Aliens: Bishop by T R Napper
Horror , Sci-Fi , T R Napper , Titan Books / December 11, 2023

Please note, Aliens: Bishop is a direct sequel to the events in Aliens and Alien3. If you’ve not seen both of these cinematic gems then the book-related waffle that follows will contain some mild spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned! Massively damaged in Aliens and Alien3, the synthetic Bishop asked to be shut down forever. His creator, Michael Bishop, has other plans. He seeks the Xenomorph knowledge stored in the android’s mind, and brings Bishop back to life―but for what reason? No longer an employee of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Michael tells his creation that he seeks to advance medical research for the benefit of humanity. Yet where does he get the resources needed to advance his work. With whom do his new allegiances lie? Bishop is pursued by Colonial Marines Captain Marcel Apone, commander of the Il Conde and younger brother of Master Sergeant Alexander Apone, one of the casualties of the doomed mission to LV-426. Also on his trail are the “Dog Catchers,” commandos employed by Weyland-Yutani. Who else might benefit from Bishop’s intimate knowledge of the deadliest creatures in the galaxy? This week I’ve been reading Aliens: Bishop by T R Napper. Based on the book blurb it ticks…

Infinity Gate by M R Carey
M R Carey , Orbit , Sci-Fi / March 30, 2023

INFINITY IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. The Pandominion: a political and trading alliance of a million worlds – except that they’re really just the one world, Earth, in many different realities. And when an AI threat arises that could destroy everything the Pandominion has built, they’ll eradicate it by whatever means necessary, no matter the cost to human life. Scientist Hadiz Tambuwal is looking for a solution to her own Earth’s environmental collapse when she stumbles across the secret of inter-dimensional travel. It could save everyone on her dying planet, but now she’s walked into the middle of a war on a scale she never dreamed of. And she needs to choose a side before it kills her. Hadiz Tambuwal knows our days are numbered. We’ve ravaged the planet without a second thought. Resources have been pillaged to the point of ecological catastrophe. Hadiz’s view of humanity is probably best described as dispassionate. That said she does want to try and save us, even when it looks like we’ve passed the tipping point. How best to do this? Well, it just so happens that Hadiz has stumbled upon the secret to interdimensional travel. If our Earth has depleted its resources beyond…

Cold by Jim Pearce
Jim Pearce , Matatdor , Sci-Fi , Thriller / February 10, 2023

The near future is a world in which scientists and their AI got it wrong. Rising temperatures have caused fires that burned landmasses, and the ash from these fires block out the sun. The resulting cold is extreme, like a nuclear winter, and was a mass extinction event for human beings the world over. Electricity grids, communications and services all failed. Societies collapsed. Humanity is reduced to small groups of survivors, scraping by however they can. Resources are scarce, and bands of survivors resort to violence to obtain enough food and fuel to survive. A man and his family group have survived the cruel winter by hiding in a house in Surrey, but when a roaming gang starts to ravage the area, they are forced to run. As they flee to safety, the cohesion and tolerance that had kept them going for so long starts to fracture… It’s time once again to dip my toes into the waters of apocalyptic fiction. Regular visitors to the site will know I am obsessive when it comes to extinction-level events. I’m drawn to novels that describe our end. I can’t help myself. I find that not only does apocalyptic fiction offer an endlessly…

The Hastening Storm by C F Barrington
C F Barrington , Head of Zeus , Thriller / August 30, 2022

Please note, The Hastening Storm is the third book in an on-going series. If you haven’t read what has come before, The Wolf Mile and The Blood Isles, then the book-related waffle that follows will contain something akin to minor spoilery-type stuff.   Live by the rules. Die by the rules. Or break them and take your chances in the chaos that follows… The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, with millions watching online as modern-day recruits battle to the death with weapons of the ancient world. Tyler Maitland left his life behind to search for his sister, who disappeared after joining the Pantheon’s Edinburgh chapter. But one year on, he’s still no closer to finding her… After the shocking climax of the Grand Battle, Tyler must now find a way to forge a new brotherhood amongst his enemies. There will be new identities, new teammates, a new cause… but the same blood will flow on the streets while those at the top enjoy the show and count the money rolling in. This season will be like no other. Tyler must accept a new mission, one that hasn’t been attempted in twenty years of the Pantheon. His…

Upgrade by Blake Crouch
Blake Crouch , Pan Macmillan , Sci-Fi , Thriller / July 7, 2022

“You are the next step in human evolution.”   At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.   But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.   The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.   Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.   Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.   And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if…

The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla
Hodder , Rachelle Atalla , Sci-Fi / June 9, 2022

