Mostly Fiction BOOK REVIEWS



Science Fiction, Fantasy, Ghost Stories and more

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Darling Jim

by Christian Moerk
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The Diamond of Darkhold

by Jeanne Duprau
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The Manual of Detection

by Jedediah Berry

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Sum: Forty Tales
of the Afterlife

by David Eagleman

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The Way Through Doors

by Jesse Ball

Recently Published Books in Hardcover:

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The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton - The Intersolar Commonwealth is in turmoil as the Living Dream's deadline for launching its Pilgrimage into the Void draws closer. Not only is the Ocisen Empire fleet fast approaching on a mission of genocide, but also an internecine war has broken out between the post-human factions over the destiny of humanity.Countering the various and increasingly desperate agents and factions is Paula Myo, a ruthlessly single-minded investigator, beset by foes from her distant past and colleagues of dubious allegiance...but she is fast losing a race against time. (March 2009)

The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction by Gene Wolf - From a literary perspective, this will certainly be the best collection of the year in science fiction and fantasy. (March 2009)

The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint - On the Day of the Dead, the Solona Music Hall is jumping. That's where Altagracia Quintero meets John Burns, just two weeks too late. (March 2009)

Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue - (March 2009) author page

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham - Set in Ancient Egypt, Hand of Isis is the story of Charmian, a handmaiden, and her two sisters. It is a novel of lovers who transcend death, of gods who meddle in mortal affairs, and of women who guide empires. (March 2009)

Seven for a Secret by Elizabeth Bear - The sequel to New Amsterdam! The wampyr has walked the dark streets of the world's great cities for a thousand years. In that time, he has worn out many names--and even more compatriots. Now, so that one of those companions may die where she once lived, he has come again to the City of London. (March 2009) author page

This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams - Once upon a time, there were four of them. And though each was good at a number of things, all of them were very good at games... In this near-future thriller, Walter Jon Williams weaves a pulse-pounding tale of intrigue, murder, and games where you don't get an extra life. (March 2009)

Truancy Origins by Isamu Fukui - Fifteen years ago, the Mayor of the Education City was presented with an unwelcome surprise by his superiors: twin six-month-old boys. As the Mayor reluctantly accepted the two babies, he had no way of knowing that they would change the city forever….Raised in the comfort of the Mayoral mansion, Umasi and Zen are as different as two brothers can be. Umasi is a good student; Zen an indifferent one. They love their adoptive father, but in a city where education is absolute, even he cannot keep them sheltered from the harsh realities of the school system. But when they discover that their father is responsible for their suffering, affection turns to bitterness. Umasi and Zen are thrust onto two diverging paths. One will try to destroy the City. The other will try to stop him. (March 2009)

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry - In this tightly plotted yet mind- expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams. (February 2009) author page

The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling - Bruce Sterling stands at the forefront of a select group of writers whose pitch-perfect grasp of the cultural and scientific zeitgeist endows their works of speculative near-future fiction with uncanny verisimilitude. To read a novel by Sterling is to receive a dispatch from a time traveler. Now, with The Caryatids, Sterling has written a stunning testament of faith in the power of human intellect, creativity, and spirit to overcome any obstacle–even the obstacles we carry inside ourselves. (February 2009) author page

Drood by Dan Simmons - On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. (February 2009) author page

Promises in Death byJ.D. Robb - In this 28th novel of this series, Lt. Det Eve Dallas takes down a cop killer. Amarylis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she’s been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she’s taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, it is more than personal for Ever -- Coltraine was the girlfriend of one of her close friends. Set in the New York City of 2060. (February 2009)

Bones of the Dragon by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman - Welcome to the World of Dragonships! Skylan Ivorson is a sea-raider of the Vindras and eventually becomes the Chief of Chiefs of all Vindras clans, an honor he truly feels he deserves as one who has been blessed by Skoval, the god of war. But sometimes a blessing is a curse in disguise. (January 2009)

The Comet's Curse: A Galahad Book by Dom Testa - “Sci-fi fans will enjoy Testa’s spare Asimovian plot, but even those leery of the genre will appreciate how each chapter alternates to the past to further flesh out our protagonists. Stealing the show is the Galahad’s mischievous central computer, Roc, who speaks directly to the readers as he acts as a Greek chorus.”—Booklist (January 2009)

Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress - (January 2009) author page

Regenesis by C. J. Cherryh - The direct sequel to the Hugo Award- winning novel Cyteen, Regenesis continues the story of Ariane Emory PR, the genetic clone of one of the greatest scientists humanity has ever produced, and of her search for the murderer of her progenitor—the original Ariane Emory. (January 2009)

Busted Flush by George R. R. Martin - The sequel to 2008's Inside Straight, a revamp of the shared Wild Cards universe, features crises ripped directly from today's newspaper headlines and summer blockbusters. A burgeoning gas shortage has sparked an invasion into the Middle East; New Orleans is hurricane-beset and zombie-ravaged; someone has set off a nuclear explosion in Texas; and genocide rages in Nigeria. The conflicts between the compellingly human superheroes on the U.N.'s Committee shape this fast-paced alternate history. (December 2008)

The Messenger by Jan Burke - A supernatural thriller. (December 2008) author page

The United States of Atlantis by Harry Turtledove - Several years after the events of 2007s Opening Atlantis, Victor Radcliff, now middle-aged, is called upon to lead the Atlantis colonies fight for independence from England. (December 2008) author page

The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove - Once the great Glacier enclosed the Raumsdalian Empire. Now it’s broken open, and Count Hamnet Thyssen faces a new world. With the wisecracking Ulric Skakki, the neighboring clan leader Trasamund (politely addressed as Your Ferocity), and his lover, the shaman Liv, Hamnet leads an exploration of the new territory in hopes of finding the legendary Golden Shrine. (December 2008) author page

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card - 8th book in this favorite series. (November 2008) author page

Just After Sunset: Stories by Stephen King - Call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King. (November 2008) author page

Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress by Michael Moorcock - Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, Vol. 3 (November 2008) author page

All The Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear - Hugo winner Bear (Undertow) perfectly captures the essence of faded hopes and exhausted melancholy in this postapocalyptic melodrama based loosely upon Norse mythology. (October 2008) author page

Nation by Terry Pratchett - A deeply philosophical book aimed at young adults, but one likely to appeal to adults as well. As his characters grapple with questions of leadership, humanity, and survival, Pratchett explores fundamental ideas about religion and culture. This might all sound rather heavy, but there is plenty of originality and humor—and cannibals, spirits, and secret treasures—to go around. (September 2008) author page

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton (November 2008) author page

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning - (September 2008) author page

Anathem by Neal Stephenson - Since childhood, Raz has lived behind the walls of a 3,400-year-old monastery, a sanctuary for scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians —sealed off from the illiterate, irrational, unpredictable "saecular" world that is plagued by recurring cycles of booms and busts, world wars and climate change. Until the day that a higher power, driven by fear, decides that only these cloistered scholars have the abilities to avert an impending catastrophe. And, one by one, Raz and his cohorts are summoned forth without warning into the Unknown. (September 2008) author page

Mars Life by Ben Bova - Multiple Hugo–winner Bova pens a gripping and convincing conclusion to the story begun in Mars (1992) and Return to Mars (1999). author page

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson - An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time. (August 2008)

The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks - (August 2008) author page

Awesome Lavratt by Ann Wilkes - In the spirit of the cult classic "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams: Beautiful Aranna Navna plans to conquer the galaxy one planet at a time. (July 2008)

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson (with Michael Ledwidge) - (July 2008) author page

Go-Go Girls fo the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler - (July 2008)

Tigerheart by Peter David - (June 2008)

Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst (June 2008)

