|David loves hard science fiction, space opera, literary sf, classic science fiction, fantasy fiction, manga and anime, and the occasional young adult novel. He especially likes to find good authors he hasn't already read, so please let him know your favorites!|
Though he may have done a few good things with his presidency, most people remember Richard Nixon as a crook, not a hero. In Crooked, Grossman reimagines Nixon as an unlikeable, but ultimately compelling, antihero trying to save the U.S. (and the world) from a secret war of unknowable horrors. Though clearly researched, the novel glosses over much of the real world Nixon’s actions, making it much more accessible to anyone interested in supernatural spy thrillers, not just Nixonian scholars. The action is sometimes slow, but the nature of the mysteries and the authentic cast will keep readers going to the end
A wonderful fantasy debut! Think magic in Victorian Britain, a Jane Eyre-like magician apprentice Ceony, who is falling in love with her mentor Magician Thorne, and must save him from a vengeful ex-lover. Features the most amazing, brilliant, and imaginative sequence, where Ceony is transported into her mentor's heart, a place of his memories and dreams--but also an actual heart, complete with blood and aortas!
New! Original! Different! And very highly recommended!!!
Schwab imagines four Londons, that differ by their distance from magic’s dark heart. Farthest away is Grey London, of our 18th-century. Next is Red London, where magic proliferates, followed by White London, where magic is power, and the strong prey upon the weak. Finally there is Black London, an unimaginable horror the other worlds have shut out for their own safety.
The story follows Kell, a magician who can travel between Londons. When he is tricked into smuggling a stone originally from Black London via White London into Red London, a terrifying cascade of events follows, as black magic begins to pour across worlds. Kell’s only help is Lila, a wonderfully brave and resourceful thief. Together, they must face down the dark magic that threatens to destroy everything.
Featuring appealing main characters, splendidly wicked villains, and a horrifying conception of magic, Schwab’s fantasy will shock you and thrill you. Highly recommended!
In The Godless, Ben Peek develops a striking mythology, a world in which the gods are dying slowly over the span of millennia, yet continue to influence humanity during their long decline. Deeds done thousands of years in the past resound into the present, giving the narrative an almost vertiginous historical scope. Immortals mix with ordinary humans, their differing experiences of fate imbuing the characters with tragic depths. At the same time, the action is gritty, relentless, and exciting. Characters fight, and die, desperately. The Godless is the perfect book for those who like their fantasy to be thoughtful and compulsively readable. Highly recommended!
Django Wexler's The Forbidden Library is filled with magic, marvelous and whimsical, the sort you wished for as a child. Untimely orphaned, Alice Creighton finds herself living in a strange library, a labyrinth of mysterious extent, whose books are magical, such that the contents of the books bleed into reality, so that shelves can give way to trees, mysterious houses, and odd and dangerous creatures. Alice learns she can even cross directly into the world of the book, and live inside its pages.
But magic always has its price, its shadow. The magical books are actually prisons, and Alice discovers she can't get out again, not until she pays a terrible price. Once escaped, she learns she is a pawn in a larger game of sorcerers. The world against her, Alice is sets out to prove what a smart and resourceful heroine, armed with magic, can do.
A wildly imaginative and completely engaging book. Highly recommended!
Something strange is happening to London. Buildings are moving, twisting, vanishing, appearing. People are becoming different, falling away from old companions and lovers. Alien creatures from unknown worlds are drifting in. London is moving into the past, becoming a steampunk version of itself. London is becoming a phantasmagoria, as the old laws of nature become ever more tenuous. London is a waking dream pell-mell on the way to nightmare. And Captain Jim Wedderburn must go into the very heart of the nightmare to find out why London is turning into a dream world. And stop it, if he can. Before he becomes too different, too strange, too much a nightmare himself.
A brilliant, profoundly disturbing book. Highly recommended!
Emily Croy Barker tells us a "kidnapped by the fairies" story in a modern key, with a strong female character, close attention to the inner experience of using and resisting magic, and strong characterization. There's lots of adventure, appealing romance, and many shout-outs to the classics of fantasy and romantic fiction. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic will be happily read by all the Thinking Readers of Real Fantasy Fiction!
