Monday, September 20, 2021

Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Shards of Earth
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Series: Final Architecture #1
Pages: 548
ISBN: 9780316705851
Publisher: Orbit / Tor
Published: 3 August 2021
Genre: Science Fiction / Space Opera
Source: Library Loan

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity's heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared - and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It's clearly the work of the Architects - but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Step aside Firefly there’s a new crew of lovable reprobates in town. Shards of Earth is a brilliant introduction to a brand new trilogy from one of the masters of space opera. After reading the amazing Children of Time I didn’t think Adrian Tchaikovsky would ever be able to match it, but he has somehow managed to surpass himself. You can’t help but be awed by his talent and the boundless scope of his imagination.

It had singled out the system’s inhabited world, as Architects always did. Because they must have their art, and their art demanded death.

Shards of Earth draws you in right from the start with a fascinating universe and a central cast of characters who are diverse in both form and temperament. You can’t help but to fall in love with the crew of the Vulture God, a group of scavengers just trying to make a living and scrounge up enough to keep their ship, their true home, from falling apart around them. They embody found family at its best. Their interactions, which are often quite humorous, and the way they truly care for each other is what makes this such a special experience.

Because I remember… I don’t sleep, I don’t age and I don’t forget—not the big things. I owe you my life. And I owe you double because you kept me sane after Berlenhof, after… first contact. But it’s you I owe, not the Parthenon.”

As a simple salvage mission turns into something far more perilous and apocalyptic you are swept away on an absolutely engrossing journey filled with lots of action and intrigue. The stakes keep escalating as the crew get propelled from one sticky situation into the next with some world-shattering revelations along the way. I had to pace myself otherwise I would've devoured the entire novel in a single sitting. Once the narrative grabs you it has the pull of a massive black hole - it simply does not let go.

Those familiar with space operas will spot many familiar tropes of the genre, but Tchaikovsky puts his own distinctive spin on them making it uniquely his own. There's a rich history to the universe and those that inhabit it. The alien creatures make for some of the most compelling characters. While only a supporting character, I found that the crablike alien Kittering "Kit" had a special draw for me and I enjoyed it immensely whenever he made an appearance. Who doesn't love a ruthlessly capitalist crab?

Shards of Earth is a great introduction to what promises to be a truly epic space opera. The nail-biting ending is satisfying in its own right without resorting to any cliffhangers and paves the way for something much bigger yet to come.

Tchaikovsky has outdone himself once again. I can’t quite decide if I like The Shards of Earth more than Children of time (both, I love both!), but if this is how things start out I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the trilogy. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 8/10 (Great!)

Friday, September 17, 2021

5 Things only TRUE bookworms will understand

Cover image for 5 things only true booksworms will understand

The life of a bookworm is filled with things other people just don't understand. You can try to explain it to them, but only other bookworms will be able to truly understand and share in your pain and frustration. Here's a list of 5 bookish problems only other bookworms will get.

  1. Being surrounded by piles of unread books and still not having anything to read.

  2. Running out of bookshelf space. No, not running out of space ON a bookshelf. Running out of space to put any more bookshelves.

  3. Realising a book/series has been on your TBR for far too long when you see they are being reissued with new covers.

  4. The agony of publishers changing the book size, spine art or cover style of a series midway in the series. Your beautiful collection will never match now, you'll just have to learn to live with it.

  5. Feeling judged by the progress bar of your Goodreads reading goal. A percentage bar has never been so judgmental.

Have you experienced any of these? Do you have any other bookish struggles to add to the list?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Arrivals: The Sale Succumbence Part 2

It's not often that I need to do a book haul post in two parts (part one is over here), but given all the recent book sales and my complete inability to resist a good deal I ended up ordering way too many books. Showcasing them all in a single post would've been a bit too cumbersome.  

Here, in all their glory, is the second part of my bookish shopping spree. Another eclectic collection of titles, but they were going for a song. I was powerless to resist yet another 50% discount sale. Reader's Warehouse will bankrupt me one of these days.

Have you read any of these? Which books should I make a priority?

Monday, September 13, 2021

Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space

With Branson and Bezos both launching themselves on suborbital trips to space social media was rife with narratives about billionaires escaping the planet and what an immense waste of resources these space joyrides are. Resources which could rather be used to solve problems here on Earth. Something that got completely lost in the outrage towards billionaires in space was the fact that space travel - the act of reaching for the stars - should be something inspirational and awe-inspiring.

The Inspiration4 mission is set to change all that. This mission is a magnificent counterpoint to the billionaire vanity projects, each trying to outdo the other (even if they have to resort to pedantic infographics). For the very first time in history a crew of civilian astronauts will launch into space, orbit for 3 days and return to Earth. These are normal everyday people. People who have gone that extra mile, done all the training a normal astronaut does and who, upon completion of their mission, will deserve the title of astronaut through and through.

Netflix has an amazing series chronicling the Inspiration4 crew's journey to space. And their stories are truly inspiring. I challenge you to watch this series and not be touched in some fundamental way. It manages to capture their sense of awe and excitement perfectly as they strive to push themselves and the boundaries of civilian space travel. I doubt you'll find anything more inspiring and touching.

With two days before Inspiration4 launches it's the perfect time to catch up with their journey. This is history in the making and understanding the background will make this achievement so much more profound.

Godspeed Inspiration4! I'll be watching every step of this amazing journey.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

New Arrivals: The Sale Succumbence Part 1

When I'm frustrated. I buy books.

When I'm stressed. I buy books.

When I want to celebrate. I buy books.

All of which have let to a ton of book buying over the past month. Especially since there were not one, not two, but three huge sales during the period. And I just can't resist a good book sale.

First up we have the stunning Halloween editions of Stephen King's Carrie, Rose Madder and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Since these are about to go out of print I just had to grab them to go with the boxed set of the other Stephen King Halloween editions I picked up last year two years ago (what even is time?).

Then I picked up The Doors of Eden, The Human, The Light of All That Falls and Shadows of Self at a 15% discount. All of these are part series I want to get to or finish soon.

Reader's Warehouse had another Big Sale where you get an increasing discount based on the amount of books you buy. Of course I had to go for the maximum discount - 50% off for 10 items or more.

An eclectic collection to be sure, but they were cheap. So why not?

Later in the month Reader's Warehouse would tempt me once again. Who wants to guess how that turned out? (Find out in Part 2...)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

New Arrivals: Eaglemoss DC Comics Collection

A while back I came across some pictures of the Eaglemoss DC Comics collection. The Alex Ross artwork on their spines looked amazing and I immediately developed some serious shelf envy. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never get my hands on a collection of my own since they were sold as part of a subscription service and unfortunately I had missed that bus a long time ago. And then fate intervened...

As luck would have it an old classmate of mine had to get rid of his collection as soon as possible. I jumped at the chance, and after some logistical struggles I finally got my grubby little hands on the precious beauties. Well, 69 of them at least. Luckily the spine artwork I fell in love with is part of the editions I managed to obtain. Now I can bask in their beauty whenever I want to.

Eaglemoss DC Comic Graphic Novel Collection Spine Art

Isn't that just the best looking shelf ever? Over half of the books haven't even been read yet and are are in almost pristine condition still sealed in their original packaging. The entire pantheon of DC characters are covered and since I'm relatively new to comics I haven't read any of these stories before.

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 1 - 9

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 10 - 19

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 20 - 29

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 30 - 39

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 40 - 49

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 50 - 59

Eaglemoss DC Comic Collection Vol 60 - 69

Comics, comics everywhere! I've always been meaning to get more into comics and now I don't have any excuse not to...