This Gulf of Time and Stars
by Julie E. Czerneda
464pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: --/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

This Gulf of Time and Stars, Julie Czerneda’s latest novel and the first book in the Reunification trilogy, is set in the same universe as the Stratification and Trade Pact trilogies and continues Sira’s story after the end of the latter. I read it without having read any of the other Clan Chronicles books, and although it certainly wasn’t necessary to do so, I suspect I would have gotten more out of it had I read the other books first. However, I did enjoy reading it even without having read the other trilogies and am now interested in reading both the previous books and the next book in this trilogy!

For a long time, the Clan have been living among Humans, posing as Human themselves. Board Member Cartnell, the Human representative of the Trade Pact, discovered their existence after one of them destroyed the minds of three scientists, including that of the man he loves. Cartnell was horrified by the Trade Pact’s willingness to aid these strong telepaths and their naivety in believing these aliens would be grateful in return, but he has also discovered the Clan’s weakness: there are fewer than a thousand of them, and they’re under threat of extinction due to a reproductive issue. After drawing the conclusion that a war looms in the future, Cartnell calls a secret meeting with one goal in mind—destroy the Clan to save Humanity.

As Sira, the most powerful of the Clan, prepares for a surprise baby shower planned by her Human partner Morgan, she has no idea that everything is about to change—or that her search for answers and a safe haven for her people will reveal that there’s more to the Clan’s past than she ever imagined.

This Gulf of Time and Stars is a book of mysteries and secrets, the first in a trilogy written to reveal the truth about who the Clan are. For that reason, it’s difficult to discuss in detail without giving too much away, but suffice to say that it made me curious enough about Sira and Morgan’s previous adventures that I added the first Trade Pact novel, A Thousand Words for Stranger, to my wish list soon after finishing it!

Although I did enjoy it overall, the first few chapters did not work well for me, but the prelude, which focused on the group who wanted to destroy the Clan and their reasons, did capture my interest. Since I hadn’t read the previous novels, the Clan sounded quite terrifying—telepathic aliens who could disguise themselves as Human and had torn apart people’s minds! Then the first chapter introduces Sira, who is learning about the Human custom of baby showers from Morgan and is very much the opposite of terrifying despite being the most powerful of all the Clan. I appreciated that the Clan was not one big monolith of evil, and I also liked this setup as someone who hadn’t read any of the previous books and didn’t know what to expect.

However, I did find parts of the first few chapters confusing since I didn’t always understand terms and references to events from previous books. Later, this was less of a problem as I came to understand more about Sira and the Clan and earlier parts began to connect and make sense. Though it’s possible I would have gotten more out of it had I read the earlier books first, I also don’t regret beginning with this book. The bigger issue I had with the first couple of chapters was that there were several humorous scenes exhibiting just how alien all these aliens were to each other that just didn’t mesh with my own sense of humor. For instance, one of the aliens is upset that Sira and Morgan brought extra guests they did not plan for when he sees that Morgan brought a bunch of balloons to the “baby-rainshower-occasion” (Sira’s name for this unfamiliar Human celebration). After the earliest chapters, there was less of this and more focus on answering questions that I found more compelling.

The world and exploring the Clan’s past were the highlights, but I also enjoyed the sheer readability of the writing style. It’s quite succinct with short chapters and paragraphs, and it flows smoothly, making it effortless to read. There is a tendency for chapters to end on cliffhangers that made me feel like parts were quite deliberately left out to make me want to read on to find out what was happening, but it also did succeed at making me do just that!

There are several different perspectives in This Gulf of Time and Stars, and Sira’s is the only one told in first person. Many of these seem to exist to show events to readers rather than for character development, but the more prominent characters, Sira and Morgan, are likable and interesting and complement each other well. They obviously care for each other very much, and it’s great to read about a fictional couple who work well together. Even though they face obstacles that could potentially be a source of angst, drama, and relationship tension (and would be in many other books!), these two are not divided by such events and support each other. Sira is brave, determined, and uniquely powerful among her people; Morgan, a spaceship captain and trader, is generally optimistic and cheerful, artistic, and an unusually strong telepath for a Human. Though compelling, I didn’t think they were quite as multi-faceted as they could have been since I didn’t feel like I understood them as people beyond a few abilities and traits, although this reaction could also be the result of not having read previous books that established their characters more.

This Gulf of Time and Stars contains much of what I love about science fiction—aliens, telepathy, and space travel—combined with other elements I love in fiction—mysteries, secrets, and revelations. Although I struggled with the earliest chapters and didn’t think the characters were as lifelike as many in other books I’ve read, I did find it quite readable and enjoyable. It left me quite curious about both Sira’s future and her past—and it definitely made me interested in reading more of the Clan Chronicles!

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the author and publisher.

Interested in learning about Julie Czerneda’s process when developing the various types of aliens in the Clan Chronicles and how it’s influenced by her background in biology? Curious about the book she read that first began her fascination with aliens? Check out my interview with her during the This Gulf of Time and Stars blog tour!

Sci-Fi Month 2015

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Last week brought a fantasy book so exciting I may not be able to resist starting it as soon as I finish reading my current Sci-Fi Month book (Cagebird by Karin Lowachee), but first a couple of things:

Ash and Silver by Carol Berg

Ash and Silver (The Sanctuary Duet #2) by Carol Berg

Ash and Silver, the second half of the duology beginning with Dust and Light, will be released on December 1 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook). Excerpts from both books in the Sanctuary Duet are on the author’s website:

  1. Dust and Light
  2. Ash and Silver

Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors, and this is one of THE 2015 releases I am most excited about since I very much enjoyed Dust and Light.


In Dust and Light, national bestselling author Carol Berg returned to the world of the award-winning Flesh and Spirit. Now she continues the saga of a man whose past is veiled in shadows….

Ever since the Order of the Equites Cineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training, he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order—to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.

He is Lucian de Remeni—a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.

Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world…

Other Books:

Sci-Fi Month 2015

It’s now officially Sci-Fi Month, a month-long celebration of all things science fiction begun by Rinn from Rinn Reads! This year it is being co-hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. If you’re only hearing about it now and would like to be part of it, it’s not too late—anyone can participate at any time during the month of November! If you want to check out what’s going on this month, there is a schedule of posts by participating blogs and a Twitter account.

This is my third Sci-Fi Month, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it the last couple of years! The first year I discovered a new favorite book as part of my reading for the month (Karin Lowachee’s Warchild). Last year I only managed to fit in a couple of book reviews since I was still adjusting after moving to a new state, but I also had a couple of great guest posts—some book recommendations by Martha Wells and an article on hope and wonder in science fiction by Karina Sumner-Smith.

This year, I may only end up reviewing a couple of science fiction books like last year since I have a couple of fantasy books to review that I’ve read or am nearly finished reading, but here are some plans for Sci-Fi Month:

  • A review of This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda (which I’m also giving away at the moment!)
  • A guest post by Karina Sumner-Smith

I’ll probably write at least one other book review. Since I haven’t yet read Cagebird, I’d like to keep with my Sci-Fi Month tradition of reading the Warchild books, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll end up reading after that if I think I can fit in more Sci-Fi Month posts—there are so many possibilities!

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

The book in the mail last week that I’m most excited about is one that I’m not featuring with a description and cover in this post because I just did the cover reveal a couple of days ago: Winterwood (Rowankind #1) by Jacey Bedford. I am still holding a US-only giveaway of an ARC of this historical fantasy about pirate Rossalinde Tremayne so be sure to check it out if you’d like to enter to win an early copy of this February 2016 release!

There are two other giveaways of November 3 science fiction releases that you can still enter:

The second giveaway link also includes an interview with Julie Czerneda in which she discusses aliens and biology.

Today is the beginning of Sci-Fi Month! I will definitely be reviewing This Gulf of Time and Stars for Sci-Fi Month, and I will probably read and review Cagebird by Karin Lowachee since reviewing Warchild books has become a Sci-Fi Month tradition for me (and these books are incredible, especially Warchild!).

Now, for the latest book arrivals besides Winterwood!

Mystic by Jason Denzel

Mystic (Mystic Trilogy #1) by Jason Denzel

Mystic, a debut novel by founder Jason Denzel, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first three chapters can be read on chapter one, chapter two, chapter three.

A Mystic/The Wheel of Time Companion book tour is taking place during the month of November (book tour event locations).


I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst.

Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.

