Sequoia Nagamatsu’s collection of interlocking stories spanning centuries, explores plague and how we deal with loss. The characters are diverse and intricately linked and the plot is wildly imaginative. How does one relate talking pigs, to funerary skyscrapers, to euthanasia theme parks, to melting permafrost? Read and find out. Be aware How High We Go in the Dark has very dark moments (including the loss of children) but a strand of hope runs through out. Highly recommended.
(Or, so this kind of cross-genre illustrates why we need indie authors)
|Splinter Town, an autonomous island nation off the coast of Wales, must fend off an English incursion! Will the ingenuity of the town’s people, their spies, and the efforts of a rogue assassin be enough to to preserve the town’s independence? And what evil propels the corrupt prime minister and his allies?|
This genre defying book is a fun read. Highly atmospheric with rust and brine aplenty, and full of unexpected twists and turns, this novel is a complete story set in a highly alternate 1920s. Those of you who enjoyed The Hammond Conjecture will also enjoy Splinter Town.
And now there’s more! Peter Maloy continues the Splinter Town saga in Splinter Town Fall. The Splintertonians are negotiating a new treaty with England, but England’s up to no good again, and the town and its secret operatives are put in great peril. But unbeknownst to the good people of Splinter Town, they’ve made friends in the oddest of places. Meanwhile, Splinter Town’s airship crew explores the American continent, hoping to find a new population of their aquatic allies.
Splinter Town Fall continues this deeply imaginative series and kept me on the edge of my seat! I’m still worried about Splinter Town, its citizens, and operatives. Fortunately, as the cliffhanger suggests, more’s to come.
In Elizabeth Moon’s Remnant Population, a colony’s corporate overlords order all residents off the planet. But elderly Ofelia, who has had quite enough of being bossed around, chooses to remain, a remnant population of one. Or so she believes, until she hears new of new colonists and an unexpected indigenous population. Ofelia, overlooked an devalued by her culture, turns out to be exactly the person the situation needs for an amicable resolution. This novel is perfect for those tired of typical heroines. Excellent first contact/anthropological sci-fi! And a terrific portrayal of an older woman settled into her time of life, no condescension, no cuteness.
Three people board a doomed bus: a wayward teen, a disabled vet, and an autistic child. But their problems don’t end after a snowy crash ends their lives.
A brutal despot rules purgatory. Instead of helping souls move on, he drains souls and harvests their energy. Purgatory has devolved into a nightmarish decrepit America rife with bandits and the insane.
Will a trio of unlikely heroes and their bizarre found family overcome the odds and save eternity? This richly imagined contemporary fantasy/horror adventure works as an adult or young adult fiction. Recommended!
Not your typical family saga…
This gorgeous set of interlocking stories follows the souls of two families as they navigate the 20th and 21st centuries.
Each story is the literary equivalent of a gem and collectively tell a tale with elements of magical realism, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. The stories celebrate humanity and cover entire arc of life, from cradle to grave, and beyond.
Deeply emotional and beautifully written. Highly recommended.
1908-Russia: A scrappy intelligence officer from war torn North America hires herself out as a mercenary in the service of Catherine the Great. Both women are “Queens,” descendants of the Gods possessing certain powers. Eryma communes with crows, and her birds provide reconnaissance and protection. Though bashed, battered and covered in tread marks, she plans to help recover a crash-landed asteroid in exchange for eternal youth. But both Catherine’s court and Eryma’s plans are suffused with intrigue.
A complex series of events ensues laced with historical distortions, magic, monsters, blood, gore, and a steam punk feel. The plot unfolds gradually, and Eryma’s intentions and history are delivered in bits and pieces, leaving room for reveals and plot twists. And the novel excels in characterization, including Eryma who’s battered but tough and resolute with a goofy sense of humor.
“Other women may have had beauty, class and romance; I had wit, experience, and explosives. The latter, in my experience, solves more problems than romance does.”
Grim, hard-living, violent, and lusty Dame July provides a frenemy-romance, and several acts of savagery. And Eryma’s crow community includes both a corvid genius and a comedian.
“So, if I am dead, which religion was correct?” I mused aloud.
“Yog-Slaggoth,” Lois stuck her head through the drapes “The Elder tentacled on is coming to dine on us later. Please be properly shaved, greased, and seasoned by five.”
If you’re after diversity, banter, wordplay, action, and strong female characters, A Queen Among Crows is your book. However, please observe the CLIFF HANGER WARNING sign and don’t tumble off at the end of the novel. Stand alone readers may be disappointed. On the bright side, several additional volumes of this series are already out and available.
