Been a while since I’ve done one of these Friday updates…oddly, I seem to begin these posts this way. I’ve had less time to do any blogging since my day job has been busier and the increased firewalls preventing me from doing any non-work related internetting.
So, on with it with the last few reviews I’ve posted to SFFWorld…
The first book review I posted in 2015 was for Elizabeth Bear’s fun and enchanting Karen Memory, a terrific steampunk / weird western / murder mystery:
That’s a great voice readers encounter immediately and throughout the novel, Bear remains powerfully consistent with that voice, not skipping a beat. As such, the copyeditor for this one should get special mention for ensuring the voice remained consistent over the course of the novel. Karen is a “seamstress,” which is code for sex worker and as such, Hôtels such as Madame Damnable’s were required to pay a sewing machine tax. Some may find it surprising that this was a real thing of Seattle’s past.
The other standout element is the wonderful cast of characters who, for the most part, are unapologetic, empathetic, and genuine. I thought Bear’s depiction of the budding relationship between Priya and Karen against the dark and fantastic backdrop proved a great optimistic balance. As for the cast of characters as a whole, they are diverse in a way that feels natural for the story. Karen Memory is a relatively short novel by today’s standards (352 pages), but Bear packs so much passion, energy, and uniqueness in the novel.
Earlier this week, my February Mind Meld was posted to SF Signal, in which I ask Bob Reiss, David Annadale, E.E. Knight, James Knapp, Jason Hough, Jaym Gates, Kristin Centorcelli, and Paul Weimer
Apocalyptic and Dystopic scenarios are immensely popular, ranging from stories of the Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, Superflu, Environmental Disaster, or the quite popular “Unexplained.”
Last week, my review of Dave Bara’s debut novel a rollicking Space Opera / Military Science fiction novel, Impulse:
The story is set far enough into the future that “Old Earth” is not the focal planet for humanity in the story, rather, Quantar is at the center of events. Like many Military Science Fiction novels,Impulse is told in the first person, in the case from the viewpoint of Peter Cochrane, a Lieutenant in the Quantar Royal Navy, who is assigned to investigate a disaster in space which claimed the lives of fellow military personnel, including his girlfriend. The Impulse; however, a Unified Space Navy ship is under foreign command and ends up on a moon/planet about which little is currently known. Peter initially received this news from his father (Grand Admiral of the Quantar Navy, and part of the ruling family of Quantar), though the assignment comes from his superior, Supreme Commander of the Unified Space Navy.…There’s a deep history to this universe, with a long-vanished civilization leaving relics behind for humanity to discover. These Relics each have a code of sorts associated with them that if we are advanced enough, we can decipher it. While this is a fairly tried and true trope of the genre, I was reminded of Mark Van Name’s Jon and Lobo novels. Other elements reminded me of David Weber/John Ringo’s Empire of Man novels. The bulk of the knowledge of these Relics is protected by the Historians, advanced humans from Earth who don’t often take too active a role in humanity’s development and exploration. These characters reminded me a great deal of the Observers from the TV show Fringe.
My most recent review is the final novel in Elizabeth Moon’s Paladin’s Legacy series, Crown of Renewal:
The main thread of the novel deals with Dorrin Verrakai and how, as Duke, she adjust to the political and military power she possesses coming into conflict and with the magical power growing within her and in the land. She is quite symbolic of the various changes occurring in the world of the novel. When she was appointed Duke, she was the first female to be appointed such a role. Her family line provided conflict and trust issues over those whom she presided. Change is thrust upon her again when she is given the task of transporting a magical crown that speaks to her as if she is queen. Dorrin must make some difficult choices about her status as Duke and Heir, two roles that she cannot hold. Unfortunately, the choice she makes affects more than just herself.…Crown of Renewal (and the five books which comprise The Paladin’s Legacy) proved once again that Elizabeth Moon provides me with novels I enjoy and find satisfying from character and (mostly) plot perspective. In other words, throughout, I found this to be a dependable Fantasy series that delivered an immersive and enjoyable reading experience. While some of the plot points and character movements went to places I may not have expected, my high expectations for a novel I could dive into and trust to tell me a good story were well met.