September is being, so far, an excellent month in the review copies department. These are the five most interesting books that I've received and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing them here in the next few months:
The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan
Greg Egan’s The Clockwork Rocket introduced readers to an exotic universe where the laws of physics are very different from our own, where the speed of light varies in ways Einstein would never allow, and where intelligent life has evolved in unique and fascinating ways. Now Egan continues his epic tale of alien beings embarked on a desperate voyage to save their world . . .
The generation ship Peerless is in search of advanced technology capable of sparing their home planet from imminent destruction. In theory, the ship is traveling fast enough that it can traverse the cosmos for generations–and still return home only a few years after they departed. But a critical fuel shortage threatens to cut their urgent voyage short, even as a population explosion stretches the ship’s life-support capacity to its limits.
When the astronomer Tamara discovers the Object, a meteor whose trajectory will bring it within range of the Peerless, she sees a risky solution to the fuel crisis. Meanwhile, the biologist Carlo searches for a better way to control fertility, despite the traditions and prejudices of their society. As the scientists clash with the ship’s leaders, they find themselves caught up in two equally dangerous revolutions: one in the sexual roles of their species, the other in their very understanding of the nature of matter and energy.
The Eternal Flame lights up the mind with dazzling new frontiers of physics and biology, as only Greg Egan could imagine them.
Utopiates by Josh Finney & Kat Rocha
Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, AD 2142, Detective Sidney Hurst attends a brutal murder scene. The victim is one of the wealthy North family clones – but none have been reported missing. And the crime’s most disturbing aspect is how the victim was killed. Twenty years ago, a North clone billionaire and his household were horrifically murdered in exactly the same manner, on the tropical planet of St Libra. But if the murderer is still at large, was Angela Tramelo wrongly convicted? Tough and confident, she never waivered under interrogation – claiming she alone survived an alien attack. But there is no animal life on St Libra. Investigating this alien threat becomes the Human Defence Agency’s top priority. The bio-fuel flowing from St Libra is the lifeblood of Earth’s economy and must be secured. So a vast expedition is mounted via the Newcastle gateway, and teams of engineers, support personnel and xenobiologists are dispatched to the planet. Along with their technical advisor, grudgingly released from prison, Angela Tramelo. But the expedition is cut off, deep within St Libra’s rainforests. Then the murders begin. Someone or something is picking off the team one by one. Angela insists it’s the alien, but her new colleagues aren’t so sure. Maybe she did see an alien, or maybe she has other reasons for being on St Libra ... This is a stunning standalone adventure, by a writer at the height of his powers.
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Nyx is a bodyguard in Mustallah, the capital city of Nasheen. The centuries-long holy war between Nasheen and Chenja is taking its toll, with shortages and rationing causing the Queen to lose power and popularity. While protecting the daughter of a Ras Tiegan Diplomat, Nyx is attacked by a group of assassins. Nyx survives, but begins to suffer from a strange, debilitating condition that nobody can identify. Caught up in a whirl-wind of intrigue involving Bel Dam Assassins plotting against the Queen, Nyx must learn who the rouge Bel Dam is, and find a cure for her illness, while avoiding the wrath of the queen she is trying to protect. The danger that swirls around her may have finally become to much, and Nyx's colleagues and friends began to die. Will Nyx be next?
The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton (a.k.a. Tim Pratt)
1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex–has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.
Pembroke “Pimm” Hanover is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses his keen powers of observation to assist the police or private individuals–at least when he’s sober enough to do so. Ellie Skyler, who hides her gender behind the byline “E. Skye,” is an intrepid journalist driven by both passion and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.
When Pimm and Skye stumble onto a dark plot that links the city’s most notorious criminal overlord with the Queen’s new consort, famed scientist Sir Bertram Oswald, they soon find the forces of both high and low society arrayed against them. Can they save the city from the arcane machinations of one of history’s most monsters–and uncover the shocking origin of . . .
THE CONSTANTINE AFFLICTION