Arabella The Traitor of Mars

Having successfully routed the French on Venus, Arabella and Prakash Singh are feted on Earth by the gouty Prince of Wales. They soon find that the Prince and the Chairman of the Honorable Mars Company wish to use Captain Singh’s bravery and celebrity to back an invasion and takeover of Mars. They will supplant the Martians and enslave them, though they don’t use those terms.

There was never a more intelligent and loyal man than Singh. He is terribly torn between his feelings for the Martians and their way of life and fulfilling the wishes of his majesty the Prince.
Arabella, a native of Mars herself, will not have him consider for a moment taking on such a task.

Trapped in the Prince’s company by a snowstorm, Arabella and the Captain are approached by many who wish to overtake Mars for profit, and for the possibility that surely the Martians will rise up, because they can, though they have never shown any interest.

Arabella finds out that the Prince and The Head of the Honorable Mars Company plan to put Singh forth to win public and Parliamentary approval, but plan to undermine him and have him destroyed once things are in place. They admire his feats, but have no regard for a man of India. When Arabella tells him these things, he says he can’t believe it, so much respect does he have for his Admiral and his Regent, and that he has already agreed. Arabella runs out, leaving him calling after her.

It’s up to Arabella to find a way to get to Mars before the fleet, to warn the Martians, and to organize a rebellion. The navigational challenges of getting to Mars at all during this season of the year are nearly impossible. If anyone can make the run, it’s Arabella.


Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Crew!
One Ship!
One Killer!

This is a great Locked Room Mystery in Space.

The locked-room mystery is a subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime — almost always murder — is committed in circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene. Wikipedia

The Dormire is a ship holding hundreds of colonists, sleeping as they move through space towards a new home. The Dormire has six crew who are awake at all times, monitoring the ship’s passage and the vitality of the colonists.

Cloning has made it possible for the crew to make it through the journey over the long span of time required for the trip. They have set copies and can call those up when the time comes to retire their current bodies.

As the story begins, all six crew have been murdered in horrible ways. They’re bringing their clones online in an emergency reboot. The new clones have no memory of what happened to them, who killed them, or why. The gravity of the ship is offline. The ship’s AI, which should have a full record of events is barely functioning. The ship’s original Captain is barely alive, and is unresponsive.

Clone law states only one version of a person may exist at once, and the new clone always has precedence. The old clone must be disposed of immediately. Everyone understands this, but some feel the earlier captain can give them vital information, such as who killed everyone and why. Will the killer get to her first?

A further problem is that all the crew’s clone backup information has been wiped. They cannot be cloned again, revived again. Anyone who dies to the killer a second time will be permanently dead.

The crime scenes are grisly. Noone can trust anyone else. They still work together to find answers and to get the ship back on course. Inexplicably, it is now on a heading back toward earth, and they cannot get that changed without a working AI.

Every page is tense and action packed. You see how everyone got where they are, and at one point, it has that Murder On The Orient Express quality where it looks like every single person is the murderer.

I love mysteries and I love science fiction, this is a perfect blend of both. I wish the author would write many more terrifying, suspense filled stories like this one.

Visit Mur Lafferty’s Home page and listen to her podcast Ditch Diggers

Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey

Holden, with Miller’s ghostly direction managed to open the Ring Gate in Abbaddon’s Gate. Now thousands of worlds are within reach. The overcrowded solar system has an escape valve, and people can spread out among the stars, with plenty of air and water for all.

The nearest planet to the gates has been named Ilus by a colony of refugees from Ganymede. They commandeered their rescue ship and pointed it through the gates when there seemed no place else for them to go. Fiercely independent, determined to build a new life for themselves, they’ve been mining the planet which is rich in lithium and the ruins of a dead alien civilization.

mining colony

The infighting that always existed between Earth, Mars and the Belt still goes on. Earth’s UN is sending their own colony of scientists to this same planet to study it and claim it for their own. They call the planet New Terra. They don’t recognize the current colonists nor, thanks to some corporate string pulling at home, do they plan to let the colonists have mining rights.

As a shuttle carrying the new Governor and a first group of scientists land, the landing pad explodes, killing many on board, including the new governor. The Edward Israel, still in orbit, goes into high alert and sends a signal back to Earth that colonial terrorists have killed the first team sent to the planet.

Another ship, the Barbapiccola waits in orbit for the first shipments of lithium.

The trip from Ilus to home takes a year and a half, though communications take mere hours. The UN and OPA want James Holden to go to Ilus and try to reach a diplomatic conclusion. Miller’s ghostly self wants to go through the gate in the very worst way. Although Holden fears what Miller might do next, or cause to happen, he likes the idea of being a peacemaker, so they go.

While the Rocinante makes the journey, the head of Edward Israel’s security sends more scientists down to the planet and goes down himself to make sure their mission isn’t hampered and no one is killed. He runs a tight colony and never hides his suspicion of the “squatters” as the colonists are known to the scientists.

Just as the Rocinante arrives, a fight breaks out and security teams from the Edward Israel are killed. Murtry declares martial law. And planet itself seems to be waking up.

Holden’s efforts are wasted on the three warring groups, except for a scientist who develops an awkward crush on Holden.

As the planet wakes, it seems bent on destroying those on the surface. As they flee into space and the ships in orbit, the planet’s defenses begin to pull all the ships down towards the surface.