Booklist - Tor/Forge Blog

Heading_title

Close
post-featured-image

Starred Review: The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City by Jo Walton“The award-winning Walton has written a remarkable novel of ideas that demands—and repays—careful reading. It is itself an exercise in philosophy that often, courtesy of Socrates, critically examines Plato’s ideas. If this sounds abstruse, it sometimes is, but the plot is always accessible and the world building and characterization are superb. In the end, the novel more than does justice to the idea of the Just City.”

Jo Walton’s The Just City got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the December 1 issue:

starred-review-gif Together with 300 scholars from 25 centuries, the goddess Athene sets out to establish Plato’s Republic and build the Just City on the backwater island of Kallisti, known to later generations as Atlantis. To populate it, she imports 10,080 10-year-olds, among them the slave girl Simmea and her friend and ultimate bête noire, Kebes. Another of the children is Pytheas, who is secretly the god Apollo in human form. Simmea and Apollo serve as two of the story’s three narrators; the third is a young woman, Maia, who comes from mid-Victorian England. The children’s raison d’être is to pursue excellence, to become their best selves and ultimately—if all goes well—Plato’s philosopher kings. Providing food and doing the work necessary to maintaining the island’s life is the role of robots imported from the distant future who serve as de facto slaves, a not insignificant point. Five years into the experiment, Socrates is brought to the island against his will to teach the children (now teenagers) rhetoric, and that’s when things get . . . interesting. The award-winning Walton has written a remarkable novel of ideas that demands—and repays—careful reading. It is itself an exercise in philosophy that often, courtesy of Socrates, critically examines Plato’s ideas. If this sounds abstruse, it sometimes is, but the plot is always accessible and the world building and characterization are superb. In the end, the novel more than does justice to the idea of the Just City.

The Just City will be published on January 13.

Starred Review: A Song to Die For by Mike Blakely

A Song to Die For by Mike Blakely“A beautiful genre-bender.”

Mike Blakely’s A Song to Die For got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the October 15 issue:

starred-review-gif Blakely has an almighty narrative talent, so propulsive that he has readers turning pages before they know who these characters are or what they’re doing or why anyone should care. That’s especially useful here, because for the longest time the novel looks like two stories patched together, with nothing to do with each other. The first tells of Creed Mason, a has-been country-and-western musician lonely for the big time and riding the coattails of a Willie Nelson sort, who’s working to pay off an IRS tab. They rehearse, squabble, drink beer, and that’s about it; but so high-powered is the author’s skill that even a reader not fond of the milieu is still happy to go along. Even Creed’s efforts to repair a clanking tour bus make good reading. Between these chapters we meet Texas Ranger Hooley Johnson, struggling to connect the murders of two gorgeous young women and coming up against raw evil when he does. Finally, the two stories converge—they were linked all along, but that’s Blakely’s secret—in a stunning action sequence. A beautiful genre-bender.

A Song to Die For will be published on November 18.

post-featured-image

Starred Review: Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan“In the third entry in this award-winning series, investigative reporter Ryan again takes on a social issue—the harm to individuals caused by bank foreclosures—and puts it at the center of a fast-moving procedural with a strong journalistic bent. In Ryan’s adroit hands, with her brisk prose, appealing protagonists, and well-limned characters, even foreclosures can be sexy.”

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Truth Be Told got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the September 1 issue:

starred-review-gif A prominent cold case is back in play. Women are being murdered in empty houses that have been foreclosed, and reporter Jane Ryland and Boston PD detective Jake Brogan are wondering if their relationship, “right at the edge of ethical,” in his view, can ever work. When a recent parolee confesses to a 20-year-old unsolved murder that bedevils Brogan as it haunted his late police-commissioner grandfather, Brogan’s colleagues accept the confession as valid, but Brogan is dubious. Working both old and new cases, Brogan continually runs into Ryland, who’s on assignment with Peter Hardesty, a widowed lawyer who’s attracted to Ryland and arousing Brogan’s jealousy. At the heart of it all are foreclosures, which are being manipulated by a cabal of bank employees for personal gain as well as by new customer-services bank officer Liz McDivitt, who’s playing Robin Hood. In the third entry in this award-winning series, investigative reporter Ryan again takes on a social issue—the harm to individuals caused by bank foreclosures—and puts it at the center of a fast-moving procedural with a strong journalistic bent. In Ryan’s adroit hands, with her brisk prose, appealing protagonists, and well-limned characters, even foreclosures can be sexy.

Truth Be Told will be published on October 7.

post-featured-image

Starred Review: California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout“The story is structured like a caper novel, and fans of stories about heists will enjoy it, but its fantastical elements make it an absolute must for urban-fantasy readers, too.”

Greg Van Eekhout’s California Bones got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the May 15 issue:

Image Place holder  of - 95 Daniel Blackland, a professional (if fairly small-time) thief, is hired by his uncle, a crime lord, to break into a supposedly impenetrable stronghold and steal something so rare, so important, that others will kill to get it back. Sound like a typical caper novel? Let’s add in some details. Daniel is the son of a powerful magician who was killed many years ago by the Hierarch, the ruler of the Kingdom of Southern California, and the object he’s trying to steal is a sword, made by Daniel’s father, that possesses the magical essence of Daniel himself. This wonderfully imaginative story is set in an alternate-reality Los Angeles that will seem both familiar (the author mentions Topanga Canyon and Rhino Records) and weirdly unusual (the city has an elaborate canal system, like that in Venice, for example). In this world, the bones of magical creatures contain remnants of their powers; if you consume these ancient bones, or the bones of magical people living today, you acquire their magical properties (when the Hierarch killed Daniel’s father, he, um, ate him). The story is structured like a caper novel, and fans of stories about heists will enjoy it, but its fantastical elements make it an absolute must for urban-fantasy readers, too.

California Bones will be published on June 10.

Starred Review: The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson“Anderson hits it out of the galaxy again: space opera doesn’t get much more exciting, or much more richly populated with alien races, technologies, and cultures, than it does in this sprawling, engrossing epic.”

Kevin J. Anderson’s The Dark Between the Stars got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the May 15 issue:

Image Place holder  of - 95 Here’s the backstory: Anderson’s The Saga of Seven Suns is a seven-part series (published in the early and
mid-2000s) in which humanity, with the assistance of a much older alien race, the Ildirans, had moved into
the stars, colonizing various worlds around the galaxy—and accidentally triggering a war that threatened
to destroy both races. The series delivers space opera in the grand tradition, and Anderson’s new trilogy,
set in the same universe, promises to be similarly epic in scope. As the first installment of this new saga
begins, humans and Ildirans are working to repair their relationship (which was strained to its limits over
the course of the previous series). A joint exploratory mission to the edge of the galaxy is meant to
represent a first step in the long process, but when an alien presence is discovered, one so powerful that it
could conceivably wipe out all life in the galaxy, the two races must come together a lot quicker than
planned. Anderson hits it out of the galaxy again: space opera doesn’t get much more exciting, or much
more richly populated with alien races, technologies, and cultures, than it does in this sprawling,
engrossing epic.

TITLE will be published on June 3.

Starred Review: Robert A. Heinlein, Vol. 2: In Dialogue with His Century, 1948–1988; the Man Who Learned Better by William H. Patterson

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, 1948–1988; the Man Who Learned Better by William H. Patterson“The research for this biography was clearly both a labor of love and a labor of Hercules, and the result is what must be considered the standard for biographies of a man who in turn must finally be considered a major American writer.”

William H. Patterson’s Robert A. Heinlein, Vol. 2: In Dialogue with His Century, 1948–1988; the Man Who Learned Better got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the May 15 issue:

Image Placeholder of - 33 This second volume of the authorized biography of arguably the most notable American science-fiction writer covers the second half of his life. In these years, Heinlein was continually exploring new approaches to old sf themes and then pushing the boundaries of the entire field steadily outward with new themes. This phase of his career began with Stranger in a Strange Land (more than 10 years in gestation) and continued to the end of his life. During that period, he battled censorship by stuffy editors, Hollywood directors of questionable ethics, and overly zealous or downright incompetent critics. He also battled a series of health problems that make harrowing reading, and that would probably have had most of us bedridden at an age where Heinlein was taking a cruise through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage. In all his enterprises, he was indispensably partnered with the remarkable Virginia Heinlein, wife, helpmate, organizer, business manager, corresponding secretary, and altogether worthy of a biography in her own right. As is inevitable in an authorized biography, some controversial subjects (such as Heinlein’s politics and his classic Starship Troopers) are presented in the most favorable light, but author Patteron also presents strong, factbased cases for those interpretations. The research for this biography was clearly both a labor of love and a labor of Hercules, and the result is what must be considered the standard for biographies of a man who in turn must finally be considered a major American writer.

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, 1948–1988; the Man Who Learned Better will be published on June 3.

post-featured-image

Starred Review: Motherless Child by Glen Hirshberg

Motherless Child by Glen Hirshberg“…this one is a spine-tingler with smart dialogue, a thickly atmospheric setting, and plenty of visceral violence. Fine old-school horror…”

Glen Hirshberg’s Motherless Child got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the May 15 issue:

Placeholder of  -20 Award-winning author Hirshberg takes readers on a grisly yet darkly comedic road trip in this outstanding southern horror tale about two single moms and their unfortunate encounter with a shadowy and irresistible singer known as the Whistler. Natalie and Sophie have been “turned” into vampires, and, as realization sets in, they leave their children with Natalie’s mother and take off on a road trip to figure things out. The story begins on a surreal note with the women casually discussing music and life as they agonize over whether to satisfy their need to “eat” or to resist their urges and go home. All the while, the Whistler and his longtime companion, Mother, are looking for Sophie and Natalie, with Hirshberg deftly switching from comic banter into tension-laced, decidedly creepy horror mode. No fangs, no pretty shirtless vampires, and no romance here—this one is a spine-tingler with smart dialogue, a thickly atmospheric setting, and plenty of visceral violence. Fine old-school horror, which will delight fans disgusted by the overabundance of vampire lite now dominating the genre.

