An Aside: On a Bit of a SF Buying Binge…

I seem to be on an unusual sci-fi purchasing kick at the moment. Or, if not actively purchasing/pre-ordering sci-fi novels, I’m filing them away on my To Buy list, or on my Amazon wishlist. Today, I purchased Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet — which was recently published by Hodder.

This is a little bit strange, because I don’t really read much sci-fi. Sure, I read almost everything set in Black Library’s Horus Heresy series (which is becoming a tad drawn-out), and I used to read every Star Wars novel I could get my hands on (as long as it was set after New Hope). But, over the past couple of years, I’ve cooled on SW novels (mainly because I haven’t really liked any that I’ve tried to read over the past couple of years). This has left a rather gaping SF hole on my shelves. Save for a mere handful of SF novels by Richard Morgan, Rachel Aaron, and … well, actually I think that’s about it… I just don’t read much SF. I read the first book in James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes (Orbit), which was pretty good.

This fleeting observation made me look at my various lists and TBR pile, and it looks like there are going to be some interesting SF book in the next few months. Alongside Chambers’s novel, above, I recently acquired an ARC of Kim Stanley Robinson’s next novel, Aurora (Orbit, July 9th), which I’m really interested in reading; and also Justina Robson’s The Glorious Angels (Gollancz). I also pre-ordered Jason LaPier’s Unexpected Rain (Voyager, May 7th), and will probably buy Jamie Sawyer’s The Lazarus War: Artefact (Orbit) in the not-too-distant future. Looking a bit further ahead, Rob Boffard’s Tracer looks interesting (Orbit, July 2nd), as do Mike Brooks’s Dark Run (Del Rey UK, June 4th), Alex Lamb’s Roboteer (Gollancz, July 16th – I’ve preordered this, only £1.99!) and Al Robertson’s Crashing Heaven (Gollancz, June 18th). There’s also J.P. Smythe’s Way Down Dark (Hodder, July2nd). And, of course, there’s Ernest Cline’s Armada (Century, July 16th)… [Details for all of these titles after the break.]

So, maybe I have a few months of (uncharacteristic) sci-fi reading coming up?

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BoffardR-TracerUKRob Boffard, TRACER (Orbit)

IN SPACE

EVERY. SECOND. COUNTS.

Our planet is in ruins. Three hundred miles above its scarred surface orbits Outer Earth: a space station with a million souls on board. They are all that remain of the human race.

Darnell is the head of the station’s biotech lab. He’s also a man with dark secrets. And he has ambitions for Outer Earth that no one will see coming.

Prakesh is a scientist, and he has no idea what his boss Darnell is capable of. He’ll have to move fast if he doesn’t want to end up dead. 

And then there’s Riley. She’s a tracer – a courier. For her, speed is everything. But with her latest cargo, she’s taken on more than she bargained for.

A chilling conspiracy connects them all.

The countdown has begun for Outer Earth – and for mankind.

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BrooksM-DarkRunUKMike Brooks, DARK RUN (Del Rey UK)

The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune and adventures. Travelling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job, and nobody talks about their past. Until now.

Captain Ichabod Drift is being blackmailed. He has to deliver a special cargo to Earth at a specific time and place, and no-one can know they’re there.

It’s what they call a dark run…

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ChambersB-LongWayToASmallAngryPlanet2Becky Chambers, THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET (Hodder)

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. 

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

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LambA-RoboteerUKAlex Lamb, ROBOTEER (Gollancz)

The starship Ariel is on a mission of the utmost secrecy, upon which the fate of thousands of lives depend. Though the ship is a mile long, its six crew are crammed into a space barely large enough for them to stand. Five are officers, geniuses in their field. The other is Will Kuno-Monet, the man responsible for single-handedly running a ship comprised of the most dangerous and delicate technology that mankind has ever devised. He is the Roboteer. 

Roboteer is a hard-SF novel set in a future in which the colonization of the stars has turned out to be anything but easy, and civilization on Earth has collapsed under the pressure of relentless mutual terrorism. Small human settlements cling to barely habitable planets. Without support from a home-world they have had to develop ways of life heavily dependent on robotics and genetic engineering. Then out of the ruins of Earth’s once great empire, a new force arises – a world-spanning religion bent on the conversion of all mankind to its creed. It sends fleets of starships to reclaim the colonies. But the colonies don’t want to be reclaimed. Mankind’s first interstellar war begins. It is dirty, dangerous and hideously costly. 

Will is a man bred to interface with the robots that his home-world Galatea desperately needs to survive. He finds himself sent behind enemy lines to discover the secret of their newest weapon. What he discovers will transform their understanding of both science and civilization forever… but at a cost.

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LaPierJ-UnexpectedRainJason LaPier, UNEXPECTED RAIN (Voyager)

In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man named Kane has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

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RobertsonA-CrashingHeavenAl Robertson, CRASHING HEAVEN (Gollancz)

Meet Hugo Fist. The most terrifying and enticing AI to grace SF since the works of Al Reynolds and Hannu Rajaniemi

A diamond-hard, visionary new SF thriller. Nailed-down cyberpunk a la William Gibson for the 21st century meets the vivid dark futures of Al Reynolds in this extraordinary debut novel. 

With Earth abandoned, humanity resides on Station, an industrialized asteroid run by the sentient corporations of the Pantheon. Under their leadership a war has been raging against the Totality – ex-Pantheon AIs gone rogue. 

With the war over, Jack Forster and his sidekick Hugo Fist, a virtual puppet tied to Jack’s mind and created to destroy the Totality, have returned home. 

Labelled a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, all Jack wants is to clear his name but when he discovers two old friends have died under suspicious circumstances he also wants answers. Soon he and Fist are embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not only their future but all of humanity’s. But with Fist’s software licence about to expire, taking Jack’s life with it, can they bring down the real traitors before their time runs out?

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RobinsonKS-AuroraKim Stanley Robinson, AURORA (Orbit)

A major new novel from one of SF’s most powerful voices, telling the incredible story of mankind’s first voyage beyond the solar system in search of a new home

Our voyage from Earth began generations ago. 

Now, we approach our destination. 

A new home. 

Aurora.

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RobsonJ-GloriousAngelsJustina Robson, THE GLORIOUS ANGELS (Gollancz)

On a world where science and magic are hard to tell apart, a stranger arrives in a remote town with news of political turmoil to come. And a young woman learns that she must free herself from the role she has accepted.

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SawyerJ-LW1-ArtefactJamie Sawyer, THE LAZARUS WAR: ARTEFACT (Orbit)

Mankind has spread to the stars, only to become locked in warfare with an insidious alien race. All that stands against the alien menace are the soldiers of the Simulant Operation Programme, an elite military team remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war.

Captain Conrad Harris has died hundreds of times – running suicide missions in simulant bodies. Known as Lazarus, he is a man addicted to death. So when a secret research station deep in alien territory suddenly goes dark, there is no other man who could possibly lead a rescue mission.

But Harris hasn’t been trained for what he’s about to find. And this time, he may not be coming back . . .

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Smythe-A1-WayDownDarkUKJ.P. Smythe, WAY DOWN DARK (Hodder)

There’s one truth on Australia.

You fight or you die.

Usually both.

Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

This is Australia.

Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.

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Any other SF titles you’re looking forward to? Or ones you’d recommend?

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2 thoughts on “An Aside: On a Bit of a SF Buying Binge…

  1. I read Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet recently. A great debut!
    Your list forced me to add some more books to my to buy list.
    So far I read 20 books in 2015 and five of them are definitely science fiction. .

    Like

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