The Exploding Spaceship Announces The Women Author Book Donation Project to Benefit the Glasgow Women’s LibraryPosted: 31 July, 2015
We are pleased to announce the start of a project to increase the size of the science fiction and fantasy collection at the Glasgow Women’s Library!
The library serves women of all ages so we want to include books aimed at middle grades, teens and adults. We would like to include as many author/editor signed books as possible but any books appropriate for a feminist audience are fine.
So please send us books and graphic novels by women with women main characters, we will deal with getting the volumes to the library.
We have setup an information page here: http://www.blackwelldevice.com/gwlproject.html
Please send books to P.O. Box 5845 Statesville, NC 28687-5845.
If you have any questions please direct them to Angela on Twitter @ExplodnSpceship.
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Time Salvager, Iron and Blood, Cities and Thrones, Roboteer and The Dead Man’s ReachPosted: 25 July, 2015
Review of Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (Tor July 7, 2015 in the UK, Angry Robot July 9, 2015)
The premise that the future is so bleak that they need to send people to the past to salvage energy sources and other resources makes for a very interesting setting. The main characters are salvager James, and two women, Grace and Elise. He meets both of them on trips to the past, but ends up bringing them to his own time in order for them to help him save the future. James’ efforts to balance his relationships with the two women make for some interesting scenes. They actually get along quite well but both are better at manipulating him than he is at dealing with either of the women.
The government in the future is just as screwy as the present US bureaucracy and seeing some of the workers try to get around the crazy rules was very familiar, unfortunately (Your Humble Reviewers both used to work for the US Government). In order to fix the Earth, Grace and Elise try to reverse the damage to the oceans. James makes many trips into the past for equipment and supplies with the help of his friend Smitt, who is still working for ChronoCom. This puts his life in danger because he doesn’t have the drugs needed to recover from the trips, plus he might get discovered and arrested by his former employers. James discovers that not all the time travelers follow the rules and that the world ended up a dismal mess because someone interfered with the plan to fix it many years before. This discovery makes him, Grace and Elise really pissed off so they rally everyone and fight the government people.
As expected of Chu’s novels, there is fast action with fighting both hand-to-hand and with guns. Even the bit characters have some depth and the cast is quite diverse. Elise is our favorite character, a scientist action heroine who has to use her people skills as well as her science and defense skills. She is awesome and deserves a later book from her viewpoint.
If you like SF or action adventure stories then you need to read this book!
Review of Iron and Blood by Gail Z and Larry Martin (Solaris, July 7, 2015) Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews The Oathkeeper by J.F. Lewis, Dark Run by Mike Brooks, and The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan GriffithPosted: 17 July, 2015
Review of The Oathkeeper by J.F.Lewis (Pyr, June 9, 2015)
This is the second volume of the Grudgebearer Trilogy. The main characters in this volume are Rae’en and Wylant. These female characters had a lesser role in the first volume because Kholster was alive then and for this volume he is a god.
Wylant and Kholster’s marriage is still ongoing even though he has passed into godhood, but the situation definitely makes for some amusing romantic confusion. Kholster wasn’t the brightest bulb about romance before he died, and becoming a god only made him more obtuse in some ways.
The Zaur attack while several of the other races are trying to make peace so that gets delayed and the city must be evacuated while also trying to fight the Zaur. It has lots of fight scenes and general confusion, including some caused by a dragon. The reptiles invaded the other races’ territories from several directions over both land and sea. They also are trying to settle a treaty with one of the races, but everyone is suspicious of this. The Zaur they are speaking with does have an ulterior motive but not the one they think.
Several characters in this book moved from being male idiots in the last book to being more sympathetic beings. This made this volume have a better overall tone than the last one (where several characters were males who deserved to have some sense slapped into them).
