BSFA - The British Science Fiction Association

Log in

News

  • 31/05/2022 19:46 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stolen Earth cover

    Stolen Earth by J.T. Nicholas

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Welcome, puny humans, to the smoking ruin of your future: where computers have risen up, overthrown their foolish human masters and laid waste to the Earth. The remnants of humanity are now crammed into thousands of tight metal boxes adrift across the solar system, leaving Earth at the mercy of six artificial super-intelligences and unreachable behind the Interdiction Zone, a fearsome ring of weaponry that keeps those nasty computers locked away, where they can’t do any harm.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 29/05/2022 13:13 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Year's Best African Speculative Fiction Volume One cover

    The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction Volume One Ed. O.D. Ekpeki

    (Jembifola, 2021)

    Reviewed by Fiona Moore

    African science fiction, fantasy and related genres are currently experiencing a long-overdue rise in visibility to global audiences. This is reflected in the publication of the first Year’s Best collection from the continent and its diaspora. The contents of this volume are of sufficiently high quality and breadth to encourage one to hope that this will be the first of many.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 29/05/2022 13:05 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Inhibitor Phase cover

    Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds

    (Gollancz, 2021)

    Reviewed by Ben Jeapes

    Eighteen years since the last novel set directly in the Revelation Space storyline. Memories blur; you have vague ideas of what went before but that's all. This is fine because the narrator has deliberately buried his own memories and has to do a lot of recovering.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 27/05/2022 19:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Twenty-Five to Life cover

    Twenty-Five to Life by R.W.W. Greene

    (Angry Robot, 2021)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    The background to Twenty-Five to Life is standard cyberpunk fare: the environment is trashed, sea levels have risen and the weather fluctuates wildly. The US Government has traded the bulk of the Midwest with China to cancel a balance of trade deficit, Texas declared independence from the Union and large parts of the South are dedicated refugee camps.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 27/05/2022 19:36 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Love. An Archaeology cover

    Love. An Archaeology by Fabio Fernandes

    (Luna Press, 2021)

    Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

    There are several absolute stand out stories in Love. An Archaeology and not a single dud. This is simply a wonderful collection. The shortest stories, at a couple of pages, still have room to be playful, to deliver a central image and to leave the feeling that they are just the tip of the iceberg. At a greater length, Fernandes has a tendency to break up his narrative into smaller chunks, sometimes creating tension through the ordering of elements or simply leaving gaps for the reader to fill. Several stories begin by foreshadowing the death of the protagonist, whilst one has a rather dark murderer. Half of the longer stories are told in the first person, creating even more room for an unreliable narrator.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 26/05/2022 19:40 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Dreaming City cover

    The Dreaming City (60th Anniversary Edition) by Michael Moorcock

    (Jayde Design, 2021)

    Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

    In the June 1961 edition of Science Fantasy magazine a story appeared which would change the shape of modern fantasy. On the suggestion of the magazine’s editor John “Ted” Carnell, Moorcock, who had already submitted a few sf stories to him, wrote a fantasy tale “as far from Conan or hobbit holes as I could make it.” This was the first appearance of the doomed albino Elric and his hell-blade “Stormbringer”.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 23/05/2022 20:03 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Artifact Space cover

    Artifact Space by Miles Cameron

    (Gollancz, 2021)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    This is a hefty book, published as a 568-page trade paperback. Cameron has written a mighty story to match this hardback-sized tome.

    Orphan Marca Nbaro achieves her dream of enlisting as a midshipper on the greatship Athens through the use of forged papers. Once aboard the vast Athens, she experiences all the joys and perils of being a junior officer in the Directorate of Human Corporations fleet. While learning her duties it becomes clear that someone is destroying the DHC greatships. Nbaro must fight to escape the legacy of her past and the current dangers to the Athens.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


  • 20/05/2022 09:42 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • Best Novel: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shards of Earth
    • Best Short Fiction: Aliette de Bodard, Fireheart Tiger
    • Best Fiction for Younger Readers: Xiran Jay Zhao, Iron Widow
    • Best Non Fiction: Francesca T. Barbini (ed), Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction
    • Best Artwork: Iain Clarke, Glasgow Green Woman

    Congratulations to all the winners.

  • 21/03/2022 16:27 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Jamie Mollart

    Adam, the first man, still walks the earth, having lived multiple lives and now he resides in a 21st century America that is oblivious to him. He’s a forgotten man, present at key moments in history, but pivotal in none. The animals of Eden have taken human form and Eve is nowhere to be seen. Parts of Eden are cropping up on Earth, and with the help of Magpie, Crow, Owl, Pig and Butterfly, he sets about retrieving them.

    I began reading with a real sense of excitement, this is an awesome concept, which will draw inevitable comparison to Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’. It’s a big comparison to make and one only the very best of books will be able to live up to.

    So, does Birds of Paradise?

    Yes and no.

    It’s a strange book, effectively two novels in one. One half is gentle and contemplative, a dreamlike consideration on the place of humankind on the planet and our relationship with nature. It’s considered, clever and crafted with beautifully poetic language.

    The other half is a violent thriller as Adam and the animals make battle with a vicious millionaire for the lost Eden, and doesn’t work as well for me.

