Tag Archives: Hugo Award

Let’s Read! Up and Coming: Part 8

I’m still struggling to get caught up to where I’d like to be with this project, but I’m also still on track to at least finish it when I originally planned. Sadly, today was not a day for stand-out stories, either bad or good, which made this section a bit of a slog to get through.

Samuel Peralta

Both of Samuel Peralta’s stories are highly conventional and rather cloyingly sweet. “Hereafter” is a time travel romance that may lean towards bittersweet, but it’s overall fairly low drama and ultimately low risk, with very little to say about time travel or the human condition. “Humanity” is interestingly put together, interweaving news clippings with the more personal story of a first responder tasked with rescuing a woman and her robot daughter from a serious car accident. It’s not bad, but the ending is expected, and the slight message doesn’t really justify the gravitas of the story’s title.

All that said, it may be that Peralta’s gifts are more focused on editing; many of the authors in this collection are ones who have had their first work published in Peralta’s ongoing series of SFF anthologies—the Future Chronicles, which is up to fourteen titles now, all available for under $6 each for the Kindle.

Andrea Phillips

Andrea Phillips’s “In Loco Parentis” is a compelling take on the future of parenting, though in a definitely “the more things change, the more they stay the same” way. Still, Phillips has imagined some interesting technology and tells a story that is firmly grounded in current trends in parenting and tech. I went ahead and read the included excerpt from Phillips’s novel, Revision, and then immediately wished I hadn’t; it’s gone straight to my to-read list, but there’s no telling at this point when I’ll get around to it, which is a bummer.

Mark Robert Philps

I didn’t expect to like this novella that much in the beginning, but “Dragonfire is Brighter That the Ten Thousand Stars” is much better than its unwieldy and moderately pretentious title lets on. The real accomplishment here, though, is in the world building. Mark Robert Philps has created a really interesting alternate history that could easily carry a whole series of longer works if he’s of a mind to write them. The plot here is relatively simple, with no particularly surprising twists, but it’s well-paced, highly readable, and overall nicely executed enough that I would be happy to read more by this author.

Monica Enderle Pierce

“Judgement” is a somewhat overlong sort of wild west fantasy, which aligns it with current trends in fiction, Monica Enderle Pierce doesn’t quite manage to pull it off here. I rather like her dragon-as-executor-of-frontier-justice idea, which is a concept I haven’t come across before, but none of the human characters were very interesting and the protagonist, Peregrine, is actively unlikeable. Furthermore, everything is tied up far too neatly at the end, with a surprise revelation of Peregrine’s conveniently useful magical abilities and a too-large infodump that tosses in several hackneyed ideas at the last minute.

Ivan Popov

“The Keresztury TVirs” is the first translated piece (from Bulgarian) in Up and Coming, but it’s unfortunately not that impressive. It’s a story about TV viruses told in the form of a review of a book about the history of their creation and usage as tools of propaganda and mind control. I suppose the story has a moderately interesting retro sensibility, but it just didn’t work for me.

Bill Powell

Due to formatting issues, I had a hard time just reading “The Punctuality Machine, or, A Steampunk Libretto.” It’s written as a short, farcical play, but half of the first word of almost every line was cut off in the epub version of the book that I’m reading on my Nook. Still, I was mostly able to muddle through, and I enjoyed Bill Powell’s clever wordplay and sense of comedic timing.

Stephen S. Power

“Stripped to Zero” is a solidly well-written and timely story about the steady creep of technology into our lives and the ways in which we’re always being watched, analyzed, and advertised to. It’s somewhat pessimistic, but not crushingly so. In “Wire Paladin,” Stephen S. Power continues to examine some of these same big ideas, but with a darkly funny twist at the end. I was glad to have read these two stories together, as they complement each other well. I didn’t like “Automatic Sky”—about a pair of somewhat star-crossed lovers—at all, but I expect your mileage may vary with it.

Rhiannon Rasmussen

I vaguely remember reading “The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23” in Women Destroy Science Fiction, but only vaguely, and it didn’t make much more of an impression on me this time around. My love for second person point of view is well-known, but I just didn’t connect with this story the way I feel is intended. On the bright side, Rhiannon Rasmussen makes up for this by offering two more stories that I loved. “Charge! Love Heart!” is a kind of great, somewhat meta teen rom-com, and “How to Survive the Apocalypse” is a definitely great, very meta piece that pokes fun at a lot of zombie apocalypse tropes.

