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Ian R. MacLeod

Ian R MacLeod(1956- )
Ian R. MacLeod was born and has lived most of his life around Birmingham in the United Kingdom. His short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Fantasy and Science Fiction, and has been widely anthologized and translated. Visit Ian MacLeod’s website.

The Light Ages: An atomospheric fantasy

The Light Ages by Ian R. MacLeod

The Light Ages is far from light reading. Anyone wanting a quick read or the typical multi-book fantasy focusing on a questing band of travelers beset by evil should look elsewhere.

Instead Macleod gives us a land more evoked than described, beautiful at times poetic prose, three-dimensional characters (including the "evil" ones), questions that aren't always neatly answered, and a pace that would be described as slow by many but which I found perfectly suited to the nature of the novel. There is rebellion, both personal and societal; corruption, both personal and societal; and finally, frustratingly and (realistically) only after fits and starts, change both personal and societal.

What there is not is a lot of magic or spell-casting or simplistic conflict. The magical aether which is the center of the Dickensian society and which has caused industrial stagn... Read More

The House of Storms: Not as strong as first book

The House of Storms by Ian R. MacLeod

The House of Storms takes place roughly a century or so and in the same world as MacLeod's The Light Ages. Though it could therefore be called a sequel, one needn't have read The Light Ages to jump into The House of Storms, as the characters and the culture aren't quite the same. The House of Storms is not as strong as the first book, though like The Light Ages it has fully developed vivid characters; a slow, methodical pace; a complex plot, a balanced look at the "good" and "bad" guys; and lush, poetic language. It didn't, however, maintain these strengths quite as consistently as The Light Ages did, creating I thought a noticeable flagging in the second half of the book.

The House of Storms Read More

Journeys: Nine stories by Ian R. MacLeod

Journeys by Ian R. MacLeod

As always with books published by Subterranean Press, Journeys (2010) by Ian R. MacLeod looks stunning. I love the cover art by Edward Miller. The collection contains nine stories, ranging from a few pages to novella length, all of them first published between 2006 and 2010. Personally I feel the longer pieces work better.

Journeys is an appropriate title for this collection, MacLeod takes you to unexpected places with his stories. In many of them, the setting is familiar, often historical, but with a few crucial changes. The collection opens with “The Master Miller's Tale,” one of the longer stories in the collection and a good example of the changes the author weaves into his tales. It is set during the early stages of the industrial revolution. A master miller i... Read More

Magazine Monday: Weird Tales

Weird Tales celebrates “Uncanny Beauty” in the Summer 2010 issue (No. 356, and the most recent issue available as of this writing). The best story in the magazine, though, is one that is off-theme. “How Bria Died,” by Mike Aronovitz, is the tale of an unorthodox teacher who may well have taken his unusual teaching methods a step too far for the universe to abide.  This horror story is fresh, original and written from a position of real authority:  Aronovitz teaches English in a school much like the one in which his story is set.

Kat Howard’s “Beauty and Disappearance” is a surreal tale of disappearing bits of statues, soon followed by the disappearance – at first intentional, and later not so much – of other bits and pieces of other thing... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s June 2011

The June 2011 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction has a beautiful cover of a woman who is partly constructed of a gold metallic weave. The artist, Jacques Barbey, poses her at the shore of a river or lake golden with the sunset, wearing a headdress that appears to be functional in some way, apparently as a weapon. It doesn’t seem to match up to any of the stories in this issue, but it is a lovely image all on its own. And who says fantastic paintings need to refer to anything but the artist’s own imagination, anyway?

Most of the issue is consumed by a new novella by Mary Robinette Kowal, “Kiss Me Twice.” This accomplished work is a true science fiction mystery, which is much harder to pull off than might be immediately apparent. The author c... Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Magazine, Spring 2014

The Spring 2014 issue of Subterranean Magazine is as strong as this magazine ever is, and that’s saying a lot. Kat Howard’s story, “Hath No Fury,” stands out as a memorable work about the old gods in the modern age. It is a story about women who are victimized by men, and the women who refuse to allow those victims to go unavenged. Based loosely on the myth of Medea and Jason, the story is told in the first person by one of the Erinyes — the Furies — who in Howard’s contemporary New York are charged with avenging women murdered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers. Kaira is a close friend of Medea, who is a sort of muse to the Erinyes, guiding them when they first are changed from human to this new shape and watching over them as they fulfill their duties. Several other myths are mashed up here to create something new; so, for instance, Medea keeps bees, the Fates are old women knitting in the ... Read More

Steampunk: Quick entertaining education on the subgenre du jour

Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

Steampunk is an anthology of, well, steampunk stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. If you hurry, you can still get to this first anthology before the second one, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, appears in mid November. Based on the quality of the stories in this collection, I heartily recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve been a bit bemused (or possibly amused) by all the people wearing odd Victorian costumes at SFF conventions nowadays, or if you have at best a vague idea of what steampunk exactly entails. If you’re one of those people who’s interested in, but not entirely sure about, the new hot subgenre du jour (like me, prior to reading Steampunk), this anthology is here to take you by the hand and give you a quick, entertaining education. And oh, it also contains some truly excel... Read More

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014: An enjoyable collection

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014 edited by Rich Horton

I've been reading a lot of anthologies lately, including another of the several "Year's Best" collections (the Jonathan Strahan one). I was pleased to find that, unlike some of the others, this one matched my tastes fairly well for the most part.

I enjoy stories in which capable, likeable or sympathetic characters, confronted by challenges, confront them right back and bring the situation to some sort of meaningful conclusion. I was worried when I read the editor's introduction and saw him praising Lightspeed and Clarkesworld magazines, because they can often be the home of another kind of story, in which alienated, passive characters are battered by tragedy until the story stops at a t... Read More

More speculative fiction from Ian R. MacLeod

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Song of Time — (2008) Publisher: A man lies half-drowned on a Cornish beach at dawn in the furthest days of this century. The old woman who discovers him, once a famous concert violinist, is close to death herself… or a new kind of life she can barely contemplate. Does death still exist at all, or has it finally been obliterated? And who is this strange man she’s found? Is he a figure returned from her past, a new messiah, or an empty vessel? Is he God, or the Devil?

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsWake Up and Dream — (2011)  Publisher: Hollywood, 1940. It’s the Golden Age of the Feelies. All one-time actor and unlicensed matrimonial private eye Clark Gable has to do is impersonate a wealthy scriptwriter for a few hours, and sign the contract for the biopic of the inventor of a device which has changed entertainment forever. What could go wrong? Already, he’s seeing ghosts – but that’s nothing unusual. Europe is devastated by war and America is sleep-walking into Fascism — but what’s that got to do with him? By turns wry and romantic, but always gripping, multi-award winning writer Ian R MacLeod’s latest novel is a dazzling collision of science, fantasy and history. Like the feelies themselves, Wake Up and Dream is film noir with Technicolor wraiths. Ian R MacLeod has published five previous novels and four short story collections. Amongst many accolades, his work has won the Arthur C Clarke, John W Campbell, World Fantasy and Sidewise awards. He was born in the suburbs of Birmingham, England, and currently lives, works and dreams in the riverside town of Bewdley, Worcestershire.