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]: 1999


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Gravity Dreams: Some interesting themes but not much else

Gravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Tyndel is a religious leader in his society. Any use of nanotechnology is forbidden and those who change their bodies with nanotech are considered “demons.” When someone purposely infects Tyndel with the forbidden “mites,” Tyndel must flee his country before he’s arrested and killed. When he gets rescued by the “evil” empire that allows technological body enhancements, his faith is challenged.

Gravity Dreams (1999) is very similar to The Parafaith War, the last Modesitt book I read.


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Heavy Liquid: These characters move through a world that leaves a mark

Heady Liquid by Paul Pope

Heavy Liquid by Paul Pope is a futuristic neo-noir comic book put out by DC’s Vertigo imprint. The story is a little disorienting and slow to start, but it builds into a very engaging tale about a mysterious substance called Heavy Liquid. Is it a special metal, a drug, or a weapon of mass destruction? Perhaps, possibly, this black liquid is even alive. All of these possibilities are considered in the course of the comic. Overall, the book is not for everyone, but if you like Paul Pope’s art,


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Bios: A rare miss from RCW

Bios: A Novel of Planetary Exploration by Robert Charles Wilson

Isis is not the M class planet we have been looking for, and upon landing the humans discover that it’s extraordinarily toxic to them. It’s not cheap traveling through space to distant planets, so the scientists will just have to do their best. This is the premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Bios: A Novel of Planetary Exploration. The scientists initially try to solve this problem with nifty machines and suits, but eventually one of them tries to change people at a genetic level to make them fit the planet,


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Miracle and Other Christmas Stories: Speculative Christmas-themed stories

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories (1999) is a collection of eight short science fiction and fantasies by Connie Willis, plus an introduction and an afterword. It was on sale for $1.99 in early December 2016 ― a great value. It combines Willis’ heartfelt love for Christmas with a clear-eyed but sympathetic view of humanity and its foibles. In the introduction, Willis talks about how she has tried to walk the fine line between cynicism and “mawkish sappiness.” I think she’s done a fine job of it.


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White Mars: A response to KSR’s MARS trilogy

White Mars by Brian W. Aldiss

While rereading Kim Stanley Robinson‘s MARS trilogy, books I consider to be among the very best in science fiction, I came across various references to White Mars; Or, The Mind Set Free: A 21st-Century Utopia (1999) by Brian W. Aldiss, written in collaboration with prominent physicists Roger Penrose. Robinson’s utopian vision of a terraformed Red Planet is not something everybody would see as ideal or even morally acceptable. In the MARS trilogy Robinson pays a lot of attention to the discussion between what he calls the Reds,


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Ash: A Secret History: One of the most important books in the genre

Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle

I have long had a debate in my mind about the place of the woman warrior in fiction, particularly the type most often presented in epic fantasy/sword & sorcery. Robert E. HowardJoe AbercrombieGeorge R.R. MartinDavid Gemmell, and Tobias Buckell, for example, have all included the undaunted, sword-wielding, occasionally bra-defying warrioresses in their tales of adventure and battle. But in these stories, the women are most often just men with breasts.


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The Antelope Wife: Dark, sad, beautiful and funny

The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

In 1999, Louise Erdrich’s book The Antelope Wife won the World Fantasy Award. Erdrich is not a genre writer; she is firmly planted in literary territory, even if she and her husband did write romance novels under a pseudonym to pay the bills early in their marriage. The Antelope Wife is not a fantasy book. It is a beautiful, dark, sad, funny story, filled with magic and mythology, weaving Plains Indian and Ojibwa myths into a modern-day tale about a large and complicated family in 1990s Minnesota.


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The Heart of a Witch: Moody writing and an immature heroine

The Heart of a Witch by Judith Hawkes

Back in the late nineties, younger-me was obsessed with reading every novel about witches I could find. (Don’t get me wrong, I still like witch books, but there are just so many now!) The Heart of a Witch, published in 1999, would have appeared right smack in the middle of this obsession, and yet somehow I never discovered it back then, when I was first devouring Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour and Elizabeth Hand’s Waking the Moon.


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Suki: A Like Story by Clamp

Suki: A Like Story by Clamp

Suki: A Like Story is a three-book story by Clamp. Clamp is one of my favorite modern creators of manga, and I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that Clamp is an all-female collective. Though they’ve had in the past a rotating membership, for the most part, Clamp now consists of a fairly stable roster of four women: Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Satsuki Igarashi. They started out in the 1980s as an eleven-member group of amateur, self-published indie writers (known as “dojinshi” in Japan),


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Cryptonomicon: Pretty big accomplishment

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

“This code business is some tricky shit.”  ~Bobby Shaftoe

Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon is a lengthy historical fiction set during both World War II and the late 1990s with much of the action taking place in the Philippines. In the 1940s, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, colleague of Alan Turing, is hired by the U.S. Navy to help break Axis codes. Meanwhile, Marine Sergeant Bobby Shaftoe, who’s too enthusiastic and courageous for his own good, doesn’t realize that his troop’s job is to make it look like the U.S.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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