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 …

Rhonda Mason – The Empress Game

rhondamason-theempressgame‘Power, grace, deadliness defined. Always cunning, endlessly victorious…’ 

One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled: that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat. Now the tournament, the Empress Game, has been called and the women of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political domination for their homeworlds. Kayla Reunimon, a supreme fighter, is called by a mysterious stranger to battle it out in the arena.  

The battle for political power isn’t contained by the tournament’s ring, however. The empire’s elite gather to forge, strengthen or betray alliances in a dance that will determine the fate of the empire for a generation. With the empire wracked by a rising nanovirus plague and stretched thin by an ill-advised planet-wide occupation of Ordoch in enemy territory, everything rests on the woman who rises to the top.

When The Empress Game proof arrived at my house, the first thing that caught my eye was the stunning cover. I loved the image of the girl looking as if she wouldn’t take any crap from anyone and those piercing blue eyes just pulled me right in. When I flipped the book over and looked at the flap text, I was sold. Deciding who gets to marry the crown prince through ritual combat? That was just a delicious flip of the usual fighting for the princess’ hand. And both the cover and the blurb didn’t mislead. I loved this thrilling adventure, which is perhaps slightly more science fantasy than science fiction, but is an exciting read either way.  Read More …

Stephanie Saulter – Regeneration

stephaniesaulter-regenerationThe gillungs – genetically modified, waterbreathing humans – are thriving. They’ve pioneered new aquatic industries, and their high-efficiency quantum battery technology coupled to tidal turbines in the Thames estuary looks set to revolutionise the energy industry. But as demand grows, so does fear of what their newfound power might mean.

Then a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their London headquarters, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. Was it an accident born of overconfidence, or was it sabotage?

DS Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s trying to manage: politicians and big business have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is out of prison. With powerful new followers and nothing to lose, she’s out to reclaim everything they took from her.

Stephanie Saulter’s ®evolution series has been one of my favourite series published in the past two years. I was blown away by her debut Gemsigns and thought the follow-up Binary was even more fabulous. So my expectations for the final book in the series Regeneration were sky high. I was wondering how Saulter would end her series and whether she’d stick the landing and bring it home in style. I shouldn’t have worried, because spoiler for the rest of the review: I loved it. As this is the concluding book of a trilogy, there will be spoilers for the previous two books, so consider yourself warned on that front.  Read More …

James P Smythe – Way Down Dark

jamespsmythe-waydowndarkImagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one. 

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. 

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. 

This is Australia.

James P. Smythe is award-winning SF author, whose previous works came highly recommended by many of my SFF blogging friends. And while I always meant to read his books, I never got around to it, as I so often don’t these days. But with his first YA novel I decided I had to get in on the action and see whether I’d love his writing as much as so many of my friends do. After reading Way Down Dark the answer is a resounding yes. Chan’s tale is brilliant and the setting of the Australia was breathtaking. There is a huge twist in the second half of the book. It is hard to talk too much about the plot without giving spoilers so I will focus on the characters and the setting.  Read More …

Anticipated Reads (Summer-Autumn) 2015

2015In the past week and a half I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Summer/Autumn 2015 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Claire McGowan’s The Silent Dead, Edward Cox’s second book The Cathedral of Known Things, Stephanie Saulter’s Regeneration, Rebecca Levene’s The Hunter’s Kind, and the final book in Snorri Kristjansson’s Valhalla series Path of Gods.

So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA October-December

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the last one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …