GALAXY’S EDGE REVIEW ROUNDUP: JANUARY 2023

Richard Chwedyk sold his first story in 1990, won a Nebula in 2002, and has been active in the field for the past thirty-two years.

BENDING, BLENDING, AND NEVERENDING

Station Eternity
by Mur Lafferty
Ace
October 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-09811-0

Mallory Viridian, P.I., has moved to a self-aware, alien space station because she happens to be too good at her job of solving murders. Her problem is the collateral damage that comes with her success: people close to her keep getting killed. She sees it as a jinx which she might only beat by living in an alien environment. But more humans arrive at the station, and more murders occur. What’s a private eye to do?

~~

The Terraformers
by Annalee Newitz
Tor
January 2023
ISBN: 978-1-250-22801-7

I’ve been fascinated with the notion of terraforming since I first encountered it as a very young SF reader. Newitz seems to share that fascination at a number of levels: the reasons for doing it, the practical approaches to accomplishing such a task, and the questions more recently bounced around concerning the ethical nature of terraforming: if we make a planet more “earthlike,” do we mess with the natural ecology of the planet we propose to transform? Or even the natural ecology of space itself? We might declare a proposed planet lifeless or barren, but is it? By what standards do we measure the suitability of a planet to be terraformed? There is a great quote from a made-up environmental rescue team handbook used as an epigram: “Rivers might turn out to be people. Don’t make any assumptions.”

And these questions are very much at the heart of the novel, explored mostly from the perspective of Newitz’s protagonist, Destry. Her family has overseen the terraforming of the planet Sask-E for generations, and the responsibility has now fallen upon her. At a crucial moment, it is discovered that a volcano contains more than the usual exogeological “stuff”: a whole city—a populated city, too.

~~

The Daughter of Dr. Moreau
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Del Rey
July 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-35533-6

I will not pretend that I “understand” this miraculous novel—not yet at least. But I may pay it what Vladimir Nabokov considered the highest compliment any reader can give any novel: I was­—am—enchanted by it.

In no way is it a sequel or follow-up or updating, or even a retelling, of that darkest of H. G. Wells’s scientific fables, The Island of Dr. Moreau. The skeleton of the novel is there, moved to a different place and time. An eccentric scientist is conducting research on an estate in the secluded jungles, aided by an overseer named Montgomery Laughton. Moreau’s daughter, Carlota, also lives there. Moreau thinks the isolation is good for her nerves, though the evidence argues otherwise. Along with some servants and a couple of occasional visitors, the only other occupants of the estate are the “hybrids.”

~~

Deathless Gods
by P. C. Hodgell
Baen
October 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9216-7

And in her latest novel, Deathless Gods, you can find yourself recognizing contemporary concerns and attitudes in the midst of a world that otherwise seems so far away from our own, yet does so without conceding to giving characters contemporary idioms or attitudes.

The plot, as usual, is too dense to be summarized here with any justice, but be assured that Hodgell’s storytelling skills will keep you from becoming lost.

~~

Penric’s Labors
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen
November 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9224-2

This book, however, seems a good place to start for uninitiated fantasy readers (science fiction readers will need to look elsewhere). Besides, it’s not a novel, but three novellas, and they’re not tied together like the old “fixups” of days of yore. I love novellas, and these especially.

This is the third collection (if I’m counting correctly) devoted to the sorcerer Learned Penric and his temple demon Desdemona. Penric may be no Miles Vorkosigan (but then who is?) but he is an affable, compelling, and fully engaging character. He doesn’t hold a candle to Desdemona, though. The interplay between them would make enjoyable reading enough, but Bujold has engineered these three novellas with more than requisite thrills and wit. Each novella builds on the previous one to expand upon our understanding and appreciation of “Pen and Des” and their world. I can only imagine new readers becoming thoroughly captivated with her storytelling here.

~~

Gunfight on Europa Station
edited by David Boop
Baen
November 2022 (mass market; fp November 2021)
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9227-3

David Boop has gathered some fine work here. Funny, exciting, suspenseful, meditative—a great variety of styles and content. All good stuff. I’m especially fond of Boop’s own contribution, “Last Stand at Europa Station A,” and the stories by Elizabeth Moon, Jane Lindskold, Alan Dean Foster, Martin L. Shoemaker, and Alex Shvartsman. Also of note, as a special favorite, is the collaboration by Cat Rambo and J. R. Martin, “Riders of the Endless Void.”

