Powerful war machines of the far-future collide across a barren desert world in this post-apocalyptic debut novel from award-winning Australian author Cat Sparks.
Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.
But when the caravan witnesses a relic-Angel satellite unexpectedly crash to Earth, a chain of events begins that sends Star on a journey far away from the life she once knew. Shanghaied upon the sandship Dogwatch, she is forced to cross the Obsidian Sea by Quarrel, an ancient Templar supersoldier. Eventually shipwrecked, Star will have no choice but to place her trust in both thieves and priestesses while coming to terms with the grim reality of her past and the horror of her unfolding destiny as the terrible secret her sister had been desperate to protect her from begins to unravel.
Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines. A warrior with plans of its own, far more significant than a fallen Angel. Plans that do not include the survival of humanity.
About the Author
Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor, and artist whose former employment has included: media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, manager of Agog! Press and fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine amongst other (much less interesting) things. She's currently grappling with a PhD on climate fiction.
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Comments about Lotus Blue:
Fantastic view of a deep time future
Comments about Lotus Blue:
"Lotus Blue" is a pretty brilliant book.
Memorable characters include: Star, the crunchy young protagonist whose childhood secrets are closely kept by her healer sister, Nene. Quarrel the Templar, an engineered pre-Ruin soldier, part organic and part machine, worshipped in places, reviled in others. Allegra, a rich girl from Fallow Heel, and her father, Mohandas, owner of Razael...and the General, also known as Lotus Blue, an uploaded mind, now military machine, recently reawakened.
Just as powerful as the characters are the rich settings. Including the Obsidian Sea, a flat, melted, black remnant of a pre-Ruin metropolis made dangerous and enticing by whale-like, sentient wild tankers; the toxic Dead Red Sands, reclaiming fertile farmland as far as the eye can see; and the Sand Road, dotted with safety-providing Sentinels, which lead caravans by warlord-controlled wells to trading towns such as Fallow Heel. There, red cedar tall ship Razael, set on castors and magnificently restored, berths beside junk heaps like the Dogwatch. Meanwhile, bunker cities Axa and Nisn hide their own intrigues.
The action blends prehistoric-like beasts and age-of-sail/space piracy with Tatooine-style shoot-em-up and futuristic battle toys gone feral. Also very pleasing are the Australianisms hidden everywhere in plain sight. Themes explored here are friendship and morality with a good dash of Gallipoli in all its wasteful, futile glory. Difficult to miss is the combined climate change and singularity worst case scenario. For all of that, I found it difficult to look away! Will read again, when I get my hands on a print copy.
Comments about Lotus Blue:
World building is the real star of Lotus Blue, the debut science fiction novel for Australian author Cat Sparks. Very quickly in this novel Sparks creates a vision of a future Australia – an already ancient land – that's further weighed down by centuries of environmental disaster, turmoil and wars so that the 'present' of the novel feels old and tired indeed.
Caravans wend their way across the land between scattered outposts as the red desert encroaches more and more on what semi-fertile land is left; towns ruled by bandits or merchants squat in the heat, their dirt walls studded with old and broken tech; deep beneath the ground others rich enough to be able to turn their back on the wars live in hermetically sealed arcologies reliant on failing machinery to keep them alive. Out in the desert battle machines called Tankers, running on corrupted programs, patrol the slagged remnants of the past, hunted by modern-day whalers crossing the wastes on jerry-rigged sandships. And then there are the cyborg Templars, genetically and mechanically enhanced human troops, the last of whom have all but lost touch with their humanity. It's a monumental feat of imagination and the details build through the early chapters until you can see the ruin around you and understand the misery that created it.
Lotus Blue stands on its own as an impressive piece of imaginative writing, and one you'll enjoy from start to finish.
Comments about Lotus Blue:
A striking adventure story set in a fascinating Australia of ruined cities, killer hi-tech storms and cybernetic wizardry. Would love to read more set in this world.
"Imaginative and richly rendered . . . Sparks frames all of this in haunting, near-poetic detail, such that the readers can smell the toxic red sand and perhaps taste the blood. Recommended for people who crave fresh post-apocalypse chaos-because Sparks's post-apocalyptic chaos is pretty fresh, at that."-NK Jemisin, The New York Times
"A worthy mashup of Mad Max and Blade Runner . . . both richly atmospheric and incredibly engaging . . . more than just an action novel; there are mysteries to unpack and full-blooded characters who will keep you turning pages."-B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog (also included on the Blog's "The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far" list)
"Australian author Sparks' first foray into full-length fiction is an unforgettable ride into dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi storytelling. Her rich, hauntingly familiar yet desolate alien landscapes are filled with eons-old mutant soldiers, ancient war machines and extraordinarily scrappy and resilient characters. But it's her perfect weaving of the different plot threads into one fantastic read that rocks this debut sci-fi offering."-RT Book Reviews
"In the spirit of the Mad Max films, Australian author Spark's debut takes reader on a journey of the intersection of human and machine. Strong characters and a vivid desert landscape bring this postapocalyptic story to life." -Library Journal
"While there may be much that seems familiar in [Lotus Blue], with echoes not only of the Mad Max films but of Robocops, Terminators, and doomsday machines, there's also a good deal that's original . . . While this exuberance of invention is what initially draws us in to Sparks's world, her narrative energy builds admirably as we learn more about the characters' true identities and secrets . . . [A] fine first novel."-Gary K. Wolfe, Locus
"Filled with effortless worldbuilding that will have you shaking the sand out of your shoes after each chapter, this post-apocalyptic thrill ride is not to be missed."-B&N Sci-Fi Blog, "The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of February 2017"
"Sparks creates an uneasy and painfully suspenseful atmosphere with this sudden technological awakening, sweeping Star up in the burgeoning chaos as a long-dormant power from the Lotus Wars stirs, bringing with it only death."-Booklist
"A wonderfully inventive story . . . It's a great read, but it is also a fine first literary attempt which calls to mind the world of J.G. Ballard-the dystopian modernity and the somewhat pessimistic take on humanity's inherent failings." -Cosmos magazine
"It's a monumental feat of imagination and the details build through the early chapters until you can see the ruin around you and understand the misery that created it. . . . an impressive piece of imaginative writing, and one you'll enjoy from start to finish."-Newtown Review of Books
"Lotus Blue is [Sparks'] first novel, and what an entertaining ride it is. A striking adventure story in a world of nuked cities, killer hi-tech storms and cybernetic wizardry." -Herald Sun (Melbourne)
Â Forget the Mad Max comparisons: Sparks is far more ambitious than that. Lotus Blue is A Canticle for Leibowitz by way of Neuromancer."Â Peter Watts, author of Blindsight"A mythic, far-future outback populated by superhuman soldiers, house-sized reptiles, and half-crazed armored vehicles: If that doesn't sound incredible to you, you have no heart. Lotus Blue is the year's most compelling science fiction novel."Â Zachary Jernigan, author of Jeroun: The Collected OmnibusÂ Astonishingly rich in ideas and concepts and the world building is truly breathtaking in its breadth and originality. Lotus Blue is a revelation."Â Isobelle Carmody, author of the Obernewtyn ChroniclesÂ Lotus Blue is sci-fi author Cat Sparks's debut novel, and for a first journey it's a hell of a ride. As intelligent and thought-provoking as it is exciting . . . From the opening paragraphs you can feel the desert heat and the sand whipping your face."Â Starburst magazineÂ Lotus Blue is SF adventure on steroids. A dystopian vision worthy of H. Rider Haggard and the Mad Max film franchise."Â Jack DannÂ Vivid, compelling, and relentless, Cat Sparks makes you care about the soul of a mecha future as you hang onto the edge, feeling the sandy grit between your teeth."Â Tina LeCount Myers, author of The Song of AllÂ Strong-minded women to root for, self-driven, sentient war mech, and a broken, raw world make Lotus Blue the latest and greatest of recent post-apocalyptic stories. An imagined future that leaves you discomfited, but an engaging read that leaves you satisfied." Â Betsy Dornbusch, author of the Books of the Seven Eyes trilogyÂ A post-apocalyptic vision from Australia. Sparks' debut is ambitious . . . but patient readers will find it ultimately rewarding."Â Kirkus Reviews"Fascinating and grisly . . . gets strong approval for an excellent idea and a wonderful world."-Aurealis
Number Of Pages: 388
Published: 7th March 2017
Publisher: Talos Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.3