Swan Songs by Brian Stableford|
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
The 6 novels collected here manage to maintain the charming aspects of the space opera sub-genre,
introduce some new elements, while thankfully avoiding the more painful excesses
of the past. First, the hero and main characters don't speak college boy gibberish, they are adult and have adult relationships, if
anything their philosophical monologues occasionally get a bit out of hand. The super-science is mostly used as is, rather than
backed up by didactic exposés of space drive mechanics, and the author, a former scientist himself, avoids the bonehead scientific
pitfalls of some of his predecessors.
SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates.
However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. He's begun a new column which
will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.
Chindi by Jack McDevitt
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
We're dropped into a whirlwind of a novel, as the Captain and crew of the City of Memphis journey
from one awe-inspiring, death-defying adventure to the next. It starts when a strange signal, and the relay system passing it
on, is discovered around a nearby neutron star. Priscilla
Hutchins, a starship captain who has become a little bored with the routine of hauling freight from one star system to the
next, is hired to lead an expedition to follow the signal and find out who or what is at the other end.
A Conversation With Sean McMullen
An interview with Nick Gevers
On introspection by characters:
"In real life, you very rarely get deep introspection from people, apart from -- say -- when some work colleague
has a few drinks too many at the pub and dumps his innermost opinions on you whether you want to hear them or not. I think a
novel should be like looking at real life, rather than getting a telepathic tour of people's minds. I prefer to give cues and
clues about my characters' thoughts, just as you get them in real life. It is completely deliberate. All that said, there are
certainly moments of deep introspection in my work, but they do not dominate the text."
Agog! Fantastic Fiction edited by Cat Sparks
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Every time you're browsing in a bookstore you see the searchers: people desperate to find somebody "new" to read. Well, if for some
unfathomable reason you aren't familiar with our Australian contingent in the genre, here is your chance to correct that mortifying
oversight and score 29 "new" authors to get excited about. This anthology just might be your best chance yet to sample the best
that Australia serves up in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction realms. A veritable smorgasbord!
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick has been watching a lot of TV lately. He gives us his views of recent episodes of Firefly, Smallville,
Enterprise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, John Doe and some thoughts on Twilight Zone.
And he's thinking about what to watch in October.
The Fifth Man by John B. Olson and Randall Ingermanson
reviewed by Suzanne Krein
What would be the greatest danger facing astronauts living in tight quarters on the surface of Mars? Would they be more likely to face
catastrophe because of an internal technical failure in their life-support systems or from an external threat, such as a Martian
life form? Might the lives of the astronauts be endangered from an even more personal source -- themselves?
The Burning Heart of Night by Ivan Cat
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Pilot Lindal Karr is one of the few humans able to withstand fugue, the immune system of the vast living entities called
fugueships. Instead of falling into a coma-like sleep, as most humans do, Karr simply slows down. Passing a subjective day for
every real-time year, he travels the universe in symbiosis with his ship, seeding human colonies among the stars.
Sometimes, though, the seeded colonies don't thrive -- as on the ocean planet of New Ascension, where the small human community lives
in constant peril. Initially judged a paradise, New Ascension hides a terrible secret...
Worlds Glimpsed, Worlds Lost: Why Farscape Should Be Saved
by Caitlin R. Kiernan
"After a decade as a professional author of dark and speculative fiction, it's become apparent to me that television SF is often,
at best, considered the ugly stepsister of written and motion picture SF. And, in most instances, it's easy enough to understand
how such attitudes have come about and why they remain entrenched among many readers, and perhaps most writers, of science
fiction. Indeed, in most cases, "ugly stepsister" would, no doubt, be an incredibly kind description of what television has passed
off as SF, time and time again. It hardly seems necessary to invoke Sturgeon's Law at this point ("90% of everything is crud"),
though tradition would seem to demand it, but with the added proviso that maybe as much of 99% of TV SF is crud. There are
notable and marvelous exceptions, of course..."
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 Shadow Puppets and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card,
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber
and Song of the Wanderer: The Unicorn Chronicles Part II by Bruce Coville.
Full Unit Hookup, #1
reviewed by Rich Horton
Here is another in the recent near flood of small press slipstream 'zines. It offers six relatively
short stories, and a number of poems, as well as two essays. It fits very readily in the same general category as
Electric Velocipede, which Rich reviewed here recently, or the by now venerable Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet,
which he has called the "gold standard" of the SF/slipstream 'zines.
Dreaming Pigs by Lynne Carver
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
All of this concern over xenotransplantation would seem to make pigs cloned for xenobiotics a hot topic. What do such creatures have to do with
this book? In the end, very little. A cloned pig's heart is used in a transplant operation, but
the young girl recipient does not survive, suffering heart failure -- and thus largely
eliminating the consequences of any pathogen transfer, and any controversy that might drive the the story's plot.
The Fall of Neskaya by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In this new novel of Darkover, during the time of the Hundred Kingdoms, two young people are caught up in the invasion
of their homelands. The first is Coryn Leynier, a young man who is just coming into his Laran. He's sick
with the Threshold sickness, and a visitor offers to check to see how powerful he is.
The other is Queen Taniquel. Her husband and his army are attacked and destroyed, and a
rival king would have her marry his own son.
Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde
reviewed by William Thompson
Picking up directly where The Eyre Affair left off, Thursday soon finds herself embroiled in further plots and stratagems, some new, others
outgrowths of the previous book. She tries to return to the normalcy of work at Swindon SpecOps
as well as to enjoy the domestic pleasures of her recent marriage to author Landon Parke-Laine. However, not unexpectedly,
both the past and the future are to intrude upon her tranquility. She soon begins to hear voices, becomes
endangered by death through coincidence, almost has a Hispano-Suiza dropped on her while picnicking watching the annual
mammoth migration, learns the world may end in a fortnight, and is involved in the discovery of Shakespeare's
missing play, "Cardenio."
The Fixer by Jon F. Merz
Set 500 years in the future in the wake of a universal civil war, FIREFLY tells the tale of Serenity, a small transport spaceship without a homeport. Captain Malcolm ("Mal") Reynolds commands Serenity for legitimate transport and salvage runs, as well as, more "entrepreneurial" endeavors.
The most twisted new show on TV is coming to FOX. FIREFLY premieres on Friday, Sept. 20th 9PM/8C.
A Conversation With John Meaney
An interview with Lou Anders
On the world building of Paradox:
"I had a very clear picture of the lower, impoverished strata: the curtained-off dwelling-chambers; the marketplace; the fluorofungus
splashed across the ceilings, providing light and replenishing the air. The wonders of the Palace, the motile floor and intelligent
walls and membranous entrances grew in my subconscious, I think, while I was writing about Tom's impoverished upbringing.
It's all about Zen and the art of dreaming, to me. The images -- more than visual: the scent of hemp in the market-chamber, the cold hard
stone of the tunnels -- come leaping from that magical elsewhere. Resonances, such as between the curtains and the membranes, become
apparent only in retrospect."
Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
"I tried to not write about it. Really. I'm not in the habit of complaining about TV show cancellations. Nine times out of ten, the
show had already gone downhill, was never any good, or I didn't watch it anyway. This time is different. Farscape was
easily the best science fiction show of its generation, and the premiere show on the self-proclaimed official network of the
genre: the Sci Fi Channel. But somehow that genre so-called champion allowed this wonderful and important show to be canceled."
Mars Probes edited by Peter Crowther
reviewed by Rich Horton
The 16 stories include an impressive array of styles and points
of attack. Half the stories are by Americans, half by natives of the U.K. There are stories by SFWA Grand Masters (Ray Bradbury
and Brian W. Aldiss... and I trust Gene Wolfe at least will also be a Grand Master
someday) and stories by hot newer writers (Alastair Reynolds and Patrick O'Leary).
Some of the stories are humourous, some of the stories are serious and thought-provoking and some are sweet.
reviewed by David Soyka
The gimmick here is that the 16 authors in this quirky -- in both content and format (bound as it is in the shape of car
owner's manual) -- publication are anonymous, at least until the next volume arrives in which their identities are
revealed. (Not having seen the current second volume, they remain anonymous to me as I write this.) Even the editor is
anonymous, although it has been reported in other venues that it is the British fiction writer D.F. Lewis.
Imagined Slights by James Lovegrove
reviewed by Martin Lewis
This short story collection is a winner from the very first page. Thanks to the helpful "Contents of Imagined
Slights (expressed in the form of a pie chart)", the shortest story takes up 2.77% of the book and the largest 11.27%.
For a writer most commonly associated with science fiction, this represents something of a mixed bag, tending strongly to hybridisation; urban
fantasy, SF and horror spliced together.
compiled by Neil Walsh
New books this time include the latest novels from Timothy Zahn, Mercedes Lackey and Sarah Hoyt, plus collections by Mary Soon Lee, Ken Wisman, Laura J. Underwood, forthcoming collections from Esther Friesner, George Zebrowski and Jack Chalker. There are also a fair number of classic reprints, and still more new books.
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Lawson isn't your typical hit man. He's a fixer, which means when vampires step out of line and threaten the law of
Balance, (the code of ethics that protects the oblivious humans as well as vampire kind) he steps in and takes care of
them. It's easy for him, because he's not worried about their mythological strength, or their hypnotic power. He's a vampire too.
Dragondoom by Dennis L. McKiernan
reviewed by Rob Kane
This is a bit of trip back to pure sword and sorcery type fantasy, containing all sorts of elements of a traditional
epic fantasy. There are dragons; powerful, immortal, evil, and vengeful. Guarding their hoards and flinging death from on high to
mortal creatures on the ground. There are humans; noble, strong, and adventurists. Dragon hunters and empire builders. There are dwarfs;
proud with long memories. The loss of their greatest dwarvenholt fifteen hundred years ago is still fresh in their minds. There is the
sorcerer; evil and scheming for power. He throws his power about to protect himself and his awesome treasure. And finally there are
adventurers; courageous and unrelenting. The story belongs to them, with their long journey and what they learn along the way.
The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney
reviewed by David Maddox
A mysterious circus rolls into town by means of neither roads nor train. Its advertisement promises sights and wonders as yet
unseen by mortal man. Its owner is a chameleonic Asian man of uncertain age and origin. Though at first unimpressed with its run-down
appearance (heck, it doesn't even have an elephant!), the mundane citizens of Abalone, Arizona are soon to learn that the circus
contains a bizarre collection of myths, oddities, fables and lore that will challenge the very nature of their lives and beliefs.