The fight for Earth has been lost. With the failure of Operation Redemption in the last book the human race now finds itself on the brink of extinction. The few humans still alive on Earth can barely recognize their own planet. All the freshwater gone and the oceans down to 21% of their former volume, and still the aliens continue to drain away the remaining water. Earth is now a barren planet and this is the world that the former crew of the grounded submarine, Ghost of Atlantis, is trying to survive in. Of course, things are not much better for their former commander, Captain Noble, who finds himself caged in some kind of alien zoo spaceship and headed to an unknown destination. Perhaps humanity's best hope of survival is Dr Winston's team who are on their way to Mars aboard the NTC Sunspot in a desperate attempt to find a new home - too bad for them the aliens are already there too.
Catherine Asaro's most recent series set in her Skolian Empire continues with Major Bhaajan investigating the sudden disappearance of a wealthy woman from her own party. The house EI, (Evolving Intelligence), has no record of the exact minute she vanished and the destruction of the room almost looks like there was an explosion but there is no body or evidence that she left the house. Bhaajan has little to go on until another woman vanishes. Again the EI has no record and a woman in the next room heard nothing. This time the crime is personal for Lavinda Majda, the one royal that Bhaaj not only respects but actually likes. Thanks to her relationship with the crimelord Jak in the Undercity, Bhaaj slowly begins to unravel a conspiracy hidden among the Empire's elite. They are attempting to use ancient technology leftover from those who originally brought humans to Raylicon six thousand years earlier.
Book 2 of the Quantum Evolution series is an even bigger brain burner than the first one so don't pick this up unless your mind is in the right place. In The Quantum Magician, Belisarius pulled off the biggest con of his career and also walked away with the Time Gates, which could be the most valuable asset in the universe. He is back with Cassandra, the love of his life, and he has a also possibly reached a new state of evolution for his sub-species, the Homo Quantus, as he is the only one capable of seeing the quantum possibilities of the universe without having to enter a fugue state. So things are looking pretty good for him as he approaches the Garret, the homeworld of his people that he left long ago, just in time to see it destroyed before his very eyes.
Being a Lyctor isn't at all what Harrow expected and Ascension has brought her nothing but grief. The Emperor immediately arranges for some of the resurrected, who have been in stasis for ten thousand years, to be transported to the Ninth, her former House. However, as a Lyctor Harrow has little time to brood over their fate because she must begin preparing to join the other Lyctors in battle against the great Resurrection Beasts. Each beast started as the soul of a planet that was altered by that planet's Resurrection and now Harrow and Ianthe, the other new Lyctor, have only a year to become fully functional or they will likely die when the next Beast is engaged. Of course, that is assuming the other Lyctors don't kill Harrow first.
Because the marketing hype for Gideon appeals more to millennials it led me to avoid this book until I was desperate for something new. The publisher's blurb also gives the impression of yet another teen competition plot albeit with lesbian necromancers and dirty magazines this time. The first chapter does in fact mention dirty magazines, and there are in fact necromancers, but ignore the rest as the Post-Resurrection Empire is a unique and strange setting. The Undying Emperor, father of the resurrection, has spent the last ten thousand years fighting a terrible cosmic threat with the aid of his immortal Lyctors. For the first time he has issued an invitation to the eight noble houses to send their best necromancer, along with their cavalier, to attempt Ascension and become Lyctors to replace the fallen. The brilliant and psychotic necromancer Harrowhark sees this as an opportunity to save the dying Ninth House if she Ascends but first she needs a cavalier. Gideon only cares because the announcement interrupts her latest and best attempt to escape the Ninth and join the army but then Harrowhark offers her an irresistible deal. Help Harrow Ascend and she will not only sign the paperwork so she can legally join the army, but also have Gideon commissioned as an officer.
What made this series unique at the start was the concept of trying to survive an apocalypse by living in the sky aboard airships. Once the focus moved down to the planet for the last two books there were times when the series felt like it had gone on a bit too long. The same storm related issues continue to arise over and over and the fights with the sirens have gotten old, but each time the story starts to drag a bit it is the characters that save the day. After a slow start to this one I was once again heavily invested in the outcome before it was over due to the characters and my desire to see them succeed. King Xavier has more enemies to fight than ever before, and that is saying something, and that means that humanity's future is as bleak as it has ever been. Certain Cazadores still resist his rule and cause internal strife while even larger external threats are organizing to come and take the Vanguard Islands for themselves. Once more we get a chance to find out if X, aka The Immortal, can live up to his nickname, or if time has finally run out for the dream of living on the surface.
Terra of the future looks pretty good overall and Earth along with a few space stations are united under one representative government. The largest threat to that security is an enigmatic alien race, the Greys, that likes to kidnap humans for an unknown purpose. Although technologically stronger the Greys are vulnerable to powerful psionic attacks which has made the psi guilds prominent in the space navy. For that reason the government and the space navy take it very seriously when precogs all over the globe start reporting visions of navy personnel encountering at least one new race, and possibly two. Based upon those visions the navy launches a new set of exploratory missions including a crew made up of six people seen in the visions. Unfortunately for them, the visions all agree that there will be a crew of humans at the mercy of a hostile race that intends to eat them alive.
Emmett is smart enough to know it sounds too good to be true, but he's desperate for money and being one of the first humans to visit another planet would be really cool. Still, he doesn't trust the slick corporate mouthpiece and once he's in space he would have no way of knowing if his mom was getting the medical care they promised. Then the guy's ring starts changing shapes, a ring made out of Nyxia, a substance Babel Corp found on the planet they call Eden, and Emmett is hooked. Besides, the contract looks legal. Naturally there's a catch or three, or maybe ten. First, the planet Eden is already inhabited by humanoids, but they say its not a problem because they have an agreement, not to mention the wildlife which killed most of the survey team. But they wait until Emmet and the other nine recruits are on the ship to reveal the most immediate catch. Only seven of them will actually be going down to Eden and so the trip will be spent in physical training and learning to manipulate Nyxia with their minds to prove themselves worthy of risking their lives for an enormous sum of money. However, not even Babel Corp is prepared for the really big catch that may kill them all.
The cruise ship Intrepid is just about out of fuel and this forces their hand even though they would prefer to remain far away from land at this point. A nearby island has offered to trade fuel for food, and they claim they have not been affected by the rage virus, but can these islanders actually be trusted? It really doesn't matter because with the number of Parasitics locked up on the ship if they run out of fuel then they will no longer be able to keep them contained. The monitoring of the Parasitics has also revealed some very disturbing behaviors that show they aren't just mindless killers and then of course there are the Symptomatics - infected individuals who are able to hold back the rage from taking control. With few guns on board and threats inside the ship and out it is clear that the situation has reached the breaking point.
Once again the galaxy's strangest inhabitants are staying at Getrude Hunt Inn but at least Dinah now has Sean to help her control the chaos. Sweep With Me is somewhere between a novella and a full length book and takes place at the same time as book four. Dinah is still recovering from the traumatic events and dealing with the consequences of what happened in One Fell Sweep. First she has to get through the three days of the Treaty Stay, the annual celebration where the Inns honor the galactic treaty that protects Earth. During those three days the Inn must accept any guest including a flock of Koo-Ko (space chickens) trying to settle a religious debate, an infamous Medamoth warlord claiming he's on a pilgrimage, and one of the mysterious Drifan from another dimension. Its a mix of the serious and ridiculous that culminates in an epic display of power that Dinah and Sean have to keep hidden from the rest of Earth.