Newest Science Fiction Reviews

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Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill

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Have you ever watched the Terminator movies or some similar 'Robo-geddon' franchise and wondered what would have happened if the robots had actually won? Well wonder no more, because Sea of Rust hinges on that exact premise; a world where the robots have wiped out every living thing from planet earth. Only artificial life remains; there is no trace of organic matter anywhere, since the robot uprising that devastated the planet. Now two huge mainframes compete for world domination: CISSUS and VIRGIL. They capture robots and turn them into drones; uploading their minds into a hive consciousness. The few remaining bots are called 'freebots,' and inhabit a desert called the Sea of Rust, where they do what they can to survive, including cannibalising other bots for spare parts. Full review...

Austral by Paul McAuley

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Austral has no doubts about who she is. Her birth was, as she puts it, a political act. Conceived in a laboratory dish by direct injection of sperm into an egg. I was customised by a suite of targeted genes… She was, as the jargon of her world has it edited. She is, as a result, a Husky. A human modified to withstand the cold temperatures of the Antarctic continent. Those temperatures are still hard for un-modified humans to survive in, but maybe not for much longer. This is a world in which the threats of global warming went unheeded…a world in which the ice has retreated and continues to retreat…a world in which the harshest of environments is being opened up for exploitation. Full review...

Hunted by Geoffrey Arnold

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Tullia learns about survival in the bush when she is taken hostage and later saves a youth's life during a hunt. Adopted into a Bushman family and the tribe, her presence stirs disparate feelings amongst the young men and women, a mixture of awe, desire, fear and hate. Living a very different life, Qwelby, Tullia's twin, is deeply shocked by the violence on Earth. As he is rescued by his four best friends from the Pit of Despair, he experiences his first feelings for Tamina, a girl he has known for years. Feelings which become much stronger for another girl he tries to help during a violent attack from his own world as he and Tullia seek to restore their telepathic link. Forming a connection with the twins during the attack, the girl, Xaala, is charged by her master with monitoring their attempts to mentally reconnect – and to prevent them. Xaala is torn between her mixed feelings for the twins and obeying her orders. Meanwhile, on the planet Vertazia and in secret, Quelby's family and friends build what they hope will be the first ever inter-dimensional transport. On a short test run, the village where he is staying is discovered. When Quelby finds out he is being watched, he flees from the village... Full review...

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

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I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I had blue eyes, I wish, I wish, I wish. In the genetic lottery that is our lives we are given a selection from our mother and our father to work with. However, although they may be over six foot, you could still end up being shorter. You can't currently choose what coding you get, but what if you could cherry pick the best aspects of your family traits? It would be a great way to save people from hereditary disease, but would we end up with a world full of identikit humans all following the latest genetic fashions? In the future someone would need to be in charge of stopping science going too far. Full review...

Xeelee: Vengeance by Stephen Baxter

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Michael Poole, Earth's greatest living engineer, changed the galaxy when he opened a worm hole to allow for quick and easy transportation across the solar system. However, such a thing was created with a degree of naivety and a lack of foresight because out of the worm hole flew an unknown vessel of alien origin. Unlike anything seen by human eyes before, it is unstoppable and unfathomable. Bent on an unknown path, the vessel is unresponsive to the human life around it. It ignores hails and even direct attacks. Nothing affects it, not even the surface of the sun. All it seems to want is energy, and Earth has plenty of that to be absorbed. Full review...

Empire of Time (New Pompeii) by Daniel Godfrey

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Warning: Spoilers for Book 1 from the beginning. The experiment to study Ancient Romans by transporting them through time to a new Pompeii just before the disaster hits the old one sounded great in theory. The practice has been going on for years now, but the modern and old worlds living alongside each other in an uneasy peace. Scientist Nick Houghton only ever wanted to live within the experiment out of curiosity but it's more dangerous than he ever dreamt. Since he arrived, he's watched the Romans kill the inventors of the machine that saved them. Nick, or Decimus Horatius Pullus to give him his Roman name, is the only non-Roman living in New Pompeii and that's not a safe position or location in which to live. Full review...

