Re: Shoggoths in Bloom

Professor Harding, educated at a college in Alabama (I’m guessing Tuskegee) and Yale, comes to Maine to pursue a line of inquiry no one else wants: shoggoths. “Shoggoths in Bloom“, by Elizabeth Bear depicts in wonderful, luscious prose the beauty of the Maine shore and sky, as well as the discomfort and wary approaches between […]

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Re: The Political Prisoner

In a moody story of an internal spy caught in the sweep of a coup, “The Political Prisoner,” by Charles Coleman Finlay is so dominated by betrayals, interrogations, and imprisonment, it’s easy to lose track of the setting: a planet where the terraforming is going slower than hoped and religion seems to be the main […]

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Re: Pride and Prometheus

In a double pastiche of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, John Kessel‘s “Pride and Prometheus” introduces Mary Bennett to Viktor Frankenstein. Being a tortured romantic hero,  Viktor fits neatly into Mary’s world, seeming at first merely to be a moody, intelligent young man who is unaccountably intrigued by what Mary’s interest in natural philosophy. But […]

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Re: The Ray-Gun: A Love Story

From the opening, “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story“, by James Alan Gardner made me smile. In storybook prose it tells of a ray-gun and the boy who found it. I most enjoyed the flashes of humor in lines like: No one on Earth noticed–not even the shamans who thought dots in the sky were important.

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Re: If Angels Fight

Living near Boston means I hear more than enough about the Irish in Boston, the Kennedys in Boston, and crony politics in Boston. Thus when I meet with these Boston tropes in fiction, my resistance goes way up. In this case, I simply could not fight my way past my prejudices. I will have to […]

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Re: Mars: A Traveler’s Guide

“Mars, A Traveler’s Guide,” by Ruth Nestvold is pretty dark. Funny, but dark. You realize quickly that you are reading the data feed from an online help system. The unseen human is stranded with no better help than a wiki.  It reminds me of the old Bob Newhart routines, where he used to tell stories […]

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Re: 26 Monkeys

Like the story says: Aimee’s big trick is that she makes twenty-six monkeys vanish onstage. Except it’s not really Aimee’s trick, it’s the monkeys’. Then Kij Jonhson’s “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” goes on to reveal that the monkeys (and one chimpanzee, who is not a monkey) have plenty of other tricks up their, um, […]

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Re: Anathem

If you read cosmology books for fun, you’ll have plenty of fun reading Anathem, by Neil Stephenson. It also helps if you like wordplay, language, and philosophy. I liked this book so much I was actually a bit relieved that I didn’t fall in love with it, because a 900 page book could mean some […]

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Re: Immortal Snake

I’m a sucker for stories based on myths and folktales, and even if I don’t know the original, I love that sense of ancient days, with kings and gods and priests, and impossible situations evaded with cunning. “Immortal Snake,” by Rachel Pollack, is mythic from beginning to end. Long ago, in a time beyond memory, […]

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Re: The Alchemy of Stone

From the beginning, the rich detail of The Alchemy of Stone, by Ekaterina Sedia draws you into a tale of a city once ruled by a duke, now divided between Mechanics and Alchemists, and always, always watched over by gargoyles. Our heroine, Mattie is an intelligent automaton and as her city goes through a wrenching […]

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