Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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Dark Waters: “Until next time” is now

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

The third (but clearly not final, given its cliffhanger ending) book in the SMALL SPACES QUARTET sees our three eleven-year-old protagonists once more go up against “the Smiling Man,” an immortal fey creature who loves to make deals and play games with unsuspecting mortals. As I anticipated after Small Spaces and Dead Voices, it’s Brian’s turn to be front-and-center while Ollie and Coco take on supporting roles.

Having received a cryptic note that promises yet another round of the terrifying feud they’ve been dragged into,


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Robots and the People Who Love Them: An informative and worthy read

Robots and the People Who Love Them by Eve Herold

Robots and the People Who Love Them, by Eve Herold, is a solid look at the potential impact of social robots on our lives, though more timely research and a more focused structure would have improved the book.

Herold’s focus here is not on “robots”, but on social robots, those that we will interact with regularly and often closely. Think robots in the fields of elder care, education, child care, and companion robots (both the platonic sort and the sexbot sort).


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The Reinvented Detective: Some of these detective stories are excellent

The Reinvented Detective edited by Cat Rambo & Jennifer Brozek

As is typically the case for story anthologies in my experience, The Reinvented Detective, part of an anthology series edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek, was a mixed bag, with stories ranging from excellent to good to flat at best.

All of the stories are set in the future, though the time spectrum runs from the relatively near-future to a few decades to a far-flung future of interstellar travel. Settings move from the “real world” to the virtual one (sometimes within the same story),


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The Sinister Booksellers of Bath: Entertaining but I wanted more magic

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix

Garth Nix’s The Sinister Booksellers of Bath (2023) is the follow-up to 2020’s fantasy novel, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. Both books are set in the 1980s, or, as Nix calls it, “a somewhat alternative 1980s.”

We reunite with familiar characters; siblings Merlin and Vivien St. Jacques, both of whom have magic, and Susan, the young art student whose father is an Ancient Sovereign, an old and powerfully magical being.


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The Children of Jocasta: Solid but somewhat disappointing

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

The Children of Jocasta (2018), by Natalie Haynes, does a nice job of shifting our view of some of the characters in the classic Oedipus tale, but was by the end a solid but somewhat disappointing read that felt its length and also felt too hemmed in by the tale as we all know it.

Haynes makes two good decisions early on. One is the structural choice to weave back and forth between two time periods.


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The Runabout: Exploring the Boneyard

The Runabout by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Finally we get to explore more of the Boneyard in The Runabout (2017), the fifth full-length novel in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s DIVING series. It was actually published after The Falls, but it works better if you read it between Skirmishes and The Falls. (And this is what the author suggests, too.)

After the discovery of the Boneyard,


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Skirmishes: Boss and Coop make a good team

Skirmishes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Skirmishes (2013) is the fourth novel in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s DIVING universe. It begins a month after the events in Boneyards which, of course, you’ll want to read first. Skirmishes has a structure similar to Boneyards – there are two main plotlines (one starring Boss and the other starring Coop) and one of them jumps around in time.

In Boss’s plotline, she’s trying to get into the Boneyard which is,


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The Deep Sky: A promising debut

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

Yume Kitasei’s debut novel, The Deep Sky, is half a sci-fi mystery aboard a troubled spaceship and half a boarding school story set some years beforehand during the training/selection period for the crew. The sci-fi section moves along at a fast pace while the school segments slow down to delve more into character and also provide backstory so as to better understand motivations and actions in the present. The premise and structure are good ideas, but unfortunately issues with execution, pace,


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Boneyards: An essential DIVING story

Boneyards by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Boneyards (2012) is the third full-length novel in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s DIVING series. You’ll want to read Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins first. A couple of companion novellas that you may also want to read first (but it’s not necessary) are Becalmed and The Application of Hope.

Boneyards begins five years after the events of City of Ruins (as well as the two companion novellas mentioned above).


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The Application of Hope: A helpful companion

The Application of Hope by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Application of Hope (2014) is another novella set in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s DIVING UNIVERSE series. You can read it at any point in the series, but it’d be best as a companion to City of Ruins because it takes place at the same time and gives a different perspective on the important and exciting events of that novel.

Here we meet Tory Sabin and Jonathon “Coop” Cooper,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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