December 16, 2019

February 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Boy, how about that recent polar vortex, huh? It’s a good thing that February is the shortest month of the year, at least from the climatic perspective of residents in the northern hemisphere. Of course, we’re writing this from our sunny refuge in Florida, where a “cold snap” means that one must dig through the backs of closets through the strata of clothing to don a light jacket before heading out. Oh, the inconvenience of it all, I know. Hey, we’ve paid our dues living many a decade in Alaska and Maine, and have since arrived at the same conclusion as many semi-retirees that movement to Florida isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law.

But as Hoth-like temps swirl outside your window, now is the season to catch up on some great science fiction that’s out there. Baen and Pyr Books both continue to be leaders in this field, churning out some of the best in cutting edge science fiction as well as classic reprints. We’re also at that lull between winter releases and summer movie blockbusters, a great time to watch for those ever elusive Indies. And speaking of which, Europa Report is now up for streaming on Netflix! What’s our most anticipated Spring flick? That’d probably be the new Captain America: the Winter Soldier movie, out on April 4th, a good spacer for the spanner year until the next Avengers movie in 2015.

And if you’re looking for something truly cutting edge and offbeat, three of our very own stories (Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell, The Hunt For Beagle, and Helium Party) are now up for sale on Amazon.

There, we’ve shilled for our own work enough. Anyways, here’s just a few new science fiction novels to watch out for in February 2014:

Necessity’s Child: Reviewed on this site back in 2013, Necessity’s Child by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller is now out in paperback. Necessity’s Child is out from Baen Books and is a stand-alone novel which fits into the enduring saga. In it, we’re presented with the distant world of Surebleak and its diametrically opposing cultures. On the one hand, we see this world through the eyes of the kompani,  a wandering shadow culture that is happy to initiate interstellar trade and live largely unnoticed in the bigger political picture.

That balance is upset, however, with the arrival of the Clan Korval.  The Clan has its own inscrutable interests, in which the kompani see a simultaneous threat and opportunity. What we really liked about this novel is how it depicts internecine class warfare. From Star Trek to recent books such as the Ruby’s Song saga, the great mark of science fiction is its ability to make the taboo approachable. “You may be driven and motivated by your station in life, but beware of opportunity,” might be the lesson espoused in Necessity’s Child.

This whirlwind of events drives three main characters together in a desperate final act; the wandering Rys, Clan Koval’s littlest warrior Syl Vor, and kompani apprentice Kezzi. We see their journey for self discovery much like that of Bilbo in Lord of the Rings.

Overall, we enjoyed Necessity’s Child and may just dig further into the intrigue that is the Liaden Universe.

Fire With Fire: Now out in paperback, Fire with Fire by author Charles E. Gannon is a tale of epic science fiction intrigue.  Adventure is at hand in the year 2105 as Caine Riordan uncovers a conspiracy of intergalactic proportions. Humanity has just begun expansion into local space via faster-than-light travel, but an unknown entity seeks to curb that expansion. Keep an eye out for an ultimate diagram of “interstellar shift links” and a handy appendix of alien accords, always a nice thing to have when venturing out into interstellar politics.

Hope Rearmed: Out from authors S.M. Stirling and David Drake come the third and fourth novels of their acclaimed General series bound together in one volume for the first time. Hope Rearmed follows the exploits on Raj Whitehall, who is now close to uniting the planet Bellevue under one leader. Aided by the Fleet Battle Computer known as Center, Raj must make a choice between execution at the hands of the Emperor or revolt to preserve hard won gains. At stake: the reinvigoration of the glory of the former galactic empire!

The Fall of Atlantis: From the fertile imagination of fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley comes The Fall of Atlantis, a fantastic adventure and classic battle of good against evil. The book pits the Priests of the White Robe as the guardians the forces of good and the control against their misuse and the Black Robes, who would use their clandestine dark magic against the Temple of Light. Caught between these two opposing forces are Deoris and Domaris, the daughters of the Arch-priest Talkannon. Expect sorcery, intrigue, and fantastical action as well as some first rate world building by a storytelling master!

Shadow of Freedom: Honor Harrington is back in this latest novel by David Weber in the Honorverse saga, now out in paperback from Baen Books. The Solarian League Navy has been handed its first true defeat in over a millennium. Needless to say, they’ll be looking for some payback in this latest installment. The worlds of the frontier systems are lawless (when aren’t they in sci-fi novels?) and all too ready to throw off the yokes of their puppet master regimes. It’s double the action and adventure as Honor Harrington’s best friend Admiral Michelle Henke joins the fray in a saga that won’t leave the fans of the Honorverse disappointed.

And that’s what has been going down this month in science fiction here at Astroguyz HQ. As this column and site continues to expand, we’d like to ask YOU, the intelligent and sophisticated reader, what you’d like to see included in this space. Podcast reviews? Guest reviews? Classic science fiction flashbacks? Free science fiction chapters and excerpts? More meaningless ramblings and tirades? Let us know, it’s the readers and fans that have kept us at this for going on eight years now!


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