Monday, April 30, 2007

Summer Seltzer Missive - Deborah Biancotti

An in-between girl meets Santa.

2.5 out of 5

Fade - Lee Battersby

A man is noticed less and less, shades of Buffy's invisible girl, without the invisible bit.

3 out of 5

Pater Familias - Lee Battersby

A man doing an interview is on the wrong end of some unpleasant matchmaking.

3.5 out of 5

Hard Lessons - Stephen Dedman

An impotent rockstar seeks supernatural help. Solid mistake.

3.5 out of 5

The Ice Bride - Cat Sparks

Literal ice queen claims new husband. People not happy.

3 out of 5

Macchiato Lane - Cat Sparks

Women after a man can't get him.

3 out of 5

100% M-Hype - Cat Sparks

A future music collector is deadly serious about obtaining a rare find.

3.5 out of 5

Fuschia Spins By Moonlight - Cat Sparks

Dance classes get into hardcore ritual.

3 out of 5

Empathy - Chris Lawson

Intelligence (and dexterity) of the subject underestimated in an experimental chimpnapping.

4 out of 5

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Somewhere In Central Queensland - Grace Dugan

A woman in post-war post-global warming Australia decides where her priorities lie.

4 out of 5

Omnilingual - H. Beam Piper

Archaelogists working on the extinct Martian civilisation discover a different sort of Rosetta stone.

4.5 out of 5

Goblin Night - James H. Schmitz

Telzey is camping with some classmates when someone makes contact with her, psi fashion. She soon finds out that this man is not what he seems. It is a good thing that she is looking after a friend's large, powerful and very capable pooch when the 'Goblin' appears.

3.5 out of 5

Orm the Beautiful - Elizabeth Bear

The last dragon makes a deal with a museum.

4.5 out of 5

Sounding - Elizabeth Bear

Struggling with life, watching whales.

3 out of 5

Abjure the Realm - Elizabeth Bear

A bard is caught in the conflict between the High-King and his necromancer half sister.

"Maledysaunte, Riordan thought. The Hag of Wolf Wood, from whom no knight escapes. For nearly half a century, the sorceress had sent their corpses home to her half-brother on biers woven of greenwood and roses, even in the dead of winter. Every so often another of her treacherous gifts had arrived as well, disguised as tribute from a conquered king--a poisoned cloak, a pretty girl slave with a dagger concealed in her hair. Legend had the witch bent and ragged, one eye green as poison and the other naught but a rotting sore with snakes writhing behind it. There was supposed to be a beautiful princess as well, imprisoned in the witch's dank tower."

3.5 out of 5

Thy Rocks and Rills - Robert Ernest Gilbert

A man and his mutant bull rebel against their society's liking for violence.

3.5 out of 5

A Pail of Air - Fritz Leiber

A dark star interloper rips the earth out of its orbit, and everything freezes. One family finds a way to construct a shelter to survive the freezing.

3.5 out of 5

The Black Destroyer - A. E. Van Vogt

A ship's crew lands on a planet and meets an alien with extraordinarily dangerous abilities.

3.5 out of 5

Hunting Problem - Robert Sheckley

Alien scouts go for gruesome merit badge.

3 out of 5

Code Three - Rick Raphael

Future traffic policing is a 24 hour a day live in your vehicle job for these officers. Their banter is very entertaining.

3.5 out of 5

The Menace From Earth - Robert A. Heinlein

The cozy friendship between two teenage would be spaceship designers on the moon is interrupted when a well built actress from Earth arrives from a holiday, utilising both their services as guides.

4 out of 5

Rescue Party - Arthur C. Clarke

An alien survey ship is surprised to find that the Earth system sun is going nova well ahead of schedule, and gets in trouble itself when it goes to look for people to save and can't find signs of life, until much later.

3.5 out of 5

Reality Check - David Brin

Satire. Fermi paradox and boring immortality, what to do?

3.5 out of 5

Understand - Ted Chiang

A man with brain damage is given a hormone treatment that has the effect of increasing his intelligence, only in this case it doesn't wear off, but keeps going.

When he takes another dose, even further. So much so, avoiding all the spooks is trivial. However, he comes across another man like himself, and one with different aims, and now both of them have superhuman intelligence and body control.

4.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 28, 2007

On the Orion Line - Stephen Baxter

Human expansion is slowed by a race of aliens, causing economic problems when the advanced alien technology is able to monkey with the laws of physics.

A not too bright teenager makes it out of the wreckage of a ship and from inside an enemy fortress with the help of the rest of his crew, with some valuable intel.

4 out of 5

The Emperor's Backscratcher - Anna Tambour

An emperor has delusions of grandeur.

2.5 out of 5

Travels with Robert Louis Stevenson in the Cévennes - Anna Tambour

A donkey thinks that on the whole, the humans he travels with are generally not idea, but there are some compensations. Like chocolate.

3 out of 5

Temptation of the Seven Scientists - Anna Tambour

A bunch of scientists seek a live Great Theory.

3 out of 5

Klokwerk's Heart - Anna Tambour

An obsessive stickler for detail museum guard and his knitting geek wife end up coveting a museum exhibit, but they find someone stranger than that.

3 out of 5

Gene Wars - Paul J. McAuley

A man becomes an agent for a firm specialising in genetically modified food, after coming up through the ranks. Eventually, he goes in own way. Pretty savage, this one.

4 out of 5

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Wages of Food-Play - Anna Tambour

God tries to come up with something better than artichokes.

2.5 out of 5

Team Player - Jennifer Pelland

A woman refuses to go along with corporate insanity.

3 out of 5

Me-Too - Anna Tambour

A creepy/disturbing look at regimented methods of child raising, education and utilisation in the future.

4 out of 5

Strange Incidents In Foreign Parts - Anna Tambour

Cats and eggplant, not a fan, but this was funny:

Earlier in the week, she and Quentin had forbidden their son to attend last night’s inaugural Halloween party at Ned’s school. Quentin had said no by proxy, being tied up with a case in Goulburn, so the No had caused her to get all the bad vibes. “It’s not Australian,” Geoff had said immediately, exactly what she had said, and he almost had a cat on the phone when Kath had added, “He wants to go as Spiderman.”

“He can go with his head in a bucket, or not at all,” Quentin barked.

3 out of 5

Tumble - Trent Jamieson

A man has a bit of Jack Hawksmoor's condition, he just doesn't have the same powerful friends to back him up when evil is around.

3.5 out of 5

The Distance Keeper - Deborah Biancotti

Wide open spaces to be very afraid of.

3.5 out of 5

Clownette - Terry Dowling

Creepy image on wall of low rent room.

3.5 out of 5

Stitch - Terry Dowling

Very creepy supernatural cross-stitch.

4 out of 5

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sleight of Hand - Simon Haynes

When you can email actual material objects, watch your limbs.

4 out of 5

Compound Interest - Jim Heath

Add cockroaches and lawyers, and your problems compound, as in interest fashion.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Invasion - Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey

Something different here I guess, I have started listening to this podiobook, so I will just update this as I do. It clearly fits in the category, and it is not in writing, although the intro is, so for now, I will leave it in the related section (and related label). Seeing the intention is to be a book, and not a radio drama or play, I will rate it here. The timestamp and rating here will likely change as I listen to more.

Book One : Invasion

01 Introduction

Gives the background of the metahumans, the metas started in World War II, thanks to some evil type experimentation. Ubermensch one man tank divisions, etc.

