Reviews by Shawn

Review

The Collapsing Empire

Posted: May 30, 2017 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
The Collapsing Empire

There’s something comforting about reading a series, isn’t there?  You get to come back to situations and characters you’ve already met and fell in love with (at least I’m assuming you fell in love with them, otherwise, why continue reading the series?).  It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket.  On the other hand is the excitement of something new.  One of my favorite things of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre is coming into a book and that opening, those first couple pages/chapters where everything is starting to take place in your head.  You start building a framework of this new world, these new people, this new story.  It’s fantastic (no pun intended).  For the last 15 years or so we’ve been getting Old Man’s War books from John Scalzi and then occasionally another standalone novel thrown in.  But the standalone novels have always been stand alone (I know that he had/has plans for more books in the Lock-in world and the Android’s Dream world, but we haven’t gotten those yet have we?).

Now for the first time in awhile we have a brand new universe for Scalzi to play in.  A whole new setting that will span at least a few books.  And while his other books have stood alone each telling their own stories and wrapping it all up, this one, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE, is certainly just the beginning of a series.  There are a few minor things that get wrapped up, but the major stories, the major events are still very much open and ongoing.
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Review

Too Like the Lightning

Posted: December 6, 2016 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Ada Palmer, Science Fiction
Too Like the Lightning

You know, I’ve read quite a bit of Science Fiction in my time. I’ve read near-future thrillers, and I’ve read far-future alien stories. I’ve read first contact stories, and stuff that feels more like it’s at home in Fantasy than Sci-fi. I’ve read big, fat hard science fiction stories and I’ve read quick, lite page turner actioners. I’ve gone back and read almost all of the Hugo award-winning novels and I’ve read all of the Hugo nominees of the past 10 years, as well. So when I say I’ve read a lot of Science Fiction, I really mean it.  And yet in all of that, I’ve never read a novel quite like TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING by Ada Palmer.
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Review

Time Siege

Posted: August 23, 2016 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Wesley Chu, Science Fiction
Time Siege

You know what?  I hate writing reviews for sequels.  I enjoy reading sequels very much.  I love talking about book series with my friends and speculating on what might happen in the next volume.  I actually really enjoy the time between books in a series to let it sit and soak in.  I like to reread previous volumes before a new one comes out. But I hate writing reviews about sequels!!!! Have you read the first book?  I don’t know.  If you did, did you enjoy it?  Again, I got nothing.  Should I spoil the first book for you here to tell you about the second volume? I don’t think I should. But then how do I tell you about this book if I can’t even talk about the events of the last book? You see the bind I’m in.

So, let’s set some ground rules right from the start. I’m going to assume you’ve read the first book (TIME SALVAGER, very fun, quick paced, action packed). I’m going to assume you enjoyed it like I did and want to talk about the next book. If that doesn’t apply to you then I’m going to give you a short quick review of the series right now: It’s good. You should read it.

Are we good? Have we gotten rid of anyone who doesn’t want spoilers? Ok then. Onward we go.
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Review

Time Salvager

Posted: July 12, 2016 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Wesley Chu, Science Fiction
Time Salvager

I’m sure you couldn’t tell from the title of the book, but TIME SALVAGER by Wesley Chu, is a time travel book. Crazy right? I’ve read some time travel books in my time. Connie Willis has gotten about a million Hugos for her takes on time travel — TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, DOOMSDAY BOOK, BLACKOUT (EBR review), ALLCLEAR (EBR review]).  Michael Critchton took us back into the dark ages in TIMELINE. There are books that go back to dinosaurs (BONES OF THE EARTH by Michael Swanwick) and just about anywhere you can think of. In most of those books the story revolves around going back to some time period and either a) getting stuck back in time and needing to get back, or b) accomplishing some goal in the past to fix the present.

Chu does none of those things.
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Review

Uprooted

Posted: June 24, 2016 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Naomi Novik, Fantasy, Audible
Uprooted

Have you ever read a book that is just magical? I don’t mean a book with magic in it. There’s a million of those out there (and I like quite a few of them), but a book that is magical. There’s a difference to it, isn’t there? Books that are magical have a different feel to them. It’s beyond a compelling story (although again, I love that).  It’s just a feeling you get when you read it. I think it’s kind of like wrapping up in a warm blanket, or sitting by a fire and letting the warmth diffuse through you. That is what UPROOTED by Naomi Novik was like for me. I would sit and read and a warmth would just spread through me. This book is magical.

