Make a link, find a way…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six

THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR by Nadia Afifi

“Most people my age never installed the NeuroLync that retains an imprint of a person’s experiences—including their final moments.“

Another short story where the MC connects to another conscience, but here it‘s not a piggy-back experience of a living mind. It‘s an immersion into the recording of another person‘s death. And the subsequent quest of our MC to understand that one particular person and herself. ★★★☆☆

A little more about the story by the author

Vampire, Boss Level

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another re-read and old favourite from my teen/tween days. I read the first three books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them. Alas, this is another book were I remembered almost nothing of the plot but the broadest strokes. A monster of a book with very dense print on 599 pages, packing many parts with distinct plotlines and various stories of other vampires besides Lestat, provided backstory and a pretty comprehensive explanations of the world he lives in.

The pacing was too slow for me, but the story pulled me along. We touch down in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, visit the Celts and meet druids, finally get a good, long look at pre-revolutionary France and Paris, travel around Europe and eventually make our way into the new world. Interview with the Vampire (my review) Armand and Louis make an appearance and we meet new characters that will have a major impact in the next book of the series.

Existential questions are discussed at length. Faith, god, good and evil, relationships, love, rituals… I have to confess that I skimmed past a few of those paragraphs. Online somewhere I read a description of Rice‘s writing style as both verbose and overly philosophical. I tend to agree. Sometimes the writing was a bit convoluted as well. There were some longer passages that I reread several times and I was still unsure afterwards what she wanted to tell me. Her livelong on-and-off affair with organized religion and the catholic church will have been a major influence here.

There was a much stronger gay vibe than I remember. It was pretty clear for me this time around that Lestat and Nicholas were in a relationship, although it is never explicitly spelled out.

Parts I did not like: the fixation on the superiority of blue-eyed blond people. Lack of meaningful female characters besides Gabrielle. General disdain of women as weak or, if strong, as unpredictable (deranged and dangerous?)—why do female writers perpetuate that image? Lack of diversity.

Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. Vampire Lestat is a much broader and complicated story with an even slower pace. It turns Louis into a very unreliable narrator, as this is quite a different Lestat to the first book. Or is Lestat pulling our leg? And Armand is a lot less likable, which makes it hard for me to relate to Lestat‘s love for him. Anyhow, I liked the book despite the above mentioned parts. 

I plan to read the next three books of the series:
The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles — reread
The Tale of the Body Thief — unsure if I have read this
Memnoch the Devil — new to me

I will see how I feel about the rest of the series, the plot summaries sound increasingly bizarre.

Top Ten Tuesday — Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

Last week‘s topic / April 12: Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To (Submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)

Well, let‘s have a look at the more recent additions to my want-to-read pile and books lingering on my TBR pile of owned books….

(covers are linked to the books in Goodreads)

Seanan McGuire is definitely high on my list of authors I want to read. I have the first five books of Wayward Children lined up and ready to go, I just need to find the opportunity to squeeze them in somewhere…

Another one is Elizabeth Bear. I keep thinking that I have read something by her, alas I can‘t pinpoint what it might have been. I have Ancestral Night on my TBR pile…

A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.

I own two anthologies where she has contributed as well. And Tor offers some glimpses at her work.

T. Kingfisher has been on my reading pile for a while now as well, mainly because of A Wizard‘s Guide to Defensive Baking. My reading buddies all really liked this book.

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

What‘s not to like about that?

That‘s it for today, back to enjoying the sunshine and reading my vampire book….

What I am up to right now…

I am currently reading a rather long book, hence my lack of updates…


The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice — my paperback has 599 pages. The beginning was slow-going, but I am on my Easter break right now and already made good progress yesterday. But by golly, reading printed books as opposed to ebooks is hard work. The print is so small, I had to whip out my reading glasses and I need frequent breaks to rest my eyes.

The book is a re-read. I read the first few books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them back then. Somehow we talked ourselves into re-reading them in my favourite book reading group and here I am. Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I really liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. And I am now realizing that I almost completely forgot the plot of Vampire Lestat. I am not quite halfway and expect quite a few discoveries ahead.

I am also slowly making my way through Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. I am not sure why I got this book, but I suspect that I saw some of the illustrations somewhere and liked them. I do not plan to write imaginative fiction any time soon. But maybe this will teach me to develop a better understanding for what I read.

