The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 23 edited by Stephen Jones
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
This volume once again provides horror enthusiasts with an
exhaustive overview of where the genre stands and what new directions it is taking by reporting what books, magazines and movies
have been offered in 2011.
As is customary, the bulk of the volume is the twenty-six stories that editor Stephen Jones deems to be the
best that have appeared in print. The reader should pay particular attention to the copyright page, which clearly indicates
which were the more accomplished anthologies and collections of the year.
Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction by Samuel R. Delany
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Samuel R. Delany is, to a large extent, responsible for Paul being a critic today. He had written a few desultory reviews when
he first read The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, and he discovered how criticism should be done. The book taught him that a rigorous
critical approach to the subject could be revealing, exciting, energising and, not least, thoroughly accessible. He learned
about, understood and enjoyed science fiction far more for bringing to it the critical approach that he had picked up from
Delany. And, of course, he was completely convinced by the arguments advanced. Delany remains, to his mind, one of the
half dozen or so critics whose work is essential for anyone who wants to understand the genre.
Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing edited by Sandra Kasturi & Halli Villegas
reviewed by Sandra Scholes
If you got stuck on a train, or bus, or in an elevator and you had to have one book to
choose from that would have to get you through the boredom, then this would be it. Crammed with short stories, poetry and
longer stories that range from fantasy, horror, supernatural and science fiction, this is the sort of book you would have
on your keeper shelf.
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman
reviewed by Trent Walters
Philip Pullman tackles the Grimm brothers' fairy tales. Alan Garner did something
similar in his Complete Fairy Tales. Like Garner, Pullman distances himself from rewriting them as modern stories -- developing
full characters, setting, etc. -- but instead rewrites them only to improve plot points, occasionally embellishing or detouring
slightly from the originals.
"If Pullman doesn't make major changes," a reader may ask, "why would I want pay for this new book? Couldn't
I get a classic ebook, free off the internet?" Good question.
A Fantasy Medley 2 edited by Yanni Kuznia
reviewed by Sandra Scholes
In the original A Fantasy Medley, editor Yanni Kuznia brought together four of the most interesting authors to write
four short stories. When the volume was released, it became a sell-out, and it wasn't long before another was envisioned
and later written. Again, four eminent writers have joined to bring us four of the most unusual fantasy fiction since
fantasy as a genre had started. Writers such as Tanya Huff, Amanda Downum, Jasper Kent and Seanan McGuire share their
imagination with their readers.
The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
This doorstopper of a book seeks to reverse the bog-standard LOTR-style
hero quest by presenting the story from the perspective of the bad guys. As we soon learn, the machinations of
Morthul, dreaded Charnel King of the Iron Keep, have failed. Centuries of plotting come to nothing, due to a band
of so-called heroes sent by good King Dororam. The price paid for thwarting evil, is the cold blooded murder of
Princess Amalia, Dororam's only daughter. As winter falls upon the Brimstone Mountains, a grieving Dororam begins
to assemble a mighty army, with the intention of finally destroying the great enemy of humanity.
The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Marooned in the Slow Zone, the last surviving human population has a clear goal; rebuild their technological
civilization in time to protect themselves from the Blight that is surely coming their way. Unfortunately, almost
all of them are teenagers or young adults, and they're not sure they believe an official story that includes
their parents as the villains who freed the Blight.
Fated by Benedict Jacka
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Alex, who runs a magic shop in London, is a diviner, so he can see the results of
his actions before he makes choices. If he needs to walk across a room without being seen, he can look ahead
and judge the exact moment when someone will look the other way, so he can walk by, for example. Both the Light
and Dark mages want to use Alex's talent to open an ancient artifact that has recently surfaced. Alex, an entity
unto himself and with an attitude, has no interest in being used and normally he'd flee.
Watching the Future
a column by Derek Johnson
As is evidenced by the fact that we are celebrating a new year, the doomsayers who wrung their hands at the end of the world -- foretold,
they assured all of us, by the Mayan calendar -- were as wrong as Karl Rove predicting Mitt Romney's Ohio victory on election
night. Although for his own sake and sanity it means that Derek no longer has to find in his Netflix Instant Watch queue yet another
painfully earnest documentary featuring wild-eyed soothsayers who toss apocalyptic prophecies that have more to do with their
own imaginative wish fulfillment than anything having to do with this ancient calendar, it also means that
Derek can forget, despite a few bright spots, what a mediocre year it was for science fiction and fantasy movies.
Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson
compiled by Neil Walsh
Happy new year! Happily we have new books to consider, including the latest from Peter V. Brett, Warren Ellis, Ian C. Esslemont, Peter F. Hamilton, Andrew P. Mayer, Elizabeth Moon, Terry Pratchett, Allen Steele, Timothy Zahn, and many others.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
The best tv Rick has watched in recent months, aside from his on-going one-episode-a-night rewatching
of Babylon 5, is the Doctor Who Christmas Special, "The Snowmen". His vote: not as
good as previous Christmas Specials. For one thing, Rick is getting tired of the repeated use of the two-word
phrase "Doctor who?" Once was great. More than once in every season runs the idea into the ground. Also,
in this episode, the Doctor is uncommonly stupid, so much so that viewer will want to yell at him.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
a movie review by Rick Norwood
The Hobbit is good enough to rate four stars from Rick but he still finds it disappointing. He thinks his expectations were too high.
He wanted to mention that The Hobbit is easily one of his ten
favorite books of all time, up there with titles like Robert A. Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility,
and Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man.
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So where to begin this year? Does Mark London Williams need to start the year with a tradition, to bookend the
one(s) that ended 2012? Should he predict the ten books he will like best by year's end, and see how the actual final list
compares? (Actually, Mark thinks that could be kind of fun, if he really had the vaguest notion of all the things he'd wind up reading.)
Instead, he has several different columns in mind, and he decided to kick things off with not resolutions, exactly,
but "tidbits." Touching on themes he'd like to expand on in the months to come, ideas for future columns,
and short reviews of recently launched series.
reviewed by Rich Horton
In his novels, Neal Stephenson is famous for his absorbing infodumps -- pages going into detail on say, the technical details
of aspects of cryptography, or on the experience of eating Cap'n Crunch.
Show, don't tell, they say, but there have always been authors who could make telling great fun, and Stephenson is one of
those. So it's not a surprise to find him a fine writer of nonfiction, as this first collection
Limbo by Bernard Wolfe
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
In the middle an atomic war (pre-ICBMs) waged by fleets of bombers directed by a
Soviet and a Western EMSIAC, Dr. Martine, a neurosurgeon
in an airborne MASH plane, has had enough of the murderous madness. He steals an aircraft and, defying the
computer, flies to a south Pacific island where he holes up for eighteen years, performing lobotomies on the
locals, who have a tradition of skull-boring each other to control aggression.
The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod
reviewed by David Soyka
This is a techno-thriller, though it's more precisely a geek-thriller
in that the first person narrator, Lucy Stone, is an online game developer for
a company called Small Worlds (one of number of jokes underpinning the novel's plotline). However, Lucy isn't so
much a geek as a "chicks-kick butt"-styled heroine who is usually the smartest one in a room full of clueless
The Stormlord Trilogy by Glenda Larke
reviewed by Dominic Cilli
In tone and quality, Glenda Larke's Stormlord Trilogy is the closet thing Dominic has read to
Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy in a long time. The setting, characters, world-building, theology
and plot are all done with exceeding care and all come off without a hitch. The magic system also deserves to
be mentioned. It's all based on water, not all that original, but Larke uses it in some very imaginative ways
with a clearly defined set of rules.