Chris Reher

From Chris Reher comes “The Kasant Objective,” about a crew hired to find a lost research team, only to find out that they are really being asked to aid in an alien invasion. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s frankly more than can be really effectively dealt with in a short story. The basic idea is moderately interesting, but this treatment of it was just too shallow to be good.

Ethan Reid

This excerpt from Ethan Reid’s sequel to his first novel seems fine, but I have basically negative interest in post-apocalyptic horror of this kind. For the right reader, I’m sure this is very good, but for me it’s a hard pass.

Final Verdict

Overall, today’s bunch was just average, but I do look forward to reading more in the future by Andrea Phillips and Rhiannon Rasmussen. I also think I might have to start buying some of the anthologies Samuel Peralta puts out, even if his own writing isn’t really my jam.

Let’s Read! Up and Coming: Part 4

Today’s group of authors was refreshingly free of urban fantasy, which was nice. While the actual reading took me longer than I’d hoped, it was definitely more enjoyable than yesterday’s crop of stories. There are definitely a couple of turds in the punch bowl, but overall today’s selections were excellent, with more than the usual number of standout pieces.

Elad Haber

Sadly, things didn’t start off so well. Elad Haber’s “Number One Hit” isn’t terrible, but it’s nothing special, either. The Mad Max-ish, post-apocalyptic aesthetic is overdone, and Haber even highlights some of the more absurd aspects of it; his descriptions of people and places sound just too much like something out of Beyond Thunderdome. Even the idea of scavengers hunting for the detritus of the old world is nothing new, and Haber doesn’t have anything new or interesting to say about the matter. Worst of all, Haber casually includes, albeit not in an explicit fashion, a casually brutal rape that happens for no real reason—aside from, perhaps, increasing the grimness of the world Haber is creating—and doesn’t seem to have much effect even on the woman who is raped. That there is some amount of narrative justice in the end doesn’t really make up for this. There’s no real moral complexity here, just a lot of bleakness and cynicism, which is, ultimately, boring.

Auston Habershaw

“Adaptation and Predation” is an excellent piece of world building, something that is often lacking in short fiction but which Auston Habershaw accomplishes here with panache. His cast of alien species is wonderfully imagined and described, and this short exploration of life in their highly stratified society is simply riveting. There are a few copy editing issues that stood out to me, and I usually like for professionally published work to be somewhat more polished, but the story was so good it didn’t signify by the time I finished reading it.

Habershaw follows up his sci-fi tale with a very good piece of fantasy, “A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration,” which begins with a teenage boy making a bad bargain for a magic book. It’s an interesting hybrid of high fantasy and post-apocalyptic genres, with an ending that was genuinely surprising and downright hilarious. In hindsight, it’s obvious that the ending was seeded early in the story, which prevents it from feeling like a too-easy solution to Abe’s problems. I feel like I’ve read a lot of stories lately that deal with bad bargains or deals with devils, but this one is a nice, if not groundbreaking, twist on the theme.

Philip Brian Hall

Even though I take notes while read, I have a hard time remembering much about Philip Brian Hall’s three stories. “Spatchcock” is listed as a novella, but is obviously not even close to novelette length. It’s the best of Hall’s selections, but is nonetheless entirely unremarkable. “The Waiting Room” is predictable, with an absolutely groanworthy ending that is aggressively trite. “The Man on the Church Street Omnibus” fares slightly better, but this time travel story is another dully average piece that didn’t make much of an impression on me one way or the other.

John Gregory Hancock

“The Antares Cigar Shop” is another one of many stories in Up and Coming that were originally published in an anthology called The Immortality Chronicles, which seems to have been really superb collection of work. The type of immortality explored here is unusual and compelling enough to make up for the Shyamalan-level “twist” at the ending. Gaston is a fascinating character, and while there’s not any character growth or progression over the course of this story, it’s a wonderful portrait of a unique type of existence.

Nin Harris

I enjoyed both of Nin Harris’s stories, but I didn’t love them. The Malaysian mythology Harris utilizes is interesting, and I like that there’s no handholding to help white folks understand what she’s talking about, but there’s not quite enough information in “Sang Rimau and the Medicine Woman” for it to be easily understood without the help of Google. At the same time, the bunian—as they appear in this story—have so much in common with European fairies that they’re nearly indistinguishable, and I’m not certain if this is because of real similarities in the folklore or if it’s due to the author being influenced by Western fairy stories.

