10 SFF Works by Black Authors

Much of what has been shared so far in the wake of George Floyd’s death has been petitions, donation links, education materials for people to understand the impact of systemic racism in this country and fight it. That is, of course, so important.

I think it is also important to celebrate the achievements of black people, and the art they have put out into the world. I get asked quite often to share book recommendations, and I really enjoy doing it. To that end, I thought I would share a list of 10 science fiction and fantasy short stories, novellas, and novels by black authors that I found particularly enjoyable and/or impactful.

Please look through and consider reading one of these books (purchase if you are able, or request from your local library if you are not) and writing a review (reviews are the lifeblood of publishing, especially on Amazon).

Please also share any other books (don’t have to be SFF) by black authors that you have enjoyed in the comments! And if you do end up reading any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Continue reading

Review: The Fringe Festival

So one of the advantages to going to Edinburgh in August is that the city becomes host to the Fringe Festival. And I do mean the entire city — half the parks are transformed into theaters, every surface is covered with flyers, and it seems like every little bar becomes a venue.

I managed to catch quite a lot while I was there (most of the shows are short), so I’ll give some brief selected reviews below.

Continue reading

Review: The Royal Ballet in Frankenstein (5/17/16)

The Royal Ballet has done it again, putting on a smashing (and brand new) production of Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein.

I basically have nothing bad to say about it. The dancing was good from everyone, from the corps de ballet up to the principals. Particular commendation to Steven McRae (The Creature) for a truly phenomenal solo in Act II. The children in the production were quite charming and obviously well trained; Guillem Cabrera Espinach (William) was very cute and did well keeping up with the adults he was dancing with. Continue reading

Review: Royal Ballet’s Giselle, 4/6/16

The Royal Ballet’s Giselle is a beautiful production, top to bottom. The set design is great, the costumes are lovely and wonderfully detailed, the props are similarly well constructed and detailed – despite the fact that no one in the audience can see the crests on the sword and the hunting horn, they’re there. Of course, with the benefit of cinematic closeups, the audience in theaters could see those details, and appreciate them. 🙂 Continue reading

Review: The Oncoming Storm

Please note that this review contains spoilers and lots of ranting.

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In the year 2420, war looms between the galaxy’s two most powerful empires: the tyrannical Theocracy and the protectionist Commonwealth. Caught in the middle sits the occupied outpost system Cadiz, where young officer and aristocrat Katherine “Kat” Falcone finds herself prematurely promoted at the behest of her powerful father. Against her own wishes, Kat is sent to command the Commonwealth navy’s newest warship, Lightning.

Determined to prove she has value beyond her family name, Kat struggles to earn her crew’s respect and find her footing as the youngest captain in naval history. She soon discovers the situation on Cadiz is even worse than anyone in power anticipated. War isn’t just a possibility—it is imminent. Yet the admiral in position to bolster defenses refuses to prepare for a fight. Can Kat find a way to investigate the enemy, alert the Commonwealth, and whip an entire fleet into fighting shape before the Theocracy’s war machine destroys everything she holds dear?

The Review

I requested this book on Netgalley because I thought it was going to be a fun romp – something to relax with after a day working in the library. “Military SF with a female lead” is basically a recipe for  my perfect popcorn book.

Unfortunately, The Oncoming Storm didn’t live up to even those rather low expectations. I wasn’t looking for brilliance, but I was at least looking for originality. The Oncoming Storm cribs its entire setup from other books in the genre: Continue reading

Review: The Long Way Home (Sequoyah #1)

The Book

Moire Cameron ran to protect her secrets — ran to the heart of an interstellar alien war. Her fellow mercenaries care only about her fighting skills, not where — or when — she got them. You’d think that would be good enough.

But a false name and fake ID can’t conceal her dangerous lack of contemporary knowledge, and they won’t help fulfill her last order, given by a dying man eighty years ago. To do that she must find a reason to live again. A cause worth fighting for, comrades to trust, and a ship to sail the stars… Continue reading

Review: Gaslight Carnival by Tracy Cembor

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Margo Crestley is an alchemist mixing elixirs in the Dreamless City without a license. When the district crime lord threatens blackmail, Margo pins her hopes on someone she has not seen in four years — her twin brother Leonard.

Sold to the traveling Gaslight Carnival by the twins’ father, Leonard is treated like property. Margo scrimps and saves to buy his freedom, but the Ringmaster is unwilling to let him go. The young alchemist can only win her brother back if she participates in the capricious Ringmaster’s cruel games.

Time is running out. The crime lord’s threats are turning violent, and the Gaslight Carnival will soon be gone. The giant glowing balloons and striped carnival tents are set up for three days only before disappearing for another year along with the daredevil stunts, the freak show, and the rigged games of chance. Can Margo save her twin brother in time, or will she be left alone to face the crime lord herself? Continue reading

Review: Company Daughter by Callan Primer

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A girl. A saucepan. A plan to conquer the universe.

Aleta Dinesen doesn’t see the point of hanging around home, not when she can cook a mean paella. But her plan to conquer the universe one meal at a time runs afoul of her overprotective father, commander of a tough mercenary company. And when he puts his foot down, he’s got the firepower to back it up.

Undeterred, Aleta escapes the dreadnaught she calls home one step ahead of the gorgeous, highly disapproving Lieutenant Park, the unlucky young officer tasked with hauling her back. But the universe isn’t the safe place she thought it was. Stranded in a dangerous mining community, she clings to survival by her fingernails. Only by working with someone she can’t stand will she have a chance to escape, proving to everyone that a teenage cook can be the most dangerous force in the universe. Continue reading

Eclectic Reader Challenge Published in 2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So…this sort of died a slow death when school started back up.

The challenge was to read all these books within 2013, and it’s now just over a year since I began it. Whoops. But I still intend on finishing, as it’s good for me to read outside my comfort zone. I just won’t put a time limit on it.

The Actual “Review” (Scare quotes because I was too overcome to actually come up with a cogent review)

“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.” -page 53

The Ocean at the End of the Lane just is. Beautifully.

Lush, mythic, gorgeous. Haunting. Memorable.

So, so, incredibly lovely.

It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big. Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here from across the ocean from the old country. Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk. Old Mrs. Hempstock, Lettie’s grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old country. She said she could remember the really old country. She said the really old country had blown up.