Very Quick Review: SISTERS OF THE VAST BLACK by Lina Rather (Tor.com)

RatherL-SistersOfTheVastBlackAn intriguing sci-fi story of secrets and survival

The sisters of the Order of Saint Rita captain their living ship into the reaches of space…

Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations, a living, breathing ship which seems determined to develop a will of its own.

When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care — and that of the galactic diaspora — are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.

This, for me, was a novella ultimately about secrets: the secrets we tell ourselves, and those we keep from others — especially those who are close to us. It is also set in an engaging, interesting version of the future. Continue reading

Upcoming: A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK by K.B. Wagers (Voyager)

WagersKB-NeoG1-APaleLightInTheBlackUSK.B. Wagers is the author of the acclaimed Indranan War and Farian War series, published by Orbit (the latter is still ongoing). Next year, the author launches a new series — NeoG — which will be published by Voyager. A Pale Light in the Black is a “rollicking” first entry in the NeoG series, that introduces readers to the Near-Earth Orbital Guard: a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard. Here’s the synopsis for the upcoming novel:

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback — until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own — away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option — and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core… a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

There seems to be a trend in sci-fi at the moment: plucky bands of adventurers venturing out into space and getting up to shenanigans. Personally, I am very much on board for this trend.

A Pale Light in the Black is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in March 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with K.B. Wagers (2016)

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Guest Post: “Our Fascination with Genre Distinctions” by Christopher Ruocchio

RuocchioC-AuthorPicI don’t know what it is about genre distinctions that so fascinates writers and readers alike. We enjoy them perhaps for the same reason we obsess about character classes and skill trees and so on in games like Dungeons and Dragons and why so many of us obsess (wrongly) about “magic systems” (as if anything which supercedes and violates natural law should be systematic, ha)! We like complexity, perhaps too much, we like categories (heavens, so much trouble in fan culture of late is the result of trying to categorize fans and creators alike: for their immutable traits, for the beliefs, for their politics, and so on). Complex categories give the world a texture that we nerds find pleasing, for they bespeak a deep sense not merely of order, but of ordered chaos.

The best of both worlds. Continue reading

Interview with ADA HOFFMANN

HoffmanA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ada Hoffmann?

I’m an autistic computer scientist from Canada and a speculative fiction author. I’ve been publishing short stories since 2010, and I’ve been longlisted for the BSFA and Rhysling awards for my short work. I recently received my PhD from the University of Waterloo and now I’m adjuncting while living with a happy polyamorous family and a very good black cat. When I’m not writing or working, I like music, LARP, and autism self-advocacy.

Your debut novel, The Outside, was published this month by Angry Robot. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Outside is a space opera with AI Gods, cyborg angels, cosmic horrors, multiple factions of compelling villains, and an autistic scientist named Yasira who’s caught in the middle of it all. It stands on its own with a complete plot, but I’d love to expand it into a series if the publisher permits. Continue reading

Interview with TJ BERRY

BerryTJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is TJ Berry?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Seattle. I’m originally from the New York City area, so I have a lot of opinions on the subject of pizza. I’m a survivor of the 2016 six-week Clarion West Writer’s Workshop — also known as sci-fi summer camp. In a previous life, I owned a bakery, and one of my enduring skills is whipping up a batch of cookie dough from scratch in under three minutes. That comes in handy more often than you’d imagine.

Your next novel, Five Unicorn Flush, will be published by Angry Robot in May. The sequel to Space Unicorn Blues, how would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Five Unicorn Flush picks up after the magical Bala have disappeared from the universe and the authoritarian Reason regime has devolved into chaos. All of the cheap labor and magical faster-than-light fuel that humans exploited to fuel their intergalactic expansion are gone. One angry man, Cowboy Jim Bryant, has decided to take the last remaining faster-than-light warship and hunt down the Bala and return them to captivity. His former partner and current nemesis, Captain Jenny Perata, is hot on his tail, keen on stopping him. Continue reading

Excerpt: FLEET OF KNIVES by Gareth L. Powell (Titan)

PowellGL-EoW2-FleetOfKnivesToday, we have a short excerpt from Gareth L. Powell’s Fleet of Knives. The sequel to Embers of War, it is out now, published by Titan Books. Here’s the synopsis:

The former warship Trouble Dog and her crew of misfits is called upon by the House of Reclamation to investigate a distress call from the human starship the Lucy’s Ghost. Her crew abandon their crippled ship and seek refuge abroad an abandoned, slower-than-light generation ship launched ten thousand years before by an alien race. However, the enormous ship contains deadly secrets of its own.

Recovered war criminal, Ona Sudak, faces a firing squad for her actions in the Archipelago War. But, at the last moment, she is smuggled out of her high security prison. The Marble Armada has called for her to accompany its ships as observer and liaison, as it spreads itself across the human Generality, enforcing the peace at all costs. The alien ships will not tolerate resistance, and all dissenters are met with overwhelming and implacable force. Then her vessel intercepts messages from the House of Reclamation and decides the Trouble Dog has a capacity for violence which cannot be allowed to endure.

As the Trouble Dog and her crew fight to save the crew of the Lucy’s Ghost, the ship finds herself caught between chaotic alien monsters on one side, and on the other, destruction at the hands of the Marble Armada.

Read on for the excerpt…

Continue reading

Upcoming: FINDER by Suzanne Palmer (DAW)

PalmerS-1-FinderUSDescribed as an “action-packed sci-fi caper” starring an “interstellar repo man and professional finder”, this debut space opera looks like a lot of fun! Suzanne Palmer‘s Finder (maybe the first in a series?) is due to be published by DAW Books in North America, on April 2nd, 2019. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK edition. Here’s the synopsis:

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He’ll slip in, decode the ship’s compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a gas-giant-harvesting colony called Cernee. But Fergus’ arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger’s enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly — and inconveniently — invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he’s called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

Looking forward to this one!

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