Recommendations from Libreture readers.
A Bagful of Dragon
My girlfriend's brilliant paranormal urban fantasy novel is finally published.
I proofread it thinking it wouldn't be my kind of thing, but I LOVED IT! Loads of fun, really creepy in parts and full of magic and danger.
Set in Leeds, it includes references to actual magical practices and Yorkshire's thriving magic sub-culture.
A great, fast-paced read. Can't wait to proof read the sequel.
A Gonzo Futurist Manifesto
A page-turning essay/manifesto from the beginning of the break-down of our consensus reality. A call to lean into the weirdness and learning to ride the waves of the coming turbulence, rather than attempting to fashion a mythic "simpler time". It is a work that manages to at once be deeply distressing and profoundly uplifting.
A Taste of Honey
Beautiful prose, evocative story, clever book that threw me back on my haunches and made me want to re-read it immediately.
A Taste of Honey
The beauty of the prose is only matched by the imagination behind the world-building. This novella, while short, breaks my heart, reforms it, and breaks it once more.
While the writing itself might not be to everyone's tastes, you cannot deny its beauty. Each sentence is carved and crafted, each paragraph moulded into art.
Reading Kai Ashante Wilson's work is an experience not to be missed.
All is Fair
Fun, busy, and it was 3 years ago when I read it and I can't remember anything about the story, which is great because that means it's time to read it again!
Any Other Name
Like All Is Fair, this was a busy novel that I was sorry to finish, but (very minor) criticisms would be that some of the characters and events in both these books could have used a bit more development. Can't fault it on length, plenty to read, and the story is lots of fun, crammed with action.
Arachne is an unique entry in the cyberpunk genre. It steps between the dystopia of William Gibson and the otherworldliness of Phillip K. Dick.
Full of 'almost' body-horror, corporations so mega that they transact court cases in nanoseconds, and AI characters with more spiritualism in their circuits than the humans that inhabit this post Big-One San Francisco.
A must-read for cyberpunk fans!
Gaie Sebold has created such a rich universe of worlds and characters in her Babylon Steel novels, that you can't help finding something to enjoy.
For me the two books have been a complete blast and I can't wait for the third... when it arrives.
They are FUN! That's not to say there's no emotion, pathos, danger and risk in them. Not at all.
An absolute riot of multi-world fantasy fiction.
Brilliant introduction into the fucked up mind of Chuck Wendig.
Coeur d'Alene Waters
Filled with flawed characters, a corrupt police force, bought and manipulated by a wealthy local family; it's a rich background to the main tale of redemption, coming to terms and moving on.
Slow in parts, it is however, a worthwhile read in itself, serving as an insight into the mining communities of the region and their demise as a local industry and employer.
Crime fiction is a genre I rarely venture into, but Ruth Sutton's Cumbria-set series may be my gateway.
The story nips along at a nice pace, providing plenty of information while avoiding info-dumps. The characters are likeable in their own ways and the late 60s setting is nicely done, especially the insight into the Cumbrian coastal region of that period.
I can't wait to start the sequel.
A collection of some of author Warren Ellis's recent talks about history, magic, science fiction, and story-telling. An important attempt to begin building a mythohistory of our new normal, and situate our present within the proper historic context.
Another interesting Hard SF read by Egan. It's not as mind-bending or physics-bending as his "Orthogonal" series but contains intriguing ideas and characters. In contrast to his previous books where the characters slowly learn (and educate the reader about) the physics of their environment, here they are already well versed in the strange (to us) geometry of their universe and its consequences.
Europe in Autumn
Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight and Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson, combine a believable and prescient view of a soon-to-be Europe with a strange, almost fantastical twist.
It reminds me in part of China Miéville's The City and the City, while also showing flashes of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, with its "technocultural future-present" setting.
All three are great reads!
Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2019
An about average issue, with mostly 'mild' fantasy stories (mild in the sense that there is minimal magic involved). Among those that stood out for me are the ones by Carrie Vaughn, Sean McMullen and Pip Coen.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2019
An average issue with interesting stories by Gregor Hartmann, Matthew Hughes, R.S. Benedict and with an especially interesting story about a musical faun by Jerome Stueart.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2018
This is an above average issue with interesting stories by Y.M. Pang, Hanuš Seiner (translated by Julie Novakova), Nina Kiriki Hoffman and Bo Balder.
FIYAH - Issue One [EPUB]
I was expecting to be impressed. But instead I was STUNNED!
FIYAH Literary Magazine is an essential work. While the included stories can all be considered speculative fiction, the breadth of ideas is astounding.
It's all finished off with a nice sample of a self-published work. A great idea.
If the subsequent issues are half as good as this first one, you should definitely subscribe.
Really enjoyed this novella, like early Gibson but with contemporary themes as source material. Drones, social media, self driving cars, AI, etc,....
Hopefully there's more to come.
