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10/10
Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Reviews / April 12, 2017

Honestly, I don’t understand why there aren’t more science fiction writers like John Scalzi. I don’t need all science fiction to be written Scalzi style, but I do need more than we’ve got. Opening a review this way should give you a sense that I very much enjoyed The Collapsing Empire. It is, in many ways, a traditional space opera, full of imaginative technology, vivid world-building, and enormous stakes. On the other hand, it’s just plain fun to read. And it’s this latter reason that I habitually read anything by Scalzi the minute it’s published. Virtually every other notable science fiction author you can think of has him beat hands-down in the big idea department. Scalzi has imaginative concepts, sure, but there’s also always something entirely familiar and comfortable about his fictional worlds. They are populated by recognizable character types – none of them being altered or warped by alienness or futurity into something truly other. His books also feature sci fi technology that, underneath the hood, feel familiar and contemporary. If you want never-before-conceived-of science fictional musings that brilliantly speculate on how technology or climate or evolution might change humanity, look elsewhere. If you want to have a good…

0
8/10
Review: A Song for No Man’s Land by Andy Remic
Reviews / March 2, 2016

A Song for No Man’s Land is a brutal and bloody triumph for Andy Remic. The portrayal of Robert Jones (British soldier in World War I) a gripping snapshot of the true horrors of war after all illusions of glory and honor are stripped away, leaving behind only the ghastly reality. And, somehow, while capturing the spirit of Tommies in the trenches, Mr. Remic was also able to imbue this tale with fantastical elements; mysterious beings appearing to our protagonist during the most horrible moments; their connection to him explained in numerous flashbacks. All of these diverse elements meshing together perfectly to tell a most compelling and riveting story. From page one, Robert Jones is the focus of the narrative; his past life as a womanizer, alcoholic, and dedicated debaucher slipping away as he prepares to ship out to the front lines of the Great War in France. Naturally, though, he is out drowning his fears one last time in his favorite vices. At least, he attempts to before some of his “mistakes” find him, leading to a confrontation he survives only due to the unexpected intervention of one Charlie Bainbridge. This huge, mountain of a man becoming Robert’s steadfast…

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8/10
Review: The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
Reviews / January 12, 2016

The boys are back! When I heard Michael J. Sullivan was going to take his next Hadrian and Royce adventure to Kickstarter in the summer of 2015, I happily forked over the cash to support this brilliant project by one of my favorite authors. I’ve read and loved every Riyria novel and I couldn’t have been more excited about The Death of Dulgath. As part of my backer rewards, I received an early digital copy of the book, but I later also picked up the audiobook version because of Tim Gerard Reynolds, the narrator who brings Sullivan’s wonderful characters and world to life. I was not disappointed. The Riyria Revelations ranks high among one of my favorite fantasy series, so naturally when Sullivan went on to write two more books in The Riyria Chronicles, I read those too. Chronicles is meant to be a prequel series, comprised of stand-alone tales featuring Hadrian and Royce before the events of Revelations, and The Death of Dulgath is the third of these. As thieves for hire, our protagonists are always getting into trouble involving daring heists and other shenanigans, which is another reason why these side stories about their “time before” have always…

0
8/10
Review: The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer
Reviews / December 9, 2015

I almost didn’t write a review. I wasn’t sure if I should be reviewing something that was important enough to me that I contributed to a kickstarter for the first time.   But upon reflection I realized that was pretty silly; of course it is ok for me to review The Labyrinth of Flame. After all I am not profiting from it and in reality my contribution just amounted to a long term pre-order of the e-book. That said, consider this a disclosure for those who may think one was needed. A quick rundown for those not in the know. The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer is the third book of the series The Shattered Sigil. Despite getting rave reviews from everyone that matters (oops, personal bias coming through) the series was unfortunately caught in the fiasco that came from Night Shade shutting down; two books released and one short of a finished story.   For various reason Schafer decided to take the self-published route for book three. This series has always been a buddy adventure taken to an extreme level.   It is the story of Dev and Kiran, best friends after two books who will do anything for each other,…

1
10/10
Review: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Reviews / November 24, 2015

This compact novella was my first experience reading Catherynne M. Valente, and I was literally blown away (pun intended). Six-Gun Snow White has all the familiar elements from the fairy tale—a young girl abused by her stepmother, a magic mirror, seven dwarves, a poisoned apple, a huntsman—and yet it’s completely new and fresh and unlike any other Snow White story you’re likely to read. Valente arms her Snow White with a revolver called Rose Red and gives her a trusty horse named Charming, then sets her off into the world. The fantasy elements are subtle, and even readers who don’t like speculative fiction will appreciate the real-life struggles that Snow White goes through in this story. I loved the fact that Snow White is a half Crow, half white girl with dark skin, who never really feels like she fits in anywhere. Add in a thoroughly engaging western sensibility and you have one hell of a story. Snow White’s father is Mr. H, a successful prospector who has made a fortune mining whatever precious materials he can find. One day, he meets and becomes instantly smitten with a Crow woman named Gun That Sings, and he decides to do whatever…