Review: Slipping by Lauren Beukes

slippinglbBy-Line: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
Published by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616962402
ISBN 13: 9781616962401
Published: November 2016
Pages: 288
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

This is, as the by-line says, a collection of stories, essays and other writing (such as poems). We start off with a poem titled Muse, about fishhooks in the fingers of gloves that embed themselves a little more with every keystroke, and it’s beautiful.

From there we have the first short story, about a girl who, instead of the lower half of her legs, has neurocircuitry. She’s come to Pakistan as one of the runners (as the taxi driver oh so cleverly works out), in a futuristic version of the Paralympics. It’s hard hitting and interesting, character-driven like Beukes does best, and the perfect start to the collection.

Each part in the collection after this is totally different, and yet utterly enthralling and manages to keep you reading though the easy way you slip into each narrative. Usually when there’s huge changes in short story to short story I usually need a break, but this collection works perfectly at holding you down to devour the first half easily within an hour – or until dinner interrupts you, at least.

Being Beukes, hard topics are described and explored, and being Beukes one can easily trust in the author to be both sensitive, intelligent and eloquent throughout.

The non-fiction shows us work that Beukes did as a journalist, and it’s amazingly good – I’m picky with my non-fiction and either struggle through each paragraph or can’t put it down, and this was the latter.

In this collection, though it’s sometimes hard to see through the grit and the grime and the grim nature of the narrative, there is still hope and determination and people ready to struggle for what’s right. And that’s what makes this collection so damn powerful.

Review: Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong

ledastrayPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 161696202X
ISBN 13: 9781616962029
Published: September 2015
Pages: 384
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Author Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

In this collection titled Led Astray we have The best of Kelley Armstrong, from the author that brought us series such as Women of the Otherworld and Darkest Powers, and has over thirty books out; surely you’ve heard of her.

 

Overall this is a strong anthology, with a good mix of reprints from more popular publishings and those a little less so (and hence, harder to find), with a few original also. We see characters from the above mentioned series but probably half the shorts in this collection are standalone, showing exactly how strong Armstrong is in the art of the short story – introducing us to character and plot in such limited space.

As far as subject go, this anthology is much of the now with post apocalyptic and zombie shorts being the first that come to mind. As far as emotion goes, these are certainly shorts you might want to read somewhere quiet as they draw you in and wretch your heart around quiet fiercely at times, showing exactly how tightly drawn into the narrative you become so quickly.

What works best about this anthology is how assessable it is for those who aren’t entirely familiar with Armstrong’s work. As previously mentioned, there are a few original stories to this collection but most importantly, it’s the amount of stories that are standalone, which aren’t purely there for fans specifically of one of her best-selling series.

This anthology is highly recommended, and was very enjoyable to read!

2015 February Cover Love

Over on NetGalley where I get most of my review copies, they’re currently holding a February cover love highlight (you can see their selections here), and I thought I’d do my own!

Following are two titles that have been recently put up for review request (but are coming out later in the year), or are coming out/have come out already in February for everyone:

Akarnae

Akarnae  (#1 The Medoran Chronicles) by Lynette Noni

Due out February 1st from Pantera Press

BasiliskBrennan

 The Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (#3) by Marie Brennan

Due out March 31st from Tor Books

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) by V. E. Schwab

Due out 24th February from Tor Books

HannuCollected

Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi

Due out May 2015 from Tachyon Publications

~

What are some of your favourite covers from February, either newly released or the cover has just been announced? Let me know, I’d love to see them!

Review: Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress

YesterdaysKinPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616961759
ISBN 13: 9781616961756
Published: September 2014
Pages: 192
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

I’m ashamed to say I’ve had this book to review since August. The 23rd to be precise. There it’s sat, waiting to be read and reviewed, and there it did wait, for I slowly came to realise I’d taken too much on, and though I tried to keep up I just didn’t manage to get to it. Until now, when I have, amusingly enough, even more on, and I’ve run back to it partly out of guilt and partly to procrastinate on other work.

Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down – it was impossible. I’ve read work by Nancy Kress before and loved it – been utterly spellbound and unable to put it down, so hopefully I’ve learnt my lesson. Nancy Kress = books you just can’t put down.

But on to the actual book.

Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress introduces us to Dr Marianne Jenner. She’s at an age we don’t see too often in speculative fiction – she’s old enough to have three children of her own, a deceased husband, and as we see throughout the novel, two grandchildren. It’s refreshing to see a mature woman in the lead, strong and resilient, in a tough field for a woman yet never spoken down to or ridiculed for being female.

We see her being congratulated for a paper and suddenly threatening men from the government burst into the room and escort her away – because aliens have landed, and they’ve requested her presence specifically.

Set in New York, we learn that aliens have touched down right in the harbour. They come to tell the humans that a biological disaster is on its way to Earth, and shall hit in 10 months time. The aliens, known as the Deneb have come because the same disaster shall hit their own world in 25 years, and they too need a cure. They provide information and a state of the art lab for the humans to do their research, and Dr Marianne Jenner is one of them.

Throughout the novel we also meet her children – the cold Elizabeth who works for federal border patrol officer, the favourite son Ryan – an environmental biologist, and then the black sheep of the family, Noah, a drug user and all-round a bit hopeless. All are difficult as Marianne has devoted so much of her life to her work, yet at the end of the day they are all family, something the Deneb take very strongly. Throughout the novel we come to see just how strongly these themes run, and how they reflect upon each other.

In addition, this is a bleak novel that shows just how humans take to disasters. Economies rise and fall, mass suicides take place, as well as suicide bombers and those who simply believe it’s all a Government hoax. It doesn’t help that the Deneb aren’t being entirely truthful, and that further family issues spring up just when Marianne needs it the least.

This is a novel that’s hard to put down, as you come to care for the characters involved. We don’t have heroes here that you come to love and hope for – this is a bitterly stark novel of what it could actually be like, and none of the characters are entirely positive or wholesome. I found the social commentary to be fairly accurate, and the characters intriguing. From start to finish this isn’t what you really expect, and the ending is quite a surprise, but it’s also steady and reliable – realistic.

Overall this is an excellent novel and I can’t wait to see what Kress comes out with next. I know at least I won’t wait months to read it next time!

Review: The Sword & Sorcery Anthology edited by David G. Hartwell & Jacob Weisman

swordandsorceryPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616960698
ISBN 13: 9781616960698
Published: June 2012
Pages: 480
Format reviewed: Paperback
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

‘The Sword & Sorcery Anthology’ is edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman, and boasts 19 pieces from names such as George R. R. Martin and Gene Wolfe.

Within are mostly reprints with only two original stories – ‘Epistel from Lebanoi’ by Michael Shea and ‘The Year of the Three Monarchs’ by Michael Swanwick, but overall each piece is to the same high standard and promises to captivate, meaning it’s a hefty volume worth procuring even if you’ve read some of the other shorts elsewhere.

Most of these shorts are action packed as the title suggests – hard and fast-paced fantasy that’s strong from the first piece right through to the last.

Though the anthology doesn’t offer a paragraph from each author offering insight, and the introduction by David Drake being a little rambly and sadly pointless rather than informative, the book is presented very well and the layout and font very easy to read. Overall this anthology is aesthetically pleasing, starting with such a dramatic cover and continuing through the eye-catching titles.

This is surely a required anthology for any fantasy lover’s collection.

The full index:

“The Tower of the Elephant” by Robert E. Howard
“Black God’s Kiss” by C. L. Moore
“The Unholy Grail” by Fritz Leiber
“The Tale of Hauk” by Poul Anderson
“The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams” by Michael Moorcock
“The Adventuress” by Joanna Russ
“Gimmile’s Song” by Charles R. Saunders
“Undertow” by Karl Edward Wagner
“The Stages of the God” by Ramsey Campbell (writing as Montgomery Comfort)
“The Barrow Troll” by David Drake
“Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat” by Glen Cook
“Epistle from Lebanoi” by Michael Shea
“Become a Warrior” by Jane Yolen
“The Red Guild” by Rachel Pollack
“Six from Atlantis” by Gene Wolfe
“The Sea Troll’s Daughter” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“The Coral Heart” by Jeffrey Ford
“Path of the Dragon” by George R. R. Martin
“The Year of the Three Monarchs” by Michael Swanwick

This anthology is published by Tachyon Publications and can be bought at the following links:

–       Tachyon Publications

–       Book Depository

–       Amazon US

–       Amazon UK

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 22nd July 2012.