The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer #BookReview #Giveaway #BlogTour

Car-En, a ringstation anthropologist on her first Earth field assignment, observes a Viking-like village in the Harz mountains. As Car-En secretly observes the Happdal villagers, she begins to see them as more than research subjects (especially Esper, a handsome bow-hunter). When Esper’s sister is taken by an otherwordly sword-wielding white-haired man, she can no longer stand by as a passive witness. Knowing the decision might end her career, she cuts off communication with her advisor and pursues the abductor into the mountains.

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer today and thrilled to be able to offer a paperback advance reading copy of the book to one lucky person (UK only, I'm afraid). Many thanks to the author, Flame Tree Press and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

I went into The Sky Woman expecting hard science fiction but this entertaining story which follows multiple narratives is actually an intriguing mix of sci-fi and fantasy. The opening chapter follows Tron, a strong and powerful smith who lives in a simple Viking-like village where he makes arrowheads for a mysterious sounding Burning but must also forge weapons and bodkins to sew leather armour which will protect the villagers against attacks from Haakon, the cruel and dangerous leader from a neighbouring village who has already twice raided Happdal. One in three men and one in five women in the village sicken in early adulthood and his uncle, Bjorn is the latest to be Afflicted. Tron treats his uncle's talk of the gast - an evil forest sprite who destroys minds and steals bodies - to be merely a result of the fevered dreams of a dying man but this turns out to be an important secondary storyline - although more of that later in the review.
When Car-En is introduced in the second chapter, the science-fiction elements of the story come into play as we learn about her mission on Earth. As the novel progresses we discover more about why humans who live on a ringstation orbiting Earth are technologically and biologically advanced while those on Earth have devolved to live primitively without much of the knowledge that had been learned over the centuries of human advancement. This, for me, was one of the most fascinating parts of the book and I really enjoyed the occasional excerpts from a paper entitled 'The Four Phases of Earth Depopulation' which serves as an interesting and cautionary explanation of the history of the planet and the reasons behind depopulation and knowledge loss.
Car-En's mission is to observe but not to interact but she finds she becomes attached to the villagers - and Trond's brother, Esper in particular. It's perhaps not surprising that despite their differences, she should feel empathy for what are her fellow humans and can't resist ignoring her orders to just bear witness, instead revealing herself to the villagers and offering to help when Trond and Esper's sister, Katja is abducted. Katja's disappearance is the catalyst for the secondary storyline which is woven well into the plot and involves a complex but engaging subplot involving a sentient quantum framework which has become a sort of prison. I didn't fully understand the physics here but nevertheless found this challenging and ambitious part of the book hugely enjoyable.
My only criticism of The Sky Woman would be the speed at which Car-En and Esper's relationship blossoms. It's not a major problem, however, and is understandable in a fairly short book with such a thoroughly developed and engaging plot which expands on so many different themes and ideas - including the long-term climatic and cultural impacts our current lifestyles may have on the planet, the possibilities for genetic advancements creating almost super-humans, and more relatable questions about home and the universal need to belong. I loved the juxtaposition between the two disparate groups of humans, and the various antagonists who present different yet no less deadly risks to the villagers and Car-En. The Sky Woman is a compelling and vividly imaginative novel which considers a thoughtful and plausible future for humankind and there's definitely scope for more. I would love to find out what happens next, particularly to Car-En whose experiences lead her to make huge decisions about how she wants to live her life. I haven't read as much SFF as I would have liked this year, The Sky Woman has reminded me of what I've been missing and I'll certainly be looking out for more of J.D. Moyer's books in the future.

The Sky Woman Giveaway

The Sky Woman is published by Flame Tree Press and can be purchased here.

Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter, and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and database application developer.
 J.D. has been reading and writing science fiction and fantasy since he was a boy, inspired by authors such as Susan Cooper, Piers Anthony, and Lloyd Alexander. As an adult his favorite authors include William Gibson, Octavia Butler, Iain Banks, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.
 J.D. went to Berkeley High (other alumni include Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin) and the University of California at Davis. After graduating, J.D. embarked on a long career as a music producer, DJ, label runner, and event promoter, culminating in world tours and music placement in film, television, and videogames (including Dance Dance Revolution) as well as the international hit “We Are Connected” made famous by John Digweed. After the birth of his daughter, he quit the DJ hustle and returned to his love of fiction writing.
 His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His story “The Icelandic Cure” won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness, and evolutionary divergence.
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