Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Paul Graham Raven
"What is steampunk?" asks the jacket blurb header, and it's a reasonable question that has kept plenty of fans and
pundits busy since the style's recent renaissance. Like any other genre definition, it's going to be contentious
(has anyone actually settled on a satisfactory definition of science fiction itself yet?); personal taste is always
going to come into play when deciding what is canon and what is not. While plainly setting out to answer the
question from the informed perspective of the editors, this anthology is also a trifle schizoid
in that it's not entirely clear who they're trying to answer the question for.
The Best of Michael Swanwick by Michael Swanwick
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
By its title, one could intepret this to be a collection
of bright spots out of three decades of writing. But the worth of these stories has already been judged. Out of
the twenty-one stories in the collection, there's a Theodore Sturgeon Award winner, a World Fantasy Award winner,
and five, count 'em, five, Hugo Award winners. The Best of Michael Swanwick is, on its own terms,
a pretty convincing argument that when it come to short fiction, the best of Michael Swanwick is synonymous
with the best in the field.
Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
reviewed by Michael M Jones
The good news: There's intelligent life out there, and they've come to Earth to meet us. They're friendly, and
eager to get to know us.
The bad news: They resemble gelatinous cubes, and communicate amongst themselves by means of odor. In short,
they're ugly and smelly. And they've familiarized themselves with our popular culture, and let's face it,
the "good" aliens never look like ambulatory Jell-O or smell like wet dog farts in summer.
The Ant King and Other Stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Surrealism is a literary mode that looks like an easy option, but if it is done well, it is far from easy. The most
obvious characteristic of surrealism is the absurdist leap from one moment to the next as if it forms a perfectly
coherent connection. Yet this does not mean that you can simply throw in any weird idea at any time and hope to
get away with it. Because at the end of the day the story has got to convince us that it really is coherent or
we won't recognise it as a way of subverting our notions of the real, but simply think it is stupid. The line
between using the absurd and looking silly is very fine indeed.
Star Trek TNG: Mere Mortals by David Mack
reviewed by Michael M Jones
As the Borg continue their relentless, unstoppable assault upon the Alpha Quadrant, the Federation and its allies
examine every possible solution in the hopes of preventing an otherwise-inevitable extinction. Entire worlds are
dying, and the clock is ticking, while Starfleet's finest ships desperately pursue various avenue. The U.S.S.
Enterprise, as usual, is at the forefront of the action, with Captain Picard determined to hold the line against
the invading Borg.
The Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll
an audiobook review by Nicki Gerlach
Ben Gould is a young man who falls and hits his head on the ice, and is supposed to die,
but doesn't. Ben's ghost -- who is supposed to help Ben transition into the afterlife, and clean up any of his
unfinished business -- is therefore somewhat stranded, and the Angel of Death isn't being particularly helpful; he
tells the ghost just to hang out until they can figure out the "glitch" that resulted in Ben's non-death.
Star Wars: Millennium Falcon by James Luceno
an audiobook review by Sarah Trowbridge
In the Star Wars universe, there is no vessel more famous and revered than the Millennium Falcon. Yet
how much do we really know about the circumstances that led to her pivotal role in the greatest conflict in the
history of that long-ago, far-away galaxy? In Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, that story is finally told.
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
an audiobook review by Ivy Reisner
Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his first novel, A Princess of Mars, in 1911, publishing it in All-Story
magazine as a serialized novel between February and July of 1912. This
was 14 years before Hugo Gernsback founded the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, and
coined the term "scientificion," which was later changed to "science fiction." Science fiction, as a recognized
publishing genre, was not established while Burroughs was writing his earlier novels.
Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher
an audiobook review by Gil T. Wilson
Picking up two years after the events in the book, Furies of Calderon, our hero,
Tavi, lacks the ability to control the furies, making him a "freak" in Alera. Studying to become
a cursor, or messenger, for the First Lord (Emperor) of Alera, Tavi learns the job also requires becoming a
spy and a warrior. As his studies near their end, a new danger comes to the capitol of Alera, where the First
Lord resides and where the home of the academy Tavi is attending is located.
