Guest Post: “Voices Across Time” by E. J. Swift

SwiftEJ-CoralBonesUKOne of the themes I wanted to explore in The Coral Bones was the relationship between human beings and non-human animals and beings, and how those relationships have changed — and could change for the better — over time. I’d always conceptualised the novel with multiple timelines and knew that I wanted to reflect both forward and back. Each timeline brought its own specific challenges.

Climate breakdown, and the bleaching of coral reefs caused by heating oceans, is at the heart of Hana’s contemporary storyline, so I decided the historical narrative should be situated early in the fossil fuel age. Whilst Judith is writing her diary in 1839, steam is beginning to revolutionise the world, at a cost no one — at least, no one in Judith’s colonial British society — could imagine. My last novel, Paris Adrift, included historical sections, but those were from the perspective of a time traveller. Writing a historical POV offered a whole new challenge in developing the voice and trying to instil some period texture. Whilst Judith pushes against her social constraints, she is still a product of her time and subject to the worldviews and prejudices of the Western age of exploration — full of enthusiasm for knowledge and discovery, but inextricably linked with imperialism. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE by Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz)

deBodard-RedScholarsWakeUKHCsmEarlier today, Gollancz unveiled Alyssa Winan‘s eye-catching cover for Aliette de Bodard‘s next novel: The Red Scholar’s Wake! Set in the author’s beloved Xuya universe, albeit separated from the region/events of universe’s other novels and stories. The author has said that it is a “[s]tandalone plot and more intimate, more focused on romance. (And some piracy, politics, and space battles obv. And tea and dumplings).” Here’s the synopsis:

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

Really looking forward to reading this! The Red Scholar’s Wake is due to be published in the UK (and Commonwealth) by Gollancz on November 24th. There is no news (yet) of a North American release.

Also on CR: Guest Post/Excerpt on The House of Shattered Wings

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Annotated Excerpt: AUGUST KITKO AND THE MECHAS FROM SPACE by Alex White (Orbit)

WhiteA-SS1-AugustKitkoAndTheMechasFromSpaceToday, I’m very happy to be able to host this (substantial) annotated excerpt from Alex White‘s latest space opera novel, August Kitko and the Mechas From Space! The action-packed first novel in the Starmetal Symphony series, here’s the synopsis:

When an army of giant robot AIs threatens to devastate Earth, a virtuoso pianist becomes humanity’s last hope in this bold, lightning-paced, technicolor space opera series…

Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards — ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine.

But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens–the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus’s swan song becomes humanity’s encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity. 

Now, let’s dive right in…

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Upcoming: CHILDREN OF MEMORY by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor UK/Orbit)

Tchaikovsky-CoT3-ChildrenOfMemoryUKHCThe Clark Award-winning Children of Time (2015) by Adrian Tchaikovsky was, for a short while, one of the best stand-alone science fiction novels I’ve read. In 2019, Tchaikovsky surprised fans by publishing a sequel, Children of Ruin (2019) — a sequel that did not disappoint. Well, this November, fans will be able to return to the setting with Children of Memory! If you’ve yet to read Children of Time, then I strongly recommend it if you’re a fan of science fiction. For those who have, here’s the synopsis for the upcoming third novel:

When Earth failed, it sent out arkships to establish new outposts. So the spaceship Enkidu and its captain, Heorest Holt, carried its precious human cargo to a potential new paradise. Generations later, this fragile colony has managed to survive on Imir, eking out a hardy existence. Yet life is tough, and much technological knowledge has been lost.

Then strangers appear, on a world where everyone knows their neighbour. They possess unparalleled knowledge and thrilling new technology – for they have come from the stars, to help humanity’s lost colonies. But not all is as it seems on Imir.

As the visitors lose track of time and memories, they discover the colonists fear unknown enemies and Imir’s own murky history. Neighbour turns against neighbour, as society fractures in the face of this terrifying foe. Perhaps some other intelligence is at work, toying with colonists and space-faring scientists alike? But not all questions are so easily answered – and the price may be the colony itself.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Memory is due to be published by Tor Books in the UK (November 24th) and Orbit Books in North America (January 31st, 2023).

