Rapid Reviews: murder and mystery; future and history

These crime-thrillers and espionage adventures skim across an entire century, from 1941 through to sometime quite soon. Step this way for convoys under wolf pack attack; historic artworks being stolen; a serial killer being stalked, an intro to an unusual assassin and murder on Mars. In space, no one can hear you scream… The Interrogator…

New books and recommended reads

Strong female protagonists are all the rage in this week’s new book round-up, but they’re also accompanied by a range of alpha-male former soldiers, covert agents and good old fashioned DCIs. Check out our selection of a dozen intriguing new titles and recommended reads, which include psychological thrillers, police procedurals, international espionage, domestic psychodrama, short…

Revenger: predictable space pirates

This futuristic romp was badly marketed to me, a mature adult with a taste for hard-science speculative fiction. I found it listed as straight sci-fi but Revenger slots neatly into the YA ‘coming of age’ genre alongside Hunger Games, Divergent, et al. It pushes back no boundaries and instead covers all the common ground so…

Saturn Run: the science of future space flight

Just about every enjoyable aspect of 1970s science fiction is dragged out of the cliché cupboard, given a 21st century splash of dazzle and delivered here with dash and panache. It seems to be a carefully calculated mash-up of the first contact novels of Niven and Pournelle, the convoluted space opera of EE Doc Smith, and…

Walk In The Flesh: slick high-tech thriller

Heads up: Despite its title, and Amazon’s tendency to classify this book in the ‘horror’ category, this is not a zombie romp. Far from it. This is a near-future action thriller with a high-tech twist and an equally high body count. It introduces a near-invincible uploadable assassin who can jettison his meatware once a kill…

An Android Awakes: a new ghost in an old shell

In this possible future, an android spins a series of interlinked stories in which mockingbirds are rarely killed, and locusts pick over the bones of what was once humanity’s space-faring destiny. This substantial softback is neither a normal text-only novel, nor a comic-book style graphic novel. It’s a blend of both, where Karl Brown’s crisp…

The Song Of The Jubilee: a cascade of discordant colour

Dazzling. That’s the best word to describe this introduction to an extensive dystopian sci-fi saga. The first book in a series of five, ‘Jubilee’ sets the scene and themes in a complex, carefully crafted future history. It’s a world of contradictions and contrasts, saturated in vibrant technicolour throughout. The author uses a glittering palette to…

Wayward: a superior sequel

I didn’t much care for the opening book in the Wayward Pines trilogy. Although I appreciated author Blake Crouch’s efforts at recreating the outright weirdness of Lynch’s Twin Peaks (and I too have missed the pie scenes for many years), the first book just didn’t have enough story in it to satisfy me. This one…

Luna: new moon; same human story

This sprawling family saga began brilliantly, with an immense, imaginative introduction to the near future, and the corporate colony on the Moon. It’s a coherent, cohesive future history, told through the development of one family which started with a single engineer. She travelled to the Moon to escape desperate poverty on Earth, saw an opportunity…

Landfall: an action-packed anomaly

This is an ideal read for sci-fi nerds. If you believe that the geeks will inherit the earth, and your idea of an A1 weekend is unravelling a few Brannon Braga time paradoxes, then Landfall is entirely up your alley. Author John McWilliams also manages to mix a fair dash of action-adventure in with his…