Babel By R.F. Kuang: A Revolutionary Historical Fantasy Epic

Babel By R.F. Kuang: A Revolutionary Historical Fantasy Epic

Babel By R.F. Kuang: a revolutionary historical fantasy epic that examines the influence of cogent language and its romantic secrets, bitter deceptions, and intoxicating effects that mark the meek and the brash, the power-hungry and the marytrs.

Babel By R.F. Kuang may be the best book I read this year.

If you are a fan of language or translation or history or great characters being challenged beyond your wildest prescient thoughts, then you must read this must-read, this phenomenal tale by R.F. Kuang.

As with many great stories – especially in the SFF-speculative fiction realm – the character’s path needs to resonate deeply, and Kuang’s protagonist Robin Swift does this while being utterly captivating.

The name he chooses after being dragged from his home in Canton and near-forcibly adopted by an English professor is one stemming from a love of literature that he identifies with, Robin Swift.

The following book review of R.F. Kuang’s Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution is SPOILER-FREE.

Robin Swift’s journey is so real, it hurts.

His awe at his first foray into an English bookstore, or an Oxford library, is moving and relatable.

You swell with joy, with Robin, as he delights in the exotic tastes of desserts from bakeries for the first time, just as you will feel the shock of betrayal least looked for when it lashes out at him.

Betrayal is a theme in Babel.

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.”

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Language and story metaphorically and literally make magic in Babel.

Words reside at the center of civilization but also at the panopticon, whether for use in aiding humanity, or in enslaving it.

Seeing the black, white, and gray areas in Babel proves difficult for those involved in the tower, the school of translation at Oxford, of Babel, for the spell of comfort, happiness, fulfillment, and friendship casts a certain amount of myopia that runs deeper than the magical silver bars the translators create and maintain.

The history in Babel is, itself, a mythology by which Kuang makes the reader climb and dive off a cliff and deeply submerge into the early 19th Century as the riotous age of colonialism is at a zenith, and at the same time depict Oxford University – and the college life that Robin embarks on – which is outwardly fun, but filled with racism, misogyny, and final exams that can cause the students to bleed out.

Make no mistake, Babel will tear at your heart, gouge deeply, and continue to stay with you, long after you finish reading.

Babel is a masterpiece of fantasy literature that reaches depths similar in scope and artistry to the most deeply moving and impactful symphonies, works of literature, epic poems, and fine art.

Babel is a masterpiece of fantasy literature.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)!


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Babel By R.F. Kuang: A Revolutionary Historical Fantasy Epic” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

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This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!

The Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards Winner for best novella, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR represents some of the very best in innovative speculative fiction.

I read this book in a few days and was enamored with it!

The following is a SPOILER-FREE book review of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone.

The main characters Red and Blue are agents in a time war described best as traversing amongst myriad threats of history and tangled braids of the future.

Red and Blue are women, if not wholly humanoid, well that is for the reader to decide, and are from a distant future.

They are the best at what they do: marking threads, timelines, for destruction and/or control.

The fallout of their actions directly improves or harms entire cords of histories.

Upon becoming aware of one another’s opposition, Red and Blue begin a taunting, spiritual, revealing, and ultimately romantic correspondence through some extremely well-hidden and well-experienced letters (eating and reveling in Sumac seeds for one, savoring a scintillating pot of tea for another).

The prose from both authors is deeply poetic and philosophical, and is layered in quips, in new tech from the future, in new interpretations of past figures and events.

Red and Blue are deeply insightful people, and they challenge each other to grow even as they get to know one another via the letters.

To create this book, Max Gladstone wrote all of Red and Amal El-Mohtar wrote all of Blue’s chapters.

And so a brilliant use of unique personality naturally illuminates each character.

At first Red and Blue seem like they might snare one another.

Later, Red and Blue seem to have betrayed the time war itself.

The result is that each layer of the book unfolds and is more suspenseful, more delicate, more painful, and more invigorating than the last section.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR is one of those pivotal works of sci-fi-fantasy, a classic that needs to be reread again and again to be fully realized.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“This is How You Lose the Time War By Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone SOARS!” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.

 

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Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro

Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery by Russ Colchamiro combines compelling characters with noir-mystery and sci-fi tropes and blasts them into exciting new territory.

What is the audience for this work of speculative fiction? This is from the book’s description on Bookshop.org:

“[Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery is] For fans of Doctor Who, Blade Runner and Philip Marlowe…”

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And Crackle and Fire is just the first in The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 1 series. Book 2 is coming in the not-too-distant future.

The following book review of Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery contains **MILD SPOILERS for the book’s plot in the opening.

