Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best SF of the Decade

5 Star Novel Section

Bacigalupi, Paolo - Windup Girl,The - [science fiction]
Mieville, China - Perdido Street Station - [sorcery fantasy]
Reynolds, Alastair - Chasm City - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Revelation Space - [science fiction]

5 Star Story Section

Bacigalupi, Paolo - Calorie Man,The - [science fiction]
Barron, Laird - Hallucigenia - [scary horror]
Bisson, Terry - Pirates Of the Somali Coast - [scary horror]
Carrico, David - Quiet Man,The - [science fiction]
Chiang, Ted - Exhalation - [science fiction]
Denton, Bradley - Sergeant Chip - [science fiction]
Di_Filippo, Paul and Bruce Sterling - Scab's Progress,The - [science fiction]
Doctorow, Cory - When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Doing the Line - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Flashmen - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Rynemonn - [science fiction]
Foster, Eugie - Body and Soul Art - [scary horror]
Geston, Mark S. - Allies,The - [science fiction]
Isle, Sue - Doing Shadow Time - [scary horror]
Kress, Nancy - Computer Virus - [science fiction]
Kress, Nancy - Saviour - [science fiction]
McAllister, Bruce - Kin - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Tear,The - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Verthandi's Ring - [science fiction]
Pratt, Tim - Cup and Table - [supernatural fantasy]
Reed, Robert - Man With the Golden Balloon,The - [science fiction]
Rex, T. - Evensong - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Diamond Dogs - [science fiction]
Shepard, Lucius - Radiant Green Star - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Antibodies - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Halo - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Lobsters - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Tourist - [science fiction]
Westerfeld, Scott - Unsportsmanlike Conduct - [science fiction]
Williams, Walter Jon - Green Leopard Plague,The - [science fiction]

5 Star Anthology Section

Adams, John Joseph - Wastelands - [science fiction]
Anders, Lou - Fast Forward 2 - [science fiction]
Ashley, Mike - Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction,The - [science fiction]
Datlow, Ellen and Kelly Link and Gavin Grant - Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 20th Annual Collection,The - [scary horror]
Dozois, Gardner and Jonathan Strahan - New Space Opera,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Galactic Empires - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 18th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 19th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 20th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 21st Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 22nd Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 23rd Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 24th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 25th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Dozois, Gardner - Year's Best Science Fiction 26th Annual Collection,The - [science fiction]
Eckert, Win Scott - Myths For the Modern Age - [science fiction superhero]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 07 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 10 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 11 - [science fiction]
Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer - Year's Best SF 12 - [science fiction]
Strahan, Jonathan - Science Fiction the Very Best of 2005 - [science fiction]
Van_Gelder, Gordon - In Lands That Never Were Tales of Swords and Sorcery From the Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction - [sorcery fantasy]

5 Star Collection Section

Asher, Neal - Gabble and Other Stories,The - [science fiction]
Bacigalupi, Paolo - Pump Six and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Barron, Laird - Imago Sequence and Other Stories,The - [scary horror]
Chiang, Ted - Stories Of Your Life and Others - [science fiction]
Doctorow, Cory - Overclocked - [science fiction]
Dowling, Terry - Rynemonn: Leopard Dreaming - [science fiction]
Egan, Greg - Oceanic - [science fiction]
Kress, Nancy - Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Martin, George R. R. - Dreamsongs - [science fiction]
McDonald, Ian - Cyberabad Days - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Galactic North - [science fiction]
Reynolds, Alastair - Zima Blue and Other Stories - [science fiction]
Shepard, Lucius - Best Of Lucius Shepard,The - [science fiction]
Simmons, Dan - Worlds Enough and Time - [science fiction]
Steele, Allen M. - Coyote Rising - [science fiction]
Stross, Charles - Accelerando - [science fiction]
Swanwick, Michael - Best Of Michael Swanwick,The - [science fiction]

The Best Old Books I Read In 2009

2009 Old Books


Fast Forward 2 - Lou Anders
The Gabble and Other Stories - Neal Asher
Pump Six and Other Stories - Paolo Bacigalupi
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories - Laird Barron
The Halfling and Other Stories - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse - Leigh Brackett
Lean Times In Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
Dreamsongs 1 - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 2 - George R. R. Martin
Cobra Trap - Peter O'Donnell


Martian Quest the Early Brackett - Leigh Brackett
Stark and the Star Kings - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett
A Cruel Wind - Glen Cook
A Fortress In Shadow - Glen Cook
The Giant Book Of Frankenstein - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 18 - Stephen Jones
Night Shade Books December 2008 - Jeremy Lassen
The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 - George Mann
The Sleeping Sorceress - Michael Moorcock
Starstreak Stories Of Space - Betty M. Owens
Coyote Frontier - Allen M. Steele
Eclipse 2 - Jonathan Strahan
Born Bad - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays - Andrew Vachss
Bloodstone - Karl Edward Wagner
The Barrens and Others - F. Paul Wilson


The People Of the Wind - Poul Anderson
David Falkayn: Star Trader - Poul Anderson
The Engineer Reconditioned - Neal Asher
History Of the Science Fiction Magazine 1 - Mike Ashley
Ravensoul - James Barclay
Books Of Blood 1 - Clive Barker
Phase Space - Stephen Baxter
All the Windwracked Stars - Elizabeth Bear
The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 - Ben Bova
Diamonds In the Sky - Mike Brotherton
Refining Fire - Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull
Cyborg - Martin Caidin
The Burning Man - Mark Chadbourn
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
The Simple Art Of Murder - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business - Raymond Chandler
Killing Floor - Lee Child
A Century Of Noir - Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane
Passage At Arms - Glen Cook
Inferno - Ellen Datlow
Dangerous Games - Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
Explorers - Gardner Dozois
The Furthest Horizon - Gardner Dozois
Deadhouse Gates - Steven Erikson
Ribofunk - Paul di Filippo
Mountain Magic - Eric Flint
The Cold Equations and Other Stories - Tom Godwin
The Survivors - Tom Godwin
Wildside - Steven Gould
Down Among the Dead Men - Simon R. Green
Evil Ways - Justin Gustainis
The Adventures Of Sam Spade - Dashiell Hammett
Waking the Moon - Elizabeth Hand
Science Fiction the Best Of the Year 2008 - Rich Horton
Already Dead - Charlie Huston
Half the Blood Of Brooklyn - Charlie Huston
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 06 - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 17 - Stephen Jones
The Mammoth Book Of Zombies - Stephen Jones
The Vampire Sextette - Marvin Kaye
Dirty Martini - J. A. Konrath
Fuzy Navel - J. A. Konrath
Warriors Of the Steppes - Harold Lamb
Busted Flush - George R. R. Martin
The Quiet War - Paul J. McAuley
Dark Blood - John Meaney
To Rescue Tanelorn - Michael Moorcock
Dead Man's Handle - Peter O'Donnell
The Silver Mistress - Peter O'Donnell
The Xanadu Talisman - Peter O'Donnell
Thriller - James Patterson
Thriller 2 - James Patterson
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2007 - Mike Resnick
Going Under - Justina Robson
A Gentleman's Game - Greg Rucka
Private Wars - Greg Rucka
The Retrieval Artist and Other Stories - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Hotel Midnight - Simon Clark
Starfire - Charles Sheffield
Crossover - Joel Shepherd
Nebula Awards Showcase 2001 - Robert Silverberg
The Great Chain Of Being and Other Tales Of the Biotech Revolution - Brian Stableford
Empire In Black and Gold - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Choice of Evil - Andrew Vachss
Footsteps Of the Hawk - Andrew Vachss
Evolution's Darling - Scott Westerfeld
Cascade Point - Timothy Zahn

The Best New Books Of 2009

2009 New Books


The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
Cyberabad Days - Ian McDonald
Oceanic - Greg Egan
The Year's Best Science Fiction 26 - Gardner Dozois
Zima Blue and Other Stories - Alastair Reynolds


By Blood We Live - John Joseph Adams
Monster Hunter International - Larry Correia
The New Space Opera 2 - Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
Blood Of Ambrose - James Enge
This Crooked Way - James Enge
The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 - George Mann
Night Shade Books January 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Night Shade Books April 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Night Shade Books September 2009 - Jeremy Lassen
Wireless - Charles Stross


Best Served Cold - Joe Abercrombie
Rise Of the Terran Empire - Poul Anderson
Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews
Moxyland - Lauren Beukes
Diamonds In the Sky - Mike Brotherton
The Best New Horror 1 - Ellen Datlow
Bauchelain and Korbal Broach - Steven Erikson
Year's Best SF 14 - David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 20 - Stephen Jones
Green - Jay Lake
Patient Zero - Jonathon Maberry
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year 3 - Jonathan Strahan
The Grand Conjunction - Sean Williams


Federations - John Joseph Adams
The Patriot Witch - Charles Coleman Finlay
Winter Song - Colin Harvey
Angel Of Death - J. Robert King
Madness Of Flowers - Jay Lake
Cryptic - Jack McDevitt
The Walls Of the Universe - Paul Melko
Wonder Woman - S. D. Perry and Britta Dennison
Kell's Legend - Andy Remic
Book Of Secrets - Chris Roberson
Sixty-One Nails - Mike Shevdon
Coyote Horizon - Allen M. Steele
Midwinter - Matthew Sturges
Lightbreaker - Mark Teppo
Norse Code - Greg van Eekhout
Nekropolis - Tim Waggoner

The Best New Stories of 2009

2009 Best New Stories

4.5 out of 5

Free SF Reader

Fire and Sleet - James Enge []
Moon Moon Moon - Kim Newman [Subterranean Online 11]

Not Free SF Reader

The Lost Princess Man - John Barnes [New Space Opera 2]
One Of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell [Solaris New SF 3]
Paradiso Lost - Albert E. Cowdrey [FSF 683]
It Takes Two - Nicola Griffith [Eclipse 3]
The Wide Carnivorous Sky - John Langan [By Blood We Live]
Rendezvous At Angels Thirty - Tom Ligon [Analog 939]
Firehorn - Robert Reed [FSF 683]

4 out of 5

Free SF Reader

The Best Monkey - Daniel Abraham [Solaris New SF 3]
Off-Track Betting - Madeleine Ashby [Flurb 7]
This Must Be the Place - Elliott Bangs [Strange Horizons]
Cuckoo - Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull and Leah Bobet [Shadow Unit]
TVA Baby - Terry Bisson []
Placa del Fuego - Tobias S. Buckell [Clarkesworld 34]
An Education Of Scars - Philip Brewer [Futurismic]
All About the Sponsors - Jeffrey R. DeRego [Escape Pod]
Six Bullets For John Carter - Chad Eagleton [Beat To A Pulp]
Within Your Soul I Sightless See - Eugie Foster [HPL's Mag of Horror 5]
Fortune's Soldiers - Julie Frost [Cosmos]
Fembot - Carlos Hernandez [Daybreak]
High Stakes - Sarah A. Hoyt [Darwin's Evolutions]
Soul Mate - Shelly Li [Cosmos]
Open Your Eyes - Paul Jessup [Apex]
The Ascendant - Ted Kosmatka [Subterranean Online 10]
Rolling Steel - Jay Lake and Shannon Page [Clarkesworld 31]
The Courage Of the Lion Tamer - Anya Martin [Daybreak]
Crimes and Glory - Paul J. McAuley [Subterranean Online 10]
In the Autumn Of Empire - Jerry Oltion [Diamonds In the Sky]
Another End of the Empire - Tim Pratt [Strange Horizons]
Mother Scorpion's House Of Fallen Flowers - Mike Resnick [Subterranean Online 11]
Scales - Alastair Reynolds - []
Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs - Leonard Richardson [Strange Horizons]
The Very Difficult Diwali of Sub-Inspector Gurushankar Rajaram - Jeff Soesbe [DayBreak]
This Was Education - Jeff Somers - []
The Culture Archivist - Jeremiah Tolbert [Federations]
The Nostalgist - Daniel H. Wilson []

Not Free SF Reader

Silent Blade - Ilona Andrews [Samhain]
Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews [Must Love Hellhounds]
Artifacts - Stephen Baxter [Solaris New SF 3]
Miles To Isengard - Leah Bobet [Interzone 220]
The Qualia Engine - Damien Broderick [Asimov's 403]
A Lovely Little Christmas Fire - Jeff Carlson [Asimov's 407]
Gunfight On Farside - Adam-Troy Castro [Analog 938]
Hot Rock - Greg Egan [Oceanic]
Hell Of A Fix - Matthew Hughes [FSF 686]
Morality - Stephen King [Esquire]
Act One - Nancy Kress [Asimov's 398]
To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselfs - Jay Lake [New Space Opera 2]
From the Heart - John Meaney [New Space Opera 2]
A Clown Escapes From Circus Town - Will McIntosh [Interzone 221]
The Art Of the Dragon - Sean McMullen [FSF 684]
Mother Of Champions - Sean McMullen [Interzone 222]
The Spiral Briar - Sean McMullen [FSF 682]
Another Life - Charles Oberndorf [FSF 685]
Memory Dust - Gareth L. Powell [Interzone 220]
The Fixation - Alastair Reynolds [Solaris New SF 3]
Sinbad the Sand Sailor - R. Garcia y Robertson [Asimov's 402]
Wife-stealing Time - R. Garcia y Robertson [Asimov's 405]
Defect - Kristine Kathryn Rusch [New Space Opera 2]
Lion Walk - Mary Rosenblum [Asimov's 396]
The Price Of Silence - Deborah J. Ross [FSF 682]
Sublimation Angels - Jason Sanford [Interzone 224]
Dog-Eared Paperback Of My Life - Lucius Shepard [Other Earths]
Halloween Town - Lucius Shepard [FSF 685]
The Highway Code - Brian Stableford [We Think, Therefore We Are]
Colliding Branes - Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling [Asimov's 397]
Rescue Mission - Jack Skillingstead [Solaris New SF 3]
Palimpset - Charles Stross [Wireless]
Adaptogenia - Wayne Wightman [FSF 683]
The Island - Peter Watts [New Space Opera 2]
Inevitable - Sean Williams [New Space Opera 2]
The Tenth Muse - Tad Williams [New Space Opera 2]
Fearless Space Pirates Of the Outer Rings - Bill Willingham [New Space Opera 2]
This Peaceable Land Or The Unbearable Vision Of Harriet Beecher Stowe - Robert Charles Wilson [Other Earths]

Planet Stories 71 - Jack O'Sullivan

An amazingly pleasant New Year's eve surprise. The only Leigh Brackett story I know nothing about, and I am pointed towards it by Tinkoo's Variety SF!

Didn't believe my eyes until I saw it the third time. So thanks also to Gerard Arthus via

This is the very last issue of Planet Stories - and considerably higher quality than the wretched first.

The letter column Vizigraph certainly has a rather different end of an era tone compared to the others. One poor unfortunate letter published about a guy resubscribing!

However, if you have to end, the Brackett story is a great way to go out, and also quite helpful for what I have been working on. This story of interstellar corruption, exploration, and strange created beings is certainly one of her best.

Planet Stories 71 : Planet Stories 71 - Jack O'Sullivan
Planet Stories 71 : Out of the Iron Womb! 0 Poul Anderson (aka Holmgang)
Planet Stories 71 : Once a Starman - Joe L. Hensley
Planet Stories 71 : Image of Splendor - Lu Kella
Planet Stories 71 : The Brides of Ool - M. A. Cummings
Planet Stories 71 : Dust Unto Dust - Lyman D. Hinckley
Planet Stories 71 : Alien Equivalent - Richard R. Smith
Planet Stories 71 : Last Call from Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Bo-Valeria psychotech wrench.

3 out of 5

Is the drug.

2.5 out of 5

Venus dame revolution.

3.5 out of 5

Gilk murder.

3 out of 5

Seedy city.

2.5 out of 5

Martian bet.

3 out of 5

Darkbird Bitter Star Mining Company scam freezeout.

4.5 out of 5

2.5 out of 5

Dust Unto Dust - Lyman D. Hinckley

Seedy city.

2.5 out of 5

Alien Equivalent - Richard R. Smith

Martian bet.

3 out of 5

The Brides Of Ool - M. A. Cummings

Gilk murder.

3 out of 5

Image Of Splendor - Lu Kella

Venus dame revolution.

3.5 out of 5

Once A Starman - Joe L. Hensley

Is the drug.

2.5 out of 5

Out Of the Iron Womb! - Poul Anderson

Bo-Valeria psychotech wrench.

3 out of 5

Makers 77 - Cory Doctorow

"Lester was in his workshop when Perry came to see him. He had the yoga mat out and he was going through the slow exercises that his physiotherapist had assigned to him, stretching his crumbling bones and shrinking muscles, trying to keep it all together. He’d fired three physios, but Suzanne kept finding him new ones, and (because she loved him) prettier ones."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Murder - Karl Bunker

Squirrel turn-in.

2.5 out of 5

Nomad - Karl Bunker

Project sleep separation.

4 out of 5

Madness Of Flowers 1 Pollination - Jay Lake

"He had quickly tired of divinity. There was a soul-satisfying warmth in opening his empty hand to find a flax seed or gaming chip. The trick never failed to amuse at dinners. But he had not been prepared for the expectation of spiritual purpose that accrued around him like flies on a street drunk.

Bijaz had always taken pride in being his own dwarf. Now he seemed to belong to everyone in the City Imperishable. Especially the Numbers Men, those strange gods who had gifted him with these powers and since remained obstinately absent from his life and his dreams.

"It's not so bad," he told his drinking glass. Bijaz sat in a café on the lower slopes of Heliograph Hill. The place smelled of steam and the mild spices of Rose Downs cooking. The chair was comfortable, perhaps too much so. The vintage, a straw-colored wine from beyond the Sunward Sea, tasted of dusk and romance and the warmth of distant shores.

Idly, he opened his left hand to dribble pale sand to the floor. The flow sparkled as it fell, catching the late afternoon sunlight.

"Building castles, are we?"

Kalliope. Tokhari war mistress, with spirals tattooed upon her cheeks and teeth stained blue from some ritual drug. Once she had been a child in the household he had managed. Sister to Jason the Factor, the dead man of winter who was now in hiding. Kalliope was a sandwalker, a desert mage, more than a month's ride from the edge of her domain.

And a friend to him, of sorts.

These days they were both strange, in a stranger land. Her camel riders had gone home, save for a lingering rearguard and a few would-be immigrants.

She, like Bijaz, had been touched by the noumenal. Also like him, she had been left wanting."

4 out of 5

Books Are My Only Friends Interview with - Laird Barron

"My tastes are eclectic -- I enjoy everything from Michener ‘s historical doorstops to New Wave science fiction. There’s a special place in my heart for procedurals and crime novels. Gorky Park, Smilla’s Sense of Snow and Robert Parker’s Spenser series are some of my favorites.

The thing horror offers is the frisson that comes with fear and dread and visceral shock; frightful imagery appeals to our lizard brain in a way that is profound and immediate. Horror is an important and vital art form -- it’s rooted in primitive emotions, the animal self that resists sublimation. We’ve not evolved sufficiently as a species to turn our backs on the lizard, the wolf, the ape. Our ineluctable fascination with the gruesome, the violent, the macabre, is a gentle reminder of that."

3.5 out of 5

Howard's Forgotten Redhead: Dark Agnes - Ryan Harvey

"It’s strange that Robert E. Howard’s most famous female character is one he didn’t actually create: Red Sonja, the work of comic book writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith, based on the historic adventuress Red Sonya from the story “The Shadow of the Vulture.” Red Sonja has been erroneously credited to Howard for years; even the movie Red Sonja lists him as the creator on the main credits."

4.5 out of 5’s-forgotten-redhead-dark-agnes/

I'm Glad I Waited By A Sacrifical Virgin - Reina Hardy

"A lot of thoughts ran through my head as the procession wound its way, singing and chanting, to the sacrificial sundial. “I wonder if they are planning to stab my heart or my chest?” “The High Priest’s fetish cuffs are digging into my neck.” “It’s my sheet slipping?” But mostly, I was thinking, what would it be like? What would HE be like?"

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Subterranean Online 12 - William Schafer

A solidly consistent professional quality issue at 3.44. Resnick managers another amusing Lucifer Jones outing, although not sure where he goes after Tasmania and Antarctica if that is all he has left!

Also pseudonymous Rusch, long Lake and Tim Pratt deals effortlessly with an odd but charming time travel anti-paranoia story, if you like.

Also a couple of book reviews of Graham Joyce and Cherie Priest plus a pretty nifty looking spaceship cover.

Subterranean Online 12 : Chain of Stars - Jay Lake
Subterranean Online 12 : Five Dispatches from the Third Word War - David Prill
Subterranean Online 12 : Heads and Tails in Paradise - Mike Resnick
Subterranean Online 12 : Family Affair - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Subterranean Online 12 : Red - Ekaterina Sedia
Subterranean Online 12 : The Belated Burial - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Subterranean Online 12 : The Death of Che Guevara - Lewis Shiner
Subterranean Online 12 : Troublesolving - Tim Pratt

Aetheric star love, again.

3.5 out of 5

Weaponised words.

3.5 out of 5

Island High Priestess education.

3.5 out of 5

Felony risk beatup escape.

3 out of 5

Resistance is futile. And frozen.

3.5 out of 5

Vampire funeral lessons.

3 out of 5

Rivers of blood and big Southern walls.

3.5 out of 5

Gangstalking about the future.

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Troublesolving - Tim Pratt

Gangstalking about the future.

4 out of 5

The Death Of Che Guevara - Lewis Shiner

Rivers of blood and big Southern walls.

3.5 out of 5

The Belated Burial - Caitlin R. Kiernan

Vampire funeral lessons.

3 out of 5

Family Affair - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"Felony risk beatup escape."

3 out of 5

Family Affair 2 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"“Daddy’s dead,” Annie said in a very small voice."

3 out of 5

Red - Ekaterina Sedia

Resistance is futile. And frozen.

3.5 out of 5

Family Affair 1 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"The handprint was made of dried blood."

3.5 out of 5

Heads and Tails In Paradise - Mike Resnick

Island High Priestess education.

3.5 out of 5

Five Dispatches From the Third World War - David Prill

Weaponised words.

3.5 out of 5

Chain Of Stars - Jay Lake

Aetheric star love, again.

3.5 out of 5

Chain Of Stars 3 - Jay Lake

"The firework burned, then pulsed again, then began to tumble earthward. Not back toward the camp and their landing field. Simply fall like a burning chunk of ash might."

3.5 out of 5

Chain Of Stars 2 - Jay Lake

"Maybe God was made of gravity."

3.5 out of 5

Chain Of Stars 1 - Jay Lake

"The old man set down his eating sticks. “You would grasp the orbital track and slip the bonds of Earth?”"

3.5 out of 5

Chain Of Stars 4 - Jay Lake

"“It is a disease of captains, I should think.” Zarai picked her way over a deadfall which blocked the path. “Queens send people out to die for them. Captains walk first into the storm.”"

3.5 out of 5

Carlos Manson Lives - Lucius Shepard

Drugs, music, nudity, ferrari retreads.

4 out of 5

Revise the World 22 - B. W. Clough

"“Oh, you won’t be able to see. A little plastic surgery took care of the scar. It was right about there, below the deltoid. Better safe than sorry — the gangrene was horrible, the worst on record. You were rotting away on your feet. And we snipped your left leg off at the hip socket. The old bullet wound would’ve closed back up, but I didn’t like how the left femur was shorter than the right. Might as well tidy everything while we’re at it, you know?”

“Well I’m buggered.” She had disassembled him and put him together again like a toy. “Where did you learn to do this, doctor?”

“Medical school.”

“No, I mean society — all of you. How many frostbitten and gangrened explorers turn up in this era needing repair?”"

3.5 out of 5

No Good From A Corpse - Leigh Brackett

I had read elsewhere that this was rather Chandlerian, and it seems that is certainly the case.

The private investigator in this novel is out to help people, even if he doesn't particularly like them, and even after getting shot, bashed, abused, lied to, and more.

He has made friends (and feels a lot more than that) about a nightclub singer who has an inability to engage in any sort of monogamy, serial, or parallel. He realises that she has a rather dodgy past, and when he gets a whispered phone threat, things turn bad.

This leads to an investigation where he is a murder suspect, as well as trying to clear the name of another man and childhood friend whose innocence he is sure of. Apart from these two gentleman, it appears that almost anyone else that appears could have been involved.

A non-obvious, well done mystery follows, with all sorts of characters, and a witness and lead list that keeps getting terminally shortened.

Quite well done.

4 out of 5 - Batman Novels

A site dedicated to listing these, with cover art. Pretty much comprehensive.

4.5 out of 5

Revise the World 19 - B. W. Clough

"“Don’t bark like that, Titus,” Lash begged. “They’re just taking pictures of you now, with the statue. Talking will come later.”

Titus almost swore with relief. Still it was obvious he was going to have to stand here until enough film was shot. He glowered at the black machines, which visibly fluttered the cinematographers. “Can’t you just look at Scott some more?” Rick demanded. “You look like you’re dead and stuffed.” "

3.5 out of 5

Revise the World 20 - B. W. Clough

"For what seemed like hours they both stared intently out into the blank whiteness beyond the glass. The emptiness had the whiteness of virgin paper, or an expanse of well-laundered sheet, light but without form. Distance and proportion, even up and down, was lost in its void, without any horizon or reference point. Titus swallowed and fought a sense of vertigo. The plane leaped and twisted like a flea as it reached down and down for the earth, further confusing the senses. Only the seat belts kept him from flying across the cabin. He clutched the arms of his seat and reminded himself, this is not like PTICA’s film. This is real. Only once did the pilot flick him a glance. “God, I hate whiteouts,” she said, shouting to carry over the noise."

2.5 out of 5

Revise the World 21 - B. W. Clough

"Titus came to himself in familiar circumstances: the snowy hospital gown and sheets, the glare and shiny instruments and blinking lights and supernal cleanliness, so unlike hospitals in 1912. Even the white-clad angel in attendance was familiar — not Shell, disappointingly, but Dr. Trask. “Fallen angel,” he said dreamily. “Thought I told you to go to hell.”"

