Ian McDonald - Tor/Forge Blog



8 Books to Read After You Watch Dune: Part Two

Yeah, we’re into DuneDune lots of reading 📚😎

The spice must flow, and so will our sci-fi book recommendations! But what’s that you say? You’re not just looking for any space opera, you’re looking for the particular space opera that’s going to satisfy the exact reason why you’re already planning to see Dune: Part Two again? Fear not! Our recommendations are sorted by what got you excited for Dune!

By Julia Bergen

If you’re excited to see Dune because:

dune: the heir of caladan by brian herbert & kevin j. andersonDune seems really cool:

You should read: Dune: The Heir of Caladan by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

When you need Dune, you need Dune! Dune: The Heir of Caladan is the conclusion of a prequel trilogy by Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert’s son, and science fiction legend Kevin J. Anderson. This saga began with Dune: The Duke of Caladan, continued with Dune: The Lady of Caladan, and tells the story of the Atreides family’s rise to power, and this particular volume details how Paul becomes the leader he needs to be before the events of Dune

princess of dune by brian herbert & kevin j. andersonNo, really. Dune is the coolest and you’ll throw yourself into the maw of a sandworm if you don’t get more immediately:

You should read: Princess of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

When you need Dune, you need Dune! Set a few years before the events of Dune, this story explores the lives of Paul’s love Chani and his wife, the Princess Irulan. Both women will impact the trajectory of the whole galaxy as Paul Atreides brings it hurdling to its destiny. 

to sleep in a sea of stars by christopher paoliniYou love crazy space monsters:

You should read: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The sandworms in Dune are definitely some of the creepiest monsters in SF, and their connection to the spice is shrouded in mystery. While you wait to see sandworms on the screen, you can dive into the mystery of the creature discovered by a xenobiologist during what was supposed to be a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet. And make sure to check out Fractal Noise for more tales in the same universe!

Poster Placeholder of - 72You love dudes fighting in suits in space:

You should read: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

If you’re most looking forward to seeing how Villeneuve envisions the stillsuits necessary to survive on the desert planet Arrakis, and to see some sweet suit fight scenes, calm you suited bloodthirst with a book about genetically perfected superhumans wearing futuristic body armor battling it out in a Hunger Games-esque competition for the solar system’s best job opportunities.

You Sexy Thing by Cat RamboYou love PEW PEW PEW space battles:

You should read: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

Perfect reading if you want to be able to practically hear that “PEW PEW PEW” noise, and maybe even a Wilhelm scream or two while you’re reading. A group of retired space soldiers gets dragged back into war when they’re forced onto a sentient ship that’s convinced it’s being stolen, and in addition must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king.

The Genesis of Misery by Neon YangYou love space politics:

You should read: The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

If you can’t resist competing galactic empires and political machinations in space, dive into The Genesis of Misery. A nobody from a nowhere mining planet becomes the center of a power struggle between dangerous players and royal families because of their forbidden powers. Plus, like Dune it’s full of prophecy and space magic. 

Place holder  of - 90No, seriously, you LIVE FOR space politics:

You should read: A Desolation Called Peace Arkady Martine

Oh, so you’re one of those, huh? No judgment, just book recommendations here, my friend. And you definitely need to feast your eyes on A Desolation Called Peace, which should give you all the space politics you could possibly want. An ambassador from a backwater planet must untangle the webs of subterfuge at the center of the Teixcalaanli Empire.

winter's orbit by everina maxwellYou love space politics, but not as much as you love love.

You should read: Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

If you can’t wait for Dune’s space politic glory, but you’re also looking forward to scenes between Paul and Chani, then as soon as it’s on sale you need to get your hands on this romantic space opera. Two neuromodified psychics, a flirty socialite and a duty-bound soldier, find themselves at the center of a decades-old power struggle and a dangerous treasure-hunt. If they sync their minds, they might avoid life under military control, but they’d be giving up their free will. And what are these FEELINGS they’re having for each other?

Which one are you reading? Let us know in the comments!


Hot Fresh eBook Deals of July 2023

Hey! We’ve got eBook deals! Hot and fresh text for your favorite screen, and they’re ready now, so check them out!

The Ruin of Kingsthe ruin of kings by jenn lyons by Jenn Lyons — $3.99

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions. Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins. Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world. He’s destined to destroy it.

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The Library of the Deadthe library of the dead by tl huchu by T.L. Huchu — $3.99

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will rock her world. Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

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You Sexy Thingyou sexy thing by cat rambo by Cat Rambo — $3.99

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it. Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance. But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

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Luna: New Moonluna: new moon by ian mcdonald by Ian McDonald — $3.99

The Moon wants to kill you. Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did. As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

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Isolateisolate by l.e. modesitt, jr. by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. — $3.99

Industrialization. Social unrest. Underground movements. Government corruption and surveillance. Something is about to give. Steffan Dekkard is an isolate, one of the small percentage of people who are immune to the projections of empaths. As an isolate, he has been trained as a security specialist and he and his security partner Avraal Ysella, a highly trained empath are employed by Axel Obreduur, a senior Craft Minister and the de facto political strategist of his party. When a respected Landor Councilor dies of “heart failure” at a social event, because of his political friendship with Obreduur, Dekkard and Ysella find that not only is their employer a target, but so are they, in a covert and deadly struggle for control of the government and economy. Steffan is about to understand that everything he believed is an illusion.

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Psion psion by joan d. vingeby Joan D. Vinge — $3.99

When first published, readers young and old eagerly devoured the tale of a street-hardened survivor named Cat, a half-human, half-alien orphan telepath. Named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Cat’s story has been continued by Hugo-award winning and international best-selling author Joan D. Vinge with the very popular Catspaw and Dreamfall. Now, 25 years later, this special anniversary edition of Psion contains a new introduction by the author and “Psiren,” a story never before included in any trade edition of Psion. This tough, gritty tale of an outsider whose only chance for redemption is as an undercover agent for an interstellar government that by turns punishes and helps him, is as fresh and powerful today as it was in 1982.

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Spinspin by robert charles wilson by Robert Charles Wilson — $3.99

One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk–a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside–more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future….

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legacies by l. e. modesitt, jr. Legacies by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.  — $3.99

Millennia ago, a magical disaster caused the fall of a civilization, the end of a golden age. New civilizations emerged from the ancient destruction and chaos, knowing little of the past or the disaster. Corus today is a world of contending countries, humans, and supernatural creatures. It is a place of magical powers, and of a few people who are talented enough to use them. Alusius is drafted into the local Militia and must fight against the invading slave armies of The Matrial, an immortal ruler in a nearby land. If the evil surrounding The Matrial is not brought to an end, the world as he knows it could very well end.

