Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds|
reviewed by Martin Lewis
When the novel begins, we are in Paris. What's more it is the 50s. Wendell
Floyd is an ex-pat American who came to France to become a jazz musician. Instead he became a private detective, although
he and his partner, Andre Custin, still play in order to make ends meet. A pragmatist and political animal rather than tough
guy gumshoe Floyd finds the answer to his money woes in an apparent suicide. When a young American woman, Susan White, is found
dead outside her apartment her landlord does not accept the view of the police that she jumped and hires the pair to investigate.
Suddenly, the next chapter takes us somewhere else entirely. Or perhaps not. We are still in Paris but in a very different Paris;
an ice-locked city haunted by the furies of a 23rd Century Nanocaust. Paris, and the whole of the Earth, is abandoned and dead.
Best of 2004
compiled by Greg L. Johnson
2004 was a good year for science fiction, with more worthwhile titles than will fit comfortably into a top ten list. Still,
with the usual caveat that the choices were limited to books I have actually read, here is such a list. None of us can read
enough to definitively declare what constitutes the best, but out of what I read this year, these are the books I enjoyed the
most and would heartily recommend to readers of science fiction.
A Conversation With Susanna Clarke, Part 2
An interview with Steven H Silver
On non-fiction related to Joanthan Strange and Mr Norrell:
"On the historical side, Elizabeth Longford, I would think. And a lot of memoirs of the Peninsula and Wellington. On
the fairy tale side, I would think anything by Katherine M. Griggs, who was the collector and folklorist in the mid-twentieth
century who collected together what was left of the fairy lore on the British Isles."
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison
reviewed by Michael M Jones
A not-so-routine job as consultant for the Federal Inderland Bureau quickly throws Rachel into a major mess of
trouble. It seems that someone's been killing off witches proficient in ley line magic, and like it or not, the
human-biased FIB needs someone with Rachel's qualifications and skills to help investigate. To Rachel's delighted
surprise, the trails all seem to lead right back to drug lord/crime kingpin and respected businessman, Trent Kalamack,
who gave Rachel no end of grief last time they met. It starts to look like maybe this time, Rachel can take down
her nemesis properly. Right?
The Fear Planet and Other Unusual Destinations by Robert Bloch
reviewed by Steven H Silver
This collection is part of a series of previously unreprinted Robert Bloch
stories. It begs the question "why?" If Bloch himself did not see the value in reprinting these stories after they provided him
with initial payment, why would a publisher and editor think they have value at this late date? One part of the answer is
for the collectors, but another part of the answer is to compare the stories to chocolate. Any chocolate is better than no
Tanequil by Terry Brooks
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
This is the thirteenth book in the Shannara series, and has the mixed fortunes associated with that
number. It's also the middle book in the current trilogy, which began with Jarka Ruus. Any author who takes a series this far better
have something to write about, and we're not disappointed on that score.
The plot is divided between four elements; Pen's quest, the machinations of evil Druid Shadea a'Ru, Grianne Ohmsford's
struggle to survive inside the Forbidding, and the decades old conflict between the Federation and Free Born.
Subterranean Worlds by Peter Fitting
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
While Hollow Earth fiction probably hit its peak in the lost race fiction era of the late 19th-early
20th century, excellent works in this genre continue to be produced, the
recently reprinted "Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole" (1977) by Steven Utley
and Howard Waldrop being a prime example. It is this genre that is the focus of the book, a
predominantly academic (i.e., it bears endnotes and a bibliography) work which investigates Hollow Earth theories and fiction.
God Drug by Stephen L. Antczak
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
A military-made drug, based on LSD but far more powerful, has led to the creation of a small group,
fractured personalities that are aspects of the soldiers who took part in the experiment. Jovah was the only survivor, and he
was rendered both insane and unable to exist in the real world. Senses all messed up, he was placed in a sensory deprivation tank,
and forgotten. Now, the splinter personalities are on the loose in the real world, working toward the ultimate goal of
Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Nothing is going right for poor Maya. All she wants is to fit in, win the heart of the cutest boy in her school, and become a
great beauty. That's no more than any young girl dreams of and wonders why she can't have. When it gets to be too much for Maya
to bear she hits upon an unusual course of action: appeal to the great god Ganesh to make all her wishes come true. Ganesh, a
genial if gluttonous god, warns her that she might not really want all obstacles in her path removed.
