Metatropolis is an anthology book with stories by Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder. Each story is short enough to read by itself and does not have to be read to understand the others but there are subtle links between the stories that expand the bleak future.
With NaNoWrimo now over, we now return to our normal broadcasting like book reviews! Cherie Priest‘s fourth novel set in the Clockwork Century Universe deals with the city of New Orleans, Texas, Air Pirates, Zombis and a submarine called Ganymede. Several characters from the other books make their appearance in this book from Seattle Crew from Boneshaker (which has just been optioned to be made into a movie) to new characters. And, for the most part it works and for the most part it does not.
“Ain’t one of us who’s not running from something.” In this post-Firefly/Serenity age, there are great deal of authors embracing the whole plucky crew vs. big enemy in a cool universe idea, James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes (review forth coming) is perfect example and so is Chris Wooding‘s Retribution Falls.
“Ready Player One.” Ready Player One by Ernie Cline is what a dystopian future should look like. Economy in the toilet, energy depleted, trailers stacked dangerously close. Most kids going to school in VR called OASIS and the 80’s has made a comeback by way of a Jobsian / Hughes-like computer programer named James Halliday. James Halliday is D+D playing social outcast when he meets Ogden Morrow. Over the years the two would go from creating games in their basement to forming a company and becoming millionaires. During those years they build a giant VR world called Oasis which only costs a quarter to join. Years later as society slowly crumbles, Halliday, upon his death mass emails everyone on OASIS and says if can decipher my riddle, play my game, get the three keys, win then you would become CEO of my company and get all my money. There’s a part of me wonders if this book had come out before SDCC if the panel I attended with Cline as one of the speakers would have been more popular and longer than it was because this is so much geek name checking in this book it boggles the mind.
“Trade and Profit.” Elizabeth Moon‘s Trading in Danger revolves around Ky Vatta and her unnerving ability for picking up stray puppies only to have them bite her in end. Thankfully, Ky does not stay like this throughout her adventures. Ky’s adventure begins with her expulsion from the military academy for helping out a student only to have it backfire in the end and because of the bad press she is whisked back to her parents. The Vatta Family is in the transporting business and quickly before she can rest her on her laurels for too long her family gives her a simple assaignment to return an old cargo ship to the junk yard to get her out of the newspapers limeline only to find other problems afoot. The characters of the book are enjoyable from the emotionally wounded/inexperienced Ky to her babysitters and her crew. The villains actions are felt and for time being are shadowy at least until their story continues in book #2. Ky’s parents and extended family never come in on a white horse to save her and even when that does happen the white knight is not the helping hand Ky wants. The book is a relative fast read due to the fact it’s not hard core science fiction and is relatively straight forward in it’s universe building. There are several moments when the religious angle pops up but Moon does overburden the reader. The universe created is one any reader can enjoy even if they don’t enjoy science fiction because the hard science is kept to a minimum and there aren’t any aliens to worry about. The overall plot is kept simple and while many of the characters are set up they appear briefly for now until the next book when many of the plots are expanded upon. In the end, it was a fun read and I recommend it.
For those who have not read Mira Grant‘s Feed, I highly recommend it. The sequel entitled Deadline is arriving soon and she has been posting snippets of scenes leading up the world being infested with zombies. You can find these snippets over here at her LJ -> .
