The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. ★★★★
The Stars Are Legion is quintessentially Kameron Hurley: violent and feminist. This stand alone science fiction novel is as dark as I’ve come to expect from Hurley, but it has an optimistic heart.
Zan wakes with no memory of who she is. She’s told that she’s a great general and the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, the mysterious world ship that’s capable of leaving the legion of artificial planets. She knows there’s a lot she’s not being told, especially by Jyn, a woman who claims to be her sister.
Dark Beyond the Stars edited by David Gatwood. ★★★1/2
Dark Beyond the Stars is an anthology of space opera short stories written by authors who were all new to me. The only one I’d heard of was Annie Bellet, who I believe writes urban fantasy. The collection came to my attention when there was some kerfuffle over the collection’s line up of all female authors, which some people were apparently upset about. However, sexist reviews tend to encourage me to read something more than dissuade me. Plus, look at that cover art by Julie Dillon! Isn’t it gorgeous?
While Dark Beyond the Stars was the mixed bag typical of anthologies, there were a number of stories I quite enjoyed.
Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers. ★★★1/2
Behind the Throne isn’t super deep, but this science fiction novel is a whole lot of fun.
For the last twenty years, Hailimi Bristol has been traveling the galaxy making a living as a gunrunner. But Hail was born a princess of the Indranan Empire, and now she’s being dragged back home. With her sisters dead and her mother sick, Hail is desperately needed as an heir to the throne. But her sisters didn’t die by accident, and it will take every scrap of cunning Hail has to survive, find out who’s murdering her family, and protect her empire.
Translucid by Zen DiPietro. ★★★
This science fiction novel never quite clicked for me.
Translucid‘s protagonist wakes up not remembering anything about herself. She is soon told that her name’s Emé Fallon and that she’s the security chief of Dragonfire Station. She can remember basic information and all the tasks she was trained to do before her accident, but everything pertaining to who she was is gone. She can’t even remember her own wife.
Cagebird by Karin Lowachee. ★★★1/2
Trigger warning: rape, self harm, child abuse, child grooming…
Cagebird is the third novel in Karin Lowachee’s science fiction series exploring how a war psychologically impacts boys. The series starts with Warchild, which I still believe to be the best in the series. While each book has a different protagonist, I would recommend reading them in order.
At the age of four, Yuri Kirov’s home was destroyed in one of the initial attacks in the war between the humans/alien war. When the pirates found him, he was a child refugee who became trained as Falcone’s protege. Now at twenty-two he is a killer and a criminal serving out a life sentence on Earth. Then two men from the Black Ops decide that they’d rather Yuri return to the pirates to be their spy and weapon, but their plan puts him in more danger than ever.
Burndive by Karin Lowachee. ★★★★
Burndive is the sequel to Warchild. Although the two books have different protagonists, Burndive starts almost immediately after the events of the first book and continues the plot arc of the human versus alien conflict. I would recommend reading them in order, especially since I thought Warchild was the better of the two.
Ryan Azarcon is the son of Captain Cairo Azarcon and Songlian Lau, a famous public relations spokeswoman. Ryan has met his father only four times in his life, which has been spent under the scrutiny of the media. Prior to the start of Burndive, Ryan’s on earth when he sees an embassy in Hong Kong get bombed. He’s desperately trying to escape his memories of the attack when the news of his father’s attempts at a peace treaty erupt and Ryan suddenly becomes a target.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. ★★★★
Trigger warning: rape
While it wasn’t until the last fifth or so that I felt definitely that I’d want to read the next book, there was always something about Ninefox Gambit that I found compelling. I’d be thinking about how military science fiction must not be my thing and at the same time planning designs for fan art. I think the explanation lies in the imaginative world Lee’s created and the nature of his principal characters.
Kel Cheris is a captain of the military division of the hexarchate, a totalitarian government of six divisions that is constantly putting down “heresies,” rebellions. When Cheris herself uses heretical methods in battle, she is given a last chance to possibly redeem herself by devising a plan on how to recapture an important fortress overtaken by heresy. She proposes bringing the Hexarchate’s greatest general out of storage. Shuos Jedao is a brilliant tactician who’s never lost a battle, but before being turned immortal by the Hexarchate, he went mad and killed his own army as well as the enemy’s. Yet, Shuos Jedao is entirely unpredictable, and Cheris and the troops she commands may be the next victims.