Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just Another...Book Crush (#3): Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Just Another...Book Crush! is a monthly feature where I invite an author whose book I've recently reviewed and loved to write a guest post and share their three latest book crushes. It's a feature I'm starting mostly because I'm often very shy to approach authors, especially ones I admire, and also because I love reading guest posts since, more often than not, they convince me to pick up a book even when the reviewer cannot. 

As you may (or may not, actually) know, I devoured Sara Creasy's Scarabaeus duology within hours just a few weeks ago. As a huge fan of science fiction, I was thoroughly impressed by Creasy's debut novel, Song of Scarabaeus, whose characters and story I still find myself thinking about every once-in-awhile. You'd be hard-pressed to find a series that deserves more recognition than this one and although I've been raving about it over the blogosphere (and probably tiring all of you already), I am nevertheless excited beyond all reason to be welcoming Sara Creasy onto my blog today to tell us about her books. 
Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, Edie's mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she's not entirely sure it's a bad thing . . . until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn's side, he dies. If she doesn't cooperate, the pirates will kill them both. But Edie's abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she'll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure . . . a world called Scarabaeus.

Most speculative writers will probably tell you they love world-building. I’m no exception. It’s the reason I write (and read) science fiction rather than contemporary drama. I’m a sucker for futuristic technology, the bread-and-butter of science fiction. In Song of Scarabaeus, I've created a far-future world that combines technological advances in space exploration, genetic engineering, medicine, weapons, even sport, with more mundane references that remind us humans are still human. This future doesn't include Earth, but it still has taxi cabs, email, teddy bears, and bland food-court meals at the space station mall. People still bitch about their bosses and worry about raising their children in safety.

Without the restraints of reality, science fiction can magnify these concerns. What if your boss can kill you with impunity if you bitch too loudly? What if not just your home but your entire planet is at risk of destruction if you don’t pay your taxes? What I love about science fiction is when essentially ordinary humans – people with all the same dreams, foibles, and interrelationships as humans across the ages have shared – are plunged into these sorts of stressful, dangerous, world-changing situations that don’t or can’t exist in reality.

A fantastical setting also allows for twists on even the mundane. Trust issues can cloud any relationship, and the one between Edie, a computer wiz who terraforms alien worlds, and Finn, a convict assigned as her bodyguard, is no exception. But added to the mix is the “leash” – an electronic connection between them that will explode inside his skull if she goes out of range or dies. He was unwilling from the start, and now has a desperate motivation to do his job properly.

And then there’s the twist in the social mores of this futuristic universe, where most people accept without question that political prisoners of war can be forced to work on chain gangs, or bought and sold as slaves. While everyone else treats Finn as subhuman, Edie is more sympathetic because, like him, she’s essentially been denied her freedom and used by the authorities for years. Both have been terribly betrayed by their own people as well as by the enemy.

Song of Scarabaeus has its share of cool gadgets, but it’s the relationships that I most enjoyed writing, both the central one and the ones between Edie and her crewmates/captors. When these relationships are happening on pirate spaceships and exotic planets, when they’re tested by bombs and alien bugs and total ecosystem collapse – all the better!

Just Another...Book Crush! 

I’ve chosen three books I love on the assumption that if you like my books, you’ll like these as well. Of course, that assumption may be entirely wrong! These books feature amazing world building and interesting characters with a touch of romance – and I don’t ask for too much more in a good read.

I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but this is the sort of fantasy I love. It reads like an alternate-history novel for the most part (historical and speculative fiction have much in common), set in a frozen steampunkish world with magic around the edges. The focus appears at first to be narrow because it’s a first-person narrative from the point of view of a sheltered young woman. But as the story progresses, she’s thrust into a complex world with far wider implications, both politically and personally. The romantic plot unfolds subtly – another thing I like, as readers of my books would know.

