(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 The Future Never Dies, by Scorpions (Spotify, YouTube).
In this new instalment of novella reviews, today I bring you the three most recent ones published by Tor.com: Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw, Everything Belongs to the Future, by Laurie Penny, and Impersonations, by Walter Jon Williams.
The first of them, Hammers on Bone, is yet another Lovecraftian pastiche, on this occasion in the form of a classical noir story. As I mentioned when I reviewed The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson, I am not really into Lovecraft and I didn't care much for that part of the novella. However, I did like how Khaw managed, from the very first sentence, to evoke an appealing atmosphere, well in the tradition of crime fiction, but with some innovative elements.
The protagonist, John Persons, is also very interesting and his mysterious back story is only partially revealed in Hammers on Bone. Thus, if at it seems, this is just the first part of a series of novellas, I think there are enough elements to make the next instalment even better. I, for one, will be reading it.
Everything Belongs to the Future is a very intelligent science fiction story that brings together medical, economical and social speculation in an almost perfect way. The beginning is really strong, and the idea of an eternal life medicine that can only be afforded by the well-off is, at the same time, plausible, scary and thought-provoking.
I did also like the way Penny recreates the group dynamics and personal relationships of the activists. Again, really believable and provocative, especially because we are given some information that most of the characters don't know. I found some pacing problems after the first half of the story, but apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the novella and I recommend it.
Impersonations, by Walter Jon Williams, is another science fiction novella, in fact one set in the universe of his Praxis novels. I didn't know when I started reading it and, when I realized, I was a bit afraid I wouldn't be able to follow the story or I would miss some important information, but I am happy to say that it is a stand-alone and can be enjoyed without any previous knowledge of the series.
In fact, after reading Impersonations, I may give the rest of the Praxis stories a try, for I really liked the setting, with lots of political intrigue and, above all, the really interesting main protagonist, Caroline Sula, who strongly reminded me of another favorite of mine: Adam-Troy Castro's Andrea Cort. On the negative side, there were some coincidences that were too convenient for the plot to advance by the end of the book, but all in all, I really liked the novella and I'd recommend it to any science fiction fan.
So, again, another three solid novellas from Tor.com. I did especially enjoy the two science fiction ones (Everything Belongs to the Future and Impersonations), but I guess you'll also like Hammers on Bone if Lovecraft is your thing. As always, my advice is to keep a close eye on anything published by Tor.com for they hardly disappoint. In fact, I have just finished reading the Lychford stories by Paul Cornell and they are really refreshing and entertaining. I will review them in detail later this month, so stay tuned!