Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s THE GAME BEYOND

A new column over at Tor.com:

The Game Beyond shows the promise of Melissa Scott’s writing, and lays the foundation for her John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award in 1986 (after, I think, the first two books in her Silence Leigh trilogy had also been published, though correct me if I have the dates wrong). We can see here some of the elements that have continued to be important in Scott’s work: elaborate worldbuilding, especially in terms of background political complexity and rigid social codes; compelling, self-aware characters; atmospheric prose; and solid pacing.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man

A new column over at Tor.com:

This is a compelling novel with fascinating worldbuilding. In some ways, it shows its age—the Concord doesn’t really seem to have a place for people whose gender identities don’t fit their bodies, even if it allows a wider range of bodies to be recognised as distinct in gender from each other—but in other ways, it remains fresh and new. Particularly in its approach to social revolution: Warreven fights for change on Hara, but ultimately fails to achieve tangible change in for himself. But he opens up a symbolic space, a naming—as it were—of things and of people, even though the authorities ultimately drive him off-planet. (The end of the novel leaves space open for him to return.)

Sleeps With Monsters: Storybundle Pride Month Reading

A new column over at Tor.com:

Melissa Scott’s Mighty Good Road (first published in 1990) employs a world-building conceit that other authors have used since: a railway among the stars, stations linked by permanent wormhole gates. From these stations, less reliable FTL ships head off to planets outside the “Loop,” but in the stations of the Loop, interstellar corporations have their offices, and people live and work and transship cargo.

Sleeps With Monsters: The Atmospheric Fantasy of Melissa Scott’s Astreiant Novels

A new column over at Tor.com:

If you’re a fan, especially of the Astreiant novels (and as you may have guessed, I am), I have good news for you. There’s a new one out, and I’m utterly delighted, because it’s—as usual—fantastic.

This newest novel, Point of Sighs, is the fifth book in the Astreiant setting, and Scott’s third as sole author. (The first two, which are also excellent, were co-written with the late Lisa A. Barnett.) Astreiant’s a rich and atmospheric setting, a city of merchants where women predominate in high-status roles, and where astrology has real-world significance.

Books in brief: Scott, Dietz, Saintcrow, Maas, Christopher

Melissa Scott, Fairs’ Point. Lethe Press, 2014.

The long-awaited new novel of Astreiant. An absolutely excellent book, with brilliant worldbuilding, characterisation, great writing, a solid mystery plot, and terrier-racing. Everyone should read this series. It is really good.

William C. Dietz, Legion of the Damned. Titan Books, 2014. Originally published 1993. Copy courtesy of Titan Books.

I believe this was Dietz’s first novel. Heaven help him, it’s terrible. Not just full of shitty male gaze shit, but boring too. Fortunately, he’s improved at least some since then, as witness his Andromeda novels, which have been fun so far – but this one? Seriously not worth it.

Lilith Saintcrow, The Ripper Affair. Orbit, 2014. ARC courtesy of Orbit US.

Read for review for Tor.com. The third in Saintcrow’s “Bannon and Clare” series, it marks a fun entry in her quasi-Victorian magical steampunk not-England series of mysteries.

Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire. Bloomsbury Young Adult, 2014. ARC via Tor.com.

Read for review for Tor.com. The kind of book I love to hate.

Nonfiction


Emma Christopher, A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011.
First published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in 2010.

Christopher writes a solid and engaging history of the British experiment with sending convicts to act as soldiers in Africa between the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the penal colony at Botany Bay in Australia. It is not entirely comprehensive: it could use more background about the Company of Merchants Trading To Africa and their relations with the Dutch and the indigenous peoples, and Christopher is too willing not to tie off threads in her narrative once they pass away from the African coast – what did become of Ensign John Montagu Clarke, accused of mutiny? – but on the whole, it’s an interesting and readable examination of an overlooked piece of British penal history.

Books in brief

Reading has been decidedly difficult for me lately: I lack some level of emotional energy necessary to involve myself in demanding texts at the same rate as heretofore.

Anyway.

Melissa Scott, Star Trek DS9: Proud Helios. Ebook.

Jean Lorrah, Star Trek Next Generation: Survivors. Ebook.

Diane Duane, Star Trek: Sand and Stars. Ebook.

So, these are all actually pretty good light entertainment, although Lorrah’s is a bit squicky and problematic.

Katherine V. Forrest, Amateur City & Murder at the Nightwood Bar. Ebooks.

Murder mysteries from the 1980s, starring a lesbian detective with the LAPD. Pretty excellent stuff, actually: I’d really like to get my hands on the other books in the series. I MEAN IT. THESE BOOKS ARE AWESOME. ACE. GIVE THEM TO ME I NEED THEM.

(I know their names, even if I don’t know what order they go in or WHERE TO GET HOLD OF THEM. Liberty Square. The Beverly Malibu. Apparition Alley. Sleeping Bones. Hancock Park. Murder By Tradition. GIVE ME THEM! LET ME FIND EBOOK (non-Amazon) EDITIONS OR SOMETHING.)

Ahem. This is because of a certain someone Who Knows Who She Is. Who sent me a box of delightful books (which I am slowly working my way through), but among them was Daughters of a Coral Dawn, which reminded me that Forrest had written murder mysteries, which led me to the discovery I could get the first two as ebooks.

(OH GOD I WANT THEM ALL.)

Claire McNab, Death by Death & Murder at Random. Gifts.

Lesbians. Spies. Whee? Whee!

(Everything’s better with lesbians.)

Ali Vali, Blues Skies. Ebook.

Lesbian fighter pilots. Rah military is boring. But everything is better with lesbians.

Sara Marx, Decoded. Ebook.

Serial killer thrillers are usually boring. But everything is better with lesbians.

Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou, The Gemini Deception. Ebook.

Lesbian romance with espionage/thriller entanglements. Unbelievable setup! But – sing it with me now – EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH LESBIANS.

Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls. ARC.

Reviewed for Tor.com. I did not like it.

China Miéville, Railsea. Review copy.

Reviewed for Vector. I LOVED IT.