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Reviews in Project: Space Opera That Doesn't Suck (39)

All Go Together

The Collapsing Empire  (The Interdependency, volume 1)

By John Scalzi  

5 Jan, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


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


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


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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Unconquerable Sun  (Sun Chronicles, volume 1)

By Kate Elliott  

23 Apr, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


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


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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Growing Up in World War III

Fortuna  (The Nova Vita Protocol, volume 1)

By Kristyn Merbeth  

8 Feb, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2019’s Fortuna is the first volume in Kristyn Merbeth’s The Nova Vita Protocol.

Many decades ago a fleet of generation ships carried refugees from doomed Earth to Nova Vita, a nearby red dwarf. There humans settled five worlds with native biospheres: Nibiru, Deva, Pax, Titan, and Gaia. Faced with the challenge of adapting to alien planets, humans did what humans do best: they turned on each other.

Interplanetary trader Mama Kaiser has no illusions about the future of her children. The paranoid governments of Nova Vita dislike and distrust anyone from other planets. The best that Interplanetary vagabonds can expect is grudging indifference. The only people who will look out for the Kaisers are Kaisers. Blood above all!

Which didn’t prevent Corvus Kaiser from signing up for a three-year tour in Titan’s endless civil war. 

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No Town Without the Company

Maeve  (Diadem, volume 4)

By Jo Clayton  

28 Jan, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


1979’s Maeve is the fourth book in Jo Clayton’s Diadem series; it’s the second book in which lead character Aleytys gets to wear clothes on the cover.

Determined to find her mother’s lost home world (which is somewhere towards the galactic core) and her own kidnapped baby, Aleytys funds her way from star system to star system by working her passage. Her latest ride has reached its core-ward extreme. Aleytys disembarks on Maeve to hunt for a ship heading in the right direction.

There are one or two minor complications.

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I Ran All Night and Day

Ancestral Night  (White Space, volume 1)

By Elizabeth Bear  

19 Dec, 2019

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2019’s Ancestral Night is the first volume in Elizabeth Bear’s White Space series. It shares a universe with her earlier Jacob’s Ladder sequence1.

Halmey Dz and her partners (the starship Singer and Connla Kurucz) make a precarious living searching out lost starships. They’ve had a run of bad luck; one more failure and they may lose their government subsidy. 

On the other hand, the wrong lost starship could kill them. 

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All The Best

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir  

8 Oct, 2019

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Tamsyn Muir’s 2019 Gideon the Ninth is the first volume in a space opera series that may be as yet unnamed (a sequel, Harrow the Ninth, will be out in 2020). 

Gideon Nav, of poorly documented parentage, has been indentured to the Ninth House since she was an infant. 

The Ninth House is known by other names: the Keepers of the Locked Tomb, House of the Sewn Tongue, and the Black Vestals, for example. Nowhere are the houses of necromancy given any names that would suggest the they are fun places to live. No, they are not fun. Gideon has been scheming escape ever since she was old enough to form the thought of leaving. None of her efforts have succeeded … yet. Why let a 100% failure rate keep her from trying? 

As the story begins, Gideon is preparing another escape attempt, one that will surely succeed!

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