All that said, with “Sang Rimau and the Medicine Woman” providing some sort of background, “Your Right Arm” works really well. I was a little taken out of the first story by having to pause and google things, but by the time I got to “Your Right Arm,” I felt a little more confident in my basic understanding of the mythological paradigm Harris was writing within. It also helps that “Your Right Arm” is more thematically coherent than “Sang Rimau” and therefore much more emotionally impactful. It reminded me a little bit, and in a positive way, of Kurt Vonnegut’s short play, “Fortitude,” though the similarities are primarily superficial.

C.A. Hawksmoor

“Y Brenin” is a novelette with a particularly fraught and wonderfully compelling almost love triangle, with a gay knight trying to broker a peace between brother kings. There’s not a huge amount of story here, but it’s a great example of a time where less is more. I’m always fond of stories that do something simple and do it really well, and “Y Brenin” definitely falls into that category. Sadly, after deeply enjoying “Y Brenin,” I was pretty disappointed with “Murder on the Laplacian Express.” It’s not awful, but it is deeply unmemorable, and the story, when it unfolds, doesn’t live up to the dramatic promise of its cold open.

Sean Patrick Hazlett

When I read the title of “Boomer Hunter” I didn’t think it could possibly be what it sounds like, but it is exactly what it sounds like, with every bit of cynicism you might expect from a story about a presumably near future (well, it would have to be) in which the government, instead of just paying to feed old people, decides to hire expensive mercenary bands to murder aging Baby Boomers. Because that is definitely a thing that totally makes sense and is even remotely plausible.

“Entropic Order” started off a little better, but it quickly went south. There’s a monk, Benedict, (yes, that Benedict), a Christ figure robot, and an alien that looks like a demon (clearly shamelessly cribbed from Childhood’s End). It’s free of the deep cynicism that characterized “Boomer Hunter,” but that’s about all the good that can be said for it.

“Chandler’s Hollow” is the Hazlett story that really goes for the gold medal of awfulness, though. There’s enough 101-level exploration of class and gender here to at first suggest that Hazlett actually has something useful to say about something, but it’s all heavy-handed, cringeworthy stuff, couched in hilariously bad dialogue and a profoundly silly B-movie aesthetic. The character who seems to be the protagonist—a young, vaguely feminist-y reporter whose career is sunk because of her reporting on the misdeeds of a wealthy man—ends up being an alien bug queen in the end, which is sort of mixed messaging.

Holly Heisey

Holly Heisey isn’t my favorite author of the day, and both “The Monastery of the Parallels” and “An Understanding” are just competently written, though enjoyable. However, “Contents of Care Package to Etsath-Ta-Chri, Formerly Ryan Andrew Curran (Human English Translated to Sedrayin)” is one of the more interesting stories in this group, a somewhat unique take on a trans narrative.

Michael Patrick Hicks

Both “Revolver” and “Preservation” start with interesting ideas. The first is about a woman participating in a television show in which people commit suicide in order to get money for their families in a the dystopian hellscape that Republicans are trying to bring to America. The second is about a cyborg ex-soldier who is now waging war against poachers of elephants and rhinos. The problem with both of these stories, though, is that they’re about twice as long as they need to be. At least.

“Revolver” just goes on and on and on, until it’s almost a punishment to read, and the violence that Cara is subjected to over the course of the story are a little too on the nose. It’s not that women don’t have to deal with any of these issues, but Cara’s trials in just the few hours described in the story are so extreme as to feel almost mocking of actual women’s complaints about the sometimes daily indignities of womanhood. That Cara does get manage some kind of resistance by the end of the story is gratifying, but the journey to that point is such circuitous and deeply unpleasant reading that I just wanted it to be over with about twenty pages before then.

“Preservation” is slightly less meandering, but Hicks again seems to dwell on the brutalities of the situations he describes, and though it seems a little optimistic to imagine that rhinos will still be around by the time humans come up with the advanced tech that Akagi uses, the story is overall profoundly pessimistic. The sheer bleakness of the story makes it difficult to keep going at times, especially when so many of the story’s details are drawn straight from the real world. I suppose this could be an eye-opening piece if I lived under a rock, but as an informed person I just found it depressing.

