Friday, 24 August 2012
This is a clever book, with more layers to it than I first expected. After the first few chapters I was sure that Sarafina was completely nuts, and that Reason would have to slowly come to terms with the fact that Esmeralda is not the monster Sarafina made her out to be. Sure enough, Sarafina is taken to a hospital for the mentally ill, and Reason finds that Esmeralda’s house is not as Sarafina described it. Esmeralda herself seems completely normal. Then, slowly, a more sinister picture begins to emerge. There really are weird ritual objects hidden around the house. There really is the corpse of Sarafina’s pet cat in the cellar, with its neck slashed. The boy who lives next door seems to believe magic is real and that Reason can use it too. And then Reason steps through the back door into another country and suddenly everything changes.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
The stories are beautifully written. Emma Newman seems to have a touch for capturing all the little things people do that make them human, their vulnerabilities and quirks, their grief and their humour. All her characters feel completely real and believable, and it is these characters that really drive the stories. The author delivers the messages and the horror within the stories with just the right tone, subtly yet insistently, and with a very good feel for pacing. About two lines in, I was hooked every time. The stories grab hard, and do not let go until the end.
I absolutely love short stories; they’re something very different from a longer novel or novella, and something very special, too. A short story, naturally, must be briefer than a book. It has to come at the story a little differently, usually focusing more on character, building a world with the slightest, deftest touch, and making expert use of suggestion and symbolism. A short story can relay as much, and in some cases more, than an entire novel. Short stories are also a wonderful medium for exploring new ideas, for taking risks and for blowing genre boundaries completely out of the picture.
And they fit nicely into a lunch break too!
Friday, 17 August 2012
And now Tor, the SF/F imprint of Macmillan, has decided to do just that. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Tor are by no means the first; many smaller publishing houses, and even the Pottermore site (Harry Potter books), have been doing this for some time. But Tor is the first of the publishing 'giants' to take this step, and hopefully others will soon follow suit. Tor's new DRM-free ebooks can be bought directly from their online store. (The link takes you to the UK site. For the US click here)
But what does this have to do with Babel Fish??
Friday, 10 August 2012
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
The Alchemist of Souls is a fantasy alternate-history by Anne Lyle. Set in Elizabethan England, it follows two characters: the down-on-his-luck swordsman Mal, and Coby, a girl masquerading as a boy, who is working as the tireman of a theatre company. When Mal is hired to protect the Skrayling ambassador during his stay in London, and Coby’s theatre company is to act in a competition in the ambassador’s honour, their lives are drawn together. Meanwhile, something very strange and sinister is going on, something that involves the Skrayling creatures of Viking legend discovered in the New World. As Mal learns more about the Skraylings’ powers, he realises that England’s alliance with the Skraylings may be under threat, and that his own soul is in jeopardy.