Interview with SCOTTO MOORE

MooreS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Scotto Moore?

I’m a playwright-turned-novelist, an amateur house music DJ, and a curator of bizarre and beautiful media, sitting somewhere between absurdist and existentialist on the “why is life even a thing” scale.

Your latest novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages was recently published by Tor.com. It has a really intriguing premise: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The book is a near future science fantasy adventure about Isobel Bailie, an extremely talented VR gamer who learns that her skills in the game have uses in the real world. She finds herself caught between a powerful conspiracy and spellcasting anarchists in a struggle to save the world from a vicious threat on its way to Earth from beyond this dimension of reality altogether.

And then, if the potential reader was still paying attention, I’d also mention that the game she excels at is a medieval rave themed game called Sparkle Dungeon. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES BREAKWELL

BreakwellJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Breakwell?

Father. Comedy writer. Pig owner. Overall mediocre human being. I write daily jokes on the internet for free and occasional books in print for money.

Your new novel, The Chosen Twelve, is due to be published by Solaris in January. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thousands of years in the future, the last twenty-two humans in existence, all of them children, are charged with settling a new planet under the less-than-benevolent guidance of the self-interested robots who raised them. The kids discover that, contrary to the promises of their digital overlords, the landing craft that will make the one-way trip to the planet only has twelve seats. Those who secure a spot will lead the human race, possibly forever — or until they get killed by the biologically engineered super kangaroos who now hold the planet, whichever comes first. Those who don’t get a seat will be left behind to die on the decaying moon base, aging slowly without the injections from the immortality chamber that have kept them artificially young for decades. The resulting struggle to secure those seats will determine the fate not only of the last twenty-two humans, but also of all sentient life in the universe, both organic and digital. Continue reading

Quick Review: THANK YOU, MR. NIXON by Gish Jen (Knopf)

JenG-ThankYouMrNixonUSHCA novel comprised of linked short stories, which paints a picture of China’s past half-century

Beginning with a cheery letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on a fictional journey through U.S.-China relations, capturing the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change.
 
Opal Chen reunites with her Chinese sisters after forty years; newly cosmopolitan Lulu Koo wonders why Americans “like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes”; Hong Kong parents go to extreme lengths to reestablish contact with their “number-one daughter” in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on “no politics, just make money,” finds she must reassess her mother’s philosophy.
 
With their profound compassion and equally profound humor, these eleven linked stories trace the intimate ways in which humans make and are made by history, capturing an extraordinary era in an extraordinary way. Delightful, provocative, and powerful, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Gish Jen’s eminent place among American storytellers.

An interesting and engaging novel, Thank You, Mr. Nixon contains 11 linked short stories that give us a glimpse of how China’s social, political and economic evolution since its “opening” affects those who experience it: Chinese, Honk Kongers, members of the wider Chinese diaspora, and others. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE JUSTICE OF KINGS by Richard Swan (Orbit)

SwanR-EotW1-JusticeOfKingsAn excellent start to a new fantasy series

NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW

The Empire of the Wolf simmers with unrest. Rebels, heretics and powerful patricians all challenge the power of the imperial throne.

Only the Order of Justices stands in the way of chaos. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the most feared Justice of all, upholding the law by way of his sharp mind, arcane powers and skill as a swordsman. In this he is aided by Helena Sedanka, his clerk and protégé, orphaned by the wars that forged the empire.

When the pair investigate the murder of a provincial aristocrat, they unearth a conspiracy that stretches to the very top of imperial society. As the stakes rise and become ever more personal, Vonvalt must make a choice: will he abandon the laws he’s sworn to uphold in order to protect the empire?

