Future Treasures: Gate Crashers by Patrick S Tomlinson

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Gate Crashers Patrick S Tomlinson-smallPatrick S. Tomlinson’s debut novel was The Ark, a murder mystery set on a generation ship just before it arrived at its destination. Publishers Weekly called it “Impressive,” saying “Tomlinson’s pacing is beyond reproach, as he deftly crafts an ever more elaborate web of intrigue within the self-contained setting.” The Ark was published by Angry Robot, and it became the opening book in the Children of a Dead Earth trilogy, which wrapped up last year.

Tomlinson’s newest book arrives next week, and it looks like a standalone novel — an easier bite to chew if your reading time is as precious as mine this month. Joel Cunningham at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog says “Gate Crashers is a story of space exploration and humanity’s first contact with aliens, plus a healthy dose of irreverent humor.”

The only thing as infinite and expansive as the universe is humanity’s unquestionable ability to make bad decisions.

Humankind ventures further into the galaxy than ever before… and immediately causes an intergalactic incident. In their infinite wisdom, the crew of the exploration vessel Magellan, or as she prefers “Maggie,” decides to bring the alien structure they just found back to Earth. The only problem? The aliens are awfully fond of that structure.

A planet full of bumbling, highly evolved primates has just put itself on a collision course with a far wider, and more hostile, galaxy that is stranger than anyone can possibly imagine.

Gate Crashers will be published by Tor Books on June 26, 2018. It is 416 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is uncredited. Read Chapter One here.

See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF & fantasy here.

In 500 Words of Less: Early Review of Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart by Steven Erikson

Friday, June 15th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Rejoice A Knife to the Heart US-smallRejoice: A Knife to the Heart
By Steven Erikson
Promontory Press (460 pages, $26 hardcover, October 2018)

I’ve been a Steven Erikson fan for a long time, ever since a friend handed me the first Malazan novel, Gardens of the Moon, when I was in university. You might have seen on here a few months ago that I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Steven at Can*Con in Ottawa, where he was Author Guest of Honor. That whole experience was cool all on its own, but following that I got the privilege of reading an ARC of his forthcoming novel Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart, which Bennett R. Coles has already called “a stunning work of literature.”

Honestly, the literature side of Rejoice is what surprised me the most. In our interview, Steven and I talked about how his first publications before Malazan were literary, which struck me since it’s rare for authors in our industry to jump genres like that. But what’s particularly interesting with Rejoice is that he takes the large-scale worldbuilding, extensive cast of characters and air of mystery of his fantasy work and applies is to the present day – or a twist on the present day, involving Earth’s first contact with an alien race. The novel’s already been described as “a first contact story without contact”; since this isn’t Independence Day or Close Encounters, the focus is instead on us, and how we’d react if an alien intelligence showed up and gave us a chance to improve ourselves.

That might sound like this is a novel that preaches or proselytizes, but it really doesn’t. Instead what you see is snapshots of people’s lives around the planet, from politicians to scientists to media tycoons to refugees in developing countries, all facing situations beyond their control (and almost their comprehension) and needing to decide what they should do about it. If you’re hoping for flashy energy weapons or epic journeys like in the Malazan books, you won’t find it here – but the debates and conversations between the characters in Rejoice, and the steps they take in response to this alien influence, are often tense and always intriguing. At the end of the day, a lot of our way of life (regardless of political ideology or religious belief) is about having some measure of control over our lives, and when that’s taken away very interesting things can happen.

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Future Treasures: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

Thursday, June 14th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe-smallAlex White is the author of the ghostly mystery Every Mountain Made Low (Solaris, 2016) and Alien: The Cold Forge (Titan, 2018). His latest is a space opera romp that sounds like it might appeal to the role players in the audience. Publishers Weekly called it,

An entertaining throwback with some fun worldbuilding and two great lead characters. In the distant future, well after space has been colonized, almost all humans have magic powers, conveniently divided into RPG-like classes (machinists are great with tech, fatalists are perfect shots, etc.)

