December 12, 2017

October 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

October is our favorite month of the year. Not only is it largely free of snow, bugs and sweltering heat, but it also includes the closest thing that science fiction has to a holiday, Halloween. Hey, it’s great to see suburbanites carve out totems from vegetables, honoring a dimly remembered cross-quarter pagan holiday.  Halloween sees us carrying out the rituals of replaying the original Mercury Theater H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds broadcast, setting up the scope for neighborhood ghosts and goblins, and once again carving jack o’ lanterns in an effort to assure that this will be the BEST HALLOWEEN, ever. [Read more...]

Review: The Trojan Colt by Mike Resnick

On sale now!

A reader’s mind is not quenched by science fiction alone.

Though speculative fiction makes up a Lion’s (Wookies’?) share of the reading that we frequently do (and review), we always make it a point to venture outside of the familiar. Hey, it’s all part of that being a “well-rounded writer & reader,” and all that stuff. [Read more...]

Review: The Doctor & the Rough Rider by Mike Resnick.

Available for pre-order!

The West has never been wilder… as a veteran of the 2011 & 2012 NecronomiCon, we’ve noticed the enduring fascination with fans in all that is Steampunk. Strange, in that said genre really doesn’t have a flagship franchise such as a Trek or Star Wars. Or at least, not yet. [Read more...]

Review: The Dog in the Manger by Mike Resnick.

On sale in November!

Psst! Do you love a good mystery? Do you love the unfurling of the “Whodunit” plot-line, the murder by dimly-lit street light, the “It was a dark and stormy night” settings? Did you eagerly devour each and every Encyclopedia Brown novel as a kid, forcing yourself not to turn to the solutions at the back until you’d figured it out? Let’s see, one more murder-mystery intro… did you always wonder if it actually could occasionally be “Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with a candlestick?

Then Prometheus Books has a great new line for you. Introducing its new imprint, Seventh Street Books, “Where Fiction is a Crime.” I know, we’re straying a bit out of the hard science fiction mold with this week’s review; time to become a more rounded reader, and all that stuff your high school English teacher told you after you handed in the 20th book report featuring Asimov or Clarke. (Has anyone done a Sci-Fi detective story PI-style, I wonder?)

To ease you into the world of mystery, this week’s review is by an author that you might have heard of, Mike Resnick. Fans of this space will recall our reviews of his Starship space opera series, Starship: Rebel & Starship: Flagship. Mr. Resnick’s latest offering, Dog in The Manger sees Cincinnati Private Investigator Eli Paxton on the trail of the disappearance of a prized Weimaraner (the “dog” in the title) and into a deepening mystery where things are not what they seem. Without introducing any spoilers (it is a ‘mystery’ after all) the title refers to a lesser known Aesop’s fable of the same name. OK, I’d never heard of that one either, but the ever present moral revolves around denying someone something that you have absolutely no interest in purely out of spite. Amazing, what talking animals can teach us…

What I really liked about Dog in the Manger was how Resnick took hard-nosed, street-wise Paxton out of his own element (i.e. the streets of Cincinnati) and sent him on the trail of a disappearance that spans Mexico and the American southwest. Aside from being set in our old Astroguyz stopping ground of Tucson plus environs, being thrust into the unfamiliar brings out the best in a character. (Try it sometimes!)

As you might expect, the tale presented in Dog in the Manger is much more than just a story about a missing canine. Watch those casually dropped references, as they come back as clues later on. The book also includes a teaser chapter to another Eli Paxton tale, “Even Butterflies can Sting.”

Looking at the forthcoming catalog, Seventh Street Books has titles soon to be released by Owen Fitzstephen, Adrian McKinty, Mark Pryor, Erec Stebbins, and more. It’s great to see the classic mystery novel finding a new market; lovers of mystery and thrillers now have a new haven in Seventh Street Books!

Next Week: Not to forget Prometheus’s other fiction imprint, we look at The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper, forthcoming from Pyr Books!

 

Review: The Doctor & the Kid by Mike Resnick.

On Sale Now!

