This year's lineup for the Locus Awards is pretty awesome. I've been reading from the shortlists and they're amazing! If you're into fantasy, science fiction or horror you'll love some of these books.
– into a flash of darkness, like sudden blindness or an eclipse. He has the impression of being in some vast interior, something like a train station or a cathedral, and there are notes of violin music, there are other people around him, and then an incomprehensible sound –
Emily St John Mandel's Sea of Tranquility may just blow your mind. Mandel combines futurism with history, the colonisation of space with an anomaly in time and makes it all connect seamlessly. What appears to be a collection of short stories about an unrelated group of people through time becomes a hallelujah moment when you realise they're all connected by a glitch in the timeline - or could it be a glitch in a simulation??
Through the character of Edwin and the tyranny of wilderness, Mandel portrays the disappointment of being a 'second son' - a spare; an inheritor of nothing, like Prince Harry. Author Olive, caught in the outbreak of a pandemic, buys massive amounts of medical supplies online, trying to isolate from other travellers while she races home to the clean, climate controlled, uniform moon colony - with fears of 'it' being on her clothes...
Mirella runs into Gaspery when trying to reconnect with her friend Virellsa. She feels he's seen him somewhere before. Who is he? And why hasn't he aged?
'if some unthinkable catastrophe were to occur, then perhaps we might be remade too, perhaps into better, more heroic, more honourable people.'
The moment I stepped into the camera's eye, I had entered some kind of magical circle. The air was thicker and somehow clearer, the colours more vibrant than they had been before. I had to stop myself from looking down at my hands, certain that they would be glowing against the umber light.
I've been enjoying Nghi Vo's Wuxia-inspired novellas, The Singing Hills Cycle for some time. The third book of this series, Into the Riverlands is nominated in the novella category. Vo informs the text of Siren Queen with a mythological approach too: in a story about desiring a career in Hollywood - and it works beautifully. Starlets and predatory directors alike shine with an enthralling magic.
"All right now, give me a kiss," he said, and he opened his mouth to show me teeth that were too sharp by far. He was large and knotted like the roots of some kind of terrible tree. He was sharp-toothed, and he was very hungry.
This is LGBTQ fantasy, but it could easily be horror: the ones holding the power are actual monsters. Is central character Luli Wei ruthless enough to ascend without being devoured?
This book is so hot it sizzles! I LOVE the way Nghi Vo writes, her language creates magic that could burn through film for sure. I really hope this book wins its category. Flat out 5 stars. <3
Three years ago, I thought nothing was worth more than my dignity. But what do you need dignity for, when the world is ending anyway?
This book is a trip: its vivid and exciting, but I'm not sure I'd call it horror. Set in Philadelphia, all the action happens on Saturnalia - the winter solstice - when the city erupts with revellers, drunkenness and debauchery.
I understand the tiny man...because I know how it feels to owe your life to the Club and for the Club to come and take it back. I know how it feels to be nurtured and then tossed away. I know how it feels to be set free from your cell, only to face destruction.
Nina has been alienated from the prestigious Saturn Club and all its lucrative connections. Why? What happened three years ago? Nina hints at the answer while on a wild goose chase to win it all back. Will Nina make it to dawn? Maybe, but first she must run a gauntlet of drunk revellers, sinister cult members, a mandrigore, and worst - her best friends.
This book took a while to grab me but once it did, I was in for the thrill ride. The characters got under my skin (that's a pun, because Nina gets bitten by a homunculus) but its story that drives this mad dash across a future Philadelphia, in the throes of a festival to drown out thoughts of climate change.
"At times, when a cephalopod is resting, its skin will flow through color and textural displays that appear unconscious - as if the electrochemical flux of its thoughts were projected onto its surface. In this state it is truly like a mind floating, unsheathed by flesh, in the open ocean." Dr Ha Nguyen, How Oceans Think
Nominated in several award rounds already this year, including the Ray Bradbury Prize, this incredible book is a science fiction about consciousness, riffing off many different examples: an Octopus species that has begun communicating with symbols, the world's first (and last) AI being, an oceanographer with an AI companion, an automated ship determined to finish its mission and a doctor of science pulling the strings. Another winner imho.
The wonderful Becky Chambers hooked me with this series. I really love her environmental approach to science fiction. This is the second of these charming and original little novellas; about a monk who dispenses tea and sympathy for a job, a robot who has returned from the wilderness to learn about humans, and a planet that has come back from the brink of ecological disaster after machines gained consciousness, left their posts and went into the wilds to study nature. Pure genius!
Ones to watch:
A brilliant feminist read about women actually turning into dragons when enraged or just dissatisfied with oppression.
Beautifully written, this is a properly horrific fairy tale about a heroic woman on a heroic quest to save her sister from an evil prince. Great characters, including a Bonedog and a dust-wife.
The last book of the Button Box series and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Horror (2022)
A murder-mystery story with witches and warlocks - Nebula Award Winner Best Novella 2023
Winner of the 2023 Compton Book Award for First Novel, this is fun and entertaining - set in New Orleans with ghost pianists and engaging characters, including a girl a bit like Pippy Longstocking, but much more powerful.