Science Fiction/ Fantasy Reviews | May 15, 2013

This month’s selections demonstrate the versatility and breadth of sf as a genre. James S.A. Corey brings his epic “The Expanse” story cycle to a close in Abaddon’s Gate, while debut author Jason M. Hough launches his “Dire Earth Cycle” with The Darwin Elevator. T. Jackson King tackles a politically charged subject in Star of Islam, Will McIntosh expands his short story “Bridesicle” into a grim look at a possible future (Love Minus Eighty), and Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington play to their strengths—good, active storytelling—inThe Goliath Stone. An unusual story of first contact, S.G. Redling’s Damocles uses its dual point of view to explore interspecies communication, and steampunk blends with contemporary sf in Michael Martinez’s superbly choreographed debut, The Daedalus Incident. Two very different titles illustrate fantasy’s rich possibilities: in Ofir Touché Gafla’s The World of the End, a man undertakes an Orpheus-like journey in search of his dead wife, while in George Mann’s The Executioner’s Heart, detective Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes encounter an assassin like none they have ever met before. And two anthologies, one celebrating the works of Gene Wolf (Shadows of The New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe) and Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, round out a strong selection of reader-friendly genre fiction.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Corey, James S.A. Abaddon’s Gate. Orbit: Hachette. (Expanse, Vol. 3). Jun. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780316129077. pap. $17. SF

When the alien artifact that has plagued the planets of the near solar system—Earth, Mars, the Moon and the Asteroid Belt—from its Venutian haven reveals its construction of a massive gate into the darkness within Uranus’s orbits, a flotilla of military and scientific spaceships sets out to explore the artifact. Accompanying the mission on the Rocante is Capt. Jim Holden and his crew, who have had more interactions with the entity than anyone else in the galaxy. But Holden soon finds that he plays a crucial and deadly role in this gate’s appearance. VERDICT High adventure equaling the best space opera has to offer, cutting-edge technology, and a group of unforgettable characters bring the third installment of Corey’s epic space drama (afterCaliban’s War and Leviathan Wakes) to an action-filled close while leaving room for more stories to unfold. Perhaps one of the best tales the genre has yet to produce, this superb collaboration between fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck should reawaken an interest in old-fashioned storytelling and cinematic pacing. Highly recommended.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Redling, S.G. Damocles. 47North: Amazon. May 2013. 350p. ISBN 9781611099652.  pap. $14.95. SF

Earth reacts to the discovery that extraterrestrials may have “seeded” human life by sending a group of scientists and astronauts on a one-way trip aboard the Damocles to discover their “kin.” When a ship malfunction forces a landing on the planet Didet, a world of multiple suns and perpetual days, linguist Meg Dupris encounters a race of humanoids that differs in appearance and language but has an eerily similar lifestyle to the people of Earth. As Meg and Loul Pell, a Dideto scientist who had predicted the existence of other races similar to humans, search for common ground in order to communicate, circumstances lead to the possibility of open war between the two groups—and both Meg and Loul must examine their loyalties and priorities. VERDICT Redling (Flowertown) demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the nuances of language and the importance of communication as she tells the story of two people caught in the center of a momentous discovery that could change the universe forever. Narrated from the points of view of both Meg and Loul, the often humorous, always serious interplay of first contact exposes the fundamental qualities common throughout the human race.

Niven, Larry & Matthew Joseph Harrington. The Goliath Stone. Tor. Jun. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780765333230. $24.99. SF

By the mid-21st century, Dr. Toby Glyer has nearly perfected the use of nanites in affecting medical cures. Nanotechnology has also made possible the acquisition of wealth through asteroid mining. What has been merely a theory becomes all too real, however, when an extinction-level asteroid plummets toward Earth on a collision course. The nanites sent to shift the asteroid’s path away from Earth seem to develop a mind of their own, and no one knows in whose best interests they are acting. VERDICT Niven, multiple award-winning author of the “Ringworld” series, combines his talent for exciting, hard sf with the skills of Harrington, the author of Soul Survivor, to provide an action-packed biotech thriller that’s filled with ideas and made stronger by well-developed characters. The subject matter and style lend themselves to film as well as sf, providing a fast and entertaining look at the not-so-distant future.

The following titles are reviewed in the February 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Library Journal Reviews starred review Corey, James S.A. Abaddon’s Gate. Orbit: Hachette. (Expanse, Vol. 3). Jun. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780316129077. pap. $17. SF

Gafla, Ofir Touché. The World of the End. Tor. Jun. 2013. 368p. tr. from Hebrew by Mitch Ginsberg. ISBN 9780765333568. $24.99. FANTASY

Library Journal Reviews starred review Hough, Jason M. The Darwin Elevator. Del Rey: Ballantine. (Dire Earth Cycle, Bk 1). Aug. 2013. 473p. ISBN 9780345537126. pap. $9.99. SF

King, T. Jackson. Star of Islam. Fantastic Bks. May 2013. 284p. ISBN 9781617207389. pap. $15.99. SF

McIntosh, Will. Love Minus Eighty. Orbit: Hachette. Jun. 2013. 403p. ISBN 9780316217781. pap. $15.99. SF

Mann, George. The Executioner’s Heart: A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation. Tor. Jul. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780765327765. $27.99. FANTASY


Nebula Awards Showcase 2013: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Pyr: Prometheus. May 2013. 380p. ed. by Catherine Asaro. ISBN 9781616147839. pap. $18. SF

Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe. Tor. Aug. 2013. 416p. ed. by J.E. Mooney. ISBN 9780765334589. $25.99. SF


Swain, James. Shadow People. Tor. Jun. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780765329950. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429943086. FANTASY