Our latest highlighted Science Fiction, Fantasy and speculative fiction selection

I had always wanted to be a writer who confused genre boundaries and who was read in multiple contexts”  Jonathan Lethem

A nuclear powered supercar that can tunnel through the earth, a progressive pulp tome in which a band of Mercenary librarians set out to save a crumbling America, an enthralling fantasy epic from a New Zealand author,  a world where men have become a prized commodity and a very welcome return of Elizabeth Bear in a star spanning space opera with ex crime lords and mega intelligent AI systems. All are to be found in Decembers recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles. Enjoy.

The tower of fools / Sapkowski, Andrzej
Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a healer, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion forces him to flee his home, he finds himself pursued not only by brothers bent on vengeance but by the Holy Inquisition. In a time when tensions between Hussite and Catholic countries are threatening to turn into war and mystical forces are gathering in the shadows, Reynevan’s journey will lead him to the Narrenturm — the Tower of Fools.  And escaping it, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity will prove more difficult than he ever imagined” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook 

Afterland / Beukes, Lauren
“All Cole has left in the world is her boy, Miles. With men now a prized commodity, keeping him safe means breaking hastily written new rules – and leaving her own sister for dead. All Miles has left in the world is his mother.But is one person enough to save him from the many who would kill to get their hands on a living boy? Together, Cole and Miles embark on a journey across a changed, hostile country, towards a freedom they may never reach. And when Cole’s sister tracks them down, they’ll need to decide who to trust – and what loyalty really means in this unimaginable new world.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Deal with the Devil : a Mercenary Librarians novel / Rocha, Kit
” Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process… Or they could do the impossible: team up. This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Providence / Barry, Max
” We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored. Afterward, we knew better. Seven years after first contact, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four–tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war’s progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media. But while pursuing the enemy across space, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson confront the unthinkable: their communications are cut, their ship decreasingly trustworthy and effective. To survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real.” (Catalogue)

Scardown / Bear, Elizabeth
“Jenny Casey was not born for this mission. She was modified for it.  Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life – a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny – as pilot of the starship Montreal – must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.  With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The saints of salvation / Hamilton, Peter F
” Humanity is struggling to hold out against a hostile takeover by an alien race that claims to be on a religious mission to bring all sentient life to its God at the End of Time. But while billions of cocooned humans fill the holds of the Olyix’s deadly arkships, humankind is playing an even longer game than the aliens may have anticipated. From an ultra-secret spy mission to one of the grandest battles ever seen, no strategy is off the table. Will a plan millennia in the making finally be enough to defeat this seemingly unstoppable enemy? ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The arrest : a novel / Lethem, Jonathan
“Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn’t hurt. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mother of daemons / Hair, David
Lyra, Queen of Rondelmar, has fought enemies without and within, dealt with grief and loss, embraced forbidden magic, found her father and borne a child – and still it isn’t enough. Her enemies are on the march and the Rondian Empire is collapsing. But a more dangerous adversary is out there . . . and he is winning. Ervyn Naxius, amoral genius, has unleashed war on two continents and is now laughing kings and priests dance to his tune and his daemonic followers are spreading through the lands, but still he isn’t satisfied. His ultimate goal – absolute control of all life – is finally within his reach . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The unstoppable rise of Progressive Pulp

If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”

Philip K. Dick

Progressive Pulp is a new trend in science fiction that we have seen emerging in recent years, where the fast paced, page turning, addictive aspects of old fashioned pulp fiction are being reimagined or merged with bigger more serious ideas or concepts  such as explorations of gender or racial oppression.  Some authors are working almost exclusively in this new genre, e.g. Adam Christopher, whilst others are releasing individual titles that fit into this exciting and fast-growing sub-genre. Below are a couple of the authors and books we consider as fitting into this new Progressive Pulp category. Enjoy.