INTERZONE #278 (NOV-DEC 2018)
A not very interesting issue of Interzone, mainly because the stories appear to be on the theme of conflicts (mainly military related) and not of much interest to me. Natalia Theodoridou's story about unusual genetically engineered soldiers is probably the most interesting.
INTERZONE #279 (JAN-FEB 2019)
An average issue of Interzone, with interesting stories by Alison Wilgus, G.V. Anderson and Sean McMullen.
A beautiful, contemplative journey.
It's hard to slot Jaran into a genre. It's been called "anthropological science fiction", and that kind of fits. But it doesn't cover the ideas of wonder, nature, culture and love, found with a new people on a new world.
If you liked Rosemarie Kirstein's Steerswoman series, Jaran let's you explore and fall in love with another way of life all over again.
Let's Play White
Thoughtful collection of tales that stay with you for months afterwards. Beautifully written, sensitively conceived, a series of set ups for injustices, love, and pain with a backdrop of the Black cultural experience in a white world.
An amazing story that more than fulfils my need for great world-building. Such a creative mix of the unrecognisable, beautiful prose, and an uncanny skill for weaving technology into mythology.
Memory is slow to build, but when it does, it does so steadily. As our characters explore the 'Ring of the World' we learn with them, understand with them and fight back with them.
A wonderful read.
Much Secret Sorrow: Guy of Gisborne 1
This book pulls you into a richly detailed 12th Century world of politicking lords, dangerous Welsh border raids and a likeable protagonist in the form of Guy of Maebury. A careful, steady feed of recognisable, but not yet legendary, characters tops it all off.
The slow build-up is worth it and does contribute to a much livelier, fuller world and more meaningful character motivations.
A nail-biting introduction to South African magic and a nice bit of terror into the bargain. No reading this one on a dark stormy night unless you're bigger and hairier than the sorcerer!
My Very First Vampire Blood Drive
The art is great, and the story is very cute. ❤
What a fantastically fun read.
This novella was my first experience of T. Kingfisher's books, and I'll now be buying any and all the others I can get my hands on.
The lovably ragtag troop of goblins comprising the Whining Niners make the Fellowship of the Ring seem like some dull kids on a Sunday school outing. And I have to say, the Bear is my favourite.
Go read it. A light, fast story.
Finding the print version of Nonplayer in a local comic shop blew my mind.
The amazing digital artwork is absolutely beautiful. The story - as much of a short snippet you get in a single comic book issue - is cyberpunky and fresh, to me at least.
I only recently realised it was available from Image Comics, along with issue 2. So I'm heading back into its lush artwork and enthralling world.
As wonderful and entrancing as the first issue.
This beautifully illustrated second comic from Nate Simpson, opens up the world, broadens the scope and sets up some interesting conflict.
I can't wait for the third in the series. This is a story to get lost in.
Well done Nate and Image Comics.
This is a free special Gardner Dozois Memorial Issue.
Gardner Dozois was a well known editor and writer and loved by many in the Western Science Fiction and Fantasy writing scene.
This issue gathers memorials and articles by various people in the SF and F businesses who knew him and wanted to celebrate his life.
An interesting story of discovery and survival set in a system where two small worlds circle each other and they orbit a sun together. The worlds are cold and covered by ice but the tidal forces between the worlds ensure their interiors are heated and some heat breaks through the ice in the form of geysers, bringing with it life giving chemicals and material.
Created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, Saga is a beautifully intimate space opera.
It touches on race, religion, conflict, family and love, with a deft hand and imagery that is just sublime.
Proof that Image Comics' creator-owned approach really works. These are the kinds of stories that comics were made for.
You know how you sometimes get too comfortable in familiar genres and need a book to come along and kick you out of your comfort zone? Well, this was mine.
We fall into the world-weary lives of a newly-married ex-pat couple. The author explores sex, pain, abuse, assault, desire, trauma... and the relationships, even love, based on all these things.
An uncomfortable, but rewarding read.
I'm always intrigued by novels that are inspired by tiny snippets of historical events.
A sliver of history taken as a seed, with enough facts to place it in a believable context, can be a rich seam for a skilled author. Ned Hayes has recreated a dark period of British history and, taking little-known facts, has wrapped them in a heart-wrenching tale of loss, vengeance, treachery, and grief.
Well that took a long time! It is wordy book, and I do not normally enjoy wordy books, but I did enjoy this one. I tried recently to re-read King's "It" but god is it wordy. This is wordy in a different way, you're in the head of the strong female lead, who has her flaws and anxieties and her inner monologue reflects this. It's about vampires and I'm sad that it's a standalone effort.
The Blue Blazes
This weird, wild, violent, dangerous, almost-fantasy, New York setting is pure Chuck Wendig.
Mookie Pearl is to the gangland thug what Miriam Black is to the care home nurse. If this is what happens when Chuck Wendig is given free rein to create his own universe and populate it with strange gods, demons and magic, then I want more of it!
