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Smashwords book reviews by Eric Hinkle
- Dark Lighthouse
on Oct. 10, 2010
Another great story by Micah Hogarth in the Stardancer series, this has the feel of a shorter episode in a larger tale, which is the closest thing to a flaw that I can see in it.
Yet this is a minor complaint at most -- this story does a great job of revealing some of the setting background in the form of a conversation between the (gengineered feline) ship's commander Taylitha and the (human) base commander. The ship stops off for repairs, the two officers meet and discover a mutual love of swordsmanship (including an incredibly-well described match between the two!), which, to Taylitha's confusion, threatens to lead to something more...
Really a wonderful short romance, showing both the alienness of Micah's Pelted races and the things they share in common with their human makers, and I hope that one day it will become part of a longer story.
- Spots the Space Marine: Defense of the Fiddler
on Oct. 15, 2010
Truly a different sort of military SF story, memorable for all the good reasons. It has captivating characters and a memorable setting, and is all the more amazing for Micah's ability to do this with what reads almost like a movie script. How does she do it?
on Oct. 15, 2010
Another great Jokka story. Quick, short and sweet, and yet it packs an amazing amount of characterization and setting detail into an amazing story.
- Freedom, Spiced and Drunk
on Oct. 15, 2010
Another great Jokka story, focusing on their society and how it's been shaped by their odd biology. I especially like how Micah avoids simple good versus bad conflicts. Reading this, one understands why the Jokka culture has such strict gender roles, as well as why Kedill does what she does to escape her fate.
- Money for Sorrow, Made Joy
on Oct. 15, 2010
Short, not a wasted word, and done through a truly alien yet understandable viewpoint, this is classic Micah Hogarth and a fine start to her work.
on Oct. 18, 2010
It feels like the first chapter of a longer story, and ina good way. Some combat, some mystery, and a nice cast of characters. One hopefully too good to be forgotten!
- Alysha's Fall
on Oct. 23, 2010
I wish I could do more than to just second Ms. McCoy's words below, but she covers everything so much better than I can. This is mature and intelligent SF, focusing on character relations. It also is one of the best and most honest treatments of the real effects of the prostitutes' life on people that I've ever read. It is not romantic or erotic at all as shown here, but dark and brutal.
It really is a great story in my opinion, with some incredibly well done characters and beautiful description. I do regret that Micah was unable to include the art that ran with it when it originally ran in some old fanzines, but that's a minor quibble.
If you like character stories or genuinely deep SF, then buy this and read it. You won't regret it.
on Oct. 27, 2010
Another of Micah's excellent character-driven stories, this one covers one of her less used races, the lupine Hinichi, and what happened to one young woman who was a little too human for her father, and how she came home again. Short and sweet and a fine look into the culture of the Hinichi, which seems to run rather deeper than the usual shallow view of aliens in even modern SF.
- The Elements of Freedom
on Nov. 05, 2010
A first view of a new Alliance Pelted race, this story tells of a young Tam-Illee vixen's attempt to save a stubborn tribe from an upcoming earthquake. But to do so, she has to go through a ritual that threatens to show her things about herself that she might not be happy to know...
It as all the usual brilliance by Micah, finely detailed cultures and alien races, and the interplay between religion and culture. A very worthwhile read.
- Rosettes and Ribbons
on Nov. 12, 2010
A short and clever bit of storytelling set among the Pelted about how one should really be careful about what you know and what you only think you know about other cultures. A rare bit of outright humor by Micah, along with the usual well-done characterization and plotting. Very funny and most heartily recommended.
- The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
on Dec. 05, 2010
Truly one of M.C.A. Hogarth's stranger and greater books, the Aphorisms are essentially wisdom stories or parables from a very alien culture and species. It was an experimental work by her, written with input from people on the author's LiveJournal, and it was very successful. The Ai-Naidar are simultaneously very alien and very understandable. Make no mistake, this is not a book that would get far through mainstream SF publishers; but if you want to see an alien culture through its own eyes in quick and enlightening stories, then you WILL want to read this.
- Season's Meaning
on Dec. 06, 2010
As the description says, it's a brief yet typically well-written story about Alysha Forrest at Christmas time. She's being heroic again, but this time it's told with a sly humor and one awful yet great pun that I won't spoil by revealing here.
More than worth the price, read it for some holiday smiles.
