Very Quick Review: THE LEGACY OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE by Tade Thompson (Tor.com)

ThompsonT-MS3-LegacyOfMollySouthbourneBringing Molly Southbourne’s story to a bloody end

Whenever Molly Southbourne bled, a murderer was born. Deadly copies, drawn to destroy their creator, bound by a legacy of death. With the original Molly Southbourne gone, her remnants drew together, seeking safety and a chance for peace. The last Molly and her sisters built a home together, and thought they could escape the murder that marked their past.

But secrets squirm in Molly Southbourne’s blood — secrets born in a Soviet lab and carried back across the Iron Curtain to infiltrate the West. What remains of the Cold War spy machine wants those secrets back, and to get them they’re willing to unearth the dead and destroy the fragile peace surrounding the last copies of Molly Southbourne.

The Molly Southbourne novellas were my introduction to Tade Thompson’s writing, and they have cemented him as a must-read author. The series boasts a fascinating premise, one that has been developed over the course of the three novellas. Bringing it all together very nicely, I really enjoyed this satisfying conclusion. Continue reading

Upcoming: WALK THE VANISHED EARTH by Wein Swan (Viking)

SwanE-WalkTheVanishedEarthUSHCIt was the cover for Erin Swan‘s upcoming new novel, Walk the Vanished Earth, that originally caught my attention. However, pitched as being “in the tradition of Station Eleven, Severance and The Dog Stars” (two of which I’ve read and very much enjoyed), the synopsis further cemented my interest in it. Due out in May, here’s what it’s about:

A beautifully written and emotionally stirring dystopian novel about how our dreams of the future may shift as our environment changes rapidly, even as the earth continues to spin.

The year is 1873, and a bison hunter named Samson travels the Kansas plains, full of hope for his new country. The year is 1975, and an adolescent girl named Bea walks those very same plains; pregnant, mute, and raised in extreme seclusion, she lands in an institution, where a well-meaning psychiatrist struggles to decipher the pictures she draws of her past. The year is 2027 and, after a series of devastating storms, a tenacious engineer named Paul has left behind his banal suburban existence to build a floating city above the drowned streets that were once New Orleans. There with his poet daughter he rules over a society of dreamers and vagabonds who salvage vintage dresses, ferment rotgut wine out of fruit, paint murals on the ceiling of the Superdome, and try to write the story of their existence. The year is 2073, and Moon has heard only stories of the blue planet — Earth, as they once called it, now succumbed entirely to water. Now that Moon has come of age, she could become a mother if she wanted to–if only she understood what a mother is. Alone on Mars with her two alien uncles, she must decide whether to continue her family line and repopulate humanity on a new planet.

A sweeping family epic, told over seven generations, as America changes and so does its dream, Walk the Vanished Earth explores ancestry, legacy, motherhood, the trauma we inherit, and the power of connection in the face of our planet’s imminent collapse.

This is a story about the end of the world — but it is also about the beginning of something entirely new. Thoughtful, warm, and wildly prescient, this work of bright imagination promises that, no matter what the future looks like, there is always room for hope.

Really looking forward to reading this. Erin Swan’s Walk the Vanished Earth is due to be published by Viking in North America, on May 31st. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK edition.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

MandelESJ-SeaOfTranquilityUSHCAn intriguing, gripping novel of time travel, family, and humanity

A novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon five hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal — an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

The highly anticipated new novel from the author of Station Eleven. The premise for Sea of Tranquility, I thought, was really interesting, so I eagerly requested a review copy. It’s the fourth of the author’s novels that I’ve read, and exceeded my high expectations. I read it shortly after receiving it, and I am very happy to report that it’s an excellent read. For some reason, I also found it rather tricky to review…
Continue reading

Upcoming: JANUARY FIFTEENTH by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)

SwirskyR-JanuaryFifteenthThe cover for Nebula Award-winning author Rachel Swirsky‘s upcoming new novella, January Fifteenth was unveiled a little while ago, and it caught my attention. After reading the synopsis, my interest was further piqued:

January Fifteenth — the day all Americans receive their annual Universal Basic Income payment.

For Hannah, a middle-aged mother, today is the anniversary of the day she took her two children and fled her abusive ex-wife.

For Janelle, a young, broke journalist, today is another mind-numbing day interviewing passersby about the very policy she once opposed.

For Olivia, a wealthy college freshman, today is “Waste Day”, when rich kids across the country compete to see who can most obscenely squander the government’s money.

For Sarah, a pregnant teen, today is the day she’ll journey alongside her sister-wives to pick up the payment­­s that undergird their community — and perhaps embark on a new journey altogether.

In this near-future science fiction novella by Nebula Award-winning author Rachel Swirsky, the fifteenth of January is another day of the status quo, and another chance at making lasting change.

Rachel Swirsky’s January Fifteenth is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on June 14th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, by Gabrielle Zevin (Knopf)

ZevinG-TomorrowAndTomorrowAndTomorrowUSHCTomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin has been the subject of quite a bit of pre-publication buzz — it’s appeared on a number of Most Anticipated Books of 2022 lists (which is how I learned of it). Aside from the eye-catching cover, the premise also promises an interesting and intriguing read:

Let the games begin! A glorious and immersive novel about two childhood friends, once estranged, who reunite as adults to create video games, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. They borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo: a game where players can escape the confines of a body and the betrayals of a heart, and where death means nothing more than a chance to restart and play again. This is the story of the perfect worlds Sam and Sadie build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, games as artform, technology and the human experience, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

As is the norm for me, after learning about this novel I went out and picked up a couple of Zevin’s other novels: Young Jane Young and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Looking forward to reading them.

Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is due to be published by Knopf in North America (July 12th) and Chatto & Windus in the UK (July 14th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with SCOTTO MOORE, Author of BATTLE OF THE LINGUIST MAGES

MooreS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Scotto Moore?

I’m a playwright-turned-novelist, an amateur house music DJ, and a curator of bizarre and beautiful media, sitting somewhere between absurdist and existentialist on the “why is life even a thing” scale.

Your latest novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages was recently published by Tor.com. It has a really intriguing premise: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The book is a near future science fantasy adventure about Isobel Bailie, an extremely talented VR gamer who learns that her skills in the game have uses in the real world. She finds herself caught between a powerful conspiracy and spellcasting anarchists in a struggle to save the world from a vicious threat on its way to Earth from beyond this dimension of reality altogether.

And then, if the potential reader was still paying attention, I’d also mention that the game she excels at is a medieval rave themed game called Sparkle Dungeon. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES BREAKWELL, Author of THE CHOSEN TWELVE

BreakwellJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Breakwell?

Father. Comedy writer. Pig owner. Overall mediocre human being. I write daily jokes on the internet for free and occasional books in print for money.

Your new novel, The Chosen Twelve, is due to be published by Solaris in January. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thousands of years in the future, the last twenty-two humans in existence, all of them children, are charged with settling a new planet under the less-than-benevolent guidance of the self-interested robots who raised them. The kids discover that, contrary to the promises of their digital overlords, the landing craft that will make the one-way trip to the planet only has twelve seats. Those who secure a spot will lead the human race, possibly forever — or until they get killed by the biologically engineered super kangaroos who now hold the planet, whichever comes first. Those who don’t get a seat will be left behind to die on the decaying moon base, aging slowly without the injections from the immortality chamber that have kept them artificially young for decades. The resulting struggle to secure those seats will determine the fate not only of the last twenty-two humans, but also of all sentient life in the universe, both organic and digital. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE EMPEROR’S LEGION by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-WotT1-EmperorsLegionPolitics on Terra as the galaxy burns

The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s praetorian guard, the defenders of Terra and watchers over the Golden Throne. But when a threat arises, they and their Sisters of Silence allies may find themselves pressed almost beyond endurance…

The Custodian Guard have stood watch over the Emperor’s Palace on Terra since the foundation of the Imperium. Charged with protecting the Master of Mankind from all threats, within and without, their fearsome resolve is renowned throughout the galaxy, and their golden armour is the last thing that a would-be assassin or saboteur will ever see. Alongside the Null-maidens of the Sisters of Silence, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there is no threat to the Golden Throne that they alone cannot vanquish… until now.

The Emperor’s Legion is a novel that takes a look at the politics of the Imperium, and the ways in which recent events in the larger WH40k meta-story have changed… well, almost everything. While it has plenty of action, it felt quite different to many other Black Library novels. An interesting and illuminating shift in focus and perspective, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: OGRES by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-OgresAn excellent novella from one of the modern masters of fantasy/sci-fi

Ogres are bigger than you.
Ogres are stronger than you.
Ogres rule the world.

It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.

Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.

But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.

Tchaikovsky’s latest novella is an intriguing, engaging examination of a whole swathe of human qualities — ambition, weakness, economics, and more. Interesting from start to finish, it’s packed with original spins on a number of fantasy/sci-fi features. Each year, the author publishes a new book that shows readers that his range is far larger than we already believed. Continue reading

Interview with GAIE SEBOLD, Author of BAD GODS

SeboldG-AuthorPic2021Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Gaie Sebold?

I never quite know how to answer this question in a way that doesn’t sound dreadfully dull! I’m a married fantasy writer with a cat. I used to do some interesting things and then middle age — not to mention the pandemic — happened. Now I mostly sit at a desk. I have been known to perform poetry to an audience, and run around in a wood with a latex sword, or a gym with a wooden one. I grow vegetables and cook.  That’s me.

Your debut novel, Bad Gods (originally titled Babylon Steel), is due to be re-issued by Solaris, in January. I really enjoyed it when it was first published, but for new-/latecomers: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s about a woman who runs a brothel, in a city connected by a series of portals to various planes. She gets hired to find a missing person case and also tracks down a serial killer while avoiding her own past. It has occasional sexy bits and more than occasional funny bits and quite frequent serious bits. It’s the first in what is currently a two book series, which I hope may be extended. Continue reading