Also on CR: Reviews of Children of Ruin and Shards of Earth; Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Annotated Excerpt: DRUNK ON ALL YOUR STRANGE NEW WORDS by Eddie Robson (Tor.com)

RobsonE-AuthorPicToday we have an annotated excerpt from Eddie Robson‘s latest novel, Drunk On All Your Strange New Words, which is described as “a locked room mystery in a near future world of politics and alien diplomacy.” I’ve been really looking forward to this one, ever since I learned about it from a publisher’s catalogue. Check out the synopsis:

Lydia works as translator for the Logi cultural attaché to Earth. They work well together, even if the act of translating his thoughts into English makes her somewhat wobbly on her feet. She’s not the agency’s best translator, but what else is she going to do? She has no qualifications, and no discernible talent in any other field.

So when tragedy strikes, and Lydia finds herself at the center of an intergalactic incident, her future employment prospects look dire — that is, if she can keep herself out of jail!

But Lydia soon discovers that help can appear from the most unexpected source…

Now, over to Eddie…

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Upcoming: ECHOES OF ETERNITY by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowdenA-HHSoT6-EchoesOfEternityMore details of the penultimate novel in the Siege of Terra series have been revealed! Written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (author of some of my favourite BL fiction), it moves the action forward as Horus’s forces breach the walls and turn their attention to the final bastions of Imperial defence. After the explosive and amazing ending to the previous novel — Chris Wraight’s Warhawk — this is easily one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. Here’s the synopsis for Echoes of Eternity:

The walls have fallen. The defenders’ unity is broken. The Inner Palace lies in ruins.

The Warmaster’s horde advances through the fire and ash of Terra’s dying breaths, forcing the loyalists back to the Delphic Battlement, the very walls of the Sanctum Imperialis. Angron, Herald of Horus, has achieved immortality through annihilation – now he leads the armies of the damned in a wrathful tide, destroying all before them as the warp begins its poisonous corruption of Terra.

For the Emperor’s beleaguered forces, the end has come. The Khan lies on the edge of death. Rogal Dorn is encircled, fighting his own war at Bhab Bastion. Guilliman will not reach Terra in time. Without his brothers, Sanguinius – the Angel of the Ninth Legion – waits on the final battlements, hoping to rally a desperate band of defenders and refugees for one last stand.

It’s also been revealed that Dan Abnett will be writing the final book in the series — a fitting choice, given that he also wrote the first novel in the Horus Heresy series. Can’t wait to read both of these novels.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Echoes of Eternity is due to be published by Black Library in North America and in the UK, in September 2022.

Also on CR: Reviews of The First Heretic, Betrayer, The Master of Mankind, Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, Void Stalker, The Talon of Horus, and Black Legion.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Annotated Excerpt: GLITTERATI by Oliver K. Langmead (Titan)

LangmeadOK-AuthorPic2021Hello – yes! I have been asked by the fabulous owner of Civillian Reader to share an annotated excerpt from my forthcoming novel Glitterati, which is a dystopian satire about fashion, family and the feckless billionaire class.

Simone is a fashionista – one of the fashionable elites, who live in a sumptuous, opulent utopia, with their every whim catered for. Early in the novel, it is only Simone’s strange anxieties holding him back from being one of the most fabulous people around.

Let me introduce you now to Simone, and one of the most acute sources of anxiety in his life…

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Upcoming: PLEASE REPORT YOUR BUG HERE by Josh Riedel (Henry Holt)

RiedelJ-PleaseReportYourBugHereUSHCI spotted Josh Riedel‘s debut novel in a catalogue, and the synopsis caught my attention, as did the rather colourful cover. Pitched as “For fans of Severance and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” (heard great things about the former, enjoyed the latter), it certainly sounds rather intriguing. Here’s the synopsis for Please Report Your Bug Here:

Once you sign an NDA it’s good for life. Meaning legally, I shouldn’t tell you this story. But I have to.

