Short Fiction Watch: COME THE REVOLUTION by Ian Tregillis

COME THE REVOLUTION, the prequel novella to Ian Tregillis‘s acclaimed Alchemy War series, has been collected in another anthology! Now available in THE YEAR’S TOP ROBOT AND AI STORIES, edited by Allan Kaster, here’s a very brief description…

In an alternate 18th Century Holland, a robot is determined to escape her makers’ constraints.

The novella was first published in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (March/April 2020), and later in THE YEAR’S TOP TALES OF SPACE AND TIME (2021).

The novels in the acclaimed series are out now, published by Orbit Books in the UK and North America: THE MECHANICAL, THE RISING, and THE LIBERATION. Here’s the synopsis for book one…

An epic speculative novel of revolution, adventure, and the struggle for free will set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams.

My name is Jax.

That is the name granted to me by my human masters.

I am a slave.

But I shall be free.

Here are just a few of the great reviews the Alchemy Wars series has received so far…

‘The first thing readers will say after finishing this splendid book is: “Wow.” The second thing will probably be: “When can I read the next one?” … This is a rousing SF/fantasy adventure, with a brilliantly imagined and beautifully rendered alternate world. Although he keeps the pace moving at a brisk clip, the author is able to work in some Big Ideas, asking us to think about what we mean when we speak about souls and free will. This isn’t Tregillis’ first venture into alternate history — the Milkweed Triptych is set during WWII and features an alternate time line — but, in terms of the quality of writing and cleverness of ideas, this new book constitutes a major leap forward.’ — Booklist (Starred Review) on THE MECHANICAL

‘… launches a series with this superb alternate history filled with clockwork men and ethical questions on the nature of free will… Tregillis’s complex setting is elegantly delivered, and the rich characters and gripping story really make this tale soar.’ — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on THE MECHANICAL

‘An original approach to a well-known subject matter; human ethics and free will… a fascinating world… Tregillis is a capable sculptor of narrative. He rarely drags on in his descriptions, painting a complex picture of his world one section at a time. He imbues most characters with a specific internal voice, ably switching between points of view without it ever jarring. And the central character, a Clakker known as Jax, is the most engaging automaton you’ll encounter in any recent book. This opener to the Alchemy Wars trilogy delivers a mostly fresh breath of sci-fi fantasy.’ — SciFi Now on THE MECHANICAL

‘Tregillis never fails to impress, and his writing and stories seem to be getting better with each novel. This book is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and it’s my favorite work of his to date. I can’t wait to see what the next installment in The Alchemy Wars will bring.’ — BiblioSanctum on THE MECHANICAL

‘The chases, the battles, the brutal violence, and the scheming are nonstop. As always, Tregillis offers richly textured and genuinely likable personalities with shades-of-gray morality; it’s clearly no accident that the most purely good person in the novel is the mechanical Jax, although even his sterling qualities are severely tested by the terrible situations he faces. Middle volumes are always tricky; they can often read as an obstacle to overcome on the way to the forgone conclusion of the third installment. Tregillis commendably avoids this trap, deepening his story and keeping it moving along toward an unknown horizon. Part 3 can’t come too soon.’ — Kirkus (Starred Review) on THE RISING

‘Tregillis’s splendid sequel to THE MECHANICAL is a vivid alternate history tale filled with action sequences, fascinating characters, and great worldbuilding… engrossing, with plenty of mid-story twists, and it’s well worth the ride.’ — Publishers Weekly on THE RISING

The thoughtful, blood-soaked conclusion to an alternate-history trilogy… A frighteningly frank and brutal consideration of slavery, post-slavery, and colonialism in metallic garb.’ — Kirkus on THE LIBERATION

‘Action-packed and harrowing…’ — RT Book Reviews on THE LIBERATION

THE LIBERATION brings to a violent, triumphant conclusion Ian Tregillis’s epic Alchemy Wars Trilogy: one of the most entertaining, original, and thought-provoking series of recent years… It’s a wonderfully realized world, packed with fascinating characters, and Tregillis uses alternative history brilliantly to explore concerns we still have over new technologies and their potential effect, for good and ill, on our freedom.’ — Toronto Star

Ian’s debut trilogy, the widely acclaimed Milkweed Triptych, is also available, published by Orbit Books (UK) and Tor Books (North America).

Short Fiction Watch: New Stories by Ian McDonald & Lavie Tidhar!

In the final instalment of Short Fiction Watch of 2020, we want to draw your attention to two recent sci-fi anthologies featuring work by Zeno clients. Specifically: Ian McDonald and Lavie Tidhar.

First up, both authors have stories included in THE 2020 LOOK AT MARS FICTION (pictured above), edited by Allan Kaster. In Ian’s story, THE OLD COSMONAUT AND THE CONSTRUCTION WARKER DREAM OF MARS, which first appeared in 2002’s MARS PROBES collection…

… the lives of a young Indian construction worker and an old Estonian cosmonaut collide during the terraforming of Mars by quantum machines.

Lavie’s TERMINAL, which was first published on in 2016, is about…

An improbable group of astronauts are slingshot to Mars in cheap one-person, one-way jalopies…

Finally, Ian has another story in THE 2020 LOOK AT SPACE OPERA BOOK, also edited by Allan Kaster. The collection ‘highlights 20 stellar space operas published over the past 20 years by top-notch authors of the science fiction genre’. Ian’s contribution is BOTANICA VENERIS: THIRTEEN PAPERCUTS BY IDA COUNTESS RATHAGAN, which was first published in Clarkesworld in 2017…

An aristocrat’s trip to Venus, in search of her disgraced brother, is memorialized by papercuts of flora native to the planet…

Ian McDonald’s latest series is Luna, published by Gollancz in the UK and Tor Books in North America — NEW MOON, WOLF MOON, and MOON RISING are all out now. The prequel novella, THE MENACE FROM FARSIDE, is published by

Lavie Tidhar’s latest novel is BY FORCE ALONE, published by Head of Zeus in the UK and Tor Books in North America.


In this instalment of Short Fiction Watch, we wanted to draw your attention to the upcoming collection THE YEAR’S TOP HARD SCIENCE FICTION STORIES 4. Edited by Allan Kaster, it includes THE MENACE FROM FARSIDE by Ian McDonald!

Here’s the relevant portion of the synopsis…

An unabridged collection spotlighting the best hard science fiction stories published in 2019 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster…

… A teenager seeks to maintain her “Captain” status among her non-traditional lunar family by leading her siblings on a dangerous trek to Neil Armstrong’s first footprint on the moon in “The Menace from Farside,” by Ian McDonald.

THE MENACE FROM FARSIDE is the prequel novella in Ian’s Luna series, and was originally published by Here’s the full synopsis…

Remember: Lady Luna knows a thousand ways to kill you, but family is what you know. Family is what works.

Cariad Corcoran has a new sister who is everything she is not: tall, beautiful, confident. They’re unlikely allies and even unlikelier sisters, but they’re determined to find the moon’s first footprint, even if the lunar frontier is doing its best to kill them before they get there.

The highly acclaimed Luna series is published in North America by Tor Books, in the UK by Gollancz, and is available in a growing number of translated editions around the world.