Such has always been the tradition—until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #1 and #2) by Claudia Gray

The second book in the Firebird series, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from the first book, A Thousand Pieces of You, can be read on

The description of the first book in the series is below.


Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

Other Books:

Today I’m delighted to be revealing the cover of Winterwood by Jacey Bedford! This historical fantasy is the first book in a new series, Rowankind—and it both looks and sounds wonderful (the tagline on the cover mentions many things that are fun to read about). Winterwood will be released on February 2, 2016, but one person reading this will have the chance to read it early: I have one ARC (advance copy) to give away, courtesy of DAW Books!

Winterwood Cover


Set in 1800 in Britain, Mad King George is on the throne with Napoleon Bonaparte knocking on the door. Unregistered magic users are pursued to the death, while in every genteel home resides uncomplaining rowankind bondservants who have become so commonplace that no one can recall where they came from.

Meanwhile, Rossalinde Tremayne is satisfied with her life as a cross-dressing privateer captain on the high seas. But a bitter deathbed visit to her estranged mother changes her life completely when she inherits a magical winterwood box. Now, not only is she confronted with a newly-discovered brother, and an annoyingly handsome wolf shapeshifter, Rossalinde has to decide whether or not to open the box to free rowankind and right an ancient wrong—even if it brings the downfall of Britain.

This brand-new series is perfect for fans of Elizabeth Bear, D.B. Jackson, and Marie Brennan, as well as readers of historical fiction who are looking for an accessible gateway to fantasy.


Jacey Bedford is an English writer with short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic. Visit her online at or on Twitter @JaceyBedford.

Courtesy of DAW Books, I have one ARC (pre-publication copy) of Winterwood to give away to a resident of the US!

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Winterwood Giveaway.” One entry per household and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the United States are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Thursday, November 12. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed since the giveaway has ended.

Today I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda! This soon-to-be released (November 3!) science fiction novel is the first book in the Reunification trilogy, which follows events in the Trade Pact trilogy. Although it technically ties into a larger series, it can be read by itself—I haven’t read either that trilogy or the prequel trilogy, Stratification, and I enjoyed reading This Gulf of Time and Stars. It completely succeeded in making me quite interested in both finding out what happens next in the rest of the Reunification books and what happened before in the previous six books!

After finishing the book, I asked the author a few questions about aliens, and in addition to the interview below, I have a copy of the hardcover and the audiobook to give away courtesy of DAW Books and Audible, respectively! You can read an excerpt from This Gulf of Time and Stars on the publisher’s website (click the “Look Inside” link below the cover image) and listen to a sample from the upcoming audiobook.

If you want to learn more about This Gulf of Time and Stars and discover more opportunities to win a copy, check out the Facebook page for the blog tour—and if you have any questions of your own for Julie Czerneda, she will be doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) event at the Little Red Reviewer on Sunday, November 1!

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda

Fantasy Cafe: I finished reading This Gulf of Time and Stars and now have a few questions for you. I enjoyed reading it and am SO curious about what happens next—I’m really looking forward to learning more about the Clan in the next book!

For this interview, I decided to focus on questions about aliens since they’re such a big part of This Gulf of Time and Stars.

You’ve discussed that the idea for the first book about the Clan, A Thousand Words for Stranger, began when you were studying minnows, but there are a variety of other aliens in this universe. What is your process for developing different aliens and how has your background in biology influenced the development of some of the other aliens in This Gulf of Time and Stars?

Julie Czerneda: Short answer? Function informs structure. It’s a theme throughout evolution. If flight matters, wings are your ticket, whether butterfly, bat, or bluebird. If swimming fast is an advantage, bodies become streamlined, such as sharks and orcas. So when I think of a new alien, intelligent or otherwise, I start with the function it will have in my story. Do I need an instant threat or an underappreciated janitor? Do I need a dash of whimsy, or something breath-taking?

Then the fun begins.

For example. For Thousand, I needed something dangerous for the lead pirate. I chose to go scaled for a couple of reasons. I happen to admire reptiles, but even I don’t consider a python cuddly. My other inspiration came from the Classic Star Trek episode “Arena,” where Kirk faces off with a reptilian Gorn. Loved the story and characters, but my biologist side did twitch. Reptiles might not move as often as we do, but deadly speed is definitely in their repertoire. As is spitting venom, long tongues, fangs, frilled head ornamentation and skin that pulses with colour, claws, an oft-carnivorous lifestyle…there you go. My pirate aliens, the Scat, came to life. Complete with a home planet they’d basically torn apart and a propensity to eat one another.

