The Secrets of Jin-Shei by Alma Alexander
reviewed by Donna McMahon
With so many Fantasy novels using European-derived settings and mythology, ancient China makes a refreshing
change. The landscape is tantalizingly exotic and yet familiar enough to feel very real, and the auhtor uses magic
sparingly, in ways appropriate to her society. This and the intricate detail put into the backdrop makes the novel
feel very much like historical fiction.
Straken by Terry Brooks
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The third novel in the High Druid of Shannara series
jumps straight back into the story where it left off. It continues the quest of unlikely hero
Penderrin Ohmsford. Now equipped with the means to break in -- and back out -- of the Forbidding, where his aunt,
the deposed Ard Rhys of Druids, is stranded, Pen must first get back to Paranor. His rescue attempt can only begin from
within chamber where Grianne Ohmsford disappeared. Unfortunately, this will deliver him straight into the hands of those
responsible for his aunt's disappearance.
Cultural Breaks by Brian Aldiss
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Brian Aldiss is a fabulous and frustrating writer. When he is on song, his prose is dynamic, disturbing and delectable. But he is a
restless writer. He came into his own in the fervid and experimental atmosphere of the New Wave, and he has been driven to try the
new and the different ever since. That he is still experimenting now, 50 years after his debut, is a measure of a man who has
never been prepared to settle back on his laurels and rehash the same old, same old.
Berserk by Tim Lebbon
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Urban legends of being buried alive have always had the power to send a chill down a listener's spine. Imagine awakening to find
yourself trapped under a crushing weight of earth. The air rapidly running out. Your panic escalating into madness. No one to hear
your cries for deliverance. Buried somewhere on a bleak plain that the British military closed down a decade ago is a gruesome secret.
a movie review by Rick Norwood
When he first saw the original King Kong, Rick was just a kid. He remembers being bored for the first twenty minutes or
so, but once the ship reached Kong Island, he was thrilled. Every scene is indelibly etched on his memory, and he thinks that he
could recreate every stop-motion lash of the Tyrannosaur's tail.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
What's on TV in January? Rick offers a list of what to watch.
Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton
reviewed by Sandy Auden
The story opens with a wonderful premise: a young man is admitted to a psychiatric hospital literally
out of his mind. Dr. McDevitt is determined to discover what could have happened to an otherwise healthy twenty-year-old
that could have driven him insane. Expecting a slowly unravelling plot concluding in a climactic revelation about the horror that
caused such devastating trauma is a mistake. About a quarter the way through the novel it's revealed: Jamie was driven insane by a vampire.
Thor's Wedding Day by Bruce Coville
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Drawing from several stories of Norse mythology, the basic tale is
taken from the legend of the giant Thrym, who, despite his reputation as a dullard, manages to figure out a way to steal Thor's
hammer, Mjollner. To fill out the novel, the auhtor also brought in the legend of Mjollner's creation and the story of Thialfi, the goat boy.
SF Site's Readers' Choice Awards for 2005
You've waited patiently for a whole year, but at last your favourite season has rolled around again. Yes,
that's right, it's time to finish reading those new books that have been stacking up on your bookshelves, your
floor or bedside table, because very soon you'll need to determine which ones you feel are the best of the
best. Or at least, you will if you want to have a say in the annual SF Site Readers' Choice Awards!
The deadline for voting is February 11, 2006. If you've forgotten what you chose in previous years,
you can find them all linked at Best Read of the Year including
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke which was the top choice last year.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Girl moves to a small, boring, almost constantly overcast town, where she attends high school and falls hard for a gorgeous
young boy, who has the added bonus of being an outsider, seemingly very rich, and is initially trying to drive her away.
This story has probably been done a thousand times in the annals of young adult literature and television; except, it
turns out he has a pretty good reason for avoiding her, he's a vampire.
Nocturne by Jus Neuce
Master of Space and Time by Rudy Rucker
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Nocturne is a tidally locked, synchronously rotating planet in close tow to its companion sun. It was colonized in
two waves -- an initial expedition of scientists and a subsequent one of pioneers --
who settled on Nocturne's terminator, the narrow rim between perpetual sunlight and freezing darkness. Largely
forgotten by Earth, Nocturne has created a highly centralized society whose structure resembles the bureaucracy of a vast
corporation and a pronounced status differential. But that's about to change, with the suddenness of a natural disaster.
Pure by Karen Krossing
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Lenni is a teenager living in Dawn, a planned settlement in the "New Canadian North" populated only by healthy people who
are genetically unaltered. The corporation "Purity" runs the town and constantly polices people's genomes to make sure
they aren't making illegal DNA alterations. They are preserving the purity of the race.
reviewed by Ian Nichols
The story is a reworking of the three wishes myth, in modern whiz-bang technology. Dr. Joe Fletcher and his friend, Harry
Gerber, build a blunzer, a device that gives them three wishes. This is not any ordinary techno-genie, though. It operates
by injecting gluons, red, blue or yellow, right through the skull into the brain. But these are no ordinary gluons; they're
fried in a microwave first. Wish fulfillment through flash-fried gluons.
The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The book tells the story of an English gentleman who undertakes a private exploration with a friend below a
deep mineshaft, and accidentally falls into a subterranean world. This is a place inhabited by communities of an advanced race
named the Vril-ya, various monsters, and sub-races of savages. How the Vril-ya react to their visitor from the surface, and
what he learns from them is presented using language, forms of expression and perspectives which, from a modern day viewpoint
can seem rather quaint. However, it's always worth persevering.