Interview with ELLY BANGS

BangsE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Elly Bangs?

I’m a Seattle-based science fiction and fantasy author. I’ve been writing stories and novels since I was a kid, but I only started seriously sending my work out into the world in 2017; around that time I was lucky enough to find a day job that lets me scrape by while still leaving me time to write. Since then I’ve had about a dozen stories out in publications including ClarkesworldBeneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. What else? I live with my partner and two cats. I treasure my friendship with my Clarion West class. I enjoy bicycling, tinkering with circuitry, and baking pies — though not at the same time. Continue reading

Upcoming: TOWER by Bae Myung-hoon (Honford Star)

BaeMH-TowerUKI only heard about Bae Myung-hoon‘s Tower when a review copy arrived in the mail. I’m very glad it did, though, because not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but it also sounds really interesting. (I think I’ll also be exploring more of Honford Star’s titles, too — their “mission is to publish the best literature from East Asia, be it classic or contemporary.”) Very much looking forward to giving it a try. Here’s the synopsis:

Tower is a series of interconnected stories set in Beanstalk, a 674-story skyscraper and sovereign nation. Each story deals with how citizens living in the hypermodern high-rise deal with various influences of power in their lives: a group of researchers have to tell their boss that a major powerbroker is a dog, a woman uses the power of the internet to rescue a downed fighter pilot abandoned by the government, and an out-of-towner finds himself in charge of training a gentle elephant to break up protests. Bae explores the forces that shape modern life with wit and a sly wink at the reader.

Bae Myung-hoon’s Tower is due to be published by Honford Star in the UK, on February 15th, 2021.

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Upcoming: BLINDSPACE by Jeremy Szal (Gollancz)

SzalJ-C2-BlindspaceLast year, Jeremy Szal‘s debut novel Stormblood made quite a splash when it was published. It is one of the novels that is rapidly climbing my never-ending TBR mountain, but now I have a target: get it read before Blindspace is published. Really looking forward to reading both of these novels. Here’s the synopsis:

Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper: a bio-enhanced soldier fighting for the Harmony, against a brutal invading empire. He’s still fighting now, on a different battlefield: taking on stormtech. To make him a perfect soldier, Harmony injected him with the DNA of an extinct alien race, altering his body chemistry and leaving him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. But although they meant to create soldiers, at the same time Harmony created a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.

Now, Vakov may have walked away from Harmony, but they still know where to find him…

Jeremy Szal’s Blindspace is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on October 28th, 2021.

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Quick Review: VALDOR by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-Valdor-BirthOfTheImperiumOne of the most important characters from the Horus Heresy series, and also an illuminating glimpse at the early Imperium

Explore the history of one of the most well known heroes of the Imperium…

Constantin Valdor. It is a name that brings forth images of heroism, honour and peerless duty. For it is he who commands the will of the Legio Custodes that most esteemed and dedicated cadre of elite warriors. He is the Emperor’s sword, His shield, His banner and he knows no equal. Clad in shining auramite, his fist clenched around the haft of his Guardian Spear, he is the bulwark against all enemies of the throne, within or without.

Nearing the end of the wars of Unity, Valdor’s courage and purpose is put to the test as never before. The petty warlords and tyrants of Old Earth have been all but vanquished, and the Emperor’s armies are triumphant. What now for the nascent Imperium and what fate its forgotten soldiers, its Thunder Warriors and armies of Unity? A new force is rising, one which shall eclipse all others and open the way to the stars. But change on Terra is seldom bloodless and for progress to be ensured darker deeds are necessary.

This is the first in Black Library’s Horus Heresy Character series — a series of novels that expands the overall Horus Heresy series in some way. Focusing on Constantin Valdor, the commander of the Legio Custodes, the Emperor’s personal guard. It’s a novel that not only gives us some more insight and background to the character, but also an interesting and illuminating (to a point) glimpse at the early years of the Imperium, before mankind had set out once again for the stars. A quick, interesting and engaging read. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE ALBUM OF DR. MOREAU by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com)

GregoryD-AlbumOfDrMoreauA fantastic science fictional twist on detective fiction and pop culture

It’s 2001, and the WyldBoyZ are the world’s hottest boy band, and definitely the world’s only genetically engineered human-animal hybrid vocal group. When their producer, Dr. M, is found murdered in his hotel room, the “boyz” become the prime suspects. Was it Bobby the ocelot (“the cute one”), Matt the megabat (“the funny one”), Tim the Pangolin (“the shy one”), Devin the bonobo (“the romantic one”), or Tusk the elephant (“the smart one”)?

Las Vegas Detective Luce Delgado has only twenty-four hours to solve a case that goes all the way back to the secret science barge where the WyldBoyZ’ journey first began — a place they used to call home.

It feels like a long time since I last read something by Gregory. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since I read Afterparty. He has a great writing and storytelling style. This new novella is a fantastic read: an intriguing, inventive science-fiction twist on detective fiction and pop culture. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD by Cassandra Khaw (Erewhon)

KhawC-AllConsumingWorldUSTor.com has described the protagonist in Cassandra Khaw‘s newest novel as having “heavy Furiosa vibes” (if you don’t know the reference, please go and watch Mad Max: Fury Road before you do anything else). I’ve enjoyed the other work by Khaw that I’ve read, and am looking forward to reading The All-Consuming World, a science fiction novel about a group of cyborg ex-cons who want to rescue a missing teammate:

A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade… but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir.

The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. 