3.5 out of 5

Makers 76 - Cory Doctorow

"“We were looking to get compensated for bad acts. We got compensated for them, and we did it without tying up the public courts. Everybody wins.” He cocked his head. “Except you, of course.”"

3.5 out of 5

Monday, December 28, 2009

Anything You Can Do - Randall Garrett

Need a twin Nipe stopping Superman.

3.5 out of 5

I Had A Date With Lady Janet - Peter O'Donnell

A first person Scottish castle rescue for Willie Garvin.

3.5 out of 5

The Courage Of the Lion Tamer - Anya Martin

Protection is manlier. Or lionesslier.

4 out of 5“the-courage-of-the-lion-tamer”-v2/#more-397

Fembot - Carlos Hernandez

Fizzbrick fakeout girls, spewing.

4 out of 5

The Man Who Used the Universe 1 - Alan Dean Foster

""No," said Loo-Macklin with a half smile, "I don't think so. It wouldn't do me any good, because you're quite right. I don't have a projectile weapon in either pocket."

"I thought so," said the owner, exuding self-satisfaction. "More's the pity for you, though, you silly ignorant little ghit." His wrist tendons bulged against the skin as he prepared to slide his hands forward.

There was a small but sharp explosion. Everything happened very quickly.

The owner's hands never moved a centimeter downward. One moment he was standing there, leaning over the invisible proximity field emanating from the display screen and the next he was half imbedded in the fiberstone wall screen behind him, sandwiched in among projections of necklaces and tiaras. Smoke rose from the black cavity that had been his chest, where the twelve-centimeter-long rocket had blown up.

The rocket had come out of the hollow, thick sole of Loo-Macklin's right shoe, which had been pointing at the owner ever since his visitor had entered the shop. It was only natural for a shortish fellow to wear lifters on his footgear."

4 out of 5

Into the Out Of 1 - Alan Dean Foster

""Yeah, get in," said the first agent. "Look, we're all highly trained here but we're human, too. You better get your friend inside," he told Luther sharply, "before he opens his mouth one time too many and we have a serious situation on our hands."

"Right, yeah, sure." Vandorm practically dragged the grimacing BJ into the vehicle, making sure they got seats away from the doors.

"Christ, BJ! I always knew you were slow, but I didn't think you were crazy. That guy could've killed you."

"Hell, I ain't afraid of him." BJ's brows drew together. "Are you afraid of him, Luther? You once told me you weren't afraid o' no gov'mint men." Another brace of celebrants was shoved in before the doors were closed and locked from the outside.

One trailing the other, the two vans rumbled off into the night, following the access road that led out of the forest. After a while other vehicles began to follow, emerging from concealing brush. Most of them were four-wheel drives.

Eventually only two remained. Their occupants began a thorough examination of the cars the cross burners had left behind. A couple of them started spraying the collapsing fire with extinguishers to make sure the blaze wouldn't spread to the nearby woods. They would all be there long into the morning hours and then they too would drive off, leaving the clearing ringed with a ghostly semicircle of abandoned vehicles, all facing a pile of smoldering ashes."

3 out of 5

Hero! 1 - Dave Duncan

"A sleepy smile crawled over the bigger boy's face. "Insulting the Patrol can be dangerous."

"Disgracing it is worse," Vaun said mildly.

And that, Maeve suspected, was the only warning the lieutenant was going to get.

"Besides," Vaun continued innocently, "I don't see why you should be concerned about the remote future. Surviving the next four months ought to worry you more."

In a stage whisper, one of the onlookers said, "The next four minutes for you, bud!" A couple of his companions chuckled, but the lieutenant was now wary of Vaun's inexplicable self-confidence--civilians did not talk back this way.

"Why is that ... sir?"

"Because of the Q ship, of course."

"What Q ship?"

"The one from Scyth. It should have started braking weeks ago. Even in our time frame, if it doesn't start in two days, it ain't going to, and in eleven weeks we're all spareribs. It'll smash the planet!""

3.5 out of 5

What Entropy Means To Me - George Alec Effinger

"Our Parents were nearly superhuman in their powers and in their inestimable resources. Why then did they leave their natural home for the unknown territories off-planet? Was it because their brothers on Earth were jealous and afraid of their control of supernatural forces beyond comprehension? Was it because the Earth people hated Our Parents for their all-encompassing knowledge, their perfect and blessed relationship to all living things, their total and consistent morality? No. They hounded Our Father and Our Mother from their midst because of Our Parents' overwhelming debts."

3 out of 5

A Place Among the Fallen 1 - Adrian Cole

"'Who called prow?' shouted Brannog, his arm gripping that of a companion.

'Yarnol,' came the reply, almost a snarl. The man pointed. 'Out there!'

'Have you seen it?'

'Aye!' came a shout beside them. 'I swear it. A prow! No mast. Tom away, likely. But she floats.'

'She'll never make shore,' Brannog cried, and with the wind streaming like a torrent in spate off the land, the men all knew he spoke the truth. But they were fishers and could not help but search with their eyes for this doomed vessel, even though it would be sudden death to put out a ship to help. After a moment the distant prow rose up like a knife, slicing apart a rolling crest, black and glossy as a seal, and the men marvelled that it should be pointed towards the land. A freak gust must have sent the rudderless hull twisting around. Minutes later the prow rose up again, battering through the swells; still it faced the cove. The faces of the watchers were intent with disbelief. Brannog heard a voice within him, the calm voice of Sisipher as she spoke from her dreams. He's coming."

3 out of 5

Quipu 1 - Damien Broderick

"He untwists the metal wire of the paperclip and prepares his magic trick. Suitably enough he's learned how to do this from Joseph, who had it from a nuclear theoretician in Armidale. The larceny of scientists. Leaning at a peculiar angle to cut off the woman's line-of-sight, he dials the 043 prefix for Pearl Beach, 600 miles to the north. One end of the dog-legged wire goes through the perforations of the mouth piece, nudging it right up into the diaphragm. Holding the handpiece to the box, he jams the other end of the wire into the metal keyhole that opens the box to authorized money collectors. This is the magic pass; it works one time in three, depending on conditions that Wagner cannot even begin to estimate. Presumably a current passes in a strange feedback loop through the device, convincing the poor dumb instrument that it is being fed copious quantities of gold. Or that the call is taking place within the local-call zone."

3 out of 5

Kur Of Gor 1 - John Norman

"He pounded again, and again, at the transparent walls, until his hands bled.

Bruised, and bewildered, he sank down then, naked, inside the bottlelike container. Such containers taper toward the bottom, that wastes may drain from them. They taper, too, toward the top. Near the top a tube descends periodically, automatically, through which liquid, if the occupant chooses to live, may be drawn by the mouth into his body. The entire facility is automated, though one supposes some supervisory personnel may be in attendance, if only by means of olfactory devices, listening devices, cameras, or such. Certainly one seldom sees them. The tube's descent is indicated by an odor. The corridors are commonly empty and silent. One may conjecture, occasionally, from the outside, that within the containers there is sound, this being surmised from the expressions of the occupant, the motions and configurations of his mouth, the gestures of his limbs, such things. The container is rather oval, or ovoid, rounded, ascending rather vertically, but narrowing, rounded, toward the top and bottom. The diameter, in measurements likely to be familiar to the reader, would be something like four feet, whereas the container, as a whole, is something like eight feet in height, though much of this space is not conveniently utilizable, given the tapering at the top and bottom. In such a container one sleeps as one can. Indeed a soporific gas may be entered into the container remotely, which suggests there is some actual surveillance of the containers. Too, the air in the container may be drawn from the container, should one wish, say, to terminate an occupant, clear the space for a new occupant, and so on. Too, it might be noted that the corridor itself, as most of the structure, is airless. This contributes to the incarcerational efficiency of the facility.

Various life forms may be kept in such containers."

3 out of 5

Kidding Around - Lewis Shiner

Mum's too weird, but dad might be bad.

3.5 out of 5

New Apples In the Garen - Kris Neville

Engineer crash.

2.5 out of 5

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cordwainer Smith - Galen Strickland

An article about the author.

4 out of 5

Solar Sails in Science Fiction - Alan C. Elms and U.C. Davis

"Then in May 1951 the leading SF magazine of its time, Astounding Science Fiction, published a detailed account of how solar sails could be assembled in orbit and used for space travel. The account was a nonfiction article, "Clipper Ships of Space," by an engineer named Carl Wiley. Given that he published his article in a science fiction magazine, and wrote it under a pseudonym (Russell Saunders), Wiley himself apparently feared that respectable scientific circles were not yet ready for the solar sailing concept. It took another seven years for a paper on solar sails (by Richard Garwin) to appear in a professional journal, Jet Propulsion. Meanwhile, however, several influential science fiction writers had absorbed Wiley's Astounding article into their creative preconscious. In the early 1960s, they began to produce."

4.5 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 24 - Ryk Spoor

""Behold the Arena." Orphan repeated, more quietly, almost reverently. "The endless skies, the worlds that drift in cloud and light and shadow, a place where storms a million million kilometers wide clash above and around embattled Spheres, where trading ships and pirates and mercenaries travel beside, prey upon, and defend explorers, decadent tourists, lost souls searching for a home or a cause, armadas finding new worlds to conquer, and all, all of them looking, watching, asking for news… news of First Emergents, of ancient ancient ruins atop a lost Sphere, of rumors of Voidbuilder knowledge or Shadeweaver powers… and all of them returning here to hear that news, to behold the newcomers – and perhaps to Challenge them, or be themselves Challenged, and gain or lose all in a single contest. It is my home. Now it is yours.""

3.5 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 23 - Ryk Spoor

" "Then imagine… imagine that you could hold it all in your mind, that you could see all things, all places, at the same time, that to you the riddle of time and space was as trivial a puzzle as opening a box in your hand, that you could open that box and see every star, every planet, as a master artisan might look upon it. An artisan who wished to create a replica, the greatest work of art praising Creation that ever has been…" Orphan paused a moment. "For every star, a Sphere. Within each Sphere, a faithful duplicate of its attendant planets and their moons; and the Spheres themselves, collected as are their originals in great gathering, a hundred billion Spherepools filled with a hundred billion Spheres, and all, all following with infinite precision the same cosmic dance as their counterparts."

For a moment, DuQuesne saw in his mind's eye what Orphan was describing, and it was enough to stagger even his imagination. He glanced at Sandrisson, who seemed half-fascinated, half-terrified at the thought. The physicist clearly grasped something of the scale and implications, far more than the awed Ariane. "You… can't be serious. You are saying that … that the entire realm of, Kanzaki-Locke-Sandrisson space is filled with these constructs?""

4 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 22 - Ryk Spoor

" The wingcases snapped open and shut. "Such risks are not great. Though not zero, either. Many lifeforms are far more close in their biology than original speculation indicated – to the point that we can share both diseases and foodstuffs with various other races. This has, as one might imagine, been a source of glorious argument for the biologists of a thousand species." Orphan stretched and sat down again; Ariane wasn't sure, but his face seemed just a touch more rounded and glossy than it had been. "Ahh, I feel much refreshed. To return to your question, then… I would feel uncomfortable about spending more than another day here. I did not flee with anything but a few travelbars, which are not very adequate nourishment.""

3 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 21 - Ryk Spoor

" Carl grinned. "Oh, come on. Who started that bar brawl in Nuevo Aires because she couldn't let that amazon fanplayer push herself on some poor tourist? Who was the one who missed a qualifier because she just HAD to stick her nose into the wrong alley and ended up having to testify at a realporn trial in Moscow? And then there was –""

3.5 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 20 - Ryk Spoor

"Steve's answer was a short, nervous laugh. "Oh, yeah, that's a good answer. Do you notice that Ockham's Razor is about to cut you off at the knees?"

3.5 out of 5

Science Fiction Research Assocation - Various Various

Website for the organisation, plus many years worth of their journal online in PDF.

5 out of 5

Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger Biographical Summary - Alan C. Elms

[Note: This is a partial working summary, based in large part on Paul Linebarger's own autobiographical lists. I will add to it and further correct it as I continue to work on his biography. For additional biographical information and many photographs of PMAL, see the website maintained by his daughter, Rosana Hart:]

4 out of 5

Cordwainer Smith Pronunciation Guide - Alan C. Elms

"Norstrilia: Readers often pronounce the name of this planet with a short "i" in the middle, but you should keep in mind that its settlers were Australians. Australians often jokingly (or sometimes seriously) pronounced the word "Australian" as "Strine," and Paul Linebarger pronounced "Norstrilia" (short for "Old North Australia") as Nor - STRILE - ya."

4.5 out of 5

Cordwainer Smith Scholarly Corner - Alan C. Elms

"I'll use this space to note contributions to the scholarly literature I'm most familiar with: what I'll call the scholarly Smith scholarship. I call it that not because it's more serious than the fannish scholarship (some of which is very serious), but because it's done by people who make their living (or a good part of their living) as scholars."

5 out of 5

An Introduction to The Ruined Queen of Harvest World - Damien Broderick

"It’s as if I’d always lived part of my dream life—these memories of the future—in the strange, terrible universe of the Instrumentality of Man, with its animal-derived Underpeople and laminated robot brains, its enigmatic Lords and Ladies, ancient Daimoni, planoforming ships crossing the terrors of the Up and Out, Viola Siderea, the vast mushroom tower of Earthport rising from fabled Meeya Meefla."

4.5 out of 5

Remembering Paul M. A. Linebarger who was Cordwainer Smith: A Daughter's Memories - Rosana Hart

A remembrance article by his daughter, Rosana.

"I have quite a few memories of his writing science fiction. It was fun for him, something he did on the side. He would tell me with some glee what some obscure reference meant... too bad I don't remember most of those. I do remember his saying that his story title "Drunkboat" was from the French poem, "Bateau Ivre," by Rimbaud.

I asked him why he didn't want people to know that he was Cordwainer Smith. As I remember it, he said he didn't want to be bothered by fans. Also, he thought it might make some of his professional colleagues think less of him."

5 out of 5

Cordwainer Smith FAQ - Alan C. Elms

A brief list.

3.5 out of 5

Leigh Brackett's Future History - An Examination


It is well known that Leigh Brackett has a group of stories that share a common setting, and that those are based on the planets of the Solar System, primarily on Venus and Mars.

However, there is much other SF included in 50+ short stories and ten novels.

I thought it might be interesting to see what work might coherently fit in one Future History, even if it was never explicitly stated. I haven't seen anything written talking about the interstellar and other stories in general, whereas there are good articles at Wikipedia about the planetary romance era.

Very few dates are given in Brackett stories, so this is an attempt at division into rough periods, in order. There is no mention of medical technology or lifespans given for humans, either, at least insofar as they may differ from the known range of readers of the times.


Firstly, there are definitely a small number of works that definitely do not. The novel The Long Tomorrow and its on-Earth postapocalyptic lost technology religious setting definitely does not.

Secondly, the short story The Tweener has a soldier return from a Mars that is empty apart from some small rabbit-like native animals, that are actually discovered to be sentient. This is not relevant.

Thirdly, The Citadel of Lost Ages is set on a future earth that astronomical calamity has caused to have a Darkside and a Lightside, like Mercury. There is no evidence of such directly in any work. It is in fact somewhat Planet of the Apes-like, Darkside notwithstanding, with hybrid beastmen running the planet, and humans as slaves. An outsider enters with forgotten knowledge, a trove of past human technology including atomic power. Nothing is mentioned of spacefaring or starship technology. Therefore it is extremely unlikely this story is relevant.

Fourthly, her last story, 'Mommies and Daddies' has a near future Earth dystopia ravaged by a drug destroyed populace and their abandoned children. Or at leas the American part is. This certainly does not fit with the rest of the Future History. Given these multiple bad times on Earth stories all do not seem to fit at all, it is presumably deliberate on her part.

Fifthly, Runaway is obviously out thematically with its investigation of the psychological destabilisation of an accountant. Content makes this certain: "He knew that Venus was important because it produced very large amounts of uranium, thorium, germanium, and a lot of other things that Earth was using up too fast. And that was all he knew, except that people had to live there under domes, and that it never rained."

Lastly, I have not seen the story 'Last Call From Sector 9-G', and no-one seems to know what it is about that I have asked. My guess is this might be an inclusion in the Future History, from the title.


If you want to believe in this exercise, the greatest problem is the lack of explicit reference to the interstellar travel at the same time that there is intense focus on the local Solar System, so you have to get past that in a handwaving manner. Brackett of course was American, so you could perhaps assume that the Solar System chroniclers have the same intense inward looking focus that Americans do. The colonisation does have an American flavour. That is, making the happenings around other stars analogous to international affairs as far as interest goes for the average denizen of either at the time. There may also be author notes or mostly forgotten conversations that render this particular exercise moot, but these are unlikely to ever come to light to trouble us, given the passing of multiple decades already. Spaceports are mentioned often, without detailing the types of ships they serve. Certainly starships are given names like Stellar and Starflight.


Some background is given of Martian ancient history:

There is a reference to the Quiru living a million years ago or so, which sounds like an extremely rough ballpark figure. Rhiannon was a Quiru, see The Sword of Rhiannon. "The Quiru, said the myths, had for that sin crushed Rhiannon and locked him into a hidden tomb. And for more than a million years men had hunted the Tomb of Rhiannon because they believed it held the secrets of Rhiannon's power."


1) Mars

Much later, on a far wetter Mars the Dhuvians ruled an empire as seen in Sea-Kings of Mars. As told to Matt Carse:""You know at least that since long ago there have been human peoples on our world and also the not-quite-human peoples, the Halflings. Of the humans the great Quiru, who are gone, were the greatest. They had so much science and wisdom that they're still revered as superhuman.
"But there were also the Halflings-the races who are manlike but not descended of the same blood. The Swimmers, who sprang from the sea-creatures, and the Sky Folk, who came from the winged things-and the Dhuvians, who are from the serpent.""

An alien race with advanced technology was also living in the City of Shandakor, as per The Last Days of Shandakor. While not a million years in the past, tens of thousands of years it would have taken Mars to dry out.

Also The Thinkers, as mentioned in Shadow Over Mars also likely also were around tens of thousands of years in the past: "But these Thinkers have done a lot of good from time to time."
Mak nodded. "Sure. Theoretically at least they guide the viewpoint of Mars-when they feel like bothering. It has to be some big important split, like the inter-hemispheric war back in Sixty-two Thousand and Seven, when the Sea Kings had trouble."

As did the Prira Cen: "Ancient things. Things deeply buried, nearly forgotten, clouded by superstition and legend. Forty thousand years—" from The Sorcer of Rhiannon.

The serially immortal Ramas had also existed since long in the past as talked about in Queen of the Martian Catacombs/The Secret of Sinharat. The Rama Berild talks of just one relationship:"'Delgaun has had me for a thousand years, and I am weary of him. So very weary!'" Given they are the last of their people, they must have existed a lot further back in the past.

2) Earth

Brackett appears to have liked Robert E. Howard and Abraham Merritt. As far as Howard goes, from The Jewel Of Bas: "He gave them a lament, one of the wild dark things the Cimmerians sing at the bier of a chief and very appropriate to the occasion" and "The priests of Dagon, of all the temples of Atlantis, spoke against me. I had to run away. I roamed the whole earth before the Flood, carrying the Stone."

Her husband of course was a writer for Weird Tales, so these are likely a small nod towards a favored writer. A further nod to the Weird Tales boys: "Ciaran, because he was a gypsy and a thief and had music in him like a drunkard has wine, had heard it, deep in the black forests of Hyperborea where even gypsies seldom go." The Jewel Of Bas is itself set on a hidden world in the Solar System.

Lord of the Earthquake is an Abraham Merritt style adventure where two men enter a portal that takes them back twelve thousand years in the past to Ancient Mu. So a tribute by story type, with Brackett of course injecting one of her favored hardboiled misfit-types in the character of Coh Langham. There may even ben a Doyle influence : "I devoured Burroughs, Haggard, Balmer and Wylie, Doyle's unforgettable "Maracot Deep," with this exploration of the deep in a submarine. The same applying to 'Out Of the Sea', with its attack on the USA by human created sea monsters.

The horror story The Tapestry Gate also has an otherworldly portal contained therein, but is utilised in an horrific vein, as opposed to fantasy adventure.

So Brackett has linked Mu, Atlantis, Cimmeria, Hyperborea and Lovecraftian Elder Gods in to the ancient background of her work.

3) Venus

There were no advanced technological or even literate cultures on Venus, so any history as yet known is limited to fragmented oral traditions, divulged grudgingly, if remembered at all, such as those of the Moon Cult.

4) Mercury

A much harsher place than Venus, aliens such as Shannach, long-lived, may have been there in the past, but not literate natives, so nothing is known.


There is no reason, in a creative mythography sense, that the adventures of sheriff John T. Chance in protecting his town along with his friends cannot be included here, or even James Beckwourth's frontier work. There is actually no direct mention of the historical 19th century at all that I am aware of in her stories other than these.


As goes the Wild West, the same for the mean streets of 1940s USA and the crooks, cops, dicks, dames and other unfortunates in the following: No Good from a Corpse, Stranger At Home, Murder Is Bigamy, Red-Headed Poison, Murder in the Family Design for Dying, I Feel Bad Killing You, No Star Is Lost and The Misfortune Teller or even the late fifties in The Tiger Among Us, An Eye For an Eye, and So Pale, So Cold, So Fair. The sixties are represented by Silent Partner and The True Death of Juanito Rodriguez.


The 1950s saw aliens with starfaring capability come into contact with humans who discovered what they were, but only in isolated incidents. Wisely, they appeared to have kept away from the big cities. Possibly due to the prevalence of too many smart investigators in places like Los Angeles that may have discovered them eventually and blown the whistle.

In 1950, a local Newhale reporter discovers the Hrylliannu using the area to bring people to Earth in The Queer Ones. In fact, there is even a hybrid child produced, but they cover their tracks well. This year also saw a Pennsylvania farmer and his children encounter joyriding alien children in The Truants. Parents from both worlds were happy for no-one to know about this.

Cornwall in 1952 sees earthman Michael Trehearne discover he is of Varddan extraction in The Starmen Of Lyrdis. As such he possesses the mutant gene to allow him to survive their particularly exacting form of interstellar travel, over which they have a monopoly. As we see here, and with later human ingenuity on display, the Varddans are far from the only people with interstellar travel technology, so they rapidly become of little interest, barely a curiosity. Those that require genetic quirks to survive space travel are not going to be able to compete with the crews of ships that do not, by sheer weight of numbers.


A detailed examination of the colonisation era of the Inner Worlds is beyond the scope of this article (see the Wikipedia articles), but the collection above does give some dates:

There were conflicts and uprisings on Mars that were pro-native. The Martians were more technologically advanced and capable than the native Venusians, so did not suffer the same wars and brutal colonialist programs of slaughter and military action.

1998 The Beast-Jewel of Mars
2016 Mars Minus Bisha
2024 The Last Days of Shandakor
2031 Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon
2038 The Road to Sinharat

Queen of the Martian Catacombs would happen around these times as mention is made of the Shanga trade in that story: "Stark realized now what secret vice Kala sold here. Shanga – the going back – the radiation that caused temporary artificial atavism and let men wallow for a time in beasthood. It was supposed to have been stamped out when the Lady Fand's dark Shanga ring had been destroyed. But it still persisted, in places like this outside the law." So the later Stark stories Black Amazon of Mars and Enchantress of Venus should all be in this range, them or their expanded versions.

In Cube From Space, there is an encounter with representatives of two interstellar capable alien races:"I am Crom. I was king once, in a land called Yf. And they are the Rakshi. The time came when we had to fight them, we humans, because we couldn't take any more."


Things changed considerably when the Cochrane Company make the breakthrough to discover a method of fast interstellar travel thanks to their engineer Ballantyne and his drive (The Big Jump). The failure of Barnard II as a colony and exploitation site because of the Transurane was never going to deter further exploration. Nor was the fact that prototypes will have problems. "... whole robot-shift for the drive had bugs in it. The relays won't take the load. Rip it out and rebuild it ..." Even though the Cochranes may have lost the taste for it, others would not.


The Preliminary Planetary Survey revisits Barnard II in How Bright the Stars: "It was a hellish world to be wandering on, this second planet of Barnard's Star."... "Man had finally made the Big Jump outward, with the Wenz-Boroda FTL (faster-than-light) drive, and the exploration of the galaxy had begun." The more stable starship propulsion technology had made this possible. Men could also live on Barnard II if they wanted to, but as Jerry Baird discovers, it is still pointless. The galaxy is a hostile environment, in general, but has countless other stars to explore.

Here man has been concentrating on nearby reachable neighbourhood stars, such as Altair in The Woman From Altair. One of the spacemen here actually brings back a wife from one of the Altairan planets, to tragic consequences.


So succesful has man been at least with the ability to explore, if not the usefulness of end targets even getting to stars and planets without name so many have been visited. The Galactic Survey era shows the technology has been developed to enable ships to push past the nearby sites such as Barnard's Star, Proxima and Alpha Centauri, etc.

During The Shadows tired and disillusioned Exploration Team leader Barrier finds the remnants of a race destroyed by astrological catastrophe, and their faithful doglike servants. "Maybe there enough worth in us that here and there some little world will give us another chance. Anyway, it's nice to know there's one place where we have some friends.""

An explicit reference to a far away settlement is given in Come Sing the Moons of Moravenn. The planet in this story has a topaz colored star in the vicinity of the Vela Spur, which could mean it is up to thousands of light years away.

However, things do change, as should have pleased Barrier greatly. There is a Galactic Union out there, and races involved in this organisation do come into contact with Earth and the Solar System. In fact, in All the Colors of the Rainbow Mintakan weather engineers on Earth have a violent encounteer with nowheresville USA racist rednecks. As the engineer Flin notes: "It was his first big job on his own responsibility, with no superior closer than Galactic Center, which was a long way off." Racism has always been in existence in the Solar System, but such recidivism again is not going to deter the benefits of expansion and exploration.

Sometimes though, it takes some special people becoming involved to sort some planets out. To whit, Simon Ashton and Eric John Stark in The Ginger Star: " A newly discovered, newly opened world called Skaith that hardly anyone had ever heard of, except at Galactic Center. Skaith was not a member of the Union but there had been a consulate. Someone had called to the Union for help, and Ashton was the man who went to see about it."


