I'm very happy to be working with Judson. His first novel, Fitzpatrick's War (DAW, 2004), was declared one of the best books of 2004 by Publishers Weekly, who also compared it to "other greats" like Heinlein and Asimov. (I've recently discovered that Fitzpatrick's War has a way cool wikipedia page, complete with a map of his world of 2415 which is well worth checking out.)
Although The Martian General's Daughter takes place in a separate continuity from Judson's other work, there are certain similarities of theme and concerns. Judson says, "As happens in the other science fiction novels I have written, the story takes place in the distant future and yet it is a retelling of an ancient tale. Specifically, the reader may recognize the history of the last of the Roman Antonine Caesars, as told in the Augustine Histories. I re-write history like this not because I believe history repeats itself, but that humans inevitably repeat the triumphs and mistakes of those who have gone before them. "
"I have a fascination with religion that goes right back to Sunday school, when I persistently queried theological points that didn't make sense to me. When I was in High School, my father had just started studying for the priesthood, so I was exposed to nuts and bolts of theology from a practitioner's perspective, as well as a parishioner. Later, I realized that any faith I had once had in Christianity had evaporated, and I became an atheist, where I've been comfortable ever since--but my fascination with religion has never gone away. There's an awful amount of energy invested in world-building and story-telling behind every religion. It's not so different from science fiction, in that sense, if you look at it long enough. So wanting to devise a natural system that might be the big picture lurking behind all human religions was a perfectly natural step. The world behind the Books of the Cataclysm was the result, in which there is a form of reincarnation as well as an afterlife (in fact there are two afterlives, which reflect the belief of some cultures that we have two souls), and there is an almost-supremely powerful deity ruling over a lesser pantheon. Magic used to work, but does no longer. The world has undergone several apocalyptic changes, and might yet go through another one. As theological world-building goes, this one has everything."
Meanwhile, Rick Kleffel sounds off about monsters in his thoughts on the second book in Williams's Books of the Cataclysm, The Blood Debt:
"Williams is one of those writers that I suspect readers will someday twig to en masse and wonder why the hell they weren't rabidly buying his books long, long ago. That said, these Books of the Cataclysm are particularly appealing to me, combining as they do big chunks of monsterific horror with a surreal science fictional / fantasy setting and characters from the here-and-now who give us regular folks something to grab on to. Book One, The Crooked Letter set Seth and Hadrian Castillo loose in a wildly-conceived universe chock-a-block with monsters and underpinned by a couple of master's theses worth of religious imagery...Dirigibles. Monsters. Boatloads of research. What more can you ask for?"
Geoff Willmetts reviews David Louis Edelman's Infoquake:
"Infoquake is practically a cyberpunk novel although unlike the works of William Gibson, author David Louis Edelman actually knows his subject and isn't prone to making errors with understanding programmers aren't drug addicts, cyberspace and nanotechnology... Edelman has done an excellent job of bringing characters to life for a new writer. He even made business deals interesting. This is also very high grade Science Fiction, using the trappings and then adding more. "
Tomas L. Martin reviews Joel Shepherd's Crossover:
"Crossover is a very intriguing first novel. The politics of the world feel real, complicated and full of power struggle. Shepherd has obviously gone out of his way to not make this a typical android/human story and Cassandra acts like a real person would, instead of pages of existential talk. This definitely helps the character feel fresh despite the number of times a similar effort has been tried....The climax of 'Crossover' is fantastic and the fact that Cassandra enjoys being stronger and more powerful rather than wanting to be simply human is of great credit to the book. She sees herself as an improved human and that seemed far more real to me than an artificial human wishing they were truly 'alive'.For a first novel, this is a very good one and with more books to follow Shepherd is definitely one to watch."
Eamon Murphy reviews Robert Silverberg's Star of Gypsies:
"Star Of Gypsies was first published in 1986, but it has not dated in any way. Silverberg is a master of his craft and doesn't put a foot wrong. Yakoub is a great character, full of vigour, humanity and passion. This is a wonderful space opera and I highly recommend it."
Plus a review by Paul Skevington of the UK edition of Justina Robson's Keeping it Real, (USS edition forthcoming from Pyr in March 2007):
"...more fun than a barrel of angry, viagra-spiked monkeys. ...In a way reminiscent of the RPG 'Shadowrun', Keeping It Real is an example of the type of fiction that takes all of the good bits of cyberpunk and fantasy and throws them into a microwaveable bag. Luckily, with Robson at the helm, the end result is a tasty treat that has none of those nasty solidified green peas in it... This is not the SF of ground-shaking ideas or head-spinning logic. It's a book that revels in pop culture, action, romance and the nuts and bolts of cyber-fantastical fun. For those familiar with the style, it's an enjoyable, engaging read but it would also function as an admirable entry-point to those who might think of SF as being a little sterile and off-putting. Book two is out next year, and I look forward to the scene where little roller-skates come out of Lila's feet during a chase sequence."
Earlier, he calls Joel Shepherd's Crossover "a remarkable scifi debut," adding that "the novel is a fast-paced thriller with enough action sequences to satisfy anyone. And yet, there is also enough political intrigue to give this book a convoluted and well-executed plot. In addition, Shepherd manages to imbue the darker moments with the right amount of humor to make your lips curl up into a smile on more than one occasion."
"The prominent theme of Crossover is what makes a human, well, human, and what better way to explore this than through the mind of a lifelike android. It's been explored countless times in myriad mediums. What makes Shepherd's take different? His characters, especially Cassandra, they are what's worth reading for. Check out Crossover; it's a fun sci-fi thriller that is brimming with ideas and questions."
Paul also notes the similarities to Masamune Shirow's excellent graphic novel, Ghost in the Shell. What always impressed me about Ghost, both manga and anime, was the seemless integration of digital telepathy into - not just one or two protagonist's heads - but to every citizen of the entire world of the future. Shirow gave us a world where every conversation happened on multiple levels - digital images and text annotations popping up via wireless cyberbrain-to-cyberbrain communication in every dialogue. He managed to demonstrate what a paradigm shift even everyday communication becomes when we are all chipped. While much of the look and feel of Ghost in the Shell found its way into cinema in its appropriation by The Matrix, I'd not seen literary or cinematic SF deal with this singularity in verbal & nonverbal communication before. Without being derivative, Shepherd's Crossover impressed me in being the first SF (to my knowledge) to really take this onboard. That the book is loaded with sex and action sequences certainly doesn't hurt, and it's got wonderful characters and great world-building, but this was the aspect that first impressed me.
"...gripping thriller set in India’s not too distant future. Foster’s adroit touch weaves tradition and technology together as he develops a fascinating range of antagonists negotiating Sagramanda’s back streets and fashionable neighborhoods. India’s diverse culture adds a nice layer of depth to this enjoyable, fast moving techno drama."
"The hyperbole surrounding this novel seems justified – drawing on cyberpunk and singularitarian themes, it boldly places a banner for what is arguably a new sub-genre of science fiction. It may not be to everyone’s taste – fans of epic space opera or futuristic military thrillers might well find themselves uninspired by the lack of ‘sense of wonder’ and involved combat and battle scenes, and the nuts and bolts of the technologies at work (of which there are plenty) are rarely mentioned more than briefly and in passing. But in the light of recent debate over the comparative merits of ‘serious’ science fiction and the sort written with pure entertainment in mind, Infoquake sits squarely in the shifting and disputed borderland between these two poles of purpose. As an engaging fictional mirror of the modern world, written from an angle rarely used, this novel definitely marks Edelman as a writer to keep an eye on."
Earlier, the wonderful Paul Cornell, author of British Summertime as well as many other works - including new episodes of the television shows Doctor Who and Robin Hood - weighed in with his thoughts on Edelman's book:
"It stayed with me, kept on impressing me way after I’d finished it... Infoquake is a book about future boardroom battles, company tussles. Only three shots are fired in total, but at exactly the right time, because this is a thriller like Graham Greene wrote thrillers. Its setting is something I haven’t seen for a long time, a quite distant future that is nevertheless utterly plausible, and remains connected (unlike say, Dune), through history, to our own. The businesspeople in question write and sell software for the human body. The book answers Geoff Ryman’s manifesto about ‘Mundane SF’, that is, it presents a future where no unfeasible technology or situations (faster than light drives, alien contact, telepathy) exist. People are still people, history is still history. There has been no mythological upheaval (such as ‘the singularity’) of the kind that British SF culture seems to regard as certain, a near future event, the Revolution, the Rapture. Icky reality has not gone away. There are true believers, therefore, that will assert that the novel is simply mistaken. There is still money. Someone empties the bins. The world that is built is a society of humans, based on human needs, sociability, civilisation. It is not wildly far flung. It can read on first sight as being familiar, even parochial. That is because it is flung exactly as far as it should be. The thrill of the book is a thrill familiar to those of us who do business on the net and in fandom, the thrill of being a commercial (and this is the origin of the word) adventurer, someone who ventures capital. It’s about commerce and glamour, the edges and barriers created in social situations through nothing but personality. It’s conceptually exciting, the current expressed as the future and the future as a refreshing crash through the ranks of those who say there is none. The world depicted is not an ideal: it’s a complicated mess in which characters can only do their best. Exactly like it always has been and always will be. My one caveat is that when you read the first section of the book, you’ll wonder why I made all this fuss about it. It’s not the greatest start in literature. It prepares you for a book nowhere near as good as this one. And perhaps I could have done with a bigger conceptual wallop of elevating the stakes to a new level at the end. But this is the first of a trilogy, and I await book two missing the characters, referencing things in their terms (‘a memecorp like the BBC’) expecting such an elevation, certain of it. I have faith in this Mundane masterpiece."
Update: Steve at the Eternal Night website agrees:
"This book grabbed me from the start... This book though should appeal to a wide readership, and no one who likes futuristic Philip K. Dick-ish science fiction should not be put off reading this book just because it revolves around programmers... This book however is anything but boring - it grips you from the start and leaves you at the end of the book wishing you had book two to hand."
Moorcock says, “The world of the stories is mostly set against a
After praising the book for its "ass-whooping" (obligatory in books about hot androids, natch), Patterson says, "It turns out that Shepherd has a few interesting ideas about what it means to be human, and as character after believable character is introduced and becomes a part of the quilt of Crossover’s central message, the impossible happens, and the combat is made that much more powerful because you start caring about everyone."
Which is further proof that butt-kicking and head-scratching need not be mutually exclusive.