October 16, 2018

Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

On sale August 7th!

Ready for the best of the best? Every year, one of the biggest and best reads that we look forward to are the Nebulas. Not only are these tales a great read, but they also serve as a fine look at the state of modern science fiction, a cross-sectional look at where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. [Read more...]

Review: The Genius Plague by David Walton

On sale now!

Could we be too smart for our own good? We recent finished a real page-turner, a near future science fiction thriller in an all too plausible future reality. The Genius Plague by David Walton out late last year from Pyr Books is a tale of a fungal spore out of the Amazon jungle, taking over humanity. Tales of strange mental feats and a rare and indecipherable tribal language emerges from South America and catches the attention of NSA cryptolinguist Neil Johns. The spore not only boosts the intelligence of its hosts, but encourages them to take the necessary steps to ensure its own survival and propagation… even at the expense of the human hosts themselves. The CIA and U.S. military are dispatched to deal with the threat, and promptly become infected, as hosts for the fungal spores disseminate it with crop dusting aircraft.

Sound far-fetched? Well, there’s good evidence to suggest that lots of our own behaviors are largely motivated by our own bacterial gut flora. A zombie-like brain parasite will cause ants to climb to the top of a tall blade of grass and wait for the fungus to split its carcass open, spreading more spores. toxoplasma gondii in the gut of your average feline is another great example, as it will cause mice to become attracted to the smell of cat urine, causing the cat which generated said urine to consume the hapless mouse, and well, the cycle of life continues. Rabies is another grizzly example of a virus that hijacks the mind of its host for its own nefarious ends, all to ensure its survival own. And heck, addiction itself in humans is a sort of symbiosis: have a pleasant narcotic effect on the human brain, and those brains will find ways to propagate you and assure that you will survive and thrive. Perhaps, just such an infection is out there in the jungle, awaiting human contact. Neil’s brother Paul, a mycologist (one who studies fungus) barely survives an infection on an exploratory stint in the rain forest, and later becomes a champion for the fungus itself. The idea is enticing even to Neil, as their father suffers from Alzheimer’s, and the spore seems to, at first, bring back the man they thought they had lost themselves. But as the fungus begins to win over converts, a larger threat looms, as the solution may be to enslave what’s left of humanity itself in order to preserve it. We’ll stop short of any further spoilers there, but we will say that the book climaxes with a great showdown at the home of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, one with a horrific vision for the possible future of mankind. There’s a great story on the science of evolution in The Genius Plague as well, one that makes it all the more terrifying: the fungus itself isn’t intelligent; its just learned a great new strategy from the standpoint of its own survival, to make sure humans want to keep you around. Neil later realizes that the only way to defeat the fungus may be to convince it (in the minds of the infected) that it’s own survival depends on hiding rather than thriving, another common evolutionary tactic.

Be sure to read The Genius Plague for the vision of an all too real apocalyptic thriller.

Book Review: The Castle in Cassiopeia by Mike Resnick

On sale now.

There’s nothing like the swashbuckling action of jumping from one globular cluster to another. We recently came across just such a fast-moving tale, with The Castle in Cassiopeia by Mike Resnick, the latest in his Dead Enders saga out from Pyr Books. [Read more...]

Review: Raining Fire by Rajan Khanna

On sale now…

There’s one small plus to the current worldwide wave of jingoistic nationalism currently sweeping the world: dystopian science fiction is sure to do really well. Science fiction tends to reflect the hopes and fears of contemporary society, and you can often chart the swing from a shiny white, Star Trek outlook, to a fighting over gasoline, Road Warriors doomsday vision by the fiction we create and consume.

One fine new addition to the dystopian genre is this past summer’s Raining Fire by Rajan Khanna. Out now from Pyr Books, Raining Fire features a horror vision world wracked by a global pandemic, which has reduced humanity to squabbling tribes. Airships and floating city tech provides a backdrop for a brutal drama of slavery and Feral humans driven insane and violent by disease, a sort of steampunk world thrust forward into a desperate future vision.

