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.

AND

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Hot Novel Spotlight

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

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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!

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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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