Ashes of Candesce
Coming February 2012, the final book in the Virga saga
Nearly five years have passed since the mysterious force known only as Artificial Nature first tried to breach the walls of Virga. Its incursion has set off wars, revolution, and brought together an unlikely group of men and women united only in their opposition to it. They are the famous sun lighter, Hayden Griffin; mad, irrepressible princess Venera Fanning and her husband, Admiral Chaison Fanning; winter wraith and former Home Guard soldier Antaea Argyre; and, most unlikely of all, former history tutor and now spokeswoman for an alien civilization, Leal Hieronyma Maspeth.
Their courage has kept Virga secure--until now. Because Artificial Nature has decided upon a new strategy. If it can't force its way into Virga, it will cultivate new allies within the vast bubble-world.
If it can't batter the gates down, it will talk them open. And with Leal and Hayden missing, Antaea cast out of the Guard and shunned by all, and the Fannings preoccupied by the collapse of Slipstream's brief empire, no one is there to stop it. Unless rogue and former despot Jacoby Sarto can exploit the situation and save Virga. . . and perhaps, seize it himself.
The Virga series and its author [are] in the company of writers like Greg Egan, Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, and others. That the story and character development never lags as a result makes the Virga series a first-class reading experience both for long term fans and anyone looking for a good introduction to the ideas, and artistry, of contemporary hard science fiction.
A grand flying-pirate-ship-chases-and-escapes-and-meetings-with-monsters adventure, and it ends not with a debate or a seminar but with a gigantic zero-gee battle around Candesce, a climactic unmasking and showdown, just desserts, and other satisfying stuff. In a recent (as I write this) Locus Roundtable post, Karen Burnham posed the question of the appeal of SF and fantasy – ‘‘Why do you enjoy this crazy brand of literature?’’ I responded with several paragraphs of babble, but I think I could have just offered this series as my answer.