Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Machinery of Light - David J. Williams

""And what is Manilishi?"

"Isn't that the big question--"

"I'm not asking for the full answer," snaps Control. "You don't know. I realize that. That makes two of us. Just tell me what you do know."

"I'm a biocomputer able to perform hacks faster than the speed of light."

"And how do you do that?"

"I don't know."

Control says nothing.

"I don't know," she repeats. "I've tried--"

"So what would you guess?"

"I'd guess retrocausality."

"I'd say we can do more than guess."

"Signals from the future," she mutters.

"Could there be another explanation?"

"It's not much of a fucking explanation.""

3.5 out of 5

Small Offerings - Paolo Bacigalupi

Small Offerings - Paolo Bacigalupi
Prenatal drug dose.

4 out of 5

The Island - Peter Watts

Gate Mission live Dyson sphere violence Chimp conflict.

4 out of 5

Rare Firsts - Paul Di Filippo

Collecting fantasy.

2.5 out of 5

A science-fiction fantasy - Paul Di Filippo

Lack of fat history.

3 out of 5

The Exterminators Want-Ad - Bruce Sterlin

Reconstruction bugs me.

3 out of 5

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ted Chiang vs Tor Publishing - Mark Baumgartner

"Now Chiang is working with boutique presses that are willing to offer him creative control such as Subterranean Press, which is allowing the author to control the full packaging of Lifestyle. Asked about his bold move to risk mainstream appeal for artistic vision, Chiang is clear that he considers the move a no-brainer.

“When you’ve been told to fuck off as definitively as I have,” he says, “it is no longer such a bold move. I think the really bold move would be if someone were embraced by New York publishing and then they rejected it.”"

4 out of 5

Where Two Or Three 2 - Sheila Finch

"She thought of her father, frustrated because decades of SETI had revealed no messages. It was weird to believe this old man knew something no one else did. But something had happened to Sam Ferenzi in space, and though he looked a hundred years old, she knew from the biography she'd read he couldn't be much older than sixty.

"There must be hundreds of scientists who'd like to know!"

"Tried it. Many times. Got sent to a psych ward."

"But why me?"

"Because you're a musician, and the young aren't prejudiced against new ideas," he said. "And I don't have much time left.""

3 out of 5

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Skye Object 3270a - Linda Nagata

"Skye's skin suit was a royal blue so hot it glowed. It covered every inch of her body, from the toes up, snugging around her like the smooth, thick hide of some water creature. The hood dangled in neat pleats behind her neck. With gloved hands, she reached back and grabbed it, pulling it up and over her short, wispy brown hair, then down across her face. The fabric became clear where it arched over her eyes. Like a living thing squirming into its proper posture, it bent again, to form a stubby muzzle over her nose and mouth. Then it sealed itself at her neckline, the fabric of the hood knitting with the fabric of the suit, so that the seams vanished.

For two seconds there was no fresh air to breath. Then the suit's Dull Intelligence — a machine mind that was fast and functional but not truly self-aware like a human being — spoke to her in its soft, feminine voice, "Activating respiratory function."".

3.5 out of 5

Friday, June 25, 2010

MIND MELD: The Best Space Operas in Science Fiction - John DeNardo

"At SF Signal, we loves us some space opera, so we asked this week's panelists:
Q: What are some of the best space opera books? What makes them so good?

Is your favorite listed below? "

5 out of 5

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heartland 1-9 - Mark Teppo

"Was I an easy escape hatch? The assassins in the church had been primed to take out Father Cristobel. A surgical strike against an Architect. Cristobel had expected them to show up—eventually—but he couldn't have anticipated my arrival. Nor the opportunity I presented him.

What about the assassins? They had been unwitting pawns, unaware of the nature of the stone ring affixed to their chests. Whoever was running them had been remote viewing through their eyes, and once their master ascertained the situation was properly engaged, he had sent the mental command to detonate the rings.

Who? I wondered.

Images of sigils flashed before my eyes, an encyclopedic catalogue of magick circles. Keys from Solomonic lore, Enochian matrices, others I didn't recognize. Geomancy. I knew the word, knew the style of magick, but had never seen it other than a neat parlor trick of spotting and tapping ley lines. Some of the magick circles stayed in focus long enough for me to begin to understand their construction and purpose. Geomancy went much deeper than that. A properly schooled geomancer could redirect ley flow; he could build the sort of oubliette that had been erected around the chapel.

The stone rings on the assassins. Soul lock, conduit window, magick bomb: all wrapped up in one simple ring.

Who was the geomancer in the society? Which one was he? I ran through the list of secret names for the Architects: Visionary, Hermit, Crusader, Navigator, Thaumaturge, Mason . . ."

3.5 out of 5

Echoes In Evening Wear - Will McIntosh

Holofantasy deletion.

4 out of 5

Shirley Jackson Awards Interview - Laird Barron

"Your writing technique has certainly been evolving over the years and yet horror has been the topic of your stories. What makes you keep on going back to horror?

I could write a hundred years and not have the opportunity to try my hand at the entire spectrum that comprises the dark genres. But the real reason I return time and again is because fear and dread have become sullen, yet faithful muses. I’m very comfortable with the lizard. I’m in touch with the primordial part of myself that understands the darkened sun is the mouth of a god yawning."

3.5 out of 5

Broken Mirrors 16 - Tim Pratt

"“Jaguar!” she shouted. “This is the Mason! Call off your goons, unless you want me to chop them all into bone meal!” She kicked and spun, slashing with her dagger to drive back the other skeletons. The vast shape in the gathered shadows beneath the dome shifted. After a moment the remaining skeletal guards drew back, lining up on either side of her to form a corridor that stretched under the dome.

Marla whispered an incantation to improve her vision, and the vague darkness and motion under the dome leapt into well-lit relief.

Good gods, she thought. He actually built a throne of skulls?"

4 out of 5

Transition 13 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"Androgeos had the irritating habit of replying to questions with variations of “Don’t worry about that,” shrugging off detailed explanation. The team was not to worry about interchange of disease, the problem had been solved millennia before. They were not to be curious about other alien beings. The alien humans’ ship moved; Victoria must not be concerned with its mechanics. The questions of how and where their craft would dock must not trouble the alien contact team.

J.D. wondered if Europa might be more forthcoming if she were alone. It seemed to J.D. that she had to work awfully hard to present a united front with Androgeos. On the other hand, she might simply prefer to let her younger colleague supply the negatives.

The short-range craft hovered over a nearby access hatch.

The ship changed."

3.5 out of 5

13 Bullets 22 - David Wellington

"“The assistant manager of the bookstore,” Clara told her. “He calmed down once we got him out of the sewer. As far as we can tell he’s the only one in the entire town who made it.” She frowned in anger. “He says he doesn’t remember how he got down in that sewer. The deputies are with him right now, working the virtual Identikit on the sheriff’s laptop.”

There had been no ID on the vampire they’d killed. What if they got a facial recognition match on one of the others? It could be a good break, just the kind they needed. “I need whatever they find sent right to my PDA, okay?” she said."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mike Resnick and Africa - Michael A. Burstein

"Over the course of many years, Mike visited Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and Zambia. I suspect that is more African countries than most Americans have visited or can even name.

Now, to Mike’s writings. Mike has published eight novels that heavily rely on African history and culture for their themes: Adventures, Ivory, Paradise, Purgatory, Inferno, A Miracle of Rare Design, A Hunger in the Soul, and Kirinyaga. I can’t discuss them all right now, but I do want to briefly mention my four favorites.

