SFF Space Tour – Bonus Excursion
I hope you enjoyed the SFF World Tour if you’ve been following – if not, here’s Day One. Today is a bonus trip into Outer Space – and exclusively Sci-Fi after an admittedly Fantasy heavy tour. This is a bumper itinerary of 9 destinations. The only rule; the books must be set in Space or other planets.
Murderbot/All Systems Red – Martha Wells
The Murderbot novellas are constantly being recommended in the twitter and blogging world and I need to get them. I have to admit the reason I haven’t is being quite tight fisted in this instance – whenever I’ve looked they’ve been pretty expensive for novellas. And while I have a huge mount TBR it’s made sense to me to wait until they’re all compiled into one volume and buying that instead. It remains to me a very intriguing series.
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Embers of War – Gareth L. Powell
Embers of War is brilliant. Check out my review here. I loved so much about it and it’s just one of those fulfilling, exciting and enjoyable stories that leave you feeling great.
The warship Trouble Dog was built and bred for calculating violence, yet following a brutal war, she finds herself disgusted by conflict and her role in a possible war crime. Seeking to atone, she joins the House of Reclamation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing ships in distress.
But, stripped of her weaponry and emptied of her officers, she struggles in the new role she’s chosen for herself. When a ship goes missing in a disputed system, Trouble Dog and her new crew of misfits and loners, captained by Sal Konstanz, an ex-captain of a medical frigate who once fought against Trouble Dog, are assigned to investigate and save whoever they can.
Meanwhile, light years away, intelligence officer Ashton Childe is tasked with locating and saving the poet, Ona Sudak, who was aboard the missing ship, whatever the cost. In order to do this, he must reach out to the only person he considers a friend, even if he’s not sure she can be trusted. What Childe doesn’t know is that Sudak is not the person she appears to be.
Quickly, what appears to be a straightforward rescue mission turns into something far more dangerous, as Trouble Dog, Konstanz and Childe, find themselves at the centre of a potential new conflict that could engulf not just mankind but the entire galaxy.
If she is to survive and save her crew, Trouble Dog is going to have to remember how to fight.
A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine
At the time of writing, I’m actually nearly halfway through A Memory Called Empire. And I have to admit at this stage I’m singing it difficult to storm through. It’s actually though probably the most I’m depth sci-fi I’ve read – it has started as a very slow burn but part of that is the introduction to this world that feels like something you need to relax and dedicate time to adapting to – not when you have a number of books you want to get through quickly (like me). The reviews are extremely positive and so I’m still going to recommend this one – I’m going to come back to it when I have more time to dedicate to it.
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.
Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.
Red Rising – Pierce Brown
Red Rising isn’t currently on my bought pile but is one I’ve heard an awful lot about – a lot of people LOVE it. Obviously it’s one I will eventually try myself.
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
The Last Astronaut – David Wellington
I was looking for a space horror, and that Alien sort of vibe and was recommended The Last Astronaut. I haven’t started yet but it’s sat looking pretty on the shelf, waiting.
Mission Commander Sally Jansen is Earth’s last astronaut–and last hope–in this gripping near-future thriller where a mission to make first contact becomes a terrifying struggle for survival in the depths of space.
Sally Jansen was NASA’s leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she lives in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over.
A large alien object has entered the solar system on a straight course toward Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate and is ignoring all incoming transmissions.
Out of time and out of options, NASA turns to Jansen. For all the dangers of the mission, it’s the shot at redemption she always longed for.
But as the object slowly begins to reveal its secrets, one thing becomes horribly clear: the future of humanity lies in Jansen’s hands.
Alien: The Cold Forge – Alex White
I’m currently listening to this on audiobook and it is brilliant! I make no secret of the fact I’m a huge Alien fan – it’s one of the only horrors I’ve watched that actually feels scary to me. There’s so much I love about the first movie and the world in general, and the potential of the stories. This is a book that lives up to that and Alex White does a superb job of putting their own take on the story whilst staying true to the foundations that made Alien and Aliens great. Widely regarded as one of, if not THE best Alien novel.
A dramatic new Alien novel, as Weyland-Yutani seeks to recover from the failure of Hadley’s Hope, and successfully weaponize the Xenomorphs.
With the failure of the Hadley’s Hope, Weyland-Yutani has suffered a devastating defeat–the loss of the Aliens. Yet there’s a reason the company rose to the top, and they have a redundancy already in place. Remote station RB-323 abruptly becomes their greatest hope for weaponizing the Xenomorph, but there’s a spy aboard–someone who doesn’t necessarily act in the company’s best interests. If discovered, this person may have no choice but to destroy RB-323… and everyone on board. That is, if the Xenomorphs don’t do the job first.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
This Space Opera comes highly recommended by multiple bloggers and I had to pick it up. It’s on my to-read list this year – aiming to read it around August time.
Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space-and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe-in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
Love the premise to Old Man’s War! Stupidly high GR rating for a book with so many reviews.
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
Semiosis – Sue Burke
This is one of the most interesting books on my TBR and quite a unique one in terms of first contact sci-fi. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought!
In this character driven novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke, human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance.
Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that mammals are more than tools.
Forced to land on a planet they aren’t prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape–trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.