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]: 1988


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The Outlaws of Sherwood: A strong contender in an overstuffed genre

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

Robin Longbow, a lowly apprentice to the forester of Nottingham Forest, is on the way to Nottingham fair when he is waylaid by bullies. After he accidentally kills one of them, he is forced to flee and go into hiding. If he’s discovered by the sheriff of Nottingham, he’ll be hung by the regent who is sitting in for King Richard the Lionheart while he’s away fighting in Palestine.

But Robin’s friends Much and Marian see Robin’s exile as an opportunity to strike back at the regent and his Norman allies.


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A Different Flesh: Thoughtful stories about humanity

A Different Flesh by Harry Turtledove

A Different Flesh (1988), by Harry Turtledove, is a thoughtful collection of linked stories set in an alternate America which was inhabited by a hairy upright-walking sub-human species (homo erectus) when European settlers arrived. The settlers call them “sims.” The earliest story is set in 1610 and the last one in 1988 and, as the stories progress through time, we see the sims become more and more advanced, but it is clear that they will never reach the level of cognition that homo sapiens has achieved.


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Unicorn Mountain: Moving, heartfelt fiction

Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop

When I lived in Prague, I couldn’t help but admire the Czechs and their respect for the written word. Riding the subway I saw many people who had taken the time to make a brown paper cover for their literary investment. While reading Michael Bishop’s Unicorn Mountain (1988), I considered doing the same. Unfortunately, it was for a different reason: protection of Bishop’s, and my, self-respect.

Pause, just for a moment, and take a look at the cover.


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Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman: Year One (1988) completely reinvented the caped crusader as a dark and conflicted figure. This time, it was Alan Moore’s turn to reinvent Batman’s greatest rival, that homicidal madman The Joker. Batman: The Killing Joke (1988) tells its compelling story in just 51 pages, but the writing and artwork are so phenomenal that it has retained a legendary status.


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Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, 1946-1987: Introduces many lesser-known fantasy works

Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, 1946-1987 by David Pringle

Note: You may also be interested in Stuart’s reviews of:
Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2010.
Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, 1949-1984.

Following on the success of 1985’s Science Fiction: 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1949-1984, it made sense that David Pringle would tackle the wide-ranging and ill-defined field of fantasy with Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels,


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V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

For those who claim that comics lack sufficient depth and complexity, fans generally recommend Alan Moore’s Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell, Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and SIN CITY series, and Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN series. These are considered “gateway” titles likely to convince skeptics that comics (often labeled “graphic novels” to lend them more gravitas) are a legitimate artistic medium for sophisticated and compelling storytelling for adults.


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Memories of the Space Age: Autopsy of a lost dream

Memories of the Space Age by J.G. Ballard

Memories of the Space Age (1988) is a limited edition hardcover published by small press Arkham House, with a gorgeous cover of Max Ernst’s ‘Europe After the Rain’ that captures the hallucinatory, decayed imagery of J.G. Ballard’s collection. It contains eight stories written between 1962 and 1985, thematically linked around rotting launch gantries at Cape Canaveral, the failure of the US space program, dead astronauts eternally orbiting in space, deserted hotels lining the Florida coast,


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Empire Dreams: An excellent sampler of Ian McDonald’s work

Empire Dreams by Ian McDonald

Over the past few months I’ve read seven novels by Ian McDonald and have appreciated his thoughtful and beautifully written stories. I admired all of them, even those that I didn’t particularly like. McDonald’s stories are unique, many have exotic settings you can get immersed in, and most have fascinating science fiction ideas while also portraying poignant human struggles.

Empire Dreams (1988) is a sampler of ten of McDonald’s short stories and novelettes that offer fans and new readers a few glimpses of the author’s brilliance and versatility.


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Travels: A journey abroad, within, and on the astral plane

Travels by Michael Crichton

When Travels begins, Crichton is a student at Harvard Medical School, sawing into cadavers with his peers. He nearly faints at the sight of blood, but he is a talented and diligent student. Crichton shares the objections and concerns that would ultimately drive him from medicine, a decision perhaps made easier by the fact that he had already begun to experience success as a writer of spy novels. However, more than anything, it seems that Crichton began to doubt that doctors are capable of helping people.


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Islands in the Net: SF political thriller

Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling

Love him or hate him, Bruce Sterling is one of the most intriguing voices in science fiction. A successful writer of fiction and non-fiction, and a speaker of the most unique and presumptuous nature, his words carry regarding the future of technology and society. At base a humanist, Sterling’s work reflects the potential implications of applying the knowledge humanity acquires to economic, ecological, and socio-political environments. Islands in the Net, a good example of his aims, presents all of these facets in a political drama/thriller that continues to touch upon ideas in today’s world despite the decades that have passed since its publishing.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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