Liz Bourke Reviews To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton 978-1-473697164, £12.99, 140pp, hc) August 2019. (HarperVoyager 978-0-062-93601-1, $12.99, 176pp, tp) September 2019.

I wish I had enjoyed Becky Chambers’s To Be Taught, If Fortunate nearly as much. Where Chambers’s previous works (The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few) took place in her ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-473-22340-0, £16.99, 550pp, tp) July 2019.

Also on the list of books I can’t recommend highly enough: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Sundering Flames, the latest – and for now final – novel-length instalment in the series that began with The House of Shattered Wings and continued in The House of Binding Thorns. It’s worth reading the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Amy Goldschlager Review This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga 978-1-5344-3100-3, $19.99, 200pp, hc) July 2019.

A novel – or rather a novella – that does find me part of its enthusiastic readership is Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone’s first tra­ditionally published collaboration, This Is How You Lose the Time War. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. This is the time-travelling queer epistolary romance ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Time’s Demon by D.B. Jackson

Time’s Demon, D.B. Jackson (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-793-9, $14.99, 490pp, pb) May 2019. Cover by Jan Wessbecher.

D.B. Jackson’s Time’s Demon is the sec­ond book in a series, the Islevale Cycle, that began with Time’s Children. I had been under the impression that it was the second book in a duology, but events proved this assump­tion wrong. It does its readers the courtesy of recapping the events of the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

The Ascent to Godhood, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-16587-9, $12.99, 120pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Yuko Shimizu.

JY Yang’s Tensorate novellas have always been inventive and ambitious, an ambition and a sense of verve and innovation that’s been recognised by several award nominations. All three of those novellas to date have stood more or less alone, but with the fourth, this year’s The Ascent to Godhood, Yang ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Velocity Weapon by Megan O’Keefe

Velocity Weapon, Megan O’Keefe (Orbit US 978-0-356-51222-8, $15.99, 544pp, tp) June 2019.

There’s really only one problem with Velocity Weapon, Megan E. O’Keefe’s first novel-length space opera, and that problem is something which ultimately isn’t a problem at all: the cover copy makes it sound like a vastly different novel than it really is, and kept me from enthusiastically devouring it for ages.

The last thing Sanda remembers is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean 978-1-59606-952-7, $40.00, 384pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Aliette de Bodard’s Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is a collection from an author whose work possesses both breadth and depth. Published by Subterranean Press, this volume largely collects works from her Hugo Award-nominated Xuya continuity – including award-winning stories “The Shipmaker” (BSFA Award), “Immersion” (Nebula and Locus ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Outside by Ada Hoffmann

The Outside, Ada Hoffmann (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-813-4, $12.99, 346pp, tp) May 2019.

The Outside is Ada Hoffmann’s much-anticipated debut novel. Well, much anticipated in my circles and, I have to say, the novel lives up to its buzz. (If you take nothing else away from this review, take away that it’s well worth checking out.)

In Hoffmann’s space opera universe, artificial intelligences have become Gods. These AI-Gods don’t exist ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

Brightfall, Jaime Lee (Jo Fletcher 978-1-78747-920-3, £18.99, 312pp, hc) August 2019.

Brightfall is Jaime Lee Moyer’s first novel since her debut trilogy (Delia’s Shadow, A Barricade in Hell, and Against A Brightening Sky, the last of which came out in 2015). Brightfall is both like and unlike these previous books. Like, in that it shares a similar tone and a similar interest in women’s lives ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Five Unicorn Flush by T.J. Berry

Five Unicorn Flush, T.J. Berry (Angry Robot US 978-0-85766-783-0, $12.99, 314pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Lee Gibbons.

T.J. Berry’s debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, took place in a fantastical space opera world, one in which creatures from human mythology, possessing magical powers, live and struggle alongside humans. These beings are known as the Bala, and the totalitarian, genocidal human government known as the Reason went to war ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Broken Shadow by Jaine Fenn

Broken Shadow, Jaine Fenn (Angry Robot US 978-0-85766-803-5, $12.99, 432pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Andreas Rocha.

Jaine Fenn’s Hidden Sun, out from Angry Robot Books last year, introduced the reader to the world of shadowlands and skylands. In the shadowlands, or at least the ones with which the novel concerns itself, a powerful Church restricts scientific development and unorthodox thought, while a patriarchal society relegates women to ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane, Joan He (Albert Whitman 978-0-80751-551-8, $17.99, 416pp, hc) April 2019.

