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’.
In Haspidus, it’s unthinkable that a woman could be a doctor, much less the King’s physician. But foreigner Vosill has King Quience’s ear and more than cures in her bag of tricks. Across the mountains in Tassasen, another foreigner, DeWar, has risen to prominence to be Protector General UrLeyn’s bodyguard. But are either of them what they seem? And as tensions rise, whose loyalty can be trusted?
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.
Diziet Sma needs to recruit former superstar agent Cheradenine Zakalwe for one last job to resolve a situation in a politically-unstable star system. But is Zakalwe still up to the job? And will the price he puts on his renewed service unravel him beyond repair?
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?
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?
Okay, having ‘fessed up about how few classics I’ve read, I shall endeavour to read at least half a dozen seminal SF works next year in my ongoing Confessions. But first, some catch-up – I read Slaughterhouse Five a while back. I knew it was hailed as a great SF AND great anti-war novel, but I didn’t really know what to expect. It certainly wasn’t what I got.
I learnt young to mistrust the excitement of hearing that a beloved book is being turned into a movie (thanks for nothing, Disney). It’s a sentiment shared by many bookworms after the latest Hollywood attempt to boil a favourite down to 90 minutes of entertainment: the book was better. But is this always true? For SciFi Month, I revisited Jurassic Park to see how it held up.
Confession time: every time I see a list of ‘must-read scifi novels’ or ‘scifi to read before you die’, my heart sinks. Just for a moment. I guess I’m just a bad SF fan – the classics that typically dominate these lists very rarely float my boat. But is that my failing or theirs?