‘There is no singular truth, no fact that cannot be altered, repositioned and resold to the world.’ -“Degrees of Elision” by Cassandra Khaw
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?
‘Forever didn’t seem to last as long these days as once it did.’
My recent re-read of Pratchett & Gaiman’s sublime Good Omens (1990) led me to seek out the Discworld books that were published around the same time, (give or take a couple of years). Witches Abroad is the twelfth Discworld novel and the third featuring the Witches, preceded by Equal Rites (1987) and Wyrd Sisters (1988). It stars Pratchett’s holy trinity of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlik.
Witches Abroad opens with a death. Desiderata Hollow, witch and fairy godmother, bequeaths her magic wand to Magrat Garlik before she passes on to the undiscovered country. This leads to Magrat becoming fairy godmother to Emberella, a young woman who lives in the land of Genua, far across the Disc. Now responsible for young Emberella, Magrat must journey to Genua and help her get out of an impending, unwanted wedding. Not trusting Magrat with the responsibility of her new role or her new wand, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg insist on accompanying her abroad. Continue reading →
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 →
‘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.’
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.
“Anyway, if you stop tellin’ people it’s all sorted out after they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive. ”
Cover Artwork by Graham Ward
“She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.”
Wow! Is this book already almost thirty years old? I remember buying the first paperback edition back in the days of Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series. In fact, the author used the Sandman’s letters page to announce Good Omens’ release. I remember that, too. So, this is what getting old feels like.
Good Omens is a black-comedy about Armageddon set at the end of the 1980s. Its main characters are an angel, a demon, a witch, a witch-finder, the antichrist and his friends. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse also feature. It was written by Neil Gaiman, (Sandman, American Gods, Coraline, The Graveyard Book) and Terry Pratchett, (The Discworld series). Continue reading →
I’ve started reading Fritz Leiber’s 1958 Hugo Award-winner The Big Time.
“Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, then you’ve had hints of the Change War.”
I only managed to read a couple of “vintage” SF stories in 2018 so I’m going to make an effort to read more this year.
I’ve been looking through my older reviews starting from 2016 and have found quite a few books that fall under this category. In fact I am amazed at just how many vintage books I read and reviewed in 2016. You can tell how enthusiastic I was back then at getting this blog off the ground. So, without further ado, here are the Vintage Science Fiction and Fantasy stories I read and reviewed in 2016: Continue reading →
“I saw parallels between Father Christmas’s job and my father’s – he was a milkman. He had to get up very early in the morning and go out in all weathers. On Christmas morning I’d get up very early to help him.” -Raymond Briggs
I am a huge fan of Raymond Briggs’ Snowman book and the animated film version. I love the colored pencil artwork as well as the touching story imagined from a child’s point of view. The film can be seen on TV every year on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in the UK. I miss watching it now that I live in Japan. Continue reading →