RaveTor.comKameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade... is an important, critical look at the role of how war bends and warps modern society. It...has the potential to become the next great Military SF classic ... The Light Brigade caused an immediate, visceral reaction in me as a reader. It’s like a punch in the gut from the first page. Hurley hounds the reader with a relentless pace, introducing them to a bevy of characters and never slowing down. It’s brutal from its first pages, and never lets up. As the pages turn, ideas pile up, and Dietz forms genuine relationships with her fellow soldiers, and Hurley does a beautiful job exploring how they deal with death, loss, risk, and release. Her prose is punchy, and the dialogue sharp and urgent, providing a feeling of really being down there in the trenches with the soldiers ... Never does [the book] trade its thematic explorations for character development or vice versa—they are one and the same ... The Light Brigade is a standout novel in Kameron Hurley’s already impressive career. It’ll get your pulse pounding, your blood boiling, and your heart aching. It’ll make you angry, scared, and, at the most unexpected moments, hopeful. The history of Military SF novels is long and storied, but Hurley’s work can stand up with the best of them.
Mary Robinette Kowal
PositiveTorThe Calculating Stars opens in 1952 as a meteor collides with Earth, devastating the eastern United States seaboard, and instigating a period of intense climate change. This results in the best (remaining) scientists in the world fast-tracking human colonization of the moon, with Elma and her husband Nathaniel thrust right into the middle of it ... It seems almost too obvious to recommend The Calculating Stars to anyone who enjoyed Hidden Figures, but the similarities and strengths are striking. They’re both stories about sending humans to space, rife with well-considered and striking socio-political themes, including racism and sexism, and they excel on the strength of their ensemble cast ... Full of likeable characters, sly humour, and a plot that deftly interweaves end-of-the-world action with thoughtful personal politics, The Calculating Stars is Kowal at the top of her game. There’s always a danger in prequels revealing too much, thereby destroying some of the mystery that made the original story so successful, but worry not, The Calculating Stars is a worthy addition to the Lady Astronaut series.
Yoon Ha Lee
RaveTorIf you’ve paid any attention to the SFF Awards scene in recent years, you’ll recognize Yoon Ha Lee and his Machineries of Empire trilogy ... What started in Ninefox Gambit reaches its stunning conclusion in one of 2018’s best science fiction novels, and cements Lee alongside Leckie as one of science fiction’s foremost authors ... Much of the trilogy, but especially Revenant Gun, deals with Jedao trying to come to grips with his reputation and to reconcile his feelings about the massacre that made him a monster in the eyes of the Hexarchate ... Confined to a single novel, where he would have been defined by a singular character trait, would have oversimplified Jedao’s arc . Instead we’ve had the pleasure of spending three novels delving into Jedao not only as a brilliant tactician, but also as a conflicted, broken person ... The way Lee juggles the varied and conflicted elements of Jedao’s personality is nothing short of masterful.
PositiveTor.comThe Skaar Invasion is not only a worthy follow-up to The Black Elfstone, it’s further proof that Brooks is in the midst of writing a classic instalment ... it works by shifting reader expectations, and providing new answers to old questions ... The Skaar Invasion focuses on two themes that are familiar to anyone following the news in 2018: climate change and the collision between xenophobia/nationalism and immigration ... Brooks isn’t subtle, and his workmanlike prose doesn’t hide secrets, instead displaying the politics and themes openly, but there are some important messages in these books, and, considering them in context of the series’ past, they raise the Shannara series to new heights.
Ilana C. Myer
MixedTor.comFire Dance suffers from too many structural and pacing issues to live up to my (admittedly high) expectations. Like a dancer unable to find their rhythm after a misstep, Fire Dance is a sometimes beautiful, sometimes flawed novel ... Halfway through the novel, I still had trouble understanding its shape, or how the various plots were linked. There are some genuinely thrilling moments, and things come together in the second half, but the plot remains confusing throughout, and even a strong second half can’t overcome the structural issues and dragging first half ... Myer’s writing is so silky smooth, so beautiful that, despite the structural issues, sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. Beautiful imagery abounds ... Fire Dance is full of lyrical, thoughtful writing packed with so much resonant emotion that it begs to be experienced. On the other hand, its slow, sometimes confusing, and structurally flawed plot add a significant cost to that experience.
PositiveTor.comChild of a Mad God is very much about the convergence of cultures, and the way that socioeconomic, and religious elements affect the way that societies view each other. As an outsider, [the character] Talmadge provides the reader with a somewhat objective view of the various tribes, including the Usgar ... you can tell that Salvatore has intentionally constructed his story, characters, and world in a way that is meant to be progressive and appeal to the movement towards feminist and female-friendly speculative fiction. He succeeds, mostly. Unfortunately, midway through the novel, he uses one of my least favourite tools in a writer’s repertoire: rape as a plot device ... One of my favourite aspects of Child of a Mad God is how Salvatore plays with the rules for magic he established in the DemonWars Saga ... Fans will get a kick out of seeing the way Salvatore further explores the outer boundaries of the Corona, and the way the series’ trademark magical stones are utilized by less developed societies, but Aoleyn and Talmadge’s story is billed as the start of a new series and it’s exactly that. It makes reference to the previous series, but has ambitions of being something entirely new.
Mary Robinette Kowal
PositiveTorGhost Talkers rises above the over-familiarity of its setting to offering something unique ... Ghost Talkers features strong characters of all race and gender, and she had a lot of fun breaking down and stomping on some of the genre’s biggest cliches ... Ghost Talkers is an unwaveringly smart novel about love, loss, family, and loyalty. All the best aspects of Kowal’s writing are on full display—from razor-sharp wit, to lush, flowing prose, to characters who immediately and indefinitely fit themselves into the empty places in your head and heart.