A young woman in private practice after being cast out of the academy in disgrace, is hired by a partner in a major firm to assist in a post bankruptcy restructuring of a global entity, but a range of opponents both old and new are arrayed against her. Oh and the practice is wizardry, the academy was above the clouds, and the entity being restructured is a god.
A loyal commander teams up with a traitorous general to crush a rebellion through a combination of super advanced weapons and manipulation of the calender.
Weird is easy. Believably, coherently and off-puttingly weird is much harder…
A member of the filth finds his calling as the police’s newest, and nearly only, wizard.
Peter Grant is not your typical urban fantasy protagonist. For starters he’s a cop, and an extremely junior one at that. More importantly, at the beginning of the series, not a very good cop: better than a hanger, but lacking in the instincts and discipline that would make him stand out. He’s also black, which matter less then it might have in the past, but certainly carries varying degrees of baggage in the Police, London, and England respectively.
Now we get to the category where I can actually seem vaguely competent because I’ve read most of them before. As you would hope, this is an extremely strong category, and my only regret is that I didn’t have time to read more books in these series.
As mentioned before this is not strictly a Hugo category, it just uses the same voting system with the same electorate and is given out at the same time. It’s also an odd duck, as novels duke it out with short stories and mixtures of both. Still, the Campbell Award often ends up being my favourite slate – in previous years I have preferred the novels represented here to those in the novel category.
I loved Old Man’s War, became increasingly disillusioned as the series went on, then jumped off the Scalzi train with Redshirts, which was a great idea of a book that I just hated. Still, my residual goodwill for that first book was enough to get me to try his new space opera, and while not an instant classic like Old Man’s War, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book.
This should have been a slam dunk: an intergalactic agent fights terrorists and negotiates with aliens while accompanied by a pet shuriken at the behest of an immortal Japanese administrator working for a superintellegent AI. Furthermore it comes with an impressive pedigree, as the first of over a dozen polity novels by Neal Asher. Unfortunately it’s just kind of there, not bad, but inferior to similar books such as Altered Carbon or most of the Culture novels.
The problem with Among Thieves is that it is two great novels fighting against each other to make one merely good book. Drothe is a classic lovable rogue; he’s an information dealer with interesting relatives, a homicidal best friend, and a bit of an attitude. The parts of the story where he interacts with his informants, navigates the obligations of the kin (fantasy mob), and tries to avoid being knifed are amongst the best examples of a fantasy underworld I’ve seen. At the same time, the high fantasy story of an empire ruled by a triumvirate of serially reincarnating emperors who are becoming erratic and beginning to hate each other hold endless promise.
In the current climate it is very easy to focus on the big picture of the Handmaid’s tale: a take over of the US by religious fanatics leads to the wholesale oppression of women. This would however, be a disservice to what is an incredibly personal tale. At its heart, this is a book about what happens when you treat people as things, and what people in that position will do to survive. By focusing the story down to one person, the misogyny in the Handmaid’s tale expands beyond its setting to stand in for the depredations leveled against women in the past, present, and most distressingly, the future.