S.L. Huang

I didn’t read the excerpt from S.L. Huang’s novel, Zero Sum Game, because I intend to read the whole thing at a later date, but both of the short stories included here are superb. “Hunting Monsters” is a fairy tale retelling of sorts that is too clever and creative for me to spoil by telling you all about it. Suffice it to say that I am something of a connoisseur of retold fairy tales, and this one surprised and delighted me for multiple reasons. “By Degrees and Dilatory Time” sounds like a much stuffier story than it is. In fact, while it’s certainly cerebral enough, it’s also highly readable and its big ideas about disability, identity, and transhumanism should be very accessible even to those who don’t know much about these things. Huang perfectly captures some of the ambiguous feelings that exist surrounding technology, and “By Degrees and Dilatory Time” is a smart examination of the contrasts between our ideals and reality and the intersection of the personal and the political.

Final Verdict:

S.L. Huang is a prolific writer who should be a strong contender for the Campbell this year, but Auston Habershaw and John Gregory Hancock also turned in excellent pieces for Up and Coming. I intend to keep an eye out for Nin Harris, C.A. Hawksmoor, and Holly Heisey going forward, but I wouldn’t say their work so far is quite to the polished standard to win awards. I could see any of those three popping up on best short story or best novelette lists in a year or two, but not just yet.

Let’s Read! Up and Coming: Part 3

This was a somewhat light reading day, with several authors who only have one story included in Up and Coming. This is nice, in a way, because I’m exhausted from two straight days of staying up late to finish (the wages of thinking up ambitious, time-sensitive projects at the last minute), but it does make it somewhat more difficult to get a real sense of an author when you’ve only got a single story to go on. Still, some of these stories are excellent enough to make up for the lack of quantity.

Jonathan Edelstein

The first story of the day is Jonathan Edelstein’s novelette, “First Do No Harm.” It’s nice to see a piece set in Africa, and while I’m not an expert, the setting of “First Do No Harm” appears to be meticulously researched and respectfully imagined. Unfortunately, I don’t buy the ideas that underpin the story. While I can imagine there being a dark age of sorts following some apocalyptic event, I find the sustained and enforced stifling of scientific inquiry—in favor of only teaching and practicing medicine that has already been recorded—highly unbelievable. I don’t think this kind of dogmatism was even common in the actual Dark Ages, and I can’t imagine that it would happen in a society capable of producing nanotechnology.

Harlow C. Fallon

“A Long Horizon” is a fascinating story about a pair of unlikely friends. It’s one of several stories in Up and Coming that are drawn from last year’s The Immortality Chronicles, and Harlow C. Fallon offers up an unusual take on immortality. This is a far better story than its lackluster title suggests, though there’s unfortunately very little to say about it that wouldn’t spoil it.

Rafaela F. Ferraz

“The Lady of the House of Mirrors” is a novelette from an anthology about lesbian mad scientists, which I didn’t know existed but now definitely need to read all of. I love this story so much. It owes a great deal to Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, obviously, but it’s not too on the nose. Rafaela F. Ferraz has a distinctive flair that is all her own, and “The Lady of the House of Mirrors” has a decidedly steampunk-ish sensibility. My only serious critique is that the characters of Rosie’s assistant and his friend the embalmer could easily have been cut out for a more streamlined story. While they do serve a purpose in the narrative, what little they add to the story could easily have been achieved by other means.

Sam Fleming

“She Gave Her Heart, He Took Her Marrow” is a strange, sad little story with some confusing mythology. It’s not bad, but it also doesn’t distinguish itself in any particular way. It’s not sad in any edifying fashion, just gloomy.

Annalee Flower Horne

“Seven Things Cadet Blanchard Learned from the Trade Summit Incident” is fucking hilarious. DeShawna Blanchard is a delightful smartass, and I would read a thousand pages about her adventures. “Seven Things” is a story told in the form of an essay written by DeShawna as part of the disciplinary action she faces after said incident. It’s a bright, funny change of pace after several darker stories, but it’s also a well-paced and thoroughly charming piece in its own right.

Ron S. Friedman

I won’t say that both of Ron S. Friedman’s selections are objectively bad, since obviously someone liked them well enough to publish, but I will say that I hated them. “Game Not Over” is about video game characters who become self-aware and possess the body of a gamer. While there’s some humorous potential in this basic premise, the story as it’s told here isn’t funny, smart or insightful in any way. In “LUCA,” a husband and wife team of scientists are investigating what lives in the waters of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, when a tragedy occurs. Again, there’s a seed of a decent idea here, but it’s spoiled by a simplistic, almost adolescent writing style and messaging that is so heavy-handed and trite that it’s downright silly.

