Speculative Fiction Book Reviews

Science Fiction and Fantasy:


2019:



Shit-quels: "The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset" by Suzanne Collins
Bullshit Fantasy: "The Poppy War" by R.F. Kuang
Homo Quantus: "The Quantum Magician" by Derek Künsken
Dr. Strangelove in Colour: "House of Suns" by Alastair Reynolds
Religion-in-SF: "Redemption Ark" by Alastair Reynolds
Toilet Testing: "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Stupid Space Elevator: "Chasm City" by Alastair Reynolds
No Pathos: "The Wolf's Call" by Anthony Ryan
Tiberian Baldies: "Encounter with Tiber" by Buzz Aldrin, John Barnes
Post-Post-Rhodian MilSF: "Aftershocks" by Marko Kloos
Kafkaesque Nightmare: "Priest of Lies" by Peter McLean
Low Fantasy Done Right: "Priest of Bones" by Peter McLean
Subverted MilSF: "Lines of Departure" by Marko Kloos
Haystack Man: “‘Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King
Slogging It Out: "Recursive" by Blake Crouch
April 1st: "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" by Neal Stephenson
Lacking in SFional Meat: "Finder" by Suzanne Palmer
Ryugu: "Delta-V" by Daniel Suarez
Adumbration Galore: “Tigana” by Guy Gavriel Kay
Groking: “The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein” by Farah Mendlesohn
Geiger Counters: "Between Planets" by Robert A. Heinlein
Cliched SF: "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman
Non-Hubris SF: "Have Space Suit-Will Travel" by Robert A. Heinlein
Emotional Disconnect: "Friday" by Robert A. Heinlein
8XK40367: “Citizen of the Galaxy” by Robert A. Heinlein
Competent Man: “Time Enough for Love” by Robert A. Heinlein
Non-Fuckfort SF: "The Great Leveller (#4-6)" by Joe Abercrombie
Less World-Building is Better: “The First Law Trilogy (#1-3)” by Joe Abercrombie
Symplectic Geometry: "Axiomatic" by Greg Egan
Nothing Erases the Past: "Exhalation: Stories" by Ted Chiang
Ropey CGI: "Game of Thrones - Season 8" by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Transhumanist's Wet-Dream: "Incandescence" by Greg Egan
Everettian Universe: "The Orthogonal Trilogy" by Greg Egan
Möbius Strip: "Diaspora" by Greg Egan
Tangent Space: "Schild's Ladder" by Greg Egan
Hausdorff Manifolds: “Distress” by Greg Egan
Eigenstates' Superposition: "Teranesia" by Greg Egan
Eigenstates: “Quarentine” by Greg Egan
A Handful of Nothing: "Fire & Blood" by George R.R. Martin, Doug Wheatley
Solid YA SF: "Shadow Captain" by Alastair Reynolds


2018:


