Blog Posts

Books Received, May 12 - 18

Oxygen Barons

Man brought life to the Moon...

And Man has the power to render the Moon barren again. As warring factions struggle for domination through control of essential resources—water, minerals, oxygen—the young Lunar republic becomes a political pawn. Just as Earth exerts its pull on the tidal waters of the Moon, it also commands the tide of events. And only two people can prevent the total destruction of the Moon's atmosphere—Galvanix, a man of science... and Taggart, a woman of war.


Read post


Books Received, May 5 - 11

Debris

Tanyana is among the highest ranking in her far-future society – a skilled pionner, able to use a mixture of ritual and innate talent to manipulate the particles that hold all matter together. But an accident brings her life crashing down around her ears. She is cast down amongst the lowest of the low, little more than a garbage collector. But who did this to her, and for what sinister purpose? Her quest to find out will take her to parts of the city she never knew existed, and open the door to a world she could never have imagined.


Read post


Books Received, April 28 - May 4

Into The Dark

The Solar System turned out to be a lot less friendly than we expected. Dreams of Martian canals and Venusian jungles died in the harsh light shone by Mariners and Veneras and Voyagers. But what we did get was an array of worlds of awesome majesty, one that's enough to scare off 99% percent of would-be explorers—but not you. Using the Cepheus Engine core rules or other similar game systems, the Into the Dark setting book lets you play OSR SF adventures in the near-future of the Solar System as we understand it now. Europa. Titan. Pluto, points beyond? They all will kill you if you make one mistake, and they won't even register that you're there when they do it. You're going to go anyway.

Look for more World Building Consortium products soon! Pre-made settings "with a difference" for OSR games of all types.


Read post


Announcing BRP Reviews Presents

  AKA BRP:

Because I so very much need another ongoing review series.

As previously established a year ago today, Runequest was an important part of my early roleplaying experience. Parent company Chaosium distilled the essential details of the game engine into a system they called Basic Roleplaying. Both under Chaosium and the game companies who licensed the BRP engine, the BRP rules have been at the heart of many roleplaying games over the decades.


I own many of them. Too many to review in a reasonable amount of time. What I can do is focus on a specific subset: science fiction roleplaying games that use the BRP game engine. Once a month or so, I will review one of those SF RPGs. It should only take me two or three years to work through the lot!

My current list of candidates is as follows:

  • BRP Mecha

  • Chronicles of Future Earth

  • Cthulhu Rising

  •  Elfquest

  • End Time

  • Fractured Hopes

  • Future World

  •  Hawkmoon

  • High Colonies

  •  Laundry

  • Luther Arkwright

  •  M-Space

  • Mission to Epsilon

  •  Mutant

  • Once Men

  • Operation Ulysses

  • Outpost 19

  • Other Suns

  • Ringworld (Already reviewed)

  • River of Heaven

  • Rubble and Ruin

  • Star Wars (RQ6)

  • Swords of Cydoria

  • Worlds Beyond

Read post


April 2018 in Review

April

22 books read. 12 by women (55%), 10 by men (45%).

Works by POC: 6 (27%)

Year to Date

86 books read. 46 by women (53%), 34 by men (40%), 2 by NB (2%). 4 by persons whose gender is unknown (5%). 

Works by POC: 36.5 (42%)

And now, the meaningless table.

Read post


Books Received, April 21 - 27

Adrift

At Sigma Station, a remote mining facility and luxury hotel in deep space, a group of tourists boards a small vessel to take in the stunning views of the Horsehead Nebula.

But while they're out there, a mysterious ship with devastating advanced technology attacks the station. Their pilot's quick thinking means that the tourists escape with their lives - but as the dust settles, they realise they may be the only survivors . . .

Adrift in outer space on a vastly under-equipped ship, they've got no experience, no weapons, no contact with civilisation. They are way out of their depth, and if they can't figure out how to work together, they're never getting home alive.

