Robert Sheckley: Uncanny Tales

Uncanny Tales comprises 16 short stories of uneven quality from the final two decades of Sheckley’s career. “Magic, Maples and Maryanne,” is a fine cautionary fable of magic and morality with an almost Jonathan Carroll-like vibe. “The New Horla” (the title is a reference to a classic Guy de Maupassant short) is grimly gripping inContinue reading “Robert Sheckley: Uncanny Tales”

Karl Schroeder: Ventus

Part of the fun of Ventus lies in discovering how Schroeder’s unusual milieu arose, so I will try to avoid spoilers (I didn’t read the book jacket flap before I started reading, and I’m glad). But it’s very quickly obvious that Ventus concerns a collision between two societies — one feudal and pre-industrial, one extremelyContinue reading “Karl Schroeder: Ventus”

Garth Nix: Shade’s Children

Back in 1999, members of a mailing list I was on traded book recommendations. Several of the novels I read as a result (among them Hulme’s The Bone People, Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, Dunn’s Geek Love, Ryman’s Was, Carroll’s Outside the Dog Museum, Powers’ The Goldbug Variations, and Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the EndContinue reading “Garth Nix: Shade’s Children”

Robert Sheckley: Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?

I enjoyed the Interstellar Radio Company‘s dramatization of Sheckley’s short story “Ghost V” quite a bit. It reminded me that Sheckley was one of the classic science fiction writers I’d never really explored. I’ve been working on remedying that, starting with the volume at hand, a short story collection from 1972. The stories in CanContinue reading “Robert Sheckley: Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?”

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”

Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers (eds); Slipstreams

Pretty much ever since the genres science fiction, fantasy, and horror have existed as distinct marketing categories, there have been periodic movements seeking to un-define them as such. In the 60’s there was “The New Wave.” In the 80’s some bruited about the awkward, demi-hemispherist phrase “North American magical realism.” And more recently, an unrulyContinue reading “Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers (eds); Slipstreams”

Barbara Hambly: Children of the Jedi

I liked Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels a lot, even if they were a somewhat guilty pleasure. Many other people apparently liked them too, because LucasFilm and Bantam Spectra cooked up a chronology spanning some fifteen years after Return of the Jedi and found writers to fill it in with dozens of novels. The backContinue reading “Barbara Hambly: Children of the Jedi”

Stanislaw Lem: Mortal Engines

Stanislaw Lem is one of the many authors I’ve always meant to read something by. I’ve even picked up a handful of his books over the years with noble intentions of follow-through which have, to-date, gone unfufilled. So picking Lem’s Mortal Engine from the freebie box I’d commited to availing myself of only if IContinue reading “Stanislaw Lem: Mortal Engines”

Jack Vance: The Killing Machine

It’s apparently de rigueur to mention that the stories of (currently popular and prolific) SF writer Matthew Hughes owe a debt to the Old Earth stories of Jack Vance. Vance is one of those old-school SF writers from whom I always meant to get around to reading something, but never quite did. In fact, althoughContinue reading “Jack Vance: The Killing Machine”