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Every Book Coming From Tor in Winter 2023

It’s a new year and that means new books to keep you warm and cozy this winter! Check out everything coming from Tor Books in Winter 2023.

January 17

Poster Placeholder of - 33Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi; Illustrated by Gris Grimly

Now a Netflix original movie! This edition includes an introduction by Guillermo del Toro.

Once there was a lonely woodcutter named Geppetto-who dreamed of having a boy of his own. So one day he carved a boy out of wood and named him Pinocchio. When the puppet comes to life, it’s Geppetto’s dream come true. Except Pinocchio turns out to be not such a nice boy after all. Pinocchio enjoys nothing better than creating mischief and playing mean tricks. As he discovers, being bad is much more fun than being good. Happily for Pinocchio, he will learn that there is much more to being a real boy than having fun.

January 31

The Terraformers by Annalee NewitzThe Terraformers by Annalee Newitz

Destry’s life is dedicated to terraforming Sask-E. As part of the Environmental Rescue Team, she cares for the planet and its burgeoning eco-systems as her parents and their parents did before her. But the bright, clean future they’re building comes under threat when Destry discovers a city full of people that shouldn’t exist, hidden inside a massive volcano. As she uncovers more about their past, Destry begins to question the mission she’s devoted her life to, and must make a choice that will reverberate through Sask-E’s future for generations to come.

Image Place holder  of - 14Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

February 7

The Cradle of Ice by James RollinsThe Cradle of Ice by James Rollins

To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed. A soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl bonded by fate and looming disaster. Each step along this path has changed the party, forging deep alliances and greater enmities. All the while, hostile forces have hunted them, fearing what they might unleash. Armies wage war around them. For each step has come with a cost—in blood, in loss, in heartbreak. Now, they must split, traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. Time is running out and only the truth will save us all.

February 14

Hopeland by Ian McDonaldHopeland by Ian McDonald

When Raisa Hopeland, determined to win her race to become the next electromancer of London, bumps into Amon Brightbourne—tweed-suited, otherworldly, guided by the Grace—in the middle of a London riot, she sets in motion a series of events which will span decades, continents and a series of events which will change the world. From rioting London to geothermal Iceland to the climate-struck islands of Polynesia, from birth to life to death, from tranquillity to terror to joy, Raisa’s journey will encompass the world. But one thing will always be true. Hopeland is family—and family is dangerous.

Place holder  of - 21The Cage of Dark Hours by Marina Lostetter

Krona and her Regulators survived their encounter with Charbon, the long-dead serial killer who returned to their city, but the illusions of their world were shattered forever. Allied with an old friend they will battle the elite who have ruled their world with deception, cold steel, and tight control of the magic that could threaten their power, while also confronting beasts from beyond the foggy barrier that binds their world. Now they must follow every thread to uncover the truth behind the Thalo, once thought of as only a children’s tale, who are the quiet, creeping puppet masters of their world.

February 21

Image Placeholder of - 83Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end. Antigone’s parents – Oedipus and Jocasta – are dead. Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but with her militant uncle Kreon rising to claim her father’s vacant throne, all Antigone feels is rage. When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest. But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.

March 28

Rubicon by J. S. DewesRubicon by J. S. Dewes

Sergeant Adriene Valero wants to die. She can’t. After enduring a traumatic resurrection for the ninety-sixth time, Valero is reassigned to a special forces unit and outfitted with a cutting-edge virtual intelligence aid. They could turn the tide in the war against intelligent machines dedicated to the assimilation, or destruction, of humanity. When her VI suddenly achieves sentience, Valero is drawn into the machinations of an enigmatic major who’s hell-bent on ending the war—by any means necessary.


Hot eBook Sale: January 2023

start the year right / start the year with ebook deals / you can scroll down to find them / read them and love them

Check it out!

Gardens of the Moongardensifthemoon by Steven Erickson — $3.99

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

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Too Like the Lightningmacmillan-2 by Ada Palmer — $3.99

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer—a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away. In this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

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The Traitor Baru Cormorantmacmillan-3 by Seth Dickinson — $3.99

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul. When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free. Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

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The Helm of Midnightmacmillan-4 by Marina Lostetter — $2.99

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question. It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.

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Luna: New Moonmacmillan-5 by Ian McDonald — $2.99

The Moon wants to kill you. Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did. As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise.

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Ender’s Shadowmacmillan-6 by Orson Scott Card — $3.99

The human race is at War with the “Buggers”, an insect-like alien race. The first battles went badly, and now as Earth prepares to defend itself against the imminent threat of total destruction at the hands of an inscrutable alien enemy, all focus is on the development and training of military geniuses who can fight such a war, and win. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In this new book, card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean—the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.

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Excerpt Reveal: Hopeland by Ian McDonald

Place holder  of amazon- 67 Place holder  of bn- 24 Poster Placeholder of booksamillion- 62 ibooks2 82 indiebound

Hopeland by Ian McDonald

A time-traveling, futuristic saga of a family trying to outlast and remake a universe with a power unlike any we’ve seen before.

When Raisa Hopeland, determined to win her race to become the next electromancer of London, bumps into Amon Brightbourne—tweed-suited, otherworldly, guided by the Grace—in the middle of a London riot, she sets in motion a series of events which will span decades, continents and a series of events which will change the world.

From rioting London to geothermal Iceland to the climate-struck islands of Polynesia, from birth to life to death, from tranquillity to terror to joy, Raisa’s journey will encompass the world. But one thing will always be true.

Hopeland is family—and family is dangerous.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Hopeland by Ian McDonald, on sale 2/14/23.


Love falls from the summer sky

It is twenty-three minutes past twenty-two and London burns. Flames roar from the shattered windows of a Brixton Foot Locker. White skeletons of torched Citroëns and Toyotas lie broken along Wood Green Lane. In Enfield a barricade of blazing wheelie bins defies police and riot-dogs. The Turks of Turnpike Lanes, baseball bats ready, form a phalanx between their shops, their cafés, their livelihoods and the voiceless roar of street-rage. Jagged teeth of bottle-smash, car-crash windscreen-sugar, bashed-in shutters. Scattered shoe boxes and a single flat-screen television, dropped on its back, face shat- tered by a fleeing foot. Waltham Forest to Croydon, Woolwich to Shep- herd’s Bush, riot runs like molten lead from BlackBerry to iPhone, Nokia to Samsung, flows down into the heart of the city, to Islington, Sloane Square, Oxford Circus.

