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For various reasons, which I won’t go into here, I haven’t been blogging much, or tweeting much, or tumbling much. Sorry! I have been doing things, though. I’ve read some books! And I recommend these particular ones to your attention.

Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He’ll slip in, decode the ship’s compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a backwater deep space colony called Cernee. But Fergus’ arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger’s enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly—and inconveniently—invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species Fergus thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following him around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he’s called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

This book is some good old-school adventure fun–lots of fights and explosions and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gather it’s the first of a trilogy, so there’s more to look forward to!

The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.

This is lovely! In fact, I blurbed it. I said it was “”Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal.”

Terminal Uprising by Jim Hines

Human civilization didn’t just fall. It was pushed.

The Krakau came to Earth in the year 2104. By 2105, humanity had been reduced to shambling, feral monsters. In the Krakau’s defense, it was an accident, and a century later, they did come back and try to fix us. Sort of.

It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth of that accident. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago.

Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full.

Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos.

To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it.

Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.

This is the second book of Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, and you want to start with Book 1, which is Terminal Alliance. Both books are great fun, and I’m looking forward to Book 3.

The True Queen by Zen Cho

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

This is a delightful follow-up to the equally delightful Sorcerer to the Crown. I highly, highly recommend both.

Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water by Vylar Kaftan

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her—until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I loved this novella. Vy’s written a lot of great short fiction, and if you’re not familiar with her work this would be a good time to remedy that.

Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

If you ask, she must answer. A steerswoman’s knowledge is shared with any who request it; no steerswoman may refuse a question, and no steerswoman may answer with anything but the truth.

And if she asks, you must answer. It is the other side of tradition’s contract — and if you refuse the question, or lie, no steerswoman will ever again answer even your most casual question.

And so, the steerswomen — always seeking, always investigating — have gathered more and more knowledge about the world they traveled, and they share that knowledge freely.

Until the day that the steerswoman Rowan begins asking innocent questions about one small, lovely, inexplicable object…

Her discoveries grow stranger and deeper, and more dangerous, until suddenly she finds she must flee or fight for her life. Or worse — lie.

Because one kind of knowledge has always been denied to the steerswomen:

Magic.

Actually I didn’t just read The Steerswoman, I read all four books (currently) in the series. These were first published starting in the late eighties, but Kirstein has recovered the rights and reissued them. In the back of the last one it said she was working on book 5, which I hope is the case? I enjoyed these a lot.

3 Responses

  1. W
    Wilson

    Hooray! I’ve been looking for the Steerswoman books for a few years now, ever since another blogger I read recommended them. I’m so glad they’re back in print!

  2. E
    Elizabeth Graham

    Thanks for the heads up! I have the first 4 books and am delighted that there may be more!

  3. Ted Sbardella

    Hey Anne thanks for this. I love the steerswoman series as well but the third book was exhausting I really love how she does exactly what you do which is make you think through what it means to be sentient not just human. I try to understand how reason and dignity and love inform my rationalizations about ourselves and others. That jealousy and fear are very human but to work towards cooperation and openess is as well. I love your work because it helps me to be ready to accept people and my self.