Read it and the sequel. Well done Chuck!
Just. So. Weird.
The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
A ripping yarn of disguise, deception and misdirection, propelled along by a brilliantly written period style that firmly places you in the world.
A rollicking ride through alternate-history Britain after the Luddite uprisings. Recognisable locations mixed with carefully applied genre tropes keep this book from becoming yet another steampunk adventure and raise it above its fellows.
This is a well-told tale about the power of the written word to endure and change.
Yes, The Fisherman is a little Lovecraftian, with its ancient gods, cultists, and watery... things. But it has much more going for it. The Fisherman is a work of beauty that Lovecraft never came close to.
You grieve with Abe as he tries to pick up the pieces. You worry about what Dan will do... and when he'll break. You wonder which story you are actually reading and who is telling it.
The Forge of God
Along with its sequel "Anvil of Stars", "The Forge of God" serves as extended meditation on the Fermi Paradox and the question of how multiple space-faring species might manage to coexist in the universe when it is in the interest (and power) of any species capable of interstellar travel to eliminate any potential rivals.
The Great Gatsby
As fab as everyone everyone said it was.
The Hellsblood Bride
There's weird fiction, then there's Chuck Wendig weird fiction.
In this sequel to The Blue Blazes, our gangland enforcer with a heart of gold, Mookie Pearl, must save his daughter and the whole world from the schemes of demons, demi-gods and more weird stuff before it all ends.
Call it a Chuckpocalypse, or even Wendigeddon!
Loads of fun and a must read for any Chuck Wendig fan.
The Language of Power
An amazing instalment in the Steerswoman fantasy series.
We're back to the Inner Lands now and we're learning more and more about this world and what's going on.
In this book, we finally see what wizards can do. And the steerswoman and the Outlander take the fight straight to their door.
If you enjoy excellent world-building and puzzling plots, start reading The Steerswoman series. Now!
The Lost Steersman
A very different book to the previous two in the series.
The Lost Steersman takes a different turn about half-way through, where the scope and scale of the world and its inhabitants undergoes another astonishing twist.
I got a definite Jane Goodall vibe from this book. Our understanding of the steerswomen grows in this wonderful instalment in a fantastic and surprising series. Loved it!
The Outskirter's Secret
The amazing second book in what is, so far, an outstanding fantasy series.
The Outskirter's Secret expands on the concepts in the first book, but takes us out of the relative safety of the Inner Lands and into the wilderness of the Outskirts.
I can't believe I've only just started reading this series and am already on the third book.
Still a MUST READ.
The Sea Hates A Coward
I don't normally like the whole zombie genre.
But what Crowley has done with his undead POV, uprising, mutiny, sea monster, revolutionary, thoughtful treatise on life (then death and then more life) tale is absolutely stunning.
Took a bit of effort to get going, but it's definitely worth sticking with it. A great addition to the New Weird.
Nate Crowley's book put me off scampi for months!
An amazing fantasy tale that slowly unfolds to reveal a surprising twist.
At first, all seems familiar. You recognise the world of wizards and the ranger-like steerswomen. But, just like the steerswomen themselves, the more you learn, the more sense you begin to make of this world. Something isn't quite right.
Rosemary Kirstein has me hooked! I've already started the next book in the series.
The Tea Master and the Detective
This wonderfully crafted novella was my introduction to Aliette's work, and what a first impression!
The story references Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson while showing the utmost respect to work. You could almost call it a wonderful science fiction character analysis of A Study in Scarlet.
A beautiful science fiction tale. And a must read for any fans of science fiction or Sherlock Holmes.
The Thief's Gamble
I was intrigued by the promise of a living fantasy world, instead of the usual "I was there three thousand years ago, Gandalf. And look, we're still using swords!"
A world where characters have lives, likes and concerns. Where technologies and discoveries change over time. This is epic fantasy that covers the passage of time in a meaningful way.
A fantastic series.
The Town is a fucking rollercoaster of a ride.
This Australian horror is written in a kind of jarring prose. The story is brilliant, terrifying, and utterly refuses to share its secrets with you.
On finishing this book, I promise that the first words out of your mouth will be "WHAT THE FUCK!".
Reminds me of books by China Miéville, John Langan, and Michael Marshall Smith.
Get it now!
Under the Skin
A light read that needed a bit more depth to be more satisfying.
A fictionalized version of the life of a young phone phreak, based closely (but not completely) on Kevin Mitnick. A fun period piece (and possibly nostalgia trip) for anyone interested in the hacker scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter
The Yamada Monogatari series, by Richard Parks, is a rich, detailed insight into both the Japanese period I enjoy so much and the mythology of ghosts, demons and spirits that filled the storytelling and superstition of the time.
A thrilling read in the style of Raymond Chandler's Sam Spade stories.