This past week I wrote a review of the second Best American Fantasy anthology, again edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, for Locus Magazine. It should appear in the January issue, or possibly the February since I was a bit past the nominal deadline for reviews. In any case, it’s a book worth reading for anyone interested in unconventional sorts of fantasy. And it’s nice keeping my hand in writing reviews, even if only once a year or so for the magazine, and informally here in this blog.
I’ve also been working a couple expansions of the Locus website this weekend, which you will hear more about when they are complete and ready for prime time. These involve Paypal buttons for subscribing and other purchases, and one or more blogs for posting breaking news and commentary by various members of the Locus community, which will somehow be embedded in the Locus Online homepage.
With those tasks, and business trips, my recreational reading has fallen a bit behind this past month, but I can certainly plug Ian R. MacLeod’s Song of Time, a near-future novel about an elderly concert pianist who pulls a naked man out of the surf near her Cornwall house. The novel’s examination of the narrator’s life and family nicely dovetails with developing future history at the end of the 21st century, where the new technology of ‘crystals’ that capture dead personalities is key but not the primary focus of the book.
Jack McDevitt’s The Devil’s Eye, his latest novel about archaeologist/antiques dealer Alex Benedict and his assistant Chase Kolpath, is better than last year’s McDevitt novel, though it’s not as cohesive as his best works. It’s about a mysterious message, and bequest, from a famous horror novelist, which leads Alex and Chase to a remote planet where they discover an official conspiracy to hide a vast threat. The novel breaks into three parts, with the central section involving a classic hard SF solution to a detective mystery of the sort that is McDevitt trademark, but the first half of the book is meandering, and the last third, with its too-easy diplomatic interaction with aliens, pallid. And at the end, you have to wonder, why would that horror writer, having stumbled upon such a secret, send a message for help to… an antiques dealer?