Six Degrees of Separation… with Ren Hutchings

You know the saying: no two people in the contacted world are more than six social connections apart. Inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best, I apply this notion to books and challenge friends and authors to find interesting ways to hop from one book to another based on a shared author, theme, award win and so on. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Ren Hutchings, author of timeslip space opera Under Fortunate Stars, to take the Six Degrees challenge.

Ren Hutchings is a speculative fiction writer, writing mentor, and history grad. She spent most of the past decade working in game dev while also plotting twisty space novels. She loves pop science, unexplained mysteries, 90s music, collecting outdated electronics, and pondering about alternate universes. Ren’s debut space opera, Under Fortunate Stars, was published by Solaris in 2022.

2022 has been an absolutely fantastic year for science fiction, so I decided to try the Six Degrees challenge with books that were all published in 2022! From deep beneath the sea to the void of space to distant alien moons, this list will take you far and wide.

Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji

Some of Earth’s humans have departed the solar system for a new home after the world was taken over by AI. As the end of the journey approaches, engineer Ravi starts seeing a mysterious stranger appearing around his ship, and stumbles into hidden secrets that could shatter everything he knows about the mission and the history of the generation ships.

August Kitko and the Mechas From Space by Alex White

Just as the world is about to be taken over by AI (in the form of the titular mechas from space!) jazz musician Gus Kitko gives a final showstopping performance, which unexpectedly connects him to one of the giant robots through the music. Now Gus has a chance to save humanity… and maybe to win the heart of the fabulous rockstar he’s pining over.

The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong

Running from the scientists who want him for his strange powers, Jes hides in a circus troupe on a glittering pleasure moon, where he discovers he can use his gravity-manipulating abilities to help the circus create a showstopping performance. Jes befriends an eclectic group of aliens, but his past is catching up with him and he’ll have to fight to protect his found family.

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Amateur detective Mallory has fled from Earth and moved to a space station that’s mostly populated by aliens, hoping she can escape the bizarre string of murders that keep happening wherever she goes. But when more humans arrive on the station, the deaths start again, and Mallory will have to solve the murder mystery before everyone winds up dead.

Mai Tais for the Lost by Mia V. Moss

The rich and famous humans have absconded below the sea, reveling at hedonistic parties while the climate-ravaged surface burns. But when surface-born private detective Marrow Nightingale’s adoptive brother is killed, Marrow must solve the murder mystery, navigating the perils of the aquatic society’s dark secrets to find out what happened to her sibling.

Stars and Bones by Gareth L. Powell

Humanity has been exiled from Earth after being gifted a fleet of sentient generation ships by a benevolent cosmic entity, and the fleet now wanders among the stars. When Eryn’s sister goes missing while on an exploratory mission, Eryn sets out to find out what happened to her sibling, uncovering a terrifying danger that threatens humanity’s very survival.

Yes, we’re now circling back to where we started with generation ships, one of my fave sci-fi settings!

Under Fortunate Stars

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

Book cover: Under Fortunate Stars - Ren Hutchings

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake…

Under Fortunate Stars is out now from Solaris Books and I’m very much enjoying it right now. I’ll be back very soon with my review – in the meantime, many thanks to Ren Hutchings for accepting the challenge and to Jess Gofton at Rebellion Publishing for co-ordinating.