Reviews: Leviathan Wakes, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, The Vespertine

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, was recently nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and it’s appearance there was a bit of an outlier: Jo Walton’s Among Others and China MiĆ©ville’s Embassy Town both received earlier nominations for this year’s Nebula Award, and George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragon’s wasn’t much of a surprise. But Corey’s is the only first novel—first, at least, for the collaboration of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck who publish under the Corey pen name—to appear on the list, but the nomination is, I think, well deserved.

The novel is written from the alternating perspectives of two different characters, each narrative overlapping somewhat in its description of events while also retaining something of its own character: Holden is the XO of an ice mining vessel, fiercely independent but with a heart of gold; Miller is a hard-bitten detective for a private security agency, cynical and a bit past his prime. The former’s story reads as swashbuckling space adventure, the latter a noir-inflected police mystery, and both quickly intersect with elements of alien encounter, zombie horror, and epic space battles. Continue reading Reviews: Leviathan Wakes, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, The Vespertine

Review: The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate

The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate
Ted Chiang
Subterranean Press, 2007

A frame narrative in the tradition of One Thousand and One Nights, Ted Chiang’s Hugo and Nebula Award winning novelette The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate is narrated by the prosperous fabric merchant Fuwaad ibn Abbas, who, while searching through the markets of Baghdad for a gift for a business associate, stumbles upon a shop of curious instruments and ingenious mechanical devices.

The shop is owned by the alchemist Bashaarat, who introduces Fuwaad to his most prized invention: a great gate of polished black metal that allows an individual to step twenty years into the future. The bulk of Chiang’s novelette is a series of stories told by the alchemist concerning past clients who have used the gate to visit their own future selves. Eventually, the narrative reveals that the alchemist owns a second gate in Cairo that allows one to journey not only into the future, but also twenty years into the past. The novelette’s final tale concerns Fuwaad’s own journey through the gate in an attempt to correct a past mistake.

Continue reading Review: The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate