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Preview: SF Site -- March 2005

SF Site -- March 2005



The new issue of the SF Site is now online.



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A Conversation With Leena Krohn

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

"Hans Christian Andersen and Anton Chekhov, both masters of short stories. Harry Martinson (not as much Aniara as his smaller masterpiece The Way to Klockrike), Edgar Lee Masters (I read Spoon River in Finnish for the first time at 10 and I loved specifically "Dippold the Optician" and "Theodore the Poet"), Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Il Gattopardo), Albert Camus (especially The Plague) and of course Franz Kafka. Two American writers who have had a strong influence on me are Emily Dickinson and Don DeLillo."



Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The author has, with a slim volume of thirty letters written from an imaginary city of insects, given us a lens of words through which to consider reality, a microscope to reveal yearning and wonder, a telescope to look for what it means to be human, a window and a mirror and an eye other than our own.



The Last Guardian of Everness by John C. Wright

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

A young man with a task. Strange signs of impending doom. The disbelief of elders. The young man sets off on a difficult quest that may determine the balance between Good and Evil. A loving husband makes an ill-fated bargain to save his wife from a terrible disease. His wife his saved, but the small print contains hidden contractual obligations for rendering payment due. Seems familiar, right? Well... not quite.



Exile's Return by Raymond E. Feist

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Kaspar, the deposed Duke of Olasko, is in big trouble. Dumped on the other side of the world, in the Novindus desert, Kaspar is captured by a group of nomadic tribesmen. Escaping, Kaspar struggles and sweats his way to civilisation. While attempting to reach the major port of Novindus, he meets a small group of traders, also on their way back to Midkemia. Their venture has been broken by bad luck, and only four of the original thirty remain. We learn that things began to go bad when they acquired a strange, sealed suit of black armour.



The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Taking place a hundred years before the events in the A Song of Ice and Fire, it chronicles the misadventures of Dunk, a burly and somewhat oafish commoner who has spent his life as a squire to Ser Arlan; a now elderly hedge knight who earns his living wandering aimlessly from both jousting tournament and battlefield alike. Dunk naturally longs for the day when he too can take up the mantle of a knight; a chance he is finally given when Ser Arlan finally passes away on a mud splattered road in the middle of nowhere.



Lost Truth by Dawn Cook

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Conflicted and rebellious, Alissa is thankful when something new comes up: it seems that her dreams of late are not entirely dreams. The former Master population of the Hold still lives, stranded far away on a distant island, unable to find their way home. So Alissa, Strell, Lodesh, and a young raku Alissa rescued from feralness, Connen-Neute, set off to find the missing Masters and bring them home after decades away.



Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Elphame, the great-granddaughter of Rhiannon and the daughter of Etain, the current Goddess Incarnate is struggling to find her way. Born part-human and part-centaur, she is worshiped by the people of Partholon and she hates it. Elphame is a woman -- not a goddess. Epona, the Goddess, has never directly spoken to Elphame. As a matter of fact, Elphame has never experienced anything magical except her hybrid looks.



Robots: a movie review by Rick Norwood

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

It is very much what you expect from the makers of Ice Age. The dance on ball bearings was Rick's favorite bit. Robin Williams delivers so many one-liners that a few of them are bound to be funny. Like so many postmodern cartoons, the movie mocks sentimentality at the same time that it relies on sentimentality to keep the viewer interested.



Babylon 5.1: TV reviews by Rick Norwood

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Rick has TV reviews of the Smallville episode titled "Lucy" and the Battlestar Galactica episodes titled "The Hand of God."



A Conversation With Sarah Micklem

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

"I wanted to look at a warrior culture -- one that celebrates warfare as essential to manhood -- from underneath and outside. It takes violence to sustain this society and give it meaning. Everyday violence keeps women and low-caste people in their place. The violence of war allows men to win glory, not to mention the plunder that sustains their way of life."



SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2004 compiled by Neil Walsh

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Once again we solicited our loyal SF Site readership to vote for their favourite books of the year. The results are in, and the Top 10 Readers' Choice Best Books of 2004 are a healthy mix of science fiction, fantasy, and other genre-bending, boundary-blurring work. You're invited to compare this list to the Editors' Choice Top 10 Books of 2004 to see what the SF Site staff recommends and where there is some overlap in what you, the readers, have chosen.



SF Site Discussion Forum

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Each day we get many emails from SF Site visitors. Some are simple to answer. Others ask questions which stump us and we refer them to others who may have the answer. Several just want to exchange views with somebody who will listen. All of this correspondence convinced us to try installing a discussion forum. Drop by for a visit. Browse the topics. If you see something that piques your interest, register and send your reply.



The Twist by Richard Calder

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The central character is a 9 year-old anti-hero named Nicola E. Newton. She runs away from home, and makes friends with Venusian Necrobabe Viva Venera, and John Twist, her half-dead cowboy boyfriend. The story is set in Tombstone, a version of the Wild West, which exists in perpetuity as part of a Venusian plan to save humanity from the dangerous technology acquired as a result of interplanetary contact.



Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Jela is alone on a planet after a crash landing, with enough supplies to survive a short time. As he follows a line of dead trees down toward what once was an ocean, he reviews his situation: shot down in the on-going war against the sherieka, who were once human, but who redesigned themselves so radically that they now consider themselves perfect, and in order to make the universe sublime enough for them to live in, they must eradicate all traces of their human past. Oh, and the human worlds as well.



SF Site News compiled by Steven H Silver

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates. However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. His column will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.



New Arrivals compiled by Neil Walsh

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The latest shipment of new books to the SF Site office include new and forthcoming works from John C. Wright, Robert J. Sawyer, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Robert Charles Wilson, Caitlin Sweet, Richard Morgan, Orson Scott Card, and many others. Check out the full list below.



Sliding Scales by Alan Dean Foster

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Every adventure Flinx has seems to bring him more troubles. Hunted all over the universe, the very same universe that depends on him to save it, and separated from his one true love, who is very ill, he is understandably stressed. And depressed. So his ship mind makes a rather pleasant suggestion. Take a vacation. A real vacation. To a little, not very well known planet called Jast on the edge of the Commonwealth.



The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

One fateful day, Christine injures herself and is transported to Ewigkreis. In this strange land, Christine encounters a talking fox named Eisengrimm and the Fairy Queen. Queen Mayfridh is Christine's childhood friend, May. As children, they performed a 'blood bond' that allowed Christine to enter Ewigkreis. Queen Mayfridh is amazed and intrigued to be reunited with her friend Christine. After Christine returns to the real world, Mayfridh longs for all she lost.



Vox: SF For Your Ears: a column by Scott Danielson

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, some of the titles he has been listening to include Roger Gregg' s Diabolic Playhouse, Dinotopia from ZBS, the Anne Manx adventures of The Radio Repertory Company of America and Jeff Green's Soundings.



Encounters edited by Maxine McArthur and Maree Hanson

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect explains the concept of buzzing to an incredulous Arthur Dent. According to Prefect, aliens "find some isolated spot with very few people around, then they land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennae on their head and making beep beep noises." This is a concept which is played up in the first two stories of this anthology.



City of Towers by Keith Baker

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The novel lends a new grittier edge to the setting. It's refreshing to see a fantasy world in which the impoverished underclass is truly downtrodden and living in filth and misery. Racism, class conflict and post-war tension abound, right alongside vice and corruption. The stark contrast of the opulence of the wealthy and their blind indifference to those (literally) beneath them serves to reinforce this picture.



To the Stars by L. Ron Hubbard

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Alan Corday, engineer-surveyor 10th class, is shanghied on to the long passage ship Hound of Heaven under the orders of cantankerous Capt. Jocelyn. Angry and frustrated, he eventually learns how the ship operates, but upon his return to Earth, his girlfriend is long dead, and the world entirely different from the one he left, so he can never go home. He becomes part of a community of de facto outcasts who live on the ship, traveling from planet to planet.



The New Masters of Fantasy 2004

Wed, 16 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This CD-ROM is published by Epilogue.net, an on-line artists' community with a focus on the fantastic in art. This collection of art was selected by Don Maitz, Jeff Easley and Larry Elmore. It is the second annual collection and it includes more than twice as many artists that appeared the first collection.



SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2004 compiled by Neil Walsh

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Once again we solicited our loyal SF Site readership to vote for their favourite books of the year. The results are in, and the Top 10 Readers' Choice Best Books of 2004 are a healthy mix of science fiction, fantasy, and other genre-bending, boundary-blurring work. You're invited to compare this list to the Editors' Choice Top 10 Books of 2004 to see what the SF Site staff recommends and where there is some overlap in what you, the readers, have chosen.



Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Mr Norrell emerges out of decades of seclusion in his isolated library to prove that English magic has not completely been lost and that he is the sole remaining practical (rather than theoretical) magician. He sets about, in his own pedantic way, to restore English magic and make himself useful to the government in the wars against the French, and so on. It soon becomes evident, however, that he is not the only magician in England. There is another: Jonathan Strange. Norrell takes on Strange as his pupil but refuses, in his paranoid way, to teach him even half of what he knows. Nevertheless, Strange is obviously more naturally talented than Norrell.



British Kids Have More Fun: The Corfu Trilogy

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The series begins with the story of the five years the Durrell family spent on the Greek island of Corfu after the death of the father. While it does delve to some extent into the interpersonal relationships of family members, and some of the more colourful local folk, it is mainly a chronicle of the development of a budding zoologist.



New Arrivals compiled by Neil Walsh

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This month's list of new and forthcoming titles features books from Graham Joyce, Andre Norton, Peter Watts, Alexander C. Irvine, Tracy & Laura Hickman, and many more.



SF Site News compiled by Steven H Silver

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates. However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. His column will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.



The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

In this sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, Kate has married Thomas, Lord Schofield, and become Lady Schofield, and Cecy has married James Tarleton. The four are setting off to the continent for a joint honeymoon tour. Instead of letters, the book is told in alternating sections from Kate's "commonplace book" (in this case mostly a diary) and from a deposition Cecy gives after the events of the novel. Almost immediately trouble strikes in various forms.



Deathstalker Coda by Simon R. Green

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Thanks to the efforts of Paragon-turned-Emperor Finn Durandal, the Golden Age that came about through Owen Deathstalker's sacrifice two centuries ago is over, drowned in a sea of blood and immolated in the fires of hatred. The Paragons themselves, one-time champions of the Empire, now exist as meat puppets for the terrifying uber-Espers, psychic creatures of unholy power. Worst of all, the Terror, ancient enemy of all that lives, is approaching the capital plan of Logres, slowly and inexorably destroying all in its path. All hope is not lost.



Constantine: a movie review by Rick Norwood

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Rick liked the opening few minutes, which introduce a McGuffin which is promptly forgotten about until the very end. Rick liked the rubber duckie. Rick liked the angel. Rick kinda liked the devil, except that he's about as menacing as Sid Caesar.



The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, Jeffrey D. Smith

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

For years, a woman writes using a man's name and nobody twigs to her real identity. In a major collection of her work, an expert announces that there is something ineluctably masculine about the stories. Such was the early science fiction career of Alice B. Sheldon, better known to the science fiction reading masses as James Tiptree, Jr. Following Sheldon's tragic death, a cadre of admirers founded an award to honor the exploration and expansion of the use of gender.



Asgard's Conquerors by Brian Stableford

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Mike Rousseau is a stalwart explorer, renowned archeologist, or shameless charlatan, depending on who is giving the description. Having survived a series of life-threatening mishaps on the mysterious, multi-level alien habitat known as Asgard, Rousseau decides to give up a life of adventure before he gets killed. This second installment of The Asgard Trilogy begins with Rousseau's plans to return home to Earth, but fate interferes with his ambitions for a leisurely retirement.



Hugo Awards compiled by Rodger Turner

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The Hugo awards are presented at an evening ceremony during the World Science Fiction Convention. Nominations are as result of ballots cast by the convention members who vote by mail. They are counted using a weighted method whereby ballot entries, listed by preference, are assigned a value and then tallied. Those who fail to meet the cutoff or have the least number are dropped and the counting is redone until such time as a clear winner appears.



Best Read of the Year for 2004 compiled by Neil Walsh

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Every year we find the SF Site Top 10 Lists to be full of surprises. Every year we find a few great recommendations for books we might otherwise have passed by. We hope you find the same thing, because we've polled the SF Site contributors, reviewers and editors and come up with the following titles which are what collectively we consider to be among the best of the past year.