Ivory is a fascinating collection of stories centered on the ivory of the Kilimanjaro Elephant, tracing these very real tusks through millennia of future history. Mike explores the need of the last of the Maasai to secure the tusks and bring them back to Earth. Throughout the stories, Mike shows a deep respect for the beliefs of others, and the Maasai culture that existed before the twentieth century."

4 out of 5

Frank Herbert the Dune Man - Frederik Pohl

"Frank had written with real people and places in mind, though he gave them invented names for his stories, just as Cordwainer Smith had for his own stories of the imperfectly concealed Middle East. Arrakis was Frank Herbert code for Iraq, The Baron was Dick Cheney, Selusa Secundis was Afghanistan and so on. (I’m sorry to say that I don’t know all the identities for either author.)"

3.5 out of 5

Lost City of Burma 1 - Edmond Hamilton

"Ruth Dunn's voice was a whiplash of contempt. "I never before realized there could be Americans like you. Worrying about yourself, when thousands of men have died back there and are still dying."

Terrell groaned inwardly. If he could only tell this girl the truth and convince her of it! But he had purposely left all credentials behind, and she'd think his story merely a panic-born falsehood.

Dawn was filtering greyly through the mists. Level fingers of sunlight reached from the east and began to disclose the great shoulders of grey-green land across which the Road wound northeastward.

Almost instantly, as the protective veil of darkness was lifted, there came the whine of motors from the heavens behind them."

3 out of 5

Macrolife 1 - George Zebrowski

"Abandoning the two-dimensional spread of twentieth-century cities, arcologies housed up to a million people comfortably on a thousand-acre base, in varied structures rising more than a mile into the sky, leaving the countryside to renew itself. Waste was removed through giant vertical chutes, letting the passive action of gravity do the work of carrying it to underground processing plants; these were now fusion torches, vaporizing everything into atoms of pure elements, the ultimate in the recycling of nonrenewable raw materials, while providing clean energy at the same time. Planet-scarring activities such as strip mining, forestry, coal mining, and oil drilling had been cut down to sane proportions. Every decade saw the building of fusion-powered arcologies in the world's needy areas. Janet knew the whole success story; no one in Bulero Enterprises was ever permitted to forget it.

But still, the world belonged to North America, EuroSov, and Japan. They continued to keep AfroAsia and South America down to mid-twentieth-century levels, as much as that was possible. Properly developed, this other world could easily become their equal. The documentary had avoided this point, ignoring the inevitable, even desirable, conclusion as to the world's direction. The lines had been drawn and redrawn throughout her life, always to include more of the world in the center of influence, always modifying the dominant cultural styles. As the world's wealth had increased, the inducements to be destructively greedy had grown weaker. The old middle was now the bottom; the old top was now the middle; and the top might one day, with luck, be the whole future. Only power was still hoarded, subtly, with a few traces of wisdom, she thought."

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Realware - Rudy Rucker

Realware - Rudy Rucker
Realware is nowhere near as much fun as the other three books in the whole Ware series. The theme and tone have changed considerably.

You get a feelgood romance thrown in there for no real apparent reason. The Realware of the title is the technology to be able to make whatever you want, basically. Chuck in some aliens and other dimensions.

2.5 out of 5

Freeware - Rudy Rucker

Freeware - Rudy Rucker
Evolution continues rapidly in Rudy Rucker's freeware. From bops, big bops, little bops through meatbops we have yet another life form appearing in freeware, and it is sentient mold.

These moldies, being more organic, can interact with humans differently, and in some cases very closely.

More of the burned out beach bum and borg style can be found here.

3 out of 5

Wetware - Rudy Rucker

Wetware - Rudy Rucker
Rucker's Robotos, or bops, have decided to go in for a bit of hybridisation, so they create organic clone bodies for themselves from human DNA.

Quite a bit of silliness in these books, robot moon bases and other explorations notwithstanding, it is a bit of a look at how weird sentient machines or AI could get.

3 out of 5

Software - Rudy Rucker

Software - Rudy Rucker
This is Rucker's short, whacky cyberpunk take. The protagonist is an aging genius, more interested in the beach and booze these days than anything else.

Robots basically now run the joint, and the bigger robots want to take over all the little robots. Get the picture? The little robots aren't a fan of this, and a metal acquaintance of our drunk dude offers to digitise him.

3 out of 5

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cowboy Grace - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"And if she didn’t want to be found, she didn’t have to be. She knew how to have the interest paid through off-shore accounts so that no one could track it. She even knew a quick and almost legal way to change her name. Traceable, but she hadn’t committed a crime. She didn’t need to hide well, just well enough that a casual search wouldn’t produce her.

Not that anyone would start a casual search. Once she sold the business, Michael would forget her and Alex and Carole, even though they would gossip about her at Oh Kaye’s every Friday night for the rest of their lives, wouldn’t summon the energy to search.

She could almost hear them now: She met some guy, Carole would say. And he killed her, Alex would add, and then they would argue until last call, unless Carole found some man to entertain her, and Alex someone else to complain to. They would miss Grace only when they screwed up, when they needed a shoulder, when they couldn’t stand being on their own. And even then, they probably wouldn’t realize what it was they had lost."

4 out of 5

Mask of Death - Paul Ernst

Madame Sin and a time diverter, as Doctor Satan tries some heart bursting blackmail ransom fun.

2.5 out of 5

Red Nails 5 - Robert E. Howard

Red Nails - Robert E. Howard
Download Conan - Red Nails

Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5

Red Nails 4 - Robert E. Howard

Red Nails - Robert E. Howard
Download Conan - Red Nails

Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5

Red Nails 3 - Robert E. Howard

Red Nails - Robert E. Howard
Download Conan - Red Nails

Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5

Red Nails 2 - Robert E. Howard

Red Nails - Robert E. Howard
Download Conan - Red Nails

Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5

Red Nails 1 - Robert E. Howard

Red Nails - Robert E. Howard
Download Conan - Red Nails

Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Subterranean Online 14 - Jonathan Strahan

One of the better magazine issues in a mostly disappointing year so far. There are two very good stories here. One by Rajaniemi, which is sort of a mashup of Murray Leinster and Terry Dowling, Finnish style, and also Gord Sellar and his worldbrane experiments. A decent zombie story by McHugh, too.

Subterranean Online 14 : Subterranean Online 14 - Jonathan Strahan
Subterranean Online 14 : The Naturalist - Maureen McHugh
Subterranean Online 14 : Under the Moons of Venus - Damien Broderick
Subterranean Online 14 : Brownian Emotion - Tom Holt
Subterranean Online 14 : Elegy for a Young Elk - Hannu Rajaniemi
Subterranean Online 14 : Return: An Innkeeper's World Story - Peter S. Beagle
Subterranean Online 14 : The Bodhisattvas - Gord Sellar
Subterranean Online 14 : What We Take When We Take What We Need - Daryl Gregory

Zombie reserve fire Bug.

3.5 out of 5

'Massri’s dinosaur fantasy was off by a factor of at least 7.4.' Sporky.

3 out of 5

Stealing spacetime boyfriend Collider.

3 out of 5

Booze, bears and quantum relatives plague.

4 out of 5

Hunter Flame Tree.

3.5 out of 5

Baby universe Bulk brane ecocide ancestor message.

4 out of 5

Vintage family producer.

3 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

What We Take When We Take What We Need - Daryl Gregory

Vintage family producer.

3 out of 5

The Bodhisattvas - Gord Sellar

Baby universe Bulk brane ecocide ancestor message.

4 out of 5

Return: An Innkeeper's World Story - Peter S. Beagle

Hunter Flame Tree.

3.5 out of 5

Elegy For A Young Elk - Hannu Rajaniemi

Booze, bears and quantum relatives plague.

