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.

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?

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…

It’s time to dive back into deep space with the read-along for A Closed and Common Orbit, the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s break-out debut The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. This week we’re hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow – we’ll be reading through December so if you’re interested in participating, hop on over to the SF/F Read-Along group to join the discussion.

Book cover: Polar City Blues - Katharine Kerr (a space port in shades of misty blue)When a Confederation diplomat shows up dead in Polar City, police chief Al Bates must race against the clock to solve the crime if he is to avoid 3 governments landing troops to ‘keep the peace’. Only Bobbie Lacey, ex-spacer, comp jockey and trader in information has access to all the sources to start putting the pieces together. But will a ghetto girl work with the cops?