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.

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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.