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  • 08/11/2023 19:07 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Time Portals of Norwich cover

    Time Portals of Norwich by David Viner

    (Viva Djinn Publishing, 2023)

    Reviewed by Gene Rowe

    We first meet Cassie—a young girl from Norwich—at her mother’s funeral. Well, not just one Cassie but, as it turns out, three…although ‘our’ Cassie doesn’t realise who these other two are until she becomes one of them years later. Uh-huh, it’s that sort of story.

    What follows is an adventure in which multiple Cassies flit backwards and forwards through time as our heroine (in all her manifestations) attempts to unravel the supernatural mystery of her family and escape her malign and ancient father, who wants to use her body as a vessel for his own devilish soul. In the course of her complicated journey, Cassie encounters various famous episodes from the city’s past—in some cases being implicated in their happenings. Thus, she narrowly avoids being fried in a bomber attack during one of the Baedeker Raids of WW2; another time, she escapes (and perhaps inadvertently causes) a fire in the old Norwich library; and elsewhen, she is nearly squashed by a double-decker falling down a sinkhole (an event that actually occurred in the 1970s just down the road from where I live).

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 06/11/2023 16:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Roamers cover

    The Roamers by Francesco Verso

    (Flame Tree Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Long, long ago, back in the nineties before I’d written a single review for Vector, it felt like a boom time for nanotechnology in science fiction: Neal Stephenson’s whimsical The Diamond Age, Kathleen Ann Goonan’s jazz-heavy ,Nanontech Quartet, Wil McCarthy’s vertiginous Bloom, and the grandaddy of them all, Greg Bear’s magnificent Blood Music.

    So, I felt a Proustian rush on reading this new nanotech novel: The Roamers, by Francesco Verso. Set in Rome, and translated from the original Italian, The Roamers follows a group who “…altered their bodies, changed the way they eat and liberated themselves from the need for food” (back cover). The blurb mixes the terrifying onrush of transformation in Blood Music with the hard work of grasping and maintaining freedom seen in much of Cory Doctorow’s work.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 04/11/2023 09:02 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Ava’s Demon Book One cover

    Ava’s Demon, Book One: Reborn by Michelle Fus

    (Skybound Comet, 2023)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    Ava’s Demon is a YA graphic novel published by Skybound Comet, adapted from a web comic. As the title suggests, young Ava has a Demon. More precisely, the demon is trapped within Ava and often communicates with her via a rotary telephone kept within a compartment in Ava’s torso.

    The Demon has made Ava’s life in school a misery by taking command at inappropriate times. However, once Ava agrees to a pact with her Demon, she is launched on a quest to recruit an army. It turns out that the Demon is an alien called Wrathia and was formally a queen, so needs an army to be restored to her throne.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 01/11/2023 17:15 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Two Pendants cover

    The Two Pendants: The Children of Pisces, Book 1 by R.E. Lewin

    (Matador, 2022)

    Reviewed by Steven French

    This is a YA novel aimed at a 10–18 year-old readership, although I think it is best suited for those at the lower end of that range. It opens with a pregnant woman being pursued by remorseless hunters, before skipping ahead to the same woman leaving each of her four babies in different locations in hopes that they can find safety. The story proper begins with one of the four, Tammy, sneaking into the office of the orphanage where she has ended up and discovering a curious pendant left to her by her mum. On a trip to an island Noah’s Ark where at least two of every species of animal have been saved after the deadly Pisces virus swept over the planet, Tammy displays an extraordinary affinity with the animals that allows her to climb into the pen with one of the jaguars and befriend it (here the author might have included a warning: Kids! Don’t try this at your local zoo!!). After she’s adopted by the owners of the reserve, Ed and Jude, Tammy begins to explore her powers and while on a trip to Africa, not only saves some lions from hunters but also a small child from crocodiles, creatures who prove strangely resistant to her abilities.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 30/10/2023 19:05 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Queen High cover

    Queen High by C.J. Carey

    (Quercus, 2022)

    Reviewed by L.J. Hurst

    Although not the first alternate history in which a Nazi leadership sits in London, Queen High is interesting among feminist visions of it. And “interesting” needs a list to explain why.

