But there are stories where the math is simultaneously central to the story, while also speculative enough to count as genre. . . . [Like] Robert Heinlein’s “—And He Built a Crooked House,” where a design based on a 3D projection of a four-dimensional shape actually shifts to an upper dimension during a minor earthquake.
Mathematical fiction! For a math geek who is also a literature geek, this is the sensation of geek squared. Read my full essay at AE.
There’s something terribly askew in Dave Eggers’ fictional high-tech giant, and you can read all about it in my Free Press review.
You can tell that Ashes of Candesce is a series finale. The heroes of the four previous books all come together for the first time. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. And almost every dangling plot thread, including some from the very first book, is finally tied off. If you weren’t entirely sure if the saga was finished or not, the book is capped with an epilogue for good measure.
Read my final Virga review at AE.
With book two of Virga, we pick up directly where we left off in the previous book, at least in one sense. . . . [But] [i]f Sun of Suns was sci-fi Treasure Island, with elements of coming-of-age, saving the day, and finding the long-lost pirate hoard, then Queen of Candesce is Henry VIII or Julius Caesar. . . . It’s a tale of intrigue and courtly politics, unlikely alliances and sudden reversals of fortune.
I forgot to post this, apparently. I’ve had the draft with the pointer to AE sitting here since June. Since my final Virga review goes up next week, here, belatedly, is Book Two.
In four books Schroeder has had four completely different main characters, in four completely different locales within Virga, with four completely different (immediate) plots. There’s a larger story, but Schroeder has almost been building it up by sonar. We’ve been getting a sense of larger, looming events by a series of glancing blows — collisions between our many protagonists and the greater story, as they pursue their own ends. But with Book Four, The Sunless Countries, one gets the distinct impression that we’re almost at the main event.
Read all about it at AE. One more Virga book to go.
When Alexander Morgan Woods was 10 years old, he was hit on the head by a meteorite. It passed through his roof as if it were papier-maché and split open his skull like it was a soft-boiled egg. But that’s not the most important part of the story. What matters is what came after.
Because after any tramautic event, life goes on and we keep pushing forward, bearing every bruise and scar we collect along the way. Read the rest of my review at the Winnipeg Free Press, and perhaps you’ll decide you want to read the book as well.
“They had provided him with two torturers today.” With this, probably one of the greatest opening lines in literary history, Schroeder sets the stage as quickly as possible, and then we are right in the thick of it. An action-packed jailbreak precedes a novel-length journey for home, through foreign lands, an ongoing war, and the machinations of a larger extra-terrestrial plot the Admiral’s only seen hints of.
My full review of the third Virga book is up now at AESciFi.
These are the opening chapters of Helene Wecker’s literary debut, and they’re doozies. Perhaps the most famous beast of Jewish folklore is paired with a creature right out of the Arabian Nights. And they’re re-imagined as developed, human-like characters. It’s an unusual combination, to say the least.
Read my review at the Free Press.
The Human Division isn’t a spoof or a straight-up comedy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be funny. It is set in a future wherein hundreds of technologically similar alien races are fighting each other. Humanity is, in this universe, forever on the brink of extinction.
Read the full review in the Free Press.
The working out of the physics is one of the great joys of this novel. The combination of a microgravity environment that nevertheless contains a breathable atmosphere makes for some fascinating possibilities, and Schroeder takes us through them one by one. But it’s also a rip-roaring story.
I’ll be covering Karl Schroeder’s complete Virga series at AE over the next several months. Read along with me, starting with this one.