Behold: Crocheted Muad’Dib Rides a Crocheted Sandworm

sandwormfrontI got pulled into a huge work project so I haven’t been able to stick to my resolution of posting at least one new review per week here.

So, for now, please enjoy this image of a crocheted Muad’Dib riding a crocheted sandworm, courtesy of my wonderful employer Tor.com. You can find more of these great images here.

Next week: Stefan resurfaces from work to review some books. I hope.

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Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole

SodaPopSoldierPreamble: As mentioned before, I took a sort-of-vacation from reviewing in the second half of 2014, mainly because I wanted to enjoy reading for fun for a while, without having to take notes and formulate ideas for reviews along the way. (Side-note: this was actually really fun, and I recommend it to any of my fellow reviewers who occasionally feel burned out.) However, since I didn’t stop reading per se, I now have a backlog of about 30 titles I’ve read but haven’t written much about, aside from maybe a couple of sentences over on Goodreads.

So now, vacation over, I’m going to try and catch up by writing mini-reviews for most of those titles, working chronologically from July 2014 up to the present day. My memory being what it is, some of these may be fairly vague (hence my usual need to take plenty of notes) and short (hence the “mini-review” part), but I hope they may still help readers decide whether this is a book you may want to read or not.

First up: Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole!

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The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

TheGalaxyGameThe Galaxy Game is Barbadian author Karen Lord’s third novel, following the critically acclaimed and award-winning Redemption in Indigo, and last year’s well-received The Best of All Possible Worlds.

From the publisher:

On the verge of adulthood, Rafi attends the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Rafi possesses mental abilities that might benefit people . . . or control them. Some wish to help Rafi wield his powers responsibly; others see him as a threat to be contained. Rafi’s only freedom at the Lyceum is Wallrunning: a game of speed and agility played on vast vertical surfaces riddled with variable gravity fields.

Serendipity and Ntenman are also students at the Lyceum, but unlike Rafi they come from communities where such abilities are valued. Serendipity finds the Lyceum as much a prison as a school, and she yearns for a meaningful life beyond its gates. Ntenman, with his quick tongue, quicker mind, and a willingness to bend if not break the rules, has no problem fitting in. But he too has his reasons for wanting to escape.

Now the three friends are about to experience a moment of violent change as seething tensions between rival star-faring civilizations come to a head. For Serendipity, it will challenge her ideas of community and self. For Ntenman, it will open new opportunities and new dangers. And for Rafi, given a chance to train with some of the best Wallrunners in the galaxy, it will lead to the discovery that there is more to Wallrunning than he ever suspected . . . and more to himself than he ever dreamed.

Onward to the review!

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Elsewhere on the web: me!

It’s been quiet here at Far Beyond Reality, hasn’t it? Between starting to work full time for Tor.com and, somewhat connected to that, taking a brief vacation from reviewing so I can read some books just for fun, without taking notes and so on… well, it turns out that left little time to post here on a regular basis.

But, by the power of arbitrarily chosen dates, I declare this hiatus to be over as of 2015! I’ve read about 30 novels since I stopped writing full reviews in August, and I plan to write something about them throughout the dark months of January and February. The result may be just a bunch of vague-ish mini-reviews, but nevertheless, There Will Be Reviews! Soon.

Meanwhile, you can already find my early onset ramblings over at the intrepid Booksmugglers, who invited me back to participate in their annual Smugglivus festivities for the second year in a row. Behold! It is I, proudly and boldly Smugglivating! Or something.

And! A little earlier this month, I also was asked by Tor.com to participate in their annual Reviewers’ Choice roundup of the best reads of 2014. I always feel a bit intimidated by this group of towering intellects, but anyway, here’s the whole roundup with my bit third from the end.

And that’s probably it for me for 2014, unless I can work up the energy to run the statistics on who/what I’ve read in the course of the year. I’m not really feeling very number-crunchy right now though, so instead I’ll maybe just leave you with these patriotically festive New Year’s alpacas. Happy 2015 to all!

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Lookin’ Good: The Very Best of Kate Elliott

VeryBestKateElliottComing soon from Tachyon Publications: The Very Best of Kate Elliott, which is the author’s first collection of short fiction and essays. I’m very excited about this one, as I primarily know Elliott from her fantasy novels and (confession) don’t think I’ve actually ever read any short stories by her.

Also check out the gorgeous cover art by Julie Dillon, which illustrates a passage in Elliott’s novel Cold Steel.

The Very Best of Kate Elliott will be available in February 2015.

More info from the publisher:

Strong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmarks of groundbreaking fantasy author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars, Crossroads). Her long-awaited first collection showcases twenty years of her finest work. Captured here are many of Elliott’s previously out-of-print tales, four previously unpublished essays, and a brand new Crossroads story, “On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New.”

Elliott’s bold adventuresses, complex quests, noble sacrifices, and hard-won victories shine in classic, compact legends. In “The Memory of Peace,” a girl’s powerful emotions rouse the magic of a city devastated by war. Meeting in “The Queen’s Garden,” two princesses unite to protect their kingdom from the blind ambition of their corrupted father. While “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” a chieftain’s daughter finds an unlikely ally on her path to self-determination.

Elliott’s many readers, as well as fantasy fans in search of powerful stories featuring well-drawn female characters, will revel in this unique gathering of truly memorable tales.

Click below for the Table of Contents!

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Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

InRealLifeIn a nutshell, In Real Life is a graphic novel that tackles some of the same themes and concepts as Doctorow’s earlier YA novel For the Win, most notably: gold-farming in online games, from an economic and social perspective; the concept of having a separate online identity, specifically for teenagers who may still be forming a “real life” identity; and feminism and the myriad ways it ties into those first two items.

Anda is a teenager who gets recruited into a girls-only guild in the online game Coarsegold. Before she knows it, a more experienced player co-opts her into hunting down gold farmers, explaining that it’s a good thing to do because gold farming ruins the game. Eventually, Anda learns more about the plight of the gold farmers (in this case, poor kids in China working in sweatshop-like conditions) and, well, basically rides in on a shiny sparkling unicorn, saves everyone, and solves world poverty.

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Guest post by SL Huang: I Self-Published So I Could Let People Pirate My Book

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SL Huang

For today’s guest post, I’m thrilled to welcome SL Huang, author of SF novel Zero Sum Gamewhich I really should get around to reviewing one of these days. (For now, just trust me and read it – it’s great!)

Also, the most excellent Book Smugglers blog recently published SL Huang’s story “Hunting Monsters” as the very first story in their brand new Book Smugglers Publishing venture. (And while you’re there, check out their great review of Zero Sum Game.)

About SL Huang:

SL Huang justifies her MIT degree by using it to write eccentric mathematical superhero fiction. In real life, you can usually find her hanging upside down from the ceiling or stabbing people with swords.  She is unhealthily opinionated at www.slhuang.com and on Twitter as @sl_huang.  Her first novel, Zero Sum Game, was released under a Creative Commons license.  The sequel, Half Life, will also be CC-licensed and is scheduled for release in January 2015.

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