There is more magic use in this volume because of some changes with a few Eldrennai characters. The setting and races of beings in this are quite amazing. None of them are really typical fantasy races, although there are analogs to several. The writing is well done and it moves fast. That is actually the one problem with this volume: the scene shifts are too rapid in some cases so it is easy to get confused on where geographically you are and even in some cases whose viewpoint it is. Read the rest of this entry »
Review of RavenCon 2015
Well, first of all, given the presence of large numbers of people from both sides of several issues causing no small amount of strife in the SF/F fan community, the attendees were all very well behaved. There was only one incident by someone claiming to be press, but hadn’t bothered to notify the convention that they were attending. Your Humble Reviewers were among a number of press people who had notified the convention ahead of time and were badged as such; failure to conform to the event’s press rules is a good way to not be allowed back in the future.
This convention traditionally has many writers and publishers in attendance, and this year was no exception. The Baen road show was present along with a couple of their authors, Steve White and Michael Z Williamson. There were several book launches over the weekend. We attended one for Gail Z Martin’s War of Shadows which featured readings and munchies. Fantastic Books, a new publisher which we had not seen at a convention in the southeast before, was also in attendance and supporting the Writer Guest of Honor Allen Steele. Ian Randall Strock runs the publishing house, and he hosted a book launch for Allen Steele’s collection Tales of Time and Space and Bud Sparhawk’s planetary sailing adventure Distant Seas.
The convention has many writer panels, sometimes four or five running at once, and they run the gamut of topics from short fiction to novels to comics. Several writing workshop-type panels which must be signed up for ahead of time were also featured. This year they added an art track and that seemed to be well-attended. They also featured some musical guests and panels of interest to filkers.
Friday and Saturday nights saw many parties being hosted on the con hotel’s eighth floor. Saturday night also featured a costume contest with many very good costumes.
The dealer room had a wide variety of goods on offer, including several book and jewelry stalls, a weapons stall, and a couple of costuming stalls. The author’s book signing table was also in the dealer room near the book sellers so everyone benefits from their presence, rather than having them cloistered off alone in a room. Other conventions could learn from this arrangement.
This year’s convention was in Richmond, Virginia as it has been for the last ten years, but due to hotel issues, next year’s convention will be held in Williamsburg.
This convention has programming for all ages, including children. Aspiring authors and artists will find panels of great use to them. The parties allow for great networking. The convention is well run by experienced staffers. The anime crowd is evident at the convention but they are only a small portion of the convention, with most of the programming being influenced by the writers, artists and musicians.
Review of The Mirror Empire: The Worldbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley (August 26, 2014, Angry Robot)
Your humble reviewers apologize for not posting this with their young adult appropriate fantasy column shortly after it was released. We wrote and edited the review but in the midst of the fall craziness it didn’t get posted in the column. The book has been nominated for a Gemmell award, and that made us go back to see where our review went. We loved the book, and knew we had reviewed it, but unfortunately had forgotten to share it with everyone else!
This book is set in a fantasy world where not only are there many different cultures and languages, but also alternate versions of the world where there are duplicates of almost everyone. People can only cross between parallel worlds if there is no version of them in that world, so this leads to intrigue and murder across the worlds as power groups try to go across to get more power, larger armies and more magic users. Some worlds have lost many magic users because of large scale genocide events in the past, so they try to get replacements from neighboring worlds. Magic is controlled by the satellites of the planet, with different magic users able to control things when a certain satellite is visible. A satellite with a very long and unstable period is coming into range so its powerful magic users will be getting strong and every time this happens, invasions occur in many worlds.
Lilia was raised as a drudge in the Temple of Oma (the satellite with the very long and unstable period). She has memories of her and her mother being attacked, then her being sent to her mother’s friend who took her to the temple. As a drudge she has access to all the books and strategy games that the students have and she takes advantage of them. She remembers her mother placing a sign on her hand, but she can’t see the sign now. When she is a teen, she asks a friend to research what the sign means. This leads to a mystery that isn’t solved until late in the book. Her friend Roh is a good fighter and good mage but not so good at the books. This makes them a good team, but unfortunately she is forced to leave the temple in order to save him.
When she leaves the temple riding a bear and in the company of a mage, her agenda is of course not that of the person with her. She travels around the world, gets injured, makes friends and enemies, learns to be a healer and learns more about her own magic. She is trying to follow the promise she made to her mother that she would return to her, but this involves many battles and travel through a portal into another world several times. The people she meets up with at the end have their own strands of plot through the book and these strands are woven together well, with all of the characters learning the true nature of their world at different points before the final scenes.
