Mar 5
2019

Locus on Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

“This book is in conversation with a number of others, first of all with Bear’s own – this future is tied to her Jacob’s Ladder trilogy (Dust, Chill, and Grail) via a mention of that “famous ship from history.” There are also strong echoes of C.J. Cherryh and Iain M. Banks – especially the latter, since the Synarche is clearly a cousin of the Culture: an ancient, galaxy-spanning, multi-species polity dedicated to what we might call rational and utopian values (also prone to snarky ship names, e.g., the Synarche Justice Vessel I’ll Explain It To You Slowly). That, in turn, connects with Haimey’s debates with Farweather about freedom and authenticity, which echo Greg Egan’s frequent examinations of ways of engineering the self (e.g., “Chaff” or “Mister Volition”).

Not that it’s all applied philosophy and psychology. The chases, escapes, and discoveries of ancient alien artifacts and haring across half the galaxy and back again make for as gaudy an adventure as one could want, as does the cast of AIs, sociopathic libertarian pirates, snoozy cats, and particularly a charming giant predatory alien-insectoid cop. And this is just Volume One. I quake to imagine what the encore will be like. ” — Locus

Jan 31
2019

Publishers Weekly starred review for Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

“Anyone who enjoys space opera, exploration of characters, and political speculation will love this outstanding novel, Bear’s welcome return to hard SF after several years of writing well-received steampunk (Karen Memory) and epic fantasy (the Eternal Sky trilogy). As an engineer on a scrappy space salvage tug, narrator Haimey Dz has a comfortable, relatively low-stress existence, chumming with pilot Connla Kuruscz and AI shipmind Singer. Then, while aboard a booby-trapped derelict ship, she is infected with a not-quite-parasitic alien device that gives her insights into the universe’s structure. This makes her valuable not only to the apparently benevolent interstellar government, the Synarche, but also to the vicious association of space pirates, represented by charismatic and utterly untrustworthy Zanya Farweather. While fleeing Zanya, Haimey and her crew discover a gigantic, ancient alien space ship hidden at the bottom of a black hole at the center of the galaxy, and at that point, things start getting complicated. This exciting story set in a richly detailed milieu is successful on many levels, digging into the nature of truth and reality, self-definition vs. predestination, and the calibration of moral compasses. Amid a space opera resurgence, Bear’s novel sets the bar high.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Jan 14
2019

Kirkus on Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

“Bear, then, offers plenty of big, bold, fascinating ideas in a narrative that culminates in a double showdown with a dazzling array of said thoughtful beings…. Impressive at the core. Readers who relished the Jacob’s Ladder trilogy will certainly enjoy this one.” — Kirkus

Apr 30
2018

Lee, Bear, Wells, and Kowal are all 2018 Locus Award finalists!

The 2018 Locus Awards finalists have been announced, and they include Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee (for best Science Fiction Novel), The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear (for best Fantasy Novel), All Systems Red by Martha Wells (for best Novella), “The Worshipful Society of Glovers” by Mary Robinette Kowal (for best Novelette), and “Extracurricular Activities” by Yoon Ha Lee (also for best Novelette)!

Apr 2
2018

Tor.com on Stone Mad

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear

“Bear deftly weaves this exploration of relationships and vulnerabilities, betrayal and compromise… Though this is a short volume—while being a long novella—the characters are elegantly drawn as entire individuals.

For all that Stone Mad has a lot to say about relationships, it avoids didacticism. Bear has an argument here, but it’s definitely an argument, with no easy answers. The only answer, it seems, is compassion and choosing to be kind—the same vein of kindness that runs underneath the entire story.

I loved Stone Mad. I found it powerful and deeply full of meaning. As well as entertaining: Karen is a magnificently engaging character, and a compelling one. I hope to see Bear write more about her, because she’s enormously fun.” — Tor.com

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