I’ve read some of Naomi Novik’s work before and I’ve enjoyed her Temaraire books. I saw UPROOTED when it came out and it looked kind of fun, but I had a lot on my plate and I never got around to it. Then it was nominated for a Hugo award. Then it won the Nebula award.  By this point I’m thinking, “Ok, let’s give it a shot.” I’m so glad I did.
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Review

Steles of the Sky

Posted: May 27, 2014 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Elizabeth Bear, Fantasy
Steles of the Sky

It took me a while to catch on to this series by Elizabeth Bear.  I’d seen reviews when the first book, RANGE OF GHOSTS, came out, including here at EBR (EBR Review).  I even saw the second book in the series, SHATTERED PILLARS, come out and also reviewed here (EBR Review).  The books started to sit in my mind a bit.  It took a while, but they sounded like something I needed to be a part of.  So late last year I finally got RANGE OF GHOSTS (loved it), and for Christmas I received SHATTERED PILLARS (fantastic) so that I could be ready to go when the last volume STELES OF THE SKY (Amazon) came out.
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Review

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

Posted: January 24, 2014 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Catherynne M. Valente, Fantasy, Young Adult
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

Have you ever had a secret?  I mean a delicious, wonderful secret?  The kind you want to tell the whole world about and at the same time keep only for yourself?  Something sweet and wonderful, something that would change other people lives if they only knew, yet at the same time you wanted to keep it all to yourself?  Have you ever had one of those?
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Review

Steelheart

Posted: September 6, 2013 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Brandon Sanderson, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Steelheart

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in three days.  (You have to understand that I work two jobs and have four kids, one of which is a two month old, so reading a book in three days is kind of like reading it in one sitting for me.)  From the prologue, STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson (Amazon) hooked me in and never let me go.  This is the type of book that begged me to slip away from family and read for just a few minutes more; to let the dishes sit in the sink for just a bit longer so I could read another chapter; to stay up late, no matter that I had work early the next day. I just had to know what was coming next.
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Review

The Human Division

Posted: June 18, 2013 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
The Human Division

In some ways I really wish we could do two reviews of THE HUMAN DIVISION by John Scalzi (Amazon). I recently got the book in the mail and read through it in a few days. It was fun and fast-paced, and like most of Scalzi’s writing it was filling with that humor, action and suspense that makes him so darn readable to many people out there. The thing is, the book was released in two separate ways and written as a kind of experiment in publishing.
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Review

Promise of Blood

Posted: April 24, 2013 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Brian McClellan, Epic Fantasy
Promise of Blood

I feel bad. I received an ARC of PROMISE OF BLOOD by Brian McClellan (Amazon) several months ago and quickly devoured it. I had every intention of having a review ready to go when the book came out…and then it didn’t happen. The problem was I wanted to write something witty and fun about the book but all I kept coming up with was…. I liked it. I liked it a lot. And that’s really understating it because I really, really did like it. After finishing McClellan’s debut I looked him up to check out news for the next book. I looked on Amazon to see what was going on. I even checked on Orbit’s blog to see if there was any news about the series. It was a dang good book. I just felt that I should do something more with the review than just, “Yeah, I really liked it.”
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Review

The Fractal Prince

Posted: March 27, 2013 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Hannu Rajaniemi, Science Fiction
The Fractal Prince

I’ve often talked with my wife about how our lives have changed.  We remark on how improvements in technology have changed our day-to-day lives in such significant ways that our kids live totally different lives than we did twenty years ago.  Having those types of discussions has led me to wonder what a person who was born one hundred or one hundred and fifty years ago would think about us today.  Would they even recognize what we do as a normal life?  Would they understand most of what is going on around them?  How would they deal with or understand things like computers, the internet, ipods, phones, or video games just to name a few?
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Review

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Posted: February 8, 2013 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Catherynne M. Valente, Fantasy, Young Adult
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Do you know where these are from? “Follow the yellow brick road”, “There’s no place like home” or even “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto.” How about we try another one? If I were to talk to you about going down the rabbit hole would you know what I meant? What if I asked you about the Mad Hatter? You would wouldn’t you?
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Review

Ruins

Posted: December 26, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction
Ruins

PATHFINDER (EBR Review), the first book in Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder series–of which RUINS (Amazon) is the second book–kind of blew me away. I am a big fan of Card’s older work. ENDER’S GAME (Amazon) is a classic. I loved the rest of the Ender series, (the Shadow series not so much) and I loved both WYRMS (Amazon) and TREASON (Amazon). But I have had a hard time getting into his work lately. This series however feels like a bit of that Old Card coming through.

The plot, for those of you who haven’t gotten on board, follows Rigg a boy who can see paths, the paths that humans have traveled in and how recently. To some extent it lets him see the past, who went where and when they did it. I’m gonna get all spoilery of the first book in a second so if you want you can just jump down to the bottom of the review where I will tell you if this is a good book or not (hint: it is).
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Review

Blue Remembered Earth

Posted: October 3, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Blue Remembered Earth

I was a little late to get on board with Alastair Reynolds. I only picked up a book of his two or so years ago, but once I found him he quickly became one of my favorite authors. He writes the type of book I love: big, grand space operas with vast ideas that can take place over thousands of years and span across galaxies.

Recently I’ve tried to get my dad to try Reynold’s books out. He kept asking me which book of his to start with. I honestly didn’t have an answer. It seemed like everything he had written (that I had read) had some great stuff in it. I enjoyed all of his books.

Sadly after reading BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH (Amazon), I can tell him which book not to start with.
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Review

The Broken Universe

Posted: September 25, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Paul Melko, Science Fiction
The Broken Universe

Do you guys know who Paul Melko is? No? Then let me introduce you. Paul Melko is great. He writes good, funny, quick-paced Science Fiction novels. I love them. There are times when I’m in the mood for some heavy Hard SF. There are times when I want Weird Fantasy. Then there are times when I want just a fun Science Fiction read that makes me smile as I read it. Paul Melko writes those.

THE BROKEN UNIVERSE (Amazon) is actually a sequel to his novel THE WALLS OF THE UNIVERSE (Amazon) which in turn was a novel length version of his Hugo nominated short fiction story (also called the “The Walls of the Universe”). Instead of just telling you what the THE BROKEN UNIVERSE is about, I’m also going to tell you the set up for THE WALLS OF THE UNIVERSE and why this is such a fun place to be in. In a way, this review will serve as a review for both novels.
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Review

Caliban’s War

Posted: July 27, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Caliban’s War

Where are the great Science Fiction series? It seems like there are dozens of fantasy series out there. A new fantasy book doesn’t come out that isn’t part of a series. It’s actually getting the fantasy authors to finish their series that’s the problem now a days. But Science Fiction? Where are the series? You could make a case for a few. John Scalzi has written at least four books in his Old Man’s War universe–depending on how you count THE SAGAN DIARY (Amazon) and QUESTIONS FOR A SOLDIER (Amazon). Robert Charles Wilson just last year wrote the last book in his Spin “trilogy”. But neither of them was a series. A book would come out and it would be a self-contained story written in the same universe. Neither were set up from the beginning to be a small part of something larger.

Good thing we have The Expanse.
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Review

Railsea

Posted: June 19, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: China Miéville, Fantasy, Young Adult
Railsea

Several times now I’ve sat down with my wife and have attempted to explain a China Miéville book. I’ve tried to tell her how cool it is and how amazing the ideas are.

I tried to tell her about THE CITY AND THE CITY (EBR Review) and how it was about two cities that occupy the same space, and how you weren’t allowed to look at the other city. How you could be identified by the way you walked and talked as being from one city or the other. I once tried to tell her about a special kind of magic in KRAKEN (EBR Review), where you were able to fold large, three dimensional objects as if they were a piece of paper down into small pieces of origami. I even tried to tell her about a cool race of cactus like people that lived in the Bas-Lag novels: PERDIDO STREET STATION (Amazon), THE SCAR (Amazon), and IRON COUNCIL (Amazon).
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Review

Shadows in Flight

Posted: May 29, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction
Shadows in Flight

In a perfect world reviewers would read books with no biases at all and based the work completely on its own merits and not compare it to other books, or other works of the same author.  No prejudices would sway the reviewer for good ill.  Wake up.  We don’t live in that world and perfect as we Elitists are, we still have our biases.  That being said I’m going to give you a review of SHADOWS IN FLIGHT (Amazon) the latest work in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card.  Firstly let me lay my biases out for you so you can know understand where this review is coming from.
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Review

The King’s Blood

Posted: May 25, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Daniel Abraham, Epic Fantasy
The King’s Blood

Wow!