- Broken Chains
on Dec. 12, 2010
A Distant Sun is another great story from Micah Hogarth, and one I have longed for from, as it explains the history of the Pelted races in the universe where Alysha Forrest lives. We are shown the reality behind the idealized legends of the creation of these new races, and it is not a pleasant sight. The Pelted are still suffering from what humanity did in the process of creating them, something that both the history teacher protagonist and his lovely student Margeaux both end up understanding all too well.
Yet where many another writer would turn it into a simplistic condemnation of humanity, Ms. Hogarth rises above that to show us the good that can be found even in the thoughtless acts of the Pelted's makers. As we are told, for all their flaws, they made new peoples and cultures that saw and wondered and delighted in the universe around them, and nothing can take that away.
It's a amazing story with a heartwarming romance at its center. Buy it, read it, and delight in it.
on Dec. 13, 2010
Second is currently one of the longer stories in the Alysha Forrest series, and one of the better. It is also a rare look into Alysha's life before she became captain of her own ship and gathered her own subordinates... like Taylitha Basil, who this story introduces.
The story itself is on one level a straightforward man (well, Pelted) versus nature, as a group of newly fledged ensigns are put through a leadership exercise. Taylitha's group is stuck with a pompous ass of a man who puts himself in charge, and a strange, quiet yet competent gray-furred Karaka'An named Alysha Forrest. We see the ensuing expedition through Taylitha's eyes and learn from both Basil (the foolish human) and Alysha what leadership means to many people, and what it /actually/ means. It is service - to others, not onself. Alysha serves the group by staying close to Basil and his racist cracks and macho posturing, shielding them from him; and in the end Taylitha learns that she too has what it takes when she saves Alysha from death. The story has the usual deep characterization and well-done plotting of Micah Hogarth's stories, and is a great introduction to both Alysha and Taylitha and the friendship they will eventually share. Truly a great story and worthy read.
- The Blade to Your Hand
on Dec. 22, 2010
This is a short but very fun story set in a fantasy world with openly "furry" characters. It describes how the lionness piratess Mazalaen meets, joins, and (maybe) falls in love with a brave cheetah princess. It's very sweet and quite over the top with the action scenes; great for fans of swordswinging action.
My sole complaint is that this feels like the first chapter of a longer story and leaves you wanting so much more!
- In the Line of Duty
on Dec. 27, 2010
This story is short and sweet, a study in brilliance for its combination of setting and character. It is more than worth its price. Get it, read it, and if you like classic Golden Age SF you will enjoy it.
- For the Love of Mortals
on Feb. 16, 2011
This story is somewhat rare for Micah's work; it is a tragedy. Short and well told, it is the story of what price Distant Song is willing to pay to defend the mortals under her care and their mayfly lives. It seems almost too short to be as good as it is, or to show us as much as it does of Le'enle culture and psychology, but then again, this is M.C.A. Hogarth, and she is one of the better F&SF writers you will find.
I wholeheartedly recommend this work.
- Useless Tears
on Feb. 16, 2011
This is short but not at all sweet story. MCA Hogarth often has elements of tragedy in her work, but this is a story that /is/ a tragedy -- an immortal slain for her blood and tears, and what becomes of both her mate and her slayer will shock you if you're used to other stories by this author. It might even anger you.
It is very, very well done for such a short piece. Like so many of Ms. Hogarth's stories, this story is a precious jewel, but one stained with tears and blood. Read it and see what real tragedy looks like when it's done by a real writer.
- The Copper Bodice
on April 10, 2011
A short and magnificently dark romance by Micah Hogarth, centered on a very tragic interpretation of the unicorn myth. I'm typically not a fan of romantic stories, but this is different, both for the depth of the world she shows us and for the very, very tragic ending. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants a new take on the legend of the unicorn.
- Coventry House
on Aug. 30, 2011
'Coventry House' is a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. It works for people who enjoy Tim Powers or C.S. Lewis and Tolkien's more mature works. It works for people who enjoy seeing a different take on various mythologies, ranging from Egyptian to Finnish to Medieval European. And it works for people who like anthropomorphics, or who enjoy reading well-told stories of hope and redemption.
If you like any of that, you will love this story.
- Yew Manor
on May 17, 2012
As Alice V says, this story feels more like the first chapter of a longer piece which I hope will see the light of day. But it's very well done even as a short, with a colorful setting and characters. There are also some shout outs here and there to other fictional settings that will definitely amuse the readers who get the joke. Very well done story, long enough to entertain without being too long, five stars easy.