Sons of Darkness is the first volume in Gourav Mohanty’s The Raag of Rta epic historical fantasy series.
Muchuk Und is a hero, which as he would say is “an honour bestowed upon you when you had killed all those who would have called you a mass murderer.” Employed by the Daevas1 to smite their enemies, Muchuk performed, if not admirably, then effectively. Having served, he expects to be paid before returning to the human realm a nigh-demigod.
The Daevas withheld one or two details of their arrangement. The first is that while Muchuk has spent ten years serving his masters, a hundred years passed in the mortal world. The second is that the Daevas have no intention of letting their bloodthirsty servant run amok on Earth. An irate Muchuk is cast into sleep everlasting. Or almost everlasting.
Twenty thousand years later.…
The 2023 novella Flight & Anchor belongs to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Firebreak constellation of novels, novellas, and stories1.
Retrieved as children from a corporate warzone, 06 and 22 were remade by their Stellaxis masters. The pair were the beneficiaries of advanced cyborg enhancements. Faster, tougher, and stronger than baseline humans, the two are proof that the Stellaxis supersoldier program produces valuable results.
Tweens are notorious for ingratitude. Having been transformed at great expense into supersoldiers, twelve-year-olds 06 and 22 use their gifts to escape the Stellaxis training/containment facility and flee into the nearby city.
Yoko Komori’s two-volume Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand is a coming-of-age manga. Scales was serialized in 2013 and 2014 under the original title Aoi Uroko to Suna no Machi in You. The English translation appeared in 2023.
Following the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, fourteen-year-old Tokiko and her father leave Tokyo to stay with Tokiko’s maternal grandmother in Sunanomori. Tokiko has only been to the small coastal town once before, when she was four1. Tokiko does remember one aspect of the town quite clearly: this is where Tokiko was saved from drowning by a merman.
1962’s The 7th Annual of the Year’s Best S‑F is the seventh volume in Judith Merril’s Best of Sci-Fi anthology series. The anthology was also published under the counter-intuitive title The Best of Sci-Fi — Two.
Annuals generally limit themselves to the previous twelve months, which can be spread over two calendar years. Merril collected stories from as early as 1949, thirteen years before 1962. What other surprises wait within the covers of this surprisingly hefty tome?
Robie Macauley’s 1979 A Secret History of Time to Come is a stand-alone post-holocaust novel.
It took surprisingly little time for American to divide itself into white suburbs and black (and other non-white groups) cities and to embrace increasingly extremist politics. The situation is unstable. By the 1980s, a gleefully genocidal civil war distracts the US from global affairs. Whereas the Soviets and Chinese could sit back and enjoy their new global dominance, neither is inclined to share. Across the planet, nuclear explosions begin to bloom.
Centuries later, the former United States is a very empty land.
Anya Ow’s 2016 The Firebird’s Tale is a stand-alone Russian-themed fantasy novel.
Having decreed that grim-faced Tsarevich Aleksei would marry the first person to make him smile, the Tsar proves a man of his word. Aleksei’s poorly timed smirk earns him betrothal … to Nazar, the man Aleksei saw picking the Tsar’s pocket.
There is more to Nazar than Aleksei perceives. Indeed, there is more to almost everything than Aleksei perceives.
1991’s Polar City Blues is the first volume in Katharine Kerr’s Polar City space opera series.
During the interval between humanity’s collective triumph over Einstein (spaceflight) and the collapse of the terrestrial biosphere, humans were able to establish extraterrestrial colonies, of which Hagar is one. Now unified as the Republic, the human polity is overshadowed by its two neighbors, the Alliance (dominated by the Master Race) and the Confederation (dominated by the carlis). Remaining neutral and unconquered by aliens demands an ongoing balancing act.
Murdered consular personnel could unbalance the diplomatic teeter-totter. Polar City Police Chief Bates now must deal with a murder with far-ranging political implications.
2019’s The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 8 is the eighth light novel in Natsu Hyuuga’s Apothecary Diaries series. The illustrations are by Touko Shino. The 2023 English language edition was translated by Kevin Steinbach.
In which our heroes (one of whom is apothecary and occasional consulting detective Maomao) explore the exciting world of unintended consequences of clear-eyed, sensible public policy.
1973’s Age of Miracles is an expanded and revised edition of John Brunner’s 1965 The Day of the Star Cities.
First contact with a vastly superior alien civilization came in the form of catastrophe: every lump of fissionable material larger than two or three kilograms on the surface of the Earth abruptly blew up. Chaos and mass death followed. By the time surviving governments were able to take stock, vast, enigmatic, alien structures had planted themselves in the American Midwest, in western Brazil, near the Russian Urals, on Australia’s Nullabor Plain, and in Antarctica. Armies dispatched to drive off the invaders went mad. In the end, humanity had to accept that new owners now dominated Earth.
Near the alien city in the American Midwest, a madman staggers away from the city. He had clearly ventured too close. He dies and is then identified as government employee Correy Bennett. The only problem with this is that the original Correy Bennett is still very much alive.