Naomi Mitchison: Travel Light

“Travel light” is an exhortation protagonist Halla hears at one point in this singular slim book; it’s a tactic that enables her to travel farther and faster than she otherwise might, not being unduly burdened. It’s also a tactic the book itself employs, moving from what at first seems to be a fairy tale thatContinue reading “Naomi Mitchison: Travel Light”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite

I loved Threshold and it scared the bejeezus outta me, but I’m not sure that I completely got it. It’s a bit of a puzzle box. It’s not the sort of book where one version of “objective reality” is an applicable concept, and it’s about the unknowable more than about the unknown. But throughout IContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold

Threshold is dark and rich and strange, and no superficial description is going to do it justice. Its bones are a Stumbling Onto That Which Should Not Be Disturbed tale in a mode not completely un-Lovecraftian. Kiernan isn’t as resolutely xenophobic as Howard P., but perhaps no less sanguine about the outcome of encounters withContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold”

Jonathan Tropper: This Is Where I Leave You

Warning: This is going to be one of those godawful reviews that may tell you nearly as much about the reviewer as about the book. At the outset of This Is Where I Leave You, narrator Judd Foxman’s life has fallen into a shambles after he discovered his wife was having an affair with hisContinue reading “Jonathan Tropper: This Is Where I Leave You”

Sara Levine: Treasure Island!!!

Real journalists have to turn in their year’s best lists to be published in the month of December, a practice which invariably makes me cringe. “What,” I always think to myself, “if in the dregs of the year* you hear/see/read something amazing that demands you re-order the list?” And it happens from time to time.Continue reading “Sara Levine: Treasure Island!!!”

Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island

I’m keen to read Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!! and I thought I should probably acquaint myself with Stevenson’s classic first, to catch any references there might be. I’d never read any Stevenson before; his prose was a bit richer than I was expecting, with some evocative and economical descriptions, particularly of his harsh and unlovelyContinue reading “Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island”

Diana Peterfreund : Tap & Gown

How much have I been enjoying Peterfreund’s “Secret Society Girl” novels? Not only enough that I bought the concluding volume as soon as it was released, but enough that I didn’t read Tap & Gown until now – because I didn’t want to stop having the last book in the series left to look forwardContinue reading “Diana Peterfreund : Tap & Gown”

Alan DeNiro : Total Oblivion, More or Less

DeNiro’s first novel (following a well-received string of short stories) presents a transformed near-future America: the nation is beset by anachronistic invaders, ravaged by a mysterious plague, and technology stops working. DeNiro pulls off the neat trick of making his surreal world feel internally consistent, largely because it’s grounded by the narrative voice of Macy,Continue reading “Alan DeNiro : Total Oblivion, More or Less”

E. E. “Doc” Smith: Triplanetary; First Lensman

Strange but true: I never read any E. E. “Doc” Smith before. (It was Michael Kaminski’s assertion in The Secret History of Star Wars that Smith’s Lensmen were a key influence on Lucas’s Jedi Knights that convinced me to take the plunge; mostly I hadn’t read the Lensmen books because I thought I knew exactlyContinue reading “E. E. “Doc” Smith: Triplanetary; First Lensman”

Timothy Zahn: The Third Lynx

In The Third Lynx, Zahn again puts agent Frank Compton (from Night Train to Rigel) through some of the classic noir detective paces in his unusual near-future setting, which prominently features interstellar trains. (One of several tropes Zahn explores this time around is the detective who finds himself unexpectedly a murder suspect; there are alsoContinue reading “Timothy Zahn: The Third Lynx”