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: NOTES FROM THE BURNING AGE by Claire North (Orbit)

NorthC-NotesFromTheBurningAgeA new novel from Claire North is always something to cheer. This year, Orbit are due to publish the author’s latest novel, Notes From the Burning Age, which is “a story set in an age after the world has burned, which explores whether humankind can change the paths we seem fated to follow”. The publisher unveiled the cover earlier today. Really looking forward to this. Check out the synopsis:

Once, we lived through the Burning Age — the time when we cared so little for the world that it went up in flames. It was a punishment. But it was also a gift, and centuries of peace followed.

Once, Ven was a holy man, studying texts from the ashes of the past, sorting secrets from heresies. But when he gets caught up in the political scheming of the Brotherhood, he finds himself in the middle of a war, fuelled by old knowledge and forbidden ambition.

There was a time when the world burned. Now, some want to set the fire again…

Claire North’s Notes From the Burning Age is due to be published by Orbit Books (July 6th) in North America and in the UK (July 8th).

Also on CR: Reviews of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustTouchThe Gameshouse, The Sudden Appearance of Hope, and Sweet Harmony

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE FIRST OMEGA by Megan O’Keefe (Orbit)

OKeefeM-FirstOmegaYesterday, Orbit unveiled the eye-catching cover for The First Omega by Megan O’Keefe. Described as “Mad Max meets X-Men“, it certainly caught my attention. Check out the synopsis:

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.

Megan O’Keefe’s The First Omega is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on March 30th, 2021. Looking forward to reading this.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE PARIAH by Anthony Ryan (Orbit)

RyanA-CoS1-PariahAnthony Ryan has a new novel out this year! The Pariah is the first in a new fantasy series, the Covenant of Steel. In addition to that moody cover (which I rather like), the novel’s premise promises an action-packed fantasy of revenge, intrigue, and more:

Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?

The Pariah is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on August 24th, 2021.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Inspiration for Fantasy Authors”

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Upcoming: THE BROKEN GOD by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-BIL3-BrokenGodsThis year, Orbit are due to publish the third book in Gareth Hanrahan‘s Black Iron Legacy fantasy series. I’ve fallen a little behind on this series, and have only read the first book, The Gutter Prayer (which I did enjoy: the characters and world-building are excellent). So, I really must get caught up before The Broken God arrives in May. For those who are caught up, here’s the synopsis:

Enter a city of dragons and darkness…

The Godswar has come to Guerdon, dividing the city between three occupying powers. A fragile armistice holds back the gods, but other dangerous forces seek to exert their influence. Spar Idgeson, once heir to the brotherhood of thieves has been transformed into the living stone of the new city. But his powers are failing and the criminal dragons of the Ghierdana are circling.

Meanwhile, far across the sea, Carillon Thay—once a thief, a saint, a god killer; now alone and powerless—seeks the mysterious land of Khebesh, desperate to find a cure for Spar. But what hope does she have when even the gods seek vengeance against her?

The Broken God is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on May 18th, 2021.

Also on CR: Interview with Gareth Hanrahan (2019); Review of The Gutter Prayer

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Interview with KRISTYN MERBETH

MerbethK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Kristyn Merbeth?

Hi! I’m an author, gamer, and SFF enthusiast. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m often playing video games, board games, or Dungeons & Dragons. I also love to cook, and my latest hobby is making alcoholic ice cream.

Memoria, your second Nova Vita Protocol novel, is due to be published by Orbit in December. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? What can fans of the first novel, Fortuna, expect from the follow-up?

My usual quick pitch is “a dysfunctional family of smugglers in space!” The five human-settled planets of Nova Vita are all close enough to see one another clearly in the skies above, but a long history of distrust has led to laws that make traveling between them nearly impossible. Fortuna is one of the last remaining ships that can cross otherwise-closed borders — which the Kaiser family uses to smuggle illegal goods between the planets. But when the family is drawn into a messy interplanetary conflict, the two eldest siblings – broody soldier and former golden child Corvus and troublemaking, fast-talking scapegoat Scorpia — are faced with a choice about which of them will inherit the ship, and where they will lead the family if the system goes to war. Continue reading

Upcoming: SON OF THE STORM by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit)

OkungbowaSD-NR1-SonOfTheStormUSNext year, Orbit Books is due to publish Son of the Storm, the first novel in Suyi Davies Okungbowa‘s Nameless Republic trilogy. Pitched as “a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forbidden magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa,” I’m really looking forward to reading this. (Also, that’s a great cover.) Here’s the full synopsis:

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands — which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist — and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields.

Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso and Lilong will set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore.

*

Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s Son of the Storm is due to be published by Orbit Books on May 11th, 2021, in North America and in the UK. The author’s debut novel, David Mogo Godhunter is out now, and recommended.

Also on CR: Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa (2019)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

Very Quick Review: THE DOORS OF EDEN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor UK)

TchaikovskyA-DoorsOfEdenUSAn intriguing, twisty portal fantasy

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

In his latest novel, Adrian Tchaikovsky takes his imagination into a new area of SFF: portal fantasy. It quickly becomes clear that this is more evidence that the author really can turn his hand to anything. An intriguing mix of mystery, fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: SWEET HARMONY by Claire North (Orbit)

NorthC-SweetHarmonyAn unnerving, sharply observed and altogether too plausible novella

Harmony is tired. Tired of working so hard, tired of the way she looks, tired of being average. But all that changes when she decides to splash out and upgrade her nanos.

And why not? Everyone’s doing it now. With a simple in-app purchase, you can update the tech in your bloodstream to transform yourself — get enhanced brain power, the perfect body or a dazzling smile.

Suddenly, everything starts going right for Harmony. She’s finally becoming the person she always wanted to be. But when she ends up running too many upgrades on her body all at once, the effects will be more catastrophic than she could have imagined.

A sharply observed, albeit depressing vision of the future that is all too plausible. Another very good novella from North, one of the best and most interesting authors writing today. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC by Brian McClellan (Orbit Books)

McClellanB-PM3-AutumnRepublicThe conclusion to the Powder Mage trilogy

Tamas, Taniel, and Adamat have been betrayed and Adro now lies in the hands of a foreign invader. But it remains the duty of the powder mages to defend their homeland unto death…

The capital has fallen…
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…

Brian McClellan’s first two Powder Mage novels were great — I remember devouring them both. With great characters, an interesting magic system, and a balanced blend of action and political mystery, they ticked pretty much all of my reading buttons. For some reason, I left The Autumn Republic for quite some time before reading it (the author has written an entire other trilogy since this one). I enjoyed it, but it didn’t pack the kind of punch I expected from the end of a trilogy. Continue reading