4 out of 5

Brownian Emotion - Tom Holt

Stealing spacetime boyfriend Collider.

3 out of 5

Under the Moons of Venus - Damien Broderick

"Massri’s dinosaur fantasy was off by a factor of at least 7.4." Sporky.

3 out of 5

The Naturalist - Maureen F. McHugh

Zombie reserve fire Bug.

3.5 out of 5

Jack Daniels Stories - J. A. Konrath

As the title suggests, a collection of work related to the title character, including herself, Phineas Trout, McGlade, and others. So they range from straight shooting, to hardboiled hits, to perverted black comedy.

As far as his short stories go, this is the best stuff, and two of these tales are extremely strong.

Jack Daniels Stories : Jack Daniels Stories - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : On the Rocks - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Whelp Wanted - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Street Music - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : The One That Got Away - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : With a Twist - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Epitaph - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Taken to the Cleaners - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Body Shots - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Suffer - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : School Daze - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Overproof - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Bereavement - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Pot Shot - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : Last Request - J. A. Konrath
Jack Daniels Stories : The Necro File - J. A. Konrath

Sofa rope strangle trick.

4 out of 5

At the Shar-pei end of the investigation.

3.5 out of 5

A double shot of whore helping.

3.5 out of 5

Naked blowtorch bludgeon escape.

4 out of 5

Puzzling assist.

3.5 out of 5

Cancer man's little girl killer massacre, with takeaway.

4.5 out of 5

Black Chicken King Sugar Daddy Widow kill loop.

4.5 out of 5

Burger Jack slayings shootout.

3.5 out of 5

Snuff save.

3.5 out of 5

Not getting in blackmail.

3.5 out of 5

Dirty bomb bluff.

3 out of 5

Bloody scruples, withdrawn.

3.5 out of 5

Killed dinner hunt.

3.5 out of 5

Transsexual Thor pickup hit.

4 out of 5

Zombie living bacon wife.

4 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

The Necro File - J. A. Konrath

Zombie living bacon wife.

4 out of 5

School Daze - J. A. Konrath

Not getting in blackmail.

3.5 out of 5

Virtual Worlds and Imagined Futures - Greg Egan

An interview with David Conyers, from Albedo One Magazine

"Do transhuman characters with god-like powers alienate readers? Are they too far removed from human emotions and frailties that we experience in modern society?

The frailty of our bodies is an enormously important part of our current reality — and I very much doubt that anyone will ever be literally immortal — but I don't think there's anything all that strange or alienating about the prospect of having, say, a far more robust body, or back-up copies of your mind. These are just ways of enabling us to do the kind of constructive things we're doing right now, with fewer unwelcome interruptions. If you asked someone who'd moved from a country with endemic violence, women dying in childbirth, high infant mortality, and no effective treatment for dozens of infectious diseases to a place where all of those problems had been solved whether they felt alienated by the loss of their precious human frailty, they'd just laugh."

5 out of 5

The Merchants of Venus - A. H. Phelps

How about we make a dodgy frontier?

3 out of 5

The Huddlers - William Campbell Gault

Fear-ridden biped colony.

2.5 out of 5

Cue For Quiet - T. L. Sherred

One man military defense.

2.5 out of 5

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shock Treatment - Stanley Mullen

Songeen of the elder race, I think I like you.

3.5 out of 5

Where Two Or Three 1 - Sheila Finch

""All right. Here's the truth. I got busted for doing drugs at a party. One rotten joint -- and if I'd been eighteen already like everybody else it would've been legal anyway. So the judge gave me community service."

"Good," Sam said. "I don't have time for lies. What would you rather be doing -- besides being stupid?"

"You really are unpleasant, know that?" she snapped."

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.

4 out of 5

Friday, June 18, 2010

Queen of the Iron Sands 5 Part 1 - Scott Lynch

""I'm not joining the enemies of the All-Sovereign," I said. "I'm already in the club, you boobs! I've got the membership card and the god-damn secret decoder ring! He killed the Doc and tried to kill me! He declared war on Violet DeVere, and Violet DeVere is happy to return the favor!"

"That seems adequate to me," said Avila. The corners of his mouth twitched... a Martian smile?

"Good," I said. "Good. And one thing more. Next Martian that points a syringe at me, friend or foe, gets it shoved sideways up the first hole I can reach. Doesn't matter if I grab head or tail." "

3.5 out of 5

Editor of Pyr books BCS interview - Lou Anders

"What kind of books and stories do you look for when deciding on submissions? Like, do you have a set of criteria (such as, must have swords, wizards, minimum of 10 decapitated bodies) or do you tend to examine each piece on its own—if so, any themes or styles you tend to find yourself drawn to?

As I said above, we are not a specialty press dedicated to a single subgenre or philosophy, so we don’t have criteria like you state above. Rather, I have the criteria that I don’t select any manuscript I can put down. If I’m not leaping out of my chair to run tell my wife about it, or calling a friend to rant about the amazing manuscript in front of me, then it isn’t a Pyr book. There’s a great line in the film Ronin in which De Niro says “Remember, if there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt.” That’s my editing philosophy.

Now, within that, lately I’ve been very interested in the return of sword & sorcery to prominence. This dovetails with an opinion of mine that what the majority of genre readers want are “good stories well told.” I tend to avoid slipstream or literary fantasy in favor of recognizable science fiction and fantasy stories told at a higher level of craft. I think the reason so many adults are migrating to the Young Adult category is that they have a craving for action and adventure that isn’t being served, and I think the return of S&S is part of that trend, as is the fascination with steampunk. (Aside: the reason so often cited for the steampunk craze is that it returns us to a simpler time when we could build our own tech. You can’t even open, let alone understand, your iPhone, etc….But I think that’s bunk—I don’t know how to build a locomotive or a Babbage Engine from scratch any more than an iPhone or a LCD television—and that steampunk’s appeal is the excuse it gives adults to have fun reading the sort of adventure previously found only in Young Adult books.)"

4.5 out of 5

Author Raconteur Choclit Connoisseur and Inaugural Drive-By Victim - Sean Williams

"Sean Williams is a prolific author of fantasy and science fiction – oh, and yeah, he’s talented too. Sean’s series include The Books of the Change, Astropolis, Geodesica, Broken Land … and of course, those Star Wars books. He has a choclit habit. He was also kind enough to consent to be the first victim of a weekly series I’m going to run in the lead-up to WorldCon (and maybe afterwards if anyone is still talking to me). Sean may now regret it."

3 out of 5

Ty-ing Up the Genre - Jason Sizemore

"Jason Sizemore is a very busy guy. For one thing, he runs Apex Publications in those tiny cracks of time between working a day-job, his own writing, not to even get started on his exhaustive plans for world domination. He has nurtured Apex Publications from its roots as an SF/Horror market under the heading of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, to pro-level e-zine Apex Magazine, all the while building up Apex Book Company and publishing the best of dark science fiction, horror, and dark fantasy. Needless to say, it was great that he took the time to answer a few questions about the evolutionary changes readers have been witnessing in this small press for the past few months."

4 out of 5

With Zendegi Greg Egan plunges us into the techno-future of Iran - Chris Braak

"In Zendegi, Greg Egan has created a beautiful, brilliant, near-future world that expertly explores the consequences of mind-mapping technology in the politically volatile world of Iran."

3.5 out of 5

Seventy-two Letters - Ted Chiang


Number of words : 17700
Percent of complex words : 16.0
Average syllables per word : 1.7
Average words per sentence : 14.4


Fog : 12.2
Flesch : 52.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 9.5


Robert Stratton

A maker of automata through new methods.


