Apr 23
2019

Publishers Weekly on The Red-Stained Wings

The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear

“In this satisfyingly complex sequel to The Stone in the Skull, the descendants of the Alchemical Emperor vie for dominion over the remnants of his empire, or for simple survival for themselves and their people. In the city of Sarathai-tia, the young rajni, Mrithuri, faces a siege by the power-hungry raja Anuraja. She is supported by her own court and by new arrivals­including Serhan, the Dead Man, a former bodyguard and her new lover­but one of her inner circle may be a traitor. Anuraja holds hostage Sayeh Rajni, the trans or “third-sex” ruler of Ansh-Sahal, whose realm was destroyed by a volcanic eruption caused by Anuraja’s wizard accomplice, Ravani. Sayeh’s son, Drupada, has been kidnapped by a fourth royal, raja Himadra, who hopes to assume guardianship over the boy and thus control the refugees and army of Ansh-Sahal. And Serhan’s friend the Gage, a brass automaton with a human soul, continues his journey through a poisonous landscape in search of the Singing City of the dragons and possible allies there. Sorcery and scheming successfully propel the characters and plot lines of this rich and lovely India-tinged fantasy.” — Publishers Weekly

Mar 11
2019

BookPage on Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

“In Elizabeth Bear’s richly textured Ancestral Night, there’s a hole in space-time, and the good ship Singer is going to see what’s on the other side. A sentient ship capable of complex thought, Singer is helmed by Haimey and her shipmate Connla. When Haimey boards a derelict ship the crew hopes to salvage and inadvertently discovers a heinous crime, the team realizes they’re in way over their heads. Bear gives her characters the space to develop on their own terms, never missing a chance to world build in the interim. It’s often by the slimmest of margins that our heroes avoid disaster, and only a thin layer of metal separates the “slowbrains” (read: things that breath air, according to Singer) from the vastness of space. But the profound connection between man and machine at its heart will keep readers turning the pages.” — BookPage Magazine

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

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