A conflict with the nazi metahuman ace, with a bit more in common with Kim Newman's Bloody Red Baron without the vampire bit blows up yet another allied fighter. His problem is the pilot doesn't die, bursts into flame, and turns the tables on the German pilots.

Everything goes along in comic book fashion, with superhuman Echo bases set up all over the USA to deal with bad guys as they appear, until Atlanta is invaded by nazi metahumans. There is colossal carnage, 2/3 of the metas die, and when investigations begin, some of the nazis are not human. Atlanta is important to the superheroes as two of their southern fried superstars married and moved there.

A good start so far, WildCats meets Wild Cards perhaps, if you want a quick tagline to start with.

02 Prologue 1

The first two episodes have been about six minutes long, so we will see if that continues. Here, it seems two ubermensch from a Luftwaffe squadron have washed up on an American beach. Three kids find them. However, they have come through a portal, and it is now 2004, not 1944.

03 Prologue 2

Eisenfaust goes to an Echo base wanting some metahuman help for the problem he knows about. None of them believe he is who he says he is, and think he is crazy, and the man most likely to believe is long dead.

04 Atlanta Burning 1

Vicki V is less confident than Zatanna, and has an annoying cat. Hating to go outside, she summons up the courage, and witness a bunch of large trucks disgorge a bunch of nazi metas.

05 Atlanta Burning 2

Vicki is cowering and trying to warn people off, but when a whole bunch of kids are threatened rage overcomes her phobias, and she snaps into geomancer action. She is apparently some sort of earth mage. When she is about running out of power, a SWAT team arrives, and gives her backup, telling her they have lost several teams to the invaders already. She also gets help from a heroine who may or may not be a goddess, complete with flaming sword and wings.

06 The Luck of the Devil 1

Handsome Devil, apparently with some luck altering abilities, has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Shakhti. He gets up to go get coffee and go to the bank, when he comes across a situation.

07 The Luck of the Devil 2

Handsome Devil interrupts a bank robbery, and basically ignores the hoods while using an ATM, and all their shots miss. A soliloquoy and a demonstration of his strength of 5 men super strength or two later, and there is one hood left. He grabs a granny, and Devil scares him down. Then, the armored meta-nazis turn up, and Devil tells everyone to run.

08 The Luck of the Devil 3

Bailing out, Devil ends up helping a girl, and discovers that when a war machine hits you with a car, it hurts.

09 The Luck of the Devil 4

Devil runs into some Echo compatriots, Matei, Motu, The Leader of the Pack and his Dogs, and War Zone. They deal with some of the war machines, and Devil saves a movie star actress, who fairly promptly propositions him. Devil realises this is likely because his girlfriend Shakhti is going to die. A brief explanation is given that metas are graded on power level, mostly offensively, as Mach 1/2/3/4, and Devil is a 1, while a couple of the others here are given a 2 rating.

10 The Luck of the Devil 5

With Devil's help, Shakhti is ok. Another Mach 1, she doesn't have the firepower to go head to head with War Machines. War Zone loses, too. Devil commandeers some of their tech, and realises the people in it are not really Germans. He takes out a ton of the invaders. When Tesla sends Mercury round all the Echo teams to see how they did and report casualties and kills, Devil wins the latter, hands down, despite his Mach 1 status and not many knowing who he is.

11 Fear and Loathing in Lost Wages 1

The various segments of this podiobook have been varying length between 6 and 17 minutes by the way. Here, we have a native of the city, having gone to school there. She is a meta, and Vegas being fairly whacky, metas are not noticed as much in this city. With healing powers and blue skin, she works with the fire brigade. She was just making lunch when the attack happened. Lots of her coworkers went down, but then the Area 51 stunt plane team hit back, given that they have been trained to deal with rampaging metas.

12 Fear and Loathing in Lost Wages 2

Blues is fighting a desperate and losing battle in combat triage, and finally runs out of power. She gets mad and breaks her own moral code, using her powers to kill a couple of the invaders, or turn them against their fellows. Her actions help the defense, and when she sees that, she passes out.

13 Fire In The Sky

It appears the flaming goddess heroine roaming around before is actually one of the Seraphim, and this part is from her viewpoint and shows her thought processes as she does what she can.

14 On The Town 1

A depressed drifter is even unhappier when it is a sunny day and everyone is having fun. He looks for a cheap bar with cheaper booze to forget about it a bit. He is a meta, with at least enhanced hearing, and hints of more in his background, and probably some sort of enhanced endurance. Just as he starts in on a bottle of cheap whisky, the bar windows explode in.

15 On The Town 2

Set in New York, attacks are happening here, and as we learn later in this segment, all over the country, and the world, with the heaviest concentration in Atlanta, Echo's traditional headquarters. John Murdock, as we learn this meta's name, does what he can to help people in the bar, and has a pistol that does pretty much no good against the armor of the invaders. Trying to help an kid struck dumb, he watches, amazed as the kid turns meta, and does a Human Torch act on an Invader. The kid berates John afterwards, and says they need to go and help, but the kid loses control of his power, and fries. John then gets mad, and activates his long dormant powers. It seems he is a pretty serious plasma energy blaster, and does over a few invaders.

Working to help repair damage afterwards, he gets to talking to a woman who saw him fight, and she wonders why he isn't in Echo, when he says he is not. They have lost a lot of people, and may need him. He leaves, and starts hitching to the city.

16 Blood In Red Square 1

Red Saviour is a beautiful, glamorous newly in favour superhuman in Russia. This makes some of the long serving members of Russia's super group jealous. The superhumans themselves, despite their popularity and fame are starting to have problems with the people, and the changing economic and political climate

17 Blood In Red Square 2

The authority type is busy telling Red Saviour they are handing over CCCP command to Worker's Champion, when they are interrupted by the attack. She moves quickly to marshal the superhumans into some sort of defense, as they see what the are up against.

18 Blood In Red Square 3

Red Saviour engages with the nazi armored soldiers, and realises that with even the best of Soviet metahuman muscle and beef all they are doing is playing a punch the blow up penguin game.
Saving a girl, she realises they have to try something else.

19 Blood In Red Square 4

Red Saviour has to think fast, and orders Mach-1 into the fray. His sacrifice shows a weakness to exploit in the invaders' armour, and she orders the fire wielders in the CCCP to start on a nazi barbeque. 'Give them a taste of the flames of the Revolution'. She manages to rally the non powered locals, as well as her comrades.

20 Blood In Red Square 4

The CCCP manage to beat back the expeditionary force, but at great cost. Only 5 of seventee still live, and not all of them are standing. The remaining members, including Red Saviour, turn their attention to what is happening with the rest of the world, and start to strategise.

21 Interlude : Bedlam Boy

Zach, or Bedlam boy, is your average ex-superhuman ex-super soldier type of guy. Except that he is green. He is busy doing his job, and about to indulge in some aggravated assault of a non paying customer. This is all rudely interrupted when nazis in power armor attack.

22 Changing Faces 1

A bit of a red thing going on it seems in the Secret World as here we have Red Djinn, an adrenaline junkie master thief. A Rusted Steel Rat, given the coloration, it appears.

23 Changing Faces 2

Doing a quick change with his power apparently ain't pleasant. Neither is a lack of honour among thieves.

24 Changing Faces 3

His burglary mates having double-crossed him, even more trouble hits as some Echo metas turn up, and then some armored nazis. The metas include the woman he has had a 'Hate-Fight-Fight-Kiss-Shag-Love' relationship with as his archenemy, Amethyst. When she is seriously injured he displays a skin healing ability he usually keeps to himself. Then, he gets explosively mad with the nazis. The villains and heroes put their differences aside for the moment, to face the common enemy.

