‘Elder Race’ is the Best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Little-known fact: Arthur C. Clarke came up with his third law after reading Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race. Okay, maybe Clarke predated Elder Race by a few decades, but the idea that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic has never been truer than it is in this slim little story that is at once aContinue reading “‘Elder Race’ is the Best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy”

‘Echo Wife’ Delivers Chills and Food for Thought

There’s no such thing as the perfect spouse, though many people have tried to mold a person into that elusive flawless companion. When science gets involved, creating that perfect spouse becomes a far more literal task. That question is explored, more than once, in Sarah Gailey’s chilling The Echo Wife, which sunk its claws deepContinue reading “‘Echo Wife’ Delivers Chills and Food for Thought”

‘Violent’ Doesn’t Quite ‘Delight’

The premise of These Violent Delights is absolute catnip for me: Romeo and Juliet, retold in 1920s Shanghai as rival gangs. So, Shakespeare influence, check; decadence of the Roaring Twenties, check; political intrigue and organized crime in pre-Revolution China—just download it straight into my brain! So the charitable analysis of how I ended up feelingContinue reading “‘Violent’ Doesn’t Quite ‘Delight’”

Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’

“War is hard on women,” says a character near the end of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, ruminating on the costs the main character has endured the whole novel and will yet endure. The line ran through my head again and again as I read Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, a graphic novel thatContinue reading “Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’”

‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest

I’m from a farming family and I’m from the Western U.S., which means I’ve had more than one run-in with rattlesnakes. Along with ticks, they are the reason for always wearing calf-high boots, even in the summer. Growing up, the family policy was simply to shoot on sight and rid the farm of that kindContinue reading “‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest”

‘This Thing’ Brings Shivers

The first time I brought home a—uh, we’ll call it a “home assistant,” my partner scoffed and said we didn’t need anything like that and we’d never use it. The next morning, he told it to play Gregorian chants, and then interrupted the Gregorian chants to ask about the weather. Now, she’s so engrained inContinue reading “‘This Thing’ Brings Shivers”

‘Sisters’ a Novella with ‘Vast’ Thrills

This review is going to be short, because the book I want to talk about is short. Unlike my review, which will be a fine and serviceable discussion about the merits and flaws of the book, Lina Rather’s Sisters of the Vast Black is a lovely and dazzling piece of writing. On an organic spaceship sailingContinue reading “‘Sisters’ a Novella with ‘Vast’ Thrills”

‘How High’ Soars with Sorrow, Joy

There’s a lot to be said for a good story cycle. I was entranced by Julia Phillips’ Disappearing Earth, about the disappearance of two girls on a remote Russian peninsula and how that crime both rocks a community and hardly affects its petty problems at all. Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the DarkContinue reading “‘How High’ Soars with Sorrow, Joy”

‘Say Nothing’ Speaks Volumes of Irish Troubles

This week has brought an unwanted opportunity to think about the conflicts that have stretched through my not-very-long life. Most of the headlines and footage have been about violence and destruction in the Middle East. Which is not unearned, but it’s also easy to assume that all of the violence has been centered in thatContinue reading “‘Say Nothing’ Speaks Volumes of Irish Troubles”

‘Wild’ a Lovely ‘Psalm’ for the Discontent

Not to judge a book by its cover or anything, but frankly I expected more robots in Becky Chambers’ Psalm for the Wild Built. I mean, there’s one on the cover, but you don’t even hear about a single robot until halfway through. That said, once I moved past my precious expectations, I found this PsalmContinue reading “‘Wild’ a Lovely ‘Psalm’ for the Discontent”