Pile by the Bed reviews Velocity Weapon by Megan E O’Keefe, the start of an enjoyable, page-turning space opera series.
Pile by the Bed reviews Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff using pulp horror and science fiction tropes to explore racism in America in the 1950s.
Pile by the Bed reviews Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee – short stories and extras expanding on his Machineries of Empire universe.
Pile by the Bed reviews Recursion the new mind-bending science fiction thriller by Blake Crouch
Pile by the Bed reviews Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey – a post Harry Potter magic academy / noir crime fiction mash up.
Pile by the Bed reviews the second collection of science fiction stories by Ted Chiang.
Pile by the Bed reviews The Farm by Joanne Ramos, a day-after-tomorrow look a the gap between rich and poor.
Pile by the Bed reviews Outside Looking In by TC Boyle – an exploration of the 60s and the followers of Timothy Leary.
Pile by the Bed reviews Tiamat’s Wrath by JAmes SA Corey (The Expanse #8) – another top entry in a great space opera series
Pile by the Bed reviews A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine – a strong modern space opera debut.
Pile by the Bed reviews Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz, the fourth Orphan X thriller.
Pile by the Bed reviews The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie, a book that reinvents the ground rules of the fantasy genre.
Alex White opens the second volume of his Salvagers trilogy, A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy with an action scene. The crew of the Capricious, not content with their galaxy saving adventures in A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, are tracking down the people behind that plot. But it is a tangled plot that runs deep into the galaxy’s elite and they need to do it one bad guy at a time. When the book opens they are following the money, trying to apprehend a man who might be able to start leading them to the ultimate mastermind. That opening scene is a statement of intent: well constructed action, peppered with a bit of banter and a battle involving different magical powers. And it works. There is very little table setting or revisiting the past in this book. White assumes that readers are across the basics, including the fact that most characters have some magical ability. Once again, the focus is on two point of view characters – former grand prix racer and mechanic Nilah and former salvager and crewmember of the Capricious Boots Elsworth. But every member of the crew gets an opportunity to shine…
Pile by the Bed reviews the Golden State by Ben H Winters – a dystopia with noir crime undertones.
Pile by the Bed reviews Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Pile by the Bed reviews Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
Pile by the Bed reviews Wrecked by Joe Ide, IQ #3
John Grisham’s first book A Time to Kill was set in the fictional town of Clanton in the Mississippi region of Ford County. He has returned to Ford County a few times in his career and in The Reckoning he is back again. This is Clanton in 1946, just after the end of the Second World War, still surviving on cotton and low paid labour. When the book opens Pete Banning is preparing to commit an act which will reverberate through that small community for years to come. Pete Banning, latest in a long line of cotton farmers in Clanton, returned from the war a changed man. He had been missing presumed dead, his family having been notified of his death three years earlier. His experiences in the war, which he refuses to share but which are detailed later in the book, shaped him and his outlook on life. When the book opens, Pete plans and carries out a murder. He walks into the Methodist church, kills the preacher Dexter Bell, and essentially admits to the crime but refuses to explain why he did it. The crime splits the small community, many of whom revered Pete as a decorated serviceman….
The Kennedy assassination is the literary gift that keeps on giving. Authors like Don Delillo, James Ellroy, Norman Mailer, Tim Baker and Stephen King just to name a few have used the assassination as the jumping off point to tell bigger stories. Lou Berney goes the other way. In November Road, the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath is used to tell an intimate tale of love and loss, with plenty of blood and violence along the way. Frank Guidry is a hood with not a huge serving of morals. Based in New Orleans, he works for the Marcello crime organisation. When November Road opens he is selling out his friends and sleeping with a string of women. Then the Kennedy assassination happens and it turns out that he may have tangentially been involved, having a few days before organised for a car to be waiting at a particular spot in Dallas. This was the getaway car for the actual shooter and before long Guidry has been given the job to make that car disappear. Only he quickly realises that, as a loose end, once this is done he too will be made to disappear. While he does not know it…
Catherynne M Valente did her own unique take on fantasy in her Fairyland series and produced the wildly original science fictional movie industry homage Radiance a couple of years ago. Now she takes on the Eurovision Song Contest in a Douglas Adams-inspired galactic romp. For Australians, who have embraced Eurovision and its stars, the idea of a bunch of countries getting together in a competition of glitz, glamour and pop music as opposed to, say fighting each other, is probably not all that out there. Americans, whose diplomacy has tended to be a bit more po-faced might find this concept a little harder to swallow. One day every person on Earth is contacted by an alien race. They are told not only that they are not alone in the universe but that in order to join the club of sentient races, humanity has to compete and not come last in Megagalactic Grand Prix. The Grand Prix was instituted as a way of resolving the long running and destructive Sentience Wars. For Australians, now competing at Eurovision but constantly having to put up with the accusation that Australia is not in Europe, this plot line has more than a little resonance….