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

Interview with KIMBERLY UNGER

UngerK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Kimberly Unger?

Kimberly Unger is a gift box of contradictions topped with a big yellow bow. She grew up on the beaches of Southern California but is not a fan of avocados, she is deeply entrenched in games and technology but avoids wearing hoodies and conference giveaway t-shirts. She spent almost a decade working in high finance, twice as long in games and entertainment and has just made the jump to virtual reality. All of this has gone towards making her fairly well-rounded and has long-fed her desire to learn new things.

Your debut novel, Nucleation , will soon be published by Tachyon. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Operator Helena Vectorovich managed to botch humanity’s first contact with an alien species. She goes from a woman on top of her game to being sidelined by tragedy and, while fighting her way back to the top was within her scope, that tragedy opened a door for her and she stepped right through it. The book is a standalone, but there are plenty of other stories to tell about Helen so if there’s interest, I’ve got more in my pocket. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Border Crosser: The Sixteen-Year Novel” by Tom Doyle

DoyleT-AuthorPicI have a confession to make. My forthcoming novel, Border Crosser, took sixteen years to write.

Border Crosser is the story of Eris, a psychologically extreme secret agent who fights the fascist klept-oligarchs and theocrats of the far future while struggling to recover her own mind.

That such a novel took sixteen years seems as unusual to me as it probably seems to you. So far, I’ve written five novels. Three of those were part of the American Craft trilogy. Another fantasy novel is currently in the trunk (which means I’m not currently trying to sell it, and may revise it later). Each of those four books was written in a year of concerted effort, with some minor revisions afterwards.

Border Crosser didn’t go like that at all. 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

Upcoming: IN THE QUICK by Kate Hope Day (Random House)

DayKH-InTheQuickUSPitched as a novel ‘in the tradition of Station Eleven and The Martian‘ (both novels I really enjoyed), Kate Hope Day‘s upcoming novel In the Quick caught my attention. Not only does it have a striking cover (not sure I’ve seen many astronauts with a pink background), but the synopsis also makes it sound really interesting:

A young, ambitious female astronaut’s life is upended by a fiery love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew…

June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention, who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive.

She seeks out James, her uncle’s former protégée, also brilliant, also difficult, who has been trying to discover why Inquiry’s fuel cells failed. James and June forge an intense intellectual bond that becomes an electric attraction. But the love that develops between them as they work to solve the fuel cell’s fatal flaw threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create — and any chance of bringing the Inquiry crew home alive.

Equal parts gripping narrative of scientific discovery and charged love story, In the Quick is an exploration of the strengths and limits of human ability in the face of hardship and the costs of human ingenuity. At its beating heart are June and James, whose love for each other is eclipsed only by their drive to conquer the challenges of space travel.

In the Quick is due to be published by Random House in North America, on March 2nd, 2021. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any UK-specific release information.) In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading more by the author, check out her debut, If, Then.

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Upcoming: BEAR HEAD and ONE DAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Ad Astra/Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-DoW2-BearHeadUKIt’s always great news when you learn about a new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky. But in 2021, we’re going to get (at least) two new books! Long-time readers of CR will know how much I enjoy Tchaikovsky’s work, so let’s get straight to the details!

First up, there’s Bear Head, which is the second novel in the author’s Dogs of War series. Due to be published by Ad Astra/Head of Zeus on January 7th, 2021, here’s the synopsis:

Mars. The red planet. A new frontier for humanity, a civilization where humans can live in peace, lord and master of all they survey.

But this isn’t Space City from those old science-fiction books. We live in Hell City, built into and from a huge subcontinent-sized crater. There’s a big silk canopy over it, feeding out atmosphere as we generate it, little by little, until we can breathe the air.

It’s a perfect place to live, if you actually want to live on Mars. I guess at some point I had actually wanted to live on Mars, because here I am. The money was supposed to be good, and how else was a working Joe like me supposed to get off-planet exactly? But I remember the videos they showed us – guys, not even in suits, watching robots and bees and Bioforms doing all the work – and they didn’t quite get it right…

Tchaikovsky-OneDayAllThisWillBeYoursThen, in early March, Solaris are due to publish a new novella: One Day All This Will Be Yours. It looks quite different to Bear Head, but that’s something we should expect from Tchaikovsky by this point (he dabbles in seemingly every SFF sub-genre):

A smart, funny tale of time-travel and 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.

I’m really looking forward to both of these books. If you can’t wait, and need something else by the author to tide you over for a little while, then be sure to check out The Doors of Eden, which is out now in the UK (Tor) and due to be published in North America next month (Orbit — although, the eBook is available already).

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Quick Review: REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)

OkoraforN-RemoteControlAn intriguing novella about belonging, community, and what drives us

An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death’s adopted daughter…

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa — a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks — alone, except for her fox companion — searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

I’ve been a fan of Nnedi Okorafor’s work since Lagoon. Since then, I’ve always kept my eyes open for new fiction by the author. I’m happy to report that Remote Control is an excellent sci-fi novella, and I really enjoyed reading it. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE LAST WATCH by J.S. Dewes (Tor Books)

DewesJS-D1-LastWatchUSFirst spotted this when the cover was revealed earlier this week. Then I did some digging, and think The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes sounds rather interesting. The first novel in the Divide series, it’s pitched as a space adventure that is like “The Expanse meets Game of Thrones“, I’m looking forward to giving it a try:

The Divide.

It’s the edge of the universe.

Now it’s collapsing — and taking everyone and everything with it.

The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels — the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military.

At the Divide, Adequin Rake, commanding the Argus, has no resources, no comms — nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted.

They’re humanity’s last chance.

J.S. Dewes’s The Last Watch is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on April 20th, 2021.

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Very Quick Review: SCIONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

HorusHeresy-ScionsOfTheEmperorA short collection of stories to add colour to some of the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions. They were warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend. From a tale of Ferrus Manus in his earliest days to mysterious murders that lead Rogal Dorn into peril on the eve of the Siege of Terra, the eight tales in this volume lay bare key moments in the lives of these mighty heroes.

CONTENTS
Canticle by David Guymer
The Verdict of the Scythe by David Annandale
A Game of Opposites by Guy Haley
Better Angels by Ian St Martin
The Conqueror’s Truth by Gav Thorpe
The Sinew of War by Darius Hinks
The Chamber at the End of Memory by James Swallow
First Legion by Chris Wraight

Each of these stories adds a bit of colour and depth to what we know about the Primarchs. There are eight stories, so they don’t cover all of the Emperor’s sons, but a good range is featured. I enjoyed these. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE FUTURE IS YOURS by Dan Frey (Del Rey)

FreyD-TheFutureIsYoursUSTechnology, prediction and friendship collide in Dan Frey‘s upcoming The Future is Yours. I spotted this today on Edelweiss, and think it has a really intriguing premise. The author has described it as “like The Social Network with a time-travel twist, told as a digital epistolary.” Here’s the official synopsis:

Two best friends create a computer that can see one year into the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship — and society — apart.

Ben Boyce and Teddy Chaudry are outsiders struggling to find their place in Silicon Valley. But when Ben reads Teddy’s graduate dissertation about an obscure application for quantum computing, he has a vision of a revolutionary new technology: a computer that can see forward through time by communicating with its future self.

The two friends quit their jobs and team up to form a business, building a company that will deliver their groundbreaking device to consumers around the world. Rival tech giants try to steal their innovation, while government agencies attempt to bury it — but Ben and Teddy are helped by their own cutting-edge technology, staying a step ahead of the competition and responding to challenges before they arise.

As the tension mounts, Ben and Teddy’s friendship begins to fracture under the weight of ambition, jealousy, and greed. Most frightening of all, they discover the dark side of the machine they’ve created — the ways in which viewing the future sets them on a path toward unavoidable disaster of epic, apocalyptic proportions. Unless they can disrupt the technological system they’ve created, there won’t be any future at all.

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the social costs of innovation and asks how far you’d be willing to go to protect the ones you love — even from themselves.

Dan Frey’s The Future is Yours is due to be published by Del Rey in North America and in the UK, in February 2021.

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