Posted on 2016.07.22 at 16:44
The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An old-school, character-focused high / epic fantasy -- originally a trilogy (Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, (Divided Allegiance, and (Oath of Gold), now published in one volume. The trilogy originally came out in the late 1980s, which is when I think I may have encountered it. I recently reread it, over several months, as “comfort reading.”
And I’m glad that I did.
Many of the plot devices – and certainly the standard Northern European fantasy trappings – are a little dated now. Though gritty enough, the storyline would probably be considered YA. However – and it’s a big However – the notion of a Hero’s Journey for a heroine still resonates, and there are still far too few of them in modern fantasy.
Elizabeth Moon’s prose is tight and clear, her characters are fully worked out, and her knowledge of military subjects comes from actual experience. This is a well-crafted page-turner suitable for fantasy readers of any age, though younger female readers might appreciate it a bit more.
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Posted on 2016.07.20 at 16:29
even through time’s vacuum moonsteps
---- Ann K. Schwader
(for the 47th anniversary of Armstrong's footsteps)
Posted on 2016.07.20 at 16:22
It’s World Fantasy Award season again, and I’m thrilled to note that three anthologies I’m in have been nominated. (One of them was nominated for two WFAs!)
Cassilda’s Song (Chaosium) , edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., has been nominated for Anthology and -- thanks to Selena Chambers’ The Neurastheniac”-- Short Fiction.
Black Wings IV (PS Publishing), edited by S.T. Joshi, has been nominated for Anthology.
She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press), edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Paula R. Stiles, has been nominated for Anthology.
For the full list of finalists, check here.
Best of luck to everyone in October!
Posted on 2016.07.08 at 16:49
I’ve been traveling, so this announcement of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2016 Rhysling Awards is more than a little belated . . .
But is there ever a bad time for good news?
Check out the complete results here. (Maybe check the results for Long Form first.)
And, if you feel so inclined, you can still order your own copy – print or PDF -- of the 2016 Rhysling Anthology here. 176 pp. of nicely produced spec poetry goodness!
(Profound apologies for the fizziness – but whenever a formal Lovecraftian sonnet sequence can get this sort of recognition, it’s time for a Grateful Happy Dance.)
Posted on 2016.05.05 at 16:34
OK, it’s actually spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. So what? I’m still delighted to announce that the long-awaited Autumn Cthulhu anthology (edited by Mike Davis) is available now from Lovecraft eZine Press!
This one has a killer TOC, with 18 stories and one poem celebrating the darkest and most Lovecraftian aspects of the season. It’s available in both paperback & Kindle formats. And, yes, I do have an item in it. Where did you think that poem came from?
For more information, & to order, check here.
Posted on 2016.04.22 at 12:17
the archived hologram
-- Ann K. Schwader
Posted on 2016.04.21 at 15:15
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s almost impossible to review this one without spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is what fans of the Vorkosigan universe have been waiting for since the ending of Cryoburn.
Set three years after those events, this is a lovely, strange, and mature romantic comedy with science-fiction packaging – some of that quite thought-provoking. It is also a Secret History of the Aral / Cordelia marriage, an advanced course in Betan vs. Barrayaran thinking, and a number of other delightful things, all delivered with style and wit.
What is isn’t is the sort of space opera Bujold does very well. It took me a few chapters to realize this wasn’t forthcoming, and I was slightly confused until I did. I also suspect that this book may resonate more with readers who are parents than with those of us who aren’t. However, it’s a must for all fans of this series – and very likely to result in frantic rereading of the earlier books.
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Posted on 2016.02.24 at 15:37
As I suspect most of the genre-reading world already knows, The Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot was announced yesterday, here.
Congratulations to everyone listed!
And if you scroll all the way down, you’ll see why Yours Truly has gone back into her Grateful Happy Dance.
Posted on 2016.02.09 at 16:05
Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m a long-time reader of this series, and a major fan of Constance Greene, but this latest installment of Special Agent Pendergast’s adventures left me a little cold. It was well-crafted, and seemed to have all the required elements of a really good Preston & Child thriller -- but those elements just weren’t coming together in a coherent plotline.
To begin with, the “mundane” mystery – dark historical secrets of a small New England town leading to multiple bizarre murders – went on a little too long (for me, anyhow) before the weird/possibly supernatural component kicked in. The pages definitely kept turning, but the two elements never quite meshed.
The relationship between Pendergast and Constance took some damage, too. I’ve been intrigued by their subtle, strange, almost-chemistry for the past few novels, but this one included a remarkably awkward scene I wasn’t prepared for. As a plot device, it did what it was probably meant to do (and I can’t say more without committing Spoiler); but as character development, it struck some false notes.
There is also the matter of the ending . . . again, without committing Spoiler, I can’t say why it didn’t work well for me. Though cliffhangers are nothing new for this series, this one felt unusually opaque. I was left wondering where the next few chapters were, rather than looking forward to resolution in the next novel.
I did enjoy the read – most of the time – savored the character details, and certainly haven’t given up on the series. Fellow Pendergastlies will of course want to read it in order to keep up, but I suspect I’m not the only one feeling a bit let down. YMMV.
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Posted on 2016.02.05 at 15:21
The latest issue of Spectral Realms, a weird poetry journal (plus articles & reviews on that topic) has been announced for sale at Hippocampus Press.
Edited by S.T. Joshi, this twice-yearly journal always offers a bumper crop of dark poetry & poets, but this time around it’s massive: 144 pages! Delivered in a nicely produced trade paperback format, it’s less a magazine than a permanent addition to any weird lit lover’s collection. Good for your dark-minded Valentine, too!
For the full TOC and ordering details, check here. The journal ships free within the USA, & free worldwide with any other qualifying purchase from the press.
[Truth in LiveJournaling: yes, I do have two poems in this issue. One is a very up-to-date bit of cosmic horror based on the discoveries of New Horizons.]