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Reviews in Project: Space Opera That Doesn't Suck (42)

Destined For Death

Furious Heaven  (Sun Chronicles, volume 2)

By Kate Elliott  

8 Feb, 2024

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2023’s Furious Heaven is the second volume in Kate Elliott’s Sun Chronicles space-opera series.

Having prevailed in the most recent clash with the Phene Empire, it would be prudent for the Republic of Chaonia to consolidate its gains. The Phene Empire is vaster, wealthier, and enjoys a communications advantage that Chaonia cannot match. An experienced ruler like Chaonia’s Queen-Marshal Eirene would no doubt steer a careful path in the endless struggle with its imperialistic neighbor.

Eirene’s tempestuous daughter Sun would make other choices, but Eirene has considerable experience keeping Sun on a short leash. As long as Eirene is queen-marshal, Sun’s exuberance will be tempered. As long as Eirene is queen-marshal, the Republic’s enemies will have time to orchestrate Sun’s death and replacement as heir by the easily manipulated Prince Jiàn.

As long as Eirene is queen-marshal…

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Good Intentions

Some Desperate Glory

By Emily Tesh  

19 Dec, 2023

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Emily Tesh’s 2023 Some Desperate Glory is a stand-alone space opera.

Humanity struggles on, despite the total destruction of the Earth and the death of fourteen billion humans at the manipulators of aliens. Most of the remaining humans have made peace with the wider galactic civilization. But there is one small pocket of fanatical holdouts that has dedicated itself to unending war on the galactics. They live on Gaea Station, under the command of Commander Aulus Jole.

Protagonist Valkry — Kyr for short — thinks of the Commander as her uncle Jole. Having been indoctrinated from birth, Kyr believes fervently in the human cause. The day when she can take her place in the struggle cannot come soon enough.… 

Or so Kyr thinks.

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It’s a Steal

The Causal Angel  (Jean le Flambeur, volume 3)

By Hannu Rajaniemi  

7 Dec, 2023

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2014’s The Causal Angel is the third and thus far final book in Hannu Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur post-singularity caper series.

Mistakes were made. The All-Defector is wreaking havoc. The Sobornost, the post-human civilization that dominates the Solar System, appears to have descended into civil war. Love interest and co-protagonist Mieli has been kidnapped! Being a significant contributor to the current chaos, it is up to Jean le Flambeur to save the day.

Who is Mieli? Who is Jean le Flambeur? If you have to ask, you have not read the previous two books. Do not attempt this one without having read both The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince.

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Out From The Ghostly Freighter

The Red Scholar’s Wake

By Aliette de Bodard  

22 Nov, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Aliette de Bodard’s 2022 The Red Scholar’s Wake is a space opera set in de Bodard’s Xuya Universe.

Captured by Red Banner space pirates, scavenger Xích Si is painfully aware of a number of possible fates. She will probably have to choose between immediate death and involuntary indenture to the pirate fleet. Should she somehow survive capture without joining the fleet, she will forever be an outcast; her native An O Empire will assume that she bought her life with signing up as a pirate and will execute her for crimes against the state1. If Xích Si were to contact her relatives, they could be arrested and executed for abetting piracy.

To Xích Si’s astonishment, the recently widowed mindship Rice Fish comes to Xích Si with a proposition. Or rather, a proposal.

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Dear Old Golden Rule Days

Mars Evacuees  (Mars Evacuees, volume 1)

By Sophia McDougall  

28 Jul, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

1 comment

2014’s Mars Evacuees is the first of two volumes in Sophia McDougall’s Mars Evacuees young-adult military SF series.

The Morrors appeared from deepest space to save humanity from unchecked global warming, in return for which they asked only minor territorial concessions. Merely in the coldest regions of Earth. Well, they demanded rather than asked and their territorial demands were major rather than minor. Since the Morrors required more arctic territory than existed at their arrival, they set about cooling the entire Earth to better suit their needs. 

For the last fifteen years, longer than Alice Dare’s entire life, humanity has been fighting a losing battle against the aliens. 

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Way Station

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within  (Wayfarers, volume 4)

By Becky Chambers  

9 Jun, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2021’s The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is the fourth and final volume in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series.

The planet Gora is the galaxy’s Milton, Ontario1; it’s an unremarkable lifeless world save for one thing: convenient location. It’s a well-placed waystation for travellers on their way from one hospitable world to another. 

Ouloo, a Laru, runs the Five-Hop One-Stop on Gora; her small business supplies fuel, housing, food, bathing, and other amenities. She is assisted by her adolescent (by Laru standards) child Tupo. Ouloo’s patrons come and go, their stays brief. At least, their stays are brief until the disaster.

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A Desolation Called Peace  (Teixcalaan, volume 2)

By Arkady Martine  

31 Mar, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

1 comment

2021’s A Desolation Called Peace is the second volume in Arkady Martine’s Teixcalaan space opera series. 

Alerted by neighbouring Lsel Station that an unknown alien menace is impinging on human space, the Teixcalaanli investigate. First contact between a force headed by Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus and the aliens establishes five facts: 

  • There are aliens.
  • They are of an unknown type.
  • They appear bent on conquering human worlds.
  • Communication appears to be impossible.
  • They are merciless.

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And Cast It Into the Sea

Assassin’s Orbit

By John Appel  

3 Mar, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


John Appel’s 2021 Assassin’s Orbit is a science fiction mystery novel. 

The planet Ileri is on the verge of joining the Commonwealth, a development not all of its citizens welcome. The last thing Ileri needs is a lurid mass murder. However, Ileri Station, high above the planet for which it is named, finds itself the scene of its first mass killing in seventeen years. Among the victims is Saed Tahir, grandson of private investigator Noo Okereke’s business partner. This makes the murders very personal for Noo.

The discovery of the Commonwealth Consul’s corpse amidst the other victims means that the mass murder is also an interstellar incident.

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Revenge is Sweeter

Barbarians of the Beyond

By Matthew Hughes  

29 Jul, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


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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