    First, note that this is a sequel to Widowland, in which Rose Ransom and her friends and family were introduced. Rose works as a civil servant and literary censor. Her responsibility, though, is more like Winston Smith’s in Nineteen Eighty-Four: that is, Rose, to satisfy the aesthetic demands of (real Nazi) Alfred Rosenberg’s belief that women should be subject to men, and that literature should reflect this, re-writes the classics. The nadir of the practice can be read in the first sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a womb must be in want of a husband”.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 27/10/2023 09:43 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Augur cover

    Augur by John C. Sable

    (Self-Published, 2022)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Monks, eh? What are they like? In Augur, 200 of them seal themselves inside an impenetrable concrete dome for the next 200 years. Or rather, 199 monks do: one runs off en-route to the finished dome (and the concrete dome isn’t completely sealed, as we later discover).

    Sealed inside their new home, our monks only see the outside world through “simulations”, but their isolation means they’re now able to predict the future and guide the rest of us towards a better world. How this works is not something that’s explained, and doesn’t feel intuitively very likely, to be honest. Perhaps some Delphic sense kicks in when you’re cut off from the rest of humanity? Or have they discovered psychohistory 10,000 years before Hari Seldon?

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 25/10/2023 19:46 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fables and Spells cover

    Fables and Spells by adrienne maree brown

    (AK Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by Susan Peak

    adrienne maree brown (she doesn’t capitalise her name) is a Black American woman writer who has attended a Clarion workshop. She is active in healing (social and sexual) and restorative justice work in the US, is a doula, and has written several books. These are mainly related to her activist work, e.g., Emergent Strategy, a sequence of books about sustainable social change where adrienne’s view is that social change should be pleasurable and not solely work (this emphasis on a different approach to social issues has faint echoes of New Wave science fiction). She has combined speculative fiction, where she has been described as an Afrofuturist writer, with her activism, e.g., when co-editing Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. Combining these concerns and interests is very evident in Fables and Spells, one of the Emergent Strategy sequence, which contains a mixture of short stories and poems.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 23/10/2023 19:06 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Flux cover

    Flux by Jinwoo Chong

    (Melville House Publishing, 2023)

    Reviewed by Jamie Mollart

    Flux by Jinwoo Chung is told over three storylines in three timelines which wind together and intertwine in a way designed to confuse and entrance the reader.

    Bo is an 8-year-old reeling over his mother’s death, while obsessing over a Noir Cop drama, Raider, and arguing with his father and brother.

    Blue is a 48-year-old mute, able to talk through cybernetic implants, who is called upon to take part in a television expose of the tech startup he used to work for, Flux.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 20/10/2023 16:54 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hel’s Eight cover

    Hel’s Eight by Stark Holborn

    (Titan Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by Nick Hubble

    Hel’s Eight is the sequel to Stark Holborn’s 2021 space western Ten Low and, while it could be read on its own, readers would probably benefit from reading the earlier novel first. There has been some debate as to whether describing these books as westerns is selling them short but that rather depends on people’s attitudes to westerns. If like me, you are a fan of the spaghetti and revisionist westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, and especially trippy counter-cultural westerns such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo or Monte Hellman’s The Shooting, then you will relish the feverish intensity of these novels. As an upgrade, the traditional gender politics of the western have been long outrun here so that we have in Joanne Harris’s words ‘a wonderful fusion of Firefly and Joanna Russ, with an Ennio Morricone soundtrack’. This is the kind of future that I used to dream about in my wildest fantasies but somehow the twenty-first-century grind of capitalist realism has driven such visions away from us. Therefore, the first task of this review is simply to register gratitude for Holborn’s implicit invitation to readers to completely unfetter their imaginations again.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 18/10/2023 19:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hopeland cover

    Hopeland by Ian McDonald

    (Gollancz, 2023)

    Reviewed by Nick Hubble

    Hopeland is a huge novel in every respect, coming in at nearly 650 pages, spanning locations including the UK, Greenland and the Pacific Islands, and encompassing a time period running from the 2011 London riots to a climate-ravaged early 2030s. However, its full temporal scope is even bigger than this summary suggests, stretching back into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and forward to a future, millennia hence, as it poses the question of whether a family might outlive the Anthropocene by lasting for 10,000 years.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.


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