Book Review: “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Three Stars)

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Book Review: “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Three Stars

“They wanted to be left alone. Nobody believed it.”

Intriguing take on an old science fiction saw. Good character and story development. A fun read. 2017 Finalist for 2017 Hugo Award novelette.

“It’s your conscious mind that’s the slave master, always worrying about control. Your unconscious only wants to preserve you.”

Quibble: There is no way an RV could surreptitiously approach, load, and depart an alien structure in the District of Columbia. Dozens–no, hundreds of private, corporate, and governmental cameras would record it and track the RVs every move.

“They don’t live in an imaginary future like most people.”

Big behavior shift by protagonist at climax not well presented. Nice cover art, though it has nothing to do with the story.

“There’s no death if there’s no self to be aware of.” “No life either.”

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Book Review: The Tomato Thief (Jackalope Wives #2) by Ursula Vernon (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “The Tomato Thief” (Jackalope Wives #2) by Ursula Vernon

Four Stars

“When someone in the desert asks for water, you give it to them. There weren’t many rules in the desert, but that was one of them.”

Good use of Arizona native and desert history and lore to add depth to this short story, a 2017 Hugo Awards finalist for novelettes. Another story with a mature–very mature–female protagonist. There must be a special on them this year. (They’re special every year.)

“There’d been a time, when she was young and immortal, when [redacted] she could have danced in the track that they left in the sand. She felt old and mortal now.”

Excellent slow slide from the mundane into the supernatural.

“‘I ain’t dying yet,’ and that may or may not have been a lie. She wasn’t quite sure.”

Book Review: “Little Wren and the Big Forest” by Michael J. Sullivan (Three Stars)

Book Review: “Little Wren and the Big Forest” by Michael J. Sullivan

Three Stars

“That was the nature of the forest. Things went in and never came out.”

A brief excursion into the greater world of Sullivan’s First Empire. This short story appears in Unfettered II, but I got it separately, so I’m reviewing independently. Not up to the quality of most Sullivan fiction, but a fun read.

“Naive. Innocent. Dumb. Maybe, Wren thought as she followed the sheep, but I’m not a coward.”

A modern fairy tale heroine. Pretty introspective for an eight-year-old.

“The moment you thought of something terrible, that’s exactly what would happen.”

Book Review: The Story of Kao Yu by Jonathan Strahan (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Story of Kao Yu by Peter S. Beagle

Three Stars

“Our bodies tell the truth, if our mouths do not.”

Well-written and interesting, but there’s no payoff. The story ended as the reader knew it must: a sad, true-to-life emptiness, but no pleasure.

“He is like a vase or a pot that has been shattered into small bits, and then restored, glued back together, fragment by fragment. It will look as good as new, if the work is done right, but you have to be careful with it. We will have to be careful.”

Fiction Review: The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin (Three Stars)

Fiction Review: The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin

Three Stars

“Tears mean you’re alive.”

It’s got energy. It’s got street cred. But … I can take it or leave it. Really short, so I didn’t waste much time on it. Okay. Better than okay, but I guess you’ve got to be one with a city–any city, but preferably NYC. I’m not. Not into the profanity either, but that’s me.

“Any NYPD you can walk away from, hallelujah.”

Book Review: Orphan Pirates on the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers (Three Stars)

Book Review: Orphan Pirates on the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers

Three Stars

“Our parents were strange, out of step with their culture, and maybe they didn’t prepare us for life in the real world, but I’ve made my peace with them.”

A fun and funny fantasy (?) about life and love and parents. Short and pithy.

“I’ve come to believe all times are good times, each moment wondrous. Everything happens when it should. Even me and my big mouth.”

The coarse language is unnecessary. Lost a star for it.

“Nothing lasts.”

Book Review: There Will Always be a Max by Michael R. Underwood (Three Stars)

Book Review: There Will Always be a Max by Michael R. Underwood

Three Stars

“In a world running on fumes, hope is priceless.”

A fun fragment of a Genrenauts story.

“But Maxes weren’t just guardians; they were inspiration. They called people to their better natures.”

Probably won’t make sense to those unfamiliar with Underwood’s story-mending series. Start with The Shootout Solution.

Book Review: Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson (Four Stars)

Book Review: Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson

Four Stars out of Five

“I might have been wrong … about everything.”

A 2008 science fiction novella. It opens like many SF stories, with the point of view character arriving at a remote space site on a mission. Before he can attend to business, events propel him in another direction.

Too bad the movie Elysium released after this tale. The similar names, referring to where dead heroes go in Virgil’s Aeneid, will confuse potential readers. This tale has nothing to do with the movie.

Cover Art Quibble: The events depicted have nothing to do with the story.

“Perhaps we can salvage something from paradise.”