THE BUNKER IS DESIGNED TO KEEP THEM ALL SAFE. In the end, very few people made it to the bunker. Now they wait there for the outside world to heal. Wolfe is one of the lucky ones. She’s safe and employed as the bunker’s pharmacist, doling out medicine under the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic and paranoid leader. BUT IS IT THE PLACE OF GREATEST DANGER? But when the leader starts to ask things of Wolfe, favours she can hardly say no to, it seems her luck is running out. Forming an unlikely alliance with the young Doctor Stirling, her troubled assistant Levitt, and Canavan – a tattooed giant of a man who’s purpose in the bunker is a mystery – Wolfe must navigate the powder keg of life underground where one misstep will light the fuse. The walls that keep her safe also have her trapped. How much more is Wolfe willing to give to stay alive? Once again I find myself drawn to the end of the world. The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla is an intimate, introspective journey of a woman locked away from the outside world by choice. Wolfe’s character is riveting, there is an inherent…

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
John Scalzi , Sci-Fi , Tor Books / March 11, 2022

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on. What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble. It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that’s found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too–and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die. A quick stop off at Wikipedia reliably informs me the word kaiju literally translates as ‘strange beast’. In a host of genre fiction and blockbuster movies, you’ll often find your common or garden strange beast being viewed as a threat. They stomp around mindlessly destroying entire cities with a breath of nuclear fire or spending their time…

Azura Ghost by Essa Hansen
Essa Hansen , News , Orbit , Sci-Fi / February 4, 2022

Please note Azura Ghost is the second book in an ongoing series. If you’ve not read Nophek Gloss then what follows will likely contain some spoilery type detail. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Caiden has been on the run for ten years with his unique starship in order to keep his adversary, Threi, imprisoned. But when an old friend he’d once thought dead reappears, he is lured into a game of cat and mouse with the one person whose powers rival Threi’s: Threi’s sister Abriss. Now with both siblings on the hunt for Caiden and his ship, Caiden must rescue his long-lost friend from their clutches and uncover the source of both his ship’s power and his own origins in order to stop Abriss’s plan to collapse the multiverse.  Back in 2020, I read Essa Hansen’s debut novel, Nophek Gloss. It was thoroughly entertaining stuff. The sequel has just been released and the good news is it’s also well worth your time. Character-wise, I was unsurprised that Endirion Day and C* remain firm favourites. There is, undeniably, a lot going on with the main protagonist Caiden, but I would quite happily read an entire novel following Endirion Day’s adventures….

The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy
Benjamin Percy , Hodder , Horror , Sci-Fi / January 10, 2022

The night the sky fell, Jack and Nora Abernathy’s daughter vanished in the woods. And Mia’s disappearance broke her parents’ already fragile marriage. Unable to solve her own daughter’s case, Nora lost herself in her work as a homicide detective. Jack became a shell of a man; his promising career as a biologist crumbling alongside the meteor strikes that altered weather patterns and caused a massive drought. It isn’t until five years later that the rains finally return to nourish Seattle. In this period of sudden growth, Jack uncovers evidence of a new parasitic fungus, while Nora investigates several brutal, ritualistic murders. Soon they will be drawn together by a horrifying connection between their discoveries—partnering to fight a deadly contagion as well as the government forces that know the truth about the fate of their daughter. Happy New Year, welcome to 2022 and what promises to be another epically good year for genre fiction. This week we are off to a flying start with The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy. Before we get down to it, I should point out that though this is the second book in the series. Knowledge of book one is not required* as references made…

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry
Hodder , Max Barry , Sci-Fi / July 12, 2021

I love you. In every world. Young real estate agent Madison May is shocked when a client at an open house says these words to her. The man, a stranger, seems to know far too much about her, and professes his love–shortly before he murders her. Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a midsize New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May’s shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he vanishes. Soon, Felicity senses her entire universe has shifted. No one remembers Madison May, or Felicity’s encounter with the mysterious man. And her cat is missing. Felicity realizes that in her pursuit of Madison’s killer, she followed him into a different dimension–one where everything about her existence is slightly altered. At first, she is determined to return to the reality she knows, but when Madison May–in this world, a struggling actress–is murdered again, Felicity decides she must find the killer–and learns that she is not the only one hunting him. Travelling through different realities, Felicity uncovers the opportunity–and danger–of…

Rabbits by Terry Miles
Macmillan , Sci-Fi , Terry Miles / June 10, 2021

It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air–4:44 pm. You go to check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize it is April 4th–4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444. Coincidence? Or have you just seen the edge of a rabbit hole? Rabbits is a mysterious alternate reality game so vast it uses our global reality as its canvas. Since the game first started in 1959, ten iterations have appeared and nine winners have been declared. Their identities are unknown. So is their reward, which is whispered to be NSA or CIA recruitment, vast wealth, immortality, or perhaps even the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe itself. But the deeper you get, the more deadly the game becomes. Players have died in the past–and the body count is rising. And now the eleventh round is about to begin. Enter K–a Rabbits obsessive who has been trying to find a way into the game for years. That path opens when K is approached by billionaire Alan Scarpio, the alleged…