Books in very brief: Morgan, Sumner-Smith, Huang, Cogman, Shepherd, Simone

Richard Morgan, The Dark Defiles. Gollancz, 2014.

Read for review for Strange Horizons. Interesting and effective conclusion to trilogy.

Karina Sumner-Smith, Radiant. Talos, 2014.

Debut. Read for Sleeps With Monsters. Fun, interesting, solid beginning.

S.L. Huang, Half Life. Ebook, 2015. Copy courtesy of author.

Sequel to Zero Sum Game. Read for Sleeps With Monsters. Fun, hectic, fast.

Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library. Tor UK, 2015. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Debut. Read for Sleeps With Monsters. Fun, demented hilarious fun.

Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Tenacious. Ace, 2014.

Yes, I am still reading this series. Things blow up. It is not at all like Target (THAT BOOK WHY), and it is fun.

Gail Simone, Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire. Dynamite, 2014.

It is like having Xena back, except with less moralising and more PUNCHING PEOPLE INNA FACE. YAY. More please.

Gail Simone, Tomb Raider: Season of the Witch. Dark Horse, 2014.

Bit like an acid trip. Doesn’t make a great deal of narrative sense. On the other hand, lots of fun, and Lara PUNCHING PEOPLE INNA FACE and female friendship and taking care of people whom you care for, and also bits of it are set in Dublin and I quite like that, right.

Why yes, I am pro LADIES PUNCHING PEOPLE INNA FACE.

Books in brief: Mead, Dietz, Sagara, Wexler, Shepherd, De Pierres, Andrews, Arnason

Richelle Mead, Gameboard of the Gods and The Immortal Crown. Penguin, 2013 and 2014.

Bah. These started out promising and rapidly descended into annoying – and in The Immortal Crown, nasty evil-religion kidnapping-and-selling-pubescent-girl-children-into-life-of-abuse because… religion? I dunno, mate, I just work here. Also Odin and Loki show up – how do you make the Norse gods boring? People seem to be managing it left and right these days – and oh, yeah, I almost forgot, there is rape by deception.

William C. Dietz, Andromeda’s Fall and Andromeda’s Choice. Titan, 2014. Second book: review copy via publisher.

I want to talk some more about these books – remind me to talk some more about these books – about what parts of them work really well and what parts of them don’t work at all. But I largely concur with the Book Smugglers’ review of Andromeda’s Fall – it’s not a very clever book, but it is a fun one.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Flame. Mira, 2014. Review copy via author.

Read for column. Good, fun next installment in series. If you like the series, read this book! It is a return to the city of Elantra, and lots of things go boom.

Django Wexler, The Shadow Throne. Ace, 2014. ARC via Tor.com.

Review here at Tor.com. Very fun book!

Mike Shepherd, Vicky Peterwald: Target. Ace, 2014.

Awful horrible sexist problematic WTF BOOK. Read for review for Tor.com, though heaven knows if they’ll publish my expletive-laden review.

Marianne De Pierres, Peacemaker. Angry Robot, 2014.

A fun book that mixes science fiction and the fantastic. Not entirely tightly plotted, though.

Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. Ace, 2014. ARC via Tor.com.

Latest series installment. Read for review for Tor.com. Fun.

Eleanor Arnason, Big Mama Stories. Aqueduct Press, 2014.

Read to talk about in a column. Interesting collection.

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 Acu┼ła, 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.

Books in brief: Moon, Sebold, Hunter, Zahn, Shepherd, and Larbalestier

Elizabeth Moon, Crown of Renewal. Orbit, 2014. Review copy courtesy of Orbit UK.

Concluding volume to Moon’s “Paladin’s Legacy” series. Read for inclusion in the column. Ends more with a whimper than a grand boom.

Gaie Sebold, Shanghai Sparrow. Solaris, 2014.

Entertaining steampunk/magic adventure that mixes caper and school stories in the seamy underbelly of the late 19th century Great Game and has some pretty dark points. Recommended.

Faith Hunter, Black Arts. Roc, 2014.

Latest installment in Hunter’s “Jane Yellowrock” urban fantasy series. Fun, diverting, not too serious.

Timothy Zahn, Cobra, Cobra Strike, Cobra Bargain, Cobra Alliance, Cobra War, Cobra Guardian, and Cobra Slave. Baen, various dates.

The first Cobra trilogy was originally published between 1985 and 1987, and it’s a little elderly now. But Zahn can always be relied on for an entertaining story, and I inhaled the trilogy omnibus and its sequels over the course of two days. Good fun, those books, if a little odd.

Mike Moscoe (aka Mike Shepherd), The First Casualty, The Price of Peace, and They Also Serve. Ace, 1999-2001.

Entertaining military science fiction novels, albeit annoyingly “USA-in-space” in their assumptions and set-up.

Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Undaunted, Kris Longknife: Redoubtable, Kris Longknife: Daring and Kris Longknife: Furious. Ace, 2009-2012.

See above, except with more descriptions of breasts.

Justine Larbalestier, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. Wesleyan University Press, 2002.

Larbalestier has gone on to be better known as a novelist than an academic, but this book, based on her doctoral thesis at the University of Sydney, is an extremely interesting survey and analysis of the presence and representation of women in science fiction between the late 1920s and the 1970s, with a further discussion of James Tiptree Jr., Tiptree/Sheldon’s influence, and the role of the Tiptree Award from its creation in the early 1990s.

It’s a really enjoyable piece of academic writing, and one I’m glad to have read.