Russ Colchamiro’s tale combines many of my favorite plot elements and world building for an innovative, gritty, pull-no punches neo-noir-mystery in the Universe.

The Universe may span the outer reaches of space, myriad places of which earth is just a tiny blip on the radar, and that is all the more reason for the need of the PI, the private investigator Angela Hardwicke.

Her inner monologue is self-critical and always interesting, as this inner speech often betrays to the reader the nerves that flare up, or the terror that floods her vision, when on the outside, she appears as cool as they come.

Angela Hardwicke has seen a lot and her mannerisms – such as having the tears in her long trench coat sewn over and over again – show a vast amount of experience, stubbornness, and grit.

The woman is savvy and cautious, but also tired; she is as tired as any of Raymond Chandler’s most worn-out cops, PIs, or fugitives.

The writing echoes Hardwicke’s exhaustion, and right from the outset of the story her mental weariness proves very costly.

She slips up in taking on a case from a likeable guy that is so nervous he borders on squirrelly.

And what a fun character Gil Haberseau turns out to be!

The accountant is terrible at math.

But people like him, so he gets on pretty well.

That is, at least until Gil’s intern disappears with stolen files tied to the worst of the mob, the Anshanis.

When Hardwicke wants no part of the ruthless Anshanis (after a past run-in gone sour), Gil corrals her by mentioning her name was in the stolen files, which is why he has come to her.

But he has almost no information to give the PI that will help her track down the missing intern.

She can feel the lies, the inherent danger that is only showing the tip of the iceberg above the water’s surface.

And then, as clacking shots are made on pool tables around her, the obvious damning truth – the omitted truth – comes home to her, but not in a self-reliant epiphany; it is her friends that have to explain it to her.

Gil is no accountant.

And his ‘intern’ may come from other dimensions in the vast multiverse to their own universal realm, Eternity, meaning the stakes and the complications pertaining to them are infinitely more than Hardwicke could ever have imagined.

To start the case, really start the case this time, she ambushes her own client in his apartment and confronts him for his lies.

The intern, from a remote planet called earth, could be big trouble.

The story is riveting in both the personal aspects of its characters and the page-turning action, but it also has a grandiose scope far beyond the notion of the known universe.

Bravo!

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Fractured Lives: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery (The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 2) By Russ Colchamiro will be released in September 2021!


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

Artemis Fowl Is A Great Place To Get Lost Into Another World

Artemis Fowl Is A Great Place To Get Lost Into Another World

“Artemis Fowl is a great place to get lost into another world” Book Review Contains **SPOILERS.

Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer is the first in a line of an action-packed, technology-meets-fantasy best-selling children series of books. The protagonist Artemis – a charming twelve-year-old millionaire criminal mastermind – takes on the race of fairies to steal their gold.

Although criminalistic, Artemis’ intentions are to support his family during a stressful time.

His father’s similar unlawful schemes have encouraged a kidnapping that has estranged Artemis’ mother to a downward spiral of mental illness and plummeted the family finances.

Driven by power and money, Artemis is a devious and often cruel antihero, but there’s definitely good in there . . . somewhere.

Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.


From Goodreads.com:

Paperback, 396 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Disney-Hyperion (first published April 26th 2001)
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

An all-star cast of characters include the massive Eurasian bodyguard, Butler, the dedicated fairy detective, Holly Short, the irate fairy captain, Commander Julius Root, the technological centaur wizard, Foaly, and a charming dwarf thief, Mulch.

Recently, Artemis Fowl was adapted to a movie and released on Disney Plus. If you didn’t enjoy the recent debut, I encourage you to read the novel.

As with most book-to-film adaptations, the book was so much richer.

Furthermore, I whole-heartedly encourage you to read the Artemis Fowl graphic novel, drawn by Andrew Donkin.

Not only a unique rarity amongst book-to-graphic novel adaptations, this particular media allows the reader to see the characters as Eion Colfer envisioned. This adaptation is a fantastic place to step into the Fowl universe.

As for the Fowl series, these nine novels all take on creative challenges and allow Colfer to fully fledge out his characters.

Our irresistible anti-hero begins to thaw that frozen heart and becomes quite the noble hero – one that bridges and protects two divided worlds.

Wit, charm, action, and plot-twists are common themes across volumes.

A hit among children and tweens, these novels often catch the interest and engage older adult fantasy fans – often in the form of parents (but don’t let that stop you).

All in all, Artemis Fowl is an engaging and enjoyable read.

Whether you are a fantasy fiction lover or simply dipping in for the first time, Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl – in any format – is a great place to get lost into another world.

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The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Artemis Fowl is a great place to get lost into another world” was written by was written by Peter Maisano.