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

ThompsonT-MS2-SurvivalOfMollySouthbourneUSMolly Southbourne returns: on the run, and maybe carrying another secret…?

Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?

A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.

Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?

In this second novella featuring Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson expands offers another entertaining, twisty and intriguing mystery. It’s very difficult to review this without spoiling the whole story of The Murders of Molly Southbourne. I think I want to avoid that, so I’m going to keep this review very short and to-the-point. Continue reading

Upcoming: MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com)

Tchaikovsky-MadeThingsI will share information about each and every new Adrian Tchaikovsky book for as long as Civilian Reader continues. A fantastic author, with a prodigious imagination and a work/writing ethic (combined with ever-greater quality) that we can only aspire to emulating. Made Things is his next novella, due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 5th. The cover and synopsis were recently unveiled on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. Here’s what it’s about:

She was good at making friends.

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like friends: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.

After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must reexamine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and GoldGuns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads, Walking to Aldebaran

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: PERIHELION SUMMER by Greg Egan (Tor.com)

EganG-PerihelionSummerA story of survival and coming together in the face of catastrophic environmental change

Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system.

Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this novella ever since I saw that stunning cover. I know, I know: don’t judge a book by its cover. But, damn, that’s a gorgeous image. Devastating, too: a world both on fire and experiencing  deep freeze at opposing poles. Egan’s novella is a well-written, unsettling story of how fragile the world is, but also how humanity can pull together to help one another in the face of incredible hardship. Continue reading

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

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayI haven’t read anything else by Saad Z. Hossain, but his upcoming novella from Tor.com sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in mid-August. Here’s the synopsis for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday:

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.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK. The author’s latest work includes Escape from Baghdad! and a contribution to The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE UNDEFEATED by Una McCormack (Tor.com)

McCormackU-UndefeatedA fantastic sci-fi novella

She was a warrior of words.

As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.

Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest — and self-created — enemy, the jenjer.

Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.

I’ve been looking forward to this novella ever since I read the synopsis. I’m very happy to report that it totally lived up to my high expectations. A journalist returns home as the universe holds its breath, waiting for a potential threat to reveal itself. Continue reading

Quick Review: HER SILHOUETTE, DRAWN IN WATER by Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com)

KaftanV-HerSilhouetteDrawnInWaterAn intriguing novella about identity, memory and relationships

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her — until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I’ve not read anything else by Kaftan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water. What I found was a well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking novella that touches upon a number of interesting and timely issues, hung on a science fictional frame.
Continue reading

Quick Review: THE TEST by Sylvain Neuvel (Tor.com)

NeuvelS-TestA superb immigration dystopia

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

As someone who has lived in multiple countries, I’ve always been interested in immigration and the policies and rhetoric that surrounds it. While immigrants frequently feature in fiction, rarely (to my knowledge) is the process itself the central focus of the story. Set against a subtly dystopian backdrop, this is an interesting, well-written and sometimes thought-provoking story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading