Wow, January. 2022. You know you’re getting old when time passes too quickly for you to reliably remember what year it is.
I generally try to do these ‘end of month/looking forward to next month’ things before, as seems logical, the end of the month, but everything’s been crazy over the last few weeks, and I just ran out of time. It was worth it, though – I got to see my side of the family for the first time since Christmas 2019. There aren’t many of us left, but those who are have health conditions which make getting Covid very unwise, and (apart from me, obviously) live about 300 miles away in the best country of the UK (Cymru, yn amlwg, sydd mewn gwirionedd wedi cymryd Covid o ddifrif. Yn anffodus, ches i erioed ddysgu Cymraeg yn yr ysgol, felly rydw i wedi gorfod defnyddio Google Translate ar gyfer y darn hwn.). So, you’ll have to forgive me this late entry.
My first choice for January is James Breakwell’s, The Chosen Twelve. I think this is his debut novel, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t know much about it when I chose it, other than the genre. If you don’t recognise his name, you might know him as Exploding Unicorn, the long-suffering geeky Dad whose four daughters regularly run rings around him, as detailed in his often hilarious social media posts. If he writes sci-fi as well as he blogs, then all bodes well for The Chosen Twelve.
Christopher Golden has long been one of ‘my’ authors, ever since I became hooked on his Shadow Saga series. He’s a prolific writer, writing solo or partnering with other authors – Tim Lebbon, Mike Mignola, Amber Benson, Thomas E. Sniegoski, to name but a select few – and spans multiple genres seamlessly. Road of Bones is his January release.
I read the first of Si Clarke’s Starship Teapot series last year, and immediately fell in love with the characters and her funny, geeky, heartfelt writing. All that was missing from The Left Hand of Dog was a cheat sheet for all the Easter eggs she included, so I really hope that she’s included one in Judgement Dave.
Reading update for December: 20 eBooks
Best read of the month: Shards of Earth, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Worst read of the month: Titanoboa: Journey to the Amazon, by P.K. Hawkins
The Chosen Twelve
The Hunger Games meets Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in this breathless survival thriller.
Lord of the Flies meets Philip K Dick.
There are 22 candidates. There are 12 seats.
The last interstellar colony ship is down to its final batch of humans after the robots in charge unhelpfully deleted the rest. But rebooting a species and training them for the arduous task of colonisation isn’t easy – especially when the planet below is filled with monsters, the humans are more interested in asking questions than learning, and the robots are all programmed to kill each other.
But the fate of humanity rests on creating a new civilization on the planet below, and there are twelve seats on the lander. Will manipulation or loyalty save the day?
Released 18th January 2022
Judgement Dave [Starship Teapot #2]
This time, the universe puts the cat in catastrophe.
Plucked from her home on Earth and ending up aboard a strange spaceship in an even stranger universe, Lem and the misfit crew of the Teapot have more than enough trouble on their hands… and then they receive an urgent last-minute call to save a race of cat-people from certain destruction.
Stuck with a disaster-platypus of a project manager and an entire race of people seemingly determined to thwart their own rescue, the Teapot’s crew face the impossible job of herding cats and helping evacuate the planet before it’s blown to smithereens.
Can Lem and the gang avert disaster and save this race of infuriating cat-people?
Perfect for fans of wacky and imaginative sci-fi stories, this satirical space opera is a ridiculous adventure that will delight readers of John Scalzi’s take on Fuzzy Nation or TJ Berry’s Space Unicorn Blues.
Released 25th January 2022
Road of Bones
A stunning supernatural thriller set in Siberia, where a film crew is covering an elusive ghost story about the Kolyma Highway, a road built on top of the bones of prisoners of Stalin’s gulag.
Kolyma Highway, otherwise known as the Road of Bones, is a 1200 mile stretch of Siberian road where winter temperatures can drop as low as sixty degrees below zero. Under Stalin, at least eighty Soviet gulags were built along the route to supply the USSR with a readily available workforce, and over time hundreds of thousands of prisoners died in the midst of their labors. Their bodies were buried where they fell, plowed under the permafrost, underneath the road.
Felix Teigland, or “Teig,” is a documentary producer, and when he learns about the Road of Bones, he realizes he’s stumbled upon untapped potential. Accompanied by his camera operator, Teig hires a local Yakut guide to take them to Oymyakon, the coldest settlement on Earth. Teig is fascinated by the culture along the Road of Bones, and encounters strange characters on the way to the Oymyakon, but when the team arrives, they find the village mysteriously abandoned apart from a mysterious 9-year-old girl. Then, chaos ensues.
A malignant, animistic shaman and the forest spirits he commands pursues them as they flee the abandoned town and barrel across miles of deserted permafrost. As the chase continues along this road paved with the suffering of angry ghosts, what form will the echoes of their anguish take? Teig and the others will have to find the answers if they want to survive the Road of Bones.
Released 25th January 2022