Alastair Reynolds' "Revenger"

Revenger, a fast-paced space opera by Alastair Reynolds with strong women as protagonists and few surprises certainly took my mind off things for a bit.

Worldbuilding galore takes place in Revenger's galaxy, a place littered with the detritus of humanity and other species. Kind of steam-punky and certainly the baubles offer a lot of 'Roadside Picnic'-style Zones which I find ironic as I, and other Boing Boing editors, have been reading the Strugatsky Brothers this month.

Revenger is 400 pages of good solid sci-fi fun.

Revenger (The Revenger Series Book 1) by Alastair Reynolds via Amazon Read the rest

I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet'

Recently, I noticed Becky Chambers' runaway hit The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was available via Kindle Unlimited. I regret having waited so long to read this widely acclaimed novel.

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is every 'meet the crew of a special spaceship' space opera you've read. The phenomenal world-building and super-fantastic characters are perfect for the genre. Chambers, however, addresses issues of race, gender and civil rights in such a straight-forward 'Welcome to a galaxy full of everything and everyone!' manner, with such sensitivity, honesty and insight, that I immediately recommended this book to my sci-fi loving, but very mid-teenaged niece.

Chambers shifts storytelling point-of-view every chapter, and the novel begins with Rosemary Harper. Rosemary is fleeing her wealthy family, and safe planet-side existence, out of some sort of shame-to-be-disclosed-later. She is joining the crew of the Wayfarer, a slapped together spacecraft that helps tunnel worm-holes for interstellar travel. Chambers has named the series after the ship, so you know Wayfarer is special. There are a Human captain and a multi-species crew that does the space family cooped together in a not-actually-that-small-sounding-box routine quite well.

Who they all are is actually far less interesting than how they regard one another and interact, and these are some interesting beings. Chambers excels at describing interspecies relations, methods and mannerisms that allow their society, both onboard the ship and across the galaxy, to work.

I immediately dove into the second book in ther series, A Closed and Common Orbit. Read the rest

How to Win Friends and Convince People to Watch Eurovision

If you don't know what I mean when I say the word Eurovision -- Greetings, fellow American! Much like the World Cup and universal health care, it is hard for many of our countrymen to grasp just how big a deal this thing few here have heard of or care about has become outside our borders, and how popular it really is.

Seedship: a text-adventure generation-ship game

In Seedship (previously), you play a colony ship's AI, piloting a thousand hibernating colonists through unimaginably vast stretches of space, scanning candidate planets and deciding whether or not to found a colony there. Read the rest

Saga Volume 8: the best space opera in comics tackles abortion, gender identity, and vengeance

Saga is the best space opera in comics, a masterpiece of serial storytelling from Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, whose character designs -- a cross between Vaughn Bode and the Mos Eisley Cantina -- and fearless war-scenes combine with masterful cliff-hanger storytelling to weave a tale that hurts even as it makes you bellow with laughter. The eighth collection in the series ships today and the story shows no sign of slowing down.

John Scalzi's Collapsing Empire: an epic new space opera with snark, politics and action to burn

Regular Boing Boing readers need no introduction to John Scalzi, whose smartass, snappy, funny, action-packed science fiction novels are a treat to read; but new fans and old hands alike will find much to love in The Collapsing Empire, the first volume in a new, epic space-opera series.

Jon Hunter is still at it in 'Hero at the Gates'

Timothy Ellis' galaxy spanning space opera continues in Hero at the Gates! We're 9 damn books in and the central plot is finally about to get past its prelude!

I've really enjoyed this massive story. 9 novels ago Jon Hunter was a wet behind the ears kid on board his uncle's space trader. Now he's the Admiral of his own massive space flotilla, and ruler of several sections of space. The massive reveal about what the hell is going on, and what part Team Slinky Red Jumpsuits is going to play in it is near unavoidable, when our heroes set off in the exact opposite direction in this sometimes 2D universe.

The prize is tempting, but Jon can not miss the short window of time he's allowed to land on his home planet and consult the spiritual guys there who know all. How will it all work out? Gee... I'll have to start book 10.

Hero at the Gates (The Hunter Legacy Book 9) via Amazon Read the rest

A fast, indie space opera for summer

Don't let the cover art scare you away! The Chronicles of Benjamin Jamison are fun, hero beats the odds, space opera fun. In Thomas Wright's first installment, Call Sign Reaper, we meet familiar characters, then and head off on a familiar plot!

Retired special forces type space guy Ben was drummed out of the service on trumped up charges. Instead of disappearing to the Los Angeles underground, he spends a couple months off. Ben is recruited back into service via a bar fight, and an attractive commanding officer. You do know where this is going, right? Get ready to roll your eyes.

Thomas Wright gets this genre, and clearly enjoys it. The story rollicks along, and the characters are just getting going. You

Standard indie novel warning: lots of folks have complained of the editing, but I enjoyed the stories enough to not notice much. The novel was free via Kindle Unlimited.

The Chronicles of Benjamin Jamison: Call Sign Reaper (Book 1) via Amazon Read the rest

The Hunter Legacy, a great big huge space opera

Author Timothy Ellis really enjoyed his time in the 1980's, and his Hunter series certainly pays homage. This, riddled with 80's references, space opera feels like it shouldn't work, but I've had a hard time putting down my kindle.

Backwater bumpkin, 16-year-old Jonathon Hunter, leaves his isolated world of Outback, in the Australian sector of space, and is instantly thrust into the spotlight! Hunter barely saves himself, and mistakenly saves a bunch of other folks, during a pirate attack on his Uncle's space ship. Thus starts a Keystone Cops like avalanche of unbelievable space adventure. Hunter can't make a mistake, women nearly twice his age fawn all over him, and he gets a cat.

I had a lot of time on my hands this weekend, while my daughter played with her grandparents, and I read 6 of this 9 book series. Ellis wrote manuals for the X video game series, and I think relies on this game, which I've never played, for some of his physics and backstory. He also evidently writes some spiritual guide books as well. Both are minutely present in these novels, but don't get in the way. However, the portrayal of women as mostly the same character, with different names and physical descriptions, does get a bit boring after a while, even the AI is just another mid 20s woman who wants to dance to electronica.

Mostly, these books are fun space pirate, and then space religious zealot, smashing action scenes. Relying on his video game background, Ellis writes some great space combat. Read the rest

Nathan Lowell's "Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper"

I wanted a Space Opera, and found Nathan Lowell's series Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. I've spent 2 weeks reading through the series, and am worried about what I'll do when I reach the end!

Lowell's space trading epic follows the career of Ishmael Horatio Wang, cast adrift by the untimely death of his Mother and meal-ticket, in the apparently trade focused Confederation. Wang finds a berth on a solar clipper, and joins the spacer culture. As he rises through the ranks we meet a cast of colorful characters, and watch as Ish, and his various crews, solve the problems one may encounter in the Deep Dark.

I'm nearly done with the final book in the series. I've found each book to be a perfect distraction for the things that have plagued my last few weeks, and I have hardly wanted to put my Kindle down. Highly reminiscent of a less bawdy/abuse focused Bio of a Space Tyrant, by Piers Anthony, Lowell's first book Quarter Share rapidly sets up a world that is easy to understand and fun to predict where things are going next.

Lowell's novels follow our hero Wang through each pay-grade in the life of a crewman, officer, and finally owner. I'll be looking for other stories by this author. The entire series was free, with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Quarter Share (Trader's Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 1) via Amazon Read the rest