Patrick's Periodic Picks

Patrick reads the best of speculative fiction from hard science fiction to space opera and from epic to modern fantasy ... and the occasional mystery. If it has a cutting edge plot and fully-realized characters, he's there. Of course a brief Apocalypse/Singularity once in a while or an interesting concept or even the occasional BIG explosion is always welcome.

(Sketch by Batton Lash; Comic-Con picture [l-r] Silvia Mancini, Sam Weller, Ray Bradbury!!, Patrick, Lori Tucker; Patrick again.)  

 


 

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Vanguard Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781101988343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ace Books - May 16th, 2017

Campbell takes us back in time to before there was an Alliance … to witness its birth. Remember those ancestors, the living stars, that Black Jack and company often prayed (of sorts) to? Well, prepare to meet them. If you thought fighting and a war of attrition across centuries and light years, or battling enigmatic aliens, were problems, try herding cats across the Down and Out. Only these cats are corporations and pirates and the disenfranchised, oh my! It’s the Old West on a galactic scale and not a marshal in sight. Those who would do good and who are just seeking a fresh start versus those who would capitalize on the extreme lack of accountability that interstellar distance makes possible. Campbell never fails to bring the story and I love every hero-filled moment of it. 

Heard of Jack Campbell but are a bit too daunted to get lost in the previous fifteen (so far) books in the Black Jack Universe? Well, here’s a great place to start … the beginning. Those of you who have read those earlier volumes will love meeting the ancestors.


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The Collapsing Empire Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780765388889
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - March 21st, 2017

Faster than light travel isn’t possible. Luckily for the citizens of the Interdependency there is The Flow, the unexplained something, kind of like a river, that allows travel between the stars. Until now, that is. The Flow is failing. Not common knowledge, to be sure, but a few know that things are about to get very interesting very soon. But what to do with that knowledge? Prepare humanity for the collapse … or capitalize on it? Politics, machinations, nobility … choices. The Interdependency is an empire, and like the name suggests, its constituents are quite dependent on each other. In fact, there’s really only one currently-reachable planet that can sustain itself, and that’s the appropriately named End. End is about to become the center of the known universe. I loved this novel and can’t wait for the next installment. Oh, and you’re gonna love Kiva. Even if she kills you.


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Mars One Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481461610
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - April 4th, 2017

Meet Tristin, sixteen-year-old high school student, astronaut-in-training, future colonist of the red planet, and semi-reluctant reality TV star. He’s been tapped to go to Mars since he was twelve. And it’s time to go. Too bad he’ll have to leave nearly everything and everyone behind, like his best friend, and especially his girlfriend. Talk about star-crossed lovers! But hell, it’s Mars, man. Can’t pass that up. He’s no ordinary kid, though. How many kids do you know that can repair a damaged starboard solar alpha rotary joint or a malfunctioning intake valve on an oxygenator? Still, he is quite young, the youngest on the mission. How’d you like it if all of your teenage angst and growing pains were played out in public for all the whole world to see … and in then again in space? A great coming-of-age-in-the-Space-Age story, and one kick-ass ride. One of those rare works that reads so visually that you might step a way for a few minutes, return, turn on your TV, and only then realize you’d been reading. And those last thirty pages? Wow.


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All Our Wrong Todays Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101985137
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books - February 7th, 2017

Tom Barron grew up in the utopia we were promised back in the 50s: flying cars, recreational space travel, universal health care. Or would have if he hadn’t screwed it all up by traveling back in time to the moment of his world’s big leap forward, the pivot point that made his reality a reality. Read Bradbury’s "A Sound of Thunder." Research the Butterfly Effect. Now John Barron is back in 2016. Our 2016: no flying cars, no recreational space travel, no universal health care. Sucks for us, but his life is actually a lot better: great career, mother and girlfriend are still around, he’s got a sister now, and dad’s not such a tool. Cool for Tom/John, but not so much for the billion or so individuals who now don’t exist. Moral dilemma: Get used to the new first name and enjoy the fruits of his stupidity or try to fix the timeline? This is the quandary that takes us on an adventure across our world, and through time and space. Thought-provoking, poignant, and brilliant. What would you do?


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Ninth City Burning Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781101991442
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ace Books - September 6th, 2016

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

Centuries ago, aliens came down and kicked our asses back to the stone age, or damn near. They did it with thelemity ... a weapon which might as well have been magic. Then things got interesting when a few humans discovered they could use this power as well. Now, half a millennia later and we're still at it. The Forever War. Those able to wield thelemity either fight the good fight or they're thrown to the wolves. Humanity is extremely divided and our world is the very definition of “post-apocalyptic.” It's Ender's Game X The Hunger Games X Red Rising and as awesome as a Peter Hamilton novel. Many points of view and loads of world-building (and world-shattering) make this one a little slow to start, but once the ball gets rolling it really rolls. Don't miss this one. 


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The Devourers Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781101967515
Availability: Special Order
Published: Del Rey Books - July 12th, 2016

An intellectual of some note meets a mysterious stranger claiming to be something incredible. What follows is a tale of love and death and blood and passion. The Devourers is incredibly well written, at once elegant and beautiful, and extremely visceral, with hints of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream. Very tasty and wholly unique – and decidedly not for the faint of heart. – Guest Reviewer Patrick Heffernan


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Admiral Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780451475794
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ace Books - May 3rd, 2016

Four Imperials awake to find themselves alone on a crash-landed freighter on an alien planet. A supposedly dead alien planet. One of these individuals, our hero, has emerged from an apparently sabotaged sleeper pod simply marked, “Admiral.” So he’s in charge, even if he doesn’t know much about being an admiral, and even though he’s a bit young to actually be one. (“It’s an honorary title.”) Trust issues aside, he IS a rather bright fellow with a quite annoying way of being right all the time … and saving the day, and everyone’s lives. Off we go! Admiral is a bit Miles Vorkosigan, with a dash of Starship Troopers, and perhaps a pinch of Jason Bourne … and a helluva lot of fun. Enjoy


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Sleeping Giants Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101886694
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey Books - April 26th, 2016

A girl named Rose falls through a hole in the earth near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, and into a giant metal hand. Flash forward seventeen years and that very same girl, now a full grown physicist, is hard at work at trying to discover its origins and implications … for herself and for her world. The hand is enormous, impossibly old, virtually indestructible, and probably not of this Earth – a giant puzzle of a sleeping giant. Then another piece is found, then another, first in the United States, then others across the globe. Science and global politics clash in a world on the brink. Sleeping Giants is told thru a series of top-secret interviews of all of the principles involved (reminiscent of World War Z, for those keeping score) and is a very engaging science fiction / fantasy novel, chock full of an old-school sense of wonder.

--Patrick 


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Morning Star: Book 3 of the Red Rising Saga Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780345539847
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey Books - February 9th, 2016

Darrow is a Red, one of the lowest of the low – designed, bred, and conditioned to serve. After his wife was martyred for daring to dream, he was carved and made Gold so he might infiltrate Society and bring the whole thing tumbling down. And he was well on his way until … et tu, Roque? But you know all of this. You’ve read Red Rising and Golden Son. So where to begin here? Can’t spoil the surprises, not me. No plot points, no real clues. Suffice it to say, many bloodydamn things happen, people Rise and people Fall … and nothing on Mars, nor in the Heavens above and beyond will ever be the same again. Is it as good as the first two? One word: Yes! More words? Sure: From the page-turning action and adventure of the best of Edgar Rice Burroughs, to the twists and turns and absolute gravitas of Frank Herbert and George R.R. Martin, to the utter eruditeness of Euripides, and to the plotting and plots of Machiavelli, it is all here. Nothing left behind. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you may even wet your pants. Morning Star has all that you expect, and oh so much more. The entire trilogy is impressive and extraordinary, and its conclusion will rock you to your core. Too gushing of an endorsement? Well hell, boyo … Howlers gotta howl!

 

Okay, perhaps one more clue, wafer thin:

 

A man thinks he can fly, but he is afraid to jump. A poor friend pushes him from behind. A good friend jumps with. – Lorn au Arcos

 

LIVE FOR MORE

BREAK THE CHAINS

OMNIS VIR LUPUS

 

-- Guest Reviewer Patrick Heffernan


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Golden Son: Book 2 of the Red Rising Saga Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345539830
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey Books - July 7th, 2015

Bloody-gory-damn hell! Where does one begin? As anyone I’ve talked to in the past year knows, I loved Red Rising. So how in the seven hells could Pierce possibly top it? I won’t go into great detail here lest I ruin your surprise, but he did it. Really.

