Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Katya's World, Martian War & The Dead of Winter at SFFWorld

Going on two weeks in a row, here are three reviews from the same gang as last week …

Jonathan L. Howard has published a few adult fantasy novels and now with Katya’s World
he launches a new young adult series for the fine folks at Strange Chemistry:

Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World tells the story of the human colony world Russalka; a world whose surface is primarily water. As such, much of the action takes place on a submarine and focuses on Katya Kuriakova, a young cadet in the navy. Evoking the juvenile novels of Robert A. Heinlein and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, it has been suggested that Howard is starting a submarine-punk trend with Katya’s World. Be that as it may, and whatever one wishes to label the novel, Howard has given readers a fun, engaging novel that is the tip of an iceberg of a series.

Katya is a smart young girl whose sense of loss and detachment is cloud that covers her character, but pleasingly, this element of her character is just one fraction. From her interactions with her uncle to the even more engaging discussions she has with Kane, Katya is bright young girl. She’s headstrong but Howard smartly keeps her on the positive side of too plucky. Her smarts are evident in her actions and it becomes clear her promotion at the beginning of the novel is justified.

Mark takes a look at another mash-up from sorts from Kevin J. Anderson. This time, Anderson’s The Martian War recasts H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds:

Kevin’s version combines fiction with ‘real’ people. Not only is the author HG Wells a key character, but the evolutionist and scientist Professor TH Huxley, who, as a mentor of Wells, introduces HG to a covert symposium of like-minded scientists, working for the British government against an impending war versus Germany. The sudden arrival of Doctor Moreau (see Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau) raises their awareness to a possible invasion from Mars. Moreau has been working for astronomer Percival Lowell in the Sahara Desert recreating the Martian canals to let the Martians know of intelligent life on Earth. Lowell doesn’t realise that letting others know of human intelligence can make the humans a threat rather than an ally, something Lowell comes to regret...

As before, with Nemo, one of the great fun things about such a novel is the way it combines real people with fictional characters. Here, as well as TH Huxley, astronomer Percival Lowell, and Giovanni Schiaparelli, (the original cartographer of the ‘canals’ on Mars), we have the fictional Dr. Moreau, Hawley Griffin (from The Invisible Man) and Selwyn Cavor (from The First Men in the Moon) amongst others. It is great fun spotting the references, some subtle, others less so. Even ol’ Jules Verne gets a mention.

Nila reviews The Dead of Winter, the first in a vampire/western hybrid from Lee Collins

The Dead of Winter is about Cora Oglesby; spook hunter, devoted wife, drunk, and faithful minion of a Christian God. She’s also a damn good shot. She and her husband, Ben Oglesby, arrive in Leadville, Colorado in the dead of winter (imagine that) after the local sheriff and his deputy run across something that just don’t sit right in their minds.

In the forest around town, something took down two wolf hunters, making a bloody mess without leaving a trace of the bodies. After negotiating terms with Cora and Ben, the sheriff hands over responsibility to the spook hunters and off they go into the woods to catch their monster..

The Dead of Winter is an interesting and entertaining story about a hard and flawed woman who must face her own sins to beat her arch-enemy. A well written story, with good pacing, the story is told in the third person. The novel is written primarily from Cora’s point of view, but the author takes occasional forays into other characters’ heads in a fashion that can be a bit disconcerting. Though Mr. Collins maintains the point of view shifts more steadily in the second half of the book, he does a bit of jumping during the first part. Just bear with it, Mr. Collins eventually settles the ride for you (sorry, it’s a western, I can’t seem to shake the vernacular).

1 comment:

tmso said...

Martian War looks interesting. I recently read The Map of Time, which also features H.G. Wells as a character/real person. Must compare.