Central Station – Lavie Tidhar

Cover artist:  Sarah Anne Langdon

Cover artist

 

Here we have another contender for best SF of 2016.

Central Station is a huge tower situated in Tel Aviv/Jaffa. The top of the tower is the departure point for the planets, moons, asteroids and space stations in the solar system.

In the city around the tower’s base we follow the lives of those, who stayed behind, when most of humanity left for the rest of the solar system. Humanity has diversified – some have digital enhancements, some are purely digital entities, some are outdated robot warriors and some are very strange and peculiar children and so on.

The book is a mosaic novel. Most of the chapters were published as short stories in a slightly different form. Thus each chapter can stand alone as a finished story. But by putting these stories together as a novel, we get a vivid picture of a culture – a much greater and more comprehensive picture than just a single story would have given us.

Lavie Tidhar has written a breathtaking book. The prose is so rich and splendid and at the same time so tightly written that the book has no unnecessary filler at all.

For long time SF readers we get many nods to earlier giants and stories in the field: “Shambleau” by C.L. Moore, Louis Wu in “Ringworld” by Larry Niven and Cordwainer Smith’s “The Instrumentality of Mankind” to mention a few.

Lavie Tidhar is an author to be watched – and Central Station is a must read and a very strong contender, when award season comes around.


You should try reading some stories or novels by C.L. Moore – she is worth the effort and time.  Some cover pictures: “Shambleau and others” – the original book publication by Gnome Press 1953 (the story was published earlier in Weird Tales, November 1933). I also have an LP (with a fantastic cover by Frank Kelly Freas) where C.L. Moore herself reads the story.

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The Indranan War – K.B. Wagers

Hail Bristol is a gunrunner. Having made a name for herself she is both feared and respected. But what she really is turns out to be the heir to the Indranan Empire.

After nearly being killed by assassins at the very beginning of the first book, she is dragged back to the Empire, as it turns out, she is the only living heir. Will she have to change from gunrunner to Empress? Will she want to? Does everyone want her to become their Empress? Will they try to kill her?

The Indranan War so far (two books) is action filled Space Opera of the old kind. Both books are page turners and hard to put down.

The characters are interesting and you root for Hail and her companions and want them to keep on living through more books.

Waiting for book three to appear!

After the Crown – K.B. Wagers

This is book two of the Indranan War.

The book starts up where “Behind the Throne” ended. Hail is moving up in the world, which means she is in deeper trouble with more and nastier enemies.

Another action-filled thrill ride with Hail trying desperately to live up to her title and the hopes of the people around her.

No slacking in action and pacing – it is still a fast and good read. Another book you will read in  one sitting. Now we wait for book three – hopefully not too long a wait.

Behind the Throne – K.B. Wagers

This is K.B. Wagers first novel – and a whopping good one.

Old fashioned Space Opera with non-stop action and a very cool protagonist.

Hail Bristol is a gunrunner. Having made a name for herself she is both feared and respected. But what she really is turns out to be the heir to the Indranan Empire.

After nearly being killed by assassins at the very beginning of the book, she is dragged back to the Empire, as it turns out, she is the only living heir. Will she be able to change from gunrunner to Empress? Does everyone want her to become their Empress? Will they try to kill her?

 
A fast, exiting, action filled and thrilling read. Before you know it, you have read it all. But – not to worry. The sequel is already published – and at least at the beginning Hail is still alive.

The Expanse – Season One

Bringing good Space Opera to the screen – a very positive surprise.

James S.A. Corey has so far written six books in The Expanse series with more to come (press tag below to read about the book series). Now Syfy brings the series to the small screen.

Season One follows the books very well. It tells most of the story by showing you instead of having people telling you, what you are seeing. Of course that is the cinematic way, but can be a bit difficult to follow in the beginning, because there is so much information to process. But if you hang in there, you shall be well rewarded. It is a much better way to do things than having talking heads explain to you, what is happening.

200 years in the future Earth and Mars are the two big players of the solar system. Each wants to dominate and each have huge space navies. In the middle we have the individuals of the asteroid belt that mine the belt for metals, water and whatever they can sell to the two big ones. Powerful organisations being what they are, they squeeze the belters by lowering the pay for their products and rising the cost of the spare parts that the belters need. Telling you more would include spoilers, so this is all you get.

Just like the books this is Space Opera on a huge canvas, and season one looks fantastic. Deservedly it was very well received and season two starts screening in February 2017.

This kind of treatment is what I want to see, when we are talking good Space Opera. I hope it stays on target, gets lots of viewers and keeps on going as long as the books.

P.S. The cover of the blu-ray (see above) is beautiful.

The Expanse series – James S.A. Corey (Pseudonym of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)

The Expanse series is one of the best Space Opera series running at the moment.

We have a huge canvas, alien constructions and technology, politics, wars, scientific discoveries, criminal acts – all human behaviour and misbehaviour in one big pot. Start stirring.

200 years in the future Earth and Mars are the two big players of the solar system. Each wants to dominate and each have huge space navies. In the middle we have the individuals of the asteroid belt that mine the belt for metals, water and whatever they can sell to the two big ones. Powerful organisations being what they are, they squeeze the belters by lowering the pay for their products and rising the cost of the spare parts that the belters need.

Enter: An alien protomolecule – and the game changes completely. Gates opens to the unknown. Are there earthlike planets out there? Are there dangerous, peaceful or no aliens out there? Will people of the overpopulated earth get their chance to escape and find a better life? Will the dream of terraforming Mars become irrelevant? What will happen to the belters, if their services are no longer needed?

The pot is ready to boil over.

We follow the political powers and their attempts to consolidate and expand their power bases, but we also follow the consequences this have for the normal people and how they act – and the belters finally revolting.

Our main protagonists are Captain James Holden and his crew of a pirated Martian war ship – the Rocinante. They do a great job of catching your interest, helping the reader to understand the human side of things and make you like them and want them to succeed and survive. The characters in this series are well drawn and fulfil their purpose of explaining things on a personal level  that makes you want to read on and on and on…..

The sixth volume of the series have just been published, and there are no signs of fatigue. A huge, exiting and thoughtful must read series.

A TV-series has already been made. The first season is published on blu-ray and DVD – and it is very good. The second season starts next month – February 2017 on SyFy. You should watch it.

  1. Leviathan Wakes
  2. Caliban’s War
  3. Abaddon’s Gate
  4. Cibola Burn
  5. Nemesis Games
  6. Babylon’s Ashes

 

 

 

Babylon’s Ashes – James S.A. Corey (Pseudonym of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)

“Babylon’s Ashes” is book no. 6 in the series “The Expanse” – a huge Space Opera series of the finest kind. A must if you like Space Opera.

The series should be read in order of publication.

“Babylon’s Ashes” picks up where “Nemesis Games” (no. 5 in the series) left off. It continues the story of James Holden and his crew in the Rocinante – and all the other major players we have gotten to know in the previous books.

This instalment is centred in the solar system, the belt, outlying moons and space stations. War and politics take precedence over scientific discoveries.

But as usual it is the consequences of war and politics for the people (important and just normal) and how they react to those consequences that take centre stage here.

The scope of this series is huge. The books are large. The development of the plot and characters very interesting and solid.