I'm sorry to let people know that Octavia Butler died yesterday, as a result of a fall and/or stroke outside her Seattle home. Butler was author of at least 11 novels, winner of several Nebulas, a James Tiptree Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2000, she received the PEN Center West Lifetime Achievement Award. She described herself as "comfortably asocial -- a hermit in the middle of Seattle -- a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive." She was 58. More info
The Annual Locus Poll & Survey is now online for your voting pleasure. Every year the poll measures the previous year's favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy books and art. The survey yields fascinating statistics about SF readers on issues such as preferred sub-genres, purchasing patterns and demographics.
You do not need to be a subscriber to vote in the poll. All SF readers are invited to vote. Voters who are subscribers get an extra issue of Locus tacked on to their subscription. The deadline for ballots is April 15th.
This year there is also a special online-only Poetry Poll, with categories for best poem of 2005 and for all-time best poem.
Also, a reminder that nominations are due by March 10 for the prestigious Hugo awards. In order to vote for the Hugos, you need to be a member of the 2006 WorldCon, taking place in August in Anaheim. If you're not a member, join now to be able to vote in the final Hugo balloting. I don't usually make it to the Worldcons, but I always buy a "Supporting" membership for 30 bucks or so in order to vote for the Hugos. Only a small number of people vote for the Hugos each year, so your vote can really make the difference!
GHOSTS OF ALBION: ACCURSED by Benson & Golden -- A Keeper (Linda)
This is probably a book I shouldn't have enjoyed because when you start reading it, you find you have missed part of the story. (But I actually already knew this but it sounded so good, I had to read it anyway.) In 2003 a BBC cult website debuted "Legacy", an animated serial drama by Amber Benson, which was the start of this story. It was followed up by "Astray" (a novella) and "Embers". They give you the website at the end of the book, so if you want to catch up before you start the book, check the place out. I didn't but while I missed out on some things, I was still caught up in the story and with the previous plot as it progressed. I will probably belatedly check these out, but really wish the authors had just wrote another novel about it so I had it to keep.
This book is set in 1838 England. William and Tamara Swift, siblings, inherited a legacy on the death of their grandfather (in the previous battle in the animated series), transforming them into the Protectors of Albion, mystical defenders of England against attacks of evil. With this legacy, they also have the help of the Ghosts of Albion: Lord Byron, Queen Bodicea and Lord Admiral Nelson and Nigel Townsend, a friend of their grandfather who is also a vampire.
As you get caught up with coming to know the characters and the previous events which ended with their father being possessed by the demon Obliss, you find a new threat occuring in the poor Indian section of England. Indian women are being raped and going through a rapid fatal pregnancies that end with the birth of horrific froglike creatures and men are also being infected and changing in horrible ways. Rakshasa are also being seen and attacking people and the threat is spreading. This book just grabs you and you don't want to put it down!! There is a start of a possible romance for Tamara and the continued romance between William and Sophia (which was started in previous episodes). The conflict that started in this book does get concluded but there is still unfinished business to take care of and a creapy teaser towards the end that makes me anxious to read the next book. A high recommend. Keeper status in my opinion. --Linda
Three SF Romance and an SF collection (Barbara)
Here are three reviews of SF Romances and one Science Fiction collection that is only available through Science Fiction Book Club. [Not our core books to review, but I can only post the reviews I get! :) -- Rebekah]
MOON WITCH by Linda Winstead Jones
I think this one was published as SF by Tor, not romance, though Jones is a romance writer. [Actually out from Berkeley Sensation --Rebekah] World building was okay but the focus of the book was with two stories and it was hard to follow both of them and piece them together. Maybe a fan of the multi-POV would have been more patient. Juliet lives in the woods with her sister and they are captured to be taken to the Emperor but on the way, she is rescued by a forest creature named Ryh, who takes her to his city. It seems she should become the next Queen of his people, if only she can quit worrying about her sister and what is going on in her other life. Not enough romance, weak conflict. --Barbara
DRAGON WITCH by Dolly Lien
I think put out by Imajinn. So much promise, so little bang. Tempest is born during a storm and bound to a golden dragon. First chapter deals with her birth and the storm - then a few chapters detailing young life. All I could think of was the old saying of "start the story as close to the end as you can". I think a great short story in there, padded to make it longer without any thought of the story. Halfway through the book, we meet Adrian, whom we learn is the golden dragon given human form. --Barbara
