April 2022

A stand-alone science fiction book.


Publishing year: 2021

Format: Print

Publisher: Penguin

Page count: 476

The main character wakes up alone in a room, with only two mummified corpses for company. He doesn’t remember even his own name or where he is or why. Soon, he realizes that he’s not on Earth but on a spaceship that should be beyond current tech to build. So, this must be important. If only he could remember…

I don’t want to spoil anything, although even the GoodReads summary will tell you more.

This is very similar to Weir’s first book, the Martian. One man, a scientist, working alone. The MC has a similar sense of humor as Watney, but with less swearing. If you liked the Martian, most likely you will like this one, too. However, Project Hail Mary does have elements that aren’t strictly science even though they’re common to science fiction. Also, about half of the book is flashbacks when the MC starts to remember how he got here.

I really liked some of the elements but I don’t want to spoil them. I very much enjoyed this scientific adventure tale.


I feel like Sherlock Holmes. All I saw was “nothing,” and I draw a bunch of conclusions! Conclusions that are wildly speculative and with nothing to prove them, but conclusions!

Stupid humanity. Getting in the way of my hobbies.”

Humble Bundle has an awesome European comics bundle. The full bundle has 55 comics, including 23 Valerian and Laureline albums. That was one of my favorite science fiction comics when I was younger (alright, it still is).

It also has Namibia, Orbital, Distant Worlds, and Aldebaran which I haven’t read but they sound very interesting.

Apex Magazine is collecting funds to create a print short story collection of all the stories they published 2021.

It “will include 48 stories from a diverse group of new and established writers and will feature the Apex Magazine Readers’ Choice Award-winning artwork “Entropic Garden” by Marcela Bolívar on the cover.”

It’s already funded and has 7 more days to go.

A collection of 16 SF&F stories centering on derelict ships, either in space or at sea.


Publication year: 2021

Publisher: Zombies Need Brains

Format: ebook

Page count from GoodReads: 312

Most of the stories are SF and many have horror elements. Two stories have AI point-of-view characters. One is historical fantasy and two are set in fantasy worlds.

“Symbiote” by Kristine Smith: Shelly Conn’s luck has been bad for the last few weeks. When she and her crew go onboard an old laboratory spaceship, she’s hoping to get good salvage out of it. She gets far more than she bargained for.

“The Wreck of the Sarah Mohr” by D.B. Jackson: Set in 1767, this is a historical fantasy story. Ethan Kaille is a conjurer; he finds stolen or missing goods through magic. A merchant asks him to dispel the ghosts that are haunting his ship. Ethan finds a grimmer secret in the wreck.

“The Tempest in Space” by Griffin Ayaz Tyree: Faizal has finally found his sister among the stars and he’s trying help her.

“Playing Possum” by Andrija Popovic: Darryll is a salvager. He and his trained, wired possum find a derelict ship. He sends his possum in to see if it has anything good. But it isn’t abandoned.

“Standing Orders” by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: The war is over and the humans won. However, in order to win, the human High Command had to build artificial intelligences to fight for them. The humans promised that after the war, the AIs would have a place in human society. The humans lied.

“Time, Yet” by Gerald Brandt: Senn Jal is a happy man: his lovely wife is pregnant with their first child. While that means more work for him at the farm, he couldn’t be happier. But then something falls from the sky and his world is shattered.

“Flight Plans Through the Dust of Dreams” by Kit Harding: Twenty years ago Rosie was a terrorist and her airship was shot down. Now, she’s trying to fix her old derelict ship. If only the curious and rebellious teenager doesn’t find out who Rosie really is…

“Saving Sallie Ruth” by Gini Koch writing as Anita Ensal: Sallie Ruth is a ghost spaceship, rumored to destroy all ships that encounter it. Now, Space Police’s prison ship sees the remains of an envoy and behind it the Sallie Ruth. The police have the duty to rescue anyone who might be inside.

“Methuselah” by Jacey Bedford: Renny is the captain of a small spaceship Staten Island. He and his crew need money badly. When they come across a derelict ship, they first think they have a great salvage in their hands.

“Celestial Object 143205” by Mark D. Jacobsen: After decades of serving in the US Space Force, Cooper commands his own ship. However, because of various construction delays, that ship won’t leave Earth’s orbit until after Cooper’s command is over. He’s more than a little resentful. But suddenly he has a chance for a deep-space rescue mission, with a barely-finished ship and just one crew member. Of course, Cooper agrees to it. But is he prepared for the isolation of long-time space travel?

