence is a perfect balance between nowhere near enough information, and just enough to draw me in. Not unlike that first floral nose of a glass of wine – you get the aroma, a suggestion of what’s to come, but little to no information about the mouthfeel or finish you’re about to experience. You take a sip because that first scent was intriguing. The titular story of Cold Comfort and Other Tales has just the kind of opening I dream of: perfectly balanced yet minimal information with just the barest hints of the entire worldbuilding of the story:

 

Vanja shivered as the icy wind pried at her furs with cruel fingers

 

What a tease! and I’m instantly curious. Is she used to the cold? Was she planning on spending so much time outside? Is this normal weather?  Time to find out what this wine tastes like. My first sip was fantastic, and it just got better from there.

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Confusion ProgramA few weekends ago I was at Confusion, a fan run scifi convention in Detroit Michigan. This is my fourth year attending Confusion, and every year there are more “hey, great to see you!”’s, more hugs, more great conversations, more random meetings with people I was hoping to run into (but didn’t know what they looked like until now), and more happy surprises.  Long story short is that Confusion is a fan-freaking-tastic convention, and if you live within driving distance of Detroit, you should consider going.

 

this year’s Confusion was a whole new con for me, for two reasons:

 

I was on panels

and

People knew who I was

 

We arrived after dinner on Friday, just in time for Opening Ceremonies.  That event leads into the Dessert Reception, where you can get pastries and cookies and such and mingle with the special guests. I was hoping to introduce myself to Karen Lord, because I’d recently interviewed her at SFSignal. I caught up with her as she was finishing a conversation with someone else, and introduced myself. And she knew who I was! We had a very nice chat and I may have nearly passed out.

Karen Lord reading from The Best of All Possible Worlds

Karen Lord reading from The Best of All Possible Worlds

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wow, it’s the end of January already! How did that happen??

 

As it turned out, the majority of what I read for Vintage Month was published in the 60s and 70s.  I got a taste of New Wave, more psychology studies than I can shake a stick at, our fears of overpopulation, our hopeful expectations of future technology, and science fiction as written through the lens of the Vietnam War.  My focus on that time period was accidental, but i’m happy it worked out that way.
I want to thank everyone who participated in Vintage Science Fiction Month this year. Whether you wrote reviews, did a discussion or a guest post, or simply retweeted something tagged #VintageSciFi that looked interesting, it’s because of YOU that Vintage SciFi Month was a success.

A huge Thank You goes out to:

Vintage SF badgeDrunken Dragon Reviews

Book Haven

Lesley Conner

Uncertain Tales

The Broken  Bullhorn

Andrew Robins (for the guest post AND the loan of the DVDs!)

Antyphayes

Bruce Baugh

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased

Fate SF

Howling Frog Books

Tethyan Books

Dab of Darkness

this is how she fight start

Over the Effing Rainbow

Susan Hated Literature

The Bastard Title

Two Dudes in an Attic

My Reader’s Block

Stainless Steel Droppings

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

Science Fiction Times

Lynn’s Book Blog

Nashville Book Worm

RedStar Reviews

The Finch and Pea

Bookishly Witty

 

 

vulcan Kathleen SkyVulcan! by Kathleen Sky

published in 1978

where I got it: purchased used

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Ahh, Star Trek. I grew up with you, I watched all your spin offs, I learned all about diplomacy and crazy hairstyles from you, I’ve even transferred my school girl crush on Shatner’s Kirk to Vic Mignogna’s Kirk. But in all these years, I’ve never read a Star Trek tie in novel. Until now.  Browsing at a bookstore with some friends,   Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky was pushed into my hands. ok sure, why not?

 

You know sometimes you just need a fun, brain-candy kind of book? Something that is sure to entertain but doesn’t require your brain to do any back-flips? This was one of the books, and the timing couldn’t have been better, because boy was I in the mood for some easy to read candy.

 

The premise is that the Neutral Zone between Federation space and Romulan space is shifting, and a solar system that had always been on the Federation side will soon be on the Romulan side. The Enterprise’s mission is to visit the planet and determine if the life forms there are intelligent or not. On the way, they pick up the Federation’s preeminent expert on zenobiology, Dr. Katalya Tremain. Kirk has been warned that she’s got a difficult personality, but he figures he’ll put on the charm, and she’ll be like putty in his hands. Dr. Tremain beams aboard, sees Spock standing in the transporter room, and freaks the hell out.  Apparently “difficult personality” was subtle talk for she’s happily vocal about her bigoted hatred for all Vulcans.

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stableford FloriansThe Florians, by Brian Stableford

published in 1976

where I got it: purchased used

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Back in January of 2013, Susan of Dab of Darkness wrote a guest post about the works of Brian Stableford, and I’ve been looking for a copy of The Florians ever since. And I eventually found one!

 

Once upon in the future, Earth was able to send out colony ships with the idea that as they sent back confirmation of habitable planets, we would sent out more colonists. Habitable planets found or not, shortly after the ships were sent out, the project was cancelled for economic reasons. We never set out more ships, we never tried to reach our colonists, and couldn’t afford to worry if they had survived or not.  There are those who want to completely cancel all space programs. Many people want us to work on solving problems on Earth (pollution, over population, disease, etc) before spending money we don’t have on outer space missions with no guarantee.

 

However, limited funding has made a few ships available to contact colonies.  Alexis Alexander is a member of the small crew of the Daedelus, on a mission to connect with as many surviving colonies as possible. The ship won’t bring supplies or food or anything like that, only the medical lab on board, and the ecological, biological, and medical expertise of Alexis and his crewmates. All they can do is help the colonists adapt to their new worlds, help them fight off diseases. Even if the colonists don’t meet intelligent life forms, they will still be breathing alien air, be interacting with alien soil and microbes and such.

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Looking for some more Vintage SciFi goodies? I’ve got you covered!  Remember, it’ll be a lot easier for everyone to find your post if you link to it in the “Vintage SciFi Not-a-Challenge” tab up top, or tweet it with hashtag #VintageScifi

check these out!

 

Bruce Baugh reviewed Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow

Over at The Bastard Title is a fantastic review of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

Tethyan Books enjoyed the Retro Hugo Award winning Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Over the Effing Rainbow continues reading through Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Science Fiction Times reviews Isaac Asimov’s first published story, “The Callistan Menace”

Book Haven reviews StarMan’s Son by Andre Norton, and suggests this title as a great starting point for her work

Over at Dab of Darkness, Nlrymrtl reviews the audio books of Possible to Rue by Piers Anthony, and “The Book of Beasts”, which was written in 1900 by E. Nesbit

At The Finch and Pea is an in depth review of The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson

Bookishly Witty reviews The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

My Reader’s Block reads the terrifying Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Susan Hated Literature offers a review of Inverted World by Christopher Priest (also? gorgeous cover art!)

Pornokitch entertainingly discusses the History of the Hugo and Nebula awards

 

 

 

2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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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.