Category Archives: Book News

Author Guest Post: Gareth L. Powell

FIVE CLASSIC SPACE OPERAS THAT STILL HOLD UP TODAY
by Gareth L. Powell

‘Space opera’ has been around since the heyday of the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. Initially the term was one of derision, likening the genre to tacky ‘horse opera’ westerns. However, just as the hippies and punks of the 1960s and 1970s took their derogatory labels and wore them with pride, so the term ‘space opera’ came to be used for action-packed stories featuring big spaceships and weighty themes.

Looking back now, not all of those stories have aged well. Some are frankly unreadable, either due to their dreadful prose, cardboard characters, or woeful science. But if you look hard enough, there are still plenty of gems to be found.

Below, I have picked ten classic* space operas that still have much to offer the modern reader.

*For the purposes of this list, I have defined the term ‘classic’ as including books written or published before the turn of the Millennium.

1. Nova by Samuel Delany. Without doubt, one of my favorite books, Nova is set a thousand years into the future, and tells the story of Lorq Von Ray, last scion of a powerful and rich dynasty, and his quest to harvest the rare mineral illyrion from the core of an imploding sun. Filled with literary fireworks, the book relates Von Ray’s quest to tarot lore and the Arthurian Grail legends, while simultaneously using the literary ambitions of one of its characters to provide a meta-commentary on the process of novel writing itself.

2. The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison. Harrison takes the tropes of pulp space opera—starports, lone traders, and naval engagements—and gives them a cyberpunk makeover. Crews have to jack directly into their ships via sockets on their wrists. The main character deals amphetamines and is discharged from the army because he wets himself every time a gun goes off. Whether or not it was written as a criticism of the genre, it paved the way for the grittier ‘New Space Opera’ of the 1990s.

3. The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey. When I sat down to write Embers of War, I re-read this book to help get me in the mood to write about a sentient starship. I hadn’t read it since I was a kid, and I was relieved to find it just about held up. Taken at face value, it’s a fun, if episodic adventure. Unfortunately, modern readers might baulk at the idea of data held on magnetic tape, and the titular ship’s constant yearning for a man to make her life complete.

4. The Game Of Rat And Dragon by Cordwainer Smith. This is only a short story, but I decided to include it because a) it’s quite extraordinary, and b) this is my list and I can do what I want. In the far future, human starship are routinely attacked during faster-than-light travel by invisible aliens that drive their crews insane. The only way to protect against these attacks is to use cats paired with human telepaths. The cats perceive the aliens as rats and destroy them with miniature nuclear weapons. If you haven’t read it, you really should. And while you’re at it check out Smith’s other stories, such as ‘Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons’, and ‘Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!’

5. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Based at least in part on the author’s experiences fighting in the Vietnam War, this tale of interstellar conflict follows the fortunes of William Mandella, a physics student conscripted into the war against the mysterious Taurans. Due to the time dilation caused by interstellar travel, he finds each tour of duty—while only lasting a couple of subjective years for him—throws him further and further into the future, with the result that every time he returns to Earth, he finds it changed almost beyond all recognition.

Honorable Mentions:
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Fire On The Deep by Vernor Vinge
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Dune by Frank Herbert
Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell is published by Titan Books. You can find Gareth on Twitter @garethlpowell

Received in January

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Rays:
Blade Runner 2049 Blu-ray
Geostorm Blu-Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox
Bam Box

Abrams:
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak

Amazon / 47North:
Zero Limit by Jeremy K. Brown

Daw:
Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Del Rey:
Tarnished City by Vic James

Disney Hyperion / Freeform Books:
Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Gallery Books:
HALO: Smoke and Shadow by Kelly Gay

Harper Collins / Ecco:
Blackfish City by Sam J Miller

Harper Voyager:
A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
Witch Creek by Laura Bickle

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:
Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay

Hogarth:
The Sky Is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Macmillan Teen / Swoon / FSG / Imprint / Feiwel and Friends:
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez
Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener
When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn
The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman
How We Roll by Natasha Friend
Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff
Mayfly by Jeff Sweat
The Outcast: Prequel to the Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu
The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cozzo

Penguin Teen / Razorbill:
Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes

Scholastic / Point:
The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Shadow Mountain:
The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole
Mysteries of Cove, Book 3: Embers of Destruction by J. Scott Savage

Skyhorse Publishing:
The Clinic by David Jester

Subterranean Press:
Rough Justice by Kelley Armstrong

Titan Magazines:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Official Collector’s Edition by Titan

Tor:
Child of a Mad God by R. A. Salvatore

Tor Teen:
Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid

Vintage Books:
Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck

Book Giveaway: Star Trek Discovery: The Official Collector’s Edition

Courtesy of Titan Magazines, I have a paperback copy of Star Trek Discovery: The Official Collector’s Edition for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 16. I’ll draw a name on February 17, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Star Trek Discovery: The Official Collector’s Edition

Book Giveaway: Blood Fury

Courtesy of Ballantine Books, I have a copy of Blood Fury by J. R. Ward for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 2. I’ll draw a name on February 3, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Blood Fury

Book Giveaway: Scythe and Thunderhead

Thunderhead-PlannerPrize_preview

Simon & Schuster is partnering with SciFiChick.com for a new giveaway!

