Oct 17
2019

B&N SFF on Escaping Exodus

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

“Nicky Drayden’s novels are weird—and I mean that as the highest of compliments.

Her genre-blending debut The Prey of Gods landed on the scene in 2017 with the self-same subtlety of a Roman candle stuck up your nose. Artificial intelligence and African folklore, mind control and murder, demigods and dik-diks, The Prey of Gods has everything. Her sophomore effort, Temper, an Afrofuturist romp through a world in which your social identity is defined by your balance of vice and virtue, continued in the same audacious vein, plus twice the world-building.

Now comes Escaping Exodus, Drayden’s third novel, as pleasantly and characteristically bonkers as ever. Eschewing her established skill at tossing science fiction and fantasy together in a blender, she leans full into her Octavia Butler fineries and drops us aboard a city-size starship carved in the innards of a drifting space beast.

Seske and Adalla’s relationship is compelling and serves as the framework for all the plot to come (including a few wild tangents that complicate matters significantly), but it is this theme of environmental justice that is the novel’s central concern. As Seske learns to lead, she grapples with the devastating consequences of her people’s way of life to the beast that carries them. Adalla, on the other hand, becomes obsessed with the class inequality that fuels the system. These twin threads feel true enough to our own time, and thoroughly modern, while aligning with science fiction’s long history of climate-focused, socially conscious works.

Both threads are also entwined with one of Drayden’s recurring concerns: the construct of gender and the subversion of its norms. Gender fluidity and explorative sexuality are key components of The Prey of Gods. Here, Drayden likewise flips gender roles on their head by crafting a matriarchal society focused on containing the population: families are composed of multiple mothers and fathers but are limited to one child apiece, in a setup that feels reminiscent of Butler’s Xenogenesis series.

In opposition to contemporary daydreams of smashing the patriarchy, Drayden’s society is far from a utopia. It is cruel and rigid: gender norms haven’t vanished, they’ve reversed, with men treated as second-class citizens, considered disposable and deemed unfit for much more than housework and child-rearing. While the situation may sound cathartic to some readers, its reality is troublesome and counter-productive, an inequity sowing seeds of rebellion every bit as much as Adalla’s realizations galvanize the working class.

Life aboard this spacebeast is chaotic, the mess tolerated so long as it’s hidden beneath a certain set of creature comforts. The question before both Seske and Adalla is what to do when the mess finds it way to the light.

While that’s a pickle for the characters, it’s a playground for Drayden, whose specialty is narrative chaos. In a rather stuffed novel, her outsized sci-fi sensibilities enliven the worldbuilding while allowing her characters emotional room to grieve, to fight, and to love, believably and heart-achingly.

However you slice it, Escaping Exodus doesn’t follow the path you think it will, and neither does its author. And that’s the fun of it all.” — Barnes & Noble SFF

Oct 3
2019

Kirkus on Escaping Exodus

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

“In a far distant future, humans left Earth behind generations ago in a mass exodus. The survivors now travel inside enormous beasts that trek across the vacuum of space; human societies carve out spaces inside the living leviathans that carry them. Seske, the daughter of the clan matriarch, is being groomed for her eventual position of power, but she’d much rather spend her time with Adalla, her best friend since childhood; however, Adalla’s a beastworker who toils in the space beast’s organs and arteries. The chapters alternate between the first-person perspectives of the two young women, and it quickly becomes clear that Seske and Adalla are very much in love—but a beastworker isn’t considered a suitable mate for the heir apparent. When Seske suddenly becomes the clan matriarch, her title is threatened by another claimant—her own sister. Meanwhile, Adalla, heartbroken over losing Seske, is demoted until she’s a lowly boneworker. Soon the two women each uncover shocking truths about their society and how it operates—and, more importantly, about the beast that keeps them all alive. The plot twists that follow are surprising but mostly plausible, and it culminates in a gratifying finish. Everything about the Afrofuturistic worldbuilding is exquisitely imaginative, and the characters are three-dimensional, occasionally offering flashes of dark humor. The spacefaring beast is a marvel, containing a whole ecosystem with microclimates and other organisms living within it alongside humans. Although the relationship between the two young women is perpetually hampered by circumstance, as most good love stories are, it’s palpable and vibrant. One hopes to read more about Seske and Adalla’s further adventures.” — Kirkus

Sep 19
2019

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a USA Today bestseller!

Congratulations to Tamsyn Muir on Gideon the Ninth, the first book in the Ninth House triology, hitting both the USA Today best-selling books list and the Indie Bestsellers hardcover fiction list!

Sep 17
2019

B&N SFF on Gideon the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

“Muir’s debut is smart, fun, and fresh, bursting with thrilling action and derring do, genuinely puzzling puzzles, lots of swears, heaps of yucky dead things, and a storm of skeletons. The wild tonal contrasts and kitchen-sink approach to both the genre and the prose (spot the buried Simpsons reference amid a scene of otherwise tense exposition) somehow works in symphonic harmony, thanks to an extraordinarily likable heroine supported by Muir’s whip-sharp voice and clockwork plotting. The end of the novel gestures toward larger interplanetary goings-on that will presumably materialize in planned sequels, good news for readers who will be eager to dive back into Muir’s madcap techno-necromantic world.” — Barnes & Noble SFF

Sep 10
2019

Booklist starred review for Gideon the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

“In a universe ruled by an undying emperor, nine houses struggle for power through their necromantic rulers. The crumbling Ninth House, that of the Keepers of the Locked Tomb, is home to Gideon: swordswoman, malcontent, loveless lesbian. Gideon has spent most of her life attempting to escape the drudgery of the Ninth and its creepy nuns, oppressive darkness, and vicious heir, Harrowhark. But Harrow has been invited to enter a competition among the houses for the honor of being selected Lyctor, and Gideon finally has an opportunity to escape the Ninth—as long as she agrees to serve as Harrow’s cavalier and bodyguard. When members of other houses start dying mysteriously after the competitors have been stranded together in the haunted and moldering First House, it’s up to Gideon and Harrow—uneasy allies at best—to figure out who to trust and how to survive the deadly game. Muir’s debut fuses science fiction, mystery, horror, fantasy, action, adventure, political intrigue, deadly dark humor, and a dash of romance with a healthy serving of skeletons and secrets and the spirit of queer joy. This extraordinary opening salvo will leave readers dying to know what happens next.” — Booklist, Starred Review

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