Ancient Greek Cynicism: "The Father of Lies" by K. J. Parker
Quantum Entanglement Radio: "Gate Crashers" by Patrick S. Tomlinson
Swinburne's Lesson: "Noumenon" by Marina J. Lostetter
Capellanus: "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" by James Tiptree Jr.
Old-As-Dirty-SF Prop: "Gunpowder Moon" David Pedreira
Ooh! Me spotted dick!: "Artemis" by Andy Weir
Tickboxing exercise: "The Fifth Season" by J. K. Jemisin
Lacklustre SF: "Red Sister" by Mark Lawrence
The Accepted Aliens: “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de Bodard
Emotions Galore: “Exit Strategy” by Martha Wells
Space Opera Buffa: "Salvation" by Peter F. Hamilton
Sticky Patch: "Planetside" by Michael Mammay
Blaring SF: “Theft of Swords” by Michael J. Sullivan
Let us Violate Cakes Together: "Redshirts" by John Scalzi
Pro- or Anti-Wittgensteinian SF: “Rogue Protocol” by Martha Wells
Stale Spin-off: “The Grey Bastards” by Jonathan French
Opposable Thumbs: “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal
The-George-R-R-Martin-that-also-wrote-stuff-other-than-the-famigerated-GoT: “Tuf Voyaging” by George R. R. Martin
Epiphenomenal Consciousness: “Blindsight by Peter Watts
Ana and Kata: “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi
SFional Lorentz Transformations: "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson
C/Fe: "The Caves of Steel" by Isaac Asimov
Star-gazing SecUnits: “Artificial Condition - The MurderBot Diaries 2” by Martha Wells
Space Opera Made Simple: "Embers of War" by Gareth L. Powell
Femalessness SF: "Needle" by Hal Clement
Indistinguishable SF: "Nightflyers and Other Stories" by George R.R. Martin
Plebiscitum: “Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro
Over-the-top World-Building: "The Hammer" by K. J. Parker
Non-Distinctive Narrative Voice: "All Systems Red" by Martha Wells
Gambler's Fallacy: "One Human Minute" by Stanislaw Lem
A Real Sense of Otherness: "Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid
SF-with-an-Agenda: "The Stars Are Legion" by Kameron Hurley
SF-of-a-Different-Persuasion: "James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon" by Julie Phillips
Urinating-on-the-corpse-SF: "The Prefect" by Alastair Reynolds
Mundane Fiction in Disguise: “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers
Walking Ahead into the Darkness: "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
We're Trillions of Light-Years from Home: "Lost in Space" (2018) by Netflix
milSF Without Story: "Ironclads" by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Man Flu: "Five to Twelve" by Edmund Cooper
Workmanlike Prose: "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke
Eigen-stuff Applied to Buridan's Ass: “Dichronauts” by Greg Egan
Borzage Silent: "The Shape of Water" by Guillermo Del Toro
Space 1999 Reboot: "Interstellar" by Christopher Nolan
Mushroom Ghosts: "Star Trek: Discovery" by Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Tickboxing Screen SF: "Altered Carbon" by Laeta Kalogridis
The Endless Loops of Space Opera: "The Last Jedi" by Rian Johnson


2017:


The Smallnesses of War: "The Two of Swords, 3 volumes" by K.J. Parker
Non-canonical SF author: “The Culture Series of Iain M. Banks - A Critical Introduction” by Simone Caroti
Frazzled Frenzy SF: "The Stand - The Complete & Uncut Edition" by Stephen King
Pax Americana: "Double Star" by Robert A. Heinlein
Who am I?: "A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick
On How to Spin a Top-Notch Yarn of Bullshit: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein
The SF Lamp was Broken: "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo
Beckettian SF: "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick
The Risks of Universal Enfranchisement: "Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein
Fictionalizing Philosopher: “Philip K. Dick and Philosophy - Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits” by Dylan E. Wittkower
An Operating System for a New World: "The Algorithm of Power” by Pedro Barrento
Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water: "Ubik" by Philip K. Dick
Reality and Illusion: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
Unreliable First-Person Narrative: "Mightier than the Sword" by K. J. Parker
Intellectually Arid Work: "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
RIP Brian Aldiss, 1925 - 1917: "The Brightfount Diaries" by Brian Aldiss
The Society of Cousins: “The Moon and the Other” by John Kessel
Drastic Irrelevancy Synergism: Variable Star” by Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson
Vintage Wave-function Collapse: "What Mad Universe" by Fredric Brown
Non-Standard Fantasy: “The Blade Itself” by Joe Abercrombie
Minor SF Movie: "Blade Runner 2049" by Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott
The Glamorisation of Suffering: "City of Stairs" by Robert Jackson Bennett
Non-Flash-in-the-Pan SF: “Counting Heads” by David Marusek
Witchcrafty-Cyperpunky SF: “Killing Gravity” by Corey J. White
There Are no Golden Ages: "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis
Progressive Rock SF: "Devices and Desires" by K. J. Parker
The Quest for Immortality, variant no. 843: “A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock
Downbeat and Offbeat Fiction: “The Shadow Years” by Jeffrey Ford
A Country Without (SF) Readers: “Antologia Cyberpunk” by Editorial Divergência
Science Fiction International Convention at IST: Sci-Fi LX 2017 - Look Beyond
Smart-Alecky SF: "Skullsworn" by Brian Staveley
Dark Underbelly of Utopia: "Use of Weapons" by Iain M. Banks
Gaming All-Nighters: "The Player of Games" by Iain M. Banks
Causality Violation SF: “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer
Bloviated SF: "The Ninth Rain" by Jen Williams
Intertextual SF: "The Grace of Kings" by Ken Liu
Some Old SF Stuff I Bought on eBay
Oobla Dee Oobla Dah SF: "The Collapsing Empire" by John Scalzi
Octaviasdottir: “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson
Frog in a Pot of Cold Water: "The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred" by Greg Egan
Nuanced SF: "Crackpot Palace - Stories" by Jeffrey Ford
Unreliability of Fiction: “The Devil You Know” by K. J. Parker
Unreliability in Fiction: "Blue and Gold" by K. J. Parker
Coruscating Beams of Force: "Exploring Science Through Science Fiction" by Barry B. Luokkala
Navel Gazing Novel: “Central Station” by Lavie Tidhar
Constipated SF: "The Iron Tactician" by Alastair Reynolds
Why Do Bad Films Happen to Good People: "Arrival" by Denis Villeneuve