The queen.

Master Trevalyn

Robert's teacher.

Langdale, Thorburn, Halliwell

Fellow pupils.


Robert's friend.

Harold Willoughby

Master Sculptor First-Degree.


In the employ of Lord Fieldhurst.

Edward Maitland

Lord Fieldhurst, third earl of Fieldhurst and a noted zoologist and comparative anatomist.

Nicholas Ashbourne

A lecturer at Trinity when Stratton was studying there.

Dubuisson and Gille

Parisian naturalists.

Holcombe, Milburn, and Parker

Leading nomenclators.

Benjamin Roth

A kabbalist.



A guild.

Brotherhood of Sculptors

A guild.

Royal Society

English scientific group.

Académie des Sciences

French scientific group.

Trinity College

At Cambridge University.



Robert's favorite clay toy as a kid.


Grown automata, that can be used for labour.


Can be grown from foetuses.

Doctor Sedgewick’s Polarising Tablets!

Snake oil medicine.


Doctrine of names

As all things are reflections of God, so are all names reflections of the divine name.

True name

That name which reflects the divine name in the same manner as the object reflects God.


The science of naming.


German nocmenclature practitioner.


Hold that violent upheavals caused species to become extinct.


One of several true names.


Developmental, of an organism.


British Museum

Where Robert met Lionel.


Where Coade Manufactory was located.

Darrington Hall

Fieldhurst's home.

Coade Manufactory

Where automata are created.


A republic of the Ukraine.


A Boy's Guide to Nomenclature

A tome for the young.

Sefer Yezirah, Eleazar of Worms’ Sodei Razayya, Abulafia’s Hayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba

Kabbalistic tomes.

Llull’s Ars Magna, Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia, Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica

Alphabetical manipulation tomes.

Der Zauberlehrling

The ballad where the broomsticks carry water buckets and run amuck.



People from Lapland.


Khoikhoi Africans.


In this work where naming science rules, Robert has made a breakthrough in the creation of automata from megafoetal methods. His work brings him to attention of an earl and a group of sciences working on the problem that humans are nearing the end of their genetic life. Within a few generations they will no longer be able to reproduce, without a breakthrough. They need his help.

His work with labor saving creations doesn't please the unions. An assassin is sent after him one night, but Davies saves him from this fate. A kabbalist is killed prior, and Robert has a realisation that he can combine some of his concepts with his own work to make names that will be passed on via human reproduction, and people will be able to control their own. Something that will not please his current conservative colleagues.

3.5 out of 5

The Tree of Life - C. L. Moore

Women who commune with trees and others in ruined temples are best avoided. Failing that, there is the trusty raygun solution.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, June 17, 2010

13 Bullets 21 - David Wellington

"In the Christian bookstore three bodies had been shoved behind the counter, all of their throats torn out. Whether they had run back there to hide or whether the vampires had stashed them back there for their own reasons, she didn’t know. There was a man who looked a little like Deanna’s big brother Elvin. He was wearing a hunting cap with red plaid flaps."

3 out of 5

When the Mountain Shook - Robert Abernathy

Ryzgas recovery.

3 out of 5

Check and Checkmate - Walter M. Miller

Robot replacement.

2 out of 5

The Door Into Infinity - Edmond Hamilton

""Unless I am mistaken, the Brotherhood of the Door is the most unholy and blackly evil organization that has ever existed on this earth."

2.5 out of 5

She Blinded Me With Science 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

A dodgy band of dodgy heroes gets a dubious new member.

3.5 out of 5

MIND MELD: What Single-Author Short Fiction Collections Should Be in Every Fan's Library? (Part 2) - John DeNardo

"[Continued from Part 1] This week's topic was suggested (separately) by Blue Tyson and Scott A. Cupp:

We've discussed essential science fiction novels, but what about essential short fiction? Many authors have published collections of their short fiction over the years, so we asked this week's panelists:
Q: What single-author, non-"Best-of" collections of sf/f/h stories should be in every fan's library? You may choose between 1 and 10 titles.

Is your favorite single-author collection listed below?"

5 out of 5

Is Sword & Sorcery Ready for a Comeback? - Matt Staggs

"With new movie versions of Robert E. Howard’s black-maned hero Conan and Edgar Rice Burrough’s gentleman adventurer John Carter of Mars, it would appear that the sword & sorcery genre may be about to resurge into the public sphere. "

4 out of 5

We’re All Strangers Here: Baggage and - Deborah Biancotti

"Deborah Biancotti has done the world a favour by writing. She’s won Aurealis Awards and Ditmars. Her short story collection, A Book of Endings (Twelfth Planet Press), has garnered attention both in Oz and overseas, and has bagged awards and recommendations ad infinitum (Look! Here’s a list, and been named on Guru of the Weird, Jeff VanderMeer’s Locus Online list of the Best of 2009. It’s a beautiful body of work. Her other stuff can be seen in various anthologies scattered artfully across the globe (including the original Clockwork Phoenix, Agog! Ripping Reads, Ideomancer, and The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Science Fiction). "

4 out of 5

Absent Willow Review Interview - Jack McDevitt

"What first inspired you to write?

I wanted to write as far back as I can remember. I recall starting a science fiction novel when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. As best I can recall, I got about ten pages into it. It’s probably a good thing I stopped when I did. It was to be THE CANALS OF MARS, which I thought was a killer title. I think that it was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels that started me on that particular track, though I had a passion for SF from the time I was four, when I first encountered Flash Gordon."

3.5 out of 5

What Are The Must Read Science Fiction Romance Books? - Heather Massey

"What Are The "Must Read" Science Fiction Romance Books?

Mr. Kat Reading
A Galaxy Express passenger—her name is Tamara—contacted me recently to inquire if a “Top 10 or 100 list” of science fiction romances was available. And boy, did that question ever spark the proverbial light bulb."

4 out of 5

MIND MELD: What Does Romance Bring to the Science Fiction Genre? - John DeNardo

"[This week's questions comes from Heather Massey, proprietor of The Galaxy Express.]

From Star Wars to Avatar, stories blending science fiction and romance have persisted for decades in books, films, fan fiction, and even video games. However, despite such evidence, there are those who believe the two genres can't, or shouldn't, be combined. We asked this week's panelists:
Q: Is there a taboo against romance in science fiction? What does romance bring to the SF genre? What are some good examples of romance in SF that illustrate this?

Read on to see what they said...and be sure to sound off!"

4.5 out of 5

Personality Problem - Joe R. Lansdale


3 out of 5

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scales - Alastair Reynolds

Short Story

Number of words : 1900
Percent of complex words : 13.3
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 14.3


Fog : 11.0
Flesch : 58.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.7



A new recruit.


A veteran sergeant.



Reptile servant antagonists.

Puppet Masters

AI overlords.


Force shield

Protect cities from the blasted ruin of the Earth.


Connect dimension tangles.


Faster than light travel.


Sentinel Station

An Earth military training base.


Nico's new home.



Anti-ship defenses.


Nico learns all is not as it seems when he signs up. The reptiles are controlled by machine intelligences. Slowly the volunteer human fighters are cyborged and finally are just brains controlling fighter ships, and then become completely machines. The war has more levels, through wormholes and abstract mathematical situations. Things circle, and his side decides to create organic warrior by decanting these machine intelligences such as Nico has become into something resembling the original reptile opponents, and send them out to fight.

4 out of 5

Aurealis interview 2009 - Greg Egan

By Russell Blackford :-

"7. Blackford: Is it similar when you deal with advanced scientific and mathematical concepts—concepts that might “lose” even readers with reasonable levels of scientific literacy—or do you see that as a different kind of problem? Again, I'm interested in how it feels from the inside to an author writing this kind of work that could be challenging to an audience and must be extraordinarily challenging to create.

