I am increasingly of the opinion that we are experiencing a renaissance of the SFF genre; a renaissance that was spearheaded a few years ago by authors like Elizabeth Bear, Jo Walton, Catherynne Valente and Susanna Clarke (to name but a few) and has led to a great number of fascinating authors popping up in recent years, authors like (to name but a few more) Hanna Rajaniemi, Genevieve Valentine, Nina Allan, Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Octavia Cade, N.K. Jemisin.
Dream Houses is a separately published (something I have been reading a lot of recently) novella, and while it is comparatively short, Genieve Valentine manages to pack a lot into the small number of pages. The set-up is almost classical – Amadis (and I doubt the name is quite coincidental, in spite of the gender swap), our protagonist and first person narrator wakes up from cold sleep on board of the starship she is a crew member (or, more precisely, an auxiliary) to find out that everyone but her is dead and she somehow has to survive the next five years with insufficient food supplies and an AI named Capella as her only company.
Simon Morden’s Metrozone trilogy first caught my attention back in 2011 with its seriously brilliant covers – a quite literally eye-catching style (and stylishness) which the publisher unfortunately abandoned for the trilogy omnibus as well as for this fourth volume of the series in favour of some considerably more conventional (and considerably more boring) SciFi-cover.
Empty Space is – after Light and Nova Swing – the third installment in M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy. Nobody who has read the previous volumes (and I strongly recommend doing so before tackling this one) will expect any major reveals or a neat tying-up of loose threads from this, but even so, the lack of closure here is quite amazing, and I for one can not discern any reason why the author should not continue the series, should he feel so inclined.
Firebird is volume six of Jack McDevitt’s “Alex Benedict” series of archeological mysteries in a Science Fiction setting, a series that found its formula in its second volume and has stuck to it very closely since then. This novel, too, chugs along smoothly and comfortably along the rails laid down by previous volumes in the series – some things, however, are different this time round, and if Firebird doesn’t exactly deviate from the established formula it does expand on it somewhat.
The Fractal Prince by Finnish-born author Hannu Rajaniemi (who according to his author biography now lives in Scotland and has a Ph.D. in string theory, whatever that is (I can’t help but imagine a guy in an academic gown and wearing a mortarboard playing Cat’s Cradle, but I suppose that this is probably slightly off the mark)) is the second part of a trilogy; the first part, The Quantum Thief, received a huge amount of attention (almost all of it positive, most critics were positively ecstatic about the novel) when it was published, while the release of the second one for some reason seems to have barely gotten noticed. I really have not the faintest clue why the novel appears to have ended up below anybody’s radar, and it is even more of a mystery to as I think the second volume is even better than the first (and I already liked that one considerably).