January 2023 Wrap-Up

Books read in January 2023:
To Each This World ★★★¾☆ Colony SF, first contact, aliens.
– The Sea in the Sky ★★★☆☆, Audible Original, SF, exploration on Enceladus.
– And What Can We Offer You Tonight ★★½☆☆ Dystopia, murder, revenge, overloaded prose.
– Magic Tides (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years #1) ★★★★★ UF, Kate fails at keeping a low profile. Novella.
– Beneath the Dark Ice 🦑🦑🦑🦑☆ Milfic, Antarctica, caving, speed, action, creature feature, high body count — fun!
– Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures ★★★★☆ audio, Stephen Fry narrates, Greek mythology..
– Icehenge ★★★☆☆, 2nd novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, exploring Mars for the first time.

– Ship of Destiny, I will still finish this, but right now it‘s in a bit of a hiatus.

Pages and minutes in January 2023
1,710 pages eye reading & 14.67 hours of audio

Moving pictures…
– Strange World ★★★★☆ animation, Disney+, nice one! Center of the Earth stuff.
– Babylon 5, season 1-5 ★★★★☆ I rewatched some of my favourite episodes. It was fun.
– Star Trek: Strange New Worlds ★★★★★ Fabulous! Old Trek lives again… I‘m still laughing about the episode where Spock and T‘Pring attempt a soul joining.
– Dexter New Blood ★★★★☆ Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
– Dexter, S1-4, ★★★★★ re-watch, still great.

February 2023 plans:
The Red Scholar’s Wake, Netgalley, read the first two chapters. SF, Universe of the Xuja, sentient ships, pirates, LGBQT+.
Destroyer (Foreigner #7), audio, listened to the first 4 hours. Oh boy.
– Blackfish City, SF, maybe end of the month.

Developing the groundwork for the Mars Trilogy?

by Kim Stanley Robinson

The cover shows a structure similar to Stonehenge, on a rocky ground with a moon and space in the background. First published in 1984, which makes it his second published novel, several years before the Mars Trilogy. 

The age shows a little, one part of the political landscape is the Soviet Union, people print out and read paper books and Pluto is still the ninth planet.

We start in 2248 A.D., with Emma Weil on a spaceship in the asteroid belt. There is a revolution brewing on Mars and a mutiny on the ship. The revolution made me think of the Mars Trilogy.

Part Two is Hjalmar Nederland in 2547 A.D., an archaeologist excavating and exploring the Unrest of 2248. I liked the beginning, but skimmed through a lot of the second part of Hjalmar‘s story. Too reflective for my current mood. Great stuff for lovers of Mars stories towards the end. The political dynamics were again very reminiscent of the Mars Trilogy. Maybe Robinson expanded on this story and the idea he developed here for those later books. The story reflects on the loss of memories and self and how history is perceived.

Part Three: Edmond Doya, 2610 A.D., starting with him reminiscing about that expedition to Pluto in 2547, discovering Icehenge. He goes back to Pluto and tries to determine who built Icehenge and what it all means for the history that has been written. Again I liked the start and the ending and skimmed through the rest. The ending was pretty, but unsatisfactory. I don‘t think Robinson and I will become friends anymore, his style is too dry for me, at least in this.

Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings
Tomaso Albinoni, Adagio in G minor

Icehenge is Kim Stanley Robinson’s second novel, published in the same year as The Wild Shore, 1984. The novel consists of three stories connected through time, two of which were published before and significantly revised for the novel, and one written for the novel.
Icehenge deals with many themes, with each part complementing or shedding light to the other. In a background setting of the colonization of the solar system and social unrest in Mars, Icehenge explores the effects of longevity on human memory, historical memory, historical revisionism and the imperfect knowledge of past events.


PS: I wonder if I would still like the Mars Trilogy, if I re-read it now. I don‘t wonder enough to actually try though. This has been on my shelf since 2016, I am quite happy to give it a send-off now.

And we have a cover! More new stuff…

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7)
by Martha Wells

Will be published November 14th 2023 by Tordotcom…

Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!


Oh, and there will a new Singing Hills novella in September!

