The Tuesday List: New Beginnings

The coming of the new year is a time of new beginnings for a lot of people, as those of us who believe in them make resolutions and hope for positive change in the year to come.  Plenty of novels begin with a new beginning, but they’re not always as positive or pleasant as we might imagine for ourselves.  Here’s a brief list of novels featuring new beginnings in some way or another.

  1. The Stars Are Legion, by Kameron Hurley


Amnesia is its own beginning, especially when it happens over and over.  For Zan, finding the source of her lost memories may be just the start of a new world for herself and everyone in her small corner of the universe.  Along the way the reader is served up a hero’s journey of planetary proportions and plenty of gore an intrigue, as one would expect in a KH novel.

2. The Reader, by Traci Chee


Stories are an integral part of Sefia’s world, reading itself is a skill long lost to time and empire.  But somehow a book has survived, and Sefia, on the run from the same people who pursued her parents and killed her father, is learning to read the book one slow letter at a time.  Will finally understanding the past set her free, and allow her to move forward into a future of her own making?

3. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel


Apocalypse is a special kind of beginning, and Station Eleven is one of the best executed post apocalyptic novels I’ve encountered.  It’s not just about learning to live without electricity or government, but the ways in which everything old can become new again, including art.

4. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison


Sometimes a new beginning is an empire getting a new face, like when a kingdom of elves finds itself with a half-goblin emperor on its throne, after nearly the entire royal family was killed in a dirigible accident.  Being an outsider can sometimes be an asset, but it can also be a liability, and Maya has very little room to make mistakes.

5. Earthrise (Her Instruments #1), by MCA Hogarth


The advent of interstellar travel didn’t do a Star Trek and get rid of capitalism, and for Reese Eddings, raised on the all-woman Mars colony, the getting beat down by fate and a series of bad trades can’t blunt her obstinate desire to explore and see everything the universe has to offer.  But eventually the money runs out, and she has to consider going home to ask her mother for help.  Until a mysterious benefactor comes through with an offer that seems to good to be true, and Reese just might get a break, after all.


Earthrise, by M.C.A. Hogarth

In my quest to support indie sff authors, I discovered M.C.A Hogarth on Amazon and after reading a little about her work, decided to get the first in her “Her Instruments” series, called Earthrise.  Named for the ship that Reese purchased with her share of the family’s compound on Mars, the novel traces the adventures of Reese and her doughty crew as they attempt to save one of a species of long-lived and reclusive humanoids from vengeful and violent slavers.  What starts out as your run-of-the mill maguffin plots turns into quite something else, as Reese’s mental and physical health, combined with the interference of a mysterious benefactor, send the Earthrise off in directions Reese could never have anticipated.

The Earthrise itself is crewed by a feathery and fluffy cast of characters from all over known space, most of whom are genetically created species from when humans first began colonizing worlds other than Earth itself.  Though Reese at times displays discomfort with the overly affectionate ways of felinoid siblings Irine and Sascha, or the mysterious habits of Bryer, the phoenix, she is still loyal to her crew, and they to her.  This is a story of found family and what people will endure for each other.  Reese’s crew also numbers a Gleaseahn, a sort of gryphoid centaur, and a sentient fuzz ball who communicates telepathically–a Fliztbe–whom Reese calls Allacazam.

Earthrise starts out as your typical mcguffin plot, but it’s well-paced with some extra side plots and character development thrown in, making it not only entirely readable, but even bingeable.  Reese’s quest to make it as more than just another homemaker on Mars is compelling, and the tidbits thrown in about the matriarchal societies built through artificial insemination almost demand another series just for themselves.  The timelines are somewhat confusing, though, which distracts from the main conflict that develops after Reese accomplishes the original, seemingly innocuous, mcguffin plot and finds she and her crew are embroiled in something much deeper than a simple rescue mission.

Although there is no open romance in Earthrise, it is signposted as a romance series.  Probably, though the teambuilding story that pulls all the characters in Reese’s crew together is interesting and compelling enough to satisfy a reader for whom romance is not the biggest pull.