I received both of the following copies courtesy of the publisher. The following reviews are my own, honest & unbiased opinion.
I also have an extra paperback copy of each book that I am giving away to one lucky reader 😉 This is open internationally, as I will be shipping them. Link to Rafflecopter after reviews.
The Warrior Within
By Angus McIntyre
Angus McIntyre makes his debut with The Warrior Within, a mind-bending science fiction adventure about a man with many people living in his head.
Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. He survives on a backwater planet dominated by the Muljaddy, a mostly ambivalent religious autocracy, where devotion and prayer can be traded in for subsistence wages and enough food to survive. Surrounded by artifacts of a long-dead civilization, the population survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town.
But that life is soon interrupted, when a group of commandos arrive, coming from the wastelands as only off-worlders could. They’ve come to kill a woman, or so they say. At first, the commandos merely threaten as they search. Unable to find what they’re looking for, they begin to ratchet up their measures, separating the men from the women, instigating violent encounters, and eventually staging a coup against the Muljaddy and his Temple.
Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.
I think we have established that I am a huge fan of Tor.com. When it comes to short stories and novellas, they bring one of the biggest “A” you can find on the market. If you crave sci-fi and fantasy, you will find it. The Warrior Within is no exception.
Set in a futuristic world scattered with remnants of past civilizations, we meet Karsman. He is a man of many talents. Talents which can each be attributed to the multiple personas living within him. He presides over his current town as the “Mayor” or so many of the locals have dubbed him. Overseen by the Muljaddy (dominant extraterrestrial beings), life is a rather quiet and uneventful affair that can easily be sustained through prayer and worship. This all changes when a group of soldiers arrive, claiming to be in search of a woman they must assassinate. When their searches prove fruitless, they begin to take more extreme measures, forcing Karsman to enlist the help of his personas and their skills while maintaining a firm grip on himself.
This is the rare example of a successful story accomplished in limited time that manages to leave you wanting more in the best of ways. Characters development is a process of revelation and gratification. There is a lot of mystery shrouding Karsman and his personas, but the eventual explanation helps to complete him, adding a new layer of depth that is hard not to appreciate.
The setting is incredibly robust with a well-constructed world. References and traces of the past civilizations are cleverly placed throughout, accompanied by a narration that is fluid and knowledgeable. All resulting in what feels and reads like the beginning of a potentially beautiful space opera. My biggest complaint would be that I just wanted more time with Karsman and his homeland to explore and learn. And well, that is not a bad complaint to have!
Enjoyed over a nice cup of cinnamon, chai tea.
The Only Harmless Great Thing
By Brooke Bolander
Alternate History/Science Fiction
In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.
These are the facts.
Now, these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.
The Only Great Harmless Thing is a fantastic dose of alternative history that manages to accomplish many great things despite its brevity. Set in the early 20th century, we are introduced to two specific issues; female factory employees who are being slowly poisoned to death by radiation and an elephant who is sentenced to a public death by electrocution.
Bolander elegantly weaves both tales together, providing the reader with a with an alternate view of a shameful past. The effects are powerful! This is a hefty dose of capitalism gone very bad and one incredible bond that is established as a result, that will have lasting ramifications.
While I admit that it took me a hot minute to adjust to the alternating narration (between elephant and girl), it was cleverly utilized to solidify the emotion and anger contained within our protagonists. An observance of mankind at his worst presented in the most clever and rewarding manners imaginable. Simply stunning!
Devoured over a cup of iced, green tea.
Giveaway is open internationally to anyone 18 or older (or with parental consent). Winner will be contacted via email or dm and must be willing to provide a shipping address. *The publisher is not responsible for this giveaway. Please contact Books, Vertigo and Tea with any questions.