‘What are you doing here?’ the woman in the TfL vest asks the young man stepping from the train. White, wide-eyed, a coxcomb of red hair flopping into his eyes. Tweeds two sizes too small, brogues, a leather bag slung across a narrow shoulder. A thin, unworldly thing caught out of time and space: a fawn in a foundry. She and this fey boy are the only people on the Central eastbound platform.

‘I’m trying to find Meard Mews?’

‘Meard Mews?’

‘Yes. It’s around Broadwick Street somewhere. I think.’

‘Are you out of your head?’

‘I am at Oxford Circus?’

‘Did you hear what they said? Avoid inessential travel?’ The woman in the hi-viz holds up her BlackBerry. ‘It’s kicking off up there.’

Subterranean winds whip shoe-dust, rattle chocolate wrappers across the tiles and carry the rumble from the street, at times voices, at times a soft, surging roar. Crashes. Splinterings. The sounds swirl through the tubes of the colossal instrument that is Oxford Circus station and the young man looks up, antelope eyes wide.

‘Can you help me?’

‘Exit 7,’ the woman says. ‘Please be safe up there.’

‘I have a charmed life,’ he calls back up the platform.

He emerges into riot. Hands shy rocks, bricks, pieces of smashed litter bin and bus-timetable off the shutters of Nike’s flagship store. Every hit on the swoosh raises cheers. He ought to slip behind them into the narrow ways of Soho but the sight, the sound, the smell of anarchy are so contrary to everything he understands about the city that he lingers a fascination too long. Mob radar registers him. Mob turns. Mob sees him. Pale, tweeded. A bag over his shoulder. Effete. Elite.

His hand goes to the leather satchel, soft as kisses from age and love. The same satchel once accompanied his great-uncle Auberon as he pur- sued sensitive misdemeanours in Lycia and the Dodecanese. These men can take it from him. These men can do whatever they want. Flesh is so much more satisfying to rattle rocks from than clattery steel. Flesh can cry and bleed. Four men break from the group and move towards him, shards of street furniture in hands. He backs away. Glass cracks under the heels of his brogues. He stands in a shard-crop field of smashed bottles, car- window sugar, shop glazing.

The sky beats with sudden noise. A television news helicopter comes in low and hard over the roof of Debenham’s. The swivel camera hangs like a testicle from the helicopter’s thorax. It turns above Oxford Circus, seeking newsworthy shots. Mob looks up, poses: its CNN moment.

He spins on broken splinters and vanishes into Soho.

The narrow, tight streets open onto a parallel world. Soho ignores he- licopters, breaking glass, rattling shutters, jeering voices, the fact that this is the year 2011. Soho life moves as it ever has, shoaling in sushi restaurants. Chinese buffets, coffeehouses, corner bars. Lads in plaid shorts and Ha- vaianas stand loud-drinking on the pavements. Young women smoke in cut-offs and summer shoes. Televisions play live rolling feed of the riots. Amy Winehouse sings how love is a losing game.

He pauses to consult his phone. Google doesn’t know Meard Mews.

‘You want to be careful with that,’ a street drinker calls. ‘Someone’ll have it off you.’

‘I’m trying to find Meard Mews?’

Shrugs. Giggles.

‘Meard Mews?’ The glass collector flickers his fingers over the phone screen. ‘Map doesn’t show it, but it’s there.’ A tap on the glass.

━━ ˖°˖ ☾☆☽ ˖°˖ ━━━━━━━

Meard Mews is a shoulder-wide crevasse between two brick walls, crowded with pungent shadows. He flicks on his phone torch: heaped black refuse sacks, cardboard pulped by rain and feet. Reeks of August rot, garlic, over- heated cooking oil. Kitchen chatter. Radio gaga and Soho beer piss. A set of black double doors, the email said. There are three such doors in the narrow passage.

He buzzes the intercom on the first door.

‘Crumble?’ he asks.


‘Crumble. It’s, uh, a club.’

‘Fuck off.’

Sirens, amplified by the brick trumpet of Meard Mews. Next door, next intercom.


A long stream of swift syllables in a language he does not recognise ends in a dead intercom. To the final door.

‘Hello, I’m the music.’

‘What love?’

‘The music. For Crumble. I’m playing a set.’

‘Never heard of it love.’

‘It could be small.’

The voice calls someone out of the range of the intercom. ‘Sorry, noth- ing like Crumble round here love.’

‘This is Meard Mews?’


‘I got an email to come to Meard Mews. A black door.’ ‘Not here love.’

The news helicopter passes overhead again. He taps up the promoter’s email again.

Then love falls from the summer sky.


‘Hey hi hello?’

He stares at the intercom on the final black door.

‘Here. I’m up here.’

The light from his phone scampers up the walls, over the barbed wire and broken glass embedded in cracking concrete, along the gutters. And strikes a young woman’s face above the rotted brick parapet. Her skin is light brown, her cheekbones sharp, her face freckled, her eyes green, her hair held back by a Nike headband.

‘Maybe turn the light off? You’re blinding me.’

‘Oh. Sorry.’

‘How much charge have you got?’ the woman calls.


‘On your phone.’

‘About eighty percent.’ A fire escape ladder drops to the street. Shoes descend first. Such shoes; soft, like gloves for the feet. Then he sees old- school skater tube socks with the proper red, white and blue bands at the top. Next, Adidas capri tights; three-striped, hole in the back of the thigh. A backpack over a crop top. Light, tough fingerless gloves. Around her left forearm, a phone in some kind of harness. The woman descends with equilibrium, momentum, glory. Angels descend like this on their ladders from heaven. Angels of Soho.

‘Bluetooth me.’

She crouches in the alley, her face lit by screen-shine. She swipes a fin- ger. His phone plays a small snatch of the music he would have performed at Crumble: a notification. The package had arrived.

‘Accept it. It’s safe. If this goes dead, I’m dead.’

‘What?’ he says.

She peers over his shoulder and taps the app. His screen fills with a map of Soho, bisected by a vertical translucent green band. ‘Yes,’ she hisses and snatches the phone from his hand. A jump, a vault, a grab and she is half- way up the fire ladder on the opposite side of the street.

‘My phone!’

She turns on the ladder and throws a tablet of glow down to him. Her phone. As he holds it in his cupped hands like a sacrament, it drops into power-saving mode. Five percent. He switches it off.

‘Recharge it,’ she shouts. ‘It’ll find me.’

‘What?’ he says again, and ‘Wait . . .’

A moment is all. Seize it. At some point in eternity random quantum fluctuations will re-create this universe in its every detail and this moment will present itself again. Myria-years are too long a wait to redeem unre- quited desire.

He pulls himself onto an industrial trash bin. The fire escape is a stretch but he is skinny and lithe. He swings his satchel behind him. The soles of those gecko-grip shoes are vanishing over the parapet above him. He winces as he scrapes toes on brickwork. These are handmade brogues.

She is a rooftop away already, crouching against the air-glow of Rich- mond Buildings like a superheroine. The higher lights of Soho Square hang like a sequin curtain behind her.

‘I’m coming with you.’

‘You can’t.’

‘But you’re in trouble.’


‘You could die.’


‘You said, “if this goes dead, I’m dead”.’

She shakes her head.

‘Not literally. Dead. More like . . . look, I haven’t the time. I’m in a race.’ She is fleet, but he follows. Those light roof-ballet shoes barely touch the asphalt, the splitting slates, the moulded leads. His brogues run sure. She flickers across the Soho rooftops like low summer lightning. He is the small thunder in her wake. In the lee of a flaking chimney stack she stops, hands on thighs, breathing deep. He arrives beside her.

‘That’s tweed,’ she says, surveying him.

Victorian men scaled Alps in tweed, he is about to say, but she is run- ning again, down the sloping roof slates to a brick parapet overlooking a narrow alley more a punctuation between buildings than a thoroughfare. She stands on the edge, shifting her weight from foot to foot, judging distances. The no is in his throat as she steps back, finds her balance and makes the short, strong run. She jumps. She seems suspended over the dark void filled with Soho heat and the odour of Thai food: the sole still point in the seething city. She lands with a crunch on the tiles, crouched, finding her balance.

‘A race against whom?’ he shouts across the gap.

‘My kynnd,’ she calls back.

‘Your what?’

‘Kynnd Finn. And did you say “whom”?’

He measures up the gap. Run in, launch, the landing, traction: all against him. For him: the Grace. He makes his run, throws himself over the street, lands hard, pitches forward, breaks his fall with his hands.

‘Gods,’ she whispers.

‘So.’ He dusts off his grit-pocked hands. ‘Race against whom?’

The sky behind the woman is wreathed with yellow, sodium-lit smoke. Sirens weave a web of alarm. ‘Listen. There’s a thing I can inherit. Some- thing so rare and magical you wouldn’t believe it. Finn also has a claim to it. So: We race. First one to bring it to life, keeps it. We start at opposite ends of a line that runs through London.’

‘Like a train line?’

‘No shut up listen. A map line. Zero degrees eight minutes two point one two seconds west. Me in Streatham, him up in Muswell Hill. If we stray more than twenty metres off the line, it’s game over.’

‘Even, people’s houses and private property and things?’

‘Shit on private property, tweed-boy. I had to swim across the Thames. There’s a wetsuit in the backpack. It’s a bit stinky.’

‘You put a wetsuit on in central London?’

‘And took it off in front of a dozen pervs. I got the river, Finn got Euston and the West Coast Main Line. So, if the line says run over the roofs, jump over alleys, I run, I jump.’ She turns to show him his phone shining from her left arm. ‘GPS. The Arcmages are watching. Now, I got a race to win?’

‘I can be useful,’ he calls as she works her way up the roof, fingertips brushing the slates.

‘Really, tweed-boy?’

‘Really. I have a charmed life.’

It’s true, and more than true. It is the defining truth in his twenty-four years. It is why the doors in Meard Mews hadn’t answered to Crumble. It is why the rioters on Oxford Circus sniffed, growled and moved on; to bring him here, to this rooftop. And she won’t turn him away. The Grace will always favour the Graced.

‘Well come on then.’ And she is along the ridge tiles. He follows on her heel.

A small crowd talks and drinks outside the Nellie Dean on Dean Street. Intent on their blunt gossip, their blaring laughter, they never look up. Half the universe is unseen, like dark matter. A city burning ten streets away, women slipping into wetsuits, a spandex superheroine and her tweed-and-brogue sidekick running the ridge tiles, like a quirky sixties spy-show cancelled mid-first-season: dark energy.

The girl checks a red pin on the appropriated phone.

‘He’s fast.’

‘How far is it?’

She flicks her chin towards Soho Square. ‘Carlisle Street.’ She drops to a high porch and peers down into the street.

‘Five, six metres.’

‘There’s a fire escape down that side.’

‘Off the line.’

‘Not to me.’

He takes the forbidden fire escape and descends to the Dean Street drinkers. ‘Um, could I ask a wee favour?’ The Grace can never be sum- moned or commanded. It is a shine. It goes out from him and touches hearts made wide by beer and summer and the drinkers help him drag a picnic bench across the street, upend it and position it under the drop point.

‘What’s it now?’

‘Maybe three metres.’

Now the drinkers see the girl on the porch and they are in an adven- ture. She turns, lowers herself over the edge of the porch, hangs from the lip, drops. She hits the slope of the bench, skis down into the street and is across the road, over the bonnet of a tight-parked Peugeot 205, down an alley, up an industrial bin, then a wall, then a fire exit to a high coaming.

‘It’s that free running thing, isn’t it?’ says a skinny bloke in a plaid shirt. He watches her striped socks vault, jump, climb out of his life up among the crumbling chimneys and the rooftop weed-smoking dens, chasing her prize beyond price.

The Grace is not cheated so easily. He is not tied to her strict desire line. He can go anywhere in this city. So: up Dean Street to Carlisle Street to Soho Square. With the last of the power in the girl’s phone he sum- mons the app and faces north, the direction of the other racer. The kynnd, whatever that is. There, moving against the groups of drinkers headed for the earlier tube, the safer bus. Early twenties, tall. Damn fit. Olive skin, prominent nose, gazelle eyes. Dark waves of thick, glossy hair. He wears the same Adidas capri tights as the girl. Same shoes. Same socks. A hydration backpack over a compression top, grippy fingerless gloves. The defining glow of a phone mounted on his left forearm. His wide eyes are turned to alleys and fire escapes and rooflines. Eyes on the prize. And that is how he misses it, the Grace whispers in the chambers of his heart.

At full speed he runs into Finn. They go sprawling to the street.

