Saturday, 16 December 2017

100 Short Story Challenge: Stories 61 to 70

I'm getting closer to caught up! As I write this (rather earlier than it's going to be posted, I'm afraid) I have 30 stories left to read in 20 days. That's not so bad! Perfectly manageable, right? In any case, come January I'll write a post about how this whole short story reading challenge went, what I learnt along the way, and so forth. In the meantime, here are stories 61 to 70:

  1. Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind by Erica L Satifka — A flash story told in the form of a bucket list (as per the title), complete with some crossed out items. Also more hints about the coming end than I expected. I liked it more than I expected to. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  2. Her Heart Never Came Down Again by Seanan McGuire — a lovely, bittersweet story about an astronaut and her engineer wife. Also an ill-fated, unusual voyage, grief, hope and perseverance. Source: Seanan McGuire’s Patreon 
  3. Phlashback by Simon Petrie — a third story in the “CREVjack” and “Goldilock” sequence, this time picking up shortly after the previous story left off and shifting point of view characters (again). Finally we get to learn more about pharmhands and their place in the scheme of things on Titan. Another tense story. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  4. Placenta by Simon Petrie — about a pregnant woman who suddenly finds herself in a life- and baby-threatening situation and must do a bit of sciencey problem-solving to survive. It also gives us a snapshot of an abandoned part of Titan, which strongly reminded me of an Abandoned Photography blog I’ve followed. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  5. Function A:Save (Target.Dawn) by Rivqa Rafael — a lovely story about a coder and the president’s daughter/her almost-girlfriend. Set in a near future with bio-hacking and fancy medicine, this story was engaging, a little magical and, ultimately, satisfying. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  6. Noah No-one and the Infinity Machine by Sean Williams — an odd yarn set in the Jump universe, but much earlier that that trilogy. I expected it to have a dark ending, but it ended up being quite lighthearted. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  7. Forgiveness by Leah Cypess — a challenging story about a physically abusive relationship in a future where there are chips to control that sort of behaviour once it’s reported. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  8. Probably Definitely by Heather Morris — a nice story about a ghost and a teenager still working on finding their place in life. I am impressed at how naturally-seeming the author’s non-use of pronouns was. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  9. I’m Only Going Over by Cat Hellisen — a slightly odd story about a weird girl at a party and the protagonist trying to chat with her. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.
  10. How the Maine Coon Cat Learned to Love the Sea by Seanan McGuire — A fairytale/genesis story about maine coon cats coming to North America. Short and sweet. Source: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/maine-coon-cat-learned-love-sea/


Not long to go now!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Memory — the Vorkosigan Saga Project

Memory is the latest novel we’ve read in our Vorkosigan Saga Project. It falls after Mirror Dance and before Komarr. In Memory the story sees significant changes in Miles’s life and in the lives of some of the people around him. This book has major spoilers for Mirror Dance, so stop reading now if you haven’t read that book!

You can read Katharine’s review of Memory here and Tsana’s review here.

Katharine: And so we meet Miles back with the Dendarii - and quite quickly we see Miles land himself in some pretty terrible action. After dying in an earlier novel we see the side effects have continued; namely that he has seizures - usually at inopportune times, which we later learn is because they’re triggered by stress.

Tsana: For a book that I mainly remembered as being about Simon Illyan, this one really did have some significant life changes for Miles. For all that Miles has had the opportunity to fix a lot of his medical problems — he’s been gradually replacing his skeleton with stronger artificial bones, for example — he’s also been accumulating new ones and now, after much hardship, they’ve finally caught up with him severely enough that it’s time for a medical discharge. From the start of the book, he has seizures left over from his cryorevival but he hasn’t actually told anyone about them. So things go horribly wrong when he goes on a field mission and has a seizure in the heat of battle.

And we’re getting into spoiler territory very early on. Should we put up the spoiler shields or jump to discuss something less spoilery?

Katharine: Sure thing. Beep boop beep!

-- spoilers --

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Preview chapter: The Last Guard by KJ Taylor

Following up on my review of The Last Guard by KJ Taylor, the first book in a new series set in the author's griffin universe (The Fallen Moon Trilogy and The Risen Sun trilogy are set in the same world), I have a sample chapter to share with you all. First, in case you don't feel like clicking through to my review, the blurb and then the sample is under the cut. And just so you're not surprised, note that it isn't from the first chapter...


Southerner Sergeant Kearney "Red" Redguard is the last of a disgraced family, and a loyal guardsman. And with a murderer stalking the streets, the city guard is his city's best defense.
But in the North, King Caedmon Taranisäii is gathering his army, and the cruel Night God prepares for the downfall of the South. A new dark griffin roams the land, warning of the war to come.
Betrayed and sent on the run, Red must fight to save his homeland.
But it may already be too late...




Saturday, 9 December 2017

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance by Ann Leckie is set in the same universe as the Imperial Radch trilogy (which starts with the Hugo Award-winning Ancillary Justice), but stands alone. It's set after the events in the Imperial Radch trilogy but can be read completely independently of that series. It's set on a planet outside of the Radchaai Empire and there are only a few mentions of an event that happened right at the end of the Imperial Radch trilogy (and which is sort of a spoiler but not in any important ways).

