Books Archives

Daily Science Fiction has announced its December line-up of free stories.
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BOOK REVIEW: Endsinger by Jay Kristoff

REVIEW SUMMARY: A stakes-raising finale to the Lotus War Trilogy.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:
PROS: The theme of the series is rendered in strong lines; a high-octane action draws the reader through the book.
CONS: Questions of cultural appropriation reduce the book’s appeal for readers.
BOTTOM LINE: A strongly themed finale to Kristoff’s unique steampunk trilogy

The civil war, initiated by the death of the Shogun at the hands of Yukiko, the Stormdancer, has come to full fruition in Endsinger, the third and final book in Jay Kristoff’s Lotus War Trilogy. The Great Houses now openly strive against each other. The plan for Hiro, young lordling of the Tiger clan, to marry the late Shogun’s sister and cement a marriage bond claim to the throne has gone to ruin along with his palace. The gaijin, finally getting a reprieve from the war brought to their shores, have put plans in place to revenge themselves on their oppressors on the home front. And amongst it all, a long-standing secret plan by the Guild continues to roll. For the Lotus must bloom, and for a deep, dark reason that is about to be revealed.
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Right now you can get Andy Weir’s excellent New York Times bestselling novel The Martian for only $3!

in case you missed my review, here’s what it’s about:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I’m not sure how long the $3 price will last, so hurry up and grab it now if you want it. And if you’re into the whole compare/contrast adaptation thing, recall that The Martian is being made into a film.

Angry Robot Books resumes their normal publication in March of next year with the launch of Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, which features this cool cover photographed and designed by Steven Meyer-Rassow. (See a larger version after the jump for its awesome detail.)

Here’s the tantalizing synopsis of Flex:
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At Kirkus: A 2014 SF/F/H Holiday Gift Guide

Ah, the smell of the holidays approaching. Warm turkey, tasty stuffing…and the fear of matching loved ones with gifts.

Fortunately, for those of us whose loved ones include readerly geeks and nerds, I’ve put together a 2014 Holiday Gift Guide to make your shopping easier.

It’s up now over at the Kirkus Reviews blog…go check it out.

Right now, for less than $2, you can get House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter on the Kindle, Nook, Google and Apple platforms.

Here’s the book description:

Augustine lives the perfect life in the Haven city of New Orleans. He rarely works a real job, spends most of his nights with a different human woman, and resides in a spectacular Garden District mansion paid for by retired movie star Olivia Goodwin, who has come to think of him as an adopted son, providing him room and board and whatever else he needs.

But when Augustine returns home to find Olivia’s been attacked by vampires, he knows his idyllic life has comes to an end. It’s time for revenge — and to take up the mantle of the city’s Guardian.

Then Olivia’s estranged daughter, Harlow, arrives. She hates being fae, but her powers are exactly what Augustine needs to catch the vampires. Can he convince her to help him in time? Or will the sparks between them send her running again?

The $1.99 price is only available for a limited time, so act now if you want it. The sequel, City of Eternal Night, comes out next week!

#BestMashupEver: Batman vs. Darth Vader

Of all the mashups I’ve seen, this is a pretty damn good one. Epic, even. Watch and tell me I’m wrong.

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Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc (the latest of which is Vacant), has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at www.ahugheswriter.com.

We Are the Worlds

by Alex Hughes

A friend came to me about a year ago, and told me that she’d been hearing a lot about this Doctor Who thing. She and I had been roommates years ago, and she respected my opinion on TV shows. Now, even though she didn’t like “the whole aliens thing” she wanted me to show her a few Doctor Who episodes so she could understand what it was all about. I said sure, and we watched the first weeping angel episode, the Pompeii episode, and one set in Victorian England. She had a very skeptical look on her face when we finished, and I assumed that was that.

Two months later, she came back, and she told me that she’d been binge watching Doctor Who on Netflix for weeks. I was surprised, and asked why. She told me that while she still wasn’t crazy about “the alien thing” that the show wasn’t really about the aliens. It was about us, about humanity. And that it gave her hope at the end of the day that we might yet work things out. I smiled. I had just converted one more poor unsuspecting soul into the world of geekdom.

What my friend realized on her own was something us geeks have known for a very long time. Science fiction and fantasy aren’t about the aliens, or at least not often. Most of the time the stories we tell are stories about us, about our hopes and our fears, and our choices to embrace the very best of humanity, the very worst, or anything else in between.
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Cover Reveal: THE VOID by Timothy S. Johnston

The Void is coming from Timothy S. Johnston and Carina Press on March 30, 2015. This is the third book in The Tanner Sequence, a series of standalone murder mysteries set in unique and claustrophobic environments. The first two are The Furnace (2013) and The Freezer (2014).

Here’s the cover and synopsis (larger cover appears after the jump!
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Beginning next month, Open Road Media will be publishing ebook editions of classic and beloved works from several science fiction and fantasy authors including Joe Haldeman, Poul Anderson, Nancy Springer, Todd McCaffrey, Bruce Sterling, Philip Wylie, and John Jakes.

Check below to see several dozen of the upcoming titles…

  1. Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling (Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy)
  2. Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling (Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy)
  3. Involution Ocean by Bruce Sterling (Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy)

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BOOK REVIEW: War Dogs by Greg Bear

REVIEW SUMMARY: A slow burn of a Mililtary SF novel whose structure and pacing dilute its impact.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: Skyrine (Sky Marine) Michael Venn is dropped on Mars as part of an operation against an alien force. He uncovers a far greater set of mysteries in the process.