‘Sorry sorry.’ He helps Kynnd Finn up. A moment of legerdemain. ‘You okay? I think this is your phone.’ And the trick is done. ‘I’m so sorry.’

Finn slips the phone into the armband and runs on, eyes on the top of the city. Now the final act.

Finn glances at his left forearm, as he must. Glances again. Takes the phone and shakes it.

He sees the moment the life and hope run out of a man. He sees him go to his knees. He hears a thing he hoped never to hear again, a man howl as if his bones were wrenched through flesh. In the name of love, he has done the worst thing in his life.

━━ ˖°˖ ☾☆☽ ˖°˖ ━━━━━━━

He walks away from the scene of the phone-switch. On Finn’s stolen phone he can easily locate the Prize. This battered street door leads to a courtyard. There is a fire escape. Of course. Before he climbs the ladder in his inappropriate footwear to a flat roof he makes sure to switch off the purloined phone. Seal the crime. Across a few metres of abandoned barbe- cues and bottle-smash rises a stained-glass cupola, patterned with branches and leaves like a Tiffany lamp. At the four corners of the roof stand slender metal pillars, twice his height, each capped with a metal sphere the size of his head. Are those arcane markings etched into the roof lead beneath his feet, or the hieroglyphs of pigeon shit?

The stained glass is old and carbon-greasy, etched fragile by decades of light pouring through it. He peers through the panes. Glow and shadows. He sits and leans his back against the dome to wait for the girl to come up the long, strict way dictated by the line. Columns of smoke rise against a sodium sky. Sirens and shouts. The city growls, sullen and disobedient. The helicopters have flitted away to districts more newsworthy.

A gloved hand comes over the parapet. A second hand reaches. He is there to offer his own hand.

She stares up into his face. She is exhausted, eyes sunken, face jazzy with sweat and dust, nails chipped.


‘I knew another way in.’

She takes his hand and clambers onto the roof with the last of her strength. She sees the glass dome and every muscle tightens.

‘Oh my God.’ She freezes. ‘Am I . . . is he?’

‘He didn’t make it.’

‘You saw him? Finn?’

‘His phone . . .’ He thinks about the truth. Truth and Grace are not necessary lovers. ‘His phone died.’

‘I win,’ she says simply and because the words cut no night, speaks them again, speaks them to the heedless city. ‘I win!’

The phone on her forearm flashes a four-digit code. She squats to turn tumblers on a lockbox beside the dome. Inside is a ring bearing two keys. She unlocks a section of the dome, opens a panel and steps inside.

‘Come on then. You need to see this. You need to.’

Copyright © 2022 from Ian McDonald

Pre-order Hopeland Here:

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Political Sci-Fi of the Possible Future

With far-future science fiction on the rise in film and TV, (see Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021) and Foundation (2021) on Apple TV+) we’re looking back and uplifting some of the great science fiction books and series on our list from the last handful of years that delve into the depths of politics and society in a possible future. Check them out here!

by a frog

Placeholder of  -17Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer

Perhaps the Stars, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Terra Ignota series hit store shelves on 11.2.21, and now is the perfect time to pick up this quartet by Ada Palmer. World Peace is shattered and war spreads across the globe. In this future, the leaders of Hive nations—nations without fixed location—clandestinely committed nefarious deeds in order to maintain an outward semblance of utopian stability. But the facade could only last so long. And the catalyst came in the form of special little boy to ignite half a millennium of repressed chaos.

Poster Placeholder of - 80Teixcalaan series by Arkady Martine

In the Hugo Award–winning novel, A Memory Called Empire, Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Image Place holder  of - 15Luna series by Ian McDonald

The Luna series has been called Game of Thrones in space, and the politics between warring space-faring corporations on the Moon stands up to the comparison. Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds if the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

Place holder  of - 74The Interdependency series by John Scalzi

John Scalzi is known for his science fiction and The Interdependency is his latest completed series with Tor Books. This series is packed with political suspense, action, and all the great reasons we love a Scalzi novel. When the Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time begins separating all human worlds from one another, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must salvage an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

Image Placeholder of - 56Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While at its heart a romance, Everina Maxwell’s Winter’s Orbit explores the necessities of political alliances by way of marriage among the stars. Prince Kiem, a famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, has been called upon to be useful for once. He’s commanded to fulfill an obligation of marriage to the representative of the Empire’s newest and most rebellious vassal planet. His future husband, Count Jainan, is a widower and murder suspect.

The Caladan Trilogy by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

If you loved the latest film adaptation of Dune, why not consider checking out what more the universe has to offer? Tor is in the midst of publishing a prequel series about House Atreides’ rise to power and just how they made their enemies along the way. Dune: The Duke of Caladan and Dune: The Lady of Caladan are available now and look for Dune: The Heir of Caladan next fall in 2022.

Which book are you reading first? Let us know in the comments! 


New Releases: 7/23

New Releases

Happy New Releases Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport

Image Placeholder of - 23Oichi Angelis, former Worm, along with her fellow insurgents on the generation starship Olympia, head deeper into the Charon System for the planet called Graveyard.

Ancient, sentient, alien starships wait for them—three colossi so powerful they remain aware even in self-imposed sleep. The race that made the Three are dead, but Oichi’s people were engineered with this ancient DNA.

A delegation from Olympia must journey to the heart of Graveyard and be judged by the Three. Before they’re done, they will discover that weapons are the least of what the ships have to offer.


Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

Image Place holder  of - 82A Dragon is dead.

Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed .

The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent’s violent deaths, is now a ward–virtually a hostage– of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished of the surface of the moon.

Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and more to the point—that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was the Schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey–to Earth.

In an unstable lunar environment, the shifting loyalties and political machinations of each family reach the zenith of their most fertile plots as outright war erupts.


$2.99 eBook Sale: Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Placeholder of  -10The ebook edition of Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald is on sale now for only $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today.

About Luna: New Moon: The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

Order Your Copy

kindle nook ebooks.comPoster Placeholder of google play- 30 ibooks2 40 kobo

This sale ends March 1.


Excerpt: Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

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Image Placeholder of - 14A hundred years in the future, a war wages between the Five Dragons—five families that control the Moon’s leading industrial companies. Each clan does everything in their power to claw their way to the top of the food chain—marriages of convenience, corporate espionage, kidnapping, and mass assassinations.

Through ingenious political manipulation and sheer force of will, Lucas Cortas rises from the ashes of corporate defeat and seizes control of the Moon. The only person who can stop him is a brilliant lunar lawyer, his sister, Ariel.

