Hive Monkey, by Gareth L. Powell

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Victoria Valois considered him. Lack of sleep had left his eyes rheumy and red; the pores on his nose were enlarged; and his hair and beard were uncombed and wild, as if he’d dragged himself backwards through a hedge—an impression reinforced by the myriad nicks and scratches on his cheeks and forehead.

Sequel to Ack-Ack-Macaque, which I enjoyed and which shared the 2013 BSFA Award with Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. More steampunky adventures with the cigar-chomping combat pilot who happens to be a monkey, in a richly imagined and humorous alternate world. Fun but not deep. You can get it here.

This was the sf book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves. Next on that pile is The Happier Dead, by Ivo Stourton.

Hive Monkey

BSFA Short Fiction

(See also: Best Art)

There are only four finalists in the Short Fiction category for the BSFA Awards this year. From shortest to longest, they are:

“Things Can Only Get Better”, by Fiona Moore

Second paragraph of third section:

“What?” Wills set her drink down very carefully on the melamine-look surface.

A fun short story about intelligent machines (“Things”) and crime.

“O2 Arena”, by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

Second paragraph of third section:

We had a plethora of assignments and projects that kept us buried to our eyebrows, even on weekends. But assignments were rarely my concern on weekdays, much less weekends. And on this weekend, Ovoke was gone.

Grim tale of a near-future Nigeria where people have to pay for everything, even the air that they breathe.

Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard

Second paragraph of third section:

It burnt. The tea burnt. Soggy tea leaves caught fire right in the throne room, in full view of everyone else. Not just in her nightmares or in her bedroom.

Vietnamese-flavoured court politics combined with a g/g love story. Loved it.

Light Chaser, by Peter Hamilton and Gareth Powell

Second paragraph of third section:

“Hello.” She bent down and tickled the purring creature behind its ears. “You liked the fish I made for you, did you?”

Very interesting timeline mystery where the central character keeps visiting planets after very long intervals to find a peculiar legacy.

I liked all of these, but one has to express a preference, so I think mine will be 1) Fireheart Tiger, 2) “Things Can Only Get Better”, 3) “O2 Arena”, 4) Light Chaser. I don’t see an obvious front-runner.