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

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

Quick Review: THE LONG GAME by K. J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-LongGameUSNo matter what we might believe, we are all pawns in a far larger, longer game than we can imagine

The unnamed narrator of The Long Game is an Adept, a member of an Ecclesiastical order charged, among other things, with opposing a race of immaterial demons, creatures capable of possessing and controlling human minds. Complicating the narrator’s life is the fact that, over time, he has developed a cordial “relationship” with one of the demons. Complicating matters further is the unexpected arrival of Amalasomtha, a young woman with impossible abilities who claims to have come from the remote — perhaps mythical — country of Idalia. She also claims that, for reasons she does not entirely understand, she has been tasked with capturing one such demon and returning with it to Idalia. The truth, it turns out, is considerably more complex.

Amalasomtha’s arrival sets in motion a chain of events encompassing murder, magic, deception, and an array of unintended consequences. By the story’s end, this consistently witty account of demonic possession, hidden agendas and Ecclesiastical politics has taken us to some unexpected places and given us a glimpse of a larger story still, the “long game” that lies at the heart of all human history.

This new novella from K. J. Parker seems to be set around the same demon mythology that the author introduced in Prosper’s Demon, and has appeared in a few other recent novellas. It’s a novella that displays all of Parker’s fantastic gifts for storytelling: a playful humour, intelligence, and a well-paced and -balanced narrative. As expected, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY by Becky Chambers (Tor.com)

ChambersB-M&R2-PrayerForTheCrownShyNext summer, Tor.com are due to publish the second novella in Becky Chambers‘s Monk & Robot science fiction series: A Prayer For the Crown-Shy. The first book in the series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, was a great surprise and one of my favourite reads of the year. The cover for book two was unveiled recently, in addition to the synopsis:

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is a story of kindness and love from one of the foremost practitioners of hopeful SF.

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

In a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on July 22nd, 2022. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Also on CR: Reviews of A Psalm for the Wild-Built and To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Very Quick Review: THE FIRST OMEGA by Megan O’Keefe (Orbit)

What happens when a corporate hunter is deemed obsolete…?

It doesn’t matter what you call her. Riley. Burner. She forgot her name long ago. But if you steal from the supply lines crossing the wasteland, her face is the last one you’ll see.

She is the force of nature that keeps the balance in the hot arid desert. Keep to yourself and she’ll leave you well enough alone. But it’s when you try to take more than you can chew that her employers notice and send her off to restore the balance.

Then she gets the latest call. A supply truck knocked over too cleanly. Too precise. And the bodies scattering the wreckage weren’t killed by her normal prey of scavengers. These bodies are already rotting hours after the attack.

Cowering in the corner of the wreckage is a young girl. A girl that shouldn’t be there. A girl with violently blue eyes. Just like hers.

The First Omega is a new, stand-alone novella from the author of (most recently) the acclaimed Protectorate sci-fi series. When it was first announced, the description that this was like “Mad Max meets X-Men” caught my attention. A bleak picture of a blasted future, one with a Western feel, it is a story of nature-vs-nurture, and how to face obsolescence. I rather enjoyed it. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE PAST IS RED by Catherynne M. Valente (Tor.com)

ValenteCM-PastIsRedThis summer, Tor.com are due to publish The Past is Red, an intriguing-looking new post-eco-apocalypse sci-fi novella by Catherynne M. Valente. Check out the synopsis:

The enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world.

The future is blue. Endless blue… except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

Catherynne M. Valente’s The Past is Red is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on July 20th, 2021.

Also on CR: Interview with Catherynne Valente (2012); Guest Post on “The Long Orbit of Radiance

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE ALBUM OF DR. MOREAU by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com)

GregoryD-AlbumOfDrMoreauA fantastic science fictional twist on detective fiction and pop culture

It’s 2001, and the WyldBoyZ are the world’s hottest boy band, and definitely the world’s only genetically engineered human-animal hybrid vocal group. When their producer, Dr. M, is found murdered in his hotel room, the “boyz” become the prime suspects. Was it Bobby the ocelot (“the cute one”), Matt the megabat (“the funny one”), Tim the Pangolin (“the shy one”), Devin the bonobo (“the romantic one”), or Tusk the elephant (“the smart one”)?

Las Vegas Detective Luce Delgado has only twenty-four hours to solve a case that goes all the way back to the secret science barge where the WyldBoyZ’ journey first began — a place they used to call home.

It feels like a long time since I last read something by Gregory. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since I read Afterparty. He has a great writing and storytelling style. This new novella is a fantastic read: an intriguing, inventive science-fiction twist on detective fiction and pop culture. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: ONE DAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

Tchaikovsky-OneDayAllThisWillBeYoursA fantastic, amusing and original take on the time travel paradox

Welcome to the end of time. It’s a perfect day.

Nobody remembers how the Causality War started. Really, there’s no-one to remember, and nothing for them to remember if there were; that’s sort of the point. We were time warriors, and we broke time.

I was the one who ended it. Ended the fighting, tidied up the damage as much as I could.

Then I came here, to the end of it all, and gave myself a mission: to never let it happen again.

This is the third of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s novellas that Solaris will publish, and I think it’s easily the best so far. An original and often amusing take on time travel and humanity’s tendency to inevitably ruin everything, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: FIREHEART TIGER by Aliette de Bodard (Tor.com)

deBodard-FireheartTigersmEmpire, love, betrayal, and duty…

Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate — and her own?

This latest novella by Aliette de Bodard is a moving, engaging tale of politics, love, divided loyalties, and betrayal. It has many of the hallmarks of a great de Bodard story, and I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Quick Review: SUN-DAUGHTERS, SEA-DAUGHTERS by Aimee Ogden (Tor.com)

OgdenA-SunDaughtersSeaDaughtersAn intriguing, imaginative debut sci-fi novella

One woman will travel to the stars and beyond to save her beloved…

Gene-edited human clans have scattered throughout the galaxy, adapting themselves to environments as severe as the desert and the sea. Atuale, the daughter of a Sea-Clan lord, sparked a war by choosing her land-dwelling love and rejecting her place among her people. Now her husband and his clan are dying of an incurable plague, and Atuale’s sole hope for finding a cure is to travel off-planet. The one person she can turn to for help is the black-market mercenary known as the World Witch — and Atuale’s former lover. Time, politics, bureaucracy, and her own conflicted desires stand between Atuale and the hope for her adopted clan.

This is an intriguing debut sci-fi novella, following Atuale as she sets out desperately on a perilous journey to save her people. Well-paced, well-written, and imaginative. I enjoyed this. Continue reading