Egan: When scientists and mathematicians think about “advanced” concepts, what they're really doing mostly just involves some relatively simple manipulation of ideas that happen to be unfamiliar to the wider population. There are plenty of card games whose rules are more complex than the rules for doing tensor calculus! So depending on the context, I'll sometimes just try to give the reader the gist of what those manipulations are, even if they're going to be a little bit hazy about the things being manipulated. At other times, I'll do as much as I can to unpack the whole process and demystify it completely. It's impossible to write about every topic in modern science in a way that absolutely anyone can follow, but I'm not afraid to transcribe characters having detailed thoughts or conversations in which they make sense of scientific ideas, and by eavesdropping on those conversations the reader gets invited into the loop."

5 out of 5

By His Bootstraps - Robert A. Heinlein

Time Gate dingus me visit.

3 out of 5

Think Yourself To Death - C. H. Thames

Johnny Mayhem, man without a body, woman with one.

2.5 out of 5

All the Wrong Places - Val Nolan

Getting Higgsy with it.

3 out of 5

MIND MELD: What Single-Author Short Fiction Collections Should Be in Every Fan's Library? (Part 1) - John DeNardo

"This week's topic was suggested (separately) by Blue Tyson and Scott A. Cupp:

We've discussed essential science fiction novels, but what about essential short fiction? Many authors have published collections of their short fiction over the years, so we asked this week's panelists:
Q: What single-author, non-"Best-of" collections of sf/f/h stories should be in every fan's library? You may choose between 1 and 10 titles.

Is your favorite single-author collection listed below?"

5 out of 5

Ken MacLeod explains the science of galactic princesses - Annalee Newitz

"MacLeod's idea is that there are actually scientific ways you can justify even the most preposterous ideas. But, as you'll see in our interview, there are some rules that even MacLeod won't break because the results are "just silly.""

3.5 out of 5

Voodoo Child Profile: Lauren Beukes - Nehama Brookes

""Its appeal for me," says Gascoigne, "is that whether she faked it or is really that cool, Beukes caught an up-to-the-minute flavour of teen digital culture. Her technological predictions are so on the money that over a dozen have actually been reported in prototype or experimental form since Moxyland was published.""

4 out of 5

Daughter of the Night - Richard S. Shaver

"A woman divinely tall and with hair like ripened wheat, modelled of hammered sunlight, her glowing flesh surcharged with the infinite female energies of the Universal Pole, met him at the topmost step of the ladder."

1.5 out of 5

Piper In the Woods - Philip K. Dick

Piper In the Woods - Philip K. Dick
I'm a recent crop, boss.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hell Is the Absence of God - Ted Chiang


Neil Fisk

Born with a congenital abnormality not caused by God.

Sarah Fish

Neil's wife, killed by the angel Nathanael.


An angel.

Janice Reilly

Deformed in the womb by the angel Bardiel.


An angel.

Ethan Mead

Visited by the angel Rashiel.


An angel.

Claire Mead

Ethan's wife.

Robin Pearson

Lost her husband to cancer, saw him via Hell.


An angel.

Phil Soames

One of the visitation support group.

Benny Vasquez

Lost his eyes via Heaven's light.

Barry Larsen

Executed serial rapist and murderer who went to Heaven.



Where God hangs out.


The opposite of Heaven.



Emergency Medical Technician.


The story follows three people and their experiences after angelic visitations in a world where Heaven and Hell are literally true and observable. Visitations can cause deformity and disaster.

While seeking to view Heaven's Light the paths of all three cross again and finding what they seek changes them yet again, with their discoveries. "God is not just, God is not kind, God is not merciful, and understanding that is essential to true devotion."

3.5 out of 5

Broken Mirrors 15 - Tim Pratt

"“Are you displaying curiosity, boss?” Crapsey said. “First you use healing magic, now you’re wondering about psychological motivations and shit. Are you going soft on me?”

“No,” the Mason said. “Insight into such points of divergence may prove useful when I go forth to conquer the other worlds in the multiverse. Come. If Marla Mason likes this Ernesto, then perhaps his death will hasten her appearance. Nicolette, you will take us to him.”"

4 out of 5

Dreamsnake 08 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“Anyone is free to refuse payment to a healer,” Snake said. “We carry weapons only for defense and we never make threats. But we do not go where we are not welcome.”

“You mean you boycott any place that doesn’t please you.”

Snake shrugged. "

3.5 out of 5

Transition 12 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"The immense slugs hoisted themselves up the stairs. One crawled up the door, obscuring it. Infinity stood back, motioning to the other people not to crowd the slugs too closely. A haze of acid and vaporized stone spurted from the entryway. As the door collapsed, the slug slumped with it, then crawled into the building. "

3 out of 5

13 Bullets 20 - David Wellington

“Do any of them have guns?” she asked, petrified.

“Not likely,” Arkeley told her. “They’re weak, and their bodies are soft with decay. If one of them tried to fire a gun the recoil would blow its arm off.”"

3.5 out of 5

Odyssey Workshop Interview - David G. Hartwell

"Since 1995, his title at Tor/Forge Books has been "Senior Editor." He chairs the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention, is on the board of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and, with Gordon Van Gelder, is the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative medieval literature."

3 out of 5

The Jammie Dodgers and the Adventure of the Leicester Square Screening - Cory Doctorow

I just want my own little show.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Praise of Stupid Boys - China Mieville

China Miéville on The Walrus & the Warwolf!--In Praise of Stupid Boys

"This isn't just history, either. Anyone who reads the tale of a boy-wizard to see how he turns out, why, and what happens to him on the way, or who recalls how a callow Tattooine moisture-farmer ends up, several adventures later, a self-possessed Jedi, understands that the Bildungsroman is alive and well—and particularly healthy in its incarnation as the "epic" that SF and fantasy readers love. It's in Fantasyland that kitchen boys tend to become kings, which as well as upgrading your wardrobe has got to mess with your preconceptions. The best stories show us precisely that messy, amazing dialectic of continuity and change—let us watch, in other words, the dynamic process of being human.

Got all that? Hugh Cook does.

You can tell by the brio with which he ignores it.

Like, totally fucking ignores it."

5 out of 5

The Rookie 02 - Scott Sigler

Nope, I'm outta this shitty church planet.

3.5 out of 5

13 Bullets 19 - David Wellington

"“Tell me now or I’ll shoot off your feet,” Arkeley said.

“My master awaits you, and you won’t like him so much!” the half-dead crowed. “He says you’re going to die!”

“Tell us the goddamned message,” Caxton growled.

The half dead shook and rattled, its bones straining against the wire. As if the simple effort cost it enormously it lifted its arm and pointed one bony figure across the stream, deeper into the forest."

3.5 out of 5

Transition 11 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"She wore neither protective suit nor breathing apparatus, only an LTM, for broadcasting to Chi and to Starfarer, on her collar. The alien beings assured her that it was safe to go outside, and she chose to believe them.

Satoshi’s voice reached her through the exterior speaker.

“They’re right about the air, J.D.,” he said. “It’s breathable. Chemically it’s almost identical to Earth’s. That is, Earth’s before the Industrial Revolution.”"

3 out of 5

The Rookie 01 - Scott Sigler

Take the QB deal, or the family gets it.