David Jón Fuller

From David Jón Fuller come a pair of urban fantasy stories and a sci-fi tale set on a generation ship. “The Harsh Light of Morning” is about a racist, weirdly religious vampire who preyed upon children at a residential school in Canada. It feels more like a seed for a longer work than anything else, and I think its themes could definitely use a lot more space to develop in. “Caged” has a gay werewolf being rescued by his gay werebear romantic interest, which is adorable, and the story has an interesting aesthetic that is both distinctly Canadian and very heavy metal. Neither are really my cup of tea. I was more interested in “In Open Air” at first, but just couldn’t get into it. I skimmed to the end, and it was fine, but nothing special. Fuller’s style is the type of workmanlike that seems common in small press and self-pubbed work, but I generally prefer to read stuff that is a little more polished.

Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey is by far my favorite of today’s bunch of authors. “Bargain” is a short, sweet story about a demon, Malachai, summoned by an old woman who wants to save her wife, who is dying from cancer. It’s a very smart, very funny story, and there were happy tears at the end. “Bargain” is Hugo-eligible this year, if you’re still looking to fill out your list for Best Short Story.

“Haunted” is a totally different sort of story, a look at domestic violence from the point of view of a house, dealing with how tragedy marks a place and playing with the idea of what it means for something to be haunted. This one has a February 2016 pub date, so won’t be eligible for this round of Hugos, but I could easily see it making my list next year, it’s so good.

Patricia Gilliam

“The Backup” says it’s a short story, but it feels very long and somewhat aimless. There are some interesting ideas here about family and grief, but the whole story just feels kind of overstuffed, and when the ending came I was just nonplussed, which is not how I ever like to feel at the end of anything.

Jaymee Goh

Jaymee Goh’s “Liminal Grid” has a lot to say, probably about freedom and stuff, but I found it unreadable. Not unreadably bad, however. It’s just that it’s the sort of relatively near-future neo-cyberpunk-ish techno-thriller-ish thing that can just put me to sleep. I’m sure that this is an excellent story for the right audience, but I’m not it.

Final Verdict:

Sarah Gailey is an author to watch, for sure, and I really liked the contributions from Harlow C. Fallon, Rafaela F. Ferraz, and Annalee Flower Horne. However, this was balanced out today by some of the least enjoyable work in Up and Coming so far.

Let’s Read! Up and Coming: Part 2

Another day, another ten authors who are totally new to me. I’m a little exhausted with all the reading—I don’t think I’ve crammed like this since high school, but I am loving this project so far. I haven’t discovered this many new writers in years, in spite of making an effort to try new things. I’m actually pretty sure that this collection is all new-to-me writers up until S.L. Huang, who I’ll get to in part four or five, I believe. Today’s reading was a great mix of sci-fi and fantasy, with no horror, which is nice, and it also had the collection’s first funny story. There are still a couple of tear-jerkers in this group, but not nearly so many as yesterday’s selections, which was a nice change.

D.K. Cassidy

I know I said that there were fewer sad stories today, but the first one I read this morning almost killed me. “Room 42” looks at what might happen if everyone just stopped aging and dying and giving birth. What I love about this story is that D.K. Cassidy keeps it relatively small and personal, exploring the issues presented by immortality by examining the lives of Vivian, Vivian’s daughter Jenna, and Vivian’s mother Janice. All three women are trapped in different stages of life, facing different challenges, and they represent a kind of microcosm (albeit an imperfect one) of what the world is going through. “Room 42” explores multiple themes that are common to this subgenre of speculative fiction—suicide, euthanasia, loss of hope and purpose, the ennui that accompanies eternity—and though Cassidy is hardly breaking new ground here, it’s a nicely written story that handles these ideas with intelligence and sensitivity and without becoming too maudlin.

Zach Chapman

“Between Screens” isn’t the worst story I’ve read in this collection so far, but it’s certainly not for me. It’s about a 14-year-old boy who moves with his mother from Earth to what I gather is a series of connected space stations after the death of his father makes it so they can’t afford to live on the planet any longer. He struggles to fit in at first, but he soon makes a friend and meets a manic pixie dream girl (ugh) and before he knows it, he’s fully assimilated into the bleak, vaguely cyberpunk teen culture of the stations. This could have been worse, but I’m a little too much of an adult woman to be anything but bored by the adventures of miscreant teenagers.

