Categories
Science Fiction

The Alien Stars: and Other Novellas (ARC) by Tim Pratt

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the early digital copy of The Alien Stars: And Other Novellas! This is AR’s first novella collection, and seeing as I had recently read and enjoyed Doors of Sleep by the same author, I was definitely interested!

Pratt’s Axiom trilogy wrapped up in 2019 and there were a few side characters that he wanted to spend a little more time with, so these novellas (also readable as standalones) are a re entry into that world.

Bookish Facts:

  • Title: The Alien Stars
  • Series: Axiom (can read as standalone)
  • Author: Tim Pratt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 4/27/21
  • Length: 237 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for sci-fi fans!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

In this collection of previously unpublished novellas, Hugo Award-winner Tim Pratt returns to the acclaimed sci-fi universe of his Axiom trilogy.

Each of these three stories takes fans and new readers alike deeper into the rich world of the Axiom than ever before, revisiting the crewmembers of the White Raven as they strike out on new and enthralling adventures.

Delilah Mears joins the crew of the Golden Spider, as its cyborg captain Ashok leads them deep into space to investigate a mysterious cosmic anomaly, leading to an encounter with a truly unusual band of space pirates; AI (and Trans-Neptunian Alliance President) Shall receives a strange summons from a past version of himself to help defeat an existential threat to the entire universe; And intrepid alien truth-teller Lantern journeys home to confront the monsters of her past, and the deepest secrets of her heart (or the closest thing she has in her circulatory system to a heart).

I always find it really hard to talk about novellas, but I enjoyed reading these.  It is definitely not necessary to read the Axiom trilogy, although I wonder if it will provide series spoilers (who lives, who dies, who marries who, etc) to those who decide to read the books. I added them to my TBR; it’s hard not to be drawn into the world of these characters with their dynamic personalities, taste for adventure, and snarky banter.

Each novella has a clear starting point, action filled middle, and clear ending.  A good novella contains an entire story in fewer pages and Pratt definitely did that.

The AI ethics and societal implications were my favorite part. Ashok and Shall are both really interesting characters and explore my favorite sci-fi topic, Robots/AI autonomy! I didn’t like the third story as much as the others because it’s heavily character based, and I just don’t know the characters well enough to care about their background together.  

The space pirates and rebel clone in the first two novellas were great reads though, and the final novella did have some wonderfully clueless aliens going for it.

Totally recommend for fans of sci-fi, banter for days, and short fiction!


About Tim Pratt: (from Amazon)

photo: Tim Pratt from timpratt.org. He may or may not have a beard now 😂

Tim Pratt was born in Goldsboro, NC, and grew up in various places in the American South. He relocated to Northern California in 2001. His fiction has won a Hugo Award, and he’s been a finalist for Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, World Fantasy, Scribe, and Nebula Awards, among others. His other books include three short story collections; a volume of poems; contemporary fantasy novels The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl and Briarpatch; gonzo historical The Constantine Affliction under the name T. Aaron Payton; fantasy roleplaying game tie-ins; and, as T.A. Pratt, eight books (and counting) about sorcerer Marla Mason. He occasionally edits anthologies, including the Rags and Bones anthology co-edited with Melissa Marr. He works as a senior editor for Locus magazine, and lives in Berkeley, CA, with his wife Heather and their son River.

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

ARC Review: Doors of Sleep by Tim Pratt

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the digital advanced copy of Doors of Sleep in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!  If you are a fan of multiverse adventures and creative characters, check this out!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Doors of Sleep
  • Series: Journals of Zaxony Delatree, #1
  • Author: Tim Pratt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot Books, 1/12/21
  • Length: 272 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡ yes for sci-fi, multiverse fans!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

What would you do if you woke up and found yourself in a parallel universe under an alien sky? This is the question Zax Delatree must answer every time he closes his eyes.

Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a new reality. He has no control over his destination and never knows what he will see when he opens his eyes. Sometimes he wakes up in technological utopias, and other times in the bombed-out ruins of collapsed civilizations. All he has to live by are his wits and the small aides he has picked up along the way – technological advantages from techno-utopias, sedatives to escape dangerous worlds, and stimulants to extend his stay in pleasant ones.

Thankfully, Zax isn’t always alone. He can take people with him, if they’re unconscious in his arms when he falls asleep. But someone unwelcome is on his tail, and they are after something that Zax cannot spare – the blood running through his veins, the power to travel through worlds…

Wow, what a wild ride! I can only imagine how Zax feels since I was getting dizzy just travelling with him!  I think the book’s biggest strength is just the sheer number of creative ideas on the pages – I coined a term for it, like “word salad” but it’s “universe salad.”  One page might spit out six wildly different universes if Zax is travelling quickly.  Pratt’s well of ideas seems to be endless.

There are many pop culture nods that I enjoyed spotting too, like an Emerald City universe with a yellow brick road and all.  One thing the book accomplishes is making me feel soooo small, the possibility of endless universes and endless galaxies, planets, and he is only seeing a small portion…

nothing mattered against the span of the infinite, so if you wanted to care about anything at all, you had to care about the small things. There was nothing in the multiverse but small things

So Zaxony is travelling alone and it was hard for me to latch onto the story before he found a travelling companion, that is a super interesting plant/human hybrid.  They become great friends and Minna is able to perform many scientific tasks to make Zax’s life easier.  They also eventually pick up an analytic war crystal named Vicki who I think is the best character 😂

In the worst-case scenario, an insane chip of diamond was unlikely to cause harm to others at least, and, best case, perhaps I’d finally get some answers

– Zaxony, on Vicki

Once the antagonist shows up in truth and the book turns into a pursuit, giving Zax and company a purpose, I finally latched onto the story.  This happened maybe halfway through and is why I only gave Doors of Sleep 3.5 stars, I felt aimless before that point.  The Lector is a brilliant terrorist with the aim of conquering all the worlds, creating a moving empire, and it’s going to take mote than weapons and traps to stop him…. A really brilliant bad guy who is only limited by his inability to comprehend the true grandness of the multiverse.

I wondered why he didn’t just kill them, but then remembered: the dead do not suffer

–Zaxony, on the Lector

Did I mention that the Lector is more than a little bit brutal? How in the world are they going to take him and his army down?  I should mention Zax too as a character – he is thoughtful, a general good Samaritan with strong principles about helping people, but he is also flawed and sooo lonely before he meets Minna. I loved that they ended up just being partners and not pursuing anything romantic too.

Overall: clever but brief world building, strong friendships and interesting characters, many philosophies, and a twisty OMG ending, made me enjoy this book quite a bit.  I am definitely 100% on board for the next book and hope you guys will check this one out!  Just released on January 12th so grab your copy now!