I remember reading the synopsis for Richard Swan’s debut quite a while ago. “That sounds interesting,” I thought to myself, and made a note. The buzz for the novel grew over the next few months, as it was sent out to authors for blurbs. So, when I was able to read an early copy, I jumped at the chance. The Justice of Kings is a very strong debut, and an engaging start to a new fantasy/crime series. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE EMPEROR’S LEGION by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-WotT1-EmperorsLegionPolitics on Terra as the galaxy burns

The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s praetorian guard, the defenders of Terra and watchers over the Golden Throne. But when a threat arises, they and their Sisters of Silence allies may find themselves pressed almost beyond endurance…

The Custodian Guard have stood watch over the Emperor’s Palace on Terra since the foundation of the Imperium. Charged with protecting the Master of Mankind from all threats, within and without, their fearsome resolve is renowned throughout the galaxy, and their golden armour is the last thing that a would-be assassin or saboteur will ever see. Alongside the Null-maidens of the Sisters of Silence, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there is no threat to the Golden Throne that they alone cannot vanquish… until now.

The Emperor’s Legion is a novel that takes a look at the politics of the Imperium, and the ways in which recent events in the larger WH40k meta-story have changed… well, almost everything. While it has plenty of action, it felt quite different to many other Black Library novels. An interesting and illuminating shift in focus and perspective, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: OGRES by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-OgresAn excellent novella from one of the modern masters of fantasy/sci-fi

Ogres are bigger than you.
Ogres are stronger than you.
Ogres rule the world.

It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.

Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.

But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.

Tchaikovsky’s latest novella is an intriguing, engaging examination of a whole swathe of human qualities — ambition, weakness, economics, and more. Interesting from start to finish, it’s packed with original spins on a number of fantasy/sci-fi features. Each year, the author publishes a new book that shows readers that his range is far larger than we already believed. Continue reading

Interview with GAIE SEBOLD

SeboldG-AuthorPic2021Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Gaie Sebold?

I never quite know how to answer this question in a way that doesn’t sound dreadfully dull! I’m a married fantasy writer with a cat. I used to do some interesting things and then middle age — not to mention the pandemic — happened. Now I mostly sit at a desk. I have been known to perform poetry to an audience, and run around in a wood with a latex sword, or a gym with a wooden one. I grow vegetables and cook.  That’s me.

Your debut novel, Bad Gods (originally titled Babylon Steel), is due to be re-issued by Solaris, in January. I really enjoyed it when it was first published, but for new-/latecomers: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s about a woman who runs a brothel, in a city connected by a series of portals to various planes. She gets hired to find a missing person case and also tracks down a serial killer while avoiding her own past. It has occasional sexy bits and more than occasional funny bits and quite frequent serious bits. It’s the first in what is currently a two book series, which I hope may be extended. Continue reading

Quick Review: AGE OF ASH by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)

AbrahamD-K1-AgeOfAshAn interesting start to a new fantasy series

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Abraham’s work since the Long Price Quartet, so every new novel of his is a highly-anticipated event. Each of his novels and series offers something new for readers. Age of Ash is the first in a new fantasy series, and is packed with interesting ideas and cool twists on fantasy tropes and elements. Continue reading

Quick Review: FUGITIVE TELEMETRY by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MBD6-FugitiveTelemetryMurderbot investigates a murder!

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people — who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

In this sixth book in the Murderbot Diaries, Wells’s fantastic creation finds itself investigating the suspicious death of a human on Preservation Station. It’s a great new direction for the series and character, and one I hope continues in future instalments. Probably unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed this novella. Continue reading

New Books (November-December)

NewBooks-20211218

Another bumper crop of interesting titles — many of which are due out in May 2022, which is shaping up to be a very good-looking book month! Any of these catch your attention, or already on your most-anticipated lists?

Featuring: Daniel Abraham, Samit Basu, Brian Baumgartner, Holly Black, Mike Brooks, Louise Candlish, Dave Eggers, John M. Ford, Max Gladstone, Garrett M. Graff, David Guterson, Saad Z. Hossain, Liska Jacobs, Catherine McKenzie, Leila Mottley, Chris Pavone, Christopher Rowe, John Scalzi, Peng Shepherd, Tara Sim, Matthew Specktor, Nghi Vo, Don Winslow, Olivia Yallop

Continue reading