(Very) Quick Review: THE SURVIVAL OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE by Tade Thompson (Tor.com)

ThompsonT-MS2-SurvivalOfMollySouthbourneUSMolly Southbourne returns: on the run, and maybe carrying another secret…?

Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?

A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.

Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?

In this second novella featuring Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson expands offers another entertaining, twisty and intriguing mystery. It’s very difficult to review this without spoiling the whole story of The Murders of Molly Southbourne. I think I want to avoid that, so I’m going to keep this review very short and to-the-point. 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: MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com)

Tchaikovsky-MadeThingsI will share information about each and every new Adrian Tchaikovsky book for as long as Civilian Reader continues. A fantastic author, with a prodigious imagination and a work/writing ethic (combined with ever-greater quality) that we can only aspire to emulating. Made Things is his next novella, due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 5th. The cover and synopsis were recently unveiled on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. Here’s what it’s about:

She was good at making friends.

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like friends: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.

After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must reexamine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and GoldGuns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads, Walking to Aldebaran

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: PERIHELION SUMMER by Greg Egan (Tor.com)

EganG-PerihelionSummerA story of survival and coming together in the face of catastrophic environmental change

Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system.

Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this novella ever since I saw that stunning cover. I know, I know: don’t judge a book by its cover. But, damn, that’s a gorgeous image. Devastating, too: a world both on fire and experiencing  deep freeze at opposing poles. Egan’s novella is a well-written, unsettling story of how fragile the world is, but also how humanity can pull together to help one another in the face of incredible hardship. Continue reading

Upcoming: MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeUSToday, Subterranean Press announced the latest novella by K.J. Parker that they will publish: My Beautiful Life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything Subterranean Press has published of Parker’s, although I have allowed myself to fall behind a bit. (Parker is a prolific writer of novellas and short fiction, and the publisher has released a number of anthologies that are tricky to get ahold of outside of the US, but I’ve been working on collecting them all.) If you are familiar with Parker’s Tor.com novellas — The Devil You Know (one of my favourites) and The Last Witness — then I’m sure you’ll want to pick up this latest books.

Due to be published in November 2019, here’s the synopsis for My Beautiful Life:

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells the story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother — who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows. Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself. 

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

As I mentioned above, Parker has published a number of titles with Subterranean Press, including: Father of LiesAcademic ExercisesMightier than the Sword, Downfall of the Gods, and Savages.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY by Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com)

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayI haven’t read anything else by Saad Z. Hossain, but his upcoming novella from Tor.com sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in mid-August. Here’s the synopsis for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday:

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK. The author’s latest work includes Escape from Baghdad! and a contribution to The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE UNDEFEATED by Una McCormack (Tor.com)

McCormackU-UndefeatedA fantastic sci-fi novella

She was a warrior of words.

As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.

Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest — and self-created — enemy, the jenjer.

Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.

I’ve been looking forward to this novella ever since I read the synopsis. I’m very happy to report that it totally lived up to my high expectations. A journalist returns home as the universe holds its breath, waiting for a potential threat to reveal itself. Continue reading