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Reviews in Project: A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction (49)

We Could Be Heroes

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault  (Dark Versus Spark, book 1)

By James Alan Gardner  

13 Oct, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

10 comments

According to James Alan Gardner’s website:

I'm an award-winning writer, editor and teacher of science fiction and fantasy. I've published nine novels and a host of short stories in leading SF&F outlets. In addition to writing, I'm strongly interested in math and geology. In my spare time, I teach kung fu to kids and (unsuccessfully) to my rabbit.

2017’s All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault is the first novel in James Alan Gardner’s new Dark versus Spark series.

Kim Lam came to the University of Waterloo to reinvent themself, to go from gender to assertiveness. Thanks to some Mad Science, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

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This Heavy Crown

Back From Chaos  (Earth’s Pendulum, book 1)

By Yvonne Hertzberger  

6 Oct, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

2 comments

To paraphrase her website:

Yvonne Hertzberger has been a Jill of all Trades; actor, singer, gardener, hairstylist, and decorator. This long-time student of human nature, empty nester, retiree and late bloomer, finally found her calling writing epic fantasy. She lives with her spouse, Mark, in Stratford, Ontario.

2011’s Back from Chaos is the first volume in Hertzberger’s Earth’s Pendulum series. 

Catania has fallen! Supine beneath the forces of neighboring Bargia, the Catanians expect the worst: looting, rape, arson, and mass executions.

What the Catanians get — much to the surprise of Marja, sole remaining member of Catania’s royal family — are reason and conciliation. The conquerors attempt to find a solution that will prevent future wars.

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Truth in the Space Between

The Last Namsara

By Kristen Ciccarelli  

29 Sep, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

2 comments

To quote her website:

Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She spent her childhood running wild with her cousins, adventuring in the woods, building forts in the barn, and obsessing over books, dragons, and girls wielding really cool weapons.

2017’s The Last Namsara is Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut novel.

Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, hunts dragons. She has devoted her life to this quest, to the point that dragons have become an endangered species. 

Her father the king has one final task for Asha. Kill Kozu, the First Dragon. One last death and the king’s rule will be secure against any revival of the old faith (and its dragons). 

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It’s The Hard Knock Life

Beasts of New York

By Jon Evans  

22 Sep, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

3 comments

To quote his Wikipedia entry, Arthur Ellis award-winner Jon Evans was 

(b)orn to an expatriate Rhodesian father and Canadian mother. Evans grew up in Waterloo, Ontario and graduated from the University of Waterloo. He has a degree in electrical engineering and over 10 years of experience working as a software engineer. 

He’s also a former customer of mine, from the days when I owned a game store. Small world!

2011’s Beasts of New York won the Foreword Medal of the Year Award. 

Patch son of Silver, of the Seeker clan, of the Treetops tribe, of the Center Kingdom, faces calamity, as do all his compatriots. Long winter means food stores are pressed to their limits and beyond. Instead of a meagre supply barely able to see Patch and his kin to spring, there is nothing. Starvation looms.

Patch discovers that his clan and kind face an existential threat that is far greater than a lean winter. The fate of the beasts of New York rests on the shoulders of Patch the squirrel.

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A Cherry Blossom Tree

The Riverbed of the World

By B. C. Holmes  

15 Sep, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

1 comment

B. C. Holmes is:

an IT consultant, a social justice activist (especially in regards to Haiti), a trans person, a writer and cartoonist, an sf fan, a pinko-commie feminist, a film-lover and a Canadian (eh?).

To date they have produced a small but diverse body of work. It includes non-fiction and fiction, graphic (in the sense of comic books) fiction, and spec-fic stories such as Ghosts in the Machine,” Glamour,” and the short work I’m reviewing, The Riverbed of the World.”

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Strange Little Girl

Flesh Failure

By Sèphera Girón  

8 Sep, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

3 comments

Sèphera Girón’s 2014’s Flesh Failure is a standalone horror story. 

Agatha is a patchwork woman, covered in stitches and scars, smelling of death. She has been buried and left for dead, but claws her way out of the grave. She has only spotty memories of the people, and the process, that animated her. 

It is London in 1888. Employment opportunities for women are few, and even fewer for scarred women who reek of the grave. It’s even hard to make friends, as few people can tolerate her smell … especially in the small, poorly ventilated rooms that are the lot of the poor. But Agatha persists, and eventually finds work as a fortune teller and freak. She even discovers that the occasional dose of electricity will temporarily reverse some of her more alarming symptoms.

Except for her tendency to ambush and consume the unwary. Ah well, nobody is perfect. 

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Cast a Deadly Spell

A Pocket Full of Murder  (Uncommon Magic, book 1)

By R. J. Anderson  

18 Aug, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

0 comments

2015’s A Pocket Full of Murder is the first volume in R. J. Anderson’s Uncommon Magic series. Pocket is a young adult fantasy-mystery.

Despite the sober foresight that placed most political power in the Tarreton City Council in the hands of the local aristocracy, Tarreton has not prospered. In large part this is because the local Sagelord Lord Arvis is a fool whose decrees have consistently undermined the local economy. 

It is fortunate for the aristocracy that they are sufficiently buffered by personal wealth that they can maintain a proper lifestyle despite economic downturn. It’s a very different story for such plebeians as widower Urias Breck and his family. Not only is he unemployed (thanks to Arvis’ whimsical kneecapping of the local economy), but as a Moshite dissenter he is at the bottom of the list for most employers (who prefers their employees to belong to the Unifying Church). His affiliation with the Workers’ Club (wild-eyed extremists who want fair pay and responsible government) would further diminish his chances of being hired if anyone were to find out this last disreputable, disqualifying fact.

Or it would, if Urias had not just been arrested for murdering Governor Orien. Unemployment would be preferable to hanging. 

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Eat Me Like a Sacrament

The Cannibal’s Handbook & Spider Spun

By Kit Daven  

11 Aug, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

0 comments

2015’s Spider Spun” and The Cannibal’s Handbook” are two short stories by Kitchener-Waterloo author Kit Daven. I bought them because they were only 99 cents (less than a coffee and a doughnut) and because for some reason (even though the word counts are clearly indicated) I thought they were novellas. Both are from the upcoming collection, She’s No Good (upcoming, but no release date given).


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