Even though expansion can take off some of the population pressure, resources are still an issue, and wars still happen. Mars is particularly water-poor when looking to rapidly increase population by colonisation.

While not a war, Water Pirate is certainly about resources. "It was early in 2418 that the Solar System realized that there was a Water Pirate. The great tanker ships, carrying water to the rich dry-world mines and colonies, began to vanish from the space-lanes, with their convoys. The Trans-Galactic Convoy Fleet, which for two hundred years had kept the space-ways safe, was suddenly helpless."

The Earth-Venus War saw Mars neutral in No Man's Land In Space, and Mars also fought against the Jovians with Earth and Venus as seen in Outpost On Io.

Mars fought a World War in 2504, then became embroiled in an Interplanetary conflict later in the 26th century and tried a disguised sneak attack on Venus, which was foiled in Interplanetary Reporter.

In A World Is Born: "who had conceived this plan of building a new world for the destitute and desperate veterans of the Second Interplanetary War". It is not clear if this is meant to refer to one of the past wars, as a well understood by veterans term, or a completely new conflict. It is possible that the Second Interplanetary War meant is referenced in Thralls Of the Endless Night, with a documentary discovery: "Treaty of Alliance between the Sovereign Earth and the Union of Jovian Moons, providing for Earthly colonization and development of the said Moons, and mutual aid against Aggressor Worlds.
A single sheet fell out of the bundle. "...have taken the precaution of Halm, the treaty secretly in a ship of colonists, in care of the captain who knows nothing of its nature. It has been rumored that our mutual enemy, the Martio-Venusian Alliance, may try to intercept it, possibly with the aid of hired pirates. This would, as you know, mean war. It is my prayer that the treaty will safely..."


Alpha Centauri or Die shows a Solar System government either disillusioned with interstellar travel, or perhaps having more jackboot clad reasons. They do not want the people to have the freedom to travel and communicate in an uncontrolled fashion. This is explained by the bitter would be escapees: "But damn them all eternally, even so. Because of them all the Stabilization Acts had passed. Trade Stabilization. Population Stabilization. Crop Stabilization. The busy minds of the experts working. Take the manned ships out of space and there can't be any trade wars or any other kinds of wars. The worlds can't get at each other to fight. Stop expansion outward to the stars and eliminate the risks, the economic upsets that attend every major change, the unpredictable rise and shift of power. Stabilize. Regulate. Control. We may lose a few unimportant liberties but think what well gain. Security for all, and for all time to come! And the dark ships of the Government will keep you safe.
The populations of the Solar System had been carefully figured to the last decimal point and portioned out among the planets according to food- and employment-potential, so that nowhere was there a scarcity or an overplus, and nobody's individual whim was allowed to upset the balance. If you wanted to change your residence from one sector or one world to another, the red tape involved was so enormous that men had been known to die of old age while waiting for a permit."

If this sort of control is extended and expanded, then the consequences could easily appear in 'Retreat To The Stars'. The 40th century shows a more extreme Soviet-like political structure in the Tri-State, compared to the more extreme right-wing colonialism or American style capitalistic expansion of earlier times. In Retreat To the Stars there are a few rebels on an asteroid base still resisting state control. They are desperately building a starship to escape. The implication here is that starfaring technology is government controlled.

With a Future History of many centuries, cycles of political ideologies and experiments would not be at all surprising. Few dates are given in Brackett stories, so the Alpha Centauri or Die/Ark of Mars situations could have been followed by relaxing restrictions and great expansionism again, cycling around again until the 40th century.

For example, A Peace and Happiness doctrine backed up by actual brainwashing technology saw President Hilton rule the Federation of Worlds in Child Of the Sun. 'There was no way out ahead, either. Mercury was there, harsh and bitter in the naked blaze of the sun. The ships of Gantry Hilton, President of the Federation of Worlds, inventor of the Psycho-Adjuster, and ruler of men's souls, were herding him down to a landing at the lonely Spaceguard outpost." The Unregenerate rebels have almost lost completely and are also looking for a place to flee. "Unregeneracy was almost dead in the inhabited worlds." Falken and Moore do so, and find an immensely powerful stellar energy being using a small world as a plaything, and hope to use him to help them survive Hiltonist oppression.

Two thousand years between The Coming of the Terrans and Retreat To the Stars leaves a lot of time for things to change and plenty of chronological slots for the above to fit in.


Leigh Brackett (ology)
The Coming of the Terrans - Leigh Brackett
The Halfling and Other Stories - Leigh Brackett
The Eric John Stark Saga - Leigh Brackett
The Solar System - Leigh Brackett
Sea-Kings of Mars
Martian Quest: The Early Brackett - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett
The Big Jump
The Starmen Of Lyrids
Leigh Brackett Summary Bibliography
Leigh Brackett Solar System
Mars in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Venus in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Mercury in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Jupiter in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett

Ham Sandwich - James H. Schmitz

Food illlusion scam psi recruiting.

3.5 out of 5

'Calorie' Mulls Post-Oil World - Paolo Bacigalupi

"Bacigalupi said that the other aspects of the story came from a variety of sources. "The intellectual property and patenting of grains [in the story] came from news reports I'd read about an attempt by a U.S. company to patent basmati rice, even though it was historically used in India and was naturally occurring. The 'GMO' and the 'sterility controls' on grains came from discussions with friends of mine who are farmers and who are concerned about the advent of ag technologies that are designed to maintain control of corporate seedstocks. (Read about the Terminator gene if you want some background on the idea.) So 'The Calorie Man' is really a sort a mash-up of a bunch of different trends and ideas that were either interesting or worrisome or creepy to me."

3.5 out of 5

The Mumpsimus A Conversation with - Paolo Bacigalupi

"Do you think you'll try to publish the early novels you wrote, or are you moving on?
I did actually try to get them published. My agent shopped all of them, and I ended up getting a lot of interest, without any final commitment. Typically, I'd have one editor fall in love with the story, and then it would be killed by other editors, stuff like that. With my first sci-fi novel, I actually turned down a publishing offer, because my agent felt the advance was too low. Looking back, maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. At the time I was feeling pretty good about myself, and was confident that I'd write more novels, so I was able to walk away from the offer. Now, older and more bitter, I might go back and take it. Who knows?"

4.5 out of 5

A Report On Miracle Ingredient A - Greg Egan

Eidolon, Winter 1995, (Jun 1995, Editors of Eidolon, Jeremy G. Byrne, Eidolon Publications, octavo s/b, magazine)

"Miracle Ingredient A puts all Australian SF in precisely the same arena as beer advertisements and Neighbours, as Paul Hogan tourism commercials and Crocodile Dundee. And it's all about the selling, the whoring, of a nation of eighteen million people as if it were one thing: indivisible, homogeneous.

I've said almost nothing here about the actual content of Australian SF - because frankly, I don't care whether other Australian SF writers set their works in Australia or elsewhere, and I don't care whether they're inspired more by M. Barnard Eldershaw, Cordwainer Smith, Stanislaw Lem, or Larry Niven. That is the business of each individual writer, and I wouldn't dream of making proclamations on the subject.

And it may sound paradoxical, but Australians can cease writing "Australian SF" - and start writing real SF, SF with no adjective, like everyone else - without changing a single word of their fiction. Let me make this explicit: the last thing this essay is about is calling for less (or more, or different) writing about Australia in Australian science fiction. That's not the issue."

4 out of 5

Ibn Qirtaiba Interview - Greg Egan

"IQ: To begin with, a question about each of your published novels. First comes An Unusual Angle. You are no longer especially fond of this novel, although hints of your future direction can be found in it (for instance you revisit the idea of a movie camera implanted in a character's body in your latest novel Distress). The novel's protagonist shows a notable propensity for scientific metaphor (there are references to wave functions, energy states, parsecs and mass spectrometers) and he seems to be a science fiction fan to boot (with references to Daleks, 2001, Star Wars, Altered States and Mad Max II). He also shares the interest in film-making you held at his age. To what extent is the novel autobiographical?

GE: I wrote An Unusual Angle when I was in high school, and basically I just applied a slight SF/surrealist distortion to my own situation at the time. The whole book is really the extended daydream of a bored schoolkid staring out the window and constructing a layer of fantasy to superimpose over everything, but the daydream's always anchored by the fact that the reality's still there. Shades of Billy Liar and Walter Mitty, I suppose. It's autobiographical to the extent that the basic circumstances and attitude of the narrator were pretty much my own, and I think it does capture a certain way of responding to tedium and petty authority, which is what most novels of school life are ultimately about. But for a book-length daydream to work, it would either have to be a lot more structured, or a lot more inventive, than this."

4 out of 5

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Starfarers 02 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"The cosmic string made Starfarer possible. The starship would use the moon’s gravity to catapult it toward the string. Then it would grasp the string with powerful magnetic fields, and tap the unlimited power of its strange properties. Starfarer would rotate around the strand, building up the transition energy that would squeeze it out of Einsteinian space-time and overwhelm the impossible distances between star systems. When it returned to the starting point of its rotation —

It would not return to its starting point. From the point of view of those left behind, the starship would vanish. It would reappear... somewhere else. "

3 out of 5

Martian Chronicles 06 - Cory Doctorow

What is dad's problem?

3.5 out of 5

Martian Chronicles 05 - Cory Doctorow

Nope, it's not fair.

3.5 out of 5

Makers 74 - Cory Doctorow

"“You two were the New Work. Lots of people got blisteringly rich off of New Work, but not you. Here’s a chance for you to get what you deserve for a change. You solve this—and you can solve it, and not just for you, but for that Death kid, you can get him justice that the courts will take fifteen years to deliver.”

Perry scowled. “I don’t care about money—”

“Yes, that’s admirable. I have one other thing; I’ve been saving it for last, waiting to see if you’d come up with it on your own.”"

3 out of 5

Makers 75 - Cory Doctorow

"“I’ll tell you where we’re at. We’re going to do a deal with you, a fair one. But a condition of the deal is that we are going to destroy Freddy.”


“We’re going to leak him bad intel on the deal. Lots of it. Give him a whole story. Wait until he publishes it, and then—”"

3 out of 5

Friday, December 25, 2009

Candy Art - James Patrick Kelly

Ancestral timeshare problems.

3 out of 5

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Martian Chronicles 04 - Cory Doctorow

Who's a Pov then?

3.5 out of 5

Martian Chronicles 03 - Cory Doctorow

I'm only end good in this red place story.

3.5 out of 5

Gift From A Spring - Delia Sherman

Not awful painting, in the wash.

3 out of 5

King Pelles the Sure - Peter S. Beagle

Vizier title story.

3 out of 5

A Lovely Little Christmas Fire - Jeff Carlson

Macho bug naked chase capture.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Queen Of the Sunlit Shore - Liz Williams

White Ghost gulling survival.

3.5 out of 5

Araminta Or The Wreck Of The Amphidrake - Naomi Novik

Just wanna be a girl pirate.

3 out of 5

Harnessing the Brane-deer - Robert Billing

Just sleighing Planck's constant.

4 out of 5

Lady Witherspoon's Solution - James Morrow

Brute-making diary.

3.5 out of 5

Caverns Of Mystery - Kage Baker

Phantom roadtrip.

3 out of 5

The Illustrated Biography Of Lord Grimm - Daryl Gregory

Superhero invasion damage, new Doom.

4 out of 5

Overtime - Charles Stross

Tentacle monstrosities like mince pies too.

3.5 out of 5

The Visitors at Wriggly Field - William Shunn

Alien Cubs pisser.

3.5 out of 5

Revelation Space Universe - Various Various

Wikipedia article.

4.5 out of 5

Space Opera - Alastair Reynolds and Adam Roberts

"Alastair Reynolds: Well, space opera is basically science fiction with all the stops pulled out. It’s the kind of science fiction we think of when we think of films like Star Wars and Star Trek. We’re talking about action in the deep future; we’re out into the galaxy, we’re dealing with huge, epic scales, different civilisations, that kind of thing, you know, it’s not near future, it’s not dystopian."

Apparently from a bbc radio show.

3 out of 5

Finncon Interview - Alastair Reynolds

Short youtube video.

3 out of 5

SFF World Interview - Alastair Reynolds

"With authors such as yourself, Peter F. Hamilton, Iain M. Banks, Richard Morgan and Neal Asher, British SF seems to be flourishing at the moment compared to a general downturn in the genre, particularly in the United States. Why do you think this may be?

Some of my favorite SF writers are American, but I don't think you can escape the fact that there's been - for whatever reason - an abdication of interest in the medium/distant-term future in American SF. I know there are a crop of younger writers coming out who are perhaps redressing that, but there's no denying that the big hitters - the big American SF guys of the eighties and nineties - seemed to undergo a collective loss of interest in writing about anything other than the very near future or the present. I couldn't understand for the life of me why Greg Bear stopped writing the kinds of book he seemed best suited to - things like Eon, Anvil of the Stars, Moving Mars - for these near-future technothriller type books. This man had an almost supernatural aptitude for massive, widescreen SF - SF with a head and a heart. There are others - Sterling, Vinge, even Gibson to a degree. If the British books have done well, I suspect it's not because they're fundamentally better or different than the kinds of book that the US writers might have been writing had they stuck in the game - it's just that they didn't, and we did. You can't even say it's a leftist thing - you've got all shades of the political spectrum in those names up there."

4.5 out of 5

Thematic Elements in the Fiction of Alastair Reynolds - Bolo Bolo

"In recent years, no author of fiction has captured my imagination as thoroughly as Alastair Reynolds. He writes what is best described as “space opera noir” and could potentially be associated with the “New Weird” genre in horror that has very recently been making a name for itself. However, his writings are entirely science fiction—usually on the side of hard SF too, with light speed being an absolute barrier and most technologies/science being conceivably possible given current knowledge.

Most of his novels and many of his short stories take place in a single future universe (Revelation Space) that is a rough extrapolation from our own present one. Humans have left the Earth on large, slower-than-light ships and have spread throughout several dozen lightyears of space in all directions. Our expansion has been fractured and uneven, with no central coordination. The home system, Sol, seems to be a backwater that has little if any role to play in the larger stories of the human race.

The rest of this essay is an exploration of some of the common themes that run throughout his writings—both the Revelation Space universe and others. While perhaps not unique, many of them deviate from mainstream science fiction in delightful ways:"

4.5 out of 5

The Six Directions Of Space - Alastair Reynolds

"The ship surged forward, the sluggish artificial gravity generators struggling to maintain the local vertical. We passed through the door, into the superluminal machinery of the Infrastructure. The tunnel walls were many li away, but they felt closer—as they raced by at increasing speed, velocity traced by the luminous squiggly patterns that had been inscribed on the wall for inscrutable reasons by the khorkoi builders, I had the impression that the shaft was constricting, tightening down on our fragile little ship. Yet nothing seemed to disconcert or even arouse the interest of my fellow passengers. In ones and twos, they drifted away from the gallery, leaving me alone with my eunuch, observing from a discreet distance. I drank the airag very slowly, looking down the racing shaft, wondering if it would be my fortune to see a phantom with my own eyes. Phantoms, after all, were what had brought me here.

Now all I had to do was poison the eunuch."

4.5 out of 5

SFX writing tips - Alastair Reynolds

"SFX: To what extent do SF short stories work best if they have a big idea to propel them forward?
Alastair Reynolds: “In some respects, big ideas can be a bit too big for a short story – especially if you’ve only got a couple of thousand words to play with, and you need room for other stuff, like character, description... I’d argue that the most effective stories often turn on a rather small idea, but one which is polished to a high gleam and examined from an unusual angle. But you do need an idea.”"

3.5 out of 5

In conversation with Simon Petrie - Alastair Reynolds

""AR: I’m steeped in crime and detective fiction as a reader, so for me it’s a natural hybrid to explore. To a degree, I struggle with plots. I think I can do set pieces and mood, but I’m less adept at creating an over-arching story that doesn’t in some way operate as a crime or thriller story. I admire writers like Clarke and Greg Egan because they tell interesting, engaging stories that don’t depend on murder and war for their plot engines. With me, the only stories I seem mentally equipped to write are those that are bolted on to a genre chassis, be it crime or spy or war story.

SP: Unlike several of the major players on the British SF scene (in which I'm afraid I'm lumping you, though I gather you've lived in the Netherlands for several years now), you haven't eschewed the short story as a vehicle for exploring SF concepts. It seems like you're still regularly producing works of novella length and shorter, in tandem with your series of full-length novels. What attracts you to shorter fiction?

AR: It’s probably what I’m best at. The people who discovered my work in the pages of SF magazines before I started writing novels, tend to be of the opinion that I’ll never be as good a writer of novel-length works as I’m at the shorter stuff. That sounds conceited, but you know what I mean. Generalising massively, the people who discovered me through the books tend not to engage with the shorter stuff - if they liked short fiction in the first place, I’d have already been on their radar. That’s not to say that there haven’t been novel readers who bought and enjoyed the collections, and I’m tremendously grateful to them for doing that. I don’t have a problem with people not liking short fiction - my wife’s not a big fan of it either. Me, I tend to side with the first viewpoint. I’ve been writing short fiction since I could hold a pen, and it’s what really fires me. But there are always times in the writing of a short piece when I yearn for the wide-open creative space of a novel. And there isn’t a sharp discontinuity between the two forms, anyway. A long novella like Nightingale is nibbling at the boundaries of a short novel, and utilises much the same creative toolkit. The first draft of Chasm City took me six weeks, and I’ve had short stories take longer than that.""

4.5 out of 5