Mammoths at the Gate (The Singing Hills Cycle, #4)
by Nghi Vo

The wandering Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills Abbey for the first time in almost three years, to be met with both joy and sorrow. Their mentor, Cleric Thien, has died, and rests among the archivists and storytellers of the storied abbey. But not everyone is prepared to leave them to their rest.

Because Cleric Thien was once the patriarch of Coh clan of Northern Bell Pass–and now their granddaughters have arrived on the backs of royal mammoths, demanding their grandfather’s body for burial. Chih must somehow balance honoring their mentor’s chosen life while keeping the sisters from the north from storming the gates and destroying the history the clerics have worked so hard to preserve.


Not sure if I will get it, this will be another spur-of-the-moment decision in September!

Heavenly intervention led to this…

Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology, #2)
by Stephen Fry (author and narrator)

Stephen Fry‘s second offering in his Greek Mythology series. We are looking at all of the Greek heroes, some more well-known than others. Lots of names and someone begetting someone else, etc. But as Stephen points out himself early on, don‘t get hung up on trying to memorize them all. I certainly didn‘t. Those that kept getting repeated eventually stuck.

Herakles (Hercules), Jason and Theseus are covered quite extensively and I knew their stories at least in broad strokes. I was foggier on the details of Perseus. But I had never heard of Bellerophon or Atalanta. Orpheus and Oedipus were nice refreshers. The ending dragged. I blame Theseus, he must have been quite a tosser.

Stephen‘s sometimes amusing narration made me think of Monty Python at times. Pity that they never picked up on the Greek heroes. Parts of this could have qualified.

This is quite long, so I listened to Stephen with longish breaks in between heroes. And yes, I recommend the audio, as half of the fun is listening to Fry‘s narration.

I will definitely proceed to the next book. I want to see what he makes of Troy! Should be entertaining.

The story of Troy speaks to all of us – the kidnapping of Helen, a queen celebrated for her beauty, sees the Greeks launch a thousand ships against the city of Troy, to which they will lay siege for 10 whole and very bloody years. 


Further reading for the only female hero in this book: I came across a retelling that looks interesting, Atalanta by Jennifer Saint.

From the beloved, bestselling author of Elektra and Ariadne, a reimagining of the myth of Atalanta, a fierce huntress raised by bears and the only woman in the world’s most famous band of heroes, the Argonauts


Oh, and Ariadne makes an appearance as well in Fry‘s stories about Theseus….

Goodreads Choice Award — Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.

When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending?


And these three ladies will probably make an appearance in Fry‘s Troy as well:

Goodreads Choice Award — Nominee for Best Fantasy (2022)

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods. 


Next time I feel like reading about women in Ancient Greece / mythology, I should probably give this author a try, what do you think?

Happy Lunar New Year 2023!

Yesterday the Year of the Rabbit officially started! 新年快乐! So, apparently, for us bookish people that kicks of the trend of reading books with rabbits on the cover. I can already see it—next time I‘m at my local bookstore, all these rabbits will be looking at me and whisper „buy me, buy me!“

Let‘s have a look at my shelf of owned books, aka the Rabbit TBR! The first rabbit on my shelf is a planned re-read:

Watership Down
by Richard Adams

I read this many, many times as a teenager, pretty much once a year for a long time. It‘s been so long, I don‘t recall exactly what I loved so much about this book, perhaps it is time for a reread. Perhaps it was the imaginative world building and the strength of the character developments. Plus I am curious—I only ever read this in the German translation, never in the original. So I got a secondhand paperback last year.

The Forest God
by Jamie Lackey

This is a 82-page novella and Netgalley, that has been on my shelf since August 2020. Yes, I am very late. I don‘t remember why I requested this.

The Forest God, incarnated into the body of hare, ready to die and live again. 
The Apprentice Witch, outcast and unwanted, unsure of her path. 
The Young Lord, frivolous and rootless, inconsiderate of his duties. 

Their three souls should be bound to a cycle of death and sacrifice, responsibility and rebirth. But the bonds lie broken and shrouded in mystery. The wood remains in precarious balance for now, but the village withers. 

Only together, can they set things right.

The Psychology of Time Travel
by Kate Mascarenhas

No idea. I added this 372-page kindle to my shelf in October 2018. About time, right?

A time travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice. Perfect for readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

That was it with owned rabbits… do you hve any bunnies on your shelves?

Meeting something scary in dark caves…

Beneath the Dark Ice (Alex Hunter, #1)
by Greig Beck

Milfic, Antarctica, caves, darkness, something scary in those caves, people mysteriously disappearing without a trace. A search-and-rescue party is sent with some scientists and some badass soldiers. You get the picture. Pure brain candy/pulp fiction. Speed, action and a high and regular body count.

I don‘t know if a bullet lodged in the brain could really lead to the skills described here. Sounds a bit too fantastical. Anyway, suspending disbelief.

I could have done without the stereotypic cookie-cutter bad guy and the crazy scientist, but unfortunately these characters are regulars in these pulp-fiction horror/milfic novels. I am also wondering about some other things happening in the book, but mentioning them would be too spoilerish. 

If you are a fan of Center-of-the-Earth stories, caving and creature features, this is a fun choice. For what it was, it was an entertaining read. 🦑🦑🦑🦑 for this one!

Visiting Locus Magazine

I do not read online SF magazines regularly. I get a newsletter from Tordotcom, that leads me to reading some of their articles. That‘s about it. Most newsletter I read a few times and then get rid of again. Today I stumbled across Locus magazine though and read some good stuff.

JAMES PATTERSON signed on to finish an incomplete manu­script by MICHAEL CRICHTON (1942-2008) for Little, Brown via Robert Barnett for Patterson and Shane Salerno for CrichtonSun (the estate’s production company). The novel concerns “a mega-eruption of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano that can destroy not just the island but the entire world.”


I would read that! I like apocalyptic scenarios and have always found volcanoes oddly fascinating. Then this article had me nodding my head vigorously:

Commentary: Cory Doctorow: Social Quitting

  Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow
Photo by Paula Mariel Salischiker

As I type these words, a mass exodus is underway from Twitter and Facebook. After decades of eye-popping growth, these social media sites are contracting at an alarming rate.

For social media, the biggest switching cost isn’t learning the ins and outs of a new app or generating a new password: it’s the communities, family members, friends, and customers you lose when you switch away. Leaving aside the complexity of adding friends back in on a new service, there’s the even harder business of getting all those people to leave at the same time as you and go to the same place.


Isn‘t that the truth! And you need a place to switch to, once you get to that point. Or not, as the case might be. When I left FB and Twitter years ago, I did not replace them and it wasn‘t a big deal. However, leaving Goodreads would be. Where to go? There is no other booksite that has these social media qualities. I have been with them since 2008 and with my current favourite group I have been since 2017. I don‘t want to loose them. So, at the moment, the switching cost is too high.

Annalee Newitz: Terraforming


Debut SF novel Autonomous was published in 2017, and was a Nebula Award finalist and win­ner of a Lambda Award. The Future of Another Timeline appeared in (2019) and was nominated for a Dragon Award and won the Sidewise Award. Their latest book, The Terraformers, will be published at the end of January.

“My latest book is called The Terraformers and it is a multigenerational epic about terrafor­ming a planet. As it says on the tin, it is about some terraformers, the people doing the real work planetside, and it takes place over many thousands of millennia. It starts about 60,000 years in our future and ends 65,000 years in our future. I spent a lot of time working on the timeline leading up to the events of the novel. I have all these files on my computer that are full of things like, ‘Okay, but if this happened at this date, then what would happen at this date?!’


Tempting, but I still haven‘t read Autonomous, which has been on my ebook shelf since 2019!

And I just subscribed to their newsletter, let‘s see how long that lasts…

PS: I am weak, I just requested The Terraformers from Netgalley… Tor doesn‘t like me much though, so the probability to get rejected is high.

Most anticipated books releasing in 2023, Part II

The infos about new released keep coming, this time from Tordotcom

…and the conclusion to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Final Architecture series, Lords of Uncreation (Orbit, May 2)… Martha Wells, author of the Murderbot Diaries, starts a new fantasy series with Witch King (Tordotcom Publishing, May 30), and James Rollins continues his epic Moonfall series with The Cradle of Ice (Tor Books, February 7)…

Tchaikovsky is an instabuy, I will get it as audio. I‘m a maybe about Witch King, my mood at the time will decide if I want to get and read that book right away. James Rollins is interesting—a few years ago I read several of his adventure novels. I did not follow him after that, so finding out that he writes an apparently successful specfic series was total news to me.

… and an Arkady Martine novella called Rose/House (Subterranean Press, March 1).

Hm, not sure… the description does not convince me just yet:

Rose/House (Hardcover), Published March 2023 by Subterranean Press

Arkady Martine, the acclaimed author of the Teixcalaan Series, returns with an astonishing new novella.

A house embedded with an artificial intelligence is a common thing: a house that is an artificial intelligence, infused in every load-bearing beam and fine marble tile with a thinking creature that is not human? That is something else altogether. But now Deniau’s been dead a year, and Rose House is locked up tight, as commanded by the architect’s will: all his possessions and files and sketches are confined in its archives, and their only keeper is Rose House itself. Rose House, and one other.

Dr. Selene Gisil, one of Deniau’s former protégé, is permitted to come into Rose House once a year. She alone may open Rose House’s vaults, look at drawings and art, talk with Rose House’s animating intelligence all she likes. Until this week, Dr. Gisil was the only person whom Rose House spoke to.

There is a dead person in Rose House. The house says so. It is not Basit Deniau, and it is not Dr. Gisil. It is someone else. Rose House, having completed its duty of care and informed Detective Maritza Smith of the China Lake police precinct that there is in fact a dead person inside it, dead of unnatural causes—has shut up.

Book blurb, shortened

I really liked the first Teixcalaan novel, A Memory Called Empire (my review), but the sequel was just ok. I missed the Netgalley for Rose/House, so I‘ll wait and see what my reading buddies think of this novella.

… and a continuation of Edward Aston’s sci-fi thriller Mickey7 titled Antimatter Blues (St. Martin’s Press, March 14).

Antimatter Blues (Mickey7, #2), Published March 14th 2023 by St. Martin’s Press

Edward Ashton’s Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

Book blurb

Now this is tempting! The first book (my review) was not a total hit, but I liked it well enough to be interested in the sequel…

And then there is this, no cover yet….

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7), Published November 14th 2023 by Tordotcom

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Goodreads blurb

Maybe I should add another rule to my 2023 plans: only buying of new book allowed, if it‘s the continuation of an ongoing series or something by a favourite author.

Previous post: most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Kate rides again…

Here is one that I missed for my post of most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Magic Tides (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #1; Kate Daniels, #10.5)
by Ilona Andrews

Kate and Curran have moved to Delaware with Conlan, trying to keep a low profile. They are renovating a house—well, who are the kidding, it‘s a fort—and one of the people working on their house has a problem. Kate goes to help. There goes the low profile.

This novella has all the elements we know from Kate Daniels. Magic, shapeshifters, vampires, various other magical creatures and deities. Hugh makes a brief appearance. It‘s humorous and there is too much information about the hair styles and clothing of everybody we meet. Great comfort reading for fans.

This was fun. I would have read it in one sitting, if I didn‘t need to sleep occasionally. The subtitle of the book, Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years #1, is promising. Looking forward to more!

Dystopia with overloaded prose

And What Can We Offer You Tonight
by Premee Mohamed

A vaguely dystopian setting in a flooded city. The poor bury their dead by sinking them in the canals surrounding their dwellings. Our MC Jewel is an enslaved courtesan, living a relatively comfortable, if restricted and not entirely safe life in a luxury brothel. One of the other women in her house is beaten to death by a client. But she doesn‘t stay dead. She comes back to life, looking for revenge and taking Jewel along for the ride.

80 pages, pretty odd, with a rambling and overloaded prose. The actual plot could have fit into a much shorter story. The rest didn‘t really work for me. It was just a lot of fluff, with the odd shocking bit in between. I skimmed through the last part. The ending was quite nice, at least for Jewel. But the mystery of the dead girl coming back to life was never explored and the world could have done with a little more background. I didn‘t really like this, sorry.

The cover looks nice, but is as overloaded as the prose.

Nebula Award Winner, Best Novella in 2021
Author‘s website at http://premeemohamed.com

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.