Here’s the description.

Furious and fun, the first book in this bold, new science fiction adventure series follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving themselves — and the universe.

Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she’s washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she got something real — the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.

Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world — until she witnesses Mother murder a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah has only one lead: the killer also hunts Boots.

On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler’s ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe is Book 1 of The Salvagers series. Book 2, A Bad Deal For the Whole Galaxy, has already been announced; it arrives on December 11th, 2018. Book 3 will be titled The Worst of All Possible Worlds.

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe will be published by Orbit on June 26, 2018. It is 480 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. Read Chapter One at Quiet Earth.

Experience Poul Anderson’s Complete Psychotechnic League from Baen Books

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Complete Psychotechnic League Volume 1-small The Complete Psychotechnic League Volume 2-small The Complete Psychotechnic League Volume 3-small

Art by Kurt Miller

When I learned last September that Baen Books was reprinting Poul Anderson’s classic Psychotechnic League stories, I wrote a brief history of the series. Here’s what I said, in part.

The Psychotechnic League began as a Future History, a popular beast among short SF writers of the 40s and 50s. Anderson published the first story, “Entity,” in the June 1949 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, and set the opening of his series a decade in the future. The series continued for the next two decades, (appearing in Astounding, Planet Stories, Worlds Beyond, Science Fiction Quarterly, Cosmos, Fantastic Universe, and other fine magazines), eventually extending into the 60s. In the process, his “Future History” gradually became an “Alternate History,” as actual history trampled all over his carefully constructed fictional timeline.

That didn’t seem to bother readers though, and the tales of the Psychotechnic League remained popular well into the 80s. The series included some 21 stories, including three short novels: The Snows of Ganymede (1955), Star Ways (1956), and Virgin Planet (1957). The short stories and one of the novels were collected in a trilogy of handsome Tor paperbacks in 1981/82, with covers by Vincent DiFate. Now Baen books is reprinting the entire sequence in a series of deluxe trade paperbacks, starting with The Complete Psychotechnic League, Volume 1, on sale next month.

Volume 1 was released right on schedule last October, and Volume 2 followed in February. The third and final book will be released next month.

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Future Treasures: Space Pioneers, edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Space Pioneers Hank Davis-smallIt’s been too long since we’ve checked in with Hank Davis, the mad genius editor at Baen behind the anthologies Things From Outer Space and In Space No One Can Hear You Scream. I figured he had to have something interesting cooking and, sure enough, when I asked him to comment, here’s what he told me.

Coming in December this year, looking for stockings to stuff, is Space Pioneers, a rough of whose cover is now on Baen.com, though the author lineup thereon may be modified…

After that, still in the works is Overruled!, an anthology of stories about courtrooms, lawyers, and other low-lifes. In the future beyond that will be an anthology of military sf stories involving time travel, whose working title is Time Troopers, but that may change. I was going to handle the Psychotechnic League stories by Poul Anderson, but was felled by health problems at a crucial juncture, so it’s in other hands. (The timing of those problems is also why the first volume of The Best of Gordon R. Dickson came out without my usual tedious introductions and notes, but I’ll try to give better value in the next volume).

I do hope that Space Pioneers does well, since I could do a *series* of anthologies on this theme without breaking sweat. My hat’s off (dangerous move for a bald geezer) to my co-ed, Christopher Ruocchio, who did much of the busy work (contracts, nudging agents, etc.) while I was still recovering, and who also talked me into using two Poul Anderson yarns, a suggestion I had absolutely no problem with (and I have a third in mind if there’s a Volume II). And that’s the current state of the pipeline. I should remind everyone that these will all be mass market paperbacks.

Sounds like a great line-up! Space Pioneers in particular looks like a terrific book, and a splendid addition to Hank’s catalog of top-notch anthologies. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for it, and making some more noise about it here as we get closer to the release date.

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Future Treasures: The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

Friday, June 1st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Grey Bastards-smallI find it fascinating how buzz can grow for certain books, weeks and even months before they’re published. I’m talking about real buzz, grass-roots stuff, reader reviews on public sites, not just high-profile blurbs on the back of the book.

I was flat-out astonished to see the early buzz for Jonathan French’s orc epic The Grey Bastards, coming in hardcover June 19 from Crown. Nearly three weeks from publication it already has 54 reviews at Amazon, and a whopping 473 ratings at Goodreads. That’s off the charts, especially for an unknown author with only two previous small press releases to his credit. It wasn’t until I dug a bit deeper (and had already selected it to feature today) that I realized the Crown edition is a reprint of a 2015 small press original from Ballymalis Press. Still, that’s plenty unusual all on its own, so I decided to go ahead and feature it today anyway. Here’s the description.

Call them outcasts, call them savages — they’ve been called worse, by their own mothers — but Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard.

He and his fellow half-orcs patrol the barren wastes of the Lot Lands, spilling their own damned blood to keep civilized folk safe. A rabble of hard-talking, hog-riding, whore-mongering brawlers they may be, but the Bastards are Jackal’s sworn brothers, fighting at his side in a land where there’s no room for softness. And once Jackal’s in charge — as soon as he can unseat the Bastards’ tyrannical, seemingly unkillable founder — there’s a few things they’ll do different. Better.

Or at least, that’s the plan. Until the fallout from a deadly showdown makes Jackal start investigating the Lot Lands for himself. Soon, he’s wondering if his feelings have blinded him to ugly truths about this world, and the Bastards’ place in it.

In a quest for answers that takes him from decaying dungeons to the frontlines of an ancient feud, Jackal finds himself battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike — along with a host of dark magics so terrifying they’d give even the heartiest Bastard pause. Finally, Jackal must ride to confront a threat that’s lain in wait for generations, even as he wonders whether the Bastards can — or should — survive.

Delivered with a generous wink to Sons of Anarchy, featuring sneaky-smart worldbuilding and gobs of fearsomely foul-mouthed charm, The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece — and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure that’s like nothing you’ve read before.

The Grey Bastards will be published by Crown on June 19, 2018. It is 432 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. Anyone out there read this in the earlier edition?

Signal Horizon on 5 Science Fiction Books That Should Be Made Into Movies Right Now

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Robots of Gotham cover wrap-small

Hollywood, take note! Over at Signal Horizon, Tracy Palmer identifies the future media superstars in this year’s crop of summer SF blockbusters. At the top of the list is the debut novel from Black Gate‘s own Todd McAulty, The Robots of Gotham, the story of a future on the verge of complete subjugation by machines.

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and I’m reading this right now. This is the political Terminator we have been waiting for. Its brainy look at technology surpassing the inventor is tailor made for the big screen. With a very clear enemy and hero it will delight the action enthusiasts as much as those looking for more astute moral ambiguity. With many films preceding it like the aforementioned Terminator franchise and Robocop the audience is primed for another robots gone wild movie. What makes this unique is the timeline and mystery. Who or what are the machines hiding and where have the Americans been all this time? Stan Winston Studio who did the incredible robots for Terminator 3 should be hired immediately!

The Robots of Gotham will be published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on June 19. Get more details here.

The complete list includes The Rig by Roger Levy, Semiosis by Sue Burke, and novels by Neal Stephenson and Pierce Brown. Read the whole thing here.

Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Volume 4 edited by David Afsharirad

Sunday, May 27th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Military and Adventure SF Volume 4-smallOne of the things I’ve appreciated about David Afsharirad’s Best Military and Adventure SF, now in its fourth year, is that he seeks out the kind of fiction that routinely gets overlooked by the editors of the other Year’s Best SF books. The newest volume, coming in trade paperback next week from Baen, is no exception. Check out the table of contents.