I finished reading Daniel Abraham’s new book, THE KING’S BLOOD (Amazon), the other day (second in his Dagger and Coin series) and my wife happened to be sitting next to me as I finished.  I looked up at her and all I could say was “WOW!”

Guys, this is a great book.  This is as good as it gets.  There’s a quote on the cover of the book from George R. R. Martin that says “Everything I look for in a fantasy book”.  The quote is talking about the first book in the series THE DRAGON’S PATH (EBR Review) and the second book is even better!

For those of you who haven’t read this series yet, STOP NOW!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING!  GO READ THESE BOOKS!  You’ve been warned!  For those of you who have read the first book, read on.
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Review

The Night Sessions

Posted: May 15, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Ken MacLeod, Science Fiction
The Night Sessions

Occasionally I read the back of a book and an idea grabs me.  Honestly that’s what I love about SFF books.  There are tons of great ideas out there and I love when an author plays with one and lets me tag along for the ride.  The idea of personal incorporation in the Unincorporated Series was one such idea.  China Miéville’s works are so jam-packed with ideas that he often tosses a few of them out on a single page just to toy with your mind.  I read the back cover of THE NIGHT SESSIONS by Ken MacLeod (Amazon) and the only thing I remembered from it was “What if robots found religion?”

Holy Crap! Wow! What an idea! What a great, big, wonderful, let’s explore this and all of its ramifications, kind of idea!  I was hooked.  I needed to read this book right away.
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Review

Shipbreaker

Posted: April 20, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Paolo Bacigalupi, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Shipbreaker

When I heard that Paolo Bacigalupi was going to follow up his award-winning debut novel, THE WINDUP GIRL (EBR Review), with a smaller YA book, I was a little disappointed. I loved THE WINDUP GIRL. It was rich and intense. It was complicated and diverse. It was gritty and cruel and I thought it was great. How on earth could Bacigalupi… wow this review is going to be hard to write if I keep having to write his last name. Let’s go with Paolo from now on shall we? Anyway, how was Paolo going to match those strengths in a YA novel? Turns out I needn’t have worried.
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Review

Faith

Posted: March 16, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: John Love, Science Fiction
Faith

Sometimes the only way to stop an unstoppable alien spaceship is with a group of outcast sociopaths. Or at least that’s what the novel FAITH by John Love (Amazon) would have us believe.

Faith is the name given to a mysterious and seemingly invincible ship that is coming to attack humanity. The ship has been seen before and every time it has struck, Faith has left that civilization on a downward spiral towards decay. The only chance of stopping it is an Outsider ship–a slender ship packed to the gills with weapons and crewed by people with special abilities. The term “Outsider” is derived from the the crew including some sociopaths. The Outsider ship must then do battle with the alien vessel of unknown abilities and weapons.
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Review

Red Claw

Posted: February 15, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Philip Palmer, Science Fiction
Red Claw

Wow! Is it just me or has Orbit quietly become one of the better SF&F publishers out there? It seems that just a few years ago I was joking about them, yet here we are now, and they have Daniel Abraham publishing some excellent books (THE DRAGON’S PATH and LEVIATHAN WAKES). Jeff Somers has been writing some addictive and fun SF with his Avery Cates novels. Mira Grant and N.K. Jemisin both were nominated for Hugo’s last year for best novel. And now I’ve discovered Philip Palmer.
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Review

The Last Page

Posted: January 27, 2012 by Shawn in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Anthony Huso, Fantasy
The Last Page

A good friend of mine lent me his copy of THE LAST PAGE by Anthony Huso (Amazon) saying that it was a book he thought I would really enjoy. He compared the book to China Miéville (of whom I am a rabid fan). I’d heard some other good things about it as well so I picked it up and read it. Here’s the blurb, (mostly because I’m not sure I could describe the book succinctly by myself).