Curtis C. Chen

Although space chess is never a terribly original idea for a story, I rather liked Curtis C. Chen’s “Zugwang.” While he definitely dwells a little too much on his heroine’s insecurities about her body, and things are tied up a little too neatly at the end of the tale, it was solid enough to get me to read his other two stories.

“Making Waves” is a Lovecraft-influenced piece that has a lot of potential, but never quite manages to capture the tone of creeping horror that characterizes the best Lovecraftian tales. Its best ideas are actually its characters—Hatcher in particular has a very compelling story—and its WWII naval setting. There’s enough story seeds here to carry a novel, and I think the characters could definitely benefit from more room to grow.

I kind of hate the very boring and undescriptive title of “Laddie Come Home,” but the actual story is the best of Chen’s three in this collection. The thing that I think holds it back from greatness, though, is its almost naively optimistic view of a frankly terrifying picture of a possible future where corporations have access to some pretty frightening technology. I just can’t help but find the limited AI, Laddie’s, manipulation of a child to be kind of sinister, but that doesn’t seem to be Chen’s intention and the story ends on a hopeful note. I also found the messaging—a little Asian girl’s oppressive, patriarchal family won’t let her learn about computers, so she needs to be rescued by a Western corporation so she can be a programmer for them—to be very strange.

Z.Z. Claybourne

“Agents of Change” is about time traveling agents working for an intentionally sinister-seeming machine AI, who sends them back in time to protect Harriet Tubman and change history. I feel as if this story is meant to have some big ideas, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what they are or why I as a reader am supposed to care about them. It’s a story where very little actually happens, and none of it seems to mean anything.

Liz Colter

The three selections by Liz Colter are all amazing world building exercises that make her hands down my favorite author out of today’s ten. “The Ties That Bind, the Chains That Break” tells the story of Jerusha, a bi-gender messenger in a fantasy world on the cusp of a revolution. It’s another story that almost begs to be given a novel-length treatment. “Echoes” is a near-perfectly written story about a man with a fascinating and unique magic that lets him syphon the echoes of other people’s feelings and distill them into potions. “The Clouds in Her Eyes” is my least favorite of Colter’s group of stories, but mostly just because I would have liked just a little more background so that the conclusion of the story could occur more organically instead of feeling as if it’s just a chunk of exposition that summarizes a much longer story than what appears here.

Nik Constantine

“Last Transaction” is a very clever story about identity theft, told as a series of interactions with a computer. I found it riveting and a very fast read, though a little light on real substance. It was definitely a neat sort of “what if” story, but it didn’t have much to say for itself.

Daniel J. Davis

In “The God Whisperer,” we learn that a tiny war god makes a terrible pet. I laughed out loud more than once.

S.B. Divya

“Strange Attractors,” “The Egg,” and “Ships in the Night” all explore, in different ways, romantic relationships, from a centuries-long love between two people whose desires aren’t always in sync to a young couple dealing with the challenges of cancer to the aborted affair between an immortal and a woman who can see the future. These are very short stories that deal with big ideas about time and change and the resilience of love in compelling fashions. “The Egg” is somewhat forgettable, but “Strange Attractors” and “Ships in the Night” are standout pieces.

Margaret Dunlap

“Jane” and “Broken Glass” are both stories that turn out to not be what they seem at first, and with mixed success. I loved the twist in “Jane,” which is a pretty delightful little zombie story of sorts, but “Broken Glass” left me a little cold with its somewhat cloying and ultimately unsatisfying conclusion. I tried to read Dunlap’s “Bookburners” story as well, but found it hard to get into, though it’s interesting enough that I may seek out the rest of the series and come back to it later. I’m not hugely into urban fantasy of any kind, but “Bookburners” reminds me a little bit (in tone, anyway) of Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series, which I love, so it could be a fun thing to check out at a later date. No hurry though, to be honest.

S.K. Dunstall

Without knowing anything at all about S.K. Dunstall or her (their, I suppose) novel, Linesman, I found this excerpt to be moderately interesting, although I have no idea what the “lines” are supposed to be. They seem like space magic, which I usually hate unless it’s really well-conceived. Sadly, after reading the book’s description and glancing through some reviews of it on Goodreads and Amazon, I can’t say I am impressed or excited by it.

Final Verdict:

The only authors in this group whose work I’m truly likely to seek out more of are D.K. Cassidy and Liz Colter. The rest range from “mildly interesting but ultimately forgettable” to “probably actually bad.”