Anders, Charlie Jane. Rock Manning Goes for Broke [Subterranean Press]
The opening chapters of Rock Manning Goes for Broke seemed awfully familiar and it wasn't until a bit later that I realized Anders was expanding her stories from the John Joseph Adams / Hugh Howey apocalyptic anthologies The End is Nigh / Now / Has Come. That is only to say that parts of this short novel may well feel familiar to other readers as well.
Rock Manning Goes for Broke is a gonzo over the top novel of guerilla film making that mixes up with some deadly serious militia and propaganda. Anders is one heck of a storyteller and as different as this is from All the Birds in the Sky, it's just about as good. It's short but packs a real punch.
Baker, Mishell. Impostor Syndrome [Saga]
Baker closes off her Arcadia Project trilogy with Impostor Syndrome and she swings for the fences. We get the internecine war within the Project itself, the seelie and unseelie fae are edging closer and closer to their own war if Millie Roper and her peers at the Los Angeles branch of the Project can’t get their own house in order, and Millie’s partner is wanted by the police for a murder he probably didn’t commit. Oh, and Millie’s borderline personality disorder seems to be deteriorating to the point that she’s barely holding on (compared to my memory of the first and second books – it was always there, but the stressors in Millie’s life are escalating – like the war).
I’m not sure Impostor Syndrome fully lived up to the promise and expectations set in Borderline and Phantom Pains. I want to say that she doesn’t quite stick the landing, but the landing is fine. It’s the wobbly part when all the balls in the air that somewhat exceed her grasp. This metaphor doesn’t exactly work. Something about Impostor Syndrome just didn’t work for me as much as the previous two books. It could be the pervasive and occasionally overwhelming destructive pain Millie is persevering through. It could be that Baker attempted to do just a little bit too much with this final book, but if that’s the case – it’s more impressive that she reached and strove to do more than to settle into something that might have been stronger but not as challenging to pull off. If you’ve come this far and read the first two, The Arcadia Project is worth finishing up. It’s just perhaps not as strong of a third novel as one might have hoped for.
McGuire, Seanan. Half-Off Ragnarok [DAW]
When I realized early on that Half-Off Ragnarok would not feature Verity Price, the protagonist of the first two Incryptid novels, I was skeptical. Alex was a new viewpoint character and I was very comfortable with Verity. I needn't have worried. It took a few chapters for Alex (or for me) to find the groove, but once the truth about a secondary character was revealed - the story took off in high gear and never looked back. In spite of my initial skepticism, Half-Off Ragnarok is now my favorite of the first three Incryptid novels.
POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.