The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles from around the web.
Alastair Reynolds (Photo: Barbera Bella), Ellen Datlow, and Daryl Gregory
The American Library Association released the Readers’ advisory experts announce 2016 Reading List: Year’s best in genre fiction for adult readers which included Alastair Reynolds’ SLOW BULLETS among its science fiction selections.
“Golden Son” by Pierce Brown. Del Rey, an imprint of Ballentine Books.
Insurgent Darrow inveigled his way into high Gold society in 2014’s Red Rising. In this dramatic, high octane follow-up, conflicting loyalties and his own ambitions lure Darrow into an untenable web of deceptions. Bolstered by new alliances, Darrow battles to overthrow corrupt lunar leadership and bring freedom to Mars.
“Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits” by David Wong. Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan Publishers.
“Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins.
“Slow Bullets” by Alastair Reynolds. Tachyon.
“The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.
His SLOW BULLETS was one of my faves from last year. Could have been longer. Well, Frances, here’s
SPACE. Is that long enough for you? Why yes, it is. Little bit on the tiny side though. Really not a fan of mass market books, and yes, I’m fucking snobby about it. I like the bigger size, better paper and printing of trade paperbacks. (Incidentally, either/or for hardbacks. For non-fiction, sure, it goes with the territory, but for fiction, a well-organised large format paperback kinda thrills me.) This one was both small and thick, and maybe my eyes have reached peak-buggered but I swear I could not read that shit when I was in bed at midnight, all squinty and whuuh?
Finished it though, all 576 pages or something. And it kept it together ’til the end. I was about half-way through and thinking, “Where exactly is this going, Mr Reynolds? ’Cos you’re doing a fine job of leading me by the nose through all manner of strangeness.” Usually if I get halfway through having those thoughts, it’s not gonna work for me. This time it was reasonably clear where things would end up, classic Chekhov, Hell Class Cache Weapons all set up, but getting to that, and what happened when everyone did. Most satisfying.
With most anthologies, it seems inevitable that you’ll find 20 – 30% of the stories are good or even great stories and the rest are mediocre at best and shallow filler at worst. Then there are those few, extremely rare editors who seem incapable of curating a bad story. Ellen Datlow is such an editor. THE MONSTROUS is a newly reprinted addition to a resume that could fill a novel length manuscript. It’s also another home run for Datlow.
Pardon me while I wax star-struck for a moment here. Over the course of the last three decades–plus a little, maybe–It’s quite likely that I’ve read every anthology Ellen Datlow has produced. I’ve watched her grow and I’ve seen her change directions as either opportunity or desire presented itself. But what I’ve never seen her do is curate a bad story. Ellen is a rock star editor with an eye for the best stories and the best talent in the business. That quality has been consistent across everything she’s published and it remains so with THE MONSTROUS.
There are no bad stories, no filler in THE MONSTROUS. Every story is written with mastery and the kind of originality and attention to detail that gets you into a Datlow anthology in the first place. If I had to name a favorite, I would be hard pressed to do so and I’m not going to attempt that here. Suffice it to say, THE MONSTROUS was one of the best two themed anthologies of 2015 in my opinion and another example of why it’s always safe to take a chance on Ellen Datlow.
The most compelling aspects of this story are two thing: trying to figure out why these five people were choose for a group, and if these people a bat-sh!t crazy or telling the truth.
When I started to read this novella, the only genre I knew for certain it was was horror. I had also herd it was this mix of (dark)fantasy and supernatural, and a psychological horror – but I didn’t know why or what one it was primarily. Meaning: was it a psychological story where the people believedthese supernatural things were real, or what is a story where these fantasy/supernatural thingsactually were real and were driving the people crazy? i.e. Are these people crazy of not!?
I could not tell! For the longest time I could not convince myself one way of the other. All of the patients are there because they suffered some type of traumatic incident that has left them scared in some form or another, but some of these stories… Some stories, like Stan’s, were believable – extremely disturbing – but still believable to me. Then as the others – Harrison, Barbara, Martin, and Gina – told their stories, they slowly started to become less and less believe, until they were downright telling what sounded like a dark fantasy story – no way that was possible. But(!) the thing is, the way the novella’s story unfolds, how traumatized the people are, and how passionately they tell their tale, there is just enough of what feels like “truth” there for me to think: maybe these people aren’t crazy; maybe Gregory isn’t trying to pull one on me. Then I’d think over what they just said, and it would be too outlandish for me to believe was true… Gregory has to be to trying to pull a fast on me? See what I’m getting at? That’a how I was the whole story; going back forth from believe and not believing!
Each of these patients’ individual stories are f$^#ed up, disturbing, creepy, scary, and may make your skin crawl.
Did I mention that book also won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella? I haven’t read the other novellas on the list, but I read this one, and it is indeed worthy of the honor. This a gripping and scary story, with one-of-kind f%@$ed up characters, with their own f%@$ed up stories, written by author who almost drove me crazy because I was trying to figure out if the is the patients were crazy or not.
For more info about SLOW BULLETS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Thomas Canty
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more on THE MONSTROUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
Illustrations by John Coulthart
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
For more information on WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story