The magic system and parallel world setup make this a very interesting setting. It has rich and complex characters from many cultures, even the same cultures from parallel worlds are different. We are really looking forward to more books from Kameron Hurley, hopefully in this same universe. This is an amazing novel.
Review of War of Shadows: Book Three of the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga by Gail Z. Martin (Orbit, April 21, 2015)
Blaine and his friends continue the battle to save Donderath from Reese and Pollard and the crazy mage Vigus Quintrel. Blaine’s ex, Carensa, gives us a viewpoint of what Quintrel is doing. She has realized her mentor is bonkers, but fears for her life since he keeps killing mages (whose ghosts actually turn out to be helpful, too).
One event in this book which was a nice change from battles was the wedding of Blaine and Kestel Falke. It takes place at Glenreith and Blaine’s annoying brother Carr does what he can to disrupt things and pull the newlyweds away from the festivities. The Madness seems to have left Carr with a desire to take increasingly bigger risks until he is killed, so while Niklas gives him some scouting jobs, most of his time is spent on very risky missions he doesn’t have orders to do.
There are increasingly violent storms across Donderath as the natural weather patterns reestablish themselves after years of manipulation by mages. Not quite as bad as the weather in Edgeland, but all the rain and snow causes flooding and much damage to already damaged buildings. They have to balance using soldiers for defense with using them to rebuild falling buildings. The damage to buildings and fields means that food is scarce. Blaine and his allies encourage people to plant crops and round up livestock that is running wild, but Pollard and Quintrel don’t do this: they just steal the common people’s food for themselves.
There are many battles in this volume, all well-written and having some magic-based surprises. Poor Blaine is the anchor of the world’s magic and it wears him down and gives him headaches when he is near magic. His mages are able to help him some with artifacts they find, but it is basically a race to see whether he can last until his mages figure out how to create more lords of the blood, so the anchoring goes between thirteen. Quintrel wants to be able to control the anchors, so of course he does everything in his power to keep Blaine from his task. Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Release Day Edition! Reviews of The Grace of Kings, The Rebirths of Tao, and SuperpositionPosted: 7 April, 2015
Review of The Grace of Kings: Book One of the Dandelion Dynasty by Ken Liu (Saga Press, April 7, 2015)
Just when Your Humble Reviewers were getting tired of avoiding many fantasy novels because they all sounded like something we had already read, along came Ken Liu’s first novel to blow that idea away. As a reader of some of his short fiction, we had high hopes for his novel simply because we suspected it would be well-written and based in a Chinese-influenced setting. The setting of the Dandelion Dynasty was far richer and more real than any fantasy setting we have read in years (we read approximately 75 books a year so that is quite a few).
Kuni Gara and Mata Zyndu are both complex male characters who, as brothers and enemies, illustrate the complexity of society’s norms for different occupations (in this case soldier and thief/conman) and how going beyond the expected can cause the entire world to change. Also we see that the other people in their lives can change the course of history by a single act or conversation. The setting is based on historical China during the Han Dynasty, so women usually have traditional roles, but some break out to do something non-traditional with the support of the more-open minded Kuni. Note that the names in the book follow English norm for order, not Chinese so Gara is Kuni’s surname.
The story moves very quickly and because a time reference and location are given for each chapter, it is easy to know which main character you are following in that chapter. There are battle scenes, some of which are presented large-scale and others which are told from a single character viewpoint. All these are done with well-described geography so map lovers and tabletop war gamers will rejoice over the text and beautiful map. It would be easy to recreate some of them using miniatures, so we are sure it won’t be long before someone shows us how on the internet!
We loved the airships, kites, and mechanical cruben (something like a giant koi) in the book. We have several Chinese kites in our home, so a Chinese setting wouldn’t feel right without kites! Also I liked Liu’s choice of “eating sticks” instead of chopsticks (which even translated isn’t actually what they are called in Chinese). It gave insight into Liu’s writer’s brain, like he imagined it in Chinese and wrote it in English, translating names of objects and phrases as they should be, not as they were by foreigners visiting China several hundred years ago. Read the rest of this entry »