Witness the Dragons’ final battle for absolute sovereignty in Ian McDonald’s heart-stopping finale to the Luna trilogy.

Luna: Moon Rising goes on sale on March 19. You can read the first chapter on Tor.com.


There, again, shrill and high and piercing through the humming roar of the Orion Quadra morning: the call. Short, stabbing needles of sound, rounded by a trill.

Alexia pauses in her morning dress, fingers frozen on the button of her tight-waisted jacket. The slightest movement, the least rustle of fabric will obliterate the song. And it’s gone. Alexia moves on stockinged feet to her balcony. She holds herself icy still, listening for the piping note through the chords of a hundred different electric engines, the throb of water in the pipes, the hush of the artificial winds, the chorus of human voices that are the loudest ingredient in Meridian’s music. She focuses her concentration into a sharp arrow of listening. Even her heartbeat, the brush of her breath, is too loud. There: staccato pin-pricks of sound far off down the quadra. Something strange, something alive, something not human. Green gold, a fleck of red, blurs across her vision. She follows the movement. A bird.

‘What is that?’ Alexia has learned to accept the icons in her eye that represent the Four Elementals. The Iron Hand of the Eagle of the Moon will never know the choking fear of oxygen debt, of borrowing breaths from family, from friends; of weaving water from the exhalations of the moon’s million and a half citizens. But their lights never go out and Alexia can never forget that in this world everything is priced and accounted. Her familiar is still unfamiliar. Alexia has given it a name, as is the custom – Maninho – and skinned it as a cartoon kid in baggy T-shirt, shorts and too-big shoes to make it non-threatening, but she still hesitates to speak to it out loud. At home, AIs know their place.

At home.

A red-rumped parakeet, Maninho says silently in her implanted bud. Alexia gasps as the colours dart towards her and then perch on the railing of her neighbour’s balcony: a bird.

‘Oh look at you,’ Alexia Corta breathes. She squats down, twitters and hisses at the bird, finger held out; the universal invocation of small creatures and babies. ‘Aren’t you handsome?’ The parakeet cocks its head to regard her first with the right eye, then the left. Its plumage morphs from turquoise-green on the crown across emerald wings to a yellow belly. Its rump is a splash of hot brick-red.

Apart from fish and crustaceans in hotshop tanks and pet ferrets on leads, it is the only non-human living thing Alexia has since seen leaving Earth.

What is it doing here? Alexia tightens her jaw muscles and subvocalises into the implanted microphone, a trick that every moon-kid knows before they can walk and which she has still not mastered.

From its behaviour, I would surmise that it is trying to solicit food from you, Maninho says.

I didn’t mean, Alexia says . . . She may have skinned her familiar like a beach-bunny goofb ll but it has the personality of a priest instructing catechism. I mean, why are they here at all?

Feral colonies have been established in Queen of the South for twenty years, Maninho says. Meridian’s population is around five hundred birds. They have proved resistant to eradication. Biological infestation is a persistent problem in urban centres.

What do they eat?

 Grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, Maninho says. Food surplus. They are entirely dependent on humans.

‘Don’t fly away passarinho,’ Alexia says. She backs away slowly into her living room. The old apartment on Ocean Tower had been cramped, but this was a jail cell. Wheres my penthouse view? she had complained. Her assistants frowned, baffl d. Th s was high status accommodation suitable for the personal assistant to the Eagle of the Moon. Her staff explained how deep radiation penetrated from the surface into the regolith. The higher your status, the lower your station. And wheres the kitchen? Perplexed, the civil servants had flipped up the sink, pulled out the waste disposal, slid the refrigerator out from the wall. Where do I store things? Where do I cook? Again, raised eyebrows. You want to cook? You eat out. You pick a hotshop, you get to know the regulars, you get to know your chef, you build a little community. Apartment kitchens are for making cocktails and brewing mint tea, if you absolutely categorically cannot get to a tea-house.

Nuts. She has some cashews in the fridge. Cashews, cashew juice, are the taste of home. They are the only things in the fridge. Birds like nuts, don’t they?

Message from Lucas, Maninho says. ‘Shit.’

It’s not even a voice call. A message, an instruction. Change of plan. Meet me at the Pavilion of the New Moon. Dress for a plenary session.

She throws a handful of nuts on to the balcony and, as she turns away, Alexia sees a flutter of green in her peripheral vision.

The man ducks into the elevator as close behind Alexia as her shadow. His stench catches in Alexia’s craw. Alexia’s sense of smell was the first to be assaulted by the moon, and the first to acclimatise. When she stepped out of the moonloop capsule into Meridian Hub, the reek had almost floored her. The gagging catch of sewage, the taint of rebreathed air and the bodies that had breathed it, the crackle of ozone and electricity, the greasy, sweet perfume of new-printed plastics. Bodies, sweats, bacteria and moulds. Cooking smells, decaying vegetation, stagnant water. Over all, before all, the spicy, burned-out-firework smell of moondust. Then one morning she woke in her tiny bedroom and was no longer greeted by the chasm of stench. It was part of her now. Fused to her skin, her throat, the linings of her tubes and lungs.

The entire elevator notices this man.

He is tall, gaunt, white, unshaven. He wears the default mooniform of hoodie and leggings but his clothes are dirty: unthinkable in a society that wears, discards, reprints daily. He is naked: no familiar hovers over his left shoulder. The man catches Alexia’s glance and locks looks.

Alexia Corta has never been the first to look away.

The passengers thin out as the elevator climbs. By the time it reaches the level of the LMA Council offices suspended symbolically between Earth and the deep-down lunar elite, only Alexia and stinking man remain.

The elevator slows, stops.

‘Give me some air,’ he gasps as the door opens. He steps into the doorway to prevent it closing.

‘Excuse me.’ Alexia pushes past and his hand snags her wrist. She pulls free with enough force to communicate that she could snap his arm with a thought, but pauses to face the affront. This is what poverty looks like, Alexia realises. She had grown up believing that everyone was rich on the moon. She had sat on the parapet of Ocean Tower and looked up at a tiny, distant ball of billionaires.

‘Please. A breath. Of. Air.’ She hears the strain in every word. Every syllable is a cost. This man is fighting for breath. His chest barely moves, the sinews of his neck are tight as cables, every muscle is focused on the act of respiration. He can’t breathe.

‘I’m sorry, I’m new, I don’t know how to do that,’ Alexia stammers, stepping away from the slowly asphyxiating man.