2016:


Grittier and Darker Star Wars Spin-off: "Rogue One" by Gareth Edwards
Die Verfremdungseffekt: "All that Outer Space Allows" by Ian Sales
The Nature of Reality: "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" by Philip K. Dick
Reality-Transforming SF: "The Gradual" by Christopher Priest
Anarres vs. Urras - Ambiguous Walls: “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Implausibility of Happenstance: "Children of Earth and Sky" by Guy Gavriel Kay
Steampunk Riff SF: "Revenger" by Alastair Reynolds
An Incantation, a Haircut and Boom, Voilà, Jon Snow is Back From the Dead. Really? : "Game of Thrones - 6th Season"
Toasters in the Wild West: "Westworld" by Jonathan Nole/JJ Abrams
Coding Languages vs. Natural Languages: Story of Your Life and Others” by Ted Chiang
Mindfuck Literature: “Beyond the Aquila Rift – The Best of Alastair Reynold” by Alastair Reynold
Cognitive SF: "Savages" by K. J. Parker (aka Tom Holt)
Mono No Aware: "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" by "Ken Liu
Flat, Flat, Flat: "Sharp Ends" by Joe Abercrombie
Simple-Minded SF: "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin, Ken Liu (translator)
Bleakest SF Author Writes Something not That Bleak: “Not This August by Cyril M. Kornbluth, Fred Pohl


2015:


Ser Duncan the Tall: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" by George R. R. Martin
SF will not become SciFi: "Galactic North" by Alastair Reynolds
Movie Review: "Star Wars - The Force Still Slumbers"
Marxist SF: "Murder on the 31st Floor” by Per Wahlöö
"Life Would Be So Much Easier If We Only Had the Source Code: "Mr. Robot" Sort of Review
Deeply Interwoven Parallel Worlds: "Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above" by Ian Sales
Unreliable Memories: "The Last Witness" by K. J. Parker/Tom Holt
How to Live Another Sol: “The Martian” by Andy Weir
Deus-ex-Machina YA Fiction: "Half A War" by Joe Abercrombie
Big-Ass Delta VEE: “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson
Subverted YA: "Half the World" by Joe Abercrombie

2014 (15):



2012:


Grassy Knoll: "11/22/63" by Stephen King
Surfeit of Cliché: "The Soldier Son Trilogy" by Robin Hobb
Trove of Clarke's Goodies: "The Collected Stories" by Arthur C. Clarke


2013 (27):

"China Mountain Zhang" by Maureen F. McHugh
"The Farthest Shore" (Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. LeGuin
"The Tombs of Atuan" (Earthsea Cycle, #2) by Ursula K. LeGuin
"A Wizard of Earthsea" (The Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. LeGuin
"Blood Song" (Raven's Shadow, #1) by Anthony Ryan


2008 (2):



2005:


The Malloreon, Vol. 2: Sorceress of Darshiva / The Seeress of Kell
Unimportant Sub-Plots: "A Feast for Crows" by George R. R. Martin


2004:


Liquid-Plumr: "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger


2003:


Non-Coherent Narrative: "A Storm of Swords" by George R. R. Martin


2002:


Experimental SF: "Gardens of the Moon" by Steven Erikson
The Chicken's Head Rose: "Soul of the Fire" by Terry Goodkind
Coming of Age: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J. K. Rowling


2001:


9/11: "Jingo" by Terry Pratchett


2000:


Painful Memories: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J. K. Rowling
Matter-of-Factness SF: "Roadside Picnic" by The Strugatsky Brothers
The Special Art of SF: “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny
Nihilist SF: "A Clash of Kings" by George R. R. Martin
Lobstered Steel: "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin
Good Back-in-the-Day-SF: "Telzey Amberdon" by James H. Schmitz
Mythical Agents of Destiny: "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan
Homo Ludens: “Dimension of Miracles” by Robert Sheckley
Russian Big Brother: "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin
British Big Brother: "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell
Painting in Text: "The Gormenghast Trilogy" by Marvin Peake


1999:


Quaint Britishness: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J. K. Rowling
Sum Tyms Bytin Sum Tyms Bit: "Riddley Walker" by Russell Hoban
Over-the-Top SF: "The Naked God" by Peter F. Hamilton


1998:


Paradigm Shifting Technology: “Steel Beach” by John Varley
SF Taxonomy: "The Complete Morgaine" by C J. Cherryh
Pollyanna Principles: "Dhalgren" by Samuel L. Delany



1997:


Techno-Dystopia: "Idoru" by William Gibson
On Preterition: "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon
Non-Predictive SF: “Clans of the Alphane Moon” by Philip K. Dick



1996:



Unhook the Modem: "Neuromancer" by William Gibson



1995:


Willing Suspension of Disbelief: “The First Lensman” by E. E. Doc Smith
Realistic Sounding Nonsense: "Triplanetary" E.E. "Doc" Smith
Not About Free Love: "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein


1994:


Sonnet 42: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
Access Denied Prototype: “Valis” by Philip K. Dick
Dua, Odeen, and Tritt: "The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov
Sextuple star system: "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg
Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL: “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke
RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018: "The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4)" by Ursula K. Le Guin


1993:





Literacy Gradients: "Web of Angels" by John M. Ford
Noncombustible Data: “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
Islamic Thought: "Dune" by Frank Herbert



1992:


Future Technologies: "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson
The Dead Hand: "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov


1991:



High Gauss EM Field: "Dragon's Egg" by Robert L. Forward
Degeneration: "The Rolling Stones" by Robert A. Heinlein



1990:


Simultaneous Worlds: "Wittgenstein's Mistress" by David Markson
Gibsonesque State: "Monalisa Overdrive" by William Gibson
Christological Sacrifices: "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" by Tolkien
The People of the Sea: "Dolphin Island" by Arthur C. Clarke



1989:





The Silent Ships: "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke


1987:




Hoodwinking Readers: “The Gate to Women's Country” by Sheri S. Tepper
Swallowed by the Sea of Thirst: "A Fall of Moondust" by Arthur C. Clarke



1986:



Femina lupa feminae: "Nights at the Circus" by Angela Carter


1981:


Rattling SF: “The Affirmation” by Christopher Priest
The All-Powerful State: "One" by David Karp
D-Cups: "The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancient Rayguns: "Mirrorshades" by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling et al



1980:





Binary Equivalents: "Starman Jones" by Robert A. Heinlein
Talking a Lot About Cats: "A Door Into Summer" by Robert A. Heinlein
Inexplicable Anomalies: "The Ringworld Throne" by Larry Niven
Quantifiable Intelligence: "The Brain Machine" by George O. Smith
Nuclear Stalemate: "Blowups Happen" by Robert A. Heinlein
Astral Projection: "On Wings of Song" by Thomas M. Disch
Sexual Mores: "Podkayne of Mars" by Robert A. Heinlein
Swashbuckling Tradition: "Galactic Patrol" by E. E. "Doc" Smith
Realistic SF: "Floating Worlds" by Cecilia Holland
Hyperspace Shunt: "Protector" by Larry Niven
Worldnet: "A Step Farther Out" by Jerry Pournelle
Ultimate Freudian SF: "Golem-100" by Alfred Bester
Pink and Blue War: "A World Between" by Norman Spinrad
Malthus: "Make Room! Make Room!" by Harry Harrison
Mechasm: "The Reproductive System" by John Sladek
Beams of Energy: "Waldo & Magic" by Robert A. Heinlein
Minimum of Bloodshed: "Dorsai!" by Gordon R. Dickson
R(t) = sqrt(r**2+dr**2-2*r*dr*cos(t)): "Ringworld" by Larry Niven
Pak: "The World or Ptavvs" by Larry Niven
Non-Sexist Rip-Roaring SF: "The Number of the Beast" by Robert A. Heinlein
Hold a Universe Together: "Flatlander" by Larry Niven
Known Space: "A Gift from Earth" by Larry Niven
2 Escudos: "New Tales of Space And Time" by Raymond J. Healy
REM: "The Stone That Never Came Down" by John Brunner
Cold Sleep: "We All Died at Breakaway Station" by Richard C. Meredith
Smeerp Method: "The Issue At Hand" by James Blish
Fall from Grace: "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes
Page-Turning Foofaraw: "Firestarter" by Stephen King
Brainstormers: "Scavengers" by David J. Skal
SF Ghetto: "Canopus in Argos: Archives" by Doris Lessing
Maxwell's Demon: "Master of the Five Magics" by Lyndon Hardy
Conveyor Belts: "The Past Through Tomorrow" by Robert A. Heinlein
Numenor: "Unfinished Tales" by J. R. R. Tolkien
TAU: "Lambda I and Other Stories" by John Carnell
Saturnalia-like SF: "Heritage and Exile" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
RIP Daniel L. Weinreb: "The World Inside" by Robert Silverberg
Gothic SF Romance: "Glass Tower" by Robert Silverberg
Masquerading: "All the Lies That Are My Life" by Harlan Ellison
Super-Time: "Thrice Upon a Time" by James P. Hogan
Everyone Watches the Monitor: "Strange Wine" by Harlan Ellison
Cardboard SF: "The Devil's Game" by Poul Anderson
Battle of the Sexes: "Congo" by Michael Crichton
Walter Mitty: "The Stories of Ray Bradbury" by Ray Bradbury
From Russia: "The Uncertainty Principle" by Dmitri Bilenkin
Mythical Beings: "The Circus of Dr. Lao" by Charles G. Finney
Flat Cats vs Tribbles: "The Trouble With Tribbles" by David Gerrold
$3-Worth: "Dream Makers" by Charles Platt
Galactic-War: "The Fall of Worlds" by Francine Mezo
Space Captain Roadstrum: "Space Chantey" by R. A. Lafferty
Shoddy SF: "Why Call Them Back from Heaven" by Clifford D. Simak
WORLDNET: "The Age of the Pussyfoot" by Frederik Pohl
The Laws of Thermodynamics: "The Cyberiad Stories" by Stanislaw Lem
Hyper-Time: "The Legion of Time" by Jack Williamson
Just for Us Techies: "Shatterday" by Harlan Ellison
Erudition: "The Last Defender of Camelot" by Roger Zelazny
Time-Retarded Fields: "The Patchwork Girl" by Larry Niven
Sex and Buzz Bombs: "Wizard" by John Varley
Wireheads: "The Ringworld Engineers" by Larry Niven
Bubble Brain: "The People Exchange" by Robert F Baylus
Competent Fempro: "The Hub - Dangerous Territory" by James H. Schmitz
Rehashed SF: "Probability Broach" by L. Neil Smith
Leaves of Grass: "Roadmarks" by Roger Zelazny
Magic Undercover: "The Amber Series" by Roger Zelazny
Gödelized Messages: "The Gold at the Starbow's End" by Frederik Pohl
Matter Transmission: "A For Anything" by Damon Knight
Nits, Gnats, and Other Beasties in TESB - Movie Review

Spy Fiction:


2019:


Englishness: "Agent Running in the Field" by John le Carré


2017:


Spies Catching Spies: "A Legacy of Spies" by John Le Carré
An Old-Fashioned Thriller, but What a Thriller: "Kolymsky Heights" by Lionel Davidson



2016:


Câmara Obscura Literature: "The Pigeon Tunnel - Stories from My Life" By John Le Carré
Minor Spy Fiction: "A Spy Divided" by Charles Cumming
Authority Without Domination: “Shibumi” by Trevanian

2014:




2010:


Calvinist at Prayer: "Our Kind of Traitor" by John Le Carré



2002:


Meister Geschichtenerzähler: "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad

Western:



2015:


Western a la Sergio Leone: "Paradise Sky" by Joe Lansdale















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