Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dunwich Horror 3 – H. P. Lovecraft

"Lackey phones in from a deep, shadowy ravine and Leman drops more arcane knowledge as we take a third gander at The Dunwich Horror!"

4 out of 5

The Dunwich Horror 2 - H. P. Lovecraft

"Once again, the Lovecrafting firm of Leman & Price* represent us as we take on the creepies and crawlies of The Dunwich Horror!

Mmm… great Dunwich.

*That’s Andrew Leman and Robert M. Price."

4 out of 5

Panel: New British Space Opera and Other Space Faring Cultures - Alastair Reynolds

David Hartwell, Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, John Meaney

"Twenty years ago, did you predict that British SF was on the verge of a long-term boom in producing large-scale exuberant space opera? You were laughed at, weren't you? And here we are, in 2005..."

"AR -- I'm functionally incapable of writing a book without a space ship in it"

3.5 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Mike Resnick - Blue Tyson

Mike Resnick is an author in multiple genres, including porn, pooches and the ponies, but is best known for his science fiction and fantasy. He is also an anthologist of over 40 books output, and was an editor for Jim Baen's Universe. Both his novel and short fiction output is very prolific. His novel work is solid, but his short fiction is better, and here he displays a consistent upper range, whether seriously examining colonialism, or producing shaggy weredog stories.

Resnick has produced a wide-ranging future history called the Birthright Universe, and the scope of this can be seen in Birthright: The Book of Man, showing the rise and fall of humanity. His subgenre works ranges from Santiago, an examination of what it is to be a freedom fighter/space hero or terrorist/criminal depending on whose point of view, to the absolutely over the top tall tales of fighting off aliens at The Outpost, with its mostley crew of heroes, hopeless cases, whores and killer (and non-killer) robots. Other space adventures include the Oracle series, including some colourful characters, the Widowmaker, and the more recent Starship series. In the latter, a competent military leader gets the shaft when he really doesn't want to continue massacring people, and goes rogue.

Resnick is one of the few authors that can consistently manage humour as humour, and it would have been fun to see the Stainless Steel Rat fall into some Birthright Universe spacetime warp in a short story crossover. Resnick also produced an Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche set on Ganymede, which I have never seen. However, unlike Michael Moorcock's recent Sojan volume the editor of Planet Stories says the author won't allow this to be reprinted, the spoilsport. Which is a bit odd given the number of definitely sillier (and indeed, completely silly) works he has already.

Catastrophe Baker and the Cold Equations is an example of one of his larger than life tall tale types, complete with pirate queen. In the next, he finds a giant woman in stasis, then a Pirate Queen. De Milo deals death to opponents, whatever limbs she was, or whatever they are made of. The Conspirators is a Birtright story, and an empire building part of that future history. The Medics is about dealing with a new environment. Nicobar Lane: the Soul Eater's story is about a hunter's prey. The last is another Output tall tale, or Saving Sinderella.

Catastrophe Baker and the Cold Equations

Catastrophe Baker In The Hall Of The Neptunian Kings

Catastrophe Baker and the Dragon Queen

The Cyborg De Milo

The Conspirators

The Medics

Nicobar Lane: The Soul Eater's Story

Nicodemus Mayflower and the Aliens

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Andy Remic - Blue Tyson

Andy Remic is a science fiction and fantasy author most noted for military SF such as the Combat K series. He has also written a few short stories.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Malcolm Reiss - Blue Tyson

Malcolm Reiss was the editor for Planet Stories Magazine when it began, from 1939 to 1942.

Planet Stories 01

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Robert Reed - Blue Tyson

Robert Reed is a science fiction and fantasy author, but mostly the former. As a novelist, he is a really great short story writer. He made it to double figures in novels, with none of any particular note except for Sister Alice - which is a fixup of several longer stories. There have been some collections of his work with small presses. He is closing on two hundred pieces of short fiction. Am amazing effort at the high quality he maintains.

So we have what I will call The Loneliness of the Long Distance Reed. By his stories, he is a bit of a distance runner. By his writing, the shorter lengths suit him, and maybe middle distance as a specialty, with the novella or short novel. Reed's work is science fiction in the majority, and certainly what he is best at. Given this is the case, his work has suffered from some absolutely wretched titles :-


The Leeshore
The Hormone Jungle
Black Milk
The Remarkables
An Exaltation of Larks
Sister Alice


The Dragons of Springplace
The Cuckoo's Boys

Do those scream really cool science fiction to anyone? A beach, jungle, rotten beverage, comic, pretentious obscure avians, sibling, vegetable, dragons (ok, good fantasy title), and something nebulously birdy. Didn't think so. A couple of the others are passable. Which would you rather buy 'Marrow' or 'The Great Hyperdiamond Planet Ship'? What percentage of people even know what the bloody hell a marrow is? The collections are of the expensive collectible variety, too.

Further, not so long ago you could buy quite a quite small percentage of short stories at Fictionwise before they went to hell, but no sign of any at Amazon et al. Reed is fairly clearly an introverted solitary type that isn't that motivated by cash, but it is a crime against literature as they say that you can't buy his stories. A large amount of content for a digital publisher from just the one writer is to be found here, if he isn't interested it doing it himself. All those stories could be sliced, diced, collected, fixed-up, novelised (and retitled!). Maybe he really, really, really wants to be a highly successful novelist and puts all his energy into that. Got to get realistic sometime, though. He is very versatile, and although he does have some series, like Jay Lake I think he could probably write just about anything. Throw in a technothriller novella a la James Rollins (not to mention Greg Bear or Paul J. McAuley), or very low fantasy historical etc. to turn up in a different group of key word searches.

Hobbyhorse crying shames aside, you will find some of his stories online at various places. What is of great interest is his series of stories and novels set on a ship the size of a planet that has been touring the universe for great lengths of time.

Marrow and The Well of Stars are the Great Ship novels and are good enough. There are several other Great Ship stories other than the best listed below including one tttled Marrow, as well, and Waging Good is a Sister Alice related tale. A couple of these I have not read.

Lying to Dogs is a Fermi Paradox story, about a message from a dead race. The Sister Alice collection contains stories from a group of posthumans and custodians of a galaxy who have screwed up badly due to conflict, destroying star systems and killing huge numbers of people. They are not popular. Sister Alice and Brother Perfect are two of these, and the names of the culprit and an elder sibling of the protagonist of the stories who attempts to help him get to answers.
The Caldera of Good Fortune has bodyguarding under fire on The Great Ship and Camouflage is a multiple marriage murder mystery. Hoop Of Benzene is about a conflict between captains of the Great Ship over a nuclear option. In Alone, a solitary member of a race makes a friend over a long time. The Man With the Golden Balloon has the secret history of the Great Ship revealed to explorers of its hidden recesses by a strange denizen they find therein.

Lying To Dogs

Brother Perfect

Sister Alice

Sister Alice [short story]

The Caldera of Good Fortune


Hoop Of Benzene


The Man With the Golden Balloon

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Marta Randall - Blue Tyson

Marta Randall is a science fiction writer who produced 7 novels two to three decades ago, and has also managed to get her short story count to 20.

Secret Rider - would you track a lover across a galaxy, or do something else? This is online at the author's website.

Secret Rider

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Hannu Rajaniemi - Blue Tyson

Hannu Rajaniemi is a polymath who hopefully is not a race car driver, rock star, or brain surgeon along with the rest. For a Finn, he writes rather excellently in English, as can be seen in the really good debut novel The Quantum Thief. This is about a posthuman thief in the style of Arsene Lupin, who has to get out of jail and find out what is really going on with these artificial intelligences and in Martian society. He has to also orchestrate a caper with a partner riding herd on him and find out what he used to be up to.

He also also written a small number of short stories, some of which are very good, and you can find a couple online.

You'd think with his genius, or the publisher calling it 'The Most Exciting Debut In Five Years' and having a noted cool opening they could manage an excerpt of such. No such level of professional competence on display, however.

