I realised with glee after my fun revisiting Jurassic Park that I have lots of overlap between my bookshelves and my DVD rack. You know what this means… This month, I’m revisiting an epic tale of feuding Victorian illusionists – but which Christopher did it better? Almost spoiler-free.
It occurred to me that classics of fantasy are as important to me as classics of scifi. So I’m cheating this month, and visiting Earthsea in my celebration of genre classics. I’ll come completely clean: this isn’t even a first read. This was one of my first loves. Can it survive my adult prejudices?
The heart-rending follow-up to last year’s break-out debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, I liked A Closed and Common Orbit so much I read it twice in two months. Honestly, do I need to say more?
What if you spent your first 16 years so close to someone you shared a heart? What would you think if they came to you 10 years later, covered in someone else’s blood? What would you risk to save your twin sister?
Strange things keep coming out of Nadia’s pockets. Not her things. Not things that might accidentally have found their way into the wrong coat. Not things that should, by rights, physically fit in the space afforded by the pockets in question. But they keep coming out. Pockets is the World Fantasy Award-nominated short story by Amal El-Mohtar.
Laurence and Temeraire return home to discover that British dragons are dying of a fatal illness. The Aerial Corps is grounded, leaving the country exposed to Napoleon and Lien. A belated insight dispatches the boys and their ailing friends to Africa in the hope of finding a cure – but nobody has ever returned from an expedition to the interior…
Revealed as a Chinese Celestial, Temeraire has become an international incident: the Chinese have sent a delegation to bring him home, and the Admiralty are minded to agree in the interests of diplomatic relations. Will our boys be separated?
I could dress this up ten ways from Sunday, but why bother: Temeraire is the Napoleonic War with added dragons, and if that doesn’t float your boat then I don’t know what to say. I fell head over heels with this historical bromance cum fantasy of manners, because it is glorious. And it has dragons.
The Best of Apex kicks off with multi-awarding short story Jackalope Wives. When Eva’s brooding boy half-catches himself a jackalope wife, he turns to his Grandma Harken for help. But there’s not much an old lady can do about some mistakes. Or is there?
Bonus bite: Grandma Harken deserves more than one story, so Ursula Vernon wrote her another adventure – The Tomato Thief.
Mildred is very sick. Some days she knows who she’s talking to, other days she doesn’t. But the family have invested in an android carer with a state-of-the-art empathy net, who can be anyone Mildred needs today. It will come to know all of them better than they know themselves.
When the Mad Duke Tremontaine offers to drop his vendetta against his sister if she surrenders her daughter to him for 6 months, young Katherine heads for the City with pipe-dreams of velvet cloaks, rich suitors and saving her family. But what does Alec Campion really want with her? And can a woman ever exercise the privilege of the sword?
A British sergeant with PTSD ‘retires’ to the soon-to-be-destroyed island of Mancreu, briefed to sit tight and turn a blind eye to the Black Fleet of illegal activity in the harbour. Lester Ferris is happy to do so, until a street kid steals his heart and drags him into the dying throes of a violent underworld.
Bite-size books will be a regular weekly feature, as I have accumulated a healthy pile of them that I’m very excited about (plus several short story collections). This week: The Fox’s Tower and other tales is flash fiction that made my soul sing.
It 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.
I rarely read non-fiction and even more rarely autobiographies – I tend to be interested in themes, periods or cultures rather than people. That said, I’ve been curious about Ayaan Hirsi Ali for years and her autobiography successfully tackles issues of history, geography, culture and religion – so I was engrossed.