Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Jun 29

Happy Friday, demigods and dragonriders! Today I’m reviewing Dark Mirror by Diane Duane, Silver Silence and Ocean Light by Nalini Singh, and bringing you exciting LEGO news, the Locus Awards, sci-fi greats, and more.

This newsletter is sponsored by Penguin Teen and Warcross by Marie Lu.

A steel gray and blue cover with a 3D version of WARCROSS in the centerFor the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Emika’s thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

The Locus Awards are in! There aren’t a lot of surprises this year — all these authors are well-known and acclaimed for good reasons — but there are a few that were off my radar. I need to pick up The Book of Swords sooner rather than later!

Who are the best sci-fi authors? Erika has nominated eight. Using her criteria, my personal list has to include Ursula Le Guin and Yoon Ha Lee, but these are a reasonable start.

Need more Latinx authors in your life? This list of SF/F authors has some of my favorites (Malka Older! Carmen Maria Machado!), and some I need to bump up on my TBR.

You definitely need more indigenous authors to read, and author Rebecca Roanhorse is here to recommend some. You should read her too! Trail of Lightning is out now, and getting rave reviews.

You know what else you need? HARRY POTTER LEGOS.

How would you die on Game of Thrones? Our quiz will tell you! I was blown up at the Sept of Baylor, RIP me.

A Discovery of Witches still doesn’t have a US air date or platform (bidding war???), but you can watch the trailer.

And now in reviews, I give you dolphin scientists and dolphin changelings!

Dark Mirror (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Diane Duane

two Picards shown side by side, one with an evil look on his face and one friendlySo you want to be a starship captain? Yes, that Diane Duane wrote a ST:NG novel, and it is a delight. It also has the distinction of being the first and only Star Trek franchise I have ever read. I’m not necessarily opposed, but franchises are among my least-read sub-genres (I think I’ve read something like five of the Star Wars ones, and nothing of any others that I can recall).

Duane uses the plot of the ST:TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror” as her starting point. Picard’s Enterprise is exploring a quiet quadrant of space when they get sucked into an alternate, morally-inverted universe. Thanks to a visiting scientist (who is also a dolphin, and one of my all-time favorite new characters), the crew discovers this sooner rather than later and have just enough time to hatch a plan to thwart their evil selves. Of course, nothing every goes to plan…

I found this in a Little Free Library in my neighborhood and grabbed it on a whim, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. Janeway is the captain of my heart but Picard is the captain of my childhood, and it was lovely to be reunited with the crew of the NCC 1701-D. Duane clearly loves the characters herself, and inhabits them well. It’s funny, it’s gripping, and it balances female and male, human and alien characters nicely. Even better, when skimpy outfits are involved, both the men and the women are subject to them! And Duane has written several other Star Trek novels, which I will be attempting to get my hands on as soon as possible. This, it turns out, might be how I want to spend my summer.

Silver Silence and Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1 and #2) by Nalini Singh

If you’re listening to SFF Yeah!, you might recall that I talked about the Psy-Changeling series in Episode 11. It’s my all-time favorite paranormal romance series, but it’s a tough one to come to late — there are more than a dozen books currently, and Singh shows no signs of stopping (thankfully). Happily, as mentioned on a recent All the Books episode, the new installments in what Singh is referring to as “Psy-Changeling Season 2”, formally called the Psy-Changeling Trinity, are perfect jumping-on points.

a photo collage of a city skyline and a man and woman's faces in silhouette, all various shades of red

The world of the series contains three races: the mentally super-powered Psy, the shapeshifting Changelings, and “vanilla” humans. The Psy have spent years in what they call Silence, barring themselves from feeling any emotions whatsoever in a search for ultimate efficiency. This has backfired conclusively, including breeding dangerous serial killers and psychopaths, and now the Psy are divided between those who want to heal and feel, and those who refuse to abandon Silence. The Changelings have been mostly concerned with protecting their own, but are starting to become more enmeshed with the Psy and humans, and the humans are trying to hold their own against the paranormal abilities of the Psy and Changelings. It’s a political and personal mess — but love might be able to save the day.

a photo collage of a city skyline and a man and woman, all in shades of yellow and goldIn Silver Silence and Ocean Light we get two cross-species romances: Psy/Changeling, and Changeling/human, respectively. While the cast of characters will be familiar to those who have been reading along, Singh takes great care to introduce new clans, characters, and plot elements, without belaboring or neglecting the backstory. They move the overall story forward while standing alone nicely, and I for one am delighted that we have finally gotten an underwater installment! Highly recommended if you want steamy, emotionally satisfying stories set in a beautifully imagined alternate Earth.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Your fellow booknerd,