IF ANGELS BURN by Lynn Viehl
"A Novel of the Darkyn". Pretty good. A bit less coherent that I would have liked. Alexandra is a plastic surgeon called on to treat a reclusive patient. He just heals with extraordinary quickness so any surgery has to be done quickly - his eyes have been sealed shut by an injury that seemed to melt his face. A tale complicated by her brother John, who abandoned her when they were both children. Hard to keep the good guys and bad guys straight on this one - and a few sections not for the squeamish. --Barbara
DOWN THESE DARK SPACEWAYS, edited by Mike Resnick
Enjoyed this a collection of SF-mysteries put out by SFBC and only available through them. Catherine Asaro has an entry called "City of Cries", about an ex-military officer called upon to try to find a missing prince. It just seems he may have tried to escape his family - but things are not always what they seem. Written in first person, lots of action, meeting up with friends (and not friends) from the past. A low key romance with a romance scene (or two) and a well-planned rescue and wrap up. The final scenes with the prince, who goes back to his family, were a bit obligatory and maybe the best to be done with the situation. Our heroine left with her old-love-refound in the end, although not a clear HEA. --Barbara
The February 2006 Locus is the annual Year in Review edition, with their Recommended Reading Lists for anything you might have missed in 2005. There is also an interesting and amusing simultaneous-but-not-together interview with Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about their upcoming hardcover rerelease of GOOD OMENS. I'm gonna have to get that - it includes "an introduction by the authors, comments by each about the other, and answers to some still-burning questions about their wildly popular collaborative effort". (From the way it's being marketed, though, I bet a lot of people are going to pick it up thinking that it's new.)
Some news: -The 2005 Preliminary Nebula Ballot is out and Bujold's THE HALLOWED HUNT, Czerneda's SURVIVAL and Pratchett's GOING POSTAL are on the Novel short list. -Dave Duncan sold STARFOLK, first in a new Fantasy series, to Tor. -Simon R. Green sold SECRET HISTORIES and two new books in a new Fantasy series for Roc. -Sarah A. Hoyt sold urban Fantasy DRAW ONE IN THE DARK to Baen. -Jane Lindskold sold the first three books in her new "Breaking the Wall" Fantasy series to Tor. -Eric Flint & Dave Freer sold THE SORCERESS OF KARRES, another sequel to James Schmitz's THE WITCHES OF KARRES. -Susanna Clarke sold mass market rights for JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL to Tor. -Katherine Kurtz delivered CHILDE MORGAN to Ace. -Jim Butcher turned in CURSOR'S FURY, the third book in the "Codex Alera" series, to Ace. -Trudi Canavan turned in THE LAST OF THE WILDS to Eos. -Jennifer Stevenson delivered THE BRASS BED, first in her series "The SeX Files", to Del Rey. -Sherrilyn Kenyon turned in DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, latest in her "Dark Hunter" series and the first to be published in hardcover, to St. Martin's Press. -Film rights to Terry Pratchett's THE WEE FREE MEN were optioned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, with Sam Raimi slated to direct and co-produce with Vince Gerardis and Ralph Vicinanza of Created By.
Esther Diamond, the heroine, works as an actress in New York. She is presently working in a play named "Sorcerer", which was produced and designed for the leading man, Joe Helihy, to show off his magic act. His wife owns the production company that financed the show. Esther has a bit part playing a chorus nymph. The book is written in first person and while I don't prefer this style usually, it worked for this book as it allowed us to see Esther's wit and sense of humor through her thoughts and descriptions.
On the opening night of the play, the unimaginable happens. During the disappearing act in the play, the lead actress, Golly Gee, disappears for real. This may be a good time to let you know that you will hear a lot of bizarre names like this in the book , as Esther gathers a circle of eclectic magicians and their assistants that are having similar happenings. Esther is picked to take the lead role in the next showing of the play, but is torn between a chance of a lifetime and a chance that she will disappear. With the help of a real sorcerer and other magicians she tries to find out who is responsible.
While this isn't one of those books that grabs you and you can't put it down, it was nonetheless very enjoyable. I enjoyed the heroines sense of humor and the unusual plot. The attraction between Esther and the investigating detective was enjoyable but ethics kept the romance from proceeding until the mystery was solved. So if you were hoping for much romance, you will have to wait til book 2. The mystery was solved at the end, no cliffhangers. I give it a moderate recommend. --Linda