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The Skinner The Skinner by Neal Asher
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
In this return to the universe of runcibles, AIs, and the Polity, the author introduces ECS Agent Keech, Hive agent Janer, and Hooper Erlin. The three think they are on separate quests, but you just know they are going to end up in the thick of things together. Exactly what they are each seeking is less obvious. What motivation could be strong enough to drive an ECS agent seven long centuries after his demise?

Geeks With Books Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw gives us a look at how things work from behind the counter of a book store. This time he provides some insights into theft, a huge problem and a contributing factor to many a bookstore closure. What is the most commonly stolen book? What's the object that sets a thief's pulse racing and makes their palms sweaty?

Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn by Robert Holdstock
reviewed by William Thompson
Rich with allegory and metaphor, dense in the pantomime and pantheon of mythic deities called upon to act out traditional as well as recontextualized roles, this is a novel likely to mislead and confuse the uninitiated, to bear them as easily astray as a  walk through Ryhope Wood.  But in many respects this is little different than the experiences of the author's characters, a reflection of the recurring labyrinthine search made of the Wood's heart, investigations into its identity at both a mythic as well as deeply personal level.

James Gunn
James Gunn A Conversation With James Gunn
An interview with Trent Walters
On SF magazine circulation:
"I think shrinking SF magazine circulation is due to competition from television -- which spelled the demise of the other magazines, the slicks as well as the pulps, though the slicks were killed by a switch in advertising and the pulps by the easier and cheaper availability of undemanding narratives. The SF magazines, though, may survive on the economies of publishing and circulation and the hard core readership that finds in the magazines a quality of speculation and idea that TV does not even aspire to."

Gift from the Stars Gift from the Stars by James Gunn
reviewed by Trent Walters
If Philip K. Dick's paranoia puzzles pleased your pleasure center, if you've been thumbing dusty library stacks for a literary Asimov, if Carl Sagan's non-fiction speculations on extraterrestrial life tickled your fancy, if James Gunn's finalist for the Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, The Listeners, had you listening to the stars, if Carl Sagan's Contact left you wondering how the first contact would unfold, or if the connective sophistication behind Farscape's slippery narrative and behind the small and larger arcs of Blake's 7 impressed you, you're in for a treat with this series of interconnected stories.

Sword and Sorceress XIX Sword and Sorceress XIX edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Rich Horton
Highlights in this volume of the anthology series include "Lord of the Earth" by Dorothy J. Heydt, "Familiars" by Michael H. Payne, "All too Familiar" by P. Andrew Miller and Laura J. Underwood's "The Curse of Ardal Glen." If you've been reading these books with enjoyment all along, this one will probably satisfy.

Park Polar Park Polar by Adam Roberts
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
When we worry about preservation of natural habitats, we flinch at the downing of every tree, the displacement of every wild creature. When images of human skeletons stare out from our television and mutely beg for help, we angrily demand that there is enough food to feed all of us, if we only use the resources we have properly. But, what if the number of people on this planet continues to grow and we use all of our available farm land to its maximum potential? What will have to go then?

 Vox: SF For Your Ears Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, he has been listening to 10 to the 16th to 1 by James Patrick Kelly, Hunters in the Forest by Robert Silverberg and the Beyond 2000, all available through audible.com.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 2002 The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 2002
reviewed by David Soyka
Charles Coleman Finlay cover story, "The Political Officer," is not just some run-of-the-mill space opera with a clearly defined hero saving the day that someone who doesn't read much more than sci-fi media spin-offs will enjoy. Though, on the surface, it is that. But Finlay has taken the veneer of cliched WW II-era sub-mariner movies, transposed it to an interstellar setting, and flavored the mixture with the paranoia of the Stalinist Soviet Union. Sort of Das Boat meets 1984 meets Star Trek. We don't know who the good guys are, and the one who just might be does some bad things. Nothing colorful here, not even black and white, just shades of grey that blend into murkiness.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the DVD version of The Mists of Avalon. There were 2 reasons why he waited for the DVD. Read on to find out whether he thought the wait was worth it. Also, he gives us some notes on what to watch in April.

Wayne MacLaurin's 2001 Fat Fantasy Awards Wayne MacLaurin's 2001 Fat Fantasy Awards
compiled by Wayne MacLaurin
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Fourth Annual Fat Fantasy Awards. A night where we pay tribute to the best and weightiest in Fantasy. Yes, it's time again to applaud those authors whose fancy runs long; to those whose imaginations can not be constrained by the covers of a single volume; those authors who believe that if they write enough volumes that Michael Whelan will eventually agree to do their cover art; imaginations that require every last detail of culture and family trees to be explored in detail...

Flashforward Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
reviewed by Donna McMahon
It is April 21, 2009. Physicists at the CERN particle collider facility in Geneva throw the switch on an experiment which they hope will detect the elusive Higgs boson particle. Instead, the scientists "Flashforward" -- experiencing visions of their lives 20 years in the future -- then return to discover that they've been unconscious for 2 minutes.

Coelacanths Coelacanths by Robert Reed
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
The story is written in four parallel strands -- difficult enough at novel-length, and Peter would have thought near-impossible in 25 pages. It's a far-future tale of humanity triumphant -- a wonderful update of James Blish's classic "Surface Tension" and The Seedling Stars. Think of scaling, and of Clarke's Law. Think of human nature, changeless over the millennia, past and future....

2001 Nebula Award Nominees: Short Stories 2001 Nebula Award Nominees: Short Stories
reviewed by Trent Walters
Who deserves the Nebula for best short story? "Oh, come on," you say, "what does it really matter? The Nebula is just a political, personality contest." You've heard it said (rather, spouted quite vehemently by a few SFWA members) at conventions. The allegation is not new. Thumbing back through the old Nebula Awards volumes, you'll spot James Blish's commenting on the phenomenon with a demonstration to prove that it could not be the case. However, others have brought up interesting cases for the contrary opinion.

Maelstrom Maelstrom by Peter Watts
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Sequel to his debut novel, Starfish, the story follows Lenie Clarke, emotionally unstable and deeply scarred by memories of childhood abuse as she plots revenge against the vast corporate structure that murdered her friends. She begins a journey across North America, sowing her disease vector as she goes. Ken Lubin, an assassin whose conflicting moral/psychotic impulses are chemically controlled through genetic engineering, is on her trail as is burnt-out botfly operator Sou-Hon Perreault, and Achilles Desjardins, another chemically-controlled operative, this time for CSIRA, the rapid-response agency that confronts and contains the endlessly multiplying disease and environmental crises of a ravaged earth.

Stefan Rudnicki A Conversation With Stefan Rudnicki (Fantastic Audio)
An interview with Scott Danielson
On science fiction:
"I have found that science fiction, and to a degree high-end fantasy and horror as well, tap into issues (spiritual, political, emotional and psychological) in a way mainstream fiction does not. These genres also tend to be more cutting edge in form and structure, not from some ill-considered attempt at literary experiment, but in order to achieve communication of the issues in question."

Black Light/The Caves of Terror Black Light and The Caves of Terror by Talbot Mundy
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
In the past, Georges made the claim for the author being the best adventure writer of the 20th century. In his stories, he used Eastern wisdom and mysticism as an important element, having many of his adventurous heroes develop emotionally and spiritually as a consequence of their adventures. While in Caves of Terror the extremely fast-paced adventure tends to obscure the mysticism, in Black Light the adventure element is extremely minimal, but the novel is deeply steeped in Oriental mysticism. While perhaps not his best novels, the first is a turning point in his writing, and the other a clear attempt to take his novels beyond pulp magazines audiences.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Here's a listing of the books received at the SF Site office throughout the month of March. Some of the highlights include new novels from Mercedes Lackey, Glen Cook, Laurell K. Hamilton, Richard Morgan, Sharon Shinn, Kim Stanley Robinson; new collections from Jeffrey Ford, George Zebrowski, Martin Greenberg & John Helfers; and some very cool classic reprints, including J.R.R. Tolkien, David Zindell, Paul Kearney, Clark Ashton Smith, and plenty more.

Second Looks

The Centauri Device The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison
reviewed by Martin Lewis
John Truck is a freewheelin' spaceship captain bumming around the galaxy. This existence is interrupted by the appearance of the titular Device, a mysterious alien weapon. Although Truck does not know it, he has a unique connection to the weapon if indeed that is what the Device is. This brings him to the attention of the Earth's two superpowers, the Israeli World Government and the United Arab Socialist Republics. It also attracts the interest of various other factions such as the Interstellar Anarchists and the Openers, a religious cult.

The Black Chalice The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
It's 1134. In a bleak monastery somewhere in Germany, Paul of Ardiun begins the chronicle he has been ordered by his religious superiors to write: the story of the knight Karelian Brandeis, for whom Paul once served as squire, who fell prey to the evil wiles of a seductive sorceress, thereby precipitating civil war and the downfall of a king. But before Paul can set down more than a sentence or two of this cautionary tale, the sorceress herself magically appears to him. He is a liar, she tells him, and always has been. She lays a spell on him: from this moment, he will only be able to write the truth.

Moonfall Moonfall by Jack McDevitt
reviewed by Donna McMahon
The novel begins as Vice President Charlie Haskell arrives on the moon to preside over a terrific photo op -- the official ribbon-cutting of an ambitious new moonbase, which promises to make the space program not just feasible, but economically profitable. Unfortunately for Haskell, astronomers have just discovered a large interstellar wanderer (comet) heading for a collision with Earth's moon. In five days moon and moonbase will be smashed into a cloud of rubble.

Sole Survivor Sole Survivor by Dean R. Koontz
reviewed by Rodger Turner
Joe Carpenter still agonizes over the death of his wife and daughter a year after their plane crashed. He can't work, he's let his friends fall by the wayside, his grief is almost palpable. One day, he is contacted by someone who can put him in touch with a survivor who walked away from the crash and who knows why the plane went down. Is he interested? You betcha. Thereby hangs the tale.

Giant Bones Giant Bones by Peter S. Beagle
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Peter S. Beagle has honed his prose to a glow, and Donna can only describe his recent stories as exquisite. In particular, she was fascinated by "The Last Song of Sirit Byar" (the tale of an aging musician and the young girl who follows him on the road) and "Lal and Soukyan" (two old warriors journeying to atone for an act of cruelty performed decades before).

Wizard of the Winds Wizard of the Winds by Allan Cole
reviewed by Rodger Turner
It begins in a pastoral setting where we meet Safar Timura, boy potter and amateur magician. All he wants to do is avoid getting punched out by the Ubekian brothers and be as good a craftsman as his father. Into his life comes Iraj Protarus, a boy sent to the village to protect him from a vengeful family. The boys bond (natch), do boyish things until Safar heads off to school, a reward for saving a rich caravan from the demon hoards.

First Novels

Mnemosyne's Kiss Mnemosyne's Kiss by Peter J. Evans
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Cassandra Lannigan wakes up in a Nairobi hospital and realizes that she's extremely lucky. Two months ago, doctors tell her, somebody put a bullet through the back of her head and only the miracles of medical nanotech saved her. Unfortunately, science could not entirely rebuild her damaged brain. Cassandra cannot remember who she is, what she was doing in Nairobi or why assassins are still trying to kill her.

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