Ok — I don’t know how I am going to read all of the books I’ve acquired lately, so the least I can do is share them for fellow SF readers on this blog with some commentary.
Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell (hardcover — received as gift)
Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it’s about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.
Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. Soon Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations, which goes further than she ever imagined.
What sells me on this book is the author himself. At Legendary ConFusion, Toby struck me as being insightful and overall a cool guy. He’s active on many podcasts I listen to and was very thoughtful in the panel I participated in. I definitely plan on reading this soon.
Maze by J.M. McDermott (electronic ARC — received from publisher)
From every corner of time and space, sometimes people go missing without a trace. They never come back.
Get lost in the long stone halls of the maze with the ones that find each other, form tribes, scrape out a life from rocks and sand. Their stories interweave. Maia Station is a scientist ripped from stasis, but she has no tools to test the way things are. Instead, she raises her daughter as best she can and survives. Wang Xin once had his head dipped in water, and a djinni in the water entered his eye. He sees the future, exactly as it was supposed to be if he hadn’t seen the light, but it does him no good in the life he has. In a world much like our own, Joseph comes home from a ten year high school reunion and encounters a light in the darkness. The light speaks.
My name is Jenny. Put me in your lung. Breathe deep.
The kind folks at Apex books passed this title along and I really am hoping to fit this into the queue as soon as I can. The story sounds interesting and the team really seems hard at work to get quality books in the hands of readers.
Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis (eBook — purchased)
Something More Than Night is a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler-inspired murder mystery set in Thomas Aquinas’s vision of Heaven. It’s a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, a priest with a dirty secret, a femme fatale, and the Voice of God.
Somebody has murdered the angel Gabriel. Worse, the Jericho Trumpet has gone missing, putting Heaven on the brink of a truly cosmic crisis. But the twisty plot that unfolds from the murder investigation leads to something much bigger: a con job one billion years in the making.
Because this is no mere murder. A small band of angels has decided to break out of heaven, but they need a human patsy to make their plan work.
Much of the story is told from the point of view of Bayliss, a cynical fallen angel who has modeled himself on Philip Marlowe. The yarn he spins follows the progression of a Marlowe novel — the mysterious dame who needs his help, getting grilled by the bulls, finding a stiff, getting slipped a mickey
Angels and gunsels, dames with eyes like fire, and a grand maguffin, Something More Than Night is a murder mystery for the cosmos.
I also had the opportunity to meet Ian Tregillis at Legendary ConFusion. I had previously heard him on a couple of podcasts, but was very inspired to hear his panel discussions. I haven’t read a whole lot on the subject of angels, but I find the premise of this story to be fascinating. This is a for sure read for me in the near future. Having enjoyed the brief discussion I had with Ian makes me want to read it all the more.
Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood (eBook — purchased)
Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.
When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.
Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?
If you’ve never watched Mike Underwood do a reading, you are truly missing something. From knocking on walls to pacing in his characters’ steps, Underwood brings his narrative to life. He is unashamed in his celebration of SF and geek culture and this book appears to pay homage to those who share in that interest. This looks like a fun read that I hope to get to soon.
The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu (eBook — purchased)
Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo’s eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo’s future.
When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo…
At ConFusion, Brad discussed his interest in epic fantasy, particularly stories that get into the political machinations behind the scenes. I had a chance to speak with him and it wasn’t until our conversation was nearly over that I learned that he is the host of one of my favorite podcasts, Speculate. This novel is in the vein of Game of Thrones with an Earth Sea/Russian-like setting. I love sweeping epics — just wish I had time to read more. Judging by his reading, I am expecting this novel to be filled with wonderful imagery and an intricate story.
Picasso’s Cat & Other Stories by Ron Collins (Trade Paperback — purchased)
Picasso’s Cat and Other Stories showcases the broad talents of one of science fiction’s more versatile writers. This collection contains 15 tales of humor, hard science, cyberpunk, near-future SF, and space opera-including the three-story “Stealing the Sun” series that first appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The collection is introduced by multi-award-winning author Mike Resnick, and each story is accompanied by short commentary by the author. Whether you’re new to Ron Collins’s work or already an established fan, Picasso’s Cat and Other Stories provides, for the first time ever, the very best of his science fiction in one complete volume.
I also met Ron Collins at ConFusion and connected with his struggles trying to balance a job as an engineer with his fiction writing. I like my job, but also love writing as a hobby and the struggle comes when both pursuits seek to demand greater amounts of time as I progress through life. Ron Collins is a joy to talk to and his science fiction stories sound right up my alley. I finished the first story in this collection, which was an interesting take on a future where abortion is illegal and what happens when an uneducated, cheated-on janitor takes issue with his company’s decision to take their own liberties. While touching on a hot-button subject, the story could be read in a couple of ways.
Singer by Brigid Collins (eBook — purchased)
A silent woman awakens on the edge of a dusty wasteland. A Lady Fencer leads a journey to claim a powerful sword. A young Guide-in-training takes his unwanted follower along while he attempts his master’s trial. Their goals all converge in the mysterious ruined city, from which no one has ever returned alive. Will they be able to navigate the dangers of that city and emerge victorious?
Brigid Collins was on a panel at ConFusion discussing epic fantasy and I was immediately impressed with her ability to recall minor characters and plot points from randomly discussed titles, solidifying in my mind that she knew the genre. This is a first novel for Brigid and I am curious to learn more of this “quest” fantasy.
Waiting for Mister Cool by Gerard Houarner (electronic ARC — received from author)
Max, an assassin driven by terrible appetites and a demonic inner Beast, finds himself mistaken for another, far more ordinary killer hired to fight for one of two rival groups vying for control of a remote, abandoned government base with its own secrets and supernatural power.
Caught between two even greater evils, Max and his companions Lee and the twins, Kueur and Alioune, are drawn into a war that will feed terrible human and supernatural appetites.
Blending the everyday world and the supernatural in an atmosphere of mystery and violence, Waiting for Mister Cool is an apocalyptic meeting of the X-Files and Tarrantino with Max satisfying his appetites while thrust into a champion’s role.
Gerard Houarner writes a wide range of genre stories and I am intrigued with the tagline of X-Files meeting Tarrantino. This one seems a little on the edgier side for my tranquil tastes, but it seems like Houarner may be a writer to keep an eye on.