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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Female Science Fiction Fans' LiveJournal:

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Monday, February 28th, 2011
11:01 pm
Outside In by Maria V Snyder
Series: Insider
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-genre: YA

Full review is this-a-way.

Yes, this is the sequel to last year's Inside Out, and you really do need to have read the first one to get much out of this one. There are bite-sized explanations for what's going on, but without all the history of who Trella is and where she's come from, you'd be missing a lot. Besides, I really liked the first book, so it's not like I'm sending you some sort of punishment by telling you to get your paws on that one first.

Now that Trella's Team Sheep has beaten out the ruling Travas and removed them from power, the people of Inside have to figure out how to rule themselves. The leaders of the rebellion have formed a committee to try and run things, but most of what they do seems to involve talking. Lots and lots of talking, which never actually resolves anything or makes decisions. Things on the Inside are falling apart as the Lowers start leaving their menial jobs, fed up with doing all the work, and the Uppers refuse to dirty their hands with anything more strenuous than paperwork. The "us against them" mentality cultivated by the Travas is as strong as ever, and if they can't figure out a way to get everyone working together, life Inside will fall to pieces.

Trella has no interest in leading anyone, but because of her role in the rebellion, people keep insisting she do things like attend meetings and solve problems. She'd really rather be off exploring or trying to spend time with her boyfriend, but with so many demands on her time she really doesn't have a chance to do much of anything.

The problems of Inside might be more than Trella and the committee are able to deal with, though, especially once they discover someone is trying to take over from the Outside. These Outsiders have anything but benevolence in plan, and with the Insiders so fractured, there isn't really any hope of trying to keep them from taking over and endangering or killing everyone, is there?

I like Trella a lot. I think she's an interesting and relatable protagonist, a strong young woman plagued with insecurities just like the rest of us. She's a reluctant hero, someone who would much rather just be free to live her life than have to deal with the big picture. She's stubborn and occasionally single-minded and just wonderfully flawed in a very real way. I think a big part of the reason I enjoy reading these books is because I enjoy spending time with Trella.

I also love that a big part of this book deals with what happens after. It's something rarely dealt with once the hero's journey is completed. We've dethroned the evil empire and now everything will just be roses and sunshine forever, right? Well, not so much, and I really love that Outside In goes there.

On the other hand, why exactly is an antisocial seventeen-year-old girl the best option they've got for world leader? Seriously, isn't there someone wiser and more experienced who could possibly take on the job? No? Really? You sure? I mean, I realize this is a YA novel and all, but you're stretching the boundaries of my suspension of disbelief here. I'm willing to go along with it as long as I'm reading the book, but as soon as I put it down, my brain starts going "wait, what?" again.

I have no hesitation in saying that I enjoyed reading this book, but I also have no hesitation in saying I enjoyed its predecessor much more. I like the ideas explored, I like the protagonist and the way she continues to grow and change from the misanthropic loner we met at the beginning of the first book, but I didn't feel this was as solid a read as I've come to expect from Ms. Snyder.
Saturday, January 1st, 2011
3:25 pm
The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection- $93.99 @ Amazon
Today's gold box deal (one day sale) on Amazon is The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection for $93.99 (yesterday's price $146.99). Don't miss out on this amazing deal of a classic Sci-Fi series.

Product Description
For the first time ever, find all 156 complete episodes of Rod Serling's groundbreaking series in one box set, packed with exciting extras! Travel to another dimension of sight and sound again and again through these stellar remastered high-definition film transfers. Extras include the fascinating Serling bio-documentary Submitted for Your Approval, compelling interviews with the show's writers, the series' unaired pilot, audio commentaries with Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Cliff Robertson and much, much more!

