In 2014, Gollancz revealed that it had acquired a space opera duology from Elizabeth Bear. The author described the first volume, Ancestral Night—inspired by the works of Iain M. Banks, Andre Norton, and C.J. Cherryh—as full of “sprawling conflicts, politics, and ancient alien technologies, all wrapped up in a package of gritty, grounded personal drama.” According to an announcement from Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi this week, Ancestral Night will be published in 2018; Gollancz will partner with Saga Press to publish the book simultaneously in the UK and the US in summer 2018.
The 2014 announcement didn’t tell us much about the plot, though it did reveal the technology on which Bear’s space opera hinges: The White Drive, “an easy, nonrelativistic means of travel across unimaginable distances.” Now Gollancz shared a detailed blurb that mentions the downside of FTL (faster than light) travel, especially when the White Transitions created by the White Drive don’t always work out as expected:
A wild, big-ideas space opera that will appeal to fans of Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton and Al Reynolds from a John W. Campbell and multiple Hugo award winning author.
Haimey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz are salvage operators, living just on the inside of the law…
Usually. Theirs is the perilous and marginal existence—with barely enough chance of striking it fantastically big—just once—to keep them coming back for more. They pilot their tiny ship into the scars left by unsuccessful White Transitions, searching for the relics of lost human—and alien—vessels.
A wild adventure across an imagined cosmos where every FTL journey creates its own mini-universe. A universe that is just waking up to the knowledge that a long- dead, hugely powerful alien species may still be around. Knowledge that could tip the perilous peace mankind has found into war.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to write space opera again after being away from this end of spec fic for a few years,” Bear said in the announcement. “Ancestral Night is very much a book of my heart and gut, and I’m unbelievably excited and a little intimidated to be painting on such a big tapestry as, well, all of space and time.”
Saga editor Navah Wolfe said, “Elizabeth Bear is a brilliant writer, and I’ve admired her range and talent for years,” adding that Ancestral Night is “exactly the kind of big idea space opera that Saga Press is looking for.”
Gollancz Publishing Director Gillian Redfearn echoed the sentiment: “We’re always looking for exciting new stories in SF, and Elizabeth Bear’s novels have always fizzed with ideas, passion, and character. The chance to publish a new SF novel from her—especially one as exciting, fresh and gripping as Ancestral Night—and welcome her to Gollancz, is one we absolutely relish.”
And in the meantime, here’s where to start with the works of Elizabeth Bear.