Book Review: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by N. K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams

Cover of the book The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by N. K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018
edited by N. K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams
HMH/Mariner, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist on October 26, 2018.

**STARRED REVIEW** If these annual best-of anthologies indicate where speculative fiction is heading, readers should be excited for the future of the genre. The 20 stories collected here aren’t necessarily the most popular of the year. Indeed, they are selected from a wider variety of publications than the typical mainstream sf magazines. These tales are the year’s most innovative and interesting, prime examples of artists seeking to push the boundaries of their art. This collection brings to mind Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthologies, starting in 1967, in the way it showcases cutting-edge work, ranging from hard-science fiction to fantasy, to dystopia. There’s also a stronger emphasis on the eerie horror than most best-of collections. According to Jemisin (The Stone Sky, 2017), guest editor for this installment, these are stories of revolution—some literally, while some revolt against the style and tropes of the genre, while others offer revolutionary reimaginings of the world and society. These are stories to take your breath away, to make you laugh, to bring you to despair, to give you hope, to creep you out, and even to break your heart. Some work better than others, but all are interesting, vibrant, and worthy.

Movie Review: A Star Is Born by Bradley Cooper

A Star Is Born, directed by Bradley Cooper
A Star Is Born
Directed by Bradley Cooper
Screenplay by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
Based on the screenplay by William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell
Produced & distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 2018

I didn’t think I was all that interested in seeing the new version of A Star Is Born. I’ve rarely been happier to be proven mistaken.

This film is phenomenal.

I’m a fan of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, both. So perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised that I ended up spending 2.25 hours sitting in a theater, losing myself in them.

I’m not going to offer a plot synopsis or go through specific scenes. There are a couple of points I want to make, but mostly I want to offer a list of all the reactions I had watching this movie. In no particular order:

Continue reading “Movie Review: A Star Is Born by Bradley Cooper”

Book Review: Probability Shadow by Mark Laporta

Cover of the book Probability Shadow by Mark Laporta
Probability Shadow
by Mark Laporta
Chickadee Prince, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist on October 4, 2018.

Laporta’s skill with intricate world building is on full display in this first novel of a new trilogy for adults (after Mirror at the Heart of Time, 2017, for teens). He’s created an engrossing far-future reality of galaxy-spanning civilizations, populated by multiple alien races (bodiless symbionts, sentient AI, and mysterious creatures who exist outside of linear time, among others). His imagination is impressive and establishes a delightful playground for the trilogy to explore. This is a political-intrigue story with aspects of military sf and some action sequences. The main character is a diplomat and the conflict is set off by a shortage of vital resources. It’s not the typical fast-paced plot one expects for this kind of setting; that alone makes Probability Shadow interesting. Laporta’s characters are compelling, if drawn rather broadly. The plot gets convoluted and the short chapters make for abrupt transitions, but the sheer scope of his imagination is worth the experience and redeems minor stylistic missteps. The setup for the next book promises an even grander vision.