(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Cyborg, by M83 (Spotify, YouTube).
As you may know if you are familiar with this blog, I love reading novellas and I closely follow all those published by Tor.com, many of which I have reviewed in the past months. Today, I will briefly talk about three of the most recent: A Whisper of Southern Lights, by Tim Lebbon, Return of Souls, by Andy Remic, and Runtime, by S.B. Divya.
A Whisper of Southern Lights is a new story in the Assassin saga, after Deadman's Hand and Pieces of Hate (collected by Tor.com in a single volume). In this case, the action is set in the Second World War and again Gabriel faces Temple seeking revenge. Lebbon manages to build a more than adequate atmosphere, but I found the plot not very engaging. In fact, I was expecting the fight between the main protagonists to move forward somehow, maybe even reach some kind of resolution, but I was disappointed. I don't know if the author is planning to write further installments of the series (originally, they were published several years ago) but if this is all there is, I really think there are still many things to wrap up.
Return of Souls, by Andy Remic, is also a sequel, in this case to A Song for No Man's Land (which I really enjoyed). I was curious to know where the plot was going to move, since the previous story had a quite satisfying ending and I wasn't expecting a second part. The author, however, clearly had in mind a very definite direction for the series and, after a few chapters which are similar to what we saw in A Song for No Man's Land, there is a big twist and clear change in tone. I did like the first novella better, but at least I am intrigued and looking forward The Iron Beast, the third and final installment of the series.
Runtime, by S.B. Divya, is the novella I enjoyed the most of the three I am reviewing today. Initially, I was not very attracted by the synopsis, since I am not especially interested in mountain races. However, this extreme sport is just one of the elements of Runtime and I dare to say it is not even the most important. I was gladly surprised to see that the novella is, in fact, a dystopia in which the use of use cybernetic augmentations is a complex issue and can lead to social differences and discrimination. But what I liked above everything else was the way the author puts her protagonist in some difficult moral dilemmas and refuses to give clear-cut, easy answers to them.
All in all, of these three novellas I recommend Runtime and I reserve my verdict on Return of Souls until I read The Iron Beast. But tor.com never stops and I already have ARCs of more, really interesting novellas on my ereader, so I hope to review them for you soon.