cover image Katya’s World

Katya’s World

Jonathan L. Howard. Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry (Random, dist.), $9.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-908844-13-2

Yes, horror author Howard’s (the Johannes Cabal series) hard SF story features a dystopian future Earth, but it’s light years away. The inhabitants of the watery planet Russalka, descended from Russian colonists who arrived more than 100 years earlier, have been cut off from the rest of the galaxy ever since their former brethren on Earth tried to reclaim Russalka and destroyed much of the settlers’ technology. Ten years after the brutal aerial attacks, Russalka remains in a state of uneasy militarism and recovery. Nearly 16, Katya Kuriakova is excited about apprenticing on her uncle Lukyan’s submarine, but much goes wrong on her debut voyage, including the sub getting commandeered by a military officer and his pirate prisoner, surprise attacks, and a conspiracy that could threaten all of Russalka. A strong cast and a believable sense of danger drive Howard’s first book for teens (the combination, of course, ensures that many characters do not survive). SF fans looking to stretch their range will find much to love and will look forward to the planned second installment. Ages 13–up. (Nov.)