The Quantum Thief

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Tom Purdom - Blue Tyson

Tom Purdom has been writing science fiction and fantasy for over fifty years. He has a handful of novels from earlier in his career, such as the planetary romance the Tree Lord of Imeten, which minds a pair of humans embroiled in a conflict between two alien races in a swords and shields and siege tower manner. He has also written over 40 short stories, such as Warfriends, which is related.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Gareth L. Powell - Blue Tyson

Gareth L. Powell is am underrated science fiction writer who has produced a reasonable number of short works, a collection of such, and a couple of novels. The Recollection is about a trip through a space network by a man trying to find his brother, along with the love triangle ensarement ex-wife, and the interstellar space evil they have to deal with at the other end. Silversands is a small press space opera novel that is hard to obtain.

As far as short stories go, Memory Dust has a space jumper finding an octopoidal citadel on another planet. The Last Reef is a Tanguy Future History story and has posthumans on Mars, and you can find a podcast of this story. Six Lights off Green Star is about those crazy enough to play spaceship hyperjump Russian roulette and you will find it online.

Memory Dust

The Last Reef

Six Lights Off Green Star

King David's Spaceship 1 - Jerry Pournelle

"He could have fought, of course. Even after the Committee bowed to the inevitable power of the Imperial Navy, he could have taken MacKinnie's Wolves to the fields, wandering in the forests, cutting down Haven soldiers, fighting tiny actions with formations too small for the Navy to find and blast out of existence with their space weapons. But for how long? And what would the Imperials do to Orleans? How long would the people of the Republic have supported him? How long before the romantic gesture turned stale and the admiration of the citizens turned to hatred and disgust as town after town was bombarded from space, turned to a blackened cinder as Lechfeld was? MacKinnie inhaled his cigar, letting the warm smoke drift over his tongue, out his lips, and into his nostrils, tasting the incredibly pleasing combination of real tobacco and grua before destroying the delicate flavors with the harsh tang of whiskey.

Across the next table, a couple rose and staggered toward the door, leaving him a clear view of Lieutenant Jefferson. The young naval officer was telling an admiring peasant about a strange planet, a place where they had no guns, only swords, and they worshiped Christ in a temple which once was an Old Empire library. Both of us drunks, MacKinnie thought. But the boy's one up. He's going somewhere, and what he does won't be undone by something you couldn't fight, couldn't understand. Stark was right. The young man did resemble the old Nat MacKinnie, but not this one. The old one was going somewhere, and what he accomplished would be his. And so the same would be true for that boy. Cursing bitterly, Nathan MacKinnie realized that he felt envy for the young men who had conquered his world."

3.5 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Jerry Pournelle - Blue Tyson

Jerry Pournelle is a science fiction writer who has produced a reasonable number of novels and a little short fiction. His CoDominium Future History and its military stories of colonisation is of interest, but I have read little. This is easily rectified, however, as there is a nine book CoDominium bundle at Baen Webscriptions, complete with the two Mote In God's Eye books.

He also collaborated on The Mote In God's Eye with Larry Niven.

The Mote In God's Eye

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Tanya Huff - Blue Tyson

Tanya Huff is an author of fantasy with one science fiction series. When not writing about detectives and vampires and detectives who are vampires she has written five novels about an intergalactic space marine and her exploits. She also has written a reasonable number of short stories, and all those I have seen have been fantasy, but that is only a handful.

Penguin are even worse than some of the others it seems, as we have complete and utter excerpt failure. The author has no website, just a livejournal, so she is no use either in this regard.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Frederik Pohl - Blue Tyson

Frederik Pohl is a science fiction writer and editor, who has produced dozens of novels, and triple figure short fiction, of which there have been many collections. He is also an anthologist and was the editor of Galaxy magazine. Some of his work is of interest, including a series written with Jack Williamson and the various Heechee novels, and stories like Stopping at Slowyear. He is now also an award winning blogger at The Way the Future Blogs, writing some very interesting pieces on those he knew over the course of his career. Definitely recommended. His introduction to Baen's Cordwainer Smith book When the People Fell you will also find online.

Gateway is a novel about commercialisation and exploitation of the discovery and search for abandoned alien technology in space. The Gold at the Starbow's End concerns a trip to Alpha Centauri and the immense changes the crew of astronauts go through, far outstripping what they were before. The Merchants of Venus has a desperate man doing some planet based alien archaeology.


The Gold at the Starbow's End

The Merchants of Venus

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Rog Phillips - Blue Tyson

Rog Phillips was a writer of science fiction and fantasy in the forties and fifties who produced a few novels and a significant number of short stories, only a few of which such as well known works like The Yellow Pill I have seen, but several will be of interest. The story Unthinkable you will find online.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: W. Scott Peacock - Blue Tyson

W. Scott Peacock was an editor for Planet Stories Magazine in the early 1940s.

Planet Stories 20

The Science Behind the Story: InterstellarNet - Edward M. Lerner

" InterstellarNet began in musings about a far-future, star-spanning, human civilization. I presumed the pesky constraints of relativity: no FTL travel.

One thing led to another … soon I was pondering a comm network that functioned across the light-years. And, we homo saps being a tad competitive—about interstellar cyber attacks.

I’m a computer guy. I started writing functional requirements for the network. (As Douglas Adams advised: Don’t panic! The specs do not appear in any InterstellarNet story.) "

3.5 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Paul L. Payne - Blue Tyson

Paul L. Payne was an editor for Planet Stories Magazine in the late 1940s.

Planet Stories 42

Planet Stories 36

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Raymond A. Palmer - Blue Tyson

Raymond A. Palmer was a an editor for Amazing Stories and other publications, for which he is most well known. Presumably because of his dimunitive stature, Ray Palmer the DC superhero The Atom was named after him. He also produced 40 or so short stories of interest, which I have not read, but going by era and title quite a few will be of interest. Some longer work like The Black World certainly is space opera.

The Vengeance of Martin Brand has undercover Patrol agents a little like Edmond Hamilton's Three Planeteers, but rather more Star Wolf or Brackett in the more hardboiled tone. Suicide Martin Brand's fiance is brain damaged in a crash during an affair of hers, and a patrol officer is after him, thinking he is a criminal, as she pursuing him via disguise in Venusian dives. Space battles, cave hunts, bat monsters and world domination plots make this one rather more interesting than a lot of work from this era. You'll find it online.

The Vengeance of Martin Brand

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Philip Palmer - Blue Tyson

Philip Palmer is a writer in multiple media, who produced the novel Debatable Space. Which was terrible. There is a sequel, but it would take a significant bribe to inflict that upon myself.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Jerry Oltion - Blue Tyson

Jerry Oltion is a science fiction author who is well over double figures in novels, including some Star Trek Books, and several times that level of production in short fiction, quite a lot of which I have not seen.

Anywhere But Here and the Getaway Special are about the invention of a crazy backyard hyperdrive, and what easy interstellar travel brings - like aliens. A short story of interest is The Adversary.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Jack O'Sullivan - Blue Tyson

Jack O'Sullivan was a an editor for Planet Stories Magazine in the 1950s.

Planet Stories 50

Planet Stories 56

Planet Stories 57

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Philip Francis Nowlan - Blue Tyson

Philip Francis Nowlan was a science fiction writer in the twenties and thirties notable for the creation of Buck Rogers.

You will find his Buck Rogers stories Armaggedon 2419 AD and The Airlords of Han online.

Armageddon 2419 AD

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Stanley Mullen - Blue Tyson

Stanley Mullen was a writer of science fiction and fantasy in the forties and fifties who produced 3 novels and more than 40 short stories, a couple of which you will find online, and Master of the Moondog is of subgenre interest, of the few I have read.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Andre Norton - Blue Tyson

Andre Norton was an extremely consistent writer of science fiction and fantasy and occasional other genres, and of particular interest to younger readers with the bevy of kids as protagonists in many novels. Although sometimes this was not the case, such as in The Beast Master, or the Witch World novels, or some Sword and Sorcery stories. Generally if you picked up a Norton book you knew you would get something readable, even if nothing leaps out that you'd recommend to readers that are not children now other than perhaps The Beast Master. Works such as Plague Ship and the Sargasso of Space and Star Rangers are of direct interest, but works like Storm Over Warlock with its planet based adventure certainly acknowledge a wider universe, even so far as having crashed spacecraft. Therefore many will hold appeal. Plenty of psionics with animals and that sort of thing, too.

You will find some of her work online.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: G. David Nordley - Blue Tyson

G. David Nordley is a writer of short science fiction, often of high quality, and the total output heads towards the half century. He has one collection of stories, After the Vikings, which is definitely not his best work. He has a long story about interstellar travel, and finding a world of kangasaurs and megabats. Also a series of planetary adventures like Into the Miranda Rift. He also has a series of stories set on the planet Trimus, about a group of local law enforcement officers working together as friends, all of different alien species. They try and keep the peace on such a diverse planet. These hold some of the charm that you find in the work of James H. Schmitz, and could easily be linked into a fixup for. High quality work for aspiring digital publishers out there.

Dawn Venus is about a race for a land claim (and spouse) on that planet. Network and Poles Apart are Trimus stories wherein they have to deal with local wildlife and mores, and in the second, local barbarians.

Dawn Venus


Poles Apart

The Science Behind the Story: To Climb A Flat Mountain 2 - G. David Nordley

"To Climb a Flat Mountain" (Analog, November and December, 2009)is a multifaceted story that takes place on a world that is very unusual in many ways. I'll have more on the world itself after everyone has had a chance to read Part II. Meanwhile, for information on the propulsion engineering, astronomy, and megabats to go along with Part I, you are invited to visit:


"In this era, a tenuous and very slow relationship exists with the cybernetic "galactic library." The governments are worried about the impression humanity is making on the vast but very rarefied galactic civilization. What has happened at the double star, 36 Ophiuchi, is judged to be making a very bad impression. Imagine a combination of Jim Jones and David Koresh running a whole planet. What started out as a colony where a splinter group of the Mars-based "New Reformation" could be left in peace has gone horribly wrong, with child sex slaves, extreme misogyny, and many other forms of totalitarian depravity--really, really, ugly. Some of these people manage to call for help across 20 light years, knowing that any response will take 40 years plus debating time."

4 out of 5

To Climb A Flat Mountain 1 - G. David Nordley

"Jacques Song opened his eyes and saw a huge fish floating above the canopy of his cold sleep unit and staring at him. He shut them immediately; it must be a bad dream. People often had dreams as cold sleep evolved into normal sleep and wakefulness.

Last night, 21 June 2345, he and the rest of the corps had listened to some inspirational nonsense from Earth Empress Marie, lifted a glass of rum spiked with cold sleep preparation drugs, and dutifully lain down on their hotel beds at Sheffield Station in Earth orbit.

In deep sleep, they’d been transferred to Cold Sleep Units and loaded onto starships bound for 36 Ophiuchi. The process would be reversed twenty-three years later when the invasion force had established itself, hopefully undetected, at a base in the Kuiper belt around 36 Ophiuchi A and B. Their mission was to liberate a colony gone horrifically wrong.

But that colony was not under a sea filled with staring fish."

4 out of 5

The Science Behind the Story: To Climb A Flat Mountain - G. David Nordley

"A. The Interstellar Propulsion System

The interstellar transportation system is the same mass beam propulsion concept I've used in all my future history, including The Black Hole Project series in Analog. The basics are laid out the illustration below. This illustration exists because Bob Forward once asked me to put the system on one chart, which he could use in his talks about star travel. One chart!? But Bob was a hard person to turn down. The wonder is not that the chart is a bit busy, but that it exists at all!"

4 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Carole Nomarhas - Blue Tyson

Carole Nomarhas was an occasional writer of short stories. I do not know if she still is, and I have only read one.

Soul Horizon is a story of a star pilot who encounters a mutant and a sentient starship.

Soul Horizon

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Larry Niven - Blue Tyson

Larry Niven was a good writer of science fiction and fantasy whose talent seemed to fall off a cliff somewhere around 1980. His short fiction productivity also went away. Why this was, I do not know, but perhaps is why he writes with junior partners these days to try and get around it.

Before then though he produced some classic work of interest to the subgenre, especially with the motley crew explore massive band around a star Big Dumb Object novel Ringworld, part of a fairly extensive Future History with humans in space, fighting alien Tiger-Men, dealing with cowardly Puppeteers and more.

Teaming up with Jerry Pournelle he wrote The Mote In God's Eye, which has humans dealing with a race of aliens who approve amazingly adaptive with technology, sort of mini-mitted gremlin MacGyvers to the max, cubed, probably being able to come up with a fusion reactor death ray out of a coffee pot and a radio controlled toy rabbit and a spoon if you gave them enough time. Down In Flames is a collaboration with Norman Spinrad about possible Known Space directions, so not a story as such but possibilities.

Neutron Star is a collection of his Known Space future history stories, including the title story about being stuck in a gravity tide. There are many decent Known Space stories of interest other than those mentioned here. There is a tide has Louis Wu searching in space and getting into a problematic situation on a planet, along with an alien, and lends a hand.

The Mote In God's Eye

Down In Flames

Neutron Star

Neutron Star [short story]


There Is A Tide

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: C. L. Moore - Blue Tyson

C. L. Moore was a highly talented writer of science fiction and fantasy, who collaborated on a lot of work with her husband, Henry Kuttner, so it can be problematic ever working out who wrote what. I will have entered stories etc. as the first time I came across them and whatever was in the publication at the time, so sometimes it might just have said Kuttner when it was Kuttner and Moore, for example. Unfortunately, she is currently underpublished and while it may be the fault of a recalcitrant or delusionally unrealistic estate, possibly, you will find some work online. A webscription style digital omnibus of omnicollections of both these writers would certainly be welcomed. She was the creator of Northwest Smith, another interplanetary adventurer antihero of ill repute. Unlike Leigh Brackett's rationalist approach to her planetary romances Moore came at hers from the horror end of things. Not surprising, being from Weird Tales and they do give you a little of the flavour of the Lovecraftian.

Fury is about cities on Venus, with the planet in between dangerous and deadly - and who can rule. Quest of the Starstone is a Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry teamup. Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams is a Fantasy Masterworks collection of Jirel of Joiry and Northwest Smith stories. In Black Thirst Northwest Smith is led to a vampire by a Minga mai. The Cold Gray God sees Northwest Smith hired to retrieve a mysterious box. Dust of Gods has Smith hired to retrieve the Dust of Pharol from an ancient Martian polar temple. Judgment Night is a collection of other Moore stories of subgenre interest. In Julhi, Smith encounters a singing emotional leech. Werewoman finds Northwest in a chase for his life. Northwest of Earth is Paizo Planet Stories complete collection of Northwest Smith stories, and is highly recommended. Shambleau finds Northwest Smith rescuing and taking in a Medusa-like vampire woman, to his regret. This is also the title of a short collection of Smith stories.


Quest of the Starstone

Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams

Black Thirst

The Cold Gray God

Dust of Gods

Judgment Night



Northwest of Earth

Shambleau [short story]


The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Michael Moorcock - Blue Tyson

Michael Moorcock is an extraordinarily prolific and talented author in multiple genres, most noted for his extremely complex Eternal Champion Cycle and its complicated interrelations through space, time and universes. The most well known of these Eternal Champions is Elric of Melnibone. I believe he has triple figure publications in both the long and short form, and many collections of his stories amongst that. However, one of the Eternal Champions is named Kane, a Warrior of Mars just like John Carter. These three books, under either of their titles, (having Mars in the title or not) are decent enough.

Moorcock, a friend of Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton also wrote something that was more homage to is his friend and less of a direct copy than the Mars books were of Burroughs in Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel. You can find a version of this online. The Blood Red Game [The Silent Worlds] has an interstellar adventurer who ends up playing a deadly game in an arena, and having to keep winning to save his race.

Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel

The Blood Red Game [The Sundered Worlds]

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Elizabeth Moon - Blue Tyson

Elizabeth Moon is a solid author of science fiction and fantasy at long and short length. The work of interest here is the Familias Regnant universe, a series of military SF in space novels such as the Herris Serrano series, which I have not read. She also writes some short fiction and a few of these are also of interest such as Chameleons and In Suspect Terrain.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: L. E. Modesitt - Blue Tyson

L. E. Modesitt is a solid author of science fiction and fantasy who is more noted for the latter. Although an interesting point for the Recluce series, is that a group of refugees come to the planet - in a starship, even though there are wizards throwing fireballs around and controlling the weather. So his approach to fantasy is somewhat rationalist, and also includes actual engineers who manage progress, unlike the braindead types in a large chunk of secondary world long fantasy books. He is a very productive novelist, with over 50 to his name, along with more than 20 short stories. Of interest are his Forever Hero series, where a starship goes back to Earth and finds a young mutant man and trains him, and he has remarkable abilities - including immortality, so he plans to restore Earth after its ruin. Which will involved some conflict with a Galactic Empire. The Ecolitan novels have some diplomatic troubleshooters travelling around worlds, and I have only read one. The Parafaith books have a humanity out in the stars and divided, warring among themselves.

There are likely short stories I have not seen of interest, as well as some of the standalone novels, given his tendencies.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: David Moles - Blue Tyson

David Moles is an unprolific author of short science fiction of good quality. He's also managed to be an unprolific editor. Of his small output a couple of stories are of interest. A Soldier of the City has a Babylonian space empire going to battle over the death of a leader. Planet of the Amazon Women has a picket ship in space over a world where all the men have died because of a deadly disease.

Planet of the Amazon Women

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: John Meaney - Blue Tyson

John Meaney is a good science fiction and fantasy author, who has almost made it to ten novels and almost to twenty short stories, at least of which I am aware. Of interest is the three book Nulapeiron Sequence, of which you will find excerpts at the American publisher, Pyr.

When a strange interstellar pilot hands a boy a piece of technology as she is cut down while on the run his rise and fall and other strangeness like more pilots, oracles alien attacks and more through this three book series.


The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Vonda N. McIntyre - Blue Tyson

Vonda N. McIntyre is a solid science fiction and fantasy author who has produced around 20 novels and a bit more than that in the short fiction arena. Quite a few of her novels are of interest, and she also wrote Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. With novels such as the Starfarer quarter and Superluminal you have space adventure tending a little bit to the romance side of things, so are quite possibly good introductions to someone looking to move from sf romance to something more general.

She has serialised some of these at Book View Cafe, a collection of authors with an online shop, and anybody should be able to buy them in a format to suit with some excerpts to look at.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Mark McGarry - Blue Tyson

Mark McGarry is apparently an occasional writer of SF stories, of which I have seen only this one very good example.

The Mercy Gate has pirates, and a metamorph stargate.

The Mercy Gate

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Emmett McDowell - Blue Tyson

Emmett McDowell was one of the better of the unknown writers for Planet Stories with stories like Citadel of the Green Death. I have read a few stories, several of which are poor, but the two mentioned are decent.

Sword of Fire has Jupiter Jones, troubleshooter, ending up on a planet with people enslaved by purple-shelled mind-draining octopus men.

Sword of Fire

Emperor of Dawn 1 - Steve White

""Yes, sir." There wasn't much else Corin could say, for the admiral was reciting the official line. But his mind leaped across a light-century and contemplated the beings he'd fought: compact bipeds little more than half human-average height, with huge dark eyes. In addition to high intelligence, they had astonishingly dexterous hands with two mutually-opposable "thumbs" almost as long as the five "fingers," and it was unsurprising that they were master technologists. They had colonized several systems before humankind had left its homeworld. But those colonists had traveled at the slower-than-light rates permitted by ordinary physical laws, for by some fluke the Ch'axanthu had never discovered the time-distortion drive on their own. And, having acquired it from some Beyonders or other, they'd shown no interest in using it to expand their sphere much beyond its long-established limits. They'd merely consolidated their already-colonized systems—systems of which they'd made far more intensive use than humans would have.

And that was why three invasions by the incomparably larger Empire had failed so dismally.

Long before the first interstellar probe had departed from Earth, it had been recognized that Homo sapiens' muscles, bones and immune system would not allow indefinite relinquishment of weight. Until the advent of artificially generated gravity fields, long-range space voyaging had required dodges like spinning a portion of the ship to produce angular acceleration. But not even that had permitted realization of the old dreams of colonizing asteroids and deep-space habitats . . . for the colonists had lost interest in reproducing.

Humans, it seemed, had a psychological need for Earth or a planet like it—a need unsuspected by the early space-colonization enthusiasts. At a minimum, they needed such a planet floating huge and blue in their sky. They mined and garrisoned flying mountains, and had for millennia, but they never called them home.

The Ch'axanthu were different. They'd evolved on a planet more or less similar to Earth, but their bodies and minds could adapt to microgravity environments. And by now the great majority of them lived in a myriad such environments, spread throughout the systems they had made their own.

And that, Corin reflected (not for the first time), was the problem: their lack of vulnerability.

Humanity had learned what vulnerability was in the early fourth millennium, as the gentlemanly limited warfare of the Age of the Protectors had given way to the Unification Wars. When total, high-intensity war was waged with interstellar-level technology, the populations of Earthlike planets survived only by grace of their economic value to potential conquerors. And the few Ch'axanthu-inhabited planets were no more survivable in the face of antimatter warheads—and the far cheaper relativistic rocks—than human ones.

But the Ch'axanthu could afford the loss of those sitting-duck worlds. The habitats where most of them lived were too numerous, too scattered and too mobile for convenient destruction. And they could wage a kind of spaceborne guerrilla war that had never been possible for humans. It had taken three disastrous campaigns for the Empire to learn the lesson—still publicly unacknowledged—that the Ch'axanthu were, as a practical matter, unconquerable."

3.5 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Sandra McDonald - Blue Tyson

Sandra McDonald is a science fiction and fantasy author who has produced a reasonable number of short stories, lots of which you will find online. She also has three novels of what appear to be Australian and romance flavoured light military SF. As much as you can tell because it appears that the publisher got tired after doing huge single chapter excerpts for two of the books, and was too fatigued to cut a paste a whole massive chapter into the web page for the third. Book appears to have been out for a few months, maybe they will recover from their debilitating weariness soon? At least the others were real proper text, unlike the pathetic excuses provided by Murdoch's eye wrecking minions. The author's idea of providing information about her books is a very sad link to buy it at Amazon. Given these are published by the Macmillan recidivists, this is of course zero use as they are of course not buyable. Given it is Macmillan, probably may not even have ebooks for some given just another author of no particular interest or popularity. Or, good old publishing fail.

The Stars Down Under 1 - Sandra McDonald

"He steeled himself and yanked the sheets away.

Karl the Koala blinked up at him with golden eyes and rolled over.

“Rub me, rub my tummy,” he sang.

Myell let the knife drop. “Go to sleep, Karl.”

The bot rolled to his haunches and scratched himself. Though he understood basic commands, the programming defaulted to mild disobedience. A real koala would never follow orders like a dog, anyway. Nor would it talk. Myell still wasn’t convinced they needed any mechanical pets underfoot, but Karl made Jodenny happy."

3 out of 5

The Outback Stars 1 - Sandra McDonald

And I’m not a happy lieutenant, Jodenny thought, but it didn’t matter. Unlike the Yangtze, the Aral Sea was intact and functional. Her bulkheads hadn’t been ripped open to the stars. Her decks weren’t stained with blood nor fused with flesh, and if any ghosts haunted her passageways at least they didn’t whisper Jodenny’s name."