Atmospheric Distubances by Rivka Galchen -When Dr. Leo Liebenstein’s wife disappears, she leaves behind a single, confounding clue: a woman who looks, talks, and behaves exactly like her—or almost exactly like her—and even audaciously claims to be her. While everyone else is fooled by this imposter, Leo knows better than to trust his senses in matters of the heart. Certain that the original Rema is alive and in hiding, Leo embarks on a quixotic journey to reclaim his lost love. (May 2008)

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (May 2008) author page

Blood Noir by Laura K. Hamilton (May 2008) author page

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk - (May 2008) author page

Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks - (May 2008)

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - arcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. (April 2008)

Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin - In a richly imagined, beautiful new novel, an acclaimed writer gives an epic heroine her voice (April 2008)author page

The Stone Gods by Jeannette Winterson - part meta-fiction, part sci-fi (April 2008) author page

The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2 by PJ Haarsma - On Orbis 2, Johnny Turnbull has a new home and a new job, one that pushes his softwire abilities to painful limits. JT is the only one who can communicate with the Samirans, large aquatic aliens who have cooled the crystals on Orbis for nearly two thousand rotations. But as the Samirans’ work rule ostensibly comes to a close, they have grown dangerously agitated, and JT must find out why. (March 2008)


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Top 100 Sci-fi Movies


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About this Bookshelf:

The world of Science Fiction is a world onto itself. There are entire magazines, events and web sites dedicated to this genre of fiction and movies. Thus there are people who live and breath Sci-fi and can hold very intelligent (if not fanatical) conversations and may be more qualified to make recommendations.  Sci-Fi takes you out of this world!In comparison, my Science Fiction collection is rather light weight. Despite that, I had to create a Science Fiction bookshelf for -- I love these books! 

In fact, I have already read many of these books more than once and many I hope to read yet again. Science Fiction is an incredible vehicle for stating the most obvious things about our society, our humanity.

I owe my rediscovered interest in Science Fiction novels to Carl.  Not long after we met, he got me started with William Gibson's Neuromancer and I've been playing catch up on my Sci-Fi reading ever since. It's not that I was a stranger to Sci-fi, I've been watching Star Trek since the original series, Ray Bradbury was one of my favorite school assignments and I used to read a lot of the "slipstream writers" such as Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King. Before this reintroduction, however, the Science Fiction section of the bookstore or library was not a place that I visited. I found it intimidating to select books since the shelves are overwhelmingly filled with covers of fair maidens and starboys. I'm not sure who came up with the idea of combining fantasy novels with science fiction, but it makes it harder to pick through. (Of course, it has been pointed out to me to try Fantasy, I might like it!) Since Neuromancer, Carl has introduced me to some great books including those written by Orson Scott Card, Dan Simmons, Pat Cadigan, Neil Stephenson, Ursula K. Le Guin and Rudy Rucker.

In recent years, I brave the Science Fiction shelves on my own. I've found such treasures as Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman, Slow River by Nicola Griffith, Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Bulter and Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling. I've learned that Hugo and Nebula Award winners are generally to my liking, especially if they fall within the cyberpunk genre. I've also learned that it is very rare to find a good science fiction book in a used bookstore. People hold onto the really good ones and although I'll peruse the Sci-Fi shelves, I don't often find anything to bring home. This is the one category of books that I usually pay full price. But it's still a bargain, since they are usually worth at least a second read.

The best thing about adding additional reviewers to is that each has introduced me to new authors that I might not have come across otherwise. And thus, in the past year (2002) I have started to add a few authors to this shelf that fall more into the Fantasy category than Science Fiction. So, of late, this shelf is renamed "Beyond Reality " so that slipstream and fantasy writers can be included.

And as I review these notes that I made several years ago, I realize that I'm quite out of date. Through the recommendations of the our reviewers I have discovered at least three new authors that I can't live without -- and yes, you could call them fanatasy: Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahuniuk and Terry Pratchett. I haven't gone totally hard core fantasy yet, but I promise to try Jacqueline Carey or Diana Gabaldon before much longer. The trust the opinions of our reviewers implicitly.

Judi Clark, Editor
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