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Worlds Without End Blog

RYO Review: Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress Posted at 11:29 AM by Sue Bricknell

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Nancy KressRYO_headerBeggars in Spain won a number of awards when it was first published, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella, so I was expecting quite a lot going in. I was not disappointed. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I devoured this book and was constantly delighted by the ‘hard’ Science Fiction on display.

The premise sounds very intriguing: an exploration of the strains placed upon American society by the development by a group that is unquestionably not “created equal”. I mention the Declaration of Independence here, because it is a cornerstone for much of the political and sociological debate in the book. The concepts of freedom, responsibility, equality and community are explored in depth throughout the story and the characters repeatedly refer to the Declaration of Independence as well as the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. I found this far more interesting than I would have imagined, because it sounds like it would be rather dry and dull. However, the author keeps such discourse to a minimum and presents the arguments in such a way that they hold the attention and provoke contemplation of the issues involved rather than causing the eyes to glaze over and the mind to skip over these sections. I feel educated by this book, and that is not something that I can say very frequently.

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Sue Bricknell (SueCCCP) is an ex-pat Brit living in Maine. She has no real memory of learning to read and has always had a great love of fantasy. She blames this on her early introduction to the Tales of Beatrix Potter, which she had memorized by the age of four. From an early obsession with Fantasy she has expanded her interests into the Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror and Crime genres. Joining a local book group made her realize that she really likes talking about books, so she began her blog, Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers. She has recently had the good fortune to be hired as an assistant librarian, so now she can think about books even more!

WoGF Review: The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells Posted at 1:01 PM by Sue Bricknell

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeSue Bricknell (SueCCCP) is an ex-pat Brit living in Maine. She has no real memory of learning to read and has always had a great love of fantasy. She blames this on her early introduction to the Tales of Beatrix Potter, which she had memorized by the age of four. From an early obsession with Fantasy she has expanded her interests into the Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror and Crime genres. Joining a local book group made her realize that she really likes talking about books, so she began her blog, Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers. She has recently had the good fortune to be hired as an assistant librarian, so now she can think about books even more!


The Cloud RoadsMartha Wells was an author that I had not come across until I read her Guest Post for Women in SF&F Month at Fantasy Cafe. Since then I have had her on my TBR list, but it finally took the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge at Worlds Without End to put this book on my coffee table. I am only sorry that I ignored it for so long because it was a great read and I look forward to reading the other volumes in this series as well as more of Ms Wells’ titles when I can fit them in.

One thing I always appreciate in Fantasy writing is a world that is well drawn, whether it is loosely based upon Earth at some point in its history or is totally alien. Ms Wells creates a pleasantly unique world, inhabited by a wide variety of interesting creatures and races inhabiting the three realms. Although we do not explore the sea at all, we see several examples of the groundling races, which show adaptations to various habitats and climates. They also display a variety or temperaments, beliefs and cultures, which were sketched out with sufficient detail without a heavy-handed need for exposition. By making Moon an outsider in almost all situations, Ms Wells was able to let us explore this world through his experiences and so the world building did not feel forced or boring.

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WoGF Review: The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer Posted at 12:12 PM by Sue Bricknell

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeSue Bricknell (SueCCCP) is an ex-pat Brit living in Maine. She has no real memory of learning to read and has always had a great love of fantasy. She blames this on her early introduction to the Tales of Beatrix Potter, which she had memorized by the age of four. From an early obsession with Fantasy she has expanded her interests into the Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror and Crime genres. Joining a local book group made her realize that she really likes talking about books, so she began her blog, Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers. She has recently had the good fortune to be hired as an assistant librarian, so now she can think about books even more!


The Whitefire CrossingI had not realized that landscape would play such a large role in The Whitefire Crossing, but it was a pleasant surprise and spoke to the same love of nature that I find in Tolkien‘s work, amongst others. The author, Courtney Schafer, spends a great deal of time climbing and it shines through in her writing. She conveys the environment with great skill and also captures the emotions that can be provoked by pitting oneself against a natural challenge. I appreciated her knowledge of climbing and its techniques and yet I did not feel as if I was becoming bogged down by details and long-winded explanations of how to tie a specific knot correctly. I felt that she was very successful in giving us just enough detail to make us able to get inside Dev’s mind so that we could understand how he uses climbing as a sort of meditation.

As well as providing a good backdrop to this fantasy world, I felt that the practical details of the journey helped to both enrich Dev’s character and provide us with a sense of the time taken to travel. So often traveling is done with a sentence or two and we do not feel the hardships that it involves, and yet here we’re given the time to get to know our characters whilst they are placed in jeopardy of a real and physical nature. They also had time to learn about each other and to bond by overcoming adversity in the simplest of ways as they travel through the mountains. This meant that we could explore their initial distrust so that their actions were completely understandable and their ultimate decisions to trust one another were much more poignant and satisfying. It is strange how the decision to linger over the practicalities of travel allowed this to become so much more character-focused than I had expected.

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WoGF Review: Witch World by Andre Norton Posted at 9:44 AM by Sue Bricknell

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeSue Bricknell (SueCCCP) is an ex-pat Brit living in Maine. She has no real memory of learning to read and has always had a great love of fantasy. She blames this on her early introduction to the Tales of Beatrix Potter, which she had memorized by the age of four. From an early obsession with Fantasy she has expanded her interests into the Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror and Crime genres. Joining a local book group made her realize that she really likes talking about books, so she began her blog, Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers. She has recently had the good fortune to be hired as an assistant librarian, so now she can think about books even more!


Witch WorldThis is one of those series that I have always meant to read but has somehow never reached the top of my TBR pile. With the incentive of various challenges to encourage me, I finally decided to see if it lived up to its Hugo Award nomination. I am pleased to say that, unlike A Wizard of Earthsea, Witch World seems to deserve its place on all those “Top Fantasy Series” lists out there. It does feel a little dated now, but it is fifty years old, so that is hardly surprising.

The Witch World itself is lavishly detailed and totally developed. We experience a series of very different cultures and societies, but they are not presented via a mass of exposition. If anything, I would have liked some more detail and perhaps a little longer to immerse myself in each one before we moved on to the next. This was definitely a book that would have benefitted from a good glossary or appendix explaining some of the terms and concepts as it was a little too light on explanations for my taste.

 

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WoGF Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler Posted at 11:25 AM by Sue Bricknell

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeSue Bricknell (SueCCCP) is an ex-pat Brit living in Maine. She has no real memory of learning to read and has always had a great love of fantasy. She blames this on her early introduction to the Tales of Beatrix Potter, which she had memorized by the age of four. From an early obsession with Fantasy she has expanded her interests into the Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror and Crime genres. Joining a local book group made her realize that she really likes talking about books, so she began her blog, Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers. She has recently had the good fortune to be hired as an assistant librarian, so now she can think about books even more!


KindredThis is one of the few books that I have read that really made me feel the massive differences between American and British history and societal norms. Yes, I grew up knowing about racism in the UK, and I was certainly aware that some people had a real issue with the influx of non-white people in the 1950s. However, the issue of slavery was not as prominent because the vast majority of the African slaves in the British Empire were not actually located in the UK, but in the colonies in the West Indies, for example. When these peoples became free they remained where they were and so did not have to integrate with their previous owners back in Britain. Also, slavery within the UK was made illegal much earlier than in the US and was extended to the whole of the Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. All of this makes the British experience very different from that of the US, especially in the Confederate states where much of the action in this novel is based. Similarly, the UK did not suffer from the same racial tensions, segregation and discrimination that led to the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century in the US.

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