5 New Science Fiction Books to Watch Out For

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The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (18 April 2017)
The bestselling author of The Small Backs of Children offer a vision of our near-extinction and a heroine a reimagined Joan of Arc poised to save a world ravaged by war, violence, and greed, and forever change history, in this provocative new novel.

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places even at the extreme end of post-human experience Lidia Yuknavitch s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival.

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Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (25 April 2017)
Am I a person or a weapon? Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.
Yes, you are a person, Rachel tells him. But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.

In Borne, the epic new novel from Jeff VanderMeer, author of the acclaimed, bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined, dangerous city of the near future. The city is littered with discarded experiments from the Company a biotech firm now seemingly derelict and punished by the unpredictable attacks of a giant bear. From one of her scavenging missions, Rachel brings home Borne, who is little more than a green lump plant or animal? but exudes a strange charisma. Rachel feels a growing attachment to Borne, a protectiveness that she can ill afford. It s exactly the kind of vulnerability that will upend her precarious existence, unnerving her partner, Wick, and upsetting the delicate balance of their unforgiving city possibly forever. And yet, little as she understands what or who Borne may be, she cannot give him up, even as Borne grows and changes . . . He was born, but I had borne him.

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Walkaway by Cory Doctorow (25 Apr 2017)
Hubert, Seth and Natalie are way too old to be at a Communist party. But in a world wrecked by climate change, in a society owned by the ultra-rich, in a city hollowed out by industrial flight, they have nowhere else to be and nothing better to do.

But there is another way. After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter – from a computer, there is little reason to toil within the system. So, like thousands of others in the mid-21st century, the three of them turn their back on the world of rules, jobs, the morning commute and … walkaway.

It’s a dangerous world out there, the empty lands are lawless, hiding predators – animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, the thousands become hundreds of thousands, building what threatens to beome a post-scarcity utopia. But then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death.

And now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

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Void Star by Zachary Mason (27 April 2017)
Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn’t rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that gives her perfect recall, and lets her act as a medium between her various employers and their AIs, which are complex to the point of opacity. It’s a good gig, paying enough for the annual visits to the Mayo Clinic that keep her from ageing.

Kern has no such access; he’s one of the many refugees in the sprawling drone-built favelas on the city’s periphery, where he lives like a monk, training relentlessly in martial arts, scraping by as a thief and an enforcer. Thales is from a different world entirely – the mathematically-inclined scion of a Brazilian political clan, he’s fled to L.A. after the attack that left him crippled and his father dead.

A ragged stranger accosts Thales and demands to know how much he can remember. Kern flees for his life after robbing the wrong mark. Irina finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop’s screen in her employer’s eyeglasses. None are safe as they’re pushed together by subtle forces that stay just out of sight.

Vivid, tumultuous and propulsive, Void Star is Zachary Mason’s mind-bending follow-up to his bestselling debut The Lost Books of the Odyssey.

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The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey (4 May 2017)
Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.

In The Boy on the Bridge, M. R. Carey returns to the world of The Girl With All the Gifts, the phenomenal word-of-mouth bestseller which is now a critically acclaimed film starring Sennia Nanua, Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine.

Joint Review: O Human Star Volumes 1 and 2 by Blue Delliquanti

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Readers of this blog will know that I review a lot of LGBT-interest books, and I’m back with another. Lately, I’ve been getting back into reading comics. Comixology is Amazon’s digital comics service and one thing I like about them is all the releases are tagged with genre and description tags, and this book was tagged as LGBTQ (a tag that I completely stalk and have read most of the books on there. It’s great because I found books like this that I may never have heard of otherwise).

O Human Star is a webcomic that has been running since 2012. Set in the near-future, Alastair Sterling was one of the pioneers in robotics, however, he didn’t live to see the fruits of his labour and the effect they would ultimately have on society. That is, until he awakes as a robot that’s an exact replica of his human form with his memories. It promptly drops his home, to his business and life partner Brendan, where he meets another young robot, Sulla, who looks a lot like Alastair.

This is wonderfully intelligent and beautifully written piece of work. When I finished Volume 1 (which collects the first three chapters), I involuntarily shouted at my tablet when I realised the book was over and I was left hanging – luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long for Volume 2 (collecting chapters 4, 5 and a side story) and that’s why this is a joint review.


This is a near-future sci-fi story with a beautiful gay romance at the centre, and without saying too much, it will definitely also appeal to trans readers (my favourite character in the whole book!) but it shouldn’t be limited to these readers – anyone who likes comics, sci-fi or both should like this.

