Books in brief: Hambly, Good Man Friday; Locke, Up Against It; Kent, The Clone Republic; and Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830-1980

Barbara Hambly, Good Man Friday. Severn House, 2013.

Another excellent installment in the Benjamin Janvier series. If you have not yet read the Benjamin Janvier mysteries, do so. They are seven different kinds of brilliant.

M.J. Locke, Up Against It. Tor, 2011. Copy courtesy of Tor.com.

READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. This is one of the best works of “hard” science fiction I’ve read. It’s fully as good as anything else in the field – better than most, with well-developed, fully rounded characters, interestingly plausible science, and a smashing thriller plot. What I don’t understand is why it’s flown under the radar. It seems like a Terrible Oversight.

So go read it. Seriously. Probably you will like it, if you like Stross’s less futureshocky SF, or Chris Moriarty, or, I think, Bear’s Dust. Near-future near-space asteroid SF!

Steven L. Kent, The Clone Republic. Titan Books, 2013. (First published 2006.) Copy courtesy of Titan Books.

Oy. This book. This book is so bad. And so blind to its clueless white-guy misogyny and thoughtless colonialism. And tedious! I am composing a review-rant. It may take some time, for I read this in search of light entertainment – the pull-quote-blurb compares it favourably to Jack Campbell – and instead come away feeling soiled and dehumanised.

Do not recommend.

Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980. Virago, 1987.

Like any work of history that carries its narrative up to within a decade of its writing, its latter chapters and conclusion are doomed to age poorly. But the greater proportion of this book is a lucid, solid – at times brilliant – social history of women and madness in English culture.

Well recommended.