Outcasts of Order – L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Saga of Recluce #20

Having fled one country already, the black-mage-trained-as-white Beltur is trying to make a place in Elparta for himself and his intended Jessyla. The local Council has other plans, and soon Beltur, Jessyla, and their friends are on the run once again.

3 stars
In brief: There's a decent story here, but it could and should have been told in 200 pages, instead of well over 600 of excruciating minutiae.

Beneath the Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Wayward Children #3

At a home for young people who can move between worlds but are temporarily out of the appropriate one, Rini arrives unexpectedly, falling out of thin air into a turtle pond. She’s from the bakery world of Confection, and looking to resurrect her mother, whose death before Rini’s conception is leading to Rini’s gradual disappearance. It’s odd, but that’s how things work in a Nonsense world.

3 stars
In brief: A passable YA novel, and probably fun if you're already immersed.

Dark is the Sun – Philip Jose Farmer

At the twilight of a world, a young man goes in search of mate, but soon loses his soul egg. Without it, he’s no one, and in his search for it, he finds adventure, science, magic, love, and escape from a rapidly collapsing world.

3 stars
In brief: An interesting world, decent (if into entirely credible) characters, and a challenging quest.

The Lovers – Philip Jose Farmer

In a repressive future society, a jack-of-all-trades linguist exchanges cultural restrictions for a long trip to another world. Whe he finds there shakes and reshapes his world view and his heart.

3 stars
In brief: This should probably have stayed at short story length

Mississippi Roll – George R.R. Martin (ed)

Wild Cards #24

The 24th book in a shared world anthology in which many humans have been transformed by an alien virus either into jokers (deformed) or aces (super-powered). A varied collection of people on a riverboat aim to help Kazakh refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

2 stars
In brief: An argument in favor of ending shared world anthologies early.

Artemis – Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara, brilliant ne’er-do-well, has a get rich quick scheme on the Kenyan owned Artemis lunar base. Unfortunately, so do a clever entrepeneur, a mysterious cartel, and a host of others.

3.5 stars
In brief: A clever, well-told story brought down by an attitude that feels more 1970s than 2000s.