Happy New Year! New Books to Read!
The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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Happy New Year
We made it through the dark days at the end of the year and at long last it’s 2022. (Or the bright days at the end of the year if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.) We can all hope that we start to put the world on a better footing this year.
I’m going to change the newsletter to a monthly schedule this year. The bimonthly schedule was hard to maintain, and I need more time for writing and other projects. Look for it on the sixth of each month. I’ll continue to bring you reviews of books that I’ve found worthwhile, along with links to other authors in the writing community along with group promotions in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
On another front, I’ve added a large print edition of Knots to my catalog. Check it out if you know someone who likes fantasy and prefers large, easy-to-ready typefaces. Or suggest it to your library; the large print editions are popular with them and they’re probably on the lookout for fresh material.
A short story for the holidays in the world of Knots. Escher and Emeline have brought a tree into the house to decorate, and Trefoil the cat must investigate, of course. There’s something not quite right about this tree – they’ve brought trouble into the house along with it. It’s up to Trefoil to guard the house against the mayhem that ensues. If he doesn’t get put outside first.
Free download from StoryOrigin
What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
Take a Look at the Five and Ten
Ori dreads holiday dinners with her blended family (blended is far too mild a word to cover the tangle of relationships she has). She starts dreading them in July. Her Dad’s current wife only thinks she can cook, and her daughter Sloan (thankfully only an accidental relation) is snobbish and conceited. Sloan has brought home the tall blond handsome boyfriend of the moment, Lassiter. Then there’s aunts and cousins and grandmothers, all more horrible than the last.
Well, Grandma Elving isn’t horrible, but the only thing she can talk about is the Christmas season she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s, a habit that annoys everyone but catches Lassiter’s attention. He’s studying neurology, and sees all the signs of it being a Traumatic Flash Bulb Moment, which leave vivid, indelible memories of the moment of the trauma. Lassiter takes up Grandma Elving as a project for his thesis and begins interviewing her. For her part, Ori starts being drawn to Lassiter, which is bad for all sorts of reasons.
This short tale has Willis’ classic charm, wit, and funny portraits of dysfunctional families and pompous people who need their ego pricked. It’s also a cute little holiday tale, so go read it while the holiday lights are still up. (Yeah, I know, some people will keep their lights up until the next solstice.)
Buy on amazon
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Over a hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton lead an expedition that was to attempt the crossing of Antarctica by dog sled. They never made it even to their intended landing point on the coast of the Weddell Sea. They became locked in sea ice for nearly a year, and finally their boat was crushed by massive ice flows. Their journey became one of survival, crossing the pack ice, subsisting on seal meat, and finally tackling the treacherous Drake Passage to find help. If this were made into a movie today, it might be dismissed as too improbable to believe, as everything relentlessly goes wrong, day after day. Shackleton might be the modern-day Odysseus, enduring the trials set by an angry sea god. Yet, this is thoroughly-researched and documented history, taken from the party’s log books and journals and from eye-witness accounts. (If you search the web, you can find Google Earth maps tracing the route, complete with log excerpts and photographs.) This is a well-told story of an expedition through a land so alien, it could be science fiction.
Buy on amazon
K. J. Parker
The unnamed (and probably untrustworthy) narrator has a calling. He can see and speak to demons, and he can cast them from a person they’ve possessed. He travels the land, performing his exorcisms, never asking for thanks and frequently not receiving it. He does it for the love of the job, or to be more accurate, his hatred of demons. The demons don’t like him much, either, since getting ripped out of a body hurts.
When the Duke and Duchess of a neighboring country propose to have their child raised by Prosper of Schantz (who is so accomplished that he would make da Vinci look like a one-trick pony) to become the most shining ruler of this or any age. There have to be demons involved, don’t there? Our narrator goes to find out and finds an old enemy. Plenty of room here for Parker’s signature black wit and social commentary.
Buy on amazon
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The Neighbor You Don't Know Preview
After countless years of preparation Mission Terra Firme One is finally ready to commence and give Earth the answers it has long waited for, about the planet Neighbor.
The TSS Cartographer is about to arrive and its First Officer Baldwin “call me Win” Tavares believes that he might just be able to touch his hand to that rocky ground and that’d be enough for him to learn everything there is to know about their old Neighbors, the things they’d done and what they’d left behind.
But not everyone is as kind-hearted or has such noble intentions, and Neighbor holds more mysteries than anyone could have imagined. Exploring it might open the gates for a flood that threatens to drown everything, and Win must make decisions that hold his life, and that of all around him, at stake.
Free via StoryOrigin
Captain Martin and his fleet at the opposite end of our galaxy is all that stands between the emerging ancient aliens and certain destruction of humanity. Even with the help of powerful magic, the alien menace may be too much to overcome.
Elsewhere, Agent Hague chases down rumors of a secret cult after an assassination attempt on the president of the Federation’s life.
With the emergence of the long-foretold aliens, the Federation stands on the brink of destruction. Can Captain Martin and his allies hold the line? Can Agent Hague uncover a plot within the Federation?
Buy via StoryOrigin
Galactic Junk Drawer: Christmas on Kaku
Before Triana Moore because a space janitor, she spent four years at the Turing-Sassoon Technology Institute of Esthetics and Computing — Kaku.
Holidays are always rough if you can’t go home, and Triana has no desire to head back to Station Kelly-Kornienko. Against her better judgement, she agrees to Christmas dinner at her roommate Kara’s home.
On the way there, she runs into three extra-planetary visitors searching for what, exactly?
A mission of mercy sounds like the perfect excuse to avoid Kara’s family, but will it get her into more trouble than she expected?
Of course, it will.
This short story is a prequel to the Space Janitor series.
Free via StoryOrigin
Four hundred and thirty thousand years ago, the first Nephilim came to Earth in search of gold. After a perilous journey, the Stargazer, the Nephilim flagship, lands on the alien world. First contact with what is thought to be an intelligent creature doesn’t go well.
A decision to burn the surrounding grass, enrages the creatures, a large pack of dire wolves. Now, the Nephilim are being hunted, not for food, for revenge.
Wolves are not the only hostile creatures they will face. There are water dragons, sabretooth tigers, deadly vipers, and more. This is the story of their struggle to survive and create the first city on Earth, Eridu.
Buy via StoryOrigin
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