25 Fading Echoes 1

The German IronFist guy is still trying to get someone from Echo to listen to him. Finally he gets to talk to a hardnosed detective. When the attack comes, it is all moot.

26 Fading Echoes 2

Another long episode, even a little longer than the first part. Ferrari is interviewing Eisenfaust, when the Echo complex is attacked, and we actually hear one of the nazis speak. A woman, who sounds like she has come looking for the time travelling German. Not in a good way. Battle is joined, and it isn't going well for the locals, until Kid Zero's Plus/Minus nuclear sacrifice buys them a breather, and gives Mercury time to get to Alex Tesla. Tesla seems desperate, but appears to have some sort of plan, perhaps communicating with another dimension, or realm, and a fancy gadget or two.

27 Fading Echoes 3

Ramona Ferrari is the star of this episode, as the besieged Echo metas and staff realise they need help, and Mach 4 help at that. Ramona has to first charm, and then work out the logistics of getting a 30 metre tall giant into the fray. That is, if she can keep her hormones under control after getting a lift up the mountain from a good looking male Echo meta.

28 Aftermath 1

The metas start to pick up the pieces where they can. With their strongholds trashed, information and communications in disarray and their only source of human intelligence dead, Alex Tesla has his work cut out for him. His staff try and pull it together enough to help.

Never enough healer heroes around when you need them, either.

29 Aftermath 2

Tesla is exhausted and advised to rest. Also told he needs some PR help, bigtime, so he calls in a favour. Echo gets some surprising news when they check in around the world. One base is intact, no casualties, and a lot of the enemy taken care of, thanks to 'Doctor Just', who, they presume, is some new extremely powerful meta, a likely Mach 4.

30 Aftermath 3

Red Saviour and the politicans deal with the aftermatch of the massacre. The Russians and Tesla cut a deal to allow Echo to operate there. The CCCP is decomissioned and Red Saviour gets to do some liaison work. Seraphim cogitates on what is going on.

31 Aftermath 4

Mercury takes a break in a bar while transporting Eisenfaust's body. Red Djinni gets the Echo recruiting pitch, as they have a job for him.

32 Aftermath 5

We find out what John Murdoch has been up to, helping out here and there. He manages to get into trouble again. Well, mostly it is the thugs that try and take on a meta powerhouse that will kill you if you make him that are in trouble, quite possibly with a capital Dead.

33 Aftermath 6

Victoria Victrix is recruited because of the rather severe lack of talent currently available to Echo. She isn't too keen.

4 out of 5

Down On the Farm - Maureen F. McHugh

Dinosaur Farming.

3 out of 5

The Lagan Fishers - Terry Dowling

A UN veteran, honored for his work in fighting a dangerous outbreak in the past, now lives with a new, strange botanical that is very valuable, and not very well understood.

4 out of 5

The Mars You Have In Me - Terry Dowling

A man dreams of Mars, builds a bit of his own in Central Australia.

3.5 out of 5

Nobody's Fool - Terry Dowling

A man whose life is involved with commerce in alien technology of the Nobodoi alien masters takes on some new help, to assist him with the weirdness.

4.5 out of 5

The Way to Greece - Sean McMullen§ion=fiction

Philosophy and ocean navigation, in the days of Phoenicia.

3.5 out of 5

Wild Bill Got Shot - Keith R. A. DeCandido

Ghosts, Deadwood and poker.

Keith is a pixel-stained technopeasant, it appears.

3.5 out of 5

The Glasken Chronicles - Sean McMullen§ion=fiction

Write once, change a little bit, use many times. Makes sense to me. Here is something appears in however much a different form in Call to the Edge and Souls in the Great Machine.

Glasken's rogue ways finally catch up with him, and his brain is put to use in the calculor. However, he is still scheming, and as it turns out, a good thing that he is.

3.5 out of 5

The Colours of the Masters - Sean McMullen§ion=fiction

A pair of elderly twins have lost music by a famous composer, but in a bizarre format that needs a technological tweak. With this work, comes a new musical find.

4 out of 5

The Insane Root - Rosa Praed

Praed had a thing for spiritualism and the occult later on, and this shows it, an occult romance I guess you could call it.

Mandrake being a handy plant :
"By the might of those Forces he had
compelled to his service the occult power contained in the mandrake

3 out of 5

Alone In His Chariot - Sean McMullen§ion=fiction

A new drug is invented that can make dreams seem absolutely real at any time. This changes things in a big way.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stealing Free - Deborah Biancotti

Salamander suffers through sorcerous seaside shenanigans through she-royalty.

3.5 out of 5

Orphanogenesis - Greg Egan

Creating a new person, transhuman style.

4 out of 5

The Seventh Letter - Sean Williams

After a stroke, a man finds help for the alphabetically challenged.

"The card said: "Treasurer, Royal Society for the Semantically Impaired."

Sean, too, is a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch.

3.5 out of 5

The Big Bang Theory Revisited - Stephen Dedman

Atomic weapons deregulation.

Stephen, too, is a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch.

3 out of 5

Shepherd's Watch - Monissa Whiteley

A pragmatic pastoralist deals with a couple of extollers of religion.

Monissa, it appears, is a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch!

3 out of 5

Fairy Prince - Monissa Whiteley

A prince has to use an extreme disguise to escape pursuers.

3 out of 5

Sunday, April 22, 2007

At the Focus - Sean McMullen and Paul Collins§ion=fiction

An indigenous man travels to the Focus in the bush. It is a timeslip he discovers, if he plays his guitar, and he watches the eons slip by as he strums.

3.5 out of 5

Two Tomorrow - Steven Paulsen§ion=fiction

Logan's run Carousel, but with generational time limits.

3 out of 5

In the Light of the Lamp - Steven Paulsen§ion=fiction

A couple go to meet their dealer to score some weed, but he isn't there, and they end up buying a lamp from a strange show. Lovecraftian vistas await.

3.5 out of 5

Old Wood - Steven Paulsen§ion=fiction

A wood finding obsession turns rather monstrous.

3.5 out of 5

Lucky at Last - Richard Scriven§ion=fiction

"There are other things you can be, beside's an Immortal," she said (Mom always got strange when I said I was going to be an Immortal). "Useful, important things."

However, the boy decides to join up, and he makes it, undergoing the modifications to make him immortal and self-sustainable.

This is maybe not so great if you get lost in space. Insanity cycles.

3.5 out of 5

Tizzy's Tail - Jeremy Byrne's+Tail§ion=fiction

Cats suck. Monster alien types agree.

3.5 out of 5

Matthew 24:36 - Chris Lawson

Y2K fever gets a little millenial, with a boost from a pirate radio station and some reprobates.

3.5 out of 5

The Sliced-Crosswise Only-On-Tuesdays World - Philip Jose Farmer

Don't like Mondays? This is the place for you. If you like variety in your days, it isn't.

3 out of 5

Familiar Pattern - A. Bertram Chandler

An alien craft is forced into the sea and a merchant ship captain encounters the inhabitants, who really are keen on the whole trade thing. They like the booze.

"I am master of a merchant vessel, just as Captain Lessing is. My primary function in the scheme of things is trade, trade, TRADE. I have no intention of seeing this world of yours raise itself to our technological level"

Trade starts up in Melbourne, but the brewers don't like competition, and the religious types cause some trouble as well.

