Reviews: KW Science Fiction and Fantasy

Just Pour Me Another One

They Promised Me The Gun Wasn’t Loaded — James Alan Gardner
The Dark and the Spark, book 2

2018’s They Promised Me The Gun Wasn’t Loaded is the second novel in James Alan Gardner’s The Dark and the Spark1 series. It is a sequel to 2017’s All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault.

University of Waterloo students Jools, K2, Miranda, and Shar were victims of a classic Mad Scientist’s lab accident, which, far from killing them, imbued them all with Light-derived superhuman abilities. Each so-called Spark gained a different set of powers; each adopted a different code-name to reflect their new identities (Ninety-Nine, Zircon, Aria, and Dakini). All of them were drafted into the on-going struggle between the Darklings (the one percent who control society) and the Light.

The Light opposes the vampires, demons, wraiths, and other Darklings. That doesn’t mean the Light is good, as Jools/Ninety-Nine is painfully aware.

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Ghosts, talking rats and teleporting couches - the speculative fiction of Suzanne Church

Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction — Suzanne Church

Unlike the previous two Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) Science Fiction and Fantasy authors, I have not to my knowledge met Suzanne Church – yet - but I did encounter her “Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop”, during my failed attempt to listen to every audio piece at Clarkesworld1. Church was first published almost a decade ago but she is not especially prolific and this is her first collection. Elements collects twenty-one stories by Church, which is actually eight more stories than are credited to her over at isfdb. I would like to say that the gaps in her isfdb entry are because seven of the stories in Elements are original to Elements itself - which is true - but Elements itself is mentioned in that entry.

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“My name is Festina Ramos, and I take great pride in my personal appearance.”

Expendable — James Alan Gardner
League of Peoples, book 1

Given that the University of Waterloo has been a hotbed of innovation since its founding it is not surprising that there have been science fiction authors connected with it at least as far back as the 1970s, but despite the fact that I have lived on campus on and off since 1961 I’ve met fewer of them than seems reasonable in retrospect.

It may be that at some point during his years at UW, I crossed paths with Thomas J. Ryan (The Adolescence of P1) but that would only have been in the literal sense, two strangers passing on some particular bit of campus. It’s not impossible that at some engineering mixer thrown by my parents I met the late Edward Llewellyn-Thomas (The Douglas Convolution as well as other books) but if I did I certainly never connected him with his pen name Edward Llewellyn. The first science fiction author connected with the University of Waterloo I know for a fact I met is James Alan Gardner, whose work I heard first on radio in the 1970s, who I met in person thanks to FASS, the University of Waterloo’s longest-operating amateur theatre group, and who gives me a ride to gaming every week.

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Quietly addictive: The Stone Boatmen

The Stone Boatmen — Sarah Tolmie

It is a sad truth that a life spent reviewing books, particularly genre fiction, particularly fantasy, involves reading a lot of terrible books. Worse, reading variations of the same terrible book, over and over. There is a benefit, which is that a gem of the first water like Sarah Tolmie’s The Stone Boatmen stands out against the rest that much more.

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