The West has never been weirder… This week, we look at the Steampunk sequel to The Buntline Special with The Doctor & the Kid by Mike Resnick out from Pyr Books. [Read more...]

Review: The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick.

   This week, steam punk goes west in our review of The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick. Out last month from Pyr Books, Buntline takes us to the environs of Tombstone, Arizona in the 1880’s in a weird west tale that melds alternate history with fantasy. Fans of this space will remember Mr. Resnick as he of the Starship Rebel series fame. [Read more...]

Review: Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick.

The saga continues…Starship:Flagship is the final installment in the Wilson Cole Starship saga. Out this month courtesy of Pyr books, this last chapter by prolific author Mike Resnick sees a wind up of the Starship series. I must admit , now that we’re semi-into it, it’s a shame to see it end! Fans of this site will remember the luke-warm reception we gave Starship:Rebel a few months back; much of what we said still applies to Flagship. Laser blasts fly, warp engines (OK, wormholes) are engaged, and furry green alien creatures are real furry green alien creatures, and of course, most punches are pulled…but hey, this is a space opera!

[Read more...]

Review: Starship:Rebel By Mike Resnick.

Ah… everyone wants to pen the next great space opera these days. From Star Wars to Dune spin-offs, the market is rife with sagas vying to be the next big hit. Starship: Rebel by Mike Resnick from Pyr Books is the latest installment (book four, to be precise) in the Republic/Wilson Cole saga. I must confess, I haven’t read the first three, but I found Rebel easy enough to pick up on. Other than a short story or two, I also believe that this is the first full-length Resnick I’ve read. Fairly amazing, you might say, because of the accolades he’s received…

[Read more...]

Fables of Tonight.

Note: This week’s installment was written by our guest SciFi reviewer extraordinaire, Sabrina Fobes!

In 1987, Michael Resnick introduced a new gumshoe to the literary world.  It’s New Year’s Eve and John Justin Mallory is alone in his Manhattan office, hiding from his rent demanding landlord; bemoaning the loss of his wife to his partner; drinking bourbon and generally reflecting on a truly unmemorable year.

It’s into this emotional miasma that a belligerent elf named Murgensturm enters to plea for Mallory’s help in retrieving a stolen unicorn –  a unicorn whose loss could cause the elf his life if not found by morning.  When Mallory is finally convinced the elf and his dilemma are real, the fun begins.

Mallory goes to an alternative Manhattan, the “…Manhattan you see out of the corner of your eye.”, with the same map and sites as the Manhattan he knows, but with very different residents and very different rules.

He befriends a cat girl named Felina, who is a big help in his quest to solve the mystery of the unicorn.  He finds himself challenged by the alternate Manhattan’s “big bad” known as “The Grundy”, and is frequently finding himself rewriting the rules of his trade as he moves toward solution.

Along the way is a lot of humor and even some not so subtle social commentary.  The twists and turns are every bit as engaging as in a mystery set in traditional Manhattan.  The novel leaves us satisfied with the solution and also craving more travel with John Justin.

Segue to real time year 2008.  The long-awaited sequel is here!  The reader is reintroduced to John Justin Mallory who has now set up shop in the alternative Manhattan. Felina the cat-girl is a friend, pet, and member of staff.  Also, the big game hunter Colonel Winnifred Carruthers, who Mallory saved from a dreary retirement in Stalking the Unicorn, is working beside Mallory in his crime solving endeavors.

It is Halloween when Winnifred’s nephew arrives with two tell-tale holes in his neck and then later in the day turns up dead.  The quest is to find whodunnit and beat the challenges along the way.  The Grundy has become an uneasy ally to Mallory, who has successfully assisted The Grundy in recent history, and is  helping with the hunt for the offending vampire.

Add to the team a crime-novel-writing dragon pen named Scaly Jim Chandler, and a vampire who doesn’t care much for blood (but a good glass of tomato juice goes a long way) , and you have the basis for another good time.

Again, Resnick’s acid wit and clean, unadorned style make this a delightful read.

I, for one, hope I don’t have to wait 22 years for the next installment!