Special Features
•Excerpts from Rod Serlings’s Audio Lectures at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College.
•Audio Commentaries by Martin Landau, Don Rickles, Cliff Robertson, Jonathan Winters, Shelley Berman, Bill Mumy, Leonard Nimoy, Mickey Rooney, Mariette Hartley and more.
•Video Interviews with Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Earl Hamner, Jr. and more.
•Vintage Audio Recollections with Buck Houghton, Buzz Kulik, Douglas Heyes, Lamont Johnson, Burgess Meredith and more.
•Isolated Music Scores featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner and more.
•Rod Serling Promos for “Next Week’s” Show.
•Rare Rod Serling Appearances: The Liar’s Club, The Mike Wallace Interview, The Garry Moore Show, Tell It To Groucho, The Jack Benny Show and more.
•Highlights from the Museum of Television and Radio Seminar.
•And Much More!
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
9:20 pm
Aguirre, Ann: Killbox
Killbox (2010)
Written by: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 353 (Mass Market Paperback)
Series: Book Four (ongoing)

The premise: ganked from author's website: TALK IS CHEAP WHEN LIVES ARE IN JEOPARDY.

Sirantha Jax is a "Jumper," a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. With no tolerance for political diplomacy, she quits her ambassador post so she can get back to saving the universe the way she does best--by mouthing off and kicking butt.

And her tactics are needed more than ever. Flesh-eating aliens are attacking stations on the outskirts of space, and for many people, the Conglomerate’s forces are arriving too late to serve and protect them.

Now, Jax must take matters into her own hands by recruiting a militia to defend the frontiers--out of the worst criminals, mercenaries, and raiders that ever traveled through grimspace...

My Rating

Must Have: When this series started with Grimspace, I would've told you it was very much a space opera romance that was reminiscent of a Firefly/Pitch Black hybrid, in a good way. Now, I'm not sure how to describe this, only to say it's definitely more space opera than romance, and I'd be remiss in labeling the series as SFR, even though in terms of subplot, romance is there. But it's not the focus of the series, if it ever was. Jax is in the middle of a war, and she's making sacrifices left and right (and in some cases, those sacrifices are being made for her). Jax has certainly grown and changed from her debut in Grimspace, and that's a fantastic thing. Honestly, I can't wait for this series to end so I can sit down and read it ALL OVER AGAIN, back-to-back-to-back. That's quite the compliment, because there's few books, let alone a series, that I can honestly say I want to come back to and re-read, even if I loved them initially. But if Aguirre keeps this up, you can bet I'll be coming back to this series again, and again, and again. This is well worth the read, but don't pick it up until you're caught up on the series.

Review style: I didn't take any notes while reading this (sadly, I got a stomach bug while reading, which meant finishing took me longer than it should have!), so I'm going to talk about how this book fits in with the series as a whole and how the series is changing from its debut of Grimspace and why it's one of the few series that I can see myself re-reading in the future. Spoilers? No, I'll behave this time. Consider yourself lucky. ;)

For anyone interested in the full review at my LJ, please click the link below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome!


Happy Reading!


Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

September: So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson
October: Feed by Mira Grant
November: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Have you ever looked at our book discussion posts and wished you'd gotten in on the action? Now's your chance with the 1st Year Book Club Anniversary! Whether you participated in the book club or not, this giveaway is open to EVERYONE who wants a chance to win a book they'd wished they'd read at the time. For details, click here. Deadline: 9/30

ALSO: don't miss out on winning a copy of the modern fantasy anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3, edited by Mike Allen. For details, click here. Deadline: 10/5
Sunday, July 18th, 2010
9:01 am
Hi folks,

I've been asked to prepare some texts for a two week slot on gender for the 2nd year theory course at my university next year. I'm confident that I can put the theory stuff together, but I'd like to set some science fiction to go with it. So, I'm looking for suggestions for feminist/gender-aware science fiction (preferably short stories). Obviously, I'm starting with the Tiptree lists, but I need work primarily by British* authors. Thoughts?

*Any Anglophone lit should be ok, but I'll struggle to get American/Canadian lit through the teaching and learning committee - academic politics eh?
Saturday, November 7th, 2009
10:32 pm
Paranormal Romance Book Suggestions
 I need some suggestions for good book!   Here is my Blog with what I have already read, please send your suggestions.
Saturday, October 24th, 2009
10:23 am
Charles Stross
I read Charles Stross' Glasshouse a few months ago and really liked it. Then I tried reading Singularity sky and am having the toughest time getting through it. I'll probably end up abandoning it. The narrative just isn't capturing me.

