Tag Archives: Russia

[GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY] Ian Hocking on Recreating the Past: What the Hell Do I Know?

Ian Hocking is the author of three science fiction novels in the Saskia Brandt series: Déjà Vu (winner of the 2011 Red Adept Reviews Award for Science Fiction), Flashback, and now The Amber Rooms. He is represented by Kneerim, Williams and Bloom. By day, he is an experimental psychologist. Like all British people, he lives in London, and probably does know that friend/relative of yours who also lives in London.

What the hell do I know? Ian Hocking on recreating the past

I have three problems. One, I’m not a woman. Two, I have never traveled in time backwards – only forwards, boringly. Three, my experience of Russia is largely confined to a mafia-run souvenir shop in St Petersburg.

The heroine of my first two novels – Déjà Vu and Flashback – is a woman called Saskia Brandt. She travels in time – backwards. And she has been living in Russia since April of 1905, when book three, The Amber Rooms, begins. She will probably crop up in further installments, given that the series is called The Saskia Brandt Series. (I wouldn’t call that a dead cert, however. British readers will be aware of the Scottish TV crime drama Taggart, which continued long after the Jim Taggart of the title had popped his wee clogs.)

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REVIEW: Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick

REVIEW SUMMARY: A rollicking, weird ride through a vibrant, post-apocalyptic world.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Darger and Surplus are con-men following rumors of a secret library. Their plans hit a few snags, and they end up caught in a vast conspiracy of mad straniks, Russian aristocrazy and human-hating android relics.

PROS: The writing is brilliant; the text has a distinctly Russian flavor, without being colloquial; the setting is one-of-a-kind; tropes are skewered left and right.
CONS: It is intense and decidedly weird; if you like traditional SF, this book is not for you; an erotic scene between a genetically-modified dogman and an engineered human that provokes…some uncertainty.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a love-it-or-hate-it book, the literary equivalent of Turkish coffee: intense, rich and complex.
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