“They mostly come out at night. Mostly.” Enclave by Ann Aguirre is my second dip into the Aguirre pool, my first being Grimspace that I’m still trying to finish. Enclave introduces us to a world that has come to an end. After the use of several biological weapons the survivors that were eeking a life on the surface either fled from the cities or went underground. Unfortunately, their problems did not end with the weapons of man but what comes afterwards in the form of carnivorous eaters known as Freaks. Our story centers our a young woman that lives in an underground enclave. Her name is Dues and she is a Hunter for the enclave and is paired up with Fade, a man that has constantly been an outsider since he survived the surface only to find himself in the enclave. There is an undercurrent of distrust between a few of the characters and the Elders of the Enclave because of the constant: Do not go to the surface mantra that has been spoon fed to everyone since the beginning. This plot thread is quickly and violently brought to a halt and the story focuses on Dues and Fade’s journeys instead. I enjoyed the book on a whole. It was a quick read and is a perfect example of showing and not telling the audience. Just enough bread crumbs of information without getting a whole chunk of info dump of what happened before. Smooth narration in the first person and interesting characters. The hierarchy of the College Enclave social structure is kept simple and short. A dips into the “will Dues fall in love with Fade” pool keeps romantic awakening between the two fresh and intersting. Post apocalyptical stories can either run the rut of others or focus on the main characters plight instead. Enclave decides not to set up an overall plot of Hunters vs Elders and instead focuses on Dues and Fade’s banishment from the Enclave to the surface. A few plot threads starting with one of the Enclave’s trading partners being overrun by Freaks and the increasing Freak menace is unfortunately left twisting in the wind. Looking on-line this is book 1 of possible series (?) so maybe those plots will be picked back in further books. Overall, I enjoyed it and looking forward to book #2 in 2012.
“Winter is coming.” George R.R. Martin‘s Game of Thrones premiers this Sunday on HBO. And, yes, you’re too late to go out and buy the first book now and finish it by 9pm tomorrow night. It’s great to see cable channels taking chances on adaptations of books you wouldn’t normally see. Ultimately, adaptations can be tricky game of either sticking too close to the source material or not at all. HBO’s True Blue strayed a bit keeping one character alive for the last few seasons while The Walking Dead on AMC stayed close but strayed a bit and did not turn out so bad even if a few crowed about the lackluster writing at points. The Dark Tower is next on the list. So what makes Game of Thrones different then say Camelot which continues to wet our midieval whistle on Starz or BBC’s Merlin or Robin Hood? Simply put: Game of Thrones is a medieval Sopranos where death, sex, scheming and power threatens everyone.
Dystopia/Utopian tales and Generational ships are a staple of science fiction. And, they tend to follow the same path: After some “bad event” a group of people find out the truth about their “lives” and rebel against the faction in charge. Along the way the event is revealed, several lies are uncovered and depending on the author sets up the book for a sequel.
In full disclosure, Del Ray/Spectra was sending out ARC of Kevin Hearne‘s Hounded via Facebook and here we are… Urban Fantasy comes in many forms and generally has the same cast of characters: Werewolves, Vampires, Witches and such. Many times the “rules” for these characters are different but overall it all comes down to: Old creatures of the night living among us mere mortals and either everyone is out of the closet or not. In Kevin Hearne’s Hounded, the Fae and other creatures of the night are still hiding in plain sight. Our main character, Atticus O’Sullivan is a two thousand year old Druid living in Tempe, AZ enjoying his life as a bookstore owner when his life is thrown upside down when some old Gods demand he hand over a fabled sword of great power. When I say old Gods I mean the old Irish kind, the ones that make audio book presenters either cringe or grin at the fact they did just slip over their tongues. My tip toeing through urban fantasy has not really come across many Druids and beyond playing one in World of Warcraft it was refreshing not be: A) Werewolf, B) Warlock C) Vampire D) Skinwalker. Atticus abilities are rather normal and nothing that makes him all powerful since he can still get shot. Atticus comes off as a generally likeable fellow and throws in enough pop culture references to make the audience laugh. This is helped along by Atticus’s telepathic banter with Oberon his irish wolf hound, the Irish Widow across the street, several gods who may or may not be on his side, the vampire/werewolf lawyers under retainer or the coven of witches who all want one thing: The blasted sword. Hounded is a thick and fun adventurous read, the cast is kept in a manageable amount and all the plot lines are tied up nicely at 292 pages. The only flaw in the ARC copy I had was one misplacement of a comma and a description of action was italicized by accident. Hounded arrives 4/26/11 and the second and third books in this series will be arriving 5/24/11 and 6/28/11 respectively.