There’s something here for everyone.

Except my mom.

~~

Sword and Planet
edited by Christopher Ruocchio
Baen
September 2022 (mass market; first printing December 2021)
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9214-3

I started teaching a science fiction litf class last fall. Better late than never. One of the things I’ve discovered is that a significant contingent of my students believe that the term “science fiction” is indistinguishable, nay synonymous, with “space opera.” It has been my goal all term to disabuse them of this erroneous simplification.

However, if they’re going to read space opera, or a brand of it that resembles heroic fantasy with warp drives, and a copy of the David Hartwell- Kathryn Cramer-edited The Space Opera Renaissance isn’t handy, they can do worse than to dig into this compact and absorbing collection of original stories.

Yes, they are mashups of science and magic, but more often than not the science comes out on top, and in a satisfying (and often witty) way.

~~

The Dabare Snake Launcher
by Joelle Presby
Baen
November 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9225-9

Joelle Presby’s novel is about the construction and initial operation of the first space elevator, and it’s located in west Africa. “Dabarre,” we are told at the outset, is a Fulani term that means a piece of machinery fashioned from repurposed parts that either works perfectly—or not at all. So, some sense of the “stakes” is pretty clear as well. The voice and structure of the novel are fairly traditional, but it has a great cast of characters and is an exciting story, filled with all the wit and neat ideas we love to find in good science fiction. This novel left me feeling very optimistic. If not for the planet, then for the form of literature we love so much.

Copyright © 2022 by Richard Chwedyk.

~~~

Find the entire article at Galaxy’s Edge Magazine — where you can read for free until February 28th, 2023.

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR QNTM ON HIS LATEST BOOK

Qntm (pronounced “quantum”) is a software developer and a writer known for pushing the limits through his mind-bending stories that incorporate science, horror, science fiction, and alternatives to the reality we live in as humans on Earth. We sat down to chat with qntm about his most recent publication.

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HOLIDAY READS: 5 SPECULATIVE BOOKS TO KICK OFF THE SEASON

Tis the Season here at Signals From the Edge, and since it’s the start of December (and several holiday celebrations), we figured what better to go with those twinkling lights than a few books full of wonder and speculation. So grab a gingerbread cookie or two, toss some marshmallows in your hot cocoa, wrap yourself up in your favorite blanket, and prepare to dive in …

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GALAXY’S EDGE REVIEW ROUNDUP: NOVEMBER 2022

RECOMMENDED BOOKS
by Richard Chwedyk

Richard Chwedyk sold his first story in 1990, won a Nebula in 2002, and has been active in the field for the past thirty-two years.

In previous columns, I’ve said a lot already about my love for short fiction. I don’t need to repeat myself, but I will (as Joseph Epstein wrote, “A teacher is someone who can never say anything once.”), though in keeping with the subject, I’ll be brief.

Short fiction represents the heartbeat of these forms we love, science fiction and fantasy. It’s not tied down to narrative and stylistic structures publishers believe are compulsory for “saleable” prose. Any subject, any style can be explored with the single proviso that it be interesting.

Even the novels discussed here demonstrate the craft and vision received by working in short forms. Big things may not always come in small packages, but the odds are pretty good that size doesn’t always matter.

~~~

The Year’s Best Fantasy, Volume One
edited by Paula Guran
Pyr
August 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64506-048-2

This volume represents something that we’ve needed for a long time. It was 2009 when the last David G. Hartwell/Kathryn Cramer-edited Year’s Best Fantasy volume came out, and Pyr should be applauded not merely for putting out this volume, but for choosing Paula Guran as its editor. She has wide-ranging tastes and a keen eye for significant work in a field that has grown so large so swiftly. And she has done so in a perfectly manageable format. The book comes in at a comparatively slim 439 pages. Like the Hartwell/Cramer anthologies, it provides a comprehensible overview without overwhelming the reader.

~~~

The Best of James Van Pelt
by James Van Pelt
Fairwood Press
August 2022
ISBN: 978-1-933846-21-7

If you’re a constant reader of magazines, as I am, print or online, James Van Pelt is one of those names you encounter with frequency, and in a good way, because no matter what else may be in that issue’s contents you are assured of at least one good story, well told.
For that very reason we tend to take him for granted. And we shouldn’t.

