Step into The Burning Light

burninglightThe Burning Light
Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler
Tor.com
Paperback $14.99
ebook $2.99

This short novel went on sale about two weeks ago.  I’d like to thank Brad Beaulieu for sending me a review copy.  I’d also like to apologize for not getting it read and reviewed closer to the release date.  Life has been happening, and I’m still adjusting to some new time constraints.

I’ve not read Ziegler but I’m a big fan of Beaulieu’s work.  And while most of that work has been fantasy, he has written some science fiction.  That’s what The Burning Light is.

Set in a future where the ocean levels have risen, New York has been flooded and taken over by squatters.  The wealthy and powerful live in enclaves further inland, and everyone has implants that allow them to communicate nonverbally through a type of cybernetic web.

Something called the Light is starting to erupt in places.  It produces an addiction that leaves its victims burned out junkies who eventually die.  Colonel Chu is trying to find the source of the Light and destroy it.  Years ago the Light manifested through her twin sister.  Although her sister survived, and Chu was touched by the Light, everyone else in the vicinity died.  Now Chu has become obsessed with vengeance. Continue reading

When the Echoes Symphonize

a-symphony-of-echoesA Symphony of Echoes
Jodi Taylor
Night Shade Books
Hardcover $24.95
Trade Paper $12.99
Ebook $3.99

I’d like to thank Brianna Scharfenberg of Night Shade Books for not only providing me with the review copy but also introducing me to this series. It’s become one of my favorites.

A Symphony of Echoes takes up pretty soon after the ending of Just One Damned Thing After Another (reviewed here).

Things haven’t slowed down.  Early in the book, Madeline Maxwell and her associates end up going to the future to save St. Mary’s from an attack.  This is highly irregular, and by highly irregular, I mean Not Done At All.  You never go to the future.  Too many risks.

But these are unusual times, no pun intended.  Max ends up being the director for a while.  I’m not sure how far in the future they go.  It doesn’t seem to be too far, but none of the people there are members of Max’s version of St. Mary’s except Mrs. Partridge, the assistant to the director.  The implication is that they are all dead. Continue reading

Cordwainer Smith at 113

cordwainer smithThis is going to be a quick post, because the second summer term starts in the morning, and I’m teaching an 8:00 AM class I’m still doing last minute preparations for.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, who wrote science fiction under the pen name of Cordwainer Smith.

If you haven’t read him, you’ve missed one of the most unique voices the field has ever seen.  Much like Avram Davidson and R. A. Lafferty, no one has ever really written like him.  (Although the first part of Robert Silverberg’s Nightwings comes close.)  And he is nothing like Lafferty or Davidson.

best of cordwainer smithBorn in 1913, he was an expert on East Asia and psychological warfare and spoke at least six languages.  His future history, The Instrumentality of Mankind, contains a number of unique terms Linebarger created just for his fiction.  His works contain a greater depth than most fiction of the 1950s and early 1960s.  Many of his stories have religious overtones, and he’s been compared to Tolkien and Lewis.

Linebarger/Smith suffered a fatal heart attack in 1966.  His daughter maintains a detailed webpage about him here.

Just One Damned Thing After Another

Just One Damned Thing After AnotherJust One Damned Thing After Another
Jodi Taylor
Night Shade Books
Trade Paperback $12.99
Ebook $3.99

I’d like to thank Brianna Scharfenberg at Night Shade Books for sending me the review copy of Just One Damned Thing After Another.  This is one of the most refreshing books I’ve read in a long time.  It’s a rare book that can make me laugh out loud (more than once) and a few chapters later nearly make me cry.

If you’re a fan of time travel, or if you’re a fan of madcap British comedies, or better yet if you’re a fan of both, then you’ll want to check out The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, of which Just One Damned Thing After Another is the first volume.  It goes on sale in the US today (June 7).  The title is from a quote by Arnold Toynbee. Continue reading

Take a Trip with the Outriders

Outriders_72dpiOutriders
Jay Posey
Angry Robot
UK Print
ISBN: 9780857664501
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
North American Print
ISBN: 9780857664518
Format: Small (Mass-Market) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 / CAN$9.99
Ebook
ISBN: 9780857664525
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for the review copy of Outriders.  This is a military science fiction novel that’s a heck of a lot of fun.  Jay Posey is an author I’m going to be keeping an eye on.

The book opens with Lincoln Suh dying.  It’s a controlled death done under the watchful eye of the military.  Suh is going through the final steps to join an elite group of special forces, kind of like the Green Berets in space.  Only he doesn’t make the cut.

Instead he’s offered a position in a more exclusive unit, one that engages in black ops.  If he turns it down, he can go back and be a part of the unit he’d been trying for.  He decides to take the offer.

He doesn’t know what he’s getting into. Continue reading

Admiral Launches a Promising New Series

admiralAdmiral
Sean Danker
Roc Books
Hardcover $26.95
ebook $7.99

I’d like to thank Ace/Roc Books for the review copy of Admiral.  It was a fun space opera.  I’m looking forward to further installments in this new series.

The unnamed narrator is the last of four people to wake up on a damaged freighter that’s stranded on an unknown planet.  The other three people are all graduates of one of the Imperial military academies.

It quickly becomes obvious to them that our narrator is no admiral, even though the ship’s computer confirms he is an admiral.  The Evagardian Empire has just won a war with another power, and one of the graduates (who happens to have the highest rank among the three) thinks he’s a spy.

But they’ve got other problems.  The freighter’s crew are dead in an airlock.  They don’t know where they are.  The freighter has no power.  The planet is not suitable for human life.  Their air supplies are limited.  And they keep hearing sounds from other parts of the ship, as though something is moving. Continue reading

Alex Stewart Shoots the Rift

shooting-the-rift-9781476781181_hrShooting the Rift
Alex Stewart
Baen Books
Trade Paper $16.00
Ebook $8.99

It’s spring, when a middle-aged man’s thoughts lightly turn to…space opera!

Alex Stewart has been writing the Caiphas Cain novels and stories under the name Sandy Mitchell for the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.

Now he’s branched out and writing another series.  This is grand old space opera in the grand old tradition.  Or to put it another way, it’s a heckuva lot of fun. Continue reading

Unforgettable is, Well, Unforgettable

UnforgettableUnforgettable
Eric James Stone
Baen Books
trade paper $15
ebook $7.55

So here’s an interesting little novel (by “little” I mean a reasonable length, not a doorstopper, IOW, a compliment) that plays with some scientific ideas in a new way.

Nat Morgan is literally forgettable.  One minute after you leave his presence, you will completely forget having met him.  No computer has any record of him.  He doesn’t show up on camera.  The only way he can leave a permanent record is by writing something down.  That’s the only method he has of being recalled.

So naturally, he works for the CIA.  There’s an entire prototcol he uses to get his handler to accept that what he says is true.  There’s also a file in his handler’s desk with enough information about Nat that the guy will trust him.

Nat is on an assignment to steal a quantum chip prototype when he and a beautiful Russian spy  (Are there any other kinds?  Only a few.) who is also trying to steal the chip are captured.  Things get interesting when she remembers him after they part ways. Continue reading

Keeping Her Brother

Her brothers keeperHer Brother’s Keeper
Mike Kupari
Baen Books
trade paper $16
ebook $8.99

If you like good, old-fashioned space adventure, then you’ll want to check out Mike Kupari’s first solo novel (he’s previously collaborated with Larry Correia) is a strong debut that based on the ending will be the first volume in a series.  At least if sales are good (such is the way of publishing). So go out and buy a copy, because I want to know the secret of that derelict starship they find.

Oh, you want more than that to go on before you buy it, do you? Continue reading

Kuttner Unkollected: “Dark Dawn”

Thilling Wonder Aug 47“Dark Dawn”
Henry Kuttner writing as Keith Hammond
Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1947

Kuttner had three stories in this issue of Thrilling Wonder, one under his own name and two under psuedonyms.  I’ll look at all of them since two of them have been reprinted and the third never appeared in one of Kuttner’s collectons and hasn’t seen print since the 1960s.

In the post War years, Americans were definitely interested in atomic bombs and the possibility of radioactive fallout.  “Dark Dawn” deals with these concerns, as does “Atomic!”, the story in this issue that appears under Kuttner’s byline. Continue reading