Annotated Excerpt: DRUNK ON ALL YOUR STRANGE NEW WORDS by Eddie Robson (Tor.com)

RobsonE-AuthorPicToday we have an annotated excerpt from Eddie Robson‘s latest novel, Drunk On All Your Strange New Words, which is described as “a locked room mystery in a near future world of politics and alien diplomacy.” I’ve been really looking forward to this one, ever since I learned about it from a publisher’s catalogue. Check out the synopsis:

Lydia works as translator for the Logi cultural attaché to Earth. They work well together, even if the act of translating his thoughts into English makes her somewhat wobbly on her feet. She’s not the agency’s best translator, but what else is she going to do? She has no qualifications, and no discernible talent in any other field.

So when tragedy strikes, and Lydia finds herself at the center of an intergalactic incident, her future employment prospects look dire — that is, if she can keep herself out of jail!

But Lydia soon discovers that help can appear from the most unexpected source…

Now, over to Eddie…

Continue reading

Upcoming: PULLING THE WINGS OFF ANGELS by K. J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsI spotted this a while back in a catalogue, but I’ve been waiting for the cover to be revealed before sharing it. As you might know, K. J. Parker is one of my favourite authors — his shorter fiction is near-peerless, and his recent string of novellas for Tor.com and Subterranean Press have been especially excellent: intelligent, whimsical, extremely well-written. Pulling the Wings Off Angels is his next Tor.com publication, and I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

A whirlwind theological paradox that calls into question the existence of God, repentance, destiny — and angels.

Long ago, a wealthy businessman stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

When a clerical student finds himself in debt to a local gangster, he’s given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather once kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

K. J. Parker’s Pulling the Wings Off Angels is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 15th.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demon, Academic Exercises, The Big Score, and The Long Game

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Quick Review: SIREN QUEEN by Nghi Vo (Tor.com)

VoN-SirenQueenThe magic and horror of movie-making…

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill — but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes — even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

“The magic of movie-making”: we’ve all heard people say and write things about Hollywood that sprinkle stardust and the otherworldly metaphors onto filmmaking. In Siren Queen, Nghi Vo asks readers to consider what if it wasn’t actually metaphorical? A clever novel that follows the career of screen star Luli Wei, I enjoyed this. Continue reading

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: 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

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

Quick Review: FUGITIVE TELEMETRY by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MBD6-FugitiveTelemetryMurderbot investigates a murder!

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people — who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

In this sixth book in the Murderbot Diaries, Wells’s fantastic creation finds itself investigating the suspicious death of a human on Preservation Station. It’s a great new direction for the series and character, and one I hope continues in future instalments. Probably unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed this novella. Continue reading

Upcoming: THESE PRISONING HILLS by Christopher Rowe (Tor.com)

RoweC-PrisoningHillsIt was the cover for These Prisoning Hills that first drew my attention to this upcoming novella by Christopher Rowe. With an intriguing premise, if the story is as moody as that image, I’m definitely in. Here’s the synopsis:

Deallocate all implications,
Fortran harrows all the nations.

In a long-ago war, the all-powerful A.I. ruler of the Voluntary State of Tennessee — Athena Parthenus, Queen of Reason — invaded and decimated the American Southeast. Possessing the ability to infect and corrupt the surrounding environment with nanotechnology, she transformed flora, fauna, and the very ground itself into bio-mechanical weapons of war.

Marcia, a former captain from Kentucky, experienced first-hand the terrifying, mind-twisting capabilities of Athena’s creatures. Now back in the Commonwealth, her retirement is cut short by the arrival of federal troops in her tiny, isolated town. One of Athena’s most powerful weapons may still be buried nearby. And they need Marcia’s help to find it.

Looking forward to giving this a read. These Prisoning Hills is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 31st, 2022.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE LEGACY OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE by Tade Thompson (Tor.com)

ThompsonT-MS3-LegacyOfMollySouthbourneNext year, Molly Southbourne returns! In The Legacy of Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson brings to a close his excellent series. I very much enjoyed the first two novellas in the series, and I can’t wait to read this finale. Here’s the synopsis:

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 Legacy of Molly Southbourne is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 17th, 2022.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Murders of Molly Southbourne and The Survival of Molly Southbourne

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Quick Review: NETWORK EFFECT by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MB5-NetworkEffectMurderbot/SecUnit returns in its first full-length novel

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

It was recently announced that one million copies of Martha Wells’s Murderbot series have been sold. This is an incredible milestone, and one that reminded me that I had fallen behind on the series! So, I decided to dive right back in with this, the first full-length novel in the series. Populated with some great characters (returning and new), and an intriguing plot, I enjoyed this a lot. Which is just what I expected. Continue reading