3 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Ian McDonald - Blue Tyson

Ian McDonald is a slow but very talented science fiction novelist who has made it to double figures. He has produced a reasonable amount of short fiction, some of which is in his three collections. A good portion of his work has been concerned with the developments in near-future non-Western settings in Africa, Asia and South America. A reasonable amount of his earlier work I have not seen, and if he owns it again would be an intriguing project for a digital publisher.

He has written a couple of new-style planetary romances of trains on Mars such as Ares Express and the Catherine Wheel but has also managed to come up with some powerful posthuman New Space Opera stories about the Clade, which really makes us want to see more. Same goes as for his early work, if he comes up with another story there'd be a nice little collection there.

The Days of Solomon Gursky has the dead fighting in space. Verthandi's Ring is the story of a long-running and large scale conflict between two civilisations, when a brilliant Clade war leader returning home, and tells them she has a staggering solution to their problem. The Tear is an extraordinarily dense tour in the life of a young Clade man as he makes his evolutionary changes and grows up, then goes through friends and enemies (and changings around of) and alien aggressors to come back. Two of my favourite stories.

The Days of Solomon Gursky

The Tear

Verthandi's Ring

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Jack McDevitt - Blue Tyson

Jack McDevitt is a solid writer of science fiction who has produced more than fifteen novels and a reasonable amount of short fiction to go along with that. He displays an upper range at times.

He has two series of interest, that of the career of Priscilla Hutchins, pilot and investigator as she becomes involved in exploring interstellar civilisations and making discoveries, or managing the same. There are also stories in this setting. The other is the Alex Benedict series about the discovery of the mysteries of his own life and relatives, and what actually is going on out there among the stars, in human colonised parts of the galaxy and with aliens both now and in history. I have not read all of these latter as yet.

The Engines of God is the first Hutchins novel, as an archaeological find becomes threatened, and discoveries can shock. Kaminsky at War at Melville on Iapetus are Academy stories, about guerilla tactics and discoveries of the ancient alien variety. A Talent For War is about discoverying the truths behind a charismatic and famous human war hero who was always outnumbered.

The Engines of God

Kaminsky at War

Melville on Iapetus

A Talent For War

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Anne McCaffrey - Blue Tyson

Anne McCaffrey is a competent writer and prolific novelist, particularly of science fiction tending to science fantasy, and has also produced some short fiction. She is most well known for the Pern planetary romances, about the more primitive descendants of a group of colonists who when to the planet rather than put up with conditions where they were. Before the descent into a medieval-with-more-conveniences level of technology, the colonists genetically engineered the local lizard life into much larger 'dragons', who can fly, teleport and communicate telepathically with humans. Thus the series has a significant science fantasy feel. The problem with Pern is that in regular cycles, and for astronomical reasons it is bombarded from space with 'thread', a toxic poisonous substance that is a danger to their entire existence. Without advanced technology the Pern people are forced to rely on teams of dragonriders who fly up to try and stop most of it from hitting the ground, by feeding their partners and steeds a chemical rock mixture that allows them to flame the threads.

The heart of the conflict in the novels other than being fried from space is the necessity to keep a standing paramilitary force supported in the many years when there is no thread, and the power they wield as a result. Also with the growing conservative nature of backsliding societies, the ability to keep what services they have going. Later novels actual deal with the process of rediscovery of some of what they have lost, and get more overtly science fictional again.

She also has a 'Ship' series about people who are too physically cripped at birth to viably exist but can have their brains housed in starships and be the driving force behind them. And be paired with human babe pilots of whichever flavour. These crossover into the Crystal Singer books about mining by sound. So there is a light romance flavour pervading McCaffrey's work throughout, whichever the setting.

The Talents and Tower and Hive series have people whose psionic abilities enable interstellar transport and communication, again. There is more that I have not read, Dinosaur Planet, The Planet Pirates, the Doona books, the Catteni Series (humans slave to evil aliens) etc., all of which are relevant to some degree or other.

In the beating a dead horse stakes the writing of the Pern books appears to have descended to her son, but at least this has been done while she was alive. The strongest word is certainly her early Pern novellas and novels.

Beyond Between is the story of what happens if a dragonrider gets lost while teleporting. Dragonflight is a novel about how to solve the problem of having too few dragonriders to face the next Thread threat. Dragonquest follows this with what do you do with the old riders from the past, once the threat is past, and trying technological improvements to look at the menace in space. Dragonsdawn tells the story of the colonists and their initial arrival, Thread shock and breeding experiments. Runner of Pern is the story of a young messenger and her adventures. The Smallest Dragonboy you could pair with the The White Dragon - where a strange runt in either case finds or chooses a friend. A Gift of Dragons is a collection of Pern stories. Weyr Search is the original award winning novella about time travel discovery desperation to get help to save Pern. Dragonrider is similar.

Beyond Between




Runner of Pern

The Smallest Dragonboy

The White Dragon

A Gift of Dragons

Weyr Search


The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Paul J. McAuley - Blue Tyson

Paul J. McAuley has written more than fifteen science fiction novels from space opera to near future dystopia or technothrillers. He has also produced a considerable number of short stories, some of which are fantasy, but several of which are of interest. The sames goes for a goodly number of his novels such as the Four Hundred Billion Stars and Book of Confluence trilogies.

He has a series of stories and novels termed The Quiet War set in a Brazil dominated Earth with the outer planets dissenting, and people heading ever outward. Others of these Quite War stories like The Assasination of Faustino Malartre and Gardens of Saturn etc. will also be of interest, even if not more explicitly space type stories. He is apparently working on putting a collection of these out shortly, so anybody should be able to buy them all soon. On his website he also writes occasional non-fiction pieces about his work or related matters that are also of interest, as well as having generously sized excerpts and some short stories available. A couple of these are linked below. An underrated writer of high quality that you should definitely check out.

Crimes and Glory is one of the Jackaroo sequence of stories, here with quantum communication, investigation and Elder alien race and what they will give you. and you will find it online. Dead Men Walking is a tale of two killers in the Quiet War. Incomers is a post Quiet War space war story and retelling. The Quiet War is a novel, going into the politics and conflict of the setting itself between Earth and the farther out colonies. Recording Angel is about personality research and ancient aliens. All Tomorrow's Parties is about immortals fitting into society. Little Lost Robot is about a giant space war machine and the decisions it has to make, and you will find this online. Rats of the System is of conflict between humans when powerful artificial intelligences exist.

Crimes and Glory

Dead Men Walking

The Genesis of Confluence

History Not Quite Repeating Itself


The Quiet War

Recording Angel

All Tomorrow's Parties

Little Lost Robot

Rats of the System

Jumpers - Mary Rosenbum

Audio version of the story.

4 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Julian May - Blue Tyson

Julian May is most well know for the aliens, time travel and psionics in prehistoric time Saga of Pliocene Exile, and its prequel Galactic Milieu books - which do indeed have some giant mind-blasting space battles. She also had a series that is thematically similar to Stephen Donaldson's Gap series, if nowhere near as dark. Here though a reprobate scion of some interstellar capitalists looks to try and halt the alien takeover.

In the final Galactic Milieu novel Magnificat humanity moves towards joining the Galactic Unity, and asking for helping Jack the Bodiless and Diamond Mask stop the open space war that Marc Remillard's rebels have instigated.


The Rough Guide to Space Opera: George R. R. Martin - Blue Tyson

George R. R. Martin is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and horror in multiple media, and is now best known for failing to complete a large fat fantasy series. Also known for being the editor of the Wild Cards shared world series, some of which does involve fighting aliens in space. He is also an occaional anthologist, and there are several collections of his work including the massive retrospective Dreamsongs. Earlier in his career he produced a fair amount of high quality short fiction, a little of which is of interest.

Tuf Voyaging is a collection of stories about a man with a huge starship with a lot of biological ability - and hence he is in demand to solve problems others cannot, and he is of oddball disposition compared to other people. Man others would like his ship. A couple of Tuf stories listed here : Manna From Heaven is about a population problem, and The Plague Star is another Tuf story, complete with Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Nor the Many Colored Fires of a Star Ring has some series problems with experimental energy. The Second Kind of Loneliness shows waiting for starships to come and go might make you crazy. The Glass Flower has a gathering for a game of death.

