Margrét Helgadóttir – The Stars Seem So Far Away

margrethelgadottir-thestarsseemsofarawayThe last shuttles to the space colonies are long gone. Wars, famine and plagues rage across the dying Earth. Fleeing the deadly sun, humans migrate farther and farther north. Follow the stories of five very different survivors as they cling to what is left of life in a future North.

Margrét Helgadóttir’s The Stars Seem So Far Away is a slim little volume, that packs quite a punch. A collection of interlinked short stories, this book tells the tales of five survivors of the Earth’s collapse. Humanity has slowly but surely exhausted the Earth’s resources and global warming has caused much of the world to become uninhabitable. Humanity has retreated to the North, though I assume that there will also be people who have gone to the opposite pole, but our focus is on the North. This isn’t surprising since Helgadóttir is of Scandinavian descent and in fact isn’t a native English speaker, hailing from Norway and currently residing in Denmark.  Read More …

Brenda Cooper – Edge of Dark

brendacooper-edgeofdarkWhat if a society banished its worst nightmare beyond the far edge of the solar system, destined to sip only dregs of light and struggle for the barest living? And yet, that life thrived. It grew and learned and became more powerful than humans. What if an entire solar system full of humans vastly underestimated the threat posed by the beings it banished?

Ranger Charlie Windar never wants to leave the restored planet Lym, even though, at night, he looks up at the brilliant lights of space stations. But then he meets a particular tourist, Nona Hall, who has come for a private tour.

When Nona appears, unexpected news comes with her. Outlaws from the Edge are returning to the inner system. Between them, Nona and Charlie might have the resources to get to the Edge and gain information to save their people.

The brilliant intelligences of the Edge have waited in the cold, hard black for a long time. They are ready to reoccupy their birthplace at almost any cost to its human inhabitants.

I first encountered Brenda Cooper’s writing in the Valdemar anthologies, where her stories were some of my favourites. When Pyr announced her Ruby’s Song books in 2011 I was really interested in reading them, but as they were SF a bit intimidated to read them, because I was a fantasy girl, right? Fast forward four years and I’ve established for myself that yes, I actually do enjoy reading science fiction, so when the offer for a review copy of Edge of Dark arrived, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And I’m glad I did, because Cooper tells an interesting story set in a rich universe.  Read More …

Bryony Pearce – Phoenix Rising

bryonypearce-phoenixrisingSail. Salvage. Survive. 

Toby’s father is a wanted man. For as long as Toby can remember, they’ve been on the run. The Phoenix has become their home, their backyard the junk-filled seas surrounding it. 

The crew of the Banshee lives for hunting down the Phoenix and now they’re closing in. Ayla has spent her whole life fighting – preparing for the moment when the Banshee will face its ultimate enemy. 

But Toby doesn’t want to run any more and Ayla is his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance? 

The future is in their hands. 

Bryony Pearce’s last book, The Weight of Souls was one I enjoyed tremendously, so I was looking forward to reading her next book. What made Phoenix Rising even more interesting was that it is a departure from what Pearce has written previously; both Angel’s Fury and The Weight of Souls were supernatural YA stories, where Phoenix Rising is very much a dystopian narrative. The future Pearce evokes for us is bleak and its causes are frighteningly plausible.  Read More …

Guest Post: Adrian Tchaikovsky on 10 Things To Definitely Take With You When Starting An Extrasolar Colony

adriantchaikovsky-childrenoftimeEarlier this year Adrian Tchaikovsky visited the blog for an interview in honour of the publication of his first non-Shadows of the Apt book, Guns of the Dawn. It’s a book I’m really looking forward to reading, as I’ve heard loads of good things about it. And while I have the book on my shelf, I haven’t managed to get to it, because a) I suck at planning my reading and b) it’s a brick. But I’ve promised myself that I can read it next month and that’s not even fast enough to keep up with Adrian’s writing, because his next book Children of Time is out this Thursday. His first SF story is all about the fight for a new home for humanity and in preparation for the journey, Adrian’s here to provide a packing list to join this new extrasolar colony.  Read More …

Cover Reveal: Stephanie Saulter’s Binary US Cover

Stephanie_SaulterIt is no secret I love Stephanie Saulter’s ®evolution series. Gemsigns was my favourite 2013 debut and its sequel Binary will be sure to feature on my top reads for this year, because it was amazing. I’m highly anticipating the final book in the series, Regeneration, which is due out in August this year. In the meantime, the US is finally getting the chance to read the second book from May 5th, when Binary will be published in the States. Today I’m part of the cover reveal for that edition. So without further ado, here it is:  Read More …

Guest Post: Defying Doomsday’s Tsana Dolichva on Why the Apocalypse?

