Review: The Edge of The Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

The Abyss Surrounds Us, Book 2;  published in 2017; 281 pages.  ★★★★☆

Every burst of fireworks feels somewhere between a prelude to war and a statement of purpose. We’re here. We’re alive. And we’re going to light you up.

Summary:
Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

(From Goodreads)

If I’m honest with myself, I think The Edge of the Abyss is my second-most-anticipated release of 2017, following only Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer.  The Abyss Surrounds Us was an absolute delight, refreshing in its originality, complexity, and casual diversity – at once a rollicking science fiction story, an exploration of moral questions, and a confident assertion that the future holds a place for all people.  It also ended on a frankly vicious cliffhanger, and I’ve been longing for its sequel ever since.  And after all that, it did live up to my expectations… for the most part.  I want more.  I want so much more, some of it that I wish had been in this book and some of which I’m still hoping for.  That is, in the end, a testament to the strength of the world, story, and characters that Skrutskie has created – but it does mean that I feel The Abyss Surrounds Us to be the stronger book.  Cliffhanger aside, it felt like the more complete of the two.

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Review: On A Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

Xuya Universe; published in 2012; 154 pages.  ★★★★☆

“But of course, she thought, we’re small-minded and petty, and sometimes, we let ourselves be hollowed out by hatred.  And sometimes, we commit the unforgivable.”

Summary:
For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.

But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe.

What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…

(From Goodreads)

First of all:  for those who don’t know, Aliette de Bodard has a list of free short stories you can read online.  I binge-read my way through them over a year ago and they’re fantastic, and when it happened that I had Amazon gift card balance to spend I went for this novella almost immediately.  De Bodard tells complex stories in expansive universes, and somehow she does it in short forms – it’s incredible.

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