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  • 31/10/2021 11:43 | Anonymous

    All the Tides of Fate cover

    All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Estelle Roberts

    All the Tides of Fate is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller All the Stars and Teeth, but can be easily followed even if you haven’t read the previous novel. Visidia is a realm consisting of separate, and reasonably independent islands, which are under the ultimate rule of the monarchs of Arida. Differing types of magic are utilised throughout the land, generally each island specialises in a type, but individuals are prevented by the threat of extreme punishment and societal belief from practising more than one kind.

    As the story begins, the main protagonist, Queen Amora, is on board ship returning to Arida after yet another attempt to break the curse placed on her during a previous climactic battle, which also saw her witness the death of her father. This curse has split her soul, which she now shares with Bastian, a pirate-like ship’s captain and a man to whom she was already attracted, and negated her magic. This is obviously something of a problem when you are the ruler of a magically inclined kingdom.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 28/10/2021 13:17 | Anonymous

    Winterkeep cover

    Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

    (Gollancz, 2021)

    Reviewed by Anne F. Wilson

    Queen Bitterblue of Monsea sets off on a diplomatic voyage to the far country of Winterkeep, where some of her people have disappeared. By the time her ship reaches port, she has vanished. This throws both the Monseans and their hosts into disarray. Does somebody, somewhere, know what has happened? Winterkeep is the fourth in the author’s young adult Graceling series. Each is a stand-alone, but characters recur, and it helps to have read the previous books. I had read these, but so long ago that I didn’t remember a lot about them, and the chapters dealing with the backstory of Monsea are a bit info-dumpy and stuffed with names that I kept having to look up in the character list.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 27/10/2021 12:09 | Anonymous

    Purgatory Mount cover

    Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts

    (Gollancz, 2021)

    Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

    With Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts has written a rather peculiar novel. This should not surprise anyone paying attention to Roberts’ SF career. Regular readers of his oeuvre may be bemused to discover that he has come up with yet another way to bamboozle and delight.

    The book opens with a post-human space crew arriving at a peculiar alien artefact. The eponymous object extends far above the atmosphere of a planet with no other signs of habitation. The narrator makes a point of the distance in time and culture when the text says that using referents such as Pan, Apollo and Hades to name the crew are inevitably imprecise ‘cultural translations’. They have the delightful capability of changing their perceptions of time, dialling up or down at will. This allows the tedium of an interstellar journey to pass in weeks or months; or to speed up perception for active maintenance as required. Surely there is enough here to unpack into a novel, as the puzzle is investigated. Instead, we switch to the perspective of the pygs, part of the ship’s livestock, on whom four of the five crew feasted to celebrate arrival. Then we discover pyg is short for pygmy and that this is a belittling term describing their incredibly limited lifespan—mere decades. The pygs, hunting and farming, recall the decayed civilisation of Aldiss’s Non-Stop (1958), living out generations on a starship’s journey. Yet they also refer to the system running the ship as “hal” and worship the crew, who barely move in a pyg’s lifetime, as gods.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 26/10/2021 07:10 | Anonymous

    My Brother the Messiah cover

    My Brother the Messiah by Martin Vopenka

    (Barbican Press, 2021)

    Reviewed by Matt Colborn

    This subtle, satirical book by Czech author Martin Vopenka examines the consequences of a new Messiah, named Eli, in the twilight era of a failing near-future global civilisation. The story is told through the eyes of Eli’s brother, Marek.

    The narrative moves between ‘New Vinohrady,’ a New Slav colony in Northern Greece in 2168 and early 22nd century Prague-Holesovice. In 2168, Marek the old man contemplates the life of his brother Eli, who was assassinated in Dubrovnik almost forty years previously. He lives with a sect of followers of the dead Messiah.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 25/10/2021 13:42 | Anonymous

    The Curie Society cover

    The Curie Society by Heather Einhorn, Adam Staffaroni, Janet Harvey and Sonia Liao

    (The MIT Press, 2021)