Which, on the face of it, is not too bright when your trading partners have city destroying starships in orbit.

4 out of 5

The Demon Spell - Hume Nisbet

You could find less hazardous party games I reckon.

"It was about the time when spiritualism was all the craze in England,
and no party was reckoned complete without a spirit-rapping seance
being included amongst the other entertainments."

and further :

"It was her bedroom, and she was struggling in the thug-like grasp of
those same demon claws, and the rest of it drifting away to

3 out of 5

The Devil of the Marsh - Henry Brereton Marriott-Watson

The bloke doesn't really want what he finds.

"Behold!" I cried, "witch or devil of the marsh, you shall come with
me! I have known you on the moors, a roving apparition of beauty;
nothing more I know, nothing more I ask. I care not what this dismal
haunt means; not what these strange and mystic eyes. You have powers
and senses above me; your sphere and habits are as mysterious and
incomprehensible as your beauty. But that," I said, "is mine, and the
world that is mine shall be yours also."

2 out of 5

The Stone Chamber - Henry Brereton Marriott-Watson

The odd demonic inhabitant of an old property and its stone chamber make it not such a great buy.

3.5 out of 5

Traces of Crime - Mary Fortune

A detective investigates murder, in a gold rush setting.

3 out of 5

The White Maniac - Mary Fortune

Ever hated a sibling enough to want to rip their throats out with your teeth and drink their blood?

3 out of 5

The King of All and the Metal Sentinel - Deborah Biancotti

A robot fills in, performing a military role it is not tasked to do.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Bunyip - Rosa Praed

The prospect of coming across this beast in the bush worries the protagonists.

"EVERY one who has lived in Australia has heard of the Bunyip. It is the one respectable flesh-curdling horror of which Australia can boast. The old world has her tales of ghoul and vampire, of Lorelei, spook, and pixie, but Australia has nothing but her Bunyip."

3.5 out of 5

The Green Wall Dreaming - Geoffrey Maloney

A plague is cured, but it leaves humanity with extremely depressed sex drive, and pretty depressed in general.

3 out of 5

Masters Like Us - Geoffrey Maloney

Alien overlords try and repopulate the Earth, humanity being on the brink of annihilation when they found it.

3 out of 5

The Shifting Sands of the Interior - Geoffrey Maloney

Far in the future, excavation discovers a brick house.

3 out of 5

Oceanic - Greg Egan

A boy growing up in a backward fundamentalist community on another planet begins to understand how much the local biology has altered the people that live there, and why a religion surrounds this.

4 out of 5

Singleton - Greg Egan

A scientist couple decide to have an artificial child, some years after a natural pregnancy miscarries.

"Carlos said breezily, “Why not? There are so many others now. Sophie. Linus. Theo. Probably a hundred we don't even know about. It's not as if Ben's child won't have playmates.” Adai — Autonomously Developing Artificial Intelligences — had been appearing in a blaze of controversy every few months for the last four years. A Swiss researcher, Isabelle Schib, had taken the old models of morphogenesis that had led to software like Zelda, refined the technique by several orders of magnitude, and applied it to human genetic data. Wedded to sophisticated prosthetic bodies, Isabelle's creations inhabited the physical world and learnt from their experience, just like any other child."

There is plenty of discrimination, but their daughter has plans for all the other quantum branches in the long run, given the technology she has already.

4 out of 5

The Planck Dive - Greg Egan

Some polis residents, Diaspora style, perform a highly complex experiment regarding quantum physics and existence.

4 out of 5

Night Sea With Krell - Geoffrey Maloney

A young man is one of the few humans able to communicate telepathically with aquatic aliens that mankind is systematically slaughtering in a genocidal manner.

3 out of 5

The Hours Before Sunrise - Bill Congreve

Child molesting, family style, retribution, and spiritual Turing analogies.

2.5 out of 5

The Mullet That Screwed John West - Bill Congreve

As you may well guess from the title, this one is just a teensy bit satirical. Along with some interesting cat and fish work.

"Sorry," Masters said meekly. "Are you serious about making me spend the rest of eternity in Hell interviewing dead mass murderers?"

Satan pulled the kitten's head off, kissed it on the lips, and pushed it back onto the bleeding neck stump the right way up. Blue fire flashed. "For The Hell Evening Times. Of course, it'll get boring after a while. We'll go for child molesters, rapists, and TV evangelists as well." The kitten's face still wasn't right ... Satan held the kitten out to Masters. "There's something missing, can you see?"

3.5 out of 5

Essence of Ismay - Rosaleen Love

A young woman, bred for heroism has to take on the villains of biotech and their lawyers.

3 out of 5

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Third Quarter King - Tim Pratt

Someone wants help from the King of Autumn, and isn't really that polite about it.

3.5 out of 5

Street of the Dead - Cat Sparks

There are way too many little flying saucers for comfort.

3.5 out of 5

Cigarettes and Roses - Ben Peek

Two people are being paid to transport the corpse of a fake saint. For a dead body, it seems to have a strange smell, and things go plenty bad.

3 out of 5

The Godfather Paradox - Stephen Dedman

A man invents a time machine, and his lover suggests something they could send back in time, seeing only small objects can go :

A photograph of J. Edgar Hoover in flagrante delicto fellatio.

The reporter that gets the photos has to go on the run :-

"Lucky you couldn't afford one that fits," she replied. "So, what do you need me to do - apart from darning your shirt?"
"They're probably watching my place," said Cates. "I can't go back there, and I need some stuff - clothes, a suitcase, some more prints of the photos, maybe some sort of disguise. I've got to get out of town, become invisible . . ." He stared at her po ster of Othello, and a smile spread slowly across his face. "Can you get me some make-up, too?"
"Invisible? Like Claude Rains?"
The smile broadened into a grin. "More like the Shadow, I guess. By the way, do you know any communists?"

It all doesn't quite work out how they expected.

3.5 out of 5

Spin - Stephen Dedman

Warriors in space, with names that you will never, ever see gracing Transformers.

3.5 out of 5

Matricide - Lucy Sussex

A female antique dealer has a macabre time in Paris, work and healthwise.

3.5 out of 5

Wolfshead - Robert E. Howard

The Black Stone
The Valley of the Worm
The Fire of Asshurbanipal
The House of Arabu
The Horror From the Mound

A Cthulhoid type venture. Not somewhere you want to be. Fairly proficiently done.

3.5 out of 5

Dragonslaying, Norse reincarnation style. Not quite to the standard of his other stories, I think.

3 out of 5

If you suspect a priceless gemstone with a magic-type name may be connected to cthulhoid alien monsters, well, I would suggest that trying to rob your local jewellery store bare-handed is a less hazardous activity than the acquisition of such an artifact.

3.5 out of 5

As dreams of the woman Lilitu haunt the warrior Pyrrhas, necromancy is in his future, it would seem.

3.5 out of 5

If an old priest tells you that the body in the tomb is an undead Spanish nobleman, and you happen to be a credulous cowboy, next time, believe him!

3.5 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

House of Arabu - Robert E. Howard

As dreams of the woman Lilitu haunt the warrior Pyrrhas, necromancy is in his future, it would seem.

3.5 out of 5

Yeyuka - Greg Egan

Medical technology advances are making surgery unnecessary in the wealthier countries. A surgeon takes a trip overseas to somewhere less fortunate to do some work, and comes across an interesting project.