The set-up on Jason Hough's post-apocalypse science fiction novel is simply stunning. Aliens have without explanation built a space elevator in Darwin Australia and unleashed a plague that has killed most of humanity, with the remainder divided into brutal zombies and the few surviving humans clustered around the elevator, which provides a local immunity from the deadly disease. The book dives immediately into relentless action, as we follow Skyler Luiken and his crew of scavengers, who are about the only humans who are immune from the plague, while they battle zombies in the outback, fight with the thuggish warlord who controls Darwin, and ascend surreptitiously to the orbital stations attached to the elevator. I got completely sucked into the story, and couldn't stop reading. The characters are wonderful--Skyler is a resourceful and tenacious hero, and the main bad guy is wonderfully arrogant and fun to root against. The book excels at depicting very different locales: Darwin as a post-apocalyptic city, the high-tech remoteness of the orbital stations, and the Mad Max world of the outback. And Hough's take on the aliens seems to me remarkably, dreadfully prescient: they have an inscrutable, off-stage presence, coming in suddenly and inexplicably to rewrite all the rules, casually wiping out humanity in the process.
Best of all, Jason is a long-time customer of Mysterious Galaxy who has now made the leap to becoming an author. You like to see a friend do well--and Jason has done exceptionally, extraordinarily well. The Darwin Elevator is a remarkable debut. It is the best science fiction novel I have read since first encountering John Scalzi's Old Man's War--it is that good. Read it--and years later you can say you were there with Jason Hough from the start.
Max Barry’s Lexicon starts off as a slam-bang action thriller. Wil escapes from and is then recaptured by two mysterious kidnappers, only to find himself and his kidnappers chased in turn by another equally mysterious group. The novel takes a fantastic turn: the pursuers include “poets,” people with the power to use language magically to compel others to do things against their will. As Wil watches in horror, a poet compels one of his kidnappers to blow his own head off. Such a terrible power is redolent with moral complications, which Barry explores to terrific effect. What are we to make of Wil, who, as we learn, may also possess the power to kill at his whim? What are we to make of the organization that trains up poets in their deadly arts? To these questions, Barry resolutely leaves us hanging. Reading the novel, we can never be sure just who the “good guy” is. A tour-de-force, and highly recommended.
This book is a lot of fun. Think James Bond, with magic, and a comedy chaser. Gerald Dunwoody accidentally blows up a factory and suddenly finds himself up to his neck in the Department of Magic, Spy Division. Luckily, his best friend Reg--queen of yesteryear long since turned into a bird--has got his back. Things go from bad to worse, and Reg can't help giving him a hard time. Read on to find how Gerald saves the day, laughing all the way.
First in a series, so the good news is there's more to read when you are done! Highly recommended!
Mystery / Suspense
Two Graves picks up right on the cliffhanger where Cold Vengeance left off. In the opening sequence, Preston & Child drive the action forward at a relentless pace, building unbearable tension and excitement until readers are gobsmacked by a stunning, appalling climax. You will not believe who dies. One grave down. Then we go on, at the same frantic pace, but with the second grave now a dreadful portent beckoning us forward. Along the way, Preston & Child embellish the wonderfully developed characters and world we have come to love while reading this series. For instance, did you know there is a distinctively cultured exotic Pendergastian manner of suicide? There are bows to such literary classics as Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Wells' Time Machine, and Doyle's The Lost World. The action never pauses until the absolutely cataclysmic conclusion, which leaves us at once completely wrung out and completely satisfied. Two Graves is without a doubt the best pure action-thriller of the whole series, and for my money the best book, period, since Cabinet of Curiosities. The recommendation meter is at 11. You must read this book.
Michael Cobley’s Seeds of Earth is good old-fashioned space opera at its best. Galaxy-spanning war, check. Rebel human outpost facing down everybody, including evil alien Hegemony and Earth fellow-travelers, check. Holy smoke weapon McGuffins with a direct link to your sense of wonder, check. Insidious AIs and hive-mind enemies, check. Sympathetic alien species with mystical spiritual powers, check. Vast historical back-story, with alien adversaries of the legendary past suddenly reappearing in the present, check. Cobley covers all the bases. And he does so with flair. He tells the story from the bottom up, through the perspectives of five very different but sympathetic characters, whose bravery, resourcefulness, and intelligence are completely engaging. And wait--there’s more: Seeds of Earth is first in a trilogy, with new installments arriving in October and November. So, if you like your space opera shaken but not stirred, Seeds of Earth is your book. Highly recommended!