“Dimmuborgir”… I wonder if it’s named after the band?

Cassandra Khaw’s The All-Consuming World is due to be published by Erewhon in North America and in the UK, on June 22nd, 2021.

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Upcoming: THE NINTH METAL by Benjamin Percy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Hodder)

PercyB-CC1-NinthMetalIn June, readers will be able to enjoy a new novel by Benjamin Percy: The Ninth Metal is the first novel in the Comet Cycle series. I’m a big fan of Percy’s fiction, non-fiction, and comics, so this was always going to be on my most-anticipated list for 2021. Here’s the synopsis:

An explosive, breakout speculative thriller in which a powerful new metal arrives on Earth in the wake of a meteor shower, triggering a massive new “gold rush” in the Midwest and turning life as we know it on its head. The first of a cycle of novels set in a shared universe.

It began with a comet. When it came into view on a close pass by Earth, people took off work, gathering on sidewalks and in parking lots to watch it burn by. One year later, Earth spun into the debris field the comet left behind. The worldwide effects of the meteor shower are yet to be known, but in the first book of the Comet Cycle, Minnesota seemed to bear the brunt of the damage: meteors annihilated barns and silos, cratered pastures and hardwood forests, tore up county highways, and evaporated one small town in an instant.

At first, it is a colossal disaster. Until the people of Minnesota notice deposits of unusual metal in the comet’s debris. Not gold, silver, copper, tin, iron or any of the noble metals, it’s a previously unknown ninth metal: omnimetal. With high-density charging capabilities and conductive properties that can change the world as an energy source, the deposit might be the best thing that ever happened to the northern section of the state, where the economy has been dying for a long time. Or it might be the worst.

It is then that the “gold rush” begins. Farmers sell their metal-rich land for millions. Comet-worshipping cults set up compounds and repeat the phrase “Metal is” as their mantra. Roughnecks flood the town, hungry for work and trouble. Prostitutes flourish. Businesses rise. Families are divided. Saudis bid against the Chinese on land grabs. Bodies lie in shallow graves. As witnessed when oil was discovered in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota, the heartland in our story goes from the middle of nowhere to the center of everything. And one family — the Frontiers — hopes to control it all.

Benjamin Percy’s The Ninth Metal is due to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America (June 1st) and Hodder in the UK (June 10th). The second novel in the series — The Unfamiliar Garden — is due out in January 2022.

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Upcoming: TEN LOW by Stark Holborn (Titan)

HolbornS-TenLowI first discovered Stark Holborn via the excellent Nunslinger novel, which was initially released in a serialized format. More recently, I very much enjoyed the novella Triggernometry. This year, Holborn returns with Ten Low, a new science fiction novel, which I’m really looking forward to reading:

Ten Low is an ex-army medic, one of many convicts eking out a living at the universe’s edge. She’s desperate to escape her memories of the interstellar war, and the crimes she committed, but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. One night, attempting to atone for her sins, she pulls a teenage girl – the sole survivor – from the wreck of a spaceship. But Gabriella Ortiz is no ordinary girl. The result of a military genetics programme, she is a decorated Army General, from the opposing side of the war to Ten. Worse, Ten realises the crash was an assassination attempt, and that someone wants the Ortiz dead…

The pair bury their hatreds and strike an uneasy deal to smuggle the General off-world. Their road won’t be easy: they must cross the moon’s lawless wastes, facing military hit squads, bandits and the one-eyed leader of an all-female road gang, in a frantic race to get the General to safety. But something else waits in the darkness at the universe’s edge. Something that threatens to reveal Ten’s worst nightmare: the truth of who she really is and what she is running from.

Stark Holborn’s Ten Low is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on June 1st, 2021.

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Upcoming: SHARDS OF EARTH by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor UK)

TchaikovskyA-ShardsOfEarthUSAdrian Tchaikovsky has a new sci-fi novel due out in 2021: Shards of Earth! The first in the Final Architecture series (not sure if this will be a trilogy or more), it sounds bold and ambitious. Pitched as “an extraordinary new space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all”, I’m really looking forward to reading this.

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 Shards of Earth is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (August 3rd) and Tor Books in the UK (May 27th).

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Upcoming: FURIOUS HEAVEN by Kate Elliott (Ad Astra)

ElliottK-2-FuriousHeavenUKIn 2021, Ad Astra are due to publish Furious Heaven, the sequel to Kate Elliott’s acclaimed Unconquerable Sun. A space opera trilogy inspired by the life of Alexander The Great, it has plenty of “non-stop action, space battles and intrigue”. While I still have to get caught up on the first novel, I’m really looking forward to reading them both. Here’s the synopsis for the second novel:

The Republic of Chaonia fleets under the joint command of Princess Sun and her formidable mother, Queen-Marshal Eirene, have defeated and driven out an invading fleet of the Phene Empire, although not without heavy losses. But the Empire remains strong and undeterred. While Chaonia scrambles to rebuild its military, the Empire’s rulers are determined to squash Chaonia once and for all by any means necessary.

On the eve of Eirene’s bold attack on the rich and populous Karnos System, an unexpected tragedy strikes the republic. Sun must take charge or lose the throne. Will Sun be content with the pragmatic path laid out by her mother for Chaonia’s future? Or will she forge her own legend despite all the forces arrayed against her?

Kate Elliott’s Furious Heaven is due to be published by Ad Astra in the UK (September 1st). The first novel was published in North America by Tor Books, so I guess the second novel will be as well (no details at time of writing, though).

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