Flood by Stephen Baxter
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
The book spans 32 years in the lives of a group of people initially thrown together as hostages in a near-future
Spain that has collapsed into sectarian civil war. When the group emerge from their basement, they find a world
experiencing dramatic rises in ocean levels. Before long, members of the group are witnessing the flooding of
London and the shattering of New York's glass skyscrapers by a hurricane that fills the air with broken glass,
instantly rending apart all those unlucky enough to be caught outside.
Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre
Son of Man by Robert Silverberg
reviewed by Michael M Jones
Following a series of dramatic events which started with the destruction of a passenger ship and ended with the
downfall of the corrupt Farwan Corporation, grimspace jumper Sirantha Jax is out of a job, broke, and infamous. When
the interplanetary government known as the Conglomerate offers Jax the opportunity to lead a diplomatic mission
to the planet Ithiss-Tor, she's smart enough to recognize it for the type of request that it is.
Incandescence by Greg Egan
reviewed by Rich Horton
Greg Egan's first novel in several years is as dizzying a piece of speculation as we have come to expect from
him. But, like several of his novels, it doesn't fully connect at a human level, and for that matter the
speculation -- dizzying as it is, and quite fascinating -- isn't as thematically profound as in his best
stories. Though that's not quite fair...
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19 edited by Stephen Jones
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Enhanced by the usual list of genre books and movies from the previous season, news, obituaries and addresses of interest
to horror fans, here's the annual collection of the allegedly best horror stories published during the year.
For the nineteenth volume in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror series,
editor Stephen Jones has assembled twenty-six stories penned by a number of
distinguished genre writers.
Couch by Benjamin Parzybok
reviewed by John Enzinas
There is a set of stories best described as "guy stories," a category that contains such notable tales
as Easy Rider, City Slickers and Deliverance. In such a story a group of young males decide
to set them selves to some inconsequential task. The journey is filled with adversity, strife, joy and tragedy
as the men struggle to finish their quest. In the end the characters discover who they really are.
This is one of these stories.
Kaleidotrope, Issue 5, October 2008
reviewed by Rich Horton
This issue features a wide selection of
stories -- generally quite a few short-shorts but this issue has a larger proportion of longer stories. There was
less nonfiction this time but there is the quite amusing horoscope column and the contributors' bios. Add quite a few
poems, and lots of artwork, and this remains a varied and interesting publication.
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
As Mark London Williams so elegantly announced last time, the Nexus Graphica brain trust
have compiled our very own top ten graphic novel or comics-related publications lists of 2008. Mark began this shindig,
so it falls to Rick Klaw to introduce the final five selections.
Even with the economy crashing down around them, publishers produced enough excellent books for each of them to create
diverse lists. Outside of their three identical selections, Mark and Rick managed to generate unique groups of astounding quality.
compiled by Neil Walsh
Happy new year, and welcome to the new and forthcoming books of 2009! Some of the highlights this time are the latest from Peter F. Hamilton, Ian McDonald, Kelley Armstrong, John Meaney, Catherynne M. Valente, James Morrow, plus revisited classics from Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, and plenty more.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick has some conclusions on how the first half went now that we measure out our television in half seasons.
He also gives us a list of what SF is on TV in January and a hint of what February has to offer.
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
This is the story of Clay, a man of our time who is inexplicably thrust far, far, far into Earth's
future, to an era when not only is our civilization forgotten, but our whole species is no longer even a memory. Humankind
has moved on, several times, creating new species.
Clay travels across a dreamlike landscape in company with a handful of the Skimmers who are one variant of the
latter-day "sons of men" where he meets other iterations of the human meme, like a pink sphere inside a shining cube of a
cage and the regressed and grotty Goat-men; he becomes other kinds of human: he is himself a Skimmer for a while,
as a female as well as a male; he becomes a squid-like Breather and then spends a timeless period as an Awaiter, a
sapient carrot stuck in the earth, and more.