Welcome to the September round-up of speculative fiction of the non-YA (nor younger) variety! We had a reasonable turnout this month with multiple reviews falling into each of my genre sub-categories, huzzah. Remember, if you’re reviewing an AWW somewhere online — be it spec fic or any other genre — don’t forget to link us your review so we can potentially include it in one of our round-ups.
Before I do get to my genre sub-categories, I want to mention a collection which spans genres. Cat Sparks’ collection of short stories, The Bride Price, was reviewed very favourably by Sean the Bookonaut. Sean goes into detail about several of the stories and ends with this praise
A good chunk of this collection is post apocalyptic but Sparks manages to deliver such a variety of post apocalyptic settings that I think The Bride Price is a good place to start for anyone wishing to take on that particularly well done sub genre – an exemplar on how to make those stories original and interesting. The other stories clearly display a versatility in the wider science fiction genre. In short I think Sparks can deliver meaty science fiction with a subtle side dish of social comment whichever setting she chooses.
Thoroughly engrossing, Soul’s Child grasped me from the first paragraph and forced me to follow Aurora through the chilling experiences, share in her grief and to cheer her on as she took steps (no pun intended) to remedy the wrongs in her life.
On the BFF (big fat fantasy) front, two sequels were reviewed. There was Black Sun Light My Way, reviewed by Sean, the sequel to Jo Spurrier’s Winter Be My Shield. He notes that, “What continued to impress me was Spurrier’s research and her use of it in bringing the Wild alive as a very visceral setting.”
The other BFF book was King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniells, the long(ish)-awaited conclusion to the King Rolen’s Kin books. The entire series is an excellent read, and as I say in my review,
Daniells is particularly good at writing characters that behave in irritating, yet entirely plausible ways. The group of point of view characters and their friends are all intelligent and well-educated (which makes sense since most of them are royalty) but their minor antagonists tend to be frustratingly short-sighted, ignorant or just horrible people. The utterly believable way in which Daniells wrote them had me heckling the page on several occasions.
The author with the most reviews submitted this month was Patty Jansen, garnering three reviews for different science fiction pieces. I reviewed The Shattered World Within, an interesting science fiction novella which throws in interesting sciencey ideas while exploring a sociologically very different society.
Sean reviewed Charlotte’s Army, another novella about genetically engineered and programmed soldiers, all with the same accidental flaw.
He also reviewed Shifting Reality, a novel set in the same universe but later in time. He says
What I particularly like about Jansen’s science fiction is that it’s rare that the tech or the science is the reason for the story but when it does surface, it’s well thought out, realistic and logical. It makes for a quick immersive read with no oddities to drop you out of the immersion.
What I particularly like about Shifting Reality is the choice to have a person of colour and a woman as the central character and that she is a teacher. It’s refreshing to have a protagonist who is not military special forces in high tech spandex.
Character is queen in these stories, the fears and ambitions of the heroines pulling us through the realistically rendered worlds. Wilkins’s love of Norse and Celtic history comes to the fore in the small details so unobtrusively but effectively used in the setting, opening a window into the life of her societies and the challenges her characters face.
Sean also gushed about it at length, prompting me to add it to my to read list.
I’m Tsana Dolichva and I’ve been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since I first started reading “grown up” books (back before YA was its own genre). More recently, I’ve been blogging my reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. I irregularly blog about science in science fiction over at the Science Fiction Writers’ Guide to Space. When not reading or writing, I’m probably working towards my PhD in astrophysics.