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]: 1985.01


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Kiki’s Delivery Service: A warmhearted coming-of-age tale

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translated by Emily Balistrieri

Kiki’s Delivery Service, a 1985 children’s fantasy novel first published in Japanese as Majo no Takkyūbin (or “Witch’s Express Home Delivery”), is best known outside of Japan as the basis for a 1989 Studio Ghibli anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. In fact, the book won several prizes in Japan and Kadono has published five sequels over the years (unfortunately none of the sequels are currently available in English translations). Kiki’s Delivery Service was first published in English in 2003,


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The Handmaid’s Tale: Chilling and tense

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood was once, via a review of her work, once taken a bit publicly to task by Ursula K. LeGuin for not wanting her books (specifically The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood) to be labeled “science fiction,” because, LeGuin speculated, Atwood did not want to be relegated to the genre ghetto. Atwood, however, responded that it was merely a definitional issue.


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Bridge of Birds: Two five-star reviews

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Welcome to a “story of ancient China that never was”. Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds (1985) is a real romp of frenetic pace and fairy-tale style mingled with the mythology and legends of ancient China. It’s as bonkers and as brilliant as they come.

The story centres on a simple but warm-hearted peasant boy, nicknamed Number 10 Ox for his great strength and the order of his birth. Upon learning that all of the children in his village have been struck down by a terrible disease he sets out to Peking seeking a wise man.


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Angel with the Sword: An immersive introduction to a larger universe

Angel with the Sword by C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh has penned both science fiction and fantasy tomes (as well as the blended Science Fantasy that partakes of both) and much of her significant sci-fi output has been in multiple series that span time, space, and in some ways even genre. And yet all of her works are part of a much larger future history of mankind amongst the stars: Angel with the Sword is the first book of the eight-book MEROVINGEN NIGHTS series,


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Ender’s Game Alive: A new way to experience Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card

This review assumes you have read Ender’s Game, or are familiar with it, so it may contain some spoilers for Ender’s Game.

Before becoming one of the of most accomplished science fiction authors of his generation, Orson Scott Card worked as a writer of full-length plays for BYU, where he studied. He also wrote audioplays on LDS Church history. It follows from his experience then, that when Orson Scott Card set his sights on adapting his hit novel Ender’s Game into Ender’s Game Alive,


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Ender’s Game: Intense psychological drama

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender Wiggin is a “Third.” His parents were allowed to have him only because their first two children, Peter and Valentine, showed so much promise. Earth is expecting another Bugger attack from outer space and humans are desperately trying to breed and train the children who they hope will be Earth’s saviors. Peter, Valentine, and Ender Wiggin are all geniuses, but Ender seems to have just the right balance of intelligence, resolve, independence, and sensitivity to make a great leader for Earth’s international forces.

When Ender is only six years old,


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The Castle in the Attic: A cozy, heartwarming medieval tale

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Castle in the Attic is a warm story about a boy, an old toy castle, and a much-loved housekeeper. William does not want his babysitter, Mrs. Phillips, to leave him and return to England. William swears he will do anything to keep her with him (absolutely anything). But when she gives him her old miniature stone castle and its lone knight, William fears there will be no way to keep her around. Until the knight comes to life.

The story of William and the Silver Knight is nothing if not heartwarming.


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The Isle of Glass: A derivative novel done well

The Isle of Glass by Judith Tarr

I’ve gone back and forth on this text quite a bit, unsure how generous I’m willing to be. The facts are these: Judith Tarr’s prose is better than expected, the story flows well, and the pacing is great, but on the other hand, this is not a book that beyond its style really seems to have a lot to do. The Isle of Glass is the kind of novel that readers will finish with a nod and a shrug rather than a smile or tears.


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Five-Twelfths of Heaven: A trilogy worthy of rediscovery

Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott

The first volume of Melissa Scott‘s highly-regarded Roads of Heaven trilogy is an unusual SF novel in that it treats indistinguishable-from-magic science pretty much as if it were magic. It’s the sort of thing that makes scientific purists (and guys like me) roll our eyes much of the time. If I have a pet peeve, it’s when a “science” fiction story hits me with paranormal, unscientific concepts. If that’s what you want to write, then just write paranormal fiction. Scott avoids the claptrap trap,


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The Secret Country: A role-player’s dream

The Secret Country by Pamela Dean

The Secret Country is a fun fantasy about five teenagers and pre-teens who accidentally stumble into the fantasy world that they themselves created in play. Unfortunately, they are their normal selves, not their powerful alter egos, and so they are in a magical medieval kingdom without magical abilities, weapons skills, or even decent horsemanship. And the catch is that everyone expects them to know these things, since their characters do! This book is a role-player’s dream, and perhaps nightmare as well.

They get by,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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