Manna From Heaven

The Plague Star

Tuf Voyaging

Nor the Many Colored Fires of a Star Ring

The Second Kind of Loneliness

The Glass Flower

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Ken MacLeod - Blue Tyson

Ken MacLeod is a science fiction writer who has published a dozen novels, a several of which are of interest, such as the Engines of Light trilogy about first contact and the establishment of a colony amidst an intestellar empire, and Newton's Wake, a standalone galactic exploration and exploitation story.

The Cassini Division a novel at the the end of a series, with a conflict between humans and posthumans in space. Who's Afraid of Wolf 359 is a story of Empire building and space weaponry, and you will find this online.

The Cassini Division

Who's Afraid of Wolf 359

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: John D. MacDonald - Blue Tyson

John D. MacDonald was an author in multiple genres, most noted for his crime work. He produced many novels and hundreds of short stories, some of which were sf and sometimes very good. I have seen a few of interest.

Escape to Chaos is about trapping a rebel leader.

Escape to Chaos

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Scott Lynch - Blue Tyson

Scott Lynch is a fantasy author who has produced a couple of books in his Gentleman Bastards sequence. Then on his website he began a Planetary Romance serial, Queen of the Iron Sands which is rather good, but appears to now be on hiatus for personal reasons. If you like it, donate a few bucks and hopefully he'll get back to it later.

A pilot from Earth ends up on Mars, imprisoned and facing her execution.

Queen of the Iron Sands

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Brian Lumley - Blue Tyson

Brian Lumley is a horror writer, most well known for his psychic warrior fighting vampire invasion series Necroscope and Cthulhu Mythos work. He has written more SF heavy horror, and even has a collection called Screaming Science Fiction. So the odd story like Feasilibity Study is of interest.

Gaddy's gloves has a shootout and repair scenario in space.

Gaddy's Gloves

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taking a Hammer to Wish Fulfillment: A Critical Appreciation of James Enge - John H. Stevens

"Enge's fiction stands out primarily for its rich, witty prose and its juxtaposition of human characters with outrageous situations. Conflict, weirdness, cruelty, and supernatural forces beset the protagonists (Morlock and whomever is unfortunate enough to be with him), but not for the shock value or for gory distraction. Enge creates circumstances where people have to draw on their human qualities to survive, sometimes aided by magic,but more often by stubbornness and the leveraging of opportunity. He does this not just to create a thrilling moment, but to probe what the characters are capable of as they face often bizarre, seemingly intractable challenges. These challenges (from facing down prophecy-maddened hordes to execution by dragon to obsessive, unhinged sorcerers) frequently have a philosophical inflection. "

4.5 out of 5

Deluge 65 - Brian Keene

"The starfish creature had snuck up behind him, probably attracted by the sounds of the struggle. Now it towered over Morgan, its broad hands on his shoulders, and lowered its mouth over the top of his head. As they watched, it bit through his skull, neatly slicing off the top of his head. Morgan’s screams reached a feverish pitch as the monster slurped his brains out. He whimpered twice, and then went limp."

4 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Richard A. Lupoff - Blue Tyson

Richard A. Lupoff is an Edgar Rice Burroughs nerd. He is a writer in multiple genres, with a couple of dozen novels and around double that in the short form, as well as being an editor. A few of his stories are of interest, such as Discovery of the Ghooric Zone.

After the Dreamtime has the Djanggawul in the membrane ships being rather good at the starship caper. Sail the Tide of Mourning is similar, and gets a bit Rainbow Serpent.

After the Dreamtime

Sail the Tide of Mourning

Sophia Awakening 1

Sophia the Awakening 1

Or, when an AI needs a body and you have to escape from corporate scumbags who want to blow you all away.

3.5 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: H. P. Lovecraft - Blue Tyson

H. P. Lovecraft was famous writer of science fictional horror, and inventor of his own Cthulhu Mythos. He actually wrote the occasional story of interest, this one in team-up with Kenneth Sterling. In the Walls of Eryx is a story about a conflict with lizardmen on Venus.

In the Walls of Eryx

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Murray Leinster - Blue Tyson

Murray Leinster was an author in multiple genres and multiple media who produced over 1500 short works. Along with 40 or so science fiction novels there are many collections of his work, some of which you will find online at the Baen Free Library. A few of these I have read and are happily avoided, but The Pirates of Zan or The Pirates of Ersatz is fun and is also online.

The Aliens is about having problems when you have xenophobes around and new people in town. The Lonely Planet is about a world brain who has humans arrive. The Mutant Weapon is one of the Calhoun Med Ship stories, and he has the problem of people using a plague as a weapon, and you will find all these online in a Baen Free Library collection. Similarly, in Pariah Planet [This World Is Taboo] Calhoun has to help an outcast group of very hungry blue people. First Contact is a famous story about a human ship and that meets an alien ship, and the two leaders and crews have to work out how to resolve this very tense situation.

The Aliens

The Lonely Planet

The Mutant Weapon

Pariah Planet

First Contact

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Brian Daley - Blue Tyson

Brian Daley was a science fiction and fantasy author, most well remembered for some really early tie-in work in producing a Han Solo trilogy which I rather liked. He also had his own space opera series, Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds, Jinx on a Terran Inheritance, and Fall of the White Ship Avatar [via Ryk Spoor].

Han Solo and the Lost Legacy

Han Solo At Star's End

Han Solo's Revenge

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Colin Kapp - Blue Tyson

Colin Kapp was a science fiction author that intrigues me with what little of his work I have seen as there is usually something interesting. The story The Imagination Trap fits here. He has a four novel series called Cageworld that appears to be along the Ringworld lines. The Ion War and Patterns are standalones.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Fritz Leiber - Blue Tyson

Fritz Leiber is an author of fantasy, science fiction and horror, and most noted for his Lankhmar Sword and Sorcery series. He wrote a significant amount of short fiction, a little of which fits. The Foxholes of Mars, for example.

Moon Duel is about an attack on an explorer by one of the crazy marooned Luna locals. Time for some run and shoot.

Moon Duel

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Yoon Ha Lee - Blue Tyson

Yoon Ha Lee is a writer of science fiction and fantasy short stories, a few of which are relevant, like Screamers and Swanwatch.

The Black Abacus is about a war captain in a quantum space conflict.

The Black Abacus

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller - Blue Tyson

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are a team-up that has produced the Liaden Universe, a series of romantic space opera novels and stories, as well as writing in other media and genres. I didn't rate the couple I read at all, but this series would appear to be a good middle ground between out and out sf romance and sf for easing someone from one to the other.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Ursula K. Le Guin - Blue Tyson

Ursula K. Le Guin is a grand master of science fiction, noted for the Wizard of Earthsea children's fantasy series and the gender fluid planet diplomacy novel The Left Hand of Darkness, among others. Some of her Hainish cycle work is of interest, such as Rocannon's World. She has written a large number of short stories.

Winter's King is a precursor story to The Left Hand of Darkness and is about the effects on society when you can travel on starships at close to the speed of light.

Winter's King

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin

"Evander’s son Pallas, who was about my age, eleven or twelve then, a nice boy, told me a story about a huge beast-man that used to live up there in one of the caves and came out in twilight to steal cattle and tear people to pieces. He was seldom seen, but left great footprints. A Greek hero called Ercles came by and killed the beast-man. What was he called? I asked, and Pallas said Cacus. I knew that that meant the fire-lord, the chief man of a tribal settlement, who kept Vesta alight for the people of the neighborhood, with the help of his daughters, as my father did. But I didn’t want to contradict the Greeks’ story of the beast-man, which was more exciting than mine."

