Upcoming: SWEEP OF STARS by Maurice Broaddus (Tor.com)

BroaddusM-SweepOfStarsNext year, Tor Books are due to publish the first book in Maurice Broaddus‘s new Astra Black trilogy: a sci-fi epic that explores the struggles of  members of the interstellar Muungano empire — a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretches from O.E. (original earth) to Titan — as it faces an escalating series of threats. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Broaddus’s previous work, and I’m rather looking forward to giving this a try. Here’s the synopsis:

“The beauty in blackness is its ability to transform. Like energy we are neither created nor destroyed, though many try.” — West African Proverb

The Muungano empire strived and struggled to form a utopia when they split away from old earth. Freeing themselves from the endless wars and oppression of their home planet in order to shape their own futures and create a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretched from Earth and Mars to Titan.

With the wisdom of their ancestors, the leadership of their elders, the power and vision of their scientists and warriors they charted a course to a better future. But the old powers could not allow them to thrive and have now set in motion new plots to destroy all that they’ve built.

In the fire to come they will face down their greatest struggle yet.

Amachi Adisa and other young leaders will contend with each other for the power to galvanize their people and chart the next course for the empire.

Fela Buhari and her elite unit will take the fight to regions not seen by human eyes, but no training will be enough to bring them all home.

Stacia Chikeke, captain of the starship Cypher, will face down enemies across the stars, and within her own vessel, as she searches for the answers that could save them all.

The only way is forward.

Maurice Broaddus’s Sweep of Stars is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on March 29th, 2022.

Also on CR: Interview with Maurice Broaddus (2017); Guest Post on “Worldbuilding Pimp My Airship

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: LAST EXIT by Max Gladstone (Tor)

GladstoneM-LastExitUSI can’t remember when or where I first heard about Max Gladstone‘s upcoming new novel, Last Exit (probably from a catalogue), but after the cover was revealed my interest was well and truly piqued — I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but just look at it. Described as “American Gods meets The Dark Tower in Last Exit,” I think this is going to be a good one. Here’s the synopsis:

Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart.

Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart.

Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US.

When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts.

Zelda’s getting the band back together ― plus Sal’s young cousin June, who has a knack none of them have ever seen before.

As relationships rekindle, the friends begin to believe they can find Sal and heal all the worlds. It’s not going to be easy, but they’ve faced worse before.

But things have changed, out there in the alts. And in everyone’s hearts.

Fresh from winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards, Max Gladstone weaves elements of American myth ― the muscle car, the open road, the white-hatted cowboy ― into a deeply emotional tale where his characters must find their own truths if they are to survive.

Max Gladstone’s Last Exit is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on February 22nd, 2022.

Also on CR: Interview with Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar (2019)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: SHARDS OF EARTH by Adrian Tchaikovksy (Orbit/Tor UK)

TchaikovskyA-FA1-ShardsOfEarthUSHCAn excellent start to a new space opera series

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery…

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared — and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects — but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time is one of my favourite science fiction novel of the past decade or so (probably true for many others — it justifiably won the Arthur C. Clarke Award). Shards of Earth is the first novel in a new science fiction series from the author, and it’s quite the opening salvo: expansive, action-packed, and populated by varied and engaging characters. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with S. QIOUYI LU

LuSQ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is S. Qiouyi Lu?

I’m a freelance writer and translator based in Los Angeles, CA. I primarily write speculative fiction, including fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I translate from Chinese to English. The majority of my work has been short fiction. In the Watchful City will be my longest publication to date.

Your debut novella, In the Watchful City, is due out from Tordotcom Publishing in August. It looks really interesting. How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

In the Watchful City is similar to 1,001 Nights — there are a few short stories, each illustrating a particular region in the same secondary world, interspersed between a frame narrative about authority and autonomy. I’ve been describing it as “biocyberpunk,” in that there’s a strong focus on technology, but that technology is rooted in nature rather than in artificial creations like computer chips. I would say the story itself is a cross between Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and the short story/movie Minority Report. Continue reading

Quick Review: GODBLIGHT by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DI3-GodblightThe long-awaited, final Dark Imperium novel

The paths of Roboute Guilliman and his fallen brother Mortarion bring them inexorably together on Iax. Once a jewel of the Imperium, the garden world is dying as the plans of the Lord of Death to use it as a fulcrum to drag the stellar realm of Ultramar into the warp come to deadly fruition.

While Guilliman attempts to prevent the destruction of his kingdom, Mortarion schemes to bring his brother low with the Godblight, a disease created in the Cauldron of Nurgle itself, made with the power to destroy a son of the Emperor.

