Feb 4
2011

PW reviews last of Bear’s Jacob’s Ladder trilogy

Grail by Elizabeth Bear

This deftly told story completes the Jacob’s Ladder trilogy begun in Dust and Chill. The Conns and the other inhabitants of an ancient wandering spaceship face their last and greatest challenge. They’ve finally found a habitable planet, but others beat them to it: “right-minded” humans, surgically altered to achieve emotional balance, and more alien to the Jacobites than extraterrestrials would be. Leaders on both ship and planet are willing to fight and kill to keep the two cultures from interacting, while old enemies aboard the Jacob’s Ladder re-emerge to wreak destruction. The story is poised on a knife’s edge, with the Jacobites facing both possible annihilation and inner demons just as they’re closing in on their goal. Bear’s talent for portraying cultural divergence and conflict is especially apparent in this intense wrapup. –Publishers Weekly

Dec 28
2010

PW review of new entry in Elizabeth Bear’s New Amsterdam series

The White City by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo winner Bear (The Sea Thy Mistress) begins her new short novel with a deceptive catalog of steampunk clichés—alternate history, a plucky heroine, and the obligatory zeppelins—before veering in a radically different direction with a double-threaded detective story plot. Two murders in Moscow, one in 1897 and the other in 1903, are linked to a single woman. But this is no mere costumed crime story: the Tsarist police employ forensic sorcerers, and vampires and their elegant “courts” of human hangers-on are accepted members of society. The pace is brisk, the characters are well-realized, and the resultant delvings into darkness are certain to keep genre readers entertained to the end. The sole cause for disappointment is that things wrap up too quickly and easily, with limited exposure to the strange minds of Bear’s decidedly post-human vampires.

Feb 15
2010

Publishers Weekly on new Elizabeth Bear fantasy

Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

Few family feuds feature gem-studded automatons facing off against zombies, but this quirky short fantasy by Hugo-winner Bear (By the Mountain Bound) is the exception. When aging wizard Bijou the Artificer starts encountering people and animals infected with a flesh-decaying spell, she prepares for a long-delayed confrontation with her ex-lover, Kaulas the Necromancer. Each desires the allegiance of Brazen the Enchanter, Bijou’s former apprentice, and their weapons include Emeraude, a feral child raised by jackals. Bear provides a sympathetic portrait, drawn in part through Emeraude’s nonverbal perceptions, of a dedicated master coming to terms with the end of her life and determined to honor her commitments to the end. The vagueness of the (Persian? Turkish? Provençal?) setting distracts only a little from the exploration of love and loyalty at the core of this engaging tale. –Publishers Weekly

Feb 1
2010

Publishers Weekly on new Elizabeth Bear SF novel

Chill

Having survived the events of 2007’s Dust, the crew of the generation starship Jacob’s Ladder, marooned for centuries, find themselves once more racing though space. Unfortunately, the ship is badly damaged, large sections are out of communication with the central computer, and the highly augmented Exalt who rule the ship and its merely human occupants have lost the knowledge of how to select a destination. Antagonist Arianrhod is still alive, free, and a potential threat. Dealing with these problems involves epic journeys across a massive, poorly mapped spacecraft and confrontations with forgotten and suppressed relics of the past. Bear enhances the usual generation ship themes—social amnesia, decaying infrastructure, and mission-threatening grand calamities—with enough new flourishes, including a biotechnology-based class system and cruel experiments based on misapprehensions of Darwin, to keep readers happily engaged. –Publishers Weekly

Oct 20
2009

PW reviews By the Mountain Bound

By the Mountain Bound

In this complex prequel to Hugo-winner Bear’s All the Windwracked Stars (2008), Ragnarok has already occurred, but the world must still be cleansed of the residue of the former realm. When immortal einherjar war-leader Strifbjorn rescues a strange woman from drowning, she claims to be the Lady, a long-awaited deity, and defeats Strifbjorn’s champion and lover, Mingan the Gray Wolf, to take command. The ensuing internal power struggles set the einherjar at odds while the Lady attempts to rally the community against a supposedly imminent attack by giants. Numerous fantasy authors adopt the tropes of Norse mythology, but Bear actively pursues them, channeling those myths directly rather than overlaying them on more familiar ones. The result demands much from readers, but repays it in vivid, sensual imagery of a wholly different world. –Publishers Weekly

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