Books by Sean McMullen

Sean sold his first stories in the late 1980s and has become one of Australia's top Science Fiction and Fantasy authors. In the late 90s he established himself in the American market, and his work has been translated into Polish, French, Japanese and othe

VOIDFARER by Sean McMullen
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

"A vibrant, thoughtful, spectacular adventure-drama that sags only a trifle towards the end. McMullen borrows freely, but weaves his own magical comedy of horrors. The result: a blast."
Imagine Alexandre Dumas's account of H.G. Wells's Martians invading Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

"Exciting, suspenseful, vividly believable, and great, clever fun: a major fantasy-award contender."
From the author of the Greatwinter Trilogy (Souls in the Great Machine, 1999, etc.), a brilliantly inventive, marvelously plotted sea-faring fantasy that both mocks and surpasses genre expectations. In a vaguely medieval parallel-Earth (with mysterious links to our own) in which humans have two hearts, horses have claws instead of hooves, the moon has rings, and sorcerers cast complicated spells by manipulating "etheric" energies, the Shadowmoon seems a mere runt of a ship: unarmed, undermanned, with drably painted sails and a hold too small for big cargo. Those who sail it, including the Faron, its lusty boatmaster, and Laron, a seven-century-old vampire trapped in a fourteen-year-old body, know that the Shadowmoon is a spy ship, a primitive submarine capable of sneaking into ports and venturing farther upriver than conventional ships. The boat's crew members, with a rather large cast including the wily witch Terikel, the duplicitous eunuch Druskarl, and the megalomaniacal Warsovran (war sovereign), are committed to finding, exploiting, or destroying an ancient "etheric" weapon called Silverdeath. When dormant, Silverdeath resembles a chain mail tunic; a human host must be found to wear, and thus activate, the weapon. As a perverse gift, Silverdeath "repairs" its host human, turning the middle-aged Warsovran into a strapping youth, and, in one of the best scenes, "optimizing" the powerful vampire Laron back into a puny, living being (Laron immediately laments, "I wish I was dead," then is reminded that, because he is no longer dead, he must use the subjunctive "were"). Australian author McMullen writes like Roger Zelazny at the peak of his powers: his dashing, flamboyant, cleverly resourceful characters trade off insults and reveal surprising abilities as they swagger bravely from one hair-raising scene to another. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

"Beamflash to North American SF fans: Australia Forwarding Huge Fun by Moonwing. "
Librarians still rule the world in volume three of the Australian McMullen's Greatwinter trilogy. In Souls in the Great Machines (1999), we met post-disaster, low-tech 40th-century Australica, with most human civilization destroyed by Greatwinter. Fuel-driven motors were forbidden, and all turned on the giant Calculor, ruled by top librarian Zarvora Cybeline. The Calculor was a kind of all-knowing flesh-machine abacus computer run by humans. Opposing the Calculor, machines on the Moon devised a Mirrorsun that reflected heat away from the planet. In The Miocene Arrow (2000), genius cetezoids raised a Call from the ocean deeps and enspelled all mammals larger than a cat into wandering either into the ocean or until they starve. Now, remaining humans are less intelligent than aviads, former humans who have had bird genes added to their DNA (because the Call works only within 50 feet) and are now lighter, fleeter, and smarter than regular people. All machines by now are marvels of low-tech ingenuity: trains, for example, move by pedals and wind. But Mirrorsun attacks in earnest, burning out all electrical circuits on Earth. Former spy chief Dramoren runs the Calculor in defense as Mirrorsun burns out even its own sunwings, each a half-mile wide, sending them crashing to Earth. Meanwhile, the human Central Confederation and the Southmoors are still killing each other and sweeping religious fervor has brought about the rise of Jemli the Prophet. As tidal forces burst the planet, only a restored Calculor can save humankind. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

"Once again, McMullen's machines are miracles of low-tech inventiveness; but the majestic Calculor belongs to the previous book, and the present characters, homelands, and motives remain indistinguishable. Overlong, overinvolved, and disappointing."
Sequel to McMullen's impressive far-future yarn, Souls in the Great Machine (1999). By the 40th century, civilization is struggling to be reborn into a world devastated by a strange, ancient war that has left its imprint deep on the present. The Call radiates from somewhere under the distant ocean, sweeping the land every few days or hours; any mammal above the size of a cat is seized and compelled to trek mindlessly westward until it dies or topples into the ocean. Orbital forts known as Sentinels are still active, and instantly blast anything that moves if it's more than 30-feet long. And a mysterious damping field prevents electrical devices from operating. In America, enclaves of civilization have developed in Callhavens—pockets of land in the mountains where the Call comes only every few days, so ways to counter it have been developed. And the pilots of gunwings, flying machines powered by compression engines, aren't subject to the Call if they remain more than 50 feet up. These flyers form the Callhavens' aristocracy. The Callhavens feud and plot and scheme against one another, activities spurred by the unsuspected presence of spies from halfway around the world. Read full book review >
Released: June 22, 1999

Far-future tale from the Australia author of The Centurion's Empire (1998). By 3931 a.d., a low-tech Australian civilization is dominated by the great library at Rochester, the only city that's free of the Call, a mysterious psychic compulsion that intermittently sweeps across the countryside, gathering all people and animals not securely tethered; those who are affected trek mindlessly to the south and are never seen again. One of the dwellers here, the dynamic and innovative chief librarian, Zarvora Cybeline, has fought many duels to defend her progressive ideas—but her greatest secret is the Calculor, a huge computer composed of an abacus array mechanically linked to human operators and controls. With the Calculor, she painlessly raises revenues by exposing embezzlers and tax cheats (they're inducted into the Calculor), decodes the secret messages the nobles use to conceal their plotting, and improves the efficiency of the beamflash signal-tower network by which information is exchanged. Zarvora effectively rules the confederacy, though nobody has yet grasped that fact. There is, however, an urgent problem: machines working on the Moon are building a huge mirror-band that, once placed to girdle the Earth, will reflect heat away from the planet. Programmed centuries ago, the system was designed to ameliorate global warming. But the planet is no longer too warm, and the reflector, now nearing completion, would precipitate another Greatwinter like the one that destroyed the previous civilization. Among Zarvora's other concerns: contact with people who can resist the Call; treachery; war; and further revelations about her people and her world. A stunning idea—the Calculor's as real as if McMullen had built it in his backyard—with an utterly convincing setting, breathtaking developments, and a captivating narrative. Read full book review >
Released: July 16, 1998

Time-hopping, episodic first US appearance for Australia resident McMullen. Centuries before the Roman Empire, an Etruscan named Celcinius discovered a toxic golden oil, the Venenum Immortale, that enabled him to be frozen in ice and later revived; he founded a small and very exclusive society, the Temporians, and built its palace, Nusquam, high in the Alps above an ancient and stable deposit of ice. In a.d. 71, a young centurion, Vitellan Bavalius, having demonstrated his ability to survive prolonged hypothermia, becomes a candidate for the Temporians, who now rule the Roman Empire. But before Vitellan can be inducted, a raid on Nusquam destroys many of the sleepers, along with most of the Venenum Immortale stock and the secret recipe of its manufacture. By chance, Vitellan acquires the last of the oil and retires to England, where he prepares a Frigidarium and consigns himself to sleep, knowing that the village of Durvas is devoted to serving him and preserving his ice cave. He wakes in a.d. 870 but, without Celcinius's antidote, rapidly sickens. Still, he helps the future Alfred the Great defeat the invading Danes and reintroduce scholarship. Returning to the ice, Vitellan wakes again in 1358, in the middle of the England-France Hundred Years War, where he routs the marauding Jacquerie, rescues the noble Lady Anne, and acquires a bitter enemy, Jacques Bonhomme, who will also arrange to be frozen. Finally, in 2028, Vitellan wakes amid a power struggle involving Luministe cultists, his loyal Durvas keepers, and a treacherous faction intent on manipulating him—only to discover he's no longer occupying his own body! An entertaining but vastly improbable jaunt through history as it wasn't. Read full book review >