A newly minted college grad with the six-figure debt to prove it, Ethan Block views San Francisco as the place to be. Yet his job at hot new dating app DateDate is a far cry from what he envisioned. Instead of making the world a better place, he reviews bottomless flagged photo queues, overworked and stressed out. But that’s about to change.

Reeling from a breakup, Ethan decides to view his algorithmically-matched soulmate on DateDate. He overrides the system and clicks on the generated profile. Then, he disappears. One minute, he’s in a windowless office, and the next, he’s in a field of endless grass, gasping for air. When Ethan snaps back to DateDate HQ, he’s convinced an issue in the coding caused the blip. Except for anyone to believe him, he’ll need evidence.

As Ethan embarks on a wild goose chase through the Bay Area, moving from dingy startup think tanks to the chrome-slick office of the Corporation, Silicon Valley’s dominant tech conglomerate, it becomes clear that there’s more to DateDate than meets the eye. With the stakes rising, and a new world at risk, Ethan must choose who — and what — he believes in.

Adrenaline packed and hyper timely, Please Report Your Bug Here is an inventive millennial coming-of-age story, a dark exploration of the corruption now synonymous with Big Tech, and, above all, a testament to the power of human connection in our digital era.

Josh Riedel’s Please Report Your Bug Here is due to be published by Henry Holt in North America and in the UK, on January 17th, 2022.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: NEOM by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon)

Tidhar-CS2-NeomBack in 2016, Tachyon Publications released Lavie Tidhar‘s Central Station, a fantastic novel that went on to win a whole bunch of awards and commendations. Fans of the novel will be very happy to know that a new novel set in the same universe, Neom, is due to be published in November! Here’s the synopsis:

The city known as Neom is many things to many beings, human or otherwise. Neom is a tech wonderland for the rich and beautiful; an urban sprawl along the Red Sea; and a port of call between Earth and the stars.

In the desert, young orphan Saleh has joined a caravan, hoping to earn his passage off-world from Central Station. But the desert is full of mechanical artefacts, some unexplained and some unexploded. Recently, a wry, unnamed robot has unearthed one of the region’s biggest mysteries: the vestiges of a golden man.

In Neom, childhood affection is rekindling between loyal shurta-officer Nasir and hardworking flower-seller Mariam. But Nasu, a deadly terrorartist, has come to the city with missing memories and unfinished business.

Just one robot can change a city’s destiny with a single rose — especially when that robot is in search of lost love.

Lavie Tidhar’s Neom is due to be published by Tachyon Publications in North America and in the UK, on November 9th.

Also on CR: Interview with Lavie Tidhar (2019); Excerpt from The Best of World SF, Volume 1; Reviews of The Violent Century and By Force Alone

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Excerpt: NINE TENTHS by Jeff Macfee (JABberwocky)

MacfeeJ-NineTenthsToday we have an excerpt from Jeff Macfee‘s new novel, Nine Tenths. A blend of mystery and science fiction, here’s the synopsis:

Augment phase technology was rare. The last appearance of anything resembling phase technology was fifteen years ago. I knew the date…

It was the date of the Doctor Dimension repo.

In a world full of “Augments” — humans who use technology to imbue themselves with superpowers of every sort — being an average man would seem a good way to keep out of trouble. Not so for repo man Gayle Harwood. It’s his job to seize enhancements from Augments who fall behind on the payments for their high-tech advantages. And they rarely part with them easily.

Now an infamous job Gayle was a part of long ago has come back to haunt him. An incredibly powerful piece of tech that was supposed to have been turned over to the government is being used again. People are dying, and those in power are convinced Gayle knows something about it.

Unfortunately, they’re right.

And unless Gayle can uncover the sinister secrets of the past and find whoever has hijacked the lost tech and stop them, no superpower in the world is going to be enough to save him…

Read on for Chapter 1…!

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