Ring shout : or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the end times / Clark, P. Djèlí
“D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth. Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls Ku Kluxes. She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face otherworldly nightmares–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harrow the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn
“She answered the Emperor’s call. She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend. In victory, her world has turned to ash. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I only killed him once : a Ray Electromatic mystery / Christopher, Adam
“Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery–one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel… When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Condomnauts / Yoss
“In the 24th century, Josu Vald’s rise from an orphan in the slums of Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. On the streets, Josue raced cockroaches for cash–until he discovered his true-calling: as a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony. Every so-called “condomnaut” knows that diplomacy and trade deals depend on sexual pacts in the galactic community–and every encounter becomes a close encounter, a wildly inventive and unapologetic tale that would make even Barbarella blush.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Altered carbon / Morgan, Richard K.
“In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”).  Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, now he is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the Sun / Rabarts, Dan.
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Because if he’s involved, Penny will murder him herself… Matiu can taste the chaos in the air. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready Player Two / Cline, Ernest
“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines — puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trail of lightning / Roanhorse, Rebecca
“In a world sinking beneath climate-warmed waves, Maggie works as a monster hunter in Dinétah, once the Navajo reservation. There, she encounters a creature that out-Grendels Grendel and seeks help from medicine man Kai Arviso. Maggie Hoskie is a Din tah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The southern book club’s guide to slaying vampires / Hendrix, Grady
” Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club.  One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted–including the book club–but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Remembering Game of Thrones

Are you missing Game of Thrones? It has already been over a year since the series finale aired. Here are some books about, and inspired by, Game of Thrones, to fill the void.

Game of thrones : a guide to Westeros and beyond : the complete series / McNutt, Myles
Game of Thrones: A Guide to Westeros and Beyond, The Complete Series is a visual exploration of the world of HBO’s Game of Thrones(R). In two parts, the book follows the story of the South, where kings and queens battle for the Iron Throne, and of the North, where the White Walkers and their army of the dead gather. Covering all eight seasons of the show, this definitive guide is a must-have companion for every Game of Thrones fan.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

The art of Game of thrones / Riley, Deborah
“Filled with gorgeous illustrations and artwork from HBO’s hit series, The Art of Game of Thrones is the definitive Game of Thrones art collection. The official collection of behind the scenes concept art and production design from HBO’s landmark TV show Game of Thrones. Learn how BAFTA and Emmy award-winning production designer Deborah Riley and her team brought to life the iconic locations of Westeros and beyond.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Game of thrones : the storyboards / Simpson, Will
“In this exceptional art collection, Game of Thrones storyboard artist William Simpson shares the brilliant work that is an integral part of assembling each episode of the award-winning series.

This gorgeous book features a unique behind-the-scenes look into pivotal moments and early conceptual art from Game of Thrones. Curated from Simpson’s extensive archive, this revealing collection represents the exemplary artistic development involved in one of the most visually dynamic shows on television.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Game of thrones : the costumes / Clapton, Michele
“Discover the secrets behind creating the costumes for HBO’s Game of Thrones in this definitive guide. The official guide to the complete costumes of HBO’s landmark television series Game of Thrones. Discover how BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton dressed the heroes and villains of Westeros and beyond, including Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Iron, fire and ice : the real history that inspired Game of thrones / West, Ed
“Discover the bloody battles and backstabbing royals that inspired George RR Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series and the HBO smash-hit Game of Thrones. Have you read everything George R.R. Martin has every written? Do you know what in Game of Thrones is based in real history? Join Ed West, as he explores all of Martin’s influences, from religion to war to powerful women. Discover the real history behind the phenomenon and see for yourself that truth is stranger than fiction.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverGame of thrones versus history : written in blood / edited by Brian A. Pavlac.
“Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood is a collection of thought-provoking essays by medieval historians who explore how the enormously popular HBO series and fantasy literature of George R. R. Martin are both informed by and differ significantly from real historical figures, events, beliefs, and practices of the medieval world. From a variety of perspectives, the authors delve into Martin’s plots, characterizations, and settings, offering insights into whether his creations are historical possibilities or pure flights of fantasy.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverYou win or you die : the ancient world of Game of Thrones / Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.
“In this essential sequel to Carolyne Larrington’s Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones, Ayelet Haimson Lushkov explores the echoes, from the Summer Islands to Storm’s End, of a rich antique history. She discusses, for example, the convergence of ancient Rome and the reach, scope, and might of the Valyrian Freehold. She shows how the wanderings of Tyrion Lannister replay the journeys of Odysseus and Aeneas. She suggests that the War of the Five Kings resembles the War of the Four Emperors (68-69 AD). She also demonstrates just how the Wall and the Wildlings advancing on it connect with Hadrian’s bulwark against fierce tribes of Picts. This book reveals the remarkable extent to which the entire Game of Thrones universe is animated by its ancient past.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverWinter is coming : the medieval world of Game of Thrones / Carolyne Larrington.
“Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. As Carolyne Larrington reveals in this essential companion to George R R Martin’s fantasy novels and the HBO mega-hit series based on them the show is the epitome of water-cooler TV. It is the subject of intense debate in national newspapers and by bloggers and cultural commentators contesting the series’ startling portrayals of power, sex and gender. Yet no book has divulged how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages. Discussing novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores among other topics: sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century’s most important fantasy creation.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe science of Game of thrones. / Helen Keen.
“A myth-busting, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping and fun-filled expedition through the world of Game of Thrones. Do dragons actually exist? Is it possible to crush a person’s head with your bare hands? What really happened when royal families interbreed? How does wildfire win wars? Can you really kill someone with molten gold?
Award-winning comedian and popular-science writer Helen Keen uncovers the astounding science behind the world’s most popular television show. Join Helen as she sifts the fact from fantasy, discovers the truth beneath the togas, and reveals a world more fantastical than Daenerys Targaryen’s wildest dreams. So pour yourself a bowl of brown, climb on your beast of burden, and prepare yourself for an amazing adventure. It’s time to see the Seven Kingdoms as you have never seen them before.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe world of ice & fire : the untold history of Westeros and the Game of Thrones / George R.R. Martin, Elio García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson.
“If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork–the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time–warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice & Fire. This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org–perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice & Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