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.
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Review

The Folded World

Posted: January 17, 2012 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Catherynne M. Valente, Fantasy
The Folded World

I feel kind of like a broken record here. Once again we have another book by the amazing Catherynne M. Valente is out. Once again the book is wonderful. Once again the prose is beyond the capacity for mere mortals to absorb without crying. Once again I am left enraptured at the end of her tales wanting more. How many times can I say that Valente is writing flat out brilliant stuff and you guys should go out (and I mean the DAY a book of hers is released) and buy it? You need me to say it once more? Very well. If you insist. Buy it! Buy it now!
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Review

The Unincorporated Woman

Posted: December 9, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Science Fiction
The Unincorporated Woman

In case you can’t tell from the title, THE UNINCORPORATED WOMAN (Amazon)is the third in the Unincorporated series by the Kollin brothers Dani and Eytan. It follows THE UNINCORPORATED WAR which was a sequel to THE UNINCORPORATED MAN. I believe subsequent volumes will be titled The Unincorporated Gas Station and The Unincorporated (fill in here).
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Review

The Unincorporated War

Posted: November 28, 2011 by Shawn in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Science Fiction
The Unincorporated War

You may remember that THE UNINCORPORATED MAN (EBR Review) followed the adventures of Justin Chord, a man who had frozen himself in a time capsule to be reawakened when the cures to his diseases were found and he could be revived to live again. Justin indeed was awakened to a world run by the system of incorporation, the selling of personal shares to individual lives. The vast majority of mankind was working, not able to make their own decisions, towards being a majority share holder in their own stock thus taking control of their decisions and their lives. Justin saw the system as tantamount to slavery and started to oppose it immediately. The end of THE UNINCORPORATED MAN saw Justin forced into space towards the outer planets starting a revolution that pitted the outer planets and asteroid belt versus Earth and its incorporated system.
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Review

The Restoration Game

Posted: November 16, 2011 by Shawn in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Ken MacLeod, Science Fiction
The Restoration Game

Sadly I think I can write up this review for Ken MacLeod‘s THE RESTORATION GAME (Amazon) in one, short sentence. Ready for it?

Too little, too late.
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Review

Gateways

Gateways

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything quite like GATEWAYS (Amazon). On the outside it looks like any regular old collection of short stories and novellas. Sometimes those collections have a central premise or theme, and this one certainly does. But it’s the premise and how it’s put together that really got to me. The premise is “Isn’t Frederick Pohl awesome? Let’s have a book to celebrate him.”
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Review

Children of the Sky

Posted: October 12, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Vernor Vinge, Science Fiction
Children of the Sky

HOLY CRAP!

What a year for Science Fiction it’s been. I mean we’ve had LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S A Corey that was excellent. China Miéville’s EMBASSYTOWN was weird, wonderful and brilliant. Robert Charles Wilson finished up his Spin trilogy in fine form with VORTEX. And now along comes Vernor Vinge to show us all again how this is really done with CHILDREN OF THE SKY.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Embassytown

Posted: August 19, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: China Miéville, Science Fiction
Embassytown

My dad and I have an ongoing argument. My dad seems to think that China Miéville (Amazon) is a superior work to THE SCAR (Amazon), which is also by Miéville and set in the same world as PERDIDO. While I know better. THE SCAR is better, better plotted, cooler stuff. In one thing we are agreed, however. In my opinion THE SCAR is a 10 (on a scale of one to ten, ten being perfect) whereas PERDIDO is a 9.9. For my dad it’s PERDIDO that gets the 10 and THE SCAR the measly 9.9. They are both good books. Fantastic books, genre-altering books.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because EMBASSYTOWN (Amazon), the latest novel by China Miéville, is probably a strong 9.8 in my opinion. Easily my favorite of Miéville’s books since THE SCAR.
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Review

How to Live Safely In a Science Fictional Universe

Posted: August 17, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Hate Meta: Charles Yu, Urban Fantasy
How to Live Safely In a Science Fictional Universe

I read about this book awhile ago. It was a story about a time machine repairman, who owns a non-existent dog. It also happens that his mom is stuck in a one-hour time loop, living the same Sunday dinner over and over and over. Also the protagonist’s (who just happens to be named Charles Yu just like the author) dad may have invented time travel. Oh, and Charles also killed his future self, so he’s wondering when his present will catch up to the past, where he gets shot. I read that premise and thought, wow, that sounds like a book full of great fun ideas. It looked like a fun book. I need to read that.
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Review

Vortex

Posted: August 1, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Robert Charles Wilson, Science Fiction
Vortex

