April 10, 2020

Review: We Wish You a Cosmic Christmas

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What do Christmas and science fiction have in common? Not much, or it may seem at least not as much as say, much more science fiction-oriented holidays, such as Halloween.

Ah, but that’s where this week’s review is out to prove you wrong. This week, we’re taking a look at A Cosmic Christmas, edited by Hank Davis and out from Baen Books. OK, we received this one way back last year before Christmas , and its only making its way to the top of the review pile for THIS Christmas! And yes, we already have a copy of A Cosmic Christmas II awaiting review, which we promise we won’t take another year to get to… [Read more...]

Review: Christmas Ghosts edited by Kristine Grayson

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A strange dichotomy exists between Halloween and Christmas.  Not only to the two holidays have their roots in pre-Christian celebrations— Hallows Eve marks an approaching cross quarter day, and Christmas stakes out the Winter Solstice —but both seem to strike a primal chord of fear and hope.

And as stories such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol remind us, the two holidays go hand in hand. And hey, Halloween is the closest thing to a traditional holiday that speculative fiction has, right? [Read more...]

Review: Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

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Technology is a Pandora’s Box. Once you put something out there into the universe, you never can predict the manner in which people or (other sentient species) will use it. Or in the case of this week’s review, how it’ll come back to haunt you. This week, we look at Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the 9th book in the Retrieval Artist series out in December from WMG Publishing. Fans of this space will recall our reviews of Rusch’s excellent Diving universe series, including Diving into the Wreck, City of Ruins and Boneyards. Rusch is an excellent world builder, and we especially enjoy the refreshing new universes she utilizes along with the engaging characters that populate them.

Blowback deals with the fallout and the aftermath of the Anniversary Day attacks on Earth’s Moon. We thought it elegant and fitting that the Earth Alliance has a Port named Armstrong on the Moon; hopefully it’ll be in or near the real series of craters named after the Apollo 11 astronauts. The book takes a fascinating turn into an alien underworld as Retrieval Artist extraordinaire Miles Flint returns along with his daughter Talia to uncover a plot that may dwarf the initial Anniversary Day attacks. This is juxtaposed against interplanetary politics and efforts by the Moon’s Chief Security officer Noelle DeRicci to hold an uneasy United Domes government coalition together. We always like our intergalactic politics as truly alien, and Rusch delivers the goods. Its one thing to depict members of a Federation whining about treaties, quite another to depict motivations that are truly, well, alien.

And speaking of which, there’s another excellent twist to think about as depicted in the book; the psychology of alien criminals. While it’s easy to depict their motivations as similar to our own (in fact, science fiction serves as a sort of “modern day mythos” in this fashion), Blowback offers another tier of realism by giving alien criminals often inscrutable goals and motives. Which raises the question; what is a crime? While it’s arguable that an alien civilization will by necessity be subject to the same crucible of evolution and have to come up with laws against murder, stealing, etc in order to co-exist, how those might apply to outsiders and differ in more sophisticated concepts is less clear. While Blowback and the Retrieval Artist series touches on these issues, perhaps there’s healthy fodder for Law & Order: Alpha Centauri out there in the sci-fi universe?

But as usual, we digress. Do give Blowback a read. We’d like to point out that the author has an excerpt of the book up on her site for the month of November, and puts featured chapters of her work up every month. We have to admit that we’re a newcomer to the series, but may have to dig in to the earlier books. Blowback does stand on its own as a great read!

Note: A complete listing of Tales of the Retrieval Artist universe can be found here.

Review: Planesrunner by Ian McDonald.

Out this December from Pyr Books!

Ever wonder why this existence of ours just doesn’t seem to make since most of the time?  Believe me, the thought has crossed our minds here at Astroguyz HQ as we see the likes of the Kardashians and what not trending. Perhaps there’s a multitude of universal possibilities out there, branching off from our own bizarre existence… [Read more...]