Showing posts from September, 2022

Recent Reading: Wergen: The Alien Love War by Mercurio D. Rivera

Rivera's novel is one of several wildcard nominees on this year's Clarke Award shortlist, though in my non-representative sampling it is the one that has garnered the most commentary—perhaps because people got a glimpse of its appalling cover design , which is bad even by the standards of its publisher, NewCon Press, and felt compelled to react. But to me what truly makes Wergen unusual—in ways both good and bad—is how old school it is. It's such a throwback to the science fiction of the 60s and 70s that it ends up feeling fresh and different. And yet at the same time there are aspects of it that are decidedly old-fashioned, and which end up undercutting its effect. Wergen is a fix-up, with several stories having been published independently in various short fiction venues (and one as a standalone novella) over the course of more than a decade. Here we already have the first tick on the old school checklist—I can't remember the last time I read a fix-up novel, and eve

Review: The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison at Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons have published my review of Katherine Addison's The Grief of Stones , the sequel to last year's The Witness for the Dead , which was itself a spin-off of Addison's beloved 2014 fantasy of manners The Goblin Emperor . Unlike Goblin 's court intrigue, the Witness novels are detective stories, starring the priest-necromancer Thara Celehar. It's interesting that Addison chose such an oblique follow-up to what was after all a popular and well-loved novel, but as I note in my review, both The Goblin Emperor and now this new series seem to draw on inspirations from outside the fantasy genre, while constructing a thought-out, down-to-earth fantasy world. The books I found myself comparing it to are Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brody detective novels (2004-2019). As in that series, the detective takes on an array of cases, some trivial—a bakery desperate to find a suddenly-deceased partner’s scone recipe—and some tragic—a newly-bereaved husband who needs Cele