- Genres: LGBTQ+ Science Fiction, Steampunk Fiction, Alternate History, Fantasy.
- Humor: Interlaced
- Violence: High
- Diversity: High
- Sex: Closed Door
- Warnings: CLIFF HANGER (but series completed)
Hotel Bars and the Art of Being Conscious is more of a thought experiment than a novel but a thought experiment well worth reading.
After Daisy drops her teenage son off at boarding school, she’s officially an empty nester. What should she do with the last phase of her life, the phase past child rearing, mate seeking, and striving?
These questions are pretty first world, and Daisy is a highly fortunate first world-type. She played her cards right in the dot.com era and has no economic concerns. So seated comfortably at the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, highly cerebral, alone but not lonely Daisy contemplates life.
In the beyond stage, though, a person doesn’t really need anyone else. At that point, all you really need to do is die, and everyone dies alone.
Daisy decides to seek meaning through experience, and the experience she chooses is bar-tending. Sure, bar-tending is social, and she’ll meet all sorts of interesting people, but Daisy is also an alcoholic, highly functional, but an alcoholic none the less. And interestingly, as she dissects her personal meaning of life, she’s entirely untroubled by her alcoholism. Much and varied alcohol is convivially consumed in the course of this tale without ill effect to the point that this book might not suit a reader in recovery.
Through bar-tending, she encounters several characters who aid her search, and the novel includes a subplot revolving around scientist Bianca. The subplot doesn’t add much interest, but the character adds philosophic and scientific street cred to some of the conversations.
But Daisy must defines her meaning of life alone, and the result is interesting, especially for readers traversing middle age and points beyond.
In the alternate Finland of Troll: A Love Story, Angel returns to his apartment after a night of drink and thwarted love to find a group of teens tormenting a juvenile troll. Trolls, an accepted denizen of Finland’s forest don’t usually stray into the city. They’re a sort of wild animals, falling somewhere between a cat and a primate on the evolutionary tree. But Angel, falls in love with the fragile beast at first glance, and brings him home, believing he’s rescuing a baby animal. Or is something very different going on?
Troll asks what happens when urban loneliness encounters nature: tooth, claw, and pheromones.
This short novel also explores loneliness, isolation, and transactional sexual maneuvering. The inventive text includes multiple points of view, snippets of poetry and folklore, and excerpts from “scientific articles” about Felipithecus trollius, making for an interesting read. Judging by the beautiful prose, the translation is excellent. Here’s Angel’s description of an unavailable lover:
His eyes are computer icons, expressionless diagrams, with infinite wonders behind them, but only for the elect, those able to log on.
The juxtaposition of myth, science, and modern society, and the tale’s ending twist makes Troll contemporary fantasy at its finest.
Darby Harn’s, A Country of Eternal Light, A Review
Positives: Stunning prose. Emotional depth.
Negatives: A happy ending isn’t really an option, given the scenario. Difficult main character.
Mairead, traumatized by the loss of her child, her mother’s rapidly progressing dementia, and her father’s relatively recent death is withdrawn and suicidal. And now, a black hole wanders closer to Earth swallowing everything in its path.
At in the novel, I was reminded of the movie Melancholia, in which a rough planet is on course to smash into Earth. And the main character, an acutely depressed basket case, weathers the planetary collision with greater composure than her ‘together’ relatives. Continue reading Black Hole Apocalypse
Hugh Hammond of The Hammond Conjecture is an everyman, who thinks with every organ other than his brain. And unfortunately, the fate of Europe lies in his hands.
He wakes in an isolation ward with no recollection of his past. Encouraged to dredge up memories by writing, the confused man diligently types away. But the emerging memories recount an impossible history: WWII ended by 1941, Europe stultifies under Nazi rule, and Britain continues to appease.
While he languishes in home for incurables and relives his spy years, the mystery of how Hammond bounced from 1970 to 1980 is slowly revealed…
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Hammond’s decade-old memories of his spy career are beyond embarrassing. He’s an Austin Powers, saddled with an early 1970s attitude toward woman and the raging ego of a young man, but possessing low self-esteem and a talent for making the wrong choice. Every. Single. Time. Not dissimilar to my character, Martin. Fortunately for the reader, many of Hammond’s choices and much of the dialogue are quietly hilarious.
And the alternate Europe in which the spy-action occurs is complex, believable and depicted in detail. The author does an excellent job of describing the ramifications of an early treaty between Great Britain and Nazi Germany, clear even to a reader with no detailed knowledge of WWII.
This novel will interest alternate fiction and time travel readers, as well as those who enjoy thrillers. The ending is left open, suggesting a sequel is on its way. And I appreciated the professional-level editing and formatting.