Because the ship that destroyed the station is still out there. And it's looking for them...


Read post


Books Received, Humble Bundle

Robot Visions

From the writer whose name is synonymous with the science of robotics comes five decades of robot visions-36 landmark stories and essays, plus three rare tales-gathered together in one volume. A collection of 18 of Asimov's ( Foundation ) robot stories. The earliest tales here, written from 1940 to 1960, remain among the most-loved in the field, the best being “Little Lost Robot,” about a robot who obeys an order to “get lost.” “The Bicentennial Man” (1976) about one robot's desires and efforts to be first free, then equal, is the quintessential robot-as-man’s-mirror story. The book concludes with brief essays offering companionable commentary on the history of robots in fiction, the Frankenstein complex, the origin of Asimov's famous Three Laws and the author’s own surprise at the emergence of robots during his lifetime.

Review
“This collection offers 18 stories about robots as well as brief essays in which Asimov comments on robots in fiction, the Frankenstein complex, his famous Three Laws and the development of actual robots. “The earliest tales here, written from 1940 to 1960, remain among the most-loved in the field.” —Publishers Weekly

“Classic stories with new material, both fiction and fact, that puts the whole theme together in a larger context.” —Poul Andersen

About the Author

Isaac Asimov authored over 400 books in a career that lasted nearly 50 years. As a leading scientific writer, historian, and futurist, he covered a variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to humor, and won numerous awards for his work.


Read post


Books Received, April 14 - 20

Thousand Year

In a posthuman virtual world sealed off from the ruins of Earth, the idyll is shattered by an arachnid invasion.

Designed in imitation of a harbor town in southern Europe, the Realm of Summer is just one of the zones within the virtual resort known as the Costa del Número. It has been more than a thousand years since human guests stopped coming to the Realm, leaving the AIs alone in their endless summer. But now all that has come to a sudden end, as an army of mysterious Spiders begin reducing the town to nothing. As night falls, the few remaining AIs prepare for their final, hopeless battle… War between the virtual and the real begins in book one of the Angel of the Ruins series.


Read post


Books Received, April 7 - 13

61O A Hd Eed L

A dark and twisted Victorian melodrama, like Alice in Wonderland goes to Hell, from the author of The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath.

Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour, Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angelcakes.

One night, Mr Angelcakes visits Boo Boo and carves a butterfly onto her back. Boo Boo starts to metamorphose into a butterfly/human hybrid, and is kidnapped by Professor Hummingbird. When Mr Loveheart attempts to rescue her with the aid of Detective White and Constable Walnut, they too are turned into butterflies.

Caught between Professor Hummingbird and the demon Angelcakes, Loveheart finds himself entangled in a web much wider and darker than he could have imagined, and a plot that leads him right to the Prime Minister and even Queen Victoria herself …


Read post


Books Received, March 31 - April 6

War tears the galaxy apart, power tests the limits of family, and violence gives way to freedom in this exhilarating sequel to Empress of a Thousand Stars.

Empress Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne. Fugitive Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life. Madman With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly must confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Rhoda Belleza crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy in this exhilarating debut, perfect for readers of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae Files.

The Snail on the Slope takes place in two worlds. One is the Administration, an institution run by a surreal, Kafkaesque bureaucracy whose aim is to govern the forest below. The other is the Forest, a place of fear, weird creatures, primitive people and violence. Peretz, who works at the Administration, wants to visit the Forest. Candide crashed in the Forest years ago and wants to return to the Administration. Their journeys are surprising and strange, and readers are left to puzzle out the mysteries of these foreign environments. The Strugatskys themselves called The Snail on the Slope “the most perfect and the most valuable of our works.”

A ragtag crew of humans and posthumans discover alien technology that could change the fate of humanity… or awaken an ancient evil and destroy all life in the galaxy.


The shady crew of the White Raven run freight and salvage at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Alien Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien allies already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials… and the gifts they bestowed on her could kill all humanity, or take it out to the most distant stars.

