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Space Opera Sunday: The Player of Games

Jernau Morat Gurgeh is bored of winning, a master of strategy and tactics who can beat anyone at almost any game. When Special Circumstances approach him to represent the Culture in the vicious Empire of Azad – home to a complex Game so revered the winner is made Emperor – he can’t say no. But to play will mean putting more than just his life at risk. Can he resist the lure of Azad?

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A Darker Shade of Magic: welcome to London

Book cover: A Darker Shade of Magic - V E Schwab (silhouette of someone in a fabulously billowy cloak in black and red)London: one name, three cities in three very different worlds, each with more magic than the last. Only two men hold the power to cross between worlds, and one is about to unwittingly put them all at risk. Because there was once a fourth London – and its magic tires of being sealed away…

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Confessions of a bad SF fan: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Book cover: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K Dick (a digital pointilliste image of a sheeps face)Double whammy confession time: I hadn’t previously read Philip K Dick’s classic, and I don’t much like Blade Runner. Spot the obvious problem though: I have seen Blade Runner, and it’s really hard to read the book without being influenced by it.

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Space Opera Sunday: Consider Phlebas

The galaxy is at war. Horza, a shape-changing spy captured during an attempted infiltration, is rescued by his Idiran masters for a mission only he can complete: to return to a Planet of the Dead where he once served as a steward and retrieve a downed enemy AI. Now he just needs to find a ship, cross a war zone, and convinced the godlike alien who guards Schar’s World that it’s happy he’s back…

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Tongues of Serpents

Book cover: Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik (UK hardcover, stylised woodcut design - dragons, colonial buildings and gum trees)Will Laurence and Temeraire have been banished to Australia to establish new breeding grounds, convicts in all but name. But the colony is mutinous, its Governor in exile, and the continent hazardous, with no obvious opportunities for redemption…

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Who’s afraid of the suck fairy: The Warriors of Taan

Book cover: The Warriors of Taan - Louise Lawrence (a blonde stars off-camera, concerned, against a lurid background)Rapacious Outworlders have occupied Taan for its natural resources. Tensions are rising within the local population, with the warrior caste agitating for war and the temples seeking a peaceful resolution. Hope rests on the shoulders of a rebellious young prince: will he lead his father’s troops to battle or make peace with the sisterhood?

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The Book was Better (or was it): The Prestige

Book cover: The Prestige - Christopher Priest (a dapper man stares at his reflection - unlike him it is wearing a top hat. Nice trick eh)

I realised with glee after my fun revisiting Jurassic Park that I have lots of overlap between my bookshelves and my DVD rack. You know what this means… This month, I’m revisiting an epic tale of feuding Victorian illusionists – but which Christopher did it better? Almost spoiler-free.

Priest vs Nolan

The Moor’s Account: alternative fiction

Book cover: The Moor's Account - Laila Lalami (a red-tipped quill on a parchment texture background)In 1527, a Spanish colonial expedition landed in Florida to establish new colonies. 9 years later, the only 4 survivors finally reached Mexico City: 3 Spanish noblemen and 1 Moorish slave. This is his story.

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Bite-size Books: Sunbolt

Book cover: Sunbolt - Intisar Khanani (rich red-orange text on a blue background with a geometric motif above it)Hitomi is a foreign-born street thief with dangerous secrets: untrained magical abilities and ties to the Shadow League, enemies of the corrupt Archmage. But even the haunted streets of Karolene are safer than what awaits her beyond its borders.

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The Edge of the Abyss: go big or go home

Book cover: The Edge of the Abyss - Emily Skrutskie (all the red tentacles thrashing out of the sea, faced by a girl looking back over her shoulder towards the reader)Broken-hearted but out of options, Cas Leung turned her back on the shore and signed on as Santa Elena’s trainee. But abandoned Bao isn’t the only Reckoner living wild in the NeoPacific – and they’re eating the sea empty. Can Cas persuade the pirates to risk their lives for the greater good?

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Tremontaine: Dissolution

I seem to recall saying that if it wasn’t alright, it wasn’t the end, and Tremontaine would go on forever (or at least until it met up with Swordspoint). I stand by that: as we leave our well-loved, frustrating cast at the end of the second season, few would claim that they’re okay. Brace yourself.

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Resistance (Divided Elements): question your programming

Book cover: Resistance - Mikhaeyla Kopievsky (a woman's face drawn in circuitry)

Anaiya is an elite Peacekeeper tasked to guard the Co-operative of Otpor from Unorthodoxy. Bred to be competitive, she strives to be the best – but when Resistance rises in the Precincts, the best way to bring it down is to join it. In a culture that defines its people by their dominant Element, can a passionless, disciplined Fire Elemental believably become a Bohemian Element of Air?

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