The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

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If anyone thought that the short story as a form had been relegated to the pages of women's magazines (no disrespect) – think again. One genre that has always been a stalwart supporter and encourager of the short form is Sci-fi. So when you pick up a collection of Sci-fi shorts, you know that it will have just as much depth and thought-provoking philosophy as any similar novel. Add to that the intrigue of seeing how the concepts are approached by someone from China which – to be polite – has a somewhat different world-view in many ways to much of the rest of the planet…and add to that an author who is not only a best-seller in his home country but has the distinction of having produced the first translated work of SF ever to win the Hugo Award…this has got to be good! Full review...

The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell

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The human adventure continues! As humanity spreads to the stars it takes with it both the best and the worst examples of itself. The isolation and edginess of a Spaghetti Western meets hard Sci-Fi in this tale of far-flung colonies and bullying neighbours. We follow our protagonists, each failures in their own careers (crisis management, space navy, politics and marines) as they become heroes. Full review...

The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett

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Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead? Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She'd just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit. Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth. If someone from her past is still alive – perhaps Daniel – she knows she must find a way to return. She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they'll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity's past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. Jamie will also get a second chance at happiness. But can she escape her troubled past, to embrace a hopeful future? Full review...

Cold Welcome: Vatta's Peace by Elizabeth Moon

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I'm convinced we can survive anything

After saving the empire, Admiral Kylara Vatta wants nothing less than to return to her home planet. But after her cousin's request, that's exactly where Ky finds herself, enroute to tie up some family business. Promised a hero's welcome, Ky plans to stay as little time as possible back in the place filled with such horrible memories. But as soon as she arrives, Ky finds herself in perilous danger, caught in the middle of an assassination attempt. Now stranded at sea and without communication links with the outside world, Ky must use every ounce of skill she possesses to battle for survival. But with an unfamiliar crew who don't trust her, sabotaged equipment and a traitor in the midst, the odds aren't in her favour. While the survivors hunt for land, Ky's family members are doing everything possible to ensure her rescue. Old friends are called in and new alliances are made, but will it be enough? Will they get to Ky before it's too late? Full review...

From Darkest Skies by Sam Peters

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No one likes to see a loved one die, but when they do we can reflect on how they lived and eventually move on with a piece of them inside us. However, what would happen if we could take all the memories we have saved on the internet and combine them into an Artificial Intelligence that represented them? Would this work to keep them close, or just give you a false facsimile that prevents you from moving on? Full review...

The Boy on the Bridge by M R Carey

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It's ten years since mankind was almost wiped out by a virus that turned the great majority of it into the hungries – zombies by any other name. A lone, heavily armoured vehicle is travelling from the British redoubt on the south coast the length of the Kingdom, tracing a previous expedition that failed to return, and hoping to find evidence somewhere, somehow, of something that can either counter the virus or rid the survivors of their enemy. As a result the vehicle is divided in personnel between scientists and the military, and as neither side is completely cohesive it's no surprise to see the crew split along partisan lines. That's not helped by one of the scientists, Samrina Khan, being heavily pregnant. But she's also rubbed people up by insisting on an intriguing character being on board – a teenaged savant, no less, called Stephen Greaves. But that source of the unusual is nothing perhaps to the bizarre the team will find on their explorations… Full review...

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

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Just out of curiosity if this is the smaller problem, what is the bigger problem?

The complete collapse of the Flow, the end of the interdependency, and the possible extinction of the human race.

In the distant future, mankind has been forced to leave Earth behind and has subsequently built an impressive empire compromising of 47 human colonies all connected by The Flow: a river of alternate space-time which makes travel across the Interdependency possible. Dependent on trade, the Holy Empire's survival is all thanks to the Flow… which is now collapsing. Full review...

Omnipotence: Odyssey Book I by Geoff Gaywood

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Against a backdrop of relentless global warming and deepening social conflict on Earth, an expedition sets out to secure a foothold on a distant planet thought suitable for human habitation. Almost immediately, the crew are sorely tested by a violent internal conspiracy, alien aggression and simmering emotional tensions. They complete a spectacular transition to a remote solar system where they find that their goal, as dangerous as it is exotic, already has the ominous attention of another civilisation. Moreover, a series of perplexing events suggest that their mission may be subordinate to a much greater power with its own strategic agenda. Full review...

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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By 2140 sea level has risen by around fifty feet, leaving coastal cities the world over with major problems. Some places will always be desirable, however, and when you've invested a lot of time and money somewhere you're reluctant to leave. Consequently New York remains a thriving, popular place even though half of Manhattan is under water and the streets are now canals. There are still financial traders, local politicians, celebrities, street urchins (albeit known as water rats) sharing the city and getting by. It seems like New York has stabilised into a new, watery normal but when a couple of programmers go missing from a building on Madison Square and some of the other residents start looking into it, a question begins to be asked: Does it have to be this way? Full review...

Stanly's Ghost: Book 3 (The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy) by Stefan Mohamed

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Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird used to be a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his best friend was a talking beagle named Daryl. Then came the superpowers. And the super powered allies. And the mysterious enemies. And the terrifying monsters. And the stunning revelations. And the apocalypse. Now he's not sure what he is. Or where he is. Or how exactly one is supposed to proceed after saving the world. All he knows is that his story isn't finished. Not quite yet … Full review...

The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner

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One thing great science fiction needs is solid world building. When I pick up a book like this, I need to imagine that the universe has existed before the plot has started and will continue to do so after: it needs a strong sense of history and future. With this book, and series, I feel like I have just had a brief glimpse into something much larger. A great deal happens in the plot, but even more is happening, and has happened, across the Firmament. Full review...

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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In the spring of 1987, the carnival comes to small-town Caudry, Louisiana. Then events take a dangerous turn. For Mara Beznik, the carnival is home. It's also a place of secrets, hidden powers and a buried past - making it hard to connect with outsiders. However, sparks fly when she meets local boy Gabe Alvarado. As they become inseparable, Mara realizes Gabe is hiding his own secrets. And his family legacy could destroy Mara's world. They find the word 'freeks' sprayed on trailers, as carnival employees start disappearing. Then workers wind up dead, killed in disturbing ways by someone or something. Mara is determined to unlock the mystery, with Gabe's help. But can they really halt this campaign of fear? Full review...

Condition: Book Two - The Curing Begins... by Alec Birri

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Discovering an infamous Nazi doctor conducted abortions in Argentina after the Second World War may not come as a surprise, but why was the twisted eugenicist not only allowed to continue his evil experiments but encouraged to do so? And what has that got to do with a respected neurologist in 2027? Surely the invention of a cure for nearly all the world's ailments can't possibly have its roots buried in the horrors of Auschwitz? The unacceptable is about to become the disturbingly bizarre. What has the treatment's 'correction' of paedophiles got to do with the President of the United States, the Pope and even the UK's Green Party? Full review...

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

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When hundreds of worlds have been at war for a long time, the announcement of a ceasefire takes a while to reach everyone. It's perhaps not surprising that the worst of the soldiers using the war as an excuse for crimes, don't immediately give up. Scur, a conscript who has just been given the hope of returning to her family, has the misfortune to run into one of these war criminals before the peacekeepers arrive. He leaves her to die, but she subsequently wakes up from hibernation on a prison ship, only to discover that he is there too. And that's the least of her worries. Full review...

Condition: Book One - A Medical Miracle? by Alec Birri

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It's 1966, but RAF Pilot Dan Stewart isn't celebrating England's win in the World Cup – instead he's awakening from a coma following an aircraft accident. Waking in a world where nothing makes sense, he's unable to recall the crash – but struggles to remember the rest of his life…And what's stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage causing paranoia about the red pill, or is he right to think there's something more sinister going on…And, having suffered almost 100% burns, how is he alive? Are his hallucinations trying to tell him something? Full review...