Preface by David Afsharirad
“The Secret Life Of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)
“The Snatchers,” by Edward Mcdermott (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March/April 2017)
“Imperium Imposter,” by Jody Lynn Nye (Infinite Stars, 2017)
“A Thousand Deaths Through Flesh And Stone,” by Brian Trent (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2017)
“Hope Springs,” by Lindsay Buroker (Beyond the Stars: New Worlds, New Suns, 2017)
“Orphans Of Aries,” by Brad R. Torgersen (Rocket’s Red Glare, 2017)
“By The Red Giant’s Light,” by Larry Niven (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2017)
“Family Over Blood,” by Kacey Ezell (Forged in Blood, 2017)
“A Man They Didn’t Know,” by David Hardy (Rocket’s Red Glare, 2017)
“Swarm By Sean,” by Patrick Hazlett (Terraform, December 2017)
“A Hamal In Hollywood,” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Rocket’s Red Glare, 2017)
“Lovers,” by Tony Daniel (Forged in Blood, 2017)
“The Ghost Ship Anastasia,” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, January 2017)
“You Can Always Change The Past,” by George Nikolopoulos (Galaxy’s Edge, March 2017)
“Our Sacred Honor,” by David Weber (Infinite Stars, 2017)

To see what I mean, you can compare Afsharirad’s selections versus other Year’s Best volumes coming out this year. Here’s a list with Tables of Contents for the other major 2018 volumes from Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Neil Clarke, John Joseph Adams, Paula Guran, Jane Yolen, and Michael Kelly.

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When Long-Sheathed Knives are Drawn Again: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Waking Land-small The Memory of Fire-small

When Callie Bates’ fantasy novel The Waking Land appeared last June, it was called “A wonderfully stunning debut” by RT Book Reviews, and Terry Brooks said “She is clearly a writer of real talent.” I remember being very intrigued when I picked it up in the bookstore. Here’s the description.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder — and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition — powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

I was pleased to see the sequel, The Memory of Fire, will be published early next month. Del Rey reprinted the first volume in trade paperback in January, so there’s plenty of time to grab a copy before the second volume arrives. Here’s all the details, and links to tasty sample chapters.

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Future Treasures: The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Freeze-Frame Revolution-smallPeter Watts is the author of the Rifters Trilogy, which Matthew David Surridge reviewed for us here, the Hugo and Locus Award-nominated Blindsight (2006), which Rich Horton called “Brilliant,” and the collection Beyond the Rift (2013).

His short fiction Sunflower Cycle kicked off in 2009 with the Hugo Award-winning “The Island.” There have been three tales in the series so far; you can read them all at Watts’ website. The fourth, the long novella The Freeze-Frame Revolution, arrives from Tachyon early next month.

“The Island” (The New Space Opera 2, July 2009) — Hugo Award Winner, Best Novelette
“Giants” (Extreme Planets, December 2013)
“Hotshot” (Reach for Infinity, May 2014)
The Freeze-Frame Revolution (Tachyon Publications, June 2018)

Publisher’s Weekly raved about the book, saying:

In this short, tight novel that contains vast science-fictional speculation, the human crew of the construction ship Eriophora spends 66 million years building interstellar wormhole gates, so they have lots of time to ponder issues of purpose. Sunday Ahzmundin, on a quest to find a missing crewmate, has to deal with another coworker, Lian, who is traumatized after the ship is damaged by one of the “occasional demons” that pop out of newly opened gates. Dropping in and out of suspended animation as scheduled by the Chimp, the AI that runs the ship, Sunday begins to uncover the secrets behind Lian’s subsequent death and the disappearances of other crew members, learning what hides beneath the ship’s closed and rigidly structured society… SF fans will love this tale of bizarre future employment and genuine wonder.

Here’s the description.

She believed in the mission with all her heart. But that was sixty million years ago. How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what’s best for you? Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution will be published by Tachyon Publications on June 12, 2018. It is 192 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition. Order copies directly from the Taychon website.

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