Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/10/2019 (282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
John Scalzi is one of the more popular contemporary science fiction writers, and it’s easy to see why. The Consuming Fire (Tor, 368 pages, $14), the sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated The Collapsing Empire, is lively, funny, profane, thrilling and wildly imaginative.
In the far-flung future, the human empire faces imminent danger: the network of wormholes that connect the empire’s widely separated worlds is collapsing. Emperox Grayland II is desperately trying to keep her shrinking empire from total disintegration, but there are people who are determined to rid themselves of her, no matter what the cost.
Can she save the empire before her enemies bring their rebellious plot to a violent end? Colourful characters, plenty of action, lots of suspense: this is what space opera is supposed to look like.
● ● ●
In The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War (Mariner, 352 pages, $23), Neal Bascomb tells the rather surprisingly forgotten story of a daring escape from a First World War prisoner of war camp. Holzminden, nicknamed "Hellminden" by the Allied prisoners who lived there, was run by a cruel and demanding Kommandant, and was supposed to be impossible to escape from. But somehow, right under their German captors’ noses, a group of prisoners orchestrated a remarkable plan.
Based on extensive research, including first-hand accounts by some of the escapees, the book bears comparison with what is generally considered to be the best prison-escape account, Paul Brickhill’s classic The Great Escape. Bascomb’s writing is straightforward and precise; he gets the small details right while painting a dramatic larger picture of life under German rule.
● ● ●
In the near future, Fred Fredericks, an American communications-systems expert, is making his first trip to the Chinese colony on the moon. Almost too quickly for Fred to process it all, he’s accused of murder, kidnapped by the daughter of a senior Chinese politician and a noted travel writer, and whisked back to Earth. What the heck is going on?
Here’s what’s going on. Red Moon (Orbit, 496 pages, $23), by award-winning science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, is an exciting adventure set against one of the more venerable science fiction backdrops, political rebellion. It’s a story that could easily have got bogged down in weighty dialogue and yawn-inducing lectures about history and politics, but, like Robert A. Heinlein in the similarly themed The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robinson focuses mainly on characters, not on rhetoric, and keeps the story moving at a brisk clip. Another winner from one of the genre’s most respected practitioners.
● ● ●
John Lescroart isn’t as well known as some of the other lawyer-turned-novelists (think John Grisham or Scott Turow), but he’s every bit as talented. The Rule of Law (Atria, 336 pages, $23) features San Francisco attorney Dismas Hardy, whose surprise at the sudden disappearance of his faithful secretary, Phyllis, is soon replaced by anger at what appears to be a false accusation of accessory to murder leveled at the (surely she must be?) innocent woman.
What sets the book apart from similar stories of wrongly accused friends and relatives is this: it’s entirely possible that the accused isn’t innocent. Lescroart makes it clear that Phyllis might be guilty, and the meat of the book is Hardy coming to terms with the idea that someone so close to him might not be the person he thought she was. A gripping and dramatic legal thriller.
Halifax freelancer David Pitt’s column appears the first weekend of every month. You can follow him on Twitter at @bookfella.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.