Drunk synopses are honest synopses: Book 3 picks up in the outer solar system, with Mr Corey testing our ability not to snigger like teenagers as the protomolecule creates an enormous ring just outside the orbit of Uranus.

Grown up. Honestly. There’s a bevy of new characters in book 3, and – as usual – this first week is all set up as we slowly build up to the rollercoaster. Also, Holden sees dead people.

Book cover: Raven Strategem - Yoon Ha Lee (spacefighters attacking a space station against a green sky)Kel Cheris, half-possessed by the ghost of notorious General Shuos Jedao, survived an assassination attempt that wiped out her entire fleet. Or did she? Physical appearances aside, it appears to be Jedao who usurps command of General Kel Khiruev’s fleet. Formation instinct compels the Kel to follow Jedao – but will he really defend the Hexarchate from the Hafn? Or will he betray them to their deaths?

A confession: due to work and not being well, I’ve not finished The Hydrogen Sonata yet, so the final foray into The Culture will not be appearing this week. However, I have had time to consider the question of What Next and I’ve plotted a course for the Space Age stories of Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya universe – here’s to a summer of bite-sized space opera.

Book cover: Surface Detail - Iain M Banks (a dark skinned woman with patterned skin and even eyes stares over a flaring sun)There are rules governing how high tech civilisations engage with the up and coming. But there’s no stopping well-meaning meddling in a future where death need only be temporary. Now a girl who should never have been reincarnated will try to kill the most important man in her world; and a dead general must decide whether to bring a virtual War on Hell into the Real…

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?