This one is 35 years old but I come back to it again and again. It’s a quest story: the heroine Snake is searching a barren post-apocalyptic world for a dreamsnake, which she needs for her work as a healer. While the plot is fairly straightforward, the story plunges you into a unique and fully realized landscape that creates an unforgettable ambiance.

Full disclosure: This is my husband’s debut novel, published earlier this year by Tor. I know, I know, I’m biased… but this space adventure has everything I love. (Not surprising, really, because he wrote it for me!) A wide backdrop of planets filled with exotic ports of call, a fearless heroine, a sexy hero, humor, romance, mystery, fascinating character cameos, and a smattering of philosophical gems thrown into the mix.

Sara, thank you so much for stopping by today! I truly loved reading this post, particularly since you touched upon so many aspects of this series I loved myself - the world building, the intriguing constraints and freedoms that came with the science fiction genre, and, of course, the relationships. I definitely agree that a large part of the reason that I loved this duology so much was because of my strong attachment to Edie.

Also, I am dying to find the time to read Cold Magic! I know a lot of readers have at least heard of Kate Elliot, so I'm glad she comes with your seal of approval. I'll have to bump her up my TBR-Shelf. And while I haven't heard of Dreamsnake, I love those timeless novels that one can never fully forget. 

Anyway, what are your thoughts on Sara's post? On the feature? If you haven't already read my spoiler-free reviews of both books in this duology, you can check them out HERE.


  1. I totally want to read Song of Scarabaeus after your review, Keertana. I really need more reading time. I'll have to check out Cold Magic at some point too. You're killing my TBR, Keertana! :)

  2. Ohh, I want a husband who'd write me a book. That is the most romantic thing ever. And it's a space adventure, so I'm pretty sure the rest of us will love it too. I know I will.
    And Cold Magic sounds exactly like my kind of thing. That is exactly the type of book that, if well written, blows me away. I've added both to my tbr.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. First of this meme is new to me! Sounds really cool. I should try it once.
    I haven't read this book but I've seen your review for it. I'm really curious about it. Also I agree with Maja - I mean husband writing a books for you! I'm sold! :)
    Great post Keertana :)

  4. I don't typically read a ton of science fiction, but whenever I pick one up, I end up loving it. I love what Sara said about the worlds lacking the restraints of our reality, that's always my favorite part. It's fun to see what different authors' imaginations come up with! I definitely need to read her series Keertana!

  5. Now you've made me wat to read this immediately! You're so persuasive and the book does sound lovely. I'll definitely be reaching for it soon.

  6. This sounds like a fantatistic little read and I know how picky you are with your ratings. I love exceptional world building. Poor world buildling ruins a book for me. Wow! A boss being able to bump you off for bitching too loudly is a scary idea, right? I must check out the Kate Elliot book! Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful day!

  7. Amazing world building, interesting characters and a touch of romance - this is exactly what I am after everytime I pick up a sci-fi book! I love Sara's post. There are plenty of reasons why I prefer fantasy or science fiction over contemporary novels, and Sara touches on that perfectly. I don't need any more convincing about this series. Ordering a copy of the first right now. :)

  8. I remember reading your praising review for the Scarabaeus duology Keertana, so I'm glad you actually had Sara Creasy sharing some great recommendations with us! I'm not typically a science fiction fan, but when my mood calls for it, I will certainly be diving into these recs! Thanks for sharing a great post with us! :)

  9. Thanks again for having me, Keertana. I really liked reading your reviews of my books, too - the longest reviews I've ever read! Happy readers make it all worthwhile. Hope the rest of you here enjoy the books too.

  10. So THIS was the post that bumped Song of Scarabaeus up from my TBR to my 'no, seriously!' TBR. Everything Sarah had to say about world building and blowing up issues is exactly why I read speculative fiction. I'm a total wimp about leaving my comfort zone, so I don't read SF enough, but I want to start doing so more.

    Also, I'm planning to read the Spiritwalker books in May I think! Hopefully...ugh...I do have an awful lot of books to read. :P

    This is still one of my favorite features out there, Keertana, please keep it up!


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