New Books (January-February)

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Featuring: Mary Adkins, Jonathan Ames, David Annandale, David W. Brown, Michael Carroll, Becky Chambers, Andy Clark, Dan Frey, Betina González, Andrew J. Graff, Marlowe Granados, John Gwynne, Paul Herron, T.L. Huchu, Gregg Hurwitz, Elizabeth Knox, Oliver K. Langmead, Peter Mendelsund, Annalee Newitz, Gareth L. Powell, Tim Seeley, Laurel Sills, Jen Silverman, Matt Smith, Tasha Suri, Aidan Truhen

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Quick Review: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers (Tor.com)

ChambersB-M&R1-APsalmForTheWildBuiltA monk and a robot go for a wander in the woods(ish)…

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

This novella was a great, pleasant surprise. It’s quite a small story, but one that takes a look at some pretty big questions. Its two main characters are fantastic, and is a breath of fresh air in today’s rather bleak times. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

New Books (August)

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Featuring: Mary Adkins, David Annandale, Mike Brooks, Christopher Brown, Becky Chambers, Doug Cooper, Edward Cox, Evan Currie, Felicia Day, Rachel Harrison, Justin D Hill, Darius Hinks, Jonathan Maberry, Nathan Makaryk, Seanan McGuire, Téa Obreht, Matthew Quirk, Mo Rocca, Matt Ruff, Joseph Schneider, David Wragg

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Quick Review: TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers (Voyager/Hodder)

ChambersB-ToBeTaughtIfFortunateUSA stand-alone novella from the award-winning author of the Wayfarers series

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.

A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this novella ever since I read the synopsis. I was not disappointed: this is an engaging, very well-written novella about exploration and the decisions and ethics that surround it. Continue reading

Upcoming: TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers (Voyager / Hodder)

ChambersB-ToBeTaughtIfFortunate

Above you can see the North American and UK covers for To Be Taught, If Fortunate, the upcoming new novella by Becky Chambers. Chambers is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wayfarer sci-fi series. This novella is a stand-alone, and one that sounds really interesting:

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.

A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate is due to be published in North America by Voyager (September 3rd), and in the UK by Hodder (August 8th). I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming in 2017… Harper Voyager

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Tricky to find information about Voyager UK titles, unless they’re already established authors (Mark Lawrence, Richard Kadrey, etc.). So, this post features predominantly titles published in both North America and the UK.

Featuring: Christopher Brown, Becky Chambers, Nicky Drayden, Patrick Hemstreet, Richard Kadrey, Mark Lawrence, Wesley Snipes

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New Books (October)

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Featuring: Ben Aaronovitch, Ray Bradbury, Ron Chernow, Douglas Coupland, Charles Cumming, David Dalglish, William C. Dietz, Gavin Extence, Tana French, Jilly Gagnon, John Grisham, Laurell K. Hamilton, Liz Harmer, Oliver Harris, Michael Harvey, Annie Hauxwell, Tracy & Laura Hickman, James Islington, Paulette Jiles, Reed Karaim, Joseph Knox, Mur Lafferty, Mike MacDonald, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Elan Mastai, Will McIntosh, Nnedi Okorafor, J.D. Oswald, Benjamin Percy, Plutarch, Daniel Pyne, Scott Reardon, Noah Richler, Adam Roberts, James Rollins, John Sandford, George Saunders, Laurence Scott, Marcus Sedgwick, A.J. Smith, Gerard Stembridge, Gav Thorpe, Ian Tregillis, K.B. Wagers, Brent Weeks, Ronald Wright, Roger Zelazny

Above Image: Cover Crop of Bunker #19 (Oni Press)

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Upcoming: A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT by Becky Chambers (Hodder)

ChambersB-W2-AClosedAndCommonOrbitUKA Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (which I have, but still need to read — hopefully soon). The series has been very well received by reviewers, and is often described as a perfect read for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon’s various projects, and Star Wars. I think both novels sound great. Here’s the synopsis:

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for — and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

Becky Chambers‘s A Closed and Common Orbit is due to be published by Hodder in the UK, on October 20th, 2016. Voyager is due to publish The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in May 2016, and A Closed and Common Orbit in October 2016, in the US.

For more on Becky Chambers’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and also follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

New Books (March-April)

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Featuring: Guy Adams, Jack Campbell, Becky Chambers, Nick Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Robert Glinski, Sally Green, Dave Guymer, Samantha Harvey, Roger Hobbs, Lucy Hounsom, Stephen Lloyd Jones, Ken Liu, Thomas Mallon, K.T. Medina, Nnedi Okorafor, Bryony Pearce, Andrew Pyper, Josh Reynolds, Ross Ritchell, Lilith Saintcrow, J.P. Smythe, Liesel Schwarz, Sara Taylor, Steve Toltz, Daniel Torday, David Wellington, Chuck Wendig, Paul Witcover Continue reading

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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