Friday, 7 December 2012
The November/December issue of the SFF magazine includes an interview with Adam Roberts and a review of his new novel Jack Glass, a crime story set in an SF context (or rather three separate stories concerning the eponymous hero), which sounds rather interesting. There are several other book reviews, including the following by well-known authors: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M Banks; Empty Space by M John Harrison; The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson; and The Sphinx of the Ice Realm by none other than Jules Verne. This last one, written in 1896, is a rewriting of Edgar Allan Poe's 1838 novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Must put that one on the purchase list…
Film and DVD reviews include Looper and Prometheus (not yet seen but on my list) plus Avengers Assemble and the remake of Total Recall (both reviewed on this blog). It's always intriguing to read someone else's review of a film I've seen, particularly since they often see entirely different things in it (both good and bad) than I have.
Five stories this time:
Moon Drome by John Wallace, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A series of brutal races between one-man spacecraft around a moon in a far system is further enlivened by unpredictable interventions from a deadly alien race known as the Fear. Scorpus is the most successful of the slave-status race pilots facing his final contest before winning his freedom; but half the pilots die in each race. Will the Fear get him this time, and what is their purpose in being involved?
The Flower of Shazui by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu and illustrated by Richard Wagner. A man in a future China is fascinated by a beautiful prostitute called Snow Lotus, but she has a brutal husband. More of a social drama than an SF one.
The Philosophy of Ships by Caroline M Yoachim, also illustrated by Richard Wagner. In the far future, people can choose to have more than one consciousness inhabiting their bodies, or can even opt to merge with the bodiless network.
Lady Dragon and the Netsuke Carver by Priya Sharma, illustrated by Martin Hanford. A powerful female Samurai in an alternative Japan negotiates the deadly pitfalls of her existence.
Mirrorblink by Jason Sanford, illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe. A strange, far-future Earth with no visible Sun, Moon or stars, and populated by people who stay in their home towns in fear of both the mysterious inhuman Observers and the burn - catastrophic fires which fall unpredictably from the sky, destroying whole areas. Ein is a young woman who has become a Scope, one of the few people who travel from town to town trading information. What had happened to the world, and why is an Observer so interested in her?
The stories by Wallace and Sanford are the two which appealed to me this time. Wallace's story is classic hard SF. In contrast, Jason Sanford is establishing quite a reputation as a writer of highly imaginative, often surreal, and very varied tales, and always provides good value.