Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Terry Lago


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The High Place: An anti-romantic fantasy

The High Place by James Branch Cabell

James Branch Cabell was a phenomenal talent. He writes with wit and style, with turns of phrase that can take your breath away and displays of keen insight into human nature. Despite all this I find myself unable to love his works wholeheartedly. I’ve been accused of being something of a cynic or pessimist myself (I prefer the term pragmatist, thank you very much), but Cabell makes me look like a doe-eyed boy scout. While I certainly do not always disagree with many of his points about the incongruous and laughable aspects of human nature,


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Planetary: Spacetime Archaeology, Volume 4

Planetary: Spacetime Archaeology, Volume 4 by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday

This is it. The culmination of the PLANETARY series. Does it live up to the hype? Does the climax match the build up? Well, read on and we’ll see.

Issue 19 – “Mystery in Space”: There’s a strange artifact approaching earth from deep space and Elijah plans on seeing what mysteries it contains. Ellis pays homage to the Big Dumb Object in sci-fi and also draws on the ideas of generation starships, orbital habitats, and the remnants of precursor races.


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Planetary: Leaving the 20th Century, Volume 3

Planetary: Leaving the 20th Century, Volume 3 by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday

In this third volume of PLANETARY stories we not only get to step back for a moment and have a bit of a look at the adventures of Elijah Snow in his century of existence trying to keep the world strange, but we also get more details on the Four and their intersection with the Planetary organization prior to the current story arc. Ellis is able to play in a lot of cool sandboxes as a result and the genre mashing continues much to my personal glee!


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The Flight of Dragons: Fires the imagination

The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson

I loved this book as a kid, and not just because it had naughty boobie pictures that had nothing to do with the text. Dickinson takes the position that Dragons actually existed, then goes from there to ask questions like: why are they not in the fossil record? How could a creature that is generally depicted as huge and armoured supposedly fly? What’s the deal with the fire-breathing? Why are they often depicted as speaking and/or telepathic creatures? How come the accepted method of killing them is by a dude with a magic sword?


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What entropy Means to Me: Definitely a weird book

What entropy Means to Me by George Alec Effinger

Obviously a first novel and very New Wave-y, in some places to the point of excess, What entropy Means to Me is still a very ambitious book which tackles the idea of story itself and its impact on our lives. It isn’t always successful and is definitely a very weird book. It will likely take a few chapters before the reader becomes familiar with what is going on (assuming he ever does), and even then the bizarro elements and shifting of the narrative can be quite confusing.


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War in Heaven: An epic of galaxy-spanning philosophical adventure

War in Heaven by David Zindell

David Zindell’s space opera books, that started with the stand-alone Neverness and continued with his REQUIEM FOR HOMO SAPIENS trilogy (of which this volume is the conclusion), always scratch that itch I have for DUNE-like space opera. You’ve got the baroque world-building of a far, far future of humanity in an interstellar diaspora that combines elements of medieval and pre-industrial societies with ‘magical’ technology and gleaming ships that fold space; you’ve got bizarre human enclaves (sometimes almost reminiscent of Jack Vance,


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Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth: Fragments from Tolkien

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the first work that showed us how J.R.R. Tolkien’s obsessive perfectionism was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it gave us the wonderfully deep world and implied distances of THE LORD OF THE RINGS; and on the other hand it left us with a jumble of tales in various states of revision and development that had to be compiled by Tolkien’s son Christopher into some form as The Silmarillion… a jumble of tales that,


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The Book of Lost Tales 1: Recommended for hardcore Tolkien fans

The Book of Lost Tales 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien

My first attempt to read The Book of Lost Tales 1 was made way too early in my life and made certain that my response was to put it on the shelf and decide that all of this background stuff, especially taken from this early phase in Tolkien’s life as a writer, was way too different from the Middle-Earth stories that I loved for me to waste any time on it.

Looking at where the bookmark from my first attempt still sat when I picked it up again,


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Galveston: May be Sean Stewart’s best novel

Galveston by Sean Stewart

This may be Sean Stewart’s best novel, though it is not my favourite. Here we see Stewart displaying full mastery of his prose, his characterization, and his depiction of a fully realized magical world. Be warned though, neither the characters, nor the world presented, are always pleasant to behold.

We follow the story of Josh Cane, a young man with a chip on his shoulder due to the constrained circumstances of his life that are the result of his father’s loss of a pivotal game of poker.


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Clouds End: Some of Stewart’s best writing

Clouds End by Sean Stewart

I love Sean Stewart, and I wish he hadn’t given up on writing fantasy. His books are always a treat and pay back tenfold the effort put into them by the reader. Clouds End was Stewart’s “pure fantasy” novel, in contrast to the mixed urban fantasy with science fictional elements type of story that characterizes the majority of his works. I have to admit that the first time I tried to read this book I didn’t like it. I still think that Stewart wasn’t fully successful in realizing what he was attempting,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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