The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field.

Read post


March 2018 in Review

March

21 books read. 10.5 by women (50%), 7.5 by men (36%). 2 by NB (10%) 1 by an author whose gender is unknown (5%).  Note: there is a round off error.

Works by POC: 7.5 (36%)

Year to Date

64 books read. 34 by women (53%), 24 by men (38%), 2 by NB (3%). 4 by persons whose gender is unknown (6%). 

Works by POC: 30.5 (48%)

And now, the meaningless table.

Read post


Books Received, March 17 - 23

Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy, which began with Winter Tide and continues with Deep Roots, confronts H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos head-on, boldly upturning his fear of the unknown with a heart-warming story of found family, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of human cruelty and the cosmic apathy of the universe. Emrys brings together a family of outsiders, bridging the gaps between the many people marginalized by the homogenizing pressure of 1940s America.Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Rootscontinues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.

This isn’t a Commonweal story.  This is something Past Me wrote, and refered to as The Doorstop.It’s been said that everyone of a certain age who winds up writing fantasy in English has a response to The Lord of the Rings in them.This book is mine.It’s about grief, duty, and royalty as responses to violation of the natural order.  Also adversity, social change, terrible sartorial choices, and an obscure literary revenge on Thomas Hardy.The acts of vengeance taking place in the text aren’t obscure at all.  Some people make Adversity very, very sorry it ever said anything.  Gruesome and terrible things happen.There were giants in the earth in those days.
Futurist Karl Schroeder imagines infiltrating the elite of a marginal society in The MillionEvery thirty years, ten billion visitors overrun Earth during one month of madness: partying, polluting, and brawling. In between, the world is ruled by the Million; the inheritors and custodians of all of humanity’s wealth and history, they lead unimaginable lives of privilege and wealth, and they see it as their due.Gavin Penn-of-Chaffee is an illegal child — a visitor hidden among the Million. When the family that raised him in secret is torn apart, Gavin must impersonate a dead boy to survive. What he doesn’t know is that his new identity is expected at the School of Auditors — the Million’s feared police force, sworn to find and capture outcasts like him to keep the peace. In order to solve the murder of his adoptive father, Gavin must keep his disguise and his wits intact within the stronghold of those threatened by his very existence.
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Life Achievement Awards “One of the masters of modern science fiction.” — The Washington Post Book World Eight-year-old Horty Bluett has never known love. His adoptive parents are violent; his classmates are cruel. So he runs away from home and joins a carnival. Performing alongside the fireaters, snakemen and “little people,” Horty is accepted. But he is not safe. For when he loses three fingers in an accident and they grow back, it becomes clear that Horty is not like other boys. And it is a difference some people might want to use. But his difference risks not only his own life but the lives of the outcasts who provided for him, for so many years, with a place to call home. In The Dreaming Jewels, Theodore Sturgeon renders the multiple wounds of loneliness, fear, and persecution with uncanny precision. Vividly drawn, expertly plotted, The Dreaming Jewels is a Sturgeon masterpiece.
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Life Achievement Awards “One of the masters of modern science fiction.” — The Washington Post Book World Eight-year-old Horty Bluett has never known love. His adoptive parents are violent; his classmates are cruel. So he runs away from home and joins a carnival. Performing alongside the fireaters, snakemen and “little people,” Horty is accepted. But he is not safe. For when he loses three fingers in an accident and they grow back, it becomes clear that Horty is not like other boys. And it is a difference some people might want to use. But his difference risks not only his own life but the lives of the outcasts who provided for him, for so many years, with a place to call home. In The Dreaming Jewels, Theodore Sturgeon renders the multiple wounds of loneliness, fear, and persecution with uncanny precision. Vividly drawn, expertly plotted, The Dreaming Jewels is a Sturgeon masterpiece.