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earthLast week I posted about the Defying Doomsday Pozible campaign and why I think you should back it. I also contacted the editors of Defying Doomsday, Holly Kench and Tsana Dolichva, to ask whether they’d write me a guest post on why they chose to have stories about the apocalypse specifically and not say space opera or epic fantasy. Tsana kindly provided me with following post. I hope you enjoy it and check out the Pozible campaignRead More …

In the News: Defying Doomsday on Pozible

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earthIn the past couple of years Kickstarter and its various competitors have turned into a great way to get interesting anthologies to market. There are lots of great projects out there and increasingly I’ll receive emails asking me to broadcast new campaigns to my readers here on the blog and elsewhere. I usually let those go, because it feels odd to promote projects I won’t personally be backing. But last week I backed the Defying Doomsday project, because it looked very interesting, it’s got a story by the awesome Corinne Duyvis, and the representation of disabled or chronically ill characters is dear to my heart. This meant that when I received an email about the project from its creators, I was stoked to share it here on the blog. What exactly is the Defying Doomsday project? Have a quote:  Read More …

Sarah Pinborough – The Death House

sarahpinborough-thedeathhouseToby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.

Sarah Pinborough is not only one of the more prolific British SFF writers, she’s also a very varied writer who switches between sub-genres with remarkable ease. Fantasy, racy fairytale retellings, science fiction, YA, she writes it all. When I heard about The Death House I was immediately intrigued. A dystopian YA story set at a boarding school from which no student ever graduates, it sounded but creepy and fascinating. Because why are they there and what is this disease that condemns them to be inmates of The Death House? Pinborough gives us some of the answers, but mostly she delivers an exquisite exploration of life and love in the face of death.  Read More …

Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning

neilgaiman-triggerwarningIn this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A new Neil Gaiman book or collection is usually greeted by lots of cheers of readers all over the world. When his third short story collection was announced, this was readily apparent all over the internet. And then the title was announced and things got a little less cheery. Gaiman decided to title his collection Trigger Warning: short fiction and disturbances. For various reasons people were unhappy about this. The announcement came at a time when mainstream discussion on trigger warnings and whether to include them on prescribed reading lists at universities and colleges  was turning heated and the discussion was quickly co-opted by the ‘feminism is ruining everything’-crowd. In his introduction to his collection Gaiman explains that he was fascinated by the phenomenon of trigger warnings in an academic environment and his thoughts on the subject led him to decide to slap some trigger warnings on his own fiction before someone else did.  Read More …

Kate Elliott – The Very Best of Kate Elliott

kateelliott-theverybestofkateelliottStrong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmarks of groundbreaking fantasy author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars, Crossroads). Her long-awaited first collection showcases twenty years of her finest work. Captured here are many of Elliott’s previously out-of-print tales, four previously unpublished essays, and a brand new Crossroads story, “On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New.”

Elliott’s bold adventuresses, complex quests, noble sacrifices, and hard-won victories shine in classic, compact legends. In “The Memory of Peace,” a girl’s powerful emotions rouse the magic of a city devastated by war. Meeting in “The Queen’s Garden,” two princesses unite to protect their kingdom from the blind ambition of their corrupted father. While “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” a chieftain’s daughter finds an unlikely ally on her path to self-determination.

Elliott’s many readers, as well as fantasy fans in search of powerful stories featuring well-drawn female characters, will revel in this unique gathering of truly memorable tales.

Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series remains one of my favourite series ever. It’s got all the drama and sweepingness you might hope for in an epic fantasy setting, but with more than your average, garden-variety western medieval setting and world-building. It took me a while to start the series – I think Elliott was up to book four at the time – but once I did I couldn’t wait for the next instalment to come out. I’d always wanted to read more by Elliott, but somehow never got around to it. Going into her backlist seemed risky, because availability in the Netherlands was always a gamble – mind you, this was before I started ordering books of the internet – and with her latest completed series there were all the review copies that meant I never got around to buying them. All of this is a rather lengthy way of explaining why there was much rejoicing at Casa Librarian when I was approved for a review copy on Netgalley for Elliott’s short fiction collect The Very Best of Kate ElliottRead More …