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.

UK Book Cover: Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen ChoSorcerer to the Crown is a frothy fantasy farce with serious ideas under its lacy skirts; comparing it to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (as many people do) feels inappropriate to me as I found that novel dour and slow. Sorcerer to the Crown may also be set in a Regency England with a well-established magical tradition, but it has a gleeful exuberance that makes it a joy from start to finish.

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.

Book Cover: The Apex Book of World SF 4I 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.

bintiYoung Binti is a genius, a daughter of a Namibian tribe that is isolated by choice. When she is invited – first of her people – to take a place at Oomza Uni, the foremost place of learning in the galaxy, she sneaks away to accept it. But she’s about to learn there’s more to be feared in the galaxy than her people’s disapproval…

Book cover: Lifelode - Jo WaltonI honestly don’t know quite how much I like Lifelode, or indeed what to say about it. I think I just have to go with ‘it’s delightful’, in the end. It embraces the mundane, mostly describing a very small and very human drama (a complicated 4-way marriage being unsettled by the arrival of a handsome young man and an acerbic and unexpectedly alive great-grandmother) that just happens to be punctuated by little acts of magic that people take entirely for granted. Then at the end events get a bit out of hand and feel more like any other fantasy novel.

House of Shattered WingsI have thoroughly enjoyed Aliette de Bodard‘s scifi short stories and jumped at the thought of a sort of post-apocalyptic angel urban fantasy.

An alternate twentieth century Paris. The Fallen live amongst mankind, banished for crimes against Heaven. Stripped of their wings and their memories, each must rapidly come to terms with their new earthbound existence and find a home in one of the Houses – or die at the hands of humans who steal the magic from their body parts.

Book cover: The Time of the Dark - Barbara HamblyThis is traditional portal fantasy: two outsiders from our world are sucked into a conflict with an ancient, (literally) nebulous enemy in a parallel fantasy world. Darwath is losing the war, its King is dead, his heir a baby, and the political powers are at one another’s throats as they vie for control in spite of ongoing assaults. This first installment sets the scene and embeds the offworlders for (presumably) future glory.

I’ve been reading The Time Traveler’s Almanac since February, and I’ve finally reached the end of the enormous time travel compendium. There’s a reason this is printed as 4 separate volumes – I don’t like to think how heavy the physical edition would have been. 65 stories and 5 essays by different authors old and new explore the concept of time travel, gathered around 4 themes. Following some excellent advice not to read from start to finish, I zipped from point to point like the various protagonists, reading a story from each theme and then putting the book down for a while so that it didn’t get stale.