3 out of 5

The Left Hand of Darkness 09-10 - Ursula K. Le Guin

"“None of us did, until the Hainish and the Cetians arrived. And some worlds still weren’t allowed to, for centuries, until the Ekumen established the canons for what I think you here call Open Trade.” That got a laugh all around, for it was the name of Yegey’s party or faction within the Commensality. “Open trade is really what I’m here to try to set up. Trade not only in goods, of course, but in knowledge, technologies, ideas, philosophies, art, medicine, science, theory ... I doubt that Gethen would ever do much physical coming-and-going to the other worlds. We are seventeen light-years here from the nearest Ekumenical World, Ollul, a planet of the star you call Asyomse; the farthest is two hundred and fifty light-years away and you cannot even see its star. With the ansible communicator, you could talk with that world as if by radio with the next town. But I doubt you’d ever meet any people from it. ... The kind of trade I speak of can be highly profitable, but it consists largely of simple communication rather than of transportation. My job here is, really, to find out if you’re willing to communicate with the rest of mankind.”"

4 out of 5

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Keith Laumer - Blue Tyson

Keith Laumer was a competent writer of science fiction and science fantasy across a number of subgenres, whether time travel like Dinosaur Beach, space diplomat satire with the extensive Retief saga, military SF with big tanks like Bolo, or the magic alternate worlds of Lafayette O'Leary. He displayed an occasional upper range, and produced a large number of novels, a considerable amount of short fiction and a lot of collections of such, some of which you will find online at the Baen Free Library and others for purchase at Baen.

A reasonable amount of his work is of subgenre interest, a Plague of Demons, End As A Hero, Planet Run, Thunderhead, etc.

The Further Sky [The Other Sky] is a galactic portal starship chase time dilation extravaganza. Legions of Space is a strong collection. Mind out of Time is a big jump into space. Three Blind Mice is of aliens and space war co-operation.

The Further Sky

Legions of Space

Mind out of Time

Three Blind Mice

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: David Langford - Blue Tyson

David Langford in reality failed to invent weapons that would destroy the universe. Not necessarily the case in his occasional novel such as the Space Eater or in his reasonable amount of short fiction. He favours the parody e.g. Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid, as an example. He is also an encyclopedist working on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, including its latest online incarnation, which is currently a slight favorite to arrive ahead of a new Chtorr novel or Duke Nukem game.

For his news and dumb things people say about SF newsletter Ansible he keeps the occasional carpenter in work, given how many mantlepieces wilt under the weight of the Hugo awards he has won.

The Spear of the Sun follows a timeline where G. K. Chesterton was an influential SF figure, or, to put it another way: Father Brown in space.

The Spear of the Sun

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Geoffrey A. Landis - Blue Tyson

Geoffrey A. Landis is another of your rocket scientists, and the author of a novel of Mars exploration and also a collection of some of the approximately seventy science fiction short stories he has had published.

Of those I have read of interest are At Dorado, and the fine The Long Chase, about an epic pursuit conflict between the stars.

The Long Chase

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Jay Lake - Blue Tyson

Jay Lake is an extraordinarily prolific producer of short science fiction, fantasy and horror. As a novelist he has brought out half a dozen or so books and is rapidly heading to double figures, along with managing some collections. With over 200 short stories he has frequently displayed an upper range. His output has slowed recently for good reason as well as working on the longer form. If I had to guess, I'd say he is better at the short form with some inherent problems in the work that is getting closer to 100,000 words than 20,000. However, he is probably capable of writing in any genre he likes. His best work in the long form has been in the New Weird, and in the secondary world low fantasy Green, and he has several fine space opera stories. As such, it is a shame to see him working on very mundane steampunk type gasbaggery when his other work is better and more sophisticated. If he suddenly turned to writing crime novels, thrillers or historical Sumerian romance it would be no surprise if he threw some of those into the Kindle market and ended up with a Ferrari as result.

Of subgenre interest is the story Permanent Fatal Errors, apparently related to a forthcoming novel trilogy Sunspin, which should be well worth checking out. The problem with Lake's novels though is that he is contracted to publishing recidivists Macmillan, and given he is an author of no particular popularity it will get more and more difficult to obtain if not in the USA. Luckily it is rare the last few years that they publish any new science fiction of interest.

In the short stories, To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves is a conflict over the leadership of a starship full of posthumans. A Tower To the Sun is a story in the New Ceres setting, about a dying monk, succession, and an architecture project.

To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves

A Tower To the Sun

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Henry Kuttner - Blue Tyson

Henry Kuttner is an author who worked in multiple genres, but largely science fiction and fantasy. Confounding this is that he wrote a lot with his wife C. L. Moore, and it is probably impossible to tell who wrote what in a lot of cases.

Fury is about cities on Venus, with the planet in between dangerous and deadly - and who can rule. Quest of the Starstone is a Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry teamup. What Hath Me is man vs the strange Aesir race. We Guard the Black Planet! - winged people, space valkyries.


Quest of the Starstone

We Guard the Black Planet!

What Hath Me?

Queen of the Iron Sands 6 Seven Miles Down - Scott Lynch

""What about the dessicator pistol?"

"I didn't pick it up," said Avila.

"Nor me," I muttered sheepishly. In fact, all I'd rescued from the strato-launch was myself, my clothes, and my flight jacket, all of which were now thoroughly soaked.

"Damn," hissed Gathris. "That severely complicates the matter of our survival."

"It can't be all that bad," I said. "Look, a few minutes ago we were falling out of the sky with our asses on fire. If we can get past that--"

"This is the Valley of the Emerald Night," said Gathris. "Seven vertical miles of sloping walls covered in the densest, most predator-haunted jungle on this world. Nothing here is friendly, there's no civilization to speak of, and once the sun goes down I can assure you we're going to be sampled for taste and freshness by all kinds of fascinating creatures.""

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Swords and Red Planets - Gardner Dozois

An anthology subtitled the New Planetary Romance.

Her mother vanished, the resistance in disarray, the only woman that can keep the Free Martians alive is the "Princess of the Iron Sands".

- Scott Lynch

A tramp freighter captain's ship is barely holding together, and a small space circus' rare animal's blood is all that can cure the sickening winged guardians who stand between an entire world's population and doom. Can he make it in time "To Save the Black Planet?"

- John G. Hemry

The regolith dragons are prowling, the English barbarians outnumber them ten to one, and they are almost out of water. Is this the "Last Stand of the Luna Legion?"

- Robert Reed and Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Lida Hakkinen is unmatched on the Red Planet with a laser sword. Unfortunately she left her husband and wife holding the guns when she went to reconnoitre. She is shocked on her return to find them pointed at her. More nightmarish is a horror out of the past standing behind them. Even if she can get past the six-armed green Axe Amazons heading toward her, how can she save her spouses from one of the soul-sucking Shadow Kings of Mars?

- Hannu Rajaniemi

Being a female bounty hunter is tough enough. Tracking your prey through the ancient watery ruins of the Sea-Kings is worse. Especially when you have to fight alongside her to stay out of the cooking fires of the "Crater of the Cannibal Crab-Men".

- Neal Asher

A diplomatic mission to Io ends in treachery, and her father the oligarch is displayed in chains on the System net. Barely escaping capture herself, the woman who really needs a plan is "Rashina, Warlord of Titan".

- Ilona Andrews

Pacific Williams just bought the last drink he can afford. Sliding in next to him, hand on his thigh, a beautiful Venusian makes him an offer he can't refuse, whispering of the legend of the "Imago Tree Goddess".

- Laird Barron

Drinking with your friends and boasting in fancy bars is ok. When you declare no-one is a better swordswoman and anyone that can beat you gets to make you do anything they like, that is something else. Best not to do it in the hearing of Lan and Anh Le, twin scions of the Witch Queen of Mercury and foil and sabre gold medallists in the last Solar System Olympics. You will likely end up being put to the hot and sweaty test under the "Sword of the Sun Princess".

- Susan Grant

A new quantum missile defense system is being tested, when an escaped robot cat trips a power relay. Everything goes hyperpsychedelic, and backbencher MP Edgar Kline and his bodyguard find themselves far, far away and under attack by a starfighter, caught in--"Star Wars".

- Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

Hazel D'Ark has one energy clip for the flame gun in her right hand, and her power sword in her left. The shirtless stud with the great arse at her back only has two battle axes to his name. For them to live, as far as the eye can see on the drylands Martian plain--"Robot Zombies Must Die!"

- Simon R. Green

A night out drinking with Thor doesn't usually lead to this: waking up on a spaceship heading for Uranus. Very, very badly "Lost, one Space Valkyrie!"

- Elizabeth Bear

A squad cut off from their century, with only swords and one pike between them. How will they make it off the mountain, and avoid being eaten alive by the "Albino Blood Apes of Kuf?"

- Paul Kearney

Rejected would-be pilot Javed Khan is so annoyed with the sneering disregard of the captain at the space academy who told him 'men can't space' he decided to teach her a lesson and break into her ship. Just as he was disabling the landing mechanism and threw an important part out the hatch, it closes and the ship leaps into space! Worse, he saw where she was headed. Will they survive a "Jungle Crash on Venus"?

- Linnea Sinclair

Stephen Grant didn't remember having a tail. Nor did he usually have the ability to swing upside down from the wrought iron light fitting in his lounge room. He did remember a pretty woman with rather hairy hands buying him a drink. Then it struck him...he'd been bodysnatched by the "Monkey Sex Slavers of Saturn"!

- Chris Roberson

Adeben Day, Agent of the Martian Empire is trapped in a cave riddled with the mind sucking Brain Bats of Venus. Out of ammunition, he is not sure he can survive. Even worse, he thinks he can hear the metallic footsteps of the woman hunting him down. Not even Brain Bats are as bad as being "Prey of the Cyborg Siren!".

- Alastair Reynolds

Or, that would be cool, anyway. :)

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Nancy Kress - Blue Tyson

Nancy Kress is an author in multiple genres, but largely science fiction. She is a run-of-the-mill novelist who occasionally has produced something better in her 20 or so works, like the first Sleepless volume. However, she is one of the all-time best producers of short fiction. More of her novels are of interest than short stories such as the Probability books, or Crossfire and Crucible.

In her short stories, Art of War is a comparison of the former and the latter in two cultures in conflict. First Flight has a Space Cadet on display. Shiva In Shadow explores the fundamentals of existence in the galaxy.

Art of War

First Flight

Shiva In Shadow

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Alisa Krasnostein - Blue Tyson

Alisa Krasnostein is an editor and publisher. Of interest is her New Ceres planetary romance setting, where a group of of people on another world have deliberately kept their society low technology and the anachronistic technology intrusion hijinks that ensue. There are a couple of magazines, some shared world setting background and the New Ceres Nights anthology, which I have not read as yet, but will this year. There was certainly some good quality work in the magazines.

New Ceres 1

New Ceres 2

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: C. M. Kornbluth - Blue Tyson

C. M. Kornbluth produced a large amount of short fiction and several novels, a goodly percentage of which saw him teaming up with Frederik Pohl. There are many collections of his work. Some of his early short stories under different names are of interest, but not really worth reading.

That Share of Glory however is a fine tale of sneaky interstellar commerce plotting and you will find this and a large percentage of his work free online.

That Share of Glory

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Otis Adelbert Kline - Blue Tyson

Otis Adelbert Kline was a contemporary of Edgar Rice Burroughs and also Robert E. Howard's agent. He produced several novels, some serials and around 30 short stories. The best of these were even very similar to Burroughs in having adventurers from earth go sword slinging on Mars. He also had, like Burroughs, some Venus novels that were inferior, and I haven't read all of yet. Note that Paizo Planet Stories editor Erik Mona points out that their editions of Kline's Mars books are the restored original version, not the bastardised later paperbacks that you may find, or find on the net. So I'd definitely recommend getting those to avoid disappointment.

Some of Kline's short stories are of interest and you'll find some online, but his two Mars novels are of equal quality to the first couple of Burroughs Mars novels. A fine example of the possibility of being unoriginal and worth doing.

The Outlaws Of Mars

The Swordsman Of Mars

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Lee Killough - Blue Tyson

Lee Killough produced six novels and close to twenty short stories in her career, most of which I have not read. At least a couple are of interest, though.

The Jarabon is of time wind walking, and Symphony For A Lost Traveler is about music, and the DNA that can enable people in space.

The Jarabon

Symphony For A Lost Traveler

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Kay Kenyon - Blue Tyson

Kay Kenyon is a science fiction writer who has produced ten novels and a little more than that count in short fiction. Her four volume Entire and the Rose series is of interest, the story of a man and interstellar travel inventor who discovers the way into another universe controlled by powerful aliens that threatens his own lost family and the entire existence of his reality. Much adventuring to be done therein, and I have only read the first two books, which are reasonably good.

The short stories of interest are Navy Brat and the Space Crawl Blues, being a question of dematerialised, or not?

The Space Crawl Blues

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: James Patrick Kelly - Blue Tyson

James Patrick Kelly is a an occasional editor, particularly of a fine post-cyberpunk anthology, novelist and writer of a significant amount of high quality short fiction. A few of his tales are of interest such as Going Deep and Plus or Minus.

Undone is a wild multidimensional chase story.


The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Paul Kearney - Blue Tyson

Paul Kearney is a fantasy writer who has produced a dozen or so fantasy novels of war and pirates or war with pirates. His newer novel the Ten Thousand, while still martial and based on the historical Anabasis is something different - a planetary romance. Utterly magic free, but has plenty of aliens, and high tech memory metal body armour all in a basically bronze age setting. He mentions on his website that there is a science fiction background to this, but he is not allowed to reveal it because his publisher won't let him. Hopefully something to do with why there are humans with ancient advanced technology on this twin-mooned alien planet. Presumably this is because they want these books to also not sell like hotcakes like his others did not and market them exactly the same. This is an excellent novel, regardless.

So, if anyone can get him drunk and get him to spill the beans (or keep him occupied while someone else sneaks into his top secret files) you can be paid in as much space opera as you can read.

The Ten Thousand has a sequel, Corvus. I have not read the second novel yet but definitely will.

The Ten Thousand

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Neil R. Jones - Blue Tyson

Neil R. Jones was an early writer of science fiction in the thirties and forties, producing a good amount of short stories, quite a lot of which are of subgenre interest, most of which I have not seen. He is most well known for the Professor Jameson stories, where the last man ends up in space adventuring with a cyborg race. What I have read is bad.

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Gwyneth Jones - Blue Tyson

Gwyneth Jones is a talented writer of science fiction and science fantasy such as the Bold of Love sequence. Many of her 40 or so novels are written for children, and these I have never seen. She has produced a similar amount of short fiction, some of which such as The Fulcrum is of interest.

Saving Tiamaat is a story of assassination at warp speed from The New Space Opera anthology. You will find this online at the author's website.

Saving Tiamaat

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Bruce Jones - Blue Tyson

Bruce Jones is a writer across multiple media, and well known for his comic work, some of which has been science fiction. He has also produced a novel, and a dozen or so short stories, of which Prider of the Fleet is a modern style planetary romance with interesting clashes.

Pride of the Fleet

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Paul Jessup - Blue Tyson

Paul Jessup is a writer of short fiction generally tending to the strange. Open Your Eyes is a story of twisted reprobates on a starship.

Open Your Eyes

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Matthew Jarpe - Blue Tyson

Matthew Jarpe is the author of a cyberpunk novel I haven't read, but would, and several short stories, a couple of which are of interest. Both are available online at the author's website. Captains of Industry is about a starship around a black hole, and City of Reason has an odd Empire conflict going on.

Captains of Industry

City of Reason

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: John Jakes - Blue Tyson

John Jakes, for a science fiction and fantasy writer makes a very good historical novelist, because he was poor at the former. There are books like When the Star Kings Die others of interest to the subgenre that I definitely won't read. Please avoid.

Cowboy Grace - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Cowboy Grace - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Bounty hunter dealbreaker.

4 out of 5