I more than liked Joan He’s debut fantasy. Descendent of the Crane sets itself in a world deeply influenced by Chinese history and culture. It’s a lush, deeply realised world, full of laws and ministries and red-light districts, scents and textures and presences, histories and legacies. (I’m almost certainly missing references and reso­nances that would ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Fire Opal Mechanism by Fran Wilde

The Fire Opal Mechanism, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-19654-5, $14.99, 208pp, tp) June 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

The Fire Opal Mechanism is billed as a sequel to an earlier novelette by award-winning author Fran Wilde (Updraft, Cloudbound, Horizon). That novelette was The Jewel and Her Lapidary, a work with elegant prose, a deeply compelling friendship between two young women, and an am­bivalent – ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Theater of Spies by S.M. Stirling

Theater of Spies, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0-399-58625-5, $16.00, 464pp, tp) May 2019.

Since the 1980s, S.M. Stirling has been writing novels that revel in the minutiae of technological development, generally with a militaristic bent and frequently with an alternate-history (or alternate-present) setting. This attention to technological minutiae accom­panies an interest in cultures and societies, and the ways in which those cultures approach military conflict. Theater of Spies, a ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Not for Use in Navigation by Iona Datt Sharma

Not for Use in Navigation, Iona Datt Sharma (Self-published, $5.25, 210pp, eb) March 2019. Cover by Katherine Catchpole.

I read Iona Datt Sharma’s short-fiction collection Not for Use in Navigation almost by accident, at the end of a chain of happy coincidences that both led me to learn about its existence and to read it in a single sitting. Datt Sharma is a writer at the beginning of their ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Fleet of Knives by Gareth L. Powell

Fleet of Knives, Gareth L. Powell (Titan Books 978-1-785655210, $14.95, 406pp, pb). February 2019.

Fleet of Knives is the sequel to BSFA Award-winning author Gareth L. Powell’s Embers of War, in which sentient ex-warship Trouble Dog and her crew – including Captain Sal Konstanz – fell face first into trouble associated with their job for the House of Reclamation (an apolitical interstellar organisation dedicated to search and rescue), ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell

The Hound of Justice, Claire O’Dell (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-269933-6, $15.99, 328pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Brandon Bourdages.

Claire O’Dell burst onto the near-future science fiction scene last year with A Study in Honor, the opening volume in the Janet Watson Chronicles. A Study in Honor, which I reviewed for this publication, was a tense, compelling near-future thriller, set in a United States in the throes of ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves, Cate Glass (Tor 978-1-250-31100-9, $16.99, 352pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Alyssa Winans.

When I first heard about Cate Glass’s An Illusion of Thieves – a fantasy novel, part heist, part political thriller, and part coming-of-age story in a setting inspired by late medieval Italy – I had no idea that Glass was a pen name for notable author Carol Berg, whose novel-writing career began ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Oblivion, Michelle Sagara (Mira 978-0-7783-0784-6, $16.99, 538pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Glenn Mackay & Shane Rebenschied.

Michelle Sagara has a long career behind her under at least two names. Her House War series as Michelle West is ongoing, and she’s been writing the Chronicles of Elantra series as Mi­chelle Sagara for going on 15 years now. Cast in Oblivion comes to us as the 14th novel ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

Empress of Forever, Max Gladstone (Tor 978-0-7653-9581-8, $18.99, 480pp, tp) June 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Max Gladstone is unfairly talented. Reviewing his Empress of Forever is a bloody intimidating undertaking, because it’s just that damn good. It’s not enough that his Craft Sequence series is a complex, twisty, delightfully playful and deeply thought provoking set of works that take on themes of power, the ten­sion between progress and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Prisoner of Midnight by Barbara Hambly

Prisoner of Midnight, Barbara Hambly (Severn House 978-0-7278-8860-0, £21.95, 256pp, hc) January 2019.

Barbara Hambly has been writing excellent novels for over 30 years. Alas, in the last decade her new work has been rather less than widely available. Severn House Press, an outfit that specialises in hardcover crime and mystery novels, publishes both her Benjamin January novels and her James Asher vampire series, but hasn’t made them avail­able ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Women’s War by Jenna Glass

The Women’s War, Jenna Glass (Del Rey 978-198-481720-4, $28.00, 560pp, hc) March 2019.

I wish I felt that The Women’s War was doing more interesting work. According to Jenna Glass’s bio, she’s published more than 20 books under a variety of different names. The pseudonym is sufficiently open to identify at least one of those names: Jenna Black, author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I’ve never read any ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Ninth Step Station by Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Jacqueline Koyanagi, & Fran Wilde

Ninth Step Station, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Jacqueline Koyanagi, & Fran Wilde (Serial Box 978-1-68210-589-4 $13.99, 324pp eb) March 2019. Cover by Christine Barcellona.

Ninth Step Station is one of two new science fiction serial offerings from publisher Serial Box this year. (The other is The Vela, starting in March.) Cre­ated by Malka Older and written by Older, Fran Wilde, Curtis C. Chen, & Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ninth ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds

Permafrost, Alastair Reynolds (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-125-030356-1, $14.99, 176pp, tp) March 2019.

Alastair Reynolds is one of a handful of authors writing science fiction today who can boast of having worked for a space agency as a scientist (as part of the European Space Research and Technology Centre). His long-form fiction has tended towards far-future science fiction, space operas with sprawling future histories and a strong interest in the influence ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings, Jenn Lyons (Tor 978-125-031638-7, $24.99, 560pp, hc) February 2019.

One of the delightful conceits of Jenn Lyons’s debut – a much-hyped epic fantasy that almost lives all the way up the extravagant heights of its advance buzz – is that it is presented as an after-action report, a “full accounting of the events that led up to the Burning of the Capital” compiled by a ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori Mc­Carthy

Once & Future, Amy Rose Capetta & Cori Mc­Carthy (Jimmy Patterson 978-0-316-44927-1, $18.99, 336pp, hc) March 2019.

Like Shakespeare, the Matter of Britain and the Arthurian mythos is a vein that speculative fiction has delved deeply into over the years – it could be said, too deeply. I’ve seldom seen an unapologeti­cally Arthurian story – with an Arthur, a Merlin, and a Guinevere, all called by their Arthurian names ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett

Miranda in Milan, Katharine Duckett (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-30631-9, $3.99, 198pp, eb) March 2019. Cover by David Wardle.

Of all Shakespeare plays, it seems that The Tem­pest is one of the more popular among writers of speculative fiction. Considering that it boasts among its dramatis personae at least one wizard and one spirit, an isolated young woman, treach­erous lords and a now-gone witch, it’s hardly surprising that this should be ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines

Terminal Uprising, Jim C. Hines (DAW 978-0-7564-1277-7, $26.00, 336p, hc) February 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

Jim C. Hines’s work is well known for its verve, energy, and sense of humour. Its fre­quently scatological sense of humour, at that. Hines’s talents have remained over some 12 nov­els, and now extend into a thirteenth, Terminal Uprising, the second book in his Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series, after 2018’s ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White

A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-316-41210-0, $15.99, 532pp, tp) December 2018. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

Alex White kicked off a rip-roaring (if you’ll pardon a hoary expression) space opera series in A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe in summer 2018. In December, they followed up with A Bad Deal for the Whole Gal­axy, a new instalment in this inventively ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark. (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-29480-7, $14.99, 144pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

I’ve yet to meet a story by P. Djèlí Clark that I didn’t like. Mind you, I’ve only read three of them, but on the evidence, he writes delightfully. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is his second novella from Tor.com Publishing, and this one returns to the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Finders by Melissa Scott

Finders, Melissa Scott (Candlemark & Gleam 978-1-936460-88-5, $20.95, 372pp, tp) Decem­ber 2018.

I have to admit that I’m a fan of Melissa Scott, although I came late to her novels, and later still to her science fiction ones. Her work gen­erally concerns itself in some way with personal relationships, and with social alienation, and with, in some several cases, movements or moments arising out of the solidarity of the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Alliance Rising by C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher

Alliance Rising, C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (DAW 9780756412715, $26.00, 352pp, hc) Janu­ary 2019. Cover by Micah Epstein.

Alliance Rising is the first novel to be published by the partnership of SFWA Grand Master C.J. Cherryh and her wife, author and artist Jane S. Fancher. It’s also the latest novel to be set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union continuity, a literary universe that incorporates novels like Downbelow Station and Cyteen ...Read More

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