VORTEX (Amazon) is the latest novel by author Robert Charles Wilson. I’ve been a rabid fan of Wilson’s ever since his Hugo-winning SPIN (Amazon). After that novel I went out and read four or five of his previous novels and I’ve read everything he’s written since. He doesn’t always hit it out of the park, like he did in SPIN, but he never fails to be entertaining.
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Review

2011 Hugo Novellas

2011 Hugo Novellas

Here we are with the Hugo novellas. In case you are wondering, a novella ranges from around 17,500 words and measures up to 40,000 words in length. There’s some beautiful stuff in this set of nominated works—in fact, it was a little hard to choose which was the best. In the end, this category will vary a lot from reader to reader. Anyway, let’s jump in.
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Review

Hellhole

Hellhole

Everyone has prejudices. I don’t care who you are or what your background is, we all have things that just irk us to no end. As a reviewer it can be difficult sometimes to put those prejudices aside, to try and read a work based on it’s merit alone and ignore everything else. I have a secret for you readers. I’m not a fan of the latest Dune books put out by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. I haven’t read them, but I have read the original Dune and it’s one of my favorite books ever. I don’t like the new books because it feels like they are trampling on something sacred to me. Who are they to tell me what else happened in the Dune universe. Only one person has that right. Frank Herbert. And since he is dead we are just going to have to content ourselves on what he left for us. Now I know, Brian Herbert is Frank’s son and maybe they even have some old notes and things. I don’t care. It still feels wrong and I don’t like it (plus the other reviewers here at EBR all assure me that the new Dune novels are freaking terrible).
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Review

2011 Hugo Novelletes

2011 Hugo Novelletes

It’s been a while since I read these novelettes, but I wanted to sit on them for a bit to see which ones stuck with me, which ones disappeared from memory and just see when I came back to it, which ones were the best compared to the others. The question I hear a lot is, “What the heck is a novelette?” Simply put, it’s a work of fiction ranging from 7500 words to around 18,000 words in length. It is that piece of fiction that takes up the space between the short story and the novella.

There were some pretty good pieces of of fiction in this year’s Hugo nominated batch of novelettes. So here we go:
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Review

Deathless

Posted: July 11, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Catherynne M. Valente, Fantasy
Deathless

I actually finished reading this book quite a while ago and have been trying to think of how I would review it. Is it a good book? Of course it is. It’s written by Catherynne M. Valente, and I’m convinced now that she has some sort of magical pen that turns everything she writes into gold (and if she doesn’t use a pen then it must be a magical computer. Wish I knew where to get one like it). Does it contain beautiful writing, weird and wonderful characters and imagery that makes you weep it’s so gorgeous? Yes and for the same reasons as above. Yet still I’m not sure how to talk about it.

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?
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Review

Fuzzy Nation

Posted: June 10, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
Fuzzy Nation

FUZZY NATION (Amazon) is a book unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s the reboot of a classic Science Fiction franchise—a retelling of the original, LITTLE FUZZY (EBR Classic). It follows the story of the original in a loose sense, yet tells that same story in a completely new way. It’s fan fiction… in a good way.

I’m not sure exactly what the aim of this book was. Whether it was simply a writing exercise that John Scalzi undertook to clear his head and have a bit of fun. Whether it was meant to draw attention to a series that Scalzi loved, or whether it was meant to be simply a darn entertaining story. Whatever his motives, Scalzi has succeeded.
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Review

For the Win

Posted: June 1, 2011 by Shawn in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction
For the Win

FOR THE WIN (Amazon) is Cory Doctorow‘s novel from last summer. If you have read and liked Doctorow’s work in the past, then this book will be just right for you. If not, then I don’t think this book will push any buttons that Doctorow’s stuff missed in the past. Basically this is the typical Cory Doctorow novel.

The novel is about a bunch of online gamers forming a union.
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Review

The Quantum Thief

Posted: May 9, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Hannu Rajaniemi, Science Fiction
The Quantum Thief

THE QUANTUM THIEF (Amazon), by Hannu Rajaniemi, is a Hard SF book packed with ideas, twists and turns. It is difficult. It is confusing. I don’t think I understood the whole thing. I also loved every minute of it.
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Review

The Wise Man’s Fear

Posted: May 2, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Patrick Rothfuss, Fantasy
The Wise Man’s Fear

Honestly I don’t know how anyone has reviewed this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read quite a few reviews of Patrick Rothfuss‘s THE WISE MAN’S FEAR (Amazon). They were intelligent, well written and made me want to read the book even more. I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to write one.

Why?

Because the book isn’t done. I can certainly say, “Wow, that’s a heck of a start!” THE NAME OF THE WIND, the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles, certainly was. I can say, “Geez, the second third of that book was really interesting and had some beautiful language. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end!” And THE WISE MAN’S FEAR is easily all of that. My problem is I’m a little afraid at this point. Does Patrick Rothfuss know how to finish this extremely well-told tale? I don’t know. He hasn’t done it yet.
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Review

The Unincorporated Man

Posted: March 30, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Science Fiction
The Unincorporated Man

I found this book in the most unusual way. I went to the bookstore and saw it on the shelf. I know, weird right? I didn’t see it on some blog, or see it in some random post from another site. It wasn’t recommended to me by a friend or any of that. Nope, I was just at Barnes & Noble one day and thought I would check out what was new and what looked interesting–and there it was, calling to me. I then did the only sensible thing and I went home and ordered it off of Amazon.

I’m glad I did.
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Review

Pathfinder

Posted: February 14, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction
Pathfinder

WARNING! PATHFINDER (Amazon) is not a fantasy book, it is science fiction. I repeat. PATHFINDER is not a fantasy book, it is science fiction.

I know what you’re thinking. Wait a minute. It totally looks like a fantasy book. Yep. I read the premise, it sounds like a fantasy book. Yep. Doesn’t it take place in a fairly medieval setting? Yep. You know, horses and wagons, swords and magical type stuff happening? Yep. I mean doesn’t it even have a sword on the cover for Pete’s sake? Yep. And you still think it’s a science fiction book? I do.
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Review

The Habitation of the Blessed

Posted: January 25, 2011 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Catherynne M. Valente, Fantasy
The Habitation of the Blessed

Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning. Catherynne M. Valente is made of magic. She is composed entirely of some strange magical awesome that I would love to have just a fraction of. Are we clear on that? Good. Let’s move on.

This particular brand of awesome is THE HABITATION OF THE BLESSED, Volume One of A Dirge for Prester John (Amazon). The work is based loosely on the legends of Prester John–stories told between the 12th and 17th centuries in Europe. These legends told of a Christian King ruling a lost land full of countless wonders. From this Catherynne M. Valente weaves her own unique narrative to bring those legends and that man to life.
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Review

All Clear

Posted: November 16, 2010 by Shawn in Books We Love Meta: Connie Willis, Science Fiction
All Clear

ALL CLEAR by Connie Willis (Amazon) is the sequel to this year’s BLACKOUT (EBR Review). Although “sequel” isn’t really the proper word for it. “Sequel” makes it sound like the first book had some closure to it, a conclusion. “Sequel” makes it sound like this book, ALL CLEAR, is going to recap what happened in the previous volume and catch you up. Both of those things are not true of this duology. ALL CLEAR, better said is the second half of the story begun in BLACKOUT. The reason for the split in the story is that it’s so long. ALL CLEAR clocks in at 640 pages in hardback and BLACKOUT was about the same. I’ve seen Brandon Sanderson books that are shorter than these two put together (I kid, we love Brandon around here).
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Review

Antiphon

Posted: September 14, 2010 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Ken Scholes, Fantasy
Antiphon

Is it just me, or is Ken Scholes getting better with every book? What’s that you say? You haven’t read his latest novel, ANTIPHON (Amazon), yet? Well, then let me tell you: Ken Scholes is getting better with every book.
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Review

Canticle

Posted: September 13, 2010 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: Ken Scholes, Fantasy
Canticle

Having Daniel Abraham withdrawals? Do you find yourself listless and antsy now that Abraham’s Long Price Quartet is over and we have no book from him to look forward to this year? Might I offer a suggestion? Pick up Ken Scholes‘ work. Start with LAMENTATION (Amazon). Go ahead. Do it now. I’ll wait here while you go and read it.

Wasn’t it great! There’s no need to worry. CANTICLE (Amazon) is just as good as LAMENTATION, possibly even better.
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Review

WWW: Watch

Posted: September 10, 2010 by Shawn in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Robert J. Sawyer, Science Fiction
WWW: Watch

WWW:WATCH (Amazon) is Robert Sawyer‘s sequel to his Hugo nominated story, WWW:WAKE (EBR Review). It is the second novel of a trilogy that will end next year with WWW:WONDER (Amazon).
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