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

ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsAnother quirky, engaging, and twisty novella from Parker

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

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox — with the student at its center — in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny — and the nature of angels.

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I am a huge fan of K. J. Parker’s novellas and short fiction. As soon as I read the synopsis for Pulling the Wings Off Angels, I was eager to read it. I was lucky enough to get a DRC a while ago, and read it right away. I’m very happy to report that it is classic Parker; I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: UNTETHERED SKY by Fonda Lee (Tor.com)

LeeF-UntetheredSkyAn excellent stand-alone novella from the award-winning author of the Green Bone saga

Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated rukhers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.

Untethered Sky is a stand-alone fantasy novella about ambition and falconry. And massive eagles (rocs). While never losing sight of the human story to be told, this is nevertheless a novella that packs more of a punch than its slim length might suggest. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: WITCH KING by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-WitchKingUSHCWitch King was announced quite some time ago, but with the newly-unveiled cover hitting the internet a couple days ago (maybe yesterday?), I wanted to feature it on CR. Martha Wells is the author, of among other excellent books and stories, the acclaimed Murderbot Diaries (also published by Tor.com). Witch King, the author’s first new fantasy novel since 2017’s The Harbors of the Sun, it is the first in an entirely new setting. Here’s the synopsis:

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

Witch King is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 30th, 2023. I really can’t wait to read this.

Also on CR: Reviews of All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect, and Fugitive Telemetry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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