Rook takes place in an exciting and intriguing alternate history, where humanity shares the globe with another, recently discovered species: the Sarhacienne, or 'Sarks'. Sarks look human, but come with extra-ordinary abilities similar to astral travel, second sight, and mental domination.
Of course, these extra abilities made them useful to the vastly more numerous humans: after being used as living weapons in WWI, Sarks are a downtrodden race, forced to wear power-nullifying collars or otherwise existing in a state of near slavery.
In this dark future, 28-yer old Allie becomes tangled in a seething web of intrigue. Ripped from her quiet life in San Francisco by Revik, a deep-cover Sark agent, she is hunted as an outlaw by her fellow humans, sought after as the ultimate weapon by a one group of Sarks, and seen as the Christ-figure for another.
Which role she may play for human and Sark remains to be seen throughout the pulse-pounding, often touching adventure of Rook.
One part suspense, one part cautionary tale. 'The Harvest' is a chiller of a story that starts with a child playing with charming fairylike creatures...and spirals into something much, much darker.
And when Dakota Harper returns to the same place, 17 years later, she's faced with a choice that will shock all but the most jaded of readers.
An excellent story, and a great place to start your exploration of David Schibi's work.
A taut, engaging, and pitch-black take on the ideas first put on screen in 'Ed TV', Michael Britton's `Canceled' follows the journey of a young, vulnerable woman who's carrying an unwanted pregnancy. The twist? She's the star of Hollywood's sleaziest reality show, where the viewers vote on whether she should abort or keep the child.
As if that weren't enough to fuel the tension of the book - rife with moral 'what ifs?' - the ruthless underside of Hollywood's elite and the unexpected blossoming of love are also explored, with satisfying payoff.
`Canceled' is a slam-dunk of an intro to Britton's work!
Through the Looking Glass, Darkly...
Steven Mohan's 'Eternal Terra' is a gem of a short story collection. The 5-story package offers some tantalizing glimpses into how a future earth might look - some decidedly downbeat, while others are cautiously optimistic.
In my favorite story, humanity's been all but wiped out. Those who survived must refashion a hard-scrabble existence from the ruins, and perhaps confront a terror unleashed at the end times. Sound like a familiar concept? It might be, except that the survivors aren't the humans - but their genetically enhanced canines.
Each of the remaining four stories offer a unique, often surprising take on deep-sea exploration, a survival experiment which pushes its participants to the limits, and a story that speculates whether the U.S. will remain a sovereign state.
A deeply satisfying collection of stories that's an excellent introduction to the work of Mr. Mohan.
As a longtime fantasy reader, I've been more than a little intrigued by Elizabeth Ann Pierce's foray into `suburban fantasy'. This `sub' genre (pun intended!) of fantasy is a little lighter, a little less noir than many offerings of late.
By bringing in creatures who've just `moved in' from the fantasy realm, Pierce's `Suburbia' meets all expectations, and then some. And it does so with good-natured humor, genuinely interesting characters, and more than a dash of heart.
Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Masaman the Troll - who lives under Philly's 34th street bridge - prevents a would-be jumper from committing suicide, ending up with a house in the suburbs as his reward. Kind, but civilizationally challenged (he's a cab driver during the day, what do you expect?), he serves as the focal character in a timely fish-out-of-water story.
The plot gets even more enjoyable as Pierce assembles a cast of characters to help out Masaman's transition - a bunch of over-caffinated goblins, a grumpy dwarf moonlighting as a P.I., and a zombie-fied interior decorator. The challenge? Winning acceptance to a skeptical neighborhood - all while some unknown antagonist attempts to pin petty crimes on the new troll-neighbor.
If you're looking for a sunnier take on fantasy, this book is a superb place to start!