"Recycling. Twenty or thirty years ago, the computer industry ran an elaborate scam: software companies wrote deliberately inefficient programs, to make people buy newer, faster computers all the time -- then they made sure that the faster computers needed brand new software to work at all. People threw out perfectly good machines every three or four years, and though some ended up as landfill, millions were saved. There's been a worldwide market in discarded processors for years, and the slowest now cost about as much as buttons. But all it takes to get some real power out of them is a little ingenuity."

I stared at the wonderful contraption. "And you wrote the Yeyuka software on this?"

Their project is to try and replicate for next to nothing the expensive commercial HealthGuard stuff.

4 out of 5

Only Connect - Greg Egan

Quantum Graph Theory.

3.5 out of 5

Closer - Greg Egan§ion=fiction

Another 'jewel' story, this time, two people meet at work, and one of them has a fetish that he wants to know what it is like to be someone else, so they do some body swapping, and use identical clones as well, to experiment.

3.5 out of 5

Worthless - Greg Egan

A teenager is brainchipped in the latest version of media polling to create the entertainment people want.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oracle - Greg Egan

In a reality where a man, similar to Alan Turing is working for the government in rather more unpleasant circumstances is visited by a reality hopping android woman things change rapidly. A man somewhat similar to C. S. Lewis has problems coping and believing.

4 out of 5

Riding the Crocodile - Greg Egan

A couple of then 10K year old posthumans decide to attempt to contact some aliens known as the Aloof for obvious reasons. This inspires others to some innovation.

4 out of 5

The Demon's Passage - Greg Egan's+Passage§ion=fiction

The demon is a brain tumour, and it is growing as they experiment with its uses in larger and larger life forms.

3 out of 5

The Poisoned Chalice - Ian Irvine

A woman refuses to submit to death because of the Genes Act, and takes the child that has the same deformity with her on the run.

She gets surgery and becomes a brilliant researcher, vital when a plague hits.

3.5 out of 5

The Vat - Greg Egan§ion=fiction

He might be being just a tad facetious with the romantic comedy subtitle, as a man experiments on his brain's neurochemistry, and becomes quite obsessed with a woman.

3 out of 5

The Moral Virologist - Greg Egan§ion=fiction

A crazed religious not and expert biologist creates a virus that will ensure non-monogamous sex will kill you. He fails to account for pregnancy correctly.

3.5 out of 5

The Extra - Greg Egan§ion=fiction

An incredibly wealthy man keeps brain damaged clones around for medical reasons. He wants to try brain transplants, and a lawsuit from an ex-lover impregnanted by one of his clones she used as a sex toy prompts him to try.

3.5 out of 5

Leviathan - Simon Brown

Out of the exploding aeroplane into the big biblical beastie.

3 out of 5

Cannibals of the Fine Light - Simon Brown

Some cop types have to work out who can be trusted, and who is feeding information to who, and where to bury the bodies once they do.

3.5 out of 5

A New Song For Odysseus - Simon Brown

No Achilles this time, but Odysseus and Homer learn of sequilitis and rewriting from Zeus and Athena in this satire.

3.5 out of 5

Why My Wife Left Me and Other Stories by Diomedes - Simon Brown

Time and space differences in lives lead to relationship problems for a warrior.

3 out of 5

The Mark of Thetis - Simon Brown

It seems Brown has a thing for Achilles, I hope he doesn't have too many Brad Pitt posters. This is probably a bit long, and definitely on the dull side.

2.5 out of 5

The Dreaming Seas Beneath Cassandra - Simon Brown

Sharks, sex, and a really, really big shark means trouble.

3 out of 5

The Starry Night - Jack Dann and Barry N. Malzberg

One kid, Van Gogh, and some talent.

2.5 out of 5

Da Vinci Rising - Jack Dann

Leonardo Da Vinci works on flight and flying machines, with some assistance from Niccolo Machiavelli.

4 out of 5

The Government In Exile - Paul Collins

A government, thrown down in a revolution of the unemployed has a few live members left living in a fortress, and the Revolution Day holiday is coming. They commit violence while they still can, these few crazed survivors.

3.5 out of 5

Getaway Star - Paul Collins

An actress is rather disloyal to one of her colleagues. Not the brightest move when she ends up in an isolated real life chase scene.

3.5 out of 5

Marilyn - Jack Dann

A story I didn't care for at all, just wanted it to finish. I suppose it would help if you did have some interest in Marilyn Monroe.

2 out of 5

Passing of the Minotaurs - Rjurik Davidson

A really interesting story about a dwindling race of minotaurs, and their visit to a city at a ritual time. Conspiracies and exploitation plots swirl around these strangers.

4 out of 5

Border Guards - Greg Egan

This is in Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future and available online.

It is about human immortals, and how they deal with people and society when living so long. One man joins back into life, and meets the best quantum soccer player going around, and loses a friend.

The discovery is made is that she is one of the earliest immortals, instrumental in posthuman travel to other planets, and knows what death is actually like, and has to work out how to relate to the new people.

Now, I can't get this story out of my head, like happens with songs sometimes, so, I am upgrading this, 5 stars, given I reread it recently and hadn't read it for quite a wihle.

And, as far as Australian goes, as far as pixel-stained technopeasant wretches, well, I'd hate to be caught paraphasing the Devil Went Down to Georgia, but, he's the best there's even been.

5 out of 5

The Sagan Diary - John Scalzi

The Sagan Diary begins with a tech type whingeing about how the specially grown Special Forces types aren't really allowing full access to their brainpal records when they change to new bodies for settlement.

It then changes to Jane reminiscing, somewhat lyrically at times about stages and times in her life before she undergoes a body swap to go and settle on a planet.

The audio version is read by several different women, some sf writers.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Desertion of Corporal Perkins - Bill Congreve

A soldier is stuck in a battle for entertainment, and trying to stay alive.

""It's an old World War Two thing that worked for bombs dropped from aircraft. BuEnt decided to make it true. Modern artillery is supersonic.. You die before you hear it arrive. They reduced the load so that the shells are subsonic and have a shorter range, then they put a whistle in the nose cone. Scares the shit out of whoever's under it, and it sounds great for the cameras."

Now, the whole thing is getting out of hand for everyone.

3.5 out of 5

Times Fifty - B. W. Clough

Getting the clone right.

3 out of 5

Craphound - Cory Doctorow

A human and alien have a rivalry over trash and treasure and other market collecting.

4 out of 5

Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog - B. W. Clough

This story had me in a millisecond :

"My first order from Mt. Adelaide was for the Modesty Blaise poster." is the opener.

A new and big spending customer's identity is rather surprising, for a woman that sells comics and collectibles.

"I felt so shook, I went downstairs and skimmed a couple issues of Action Comics, to see how Superman might handle it."

4.5 out of 5

Inappropriate Behaviour - Pat Murphy

An autistic girl, operating a remote robot as part of an experiment finds a stranded man that needs rescuing. The man running this experiment has problems with priorities.

3.5 out of 5

A Flock of Lawn Flamingoes - Pat Murphy

New residents to a creepy suburban location get subversive about the local look rules.

3.5 out of 5

Rachel in Love - Pat Murphy

The life of a superintelligent chimp, the result of scientific experimentation into sign language. She is helped by some humans.

3.5 out of 5

Peter - Pat Murphy

Wendy is married with kids, Peter and the Lost Boys just aren't the same anymore.

3 out of 5

Turberculosis Bacteria Join UN - Joan Slonczewski

Slonczewski's stories are hard sf, biology style.