    In many ways it’s a shame it’s compared to American Gods as it doesn’t have the emotional depth and complexity of Gaiman’s masterwork. It’s an interesting concept which ultimately is not played out in a completely satisfying way because of the dual nature of the plot. Reading it I got the sense he wanted to write something considered and slow burn but brought elements of heist and thriller in to liven the pace up, leaving the feeling of a longer book trimmed down.

    Where it works it really works; the discussion on the human relationship with nature and our place in the world is wonderful, based as it is around ‘Genesis, 1:28: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    But the road trip to find the missing parts of Eden lacks tension and character motivations; the animals, while conceptually strong, are too one dimensional and feel like a missed opportunity. This is exacerbated by a lack of real danger or a tangible enemy threat. On paper Sinclair should be a worthy adversary - a malicious old man who believes he is entitled to Eden because of his wealth and position - but despite all of his money, troops and hunting dogs, you never get the sense he could actually hurt Adam or the animals.

    Where the novel really shines is in its ideas. There’s joyous invention at play here beyond the overall concept of the novel. Rook’s law firm called Corvid and Corvid; Magpie frittering away Rooks money; Butterly and Pig taking a barge holiday together; the greenhouse built by Sinclair, to house the stolen parts of Eden; the violence of Owl; the list could go on. This is a high concept novel bristling with ideas, and this is its strength.

    On the flip side I struggled with is how unlikeable Adam is. He’s nasty, brutish and simple, which given he was the beginning of our horrible race may well be the point, but it makes it difficult to care about him. Eve being present would probably have softened his persona somewhat, but she is overly conspicuous from the novel, giving it a hard centre which is difficult to sympathise with.

    Ultimately, I loved and was frustrated by this novel in equal measures. When I think back of it is with a sense of potentiality rather than actuality – in the same way Adam thinks of the race he sired.

    Review from BSFA Review 15 - Download your copy here.

  • 21/03/2022 16:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

    (Pan Macmillan, 2021)

    Reviewed by Anne F. Wilson

    Jessamyn Teoh is a normal Malaysian Chinese American girl. Her parents don’t go on about spirits and ghosts (or “good brothers”). So it comes as a shock to her to find, on the eve of their departure for Penang, that she is being haunted by the ghost of her mother’s mother, Ah Ma.

    Jess is nineteen and has lived for the whole of her life in the United States. A Harvard graduate, after seven months she still doesn’t have a job. Jess’s father is in remission from cancer and their finances are precarious, so they are going home to the relatives in Malaysia, where Jess’s father’s brother-in-law has arranged a job for him.  Faute de mieux, Jess is going with them. 

    Jess, however, is resilient and she has plans. Her girlfriend, Sharanya, is preparing to study for a PhD in Singapore and all Jess has to do is find a job and follow her there. Unfortunately, Ah Ma also has plans, and they involve Jess.

    In life, Ah Ma had been the medium of a Goddess, the eponymous Black Water Sister. Now the Goddess’s temple is being threatened by development and Jess is landed with the task of stopping this. Worse, the developer, Dato’Ng Chee Hin, the fifth richest man in Malaysia, is a samseng or gangster. Having made his billions, he is now acting like an honest businessman and has government connections, but he still has underworld resources to call on, gangs of thugs with parangs and guns.

    The story bounces along as Jess tries to deal with her dead grandmother and the goddess whose medium she is. In Ah Ma the author has created an authentic character through use of her voice in Jess’s head – tough, disillusioned, bossy, with a smoker’s rasp. From Ah Ma Jess finds out about her family history and learns how to negotiate with gods and ghosts. Unfortunately, she finds herself unable to tell Sharanya about what is going on, which cripples their long-distance relationship. Ah Ma also discovers that Jess is gay, a thing that she has not been able to bring herself to tell her parents. 

    The charm of the novel lies in its Malaysian setting. The author was born and raised in Malaysia, and she translates the environment for the reader with energy and affection. She deftly uses dialect to draw the reader into the story. Jess’s aunt lives in a two-storey “bungalow” with marble floors and teak furniture. In the course of the novel Jess visits shophouses and food stalls, gentrified coffee shops, airconditioned high rise office buildings and (of course) temples as she tries to exorcise her spirits. Through Ah Ma’s memories we also see glimpses of the jungle and the rubber plantation where she scraped a living.

    Jess’s relatives are entirely believable: curious, kind, voluble in Manglish (Malaysian English; Jess’s Hokkien is merely adequate, except when she is taken over by Ah Ma) and paying attention when it suits them. Manglish is an addictively economical language – after reading I found myself asking my husband “What time you want eat?”   Family members are referred to by their relationships rather than their names – Kor Kor is father’s sister, her husband is Kor Tiao, Ah Ma is grandmother, Ah Ku is mother’s brother. 

    While this is delightful and charming, Cho also describes frightening violence, both when humans interact with gods and spirits, but also when Jess comes face to face with Dato’Ng’s thugs. The scene where she and Ah Ma confront him in his office is gripping and is followed by truly believable and frightening violence. With her own courage and self-reliance, Jess manages to find a satisfying resolution to her ghostly problems. Now all she has to do is sort out her personal life.

    In case it was not obvious from the review, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can highly recommend it.

    Review from BSFA Review 15 - Download your copy here.

Contact Us

Chair@BSFA.co.uk

Treasurer@BSFA.co.uk

Membership@BSFA.co.uk


Address:

The Hollies, 

67, James St.

Stoke on Trent,

ST4 5HR



Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software