Newest Science Fiction Reviews

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Condition: Book Two - The Curing Begins... by Alec Birri

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Discovering an infamous Nazi doctor conducted abortions in Argentina after the Second World War may not come as a surprise, but why was the twisted eugenicist not only allowed to continue his evil experiments but encouraged to do so? And what has that got to do with a respected neurologist in 2027? Surely the invention of a cure for nearly all the world's ailments can't possibly have its roots buried in the horrors of Auschwitz? The unacceptable is about to become the disturbingly bizarre. What has the treatment's 'correction' of paedophiles got to do with the President of the United States, the Pope and even the UK's Green Party? Full review...

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

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When hundreds of worlds have been at war for a long time, the announcement of a ceasefire takes a while to reach everyone. It's perhaps not surprising that the worst of the soldiers using the war as an excuse for crimes, don't immediately give up. Scur, a conscript who has just been given the hope of returning to her family, has the misfortune to run into one of these war criminals before the peacekeepers arrive. He leaves her to die, but she subsequently wakes up from hibernation on a prison ship, only to discover that he is there too. And that's the least of her worries. Full review...

Condition: Book One - A Medical Miracle? by Alec Birri

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It's 1966, but RAF Pilot Dan Stewart isn't celebrating England's win in the World Cup – instead he's awakening from a coma following an aircraft accident. Waking in a world where nothing makes sense, he's unable to recall the crash – but struggles to remember the rest of his life…And what's stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage causing paranoia about the red pill, or is he right to think there's something more sinister going on…And, having suffered almost 100% burns, how is he alive? Are his hallucinations trying to tell him something? Full review...

The Things We Learn When We're Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

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On the way to a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. Waking up in what appears to be a hospital, but a hospital in which wine is served for supper, everyone avoids her questions, and her nurse looks suspiciously like Sean Connery, it soon transpires that Lorna is in Heaven, or, at least, on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. At first Lorna can remember nothing, but as her memories return – some good, some bad, she realises that she has a decision to make, and that maybe, she needs to find a way home… Full review...

Neuromancer by William Gibson

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He still dreamed of cyberspace…all the turns he'd taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he'd still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void

Neuromancer follows Case, who used to be a cyber cowboy with exceptional hacking skills, before attempting to steal from his former employer, who as a result severed his connection to cyberspace by injecting him with a mycotoxin. No longer able to enter the Matrix, Case enters a dark depression having suicidal thoughts and developing a drug addiction, which is where the reader first meets our troubled protagonist and antihero. Waiting for someone to help him escape his misery, a mysterious stranger proposes a deal to restore Case's ability to connect to cyberspace in exchange for working for him. Surrounded by secrecy, Case joins the recruits on their mission to uncover artificial intelligence and start life afresh. Full review...

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

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Brandon Sanderson is more cannon than man. He fires out more works than any other author of fantasy. Not only does he write an awe inspiring amount of novels, but he also writes various short fictions that go alongside them. And in here, for the first time, all the major ones are collected together. Full review...

Rise of the Dust Child by James Young

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An age has passed since the fall of the old world, and the rise of the malignant Dust people. Amongst the terrors of this new age, humanity still lingers within the wreckage of civilisation, held together by the promise of a better existence in the next life. But not all are satisfied by this dogma. Within the smoggy city of Fort Palmer, eight year old Doran and his friend Alena stand apart, struggling to retain the lost glory of their faith. But the unquiet dead and the forces of faith do not take kindly to those who try to fix a broken world. As the quest to save the future leads each of them down a dark path, they are cast apart - struggling to overcome the monstrous dusters and the fear within themselves, desperate to see each other again. Full review...

Invisible Planets by Ken Liu

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Invisible Planets is an eclectic collection, translated beautifully, and Ken Liu’s opening essay provides a welcome introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the genre. The stories are dreamlike and hypnotic, evocative and inspiring. Full review...

Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss

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At Coal Hill School, things have started to get public. Kids have become obsessed with a website that demands you perform risky stunts, or tell it your most painful secrets. And Seraphin, everyone's favourite vlogger, wants you to get involved. All in the name of charity. At first people just get hurt. Then their lives are ruined. Finally, they disappear. As April's fragile group of friends starts to fracture, she decides she's going to uncover the truth behind thie site herself. Whatever it takes, whoever she hurts, April's going to win. But then, to her horror, she wakes up and finds her whole world's changed. What she does next will astound you. Full review...

Class: The Stone House by A K Benedict

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There's an old stone house near Coal Hill School. Most people hurry past it. They've heard the stories. But, if you stop, and look up, you'll see the face of a girl, pressed up against a window. Screaming. Tanya finds herself drawn to the stone house. There's a mystery there, and she's going to solve it. But the more she investigates, the more she realises that there's a presence in the house. One that wants her. Something is waiting for Tanya in the stone house. Something that has been trapping others in its web over the years. Something that is far worse than any ghost... Full review...

Class: Joyride by Guy Adams

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Poppy is a quiet girl, right up until she steals a car and drives it through a shop window. Max is a nice guy, but then he kills his whole family. Just for fun. Amar always seems so happy, so why is he trying to jump to his death from the school roof? Some of the students of Coal Hill School are not themselves. Some of them are dying. Ram has just woken up in a body he doesn't recognise, and if he doesn't figure out why, he may well be next. Full review...

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

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An intellectual property no longer dies with the author. After a certain period the copyright is lifted so that an independent author can tackle the characters, hence the proliferation of Sherlock Holmes books. For many fans of the original, these books feel like cover versions and are best avoided. It is only when the estate of the author gets involved that their interest is piqued. H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds left enough of a door open to explore further and when you hire as an experienced a science fiction author as Stephen Baxter to pick up the official story, it may just be worth a read. Full review...

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson

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Time travel in any format is a tricky business. In the real world it is pretty much impossible, or we would all be reading about how people from the future kept trying to assassinate Hitler, but he managed to avoid them. In film, time travel can be super cool and lead to some mind bending adventures, but spend a few moments unbending your mind and you discover more plot holes than an entire Terminator Tetralogy. In the written form this is even worse as you don't have the visual splendour to distract the eye. The key to time travel in science fiction is to keep it simple. Or you could just ignore this advice and write The Tourist. Full review...

Invasion by Luke Rhinehart

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Super-intelligent furry aliens suddenly appear from another universe. And they've come to earth to have fun. Alien Louie follows fisherman Billy Morton home one day, and he and his family quickly come to love the playful alien. But when Louie starts using their computer to hack into government and corporate networks, stealing millions from banks to give to others, they realise that Louie and his friends mean trouble. As Billy and his family begin a roller coaster ride of fame and fortune, as well as a ranking high on the FBI's most wanted list, the Government soon decides that these aliens are terrorists, and must be eliminated. Whilst the aliens are playing games they hope will help humans to see the insanity of the American political, economic and military systems, they soon come to realise that the Powers that Be don't play games: they make war. Full review...

The Message by Yan Vana

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The Message follows an official Inquiry into the wanton destruction of a Protected Nature Reserve. The first witnesses give evidence of the extent of the damage and later witnesses identify those responsible. As the inquiry unfolds it becomes apparent that the Nature Reserve is Earth, and that the Inquiry is being undertaken by regulators from other Galaxies who have responsibility for the protection of Reserves throughout the Cosmos. Science Fiction? A love story? A study of human civilisation? A warning message... Full review...

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker

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When the end of the world as we know it comes, Edgar is totally unprepared. Still slightly drunk from drowning his sorrows, and in a panic, he throws random items, including his daughter, down into his cellar, and then he and his family eke out a nightmarish existence in the dark until their supplies run out. Fortunately they are lucky, and they are rescued from the cellar. As they emerge back into the world they see the ruin and disaster around them, caused by hundreds of large asteroids hitting the earth. Large areas of the country have been destroyed. Groups of people left alive scavenge houses and towns, turning feral, trying to find what's left to help them to survive. Edgar's family are rescued by a small remaining army unit, but he and his wife and children become separated, and so begins Edgar's desperate race to reach his loved ones, who are hundreds of miles away, before they leave on an evacuation ship for another country. Full review...