“Mercy for the Lost” by Jana Paniccia: young Monkey is a captive crew member of the pirate ship the Outcast. When they find a derelict mage ship, Monkey almost hopes she will die with it. Instead, she gets a chance.

“When the Star Fell and the Levee Broke” by Alex Bledsoe: A big storm washes away Travis’ levee. A strange metal object is left in the mud. At first, Travis thinks it’s a satellite. But it’s far stranger.

“Derelict of Duty” by Chaz Brenchley: The point-of-view character of this story is an AI who was constructed as a weapon in a war. But they have escaped and are now on the run. When they hear about an old vessel, possibly an alien vessel, they can’t resist but investigate.

“Two Ruins Make a Beginning” by R.Z. Held: Alexandrine is a ghost, bound to a murderous ruin spirit. Alexandrine’s purpose is to prevent the spirit from hurting anyone. When Alexandrine and the spirit go to a beach, they see the wreck of a ship. The ship has also a ruin spirit which is holding four people hostage. Can Alexandrine help them without losing her soothing connection to ”her” spirit?

“Orpheus” by Jack Campbell: The Daedalus is the second crewed mission to Saturn. One of their tasks is to find the three crew members who were left behind during the first mission. The bodies, if there are any, are Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. However, their lander malfunctions so they must use the previous mission’s lander, the Orpheus, to set down on Titan and see if there’s anything left of the three astronauts.

“Decay in Five Stages” by Julie E. Czerneda: A prequel story to her In the Company of others. Aaron Raner is an old engineer working on Thromberg station. When the humans realize that the seemingly innocuous alien Quill brings contamination, Aaron’s spacefaring friends are some of the first victims. Aaron is left with their baby and he needs to get the baby out of the station.

This is an enjoyable collection, even if many of the stories have horror elements and some are otherwise depressing. It was very interesting to see just how many different kinds of stories the writers got from salvage operations on derelict spaceships.

The third short book in the Cherringham cozy mystery series.


Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Taina Wallin

Page count: 106

Finnish publisher: Tammi

Kirsty owns a small gift shop in Cherringham and also sings in the village’s choir. She has a deathly allergy to peanuts and everyone makes sure not to bring anything with peanuts to the choir practice. Buy one night she’s walking home from choir practice and gets an allergy attack. She uses her EpiPen – but it doesn’t work, it’s empty.

The police think that her death is an accident. But when Jack Brennan, the former NYPD detective, joins the choir, he finds out that Kirsty was very diligent and carried two EpiPens at all times. She would never put a used one back in her purse. One person in the choir thinks that she was murdered and asks Jack to look into it. Jack and Sarah investigate.

But everyone who behaves suspiciously, such as the town bank manager who seems to want more than just money from his female clients, turns out not to really have a motive.

This was another quick and fun murder mystery in the little Cherringham village.

The second book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr humorous mystery series.


Publishing year: 1987 (originally 1978)

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Pasi Junna

Page count: 223

Finnish publisher: Viihdeviikarit

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar. He enjoys breaking into other people’s homes and taking their stuff. However, burglars usually work alone, just as Bernie does. So when his dentist, Dr. Sheldrake, talks about how his ex-wife has lots of expensive jewelry and doesn’t really deserve them, Bernie gets nervous. But in the end, Bernie agrees to break into Crystal Sheldrake’s apartment and steal the goods.

Bernie plans carefully and takes his time in the apartment. A bit too much, even. Because when he has gathered the jewels up neatly, Crystal returns. Desperately, Bernie hides in a closet and Crystal locks him in. Before Bernie can get out, someone else comes in and murders her. Bernie doesn’t hear or see the murderer who leaves, taking the case with the jewels with them.

This was a fun, quick read written in a humorous style. Bernie is in a lot of trouble: the dentist is arrested right away and he quickly points a finger at Bernie. Bernie and the dentist’s nurse try to figure out the murderer. One corrupt cop also tries to blackmail Bernie for half the jewels.

The murdered woman has several boyfriends and her ex-husband hates her, so there are several suspects.

The book is written in Bernie’s first-person POV. While he has no problem stealing, he’s very careful. He’s already been in prison and doesn’t want to return there. He has his own code of honor. The other characters are quite entertaining, too.

The second short book in the Cherringham cozy mystery series.


Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Taina Wallin

Page count: 106

Finnish publisher: Tammi

Victor Hamblyn is 91 and still in relatively good health. He lives alone in a run-down manor on the edge of the Cherringham village. He’s not an easy person to be around but his home care helper Hope likes him. One night, the manor is caught on fire. Against all reason, Victor painfully climbs to the attic and dies from the smoke. The police think it’s an accident, but Hope knows that Victor was still sharp. Something drew him to the attic, to a room where nobody else was ever allowed to go. Hope confides to her friend Sarah who believes her.

Jack agrees that this probably wasn’t an accident. He and Sarah interview the old man’s three children who all live in Cherringham and could be behind the fire. All three are middle-aged and impatient to inherit the mansion’s large lands, as the sole heir.

This was another quick and easy read. Sarah and Jack are already working comfortably with each other and are clearly heading for a romance. All of the three heirs are suspects until the end.

Shaper of Worlds volume III is an SFF short story collection at Kickstarted. It “will feature original fiction by Griffin Barber, Gerald Brandt, Miles Cameron, Sebastien de Castell, Kristi Charish, David Ebenbach, Mark Everglade, Frank J. Fleming, Violette Malan, Anna Mocikat, James Morrow, Jess E. Owen, Cat Rambo, K.M. Rice, and Edward Willett and new poetry by Jane Yolen, plus stories by Cory Doctorow, K. Eason, Walter Jon Williams, and F. Paul Wilson.”

It’s already funded but has only 25 hours to go.

Edward Willett, who is rising funds for the collection, has an SFF podcast.

A stand-alone science fiction thriller.


Publishing year: 2015

Format: Print

Publisher: Del Ray

Page count: 445 + a novella set in the writer’s other world, the Dire Earth

Peter Caswell is a very capable assassin who never remembers his work. He has an implant that not only gives him a huge edge in a fight but also makes him forget his missions so that his conscience is clear. However, he doesn’t control the forgetting aspect of the implant. That part is controlled by Monique, his partner whom he’s never met face-to-face. The implant speeds up his thinking, giving him ample time to plan and execute his moves in a fight. It also enhances his senses and suppresses pain, hunger, thirst, and emotions. All of these abilities work only for a limited time.

Now, Monique has sent him on a mission that doesn’t require a memory wipe. A spaceship that was lost a couple of decades ago has been found again. Peter needs to infiltrate the salvage crew. However, once inside the old ship, Monique tells Peter that the ship holds such sensitive information that this now becomes a mission Peter will later forget. Usually, he only forgets a couple of days. Now, he will have a time window of two weeks to find and kill the only surviving crew member of the old ship. But the catch is that the survivor is not on the ship nor on Earth. She’s on a parallel Earth, a world Peter knows nothing about. But he has no choice; the mission has already begun.

The other Earth has its own history and politics. Our other point-to-view character is Melni who was born and raised on that other Earth. She’s a member of a minority race and also a spy in a culture she didn’t grow up in.

This was a very entertaining book with lots of action. Melni and Peter are very different. They’re thrown together and must work together to survive. While Peter is very good at his job, he doesn’t know the world and he can’t even eat the food. As much as he hates it, he needs Melni. Melni doesn’t know him but realizes that he’s very peculiar and strangely similar to the genius she’s spying on.

I really enjoyed the alternate world, even though we are thrown in without explanations and need to figure out who is who. The differences in culture were fascinating, such as that the doorknobs are near the ground and used with toes, not hands. This world’s technology is behind Earth’s.

I guess the biggest problem I had with Peter is that we don’t really know him. What is the company he’s working for? Why is he an assassin if he doesn’t want to remember killing? Why does he trust Monique? We do get an explanation for the latter questions near the end. Melni seems a very capable undercover agent, but she was too trusting with Peter.

And the ending. Not a fan of it. While this is technically a stand-alone book, that ending pretty much requires a sequel.

Kristen at Fantasy Cafe is hosting Women in SF& Month 2022. The posts in previous years have been great and it’s wonderful to see that so many people, men and women, are again celebrating women writers. The first week offers posts from Traci Chee, Deborah Falaye, Judy I. Lin, Tara Sim, and S. A. Barnes. I’m sure my TBR will explode, again.