Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews (page 284)

CITY ON FIRE by Walter Jon Williams
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"Broadly similar to its predecessor, with the same faults and virtues: fascinating scenario, solid storytelling, mediocre characters, and a disconnected, deeply unsatisfying present-tense narrative."
Direct, independently intelligible sequel to the intriguing Metropolitan (1995), set in a world encaged by an impregnable Shield raised by the mysterious Ascended Ones, where ancient buildings and structures generate a marvelous energy called ``plasm'' (which does, though, bear a curious resemblance to John Shirley's IAMton particles). Read full book review >
TRADER by Charles de Lint
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"Pleasant but bland: Such a provocative setup deserved a more robust and animated workout."
Another "urban fantasy" set in de Lint's (The Wild Wood, 1994, etc.) imaginary city of Newford. Read full book review >

THE TIME OF MURDER AT MAYERLING by Ann Dukthas
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 13, 1996

The author plays titular hostess in the third in a series of historical mysteries about actual crimes (The Prince Lost to Time, 1995, etc.), reading autobiographical manuscripts supplied by the time-traveling or vampirishly eternal Dr. Nicholas Segalla. Read full book review >
THE WOMAN AND THE APE by Peter Høeg
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"He has made himself, in a few short years, one of the essential contemporary novelists. (First printing of 100,000)"
Heg's fourth novel (his third, the international success Smilla's Sense of Snow, 1993, having been the first published here) is an energetic fable about relations between the animal kingdom and its human exploiters—more than a little didactic in spots, but distinguished by enough wit and invention to redeem a dozen lesser books. Read full book review >
WORLDWAR: STRIKING THE BALANCE by Harry Turtledove
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"A cast of thousands with a plot to match, well-drawn if unoriginal aliens, a wealth of fascinating speculation—and scope for any number of sequels."
Final installment of Turtledove's long alternate-history Worldwar saga (Upsetting the Balance, 1996, etc.), in which the progress of WW II is disrupted by lizardlike alien invaders. Read full book review >

PRETERNATURAL by Margaret Wander Bonanno
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"The real obstacle is the seemingly interminable twiddling between setup and payoff."
Mid-list science fiction writer Karen Guerreri imagines that her characters talk to her as she writes; her latest opus, Preternatural, is being dictated by the S.oteri, group-minded omniscient, omnitemporal, telepathic jellyfish. Read full book review >
INFINITY'S SHORE by David Brin
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Indistinguishable characters, wildly overcomplicated plotting, and cluttered backdrop: as before, a combination utterly unintelligible to newcomers, and a tough slog even for series fans."
Book Two (Brightness Reef, 1995) of ``a new Uplift trilogy,'' so-called because both old and new trilogies describe how advanced Galactic races ``uplift'' younger, lesser races into full sentience and membership in the Galactic community. Read full book review >
CATCH THE LIGHTNING by Catherine Asaro
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"An unexciting but solidly crafted, and at times absorbing narrative, marred by overdetail, long, dull technical explanations, and a plot that runs out of steam halfway through."
Far-future clash-of-empires yarn, set in the same universe as Primary Inversion (1995), where Skolia's psi-powered Jagernaut space pilot/warriors try to keep the peace against the feudally organized Traders and their horribly sadistic, totalitarian rulers, the Aristos. Read full book review >
PARIS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Jules Verne
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Hardly H.G. Wells, or even Verne at his best, but, still, quite a welcome—and startling—curiosity."
Verne's recently discovered first novel, written over 125 years ago and now smoothly translated from its French edition by the poet Richard Howard. Read full book review >
DEATH OF AN ADEPT by Katherine Kurtz
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Rather too much padding, but well-handled occult lore and doings with plenty of local color: Fans of Kurtz's engrossing Deryni series of Harris's solo outings (The Bastard Prince, 1994, etc.) should find it worth a look."
First time in hardback for this established contemporary occult series (Dagger Magic, etc.). Read full book review >
FIREBIRD by Mercedes Lackey
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"A pleasant enough diversion aimed at the younger sections of the audience; pity that Lackey didn't inject some modern rigor and logic into the proceedings."
Reworking of an Old Russian folk tale from fantasist Lackey (Sacred Ground, 1994, etc.). Read full book review >
THE WILLING SPIRIT by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Something like a thinking reader's Xanth—without that series' more ludicrous scenarios or tedious, relentless puns."
New collaboration from Anthony (Yon Ill Wind, p. 1110) and Tella (Sundered Soul, not reviewed)—though the latter "did most of the work." Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Fernanda Santos
author of THE FIRE LINE
May 17, 2016

When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the 20 men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action. New York Times writer Fernanda Santos’ debut book The Fire Line is the story of the fire and the Hotshots’ attempts to extinguish it. An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. There's Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn’t afraid to say “I love you” to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his 20s who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy. View video >