To quote : "in 2441, investigators at the Howard Hughes Martian Microbial Institute hit upon the idea of building computational macromolecules into the genomes of pathogens known for their ability to infiltrate the human system."

Then the rest has a rather wry tone, and the title pretty much says it all.

4 out of 5

Microbe - Joan Slonczewski

Working on nanotechnology suits to enable people to exist on a rather deadly new planet, after some testing on rats. A field test doesn't go quite as planned, and some interesting biology is found.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Map of the Mines of Barnath - Sean Williams

A man goes looking for his brother, but all is definitely nowhere even close to being remotely anything like it seems in a really large, very strange underground structure.

3.5 out of 5

The Letter From Mohaun Los - Clark Ashton Smith

A man goes travelling with his Chinese assistant in a time sphere. He happens to accidentally intervent in a low tech society's war, and meets some other travellers.

He settles, and sends a message back to a woman he knew via the time sphere technology.

4 out of 5

The Spider-Strain - Johnston McCulley

John Warwick's relationship with a woman, related to The Spider, is affecting his work as lieutenant for the aforementioned supercriminal.

He has to resolve this, and get his hands on an important locket.

2.5 out of 5

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Last Hieroglyph - Clark Ashton Smith

As astrologer follows the horoscope in the stars, and when you end up with a mummy, a merman, and a salamander as guides to lead you to an ancient wizard guy, even if you have a faithful dog, it is more of a horrorscope.

4 out of 5

The Invisible City - Clark Ashton Smith

An archaeological expedition gets itself into a bad way until it stumbles onto the titular area:

"I still feel like a sort of dirigible," he commented. "Say, I think we'd better leave this out of our report to the museum. A city, a people, all invisible, in the heart of the Lob-nor — that would be too much for scientific credibility."

"I agree with you," said Furnham, "the whole business would be too fantastic, outside of a super-scientific story. In fact," he added a little maliciously, "it's even more incredible than the existence of the ruins of Kobar."

3 out of 5

In the Book of Vergama - Clark Ashton Smith

Who was that Vergama guy.

2.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Squadron of Corpses - Robert J. Hogan

Zombie nazis.

No point saying anything else. :)


Zombie nazis!

Bring a LOT of salt.

3 out of 5

Rude Mechanicals - Kage Baker

An entertaining and pretty light hearted story. A odd couple of time travelling retrieval specialist cyborgs are hanging out in the earlish Hollywood time period, doing a job or two for clients of the Zeus organisation.

This mostly involves the more serious one bailing out the rapscallion parter, and lots of avoidance of canines and mortals, as necessary.

3.5 out of 5

Bad Medicine - Martha Wells

Wizards, witches, other worlds - and surgery.

"I needed this. I needed to be reminded. The only retirement in our business is the permanent one. Maybe one vicious gate wizard had done him more good tonight than those two weeks in Florida had."

3 out of 5

Thorns - Martha Wells

Not a woman you want to mess with. Rather experienced. That is, unless being a rodent is your idea of a good time.

"I admit to disappointment. It's an insult when they send their servants to kill you."

4 out of 5

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wolf Night - Martha Wells

If travelling in crappy weather wasn't bad enough :

"Just out for a walk on an icy winter night in an isolated outpost populated by strange men and murdering werewolves."

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Bunch of Violets - Earnest Bramah

Some smooth work by Max, and a bit of help from a light switch to outwit an armed man.

3.5 out of 5

The Immortals of Mercury - Clark Ashton Smith

An explorer on Mercury comes to, dazed and confused, and is carried to the city of the titular beings. In order to be so, they must use the elements of living people.

Not wanting explorers to let people know about them on other planets, they choose him as one of the ingredient people.

Even if he escapes, it is not very nice on the surface of Mercury.

4 out of 5

The Immeasurable Horror - Clark Ashton Smith

The huge and monstrous flora and fauna on Venus make one explorer not very interested in returning.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Scatter My Ashes - Greg Egan

A photojournalist and a serial killer.

3 out of 5

Mind Vampires - Greg Egan

A disturbed man's fevered dreams of vampire hunting.

3.5 out of 5

The Ice-Demon - Clark Ashton Smith

Quango the hunter, out to score some jewels, awakens something cold and bad.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blindsight - Peter Watts

While Alastair Reynolds borrowed from the Muppets with his Pigs in Space, it seems that Peter Watts may have gone for Colin Wilson's Space Vampires, instead. Reynolds is someone I think you can compare Watts to in tone, although the first person type retelling style of this also brings to mind Robert Charles Wilson's Spin.

A vampire spaceship captain type. Yep, that is right. It doesn't seem dumb, either.

After some non-human contact, a ship is built to go and investigate. The crew are an odd bunch. Add a multiple personality linguist, a guy with half a brain, and a non-conventional soldier to the mix, among others.

When they find them, they struggle to understand their brand of consciousness and use of senses, which is where the title comes from.

Violence is done.

The endnotes for this book are extensive, a fair bit of work done there, and well worth a look after you have finished the book.

Almost another tweener this one, 4.25 perhaps. Rounding up is fine given the work put into the post novel text.

4.5 out of 5

The Holiness of Azedarac - Clark Ashton Smith

A priest investigates another of their order who likes the whole Azathoth and Elder Gods thing just a bit too much. Not to mention the Book of Eibon.

However, he falls prey to his servant, time travel, and a gorgeous enchantress, in that order.

4.5 out of 5

The Haunted Gong - Clark Ashton Smith

A Japanese sword-dealer tells the story of a mythological gong.

2.5 out of 5

The Haunted Chamber - Clark Ashton Smith

A man ask a friend to come and stay, he may have a ghost problem.

3 out of 5

The Great God Awto - Clark Ashton Smith

Far future automobile satire.

3.5 out of 5

The Ghost of Mohammed Din - Clark Ashton Smith

A bet over a haunted house.

2.5 out of 5

The Fulfilled Prophecy - Clark Ashton Smith

An ancient text in Madras.

2 out of 5

The Flirt - Clark Ashton Smith

An ancient greek memory beauty.

3 out of 5

Flesh Made Word - Peter Watts

Psyche Simulators. Dead Cat. Creepy guy.

3 out of 5

A Niche - Peter Watts

Sealab Beebe Station. The people deal with the pressures of working there, and the real reasons they choose to do so.

4 out of 5

Nimbus - Peter Watts

Storm fronts. Really big ones. Everywhere.

3.5 out of 5

Fractals - Peter Watts

Demographic changes and pressures.

2 out of 5

Bethlehem - Peter Watts

A woman uses quantum theory as a means of dealing, or not dealing, with rape.

2.5 out of 5

The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald - Peter Watts

Killing because of some cosmological mathematics, and some bizarre biology.

3.5 out of 5

Home - Peter Watts

A person modified for deep ocean returns to base on instinct, a long time later.

3.5 out of 5

Bulk Food - Peter Watts and Laurie Channer

A commentary on the marine mammal, aquarium show, and associated biology industry, basically. Orca are bastards, too?

3.5 out of 5

A Word For Heathens - Peter Watts

A religious warrior gets a mental retooling. Think Warhammer 40K zealot.

3 out of 5

Mayfly - Peter Watts

An experiment with an enhanced child doesn't go how its parents expect, an they are unaware of her surprising evolution.

4 out of 5

Ambassador - Peter Watts

The pilot of the Zombie is chased by the Kali. He doesn't know why. The last part of the story completely changes tone. Not sure this was the best idea.

3 out of 5

Jury Service - Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

More satire starring Huw. Off to Libya for some legal expertise displays about technology. Or the other way around.

"Procedurally the PMLJ have given me total autonomy as long as I conduct this hearing in strict accordance within the bounds of international law as laid down by the Hague Tribunal on Trans-Human Manifestations and Magic."

"A fractional-dimensional parasitic turd-gobbler from outer space?" Huw says. "Have I got that right?"

A fair bit of vintage Stross in this one.

4 out of 5

Halo - Charles Stross

Life aboard the Field Circus for Amber, with some occasional advice from dad.

5 out of 5

Nightfall - Charles Stross

Amber, the Field Circus, galactic routers, and a cat that is a definite worry.

4 out of 5

Appeals Court - Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

The USA, post-singularity, or flying over it, anyway : "I am PERFECTLY! capable of negotiating with MICROCEPHALIC! GOD! BOTHERING! LUDDITES!" she screeches."

After reading that, you might just have the teensiest inkling that this might be a satire.

Which poor old Huw is stuck in the middle of, alien infestations, armored personnel carriers, strange old cities and more.

3.5 out of 5

Message In A Time Capsule - Charles Stross

Comedic time capsule post singularity message.

2.5 out of 5

Maxo Signals - Charles Stross

Interstellar spam.

3 out of 5

Elector - Charles Stross

Manfred and Amber deal with resurrection, resimulation, and the ever changing and rapidly evolving galactic situation.

4.5 out of 5

Bow Shock - Gregory Benford

An astronomer researching an obscure phenomenon struggles with tenure, a woman, and trying to work out if what he is seeing is natural or not.

4 out of 5

Lobsters - Charles Stross

A way ahead of the curve ideas man helps out some intelligent sea types.

5 out of 5

Long Cold Day - Elizabeth Bear

A drunk, at the time in reasonable condition and trying to stay warm, comes across his son in a bar, in time to intervene in a dispute with some demonic hounds over magic.

3 out of 5

And the Deep Blue Sea - Elizabeth Bear

A post-apocalyptic motorbike courier, really, really should have read Ghost Rider in her younger days.

4 out of 5

Botticelli - Elizabeth Bear

A spy duo plays question games to pass the time while drinking, and not doing the dangerous fieldwork.

3 out of 5

Two Dreams On Trains - Elizabeth Bear

A hard-working mother despairs of her son putting his artistic talent to good use, instead he makes graffiti raids on ships in the spaceport.

3.5 out of 5

Follow Me Light - Elizabeth Bear

Lawyers, and a family that is definitely fishier than they seem.

3 out of 5

This Tragic Glass - Elizabeth Bear

In 2117 an English department researcher's computer program, very accurate, predicts Christopher Marlowe was female. They wangle time on the time travel program for retrieval before the death of said Marlowe, much as they did for Keats.

4 out of 5

Ice - Elizabeth Bear

The woman from The Devil You Don't, Muire, does a valkyrie turn in a bit of a Ragnarokian scene. Dying flying horses, vile-wolves, and slayage.

3 out of 5

The Dying of the Light - Elizabeth Bear and Amber Van Dyk

Dead poets, lust and really annoying font changes.

2 out of 5

The Company of Four - Elizabeth Bear

Shades of Clark Ashton Smith, but with somewhat nancier fairies, instead.

2.5 out of 5

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Devil You Don't - Elizabeth Bear

An immortal woman with an eight shooter and a sword is looking around a Western type environment peopled by the namesakers of the odd blues star.

Stagolee just might be looking for her.

3 out of 5

Singing My Sister Down - Margo Lanagan

Execution by tar pit, with ceremony.

2.5 out of 5

A Plain Tale From Our Hills - Bruce Sterling

A bleak, baroque tale of life after the fall of civilisation. One woman still has abnormal technology, biology and longevity.

2.5 out of 5

The Leopard's Paw - Jay Lake

Post-apocalytpic wandering. With wereleopards.

3.5 out of 5

Eating Crow - Neal Barrett

Comedic human-alien relations. With food.

3.5 out of 5

Wandering the Borderlands - Poppy Z. Brite

The fear of death.

2.5 out of 5

Surveillance - Joe R. Lansdale

Surveillance omnipresent for "safety", so much so it checks how much genital scratching you do or breakfast you have.

4 out of 5

The Girl With the Killer Eyes - B. B. Kristopher

Jodie, a new agent gets assigned to a field team:

"Good girl. I hereby dub you Federal Bureau of Superhuman Investigation Enforcement Team ATL-06's official ranged attack specialist.

They get called out to investigate a bank robbery that seems to clearly be the work of ubers.

"Three guys," Mike said. "One was a digger, one's a telekinetic, and one looks to be muscle. The digger got them into the vault. The TK picked the locks and the muscle collected the goods. All three were übers."

Catching the perpetrations, the confrontation gets very violent, and starts going bad for the field team until the headache Jodie has had all days turns into a new trick.

4 out of 5

Thor Meets Captain America - David Brin

The Allies are winning the war, when it all suddenly starts to go bad. The nazis and their mystic crazies have come up with something.

"They... made... the Aesir. That's what Loki meant by thinking that, maybe, his own memories were false. When he suspected he was actually no older than..."

Not that Loki, working with the Allies, can be completely trusted, as the surviving commander finds out about the necromancy.

"Who would we conjure? Chris wondered. If we ever used those spells? Superman? Captain Marvel? Oh, they'd be more than a match for the Aesir! Our myths were boundless."

4 out of 5

Watchcrab - Neal Asher

A lack of seafood has lead to genetically modified megacrustaceans. Who needs rottweilers when you have a big crab?

Some corporate skullduggery involving some cyborg work, as well.

3.5 out of 5

The Masque of Agamemnon - Sean Williams and Simon Brown

Trojan analogue with spacefleets, AI and Von Neumann probes.

2.5 out of 5

Can These Bones Live? - Manly Wade Wellman

"Then it reached out its right hand with finger bones the size of table knives, and laid hold on a young tree and yanked it out by the roots, without air much a-trying. It stood and tore off branches, easy as you'd peel the shucks from an ear of corn. It made itself a club thataway, and hiked it over the low skull and moved to close in on me again."

John, with a shovel, some courage, and some Zatannaesque lateral thinking deals with a skeleton monster.

3.5 out of 5

Sin's Doorway - Manly Wade Wellman

A mendicant volunteers to be a Sin Eater and gets more than he bargained for. So do those that had horrific plans.

3 out of 5

The Perfect Gun - Sean Williams

In a world that is several centuries past severe mutation and splitting of the human race into different caste forms, a man works as a PI in the recreation of a 20th century normal human society.

A case he is hired on ends with a suicide, then starts again with the same man, a contact in deep space, and an assassin.

Some future retro almost noir, if you like.

4 out of 5

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Non-Disclosure Agreement - Scott Westerfeld

The Devil wants a SFX guru to help with with Hell's outdated look. As always, there is a sneaky contract. Geeks are sneaky too though, in the event of a problem.

4 out of 5

Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Scott Westerfeld

Fabulous story.

First contact and energy exploration with the Tau. Sport used as a communication tool. Baseball is played, and eventually the aliens start flogging the humans mercilessly.

So, they try a new game :

"Claymore lifted his head and laughed. "You Americans crack me up. Cricket, taken away from the English? Those poor bastards havenae won a cricket series in decades. The Indians, the Sri Lankans, the South Africans all kick the crap out of them on a regular basis. Christ, they were put out of the Cup by bloody Yemen last year."

