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Bite-size Books: Extracurricular Activities

Book cover: Extracurricular Activities - Yoon Ha Lee (A manform with their back to you ascends some stairs, staring off at an angle against a background of pink carp painting or wallpaper)A Shuos graduate is rare in Kel command, but Shuos Jedao has earned his stripes. Still, his latest assignment is a mission better suited to his former career: go undercover in a rival empire to rescue a captured ‘trade’ vessel captained by a former classmate.
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League of Dragons: it’s alright, so it must be the end

Book cover: League of Dragons - Naomi Novik (a shield boss or metal heraldic device of entwined dragons)As Napoleon retreats from Russia, hopes rally that the Emperor can finally be defeated. But he and his crafty adviser Lien have a few more tricks up their sleeve. Can Temeraire (and the other dragons of the world) resist the promise of a world where dragons are treated as equals?

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Blood of Tyrants: are we nearly there yet?

Book cover: Blood of Tyrants - Naomi Novik (black dragon entwined around a glass bauble picturing the Moscow skyline)Shipwrecked en route back to China, Will loses not only Temeraire but his memory. Stranded in a land where foreigners are forbidden by law, how can he find a crew he can’t remember – or be the credible ambassador to China his country needs him to be?

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Bite-size Books: Proof of Concept

Book cover: Proof of Concept - Gwyneth Jones (a silhouette stands in a shaft of blue light)Climate change has herded humanity into Hives, the 99% pacified by a diet of mass media while the super-rich look out for themselves. Orphan Kir is part of a project – the Needle – trying to make mass migration into space feasible. But her on-board AI has uncovered secrets it wants to share with her – if it can find a way around the code that controls it.

Space Opera Sunday: Matter

Book cover: Matter by Iain M BanksInside a world of worlds within worlds, a wonder of the galaxy, evolved civilisations play out their conflicts through the bloody wars of lesser societies. When a warring king is murdered and his heir framed, the prince strikes out into space in search of his long-lost sister, a ward of the Culture. But will they intervene?

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Space Opera Sunday: Look to Windward

800 years after the Idiran War, the dying light of two suns destroyed in it will finally reach Masaq’ Orbital. For Ziller, the occasion is overshadowed by the arrival of a Chelgrian emissary on a mission to bring the composer in exile home. But Quilan has other motives for his visit, and the Idiran War is not the only one whose consequences will be felt on Masaq’.

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Crucible of Gold (or silver. Or bronze. Or even brass)

Book cover: Crucible of Gold - Naomi Novik (a black dragon emblem above a shipwreck in a mountainous bay)Will and Temeraire are roused from their Australian retirement with an offer they can’t refuse: full reinstatement in return for a voyage to Brazil to try and forge a peace between the Portuguese colonies and Napoleon’s imported Tswana shock troops. Can they redeem themselves in the eyes of England?

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Space Opera Sunday: Excession

No matter how advanced a civilisation may be, there’s always a chance it will encounter an Out of Context Problem: something so far beyond it that it may accidentally – or intentionally – destroy everything. When an impenetrable black-body sphere appears in Culture space, factions scramble to take advantage – if they can work out how to do so.

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The Book was Better (or was it): I Am Legend

I nearly chose I Am Legend for a Confession, but I’ve read it before – however little I remembered beyond the ending. Instead, I’m going to take another look at it side by side with the Will Smith adaptation (as a Bad SF Fan, I haven’t seen the Vincent Price and Charlton Heston versions). Which will be better?

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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Caraval: blood runs thicker than theatre

Book cover: Caraval - Stephanie Garber (swirls and typography - cover unconfirmed)When Donatella Dragma has her sister kidnapped to save her from an arranged marriage, Scarlett is taken to Caraval for the yearly interactive theatrical. But Caraval’s reputation is stained by death and madness, and Tella goes missing on the very first night. Can Scarlett avoid the traps and win the game to rescue her sister?

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Bite-size Books: Winter Tales

Book cover: Winter Tales - ed. Margret Helgadottir - a drawing of a cottage nestled in firs with the moon rising above on a field of purple)Christmas Eve is when Icelanders given books to one another and winter is when we Brits historically told ghost stories by the fire. I’m celebrating the season with a collection of speculative horror stories chosen by Margrét Helgadóttir.

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