Sea Change, a forthcoming novella by acclaimed writer Nancy Kress, is everything I love about speculative fiction. The story has a compelling near-future setting, is full of smart characters with sharply written dialogue, and is so thematically rich and progressive. It’s character driven, scarily close to reality, and covers topics often overlooked by other media.
Not unlike my previous review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s upcoming novella, Firewalkers, Kress’s Sea Change also centers on our world following devastation caused, primarily, by climate change. However, whereas Firewalkers is set in a time that feels very distant and in a place that feels far from our present world, Sea Change is set in the 2030s in America and feels very true to a near-future picture of the country.
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Hearts of Oak starts with a king, an architect, a magically growing city, and a talking cat, and, somehow, it manages to keep these pieces at it’s (oak) heart, even as the story itself expands and changes. What starts as a tender, character focused fantasy about an ever-growing city shifts into a very different story mid-way through. The result is a beautifully clever genre-bending experience, with a story that is part whimsical fantasy and part provocative science fiction.
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Made to Order is a science fiction anthology with short works by some of the best SFF/speculative fiction authors currently writing today. Every story was thought-provoking and thematically compelling, even if I preferred some stories to others. Due to its breadth and scope, it’s an anthology that deserves to be an essential part of every sci-fi reader’s library. Not only did I enjoy every minute of this read, but I was always excited to begin the next story, which, to me, is the sign of an excellent anthology.
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Firewalkers was a book I was extremely excited for, as it is a sci-fi/speculative novella written by the award-winning Adrian Tchaikovsky, who I had heard really great things about, but haven’t made time to read yet.
The story is set on earth in a near/distant future where climate change has completely changed the landscape of the world. Population is much smaller and people have condensed into smaller communities, creating cities with extremely diverse cultures, languages, religions, and overall worldviews. In this world, the rich are able to buy their way off the planet and to a much easier life aboard the Grand Celeste, a giant space-cruiser city with all the luxuries the rich are accustomed to and none of the hardships of the nearly-destroyed earth. Back on earth, though, people are subjected to the extremely difficult living conditions of a world completely altered by climate change. Work is scarce, and water even more so. One of the only good jobs that exist is that of a firewalker.
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I first heard about Zdrok’s Spectacle duology after I finished Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series last year. In the haze of my book hangover I searched Goodreads for anything that could be remotely similar to Maniscalco’s macabre Young Adult historical mystery/romance. Spectacle was one of the books that was recommended as similar to Stalking, but I didn’t pick it up at the time and instead engrossed myself in Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel trilogy.
I never forgot about Spectacle, though, and the premise continued to intrigue me. I love a good Young Adult historical mystery, and I love them even more when there is something ~magical~ going on.
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