I would love to try some of his other books but am unsure which ones to pick. Is there anybody here familiar with his work and can recommend a book or two based on my likes and dislikes (sparse information I know)?
Sunday, October 11th, 2009
3:28 pm
A few questions for science fiction fans.
As many of you know I am studying for my MSc in Information and Library Studies. I am doing my dissertation on "Science Fiction in Libraries" and my survey can be taken online now.


I would be very grateful if any science fiction fans on would grace me with their answers.
I will be cross-posting this to other LJ communities and to facebook, so sorry if you see this notice in several places in the coming weeks.

It should only take between 2 minutes and 10 minutes to complete, depending on how many questions you answer. It's completely anonymous and all surveys will be destroyed when the project is over.
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
11:07 pm
Aguirre, Ann: Doubleblind
Doubleblind (2009)
Written by: Ann Aguirre
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 302 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: Sirantha Jax hasn't always been known for putting others before herself, but as an ambassador to the Ithorian people, she needs all the help she can get. The Conglomerate is falling apart thanks various criminal organizations, and that doesn't include the Morgut, who've started attacking human outposts in earnest and leaving no survivors. Jax needs to convince the Ithorians to join the Conglomerate, because the Ithorians are the only race the Morgut respects and fears. But it's not easy: Ithorians can't stand humans, and Jax's companions aren't making her job that much easier, especially her lover March, who's stuck in kill mode after returning from a very bloody war, a mode that could destroy Jax's mission, or even take her life.

My Rating

Must Have: if you're already a fan of this series, just camp outside of the bookstore the morning of 9/29 and get it. Read it. Be happy. I think it's the best book in the series so far, and that's saying something since the first book, Grimspace, was so damn amazing. For those of you who haven't checked out Aguirre's space opera/romance, here's who needs to pay attention: this series is a MUST for readers of science fiction romance, but if you're a fan of space opera and don't mind a little romance? This is a must. Aguirre's writing is smooth, enjoyable, and a really fast read without her prose being light. Does that make sense? The prose has no pretensions (which is impressive, as it's written in first-person-present tense) and Aguirre has no trouble giving the reader the details they needs. Its fulfilling on an emotional and story level, and the world-building really isn't too shabby either. Sure, the world-building of these books embraces the type of space opera we see in shows like Firefly and Farscape, but those are two great shows, and that smooth transition is what makes these books come to life. They could be a television show of that caliber, or if you prefer another description, Ann Aguirre is writing what Firefly and Farscape would've been if those tv shows had been a book series instead. The point? If such shows interest you, then it's criminal to miss Aguirre's books. Start with Grimspace, the read Wanderlust, and then pick up the latest, Doubleblind. You won't be disappointed. Those of you who're already on the wagon? Get this as soon as you can. You'll be thrilled to pieces and oh-so-very-sorry that you'll have to wait another year for the fourth book. I know I am.

Review style: I'll be nice. NO SPOILERS. Not for this book anyway. Expect spoilers for the first two books, Grimspace and Wanderlust, but for Doubleblind, I'll talk generalities, so no spoilers. Don't say I never didn't anything for you. ;)

If you're interested in the full review, you may find it in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)


Happy Reading!
Monday, September 21st, 2009
7:11 pm
Moon, Elizabeth: Victory Conditions
Victory Conditions (2008)
Written by: Elizabeth Moon
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 403 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: once more, we're going to Barnes & Noble.com: In the fifth and final book of the series, Commander Vatta is back–locked and loaded and ready to win the fight against the marauding forces of ruthless space pirate Gammis Turek.

For Ky, it’s not just about liberating the star systems subjugated by Turek and defending the rest of the galaxy’s freedom. There’s also a score to be settled and payback to be meted out for the obliteration of the Vatta Transport dynasty . . . and the slaughter of Ky’s family. But the enemy have their own escalation efforts under way–including the placement of covert agents among the allies with whom Ky and the surviving Vattas are collaborating in the war effort. And when a spy ring linked to a wealthy businessman is exposed, a cracked pirate code reveals a galaxywide conspiracy fueling the proliferation of Turek’s warship fleet.

