Bluegrass Symphony hits the right note, y’all

bluegrass symphony by lisa hannett

If you like your spec fic with a Southern flavour — lots of Tabasco, mebbe some grits on the side — then Bluegrass Symphony should hit your literary taste buds. The collection, published by Ticonderoga Publications, is the first from Adelaide’s Lisa Hannett (via Canada — their loss is our gain!) and offers 12 juicy tales set in a faux Southern Gothic setting.

Hannett, who shared the Aurealis Award for best fantasy short story with Angela Slatter for their co-written ‘February Dragon‘, knows her recipes. There’s just the right amount of fantasy in the dozen shorts here to make a very tasty meal indeed: it all looks very normal but the flavour, it really hits you.

Bluegrass Symphony an amazingly consistent and accomplished debut, and due out in August. A full review is at ASiF.

Eona: a soaring sequel

eona aka necklace of the gods by alison goodman

It has been three years since Eon, aka Two Pearls of Wisdom, set alight the fantasy firmament with its faux-Chinese setting, gender blending and superb story-telling. The story involved a young girl who has to masquerade as a boy to have her shot at being a Dragoneye — one of a chosen few who link with a pantheon of celestial dragon spirits in order to tame the weather and bring prosperity to the nation, as well as garner significant powers. I reviewed it here.

And now we have the sequel, Eona, aka The Necklace of the Gods, and it’s been well worth the wait. It’s wonderful that Alison Goodman was able to get off the factory processing floor that dominates so much of fantasy publishing these days, trust that her readership would stick by her, and deliver such a quality read. Sadly, the economics of full-time (genre) writing don’t seem to be engineered that way — the focus remains on quantity, not quality, although one doesn’t necessarily negate the other!

I review Eona (Necklace of the Gods is such a more romantic title, isn’t it? The UK cover is delicious!) over at Asif, and highly recommend it as both a stunning sequel and a valuable case study for writers looking to roll out a series.

Review: Engineering Infinity

engineeering infinity by jonathan strahan (ed)

Usually, mention of ‘hard SF’ would make my eyes glaze over. I’m the kind of tech-zombie who is happy to just press the button and have the machine do its thing, without too much thought for the how. It’s only when it doesn’t work that I start to ponder, and even then it’s a case of hard Fs rather than hard SF. So when Engineering Infinity (Solaris) landed in my mailbox and editor Jonathan Strahan started talking about hard SF in his introduction, I started to sweat. But whew – as Strahan says in summarising his anthology, these aren’t necessarily hard SF stories in the classic mould, though they do all have humanity and technology bumping heads and seeing what happens. It’s a superb collection of 14 well-crafted and quite varied yarns. One of the most technical — Peter Watt’s ‘Malak’ — was one of my favourites, along with Greg Benford’s serial killers meet time travel yarn and Charles Stross’s space zombies. Definitely a book to keep an eye out for, regardless of whether you like your SF hard-boiled or runny in in the middle, with that tasty side of humanity. My rather more considered review is up at Asif.