The 1945 Retro Hugo awarded to Science Fiction legend Leigh Douglass Brackett

No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
― Leigh Brackett, The Empire strikes back. 

The 2020 Hugo’s have just been announced and one of the strands awarded is the retrospective Hugo given to writers writing exceptional Science Fiction before the Hugo’s started. The winner of this year’s retrospective Hugo is one of the most remarkable and versatile writers from that time and a legend in both science fiction and film noir circles. Leigh Douglass Brackett was born in 1915, she published her first science fiction story in her mid 20’s and contributed to the to Pogo’s STF-ETTE, probably the first ever all-female science fiction fanzine.

Proving her versatility and talent her first novel was not a science fiction work but was instead a hard boiled mystery called No good from a corpse. Which led to Leigh being approached by Hollywood director Howard Hawks to help write the script for 1946’s The Big sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the film is now commonly regarded as one of the finest Hollywood film noir movies. Leigh went on to work on a whole host of films such as Rio Bravo and famously The Empire strikes back writing some of Yoda’s most memorable lines. But her interest in science fiction remained constant throughout her career writing many science fiction novels and short stories earning Leigh the affectionate title “Queen of Space Opera”. Her most celebrated science fiction novel was her 1955 book The long tomorrow set after a nuclear war, and portraying a world where scientific knowledge is restricted and feared. The book was nominated for a Hugo the following year 1956.


The long tomorrow / Brackett, Leigh
“Two generations after the nuclear holocaust, rumours persisted about a secret desert hideaway where scientists worked with dangerous machines and where men plotted to revive the cities. Almost a continent away, Len Coulter heard whisperings that fired his imagination. Then one day he found a strange wooden box.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The big sleep ; Farewell, my lovely ; The high window / Chandler, Raymond
” The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralyzed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder. In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women. In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself deep in the tangled affairs of a dead coin collector.”(Adapted from Catalogue). For the availability of The Howard Hawk’s version of Big sleep film click here. 

William Shakespeare’s The Empire striketh back : Star Wars part the fifth / Doescher, Ian
“Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages.” (Catalogue) For the availability of the Empire strikes back film click here. 

    Sisters of the Vast Black: New Sci-Fi & Fantasy

    There are some big names among this month’s new sci-fi and fantasy titles, including Nora Roberts with the third book in her Chronicles of the One series and Jeff VanderMeer with Dead Astronauts. However the book we’re probably most excited about is by debut author Lina Rather: it’s the fantastic Sisters of the Vast Black.

    Sisters of the Vast Black tells the story of a group of space-travelling nuns who must answer a mysterious distress call from a recently-established colony. However this isn’t your usual space opera: Rather’s work investigates everything from theology and faith to governance and bio-engineering–and more!

