Saturday 21 March 2015

Eastercon: Easter isn't Easter without one?

It's that time again, the annual SF/Fantasy convention that is the largest of its type in the UK, and that, like a Worldcon, moves to a different location each year.

Haven't tried it yet?
 If you like speculative fiction then you should should at least spend a day there and see of it suits. Panels, readings, workshops, book stalls [that often include second hand bargains and newer books at special rates] craft stalls, food, drink and conversation, and the chance to meet with people you can't get together with every day. What's not to like?

My aim is to have fun, but also to pay back a little. Or pay forward, who knows. I owe a lot to other people in the setting. So:

I'll spend some time if I can on the BSFA table where people can renew memberships or check out what's on offer, like the excellent magazines we produce. Including the booklet with all the short story finalists printed prior to the BSFA Awards.

I'll drop in to the Milford meeting on the Monday morning to say hello, and a special thanks to the people there who encouraged me over Ashamet.

I'll spend a chunk of Sunday critting at the Writers' Workshop, which is really a Tea Party event, but I joined them for it at Worldcon, enjoyed it and am repeating the experience with them again.

And I'll look for panels to listen in on, or readings, and catch up with friends. And I'll leave some fliers on the table to warn folk that Ashamet will be out May 30th. In case they're interested.

If you're there, and spot me, come and say Hi?

Review, Hangtown, by Karen Sandler. 5* :-)

Hangtown, by Karen Sandler, 5*
published by Angry Robot

"Marooned in her despised hometown, Greenville, California, PI Janelle Watkins only wants to make enough money to move back out. The fact her ex-partner/ ex[lover is now the local Sheriff hasn't changed her mind, nor his teenage niece, who looks up to her.
 But then the suicides and 'accidents' start to mount up, and it's Janelle who sees connections."

This is a small town murder mystery with a suitably flawed heroine [an abused history plus a bad limp from the bullet that ended her previous career]

The characters are just a touch cranky, and very credible with it. The plot was very well built. Simple answer: I really enjoyed the read and will look for more from the writer. So maybe you will too?

Friday 13 March 2015

Review: Nobel Metals, by L A Witt, 4* :-)

Noble Metals, by L A Witt, 4*
published by Riptide Publishing.

Picture the Klondike and gold rush fever. One young prospector, down on his luck, is surviving by keeping bar and being a prostitute in a local saloon. Till an unusually academic stranger, an inventor no less, offers him a way to hunt the gold he came for in return for being  hired help.

But of course nothing's ever that simple. The inventor isn't searching for gold but for platinum. Still, the device he intends to use to find it will find gold just as well - which naturally puts them both in danger from any less scrupulous gold-digger.

An easy-read, gay romance plus historical adventure. The main characters are likeable and refreshingly not-heroic; the challenges are considerable, and only a slightly too easy ending dropped this from a 5 star rating. So worth a read.

Friday 6 March 2015

Review: The Table of Less Valued Knights, 4*, but almost 5* :-)

The Table of Less Valued Knights, Marie Phillips, 4*
published Random House/Vintage.

Sit Humphrey du Val, of Camelot's least prestigious table, is tempted out of his enforced retirement to help the Lady Elaine rescue her kidnapped fiance.
In the next kingdom, the new young queen, appalled by her prospective husband, decides to disguise herself as a boy and run away.

Sounds like a standard fairytale? But nothing here as quite what it seems, and the two quests collide, with hilarious results.

For me this was a 4 star that was very nearly a 5 star rating, one of the closest potential successors to Sir Terry Pratchett I've seen in a while. It didn't quite get me laughing out loud but was chuckling. So do take a look?

One for any reader with a sense of the ridiculous.