Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review Round-up: Tad from Me, Powell and Brown from Mark C

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted one of these, partially because I haven't posted a new review to SFFWorld in a few weeks and partially because work has been quite busy.  I'm not limiting this round-up to just my reviews, but I will lead with one of my reviews. This review went up last week and is the first proper review I did for SF Signal. I don't normally gravitate to collections and anthologies, but when a retrospective collection of one my favorite authors is published, chances are I'll read it. Such is the case with The Very Best of Tad Williams from Tachyon Publications:

The second story, “The Storm Door” was very moody and gives a hint of what one might expect in the author’s Bobby Dollar books. The story is something of a mash-up of a private eye story and zombie story, melded together in a nearly perfect horrific execution. The story offers up a slightly different take on the zombie mythos that has a bit in common with alien take-over stories. The dread snuck up on me and left me feeling the same way the best episodes of The Twilight Zone do.
The end world ends not quite as expected in “Not with a Whimper, Either.” The story is told as a text/internet conversation between some younger folk when bad things happen. Those things being the network hiccupping, lights flickering on and off, and an emergency address from the president to assure the world all is OK. Well, when something enters the internet discussion with the kids announcing itself as Moderator, things aren’t OK. It took a bit for me to fully slide into the structure of this one, but that structure helped to make this a top-notch story and helped to make it feel more plausible and immediate.

Our newest reviewer at SFFWorld, Mark Chitty is no stranger to reviews and he posted two solid reviews over the last week.  Mark was intrigued by the British Fantasy Award Winning Ack-Ack Macaque so decided to dive into it (and frankly I want to read it now, too):

I’ll be honest and say that when this was announced as Powell’s next novel I wasn’t overly thrilled. The synopsis suggested an alternate history/future novel that mashes itself with various other genres to deliver the story, and I really didn’t think it would be my cup of tea. Following the BSFA announcement I picked up the novel to browse, interested to find out a little more about it, but ended up a quarter of the way through before I realised – and the story had so much more to offer than I initially expected.
While it seems that there is a lot going on in Ack-Ack Macaque, it’s surprising how it all fits together so smoothly, and works so well. Powell has created a world that is believable, with the world-building taking place as part of the narrative so not give any needless info-dumps. There are the odd sections presented as news reports to give some backstory or other pieces of information, but it isn’t out of place. In fact, the whole structure of the novel works in its favour, not dragging anything out, yet also not dwelling needlessly on small and irrelevant details for extended periods.

Like me, (and to an even greater degree), Mark is a fan of Eric Brown and had a look at Brown's new novella Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV (Telemass Quartet #1), which is set in a future milieu he's visited often in the past.

Matt Hendrick is a former detective from Earth, now chasing his daughter who has been taken by his ex-wife and her lover. This quest leads him to Avoeli, a planet in the Fomalhaut system. Originally settled by Madagascan natives, the settlers now share the planet with its native alien species. When Tiana Tandra makes his acquaintance and mentions her lover has gone missing, Matt looks further into the situation and realises that there are strange events occurring on Avoeli
Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV is a typical Eric Brown story. For those that have read his work in the past this needs no explanation, but for those that haven’t… well, where to start? Brown tells a compelling tale in a rich and vivid setting, focusing on character and motivations more than worldbuilding. This isn’t to say that he skimps on that aspect, but with a limited page count he balances it all nicely

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