The latest Murderbot novella has arrived in my audible library so I’ve decided this week will be a Science Fiction week. I’ve picked two new-to-me writers to sit alongside Martha Wells’ Murderbot. The first is a book that was published last month and which I’ve seen referred to as a ‘Science Fiction re-telling of Jamaica Inn‘. The second was published way back in 1997 and kicks off a time-travel series that I missed the first time around.
I’m hoping to continue my relationship with Murdberbot and to discover two new authors whose books I can devour.
You ask “Why do you need two more authors when your TBR pile already towers over you?”
I turn on you, a fanatical glint in my eye and say, “I have a lot of books but I never have enough books. Never!” Then I throw back my head and cackle like a deranged super-villain at the end of his monologue about world domination.
‘Skyward Inn’ by Aliya Whiteley (2021)
I’ve picked ‘Skyward Inn’ because I suspect it holds a number of surprises disguised in the shapes of the familiar. Aliya Whiteley writes across genre boundaries, so I’m expecting that she’s going to do something different from either an updated ‘War of the Worlds’ or a Jamaica Inn’.
The book is set on a future Earth in the aftermath of Earth’s first war with aliens. It seems like a quiet tale of an old Inn in rural Somerset, run by a human and an alien, who are trying to build their own peace in a post-war world.
Beneath the surface I expect it to be something quite different. Something that deals with the truly alien and, in the process, defines the nature of our humanity.
I’m open to all possibilities but I’m hoping for a tale that engages and surprises and which makes me care about the couple at the heart of the story.
‘Fugitive Telemetry ‘ by Martha Wells (2021)
By now, Murderbot is an old friend that I get to catch up with from time to time. I’d hoped that ‘Network Effect’ was a sign that Martha Wells was going to start delivering the Murderbot stories as novels, but ‘Fugitive Telemetry’ takes us back to the novella format that we started in. At this point, I’ll take what I can get.
This is a hugely popular series and I wonder if part of that is that Murderbot finally gives us an uber-introvert as the hero. Am I the only one who finds it easier to identify with Murderbot and its desire not to have interact with upset humans who want inexplicable things and its preference for watching its favourite shows instead? Of course, it’s also fun that Murderbot is an action-oriented nerd whenever real danger shows up.
Anyway, this time Murderbot is a murder suspect. That should be fun. Now, I wonder if anyone sells Murderbot t-shirts?
‘In the Garden of Iden’ by Kate Baker (1997)
Somehow, Kage Baker’s books passed me by when they came out in the late nineties, yet, from what I can see, she’s my kind of author: very bright, a wicked wit, deeply knowledgable about history, especially Elizabethan England and she approaches politics, religion and commerce from an orthogonal perspective to the mainstream.
There are quite a few time-travel series out there and, different as they are, most of them have some sense that history is important and time-travel should help to spread knowledge and solve problems. Kage Baker starts from a very different place. The purpose of time-travel is to make the person who invented time-travel fabulously rich. The inventor calls himself Dr.Zeus (modest isn’t he). Time-travel wasn’t his first invention, immortality was. Unfortunately, there was no market for it as those who could afford it were too old for it to work and the benefits were too far in future to generate a decent return. But, if you go into the past and make children immortal and get them to work for you for centuries, by the time they get to your NOW, they’ve generated a lot of wealth for you and your company..
‘In The Garden Of Iden’ tells the story of one of those immortals. I’m hoping for something original, powered by a spiky wit and a clear-sighted view of history and with a central character who is worth getting to know.