If the goal of a short story is to leave you wanting more, A Reaper of Stone is a stunning success.
Elinor is the King’s Reaper, duty-bound to demolish the ancient keeps of the marches to prevent them falling into hostile hands. When the Lady of Timberline dies, Elinor is sucked into the vicious politics of Resa’s grasping nobility. Will she confirm the new Lord who seeks the title, or investigate the Lady’s unexpected death?
Cas Leung trains genetically-engineered monsters to keep the rising seas safe. Kidnapped by a pirate queen to train a stolen monster and turn the tables, Cas must decide what she values most: the code she was raised to follow, or the lives of those she loves.
I received this as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer title – it’s the latest in a series of collections of speculative / science fiction shorts from around the world. I took it as a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and get to know the works of non-Anglo/American authors, many of whom I hadn’t previously heard of. And generally, the quality here is very good – even the stories that weren’t to my taste were well-written and accomplished.
Ok, I’ve taken the hit so you don’t have to. The rumors about this being oh-so dry? They aren’t lying.
Three-Body started well, with a fascinating glimpse into the crimes against science committed during the Cultural Revolution. It continued well, setting up a mysterious ‘why are our top scientists committing suicide?’ thriller set in the modern day. It’s an interesting cross-cultural experience with the seeds of good characters and interesting stories.
To be honest, I don’t quite know what to do with this one. It wasn’t quite what I […]
A reluctant Star and her sulky twin teenagers are sent to Mars by her Machiavellian boss to investigate the traces of a possible past civilisation. A botched landing leaves them on the wrong side of the planet, and they soon realise a vicious enemy from the Belt is hard on their heels. Can Star fix her relationship with her kids, survive a loony and solve the mystery of the Cydonian ruins? Of course she can. She’s Alaskan.
I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this anywhere near as much as The Lady Astronaut of Mars. There are good ingredients in this Hugo-winning short story (and it is short), but it didn’t pack the emotional resonance of Lady Astronaut.
Zinzi December is a ‘zoo’: she has an animal familiar. Relegated to the violent slums of Zoo City when she is released from jail, she and her Sloth survive on her talent for sensing the invisible threads that bind us to things we’ve lost – retrieving them for a fee. Her only rules: no lost persons cases, no emotional ties. When a client dies unexpectedly, she gets sucked into a case to find one of South Africa’s biggest pop stars, and everything gets very complicated quickly.
Billed as ‘the bastard child of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Sarah Waters‘, this more or less lives up to that promise in terms of plot: some City businessmen wish to purchase titled husbands for their daughters, and come up with a hare-brained scheme involving piano lessons to show off the girls’ wealth and accomplishments. Unfortunately, their French music master has been incentivised to seduce each girl before they master Herr Bach.
Brian Meredith is a disabled man in a dystopian near-future.
He’s the least likely (and least likeable) person to hold the fate of the country in his hands. Prepare yourself for tomorrow: it’s going to be bleak.
Author David is on the verge of his big break when he bumps into a stranger who follows him home – a stranger who is insistent that they have met before. Catherine Warren is being stalked, but when she asks ex-cop John to investigate, he slows realises that the truth is more complex – and more terrifying.
In the near future, Earth is overcrowded and we’re heading to space. Star Svensdotter is in charge of getting Ellfive habitat commissioned, and that’s what she’s damn well going to do. Entertaining antics in space here we come.