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]: 2001


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The Two Princesses of Bamarre: An entertaining magical adventure

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Addie, the 12-year-old Princess of the kingdom of Bamarre, is a sweet but cowardly girl. She comes by it honestly – her father, the king, is also a coward. Addie’s sister Meryl, however, is adventurous and courageous and she wants to save their kingdom from evil magical beasts and a plague they call the Grey Death. Addie adores and admires Meryl and she knows she’ll never be brave like her sister.

When Meryl gets sick, Addie is desperate to save her but,


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Summers at Castle Auburn: A lovely YA romance

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Summers at Castle Auburn (2001) was my first exposure to Sharon Shinn‘s fantasies, and it was pretty much insta-love for me (I like to think that Shinn returns my affections in a distant and anonymous fan-appreciation kind of way). It instantly set me off on a search for more of her books.

Corie is the teenaged illegitimate daughter of a nobleman who died before the story begins, but the royal family is still keeping close tabs on her.


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The Octagonal Raven: Be patient with it

The Octagonal Raven by L.E. Modesitt Jr

His fantasy, in particular the RECLUCE saga, is a lot more popular but L.E. Modesitt Jr. has also written quite a few science fiction novels. I’ve read a number of these now and they are usually an all or nothing read for me. Some I enjoyed tremendously (Flash, Adiamante, The Forever Hero), others I will never read again (The Ethos Effect,


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The Chronoliths: Monoliths from the future

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

Scott Warden, known to most as “Scotty,” kept his wife and daughter, Janice and Kaitlin, in Thailand after the coding contracts dried up. Scotty now spends most of his time aimlessly “just living” in the ex-pat beach culture. Scotty’s broke, but at least he doesn’t deal drugs like his buddy, Hitch Paley. Drug dealer he might be, but Scotty figures that Hitch is basically a good guy, deep down.

It’s Hitch that takes Scotty along the back roads to see the first Chronolith.

The Chronolith is impressive and mysterious.


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Ship of Fools: This dated award winner still has some influence

Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo

Richard Paul Russo published Ship of Fools in 2001 and it won the Philip K Dick Award for that year. I read it when it came out but only remembered two or three scenes from it (powerful scenes, though, I should say). The re-read surprised me and maybe disappointed me slightly. One thing seems clear. In 2001 Russo was playing with concepts that would show up in later writers’ work with regularity in the intervening fourteen years; the “generation ship” and the idea of  a social and economic underclass is addressed by Brenda Cooper in her YA series RUBY’S SONG,


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Sputnik Sweetheart: The world’s most depressing love triangle, after Twilight

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

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.

Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart is narrated by an elementary school teacher we know as “K.” K is in love with Sumire, an aspiring young writer who never feels sexual attraction for others until she meets Miu,


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The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson

The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson by E.F. Benson

I had read E.F. Benson’s The Horror Horn to start with (a collection of 13 of his best ghost stories), after seeing that it was considered one of the Top 100 Horror Books of all time in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume. Each of those 13 stories was so good that I just had to have more, and so picked up this collection — The Collected GhostStories of E.F.


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Stranger Things Happen: Kelly Link’s weird stories

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link

Stranger Things Happen is Kelly Link’s debut collection of weird stories, some of which won major awards. This was my first experience with Ms. Link’s fantasy fiction. Overall I was impressed with her imagination and style. While I admired all of the stories and liked several of them, the emotion I felt most often while reading Stranger Things Happen was unsettled. Link’s stories reminded me somewhat of the work of Peter Straub,


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Dust: Some lovely moments

Dust by Arthur Slade

If Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes met Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass in the world of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, you might end up with something like Arthur Slade’s YA novel Dust. Or at least, you might end up with the basic premise, setting, and tone and style. Falling short of these classics is no great fault,


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Dr. Franklin’s Island: A suspenseful story that isn’t preachy

Dr. Franklin’s Island by Ann Halam

Dr. Franklin’s Island, by Ann Halam (who also writes as Gwyneth Jones), is a YA updating of The Island of Dr. Moreau. In this version, three teenagers survive a plane crash and wash up on a tropical island.

It is not a spoiler to say that the two girls in the story, Miranda and Semirah, or “Semi” as she calls herself, become victims of genetic manipulation. That’s on the back cover of the book.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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