 

Imagine some mad genius managed to meld the magnificent bits and pieces that make classics like A Game of Thrones and Dune so damn spectacular into something that is at once similar and yet remarkably different. This, dear friends, is merely the beginning of Golden Son. Ever read a book so enthralling that you didn’t want to put it down to eat or sleep? This is such a novel.

If Red Rising was Star Wars, then Golden Son is The Empire Strikes Back. In short and spoiler-free, our Darrow continues his quest to make Eo’s dream a reality, and no one, not even himself, nor any Machiavellian/Arrakeen/Westerosi plot, will stop him. Golden Son starts with a bang. Then the action builds and builds and builds, never letting up, page after relentless page. Just when you think you might get a breather, Pierce kicks it up a notch. Glorious. Laugh, cry, cheer, then curse the author for making you wait for the inevitable resolution/revolution. I’m sorry I can’t put this book in your hands this minute, and I envy you reading it for the first time. Gorydamn brilliant.

– Patrick


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Red Rising Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780345539809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey Books - July 15th, 2014

Darrow is a Red, one of the lowest of the low – designed,bred, and conditioned to mine the depths of Mars for the materials needed to terraform the solar system. His sacrifices today will give far-future generations a far better existence. Obedience is life. But it is all a lie. Mars has been habitable for generations, and Darrow’s caste are mere slaves upon whose backs the ruling class Golds maintain their absolute power over Society.

After his beloved wife Eo is martyred for daring to dream and to sing of freedom, Darrow himself is hanged for daring to bury her. But he does not die. The Sons of Ares have a mission for him, and for this mission he has been rescued … and will be reborn. He and his people will have their vengeance – nay, they will
have justice. And Eo’s dream will be made real.

Red Rising in a nutshell: The Chronicles of a brave-hearted gladiator who discovers that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress on the dunes and in the Houses of a
moving and not-so Red Mars where The Hunger Games are used to keep the oh-so colorful sheep from looking up and discovering The Penultimate Truth.
Then it’s off to the Ender Vorkosigan Battle School where The Gods Themselves play A Game of Thrones before The Fall of Hyperion. Obviously a student of science fiction and fantasy’s greatest works, Pierce Brown takes the elements that made those works so great, makes them his own, and distills them into something quite remarkable. Bloodydamn awesome, in fact. Rarely am I so enthralled by a novel that I must read it straight through. Red Rising is such
a novel.

 

— Guest Reviewer Patrick Heffernan


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Dragon Coast Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780765328571
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - September 15th, 2015

The action starts immediately after the events in Pacific Fire (so stop here if you’re not caught up). Sam’s an out-of-control dragon and Daniel will move Heaven and Earth (almost literally) to get him back … with the willing help of his loyal friends and the only-partially willing help of a certain water mage with designs of his own. So it’s off to the Northern realm to steal the dragon, or more accurately, to rescue Sam. Simple. (To say more would be spoilery.)

Friends, family, golems, lend me your ears/eyes/bones … and enjoy a little masquerade, a stylish caper, and a brief game of thrones (win, or die). Dragon Coast is quite the apt ending to the trilogy, but I spy with my little eye an open door or two, so we might (if we’re lucky and the Earth don’t crack) see more of our favorite osteomancer and his band of merry cohorts in some future incarnation. Can’t wait to feast on that.

--Patrick


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Pacific Fire Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780765380449
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - July 26th, 2016

Ten years later. Ten years following the death of the Hierarch. Ten years after Daniel Blackland ate half of the Hierarch’s heart. Ten years after escaping with the Hierarch’s golem, a golem now known as Sam, and an osteomancer in his own right. He and Daniel have been on the run since then, never in one place long enough to be caught. Always on the lookout for those who would consume Sam for his power. But strange things are afoot in the Kingdom of Southern California and a quest is in the offing. Nothing will keep our young heroes from their appointed rounds. It seems that Daniel and Sam can no longer fight their destinies. Here there be dragon! I loved California Bones, the first in the series, and its sequel doesn’t disappoint. Yum! I can’t wait for number three. For fans of Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovich, and Richard Kadrey.

– Patrick


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Zero World Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780553391282
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey Books - May 31st, 2016

Peter Caswell is a programmable assassin, and a pretender of the highest rank. He can go anywhere, be anyone, and do or kill anything … and be back in time to forget the whole thing. He lives in the moment and moments are his life. His current mission has him chasing the only surviving crew member of a missing spaceship, a women who has apparently murdered the rest of her crew and then fled through a wormhole to an alternate Earth, a world eerily similar and yet wholly more dangerous than the one he left behind. Good thing he’s got skills. He’s going to need every last one of them, for all is not as it seems.

Melni Tavan is the perfect foil for Caswell, a Southern spy posing as a Northern reporter to be privy to all of the action. Like Caswell, she’s a smooth operator. Her current mission is to gather intelligence on the newly acquired technology so prevalent in the North, and on its inventor, a woman with knowledge far more advanced than any that existed before. Without this knowledge, the South is doomed. She’ll get that knowledge or eliminate the threat, for she has a few skills of her own.

Caswell is a mix of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs … on steroids and with advanced tech, and perhaps a dash of Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” while Tavan is badass of a different stripe, more a cross between La Femme Nikita and Peter Hamilton’s Paula Myo. Together they are a force to be reckoned with that will shake the very foundations of several universes. Hough’s characters are fully realized and multi-dimensional (get it?) … and his alternate world-building, and the subtle language differences for that world, are way beyond the ordinary. Highly recommended and August’s Fantastic First for Speculative Fiction. Don’t be a blixxing loon, grab a roller and till on down to Mysterious Galaxy and order a copy. Gratitude!

--Patrick 

But wait, there’s more! A bonus novella, “The Dire Earth,” a 125-page prequel to that trilogy, can be found at the end of Zero World. Sweet!


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Armada Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780804137270
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - April 12th, 2016

“They’re here.”

All you really need to know, right? But wait, there’s more. Seems aliens are on the way, and our world’s governments have known about it for over forty years. Conspiracy! All of the science fiction movies, TV shows, and video games we’ve enjoyed over the years have been preparing us to fight this Menace from Outer Space! There have been massive hints too: just play Space Invaders, read Ender’s Game, or watch The Last Starfighter! Obvious! How could we all have been so blind?!

"Greetings, Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada!"

It all comes to a head when Zack Lightman sees the alien scout ship from his classroom window. He thinks he’s switched his flip. But no! Seems Armada, the awesome video game he’s been playing so awesomely, is actually a simulator … and he’s about to be recruited to save the Earth!

“Wanna go for a ride?”

This book was written by a die-hard science fiction fan for die-hard science fiction fans. Like Ready Player One, Armada is chock full of every reference you could shake a stick at and, more than likely, a few you’ll miss in your desire to turn the page to see what new adventure awaits you. It reads like a movie script, and what a movie it would be. Beam me up, Scotty! That said, Armada is not another Ready Player One, but it is just as much fun, written in our very science-fiction-loving DNA. Who among us hasn’t dreamt of being recruited to save a galaxy far far away? So say we all! And who knows, perhaps Armada is just another level in Earth’s invasion preparation. Time to level up and take names.

“The Force will be with you. Always.”

So run, don’t walk to Mysterious Galaxy. Be the first kid on your block to get a shiny new copy of this most awesome book of awesomeness. You'll laugh, you'll cry. It'll change your life! And …

“You’re Welcome.”

--Patrick 


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The Grace of Kings Cover Image
By Ken Liu
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781481451864
Availability: Special Order
Published: Saga Press - February 23rd, 2016

The Emperor is dead. The empire he built on blood and fire is crumbling. Many vie for control of what remains. From this maelstrom, two legendary figures emerge: one a giant warlord, the other a schemer of the highest rank. Once they were like brothers, but now jealousy, ambition, and differing views on what constitutes a leader have divided them.

The Grace of Kings is a fantastic retelling of the rebellions and wars that led to the founding of the Han Dynasty in ancient China, a fantastic world where gods walk amongst mortals, and where those very mortals fight for power, or to simply live their lives in peace. Liu has a very visual style, using prose to paint vivid characters and action. Moreover, he’s an excellent storyteller. I could well imagine a grandfather telling this story over a campfire over many successive nights. Can’t wait for the next volume!

--Patrick