It’s against this formidable world that we meet Ben Gold, an airship pilot with nothing left to lose. Already stripped of his airship, his allies and his friends, Ben is definitely looking for payback. He also lost Miranda, the only true love of his life, and the story is speckled with diary and journal entries from her that gradually paints a picture of what has come before.

In the end, Ben must face off against the Cabal, a group of sinister scientists (why are scientists always sinister in scifi tales?) and the Valhallans, who are wreaking continent-wide havoc from the flying city of Valhalla.

A high functioning alcoholic, Ben is the archetypal reluctant hero, a man who’s drinking hasn’t quite caught up to him… yet. Raining Fire has lots of action, and is a great portrayal of a man pushed past the edge.

Be sure to read Raining Fire as a great addition to modern dystopian science fiction!

There’s lots more dystopian science fiction to be had… here are some of our faves:

-Earth Girl: This was a gem of a story a out few years back. Imagine getting exiled to the worst place of all: living back on ancient Earth.

-The Hunger Games: A classic… true story, the wife and I both read the books after we saw the first movie, a very rare occurrence. We usually feel that seeing the movie let’s us off the hook (think Lord of the Rings) from saying we’re going to get around to actually reading the books… someday.

-Stand on Zanzibar: A trip of a book, straight out of the groovy 1960s.

-1984: Everything you need to know about the 20th century, in one book.

-The Crossing: Blood of the Lamb: A scary world to contemplate.

And speaking of scary dystopian fiction, be sure to check out Hulu’s amazing adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale… this one’s all the more frightening because it hits so close to home and the current political climate. I think I’d much rather live in a future with ravaging airships than a world with the brutal and callous repression of personal liberties depicted in the series.

Review: Wilders by Brenda Cooper

On sale now!

What’s it like to live in a technological bubble?

We recently finished one of the best science fiction books we’ve read thus far this year, and wanted to share it with you in time to make your summer reading list. We’re talking about Wilders: Project Earth Book One by Brenda Cooper, out next week on June 13th from Pyr Books.

Fans of science fiction author Brenda Cooper and this space will recall our reviews of her previous books, The Diamond Deep, The Creative Fire, Spear of Light and Edge of Dark. [Read more...]

Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2017

On pre-order sale now

(release date: May 16th, 2017)

Note: the 2017 Nebula Awards ceremony is held this year on May 20th in Pittsburgh, PA.

What’s up in sci-fi? Every year, all of science fiction-dom holds their collective breath for that most prestigious of Awards: the Nebulas. Along with the Hugo Awards, the Nebulas (Nebulae?) feature the very best of the best for the genre. First awarded in 1965, a historical list of the Nebula Awards reads like a Who’s Who of science fiction, and includes such now iconic classics as Larry Niven’s Ringworld (1970) and Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) as past winners. [Read more...]

Review: Spear of Light by Brenda Cooper

On sale now!

Get set for a romp into a trans-humanist future of epic proportions. We’re talking about this week’s review of Spear of Light by Brenda Cooper, out now from Pyr Books. The sequel to Edge of Dark and the second book in her Glittering Edge duology. Spear of Light brings the battle between humans and the terror world of AIs to an ultimate climax. [Read more...]

Review: Department Zero by Paul Crilley

On sale now!

Ever wondered why this reality is as strange as it is? Certainly, the multi-verse idea is one very possible solution, especially in light of the worldwide political wackiness we’ve experienced in 2016.

And former Los Angeles detective Harry Priest (Atticus Pope, or at least, that’s who he thinks he was before the world went strange on him) is about to join the ranks of those who attempt to keep order across multiple dimensions. [Read more...]

The 2015 Nebula Awards Showcase

On sale now…

Looking for the very best in science fiction? Along with the Hugos, the Nebulas honor the very best of the best in sci-fi without the -y’s. Reviewing the Nebula awards has become a sort of institution here at Astroguyz as well, and serves as a great way to not only digest the finest of the genre, but gives us a great scope of all the cutting edge stuff. [Read more...]

Review: The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder

A sci-fi classic!

Alt-history Steampunk has never been hotter. We recently finished up the fifth book in a brilliant science fiction series courtesy of Pyr Books.  We’re talking about The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder, out earlier this month. This is the fifth and (final?) book in the outstanding Burton and Swinburne series. We’ve chronicled our addiction to this series in the past, starting with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack up through The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of El Yezdi[Read more...]

Review: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2014

Out May 20th!

It’s out! One of the most prestigious awards in all of science fiction-dom is the annual Nebula Awards. Hey, Hollywood has the Oscars and the Grammys, and sci-fi has the Hugos and the Nebulas, as well as a scattering of other secondary awards. And every year around springtime, Pyr Books puts together an outstanding compilation of the “best of the best” as selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. [Read more...]

May 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Ah, tis the month of May.

Perhaps April showers may bring May flowers, but here at Astroguyz HQ, it also marks the very precipice of science fiction movie blockbuster season. The X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man 2 are all on our must see list. Is Marvel about to rule the world? And keep an eye out for those dark horse unknowns that often jump the gate just ahead of those sure-fire bets just prior to Memorial Day weekend. And hey, next year we’ll get a third Hunger Games, an Avengers sequel and a reboot of the Star Wars franchise… can the internet survive? Will fans take a shine to a galaxy far, far away according to Abrams? In the meantime, here’s some science fiction and more hot off of the press to keep you satiated: [Read more...]

Review: Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd

Out on April 8th!

If there’s one thing we love, it’s a non-stop space opera action adventure. Military science fiction has really come of its own over the past decades, as first popularized by Robert Heinlein and his classic Starship Troopers.

But what of the soldiers themselves? And what of a world where soldiers are custom tailored to fight and die? This week, we’re excited to bring you our review of the latest Cassandra Kresnov novel out from author Joel Shepherd and Pyr Books entitled Operation Shield. [Read more...]

March 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

Ahh, the month of March has arrived. A time of growth, renewal and taxes. Spring is in the air, although it may not feel it for those of you stranded in snowier climes. And yes, we do indeed realize that for folks down under in the southern hemisphere, the reverse is true, as this month marks the onset of Fall. [Read more...]

Review: The Osiris Curse by Paul Crilley


On sale now!

Danger and mystery lurks under the sands of ancient Egypt. This week, we take a look at The Osiris Curse, A Tweed and Nightingale Adventure by author Paul Crilley out from Pyr Books. Fans of this space will recall our review of book one in this steampunk young adult saga The Lazarus Machine from late last year.

[Read more...]

Review: The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper

On sale now!

Beware: there’s always a bigger multi-generational starship than yours out there in the universe. This month, Ruby is back in The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper out from Pyr Books, the second book in the interstellar saga known as Ruby’s Song. Fans of this space will remember our review of book one from last year, entitled The Creative Fire.

And just like in The Creative Fire, the title comes from the name of a multi-generational starship. But unlike The Creative Fire, revolution hasn’t yet come to The Diamond Deep, a station that dwarfs Ruby’s own. [Read more...]

Review: Contagion Toxic City Book Three by Tim Lebbon

Available for pre-order now!

Escaping from an embattled  London has never been tougher. This week, we take a look at a near-future apocalyptic landscape with our review of Contagion: Toxic City Book Three by Tim Lebbon out next month from Pyr Books. Fans of this space will remember our action-packed reviews of London Eye: Toxic City Book One and Reaper’s Legacy: Toxic City Book Two.

Newsflash: fans of the series can also rejoice, as ABC TV is working on the development of the Toxic City series into a future scifi series titled Evolve! [Read more...]

September 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

The month of September sees the balancing of light and darkness achieving an uneasy truce with the arrival of the Fall Equinox (I know, I know, Spring for the southern hemisphere), which on this year of our Lord 2013 A.D. arrives on September 22nd at 4:44 PM Eastern Daylight Saving time or 20:44 Universal Time. [Read more...]