Six misfits, one powerful entity. A novel about belonging by “one of the greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy who ever lived” (Stephen King). Individually, they are a seemingly simpleminded young man living in the woods who can read the thoughts of others, a runaway girl with telekinetic powers, twin girls who can barely speak but can teleport across great distances, and an infant with a mind like a supercomputer. Together, they are the Gestalt — a single extraordinary being comprised of remarkable parts — although an essential piece may be missing . . .   But are they the next stage in human development or harbingers of the end of civilization? The answer may come when they are joined by Gerry. Powerfully telepathic, he lacks a moral compass — and his hatred of the world that has rejected him could prove catastrophic.    Winner of the International Fantasy Award and considered Theodore Sturgeon’s masterpiece, More Than Human is a genre-bending wonder that explores themes of responsibility and morality, individuality, and belonging. Moving and suspenseful, lyrical and provocative, the novel was one of the first to elevate science fiction into the realm of literature, and inspired musicians and artists, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash.   From the Nebula Award–winning author of Godbody, The Dreaming Jewels, and other great works of science fiction, this is an unforgettable reading experience and a must for anyone who enjoys Ramsey Campbell, Robert Silverberg, or Philip José Farmer.
A Nebula Award–winning author reinvents the alien invasion novel with this story of a malevolent, galaxy-consuming hive mind — and its surprising human hosts.  Drunk, angry, abusive, and pathetic, Dan Gurlick exists at the very lowest level of human civilization, sleeping in junkyard cars and scrounging through garbage cans for his dinner. But his last rotting meal contains something unexpected: a spore that originated from a galaxy many light-years away. First, Dan eats the spore, then, the spore eats Dan; and the homeless alcoholic becomes a host for the Medusa. An insatiable alien hive mind, the Medusa has already consumed the life forms of a billion planets. Now, it hungers for the dominant species of Earth. But to do so, it must somehow unite the planet’s intelligent creatures into a single shared consciousness: an assignment the miserable wretch Dan may prove surprisingly capable of carrying out. To Marry Medusa is suspenseful, inventive, and surprisingly compassionate; a vibrant and unforgettable exploration of what it means to be more — or less — than human. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author’s estate, among other sources.
Theodore Sturgeon’s visionary tale sends a man into a utopian future, where perfection has been achieved at a shocking cost — especially for our ideas about genderNothing about Charlie Johns’s life is particularly unusual until the day he wakes up in the future. Suddenly surrounded by impossible architecture and technology, Charlie finds himself warmly welcomed by the citizens of Ledom, a fantastic, futuristic Eden with no poverty, no pollution, no wars, no strife, and only one gender. Everything Charlie has always believed about men, women, and sexual identity has been proven wrong, and now he is being asked by his eager hosts to judge their perfect society before he returns to his own time. But something isn’t quite right about Ledom’s ideal existence — and when cracks begin to appear in its flawless façade, Charlie must unearth the city’s hidden secrets … before it’s too late. Sturgeon’s Venus Plus X is literary science fiction at its most brazen and inventive. A scathing critique of American puritanism that unabashedly explores questions of sexuality and gender, it remains as relevant, insightful, provocative, and troubling as when it first appeared in print. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author’s estate, among other sources.

Read post


A Belated Announcement


Books Received, March 10 — March 16


Captain Marta Ramos, the most notorious pirate in the Duchy of Denver, has her hands full, what between fascinating murder mysteries, the delectable and devious Delilah Nimowitz, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas (the Duke of Denver’s new head of security) and her usual activities: piracy, banditry and burglary. Not to mention the horrors of high society tea parties. In contrast, Simms, her second in command, longs only for a quiet life, filled with tasty sausages and fewer explosions. Or does he? Join Captain Ramos, Simms and their crew as they negotiate the perils of air, land and drawing room in a series of fast-paced adventures in a North America that never was.

