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Showing posts from August, 2020

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox

"I think he gets everything from novels," Taryn explained to Berger.  
Berger was exasperated. "Everyone gets everything from novels."  New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox is a literary nomad. In a career that has spanned thirty years and nearly twenty novels, she has written historical romance (The Vintner's Luck, 1998), YA fantasy (Mortal Fire, 2013; The Dreamhunter Duet, 2005 & 2007), and Stephen King-esque horror (Wake, 2013). Her most recent novel, The Absolute Book, is at once a leveling up and an inevitable culmination of this wandering quality in Knox's career. It is, as its title suggests, a novel about books and their magic. But it is also a novel about stories and how they shape the world. The result has a bit of a magpie quality to it, dipping into different genres and story types, mixing various references and homages, often losing the thread of its story in cul-de-sacs and set-pieces that are more interesting than the whole that contains them.…

Review: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez, at Strange Horizons

My review of Simon Jimenez's debut novel The Vanished Birdsappears today in Strange Horizons. This is a fantastic novel that hasn't really gotten the attention it deserves--perhaps because its title and artsy cover design obscured its meat-and-potatoes SF premise, which in turn may have alienated readers who picked it up expecting a straightforward literary novel. Whatever the reason, if you're a fan of smart, well-written, thought-provoking science fiction, you should absolutely pick up The Vanished Birds, which riffs off the space freighter found family premise (familiar to us from everything from Firefly to the novels of Becky Chambers) in several intriguing ways, and uses it to give readers a glimpse of how the logic of capitalism asserts itself in far-future, spacefaring civilization.The Vanished Birds both honors the space freighter premise and dismantles it—at one point, literally. Only part of the novel is set on a ship and among a crew, and by its end both feel ir…