Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Thirty-four light years from Earth, the explorer ship Magellan is nearing its objective - the Iota Persei system. But when ship commander Cait Dyson wakes from deepsleep, she finds her co-pilot dead and the ship's AI unresponsive. Cait works with the rest of her multinational crew to regain control of the ship, until they learn that Earth is facing total environmental collapse and their mission must change if humanity is to survive.
As tensions rise and personal and political agendas play out in the ship's cramped confines, the crew finally reach the planet Horizon, where everything they know will be challenged.
Keith Stevenson is a speculative fiction writer, editor, reviewer, publisher and podcaster. He was editor of Aurealis Magazine - Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction from 2001 to the end of 2004 and formed the multi-award winning independent press coeur de lion publishing in 2005. In 2014 he launched Dimension6 magazine and became a speculative fiction reviewer for the Newtown Review of Books. He blogs about the ideas and issues behind Horizon at http://www.horizonbooks.com.au and you can learn more about his work at www.keithstevenson.com.
Quothursday! From my current read Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer. Sometimes even the smallest, and seemingly insignificant lines can stand out and make you ponder! It's a truism I like though.. Even if you're travelling the shittiest dirt track, potholed, and lined with poisonous plants; it's still the road you're travelling on, to get to wherever you might end up. You just keep walking, and hope that you find an intersection leading you to the road, that doesn't twist your ankle as you walk it!
It's obviously a day for philosophising! These are usually the moments people starting attaching the qualifier 'very weird' to my name.. So I'll just wander on off now, before I start musing on the universe. I'll make my cats listen to me instead.. Funny how they've gotten so good at hiding.. ;)
Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.
Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.
As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.
I had a few issues with Dreamers Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1), so I had some hesitation in picking up Tower of Thorns - but I’ve always really respected and enjoyed Juliet Marillier’s work in the past, so I thought I’d see whether this installment would kick things into gear.
October already! Holy crud, time is flying! Christmas decorations are out on the shelves, and days are already reaching 38 degrees Celsius here in Vic, Aus. I want my Winter back! Lucky for all the great book releases this October, or I'd be hiding in the fridge already..
It seems there's a stacks on sequels! Lot's of 2nd - 4th books in series (or prequels in GRR Martin' s case!) this month, but a there's a few standalones, for those that aren't looking for a series! So here's a run down of bookies I've been able to get my grubby hands on to peruse, and would recommend for October (except Illuminae! Apparently it's so so hot, Allen & Unwin were inundated with requests! I've heard very good things though, so I'm adding it anyway!)! In no particular order, may I present..
Grimdark Magazine has so much going on in issue #5, you need to check it out if you are a Grimdark Fantasy fan! The short fiction rocks, some great reviews & articles, fantastic interviews, and an excerpt of the truly cool The Dinosaur Lords!
Buy it, so we continue to have something to do with our time, and we can keep providing you all great content .. (If I find out you've pirated it, I swear I'll hunt you down and stab you with a soup spoon! In the belly button!)
When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.
But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Harlequin MIRA.
Honestly, I’m not sure why I requested this book, because I have a major phobia of circuses. Just thinking about them makes me shudder. So I actually started this book with a trepidation, a bit of fear that I would end up squealing and giving up before I got through the introduction. However, I was extremely happy to find, that the circus itself, is really just periphery in the story line. Menagerie isn’t about acrobatic monkeys, and evil^10 clowns; it is about denying people the right to their humanity, due to the fear of their differences.
It's focus is on the story of the Cryptids; being owned by a menagerie and treated like breeding stock, money making objects and living in fear of the brutal treatment that their human owners deal out. Torture is a daily occurrence, denial of food and water, denying access to their children, rape, forcing sexual favours for basic necessities,, . It’s pretty damned horrible. Anybody picking this up thinking it’ll be a paranormal romance (this is not the Harlequin you think you know!), or a young adult style novel - should probably step away now.
Instead of formally reviewing Twelve Kings of Sharakhai, in which would've just raved on a lot about how much I loved it - I thought 'heck, let's just interview the author!'. So, I asked Bradley lot's of strange questions about the book, and writing subjects I wanted to know more about.. And he actually answered them! With gusto! (I almost had a conniption when I read his responses! The answer to the second last question made me tear up!)..
Therefore, allow me to Introduce:
Hello Bradley Beaulieu (the crowd erupts in cheers)! Welcome to Book Frivolity! Tell us a bit about yourself! Please include at least one weird fact, so we readers can confirm that authors are in fact human, and not godlike creatures.
I’m a guy who loves to cook, hide out on the weekend with my kids, and catch the occasional sportsball show. I grew up in Wisconsin in the US and have a degree in computer science and engineering. I spent time writing code for a nuclear power plant before moving on to work for Big Blue (that’s IBM for those new to old-school tech-speak). I like single-malt Scotch, single-village Mezcal, and trippel Belgian ales. And I write from time to time.
Your new release Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (or Twelve Kings in the UK) the first novel in your The Song of the Shattered Sands series has been repeatedly compared to Arabian Nights (I don’t think I’ve read an article or review that hasn’t mentioned it!). For those that don’t know much of Arabian Nights, (yep, I was included in that group!) can you explain the concept of Twelve Kings in a way that the uninitiated can get a sense of what to expect when embarking on the journey?
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai set in a vast desert with a powerful city state at its center. It has a wide array of characters, but the lion’s share of the book is dedicated to the main character,Çeda (pronounced CHAY-dah, like Aveda). The story follows our young heroine as she strives to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of the immortal kings of Sharakhai, who rule the desert with an iron fist.
It has sandships, blood magic, and moon-blooming flowers that grant wondrous abilities. On the surface, it’s a sweeping tale of what men and women will do to retain power. But there’s a strong undercurrent about how difficult it is to erase the past entirely. Some have described it as an “intimate” epic fantasy, and I really like that, because I wanted to focus on Çeda and her story as it weaves through the many threads of Sharakhai’s past.
So, I just found this funky monkeys idea/website called Serial Box! It's a company that releases books in serial form, and are created to emulate the way we watch a TV series! So Dickensian..,.
I just read BookBurners Episode One: Badge, Book and Candle, collaboratively written by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery (that you can download for free at the moment!) in about 35 minutes. It was a really fun, action packed urban fantasy, that is stylized quite like an episode of a show you might watch on the SyFy channel. A fully formed story, that's part of a bigger series.. but book!
My Quothursdays are getting a bit serious in nature lately!! The lure of the dire warnings provided by epic fantasy!!!
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
Reviewed from ARC provided by Pan Macmillan.
I am always rather partial to Alternate Historical Fantasy. It melds my love of fantasy and historical fiction into one book, and I am in most circumstances a rather happy camper. When you blend in stylistic features and dialect that is comparable to authors of the time period, I become extraordinarily happy. Therefore, Sorcerer To The Crown made me pretty darned joyous!
Sorcerer is set in an alternative/fantasy/magical regency era Britain, in which English Magic Faces It's Darkest Hour. Although I rarely like to compare books, I think in this case it would be worthwhile to give some perspective on where Sorcerer sits in the wide and ranging field of fantasy. It's very reminiscent of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, with a dash of Glamourist Histories, Temeraire and a Wodehouse/Wilde tongue in cheek feel; everything is just a little bit exaggerated to really exacerbate the ridiculousness and precociousness of nobility, class and politics.
Don’t be deceived though, Zen Cho doesn’t focus too much on the romantic side of the time period, that many tend to associate with books on the regency era. There are balls, pretty dresses, carriage rides and fainting ladies, absolutely! What’s more important though, is that within the first 10% of the book, the real underlying social issues of the era are quickly brought to the fore: racism, classism, sexism, war, politics.. And, for added measure magicism (well, that's what I am calling it at any rate!)!
Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.
The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They'll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She'll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she'll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.
In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery - and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.
But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.
Conundrum: How do you review a book, you hate to love? This did start as a rather long essay, I kid you not; I turned into a bloody crit lit student writing a Master's thesis. I swear, if this book doesn’t go on university syllabuses for spec-fic writing/critiquing units in the future, I’ll be mighty surprised. So, if I start espousing weirdness, forgive me..
I featured The Traitor (or The Traitor Baru Cormorant depending on the edition), after reading an excerpt a few months ago. I was really blown away by the first few chapters, a truly intense, brutal, yet beautiful geopolitical fantasy. Starting with the outlook of a a very young Baru Cormorant, watching her people persecuted and murdered as she is being 're-educated' by the invading Empire of Masks. As she learns to become a good citizen of the empire, she also learns the best way to fight it. She becomes the perfect student so that she can fight from within the Empire, and at age 18, she is given the perfect opportunity to start working on the end goal by becoming an Imperial Accountant to a country long set on rebelling against it. It sets up beautifully..
... But I had no idea what I was really in for, because this isn't just a well written exposition on a fantasy world being taken over by an empire. It's a freaking explosive story of a young woman willing to do anything, to try and help her country and people take back their land, identity and freedoms. Not just strapping on armor, becoming a master swords-woman and hacking down evil army hoards (though she does do a bit of that too), but by using her savant mind to destroy from the inside, through finance, secrets and becoming a Traitor. Baru is willing to sell her soul to accomplish her goals. And her soul must endure some mighty gaping gouges before the end of the novel. Or, I think it does. I am pretty sure it does?
Sometimes, I just get slightly over excited when I do these things... But then, I really loved the book/series, so I suppose I can excuse myself...
Ah yes, the joys of technology. The heights and glory it lifts us to when we posses it; the total despairs it drops us into when it leaves us... Our preciousssess...
So, until we can kill the Hobbitsses to gets it back... And if you're really interested, mildly interested, or simply bored crudless - you can still check out the bits and pieces of blogging I can do on social media (because my phone hates booklikes. No really, it's like battling an Orc with a butter knife) by following my ridiculousness on Instagram or Twitter @ bookfrivolity. I can't guarantee it's not just me fumbling about with a phone app, but it's keeping me amused until Mr Laptop is sent back from the tech-necromancers.
So, come see what's firing in my overactive brain synapses, when they're not engaged in fantastical wordage (ie. Books), on the twits or the bookstagrams. It's free you know... No postage required..
Gathered friends, we are here today to mourn the loss of Kristy's beloved laptop, which has left this mortal coil, to step onto one of never ending bios looping. He has left us for the azure skies of the blue screen, and is unlikely to return to us any time soon.
In other words, I am without a computer.. So, until I find a work around, all I have is my phone to update things with. This message has taken 22 hours to write so far!
I'll still be about posting general weirdness, but there won't be any long reviews etc. till I'm re-teched. I've lost a few I was writing when the dying occurred (yes, I don't backup everyday, I have been thoroughly schooled by my error now!), so if for some reason I've said there'd be a review up and it's not, I'm sorry for the inconvenience! It will be here asap! Hopefully much sooner than later! We'll see.. The technology gods may grant me some clemency, and if not, I'm furiously fertilising the money tree!