Matching the invaders’ swelling firepower will mean marshaling an armada of battle-ready ships for Ky to lead into combat. But a violent skirmish leaves Ky reeling--and presumed dead by her enemies. Now, as Turek readies an all-out attack on the Nexus system--a key conquest that could seal the rest of the galaxy’s doom--Ky must rally to the challenge, draw upon every last reserve of her strategic skills, and reach deep if she is to tear from the ashes of tragedy her most decisive victory.

My Rating

Glad I Borrowed It: this particular book, I feel, is the weakest of the series, which is sad because it is the final book, but kind of inevitable because the book right before this one, Command Decision, is so darn good. There's a lot that frustrated me with this book in terms of multiple POVs and seemingly unnecessary conflicts, but the characters do get their chances to shine, and the overall conflict is resolved, albeit a little predictably and anti-climatically. That said, as a whole, Vatta's War is a pretty solid series, especially for readers who are looking for strong, well-crafted heroines whose stories involve more than just the men in their lives, and I would recommend the series for that alone. Though, I would recommend it also for the world-building. Moon's world-building in this series is a double-edged sword, because sometimes the details are just too much and I want her to get on with it, but as a whole, I'm very impressed with the construction of the story and conflict and how large a role the world-building plays into it. As military SF, it held my attention, but one warning to fans who absolutely loved the deep, emotional connection they found in Moon's unrelated novel, The Speed of Dark: The Vatta's War series is nothing like it. Solidly written, but the POV style alone creates a certain type of distance from the characters, and while I certainly felt for the characters over the course of the series, I never once fell in love with them (though I was often highly entertained by them). It's a good series on the whole, a solid B, but I'm glad, in the end, that I borrowed the series rather than bought it.

Review style: This one is going to be a little different, as I'll not only be talking about this particular book, but also the series as a whole. There will be spoilers, so if that bugs you, there's no need to click the cut to my LJ. If it doesn't bother you, however, then swing on by! As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)


Happy Reading!

DON'T FORGET: The month is creeping to an end! Have you read Emma Bull's War for the Oaks yet? If you're interested in participating in this month's challenge, details are here.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
8:13 pm
Moon, Elizabeth: Command Decision
Command Decision (2007)
Written by: Elizabeth Moon
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 364 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: for the fourth book in the series, I'm pulling from BN.com: After orchestrating a galaxy-wide failure of the communications network owned and maintained by the powerful ISC corporation, Turek and his marauders strike swiftly and without mercy. First they shatter Vatta Transport. Then they overrun entire star systems, growing stronger and bolder. No one is safe from the pirate fleet. But while they continue to move forward with their diabolical plan, they have made two critical mistakes.

Their first mistake was killing Kylara Vatta’s family.
Their second mistake was leaving her alive.
Now Kylara is going to make them pay.

But with a “fleet” consisting of only three ships–including her flagship, the Vanguard, a souped-up merchant cruiser–Kylara needs allies, and fast. Because even though she possesses the same coveted communication technology as the enemy, she has nowhere near their numbers or firepower.

Meanwhile, as Kylara’s cousin Stella tries to bring together the shattered pieces of the family trading empire, new treachery is unfolding at ISC headquarters, where undercover agent Rafael Dunbarger, estranged son of the corporation’s CEO, is trying to learn why the damaged network is not beingrepaired. What he discovers will send shock waves across the galaxy and crashing into Kylara’s newly christened Space Defense Force at the worst possible moment.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: there's a part of me that wants to say the 4th book is the best so far, but that's because it really utilizes its cast to tell the bigger, more epic story. You really get to see how different pieces of the puzzle fit together and you really start to see a bigger picture in terms of story. Each POV character had an interesting storyline, but much of what made those storylines so interesting was the build-up from the three previous books. Still, I'm enjoying the series so far, and I've only got one book to go. I continue to be impressed with the cast of characters and how each character has a solid story and goal, and of course, the world-building continues to fascinate. Granted, I wouldn't recommend STARTING with this book--if you're interested, you MUST start with the first of the series, Trading in Danger, and work your way up. But it's worth it: the books seem to steadily improve with each volume, and that's always encouraging.

Review style: stream-of-conscious this time, because Moon's pretty consistent and I don't have a whole awful lot to say about this particular title. No spoilers. If you're interested, the link to my LJ is below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)


Happy Reading!

