Quick Review: WARHAWK by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-HHSoT5-WarhawkOne of the most-anticipated battles of the Horus Heresy finally comes to pass

The Inner Walls are breached.

Traitor vanguards tear towards the heart of the Palace, sensing victory. Desperate gambits are attempted: an unwilling saint is released into the ruins, as well as an enthusiastic sinner. A black sword rises, forged from spite, ready to create a legend. But amid the slaughter, Jaghatai Khan, Warhawk of Chogoris, prepares to launch the most audacious strike of the conflict. His goal is nothing less than the liberation of the Lion’s Gate space port. Cut off from any help, he stakes everything on one desperate counter-offensive, launched against an old enemy who has been made far greater than he ever was before. As the White Scars ride out against the newly crowned lords of life and death, they know that defeat for them dooms not only the Legion, but Terra itself.

And so we come to the penultimate book in not only the Siege of Terra series, but the Horus Heresy over all. It’s been quite a journey, with many twists and turns of the story along the way. In Warhawk, fans will finally get to read about a particular confrontation that has been a long time coming. It’s one of the most epic duels I’ve read in Black Library fiction (or any other), and Wraight has done a fantastic job of realizing it on the page. I very much enjoyed reading this. Continue reading

Upcoming: EYES OF THE VOID by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor)

TchaikovskyA-FA2-EyesOfTheVoidThe cover for the second novel in Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Final Architecture series, Eyes of the Void, was unveiled a little while ago (perhaps officially today). If you haven’t had a chance to read the first book — Shards of Earth — then I’d definitely recommend you get on that ASAP (I cannot recommend the author’s work highly enough). A series “about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all”, here’s the synopsis for book two:

After eighty years of fragile peace, the Architects are back, wreaking havoc as they consume entire planets. In the past, Originator artefacts – vestiges of a long-vanished civilization – could save a world from annihilation. This time, the Architects have discovered a way to circumvent these protective relics. Suddenly, no planet is safe.

Facing impending extinction, the Human Colonies are in turmoil. While some believe a unified front is the only way to stop the Architects, others insist humanity should fight alone. And there are those who would seek to benefit from the fractured politics of war – even as the Architects loom ever closer.

Idris, who has spent decades running from the horrors of his past, finds himself thrust back onto the battlefront. As an Intermediary, he could be one of the few to turn the tide of war. With a handful of allies, he searches for a weapon that could push back the Architects and save the galaxy. But to do so, he must return to the nightmarish unspace, where his mind was broken and remade.

What Idris discovers there will change everything.

Eyes of the Void is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (May 3rd) and Tor Books in the UK (April 28th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY by Becky Chambers (Tor.com)

ChambersB-M&R2-PrayerForTheCrownShyNext summer, Tor.com are due to publish the second novella in Becky Chambers‘s Monk & Robot science fiction series: A Prayer For the Crown-Shy. The first book in the series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, was a great surprise and one of my favourite reads of the year. The cover for book two was unveiled recently, in addition to the synopsis:

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is a story of kindness and love from one of the foremost practitioners of hopeful SF.

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

In a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on July 22nd, 2022. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Also on CR: Reviews of A Psalm for the Wild-Built and To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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.
Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

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