Courtney Milan: After the Wedding

I very much appreciate how Courtney Milan inverts and subverts familiar romance tropes, and “After the Wedding” is no exception: it literally starts with a wedding, in which the principals are forced at gunpoint to marry, and their efforts to obtain an annulment, coupled with their inconveniently increasing mutual attraction, drive much of the plot.Continue reading “Courtney Milan: After the Wedding”

Holly Messinger: The Curse of Jacob Tracy

Reminds me almost equally of TV’s Deadwood and Angel – impressively researched post-Civil War setting with a complex supernatural ecosystem in a series of nearly self-contained novellas that gradually advance a larger plot. Novel finds some degree of closure, but more seems indicated, and I’m eager for follow-on.

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”

Andrea Hairston: Redwood and Wildfire

I finished Hairston’s harrowing and beautiful Redwood and Wildfire about a week ago, and I’ve been struggling to write about it in a way that does it justice. But it’s today that I learned about the acquittal of one George Zimmerman in the murder trial of one Trayvon Martin, and that — and what itContinue reading “Andrea Hairston: Redwood and Wildfire”

Lou Beach: 420 Characters

I expected that limiting the length of a short story to 420 characters — as counted by Facebook’s software, spaces and punctuation included — would come off as a gimmick rather than an artistic constraint, but this collection of a hundred and fiftyish micro-stories is pretty amazing, in several dimensions. The first thing I noticedContinue reading “Lou Beach: 420 Characters”

Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies

It’s a bit tricky to describe The Final Folly of Captain Dancy without sounding like I’m damning it with faint praise, so maybe I should say up front that I definitely enjoyed this enough to read more. Watt-Evan’s stories have a bit of an old-school vibe; it’s easy for me to imagine him as aContinue reading “Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies”

George Mann: The Immorality Engine

I read The Immorality Engine even though I didn’t think much of the first two novels in Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes Investigations” series, of which this is the third. Somewhat to my surprise, I liked it better than the other two. I still found the prose a bit repetitive and the plot low on surprises,Continue reading “George Mann: The Immorality Engine”

Chris Moriarty: The Inquisitor’s Apprentice

The Inquisitor’s Apprentice is set in a vividly rendered alternate late-19th-century New York city. Magic exists in this world, but — officially, at least — it is controlled by wealthy industrialists like “J. P. Morgaunt,” a character inspired by J. P. Morgan (some more sympathetically rendered historical figures appear under their real names) . ThirteenContinue reading “Chris Moriarty: The Inquisitor’s Apprentice”

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”