Vikings, robotic spaceships and adventures in the multiverse—this month's SFF highlights have something for everyone.
★ The Doors of Eden
Adrian Tchaikovsky’s mind-bending The Doors of Eden melds Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with The Lost World. After watching a blurry online video of a bird-man in the outer reaches of England, monster hunters Lee and Mal venture forth to discover the truth. But they find more than they bargained for as Mal goes missing in the gloom of the moors, and soon the fates of a group of people and a mysterious multiverse collide. The author of more than 30 novels, Tchaikovsky weaves Carl Sagan-esque interludes into this strange, funny and irresistible book, but these scenes of the primordial world are wildly different from the history of Earth’s living things. The sheer density of Tchaikovsky’s ideas is awe-inspiring, and his heady concepts pay off thanks to top-notch characters and a welcome dose of humor.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: How Adrian Tchaikovsky crafted an awe-inspiring trip through space and time.
As Kimberly Unger’s tight and thrilling Nucleation begins, Helen Vectorvich, the operator of a robot aboard a facility deep in space, is remotely piloting an important mission. Then the facility, her machine and the comm channel to her partner, Ted, all fail, and she is yanked from consciousness. When she wakes up, Ted is dead, and the company she works for is looking for answers. Distraught and grounded by her boss, it’s up to Helen to find out the sinister truth behind her mission’s failure and Ted’s death. Helen, a company woman starting to see cracks in the corporate facade, is an engaging heroine, and Unger’s experience producing virtual reality games lends verve and specificity to her depictions of the remote-operator experience.
There’s no scenario in which Vikings aren’t cool. But what’s really cool are Vikings plus magic. Fall headlong into a mystical world of runes, blood and rage in Northern Wrath, the first in a planned trilogy from debut author Thilde Kold Holdt. Einer, a young man with a mysterious power, and Hilda, a woman determined to become a warrior, are destined to walk two different paths. But when Southerners invade their lands, Einer, Hilda and their people must fight back and harness the power of the gods to avenge the dead. The action is, in a phrase, bloody brilliant; Holdt doesn’t hold back from the gore, which might make some readers squeamish, but it reinforces the hard and violent lives her characters lead. Sink into this one, and let it carry you away.