I posted a while back about my plan to start talking about free (or bargain-priced) ebooks. And then that kind of fell by the wayside, as many of my grand(-ish) blogging plans do. But new year, new start, so here are a couple.
Firstly, you may have heard about John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION, which is a serialised novel being released in 13 parts on a weekly basis from around now onwards. Once all installments have been released, it’ll also go on sale as a single book (both hardcover and e), but at a price point comparable to buying each individual short. I like John Scalzi’s writing – I’ve read his debut novel, OLD MAN’S WAR, and its immediate sequel, and I have ZOE’S TALE sitting in my TBR pile somewhere. He writes accessible and entertaining SF – and while that may sound like damning with faint praise, it’s not. It may not be ground-breaking SF, but it’s good storytelling of the sort that keeps you turning the pages. And I like his blog – which counts for quite a bit too!
So I pre-ordered the first installment, THE B-TEAM – my thinking being that if I liked the story, I would order the next in the series. If not, well, £0.63 (or $0.99, I believe) wasn’t going to break the bank. And then last week, I had an email come through from Tor – apparently, I had signed up on some sort of mailing list, and as a result, I got a free copy of THE B-TEAM a week in advance of the on-sale date. Win.
And I really enjoyed THE B-TEAM. I liked that it was a standalone short with quite a bit of story packed in (Scalzi does note that it is one of the longer stories in this serial). I also liked that I was caught somewhat off-guard after the first chapter – I thought the story was going to go one direction, but it ended up going down another route, and that certainly caught my attention. I didn’t find the setting confusing, though having said that, it is set in the OMW universe, so I do have the benefit of having read previous books set in the same world. All in all, it’s a great introduction to a bigger story and I’m looking forward to following the characters on their next adventure (or at least, I’m assuming it’s the same cast of characters), and if you’re in the mood for some SF, I’d certainly suggest you give the first story a go.
Hilcia @ Impressions of an Reader is taking part in the 2013 Science Fiction Experience and she’s been reviewing a few Andre Nortons. While I’ve read a few Nortons, they’ve not been a big part of my SFF reading past. So inspired by Hils, I “dusted off” an Andre Norton that was in my e-TBR – THE PRINCE COMMANDS was offered as a freebie a while back and so I had it sitting on my Kindle.
So first off, this is not an SF. In fact, it barely qualifies as a fantasy – the only fantastical element being the setting, it being one of those made-up Eastern European kingdoms. I did some research (i.e. Googling) when I finished the novel, and it turns out that this is actually Andre Norton’s first book. I know – fail on the SFF history front.
Anyway, once I figured out what I was getting into, this turned out to be a very fun, very Ruritanian adventure. Michael Karl, the young protagonist, finds out that he is the heir to the kingdom of Morvania, and reluctantly sets out to be crowned king. But it’s obviously not going to be smooth sailing, and well, hi-jinks ensue with escapes and near-escapes, conspiracies, hidden identities, secret passages, passwords… It has some unexpectedly touching moments, and ended up being slightly more than just a straightforward adventure.
While I enjoyed the story, something struck me as being slightly off, and it was only after I finished reading THE PRINCE COMMANDS that I pinpointed what was missing. And it was that there was no women or POC playing any significant parts in this novel – from memory, the only female character with a couple of cameos played a vaguely mother-ish capacity. This made me realise how far we have come in around eight decades (THE PRINCE COMMANDS was published in 1934), and the diversity that I tend to take for granted in the YA fantasy books on the market nowadays. So yes, this book came with an unexpected social history realisation.