The Hard SF Renaissance edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer|
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
This anthology is a formal follow-up to the editors' 1994 anthology, The Ascent of
Wonder. The Ascent of Wonder was an historical anthology, tracing the development of
science fiction by focusing on hard SF, which the editors argued "is somehow the core and center of the SF field." But by their
own admission, from the 60s through the end of the 80s, hard SF was not the most fashionable part of the science
fiction world. This book is an attempt to document the revival of hard SF in the 90s, and an argument
that hard SF remains central to the future of science fiction. It also gives us an opportunity to examine just how much the
writing of hard science fiction has changed since the New Wave of the 60s.
The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce
reviewed by Gabe Mesa
The story follows the lives of Martha Vine and her seven daughters in the British town of Coventry in
the years during and immediately following the Second World War. Telling the seven daughters and their husbands apart is somewhat difficult
at first, but the author quickly manages to delineate their individual characters and circumstances.
The youngest sister, Cassie, is a free spirit whose casual liaisons result in her bringing a small boy, Frank, into the world. Because he
has no father and only a partly competent mother, Martha Vine's matriarchal decree is that Frank (like a sister before him) be handed over
to other townspeople for an informal adoption.
White Bizango by Stephen Gallagher
reviewed by William Thompson
Set in Louisiana with magical overtones, the book refers to: "A secret society
of practitioners who operate outside of accepted vodoun practice, often performing harmful services for their clients in exchange for
payment." In this case the practitioner is a white convict, a con man who uses his knowledge of voodoo to fleece the rich and gullible,
especially through the use of a poison that simulates death.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick has been watching a lot of TV lately. He gives us his views of recent episodes of
Enterprise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing and some thoughts on what the ratings numbers mean.
And he's thinking about what to watch in May.
Wondrous Beginnings edited by Steven H Silver and Martin H. Greenberg and Magical Beginnings edited by Steven H Silver and Martin H. Greenberg
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
In many of the actual stories chosen for publication in these anthologies,
the eventual shape of the mature author's work can be dimly discerned, like something
sketched out in pencil and rubbed out many times until only a blur remains -- but for someone just starting out there is much to recognise
in these stories, the kind of thing that a beginner, any beginner, does, and there is a shimmer of great and glowing hope there. Even
someone like Arthur C. Clarke, esteemed elder statesman, or Anne McCaffrey, wildly successful author,
had to step over some line in the sand somewhere, write a first word, write a first story, get a first cheque.
Dragon Moon by Alan F. Troop
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
The tale of Peter Delasangre, on the surface, sounds more like a book Oprah would have picked for her book club. In the past four years,
since the murder of his wife Elizabeth, he has concentrated on raising their son Henri, and working at his successful business. He's lonely,
and he remembers his wife's younger sister, Chloe. They got along really well, and even though they only knew each other for a short time,
he thinks of her very fondly, and decides to go to Jamaica to see if he can win her.
Then you find out that Peter is a dragon.
Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Ever since dinosaurs were identified as actual creatures rather than
merely a mythified monsters such as dragons, they have captured the
imagination of children and adults alike. In 1925, a young man
fell in love with dinosaurs after seeing the film The Lost World,
based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel. Willis O'Brien's film thusly
inspired the author to write an half dozen stories focusing on dinosaurs,
which have been collected here.
Black Gate #5
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
Once again this magazine faithfully fulfills its mission
statement: 'adventures in fantasy literature.' While this perhaps is not
the strongest issue to date, these days especially, there's a lot to be
said for sitting down with a series of entertaining stories with clearly
defined good guys and bad guys—and a chance that the heroes might win.
Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning
reviewed by David Maddox
It has been a little over five years since the Battle of Endor. Han Solo and his new bride Leia Organa Solo are on route to
Tatooine to recover one of the last surviving relics of Alderaan, a unique moss-grown painting called Killik Twilight. But sinister
forces plot to claim the painting for their own and Leia must travel down a dark path that will lead to a new revelation about
her father... before he became Darth Vader.
Conquistador by S.M. Stirling
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
1946: John Rolfe, recuperating from his war wounds, is tinkering with a
war-surplus shortwave radio. !!CRACK!! The end of his basement is GONE,
replaced with a sheet of rippling silver....
