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…

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…

The Stone Man: a lumbering ‘what if?’

Although this is billed as a sci-fi thriller, there’s not so much of the science fiction about it. The action is firmly grounded in the here-and-now, on earth. In England. Mostly in the Midlands. In fact, there’s so much detail about the city streets and the routes travelled in the ‘roadtrip’ segments that you could…

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology

This collection of 26 stories is a little different to the average anthology. It weaves between fact and fiction, exploring those remote and lonely places on the periphery of human society. Each of the contributions is a substantial piece of writing – not one of them feels like a filler – and the combined effect…

The Magician’s Land: an ultimately unfulfilling finale

There are some book series where you can join the narrative part-way through, but Lev Grossman’s Magician trilogy isn’t one of them. If you’ve not already journeyed to Fillory, a childhood land of mythical creatures which bears an uncanny resemblance to Narnia, then don’t start here. Go back to the first book, The Magicians, and…

Urban Mythic 2: modern day fables

The stories in this anthology open an ephemeral portal onto the paranormal where sometimes – but not always – something supernatural slithers. Some of the creations we glimpse through half-closed eyes are awful and evil; others rather more whimsical and wistful. Like the first collection in this series, UM2 presents a dozen short stories by different authors offering…

Tears In Rain: intriguing ideas, flawed execution

The idea of developing one of the core themes from Blade Runner – artificial humans with a limited life span, created to do the dirty jobs that futuristic people would rather avoid – is an intriguing one. Bruna, the central character in ‘Tears In Rain’ is such a replicant. She’s a combat model, built and…

Sunblind: desperation in the desert

Imagine combining key elements from Pitch Black and Aliens. Set the action in the scorching Sonoran desert between Mexico and the US. Populate your cast with a couple of dozen disposable characters who fall prey to dehydration, in-fighting, snakebite, heatstroke… and far worse, as Something Awful picks them off, leaving only blood spatter and tattered…

Roaring Reads: new books and indie authors

We love winter. Roaring fire, snugly sofa, huge great big stack of brilliant new books. Here’s some we’ve stumbled across in the last month, including crime-thrillers, murder-mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy and crossover titles from new writers, indie authors and small publishers… Manners Cost Everything by Paul Chambers. This ‘gripping and edgy’ explicit thriller is the first…