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)



[expander_maker id=”7″ more=”Cover artist” less=”Close cover artist”] All covers are by Daniel Dociu [/expander_maker]

All covers are by Daniel Dociu

Cover artist

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
  7. Persepolis Rising
  8. Tiamat’s Wrath

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

Daniel Dociu

Cover artist

“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.

 

 

The Commitments

Alan Parker’s great film from 1991 is now out on Blu ray. The restauration for the Blu ray is fantastic – especially the sound quality of the music stands out.

The movie focuses on some young people in Dublin trying to start a band playing soul music from the sixties.

For the leads Parker was looking for singers, who could really sing – and if they could also act a little bit, that was fine.

The result is a gorgeous film filled with really soulful music. If you can sit still and not tap your feet, there is probably something wrong with your ears.

It was a surprise for me to see, that Maria Doyle Kennedy started out as a singer, and then became an actor (Orphan Black is a good example of her acting powers). She has a beautiful and powerful singing voice.

The main lead Andrew Strong has a great voice for soul music. But the whole ensemble and the music is what this is about.

Jessica Jones – The Complete First Season

At last – Jessica Jones’ first season is now available on Blu ray. In Europe at least. It is worth the wait.

Jessica Jones has powers. But she does not want to be a hero. She just wants to be left in peace after some traumatic incidents. The worst being her encounter with Kilgrave – played by a fantastic David Tennant (Dr. Who).

Kristen Ritter is great as Jessica Jones and we are not just talking about a female lead – a lot of the other significant characters in the series are female and doing a fine job.

It is very nice to see a superhero series with such a number of fully fleshed out female characters. It really makes the series stand out and not nearly as testosterone driven as the usual superhero stuff – which in a lot of cases has grown a bit tiresome.

Watch Jessica Jones – a fine series.

Rolling in the Deep – Mira Grant (pseudonym of Seanan McGuire)

Julie Dillon

Cover artist

“We’re here at an undisclosed dock in Washington state, where the majestic ocean vessel Atargatis is getting ready to set sail on what promises to be a historic journey of discovery and danger. Because this isn’t just any voyage, and we’re not sailing with just any crew. Some of the world’s best minds have assembled – scientists, scholars, researchers from all over the globe – to answer, once and for all, the question that has plagued mankind since we first took to the seas. Are mermaids the hallucinations of lonely sailors? Or are they real?”

What if mermaids were real, but not even close to being cute? Beautiful, yes. Cute – forget it.

Cruise ship Atargatis is filled with scientists, media people and of course sailors. They are on an expedition to the Mariana Trench on a search for reported mermaids. Can mermaids be real? Do they exist?

Find out in this beautiful horror novella.

Mira Grant is a pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, which she uses when writing SF and Horror.

This novella is the first book in “Mermaids in the Drowning Deep” series, and you should read it before you read the second – “Into the Drowning Deep”.

Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire

Nancy stood frozen in the center of the foyer, her hand locked on the handle of her suitcase as she looked around, trying to find her bearings. She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting from the “special school” her parents were sending her to, but it certainly hadn’t been this … this elegant country home.

Every Heart a Doorway is a fantastic, beautiful and moving story about estrangement, that will touch your heart in so many ways. Wonderfully told by Seanan McGuire – one of her very best.

Children slipping through gateways into other worlds has always happened – Narnia, Oz, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland. But what happens, if the children get thrown out of these worlds – even though they want and need to stay?

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children does its best to help – but can it be enough?

Every Heart a Doorway is the first novella in this series of The Wayward Children. It won the 2016 Nebula Award for best novella, the 2017 Hugo Award for best novella and the 2017 Locus Award for best novella.

There are still novellas in the series to be written and published – and the series so far is still wonderful and important.

 

Here are some beautiful postcards by Rovina Cai that were given away as promotional material, when the book was published.

 

Read more

Once Broken Faith – Seanan McGuire

Chris McGrath

Cover artist

“Once Broken Faith” by Seanan McGuire is the tenth in her October Daye (Toby) series. This series is a must read, if you like Urban Fantasy.

The book fully (and then some) lives up to the level of the previous books in the series. Toby of course faces new problems and situations, she can only solve, if she keeps developing. Luckily for us she does just that, but still remains the Toby we love.

As an extra bonus the book includes an original Arden Windermere novella.

To avoid spoilers for those who have not yet read the other books in the series, I cannot tell you much more but urge you to start reading this series. Click the tag at the bottom to find out titles and order of publication.

Too like the Lightning – Ada Palmer

Victor Mosquera

Cover artist

Ada Palmer’s “Too like the Lightning” is one of the best SF novels of the year.

It builds on history and philosophy, but creates a new world entirely its own. It poses questions, that makes you think. It does, what SF does best – introduces new ideas based on the basic SF question “What if…..”.

Mycroft Canner committed a horrible crime. Getting to know him as a kind and gentle person you wonder, what he could have done. You are finally told, and cannot believe it. Why did he do it?

For the answer to that you have to wait for book two (“Seven Surrenders”) that will be out in February 2017. Book one ends abruptly stating: “Here ends the first half of Mycroft Canner’s History”.

“Too like the Lightning” is Ada Palmer’s first SF book – and it is fascinating. It is not a fast read, there is too much information crammed into its pages for that. But oh, you are richly awarded for the time it takes to read it.

The book contains so much of what makes SF brilliant and special. It was much hyped by other authors before publication, but it lives up to every praise and even exceeds it. The only reason it may not take some of the major prices in the field is the fact, that it is only the first half of a story.

I cannot wait for February.