Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights (2017) by Madeleine D’Este is the fourth book in the Evangeline series of magical steam punk Melbourne books. This time around Evangeline is confronted by mysterious lights streaking over Melbourne that have to be explained.
In this novella more of Evangeline’s character is revealed with more of her back story being explained. In addition there’s more adventures with her father with the lights.
It’s highly entertaining and a nicely different fictional colonial version of Melbourne. For anyone who has enjoyed the other Evangeline books this one is definitely worth a read.
The Sheriff of Yrnameer (2009) by Michael Rubens is a pretty fun sci-fi comedy that definitely has its moments. The lead is Cole, a swindler and a bit of a loser who is constantly running from debts. He is pursued by Kenneth, a tentacle equiped super able bounty hunting alien who likes to watch Cole run.
Cole steals a ship to escape Kenneth and winds up taking a special cargo and two passengers toward Yrnameer – a legendary planet that isn’t full of ads. Chaos and comedy ensue.
It’s all pretty good, it’s entertaining but not brilliant. For anyone looking for something light and fun and who likes sci-fi comedy it’s worth a read.
The Cat Inside (1986) by William Burroughs is a compilation of short pieces about cats that Burroughs encountered during his life and also provides an insight in Burroughs himself.
The book itself is short but also touching unless, of course, you hate cats, in which case it’s not going to work. The stories about Burroughs’ cats are sparse, short but clever. Also mentions of Burroughs’ love life, drug use and life go through the book. It’s also well written. It’s an interesting short book and a reminder of what a good writer Burroughs was.
Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline is a book that combines a comic convention with Neuromancer or Snowcrash. It’s catnip for people who are into recognising pop culture references from the 1970s and 1980s.
The book concerns Wade who lives in a dystopian 2044 but who escapes into a VR game world called Oasis. The creator of Oasis has died but left an Easter Egg in the game that will give the finder a huge reward. Wade and many others are after it including a predictable evil corporation IOI. There is action, 1980s references and romance. I actually started this book a while ago and abandoned it because it seemed so derivative but after picking it up again I got through it and quite enjoyed it in the end.
The book is reasonably well done and the upcoming movie based on it should be quite fun as well. It’s not fantastic, but it is quite fun.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (2014) by Claire North is a clever, highly enjoyable book. The premise is that the author is repeatedly reborn with memories of how he has lived his life. There is also a plot which is quite good. The book is well written, the premise fun and the plot adequate. The ending of the book is a little anti-climactic but overall the book is really a tremendous read and is highly recommended.
The Paper Menagerie and other stories (2016) by Ken Liu is a great collection of science fiction short stories that includes the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award winning story in the title.
Liu’s stories are polished, calm and often very moving. They also reflect his identity in an interesting way. Westerners rarely, if ever, write about things like The Great Leap Forward or Japanese massacres in China the way Liu does.
There is hard science fiction in this collection as well as fantasy pieces set in the present, future and the past. For anyone who is interested in speculative fiction reading Liu is a treat.
The Fredric Brown Megapack: 33 Classic Stories (2013) by Fredric Brown is a collection of what are allegedly the best short stories by Fredric Brown. Fredric Brown was a prolific science fiction author from The Golden Age of Science Fiction and a master of super short stories with a twist.
The short stories presented are well done and loads of fun. They are full of clever ideas and twists. Apparently Neil Gaiman, Phillip K Dick, Robert Heinlein and Stephen King were all fans of Brown, after reading some of his short stories it’s apparent why.