Haig, Matt. How to Stop Time.

NY: Viking, 2017.

Stories about immortality have always been popular, if only because there are so many possibilities, from the Wandering Jew to Barnabas Collins. Tom Hazard isn’t actually immortal, but he has a “condition,” the effect of which is to slow his rate of aging by about a factor of fifteen. In other words, he’s looking at probably a thousand years of life — though he didn’t know that for the first couple of centuries after his birth to an aristocratic Huguenot family in France in 1581 and his youth in a peasant village in the south of England.



Turtledove. Harry. We Install and Other Stories.

NY: Open Road, 2015.

Harry’s early fantasy novels and alternate history short fiction, published in the mid-1980s, weren’t bad. His first full-blown alt-history novel, Guns of the South, was also pretty good. But shortly thereafter, he began cranking out novels as fast as he could type and their quality degraded badly. Of the sixty or so mostly fat books he’s published in the past twenty-five years, many are frankly unreadable, at least to me – but I keep checking back on his work, just in case.


Tucker, Alan. Knot in Time.

Billings, MT: MAD Design, 2012.

I’m a sucker for time travel yarns and this one comes up with some original variations on the “time patrol” theme. Darius Arthur Heisenberg, known as “Dare,” is the adopted great-nephew of the famous physicist who elucidated the Uncertainty Principle. (But that’s really just a hook to hang the story on.) He’s nineteen and basically living on the streets of Denver, having abruptly left school and home for reasons you’ll learn later.


Published in: on 10 July 2018 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Scalzi, John. Head On.

NY: Tor, 2018.

Scalzi is a purveyor of idea-based science fiction who can almost always be relied on for highly original concepts combined with a fluent and frequently cheeky style of writing. That was certainly the case with Lock In (2014), in which an influenza-like global pandemic killed hundreds of millions and left millions more fully awake and aware but completely paralyzed and dependent on machines for life. The U.S. government poured billions into developing ways of coping (helped by the fact that the First Lady, Margaret Haden, was one of the victims) and now, a couple decades later (not far in our own future), things have settled down. And “Hadens,” as they are now known, are being reintegrated.


Cherryh, C. J. Emergence.

NY: DAW, 2018.

Cherryh’s “Foreigner” epic, which first appeared a quarter-century ago, is now somewhere north of 7,000 pages and this 19th volume (and the end of an internal story arc) picks up within days of where the previous book left off. I can’t begin to summarize the various plotlines, there are now so many, but the theme continues to be political and diplomatic rather than action — although there’s some of that, too.


Kay, Elliott. Poor Man’s Fight.

NY: Skyscrape, 2015.

This space opera epic is the debut work by an author I discovered through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. It was a free read and I wasn’t expecting a lot — but I was surprised and delighted at how good it is. It includes some of the most hair-raising, throat-grabbing, headlong, blood-and-guts adventure writing I’ve read in years. It will remind you a little of Heinlein, and a little of Corey, and when you reach the 80% point, you should plan on putting the rest of your life on hold for awhile, because you aren’t going to want any interruptions.


Corey, James S. A. Nemesis Games.

NY: Little, Brown, 2015.

This is the fifth volume in what has become one of the best-written space opera adventures to appear in many years. By this point, the reader has become thoroughly invested in the four main characters, as well as the half-dozen recurring supporting players, and there’s a tendency to hold one’s breath at key points in the story — because there’s never a guarantee than everyone will survive.


Gauld, Tom. Mooncop.

NY: Drawn & Quarterly, 2016.

Gauld is a new author/artist for me, but I definitely like his style. He’s been published in various newspapers for awhile now, and this appears to be his third graphic novel. Every community needs law enforcement and in the lunar colony, it’s provided by a nameless young man with a glass helmet and an anti-grav patrol car (which doesn’t always work).


Published in: on 14 March 2018 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Silverberg, Robert. Dying Inside.

NY: Ballantine, 1972.

Robert Silverberg has been one of science fiction’s most active authors and editors for most of the past fifty-odd years and his work falls largely on the “intellectual” end of the SF spectrum. He’s done fantasy and space opera, but his most important books are those that investigate the human mind and condition, and often with only a relatively thin science-fictional skin. This one began with the title, originally a New York-Jewish idiom, and the author decided it referred in his case to a character with something literally dying inside him. Not an organ but an unusual mental ability, like telepathy.


Published in: on 6 March 2018 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sawyer, Robert J. End of an Era.

NY: Tor, 1994.

Sawyer is the best-known Canadian author of science fiction — one of the most successful Canadian authors of any kind, actually — but I’ve always found his books rather uneven. Some are absorbing while others (like the “WWW” trilogy) are almost unreadable. This early effort is right in the middle of the pack.