It’s also beautifully drawn – Delliquanti’s style is clean, crisp and gorgeous; this is simply an artist at the top of her game. Both volumes are available on Comixology, or direct as ebooks from Delliquanti (there’s also paperbacks which you can buy on her site). Looking forward to and a little sad that Volume 3 will be the last. Also, new pages are posted weekly on her site where I will be very, very impatiently waiting for more!

Since it’s a webcomic, you can read the entire thing, for FREE, here. But if you love it like I do, please support the artist (she has a Patreon here)!

 

Brilliant Book Titles #46

I feel I don’t need to say anything about this title:

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
A hilarious comic fantasy from the bestselling cult creator of the Brentford Triangle Trilogy

Once upon a time Jack set out to find his fortune in the big city. But the big city is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town, and it has grown considerably since the good old days and isn’t all that jolly any more. And there is a serial killer loose on the streets. The old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being slaughtered one by one and the Toy City police are getting nowhere in their investigations. Meanwhile, Private Eye Bill Winkie has gone missing, leaving behind his sidekick Eddie Bear to take care of things.

Eddie may be a battered teddy with an identity crisis, but someone’s got to stop the killer. When he teams up with Jack, the two are ready for the challenge. Not to mention the heavy drinking, bad behaviour, car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, toy fetishism and all-round grossness along the way. It’s going to be an epic adventure!

5 New Graphic Novels


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The Longest Day of the Future by Lucas Varela (22 Sep 2016)
The crash of an extra-terrestrial flying saucer will, perhaps, change everything. This masterfully crafted, witty and irreverent graphic novel is the debut from Argentine cartoonist and graphic designer Lucas Varela. Inspired by the pioneering comic books of the early twentieth century, Varela has crafted a wordless thriller reminiscent of the work of silent master Jason. Under the guise of science fiction, Varela has spun a fable, almost an indictment, against consumerism and unfettered capitalism.

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Username: Regenerated by Joe Sugg (22 Sep 2016)
BOOK 2 IN THE USERNAME SERIES

Evie is safe at home, but her heart remains in e.scape, the virtual world her father created for her. She’s desperate to return, but the app that transports her has corrupted in the great reboot.

When besotted geek, Lionel, offers to help, he doesn’t just restore the gateway as she had planned. He opens up a series of revelations that calls into question everything Evie treasures in life. With a momentous discovery to be unearthed in the virtual realm, and an e.scape fugitive on the loose in reality, can our sidelined schoolgirl save not one world but two?

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Trees Volume 2 by Warren Ellis (29 Sep 2016)
Collecting the second TREES story, TWO FORESTS. A survivor of the Blindhail Event looks for signs of imminent global disaster among the megaliths and relics of Orkney, while the new mayor of New York plans to extract his revenge for the awful thing that happened the day the Tree landed on Manhattan

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The Massive: Ninth Wave by Brian Wood & Gary Brown (29 Sep 2016)
In the pages of The Massive, the Ninth Wave was struggling to repair a broken world. But before that, they were the preeminent global environmental-rescue unit, taking on criminals, polluters, politicians and rogue states. The Massive: Ninth Wave tells these stories in a stylish, high-action, done-in-one format, reuniting the entire creative team from the original series. Critically acclaimed writer Brian Wood and artist Garry Brown go back to the beginning with the Ninth Wave environmental action unit.

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Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhand (29 Sep 2016)
The existential dread associated with getting out of bed terrifies Cat Rackham to his cat core. However, despite his efforts, he seems to consistently find himself dewclaw deep in trouble, often deeply strange trouble. All of his adventures are here along with a poem by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward! Steve Wolfhard lives and works in the small town of Midland, Ontario, with his wife, two cats, and the occasional bat. He draws comics like Cat Rackham and Turtie Needs Work and works as a storyboard artist on the Emmy Award–winning animated televisions series Adventure Time.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is Becky Chambers’ debut novel.  It’s getting great reviews online and, as I don’t read much science fiction, I really wanted to try it.  At the beginning, we meet Rosemary who, it transpires, has changed her identity for reasons unknown and is starting a new job as a clerk on a drilling ship, The Wayfarer.  OK, I thought to myself, we will now spend the rest of the book watching Rosemary frantically try to protect her new identity so whatever terrible secret she’s hiding isn’t revealed in the ensuing space adventures.  Well, I was wrong – instead we get a more measured, character-driven piece with much less emphasis on action than I was expecting.

There is an intriguing cast of characters from many alien races, all of whom have become a family on The Wayfarer.  At the helm is Captain Ashby who thinks all of his Christmases have come at once when he wins a lucrative contract to drill a wormhole at the far reaches of space.  At first I sped through the character descriptions as I thought they were just a preliminary to the action to follow but I gradually realised that getting to know these fully realised characters was at the heart of the book and found myself going back to these pages so that I could fully visualise them.  The world building is impressive and I was reminded more than once of the ‘Verse created by Joss Whedon in his tragically short-lived tv series, Firefly.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reserving Becky’s next book.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Static by L. A. Witt

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Well, as premises for a book goes, this is definitely something that I’ve never read before. Alex has been with Damon for two years but has never told him that he’s a shifter: he can switch genders at will. Damon has only ever known Alex as a girl but Alex’s staunchly religious parents have forced Alex to get an implant that will make him static, and unable to shift. Such implants are not only incredibly costly to remove but are also major surgery, with serious health risks.

There’s a lot of great ideas going on in this book. The parallels between shifters and trans* people is something that is explored (but also differentiated with, at times, which is nice) as is the hatred that such people get in everyday life.

Really like the supporting cast, such as Tabby, Alex’s employer, owner of bar The Welcome Mat, who is trans* and saving up for the operation – there is a gorgeous set of parallels when Alex has lost his ability to shift genders and he realises that such an ability is something that Tabby would kill for.

His boyfriend, Damon, is incredibly supportive and I liked their relationship. I felt though that when Alex in his male form and Damon and Alex get physical that its ease was a little unbelievable – I know that Damon loves Alex but he’s never even thought of being with another guy before. I would’ve like a bit more buildup with that BUT that said, I really liked the book and that was only a minor quibble.

An enjoyable, easy read that I read rather quickly, this is one of Witt’s better books.

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Science Fiction Novels to Watch Out For

Bored of the here and now? Dream of distant planets and new technology? Try these:

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Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song (2 Jun 2016)
‘Hello, sweetie!’

Melody Pond, Melody Malone, River Song…She has had many names. Whoever she really is, this archaeologist and time traveller has had more adventures (and got into more trouble) than most people in the universe.

And she’s written a lot of it down. Well, when you’re married to a Time Lord (or possibly not), you have to keep track of what you did and when. Especially as it may not actually have happened to both of you yet.

These are just a few of River Song’s exploits, extracted from her journals. Sometimes, she is with the Doctor. Sometimes she’s on her own. But wherever and whenever she may be, she is never far from danger and excitement.

This is just a tiny portion of her impossible life. But it will reveal more than you’ve ever known about the legend that is River Song.

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The Nightmare Stacks: A Laundry Files Novel by Charles Stross (23 Jun 2016)
Alex Schwartz had a great job and a promising future – until he caught an unfortunate bout of vampirism, and agreed (on pain of death) to join the Laundry, Britain’s only counter-occult secret intelligence agency.

His first assignment is in Leeds – his old hometown. But the thought of telling his parents he’s lost his job, let alone their discovering his ‘condition’, is causing Alex almost as much anxiety as his new lifestyle of supernatural espionage.
His only saving grace is Cassie Brewer, a student from the local Goth Festival who flirts with him despite his fear of sunlight (and girls). But Cassie has secrets of her own – secrets that make Alex’s night life seem positively normal . . .
James Bond meets H. P. Lovecraft in the latest occult thriller from Hugo Award winner Charles Stross, in a series where British spies take on the supernatural.

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The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese (28 Jun 2016)
Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there’s no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation’s labs, Keane is the one they call.

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her – and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected – and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane’s wits and Fowler’s skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.

Kroese’s” The Big Sheep” is perfect for fans of Philip Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” Terry Pratchett’s “Guards! Guards!, “and Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War.”

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The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (30 Jun 2016)
2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve.
For Joshua Valienté, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars. A signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways – by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but ts implications are enormous:

JOIN US.

The super-smart Next realise that the Message contains instructions on how to develop an immense artificial intelligence but to build it they have to seek help from throughout the industrious worlds of mankind. Bit by bit, byte by byte, they assemble a computer the size of a continent – a device that will alter the Long Earth’s place within the cosmos and reveal the ultimate, life-affirming goal of those who sent the Message. Its impact will be felt by and resonate with all – mankind and other species, young and old, communities and individuals – who inhabit the Long Earths…

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Star Wars: Aftermath – Life Debt by Chuck Wendig (12 Jul 2016)
The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush―resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.

Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward Kashyyyk, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them―or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.