I’ve not read anything by Steven Erikson before, though as he’s mainly been a mainstay of the fantasy genre it’s easy to see why – I tend to avoid massive fantasy epics. Willful Child, however, sounded just like the sort of tongue-in-cheek SF that I would like. My review is now up at SFFWorld.com:
Willful Child is the latest novel by Steven Erikson, an author famous for his fantasy epic, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This novel, however, is about as far from that series as you can get: it’s comedic sci-fi that pokes fun at the genre. Specifically, it uses Star Trek: The Original Series as its source (victim?) of choice, with Hadrian Sawback clearly modelled on Captain James T Kirk, but turned up to the max, and then some more.
What I did like here was the clear parody of a TV show that I enjoy so much growing up. In this respect it’s more successful than Redshirts by John Scalzi, another recent Star Trek parody. It simply falls down at the characterisation and constant sexual innuendos and comments from Sawback. The supporting characters also leave me scratching my head in amazement – they just go along with everything. And the jokes can become rather repetitive after a while.
My review for Scott Meyer’s third Magic 2.0 novel, An Unwelcome Quest, is up over at SFFWorld.com. I love this series and the way it just makes me laugh out loud on almost every page, but not at the cost of the story. Here’s hoping he writes some more in the setting!
An Unwelcome Quest is an easy book to recommend as it’s a quick read, full of action and entertainment, and has some proper laugh-out-loud moments. However, as I said before, you really should start from the first book and enjoy this series as a whole. Hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see of the Leadchurch Wizards (the ending certainly leaves plenty of room for more stories), but as it stands I can completely and utterly recommend these books. Great stuff.
My review for No Life But This by Anna Sheehan went up over at SFFWorld last week. It’s a sequel to A Long, Long Sleep, a novel I read way back in 2011 when it was released. I decided not to re-read it before delving into No Life But This, and I don’t think the decision was detrimental in any way to my enjoyment of the novel.
Where A Long, Long Sleep focused on Rose Fitzroy and her waking from a 62 year stasis sleep,No Life But This follows events after its conclusion. The point of view is also a different one, this time told from the perspective of Otto Sextus, one of Rose’s friends, and, along with some of the others in the group, the result of a genetic experiment created on the moon of Europa.
Using an SF setting to tell this story really does increase the emotional connections between the characters, especially Otto and Rose. However, the narrative doesn’t get bogged down by any needless world building or exposition, it simply tells the story of these relationships and the effect they have on all around Otto. When the story shifts focus to Europa things get interesting for many reasons, not least because Otto is slowly losing his mind due to his condition. It also gives Sheehan a chance to go past a character-focused story and establish an interesting society that is entirely believable.
It’s definitely worth checking out both these novels, and should Sheehan write anymore in this setting I’ll certainly be picking them up.
Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden is the final novel in the new Alien trilogy release last year by Titan Books. The first two books, Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: Sea of Sorrows, focused on the planet LV-178 and told two semi-connected stories set a couple of hundred year apart. Alien: River of Pain, meanwhile, returns us to very familiar surroundings: LV-426. Acheron. Hadley’s Hope.
Taken at face value, Alien: River of Pain is the best novel out of the new trilogy. The story of Hadley’s Hope and its inhabitants is strong and gripping, but minor issues that could of (and should of) been addressed take away from this strength. However, the major issue of marines present in the colony is one that I simply can’t ignore or overlook, and it’s a damned shame. Despite this I’d recommend the novel to Alien fans and newcomers alike, perhaps others can look past the issues that I had.
Hive Monkey is the second novel in Gareth L Powell’s Ack-Ack Macaque series, a series I was eager to read more of after the impressive – and BSFA award winning – first novel, Ack-Ack Macaque. When I read the first novel last year I was surprised at what I found. Rather than a light-hearted steampunk romp I found an intricate and absorbing sci-fi story with a unique and rather enjoyable anti-hero. There was also much more to the novel than I initially thought, so wondering where Powell would take things with Hive Monkey was high on my list of priorities. And let me say this: I wasn’t left disappointed.
Gareth L Powell has managed once again to deliver a novel that blows expectations out of the water. Hive Monkey is not only an enjoyable novel, it’s one that introduces new elements and opens up the setting for some very interesting future stories. Highly recommended.