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Reviews in Project: Space Opera That Doesn't Suck (33)

Revenge is Sweeter

Barbarians of the Beyond

By Matthew Hughes  

29 Jul, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

Matthew Hughes’ 2021 Barbarians of the Beyond is an authorized sequel to Jack Vance’s Demon Princes quintet. 

A generation earlier, raiders commanded by the Demon Princes raided Mount Pleasant. The majority of the population was carried off as slaves, leaving only a small number of corpses to prove that the town was ever occupied. 

The raid had consequences for the five Demon Princes, consequences unrolling off-stage. The novel follows events in Mount Pleasant. The raid left a serviceable town empty. A religious community nicknamed Dispers soon installed themselves there. 

Dispers keep themselves to themselves. Thus, the stranger who comes calling is not entirely welcome.

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The End of Everthing That Stands

The Last Emperox  (The Interdependency, volume 3)

By John Scalzi  

22 Feb, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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2020’s The Last Emperox is the third and final volume in John Scalzi’s The Interdependency trilogy. Three books to a trilogy is a visionary step other authors would do well to emulate. 

The Interdependency: still doomed by the impending collapse of the Flow, on which all interstellar trade depends! Emperox Grayland II: still determined to save the Interdependency’s people! The entire Nohamapetan family, with the exception of the late Amit Nohamapetan (still dead!): still an enormous pain in the ass. 

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Just Keep Listening

The Blackwing War  (Deep Witches Trilogy, volume 1)

By K B Spangler  

11 Feb, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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K.B. Spangler’s 2021 coming-of-age space opera The Blackwing War is the first book in her Deep Witches Trilogy. It is set in the same universe as Spangler’s 2017 Stoneskin.

Tembi Stoneskin was rescued from abject poverty when the Deep, the vast, enigmatic entity that facilitates transgalactic teleportation, took a shine to her. As long as the Deep retains its affection for Tembi, she will be an ageless Witch, stepping from world to world as it pleases her. There is little chance Tembi will alienate the Deep. 

There is, however, every chance she will alienate her superiors in the Witch hierarchy. Youthful Tembi is that most dreaded of beings, an idealist. 


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This Very Hour

The Consuming Fire  (The Interdependency, volume 2)

By John Scalzi  

9 Feb, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

2018’s The Consuming Fire is the middle volume in John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy. 

Faced with the impeding collapse of the Flow, the phenomena that facilitates the faster-than-light travel on which all the worlds of the Interdependency rely, Cardenia Wu-Patrick AKA Emperox Grayland II is determined to urge her subjects to recognize the impending crisis and consider ways to mitigate it. To this end, she uses her status as church figurehead to begin uttering prophecies of the Doom Which Is to Come. 

This succeeds in convincing a number of powerful people that Grayland II is quite mad.


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All Go Together

The Collapsing Empire  (The Interdependency, volume 1)

By John Scalzi  

5 Jan, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

2017’s The Collapsing Empire is the first volume in John Scalzi’s The Interdependency.

Thanks to the Flow, a poorly understood phenomenon that permits faster-than-light travel, the forty-seven systems of the Interdependency have enjoyed a thousand years of mutual dependence and trade. The Interdependency is completely dependent on the stability of the Flow. Therefore, the Flow is stable. To think otherwise would be … unthinkable. 

Polite people do not mention or remember that there used to be forty-eight systems (Dalasýsla, like Earth1 before it, lost its connection to the Flow). 

End has two characteristics of note: it is the only naturally habitable world in the Interdependency, and its home system is farthest from the crown world, Hub. Make that three characteristics of note: as a consequence of being the oubliette of choice for the Independency’s undesirables (political and otherwise), the population of End are a bother. Just ask Lady Kiva Lagos, captain of the good ship Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.


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Be My Little Secret

Seven of Infinities

By Aliette de Bodard  

5 Nov, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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2020’s Seven of Infinities is a short (138 pages) science fiction novel set in Alliette de Bodard’s Xuya universe. 

Scholar Vân ekes out a meagre living as a tutor. She is therefore alarmed to learn from her acquaintance, the shipmind Sunless Woods, that the poetry club to which both scholar and AI belong wants to eject Vân for being too commonplace. This could trigger an economic catastrophe for Vân, as her clients might take ejection as a signal to dump Vân and hire someone else. Nevertheless, Vân cannot fight, because to fight would attract scrutiny she cannot afford. 

A suspicious death comes almost as a welcome distraction.


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Certain as the Moon

The Madness Season

By C. S. Friedman  

14 Jul, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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C. S. Friedman’s 1990 The Madness Season is a standalone science-fantasy novel.

Centuries ago the Tyr had crushed the Earth. The Tyr are many bodies but one immortal mind. Consequently, they do not truly comprehend humans. They demand obedience from their peons. Immediate execution is the usual punishment for any deviation.

Daetrin Haal is eager to keep a low profile. He has a secret, which is that he’s immortal. As such, he’s a threat to the Tyr. He remembers the pre-invasion human past, which the invaders have carefully erased. 

His mind and his memories make him a threat to the Tyr order. Eventually he is noticed.


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Invincible

Unconquerable Sun  (Sun Chronicles, volume 1)

By Kate Elliott  

23 Apr, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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Kate Elliott’s upcoming space opera, 2020’s Unconquerable Sun, due out July 7th, is the first book in her new series, the Sun Chronicles.

Princess Sun returns to Molossia System having routed the Phene enemy. No official accolades await her. As far as her mother Queen-Marshal Eirene is concerned, Sun was competent, as expected. Nothing worth comment. Sun may be Eirene’s heir but she is held to an impossibly high standard and never loved or praised.

Although she is not fully aware of her danger, Sun’s status as heir is under threat.


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Blue in the Night

Phosphorus

By Liz Williams  

26 Mar, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

1 comment


2018’s Phosphorus takes place in Liz Williams’ Winterstrike space fantasy setting, as does Banner of Souls.

A terraformed Mars is divided between belligerent sisterhoods. Bombs are falling on young Canteley’s home city of Winterstrike. Canteley’s mother sends Canteley off to live with her aunt Sulie in distant Tharsis.

Was this to protect the girl? Or was it because her prophetic dreams suggest Canteley could be useful to Sulie?


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