The Things We Learn When We're Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

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On the way to a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. Waking up in what appears to be a hospital, but a hospital in which wine is served for supper, everyone avoids her questions, and her nurse looks suspiciously like Sean Connery, it soon transpires that Lorna is in Heaven, or, at least, on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. At first Lorna can remember nothing, but as her memories return – some good, some bad, she realises that she has a decision to make, and that maybe, she needs to find a way home… Full review...

Neuromancer by William Gibson

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He still dreamed of cyberspace…all the turns he'd taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he'd still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void

Neuromancer follows Case, who used to be a cyber cowboy with exceptional hacking skills, before attempting to steal from his former employer, who as a result severed his connection to cyberspace by injecting him with a mycotoxin. No longer able to enter the Matrix, Case enters a dark depression having suicidal thoughts and developing a drug addiction, which is where the reader first meets our troubled protagonist and antihero. Waiting for someone to help him escape his misery, a mysterious stranger proposes a deal to restore Case's ability to connect to cyberspace in exchange for working for him. Surrounded by secrecy, Case joins the recruits on their mission to uncover artificial intelligence and start life afresh. Full review...

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

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Brandon Sanderson is more cannon than man. He fires out more works than any other author of fantasy. Not only does he write an awe inspiring amount of novels, but he also writes various short fictions that go alongside them. And in here, for the first time, all the major ones are collected together. Full review...

Rise of the Dust Child by James Young

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An age has passed since the fall of the old world, and the rise of the malignant Dust people. Amongst the terrors of this new age, humanity still lingers within the wreckage of civilisation, held together by the promise of a better existence in the next life. But not all are satisfied by this dogma. Within the smoggy city of Fort Palmer, eight year old Doran and his friend Alena stand apart, struggling to retain the lost glory of their faith. But the unquiet dead and the forces of faith do not take kindly to those who try to fix a broken world. As the quest to save the future leads each of them down a dark path, they are cast apart - struggling to overcome the monstrous dusters and the fear within themselves, desperate to see each other again. Full review...

Invisible Planets by Ken Liu

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Invisible Planets is an eclectic collection, translated beautifully, and Ken Liu’s opening essay provides a welcome introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the genre. The stories are dreamlike and hypnotic, evocative and inspiring. Full review...

Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss

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At Coal Hill School, things have started to get public. Kids have become obsessed with a website that demands you perform risky stunts, or tell it your most painful secrets. And Seraphin, everyone's favourite vlogger, wants you to get involved. All in the name of charity. At first people just get hurt. Then their lives are ruined. Finally, they disappear. As April's fragile group of friends starts to fracture, she decides she's going to uncover the truth behind thie site herself. Whatever it takes, whoever she hurts, April's going to win. But then, to her horror, she wakes up and finds her whole world's changed. What she does next will astound you. Full review...

Class: The Stone House by A K Benedict

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There's an old stone house near Coal Hill School. Most people hurry past it. They've heard the stories. But, if you stop, and look up, you'll see the face of a girl, pressed up against a window. Screaming. Tanya finds herself drawn to the stone house. There's a mystery there, and she's going to solve it. But the more she investigates, the more she realises that there's a presence in the house. One that wants her. Something is waiting for Tanya in the stone house. Something that has been trapping others in its web over the years. Something that is far worse than any ghost... Full review...

Class: Joyride by Guy Adams

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Poppy is a quiet girl, right up until she steals a car and drives it through a shop window. Max is a nice guy, but then he kills his whole family. Just for fun. Amar always seems so happy, so why is he trying to jump to his death from the school roof? Some of the students of Coal Hill School are not themselves. Some of them are dying. Ram has just woken up in a body he doesn't recognise, and if he doesn't figure out why, he may well be next. Full review...

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

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An intellectual property no longer dies with the author. After a certain period the copyright is lifted so that an independent author can tackle the characters, hence the proliferation of Sherlock Holmes books. For many fans of the original, these books feel like cover versions and are best avoided. It is only when the estate of the author gets involved that their interest is piqued. H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds left enough of a door open to explore further and when you hire as an experienced a science fiction author as Stephen Baxter to pick up the official story, it may just be worth a read. Full review...