A stunning, unforgettable novel. Ishiguro tells the story of three children living at an odd British boarding school, as they discover the school's peculiar purpose and their own destiny in the world outside the school. The novel uses science fiction elements, drawn from biomedical science, to explore the essence of humanity and the nature of human life. Told with a steady, metronomic tone, the narrative eschews sentiment and easy idealization, and invites the reader to understand and finally to accept the dark necessity that underlies human existence. Never Let Me Go is a great work of literature: profound, moving, and deeply illuminating.
In Count to a Trillion, John Wright takes up the great themes of classic science fiction. His hero, Menelaus Montrose, is a member of the first human-crewed starship, whose goal is to investigate the Monument, an alien artifact orbiting a nearby star. The Monument is a cypher, inscribed with glyphs of unknown significance. To read them, Montrose dares to boost his intelligence artificially, and so discovers the secrets of the galactic overlords, and of their plans for insignificant humanity. Like the best science fiction, Count to a Trillion is a novel of ideas. Wright is concerned about affirming human freedom against the dead necessity dictated by science, technology, and the daunting power of super-intelligent aliens with a galaxy at their command. To this mix, Wright adds the appeal of his own inimitable sensibility: a fascination with intelligence, mathematics, European history, classical virtues, Catholicism, and all things Texan! Above all, Count to a Trillion is a rip-roaring good read, told with immense exuberance and optimism. I loved reading this book--so will you!
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn is an utterly compelling fantasy novel. You start at the very bottom, with Vin, an orphan thief barely surviving on the city streets. By luck, she joins up with Kelsier, a gang leader and a revolutionary, whose dream is to take down the thousand-year rule of the Lord Ruler, the dark lord of the tale. Everything seems to be against them: the Lord Ruler's many magical agents and secret police, the dead weight of a class-riven society dedicated to perpetuating the privilege of the ruling elite, and not least, the Lord Ruler's own mysterious power, which has allowed him to overwhelm all resistance for a millennium. But Vin and Kelsier have magic of their own, lots of imagination and willingness to take impossible risks and do impossible things, and most powerful of all, the hope for a better future. Sanderson gives us a rousing tale as he details Vin and Kelsier's exciting fight for freedom.
Give the gift of Dreams! Follow Randolph Carter into the farthest reaches of dreamland, accompanied by Lovecraft's menagerie of ghouls, zugs, and moon cats, to a conclusion both surprising and sublime. 'The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,' included in Dreams of Terror and Death.
Give the gift of Adventure! The Tintin graphic novels The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure, are chock-full of pirates, treasure chests, and secret codes. You'll fall in love with author/artist Herge's marvelous art and his unforgettable characters. A billion blistering blue barnacles! See Soeilberg's movie, but read the books!
Give the gift of Terror! Thomas Ligotti's Teatro Grottesco is no joke. Ligotti crowds you with a sly and laughing evil so disturbing I doubt you will be able to finish the book. I dare you.
Give the gift of Beauty! Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is like a long luxurious dream, filled with striking imagery and suffused with passion, that simply heaps you with beauty. You awake from reading this forlorn. Doubleday.
The Night Circus is like no other book I have read. You may read it as a novel, with strong characters and enthralling story well and deftly handled, but these usual literary suspects are besides the point of explaining why this book is so strange and appealing. Really, the book is about a place, the night circus itself, with its impossible collection of acts, illusions, and wonders. The place in turn is a world of art, done up principally in silver and black, with other colors appearing as accents, to create for the reader a remarkable visual experience. And the art in turn expresses the interior life of dreams and passions. Everywhere there is beauty, more and more beauty. You read The Night Circus, finally, for the experience, for the intense experience of lapidary beauty and luminous imagination. What a wonderful, truly magical, book!
So my man Ozzie--good friend and regular MG customer--got me started on Simon Morden's Equations of Life. It's a thriller, set in a future London where Russian, Japanese, and local gangs duke it out, and the police are powerless bystanders. Life sucks, at least in the marginal areas, so, yes, this is a dystopia, but the people in the novel make up for this by their verve and their general bigheartedness. The main guy is Petrovich, genius Russian physicist with a shady past. The main girl is Sister Madeleine, a nun with a very big gun, who ditches her habit to help Petrovich rescue the other main girl, Sonya, the damsel in distress and daughter of the local Japanese crime lord. Throw in a rogue AI and the scientific discovery of all time, and you've got a fast-paced, quick-witted, culturally savvy sf thriller of the highest caliber. Enthusiastically recommended!
There's a lot to like in Neal Stephenson's new novel, Reamde. As a spy-action thriller, the book is fun and it is fast – it’s a terrific ride from beginning to end. Vintage Stephenson is very much in evidence too: the virtual reality worlds of Snow Crash and the meticulous descriptions in Wired magazine of the economic and engineering underpinnings of our digital world appear again to great effect. Much is new: I found Stephenson's description of the new China arising within the global economy completely fascinating.
Most fascinating for me, however, was something much more personal. Amidst all the action and fighting, as the Forthrast family and their friends attempt to protect themselves across several continents from the depredations of Russian gangsters and Islamic terrorists, Stephenson seems to be exploring what counts for him as essential moral or human values. He turns to virtues like courage, knowing how to deal with whatever stuff that comes down, the willingness to act violently when necessary, restraint, chivalry. In an earlier age these might have been called manly qualities, but they apply to women as well: after all, the women in this book are more manly than the men, as they kick ass and shoot and fight better than the guys around them, no question about it. In Reamde, Stephenson reminds us how to live. This above all makes the book great and worth reading.
This novel reminds me of everything I like about science fiction. Above all, it is a novel of ideas. The Kollins tell the story of Justin Cord, a man who wakes from suspended animation to find himself in a future where every person is in fact a corporation, owned by shareholders, who buy and sell the person's stock, and demand he or she provide them a maximum return on their investment. Against this nightmare of corporate capitalism taken to its logical extreme, the Kollins passionately affirm the value of human freedom. The novel is the rousing story of Cord's rebellion against this corporate system, and of the civil war he provokes in human society, as he struggles to preserve his own freedom by bringing it to all the other humans in the solar system.
This is an exciting and involving tale, with wonderfully imagined future technology, brilliantly realized characters, and a gripping story. As soon as I was finished reading the book I immediately began to read its sequel, The Unincorporated War. You will too.
So I asked friend and customer Douglas to pick out the one book he would have me read in the store, and he handed me Peter Watts' Blindsight. Having read it, I can say that this book will come as close as a book can possibly come to really and actually blowing your mind. It's a first contact story on philosophical steroids. Watts is fascinated by all the questions relating to identity: what makes us a person? what is consciousness? how does that differ from awareness? what is intelligence? Watts brilliantly uses the first contact situation of humans and aliens trying to figure each other out as a way to raise all these issues at once. So, you get a crew peopled by a) the main character who, having had half his brain removed to prevent gran mal epilepsy, thinks of himself as a living example of John Searle's Chinese Room argument against artificial intelligence; b) someone with multiple personalities, charmingly referred to as the Gang of Four, c) etc. etc. etc. Basically, Watts populates his novel with all the different varieties of consciousness he can think of, and watches them go off when they go up against the alien Other.
Very thought provoking, serious science fiction, fiction in the mode of Einstein's thought experiments. Douglas and I are still talking about it. Great stuff. Highly, highly recommended.
The end of this book is going to get you. There you are, happily reading along, a little nostalgia here, a little wonder at magical realism there, and then, all of a sudden, the end of this book will get you! My favorite book by one of my favorite authors.
A stunning, unforgettable book. Shepard leaves you out on the imagination's furthest edge, amidst horrors and dreams, beauty, sadness, and the hints of apocalypse. With a prose style so lush as to be Victorian, Shepard is America's latter-day Joseph Conrad.
A wonderful modern fairy tale, with love, loss, and magic: not the flashy kind, but the magic of the heart and soul. Real magic! This novel is the masterpiece you have never heard of, and my favorite book by an American writer.
A completely original take on the future of artificial intelligence, chock full of dazzling action femmes and cool hyper-tech toys, with literary style and terrific political satire to boot! It didn't win the Hugo, but it should have. A great novel, and a wonderful read.
Kenyon imagines a dimension besides ours, driven by strange physical laws, believable human societies, and completely terrifying aliens, all told in beautiful prose and with immense originality. You'll definitely be left wanting to read the next book in the series at once!
Wow! This series is good! Weeks gets everything right: great appealing characters, surprising plot twists, evil villains so wicked young children should not read these books, and even moral reflection. But basically--a terrific read. I couldn't put it down.
Hugo winner for best novel, 2006. A terrific novel--I stayed up late to finish it. Really well-thought-out hard SF, with an outstanding imagined social history of a world facing the end. Plus a romantic love story! This book will single-handedly recharge your Sense of Wonder batteries.