MY REVIEW:
PROS:: Intriguing if familiar basic premise differentiated by interesting worldbuilding touches; excellent grounding of reader into the action and universe.
CONS: Format of story and pacing dilute story to the point where the ending’s sting loses the emotional impact it should have.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting world and premise weakened by a sadly and frustratingly flawed execution.

The Gurus, a set of apparently benevolent aliens, come to Earth bearing gifts, but there is a price. There are hostile species out there, aliens who would regard Earth and the Gurus as prey and opposition. In exchange for new technology, Earth needs to step up and provide soldiers to deal with the alien threat, which already exists on Mars. It’s time for Marine Michael Venn to become a Skyrine and do aerial drops on Mars to deal with that alien threat, tangle with the few humans who have tried to colonize Mars (including a love interest) and try to survive.

Based on thius premise, you might expect slam-bang action and lots of technobabble — save the girl, save the planet, save the solar system, right? Well, the novel in question is from legendary SF luminary Greg Bear, and what you get instead is something rather different from expectations. What you get is War Dogs.

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Starting today and lasting for the net 30 days or so, you can download the audible audiobook version of Brandon Sanderson’s Legion: Skin Deep for absolutely free!

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a short, distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson revealed a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. In the stunning sequel, Legion: Skin Deep, that talent is on full display.

Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion”, is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at its most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent – and unpredictable – voices.

You can listen to a sample here.

Download Legion: Skin Deep at Audible.com.

If you’ve never been wowed by the fiction of Hugo Award-winning author Robert Reed, you’be got no reason to put it off any longer.

Right now, SF Signal readers (that’s you) can take advantage of a special deal: You can get Robert Reed’s Beyond the Veil of Stars for only $1.49!

Read on to see how to jump all over this excellent deal…

But hurry! This deal expires in two weeks (December 8th)!
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Books Received: November 24, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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Here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming Warhammer 40K novel Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe.

Looks tasty!

Here’s the synopsis:
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Huberath asks us to become more conscious of the narratives we create and think more broadly about our place in the universe.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When Gavein Throzz moves to Davabel, he soon finds himself linked to a growing epidemic of deaths. And when he and other characters start reading a mysterious book called Nest of Worlds, Gavein realizes that his existence and perception of that existence may be terribly flawed.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: This novel puts your brain on a fast-moving treadmill and asks fascinating questions about the nature of human existence.
CONS: More narrative time could have been given to the several nested worlds to flesh out some of Huberath’s philosophical questions.
BOTTOM LINE: Nest of Worlds is a wonderful introduction to the world of contemporary Polish science fiction, and a powerful, probing story that prompts thoughtfulness and self-awareness.

As part of my effort to read more scifi in translation, I jumped at the chance to check out Nest of Worlds, Huberath’s first novel to appear in English. A major force in Polish science fiction, Huberath is also a professor of biophysics and biological physics at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. And he brings everything to this metafictional tale of life, death, and reading.
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This week, Ursula K. Le Guin accepted the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards ceremony.

Congrats to Ms. Le Guin!

Hear her excellent, thought-provoking speech below…
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Over at Kirkus Reviews: The Radical Joanna Russ

Joanna Russ wasn’t an author I came across when I first came across science fiction: she was someone who I slowly became aware of more recently, when I started working at this on a more professional and critical level. Part of this came from friends who were interested and researching her, and over the last couple of years, I’ve gained an appreciation for the few works that I have read.

What I find most interesting is her relationship with the genre: many of the arguments she put forward back in the 1960s/70s/80s still hold true today, and if anything, they’re even more relevant. For me, Russ makes a lot of sense, and her arguments not only apply towards better representations of men and women in science fiction, but make an excellent argument for simple innovation in writing science fiction. I can see why she was frustrated, and why she was angry.

Go read The Radical Joanna Russ over on Kirkus Reviews.

Long Hidden is a speculative fiction anthology about marginalized groups of people in history, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older and published by Crossed Genres Publications in early 2014.

The introduction of the anthology begins with this:

Before Long Hidden was a book, it was a conversation. Really, it was many conversations, over the course of many different lives; these fed into one conversation in particular, a back-and-forth on Twitter in December 2012 about representations of African diasporic voices in historical speculative fiction, and the ways that history “written by the victors” demonizes and erases already marginalized stories. That discussion became an idea that became the book you’re about to read.

We grew up reading stories about people who weren’t much like us. Speculative fiction promised to take us to places where anything was possible, but the spaceship captains and valiant questers were always white, always straight, always cisgender, and almost always men. We tried to force ourselves into those boxes, but we never fit. When we looked for faces and thoughts like our own, we found orcs and deviants and villains. And we began to wonder why some people’s stories were told over and over, while ours were almost never even alluded to.

So, as you might have gathered, Long Hidden is an anthology meant to tell the stories of marginalized people in history (in speculative fashion). The setting varies, as well as the particular marginalized group, though the time period seemed to be most often between the 1600s and the 1800s. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here.
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John Joseph Adams has posted the cover and table of contents for his upcoming military fantasy anthology Operation Arcana:

Here’s the book description:

High fantasy, contemporary and urban fantasy, and fantasy action and adventure all set in a military vein by top authors including Jonathan Maberry, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, Glen Cook, Simon R. Green, Seanan McGuire, and Linda Nagata.

From Tolkien’s Battle of Helm’s Deep to George R.R. Martin’s Blackwater to Elizabeth Moon’s Civil War of Fintha, it is in the battles of epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, and contemporary fantasy where heroism comes alive, magic is unleashed, and legends are made and unmade. Here are stories on the military side of both high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, and urban fantasy. These tales feature beautifully crafted worlds of a past and present filled with magic and mayhem—all served up by a range of top authors.

Here’s the table of contents…
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