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New Pompeii: what did the Romans ever do to us?

Book cover: New Pompeii - Daniel Godfrey (a city slipping through an hourglass into a volcano)Nick Houghton is running out of time. His father’s disgrace and a straitened economy look set to ruin his academic career. When a shadowy corporation make him an offer too good to refuse, he doesn’t. What classicist could say no to the chance to go to Pompeii?

Yes of course the misquote is on purpose

Throwback Thursday: The Collector of Lost Things

Book cover: The Collector of Lost Things - Jeremy Page - a ship under sail on the horizon, shades of blueHaunted Eliot Saxby is employed by men with more means than sense to search for traces of the recently-extinct Great Auk. He is not the only unusual passenger aboard the Amethyst. Edward Bletchley, bright and brittle, has brought his engraved guns and his mysterious cousin Clara. Will these troubled southern souls find any peace in the blood-soaked travels of an Arctic trader?

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Throwback Thursday: Whispers Underground

Book cover: Whispers Underground - Ben Aaronovitch (an artistic take on a London streetmap, dripping blood)When the son of a US senator is found dead in a tunnel just before Christmas, the heat is on to find his killer and get the trains running (London priorities). Given the scarcity of leads, it’s just as well Lesley May is back to lend Peter a hand with some Proper Policing…

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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?

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