Mere by Robert Reed

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The author's imagination is so fecund, his writings so fueled by tremendously strange and vivid visions of distant futures and strange forms of life, that each story benefits from our memories of the wonders he has delivered in the past, so that with the first paragraph of each new tale, our readerly desires are funnelled down into a single yearning to know what marvels await us this time.



Angel Road by Steve Savile

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

In a collection concentrating on the endless variety of angels, hell is a surprisingly frequent last stop for the characters. Fallen angels. Angels unseen. Angels opting for human form. Throughout the thirteen selections, perhaps it is more accurate to say the possibilities of heavenly hosts weave through the lines of every story. But angels are not the only names and faces to flicker in and out of the shadows closing in on every side.



The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Fassin Taak is a Slow Seer who studies the most ancient alien race in the galaxy -- the Dwellers -- who inhabit gas giants and have extraordinary lifespans of billions of years. A small number of humans who are tolerated by the Dwellers sift through their archives for pearls of data that might transform a civilization. Taak is one of these, a youthful rebel who prefers "Real Delving" in a tiny life support craft, rather than using remotes to dive into the clouds of the gas giant while his body remains safely in orbit.



Life by Gwyneth Jones

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Anna Senoz is a genetics research scientist whose preliminary findings have controversial and surprising socio-biological implications for the evolution of the species and concepts of gender. Limited resources with which to further prove her theory, as well as a glass ceiling in which senior male researchers have the unquestioning power to maintain the comfortable status quo, impair not only her research, but her career.



Tales of the Black Earth by R.A. Roth

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Rubert Pilgor, Jr. is the last man on an Earth where humanity has been "vaporized" by a highly evolved, sentient and vengeful form of the HIV virus. Its remaining viroids inhabit him, render him immortal, and carry on a conversation with him. Besides the many biological implausibilities of such a parasite-host interaction, Pilgor's sole survival seems more serendipitous than sensible.



Tainted Blood by Melanie Lee Bonnefoux

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Holly-Anne and her human boyfriend Ryan have decided to take a trip to Charlotte to visit Ryan's cousin Drew. As usual, strange creatures and events seem to look for Holly and anyone with her. Michele, the Vampire Holder of Charlotte and a male, embroils Holly in a dispute with the Elves of the Shamorah. This dispute threatens to destroy Charlotte and many people that Holly holds dear.



Babylon 5.1: TV reviews by Rick Norwood

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Rick offers his movie predictions for what is worth seeing in 2005, reflects upon his predictions for 2004 and gives us some tips for what is on TV in March.



The Area 51 Series by Robert Doherty

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Long before The DaVinci Code, another writer was putting together puzzle pieces drawn from the most enduring mysteries of antiquity and modern mythology. The series does not purport to be fact, it's entirely fictional and that allows its author license to bend the data as he chooses. Fortunately, this only adds to the fun, and quite often the ingenious linkages he comes up with make a seductive kind of sense. The author's legend peppered prose is filled with wonderfully entertaining cod science, shoring up an endlessly twisting plot strewn with edge-of-the-seat scenarios.



Understanding Middle Earth by Michael Martinez

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Over the last few years, Middle-Earth has gained millions of new fans around the world, thanks to Peter Jackson's epic movie trilogy. For some the journey of discovery has only just begun, due to the one thing which all who dip into the works of J.R.R. Tolkien have in common; that moment of realisation where the depth and breadth of Middle-Earth is perceived. It's a world so large that it has spawned a small industry of other writers, seeking to define or defile its wonders.



The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

The guide's strength is its detail and its interest in the facts. The authors do not shy from the show's multiple blunders, and more attention is sometimes paid to what went wrong rather than what went right. However, a lack of general context weakens the overall effect of anything the authors might be trying to show.



Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This novel has long been one of Peter's two favorite Robert A. Heinlein novels. He cheerfully volunteered to review this new edition. Well, there's always a risk in revisiting an old favorite, especially for a critical reading....



SF Site Discussion Forum

Tue, 1 Mar 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Each day we get many emails from SF Site visitors. Some are simple to answer. Others ask questions which stump us and we refer them to others who may have the answer. Several just want to exchange views with somebody who will listen. All of this correspondence convinced us to try installing a discussion forum. Drop by for a visit. Browse the topics. If you see something that piques your interest, register and send your reply.