Quick Review: CHILDREN OF RUIN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor UK)

Tchaikovsky-C2-ChildrenOfRuinUKThe Children of Time are going on an adventure…

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.

Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.

But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.

And it’s been waiting for them.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Clarke Award-winning Children of Time is one of my favourite sci-fi novels. When it was announced that he was going to revisit the setting (it was originally meant as a stand-alone, I believe), it was music to my ears. The story is comprised of two threads — one sort-of parallel to the first novel (“past”) and also a continuation of that story (“present”). A substantial tale of exploration, hubris, and contact with others, this is a very good read.

Continue reading

Quick Reviews: THE DEVASTATION OF BAAL by Guy Haley & MEPHISTON: REVENANT CRUSADE by Darius Hinks (Black Library)

BloodAngels-Haley&Hinks

Two recent novels of the Blood Angels

The Blood Angels are probably one of the most popular Space Marine chapters/legions (depending on the timeline in which you’re reading). In these two novels — one a stand-alone, the other a middle-volume in a trilogy — we learn more about some of the central, legendary characters. Specifically, Commander Dante and Chief Librarian Mephiston. We are also given a glimpse at the Blood Angels’ psyche, and their eternal struggle against the Flaw. I enjoyed both of them. Continue reading

Upcoming: AXIOM’S END by Lindsay Ellis (St. Martin’s Press)

EllisL-AxiomsEndUSI stumbled across Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis in a Macmillan catalogue, and thought it sounded rather interesting. Pitched as “Stranger Things meets Arrival“, I am quite intrigued. Here’s the synopsis:

An alternate history first contact adventure set in the early 2000’s…

By the fall of 2007, one well-timed leak revealing that the U.S. government might have engaged in first contact has sent the country into turmoil, and it is all Cora Sabino can do to avoid the whole mess. The force driving this controversy is Cora’s whistleblower father, and even though she hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government — and redirected it to her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him — until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

To save her own life, she offers her services as an interpreter to a monster, and the monster accepts.

Learning the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to find the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. But in becoming an interpreter, she begins to realize that she has become the voice for a being she cannot ever truly know or understand, and starts to question who she’s speaking for — and what future she’s setting up for all of humanity.

Axiom’s End is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with VICKI JARRETT

JarettV-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Vicki Jarrett?

Do other people have coherent answers when asked who they are? I’m not one of those people. As a massive over-thinker, questions like that can create sink holes in my brain that’ll take me weeks to crawl out of so, sorry, but I’ll pass on that one.

Your new novel, Always North, was recently published by Unsung Stories. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Always North is about complicity, accountability and our messed-up environment, about what constitutes mind and memory, and how wrong we might be about the way time works. It’s set over two time frames and settings: an oil survey vessel in the Arctic Ocean in 2025 and the Scottish Highlands in 2045. It’s been called ‘psychological scifi’ and ‘speculative literary fiction’ but I’m happy for readers to decide what they think it is. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY by Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com)

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayAn amusing, interesting and thought-provoking sci-fi novella

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

This novella was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t read anything by Hossain before, but The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday turned out to be amusing, engaging, and also thought-provoking. I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

Upcoming: WAR OF THE MAPS by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)

McAuleyP-WarOfTheMapsUKPaul McAuley‘s novels always sound fascinating. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read as much of his work as I would like (especially given how many of his books I own).  His most recent novel, Austral, is of particular interest and I hope to get to it very soon. In March 2020, Gollancz are due to publish his latest sci-fi adventure, War of the Maps. Check out the synopsis:

On a giant artificial world surrounding an artificial sun, one man – a lucidor, a keeper of the peace, a policeman – is on the hunt. His target was responsible for an atrocity, but is too valuable to the government to be truly punished. Instead he has been sent to the frontlines of the war, to use his unique talents on the enemy. So the lucidor has ignored orders, deserted from his job, left his home and thrown his life away, in order to finally claim justice.

Separated by massive seas, the various maps dotted on the surface of this world rarely contact each other. But something has begun to infiltrate the edges of the lucidor’s map, something that genetically alters animals and plants and turns them into killers. Only the lucidor knows the depths to which his quarry will sink in order to survive, only the lucidor can capture him. The way is long and dangerous. The lucidor’s government has set hunters after him. He has no friends, no resources, no plan.

But he does have a mission.

Really looking forward to reading this one. War of the Maps is due to be published by Gollancz on March 19th, 2020, in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: ANTHROPOCENE RAG by Alex Irvine (Tor.com)

IrvineA-AnthropoceneRagNext year, Tor.com are due to publish a new novella by Alex Irvine that looks very interesting: Anthropocene Rag. I wasn’t sure if I’d read anything else by Irvine, but while putting together this post, I remembered his short story Black Friday (which I enjoyed). He has also worked extensively in comics, games, and many other novels and short stories. Anthropocene Rag is due to be published on March 31st, 2020. Here’s the synopsis:

In the future United States, our own history has faded into myth and traveling across the country means navigating wastelands and ever-changing landscapes.

The country teems with monsters and artificial intelligences try to unpack their own becoming by recreating myths and legends of their human creators. Prospector Ed, an emergent AI who wants to understand the people who made him, assembles a ragtag team to reach the mythical Monument City.

In this nanotech Western, Alex Irvine infuses American mythmaking with terrifying questions about the future and who we will become.

Looking forward to this.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter