Reviews by Writer Dan

Review

Dark Orbit

Posted: March 20, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Carolyn Ives Gilman, Science Fiction
Dark Orbit

Despite my constant frustrations with the Science Fiction genre, I keep finding myself pulled back into its orbit. I can’t help but love all of the things that make great Science Fiction great. I tried to start this one a number of times, and just wasn’t ever able to get into it. But, instead of passing on it altogether, I’d stick it back in the TBR pile for another chance. I even tried to listen to the audiobook but bailed on that pretty quickly because I felt like I seemed to be missing a lot of the story. And then, as I did once long ago with Memories of Ice (EBR Archive), I decided to just push through and do it. Feels good to be on this side of the divide. Only took me five years to get here…
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Review

Alice

Posted: March 13, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Christina Henry, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Alice

After reading Christina Henry’s THE GIRL IN RED (EBR Review), I couldn’t wait to find out what other tales she’d been telling that I didn’t yet know about. That first one was a brilliant take on the simple tale of Red Riding Hood, and I was hoping to find more of the same in this one, which is obviously pointed at the classic tale Alice in Wonderland. There have been enough versions of both these tales told that it might seem as if we really don’t need another. One of the great things about storytelling though is that even if the ideas and plots are pillars of stability in our minds, a new tale can still be just as invigorating and fun to read as if everything were brand new. And these stories? They’re pretty new. There’s enough of both the familiar and the new that they end up being really great reads. But here I am getting ahead of myself a bit.
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Review

Ivory Apples

Posted: February 28, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Lisa Goldstein, Fantasy, Young Adult
Ivory Apples

At this point in my “reading career” it is often somewhat easy to look at a book cover, read the first couple pages, and then determine whether a particular book is going to be “my type”. This time I didn’t even have to read any pages. Just the cover alone gave me a pretty good idea that this book wasn’t exactly going to land in my wheelhouse. And that’s exactly why I decided to read it. This is me trying to branch out. Although, truth be told, I’m branching out within the context of the books that get sent to us by publishers/editors/etc. Still, you never know what you’re going to find when it comes to reading a new author. May just end up reading a book that was nothing short of fantabulous.

Spoiler alert: this one wasn’t.
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Review

Kalanon’s Rising

Posted: February 19, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Darian Smith, Fantasy
Kalanon’s Rising

So it’s been a minute since we were involved with the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off run by Mark Lawrence, and I constantly find myself torn over the fact that we aren’t involved anymore. This annual contest is doing sooooo much good in finding some really good authors that have taken the self-publication route. Whether they plan on sticking to their guns for the long term or are hoping to gain the attention of a traditional publication house, you can’t deny the fact that the efforts Mark Lawrence (and all of the online review houses involved) is making for these authors is nothing but pure gold. Recently, we were approached by the author of a finalist in the current incarnation of the contest for a review, and I couldn’t help but accept.
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Review

Permutation City

Posted: February 7, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Greg Egan, Hard SF, Science Fiction
Permutation City

I’m reaching way back into the vault for this one: 1994. Yeah. I was still in high school and nowhere near mature enough of a reader to pick up half of what science fiction was offering at the time. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a mature enough reader these days to understand some of the stuff that science fiction is bringing to the table. A lot of it just makes me go cross-eyed with annoyance and leaves me wondering why story and character are so often pushed to the back burner in favor of presenting ideas that the author thinks are important. Why do they need to present these ideas in the form of fiction? Why not just fill out encyclopedias with these awesome ideas and essays, if the presented construct doesn’t really matter? Still, there are some really cool ideas that get flung around here and there, and I guess authors aren’t exactly going to stop presenting their ideas in these ways. So, we might as well read them, if we can handle them, and try to get what we can out of them. Yes? Yes.
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Review

The New Voices of Science Fiction

The New Voices of Science Fiction

I’ve been looking for something from Hannu Rajaniemi for some time now. At least, it feels like it’s been a long time since I read something from him. Year-and-a-half maybe? So, even though none of the stories in this anthology was by him, I was still pretty excited to read it when it got dropped into my TBR pile. It is, unfortunately, the last bit of short fiction that I’ll be getting to for a while. Nothing else on the near horizon anyhow.
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Review

Blood Heir

Blood Heir

I was fairly surprised when I saw this book displayed on a wall at my local library. Some of you may be familiar with or remember some of the mess that rose up around this book back in 2018. This is the author’s debut novel, and when it went out for early reviews, there was a bundle of people that started complaining quite loudly about how the book was racist and condoned slavery, and there was a big ruckus about it. By the time I’d even heard about it though, the book had been pulled from publication, by request of the author, and it was no longer available for review. Color me excited though when I saw that the book had quite obviously been published after all, and I was going to get a look at what all the hubbub was about.

Turns out, there wasn’t much to get excited over.
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Review

Strange Exit

Strange Exit

The concept of virtual worlds has always intrigued me. In some ways, we’re rapidly approaching the condition where such things could become a reality. And in others, I think we’re light years away. When I’ve seen them used in stories, one of the big themes that invariably comes into play is the ability to determine whether you’re in the virtual world or the real world. Inception, anyone? There are lots of other ideas to play with in that realm as well, but this one is of particular importance because it comes into play in this book. In Inception, there was a very simple, very direct way of determining which world the character found themselves. Made it easy for the audience to stay grounded. But without such a device? Well, let me not spoil the message of this review.
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Review

Age of Assassins

Posted: January 3, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: R.J. Barker, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Age of Assassins

Recently I’d been seeing frequent mentions about R.J. Barker’s new book, The Bone Ships, but didn’t have ready access to a copy. So I went looking for another book by the same author and found this one. Apparently it’s his debut novel, and was just published a couple years ago. From the publication schedule, it looks like they were probably all written first, and then he got picked up by his publisher. 6-month, very regular release dates kind of point in that direction. Seems like I see this significantly more often from speculative authors across the pond, but not so much from those here in America. Wonder if that’s because I just haven’t noticed them, or perhaps if it’s just something they don’t do here as often. Bonus for people that find they really like the thing, I guess. 🙂
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Review

The Girl in Red

Posted: December 31, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Christina Henry, Horror, Post Apocalyptic
The Girl in Red

I have a thing for constancy. When I drive somewhere I usually take the same route. When I’m feeling down, I like to hit the used book store. Things I do on a regular basis are safe and known quantities. But I also have a thing for new stuff. Surfing YouTube for new music. Trying out some new kind of food. I may or may not really like to find new breakfast cereals, despite the fact that I know pretty much anything else would be better for me in the mornings. When it comes to books and stories, I also like to see new things. All the sequels that Disney puts out frequently annoy me. Although it seems as if Pixar can do no wrong. So when I come across a story that is a “re-telling of a classic fairy tale”, I’ll typically pass. For whatever reason, the third time I picked this book up off my EBR-TBR shelf, I decided that I’d read it. Must have been my “constancy” having a surge of strength that day or something. Whatever. I picked this one up, and boy am I glad that I did.
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