The Sigma Surrogate by JT Lawrence

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle Edition
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I just spent two hours of my day reading this, and I can tell you, every moment was well worth it.

What starts out as a simple investigation for resourceful journalist Keke takes twists and turns she doesn’t foresee until she’s in way over her head. In a world where infertility is rife, those who are fertile are well-protected (or are they?) – and used as surrogates. Of course, surrogacy has its opponents, cue the Sigma surrogate. Also seen in this book is Kirsten, heroine of Why You Were Taken.

Full of action, suspense and with a few more twists than I could keep track of, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Lawrence paints a vivid picture with her words, drawing the reader easily into Keke and Kirsten’s world.

Windwalker: Forbidden Flight by HG Chambers

Source: The author
Format: Ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

So. Kiva has two older brothers, the younger of whom has yet to challenge a sect to join. Kiva, however, has dreams of being a windwalker, something that is forbidden to women. They are not even allowed to go as far as challenging the sect. Kiva isn’t one to take “no” lying down, though. She’s pretty sure she has what it takes. And so, on the day of her big brother’s own challenge, she sets off to complete the windwalker challenge – unannounced.

What she doesn’t bargain on is the sidi (leader) of the sect’s unbending nature, and the necessity that is reality. As she begins her illicit training, she learns of a great threat to the Bowl she lives in.

This is a fun story that is quick and easy to read. It was good to see a different part of the world of the Aeternum Chronicles, and I can only hope that I see more of the windwalkers in the next series novel Chambers writes. I also want to know whether the troubles this Bowl are dealing with have any bearing on the issues the rest of the world is having, as read about in the main series. Having read Anne McCaffrey’s PERN series, I wondered how Chambers would deal with the bonding with the kiraeen in this story, and I felt he handled it very well, really. It was clear what was happening, he set out the rules clearly, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Loob by Bob Leman

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Leman investigates temporal paradoxes and their consequences in this short story. In some nothing town the north-east US, a town that was once something, lives a man called Loob. Loob is the local town idiot. Abused at home, bullied, dumb (apart from being able to pronounce his name as Loob), he’s a rather sad, sympathetic character. But he’s a character with immense power. Somehow, he’s able to change the past.

The tale is told by a young man whose life is affected by a change Loob made to the past – and, by apparent circuitous reasoning – the young man believes that Loob can put things right again. Actually, not can, but will. One day.

This was quite an interesting character sketch – both of the young narrator and of Loob. Leman draws an excellent picture of both the former wealth of the town as well as its present decrepit, by-gone state, and does so unashamedly. Even as this story is somewhat brutal, it’s very well-drawn and a good read.

On the Watchtower at Plataea by Garry Kilworth

18586183Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

A very interesting story. Time vortices, opposing time travellers and an engaging view of the siege of Plataea by the Spartans.

The story opens telling us that the group of three time travellers are unable to go further back in time than 429 BC. During the course of the story we find out more about why… though not so much about how they actually time travel. What was interesting is that the team appears to be somewhat incorporeal to the inhabitants of the ‘local’ time, and yet they’re able to handle their own equipment.

The description of the Spartans’ siege of Plataea is vivid as well as amusing – when it comes down to the role the time travellers play as perceived gods. I enjoyed the analysis of the Athenians vs the Spartans – not knowing much about that period of history, it was interesting. But more intriguing was the other group of time travellers from the past (ancient Egypt!) who appeared to have discovered the same mode of time travel, thus creating a standoff between the two time travelling groups. To the disadvantage of those who have travelled back from the future.

I don’t really have much more to say about it. An interesting and somewhat amusing, vividly written story.

Under Siege by George R.R. Martin

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

I’ll be honest. At first, I was a bit ho-hum about this story. Don’t get me wrong. The writing is beautiful and vivid, the story compelling. But for a while, I didn’t get the end. And then, late at night, two days after I’d finished reading it, I suddenly realised what may have happened *spoilers*. And that graduated this story from 4 to 5 stars.

The story is of a mutant from a dystopic future who timerides into the past – his consciousness joins with a ‘local’ man’s, one Bengt Anttonen – in an attempt to change the course of history. The occasion: the siege of Sveaborg in 1808. The aim: to prevent Cronstedt surrendering to the Russians.

It kind of saddens me that I could not discover the name of the mutant who timerides to the past. It’s as though he’s meant to be a sympathetic, but unknown, individual. What we know is that he is ugly, but that he has emotions, feelings, and a sense of humour. Oh. And he plays chess too.

An excellent story with a surprising conclusion, I did enjoy reading it.