Jonathan Ward, Caleuche, Fox Spirit Books, 2019.
Caleuche is a space opera thriller after a technological apocalypse occurs. It uses tropes and has some stereotypical elements, but it is a gripping read for a cosy evening in.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Walking to Aldebaran, Rebellion Publishing, 2019.
Good day, and welcome to your annual review of a Tchaikovsky story (and I haven't even read yet Children of Ruin...)!
This latest offering is a dark and compelling scifi novella that will take you into a maze full of monsters...
One Way and No Way are a duo of hard scifi novels set on Mars and written by Simon Morden. I'm usually not big on techno thrillers but I had so much enjoyed Morden's Books of Down that I gave it a try. Despite a slow start for me, I ended up loving it.
Temi Oh, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? Simon and Schuster, 2019.
Audio version available on Audible.
I had mixed feelings at the end of Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, a near-future scifi novel. Without a doubt, Temi Oh has written a story which has many strong points, but other aspects were less convincing to me. Nonetheless, it is an interesting novel with a lot of potential.
Joyce Chng, Starfang, Fox Spirit Books,
"Werewolves in space!" is the tagline of this trilogy of novellas. Now, the word "werewolves" usually has me running very fast in the opposite direction, but in my never ending quest for space operas, I gave it a try.
Samuel Delany, The Ballad of Beta-2, Ace Double, 1965 (original publishing).
Reprinted in A, B, C, Three Short Novels by Vintage, 2015.
Some classic scifi stories are very much stories of their times. Some have aged well; others... less so. When I picked The Ballad of Beta-2, a Samuel Delany novella I had never read, for my series of classics reviews, I didn't really know what to expect.
But I suppose this is how you recognise a true master of scifi, when their story, more than fifty years later, still feel incredibly modern.
Fourth in the series of "Stories published before 1978."
Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Expert System's Brother, Tor.com, 2018.
Tor.com's novellas can be hit and miss. But... What am I seeing in the distance? It is a Tchaikovsky scifi novella at Tor! Obviously, this one goes into the "hit" category.
Peter Watts, The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Tachyon Publications, 2018.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution is a hard scifi novella whose title is actually pretty self explanatory once you start reading. It's a clever mix of good concepts and old concepts, though some more allusive aspects may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Sue Burke, Semiosis, MacMillan, 2018.
Audio version available on Audible.
Semiosis is science-fiction novel, spanning generations on an alien planet. Called "A First contact story", it announces its ambitions very early on. Though I had some niggles with it, I very much enjoyed it.
John Ayliff, Belt Three, Harper Voyager, 2015.
Nothing I've read recently has quite made the cut for the blog. So here I was, wringing my hands, "What to review?", when I remembered Belt Three by John Ayliff. I read it a few months back, but at the time I was in a run of very strong stories and it fell off the podium despite some solid qualities. I'm glad this space opera got now its second chance because it is well worth a look.
Wendy Wagner, An Oath of Dogs, Angry Robot, 2017.
Audiobook version available on Audible.
Let's face it: after having finished An Oath of Dogs, I wasn't entirely convinced I would review it. But as I read other books, I realised that the characters and the story remained with me. To me, this is the sign that there is to a novel more than I first perceived, and it means that it is well worth a review.
Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds, Jo Fletcher Books, 2014.
Audiobook available on Audible.
I had enjoyed a lot Karen Lord's debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, and this one came highly recommended. Though the narrative structure was different from what I expected, it is a scifi novel filled with great characters and both thoughtful and funny moments that makes it one of the best quest for happiness I ever read. It is also a novel that I read completely wrong and after a brief exchange with Lord, I realised I had to radically shift my way of looking at it.
Martha Wells, All Systems Red, St Martin's Press, 2017.
Audiobook available on Audible.
All Systems Red is a fun and entertaining scifi novella. Though part of a larger series with future upcoming volumes, this first book is a stand alone and can be read independently.
Aliette de Bodard,
Aliette de Bodard is a writer I follow keenly. Sometimes, her stories aren't my cup of tea, but sometimes they are. They are a risk I enjoy taking because I know the writing is gorgeous anyway. So when I realised she had two scifi novellas I had never read, I had to try them.
"Why two covers?" are you asking, "You never put two covers even if it's a series." Thank you for being so observant a regular reader (or if it's the first time you come here, welcome). Planetfall and After Atlas are both set in the same universe. They are both tied by one event: a ship called Atlas leaving Earth with humans aboard. But they can both be read as stand alone novels, you could even read just one and not the other. On the other hand, reading both as a diptych will certainly illuminate the stories more...
Art by Joshua Mays.
"Science-fiction is a white "menochrome": it's a genre written by white men for white men and in which characters are white men."
Erm... No, really, no.
So here are ten novels, chosen subjectively and by chronological order, that will get you on your way to discover that there are much more than just these ten novels and that scifi and fantasy is a genre as diverse as our planet's population...
Chris Beckett, Eden,
Chris Beckett's Eden trilogy is something quite unique to say the least and it had been a while since I had read such a well written scifi novel...
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of Time, Tor, 2015.
In the future, humanity is divided because of projects that aim to terraform uninhabitable planets, and then to introduce animal species whose evolution will be guided by a nanovirus. Dr Avrana Kern is about to finalise one of these projects with a population of apes. But right when she's about to press the button for the final launch, one of her team, who secretely adheres to the faction opposing the projects, destroys the orbital station in which they all are. It's only the first terrorist action of a war that will decimate humanity...
Lois McMaster Bujold, (by internal chronological order (1))
The Vorkosigan Saga is one of the names given to an ensemble of science-fiction novels and novellas written by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Most of the novels focus on the Vorkosigan family, and more particularly on Miles Naismith Vorkosigan. Currently, the series spans about forty years of the life of this family (apart from Falling Free which takes place 200 years in their past) and takes place on the planet Barrayar, on other planets colonised by humanity or on an orbital station...
Illustration by TravisTheGeek.
There was the GamerGate, then the ridiculous drama that the Hugo were. 2015 really contributed to make everyone think that science-fiction was a conservative genre, not to mention sexist, fascist, racist and homophobic, despite the history of the genre itself.
So here is a short collection of SFF novels that could all pass the Bechdel test. This list comprises only ten books (and it was bleeding hard to keep it to only ten books!) with completely personal choices and by chronological order...
All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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