~~~

Wergen: The Alien Love War
by Mercurio D. Rivera
NewCon Press
November 2021
ISBN: 978-1-914953-01-9

As well as Rivera knows his Wergens, he knows his humans even better. That doesn’t sound like high praise, but it is. Many SF writers who work out alien cultures down to minutiae often have a blind spot for human complexity. Or perhaps they have transferred that complexity into their aliens. Rivera conveys our complex and often contradictory nature with honesty and integrity. This is what science fiction can do at its best, and what Rivera does on every page of this extraordinary volume.

~~~

Forkpoints
by Sheila Finch
Aqueduct Press
June 2022
ISBN: 978-1-61976-218-3

Sheila Finch’s short fiction has always been literate and fascinating. She finds new ways of looking at old SF concepts where she doesn’t invent a few concepts of her own. One of the things I have most appreciated about her Xenolinguistics stories is she makes the struggle to communicate, and to comprehend what’s communicated, into captivating SF.

~~~

1812: The Rivers of War
by Eric Flint
Baen
August 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9197-9

This book arrived a few weeks before I heard of the sad passing of its author. I usually don’t review works by Eric Flint because—what’s there to say? He was fine author of consistent quality. Probably one of the two or three authors most responsible for the popularity of alternative history fiction. If you like that kind of work, you knew of him already. He never let his readers down.

~~~

A City in the North
by Marta Randall
Warner Books
May 1976
ISBN: 978-044694062-3

Let us now praise Marta Randall.
The 1970s by any estimation was a tumultuous era, and preconceptions at every level were being challenged. The setting and characters of A City in the North may not resemble any aspect of that era, but they echo it. The implicit questioning of established norms haunts every page. Nothing here is entirely as it seems.

~~~

The Jigsaw Assasin
by Catherine Asaro
July 2022
Baen
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9196-2

I shouldn’t have to mention a new Catherina Asaro novel because Catherine Asaro fans know where to find her books and know how to get them. But I hadn’t read a Major Bhaajan novel in some time, and I’ve grown fond of her tough, no-nonsense P.I., and all the gritty nuances of Undercity, though the story here is set in Selei City. A series of murders, assassination attempts, plots and foreboding intrigues that could be red herrings or the key to the whole McGonigle—you’ve got it all here. Science fiction or hard-boiled noir decked out in space opera greasepaint? Hey, a physicist can’t help being a physicist, even when she’s writing highly suspenseful SF thrillers.

~~~

Hot Moon
by Alan Smale
Caezik
July 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64710-050-6

I recognized Smale from his shorter fiction (and of that, his early fantasy stories), so I thought I’d dip into it to see what he was doing. The dip kept me reading through the night, to the last page.
This is a highly inventive, brilliantly conceived alternative history where the Apollo program wasn’t shelved after 1972. The U.S. has space stations and bases on the Moon’s surface, and the Soviet Union is still around, making trouble as the story begins in 1979. Smale, whose “day job” is a NASA astronomer, has worked out all the details and hardware with mind-boggling plausibility. All his characters act, feel, and sound real. First-rate hard SF.

~~~

The Serpent
by David Drake
Baen
July 2022
ISBN: 978-1-9821-9198-6

You might not think a melding of Arthurian legend and science fiction could be successfully executed, but this is David Drake, and he pulls it off splendidly (with a little help from Orlando Furioso). He keeps things moving and does so with an economy of language that is in itself a kind of magic, bringing it all in at 246 pages. He’s done it before but, arguably, not as well.

Copyright © 2022 by Richard Chwedyk.

~~~

Find the entire article at Galaxy’s Edge Magazine — where you can read for free until Dec 31st, 2022.

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Arc Manor Spotlight: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction: Volume I

We are beyond excited and honored to announce that award-winning author: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s anthology collection of The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction: Volume I (originally released 2021) won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 2022, and is being rereleased by Arc Manor Books in 2023!

Edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction collects twenty-nine stories by twenty-five writers, which the press describes as “some of the most exciting voices, old and new, from Africa and the diaspora, published in the 2020 year.”

The anthology includes stories from Somto O. Ihezue, Pemi Aguda, Russell Nichols, Tamara Jerée, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Sheree Renée Thomas, Tobias S. Buckell, Inegbenoise O. Osagie, Tobi Ogundiran, Chinelo Onwualu, Moustapha Mbacké Diop, Marian Denise Moore, Michelle Mellon, C.L. Clark, Eugen Bacon, Craig Laurence Gidney, Makena Onjerika, T.L. Huchu, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, Derek Lubangakene, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Shingai Njeri Kagunda, WC Dunlap, ZZ Claybourne, and Dilman Dila.

~~~

Don’t know who Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is, yet? Well, you will. This week we revisit an interview that Signals From the Edge blogger, Isaac Payne, had with him earlier this year … and since so much has happened since then, head over to Oghenechovwe’s site and catch up on everything new!

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Hot Novel Spotlight

This week we’re talking about two new hot books, recently released from Arc Manor Books.

~~~

Hot Moon
by Alan Smale

“A nail-biting thriller.”

—Publishers Weekly

From the Sidewise Award-winning author of the acclaimed Clash of Eagles trilogy comes an alternate 1979 where the US and the Soviets have permanent Moon bases, orbiting space stations, and crewed spy satellites supported by frequent rocket launches.

Apollo 32, commanded by career astronaut Vivian Carter, docks at NASA’s Columbia space station enroute to its main mission: exploring the volcanic Marius Hills region of the Moon. Vivian is caught in the crossfire as four Soviet Soyuz craft appear without warning to assault the orbiting station. In an unplanned and desperate move, Vivian spacewalks through hard vacuum back to her Lunar Module and crew and escapes right before the station falls into Soviet hands.

Their original mission scrubbed, Vivian and her crew are redirected to land at Hadley Base, a NASA scientific outpost with a crew of eighteen. But soon Hadley, too, will come under Soviet attack, forcing its unarmed astronauts to daring acts of ingenuity and improvisation.

With multiple viewpoints, shifting from American to Soviet perspective, from occupied space station to American Moon base under siege, to a covert and blistering US Air Force military response, Hot Moon tells the gripping story of a war in space that very nearly might have been.

“I loved it. Great ‘hard’ science fiction with convincing space battles.”

—Larry Niven

~~~

The Middling Affliction
By Alex Shvartsman

“Shvartsman delivers real magic action and surprise twists…You’re going to want more.”

—Esther M. Fiesner, Nebula-award winning author of the national bestseller, Warchild

GUARD BROOKLYN, FIGHT MONSTERS, TAUNT BAD GUYS

What would you do if you lost everything that mattered to you, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to save the day? Conrad Brent is about to find out.

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally. Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.

Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life … forever.

When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community.

Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.

“With the fast-paced first Conradverse urban fantasy, Shvartsman (Eridani’s Crown) delivers a laugh-out-loud, snarky adventure, throwing out pop culture references and wry observations with dizzying frequency….His supernatural New York City is vibrant and authentic, and Conrad fits right in with wisecracking fan favorite heroes like Harry Dresden and Simon Canderous. The result is a thoroughly satisfying romp.”

—Publishers Weekly

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To get your own copy, follow the links below, head over to Arc Manor Book’s site, or find at your favorite retailer.

FIND
Hot Moon HERE ~~~ & ~~~ The Middling Affliction HERE

Back to School Reads: 5 New YA Science Fiction Books in 2022

It’s back-to-school time again, colder weather is coming, and the kids will soon be spending more time inside.
So, we dug around (consulted my best friend and a professional YA librarian), and asked for some recommends for our young adult readers.

Check out the hot new SF titles below and see if one of these books will lure the kids from their gaming consoles and set them off on an adventure to outer space!

Continue reading “Back to School Reads: 5 New YA Science Fiction Books in 2022”

Autumn Reads: 5 New Sci Fi Books in 2022

It’s that time of year, Labor Day is just around the corner signaling the end of summer, the kiddos are headed back to school, and we’re all going to have some extra afternoons free just for reading—right? *wink*

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