Upcoming: The ALICE PAYNE Series by Kate Heartfield (Tor.com)

HeartfieldK-AP1-AlicePayneArrivesKate Heartfield‘s first Alice Payne novella, Alice Payne Arrives was announced a little while ago by Tor.com, but today I saw that a sequel was also on the way: Alice Payne Rides! I haven’t managed to get hold of the first one, yet, but Heartfield will be in Toronto to launch the book on November 6th at Bakka Phoenix (a must-visit if you’re ever in Toronto). Anyway, here’s the synopsis for the first book, due to be published by Tor.com on November 6th, 2018.

The story of a time traveling thief turned reluctant hero in this science fiction adventure.

A disillusioned major, a highwaywoman, and a war raging across time.

It’s 1788 and Alice Payne is the notorious highway robber, the Holy Ghost. Aided by her trusty automaton, Laverna, the Holy Ghost is feared by all who own a heavy purse.

It’s 1889 and Major Prudence Zuniga is once again attempting to change history—to save history—but seventy attempts later she’s still no closer to her goal.

It’s 2016 and… well, the less said about 2016 the better!

But in 2020 the Farmers and the Guides are locked in battle; time is their battleground, and the world is their prize. Only something new can change the course of the war. Or someone new.

Little did they know, but they’ve all been waiting until Alice Payne arrives.

HeartfieldK-AP2-AlicePayneRidesAlice Payne Rides is due to be published by Tor.com on March 5th, 2019. Here’s the synopsis:

After abducting Arthur of Brittany from his own time in 1203, thereby creating the mystery that partly prompted the visit in the first place, Alice and her team discover that they have inadvertently brought the smallpox virus back to 1780 with them.

Searching for a future vaccine, Prudence finds that the various factions in the future time war intend to use the crisis to their own advantage.

Can the team prevent an international pandemic across time, and put history back on its tracks? At least until the next battle in the time war…

Both books will be available in the UK, too: Alice Payne Arrives and Alice Payne Rides.

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Quick Review: EXIT STRATEGY by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MB4-ExitStrategyAn antisocial AI learning to care, in the fourth Murderbot Diaries novella

Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah — its former owner (protector? friend?) — submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?

I blitzed through the first three novellas in this series. The main character is endearing and amusing, and the story is engaging and often thought-provoking. Exit Strategy, the final novella in the series, is another excellent addition to the series. Fans of the first three will, no doubt, love this one as well. Continue reading

Quick Review: WAR CRY by Brian McClellan (Tor.com)

McClellanB-WarCryAn intriguing, entertaining new novella from the author of the Powder Mage series: a new universe, new armies, and new monsters…

Teado is a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset trained to win wars. His platoon has been stationed in the Bavares high plains for years, stranded. As they ration supplies and scan the airwaves for news, any news, their numbers dwindle. He’s not sure how much time they have left.

Desperate and starving, armed with aging, faulting equipment, the team jumps at the chance for a risky resupply mission, even if it means not all of them might come. What they discover could change the course of the war.

Despite falling behind on his ‘main’ fantasy series, the Powder Mage trilogy and the new Gods of Blood and Powder, McClellan is one of my favourite (fantasy) author working today. When I heard that he had a novella on the way from Tor.com, I immediately put it on my must-read list. Due out in a couple of weeks, War Cry lived up to my expectations: it’s really good. Continue reading

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

ThompsonT-MurdersOfMollySouthbourneAn intriguing, creepy and ultimately tragic novella

Every time she bleeds a murderer is born.

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

This is the first book by Thompson that I’ve read. The first thing that jumped out at me was the quality of the author’s prose: it’s pristine, really. It’s journalistic in its clarity, it is gripping, expressive, and a delight to read. Over the course of this short novella, you’ll come to care for Molly, and even some of the mollys. Once again, Tor.com have published a fantastic piece of short speculative fiction. Continue reading

Review: MURDERBOT DIARIES #1-3 by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-MurderbotDiaries-1to3

An amusing, thoughtful series of novellas

These are a lot of fun. In the first three books in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries — All Systems RedArtificial Condition and Rogue Protocol — we follow the adventures of a SecUnit who has hacked its governor module and, therefore, mostly autonomous. It’s a wonderful guide to this setting, and in each of these books we are given a little more detail on how the universe is set up and runs. All the while, the SecUnit (who does get a couple of personalized names in the books) struggles with its distaste and dislike of humans, and a stubborn urge to protect them. (They’re just so soft and feckless, after all…) Continue reading

Upcoming: FINDING BABA YAGA by Jane Yolen (Tor.com)

YolenJ-FindingBabaYagaAnother author whose work I’ve not yet tried. My attention was grabbed by the title — for some reason, Baba Yaga has always been a name I’ve been familiar with (although I can’t remember where I heard it first). Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen‘s new novella, is due to be published by Tor.com at the end of October (so, a little far away). It sounds rather interesting:

A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate — a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

You think you know this story.

You do not.

A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself…

According to the publisher’s page for the book, Yolen is considered by some to be the “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”. Intriguing. Finding Baba Yaga is published by Tor.com in North America and the UK, on October 30th.

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Upcoming: THE BLACK GOD’S DRUMS by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-BlackGodsDrumsThe cover for P. Djèlí Clark‘s The Black God’s Drums started doing the rounds online a little while ago. (I’ve also seen that reviewers are starting to receive ARCs, so reviews should start appearing soon, too.) Due to be published by Tor.com in August 2018. I haven’t read any of Clark’s previous work, but I have high hopes for this, given how interesting it sounds:

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air – in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

The novella “brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life”, and has been described by Scott Westerfeld as “A sinewy mosaic of Haitian sky pirates, wily street urchins, and orisha magic. Beguiling and bombastic!” That’s a pretty great endorsement. Looking forward to giving it a try. The Black God’s Drums will be published on August 21st, by Tor.com in North America and in the UK.

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