Booklist: El works as part of the Order, a sisterhood and core central body that rules Aytrium and keeps it running. Her magic, or “lace,” is powered by consuming the flesh of her ancestors. This power comes at a harsh price, and it’s one that El is willing to escape at any cost, which is why she agrees when a resistance group asks her to spy on the sisterhood’s top officials. Hall’s world is intricately woven, with a complex web of side characters, suspenseful pacing, and slowly unraveling revelations. The Order and the world of Aytrium is exceedingly dark, and sexual assault and body horror are major parts of the plot. El’s inner motivations are sometimes revealed very late despite the first-person narration, and the plot’s revelations rush toward an abrupt end that doesn’t quite fit the intricate work of its beginning. All of that said, Star Eater is an exciting horror-fantasy about power, violence, and control, and El’s complicated quest to be free of the violent magic system at the sisterhood’s core will keep readers compelled from the first page.
Late in AD 937, four armies met in a place called Brunanburh. On one side stood the shield-wall of the expanding kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. On the other side stood a remarkable alliance of rival kings – at least two from across the sea – who’d come together to destroy them once and for all. The stakes were no less than the survival of the dream that would become England. The armies were massive. The violence, when it began, was enough to shock a violent age. Brunanburh may not today have the fame of Hastings, Crécy or Agincourt, but those later battles, fought for England, would not exist were it not for the blood spilled this day. Generations later it was still called, quite simply, the ‘great battle’. But for centuries, its location has been lost. Today, an extraordinary effort, uniting enthusiasts, historians, archaeologists, linguists, and other researchers – amateurs and professionals, experienced and inexperienced alike – may well have found the site of the long-lost battle of Brunanburh, over a thousand years after its bloodied fields witnessed history. This groundbreaking new book tells the story of this remarkable discovery and delves into why and how the battle happened. Most importantly, though, it is about the men who fought and died at Brunanburh, and how much this forgotten struggle can tell us about who we are and how we relate to our past.
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Machine, Elizabeth Bear (Saga; Gollancz)
Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)
Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom)
The Midnight Bargain, C.L. Polk (Erewhon)
Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
Beneath the Rising, Premee Mohamed (Solaris)
The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson (Del Rey; Hodder & Stoughton)
The Best of Elizabeth Bear, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
New Scientist: …a great noir-ish, Agatha Christie-ish murder mystery typical of the series, with far less shoot-’em-up than the series name suggests, plenty of deduction and the navigation of awkward relationships.
Like all the Murderbot books, the plot is fast and the dialogue punchy, a snappy vehicle to carry the bigger narrative arc of Murderbot as it emerges from its defensive psychological cocoon.
Publishers Weekly: Malfi impresses in this taut, supernaturally tinged mystery, an intriguing variation on the well-worn serial killer plot….Malfi sticks the landing with a powerful denouement. There’s plenty here to enjoy.
Booklist: Burke’s third novel after her Semiosis Duology (Semiosis, 2018 and Interference, 2019) is a fast-paced hard-sf thriller set in a near future where power is tilted in favor of large corporations and a fascist government foments intolerance and bigotry among its sheep-like followers. In Wisconsin, three women who are seemingly unrelated are embroiled in a mutiny against a bigoted president who wants to restrict the rights of clones and other genetically enhanced persons under the guise of patriotism. Avril, Berenike, and Irene are living perfectly normal lives until revelations of their origins thrust them into action to protect themselves and fight for their freedom. Amid the chaos of rebellion, a mysterious virus previously thought to be a common cold turns deadly and increases panic and paranoia across the nation. Told through alternating points of view by the three women and a mysterious scientist called Peng, Burke imparts detailed discussions on genetics within a dramatic and thought-provoking story of inequality, humanity and family. For fans of the Orphan Black television series or Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers (2019).
In a US facing growing food shortages, stark inequality, and a growing fascist government, three perfectly normal young women are about to find out that they share a great deal in common.
Their creator, the gifted geneticist Peng, made them that way―before such things were outlawed.
Rumors of a virus make their way through an unprotected population on the verge of rebellion, only to have it turn deadly.
As the women fight to stay alive and help, Peng races to find a cure―and the cover up behind the virus.