Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Terry Lago


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The Pride of Chanur: What does it mean to be an alien?

The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh

Cherryh’s The Pride of Chanur combines space opera with some gritty “hard-ish” SF elements in the beginning of a saga that deals with the political and economic ramifications of first contact. In this first volume of the CHANUR SAGA we follow the exploits of a crew of Hani (lion-like aliens) on the eponymous merchant space freighter The Pride of Chanur. Expecting nothing more than a routine run across their trade routes, Pyanfar Chanur, captain of the Pride,


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Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction and David Aja make a great team as they take a peek into the ‘everyday’ life of a superhero… a superhero who can’t shoot lightning bolts, fly, or bench press a city bus. What does an average Avenger do on his days off?

The story starts by letting us see Clint Barton, aka the Avenging archer Hawkeye, having a pretty bad day (which seems to be the norm for him): he’s just gotten out of the hospital after sustaining major injuries during his ‘day job’,


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Supreme Power: High Command by J. Michael Straczynski

Supreme Power (Vol. 3): High Command by J. Michael Straczynski

In this volume, the government ups its game against Hyperion, attempting to discredit him in the eyes of the public and attack him where they feel he is weak. They also seem not to have learned anything from the fiasco that has been their involvement in metahuman affairs up to this point, and still think they can play god with inhumanly powerful pawns. Not too bright, but I’m afraid the estimate may not be too off the mark for how governments would respond to the possibility of controlling the ‘easy’ power that superheroes (and villains) present.


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Lone Wolf and Cub: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger

Lone Wolf and Cub (Vol. 7): Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger by Kazuo Koike

The Lone Wolf & Cub series by Kazuo Koike is well-known for the amount of research that went into allowing a lifelike picture of the Japanese historical era to be faithfully presented. This definitely adds to my enjoyment of the series, but added to this is the fact that while each individual story is generally self-contained, there is a wider story arc that informs each of them both within and across volumes. Best of all is when specific details from previous tales make their way into later installments and not only add to the full picture we see,


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Gate of Ivrel: A seamless blend of science fiction and fantasy

Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh

Gate of Ivrel is one of C.J. Cherryh’s entries into the science fantasy genre in which we follow the adventures of Vanye, the bastard son of a minor lord in a seemingly medieval world who is cast out for standing up to his oppressive brothers and inadvertently killing one and maiming the other. As he makes his way across the harsh landscape of his world populated by clans who would like nothing more than to end the life of a miserable outlaw he stumbles across a ‘miracle’ in the person of Morgaine: a figure of power and fear out of legend seemingly magically returned and to whom he becomes joined by bonds of duty and obligation.


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Fledgling: Love and relationships examined through vampirism

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

In some ways there are superficial resemblances between Fledgling and the last vampire book I read, Let the Right One In: both books have as their star apparently pre-pubescent vampires who have ‘complicated’ relationships with their human companions. In John Ajvide Lindqvist’s case it was a Renfield-like adult who was enamoured of the vampire-child for whom he obtained blood and the young boy who becomes a part of her life. In the case of Butler’s book the vampire in question,


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Ares Express: This ain’t Mars like you’ve ever seen it before

Ares Express by Ian McDonald

There’s really something special about Ian McDonald’s Mars books. McDonald’s Mars is a place I love to visit in all of its crazy, off the wall, illogical glory. I’ve rarely seen the numinous, and irrational, nature of magic so well displayed in fantasy books, let alone in a sci-fi one (the exception would have to be Sean Stewart who is also expert at such depictions, though in a very different vein). Despite the strangeness of McDonald’s Mars, I’ve rarely seen such a consistently envisioned and joyfully painted world.


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The Discarded Image: An accessible approach to medieval cosmology

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature by C.S. Lewis

To me, this might be C.S. Lewis‘ best book. I will have to cop to not really liking the NARNIA books (too allegorical, and those British schoolchildren are pretty annoying), and while I do quite like his SPACE TRILOGY, I think that Lewis was much better as a writer of academic non-fiction than he was as a fiction writer. In The Discarded Image, Lewis is able to tackle a huge subject: medieval cosmology and worldview,


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Lone Wolf and Cub: Lanterns for the Dead by Kazuo Koike

Lone Wolf and Cub (Vol. 6): Lanterns for the Dead by Kazuo Koike

The Lone Wolf and Cub series is well-known for the amount of research that went into allowing a lifelike picture of the historical era to be faithfully presented. This definitely adds to my enjoyment of the series, but added to this is the fact that while each individual story is generally self-contained there is a wider story arc that informs each of them both within and across volumes. Best of all is when specific details from previous tales make their way into later installments and not only add to the full picture we see,


Read More




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Tolkien and the Great War: An exploration of Tolkien’s early influences

Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth

Tolkien and the Great War is an obviously well-researched book that goes into explicit (at times I must admit tedious) detail on J.R.R. Tolkien’s involvement in World War I and its possible impact on his then-current and later writings. We begin by observing Tolkien’s earliest close friendships formed at St. Edward’s Grammar School under the auspices of the “TCBS” (an acronym for Tea Club, Barrovian Society) where the core group of Tolkien, Christopher Wiseman, Robert Gilson,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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