‘Fucking LMA,’ he whispers after her. He cannot afford a shout. ‘Not. Even. Worth. Air. We. Breathe.’

Alexia turns.

‘What do you mean?’ The door has closed.

‘What do you mean?’ Alexia shouts. The elevator ascends at express speed towards the high city where the poor people live.

Alexia, Maninho says, you are two minutes and twenty-three seconds late. Lucas is waiting.

 With folded hands, Lady Sun awaits the Lunar Mandate Authority. The honourable delegates will be irked: made to travel from Meridian to Queen of the South, then to the Palace of Eternal Light, finally the humiliating walk across the polished stone floor of the Great Hall of Taiyang to the small door where Lady Sun waits with her entourage. Let them be irked. The Dowager of Shackleton is not summoned like an infant.

They move like frightened hens, these Earthmen, in picky, parsimonious steps, huddled together as if the floor might swallow them. Earthmen. Such loathsome suits. Narrow ties, mean shoes. The uniform of apparatchiks and corporate ideologues. Their familiars are identical steel-grey crescents, as if they were mere digital assistants and not external AI souls. Her entourage – tall, handsome, well tailored – looks down on the terrestrials.

‘Sun Cixi.’ She waits.

She can wait until the sun turns cold. ‘Lady Sun.’

‘Delegate Wang.’

‘We are concerned for the well-being of Delegate James F Cockburn. He was assigned as LMA liaison with Taiyang, with particular portfolio for the equatorial solar array,’ says Delegate Wang, a cool and calculating woman from Beijing. Party apparatchik. ‘We want to know if Delegate Cockburn has met with an accident.’ Lady Sun’s familiar identifies the speaker as Anselmo Reyes, from the Davenant venture capital group. The LMA has sent its highest-ranking officers.

‘I regret that Delegate Cockburn met with a fatal accident during an inspection of the North Grimaldi sector of the Sun-ring,’ Lady Sun says. ‘Surface suits, even shell-suits, require skill and experience.’

‘We were not immediately informed?’ Delegate Wang says.

‘The network is still recovering from the invasion,’ says Demeter Sun from the Taiyang entourage, as rehearsed.

‘The rationalisation, you mean,’ Delegate Wang corrects. Demeter Sun dips his head.

‘Taiyang will conduct a full accident investigation,’ Sun Guoxi says. ‘You will be provided with the report, and any compensation claims will be satisfied.’

‘Please accept this from the Board of Taiyang,’ Lady Sun says. She lifts a finger and Sun Xiulan steps forward with the box. Small, intricate, lunar titanium, laser-cut. Exquisite. Wang Yongqing lifts out a calligraphic scroll.

‘Carbon, fifty-eight thousand five hundred and twenty-three point two five grams, sixteen thousand six hundred and sixty-four point three seven grams oxygen,’ Delegate Wang says. ‘Explain, please.’

‘The chemical constituents of James F Cockburn, by mass,’ says Lady Sun. ‘Surprisingly high counts in lead, mercury, cadmium and gold nanoparticles. Isn’t the calligraphy exquisite? Sun Xuilan has an enviable hand.’

A tall young man dips his head.

‘The elements have already been added to the general organics pool,’ Lady Sun says. ‘The zabbaleen are most accurate in their end-of-life audits. I find such precision reassuring.’

Sun Xiulan has an enviable hand with the calligrapher’s brush but the finest touch is Jiang Ying Yue’s with the knife. She is Taiyang’s Corporate Confl t Resolution Offi , a perfumed title for what more direct clans, like the Mackenzies, would have called First Blade. The Three August Ones had foreseen the coming of an agent of the People’s Republic; simple checks had identified James F Cockburn as that agent to seventy-five per cent certainty. Odds short enough for the Board, in the shadows and glare of the Palace of the Eternal Light, to order a termination. Jiang Ying Yue was tasked, armed and dispatched. She personally escorted Delegate Cockburn on the private railcar. While the car was still in the Shackleton crater wall tunnel, Jiang Ying Yue slipped the bone blade from the holster inside her suit and drove it up through the soft fl sh of James F Cockburn’s jaw into his brain. Zabbaleen were waiting at the siding at the BALTRAN terminal. They removed the body, the knife and every stain and trace of DNA. Stains are blood, blood is carbon and carbon belongs to the moon.

‘This is . . .’ Monique Bertin stammers, the third executive officer of the LMA, representing the interests of the European Union.

‘Our way, Madame Bertin,’ Lady Sun says. The crook of a finger is the sign to her entourage that the meeting is over. ‘Please enjoy the hospitality of the Palace of Eternal Light.’ Lady Sun’s young women and men close in around her as she takes her leave. Excellent boys and girls.

‘Did you notice?’ Lady Sun says as they step into the tram capsule that will take her to private suites.

‘All defer to Madam Wang,’ her Corporate Conflict Resolution Officer says.

‘The People’s Republic has not forgotten,’ Lady Sun says. ‘They have waited sixty years, but they have grown greedy and lax. They have made an error. They have shown us how deeply they control the LMA. And we can use that against them.’

The capsule slips across tunnels and slows into Lady Sun’s private station.

Madam, Darius Mackenzie has arrived, Lady Sun’s familiar announces.

‘Darius Sun,’ Lady Sun corrects. ‘Ying Yue, please call my granddaughter Amanda. I wish to see her in my apartment.’

The lift of a hand dismisses Jiang Ying Yue at the capsule door. Lady Sun pauses to observe her great-nephew. Five days ago she left him under the tutelage of the School of Seven Bells. Already he looks leaner, sharper, tighter. Disciplined. And he has stopped vaping.

We make weapons here, Mariano Gabriel Demaria had said.

Lady Sun has sent many of her family to learn the way of the knife but the weapon she forges here is something subtler and greater. A weapon borne in plain sight, like a sword on a wall, that after years still carries a lethal edge. A weapon that might only be drawn after she is dead.


‘Taihou.’ The honorific is not precisely correct but Mariano Gabriel Demaria has put manners on him, after the unseemly informalities of Kingscourt. When did the Mackenzies become soft and decadent? In the great days the Suns and Mackenzies forged this world. Hammered steel, the Mackenzies; and she had been as hard, diamond to their metal. Lady Luna was harsh then; every breath, every tear wrestled from her. So few now: Robert Mackenzie dead; Yevgeny Vorontsov doting, prodded along by his grandchildren like a pig to market. Even Adriana Corta, last of the Dragons, first to die. She had the iron in the bone. It is the children who disappoint. Workboots to workboots in three generations. The fi st generation makes it, the second generation spends it, the third generation loses it. Lucas Corta, there is a son to his mother. Travelling to Earth, that was a thing the old Dragons would have admired. It’s impossible, so do it anyway.

