Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1984


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Free Live Free: No rent, but you’ll have to pay in brain cells

Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe

First of all, let me lay a few cards on the table: Gene Wolfe is my favorite science-fiction author and might be my favorite author, period. I’d give something like fifteen of his books five-star reviews; the only other author who comes close to that is Jack Vance.

Free Live Free (1984) is one of his two books that I just. Don’t. Get. (Castleview is the other.) I’ve read it at least three times,


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Icehenge: Makes the reader doubt, puzzle and think

Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson

Icehenge is Kim Stanley Robinson’s second published novel. It was published the same year as his first novel The Wild Shore, the first part in his THREE CALIFORNIAS triptych. The subject of Icehenge is very different from The Wild Shore. It would be selling the book short to say it is a first step towards his popular MARS trilogy because Icehenge is a very good novel in its own right,


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The Wasp Factory: A flash piece of entertainment

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Perusing bookshops in Poland one finds fiction is categorized along the same genre lines as America or Britain. They have horror, fantastyka, science fiction, kryminalny — all of which are readily recognizable to the English speaker. There is one additional category, however, that I’d never seen before: sensacyjny. Neither ‘sensual’ or ‘sensation,’ the word, in this context, translates to ‘sensational.’ Not in the ‘amazing’ or ‘magnificent’ sense of the word, rather ‘sensationalist’ or ‘suddenness’,


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The People of the Mist: An exciting lost-race novel… with no Quatermain

The People of the Mist by H. Rider Haggard

Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the so-called “Father of the Lost Race Novel,” didn’t write such stories featuring only Allan Quatermain and Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed. For example, his 17th novel, The People of the Mist (1894), is a smashing, wonderfully exciting, stand-alone lost-race tale featuring all-new characters. But the first third of the novel is hardly a lost-race story at all, but rather one of hard-bitten African adventure.

In it,


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The Ghost Light: Several of Leiber’s award-winning stories

The Ghost Light by Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber’s The Ghost Light, recently produced in audio format by Audible Frontiers, is a collection of nine short stories and novelettes and an autobiographical essay by Fritz Leiber. Only the first novelette, “The Ghost Light,” and the essay, “Not so Much Disorder and Not so Early Sex: an Autobiographical Essay,” are original to this collection. Most of the previously printed stories were nominated for, or won, major SFF awards. Here’s what you’ll find in The Ghost Light:

  • “The Ghost Light” — Young Tommy and his parents are visiting Cassius,

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Death Sentences: Award-winning Japanese science fiction

Death Sentences by Kawamata Chiaki

How to describe the copy of Death Sentences, by Kawamata Chiaki (translated by Thomas Lamarre and Kazuko Y. Hehrens) I recently received? Take a heaping helping of Philip K. Dick, a dollop or two of Ray Bradbury, layer into a pan, then frost liberally with my undergrad survey course in artistic movements — particular the week or so on surrealism. Let sit for a few decades (it was originally published in Japan in 1984) — you can pass the time by watching the Japanese horror movie The Ring,


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Lies, Inc: PKD’s most inaccessible novel?

Lies, Inc by Philip K. Dick

In the early 21st century, Earth has become overcrowded and has begun to look toward space as a potential new home. Only one habitable planet has been found — Whale’s Mouth — and it’s said to be a paradise. Rachmael ben Applebaum’s company has developed a spaceship that will take settlers there, but the trip takes 18 years. Just as business is about to begin, it’s undercut by Trails of Hoffman, Inc., a company who has developed a new teleporting technology that will get settlers to Whale’s Mouth in only 15 minutes.


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Armor: A novel about suffering

Armor by John Steakley

…everything you were hiding from was in there with you. That’s the trouble with armor. It won’t protect you from what you are.

Felix is a loner, a broken man with a mysterious past. When he’s dropped with thousands of fellow soldiers on a toxic planet nicknamed “Banshee,” he’s the only survivor of the battle with the 8-foot tall “Ants” that live there. That’s partly because of the special armor he wears — his black nuclear-powered scout suit — and partly because of the emotional armor he wears — what he calls “The Engine” — his lack of fear and compassion in dangerous situations.


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The Changeover: Has lost none of its potency

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

I read Margaret Mahy’s Carnegie-winning novel first as a teenager and again just recently, in my twenties. Despite the passage of time, I found that The Changeover had lost none of its potency. It’s still a striking coming-of-age story,


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The Seven Towers: You’ve come a long way, baby

The Seven Towers by Patricia C. Wrede

I was strangely dissatisfied by The Seven Towers but really couldn’t figure out what exactly was the problem until I sat down to write the review. I normally start with a plot summary, and I couldn’t figure out how to summarize the story. A lot of stuff happens, and a lot of characters run around and do a lot of things, but there is a fundamental disjointedness to the story that is exacerbated by the multiple points of view.

The Seven Towers is the story of one world’s attempt to defeat the Matholych,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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