These are my picks for January.
For a look longer into upcoming releases see my almanac of forthcoming books.
Moby Dick meets Duel in John Love’s debut novel of Space Opera and Military Science Fiction! Faith is the name humanity has given to the unknown, seemingly invincible alien ship that has begun to harass the newly emergent Commonwealth. 300 years earlier, the same ship destroyed the Sakhran Empire, allowing the Commonwealth to expand its sphere of influence. But now Faith has returned! The ship is as devastating as before, and its attacks leave some Commonwealth solar systems in chaos. Eventually it reaches Sakhra, now an important Commonwealth possession, and it seems like history is about to repeat itself. But this time, something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth’s ultimate warships. Slender silver ships, full of functionality and crewed by people of unusual abilities, often sociopaths or psychopaths, Outsiders were conceived in back alleys, built and launched in secret, and commissioned without ceremony. One system away from earth, the Outsider ship Charles Manson makes a stand. Commander Foord waits with his crew of miscreants and sociopath, hoping to accomplish what no other human has been able to do — to destroy Faith!
Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.
Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.
File Under: Fantasy [ Big Trouble | Deception | Saltlick’s City | Hang ‘im High ]
Blue Remembered Earth
Formerly known ass the 11K trilogy . This is the first volume in a monumental trilogy tracing the Akinya family across more than ten thousand years of future history…out beyond the solar system, into interstellar space and the dawn of galactic society.
One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey’s family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey’s grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked – well, blackmailed, really – to go up there and make sure the family’s name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise – or anyone else in the family, for that matter – what he’s about to unravel. Eunice’s ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards . . .
In the Mouth of the Whale
This is new novel in the same universe that takes place a thousand years later.
You can read an excerpt here
Fomalhaut was first colonised by the posthuman Quick, who established an archipelago of thistledown cities and edenic worldlets within the star’s vast dust belt. Their peaceful, decadent civilisation was swiftly conquered by a band of ruthless, aggressive, unreconstructed humans who call themselves the True, then, a century before, the True beat back an advance party of Ghosts, a posthuman cult which colonised the nearby system of Beta Hydri after being driven from the Solar System a thousand years ago. Now the Ghosts have returned to Fomalhaut, to begin their end game: the conquest of its single gas giant planet, a captured interstellar wanderer far older than the rest of Fomalhaut’s system. At its core is a sphere of hot metallic hydrogen with strange and powerful properties based on exotic quantum physics. The Quick believe it is inhabited by an ancient alien Mind; the True believe it can be developed into a weapon, and the Ghosts believe it can be transformed into a computational system so powerful it can reach into their past, collapse timelines, and fulfil the ancient prophecies of their founder.
In the Lion’s Mouth
It’s a big Spiral Arm, and the scarred man, Donavan buigh, has gone missing in it, upsetting the harper Mearana’s plans for a reconciliation between her parents. Bridget ban, a Hound of the League, doubts that reconciliation is possible or desirable; but nonetheless has dispatched agents to investigate the disappearance.
The powerful Ravn Olafsdottr, a Shadow of the Names, slips into Clanthompson Hall to tell mother and daughter of the fate of Donovan buigh. In the Long Game between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery, Hound and Shadow are mortal enemies; yet a truce descends between them so that the Shadow may tell her tale. There is a struggle in the Lion’s Mouth, the bureau that oversees the Shadows—a clandestine civil war of sabotage and assassination between those who would overthrow Those of Name and the loyalists who support them. And Donovan, one-time Confederal agent, has been recalled to take a key part, willingly or no.
(Ragnarok book 2) by John Meaney (Gollancz) – uk
I loved book one Absorption. All the characters make me want to come back and know how it goes for them. The aliens are lovely or mysterious and we have only started to scratch on the main plot, it is still much of a bloody mystery to me but it is so compelling to follow. This sequel is high on my most anticipated books for 2012.
The second volume of Meaney’s epic Ragnarok space opera trilogy. The dark matter in the universe is alive and is seeking to pervert human history to its own ends. Its influence has reached back into the dark ages, to the centre of the 3rd Reich and 600 years into the future. The Ragnarok universe not only provides a stunning SF rationale for Norse mythology but posits a world where pilots are locked into symbiotic relationships with their ships and the cities can come alive.
Kristine is definitely one of my favorite authors at the moment. The Diving started with Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins and continues now with Boneyard. Time to learn what happened to the Destiny Fleet?
When multiple Hugo Award winner Kristine Kathryn Rusch decided to put her stamp on classic space opera, readers wanted more. Now Rusch’s popular character Boss returns in a whole new adventure, one that takes her far outside her comfort zone, to a sector of space she’s never seen before.
Searching for ancient technology to help her friends find answers to the mystery of their own past, Boss ventures into a place filled with evidence of an ancient space battle, one the Dignity Vessels lost.
Meanwhile, the Enterran Empire keeps accidentally killing its scientists in a quest for ancient stealth tech. Boss’s most difficult friend, Squishy, has had enough. She sneaks into the Empire and destroys its primary stealth tech research base. But an old lover thwarts her escape, and now Squishy needs Boss’s help.
Boss, who is a fugitive in the Empire. Boss, who knows how to make a Dignity Vessel work. Boss, who knows that Dignity Vessels house the very technology that the Empire is searching for.
Should Boss take a Dignity Vessel to rescue Squishy and risk losing everything to the Empire? Or should Boss continue on her mission for her other friends and let Squishy suffer her own fate?
Filled with battles old and new, scientific dilemmas, and questions about the ethics of friendship, Boneyards looks at the influence of our past on our present and the risks we all take when we meddle in other people’s lives.
Boneyards is space opera the way it was meant to be: exciting, fast moving, and filled with passion
The Great Game
(The Bookman 3) by Lavie Tidhar (Angry Robot) – us
Quite lovely steampunk alien invasion mystery that started with The Bookman and continued with Camera Obscura in 2011. Can probably be read standalone like the other books.
“The Great Game: The Bookman Histories”. The Lizardine Empire is under threat. When Mycroft Holmes is murdered in London, it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life. Mycroft’s protégé, the young Lucy Westerna, returns from Abyssinia with an ancient device that wrecks havoc when activated, summoning into being deadly machines that look like giant tripods. And across the ocean, in Vespuccia, a young Harry Houdini faces death… and the return of an enemy once thought vanquished. The Great Game is played in the shadows… and no one is safe. A new century is about to dawn, and the world would change forever. And in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania an old man weaves a web of dark deceit that would bind them together, in life… and in death. Airship battles, Frankenstein monsters, alien tripods and death-defying acts: The Great Game is a cranked-up steampunk thriller in which nothing is certain not even death.
File Under: Steampunk [ Alternate History! Victorians Bite | End Of Days | Oooo-Laaaaah ]
by Chris Beckett (Corvus) – uk
A marooned outpost of humanity struggles to survive on a startlingly alien world: science fiction as it ought to be from British science fiction’s great white hope.You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you. You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought.You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.
Shadows in Flight
(The Shadow series (Ender) 5) by Orson Scott Card (Tor)
Like the first Ender books where the best the same has been true for the Shadow book.
Bean flees to the stars with three of his children – the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten – a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come. For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders – the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony.