Books Upcoming: The End of All Things by John Scalzi

TheEndofAllThingsThe End of All Things by John Scalzi

Release Date: August, 2015

Tor Books

Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement…for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time–a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other–and against their own kind –for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union diplomats he works with race against the clock to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and on alien races, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s union intact…or else risk oblivion, and extinction–and the end of all things.

~

The first five chapters (about 106 pages) were released on NetGalley as a ‘read now’ preview, the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series (which I haven’t started reading yet…oops!) which seems to be the last book in the series. It’s broken up into segments which is quite a different style to most novels around – the first part being almost a memoir of a ship, ending and then the next section utterly different, and so on.

Overall this is a bit too hard to jump into if you haven’t read the previous novels, but it is good enough to get you wanting to read the previous books so the preview does its bit.

Haul & News – 17 May 2014

HnN

I’ve decided that each weekend shall be the time I take to discuss books I’ve received to review and/or books I’ve bought the week before, and any news that particular caught my interest.

Books Received:

  • Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig (review) from Adaptive Books on NetGalley
  • Reach for Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan (review) from Solaris on NetGalley
  • Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan (review) from Hachette Australia
  • The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2 edited by Gordon Van Gelder (review) from Tachyon Publications on NetGalley
  • Buzz Books 2014: Young Adult by Publishers Lunch (review) from NetGalley

Coin Heist caught my attention mainly because of the cover, but the blurb sealed the deal:

The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore. 

Unfortunately my reading has been a bit slow lately. I want to read this! Other things are currently in the way and I’m struggling to find the time to read. Last weekend I was away giving judges talks and on the plane I read 22 issues of various comics rather than any novels. Sigh.

Reach for Infinity is an anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan – any of his I tend to pick up without second though, as they’re all pretty decent. The contents are as follows:

  • “Break My Fall”, Greg Egan
  • “The Dust Queen”, Aliette de Bodard
  • “The Fifth Dragon”, Ian McDonald
  • “Kheldyu”, Karl Schroeder
  • “Report Concerning The Presence of Seahorses On Mars”, Pat Cadigan
  • “Hiraeth: a tragedy in four acts”, Karen Lord
  • “Amicae Aeternum”, Ellen Klages
  • “Trademark Bugs: A Legal History”, Adam Roberts
  • “Attitude”, Linda Nagata
  • “Invisible Planets”, Hannu Rajaniemi
  • “Wilder Still, the Stars”, Kathleen Ann Goonan
  • “The Entire Immense Superstructure’: An Installation”, Ken Macleod
  • “In Babelsberg”, Alastair Reynolds
  • “Hotshot”, Peter Watts

As usual, I’ll try to review each story individually, as well as the anthology as a whole.

Thief’s Magic is a book I didn’t request to review, but very thankful to receive. I’ve read most of Trudi’s work, and like the sound of this new series. Trudi’s work is usually quick to read and hard to put down, incredibly engaging and a full world you really feel you can step into and disappear within, so it’ll be a good book for the weekend!

Tachyon’s The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Volume 2, edited by Gordon Van Gelder was a book very kindly offered to me by the publisher via the NetGalley widget (my first offer via NG!)  I haven’t read an anthology put together by Van Gelder yet, so I’ll be interested to see how this balances. I’m really looking forward to it! I’m reading so many anthologies lately.

  • “The Third Level” by Jack Finney
  • “Fondly Fahrenheit” by Alfred Bester
  • “The Cosmic Charge Account” by C. M. Kornbluth
  • “The Anything Box” by Zenna Henderson
  • “The Prize of Peril” by Robert Sheckley
  • “—All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Green Magic” by Jack Vance
  • “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” by Roger Zelazny
  • “Narrow Valley” by R. A. Lafferty
  • “Sundance” by Robert Silverberg
  • “Attack of the Giant Baby” by Kit Reed
  • “The Hundredth Dove” by Jane Yolen
  • “Jeffty Is Five” by Harlan Ellison
  • “Salvador” by Lucius Shepard
  • “The Aliens Who Knew, I mean, Everything” by George Alec Effinger
  • “Rat” by J. P. Kelly
  • “The Friendship Light” by Gene Wolfe
  • “The Bone Woman” by Charles de Lint
  • “The Lincoln Train” by Maureen McHugh
  • “Maneki Neko” by Bruce Sterling
  • “Winemaster” by Robert Reed
  • “Suicide Coast” by M. John Harrison
  • “Have Not Have” by Geoff Ryman
  • “The People of Sand & Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • “Echo” by Liz Hand
  • “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates” by Stephen King
  • “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

Buzz Books 2014: Young Adult contains substantial pre-publication excerpts from more than 20 forthcoming young adult and middle grade books. This one contains excepts from Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, Julie Kagawa and 18 others. It’ll be interesting! Though probably also aggravating, because you’ll want to read on, but won’t be able to.