    For more sci-fi and fantasy suggestions, check out Novelist Plus in our eLibrary!

    Sisters of the vast black / Rather, Lina
    “Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations. When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The rise of magicks / Roberts, Nora
    “After the sickness known as the Doom destroyed civilization, magick has become commonplace, and Fallon Swift has spent her young years learning its ways. Fallon cannot live in peace until she frees those who have been preyed upon by the government or the fanatical Purity Warriors, endlessly hunted or locked up in laboratories, brutalized for years on end. She is determined to save even those who have been complicit with this evil out of fear or weakness–if, indeed, they can be saved.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Dead astronauts / VanderMeer, Jeff
    “Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters – Grayson, Morse and Chen – shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    CTRL + S / Briggs, Andy
    “Life in the near future’s not all bad. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire. But almost anything isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested–and lives traded–to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted. Now Theo’s mother has disappeared . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The true bastards / French, Jonathan
    “French debuted in a big way last year with The Grey Bastards. Here, Fetching now leads her own band of half-orcs, the True Bastards, and she faces famine and desertion from within and contempt from other half-orc leaders from without. Then real problems come from beyond the grave. The sequel to The Grey Bastards, this irresistibly swashbuckling, swaggering, foul-mouthed fantasy is rollicking, cunningly clever swords ‘n’ sorcery storytelling that’s a shot of pure fun for fantasy fans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The warrior moon / Rivera, K Arsenault
    “Barsalayaa Shefali, famed Qorin adventurer, and the spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, have survived fights with demon armies, garnered infamy, and ruled an empire. Raised together since birth, then forced into exile after their wedding, and reunited amidst a poisonous invasion–these bold warrior women have faced monumental adventures and catastrophic battles. As they come closest to fulfilling the prophecy of generations–Shefali and Shizuka will face their greatest test yet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The beast’s heart / Shallcross, Leife
    “I am neither monster nor man – yet I am both. I am the Beast. I know why I was cursed; I know the legacy of evil I carry in my tainted blood. So how could she ever love me? My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart when I was struggling just to be human. And now I might lose her forever. Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Sci-Fi Lord of the Flies: New Science Fiction

    Salvation Lost / Peter E. Hamilton

    Supernova Era, by Cixin Liu

    Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy was one of the most expansive science fiction series in recent years, and this month Liu returns with a brand new epic: The Supernova Era. Liu began writing Supernova Era soon after the political uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 (the book was published in China in 2004 and for the first time in English this year), and perhaps not coincidentally (social upheaval, disillusionment) it tells the story of an Earth that has been stripped of its adult population, leaving only children to try and navigate the future.

    This month also sees some great Australian sci-fi, including The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman and the finale of Jay Kristoff ‘s Nevernight Chronicles. For more on Coleman’s work, check out this recent interview. Enjoy!

    Supernova era / Liu, Cixin
    “Eight years ago, a star died. Tonight, a supernova tsunami of high energy will finally reach Earth. Dark skies will shine bright and within a year everyone over the age of thirteen will be dead. And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge they’ll need to keep the world running. But the last generation may not want to carry the legacy of their parents’ world. And though they imagine a better future, they may not be able to escape humanity’s dark instincts.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

    Salvation lost / Hamilton, Peter F
    “The comparative utopia of twenty-third century Earth is about to go dreadfully awry when a seemingly benign alien race is abruptly revealed to be one of the worst threats humanity has ever faced. Driven by an intense religious extremism, the Olyix are determined to bring everyone to their version of god as they see it. But they may have met their match in humanity, who are not about to go gently into that good night or spend the rest of their days cowering in hiding.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

    Darkdawn / Kristoff, Jay
    “The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic. Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

    A second chance / Taylor, Jodi
    “Behind the facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”–these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics; a more accurate description might be unintentional disaster-magnets. The Chronicles of St. Mary’s tells the adventures of Madeleine Maxwell and her compatriots as they travel through time, saving St. Mary’s and thwarting time-travelling terrorists.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

    The old lie / Coleman, Claire G
    “Shane Daniels and Romany Zetz have been drawn into a war that is not their own. Lives will be destroyed, families will be torn apart. Trust will be broken. When the war is over, some will return to a changed world. Will they discover that glory is a lie?” (Catalogue)

    New Science fiction and fantasy: Epic conclusions and curious creations

    New tales in science fiction and fantasy and delving into the vaults.  Wheel of time fans have a pre Wheel of time Robert Jordan, a.k.a. James Oliver Rigney, Jr. title to revel in. Becky Chamber’s new novella explores the potential for space exploration, boundaries expand as humans are adapted to their new environments before they arrive, but what is the fate of the homeworld they leave behind?

    The confines of linear time and lifespan are challenged in Joe Abercrombie’s A little hatred and Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the ninth. The Lightbringer series concludes with Brent Weeks’ The burning white. Nine years from start to finish this epic saga of magic, lies and betrayals has seen it’s characters transform as the world they know evolves around them. So who is the Lightbringer?

    To be taught if fortunate / Chambers, Becky
    “In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the galaxy transform themselves.  Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    Warrior of the Altaii / Jordan, Robert (print), (eBook)
    “Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end. The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets, and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. This is Robert Jordan’s never-before-published first novel, which he wrote before his well-known Wheel of Time series.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    A little hatred / Abercrombie, Joe
    “The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the Long Eye glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another. Old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield. Savine dan Glokta plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary and the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    Gideon the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn (print), (eBook)
    “Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse.  But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, has been summoned into action. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    The burning white / Weeks, Brent
    “In the stunning conclusion to the epic, Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves. As the White King springs his great trap, and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile and his companions will scramble to return for one impossible final stand. In the darkest hour, will the Lightbringer come? (Adapted from catalogue)

    The cruel stars / Birmingham, John
    “Centuries after their defeat, the Sturm have returned with an overwhelming attack on the fringes of human space.  Everybody thought the Sturm were dead, engulfed by the Dark. They were wrong. On the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial onslaught. Five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    Season of storms / Sapkowski, Andrzej
    Translated from original Polish by David French
    “Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, one of the few capable of hunting the monsters that prey on humanity. A mutant who is tasked with killing unnatural beings. He uses magical signs, potions, and the pride of every Witcher – two swords, steel and silver. But a contract has gone wrong, and Geralt finds himself without his signature weapons. Now he needs them back, because sorcerers are scheming, and across the world the  season of storms is coming…” (Adapted from catalogue)

    Knight / Zahn, Timothy (print, (eBook)
    “Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philidelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship. Competing factions control different parts of the ship with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    Creating a Martian colony

    Mars has become a kind of mythic arena onto which we have projected our Earthly hopes and fears.”
    – Carl Sagan

    Fiction writers since the days of Edgar Rice Burroughs have speculated on what or who might live on Mars, and how humans might fare together or alone in a new environment. Current space-faring aspirations have inspired various nations to investigate the ‘red planet’, from the NASA Mars rover — your name could make the interplanetary voyage — to the UAE Hope probe due to launch next year. Chinese students can experience life on a Martian base in the Gobi desert as China prepares an orbiter and rover for the 2020 launch window.

    For the rest of us, interplanetary exploration is only a page turn away, with a heady mix of nostalgia, fast-paced action, intrigue and Martian terrain that is envisioned from the lush to the inhospitably harsh. Simon Morden’s sequel to One Way continues a thrilling science fiction series that places convicts on the red planet’s surface. The Arabella of Mars series by David D. Levine is a space opera nostalgia package bedecked with regency props, political intrigue and a swashbuckling heroine. And Richard K Morgan’s Thin Air dives into corruption and kidnapping in a vividly rendered Martian outpost. Something for all tastes in these voyages of the imagination. Enjoy!


    Lost Mars : stories from the golden age of the red planet
    “Since the 1880s, after an astronomer first described “channels” on the surface of Mars, writers have been fascinated with the planet, endlessly speculating on what life on Mars might look like and what might happen should we make contact with the planet’s inhabitants. This wonderful collection offers ten wildly imaginative short stories from the golden age of science fiction by such classic sci-fi writers as H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and J. G. Ballard, as well as hard-to-find stories by unjustly forgotten writers from the genre.” (Catalogue)

    No way / Morden, Simon
    “In this sequel to the unnerving One Way, Frank Kitteridge, who’s been abandoned on Mars by the unscrupulous builders of the first base there, learns that survivors at another base are itching to exploit him for all he’s worth. To get back home, he must fight back now.” (Catalogue)