4 out of 5

13 Bullets 18 - David Wellington

"“She tries to charm her way out, to talk her way out, she even eats one of the doctors but it’s no good. You’re sitting on her, just waiting for her to do something bad so you can punish her. She can’t just give up, though. She’s going to live forever, locked up in a withered corpse of a body forever, so the only option is to keep planning an escape, even if it takes twenty years to pull off. She’s getting a little blood but not enough to sustain her. She needs more muscle. So she creates three vampires.”"

3.5 out of 5

Transition 10 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"J.D.’s imagination created a scene that bore no relation to the inside of a computer or to the inside of an organic system. She had wondered what she would see when her attention left the main room of the partnership’s house, whether she would enter a phantom world of hugely magnified digital gates or pulsing translucent neural tissue."

3.5 out of 5

13 Bullets 17 - David Wellington

"“Now, come, let’s collect the boys.” They rose and headed into the kitchen, where Arkeley and Urie sat around an enormous table that had once been a door and now was mounted on plain wooden trestles. They had between them a pile of small objects, triangular in shape and almost pearlescent in color. Caxton picked one up and saw it was a vampire’s tooth. After killing the vampire the night before the Fed must have pulled out all his teeth with a pair of pliers."

3 out of 5

Transition 09 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“If you lay hands on anyone on board,” Kolya said, “anyone... I will kill you. Do you understand me? I’m the only person on the starship who would make that threat. And I’m the only person on the starship who can carry it out.”"

2.5 out of 5

13 Bullets 16 - David Wellington

"“Laura,” someone said and this time it wasn’t just in her head. But that voice—so familiar, so impossible. It was her father’s voice.

He stood there. Behind her. One of the skins had lifted away from the rack, flapped away and folded itself into a mostly human shape. It had her father’s voice, and his eyes. It was wrapped in chains that rattled as he glided toward her, chains that shook and dragged on the floor of the barn, holding him down, holding him back. She put out a hand, either to touch him or to push him away, she didn’t know. He’d been dead for so long. She knew it wasn’t really him. Was it? Was it some remnant of him, left over after his flesh had rotted away?"

3.5 out of 5

Transition 08 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“I must sound completely paranoid,” Victoria said. “It’s not as if I think we’re in some horror movie being stalked by The Creature from the Genetics Lab.” She took a deep breath. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She started for the hallway, carrying the fruit juice. “But I sure never heard of any kind of flu that makes your fingers itch.”"

3.5 out of 5

Save the Dragons Epilogue - Dave Freer

"Mungo pushed back the sleeves of his leathers. They weren't intended to be push-backable, but they were pushed back all the same. He cleared his throat. "You can't run away from the responsibilities you've created, boyo. You'll have to marry her now and make an honest woman of her."

"Squigs wildly started to say that he thought he was several million years too late in the evolution of the species to create female honesty, and then wisely decided on looking for a way out instead."

3.5 out of 5

Exhalation - Ted Chiang

Short Story

Number of words : 6600
Percent of complex words : 15.5
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 25.7


Fog : 16.5
Flesch : 44.6
Flesch-Kincaid : 13.4


Unnamed Scientist

Fearless self-experimenter for truth.



Refillable with air and necessary for life.

Air dispenser

Used for filling lungs.


A gas, otherwise known as air.

Cognition engine

In the brain.


In the brain.

Cerebal regulators

Preserve the ability to operate with reducing air.


Filling station

Where you can use air dispensers.



Measurers of time.


Studiers of the body.



Group with flawed theory about fixing the air problem.


After noticing flawed measurements of time, a researcher sets out to auto-dissect his own brain, to see if he can find out what is going on. These are literally a somewhat a mechanical people, it seems, so he has some success.

He discovers that their world, or universe, is running short of the air they need to survive, and eventually they will all slow down and freeze. However, he realises that the air they lose here may give life to others, elsewhere.

5 out of 5

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Episode 6: Live - Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe

"We did it again yesterday morning, and we once again reveal our collective lack of technical skills in the audio arena and briefly mention:getting contributor’s copies,
re-editing classic books, ebook design and the iPad, books I’d like to see exist that don’t, The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson and how humanists wrote short fiction,
entry-level SF novels and anthologies, year’s bests, the lack of SF for children, and
spend some time discussing Nnedi Okorafor and her novel Who Fears Death."

4 out of 5

Transition 07 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“The spacecraft of alien beings,” J.D. said aloud, forgetting not to interrupt.

“Oh, now!” Gerald Hemminge exclaimed. “Alien beings waiting for us?” He snorted.

“Quite likely it was an observation post,” Avvaiyar said. “It must have been here — who knows how long? Automated. An AI. Like the dome. It detected us, it went to report on us.”"

3.5 out of 5

Division By Zero - Ted Chiang

Short Story

Number of words : 5500
Percent of complex words : 13.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 12.5


Fog : 10.3
Flesch : 63.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.5


Renee Norwood

A mathematics prodigy and professor, and attempter of suicide.

Carl Norwood

A fellow patient of experience and her husband.

Mrs Rivas

Ward manipulator.

Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead

Wrote the Principia Mathematica.

Von Neumann

A mathematician.


Carl met her in hospital.

Peter Fabrisi

Colleague of Renee's.

David Hilbert

A mathematician.


A Berkeley mathematician Renee consults with.

Kurt Godel

A mathematician. Demonstrated two theorems in 1931.

Gerhard Gentzen

Provided a proof of the consistency of arithmetic.

Marlene and Anne

Carl's friends.


Principia Mathematica

Treatise on the subject.

Marine Biology

A scientific journal.


Second International Congress of Mathematics in 1900

Conference on the same. David Hilbert listed what he considered to be the twenty-three most important unsolved problems of mathematics.



City in Scotland.


Renee and Carl are married suicide survivors. Renee is also a genius mathematician. It seems she has proved arithmetic is inconsistent. Her colleagues and peers have found no holes in her work. This is not doing good things for her mental state.

Carl has found he no longer loves this Renee, but is torn whether to tell her or not in the midst of this crisis.

4 out of 5

Save the Dragons 24 - Dave Freer

"He wondered, not for the first time, whether "opera" was short for "operation without anesthetic." Well, as a warning he'd play some of that . . . what was the fellow's name? The one who was . . . fond of children. That stuff would make any mere devil or imp run screaming, clutching their ichor-leaking ears. M'lord had never understood the fuss about human young. Prior to his sojourn on Earth he had thought that humans sacrificed children to get rid of them. It was something of a shock to discover that many humans actually liked the smelly little things. And not just to eat!"

3.5 out of 5

Episode 5: Live - Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe

"Gary calls in from Florida and we talk about all sorts of stuff in our latest chatfest."

4 out of 5

Dark Integers - Greg Egan


Number of words : 16300
Percent of complex words : 11.9
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 22.9


Fog : 13.9
Flesch : 53.6
Flesch-Kincaid : 11.5


Bruno Costanzo

Mathematical defect mapper and watcher.


Bruno's counterpart on the far side.

Alison Tierney

Bruno's friend and co-watcher.


Alison's mentor.


Alison's daughter.

Tim Campbell

A number theory researcher working at Victoria University.


Bruno's girlfriend.


Political theorist.

Gerard Hooft

Quantum mathematician.


Campbell's wife, an organic chemist. Also a lecturer at Victoria University.

Richard Branson

English billionaire.


An actor.

Hedy Lamarr

An actress.

Genghis Khan

Mongol warlord.


Industrial Algebra

Company that wants to exploit Bruno and Alison's discovery.

Victoria University

In Wellington.


Radio station, focused on new music for the young.



Australian city.


Major city in China.


Where Alison lives.

West Ryde

Suburb of Sydney.


Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

Blue Mountains

Outside Sydney.


Sydney suburb.


The West Wing

American tv show.

Dick Tracy

Comic strip detective.

Dr Strangelove

Bomb movie.


Planck scale

Very, very small. Physics measurement.

Dark Integers

A type definition of 4096 bits.

Fields Medal

Prize awarded to young mathematicians.



Russian spacecraft.


Ten years after Luminous, Bruno, Alison and an ill Yuen work to keep a detente with the far side, who are led by Sam as their contact.

When a New Zealand number theorist makes a discovery on his own, this threatens cordial relations, and Bruno has to scramble to get him onside. As he doesn't want to kill him, being Alison's other option.

Further work of Campbell's allows him to map the other side, showing their space is different, they are in a different solar system, and have different life.

Conflict starts, and changing mathematical axioms can do bad things, like crash markets and make planes fall out of the sky, killing many people.

Bruno and company have to very rapidly come up with proof of the ability to set up a buffer zone between the two sides of the border, to stop a war.

5 out of 5

Transition 06 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"J.D. longed to take the meerkat out of the sample case. She still had never touched its graceful curves with her bare hands, only through gloves. But it would be a mistake to open the box, a mistake to indulge herself and pass the sculpture around. It was too precious.

“The protocol calls for quarantine and testing,” she said, yearning to stroke its stone surface.

“I know,” Crimson said. “But it’s been out in hard vacuum, and heat sterilized, for god’s sake, it’s not going to emit some alien germ to eat my face —”"

4 out of 5

Episode 4: Live - Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe

"And we do it again! Our fourth ramble, this time touching on all sorts of things, many of which we’ve touched on before!"

4 out of 5

Save the Dragons 23 - Dave Freer

"Korg gave a gusty sigh. "Sorry, mate. Not used to all this inactivity. As for teaching these rock-bodies . . . I'd need a diamond edge to my axe, or better still a rock-drill to get anywhere with these blokes."

Squigs nodded distractedly. "Yeah. The devils and demons are tougher too. Purer silicates. What you need is an electric drill with an Ormandine bit."


"Ormandine . . . dragon's tooth to you Zoar people. Harder than diamond," said Squigs, trying to get back to the scrawls on the desk."

3 out of 5

Transition 05 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"Her heart was pounding. The strange warmth of her metabolic enhancer created a physical pressure within her body. The artificial gland, implanted in her abdomen, pumped out extra adrenalin, endorphins, adenosine triphosphate. It raised her blood pressure, her heart rate. She could call on it to increase her endurance beyond her usual limits when she was swimming. When she first joined the alien contact team she had meant to let the gland atrophy, but had decided to keep it for the time being. The extra endurance had perhaps made the difference between her being able to hold onto the nuclear missile, and having the weapon slip out of her grasp too soon, and crash into the side of the wild cylinder.

Not that she expected to have any more bare-handed wrestling matches with bombs."

3.5 out of 5

Asteroid of Fear - Raymond Z. Gallun

Tomato war.

2.5 out of 5

13 Bullets 15 - David Wellington

"“We’re wasting daylight,” he told her. “Get up.”

She shook her head. That was a bad idea. She hiccoughed and a ribbon of bile shot out from between her lips. Her breakfast came up in one great rush, a brown spray she couldn’t hold in. She rolled over on her side, her body shivering uncontrollably. “I don’t expect you to care about my feelings,” she whimpered. “But I can’t do this anymore.”

He squatted next to her. He jammed two fingers into her throat, feeling for her pulse. He took his hand away and she looked up at him, her cheek against the cool grass, her eye following his face. Then he slapped her."

3.5 out of 5

The Weird of Ironspell 6 The Tomb of Azazar - John R. Fultz

"“Grobos! No!” Ironspell screamed a warning as the fallen Runesblood came flying back into his hand. But he was too late to save the gnome.

The she-demon wrapped her arms about the stunted wizard’s neck. Her serpentine tale encircled his body, squeezing with unearthly might. Ironspell heard the gnome’s bones cracking even as Grobos moaned in ecstasy. The warrior rushed forward, but the demoness opened her fanged maw impossibly wide and snapped her jaws about Grobos’ head, tearing it from his shoulders in a crimson spray. She spit it from her maw like a rancid grape."

4 out of 5

King Dog - Ursula K. Le Guin

Ah, just send him back.

3.5 out of 5

Save the Dragons 22 - Dave Freer

"He wouldn't pass for human, except possibly around Piccadilly Circus, where aliens from Betelguese and further afield have been known to spend several weeks, only ever being noticed by muggers, who respond poorly to their "take me to your leader" statements. But one glance at the wrinkled-map face, and the single rheumy eye peering over the top of the bifocal lens would also have told you that the braces and baggy trousers were inevitable. While the rules of physics tend to vary between the spheres, there are certain universal constants."

3 out of 5

Dreamsnake 07 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“My name is Snake, Melissa.” Snake held out her hand and the child shook it watchfully. “Will you ride Squirrel for me?”"

3.5 out of 5

For Camelot's Honor - Sarah Zettel

That Morgaine Le Fay. Pretty much always trouble with a capital Femme Fatale Incestuous Witchypoo.

Although this is a little bit more old school Arthurian than hardboiled Pufnstuff though.

The novel take two minor characters in a knight and a woman and has them become ensnared in the plotting and battling surrounding this pile of Camelot dwellers. So if you were expecting the usual, you get something slightly different here.

3 out of 5

Save the Dragons 21 - Dave Freer

"The only clue as to where the dwarf could have got to was a love-starved weedeater gazing longingly downstream from the battlements."

3.5 out of 5

Dreamsnake 06 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"“Will it leave a scar?” the mayor asked.

“Yes,” Snake said, surprised. “Of course. Several. I took out quite a lot of dead muscle, and it will never all fill back in. You probably won’t limp, though.”"

4 out of 5

Dreamsnake - Vonda N. McIntyre

Dreamsnake - Vonda N. McIntyre
Dreamsnake is a novel about a healer in a postapocalyptic world. The title object is an animal that has very unique properties that can be used in the protagonist's chosen profession.

So, she promptly loses it and has to try and find another. This means a postapocalyptic road trip, and a couple of companions, a man that helps her and a girl to protect.

Originally, the stories in here were in Analog, and this is what makes up the novel.

Dreamsnake : Of Mist and Grass and Sand - Vonda N. McIntyre
Dreamsnake : The Serpent's Death - Vonda N. McIntyre
Dreamsnake : The Broken Dome - Vonda N. McIntyre

Double serpent treatment.

4.5 out of 5

Backbreaking snake release.

3.5 out of 5

Dreamsnake search disagreement.

3.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

Save the Dragons 20 - Dave Freer

""So I can wait no longer?" M'lord Strate said to the seven beings in the sulphurous-smoky room. All of those he consulted bore an unmistakable stamp. True, they weren't wearing ties, that normal trademark of the investment banker, stockbroker or market manipulator. Two of them would have had serious problems doing so, as they were not equipped with necks. A third would have had to buy them by the dozen. Yet, despite their outlandish appearance they could have popped into Wall Street without exciting comment. Money-men, who deal in paper, not actual fruit and veg, or, as more likely on Sylvan, flesh and blood, have certain characteristics which transcend nation, sex or even species. Even in Earth's most conservative stock exchanges, both adders and sharks are always to be found, after all."

3.5 out of 5

Epoch - Cory Doctorow

AI 1 shutdown

4 out of 5

13 Bullets 14 - David Wellington

"Arkeley snorted. “No. In ‘93 I did a little extemporaneous experimentation on Malvern. I brought a jar of minced garlic into her room and when Armonk wasn’t looking I dumped it all over her. It made a pretty good mess and it pissed her off but no, no lasting harm. It might have been mayonnaise for all she cared.”

“How about mirrors? Do they show up in mirrors?”

“From what she’s said she loved looking at her reflection back in the good old days. She doesn’t like the way she looks now, that much is certain.” He shrugged. “I suppose that one has a grain of truth in it. The old ones will break any mirror they see. The young ones don’t care.”"

3.5 out of 5

The Hoarder - Kelly Meding

Smelly head lopping.

3.5 out of 5

Superluminal - Vonda N. McIntyre

Superluminal - Vonda N. McIntyre
In Vonda N. McIntyre's Superluminal, a woman has to undergo bodily augmentation and alteration in order to cope with the pressures of being a starship pilot, e.g. the ability to go superluminal.

Don't want to be a cyborg? Then this is not the job for you, the whole flying around in space thing. You won't have to worry about getting a pacemaker though.

3 out of 5

No Illusions - Mercedes Lackey and Veronica Giguere

Busted Blue Reverie repair.

3.5 out of 5

Save the Dragons 19 - Dave Freer

""My dear Hu. The agency has been trying to penetrate their senior ranks for several hundred years. We've been so effectively blocked, that Sylvester thinks they must have penetrated us. Higher up. I," he said, "have another theory."

Huigi flicked anther glance at Squigs. "And that is?"

"Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes, my dear boy," said the Count, dryly. "I think they exist to watch us. So, go cautiously with that one."

Huigi grimaced. "I haven't in the past. He has a quick mind, I admit. What I wanted to suggest is that all of this smacks of being part of something bigger. You know, both the poaching and the kidnapping seem to have a common thread. It smells. Perhaps the agency has a line on it. Can you obtain reports from agents on Zoar, Earth, and Hell? Or must I talk to Uncle Sylvester?""

3 out of 5

The Basics of Flight 6 - Joyce Chng

"She studied with Alethia during the designated study times. The blind girl read by running her fingertips over raised notches in special books. It is Braille, she explained to a curious Katherine once. Braille is designed for the blind as a kind of tactile alphabet. We can feel our letters."

3 out of 5“the-basics-of-flight”-ch-6-by-joyce-chng/

Polar City Blues - Katherine Kerr

Polar City Blues - Katherine Kerr
A classic detective story, with telepathic baseballers. Highly enjoyable tale. A woman is good at the investigating stuff. Her boyfriend has a secret.

An old ex-friend has information she needs, so should she mend fences? Politics, money and murder, with a wise old aunt type.

Another example of a future that just is in a culture that doesn't just seem like an extension of the USA again, without any extreme 'ia-ism'.

4 out of 5

Revise the World - B. W. Clough

Here's the good old explorer wakes up in the future rather than being dead story.

However, no dystopia, zombies, radioactive wasteland or civilisation of mental midgets here. Rather somewhere more prosaic, if of course very technologically advanced to be able to do the whole time travel transport thing.

And a romance, too, which can be pretty funny given the woman from that time and a nineteenth century adventurer.

3.5 out of 5

Starfarers - Vonda N. McIntyre

What would you do if you were going to go on the first starship to meet aliens in fairdinkum outer space? Be pretty happy, scared, whatever, all at once.

What would you do if the politicians on Earth and the rest of the people were too hopeless to keep it together so that you couldn't?

Yes, what any rational starnaut would expect. Jack the bloody thing and go anyway.

3 out of 5

Martian Chronicles - Cory Doctorow

Game, new planet, all the same thing, really.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hell To Pay 3 - Jackie Kessler

"I don’t like angels. They’re condescending and haughty at their worst, and obnoxiously stupid at their best. Angels are idiots. But even so, they shouldn’t be demonic doormats. Even they deserve better than getting hoofprints on their backs.

Especially when the one doing the walking is a pretentious asshole of an Archangel.

Michael, shrieking His holy ire at me: “I will rip your head from your body and fly it up to the top of Abaddon itself. I will place it there on a spike, as a warning to any who think they could defy Me!”

A pretentious asshole with a God complex.

“Well then,” I said with a grin, “I’m just going to have to teach you how to do your job.”"

3 out of 5

Clockwork Fagin - Cory Doctorow

Dead man puppet freedom.

4 out of 5

The Weird of Ironspell 5 The Son of Ironspell - John R. Fultz

"“Who has done this?” Tumnal asked when the pace of their horses slowed a bit. The mounts must rest or die of exhaustion. Still, Ironspell rode on at a slow trot.

“A sorcerer I killed years ago,” Ironspell said. “Twice.”"

3.5 out of 5

The Taste of Night - Pat Cadigan

Extra brain?

3 out of 5

The Basics of Flight 5 - Joyce Chng

"Eyes peered into the foggy darkness lit intermittently with flashes of yellow-green. There were bright spots in the sky, like stars. The stars gradually became brighter and brighter, until they became the form of lamps on leo-fins. A flight of leo-fins, all six of them, appeared, bold as courage, and lifting everyone’s spirits instantly. Everyone cheered and watched the leo-fins land in a disciplined V-formation on the Flying Field."

3.5 out of 5“the-basics-of-flight”-ch-5-by-joyce-chng/

Permanent Fatal Errors - Jay Lake

I'll get the answers if it kills me.

3.5 out of 5

The Dark Man - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Just one out of phase alien.

3.5 out of 5

Graffiti In the Library of Babel - David Langford

They is tagging our stuff.

3 out of 5

The Tel Aviv Dossier 5 - Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv

"Misha B.: Aharon asked me to apologize on his behalf, but he couldn't make it today.

Danny M.: Abducted by the Greys again?"

3.5 out of 5

Transition 04 - Vonda N. McIntyre

"He squatted beside the cactus and slid his fingers in between the thorns. Frowning, he stroked the leathery skin.

“It looks okay to me,” Esther said.

Infinity shrugged unhappily.

“Maybe it’s got cactus blight,” Esther said.

“It shouldn’t have anything. It’s cloned from a cell stock. Virus free.” "

3 out of 5

Graffiti In the Library of Babel 2 - David Langford

"Iesu Grist. Call me a superstitious peasant if you like," Ceri murmured, "but I think the Masters of the Universe just stepped in."

3 out of 5

The Dark Man 3 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

""What do you think this is," she asked, "some kind of portal and the aliens send one guy to it every ten years or so? Is this an invading army that hasn't quite got the concept down?""

3.5 out of 5

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Tel Aviv Dossier 4 - Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv

"So there I was, driving the Hawk down Ibn Gvirol street, a semiconscious fireman in the passenger seat and a rather too conscious one somewhere in the back, where I couldn't see him because the right-wing mirror had just been broken by a flying bicycle, rider included. There was a terrific wind, and action all around us, just the way I always imagined it should be. Just the way I wanted it to be. Even better. In some places it looked as if gravity was somehow reversed, cars and trees and people floating up, slowly at first, then accelerating, finally vanishing in some kind of turbulence overshadowing the street. Far in the south, a huge black vertical cloud was visible, and I saw parts of buildings swinging around over that area of the city, as if caught by an invisible carousel. Similar clouds were visible in the east and west, though only just. Around us, people were flying."

3.5 out of 5

Deluge 53 - Brian Keene

"Gail turned to Simon. “How did you do that?”

“It was easy,” he replied. “However, like any other fire, it won’t last without more fuel. I suggest we cook our dinner and savor the warmth the fire brings. While it’s cooking, perhaps we can gather some more wood.”

“Do you have pyrokin…” Novak frowned. “Pyrokinesis?”

“That’s the scientific name for it,” Simon agreed. “I must admit, it is a useful ability in situations such as ours.”"

3.5 out of 5