NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Ria Bridges! – Sarah Chorn
Ria Bridges is an ex-pat Brit currently living on the east coast of Canada, along with 5 cats and a glorified budgie named Albert. When not reading and reviewing books on bibliotropic.net, Ria can often be found obsessively playing video games, being an amateur photographer, or experimenting with various fibre arts. Ria dreams of someday writing something of publishable quality, and then finding the courage to actually follow through and try to get it published.
by Ria Bridges
The sound is loud enough to travel beyond the closed door of the training room, to reach the ears of the employees siting in the lounge, startling one. “What was that?”
“Some girl in the new-hire class,” is the reply.
A third person pipes up. “Meep Girl. Yeah, she’s got some medical thing that makes her do that, I guess.”
The first person laughs. “Seriously? There’s no such thing, right?” She pauses, considering. “Is there? That’s just so weird!”
I’m sitting nearby, quiet, half afraid to speak up because I don’t want the focus of the conversation to shift to me, cowardly in the way that I won’t say, “It’s called Tourette’s syndrome, guys, and I’ve got it too.”
REVIEW SUMMARY: An intelligent vampire/human romance set in post-WWI England.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Socially anxious and bored with high society life, Charlotte finds herself drawn to the vampire Karl, her father’s new research assistant. As their relationship grows, they find themselves under growing threat from Karl’s old master, the obsessive and twistedly-religious Kristian.
PROS: Intelligent social commentary; uncommon time period for such a novel; beautifully poetic writing.
CONS: Somewhat predictable plot; heavy use of what are now common vampire tropes.
BOTTOM LINE: It won’t revitalize the genre, but it’s a welcome addition to bookshelves that are filled with trite immortal romances — enough of a change from convention and with enough social and scientific commentary that it will keep readers engaged and entertained.
A classic vampire-human historical romance, set in England after World War I, is what Warrington sets up in A Taste of Blood Wine. Not an idea that hasn’t been done in a dozen and one forms over time, to the point where most offerings of this type are fairly derivative and don’t bring anything new or interesting to the genre. So right off the bat Warrington’s work faces some stiff competition in that it’s another vampire romance in a saturated genre, and thus, sadly, is likely to be overlooked and passed over.
Which would be a big mistake.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The how-to guide for extra-terrestrials and time-travelers bent on conquering Earth.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Intended as a guide for extra-terrestrials and time-travellers who have an eye to taking over the Earth, this book provides a run-down on the planet’s military defenses, terrain, and place in the universe, and gives advice on how to annihilate us all.
PROS: Filled with fascinating facts and pieces of trivia about Earth and the solar system.
CONS: Inconsistent audience assumptions; often switched from talking to prospective conquerors to people who’ve watched a lot of sci-fi TV; over-reliance on a hard-sciences approach to the exclusion of much biological and psychological data.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting approach to the trivia presented; educational, even if it was lacking and suffered from a bit of an identity crisis.
Intended as a manual for extraterrestrial forces to aid them in taking over Earth, We Will Destroy Your Planet takes a look at the astronomy of our solar system, Earth’s best military forces, our ways of resistance, and various other pieces of information that would be invaluable to an invading conquering force.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A coming-of-age tale set in Earth’s paleolithic period.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following apprentice shaman Loon, Shaman is the ambitious story of a young man’s journey from boyhood to adulthood, with all the associated love, heartbreak, and adventure you’d expect.
PROS: Incredibly detailed; an immersive experience.
CONS: Slow pacing; characters do not feel real until about halfway through the book.
BOTTOM LINE: A slow but creative trip into the past that’s worth the required investment.
Where most speculative fiction explores the what if‘s of the present and future, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman takes a step back…30,000 years into the past. Winters are cold, summers are late and short, Neanderthals share the land with early humans, and the cycles of life go ever on. There’s a joke about Canada in there somewhere, I’m sure…