ALSO: I've started a monthly book challenge at my LJ. September's theme is fantasy that takes place in an urban setting, which is not to be confused with the butt-kicking heroine Buffy-lit that's so popular right now. The book my readers chose was Emma Bull's War for the Oaks (1987), so if you're interested in participating, just click here for details!
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
7:13 pm
Moon, Elizabeth: Engaging the Enemy
Engaging the Enemy (2006)
Written by: Elizabeth Moon
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 398 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: in the third book of the series, Ky Vatta's got two ships: one's old, slow, and simply for trade; the other is outfitted perfectly should she become a privateer. What she really wants is to use her marque to actually unite the privateers and take the fight to the people who killed her family. That's easier said than done: not only does the government not trust her, but neither does her remaining family or the other captains. Ky's got to do everything she can in order to accomplish what is right, but that's not going to be easy, especially when someone from her past shows up who could change everything. For the worst.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: pretty enjoyable, and again, if I'd actually spent money on this instead of borrowing it, I wouldn't have minded in hindsight. Moon is writing solid SF, both in military fiction and in space opera, and the characters really do stand out and develop nicely. And of course, I'm enjoying the world-building here and the details that go into it, though I feel like sometimes, the details slow the story down. Still, the series is moving a solid pace so far, with the ante being upped with each book, so I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Review style: Two sections, what I liked and what I didn't. Expect spoilers. :) However, if spoilers don't bother you, the full review is in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)


Happy Reading!
Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
4:47 pm
Moon, Elizabeth: Marque and Reprisal
Marque and Reprisal (2004)
Written by: Elizabeth Moon
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 378 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: We're going to Barnes & Noble for the SECOND book in this series: The exciting military career she hoped for never got off the ground–but Ky Vatta ended up seeing plenty of combat when she took the helm of one of the commercial transport vessels in her family’s fleet . . . and steered it into a full-blown war. Now the lessons she learned in that trial by fire are about to pay off: because this time, the war has come to her. To be exact, someone unknown has launched a full-throttle offensive against Vatta Transport Ltd., Ky’s father’s interstellar shipping empire. In short order, most of Ky’s family is killed, and subsequent attacks sever vital lines of communication, leaving Ky fighting, in every sense, to survive.

Determined to identify the ruthless mystery enemy and avenge her family’s name, Ky needs not only firepower but information. And she gets both in spades–from the band of stranded mercenaries she hooks up with, from her black-sheep cousin, Stella, who’s been leading a secret life, and from Stella’s roguish ex-lover, Rafe. Together they struggle to penetrate the tangled web of political intrigue that’s wreaking havoc within InterStellar Communications, whose effective operation their own livelihoods–and perhaps lives–depend on.

But the infighting proves to be infectious, and it isn’t long before Ky’s hired military muscle are turning their suspicions on the enigmatic Rafe, whose wealth ofknowledge about ISC’s clashing factions and startling new technologies has begun to make him smell like a rat . . . or a mole. With swift, violent destruction a very real possibility, the last thing Ky needs is a crew divided against itself–and she’s prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Vatta stays in business, as well as in one piece.

What she’s not prepared for is the shocking truth behind the terror– and a confrontation with murderous treachery from a source as unexpected as it is unrelenting.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: while I borrowed this book from a friend, I wouldn't (in hindsight) have minded spending money on it. It's a fast read despite certain parts of the story that get a little too bogged down in details, and the cast additions are really refreshing. I'm starting to become a little more emotionally engaged with what's happening, and not just because there's been a huge tragedy come upon the Vatta family either. It's because I get to see Ky interact with people OTHER than her crew, and while I'm impressed with her as a starship captain (Moon's military experience really shines through), I'm glad to see other sides of her. The side that relates to family, and the side still struggling to define who she is in this universe, and I don't mean on an existential level either: she's got to decide to stay part of Vatta, or to do something more, and that decision makes her character very interesting indeed. I'm looking forward to reading ahead in the series at this point, and that's a good thing, since there's still three books left. :)

Review style: Two sections, what I liked and what I didn't. No spoilers. The full review is in my LJ, and as always, comments and discussion are most welcome.


Happy Reading!
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
9:52 am
Thinking ahead
Well, I've survived another Hugo season, more or less intact. My annual Hugo panic occurs because each year, when the nominations come out, I find that while I have read most of the short fiction, I have not read a single nominated book, novel or related book. This leaves me trying to do a lot of reading in a relatively short period of time.

So, I want to ask this group what you think I should be reading to be prepared for next year's Hugos. If you've read a book that you think is Hugo-worthy, I would really like to know.

Current Mood: curious
Saturday, July 25th, 2009
6:46 pm
North, Pearl: Libyrinth
Libyrinth (2009)
Written by: Pearl North
Genre: YA/Science Fantasy
Pages: 332 (Hardcover)

The premise: Haly is a clerk in the Libyrinth, a library so big and so vast that people get lost and are never heard from again. Haly's got a particular talent in that she can hear the voices of books, literally. When she's close, the book in question tells its story to her and only her. This makes her role to protect the books even more personal when the Eradicants make their yearly pilgrimage to the Libyrinth to burn volumes of books. When Haly learns of a plot that will allow the Eradicants to burn every volume left in the Libyrinth, she'll do anything to stop it. But what happens next opens Haly's eyes to a world she's never known or understood, despite growing up with the voices of books guiding her her entire life. Not only does she learn who the Eradicants really are and what they really believe in, but she learns what her true purpose in life is. That purpose could unite the world if she plays her cards right, or destroy it if she lets others make her decisions for her.

My Rating

Must Have: what starts out as a deceptively and almost irritatingly simple book about the dangers of censorship blossoms into something much more complex and engaging once you hit the POV switch. The pace is fast through-out, but I found myself more invested as Pearl North allowed her characters to learn more about the world and the cultures that populated it, and how all of those cultures influenced the Libyrinth itself. Truly North does a fantastic job crafting not one, but two likable and relatable heroines in Haly and Clauda, both of whom have a more important story than merely falling in love with a boy (though one of them does, indeed, fall in love with a boy, that's not the POINT of her particular story). North also does a marvelous job creating not one, not two, but three separate and distinct cultures that have their own values and faiths that come across as believable and real and not one dimensional (though one of the cultures seems one dimensional from the start--bear with the book, you'll be glad you did). But one of the best things Pearl North does with this book is incorporate passages of books into the text, to the point said passages become a kind of commentary on what's happening or what's about to happen. Particularly impressive is North's use of The Diary of Anne Frank, and how it plays into the climax of the story, which is also very well done. I'll be more than happy to pick up the second book in this trilogy, though this book is tied up so well that I'm left wondering just what exactly a second book would be about! Whatever it is, I look forward to it. North has impressed me with her YA debut, and I think she'll impress you as well.

Review style: stream-of-conscious style, because there's not a whole lot I feel I need to say about it. I speak in generalities, so don't worry about spoilers. If you're interested in the full review, feel free to use the link below to pop over to my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)


Happy Reading!
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
1:08 pm
Diamond Star by Catherine Asaro
Series: Skolian saga
Publisher: Baen, 2009
Genre: Science fiction
Sub-genre: Space opera

Read the full, spoiler-free review here.

Diamond Star is the newest addition to the Skolian saga, but it makes a wonderful standalone for people who haven't read the rest of the books. And since I haven't mentioned lately (well, at least not today) how much I love and appreciate this kind of series, where I don't have to remember every detail of the previous books, allow me to assure you series of standalone books are absolutely the best kind.

One of the neat things with Diamond Star is that Asaro actually wrote out all the songs from Del's album, with some help from band Point Valid, and the resulting CD is available from Starfleet Music, turning the book into an interactive rock opera. The sound on the CD wasn't what I personally had imagined from just having read the book, and mentioning Point Valid more than once in the novel as as an example of rock done right smacked of gratuitous cross-promotion, but there's a reason I'm not a music reviewer, so your mileage may vary.

As for the book itself, it's a fun space opera with surprisingly dark undertones. Most of the story focuses on Del, his black sheep status within his family, and his music career, but since war between the Skolians and the sadistic Carnelians has only recently ended, anger and resentment is running high, and the post-war setting becomes important.