I shook my head. "But what are they going to do when the tube opens for good, and aliens show up and beat them at their own game?"

"Ach, that happened about two hundred years ago. Only they were called Australians.""

5 out of 5

Bagatelle - John Varley

An expert and the police have a cyborg turned into a nuclear bomb by terrorists to deal with.

4 out of 5

Invisible - Steve Rasnic Tem

Spontaneous Human Invisibility.

3 out of 5

The Girl-Thing - Sean Williams

A burglary at a porn shop and serial killings are perhaps linked.

2.5 out of 5

Stop Look and Dig - George O. Smith

Some hardboiled cop work in the Highways in Hiding world.

3 out of 5

Unthinkable - Sean McMullen

An enterprising bloke and a movie producer manage some cheap space travel that works.

4 out of 5

Playing Possum - Maxine McArthur

A possible werepossum sighting on Jocasta space station causes a bit of an uproar.

3.5 out of 5

Spirey and the Queen - Alastair Reynolds

"Space war is godawful slow."

Everything is also not as it seems in this conflict, partly as a result of the above.

3.5 out of 5

Fresco - Alastair Reynolds

The life and death of interstellar civilisations as art.

3 out of 5

The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley

A fairly dull and didactic children's book, from memory. The author certainly didn't mind being unsubtle, in general, lambasting people of different races, religions, mindsets, nationalities, and even scientists.

A chimney sweep kid ends up in the river, and gets some fantastic lessons along the way. Very avoidable.

1.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Neighbourhood Watch - Greg Egan

A group of local residents make a deal with a monster to keep the local area crime free. Crime not done by them, anyway. You know what those deals with the devil are like.

4 out of 5

The Concrete Jungle - Charles Stross

Bob gets called out on account of a monster program called SATAN STARE, that ties back into some past work for the Laundry and others.

He has to recruit, quickly, a pretty with it cop, and she helps him combat the beast, and the odd zombie.

4 out of 5

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Cthulhu - Neil Gaiman

Great Cthulhu has a bit of a whinge. Maybe even close to a rant.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Red Hot and Dark - Charles Stross

The other race in Ancient of Days is getting worried because of advances in human technology and genetics that will enable detection.

3.5 out of 5

Something Sweet - Charles Stross

Some biotechnological research into modification of people and computing leads to some violent action.

3 out of 5

Dechlorinating the Moderator - Charles Stross

A highly geeky technical conference causes mind melting and hangovers:

"A seminar entitled: "embedded universes 101", discussing the possibility of creating Linde-Mezhlumian fractally-embedded self- reproducing universes -- in effect, mini-big-bangs contained within pocket black holes -- which rapidly deteriorated into quasi-religious ranting when someone in the audience asked a remarkably convoluted question about the practicality of "implementing the preconditions for a Barrow-Tipler strong anthropic cosmology" within the toy universes.

Some time during that last talk my brain underwent a loss of coolant accident and melted down. I confess: I'm not a true geek. The theological significance of the Higgs scalar field leaves me cold. I don't really understand how to create a pocket universe, or what it means. I'm just repeating what I heard there. These dudes are beyond it. Way beyond it. Whatever it is."

3 out of 5

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tarkovsky's Cut - Charles Stross

This one is a bit odd, as a very long lived woman goes through changes in a society.

2.5 out of 5

Extracts From the Club Diary - Charles Stross

A couple of gents found a coffee addicts club.

"A chap who would willingly spend two years in deepest Africa searching for the ultimate cup of coffee, yet who would uncomplainingly partake of the vile brew we were served that night, in the boudoir of the most notorious libertine and socialite of the age; such a man was, quite unmistakably, a fellow spirit. Like me, he was unmistakably trapped in the grip of the most potent addiction of our modern age. And, from the moment I discovered that I was not alone, the subsequent formation of our Club became inevitable."

The story takes bits from their history throughout the decades:
"Whether or not those demented harridans obtain the satisfaction of their unreasonable demands for suffrage, we shall have no women in this club. This is a high-minded institution dedicated to the pursuit of the sublime beverage; likely as not, were we to admit women they would introduce embroidery, or worse still, insist on drinking tea."

Yellow Snow - Charles Stross

A drug manufacturer and dealer has to move faster and faster with the times.

Meeting a woman, he comes across some interesting technology:
"One Probabilistic Eigenstate Reorganisation Viewer, in full working order."

3 out of 5

Examination Night - Charles Stross

A just finished student, not minding a drink, proves crucial in the struggle between two masters of the art, and stopping something really nasty.

4 out of 5

Ship of Fools - Charles Stross

A group of technology experts in disaster situations have a bit of a floating conference to get away from it all.

2.5 out of 5

Generation Gap - Charles Stross

On an artificial habitat, the misunderstanding and differences in outlook between generations could be lethal.

3 out of 5

SEAQ and Destroy - Charles Stross

A Russian economic attack on British automated trading systems, looking to bring down Thatcher. Told as a sequence of news bulletins.

3 out of 5

The Boys - Charles Stross

Want to live here?

"Repeat after me: Death to the imperialist zionist ronin, the lackeys of neo-humanist cladisticians, and the discorporeate running-dog zaibatsu. I swear to follow the decree of the hezbollah and the shogunate in all things, to abide by the shari'a, to follow humility and modesty as a law for the rest of my natural life, and to refrain from acts of treason against the corporation ..."

Yeah, me either. The Posthuman Front don't sound like a fun bunch.

3 out of 5

The Midlist Bombers - Charles Stross

A book publishing satire, basically, about the different classes of writers, and a cunning economic scheme or two.

2.5 out of 5

Ancient of Days - Charles Stross

Some long-lived non-humans that seem human have their own society and power struggles and coup d'etat attempts.

A woman gets mixed up in this because of a botched caper.

3.5 out of 5

Lockheed Loot - Arch Whitehouse

Keene gets involved with a plot involving the new Lockheed plan and some advanced weaponry.

3 out of 5

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Fourth R - George O. Smith

This book is a direct descendant of the Hampdenshire Wonder, all though in this case the enhanced intelligence is controlled and deliberate.

When a very young James Holden's parents are killed, he is left in a different situation to most children in this situation. His clever scientist olds had invented an education machine that leaves him at five with the intellectual development and education of someone in high school, and beyond.

Much as Tim does in Children of the Atom he realises he can support himself by writing, and makes a living doing so when eight years old. This is a profession where you do not need to be seen.

Eventually he needs an adult front for economic reasons, and he approaches his landlord.

However, he can't stay hidden forever, no matter how clever, and unscrupulous types, as well as the government and the judiciary with ambition decide to put his invention to use, while shielding him from harassment, spooks, and other such annoyances.

3 out of 5

Highways In Hiding - George O. Smith

The Rhine Institute's work lead to humans having a larger and larger number of fully functional telepaths and espers among them.

Now, the worst disease around is caused Mekstrom's. However, one of the effects on the disease is flesh transformations, and if victims lived, they would be superhumanly strong, resistant to damage, and live many times longer.

When Steve Cornell has a car accident and his fiance to be disappears, he is stuck in a conspiracy theory, and finds out about the Highways In Hiding, and a secret battle between two groups that have a higher level of knowledge about Mekstrom's disease, and a cure.

A superhuman underground that wants good for the general population, and those that want to be a superhuman elite have their own covert struggle happening, and Steve becomes a key player.

4 out of 5