Motherless Child will be published on May 13.

Starred Review: The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston

The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston“Whether or not you buy the premise of sentient software roaming the Internet, you won’t be able to deny that this is an exciting story. Preston sells the premise by sheer force of will: his characters are so compelling, his storytelling so persuasive, that we buy it all completely…Bravo.”

Douglas Preston’s The Kraken Project got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the April 1st issue:

Image Placeholder of - 1 Preston’s latest solo novel (he’s mostly known as one half of the Preston-Child team who write the Special Agent Pendergast series) takes a wildly implausible premise and turns it into a very entertaining thriller. The Kraken Project is a NASA initiative to send a probe to Titan, a large moon of Saturn. Because of the distance involved, real-time control of the probe is impossible, so NASA decides to make the probe autonomous via cutting-edge artificial-intelligence software. But the software, called Dorothy, malfunctions and escapes into the Internet, where it plans a reign of terror that begins with revenge against its creator and will end with the annihilation of humankind itself. Dorothy’s creator goes on the run; Wyman Ford, ex-CIA agent and star of a few previous novels, is tasked by the president to find the woman (who, most everyone suspects, deliberately unleashed Dorothy). Whether or not you buy the premise of sentient software roaming the Internet, you won’t be able to deny that this is an exciting story. Preston sells the premise by sheer force of will: his characters are so compelling, his storytelling so persuasive, that we buy it all completely, at least as long as we’re inside the book. Bravo.

The Kraken Project will be published on May 13th.

Starred Review: Transhuman by Ben Bova

Transhuman by Ben Bova“Plausible twenty-first-century medical research, the bond between a grandfather and his granddaughter, and political power all serve to make this book a must-read for those who enjoyed The Fugitive. A combination of thriller, adventure, and drama will enthrall.”

Ben Bova’s Transhuman got a starred review in Booklist!

Here’s the full review, from the March 15th issue:

Place holder  of - 29 Luke is a 75-year-old cellular biologist who has been doing research on telomeres with some promising results in mice. (Telomeres are the part of the chromosome that control aging and cell reproduction. Most cells have a limit on the number of times they can reproduce, but cancer cells don’t.) When his granddaughter, Angela, is diagnosed with an aggressive and fatal brain cancer, he kidnaps her, convinced that he can save her with his new therapy. He takes her and her attending physician across the country to a private lab, where Angela can be treated, all the while dodging the FBI. Things get more complicated when his sole funding source and the White House conspire to try and keep his research and publications under their control, relocating him, Angela, her physician, and her parents to a military base isolated in Idaho. An exciting and action-packed book from start to finish, this could easily be turned into a movie. Plausible twenty-first-century medical research, the bond between a grandfather and his granddaughter, and political power all serve to make this book a must-read for those who enjoyed The Fugitive. A combination of thriller, adventure, and drama will enthrall.

Transhuman will be published on April 15th.

Starred Review: Providence Rag

Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva“Mulligan’s character, played off the vicissitudes of his job, is skillfully layered and engaging. DeSilva, who worked for decades at the AP, won an Edgar for Best First Novel for Rogue Island (2010). He knows of what he writes.”

Bruce DeSilva’s Providence Rag got a starred review in Booklist!*

Here’s the full review, from the February 15th issue:

Image Placeholder of - 86 The third entry in this gritty newspaper series spans 20 years, from 1992 to 2012, at the start of which a teenage male commits five gruesome murders, is imprisoned for them, and, years later, becomes the center of a campaign to free prisoners convicted as juveniles. Liam Mulligan, the series hero, is a longtime newspaperman for a Providence, Rhode Island, paper who has witnessed the reduction of resources and the firings of friends, all the while still loving the imperiled business. Mulligan’s coverage of the murders in 1992 was partially responsible for finding the killer. Under the state’s criminal code, the killer should have been released at age 21, but creative fiddling has kept this killer safely behind bars. The son of the paper’s publisher wants to launch an investigation into what he sees as corruption, making the killer’s freedom a looming possibility. The ethical dilemma seems a bit forced, but it does raise the possibility of more mayhem to come. But there is real suspense here. And Mulligan’s character, played off the vicissitudes of
his job, is skillfully layered and engaging. DeSilva, who worked for decades at the AP, won an Edgar for Best First Novel for Rogue Island (2010). He knows of what he writes.

Providence Rag will be published on March 11th.

Booklist is a subscription-only publication.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.