Piper Kerman: Orange is the New Black

I’m usually a book-is-better kinda guy, but I found that reading the real Piper Kerman’s account of her incarceration while watching the fictional Piper Chapman’s experience in the Netflix show inspired by the book heightened my enjoyment of both. On the one hand, the book provides the “okay, how much of this really happened?” solidityContinue reading “Piper Kerman: Orange is the New Black”

Christopher L. Bennett: Only Superhuman

I had very ambivalent reactions to Only Superhuman. I really liked the central concept. Bennett starts with a fairly optimistic future in which, a century hence, there are hundreds of space habitats in the inner- and mid-solar system. The environment is rife with social schisms and empire/colony-ish tensions. The novelty is in Bennett postulating thatContinue reading “Christopher L. Bennett: Only Superhuman”

Emma Straub: Other People We Married

The central characters in Straub’s first short story collection are almost all on the cusp of epiphanies that take them by surprise: they need to change, to leave or (more rarely) stay, and change in ways they didn’t anticipate. Straub has a fine and economical eye for telling detail, a good ear for naturalistic dialogue,Continue reading “Emma Straub: Other People We Married”

George Mann : The Osiris Ritual

The second of Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes” steampunk/mystery/adventures (following The Affinity Bridge) struck me as stronger overall than its predecessor, with a bit more depth of character. I found the tone a little inconsistent — there are a few moments that veer into excessively broad parody of pulp/adventure conventions and require a greater level ofContinue reading “George Mann : The Osiris Ritual”

Timothy Zahn: Odd Girl Out

Odd Girl Out is the first of Zahn’s “Quadrail” novels to disappoint me a bit. The first two, Night Train to Rigel and The Third Lynx, paired the unusual setting (railways between the stars) with nods to classic noir detective fiction. Both had one major plot “twist” I saw coming from miles away, but TheContinue reading “Timothy Zahn: Odd Girl Out”

William Browning Spencer: The Ocean and All Its Devices

William Browning Spencer’s fiction often features ancient alien creatures inimical (or at best, indifferent) to humanity, and as a result I don’t think I’ve ever seen a review of his work that didn’t mention a certain author whose name isn’t quite Howard Phillips Adoreart. Like many facile comparisons, it strikes me as unfair. For oneContinue reading “William Browning Spencer: The Ocean and All Its Devices”

Leslie What:Olympic Games

It was Leslie What’s contributions to Small Beer Press’s pretty-much-mostly slipstream zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that made me really take note of her name. Her stories for that magazine fit what I think of as the general mode of slipstream (or interstitial, or new-wave fabulist, or whatever you want to call it) fiction. MyContinue reading “Leslie What:Olympic Games”