Real life is so wonderfully weird.

What else matters to me when I create aliens is to show a realistic diversity between individuals. I cheerfully introduced more Scat in the next books, different in age and sex, different in attitude and experience, but still true to their “nature.”

For Ties of Power I had a different function in mind. The Clan were raised from birth to be selfish individualists, with adult interactions dictated solely by personal Power. Altruism wasn’t a word they’d understand or value. If Sira was to grow in understanding—especially of Humans, but also of her own species’ potential–I needed a role model for her: a culture she’d have to learn without her Clan abilities. The eyeless Drapsk, with their olfaction-based communication and obligate tribes were perfect. Their antennae are based on those of moths and much of their behaviour is drawn from social insects, although I’ll admit their tendency to curl into balls (eopari) under stress is more hamster. Putting Sira among the Drapsk worked better than I could have hoped. Bonus? They were fun to write, if challenging. The number of times I caught myself using “see” or “eyed” or “looked?” in the first draft? One of those mistakes made it to print in the first edition paperback. If you have one, check out page 186, first paragraph, last sentence. It’s been deleted in subsequent printings, thank goodness! (Though if it’s snuck back into the ebook, I’m not sure I want to know.)

Arguably my most famous aliens in the Clan Chronicles—until Gulf—are the Carasians. I’ll be talking more about Huido in another guest blog, but I’d be remiss not to describe his origin. I needed a not-Human best friend for Morgan (who is Human). I wanted someone who’d say all the wrong things, for the right reasons. And, well, I was ever-so-slightly miffed by a biology TA who’d thought to use the old “SF is for those who think giant bugs are plausible” line on me. Carasian eyes, by the way, are not my invention. They belong to scallops.

In Gulf, readers will meet a species I introduced in Rift in the Sky, the Assemblers. Their function? Chaos. More on them in another post.

FC: Which of you aliens would you be least surprised to discover exist in our universe and why?

JC: When I create aliens, even the wildest ones, I make a sincere effort to ground them in reality as much as possible. For that reason, I’d not be surprised to find any of them traipsing around. After all, we are still discovering life on this planet we hadn’t thought could exist, let alone the oddities of the past. The semi-immortal beings of energy, mass, and memory that inhabit my Webshifter novels are arguably my least likely. After all, I have them grazing, so to speak, in vacuum. Imagine my delight as the more we learn about space, the less empty it actually is!

I am certain, whatever we discover, it will be as deliciously varied and weird as life here.

FC: What is the first science fiction book about aliens that made you want to read (or write!) more books about this subject? What was it about these aliens that made them compelling?

JC: Andre Norton’s Star Rangers, later reissued as The Last Planet. It was my first science fiction read and what a wonderful one. In it, I not only encountered alien worlds and those who travelled between them, but a society with multiple intelligences, whose differences arose from their biology and culture. It made such sense to me then, and now. I remain smitten with her Zacathans, those charming reptilian scholars, and my Trade Pact Tolians are a homage to her feathered Trystians.

Heinlein’s Star Beast is another I remember fondly, especially the part about who really is the pet. Perception is one of my favourite playgrounds. The world-supporting turtle of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is another love and I’ve a nod to the Great A’Tuin in a novel of mine. Authors can do that.

What these stories and others share is an awareness that we are living things, and living things do not exist in isolation. It is our interactions that make us whole, interesting, and wonderfully weird.

Did I mention this winter I’m hard at work on new aliens and worlds? I really do love my life.

Clan Chronicles Series

About the Series:
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.

Julie Czerneda

About the Author:
Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.

Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki
Author Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

Courtesy of DAW Books and Audible respectively, I have both one hardcover copy and one audiobook of This Gulf of Time and Stars to give away!

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Gulf Giveaway.” Please indicate whether you want to enter to win the hardcover, audiobook, or either format. One entry per household and two winners will be randomly selected. Individual entrants can only win one prize; one person cannot win both the hardcover and the audiobook. Those from the United States or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Saturday, November 7. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.