The Race by Nina Allan

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The Race alternates between our world and that of one set in a future Earth scarred by fracking and ecological collapse. In our world, the story follows Christy, a young aspiring writer whose mother left when she was only 15 and whose life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man capable of monstrous acts. Meanwhile, in Sapphire a world similar to our own yet very different, with the entire economy funded by illegal smart dog racing, we encounter Jenna Hoolman whose young niece is kidnapped at the tender age of 4. We also learn about Alex, a man who can help Christy uncover the truth behind her past as well as Maree, an intelligent young woman who has the power to change the world forever. Full review...

Ripped Apart by Geoffrey Arnold

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Qwelby and Tulia are teenage aliens, growing up in a world and environment far removed from our own. When the twins interfere with a forbidden experiment, they find themselves transported to opposite ends of our Earth – Qwelby in Finland and Tulia in Africa. To survive, they must re-establish their telepathic connection, find each other, avoid capture, and return home. They say that their people arrived on Earth 75,000 years ago, were the cause of the development of the human race, and now need the help of those humans if their race is to survive. Full review...

Ghosts of Karnak by George Mann

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The superhero market is crowded and sometimes a little boring. Who cares about what a God-like person can do when the rest of us are scrambling around trying to avoid papercuts, never mind trying to repel a rogue asteroid. The best heroes are those that are just normal blokes or ladies dressed up in some fancy outfit. When it comes down to it Batman or The Shadow are just men, but it is their vulnerability that makes them ace to read about. Add to this list George Mann's 'The Ghost', a World War One veteran who returns to New York no longer willing to watch the criminals taking over his home town. Full review...

Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane

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Hello, sweetie. And with those words we know where we are – in the company of River Song, one of modern TV's more infuriating characters. Now she's likeable enough, it was just the timey wimey stuff she was lumbered with that made her hard to live with. I would say this was a return to her side, but have we had that pleasure yet – isn't it in our future, which is her past, and vice versa at the same, er, time? Either way, five tales here bring a selection of her escapades to a YA audience. The results can be bordering on the written Who as seen elsewhere, but can certainly frustrate as usual. Full review...

Nemesis by Alex Lamb

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I'm not a great lover of back-cover blurb, but every now and again it tells you everything you need to know…if you read between the lines. Hugely promising said SFX. Hits the ground running said the Guardian. I can't disagree with either of those two statements. Unfortunately for this particular reader, it ran very quickly into a swamp of dense pseudo-scientific-explicatory-strangle-weed. And didn't live up to the promise. Full review...

The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen

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As a Bristol-area 'phenomenaut', nineteen-year-old Kit projects herself into the lab-grown bodies of all sorts of creatures. She's recently spent a lot of time as a fox (appropriate given her nickname) and got particularly close with a vixen named Tomoko. It's becoming much harder for her to leave the animal world behind at the end of her 'jumps'. Even after Buckley, her neuroengineer, signals her to 'Come home' and she resumes her original body, she has trouble giving up animal tendencies like territorialism, toileting outdoors and raiding bins. Full review...

Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos by Philip Martin

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If only those critiquing Doctor Who had access to a time machine, they would be able to temper all their responses. When Mary Whitehouse found the likes of Genesis of the Daleks to be too violent, she and her coterie had no idea the series would soon turn to a prison world, where soon-to-be victims of snuff movies are trapped in a reality-show styled existence, and a hard-done-by populous are sat at home doing nothing other than watching the feeds from the executions, the morgues and worse. If those watching Doctor Who had the benefit of foresight they might have responded to Vengeance on Varos differently. They were quite vocal in complaining about a horrific character being a trade delegate who is half-man, half-slug and wholly stupid evil laugh, and such an artificial premise. Little did they know the series would soon lumber people with Bonnie Langford, and aliens looking like liquorice bleeding allsorts… Full review...