She had intended that the Cortas and Mackenzies destroy each other. There is work yet to be done.

‘I trust Mariano is taxing you?’ Lady Sun asks. She moves to her windows, slits of blazing light cut deep into the rim-rock of Shackleton Crater. Toughened glass, six centimetres thick, yet the unrelenting sunlight of the South Pole chips away at atomic bonds, day by day, lune by lune. One day, one lune, they will fail. Lady Sun fi ds a comfort in imagining that. It is bracing, strengthening to know the end. Blades of brilliant, dusty light slash the room. Lady Sun’s apartment is spacious and simply furnished; her luxury is the fabrics and weaves clothing her walls. The shafts of sunlight, never varying in height at this extreme latitude, have bleached long lines across her brocades and tapestries. It is a matter of indifference to Lady Sun. She enjoys her textiles for their tactile properties; creative weaves can change in a stroke from fur-soft to the little tearings of cat tongues.

‘If that means, is it intense, then intense,’ Darius Sun-Mackenzie says. ‘He’s teaching me to sense. Before fi hting there is moving, before moving there is sensing.’

‘The maze,’ Lady Sun says. The whole moon knows the legend of the dark maze, where true fi hters are trained, strung with seven bells hanging in blackness. When you can walk the maze without sounding a single chime you have learned all the School of Seven Bells can teach you. ‘Show me what you’ve learned.’

Lady Sun lifts a walking stick from a glass pot. Unthinking guests and children give her sticks as gifts. She brings it down with all her force on Darius’s head. He isn’t there. He’s a step away, balanced and ready. Lady Sun lays into Darius with the cane like a widow beating off housebreakers. Darius steps, swerves, bends around the blows; the least possible movement so that the strike misses him by millimetres. Grace and elegance, Lady Sun thinks as she advances on Darius, her cane a flurry of slashes and stabs. He does not trust eyesight alone; he hears the movement of the cane, my breathing, my footsteps; he feels the displacement of the air.

‘Delightful,’ Lady Sun says. ‘Now imagine you intend to kill me.’

She lofts the stick. Darius catches it without looking. He feels it, his hand is there, open. He comes at Lady Sun; the edge of the cane glides past her throat, the soft spot behind her ear, her armpit. Close, controlled, the least distance between intent and impact.

The cane brushes her forearm, her groin, her neck. The finale, the three gracious cuts.

The first cut takes away the blade. The second cut takes away the fight. The third cut takes away the life.

Lady Sun beckons and Darius surrenders the cane. ‘You’ve been working ahead of your tuition.’

‘At Crucible I learned knife-fighting basics with Denny Mackenzie.’ ‘A fine blade, Denny Mackenzie. Mean and honourable. I wonder

how he’s enduring exile.’

Familiars announce the arrival of Amanda Sun in the lobby.

Darius excuses himself.

‘Stay,’ Lady Sun says. ‘There are other ways to fight.’

Amanda Sun betrays anger in the set of her shoulders, the lay of her belly, the tightness in her hands. I read you like a children’s story, Lady Sun thinks. Small wonder Lucas Corta bested you.

‘Your son is in Twé,’ Lady Sun says at length.

‘He is still under the protection of the Asamoahs.’

‘And yet you are here,’ Lady Sun says. On the edge of her vision

still wide, still sharp – she sees Darius shift uncomfortably. ‘Lucas Corta is on his way to Twé as we speak. He intends to take his son back to Meridian. We need leverage with the Eagle of the Moon. The whole Nearside is scrambling to get its hands on a Corta. A valuable Corta.’

‘I’ll leave immediately.’

‘Too late for that. Tamsin has prepared a claim in your name for parental custody of Lucasinho Corta.’

Darius leans forward, draws in muscles and sinews and breath; his new-born fighting instincts woken.

Copyright © 2019

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New Releases: 4/24/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Love Songs and Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Image Place holder  of - 72 Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak.

Publish and Perish by Phillipa Bornikova

Poster Placeholder of - 71 Linnet Ellery, a young attorney at a prestigious New York vampire law firm has proved she has extraordinary luck—and not just in the courtroom. She has walked unscathed through events that would kill a normal person.

Linnet’s elven ex-boyfriend is trapped in Fairyland, and Linnet will have to lead a raid into Fey to free him—alongside her boss, whom she is falling in love with. But a love affair between a vampire and a human is strictly forbidden, and any violation is punishable by death for both parties.


Aztec Blood by Gary Jennings

Image Placeholder of - 97 The Aztec people have been conquered and a bloody revolt of the Indians put down. The former Aztec Empire is now a colony called New Spain in which the Indians are enslaved to great estates that are actually feudal domains. The Spanish lords rule as kings, treating Indian men as work animals and Indian women as their personal property. In this colourful and exciting era of swords and cloaks, upheaval and revolution, a young beggar boy, in whose blood runs that of both Spanish and Aztec royalty, must claim his birthright.

Smells Like Finn Spirit by Randy Henderson

Place holder  of - 40 Finn’s re-adaptation to the human world is not going so well. He’s got a great girlfriend, and is figuring out how things like the internet work, but he is still carrying the disembodied personality of Alynon, Prince of the Silver Demesne, the fae who had occupied his body during his imprisonment. And he’s not getting along at all with his older brother. And oh, by the way, his dead grandfather is still trying to possess him in order to bring about Armageddon.


Time Was by Ian McDonald

Placeholder of  -91 A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.

In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.

Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their disparate timelines overlap.


Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection Vol. 1 Story and art by Leiji Matsumoto

Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage Vol. 4 Story by Leiji Matsumoto; Art by Kouichi Shimahoshi

Hatsune Miku Presents: Hachune Miku’s Everyday Vocaloid Paradise Vol. 3 Story and art by Ontama

High-Rise Invasion Vol. 1-2 Story by Tsuina Miura; art by Takahiro Oba

Made in Abyss Vol. 2 Story and art by Akihito Tukushi

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Vol. 7 Story by Rifujin na Magonote; Art by Yuka Fujikawa

Pandora of the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn Vol. 10 Story by Masamune Shirow; Art by Rikudou Koushi

Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream Written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi

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