    Arabella the traitor of Mars / Levine, David D.
    “At last husband and wife, Arabella and Captain Singh seem to have earned the attention of great men, ones who have new uses in mind for the Mars Company captain and his young wife. Both Company and Crown have decided that it is time to bring Mars into the folds of Empire, and they think Singh is the perfect man to do it. Now, Arabella must decide between staying loyal to the man she loves and the country of her father or betraying all that she has known to fight alongside the Martians in a hopeless resistance against the Galaxy’s last remaining superpower.” (Catalogue)

    Overdrive coverA Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs (ebook)
    This science fiction planetary romance, packed full of dangerous feats and swordplay, is set on a dying Mars. Civil War veteran John Carter is unexpectedly transported to Barsoom, the planet we call Mars, and finds with the weaker gravity that he has super-human strength. In combat he finds respect and belonging with the Tharks, an aggressive race of green four-armed nomads. But when the Tharks capture the human-like Dejah Thoris, Carter feels the need to help this beautiful princess of Mars.” (Overdrive description)

    Thin air / Morgan, Richard K.
    “An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. But when Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther and deeper than he had ever expected. And soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.” (Catalogue)

    Retrograde / Cawdron, Peter
    “Mankind has long dreamed of reaching out to live on other planets, and with the establishment of the Mars Endeavour colony, that dream has become reality. The fledgling colony consists of 120 scientists, astronauts, medical staff, and engineers. Buried deep underground, they’re protected from the harsh radiation that sterilizes the surface of the planet. The colony is prepared for every eventuality except one–what happens when disaster strikes Earth?” (Catalogue)

    Red rising / Brown, Pierce
    “Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. He works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. But they have been betrayed. Darrow discovers that vast cities and sprawling parks cover the planet, and Reds are nothing more than slaves to the decadent Gold ruling caste. Now he will sacrifice everything and stop at nothing to bring down his enemies.” (Catalogue)

    Vivid imaginings: new science fiction and fantasy

    This new collection of science fiction and fantasy writing has a diverse range of debut novelists. New Wellington talent H. G. Parry writes about fiction characters becoming all too real, while Ada Hoffman of The Outside has written many short works of speculative fiction and now takes to novel form. Hoffman creates neurodiverse characters from a place of personal knowledge, her own pitch for the novel being, “It’s a suspenseful space opera with some totally wild surreal cosmic horror mixed in, a whole bunch of strong female/queer/disabled characters, genuinely difficult moral quandaries, and empathy winning.”

    Set in the universe of the Three-Body Problem Trilogy, The Redemption of Time continues Cixin Liu’s multi-award-winning science fiction saga. This original story by Baoshu, published with Liu’s support, envisions the aftermath of the conflict between humanity and the extraterrestrial Trisolarans.

    In Longer, Michael Blumlein explores dauntingly epic topics including love, the expanse of the human lifespan and mortality. Finally, in a nod to the recent Hugo Awards hosted in Dublin (and foreshadowing Wellington’s WorldCon), Brilliant Void showcases vintage imaginings–Irish science fiction from way back!

    Brilliant void : a selection of classic Irish science fiction
    “An astronomer challenges an emperor. A hunter pursues the last dinosaur. A young Kerryman emigrates to the Moon to seek his fortune. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the winds of change came rushing in Ireland’s direction. Science would transform everything: life, love, death, crime, war, and even history itself. Edited and introduced by Jack Fennell, this collection of lesser-known works of classic Irish science fiction includes stories by Frances Power Cobbe, Fitz-James O’Brien and Charlotte McManus.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
    “For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob a young lawyer with an utterly normal life hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    The redemption of time / Baoshu
    “In the midst of an interstellar war, Yun Tianming found himself tortured beyond endurance for decades. Yun eventually succumbed to helping the aliens subjugate humanity in order to save Earth from complete destruction. Yun has spent his very long life in exile as a traitor to the human race. Nearing the end of his existence at last, a consciousness calling itself The Spirit has recruited him to wage battle against an entity that threatens the existence of the entire universe. But Yun refuses to be a pawn again.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
    “When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    The outside / Hoffmann, Ada (print, (eBook)
    “Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor.” (Catalogue)

    Longer / Blumlein, Michael (print), (eBook)
    “Gunjita and Cav are in orbit. R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third. After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death and morality arise to test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.” (Catalogue)

    The record keeper / Gomillion, Agnes
    “After World War III, Earth is in ruins, the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law or risk shattering the fragile peace. Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity. After ten grueling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives.” (Adapted from catalogue)

    If, then : a novel / Day, Kate Hope (print), (eBook)
    “In the quiet mountain haven of Clearing, Oregon, four neighbors find their lives upended when they begin to see themselves in a parallel reality… At first the visions are relatively benign, but they grow increasingly troubling–and in some cases, frightening. Startling, deeply imagined, and compulsively readable, Kate Hope Day’s debut novel is about the choices we make that shape our lives and determine our destinies, the moments that alter us so profoundly that it feels as if we’ve entered another reality.” (Catalogue)

    The iron dragon’s mother / Swanwick, Michael
    “Caitlin of House Sans Merci is the young half-human pilot of a sentient mechanical dragon. Returning from her first soul-stealing raid, she discovers an unwanted hitchhiker. When Caitlin is framed for the murder of her brother, to save herself she must disappear into Industrialized Faerie, looking for the one person who can clear her. Unfortunately, the stakes are higher than she knows. Her deeds will change her world forever.” (Catalogue)

    Our latest Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase of newly acquired books.

    “Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.”
    – Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

    With the 2019 Hugo award nominees recently announced and it now being just under a year until the Hugo awards ceremony here in Wellington at CoNZealand, it is great to see two newly acquired science fiction and fantasy books that have connections to the Hugos. The first is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik which is on the 2019 Hugo long list. The second is Mercedes Lackey’s Eye Spy. Mercedes Lackey is one of the guests of honour at CoNZealand next year.

    There were lots of other new titles that caught our attention including the continuing rise of the awesome Afro Futurism genre as represented in this month’s list by Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Insurrection. There is also Neal Stephenson’s latest magnum opus Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, described by the New York Times no less as “a staggering work of imagination”. And as if that wasn’t enough two new books from acknowledged fantasy masters Stephen Donaldson and Tad Williams as well as a whole plethora of other science fiction and fantasy goodies to enjoy.

    Overdrive cover Spinning Silver / Novik, Naomi (print) (eBook)
    “Miryem was brought up in a snowbound village, on the edge of a charmed forest. She comes from a family of moneylenders, but her kind father shirks his work. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, his family faces poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what’s owed, and her neighbours soon whisper that she can turn silver into gold. Then an ill-advised boast attracts the cold creatures that haunt the wood. Nothing will be the same again, for words have power.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Eye spy / Lackey, Mercedes
    “In this second installment of the Family Spies series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, the children of Heralds Mags and Amily must follow in their parents’ footsteps to protect the realm. When Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift–an ability to sense the physical strains in objects.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The Rosewater insurrection / Thompson, Tade
    “All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret. The government agent Aminat, the lover of the retired sensitive Kaaro, is at the forefront of the cold, silent conflict. She must capture a woman who is the key to the survival of the human race. But Aminat is stymied by the machinations of the Mayor of Rosewater and the emergence of an old enemy of Wormwood…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Fall, or, Dodge in hell : a novel / Stephenson, Neal
    Fall, or Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    The war within / Donaldson, Stephen R
    “It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. But an ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Empire of grass / Williams, Tad
    “The kingdoms of Osten Ard have been at peace for decades, but now, the threat of a new war grows to nightmarish proportions. Their allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the dreadful Queen of the Norns to allow her armies to cross into mortal lands. The ancient, powerful nation of Nabban is on the verge of bloody civil war, and the fierce nomads of the Thrithings grasslands have begun to mobilize, united by superstitious fervor and their age-old hatred of the city-dwellers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Exhalation / Stories / Chiang, Ted (print) (eBook)
    “This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

    Triumphant / Campbell, Jack (print) (eBook)
    “The recently colonized world of Glenlyon has learned that they’re stronger when they stand with other star systems than they are on their own. But after helping their neighbor Kosatka against an invasion, Glenlyon has become a target. An attack is launched against Glenlyon’s orbital facility with forces too powerful for fleet officer Rob Geary to counter using their sole remaining destroyer, Saber. Mele Darcy’s Marines must repel repeated assaults while their hacker tries to get into the enemy systems to give Saber a fighting chance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)