Not all patients can be cured — or want to be.
Psychologist Carolyn Fern’s newest patient suffers from nightmares that leave glyph-shaped wounds across her skin. The case is odd, even for an institution like Arkham Sanatorium, where the unusual becomes the everyday. Things become even more complicated after the young woman claims to have met Malachi — Carolyn’s former patient whose treatment was cut short when he was brutally murdered — in her dreams. What is the link between the two, and how can Carolyn help a patient who, it seems, does not wish to be cured?
The captains of two famous steamboats fight to win a race on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis.
Rising SFF star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God’s DrumsIn an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air – in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.
An anthology of authors eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Huge.


From #1 bestselling author of A Game of Thrones: Nightflyers, coming to television on SyFy, is an epic story of space exploration and cosmic horror, plus five George R. R. Martin classic science fiction tales.On a voyage toward the boundaries of the known universe, nine misfit academics seek out first contact with a shadowy alien race.But another enigma is the Nightflyer itself, a cybernetic wonder with an elusive captain no one has ever seen in the flesh. Soon, however, the crew discovers that their greatest mystery – and most dangerous threat – is an unexpected force wielding a thirst for blood and terror….Also included are five additional classic George R. R. Martin tales of science fiction that explore the breadth of technology and the dark corners of the human mind.
For fans of Pierce Brown and Rhoda Belleza, here is epic space adventure full of action, heart and two kick-butt heroines.Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together — a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintian unity.With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as “joyously wild.” In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hiddenYou are reading this because I am dead.Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider.Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?

Read post


Books Received, March 3 to March 9

Science-based wonder is the core of science fiction. Yet the genre mostly casts science as either triumphalism or hubris. In To Shape the Dark, editor Athena Andreadis offers readers women heroes doing science not-as-usual. Scientists are astrogators who never sleep; To Shape the Dark is part of that vigil.

Read post


Books Received, Feb 24 to March 2


When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo―along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”―Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when hostiles drop through the ceiling of his 6th period Chem Class, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency.
Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative. After a massive screw-up on his first mission, he’s on a pity assignment, a dozen hit lists and now, social media, apparently. As #Prettyboy, of all freaking things.
His cover’s blown, his school’s under siege, and if he screws up now, #Prettyboy will become #Deadboy faster than you can say, ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ Trapped in a high school with rabid killers and rabid fans, he’ll need all his training and then some to save his job, his school and, oh yeah, his life.
I have no idea where to find descriptive text for Locus.



In an epic fantasy kingdom inspired by African legends, a young assassin finds himself hunted by the brothers and sisters he has trained alongside since birth Neythan is one of five young warriors trained and raised together by a mysterious brotherhood of assassins known as the Shedaím. When Neythan is framed for the murder of his closest friend, he pursues his betrayer – and in so doing learns there’s far more to the Brotherhood, and the machinations of the rulers of the warring kingdoms, than he’d ever thought possible.

Read post


February 2018 in Review

February

20 books read. 11.5 by women (58%), 8.5 by men (43%). There is a round off error.

Works by POC: 15* (75%)

Year to Date

43 books read. 23.5 by women (55%), 16.5 by men (38%),  3 by persons whose gender is unknown (7%).

Works by POC: 23 (53%)

And now, the meaningless table.

Read post


Announcing the Suggestion Box!

Have you wanted to draw a book to my attention without actually commissioning a review? Now you can. Simply click on the “suggestion book” icon to the upper right of the site’s front page and fill out the form.

I may or may not then review it but I will always appreciate the suggestions.

Read post


Books Received, Feb 10 - 16

Across the border, the Witch Lords of Vaskandar are preparing for war. But before an invasion can begin, they must call a rare gathering of all seventeen lords to decide a course of action.

Lady Amalia Cornaro knows that this Conclave might be her only chance to smother the growing flames of war, and she is ready to make any sacrifice if it means saving Raverra from destruction.

Amalia and Zaira must go behind enemy lines, using every ounce of wit and cunning they have, to sway Vaskandar from war. Or else it will all come down to swords and fire.

This got a bit long….

Read post


 
  

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Blog Posts by Date