It’s another Book Cover Smackdown! The theme this time around is fantasy books hitting shelves in June 2014.
Your mission should you decide to accept it: play art critic!
Tell us what grabs your attention! What appeals to you? What works and what doesn’t work? Do any of them spark your interest?
Sarah A. Hoyt is one if the headliners for my anthology Raygun Chronicles. A transplant from Portugal, whose third language is English, she lives with other authors, including her husband and sons, in Colorado. A novelist with three pseudonyms in addition to her name and eighteen novels out, her motto is “no genre is safe from me.” She’s authored popular space operas, Darkship Thieves and Darkship Renegades from Baen Books, the 1st won the Prometheus Award. A third book, A Few Good Men, came out March 5th. Her next novel in her Shifters series, Noah’s Boy, arrives this July. As Sarah D’Almeida, she writes a series of Musketeers mysteries, and as Elise Hiatt, the Daring Finds Mysteries for Berkley. She also has series called Shakespeare Fantasies, Shifters and Magical British Empire as well. Her short fiction has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s and anthologies including Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 3, Going Interstellar and Space Horrors amongst many others. She can be found on Facebook or at her website SarahaHoyt.com or blog AccordingToHoyt.com .
SFFWRTCHT: First things first, where’d your interest in speculative fiction come from?
Sarah A. Hoyt: My ten year older brother brought home science fiction and fantasy books. I got hooked. First taste was free. After that he made me go halves on the books from my allowance!
Here is the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel A Few Good Men by Sarah A. Hoyt.
REVIEW SUMMARY: This is science fiction with a bit of old school adventure.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Athena Hera Sinistra is the daughter of one of Earth’s most powerful men. While traveling back to Earth from Circum Terra, there is a mutiny aboard her father’s spaceship. Athena manages to evade capture in an escape pod, but winds up being rescued by a Darkship Thief. These Thieves stealthily mine the power rings for power pods which provide Earth, and the thieves, their power. In her quest to return to Earth, Athena experiences many strange and exciting things and learns the dark secret behind her, and her father’s, existence.
Darkship Thieves reads like an early to mid-Heinlein novel. It has a precocious, supremely competent and intelligent female protagonist, a very libertarian leaning society which challenges Athena’s view of the way things work, lots of action and plot more interested in story, with the occasional humor, than in is in scientific rigor. Throw in some interesting and sympathetic good guys, not to mention the decidedly bad bad guys, and Darkship Thieves is one of those rare books I couldn’t put down and couldn’t wait to pick up again. I don’t want to go to in depth about the story as part of the fun of the book is discovering, along with Athena, the wonders of the asteroid home of the Thieves, Eden, and the secret history of Earth’s past that involves Athena and her Father. Along the way Athena learns a lot about herself and grows into a fully capable human as opposed to the spoiled brat she starts out as.
About the only nits I found with the book are very minor. Most of the book is paced quite nicely mixing action and slower moments well. However, I felt the middle, where Athena first enters Eden, slowed down for a bit as Athena is busy assimilating an entirely new culture (and what an interesting one it is!) The book does pick back up again however. The other thing that bothered me a bit was how easily the difficulties were overcome close to the climax. I know with this type of strong lead that happens, but it still doesn’t sit quite right. Fortunately, these nits are really just roadbumps in the story and don’t ruin what is otherwise a hugely entertaining story. If you like your science fiction with a bit of old school adventure Darkship Thieves is highly recommended.
Aliens are a classic trope dating back to the earliest days of science fiction, so we asked this year’s panelists this question:
Q: What are some of the best aliens in science fiction? What makes them superior to other extraterrestrial creations?
Here’s what they said…
Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell
is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. His novels include Crystal Rain
, Sly Mongoose
, and Halo: The Cole Protocol
. He also has a short story collection titled Tides from the New Worlds
I always thought the alien in The Thing was great, because at its heart, it deviated from the ‘actors with bumps on their forehead’ sort of approach you get in movies so much. A parasite, with some intelligence (it builds that spaceship out of spare parts), it really is quite a fun stretch that you don’t see too much of. It never communicates (language is already such a gulf between us, let alone something truly alien). You get a strong sense out of that movie that you’ve encountered something truly alien.
Awards are usually a good indicator of worthwhile and books and short fiction, but sometimes great stories get overlooked. We asked this week’s panelists:
Q: What’s the best story and the best novel never to win a Hugo since the inception of the award in 1953?
What would you choose? Read on to see what this week’s panelists picked…
has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station
(1981) and Cyteen
(1988), both set in her Alliance-Union
universe. Her latest novels are Conspirator
. Besides writing, C.J likes to travel and try new things, like fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, painting and video games. She also has an asteroid named after her: 77185 Cherryh
Can’t speak for story, but the best novel never to win a Hugo, imho, is Jane Fancher’s Groundties. Due to the fact it came out as Warner imploded, it got no distribution. Period. Debut novel—with no distribution.