Primarchs clash on the ravaged landscapes of Iax. The gods go to war and the wider galaxy balances on a knife-edge of destruction. As something powerful stirs in the sea of souls, only one thing is certain – no matter who wins the last great clash of the Plague War, the repercussions of victory will echo through eternity…

The long-awaited conclusion to the Dark Imperium trilogy. I’ve been looking forward to this novel for quite some time, eager to learn what happens when Guilliman finally confronts his fallen brother Mortarion. Offering a good balance between world-building, character development, and action, this was worth the wait. I really enjoyed this.
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Annotated Excerpt: TEN LOW by Stark Holborn (Titan Books)

HolbornS-TenLowA large chunk of this book was written as a NaNoWriMo project a few years ago. I’d never done NaNo before (I did write most of Nunslinger’s 180k words in about eight hazy months, so I wasn’t too worried about word count), but I’d come out of a crappy year in terms of publishing, and wanted to write something just for me. An idea that had zero ties to the publishing world, didn’t have the market in mind and was just a mash up of influences that had been percolating, which ranged from Mad Max: Fury Road to Hard to be a God.

I think I write best in intense, consuming bursts – I like writing that way, at least. Most of Ten Low was written with headphones on, ambient desert wind roaring, getting words down without worrying too much about where things were going. I ended up with 50k words that way. Of course, when it came to fleshing those words out into a full novel, I completely ran out of gas; spent weeks agonising over the fact I didn’t know what the plot was or why; resorted to augury in the form of flipping through a dictionary, stabbing at random words, which – horrifyingly – worked.

So, writing an annotated excerpt has been an interesting experience, because so much of what I wrote at first was subconscious, especially this first chapter. I knew where I wanted to set the book. I knew who the main character was, roughly who else she would meet and… that was it. This chapter hasn’t changed all that much since I first scrawled out those first 1000 words for NaNoWriMo. I hope it does the job and welcomes you to the dusty, teeming moon of Factus, where an ex-convict medic sits alone by a fire, one dark night…

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Interview with JOHN APPEL

AppelJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is John Appel?

I’m an SFF writer from Maryland, recently retired after a career in information security and technology risk. I’m married to a university administrator and have two disabled adult children. I was a US Army paratrooper and cavalry scout back in the 1980s, and a life-long tabletop gamer. These days, aside from writing (and reading), my main hobbies are woodworking and historical fencing.

Your latest novel, Assassin’s Orbit, is due to be published by Solaris in the summer. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Assassin’s Orbit starts with the investigation of an assassination/mass murder, but quickly spirals into a major planetary conflict. The protagonists have to work together to both solve the murder and deal with the events that spill from it, which include discovering that a threat from the past might just still be with them. Continue reading

Excerpt: HOW TO MARS by David Ebenbach (Tachyon)

EbenbachD-HowToMarsHopefully, you caught my interview with David Ebenbach yesterday. (If not, go check that out!) Today, Tachyon Publications has provided CR with an excerpt from David’s new novel, How to Mars. Due out later this month, here’s the synopsis:

What happens when your dream mission to Mars is a reality television nightmare? This debut science-fiction romp with heart follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a hint of The Real World.

For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars — in exchange for a lifetime of research — was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth.

But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.

Now, on with the Excerpt!

Continue reading

Interview with DAVID EBENBACH

EbenbachD-AuthorPic(creditJoeKing)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is David Ebenbach?

Hi! Nice to meet you. Well, I’m a writer, which in my case is rooted in a blend of curiosity and introversion. I’m deeply, fundamentally, persistently curious about the human experience — what we feel, what we do, why we do what we do, and how we feel about doing it. At the same time, my favorite place to be, quarantine or not, is at home with just my family (and sometimes all alone at my desk). So that’s where writing comes in — digging into the human experience without, you know, getting overwhelmed by being around humans all the time. If you see what I mean.

And, as you’ll notice in most of my answers in this interview, I’m also a big “on the one hand… but on the other hand” person. Life is complicated!

Your new novel, How to Mars, is due to be published by Tachyon. It looks really fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

On one level, How to Mars is the story of six people who, for a variety of personal reasons, volunteered to go on a dubious one-way mission to Mars. It’s dubious because it’s funded by a reality show that’s being made about the mission and it’s run by a really eccentric organization. The organization has left them with a lot of odd advice and guidance and one ironclad rule: NO SEX ON MARS. Well, of course a couple of the Marsonauts ignore that rule, and now there’s the first-ever pregnancy on another planet. That would be dangerous enough in the hostile environment of Mars, but there are also hints of an alien presence, and the engineer with the somewhat violent streak is starting to behave pretty erratically. Continue reading

Upcoming: FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN by Tade Thompson (Orbit)

ThompsonT-FarFromTheLightOfHeavenThe cover and synopsis for Tade Thompson‘s next novel — Far From the Light of Heaven — was unveiled by Orbit Books a little while ago. In addition to that eye-catching artwork, the novel’s synopsis also grabbed my attention, and I’m very much looking forward to reading this:

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years from home to bring thousands of sleeping souls to safety among the stars.

Some of the sleepers, however, will never wake — and a profound and sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel as its skeleton crew make decisions that will have repercussions for the entire system — from the scheming politicians of Lagos station to the colony of Nightshade and the poisoned planet of Bloodroot, poised for a civil war.

Tade Thompson’s Far From the Light of Heaven is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on October 26th, 2021. Thompson is also the author of the superb Molly Southbourne novellas, the Wormwood Trilogy, and Making Wolf — all out now!

Also on CR: Reviews of The Murders of Molly Southbourne and The Survival of Molly Southbourne

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter