Tag: SF & Fantasy Buzz
The short lists are in for the 2009 Aurealis Awards, recognising Australia’s best Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. It’s been another strong year for Australian SF & Fantasy and the number of new authors in this year’s list is good news for the future. The Winners will be announced on the 23rd January.
Let me just put this out there straight up: I would knock down my own Grandmother if she stood between me and a new Jasper Fforde novel. There are few authors I idolise as much as Jasper Fforde, the man who brought us, Jurisfiction, the Chronoguard, full body-contact croquet and the ingenious Footnoterphone! Imagine, then, my hand-trembling excitement as I explored a world utterly different from that of the Thursday Next series, a vision of the future I guarantee you’ve never even dreamt about before, and yet still so unmistakeably Ffordeian.
The follow up to one of my favourite debut novels from 2009, The Poison Throne – the first book in The Moorehawke Trilogy. The series is light fantasy, with a strong historical fiction feel – the action takes place in a medieval kingdom in an era very reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. The world building in the series is quite economic, however, and The Poison Throne was a book that took place entirely within a single castle and its grounds. Its strength was the intense, claustrophobic drama that built up within the royal court as the young Wynter, or Lady Moorehawke, and her ailing father attempt to find out why their enlightened kingdom has fallen into superstitious tyranny in their five year absence.
You have never seen the Peter Pan story like this. Surprised by the underlying darkness of J.M Barrie’s original Peter Pan stories, Brom was struck by this line in particular:
The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.
What happens when the Brother’s Grimm team up with Quentin Tarantino and Irvine Welsh? Diabolical carnage of the most grotesque and disturbing kind – but funny too, right, in a sick kind of way? Welcome to the imagination of Jesse Bullington.
This is a welcome return to the classic sagas of King’s early career with powerful human drama, a sprawling cast and constant action, all choreographed by a master storyteller. It’s a book that’s been over 25 years in the making, mixing beautifully some themes and ideas that have been simmering away in King’s potent subconscious mind with current world events and even some very entertaining pop-culture references.
NZ born author Juliet Marillier has achieved a huge international audience with her elegant historical fantasy novels. Like some of her previous series, Heart’s Blood takes inspiration from a traditional fairy tale. In this case it’s Beauty and the Beast – and no, you can forget that saccharine sweet Disney version, this is a story with a lot more guts to it.
Jack Vance wrote the Tales of the Dying Earth series over a period of 34 years from 1950-1984. It is still regarded as one of the most distinctive and influential creations in the fantasy genre and the Cugel volumes in particular are still as fresh and entertaining as ever. Set in the far far future, Vance imagines an Earth populated by humans capable of both powerful magic and impressive technology. Yet this advanced society lives with the inescapable knowledge that our Sun is in rapid decline and will soon die, dooming all life on Earth with it.
Gail Carriger describes her first novel as “urbane fantasy” – an apt description for this paranormal Victorian comedy of manners.
What is it about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series that has managed to keep such a large audience enthralled for so many years? Since the release of The Eye of the World back in January 1990 legions of fans have doggedly followed the fortunes of that original group of heroes who set out from Two Rivers, even as the series grew and grew to encompass the fates of many more players.
Fantasy writing is flourishing in Australia these days. Led by established authors such as Garth Nix, Kate Forsythe and Isobel Carmody, the quality of Aussie fantasy just keeps getting better and better. With so much good local fantasy available, I wanted to take some time to highlight some of the best recent releases.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s name is synonymous with the term “future history”, which is used to describe those highly detailed sagas that tend to damage the social lives of hard SF junkies such as yours truly. Galileo’s Dream certainly has elements of future history within it (and I will get to them soon) but first and foremost, it is a sensitively fictionalised biography of one of the pillars of modern science.
Simply one of the most impressive novels of the year, in any genre.
Le Guin is the undisputed queen of science fiction and fantasy. Her early works (notably the Hainish Cycle and the Earthsea novels) helped establish science fiction and fantasy as a true literary mode, capable of exploring deeper human truths and sociological trends. She cleared a path for female authors in traditionally male dominated genres and did it all with graceful, meaningful and eminently readable storytelling.
40 years in the future, a plague has destroyed human’s ability to conceive females. In the Australian desert the roving bands of outstationers have cut ties with the Colony government, living out a merciless, womanless future in the outback.
Johannes Cabal, scientific genius and renowned intellectual snob, did a deal with the devil. He sold his soul for the ability to control the dead. Unfortunately Johannes soon realises that there’s little point being a necromancer without possession of his own soul. But the devil seemed like a sporting fellow — perhaps they could come to some arrangement.
Expectations for this book are extremely high but Patrick Ness has succeeded in producing a thrilling yet extremely subtle dystopian novel that is, if possible, even more relentless on the reader. Where Book 1 focussed very much on the various implications and reactions to a world where men’s thoughts are not their own, The Ask & The Answer delves deeper into the gender divisions created by the fact that women are immune to the language germ. This means that women’s thoughts are private, breeding distrust and unease among the men. As all out war descends the Noise provides complicated layers of honesty and dishonesty that makes it hard to distinguish truth from propaganda. The love story between Todd and Viola is beautifully pure but heartbreakingly precarious under the extreme pressure of their situation.
I have been working on a new Science Fiction and Fantasy newsletter for the Australian online bookseller Booktopia. This will be a monthly publication which you can subscribe to through Booktopia. Obviously, it is intended as a sales tool but I have tried to make the reviews and information in there as interesting and useful… Read More ›