Round-up of published things

My ability to stay on top of everything has slid significantly lately. (Planning a wedding is stressful, guys! Everyone wants to sell you shit and you have a budget here!) I’m doing my best with that on top of the usual strains, but my best is significantly less great than I’d like.


But! Here are my three most recent posts on


Sleeps With Monsters: Intimate Space Operas

An Explosive Debut: The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore

A Shaky Resolution: Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

THE VELA by Yoon Ha Lee, Rivers Solomon, S.L. Huang, and Becky Chambers

A new review over at

The Vela is the latest in Serial Box’s slate of speculative fiction offerings. This one’s space opera, with an approach to politics ever so slightly reminiscent of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse. Its concept is credited to Lydia Shamah, Serial Box’s director of original content, but its execution is down to an award-class writing team: Becky Chambers, Yoon Ha Lee, Rivers Solomon, and S.L. Huang. All of their individual talents combine to make The Vela a potent brew.

Sleeps With Monsters: Looking (Queerly) Back On Season One of Star Trek: Discovery

A new post over at

I’m still not sure how I feel about Star Trek: Discovery at the close of this first season. I’m not alone in that: in a season filled with excellent performances, rushed narrative arcs, peculiar (and sometimes predictable) choices, and a criminal neglect of the Klingon politics that the first two episodes primed us to look for, it’s hard to know which side of the scales is more heavily weighted.

VALIANT DUST by Richard Baker

A new review over at

Sikander Singh North is a prince of a planet that is, essentially, a colonial protectorate of the powerful space nation of Aquila. He’s been an officer in the Aquilan Commonwealth navy for ten years, and has now received the position of gunnery department head aboard the light cruiser Hector. He’s junior for the post, and several of his colleagues disapprove of him on grounds of where he comes from. Fortunately, he has a mostly sympathetic captain, but he must prove himself to some of his direct superiors.


Dietz and Titan Books and space opera and rambling

A little while back I mentioned that I wanted to talk more about William C. Dietz’s Andromeda’s Fall and Andromeda’s Choice: what they did well, and what they did poorly.*

But I’ve been thinking about American military space operas that get republished in the UK – Titan Books seems to be the headliner in this, having republished the works of Jack Campbell AKA John Hemry and moved on to Tanya Huff’s Valo(u)r books and Dietz – so this blog post is more of a set of disconnected questions than a coherent essay.

Neither Campbell nor Dietz are particularly innovative writers, or technically accomplished. (Huff is more interesting, but her military space opera never captured my imagination the way say David Drake’s RCN series did.) Both essentially repeat a similar narrative over and over again with little character change or growth, the former with a space navy, and the latter with a space legion étranger. What’s the appeal, and why do there seem to be no homegrown UK military space operas in a similar mode? Because as far as I can tell, SF by UK authors has a rather different focus, tonally and thematically.

Andromeda’s Choice and Andromeda’s Fall are not particularly interesting books, themselves. Their worst failing is that the narrative requires the main character to act stupidly or aimlessly. The narrative fails to commit in terms of consistency of character emotion and action – and prose itself never rises above the pedestrian. The main character, Andromeda McKee, views herself through the lens of the male gaze a little too often – but at least Dietz isn’t entirely preoccupied with breasts.

And yet, for all that, these two books possess some quality that kept me reading: despite their flaws, they’re weirdly fun. And I’m not at all sure why.

*Let’s note that in comparison to Dietz’s Legion of the Damned, they do many things well.