Upcoming: THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE by Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz)

deBodard-RedScholarsWakeUKHCsmEarlier today, Gollancz unveiled Alyssa Winan‘s eye-catching cover for Aliette de Bodard‘s next novel: The Red Scholar’s Wake! Set in the author’s beloved Xuya universe, albeit separated from the region/events of universe’s other novels and stories. The author has said that it is a “[s]tandalone plot and more intimate, more focused on romance. (And some piracy, politics, and space battles obv. And tea and dumplings).” Here’s the synopsis:

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

Really looking forward to reading this! The Red Scholar’s Wake is due to be published in the UK (and Commonwealth) by Gollancz on November 24th. There is no news (yet) of a North American release.

Also on CR: Guest Post/Excerpt on The House of Shattered Wings

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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

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

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).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: SUN-DAUGHTERS, SEA-DAUGHTERS by Aimee Ogden (Tor.com)

OgdenA-SunDaughtersSeaDaughtersAn intriguing, imaginative debut sci-fi novella

One woman will travel to the stars and beyond to save her beloved…

Gene-edited human clans have scattered throughout the galaxy, adapting themselves to environments as severe as the desert and the sea. Atuale, the daughter of a Sea-Clan lord, sparked a war by choosing her land-dwelling love and rejecting her place among her people. Now her husband and his clan are dying of an incurable plague, and Atuale’s sole hope for finding a cure is to travel off-planet. The one person she can turn to for help is the black-market mercenary known as the World Witch — and Atuale’s former lover. Time, politics, bureaucracy, and her own conflicted desires stand between Atuale and the hope for her adopted clan.

This is an intriguing debut sci-fi novella, following Atuale as she sets out desperately on a perilous journey to save her people. Well-paced, well-written, and imaginative. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: PERSEPHONE STATION by Stina Leicht (Saga Press)

LeichtS-PersephoneStationUSOn January 5th, 2021, Saga Press are due to publish the latest novel by Stina Leicht. Pitched as a space opera “for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop“, Persephone Station sounds like it’ll be great fun. Check out the synopsis:

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner, caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will effect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.

Stina Leicht’s Persephone Station is due to be published by Saga Press on January 5th, 2021, in North America (at the time of writing, I’m not sure about a UK release). If you can’t wait that long, I’d recommend you also check out the author’s Malorum Gates duology — Cold Iron and Blackthorne — published by Saga Press in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Stina Leicht (2012)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Guest Post: “Worldbuilding Interconnectivity” by Amber Royer

RoyerA-C3-FakeChocolateI think bats are one of the coolest animals – and one of the most maligned. Look at their faces. They’re basically flying puppies, and many species can eat up to 8,000 insects in a single night. We used to have a small colony of Mexican free-tail bats in a tree across the street from our house, and we never had mosquito issues. It broke my heart when the neighbors cut down that tree and the bats moved.

And when you talk about chocolate, and the ecosystem where it’s grown, it’s hard to ignore the importance of bats. Cacao trees grow fruit in pods with thick, waxy outsides, pineapple scented pulp, and purple-brown seeds that eventually can become chocolate.  Bats are one of the animals with the patience to chew through the pod to get to the sweet pulp. They disperse the seeds, helping propagate new cacao trees. Meanwhile, other bats are busy eating insects that otherwise might harm the trees. And still different species of bats are pollinating other plants in the same ecosystem, such as banana flowers. Continue reading

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)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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