January 2017

I always look forward to January: new year, fresh start. It’s typically the month that I read lots of books while the dark nights continue to plague my energy and motivation. This January was no different, and I hope that some trends continue throughout 2017 while others die as the days get lighter and longer… Continue reading “January 2017”

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

last-yearThis week I reviewed Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson over at SFFWorld. Wilson is an author that I’ve not been reading for long, but one that has quickly become a favourite due to his character-focused take on SF – much like another of my favourite authors, Eric Brown. Last Year was a great read that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did…

Robert Charles Wilson’s latest novel, Last Year, is a strange one: a near future SF novel set in an Illinois of 1876. With the invention of quasi-time-travel and instigated through the use of a multi-storey high ‘mirror’, tourism to the late 19th century is open to 21st century inhabitants. An interesting idea, especially given that the past the mirror opens to is no longer the one of that world, instead an alternate history that diverges from the moment the mirror is opened. Set entirely in the 19th century, Last Year is an SF novel that shouldn’t work quite as well as it does.

I really like what Robert Charles Wilson has done here, giving a character focused SF story that works on many different levels. While the time-travel technology of the near future isn’t explained in any great detail, the world feels thoroughly fleshed out, and also surprisingly familiar. The finale of the novel won’t come as a particular shock, though how it all ties together to feel more intimate than events would suggest is a wonder. Highly recommended.

The Gunslinger Born Omnibus

the-gunslinger-bornI decided last week that 2017 would be the year I read & re-read Stephen King’s Dark Tower universe. I’ve read all the books, though it’s a few years since I last immersed myself in them, but haven’t read all the comics/graphic novels that are set within this milieu. The Gunslinger Born is the first of these – one I did read way back in 2007/8 – and it’s good to revisit it once again. A great starting place for my journey, that’s for sure. Head on over to SFFWorld to see my full review!

The Dark Tower is Stephen King’s Magnum Opus, a seven book series that follows gunslinger Roland Deschain on his quest after the Man in Black, and then onwards to the Dark Tower. While the core books focus specifically on Roland’s quest, there are other stories the fit into this milieu:The Little Sisters of Eluria, a novella set before the events of the first book, The Gunslinger; and The Wind Through the Keyhole, a novel within a novel, set prior to the fifth book, Wolves of the Calla. And, of course, there is the focus of this review: the comic book series published by Marvel and with input from King.

The other main aspect that I must talk about is the art. Not only is it fantastic in its own right, it fits in perfectly with both the setting and story. Jae Lee and Richard Isanove have excelled, each page presenting such a fitting portrayal of characters and events. In this omnibus edition there is also bonus artwork included – the alternate and deviant covers for each of the issues – and it’s a great addition to an already excellent collection.

What I Read in 2016

Another year in reading to look back, on what a year it’s been. I’ve surpassed my previous best of 128 reads last year and got up to 135 books read this year. I’m not quite sure how I managed that as it works out to be a book every 2.7 days! This was the year where I decided to read mainly science fiction, and to pick up books based solely on if I liked the sound of it. Read on for the stats… Continue reading “What I Read in 2016”

Bloodmage by Stephen Aryan

bloodmageI enjoyed Bloodmage so much I read it twice this year – once on release, and again a little later to refresh my memory for a review. I enjoyed it very much both times. Check out my full review at SFFWorld, but I highly recommend this series.

Bloodmage (Age of Darkness #2) is Stephen Aryan’s second novel, following on from events inBattlemage (review), though not necessarily a direct sequel in the strictest terms. I mentioned in my review of Battlemage that I was drawn to it primarily because of my friendship with Steve – fantasy not being my go-to genre – but I approached Bloodmage in an entirely different way. I was eager to read it to see where the story would go, what twists and turns were in store, and just how the world is progressing after the epic climax in the first novel. What I found not only met my expectations, but blew past them, delivering a second novel that is perhaps even more enjoyable than Battlemage.

I had very few issues with Bloodmage, finding the story, characters, and pacing excellent. I was immersed from the first page, enjoying the change of scenery while also appreciating the underlying threads that had been carried forward from Battlemage. Being a hard-to-please reader when it comes to the fantasy genre, Stephen Aryan’s Age of Darkness novels have measured up exceedingly well. Great stuff.

Now We Are Ten edited by Ian Whates

now-we-are-tenI don’t read nearly enough short fiction, but Now We Are Ten is a collection that jumped out at me. Not only is it from small publisher NewCon Press and edited by Ian Whates, it’s got a very good selection of authors on show. My full review is no live over at SFFWorld, so head on over to check it out.

Now We Are Ten is the anniversary anthology from NewCon Press, celebrating ten years of publishing fiction. Edited by press owner Ian Whates, this is a collection containing many different genres and authors, and the likelihood of you having read at least one of these authors is high. For a small press to release such an anthology is not unusual, but one that contains many award-nominated and award-winning authors is a pleasure to see.

The question of whether Now We Are Ten is a success is easily answered: yes. Each story, no matter my personal preference, fit the theme perfectly. I found some stories missed the mark in their delivery, others perhaps a touch too obscure for their own good. Ultimately, the better stories balance the collection out nicely, with particular stand-outs coming from Brown, Tchaikovsky, Pearce, and Swift. Now We Are Ten is another reminder that short fiction has a special place in SF&F, and it’s a length that I read way too little of.

Horizon by Tabitha Lord

horizonHorizon was one of those books that I picked up after a recommendation and then jut couldn’t put down until it was finished. Well worth checking out – you can see my full review over at SFFWorld.

Horizon is Tabitha Lord’s debut novel, a self-published sci-fi adventure. While I don’t often pick up self-published novels, this one came as a recommendation from someone I trust, and seeing it up on Netgalley was the push I needed. While it’s taken me much longer than planned to get toHorizon – too many books, never enough time – I’m certainly glad that I did, and I found a story within that really catered to my literary tastes.

All-in-all Horizon is a solid novel: it’s got a very interesting premise and characters that I genuinely cared about. While not perfect it certainly has potential for any future novels in this series, and given the ending I’d be highly disappointed not to see something else in this setting.