Sunday, December 19, 2010

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Devil at Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237816

In 1950, her abusive father George in a rage hammered Grace Gladwell’s head one time to many leaving her in a sort of limbo; not quite dead but obviously not alive. Michael the guide lays out her choices and Grace decides the Holy Grail is a friend not family or a lover.

In 1460, Swiss mercenary leader Christian Durand sees a specter, which makes him fear he is going insane. In spite of their obvious handicap, the pair is attracted to each other. Their love enables her to have a body at times. Her periods in corporal form keeps growing. Vampire Queen Nim Wei orders Christian to escort and protect her on her trip, but he fears with good reason the sinister manipulative Undead royal has a scheme to force his odious father and him into mortal combat while all he wants is his beloved Grace.

The latest Upyr Midnight romantic fantasy is a great entry starring a fascinating lead couple and some vile secondary characters. The story line is fast-paced once Christian sees and wants the ghost of Grace and she reciprocates his desire. Fans will relish this paranormal thriller while waiting for the rest of their story in Angel at Dawn.Harriet Klausner

The Half-Made World
Felix Gilman
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765325525

At one time seemingly in ancient history or earlier the now mythical Red Republic allegedly kept some order between the industrial polluting Line and the violent prone Gun. However, that was then; now the Red Republic is a legend in which people who abhor violence and terrorism against others and the planet dream of a return as hope for the future is nonexistent.

Line Colonizers tramp west, trampling anything in their way. They enslave the native magic practitioners Hillfolk while creating their industrial revolution built on the trifold engines of religion, war and slavery. The Gun is losing the longer term war to the Line due to technological advances in weapons of mass destruction and the enemy’s willingness to ignore collateral damage to others like the Hillfolk. Psychologist Dr. Liv Alverhuysen researches the impact of the Line's noise bombs on victims who go insane. She finds one case study particularly fascinating as the scrambled mind General claims he was an officer of the Red Republic. However, the desperate Gun abducts the shrink and the lunatic just in case his story is not insane.

The Half-Made World
is a terrific alternate historical that uses the settling of the American West as a strong satire that rips the ethnic cleansing colonization and the industrial revolution polluting war machine. Not for grizzly mamas who would claim Felix Gilman is a liberal apologist, readers who relish a deep well written satire will enjoy this swift modest proposal of how the west was lost.
Harriet Klausner

Empress of Eternity
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765326645

When the moon shattered, a 2000 mile long canal ripped through the earth splitting the continent apart.

In 1351, Unity of Caelaarn. At a remote weather station, married scientists Maertyn and Maarlyna observe glacial activity that threatens the world as splinted bergs increase the danger. They are hoping to find clues to the great canal, but a budget crisis may end their research

In 2471, R.E. MetStation scientists Eltyn and Faelyna study the great canal trying to learn its secrets before the great drought destroys the continent. Confronting the encroachment of the desert, they are caught in the middle of a civil war as the hive splits into two conflicting mindsets.

In 3123, Vaniran Hegemony. Another ice age is coming as glacierization threatens the continent. Researchers Duhyle and Helkyria study the great canal at a time when local rebels want to splinter away from the one nation world government.

These three eras star scientists (and the canal) struggling with geological disasters threatening a way of life; while their leaders prefer ignoring the immense problems by kicking the issues to the future for someone else to cope with the confrontation. Rotating perspective, each entry is well written and fascinating but takes adaptation as the communications change over the two millennia. The dedicated researchers come across as heroic while government leaders are avaricious and want to maintain or gain power only. This is science fiction at its best as L.E. Modesitt Jr. condemns those who either politicize, believe or pretend that potential catastrophes (like global warming) are scientific frauds rather than take hard unpopular resolve sooner than later in this deep commentary. Harriet Klausner

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