Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a lot of interviews of members of the Australian speculative fiction scene. This is part of the Snapshot 2014 project, which involves a group of us interviewing seriously awesome people. It also means I won’t be posting any reviews until afterwards. A bit more about Snapshot:
Snapshot has taken place four times in the past 10 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish!
In the lead up to Worldcon in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014, conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright. Last time we covered nearly 160 members of the Australian speculative fiction community with the Snapshot – can we top that this year?
To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done:
http://tsanasreads.blogspot.se/search/label/2014snapshot (my blog)
Content imported from Blogger http://ift.tt/1utF1Hz. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at the aforementioned link.
Silver Shadows by Richelle MeadThe Fiery Heart, Indigo Spell and The Golden Lily (Bloodlines was pre-blog). Silver Shadows is a solid instalment in a series that has becoming more interesting (and with higher-stakes) with each book. Note that this review (and the blurb) contains spoilers for the end of the previous book, The Fiery Heart.
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.I really enjoyed Silver Shadows. The book alternates point of view chapters between Sydney and Adrian, with Sydney locked up in the harsh Alchemist re-education centre and Adrian on the outside trying to get Sydney out. It’s a darker book than the ones that went before it, mainly because re-education involves a lot of torture. It does also highlight Sydney’s indomitable spirit as she refuses to be let herself be brainwashed. My favourite part was the ways Sydney finds to fight back against the system, even while she’s in the re-education centre. Adrian, on the other hand, spirals into a pit of depression and binge drinking when he can’t make contact with Sydney, reverting to his former self.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him… .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.
Of course, Sydney doesn’t spend the entire book locked up and the last… quarter, maybe, is much lighter in tone than what went before it. I found myself chuckling several times and the surprise near the end was pretty great. I wish I could talk about it more, but it’s definitely a spoiler.
While the premise of the series revolves around Jill, Sydney and Adrian have always been the main characters. This is even more evident in Silver Shadows, since Jill and the rest of the gang do not get much page time. But I think there was also an element of needing to sort out a lot of Sydney and Adrian’s story so that the last book could bring focus back on Jill (I’m guessing).
I highly recommend Silver Shadows for anyone whose enjoyed the Bloodlines series so far. Really that should go without saying. For those new to the series, it really is the kind of series that needs to be read in order from the start. I would not at all recommend starting with Silver Shadows or any instalment other than Bloodlines.
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: July 2014, Penguin
Series: Bloodlines book 5 of 6 (and Bloodlines is a spin-off series of the Vampire Academy)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Content imported from Blogger http://ift.tt/UzYANF. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at the aforementioned link.
The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton
In this special one-shot story celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, a strange force flings the TARDIS and the Doctor into our own universe! Once here, the Doctor encounters a 10-year-old girl who happens to be a huge fan of the Doctor Who TV show. The Doctor grapples with being a fictional character and monsters lurking at the girl’s school on the way to coming face-to-face with the actor who portrays him, Matt Smith!Honestly, I found this a bit meh. The story was all right and the illustrations were OK but not my favourite. What I liked best was the premise of the story. The TARDIS malfunctions and punches through to our universe from the Doctor’s default universe. The Doctor encounters a twelve-year-old girl who at first mistakes him for Matt Smith, until he shows her (and her mother) the real TARDIS.
To be fair, it was an amusing story, especially when they go to a Doctor Who convention, but I couldn’t help feeling that it could be more. More funny, more deep, more something. But it wasn’t a bad way to spend half an hour.
I recommend The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who to completist fans and anyone interested in a quick read. Also anyone wanting to read a complete story arc in one hit (which is always nice). I’m not sure people not familiar with Doctor Who will get as much about of this.
3.5 / 5 stars
First published: 2013, IDW Publishing
Format read: PDF
Source: Hugo voter packet
Content imported from Blogger http://ift.tt/1uhr3sb. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at the aforementioned link.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.What I had heard about most before actually reading Ancillary Justice was “the gender thing”. For those that haven’t heard, one of the most talked about aspects of this book is the fact that because the main character is a ship AI and because her native language and culture don’t use gendered pronouns or visual cues (like clothing, hair style, manner) that define gender, she has a lot of difficulty working out the genders of people in other languages (which do have gender pronouns). And, because the book is obviously written in English, this concept is “translated” by having everyone referred to using female terms except, occasionally, in dialogue spoken in other languages. (To be clearer, Radchaai is the language and culture that lacks gendering and it’s spoken/practised in the Radch empire.)
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
Don’t get me wrong, the gender thing is interesting and I like the way Leckie’s done it — it makes me wonder why I never thought of doing something like that — but it was not, to me, the main point of the novel. Not by a long shot. Up until something like two thirds of the way in, the story is told in two time-lines. There’s the present, where Breq, an isolated human component of an AI warship (called an ancillary), is on a self-imposed mission. And in alternating chapters we are shown the past (twenty years earlier), when the Breq ancillary was still part of the ship Justice of Torren. Both time-lines are told in first person, even though in one the person is indeed a single person, while in the other the person is a ship and hundreds of human-bodied ancillaries.
I think the way Leckie handled the point of view issues was really good. In the scenes with the Justice of Torren and its ancillaries, I really got the feeling that the ancillaries were just additional appendages of the ship. Like hands that could also see things.
The main thrust of the plot concerns Breq wanting to at least partially fix the spoilery events that led to her having to function as an isolated unit. These spoilery events involve a pretty monumental conspiracy theory (I don’t mean that as a bad thing, it’s good conspiracy theory) and are complicated by the fact that the book opens with Breq picking up a stray human. Although the start of the novel is slow action-wise, I found the gentle introduction to the culture helpful (because it is pretty different to what we’re used to) and I found the worldbuilding information interesting enough to want to keep reading. Really, Leckie has built a fascinating culture. The pace increases as the story progresses, especially towards the end which became very exciting.
