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Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Nanoreviews: Into the Drowning Deep, Treachery's Tools, The Wrong Stars
Grant, Mira. Into the Drowning Deep [Orbit, 2017]
Forget everything you think you know about mermaids. This isn't a Disney movie and there's nothing cute about this novel. In her 6 Books Interview with Nerds of a Feather, Mira Grant said that Into the Drowning Deep "does for mermaids what Jurassic Park did for velociraptors." Reader, it does. These mermaids are terrifying, compelling, and all too plausible as Mira Grant spins the story. Into the Drowning Deep is the sort of novel you need to read one more page, one more chapter, and keep reading deep into the night. Into the the Drowning Deep rocketed up my list of the best novels of 2017. It's terrifyingly good.
Modesitt, Jr, L.E. Treachery's Tools [Tor, 2016]
This tenth volume in the Imager Portfolio picks up some thirteen years after Madness in Solidar (my review). Alastar's command of the Collegium is fully established, he is married with a ten year old daughter, but the threats to the Collegium and the stability of the nation have not lessened. There are plots to upend hundreds of years of legal structure to restore ancient power to landholders and reduce power to everyone else. This is a Modesitt novel and that means deliberate pacing with much of the drama built up piece by piece through the every day lives of the characters. Like Madness in Solidar, when the plotting comes to a head we have explosive action. As with many Modesitt heroes, Alastar does not act until he absolutely has to - though he is a bit more threatening and just tired of everyone's crap in Treachery's Tools than he was in the previous novel. Treachery's Tools is a solid Modesitt novel. You know what you're going to get and Modesitt delivers.
Pratt, Tim. The Wrong Stars [Angry Robot, 2017]
The Wrong Stars is a charming and breezy space opera with some big action, a looming galactic threat, and a whole lot of fun. The Wrong Stars is reminiscent of the science fiction of Becky Chambers and John Scalzi. Pratt has that smooth and easy storytelling down and there's no real barrier to entry here. There are a few downsides. First, there's the opening moves to a sex scene that borders on the absurd and I think firmly lands in the bad sex category, though I'll acknowledge that I may not know what a good sex scene looks like. Pratt is also a bit over the top with casual pop culture references that are apparently holding up 500 years in our future. Some of those are overt and part of the storytelling, others are throwaway reference lines that distract from the otherwise good job Pratt is doing. Those are both minor quibbles. As a whole, The Wrong Stars is a delightful space opera and I'm excited to read what comes next.
POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Writer / Editor of the mostly defunct Adventures in Reading since 2004. Minnesotan.