John Barnes: Losers in Space

In the post-scarcity 22nd century of Losers in Space, notoriety is worth more than any currency. A loose-knit group of the underachieving kids of famous folks aim to increase their profiles by stowing away on a spaceship bound for Mars. But the plan’s architect might be a genuine sociopath. And there are a lot ofContinue reading “John Barnes: Losers in Space”

Jonathan L. Howard: Katya’s World

Katya’s World is Russalka, a Russian-settled colony still reeling from a pyrrhic conflict with Mother Earth. Russalka has no land masses, and part of the novel’s fun derives from the relative novelty of incorporating the claustrophobia and blindfoldedness of Das Boot or The Hunt for Red October-style submarine hide-and-seek games into a far-future/alien planet setting.Continue reading “Jonathan L. Howard: Katya’s World”

Victor Gischler: Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse may have been partly the victim of excessive expectations from me: I love the title, and it had extravagant blurbs from authors I admire. But it left me cold. Aside from the conceit hinted at in the title — that a strip-club franchise could become the nucleus of a newContinue reading “Victor Gischler: Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse”

Jane Palmer: The Watcher

The Watcher is a little slippery. If I described the bones of its plot or its characters (which include a planet threatened with destruction from an energy-being, time travel, sea monsters, and a conveniently bulletproof resident of Earth) it would sound either like a pulp-era space opera, or a consciously zany send-up of same (perhapsContinue reading “Jane Palmer: The Watcher”

Robert Jeschonek: Heaven Bent

Heaven Bent was published as a weekly serial ebook, a format which intrigued, but ultimately disappointed me. Perhaps I’m being unfair and it was tightly plotted from the get-go. But it felt like it could actually have been written week-by-week, with many plot threads introduced and then discarded, ill-supported twists late in the game, andContinue reading “Robert Jeschonek: Heaven Bent”

Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Mars Trilogy

I saw the John Carter movie (1/3 awesome, 2/3 slow,sappy,dumb/hard-to-follow) and wanted to revisit the original novel, mostly to see if there was quite as much time spent on the Earth backstory (answer: not by a long shot). But after reading A Princess of Mars I realized the John Carter film incorporated several major plotContinue reading “Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Mars Trilogy”

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

I struggle with how useful it is for me to comment on popular works. A lot of people obviously love this book. I’m statistically quite unlikely to ever write anything as many people pay attention to, what gives me the right to judge it? But maybe it’s useful for me to explore whether this isContinue reading “Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games”

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”