The Steerswoman: The Steerswomen’s code of open information is refreshing

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

Originally published in 1989, The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein, was reissued by the author in 2013, along with the rest of the four existing books in the STEERSWOMAN series. This first book introduces the world of steerswoman Rowan, and the order of steerswomen (and some men), who travel the world gathering and sharing information and knowledge. There is only one kind of knowledge steerswomen don’t have — magic.

When the book opens, Rowan has stopped at an inn to question the innkeeper about a strange stone she found years ago, inside the trunk of a tree she cut down. The rules of society are these: a steerswoman will answer any question you ask if she knows the answer, and any person must answer the questions asked by a steerswoman. The wiza... Read More

Burning Water: Urban fantasy by Mercedes Lackey

Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey is best known for her VALDEMAR series, a multi-volume epic fantasy that is beloved by many fantasy readers. Some of Lackey’s legions of fans may not know that she also published an urban fantasy trilogy back in the late 80s and early 90s. It stars Diana Tregarde, a romance writer and practicing witch who solves magical murders and helps protect the world from evil supernatural beings. She is a Guardian.

In the first DIANA TREGARDE novel, Burning Water (1989), we meet Diana after her friend Mark Valdez, a police detective, asks for her help with a case. It involves the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, a photographer for a travel magazine, a fashion designer, four be... Read More

Remember Me: A Christopher Pike classic

Remember Me by Christopher Pike

The idea of a ghost who has to solve their own murder from beyond the grave is a slam-dunk. I'll read or watch any variation of this story, from Patrick Swayze in Ghost to all those early X-Files episodes. So having been a fan of Christopher Pike in my teen years, I'm not sure how Remember Me (1989) managed to slip my notice. But hey, better late than never!

Shari Cooper is dead, thrown from a balcony at a friend's party. Now her ghost is stuck in limbo, able to see her friends and family, but unable to communicate with them in any way. What's worse, everyone thinks she committed suicide, the police officer investigating her case is an alcoholic, and there's a nightmarish monster chasing her through the afterlife.

But at only eighteen years old, Shari knows she didn't kill herself — someone pushed her off that balcony. And... Read More

Hyperion: A real treat for the imagination

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

There is space opera, and then there is Space Opera. Dan Simmon’s 1989 Hyperion is S.P.A.C.E. O.P.E.R.A. From grand schemes to the most minute of details, vivid character portrayal to imaginative and original future technology, gorgeous scenery to a multi-dimensional, motivated plot, everything works. Weaving his tale, Simmons proves a master storyteller, each of the seven tableaus presented begging to be devoured. As a result, it is virtually impossible to read Hyperion and not want to follow up with the sequel, The Fall of Hyperion. Thus, potential buyers be warned: this is only the first half of a highly engaging story.

Hyperion’s success begins with world building. Simmons put hours and hours of thought and planning into the background details of his universe and how these elements work together. ... Read More

The Anubis Murders: A fun mystery from the creator of D&D

The Anubis Murders by Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax is best known as the co-creator of a role-playing game so famous it is woven into the fabric of popular culture: Dungeons and Dragons. He passed away in 2008. Dangerous Journeys: The Anubis Murders was meant as the first in a series of novel tie-ins to a game of the same name.

I revere Gygax for his contributions to gaming and the use of the imagination. About The Anubis Murders, I can confidently say that it’s a good book to have on hand if you think you’ll have a boring bus ride in your future or the camping trip might get rained on, stranding you in your tent.

The paperback version I read was published by Roc in 1992. The story is not particularly dated, and the puzzle solved by Setne Inhetep, the Egyptian (only it’s spelled with the ligature-letter Æ) wizard-detective, is interesting. The bald,... Read More

Wizard’s Bane: A lot of fun

Wizard's Bane by Rick Cook

In a world where magic is commonplace, what use is an expert-level computer programmer like Wiz Zamult? The only person who knew the answer was the great wizard Patrius, but bringing Wiz to this medieval world cost Patrius his life. Moria, a beautiful red-headed hitch witch, is tasked to be Wiz’s caretaker. However, Moria dislikes Wiz as much as he is infatuated with her. Somehow, this helpless stranger is the key to stopping the federation of evil wizards called the Dark League.

Wizard’s Bane is not the kind of book I would’ve picked up on my own. However, as a fun challenge, it was chosen for me by someone whose literary opinion I’ve come to value highly. Plus it didn’t hurt that the eBook version is free from Baen Books as part of their most awesome answer to online piracy — eBook readers, check out th... Read More

The Wolf’s Hour: Still vivid after 20 years

The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon

As the Allied forces plan for D-Day, rumors surface within covert operations that the Nazis may have a final, deadly ace in the hole. With so much depending on the Allied invasion, the very best agent must be sent deep into enemy territory to thwart whatever it is that the Nazis have in store. What makes this British spy so special is that Michael Gallatin is a werewolf.

The Wolf’s Hour was originally published just over two decades ago and I read the mass market paperback way back then. Over the years, some parts remained so vivid that I would randomly recall them at the oddest of times. I’ve had it on my mind to reread it for a long time, just to rediscover why this novel has stuck with me like it did. So I jumped at the chance to review Subterranean Press’ illustrated reprint. This edition also contains a new novelette, The Room at the Bottom of the ... Read More

Weetzie Bat: Dangerous Angels: Kaleidoscopes, pink cotton candy, psychedelic music

Weetzie Bat: Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block writes strange but intoxicating tales; stories that are surreal and yet oddly comforting. To classify her books are nearly impossible. The format is that of fairytales, in which her protagonists face a series of challenges, and learn a valuable life lesson by book’s end. Yet her genre is that of magic realism, in which she fills the city of Los Angeles (and in one case, New York) with all sorts of weird and wonderful occurrences, such as wishes granted by genies, conversations with ghosts, and spiritual power derived from Native American artifacts, plot threads that are interwoven with more “mundane” issues such as burgeoning sexuality, substance abuse and dysfunctional families. Her style is something else altogether, and it’s really not something I can even begin to describe. It has to speak for itself…but I gu... Read More

New Moon: An engrossing tale of enduring worth

New Moon by Midori Snyder

Midori Snyder set out to write a trilogy, because that is what fantasy authors were supposed to do, and she wrote one of the best trilogies I have ever read. This little known gem, in its first printing named The Queen’s Quarter and in its second printing referred to as The Oran Trilogy, is a multi-layered treasure of a story.  It is a story not only about the personal struggles of four young heroines, but of the country's quest for political freedom, and the land's fight to find magical stability. Snyder balances all three of these plot threads and weaves an engrossing tale of enduring worth.

New Moon focuses on the story of the Fire Queen Zorah who has ruled the country of Oran for 200 years. Oran was traditionally ruled by four queens together,... Read More

The Elenium: More of the same

THE ELENIUM by David Eddings

I loved how The Elenium started. Sparhawk has to be the best character David Eddings has ever imagined. I thought, with the first book of this trilogy, that this series was a real departure from the world of Belgarath, Garion and Polgara.

The story starts as the publisher indicates, and it quickly becomes a quest for a mystical jewel that is buried somewhere. A cast of characters develops, and they go looking for the thing. However, this is where disappointment sets in. Though the characters in these books are different, the banter is the same, the narrative is almost pure dialogue, and after a while, you can't tell which character is speaking.

The pace is the typical Eddings speed, due to the formulaic plot and due to the simple prose. The characterization is hollow, and there is very little development. T... Read More

Rusalka: I didn’t like it

Rusalka by C.J. Cherryh

I like folklore, and I like novels based on folklore, and I was prepared to like C.J. Cherryh's Rusalka, especially after seeing it reviewed elsewhere. It did hold my attention long enough that I was able to finish it, but in the end I had to admit that I didn't like it.

First gripe: the endless and tedious scenes of Pyetr, Sasha, and Uulamets wandering around in the woods acting like jerks to one another. Pages upon pages of one of the characters musing about what morons the other two are. The use of the word "woodcraft" on what seems like every page, as Sasha or Pyetr admires Uulamets' skill in navigating the forest. It begins to feel like we are reading the same chapter over and over after a while.

But that's the little gripe. The big one is what seems like a big continuity mistake. It's a spoiler, so highlight the following text if you want to re... Read More