The Creature from Beyond Infinity – Henry Kuttner

The last member of an ancient race is left on a young planet to accomplish their goal of stimulating life to achieve its best. But as Earth develops, things don’t go according to plan. While this starts as moderately interesting light adventure, it doesn’t follow through terribly well. It’s fast moving, but thin, and with many flaws. First off, the science if pretty questionable throughout, and the crucial solution is essentially magic. Kuttner makes little…

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Walking on Glass – Iain Banks

A man on his way to meet his lover, a man who believes himself to be a Warrior exiled to a mundane world, and two adversaries playing tabletop games in a surreal castle – all tied together in a complex literary novel. I’ve read most of Iain Banks’ SFF novels – complex, sophisticated, and intriguing. I previously read his literary novel A Song of Stone, and liked but wasn’t overwhelmed by it. Still, his contemporary…

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Cats Have No Lord – Will Shetterly

Lizelle, who recently dumped a noble (but kept his jewelry), meets by seeming chance with a quiet priest and a dashing, eye-patched adventurer. Together, they set out to bring the Goddess back – even if it means the end of all life. I first encountered Will Shetterly through the Liavek shared world series. Those books, if they built on the success of Thieves World, were fun, clever, and well written. I sought out books by…

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Edges – Ursula K. Le Guin & Virginia Kidd

A baker’s dozen of speculative fiction stories. A while back, someone commented on a review of M. J. Engh’s Arslan, and mentioned that her finest work was difficult to find – a novella that had only seen print in an anthology called Edges. I’m a fan of Engh, but didn’t recall the novella. I did recall, however that I had Edges somewhere in my library. I dug up my unusually battered copy and gave it…

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The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison

Maia, the half-goblin youngest son of the Emperor, is suddenly called to the throne when his father and brothers are killed. With no education and no allies, he tries to find his footing in unfamiliar surroundings, amongst unreliable subjects. I’ve seen a lot of positive reaction to Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, and I envisioned a complex but innovative, steampunky look at goblin life. A look at the blurb suggested more of a political novel,…

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The Physiognomy – Jeffrey Ford

Well-Built City #1 As punishment, Physiognomist First Class Cley is sent by the Master to investigate a minor matter. He sets out to do so with his usual brutal, privileged, directness, only to end up on a course toward disaster. The Physiognomist struck me as a self-consciously quirky story – as with Jeff Vandermeer, Physiognomist author Jeffrey Ford trying too hard to be outlandish and strange. This feels a story asking – begging, even –…

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