Author Query – Julie Czerneda & Giveaway

julieczerneda-thisgulfoftimeandstarsToday I get to bring you a great interview with Julie Czerneda. I haven’t (yet) read anything by Julie, but she’s a name I’ve seen around bookshops and blogs for years and I plan on one day rectifying my unfamiliarity with her work. Julie has been writing in the world of The Clan Chronicles for almost twenty years and This Gulf of Time and Stars is the start of the trilogy that will wrap up the stories that started with A Thousand Words for Stranger. To celebrate the launch of her latest book, Julie is doing a blog tour and I was honoured to host her on A Fantastical Librarian for an Author Query. Also, check the end of this post to be in with a chance of winning either a hardcover or audiobook version of This Gulf of Time and Stars, courtesy of the publisher and Audible.  Read More …

Author Query – Emma Newman

emmanewman-planetfallYesterday I posted my review for Planetfall, Emma Newman’s latest novel that is out today from Roc Books. I loved it, it is one of my favourite books of the year, perhaps even my favourite full stop. I was really excited to get to interview Emma and I hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did. If nothing else, I hope it makes you want to pick up Planetfall and read it, because you absolutely should!


Let’s start with the basics. Who is Emma Newman? 

She – I – she URGH> I can’t talk about myself in the third person! I’m an author, audio book narrator and podcaster. I am a keen roleplayer and dressmaker too.  Read More …

Emma Newman – Planetfall

emmanewman-planetfallRenata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, and untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues, for the good of her fellow colonists, to perpetuate the lie that forms the foundation of the colony, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first Planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since Planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

My love for Emma Newman’s Split Worlds series is no secret and the short stories outside of that world, particularly her Sherlock Holmes inspired story A Woman’s Place, for which Newman recently won a British Fantasy Award, have also delighted me. But all of them have been fantasy. So when I learned Newman’s next book was to be an SF novel, I was intrigued. How would Newman’s writing translate from fantasy to science fiction? In a word: brilliantly! Planetfall being an Emma Newman book I’d been expecting to love it, but the novel blew me away on a number of levels.  Read More …

Author Query – Rajan Khanna

rajankhanna-risingtideLast year I read and really enjoyed Rajan Khanna’s debut novel Falling Sky. A post-apocalyptic adventure with some amazing characters, which is coincidentally also one of the very, very few novels featuring zombie-like monsters that I can actually read without getting nightmares. Having very much enjoyed the book and having gotten attached to his protagonists Ben and Miranda, I’m really looking forward to getting back to their story and to see what happens next. But what with my current reviewing break, that might be a bit. But I still wanted to feature Rajan and his second book Rising Tide. So today I present an Author Query with Rajan. If you haven’t yet checked out his writing, whether in in short or long form, be sure to do so, because he’s a wonderful writer.  Read More …

Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword

annleckie-ancillaryswordBreq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she only has a single body and serves the emperor she swore to destroy.

Given a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to the only place in the galaxy she will agree to go: Athoek station, to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew – a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.

After finishing Ancillary Justice I was able to immediately dive into Ancillary Sword, which was lucky, because I really didn’t want to say goodbye to Breq for long. I’d already heard people raving how Ancillary Sword was even better than Ancillary Justice, so the book had a lot to live up to. And it did… in spades. Ancillary Sword takes the foundations Ann Leckie had laid in the first book and built them up and out into a fascinating structure, both in terms of the world-building and of the plot.  Read More …

Author Query – Ann Leckie

annleckie-ancillarymercyAnn Leckie was already a well-known name in short fiction SFF circles when she burst upon the rest of the world with her debut novel Ancillary Justice. The book swept the 2014 SFF awards in an unprecedented way, while its sequel Ancillary Sword was published to perhaps not as many awards, but with many people opining that Sword was even better than Justice. Today is publication day for the highly anticipated conclusion of this trilogy, Ancillary Mercy. And trust me when I say Mercy continues the upward trend and is just an amazing ending to the series. I only came to read the series this summer despite getting Ancillary Justice for my birthday last year (bad blogger!), but the books gave me lots of thinky thoughts and I really wanted to ask Ann Leckie some questions and she was kind enough to answer them for me. I hope you enjoy the interview and check back for reviews for Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy later in the week.  Read More …

Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice

annleckie-ancillaryjusticeOn a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

In some way writing a review of Ann Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice feels somewhat redundant, as it seems as if everyone has read this book or has at least heard about it. In fact, it swept the SFF awards in 2014 in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, much of the conversation about Ancillary Justice has focussed on Leckie’s choice of gender pronouns and treatment of gender in the narrative. In my opinion this does a disservice to both the book and the author, because Ancillary Justice is far more than an experiment in gender approach. In fact, my attention was much more drawn by the narrative techniques Leckie uses to convey Breq’s dual nature as a ship and an ancillary, and by the question of what it means to be sentient if not autonomous.  Read More …

Guest Review: Kieran Shea – Koko the Mighty

Wiebe is back with another review today. This time it is book two in Kieran Shea’s series featuring his ex-mercenary heroine Koko Martstellar.

kieranshea-kokothemightyAfter narrowly escaping death, Koko Martstellar [ex-corporate mercenary] and Jedidah Flynn [depressed former skycop] are busy putting their lives back together, running a saloon/brothel on The Sixty Islands-the world’s most violent and decadent resort. But when bounty agent Jacky Wire comes to collect the outstanding price on Koko’s head, it’s time again for Koko and Flynn to make tracks. Fleeing pell-mell across the Pacific and shipwrecking along a thought-to-be uninhabitable coast, things only go from bad to worse for our heroes… But hey, that is the 26th century for you. Buckle up buttercup. Only the mighty survive.

I read Koko the Mighty directly after I read the first book in the series, Koko Takes a Holiday. There was very little backstory leading on from its predecessor in this instalment, which I liked, especially since this book was fresh in my memory. We continue the story exactly where book one left off— with the last bounty hunter standing about to make an entrance. Again we only get glimpses of this utopian resort of violence and sex called The Sixty islands, since Koko has to run again to avoid death. Taking the mortally wounded Jedidah with her in a submarine, they shipwreck after crossing the Pacific. They end up in a region that might have been Koko’s former work environment as a mercenary, if it hadn’t been for the environmental contamination and its lack of economic value. In this abandoned wasteland they find a strange commune.  Read More …

Author Query Redux – Christopher Fowler

christopherfowler-thesandmenLast year I reviewed Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May and The Burning Man, which I enjoyed hugely. I loved the quirkiness of his Peculiar Crime Unit and I have a weak spot for police procedurals anyway. But his other books, speculative fiction with a wide horror streak running through them have consistently caught my eyes over the past few years, though I’ve never had the guts to read them—I guess my teaching myself to (dare to) horror is still a work in progress. His latest novel, The Sand Men, sounds fascinating and I’m pleased to be able to welcome Christopher back to A Fantastical Librarian for another Author Query and his answers to some questions about The Sand Men.


Welcome back to A Fantastical Librarian! Tell us about The Sand Men, your latest release from Solaris. What inspired this near-future thriller?

Partly my love for JG Ballard’s ideas. We used to correspond and I’ve read everything he wrote. I felt that if he had lived longer he would have been fascinated by the Middle East’s determination to hurtle into the future.  Read More …

Guest Review: Kieran Shea – Koko Takes a Holiday

Today I have something different for you. It is a guest review by my husband Wiebe. He is a very different reader than I, putting books away if they don’t work for him or if he gets bored by them. He’s a very picky reader. There are a number of books that I get sent, which for reasons I don’t get around to reading and sometimes Wiebe will pick them up—or even fight me to read them as soon as they enter the house. I’ve long teased him that if he’s reading my review copies, he should review them and he’s finally taken me up on that. It’s his first review ever, so be gentle with him. Hopefully, this will be the first of many!

kieranshae-kokotakesaholidayFive hundred years from now, ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is swaggering through an early retirement as a brothel owner on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago, known for its sex and simulated violence. Surrounded by slang-drooling boywhores and synthetic Komodo dragons, the most challenging part of Koko’s day is deciding on her next drink. That is, until her old comrade Portia Delacompte sends a squad of security personnel to murder her.

Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea is a book I picked up because of its cover. It looked like anime/manga art and reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop, with a bit of retro styling in bright colours. The blue hair reminded me of anime in particular. Coincidentally enough, it read a bit as an anime series as well. It has a dense world full of stuff, but set in the background of a fast action shounen story.  Read More …