Domine by Rjurik Davidson

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Marek, a musician and soundscaper, is excitedly anticipating the return of Dany, a crew member on the first close-to-light-speed space trip. But who is Dany, and what will happen?

This story had a distinctly “The Forever War” feel to it, but from the other side of the coin, so to speak. Fascinating, really, and somewhat disturbing too. I really enjoyed Davidson’s vision of the near future, of how the cities had evolved and/or degenerated, and his depiction of disconnect was excellent.

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Red Letter Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Some time in the future, time travel has been discovered. However, fears of chaos ensuing from multiple potential timelines mean that the use of time travel is heavily regulated. Each person who reaches a certain age can send their teenage self one letter, to be received on Red Letter Day. However, not all receive letters.

A counsellor at the Barack Obama High School, who herself did not receive a letter as a teenager, is two weeks from turning fifty – and the day when she will finally send herself a letter. It’s Red Letter Day at the Barack Obama High School, and her task is to counsel those students who do not receive letters. There are three of them that day.

A very interesting twist on the time travel concept, and an exploration into the consequences of foreknowledge of the future. Very well written, and very much a current topic. I really enjoyed this story.

Time Telephone by Adam Roberts

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This was a bit of a weird story. So, by diverting calls around the worldwide telephone network in a certain way, people figured out how to send the telephone calls into the past. One could even make a telephone call into the future (so I guess they figured out how to do that too).

I found this story incomplete. Sure, it ended abruptly, but that wasn’t the problem. Or was it? I didn’t feel the premise was really set up well enough for the ending it got. But I guess there would be no explanation, really.

An interesting concept, but I would have liked there to be a bit more to it.

Hell Divers III: Deliverance by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Format: Ebook
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

What an absolute treat to be able to reenter the post-apocalyptic world of the Hell Divers. The first book blew me away, the second book was duly devoured, and this third book was no less of a hell-ride.

Approximately 250 years after the world went to hell in a nuclear war that destroyed the surface of the planet, airships ply the skies over what used to be the USA, unable to land on the blasted – and dangerous – earth. Now aged and falling apart, the airships are maintained by supplies collected from locations across the country by the intrepid Hell Divers, men and women who risk their lives with each jump they take to retrieve the supplies, battling raging thunderstorms, high radiation and mostly humanoid monsters called Sirens.

Hive, the last of the airships, recently lost its last two teams of Hell Divers. Unknown to them, some of those Hell Divers survived to find a new airship they name Deliverance. And they are hunting down the legendary Hell Diver, X, lost ten years ago on a mission in Hades.

Meanwhile, on the Hive, a new team of Hell Divers must be trained to continue the supply runs. But when Captain Leon Jordan learns of Deliverance, he has a new goal: acquire the sleek new airship at all costs.

Nick’s prose, particularly in this series, is some of the most beautiful I’ve come across, making this series a qualified (due to the nature of the storyline) pleasure to read. It’s rare that I find books I can inhale as rapidly as these. The settings and characters are so realistic, and the delivery so smooth, that I just wrap myself up in the world for a few hours – sans hot chocolate!

For all this is a post-apoc book with monsters – humanoid, animal and plant – Nick always manages to show that the true depths of depravity are found in the human heart; there’s truly no monster worse than one that wears a human face. I’m by nature not a vindictive person, but I really really hate the villain in this story.

Oh, and that epilogue? It had me in tears. SO beautiful.

Message in a Bottle by Nalo Hopkinson

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Can you imagine travelling back into the past to search for a specific sea shell that gets lost?

Greg, an artist and the narrator of the story, is a family friend to Babette and Sunil, who are adoptive parents to Kamla. All is fine, except Kamla has a strange condition: her head is too big for her body. In fact, it looks adult. And Greg hates kids.

The story begins with a four-year-old Kamla looking for shells on a beach in Bradley’s Cove. She’s a normal-seeming child apart from her oversized head, even down to the obsession with shells. But when Babette and Sunil move to Vancouver, Kamla is angry with them for taking her away from Bradley’s Cove.

Greg holds an exhibition some years later, which Kamla and Sunil attend. The idea of the exhibition is that people are encouraged to excavate for artefacts buried in sand. Kamla, still obsessed with shells, finds a shell in the sand.

In a hurried night time conversation, Kamla intimates to Greg that she’s actually from his future, sent back in time to locate a shell – the shell, in fact, that she found in his exhibit. And this is where things get interesting. The theory put forward is that all creatures are artists, and the shell she was searching for is a masterpiece for the sea creature that made it, as it was the first time the species had designed the shell in that way. A trendsetter – or perhaps evolutionary leap?

This was an interesting story, not only for the time travel aspect and how many so children were appearing with oversized heads and superior intelligence that a new syndrome is named (get the details of that from the story), but also the introduction of the concept of all creatures being artistic. In many ways, perhaps, a valid observation and one worth taking note of. The story isn’t always the easiest read, but it certainly is intriguing.