Links of Notice

  • So it seems that Orbit will not be providing full copies of their Hugo-nominated novels in the Hugo Packet, which has recently become the norm. They’ll be providing extended excerpts instead.
  • As usual, John Scalzi has a fairly well-rounded blog post of thoughts on this.
  • The authors involved (Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire), Ann Leckie, Charles Stross) have released a statement regarding this as well.

Cover Reveals:

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab

Expected publication: February 2015 by Tor.

Tor.com have posted about how the cover was decided, showing a collection of other version they went through before deciding on this one.

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is one of the last Travellers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

Mirrorempire

 The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley.

Expected publication: September 2014 by Angry Robot.

 

Blog Post by author: Finding joy when writing becomes work.  

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirtsPublished by: Tor Books
ISBN: 0765316994
ISBN 13: 9780765316998
Published: June 2012
Pages: 317
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘Redshirts’ by John Scalzi is a comedic science fiction tale involving time travel and a hefty dose of crack. Even those who’ve never watched Star Trek (or maybe just the latest set of movies staring Chris Pine etc and nothing else) will get a kick out of this book.

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Intrepid, a flagship of the Universal Union that seems to have quite a high turnaround of staff. It’s not that they can’t hack the hours or the work involved, no… they just seem to get killed on missions – especially if they’re low-ranked and happen to be near the ship’s captain, the chief science officer, or the good-looking Lieutenant Kerensky.

Ensign Dahl is assigned specifically to the Xenobiology laboratory, but the other workers there seem to mysteriously disappear just before certain members of the crew enter their lab.

And parts of the ship seem to always blow up when they enter some kind of battle against alien forces.

And the previously mentioned ship’s captain, chief science officer, and good-looking Lieutenant Kerensky always survive through whatever happens to them without getting a scratch. Or if they do, they’re somehow cured within hours, even when it doesn’t make sense. Or especially if it doesn’t make sense.

Ensign Andrew Dahl puts two and two together, comes up with a crazy idea that could just sort out this crazy situation, and drags his new friends along in hopes of saving their lives. Because while this may be fun and games to some out there – he’s just a redshirt. And that means he’s very, very disposable.

This book was utter crack – in the best way possible. Thankfully it also had what a lot of cracky writing doesn’t have, and that’s a very good writing voice and tone, with parts that make you laugh out loud and have trouble believing it’s what’s actually written in front of you, and all you can do is keep reading as fast as you can.

Whilst it does have good character voice, Scalzi is a little light on the character voice, description, and description in general, which made it a little hard to know the characters, recognise them by dialogue alone, and visualise the scene. He gets away with it as the book is light-hearted and amusing, but it would have been good to really feel something for the characters throughout – or perhaps not, as any kind of connection to a redshirt is only asking for your heart to be trampled on by the end. Perhaps this was the point – it’s not like we know these characters that well through a tv show.

At the end there are three codas that take up almost one hundred of the three hundred pages within. The first is written in first person by one of the even smaller characters in the novel, and it adds a whole lot more to the novel in general. The second coda is written in second person, and the third- well, you can probably guess what I’m about to say.

Everything about this book seems to take such a different approach to novel writing in general, and I can’t think of many others besides Scazi who could pull it off. While the ending annoyed a lot of people, the inclusion of it in general made the whole piece memorable.

All in all, this is a fast, very enjoyable read that I rate up there with ‘Ready Player One’ – something you can’t help but recommend to everyone because it’s just so much fun.

P.S. The audiobook version is read by Wil Weaton, and apparently utterly hilarious. It’s available on audible, and I suggest you get it.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 17th November 2012.

Stairs to Ventureadlaxre

Best Books of 2012

Books read and to be published in 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A coming of age story set in the unspecified future of America that captured my interested as soon as it spoke of the destruction of Australia and how we were replaced by AI computers until we were able to repopulate once again, along with the rest of the world.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (edited) by John Joseph Adams

A fantastic collection about superheroes and villains and those around them in a variety of ways. With authors such as Mira Grant and Mary Robinette Kowal, and cover art by Ben Templesmith, it’s a struggle to find anything lacking. Highly recommended for the high quality within!

Books read and published in 2012

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

A dystopian novella set in 2013, 2014 and 2035, telling the story from three split times (as one could probably guess from the title) of the world almost destroyed by a combination of things. What grabs you about this book is how plausible it all could be – it’s all so very well written, and sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it.

Blackout by Mira Grant

Last in the ‘Newsflesh’ series, this continued to be a fast-paced, epic and as ever surprising end to the fantastic series. Out of all zombie novels currently available, this stands to be the very best in my humble opinion, a series that’s too hard to categorise – science-fiction? Political thriller? Medical? Mystery? Whatever it is, it is sure to become a classic.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The book that we were all waiting for, then to discover it was… well, not entirely what we were expecting, even after the synopsis was released. A harsh look upon society that isn’t exactly nice to read, but probably needs more exposure. A book that makes us thankful for what we do have, it’s cleverly woven together to show the ties we have with friends, family, at work and where we live, and how these can all deflect and reflect from each other. A hard, worthy read.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is split into two worlds, one in Cambridge, England, and one in the fantasy Kingdom of Cello – it’s beautifully written, not strictly fantasy, nor simply mystery or literature – this is a mix of lovely and sad, biter and sweet, crazy and utterly sane and clever, intelligent and demands to be shared.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Another book I’ve been waiting for thanks to the first book in the series. It starts with the line: ‘Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching.’ and continues with beautiful description and dialogue throughout. One of the few books where the second in the series is as capturing as the first.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

About a Forger, someone who can use magic to recreate or edit any item or person as long as she knows its history. Using it on humans though is strictly forbidden, something she only does on herself usually… but when she’s captured while trying to steal the emperor’s sceptre, they offer her another option rather than death. She is to create a new soul for the emperor who, after an attack, is very close to death.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

A moving story that deals with cancer in teenagers brutally well, in more ways than one. Though the characters are hipsters to an almost painful level, the wit and intelligence Green brings to YA is a blessing. It’s an important message that one doesn’t need to live a long life, for it to be meaningful and brilliant.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

About a man whose unique mental condition allows him to imagine a slew of ‘imaginary friends’, who happen to have a wide range of skills that he can therefore access, since they are after all, only in his head.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

A memoir by the blogger The Bloggess, who is certainly on a very special, lovely kind of crack. Her work can’t help but be shared – you laugh out loud even (or especially) when it’s not appropriate, and you can’t help but adore her and everything she does.

The Painter’s Apprentice by Charlotte Betts

Just as wonderful as her first book, ‘The Apothecary’s Daughter’ (and connects on to the end, but not a series as such), it was impossible to put down even though I started it late at night – I had to read into the early hours of the morning! It’s about a girl who can’t imagine leaving her childhood home – a comforting hostel for those who would otherwise be shafted into Bedlam – she especially enjoys the company of a painter by the name of Johannes. As she has quite the talent for painting, all she has ever wanted is to develop her talent to be the very best it could ever be, and if that means never going through the distraction of marriage and a family, so be it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My introduction to Scalzi (who runs one of the most interesting blogs I’ve yet come across), this is a comedic science fiction tale involving time travel and a hefty dose of crack. Even those who’ve never watched Star Trek (or maybe just the latest set of movies staring Chris Pine etc and nothing else) will get a kick out of this book.

Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The third and final in the ‘Creature Court’ series, a fantastic end that makes you cry over the fact it’s over, as well as what happens to the characters! A very fitting end, realistic and meaningful. This series begins with ‘Power and Majesty’, and honestly – each book is as good as the other, which isn’t always the way of a trilogy. Highly recommended Australian author.

Shadow and Bone (also known as The Gathering Dark) by Leigh Bardugo

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, thanks to how build up it was. Overall this book is a mixture of the cliché and familiar, yet surprising and thought-provoking, as we read about almost typical boarding-school bitchyness with makeovers and balls, done somehow in a non-annoying way. This book manages to provide guilty pleasures in beautiful prose, using these plot lines in a way that aids the character and plot development.

To Spin a Darker Stair (edited) by Tehani Wessely

Two stories by two authors, dark retellings of fairytales which draw you in only to kick your heart around.

Tales of the Far West (edited) by Gareth-Michael Skarka

Yes, purchased because it features my ever-favourite Scott Lynch, this is an anthology based in the same world with stories that could tie in together – mentions of Twin Eagle Security mentioned in more than one story and so on, which was fantastically nifty to read.

Books read in 2012 (yet published earlier)

Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The first book I read of Sanderson’s that wasn’t Mistborn, where I was blown away by his range. Wax and Wayne are in my top five set of characters of all times, and the wit and fun in this book just makes me grin to even think about it.

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

A memoir by the brilliance that is Craig Ferguson, we see his pretty-dang awful childhood and find even more reasons to love this man.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. It’s fantastic to have a well-rounded book, one that has a well developed plot, believable characters, beautiful description and above all else – a well written novel.

The Calling (Luther) by Neil Cross

Written by the show’s writer, this book is really creepy and so, so wrong in parts, yet it’s brilliant. It does have animals being hurt which I can’t deal with that well (but humans are fine, apparently) and can’t recommend this book enough to those who love the show. It ends right as the show begins, and gives you a very detailed window into the characters.

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

So I’ll review the series as a whole, and just say that I utterly adore it all to bits. Though the ending broke my heart a little bit.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is the perfect book for gamers and geeks alike. It’s the year 2044, and there’s a competition to win an ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world – a competition that’s been going on for so long that no one really expects to find it anymore. Until Wade does.

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. This book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

It’s Brandon Sanderson – do I need to say more? You read one book of his and then have to get your hands on everything else. This book is so thick that I have a version that’s printed in two parts – and each is still thicker than most fantasy is! And every damn chapter is wonderful.

Favourites

A list of all favourite novels, with links to their reviews: