Quick Review: THE FIRST WALL by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

ThorpeG-HHSoT3-FirstWallMaster siege breaker meets master defender…

The outer defences have fallen, but the walls of the Imperial Palace stand. To break them, the Traitors need their most devastating weapons – and so the Lion’s Gate Spaceport must be theirs…

The war for the fate of mankind blazes on. Though the outer defences have fallen, the walls of the Palace itself remain inviolate as Rogal Dorn, the Praetorian of Terra himself, uses every known stratagem and ploy to keep Horus’s vast armies at bay. In Perturabo, the Traitor siegebreaker, Dorn faces an adversary worthy of his skill. A terrible, grinding attrition ensues. The crucial battle for the Lion’s Gate space port is at the heart of this conflict. With it in their possession, the Traitors can land their most devastating weapons on Terran soil. Dorn knows it must not fall. But with enemies attacking from all sides, and the stirrings of the Neverborn drawn to the slaughter, can the Imperial defenders possibly prevail?

This is the third novel in the Siege of Terra series, the closing act of the epic Horus Heresy. The traitors have broken the planet’s outer defences, and are in the process of breaking into the continent-sized Imperial Palace. A bit of a slower novel than the first two in the series, but still an excellent addition to the series. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: PROVIDENCE by Max Barry (Putnam)

BarryM-ProvidenceUSThe highly-anticipated return of Max Barry!

Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity–and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss–a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.

Back in 2013, I read and very much enjoyed Max Barry’s Lexicon. Then everything went quiet… This year, though, the author returns with Providence: an interesting and engaging sci-fi thriller. I quite enjoyed this. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Worldbuilding Interconnectivity” by Amber Royer

RoyerA-C3-FakeChocolateI think bats are one of the coolest animals – and one of the most maligned. Look at their faces. They’re basically flying puppies, and many species can eat up to 8,000 insects in a single night. We used to have a small colony of Mexican free-tail bats in a tree across the street from our house, and we never had mosquito issues. It broke my heart when the neighbors cut down that tree and the bats moved.

And when you talk about chocolate, and the ecosystem where it’s grown, it’s hard to ignore the importance of bats. Cacao trees grow fruit in pods with thick, waxy outsides, pineapple scented pulp, and purple-brown seeds that eventually can become chocolate.  Bats are one of the animals with the patience to chew through the pod to get to the sweet pulp. They disperse the seeds, helping propagate new cacao trees. Meanwhile, other bats are busy eating insects that otherwise might harm the trees. And still different species of bats are pollinating other plants in the same ecosystem, such as banana flowers. Continue reading

Interview with EELEEN LEE

LeeE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Eeleen Lee?

A denizen of the night. Seriously, I’m not a day person and function best after 7pm and during the wee hours.

But also seriously: I’m a Chinese-Malaysian who’s lived in a few different countries and had a peripatetic childhood and education.

Your new novel, Liquid Crystal Nightingale, is due to be published by Abaddon in March. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

An initial review compared the experience of reading the novel to Snow Crash and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because, like those two novels, Liquid Crystal Nightingale hurls the reader into the story with little handholding. Although I would introduce it as hard science fiction that’s not hard to read.

I would call it a space operetta: it’s not the usual wide-screen space opera but the events foreshadow bigger rumblings in the background, which will be covered in more detail in a second book. Continue reading

Quick Review: FIREWALKERS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

Tchaikovsky-FirewalkersOn a scorched Earth, access to energy can mean the difference between life and death.

Firewalkers are brave. Firewalkers are resourceful. Firewalkers are expendable.

The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And as for power?

Well, someone has to repair the solar panels, down in the deserts below.

Kids like Mao, and Lupé, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope.

The Firewalkers.

Firewalkers is the latest shorter novel by Tchaikovsky. A mystery set in an environmentally ravaged future, it follows a group of firewalkers as they are sent out to investigate some strange energy surges and interruptions. A bleak picture of the future, one in which the very few have left the many behind. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: SEPULTURUM by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

KymeN-SepulturumSomething strange is happening to all the people…

Morgravia Sanctus is being hunted. Hiding in the low-hive of Blackgheist, she pieces together the fragments of her broken memory, trying to regain her past even as a hideous plague sweeps the hive, turning men into monsters…

Morgravia Sanctus is being hunted; why or by whom she doesn’t know. Something terrible has happened to her, a profound trauma that has left behind ‘red dreams’ and a physical agony that can strike at any moment. Her life in danger and her memory fragmented, she arrives in the low-hive of Blackgheist to escape her pursuers and search for ‘the Broker’ – a trafficker in memories and psychic mind manipulation. Soon after, a plague sweeps the city, turning its citizens into blood-hungry monsters. Order collapses, death and slaughter are rampant. Caught up in the carnage, Morgravia must flee once more. But as the ravening spreads, is there any hope of stopping this contagion?

Nick Kyme’s Sepulturum is a great, classic hive city story, with added zombies! Atmospheric, quickly paced, it ticks all the boxes of a great WH40k novel. Bringing the zombie genre firmly into that of the WH40k setting, I rather enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with T. R. NAPPER

NapperTR-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is T. R. Napper?

My website has, as a subheading: “writes, plays poker, smashes poverty with his bare hands.” This is a decent summary.

The last, obviously ironic reference, is to my previous career as an aid worker in Southeast Asia. I worked on projects that delivered basic education to some of the poorest communities in places like Laos and Burma, where children would never otherwise have set foot inside a school.

I did once play a lot of poker, I was what you’d call a ‘semi-professional’, meaning I derived part of my income from cards. I quit for a few years, but just recently got back into it with gusto.

These days I work in the community sector with ‘at risk’ teenagers and with people living with autism. I’m a professional dungeon master, as well. Continue reading