The Dark is Rising SequenceIt’s nearly Christmas, and Will Stanton is turning 11. As if puberty and buying presents for 9 siblings weren’t hazard enough, he awakens on his birthday to discover he is the last of the Old Ones, fated to seek the Signs of the Light and stop the Dark from rising.

It’s easy to be snarky, but this festive classic is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

The Dark is Rising SequenceThe Drew family are delighted to spend the summer in Trewissick with Great-uncle Merry.

When the three children discover a crumbling manuscript in the attic, they think they’ve found an adventure to occupy their time.

But the ancient map holds the secret to a long-lost treasure that could tip the balance in the age-old battle with the Dark. Uncertain who to trust, the children find themselves in a race to the finish against forces more menacing than they had ever imagined.

It’s December, and the second worldwide The Dark is Rising Readathon has kicked off. I’m joyfully embracing this as an opportunity to re-visit a childhood favourite, although I shall be adopting an accelerated reading schedule (a book a week, finishing the sequence before New Year) rather than the gracefully staggered but protracted schedule that has you read each book at the time of year in which it is set.

For those who would like to jump on board, more information is available on the official website, and there’s already much discussion on the Facebook Group and Twitter feed. Many thanks to Danny Whittaker for organising us all.

Book cover: A Long Way to a Small Angry PlanetIt feels like I’ve been writing about The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet all month, but it’s time to round up with an actual review of Becky Chambers excellent debut.

Rosemary Harper has faked a new identity and signed on with the Wayfarer as a clerk. Captain Ashby hopes she’ll open doors to juicier contracts. Everyone else just hopes she’s less of a pain in the ass than their fuel engineer.

SciFi Month 2015

It’s the last week of the SciFi Month Read-Along of A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which means spoilers a-go-go and all the feelings as we reach the climax. My heartfelt thanks to Over the Effin’ Rainbow for organising the Read-Along and hosting this last week – I’d been wanting to read this novel, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

SciFi Month 2015

Marking my first post on WordPress rather than LJ (turns out moving platform is like moving house; terrifying and exhilarating and oddly requiring far more tea and boxes than you expected), it’s the third week of the #RRSciFiMonth read-along of A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (previous weeks here and here) organised by Over the Effin’ Rainbow.

I’ve fallen behind due to Life and Other Animals, so it’s a belated round 3 today in brief advance of the final week of the read-along plus a review tomorrow.

Our host for week 3 is Claire Rousseau who has set some excellent questions (it goes without saying that this far through the book there will be spoilers, yes/yes?)

SciFi Month 2015

For those just dropping by out of the blue: this is the second (weekly) installment in a group delight in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, being organised by Over the Effin Rainbow as part of RRSciFiMonth (Ronseal: an opportunity to delight in all things SFF for a month – check out Twitter for a run down of all the stuff going on). It’s not too late to join in – we’ll be reading a quarter of the book a week (and of course you can read it in 3 months time and come back to join in the comments if it takes your fancy). So, getting on to this week’s entertainment…

I’m calling it now: this is far too much fun, and everyone should read it. Okay? Okay.

I seem to be getting involved in a bunch of social review and discussion, which makes me exceedingly happy – not least in this case, as I’ve had my eye on A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet (by Becky Chambers) and this is a perfect excuse to get on and read it! If you’re interested in joining in, the schedule for the readalong is here, and I’m sure you’d be very welcome to jump on board.

I’ll be posting weekly updates along with the rest of the group, followed my usual review when I complete the book.

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This year has seen a particularly bitter feud in the world of SFF, as one group of authors (and readers) conducted a huge turf war over inclusivity in fiction. I’ve avoided discussion of it for the most part, as I have never been to a Worldcon nor voted in the Hugo Awards (the chosen battleground), so I didn’t feel it was my place. All I can say is that I disagree that something is colour blind or equal opportunities if it’s dominated by white blokes. This has nothing to do with whether I or they think the individuals involved are attached to some -ism or other, and everything to do with representation.

Book cover: Orthe - Chronicles of Carrick V by Mary Gentle (Golden Witchbreed / Ancient Light)Ancient Light continues the epic world-building of Golden Witchbreed, giving us a good look at the Southern Continent to explain the fragile balance of power before the action returns to the Hundred Thousand for the devastating final act.

This is great stuff, but ultimately a tough sell and not one for readers seeking happy escapism. I think Ancient Light is a book that needs to be read in the context of the time it was written (the 1980s) to be fully appreciated – while it works on its own terms, the themes gain resonance when you keep corporate greed and the Cold War in mind.

Book cover: Orthe - Chronicles of Carrick V by Mary Gentle (Golden Witchbreed / Ancient Light)I didn’t mean to read this, but I’m ever so glad I did – it’s an excellent book and a great introduction to Mary Gentle.

Earth has mastered FTL travel, and sent diplomats and xeno-teams all over the galaxy to establish relations with our alien neighbours. Relatively inexperienced Lynne Christie is sent to the enigmatic world of Orthe / Carrick V when the previous envoy dies – in part, she soon realises, because she is expendable.