The City and the City (2009) by China Mieville

“There is no case,” he told her. “There’s a series of random and implausible crises that make no sense other than if you believe the most dramatic possible shit. And there’s a dead girl at the end of it all.”

 

Brief Synopsis

Inspector Tyador Borlu lives and works in the city of Beszel. As the story opens, he is investigating the murder of a woman found dead in a quiet Beszel street. She is identified as Mahalia Geary, a foreign student attending Beszel’s university. What starts out as a standard murder investigation quickly becomes more complex as Inspector Borlu’s inquiries lead him to the “neighboring” city of Ul Qoma. He joins forces with local Detective Quissim Dhatt and they attempt to unravel the truth about the murdered woman’s connections with both cities.

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2009 Del Ray edition. Cover by FWIS

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Rosewater (2016) by Tade Thompson

‘I calm down. I do not know where I am, but I am not afraid of being lost. I am a finder, and the most basic skill of a finder is getting home.’

Tade Thompson’s Rosewater is the first book in his Wormwood Trilogy. It is set in near-future Nigeria where an alien biodome has appeared. The aliens remain a mystery but once a year the biodome opens. When this happens, some kind of energy is released which is rumoured to contain healing properties. People come from far and wide to visit the biodome hoping they will experience some of its benefits. Rosewater is the name of the town which has slowly formed around the biodome.

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Our guide to Rosewater is Kaaro. At the beginning of the story he is working for a bank. It is quickly revealed that Kaaro is gifted with extra-sensory abilities. He is labeled “a sensitive” and can read people to such an extent that he is able to find things they are hiding. Intrigued yet? To say more would be to reveal too much of the story so I will end my brief summary here. Continue reading

“Requiescat in Pace” Gene Wolfe, (1931~2019)

“I would like [my readers] to better understand human beings and human life as a result of having read [my] stories. I’d like them to feel that this was an experience that made things better for them and an experience that gave them hope.” – Gene Wolfe


I was very sad to read of the passing of the American science fiction and fantasy writer Gene Wolfe. I’d heard nothing about it until I saw this article on Tor.com. I’ve only read a couple of books by Wolfe and this is something I am determined to remedy. I just wish it hadn’t taken such upsetting news to push me into rediscovering his writing. Continue reading

Recent Finds: Nova 2; ‘The Airs of Earth’ by Brian Aldiss; Dangerous Visions 3

On a recent trip over to England I found these three gems in a second-hand book store. The shop was “Empire Exchange” in Manchester. It was the first time in years that I had explored the shelves of a “proper” second-hand store. I paid an unbelievable five pounds for all three books, (about $6.50).

Nova 2, Edited by Harry Harrison (1975)

The 1975 Sphere paperback. Cover art by Eddie Jones.

From the back cover: ‘Once again Harry Harrison has collected a dazzling line-up of talent for the second of his exciting NOVA collections. Established writers and new talent rub shoulders, their common ground a brilliant talent for sf.’

Includes the short stories: ZIRN LEFT UNGUARDED, THE JENGHIK PALACE IN FLAMES, JON WESTERLY DEAD by Robert Sheckley; EAST WIND, WEST WIND by Frank M. Robinson; THE SUMERIAN OATH by Philip Jose Farmer; NOW + n NOW- by Robert Silverberg; TWO ODYSSEYS INTO THE CENTER by Barry Malzberg; DARKNESS by Andre Carneiro; ON THE WHEEL by Damon Knight; MISS OMEGA RAVEN by Naomi Mitchison; THE POET IN THE HOLOGRAM IN THE MIDDLE OF PRIME TIME by Ed Bryant; THE OLD FOLKS by James E. Gunn; THE STEAM-DRIVEN BOAT by John Sladek; I TELL YOU, IT’S TRUE by Poul Anderson; AND I HAVE COME UPON THIS PLACE BY LOST WAYS by James Tiptree Jr.; THE ERGOT SHOW by Brian Aldiss Continue reading

2084 (2017) Edited by George Sandison

‘There is no singular truth, no fact that cannot be altered, repositioned and resold to the world.’ -“Degrees of Elision” by Cassandra Khaw

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Unsung Stories’ 2084 is a collection of fifteen views of our future inspired by Orwell’s classic novel. What kind of a world could we see one hundred years after Nineteen Eighty-Four? It seems almost redundant to ask if Big Brother will still be watching us. In his introduction, George Sandison suggests that these tales are less predictions of dystopian futures than extensions of our present fears. As technology becomes ever more prevalent in our lives, are our fears of too much surveillance and too little privacy warranted?

Here are brief summaries of the stories that impressed me the most: Continue reading

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Twelve (2018) Edited by Jonathan Strahan

 

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Background

The Best SF&F Volume Twelve contains 29 short stories of genre fiction selected by Jonathan Strahan. I was so impressed with last year’s Volume Eleven that I didn’t hesitate to buy this new Volume Twelve when it was released in March 2018. It is another high-quality collection in which every story deserves to be read. Authors include Charlie Jane Anders, Samuel R. Delany, Greg Egan, Dave Hutchinson, Caitlin R Kiernan, Yoon Ha Lee, Max Gladstone, Alastair Reynolds, and many more.

In his introduction, Strahan offers some of his highlights of the year including the resurgence of “the novella,” which suggests that readers are keen to read more short fiction. Strahan recommends Tor.com for the regular “free” short stories it provides. He also comments on the continuing quality of such monthly publications as Lightspeed, Asimov’s, Interzone, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and more. Continue reading

The Big Time (1958) by Fritz Leiber

‘This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers–in fact, our private name for being in this war is being on the Big Time.’

 

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Artwork by Hoot von Zitzewitz

Fritz Leiber’s Hugo Best Novel winner The Big Time is sixty years old. Have you heard of it? I’ve had this on my TBR list for a couple of years and was inspired to read it by the Little Red Reviewer. She holds a Vintage Science Fiction Month reading event every January, and this was my choice for it.

One of the questions she has asked Vintage SF Month participants is: “Why did you choose to read a vintage title?” It’s an important question. I was looking through my reviews from last year and was shocked to find that I had only read two SF titles written before 1980: The Dispossessed and The Ginger Star. Apart from simply wanting to read more vintage titles this year, I want to see how well these stories stand up today. Vintage SF can offer readers a window into the past but it’s fair to say that they often age poorly. When we read them with modern eyes, we need to be aware of the time period they were conceived in.


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