I really liked Del as a protagonist, which is fortunate for me because he's very much the driving force of the story. He follows the age-old formula of being special without knowing it, but he's uniquely flawed and thinks little enough of himself I'm not sure he ever really grasps his own specialness. His family issues and feelings of being misunderstood make him easily relatable, and while he might occasionally seem flaky on the surface, he always seems to pull it together in time.

Sum-up? Very fun story with two separate climaxes, a likeable protagonist and interesting political undertones. If the rest of the books in the Skolian saga are like this one, I may have to invest in them all. It should be noted I'm generally a fan of space opera as a genre, but this is a good one, even so.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
10:54 am
Newton's Sleep by Daniel O'Mahony
Series: Faction Paradox
Publisher: Random Static, 2008
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-genre: Alternate history/time travel

Read the full, spoiler-free review here.

For those who don't know (I didn't!), Faction Paradox is a Doctor Who spinoff, a sect of Time Lords who like to go through history and tweak things. Fortunately, you don't have to be familiar with Doctor Who to get through the book, though.

O'Mahony has put a lot of wonderful historical details in here, with a clever use of language. Covering about 50 years during the tumultuous mid-to-late 1600s, there's clearly been a lot of research done, and it's a pleasure to visit some of these historical places and people, particularly Aphra Behn, who was a real woman.

The complex storylines, woven and intermingled in surprising ways, involve a whole lot of politics and scheming as well as the edges of an intergalactic war. A lot of this is spoken in subtleties, especially considering most of the characters are from the time period in which the book is set and have no concept of time travel or worlds outside their own.

Between the sophisticated, occasionally overwritten language and the non-linear flow of the narrative, this is decidedly not a quick or fluffy read. Actually, I spent more time than I would have liked completely confused, trying to figure out where and when this part of the book was set. That whole last chapter I read, did that already happen? Or is that in the future compared to the bit I'm reading now? Wait, did that bit of history just get erased, as in the characters won't remember any of this for the rest of the story? Bwuh?

Admittedly, I'm generally more interested in alternate history than time travel, which might have had something to do with my level of enjoyment. Of the other two reviews I found for Newton's Sleep, both reviewers loved the book with a ferocity I usually reserve for chocolate.
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
9:51 pm
Peacekeeper by Laura E Reeve
Series: Ariane Kedros
Publisher: Roc, 2008
Genre: Science fiction
Sub-genre: Military

Read the full (spoiler-free) review here.

Peacekeeper came out just a few weeks ago as Reeve's debut novel. Sci-fi with a female protagonist written by a new female author? Any of the above would catch my attention, so when I saw the combination, it was an instant grab for me.

Reeve has lots of fun with her characterization. The book is full of strong characters who have interesting weaknesses. Ariane is smart, tough, and understands (and even abides by) her limitations; she's also a functioning alcoholic haunted by her past. Matt is loyal, passionate, and fiercely intelligent; he's also agrophobic and has serious trust issues. Even the secondary characters are more complex than they seem at first sight.

The attention to detail with the inner workings of the Autonomist military, their dealings with outsiders (both civilians and aliens), and the relationships between crew members made Peacekeeper stand out from some of the other military sf offerings out there. This isn't just an excuse to shoot aliens on a distant planet, it's a complex system of routines, rules, and friendships forged under life and death circumstances.

Peacekeeper has an intricately layered plot, which at first was a little difficult to get into, but once I got a handle on how some of the different backstories fit in together, it went by pretty quickly. Lots of action, lots of intrigue, just a hint of potential romance, and a nifty plot twist near the end of the book all adds up a very satisfying read.
Thursday, January 1st, 2009
2:50 am
Need new science fiction!
This is probably an odd time to request this but I really need some good sci-fi recommendations. Something released in the last couple of years. I trust this comm's taste more than the average Amazon reader's or editor's (it is so littered with fantasy - esp. Stephenie Meyer - that it's a damn chore finding the sci-fi). I should note that I live in Iceland and our access to sci-fi is pretty much determined by the taste of the sci-fi nerd who happens to work in one of the 4 or so stores which stock them. Hence my rooting around Amazon.

Any new books you read last year that just blew you away? Because I don't think I read any and that worries me. I'm looking for novels - not short stories.
Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
10:39 pm
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