Books in brief: Buckell, Shepherd, Mitchell, Liu, Harrison

Tobias S. Buckell, Arctic Rising. Tor, 2012.

This is an excellently constructed near-future thriller, starring Anika Duncan, an airship pilot for the United Nations Polar Guard, who gets caught up in a tangle of conspiracies when she uncovers a nuclear weapon being smuggled into the Arctic Circle. It doesn’t untangle its conclusion well enough to be entirely successful, but it is really good – and with an appropriately diverse cast.

Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Defender. Ace, 2013.

Kris Longknife versus the giant alien fleet. Plus friendly aliens and a long-lost human colony. The unexamined neocolonial assumptions in this series annoy me more the longer it goes on, but the boom is still fun enough to make it worth ignoring – for me, at least.

Sandy Mitchell, Warhammer 40K: The Greater Good. The Black Library, 2013.

The latest Ciaphas Cain novel, which is the only Warhammer 40K series I actually really like, for the most part. Despite the constant war and grimness of the Warhammer 40K universe, the Cain novels are always fun romps through a combination of military, exploration, and espionage adventures. BOOM LIKE THAT. Yep. I enjoy these books – even if this one is rather lacking in the “features female characters” department.

Marjorie Liu with artist Daniel Acuňa, Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. Marvel, 2011.

An interesting, dark graphic novel – but one that relies on familiarity with the rest of the continuity for its impact. And I’ve read three other Black Widow collections and none of the rest of Marvel’s superhero universe, so.

Still. Fun.

Kim Harrison, Pale Demon, A Perfect Blood, and Ever After. Orbit/Ace, 2011-2013.

I realised after reading Pale Demon that, although I enjoy the novels while I’m reading them, I won’t actually reread them. And I don’t feel very pushed about reading subsequent volumes. But I’d Pale Demon on my shelves for a while, and I borrowed the other two, and these installments in the Rachel Morgan series make rather fine reading for the drugged-up-on-cold-meds sort of person. Entertaining urban fantasy, even if it seems that lots of competent people like Rachel Morgan and keep bailing her out for very little reason that I can discern.