And I am listening to the audio of Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9) by Ben Aaronovitch. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a stellar job again, as expected. I am still so glad that we are done with that tedious story arch, spanning so many of these books and are back to more of a standalone storyverse. Connected losely by Bev‘s pregnancy, etc., but still… Love the puns and and pop culture references. Not listening much to audio whilst on vacation, so I‘ll see when I get to the second half of this…

Girls just want to have fun…

Unnatural #1 by Mirka Andolfo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Leslie, the pig girl, hates her job, working at a diner. She lives in a totalitarian society, where nobody is allowed to have „unnatural“ relationships. So, only your own species and the opposite sex. Problems ensue.

I like the artwork well enough. The story of issue #1 was ok, but didn‘t really tempt me to continue.

Fairyland meets Art Nouveau

Enchanted Living, Summer 2019: #47 The Art Nouveau Issue

by Carolyn Turgeon (Editor), Mary Sharratt, Theodora Goss, Grace NuthKatharyn Howd Machan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Photography of all things Art Nouveau—jewelry, present day portraits, interior shots of old buildings and new decorations, tarot decks, ceramics, fashion/costumes… There is also poetry, paintings—Klimt‘s The Kiss makes an appearance—, illustrations, interviews, articles on a variety of topics, recipes for homemade cosmetics and cocktails… A pretty eclectic mix. 

I flipped though this magazine twice. Some of the photographs I liked, most of the magazine’s content was not my cup of tea. Too much fairyland, not enough actual Art Nouveau.

I liked the abandoned Art Nouveau buildings…

… and the ceramics…

The centerfold is about Solarpunk Design with an interesting cityscape. That was pretty much it. Sorry.

Taxi service for body and mind…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six // Clarkesworld Magazine #163, April 2020 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

AIRBODY by Sameem Siddiqui — renting the body of someone else via shared consiousness, nice idea with lots of possibilities. ★★★☆☆

I stand in front of the mirror as I clip the AirBody headset to the backs of my ears. It whirs on automatically—it doesn’t actually whir, but I imagine that’s the microscopic sound it makes as the violet light pulses. It authenticates my identity and says “Hello, Arsalan. Your AirBody guest is in the waiting area. Are you ready?”

Winner of the 2020 Clarkesworld Readers Poll
2021 Finalist for the Theodore A. Sturgeon Memorial Award

Can be read for free here // Author‘s website

Dueling Wizard…

Taken (Alex Verus, #3) by Benedict Jacka

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Alex Verus #3. It was fun. Probably the best so far? Urban Fantasy with a mature tone. People are actually treated as adults, there is no gratuitous sex just for the heck of it, the bad guys are not cardboard cut-outs, there is a lot of grey areas and Jacka writes good action sequences.

The mystery plot was good, although the additional, final revelation was a bit too detached from the main story for my taste. Set-up for later shenanigans, maybe? 

The dueling apprentices is a fun idea and a nice way of explaining the magical mechanics of this world. I appreciated the juxtaposition to Alex‘s duel towards the end.

The tone still reminds me a little of Peter Grant, but grittier, with less focus on being funny (though it is).

This series should definitely be read in order and I have the next one lined up to read in a few months…

France meets Peru

The Adoption: CE by ZidrouArno Monin (Artist)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is alternatively funny and sad. Grandpa is grumpy and gnarly. And Qinaya is too cute for words.

She is a little girl from Peru, that has been adopted into a French family. Mostly this first issue is about the developing relationship between her and her new grandfather. Nice artwork, good story, well-done character development. Very surprising ending of Issue #1. It threw me for a very unexpected loop.

So I went into Issue #2 with some apprehension… The story was a little scattered and rambly. Very situational and reflective. I didn‘t like it as much as Issue #1. It didn‘t really shed much light on the cliffhanger of Issue #1 for a long time either and only had a light connection to it. However, the art was still very good.

And the ending made me happy. A feel-good finale.

Some fanfiction as a palate cleanser…

Tangled Destinies by Keira Marcos

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of my favourite fanfics. Star Trek AOS, Spirk, alternate storyline with Kirk and Spock meeting for the first time on Earth as 16-year olds. Kirk is part Betazoid, which leads to all kinds of telepathic shenanigans. There is also a lot of drama. Well written and a lot of fun. I tend to re-read it every now and then. This is the first story arch. There were plans for two more, but sadly they never happened. Still, good fun.

167.854 Words


I used to read a lot of fanfiction — Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes, Stargate Atlantis, LOTR, The Hobbit, Avengers… for a while I read almost nothing but. It was really addictive and I could not stop. But eventually it didn‘t satisfy me anymore and I returned to reading published novels, etc. Every now and then I pick up one of my old favourites, but I do not really go online to explore new stories. I don‘t want to get hoked again. Isn‘t that weird?