My Favorite “New to Me” Author of 2015 (on SF Signal)

Mind Meld, by Rick Celis

Mind Meld, by Rick Celis

Today you can find me on SF Signal, where I’m participating in another Mind Meld, this time answering the question: “Who is Your Favorite “New to You” Author You Read in 2015?”

Click  here to find out my response (and the responses of several other SF/F reviewers.)

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Nature Abhors a Vacuum: Rereading Cibola Burn (on Tor.com)

CibolaBurnToday you can find me on Tor.com writing about Cibola Burn, the fourth book in the Expanse series, as part of our unofficial “Fellowship of the Expanse”: we asked four great SF/F reviewers/critics (and me, ahaha) to write an in-depth post about each book of the SF series, leading up to the premiere of the TV show next week.

Here’s a snippet from my post (which, obviously, is about the fourth book in a series so spoilers ahoy if you click through to the full article):

The situation on the alien planet is an incredibly tense mini-version of the political landscape that James S.A. Corey has built up in the previous novels. The author (or, well, you know, authors) have taken some significant bits from each faction in the story and put them in a tiny Petri dish: Belters face off against Inner Planets folks, the alien element is the catalyst that sends everything into a crazy tail-spin, and Holden and his crew try to prevent the situation from blowing up even further. Put all four of those together, not on the broader canvas of the solar system but in a claustrophobically tiny and isolated colony on an alien planet that seems to be doing its best to destroy everything on it surface, and things are likely to go boom. Which they do, spectacularly.

Read the full article here!

And, here are links to the other installments so far:

Edit: I really hope they’re not being sarcastic here, because this sort of made my day.

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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

ThreePartsDeadBefore I get started: yes, I know, it’s ridiculous I’m just reviewing Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone now. At the same time, I have to say I’m quite disappointed in all of you because, really, not one of you could have made me sit down and read this when it was first released in 2012? For shame.

But anyway. Three Parts Dead is one of the most fun and original fantasy novels I’ve read all year, and you should read it too. “Fantasy novel” in this case really means something that falls smack in the middle of the (probably very tiny) Venn diagram overlap between bizarre second-world steampunk tale, urban-ish fantasy à la Miéville, and John Grisham-like legal thriller that features, among others, living gargoyles and seven foot tall animated skeletons known as Deathless Kings. It’s really something else, this book.

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Reviving FBR + My Favorite Books of 2015

reviewers-choice2015Well, it’s been quiet here at Far Beyond Reality, hasn’t it? For months now, I’ve just been in the mood to re-read older books, or, to be precise, to read books I don’t need to review, books I can just sink into and enjoy without having to take notes and eventually formulate what passes for a considered opinion in a review.

In other words, I’ve been reading for FUN. Many reviewers burn out at some point, dealing with the constant flow of new titles that need to be covered by specific deadlines. First world problems, I know, and I’m truly blessed to receive so many books and even make some money reading and reviewing them… but everyone needs a break sometimes, right? Well, this was my break.

(All of this is also partly due to the fact that my day job at Tor.com has been considerably busier over the last 6 months or so, but that’s where I’m straying into “making excuses.” I just needed a break from reviewing is all.)

Anyway, all this to say that my break is just about coming to an end. I’m planning to post more regularly again in 2016. I’m toying with the idea of mixing in some more news-y items and even the occasional short opinion piece. Maybe some giveaways and guest posts again too, if I can get them lined up. We’ll see how it goes!

To kick things off, here’s Tor.com’s 2015 Reviewers’ Choice post, which includes my favorite books published this year.

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The Trials by Linda Nagata

TheTrialsNovels like The Trials by Linda Nagata give me—or at least restore some of my—faith in the publishing industry.

Sure, there’s the story of how the book came to be in the first place: Linda Nagata, who wrote several critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful science fiction novels in the 1990s, self-published The Red: First Light in 2013 after a long break. Lo and behold, the indie-published title garnered critical acclaim, not to mention nominations for both the Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

Soon after, the novel and its sequels were acquired by new SFF imprint Saga Press. A slightly revised edition of The Red was published in June, closely followed byThe Trials, with series closer Going Dark due in early November.

While I enjoy a good Cinderella publishing story as much as the next tired, jaded reviewer, I really love these books most of all for what they are: some of the most action-packed and intelligent military science fiction to be released in years.

(Spoiler warning: The Trials is the direct sequel to The Red, and it’s pretty much impossible to discuss the new book without including plot details from the first one. So, if you haven’t read The Red yet, stop here and go check out my review of the novel instead.)

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Guest post by Fran Wilde: The Novel as Landscape: Choosing What to See, What to Hear

Fran Wilde (Photo credit: Dan Magus)

Fran Wilde (Photo credit: Dan Magus)

For today’s guest post, I’m very proud to welcome Fran Wilde, author of Updraft.

Fran Wilde is an author and technology consultant. Her first novel, Updraft, is forthcoming from Tor/Macmillan in 2015. Her short stories have appeared in publications including Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature, and Tor.com (Bibliography.). Her interview series Cooking the Books–about the intersection between food and fiction–has appeared at Strange Horizons, Tor.com, and on her blog,  franwilde.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter @fran_wilde and Facebook @franwildewrites.

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Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0esSo an Arab Spring hacktivist, an online troll, a wannabe Anonymous-style hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and a credit card scammer walk into a bar… Well, okay, the bar part isn’t necessarily part of Chuck Wendig’s new novel Zer0es, but wouldn’t that make for a great joke-writing contest?

Instead, Zer0es begins with the five aforementioned digital malcontents getting caught in various acts of online criminality, then being strong-armed by the U.S. government into working for them. The hackers can either do ten years hard time in a federal prison or spend one year working for Uncle Sam in what appears to be a secretive cyber-espionage project. Faced with a textbook example of “an offer they can’t refuse,” they soon find themselves at a remote location known only as “the Lodge.”

There, the five hackers are assigned a variety of missions, mainly penetrating the websites of seemingly unconnected companies and individuals. Slowly, however, it becomes clear that there is an actual connection: a sinister NSA program known only as “Typhon”…

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