2009: Tom Christiansen, game warden, is on a bust of wildlife-smugglers.
Their warehouse is destroyed by incendiaries, but he find a
fresh-killed man -- and a fresh-killed dodo...
Angelica by Sharon Shinn
reviewed by Regina Lynn Preciado
When the first Samaria novel came out -- Archangel (1996) -- Regina
read the whole thing before she thought to glance at the back cover. To her
surprise and chagrin, the back cover not only gave away the book's ending,
it revealed something about the structure of the world that was hinted at
but never unveiled in the story.
The Meq by Steve Cash
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
It's the 4th of May, 1881 -- Zianno Zezen's 12th birthday.
He and his parents are on a train, traveling to Colorado. To while away the time, Zianno's mother starts to tell a
story. Zianno's 12th birthday is different, she says, just as he and she and his father are different -- not only because
they're Basque, but because they're older than ordinary people. But before she can elaborate, the
train derails on a washed-out track, and both Zianno's parents are killed.
Hannibal's Children by John Maddox Roberts
Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon by Richard Lupoff and Bruce Coville
reviewed by Ian Nichols
What if Carthage had won? What if Publius Fabius Cunctator had not harried and delayed Hannibal until he lost his base of support
in Italy? What if the Roman Senate had caved after the battle of Lake Trasimene? What if Scipio Africanus had not had the
opportunity to annihilate Hannibal's army at the battle of Zama? A few fairly large questions, but
ones which provide the core of this vastly entertaining novel.
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.
Hell's Faire by John Ringo
reviewed by Ernest Lilley
The defense of humankind boils down to one battle for an Appalachian mountain pass.
Major Mike O'Neal and the First Battalion 555 powered-suit warriors are dug in at the Raburn Gap with orders to hold
until relieved and the thousands of aliens throwing themselves on their rapidly dwindling stream of depleted uranium slugs. If
the Posleen break through, they'll lay waste to humanity's last industrial stronghold, the American heartland. And that fellow
earthlings, will be that.
Monday Redux by Robert Favole
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Johann Gutenberg, Dunblane, Thurston, Westside, W. R. Myers -- a partial list of school tragedies, the most publicised of which is
Columbine. A roll call of carnage, involving students, teachers, parents, and outsiders, joined by the common link of guns, terror,
and death. In every case and in dozens more, the question arises of why? What set it off? Shouldn't someone have realised
there was a problem? And what would we do if we had the chance to relive the day?
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 The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, The Man Who Traveled in Elephants
and The Invisible Man.
reviewed by Matthew Peckham
Not to be confused with the barrage of popular and cult games you play with little plastic dice, this series
was originally published as a collection of individual novels by four authors under the creative auspices of Philip José Farmer
between 1988 and 1990. Borrowing liberally from Farmer's Riverworld saga thematically (without the after-life apparatus)
the story concerns one Major Clive Folliot, an officer in Her Majesty's military service in 1878, who embarks on a quest into the
deadly Sudd floodplain of central Africa to find his absent twin brother, gone fourteen months and last known exploring the Sudd
region. He stumbles instead into a multi-dimensional labyrinth that spans a planet and houses creatures and technologies from
throughout the galaxy.
Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
It's easy to see why this novel turned so many heads when first published back in 1986. With the sub-genre of urban fantasy
still in its formative stages, the author deftly manipulated many of the tropes that would become familiar touchstones in the years to
come: The mentally ill Vietnam veteran, the outcast homeless, the invisible magic of street corners and back alleys.
The Lost Continent by C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
The book takes us back to the primæval Yucatan peninsula, where Deucalion, who has honestly, justly and steadfastly governed over the
Yucatan colony, is now recalled to Atlantis. There trouble brews, grim poverty, a falling away from ancient traditions, a usurper-empress,
Phorenice, reigning with an iron fist. When she buries alive Naia, Deucalion's betrothed, he flees to the wilderness. Years later, he joins
an army of revolt, but when the religious leaders realize that Phorenice is unvanquishable by force, they must destroy the entire continent...