Reviews elseweb

Deb Taber’s Necessary Ill, at

Necessary Ill, Deb Taber’s debut novel (out of Aqueduct Press) is a difficult read, but a worthy one. Difficult, because it asks hard questions and refuses easy answers; and because it demands you extend your sympathy to all sides: mass-murderers, liars, haters, the wounded and the bereaved and the betrayed.

M.C. Planck’s The Kassa Gambit, in this quarter’s

Planck seems like an auspicious name for a science fiction novelist. With The Kassa Gambit, his debut, Australian-based M.C. Planck presents an auspicious if flawed start to his career.

Felix Gilman’s The Rise of Ransom City, also in

It’s always interesting to read a novel written in the style and manner of a memoir. Such a book (fictional or not) succeeds or fails, rises or falls, on the vividness of the memoirist’s personality and the observed details of the surrounding world. The reader who enjoys the memoirist’s company and tone will find digressions and side-roads diverting: the reader who finds it tolerably entertaining will have less patience, and require more in the way of narrative coherence and identifiable character growth, to maintain a feeling of investment in the ultimate outcome.

Melanie Rawn’s Touchstone, also in

It’s been over a decade – fifteen years, if we’re counting each and every one – since Melanie Rawn last published a solo work of second-world fantasy, The Mageborn Traitor. Before the long hiatus in her career, Rawn’s track record leaned to the sprawling family-saga, with a knack for believable interpersonal relationships and narratives that take years to come to ultimate fruition. Touchstone, the first in a new series and a new milieu, could not possibly live up to the weight of expectation this reviewer placed upon it. To its credit, it is a book that disappoints far less than it could have.

Yes, I’m the only review-writer for Ideo’s Spring 2013 issue. Fortunately there’s a bit more variety in the stories and poems. I recommend you take a look, and if the spirit moves you, donate. (Donations help pay for short fiction and poetry. I am not working there for pay.)