    Reviewed by David Lascelles

    ‘Charlie's Angels but more intellectual’ is my initial reaction to this fascinating experiment in female led comics. Three students—Maya, Taj and Simone—start their first year at Edmonds University in Virginia. Simone is a 16-year-old Biology prodigy with a fascination with ant colonies, Maya is an overachieving maths genius with pushy parents who want her to join MENSA and Taj is an engineer and computer scientist. Our three heroes end up together in the same dorm room and, very soon after arriving, a note is delivered to each of them with a puzzle to solve. The puzzle requires them to work together to find the location of the Curie Society headquarters in the grounds of the University where they discover they are the newest recruits.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 24/10/2021 09:42 | Anonymous

    Escape Pod: The Science Fiction Anthology edited by Mur Lafferty & S.B. Divya

    (Titan Books, 2020)

    Reviewed by Ivy Roberts

    Genre boundaries are blurred in this spinoff of the popular SF podcast. Editors Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya compile 15 stories consisting mostly of tried-and-true Escape Pod contributors. Escape Pod brings together short stories old and new in this science fiction anthology, featuring authors John Scalzi, N. K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Cory Doctorow, and Kameron Hurley, many of whom have been with the podcast since its inception in 2005. A foreword by Serah Eley, founder of the Escape Pod podcast, provides helpful context and background to the project. Helpful editor’s introductions precede each entry, providing context to the contributor’s individual style.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 23/10/2021 13:03 | Anonymous

    The Stormbringer Sessions cover

    James Cawthorn: The Stormbringer Sessions: Sketches for a Graphic Novel compiled by John Davey

    (Jayde Design/Savoy Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

    It must be difficult for contemporary readers—even those who are fans of the work—to get their heads around what reading Michael Moorcock’s “Elric” series in the 1960s was like. The sudden flash of discovery in the mid-1960s was largely created by the fact that there really was comparatively little of that kind of fiction available, but it was quite clear to even the most naïve reader that Moorcock was picking up a genre and trying to pull it into the modern world. In 1965 J. G. Ballard—that’s J. G. Ballard, the darling of ‘experimental’ literary theorists—called Stormbringer “[a] work of powerful and sustained imagination which confirms Michael Moorcock’s position as the most important successor to Mervyn Peake and Wyndham Lewis… a world as fantastic as those of Bosch and Breughel…vast, tragic symbols… [a] metaphysical quest.” Not bad for a sword-and-sorcery novel. Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion’ series (of which the Elric sub-series is but a part) is perhaps too hastily constructed from its individual units to be entirely successful as epic, but if it has the feel of epic it’s in the doomed anti-hero Elric himself, who in these earlier works is like the heroes of Homer or the Norse sagas, self-aware enough to know that he is a tool of greater powers even as he shatters the world around him.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.

  • 21/10/2021 10:44 | Anonymous

    Nature'’'s Warnings cover

    Nature’s Warnings: Classic Stories of Eco-Science Fiction edited by Mike Ashley

    (British Library, 2020)

    Reviewed by Graham Andrews

    “Today we understand that the future of humanity very much depends on our planet, and that the future of our planet very much depends on humanity.” Mike Ashley chose that apposite quote from the Dalai Lama (My Tibet, 1990) to head the Introduction (‘Total Dependency’) to his eco-themed British Library retro-tome. Eleven stories, eleven warnings, with one minatory message: There is no cosily habitable planet for us in the Solar System, so—barring the development of cheap and cheerful FTL travel—we’ll either have to shape up or crap out, right here on Earth.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.


  • 20/10/2021 08:42 | Anonymous

    The Galaxy And The Ground Within cover

    The Galaxy And The Ground Within by Becky Chambers

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2021)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Embarrassingly for me, it’s taken over 40 years, and the wisdom of Becky Chambers, to question why carrying a gun—or piloting a spaceship with them—is so normal in science fiction.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.


  • 18/10/2021 16:57 | Anonymous

    Ready Player Two cover

    Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

    (Penguin Random House, 2020)

    Reviewed by Kate Onyett

    Welcome to an overcrowded, polluted, highly iniquitous Earth of the future where humanity plugs into a virtual reality called OASIS to be educated, socialise, trade, escape and explore, limited only by their imaginations. In Cline’s first OASIS novel, Wade, poor and unremarkable, undertook an epic gaming quest across multiple virtual worlds. He and his friends won, Willy Wonka-style, the corporation that created and maintained OASIS.

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    Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.


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