Very Quick Review: SISTERS OF THE VAST BLACK by Lina Rather (Tor.com)

RatherL-SistersOfTheVastBlackAn intriguing sci-fi story of secrets and survival

The sisters of the Order of Saint Rita captain their living ship into the reaches of space…

Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations, a living, breathing ship which seems determined to develop a will of its own.

When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care — and that of the galactic diaspora — are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.

This, for me, was a novella ultimately about secrets: the secrets we tell ourselves, and those we keep from others — especially those who are close to us. It is also set in an engaging, interesting version of the future. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com)

Tchaikovsky-MadeThingsAn interesting new fantasy novella from one of the most versatile, talent (and consistent) authors writing today

Making friends has never been so important.

Welcome to Fountains Parish — a cesspit of trade and crime, where ambition curls up to die and desperation grows on its cobbled streets like mold on week-old bread.

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like companions: 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 re-examine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

I’m always eager to read any new novella (or full-length novel) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Long-time readers of CR will know how much I enjoy his work, and that I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read. Made Things is no exception: this is an engaging, imaginative story in a new fantasy setting. Continue reading

Upcoming: UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

GaileyS-UprightWomenWantedI enjoyed Sarah Gailey‘s American Hippo novellas — a fun, interesting and imaginative take on the alternate history western genre. (If you haven’t tried them, yet, I’d highly recommend giving them a try.) Next February, the author returns with Upright Women Wanted, another pulpy western:

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Upright Women Wanted is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 4th, 2020. Gailey’s latest novel, Magic For Liars, is also out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Gailey (2017); Review of River of Teeth

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-ProspersDemonJust a quite post to draw your attention to this, the latest novella by master of the form K.J. ParkerProsper’s Demon is out in late January 2020, and is easily one of my most-anticipated books of next year. Here’s the synopsis:

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

Parker’s novellas are among some of my favourite reads of the past few years. The Devil You Know, in particular, cemented his place among the ranks of my favourite authors.

Prosper’s Demon is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 28th, 2020.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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

(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