Very Bad Deaths by Spider Robinson
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Russell Walker, a nocturnal, coffee-addicted newspaper columnist, is jerked abruptly out of a spiralling depression when he is
visited by a friend he hasn't seen in decades. The friend is a telepath and he wants Walker to help him prevent some murders
that have not yet been committed. With the clock ticking down to horrific deaths, Walker wrestles with whether to
try and interest police in a telepathic tip about a villain he can't name or identify, or try his hand as an unlikely
SF Site Discussion Forum
Each day we get many emails from SF Site visitors. Some are simple to answer. Others ask questions which stump us and we refer them
to others who may have the answer. Several just want to exchange views with somebody who will listen. All of this correspondence
convinced us to try installing a discussion forum. Drop by for a visit. Browse the topics. If you see something
that piques your interest, register and send your reply.
Best Read of the Year: 2004
compiled by Neil Walsh
Every year we find the SF Site Top 10 Lists to be full of surprises. Every year we find a few great recommendations
for books we might otherwise have passed by. We hope you find the same thing, because we've polled the SF Site
contributors, reviewers and editors and come up with the following titles which are what collectively we
consider to be among the best of the past year.
The Snow by Adam Roberts
New Worlds: An Anthology edited by Michael Moorcock
reviewed by David Soyka
As you might gather from the title, the author's fifth novel depicts a catastrophic snowfall. Not a mere avalanche
or the airports-are-closed kind of weather anomaly, but a precipitous disaster of worldwide scale that obliterates human
civilization. Of course, since the story begins with a first-person account of the start of the snow and her subsequent
adventures, you already know there are survivors.
Wizard at Work by Vivian Vande Velde
reviewed by Rich Horton
The never-named title character is an instructor at a school for wizards. He is fairly young, though he tends to disguise
himself magically as an older man -- people just don't believe someone as young as he really is can be a respectable wizard. As
the story opens, he is settling into his summer vacation, hoping to spend his time as usual -- puttering around his garden,
mainly. An encounter with a rather snappish witch reminds him that he might not be ecstatically happy, but that "true happiness
British Kids Have More Fun: The Green Knowe Chronicles
a column by Georges T. Dodds
While the people, places and objects in this series are different from the others and the history spans close to
nine centuries, these books capture the essence of such a time in a child's life when an unfettered imagination, a locale
which invites exploration, and an older, but not too intrusive adult is present to pass on the historical
continuity of the family and locale, combine in a life-affirming and altering experience.
SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates.
However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. His column
will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.
Exultant by Stephen Baxter
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Nominally a sequel to Coalescent, this novel tells the story of the climax of a twenty-five thousand year long war,
and the final human assault on the Xeelee stronghold at the center of the galaxy.
It's a war that is being fought by children. The economics and logistics of war have led to fast-breeding, fast-maturing humans
whose brief, fierce lives are completely devoted to fighting the good fight.
reviewed by Chris Przybyszewski
This two-book set features short stories by O'Neil De Noux, Carol Emshwiller, Jeff Vandermeer, Mike Resnick, Mike Baron,
and Martin Meyers. The authors are as distinct as the volume's twin covers, the first a fond look
back to Paris in 1944, complete with lovers, birds, and a man in a beret (Gregory Manchess is the artist). The second cover,
created by John Picacio, shows a man trying to control his genie, with deep reds in the one corner, deep blues in the other,
and a mystic yellow down the diagonal center. It is a contrast, one that visually shows the mold-breaking efforts of the editors.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick has TV reviews of the Star Trek Enterprise episode titled "The Aenar," the Smallville episode titled "The Recruit"
and the Battlestar Galactica episodes titled "You Can't Go Home Again" and "Litmus." He also
takes a look at tthe DVDs titled My Name is Modesty and Robot Stories.
reviewed by Matthew Cheney
Some of the best science fiction stories of the 60s and early 70s are collected here, among them "Running Down" by M. John
Harrison, "Angouleme" by Thomas M. Disch, and "Traveler's Rest" by David I. Masson. For a reader seeking high-quality
writing, there's not much else between these covers, though tastes vary, and certainly some readers will be more impressed by
a handful of the other pieces.
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Blazing World by Jess Nevins
reviewed by Stephen M. Davis
As you take these volumes out of their slipcase to review them, you may find yourself admiring the admirable job
done in putting this new annotated package together. It is possible you will be momentarily caught by surprise when noting the slipcase trumpets
this as a 150th anniversary edition, and then the realization that this refers to William Sherlock Scott Holmes's birth in 1854.
reviewed by Steven H Silver
A couple of years ago, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill published a six issue comic series
entitled The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It followed a nineteenth century group of heroes
including Mina Murray from Dracula, H. Rider Haggard's Sir Allan Quatermain, Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, H.G. Wells's
Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After Moore
and O'Neill created a second series, the author produced this volume for the reader who wants to be in on all the jokes.