[alternate history, Victorian England]
Carl has invented and been playing a new VR game, with self-aware AIs. Unfortunately, Laurie discovers his secret, which he's been building on company time, and Manifest Inc just don't do games. And the Robin Hood AI is getting a bit too clever for its own good. Now Carl is in real trouble.
I thought this was going to be a fairly straightforward "characters get caught up in an RPG" sort of tale (especially given the real-world names of some of the characters -- the boss of Manifest Inc is called Regis Lyons, for ghu's sake). But I was pleasantly surprised: it manages lots of unexpected and fascinating plot twists, a breathtaking pace, and some questioning of responsibilities towards, and relationships with, ones own AI creations. Good fun, although I found some of the answers to the philosophical questions as embodied in the ending just a little bit unsatisfactory.
[alternate history, ancient Rome]
Khalid the genie is overconfident on his first mission; he forgets the however clause, which forbids the use of one of the Three Wishes for yet more wishes. So he ends up stuck with his master Haroun until Haroun can somehow be persuaded to grant his freedom.
-- Anton Sherwood,
[SF readers have such different problems from mundanes!]
Lighthearted and amusing, with a Scheherazadian setting, this tale does have enough substance to stop it dissolving in pure froth, and makes an enjoyable read. I often complain about plots where the goal is accomplished too easily, with no setbacks, so here it is good to see a plot where, at each turn, just when it looks as if things will get sorted out, some larger and more difficult complication arises yet again.
This is an expanded edition of a much shorter 'young adult' novel. I suspect that is why it reads as two almost separate stories: that of Khalid and Haroun, and that of their next generation. But in both cases we get a good tongue-in-cheek tale of genies, afrits and demons, attempting to deceive and being deceived by humans.
Another amusing collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior. Some of the characters from the first anthology turn up again, and we also meet some new ones. A few stand as stories in their own right -- for example, "No Pain, No Gain" for the revenge scene, "Like No Business I Know" for a wicked take on TV-Fantasy, "A Night with the Girls" for another Starhawk story, and "Tales from the Slushpile" for its portrayal of an SF Con panel. Some of the rest are slighter, but still provide some good laughs, or wry smiles.
Another amusing collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior, this time with the theme of the warriors suitably rescuing their men. Not quite as good as the previous collections: there were no stories that really stood on their own merits. Just some fun mind candy to while away a slow afternoon.
The fourth collection of stories about the funnier side of being a woman warrior. Again, I felt that no stories really stood on their own merits. However, ones that follow on from previous collections get added depth from that. So, yet more amusing mind candy.
Further stories about women warriors, some amusing, some that think they are amusing. Mostly good mind candy. "Rituals for a New God" is possibly the best -- it's an intruiging idea that I'd like to see more of.