1956’s Plague Ship returns to the adventures of the Free Trader Solar Queen in a little tale that illustrates the fundamental rule of the Solar Queen stories: Then Things Got Worse.
1998’s The Death of the Necromancer was Martha Well’s third novel, following 1993’s The Element of Fire and 1995’s City of Bones. Like The Element of Fire , Necromancer is set in the city of Ile-Rien, a city that seems to be a bit like a gaslight era Paris, but which has the extra fun element of magic.
M. A. Foster published seven novels and a collection of short stories between 1975 and 1985. Despite having been intermittently out of print since first publication, his work still has its fans1. The Gameplayers of Zan was only the second of his seven novels, but, if you find someone who still remembers Foster’s work, it’s very likely that the book they will mention first is Gameplayers . It’s one of those curious gems the mid-1970s2 produced, a science-fictional anthropological exploration slash Kafkaesque political thriller that probably wouldn’t see print in today’s market.
There’s always a certain risk inherent mentioning this author or his books because he is known to show up in online venues to offer unrequested commentary should the review deviate from truth as he sees it. However, it seems a pity to skip a book I enjoyed just because of a minor authorial quirk1. So, allons‑y!
1956’s Crossroads of Time is in many respects another straightforward, serviceable little adventure novel that I would have found unremarkable except for an interesting choice of protagonist and a date of publication that makes the previous even more interesting. These two points cause me to stroke my beard in a thoughtful manner, which I believe makes me look intellectual rather than itchy.
Zenna Henderson’s 1995 single-author collection, Ingathering: The Complete People Stories, assembles, I think for the first time, all of her stories about the People. The People are aliens forced to flee the only Home they knew when it decided to pull a Krypton. Although I’ve owned this volume for twenty years (when did 1995 get to be so twenty years ago?) I’ve never actually read it or any Henderson at all1, so this was a welcome chance to sample the works of a noteworthy author hitherto unfamiliar to me.
Karel Čapek’s 1936 satire War with the Newts was published towards the end of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war golden age, a time when the writing was already on the wall for unfortunate Czechoslovakia. One can sense from the novel’s wry, often bitter, humour that Čapek had pretty clear views about what people were really like and those views were not positive ones. Čapek is often funny but it’s a dark funny.
Second in the Elemental Logic series, 2004’s Earth Logic answers the question “Was Fire Logic a fluke or can Marks write that well consistently?” Answer: “Marks can write that well consistently.” So yay, one more review for 2015 without hitting a dud.
2014’s The Way In to Chaos had the working title Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts . That’s a goal ambitious enough to make this the first new book that I have read in 2015. The sunniness of my outlook and the degree of malice I will bear toward the hundreds of books by hundreds of authors I will read over the next twelve months may well be affected by my reaction to this book. But no pressure!
1974’s Mote in God’s Eye was the first collaboration between Niven, by then a winner of multiple Hugo Awards, and Pournelle, the winner of the 1973 Campbell for Best New Writer. Readers could be excused for expecting a lot from this novel given who wrote it. They must have liked what they found, because this earned nominations for both the Best Novel Hugo (losing to Le Guin’s The Dispossessed ) and the Best Novel Nebula (losing to Haldeman’s The Forever War ). Forty-one years later, does it still stand up?