Following her record-breaking debut trilogy, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, returns with an enthralling new novel of power, theft, privilege and birthright.

A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray's future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

I have to admit, I was a reasonable way into this book before I worked out what it was about. I didn't mind, though, because I found the the main character, Ingray, interesting to follow. We start off not knowing very much about her or her motives and learn piecemeal as we watch her actions and choices (and as various backstory is filled in as necessary). We know even less about the other characters, with the narrative holding a tight third person perspective, and learning more about them certainly held my interest.

By the time I was sure about what kind of book this was, I decided the best way to describe it was as a "comedy of diplomacy". Like a comedy of errors, but with more people from different planets inadvertently getting in each other's way. And a main character who didn't set out to get in the middle of it all, but did, to quite a significant extent. It was very entertaining.

This is a standalone novel, and the story is very much tied up by the end of the book. However, it's very much whet my appetite for more (possibly standalone) stories set in the same universe. We learn about one alien species in Provenance that were only mentioned in the Imperial Radch books (the Geck) and I am keen to learn more about some of the other aliens. I feel there are some key questions left unanswered in general.

But Provenance isn't a story about aliens. It's a story of a comparatively small civilisation, it's cultural quirks and its neighbours (with their own cultural quirks). They bear little similarity to the Radch (and in fact, seeing the Radch from their point of view was fascinating) and exist far outside of the Radchaai sphere of influence. Unlike the Imperial Radch books, this is not a story about colonialism, but rather about cultural history and the significance this takes in society. It's also a much more light-hearted story than that of a sentient warship. Just saying.

I highly recommend Provenance to fans of science fiction who are looking for a relatively light-hearted read. It's full of amusing or perplexing social and diplomatic situations and, while I wouldn't classify it as an outright comedy per se, I laughed out loud many times while I was reading. I hope Leckie writes more books — standalone or series — set in this universe.

5 / 5 stars

First published: September 2017, Orbit
Series: No, but set in the same world as the Imperial Radch trilogy, after the events of those books
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from Kobo shop

Sunday, 3 December 2017

100 Short Story Challenge: Stories 51 to 60

I am starting to catch up on this short story reading thing, though I am still a little behind. This batch of stories has some more stories from Simon Petrie's upcoming Titan-themed collection Wide Brown Land and a handful of stories from miscellaneous sources.

I am really enjoying reading random stories that catch my eye (or, more accurately, random stories that caught past-me's eye so that they got added to Pocket and were subsequently able to catch present-me's eye...). I am thinking that when I get to the end of this challenge I will probably post a list or two of thematically linked stories that I particularly liked. One of the lists will almost certainly be something along the lines of "awesome stories about robots/AI/computers", which I expect will include both "Abandonware" by An Owomoyela and "Interlingua" by Yoon Ha Lee from this batch.


  1. More Than Nothing by Nisi Shawl — A slightly confusing flash story (I wonder if it’s related to something larger?) about a defiantly praying girl. Source: https://www.tor.com/2017/03/08/more-than-nothing-nisi-shawl/
  2. Broadwing by Simon Petrie — A crash landing and a long wait for rescue. It felt like a scene-setting piece to give us a good feel for Titan and a bit of background on flight and the landscape. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  3. Emptying Roesler by Simon Petrie — About an inspector, a man in an abandoned building (on Titan) and illegal activities. This story ended abruptly, albeit in a logical place. I would not have minded finding out what happened next to the characters. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  4. Interlingua by Yoon Ha Lee — A delightful story about sentient space ships that design games to entertain their crews on long voyages. Things get a bit strange when our protagonist ship designs a game to prepare their crew for an alien contact mission. I really enjoyed this story: both the premise and the execution. One for fans of Ann Leckie (if you’re not already a Yoon Ha Lee fan, like I am). Source: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/interlingua/
  5. The White-Throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu — I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. What I got was taxidermy and a past worth escaping. Well written and engaging. Source: http://www.tor.com/2017/06/21/the-white-throated-transmigrant/
  6. CREVjack by Simon Petrie — This was a reread (see earlier review here: http://tsanasreads.blogspot.com/search/label/simon%20petrie). I came back to reread it after I started “Goldilock” since that story felt like a sequel and I couldn’t remember the specifics of this earlier one. The ending remains emotionally difficult to read. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  7. Goldilock by Simon Petrie — a direct sequel to “CREVjack”, picking up moments after that story left off. It continues in a similarly tense and action-packed vein with another very dramatic ending. Source: Wide Brown Land by Simon Petrie
  8. Persephone by Seanan McGuire — A sad flash story set in a dystopian future. Source: https://www.tor.com/2017/03/08/persephone-seanan-mcguire/
  9. Abandonware by An Owomoyela — A touching story about grief and computers and, unexpectedly, psychohistory (which will be just as enjoyable if you don’t get that reference). I started reading it to fill in some time, but then couldn’t put it down. Source: http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/abandonware/
  10. Kia and Gio by Daniel José Older — A story about ghosts, aliens and unrequited love. A nice read. Source: Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein.

Only 40 more to go!