I was delighted when I got to the end and realised that Ancillary Justice was the first book in a “loose” trilogy. The story is fairly self-contained but there is obviously more to tell and I want to know what happens next. I’ve just checked and the second book is scheduled to come out in October, which strikes me as sufficiently far away that I might have caught up on my reading by then (or not…). Either way, I’m definitely looking forward to it.
I highly recommend Ancillary Justice to fans of science fiction and fantasy. Those put off by technobabble needn’t fear; it’s mostly absent. Or, more accurately, what confusing concepts are conveyed are more linguistic or philosophical than they are scientific, I found.
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: 2013, Orbit
Series: Imperial Radch, book 1 of 3
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from Google Play
Content imported from Blogger http://ift.tt/1yUi3Z2. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at the aforementioned link.
Tsana’s July Status
Hello, readers! It’s been a month heavy on reading and also comic books. I will admit, I took advantage of having bought the first three volumes of Saga by reading them all in a day and queueing up the reviews to post while I was on holiday. (In case you were wondering why that particular week seemed slow.)
It’s been a bit of a long month, as well, with a lot happening, or so it feels looking back. The most dramatic news was that on of my favourite imprints, Strange Chemistry (of Angry Robot), closed its doors. Very sad news, especially for authors with upcoming books that were cancelled with various degrees of suddenness. I still have some Strange Chemistry books left in my review pile, so keep an eye out of those. (Sadly, there was one book I reviewed that got pulled before publication and another ARC I have which is presently not being published and hence I probably shouldn’t review… :-/ )
On a completely different note, my next status update will be a few days early (in the sense that I usually aim for the 15th of each month) because I will be off to WorldCon in London and then a holiday. Before that, there will also be something exciting coming to the blog, but you’ll have to wait to find out what. It does mean that I’ll probably have some reviews stored up to post while I’m away, so it won’t be a complete black hole. Anyway…
- The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne — A really excellent read. A different kind of near-future SF and one of my favourite books of the year.
- Short stories on the Hugo 2014 ballot — Generally pretty good. I’m very impressed with most of them.
- A semi-random selection of short stories — Good reads by design. Wouldn’t’ve bothered otherwise.
- Use Only As Directed edited by Simon Petrie and Edwina Harvey — A themed anthology where the theme (also the title) works very well and has produced some nicely broad stories.
- Bound by Alan Baxter — Dark Kung Fu urban fantasy.
- Red Sonja Volume 1: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone — New comic book series. My favourite part was Red Sonja gaining clothes as the story went along. (Also, it was a good read.)
- Innocence Lost by Patty Jansen — Dutch-inspired fantasy world, a pretty quick read.
- Chasing the Valley: Borderlands by Skye Melki-Wegner — book two of the Chasing the Valley series (review of book 1 here). I really like this series. Steampunk dystopian is a very loose description.
- Saga Volume One by Brian K Vaughan — Science fictional comic book series, this volume won a Hugo last year.
- Saga Volume Two by Brian K Vaughan — Science fictional comic book series, this volume is shortlisted for a Hugo this year.
- Saga Volume Three by Brian K Vaughan — As above, but released this year.
- Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier — Awesome YA book. Set in 1930s Sydney, sort of about razor gangs. (Did you know that guns were illegal at that time in Australian history too? I didn’t.)
- Chasing the Valley: Skyfire by Skye Melki-Wegner — The last book in the Chasing the Valley trilogy. <3 although it had a bit of a weird end.
What am I currently reading?
I have another large book haul this month, which only serves to make me more behind on my reading. Such are the pitfalls of being a book blogger. And also of spontaneously buying books because you can.
- Ambassador 1: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen — purchased because on sale and because I’ve been meaning to read it.
- Bound by Alan Baxter — ARC from Voyager. Already reviewed.
- Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis — purchased because it looks pretty great.
- The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman — purchased paper book because we went to a paper bookshop and it saves me having to buy it when I’m at WorldCon or something.
- The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter — purchased at the same place and for the same reasons as above.
- Saga Volumes One, Two and Three — as above and also because Volume Two is Hugo shortlisted. Already reviewed: One, Two, Three.
- Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer — purchased with above because it’s pretty. And because I’m hoping it will motivate me to write a bit more than I’m currently managing.
- A Wrong Turn At the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson — purchased because AWW and Aurealis Award shortlisting.
- Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes — ARC from (US) publisher via NetGalley. Looking forward to it.
- Help Fund my Robot Army!!! & Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects edited by John Joseph Adams — collection of SFF stories in the form of Kickstarter proposals. A Kickstarter that I backed a while ago (because that is the most obvious choice of delivery for such a book).
- Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier — Purchased because. Already reviewed.
- Big Bang (Hal Spacejock #7) by Simon Haynes — Purchased because I realised it existed.
- Daggers of Dresnia by Satima Flavel — ARC of the first in a début fantasy series (which was a smidge late getting to me).
- Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress — ARC via NetGalley of short (maybe novella?) SF book. Have enjoyed the author’s short stories in the past.
- Loving the Prince by Nicole Murphy — ARC via NetGalley, science fiction romance.
- The Sorcerer’s Spell by Dani Kristoff — ARC via NetGalley, fantasy erotica (eek).
Content imported from Blogger http://ift.tt/1tPUam7. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at the aforementioned link.