Live As If You’ll Never Be Gleaned
Start the new year living life to the fullest! One (1) winner receives:
• Copies of Scythe and Thunderhead
• Plus a 2018 planner and colorful pen set to kick-start the new year!

Prizing and samples provided by Simon & Schuster.

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 19. I’ll draw a name on January 20, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Book #1 Synopsis: Scythe
Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

Book #2 Synopsis: Thunderhead
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

Author Bio:
Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including The Unwind Dystology, The Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California. Visit him at Storyman.com and Facebook.com/NealShusterman.

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Scythe and Thunderhead

Received in December

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in December for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Rays:
Interstellar 4K Blu-Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox
Bam Box

Amazon Publishing / 47North:
The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn
Roar of the Storm by Adam Burch
Points of Impact by Marko Kloos

Del Rey / Ballantine:
Star Wars: Canto Bight by Saladin Ahmed
Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon
Tarnished City by Vic James
Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Blood Fury by J. R. Ward

Disney Hyperion / Marvel:
Black Panther The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith
Runaways by Christopher Golden
Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Tales of Hope & Courage by Elizabeth Schaefer

Gallery Books:
Apart in the Dark: Novellas by Ania Ahlborn

Harlequin Teen:
Zenith by Sasha Alsberg

Harper Voyager:
Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden
Sinless by Sarah Tarkoff

Kensington Books:
Dawn in Damnation by Clark Casey

Lore Seekers Press
Tales of the Thieftaker by D B Jackson

Page Street Kids:
Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Random House Children’s Books / Crown / Delacorte Press:
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier
The Dragon’s Curse by Bethany Wiggins
The Death Cure by James Dashner
The Fever Code by James Dashner

Scholastic:
Wrath of the Storm by Jennifer A. Nielsen
World of Warcraft: Traveler: The Spiral Path by Greg Weisman
The Width of the World by David Baldacci
Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 7: Stormspeaker by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers:
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

St Martin’s Press:
Glass Town by Steven Savile

Subterranean Press:
I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis

Titan Books / Titan Magazines:
Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
Thor: Ragnarok The Official Movie Special by Titan Magazines
Star Trek Discovery: Official Collector’s Edition by Titan

Tor:
All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault by James Alan Gardner
Mississippi Roll edited by George R. R. Martin
Survival by Ben Bova
Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Beneath the Haunting Sea

Excerpt:

Her mother was sitting at the dining table in the great cabin, scribbling something on a piece of paper. She looked up and smiled. “There you are, dearest.”

Talia settled into the chair across from her. “You’re looking very well.”

Another smile. “I’m feeling much better.” Scritch scritch scratch went her pen. Moonlight poured in through the windows, illuminating her elegant handwriting.

“What are you doing?” Talia asked carefully.

“I’m transcribing the story my father told me when he took me to the seaside as a child. I just remembered it.” She beamed at her paper, and kept writing.

The moon rose a little higher over the sea, and Talia saw sweat glimmering on her mother’s brow. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to lie down again?”

“When I’ve finished.” Scritch scritch scratch.

Talia wondered if she ought to go for Hanid or Captain Oblaine. “What’s the story about?”

“You’ll see. I’m so pleased I remembered! It explains everything.” She paused to dip her pen in an inkwell.

The ship rolled beneath them, and the lantern swung back and forth from its hook in the ceiling, creaking.

Talia watched in silence as her mother wrote three more sentences across the paper. Then she laid the pen down, and blew on the ink to dry it. Her smile reached her ears as she handed the page over to her daughter.

Talia’s eyes traveled across the words, so carefully and beautifully written.

“Well? Now do you understand?”

Talia bit her lip and met her mother’s gaze, forcing herself to smile. “I do. Thank you for writing it down for me.”
Her mother grinned, laughed, reached across the table to hug her. “I’d like to go on deck and watch for a while now.”
“The captain and I have been watching in turns so you can get some rest, Mama. Don’t worry, you can watch again soon.”
Her mother nodded. “I can’t watch all the time.”

“Of course not. No one could. Now let’s get you back to bed.”

She allowed Talia to help her up from the table, leaning on her with her good arm. Talia led her through the door to the captain’s bunk, and she climbed under the covers, pulling the blankets up to her chin.

“I’m glad you understand now,” she whispered, her eyes drifting shut.

“Me too, Mama.” Talia kissed her forehead and slipped back out of the cabin. The moon was directly overhead now, flooding the whole deck in silver.

She thought she might be sick.

The story her mother had written for her was complete and utter nonsense.

_______________________________________
Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

_______________________________________

Courtesy of Page Street, I have a review copy of Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 19. I’ll draw a name on January 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Beneath the Haunting Sea

Book Giveaway: Embers of War

Courtesy of Titan Books, I have a review copy of Embers of War by Alice Broadway for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends January 19. I’ll draw a name on January 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Embers of War