Doctor Who: The Visitation by Eric Saward

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Have you ever given your children a time machine? No? Are you sure? What about that thing in the corner upstairs called a dressing-up box – have they never been transported bodily to the 1970s by some orange cords and wide-collared shirts or whatnot? Have they never been in a museum and put on a mediaeval smock and told they're now in the middle ages? Well adults can get involved in that, too, of course – the cast of this Doctor Who adventure had to put on 17th Century garb, and that was pretty much it as far as looks go. Yes, there is an evil-seeming alien, yes there are some control bands he makes us poor humans wear, and yes there is a giant android dressed as Death, but on the whole it was one of the more simple episodes. Still, who's to say the novel isn't much more substantial, rich and varied? Full review...

Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks

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If you were to randomly travel in time and space, where would you end up? Well, if our own battle-torn history was anything to go by, you'd like as not end up in a time and place of war. The thing is, however, the Doctor is not, for once, travelling randomly – he's been charged with carrying out errands for the Time Lords. And the most tricky of those is to go the planet Skaro, deeply enmeshed in a thousand year war, and put paid to one of the most heinous plans that could risk the universe – that of Davros to create his Dalek race. Full review...

Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion by Malcolm Hulke

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What effect do you think you'd have if you were to time travel? I dare say it depends who or what you were to begin with, and when you went and what you did. The creatures in this story only seem to stay in the same place, and do just what comes natural – but as they're giant rampaging dinosaurs and they suddenly appear in the middle of modern-day Central London they do kind of get noticed. As a result the entire place has been evacuated, all ten million people shipped out, and the Government resettled in that hotbed of politics, Harrogate. As a result, when the Doctor and Sarah Jane turn up they immediately get accused of being looters – and UNIT are just a touch too much out of contact. What is causing time to leave the dinosaurs moving around London, and what is a mediaeval man, complaining of witchcraft under King John, doing there too? Full review...

Doctor Who and the Web of Fear by Terrance Dicks

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What do you look like if you time travel? Perhaps like a lunk-headed Austrian, naked and with fizzy blue stuff all over you. Or perhaps, to the confusion of Professor Travers, you look exactly as you did when he met you in Tibet forty years ago. That escapade has had a legacy, as he has brought back a deactivated robot Yeti – and has mistakenly managed to reactivate it. Or perhaps, you look very much like yourself if you're a time traveller, for just by reading this book you won't change your appearance, but you'll be sent back to 1968, by way of 1975, when this book-of-the-series was first published. Full review...

Doctor Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton

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Consider the time machine. You probably know of it as looking like either some fancy Edwardian sit-upon machine that the Morlocks nick, or perhaps a battered old English police call box. I would suggest it can also look like a small paperback book – pretty much like the subject at hand. This reprint of a Doctor Who novel, first presented in 1973 from the series shown in 1965, certainly has the ability to take you back. I grew up with the series on TV and the books in a Target imprint, but this predates that – it was, apparently, the second ever Who book-of-the-series. In it, the good Doctor and his three companions arrive on a certain quarry-like planet. One stays in the TARDIS, only to find it and her nicked by aliens; another needs rescuing from alien mind control by a different species of aliens; and the third with our irascible hero work out what actually took control of their ship and stranded them there in the first place… Full review...

The Ocean of Time by David Wingrove

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The War for Time continues. From the frozen tundra of 13th Century Russia to the battle of Paltava in 1709 and beyond, Otto Behr has waged an unquestioning, unending war across time for his people. But now a third unidentified power has joined the game across the ocean of time, and everything Otto holds dear could be unmade… Full review...

Arena by Holly Jennings

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Kali Ling competes in the RAGE tournaments – a competition of Virtual Gaming, where the world's best gamers compete in a fight to the digital death. Every fights is broadcast to millions, and each player leads lives of fame. Although the weapons are digital, the players feel every blow… Kali Ling – the first female captain in tournament history, is famed for her prowess – but has her world shaken when her teammate and lover overdoses. Now, she must win the tournament and uncover the truth about the tournament, for the Virtual Gaming League has dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside… Full review...