Welcome back to the SPSFC. In this second year of the competition, we are currently at stage one, affectionately known as the slushpile. In this phase, each team has been given a selection of books to sort through in search of a handful of quarterfinalists. At Boundary’s Edge has 28 of these books (you can find a full list of them by clicking on this link). Our team of four will be reading our way through these books for the next couple of months.
For those who need a refresher, at this early stage we don’t read the whole book. We read the opening 20% of every entry and vote either YES or NO on continuing. The books that receive the most YES votes will become quarterfinalists and be read in full. Those that receive more NO votes than YES votes will be cut from the competition.
Last year, At Boundary’s Edge only brought you the end result of these cuts. This year, we’re playing it a little looser, with each judge able to reveal their personal votes prior to the final announcements. My wonderful co-judge Athena has been keeping track of her reading HERE, and my thoughts can be found in the article below.
Now it’s time for that old disclaimer. These are my opinions. Not necessarily those of my team, or any other judge, or anyone else in particular. Once again, my opinions. Though others are more than welcome to share them. With that out of the way, here we go.
Arkhangelsk, by Elizabeth H. Bonesteel
I love a good science fiction/crime crossover. This one comes with the added bonus of an interesting post-apocalyptic setting, which is rare than you might think. Confidently written, I’m looking forward to seeing where this one goes.
Between Mountain and Sea, by Louisa Locke
First of all, I will always appreciate a science fiction author who uses Welsh. However, I don’t think that the language was put to good use here. Leaving aside some questionable spelling, the mystery over why aliens speak Welsh was not developed well enough to hold my interest.
Black Table, by Anttimatti Pennanen
I won’t deny that there is fun to be had here. This buddy adventure feels like a love letter to science fiction. Unfortunately, I found it better suited to a children’s story than one featuring adults. There’s no real problems here, just a book that’s a little simplistic for my tastes.
Data Mine, by Lou Iovino
As is often the case in this competition, I like the idea here more than I like the execution. Full points for not immediately making the politician a villain, but I found the omniscient perspective (which I usually enjoy) a poor choice for a narrative that clearly expects us to engage with the characters.
Dangerous Thoughts, by James L. Steele
Oh boy. I pushed through to the 20% looking for something to say, feeling less comfortable with every page. All I’ve got is this. If you want furry erotica, look no further. If you don’t, look anywhere else.
Earth Warden, by Tyler Aston
This is another book that didn’t do anything wrong, it just didn’t do enough right to earn my favour. It’s a simple, straightforward action adventure. Maybe too simple and straightforward. Nothing it does offends me, but it it’s ultimately rather forgettable.
Earthship, by John Triptych with Michael Lamontagne
This book had me hooked from the prologue alone. From there on, there is an awful lot going on, with multiple viewpoints and plot strands to keep track of. I look forward to seeing how it all comes together in the end.
These have been my thoughts on the first 7 books from the slushpile. As always, readers are encouraged to read the books for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions.