UK Books - June 2007 by John Berlyne
( 01 June 2007 / ) - So... we're ten years old this issue!! Thinking about it, that really is a huge achievement for any web site (given that the Internet is still a relatively new phenomenon - in universal terms at least)and certainly for a genre review site. In that time, Lord knows how many sites have spawned and died, yet here we are, still chuggin' away.
Our longevity is, of course, a testament to those who run SFrevu - not least our Editor Ernest Lilley and his team of associate editors, technical wizards and talented reviewers. Ern's dedication and steady hand at our helm makes him the kind of guy you don't want to disappoint by being late with your copy! It's now almost eight years since he invited me aboard to bring you reviews and commentary about the renaissance that genre fiction was undergoing here in the UK. I'm thrilled that this renaissance still continues to this day, with British authors, editors and publishers all right on the cutting edge of SF and Fantasy and I'm equally thrilled to still be banging on about it to you folks. May we continue for another ten years and far beyond. And so, to current events...
It's been a fantastic few weeks for advanced copies received here at SFRevu's UK headquarters and this gives me the chance to help you choose that all-important summer reading. In fact, with so many excellent publishers gearing up to battle each other for the right to provide your holiday reading, it falls to we in the reviewing community to help you make a good choice for that book you're planning to plough through on the plane, by the pool, or on the beach.
This summer, the choice of good reading matter is almost over-facing - there are so many highlights - rediscovered Stephen King classics; new SF from genre giants Richard K. Morgan and Peter F. Hamilton; fantasy adventure of the highest calibre from Scott Lynch, Steph Swainston; a genre thriller from Master William Gibson... and that only accounts for a fraction of the writers that we're familiar with. There are also a number of notable debuts due over the next few months from authors both here and abroad and, well, frankly, you're going to have some very tough choices to make about what to pack for your holiday read-fest.
My advice? Simply use all your suitcase space for books ... or better yet, why not just stay at home and instead of booking yourself two weeks in Malaga, invest in some fine first editions!
This Forsaken Earth by Paul Kearney
(Bantam 04 June 2007 / £6.99) - Paul Kearney's follow up to The Mark of Ran, a novel which I found profoundly disappointing - as detailed in my review back in our September 2005 issue. Whether things improve in this sequel (already published in the US by Spectra in November last year) I really couldn't say, and frankly I'm not in a great rush to find out. However in the spirit of fair play, I should add that once again proving how entirely subjective the (so-called) art of book reviewing is - my good friend, highly respected reviewer and genre connoisseur Ariel (once proprietor of the now superseded Alien Online and now guardian of the UK SF Book News network), wrote a rave of The Mark of Ran - so take your pick and be guided as you will.
This Forsaken Earth is published in Mass market paperback by Bantam Press.
Night of Knives: A Novel of the Malazan Empire by Ian Cameron Esslemont
(Bantam Press 04 June 2007 / £14.99) - The world in which Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen novels take place was co-created by Ian C Esslemont. Night of Knives (previously published in the UK as a limited edition by PS Publishing) is Esslemont's first solo novel in this collaborative setting.
A hardcover published by Bantam Press, Night of Knives offers readers a journey to the world of Malaz "... very different in writing style and approach."
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
(Fourth Estate 04 June 2007 / £17.99) - Pullitzer prize-winning American author Michael Chabon has been working on The Yiddish Policeman's Union since 2002, but the finished novel proves to have been well worth the wait. Essentially a detective story focussing on a murder investigation, it takes place in an alternative reality where, with the state of Israel having floundered soon after it's creation in the late 1940s, the bulk of the world's Jews were settled in the harsh, freezing Alaskan wastelands.
A superb story in a provocatively imagined setting, The Yiddish Policeman's Union is a real highlight of the spring releases - a hardcover, published by Fourth Estate. (see review)
Black Man (Gollancz SF) by Richard Morgan
(Gollancz 17 May 2007 / £14.99) - Fasten your seat-belts. After some delays, Richard Morgan's brand new novel Black Man has finally hit the book stores. Morgan has risen through the ranks of genre hierarchy and is now deservedly regarded as one of the biggest names around. Click on the titles for my reviews of Morgan's Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Market Forces and Woken Furies - and here you can read my exclusive interview with the author at the time of his first novel.
Black Man (Published by Del Rey in the US in June under the title Thirteen) is described as "... an unstoppable SF thriller but it is also a novel about prejudice, about the ramifications of playing with our genetic blueprint. It is about our capacity for violence but more worryingly, our capacity for deceit and corruption."
Brasyl (Gollancz S.F.) by Ian Mcdonald
(Gollancz 21 June 2007 / £18.99) - The eagerly awaited new novel from Ian McDonald, author of the acclaimed award winner River of Gods - to which, note, this is not connected.
"A novel that moves to a vibrant latin beat, a novel of conspiracies rooted deep in history and in the possibilities of quantum mechanics. Interweaving the past, the present and the future, faith and technology, this is a fast moving, thought-provoking, beautifully written story of all our tomorrows. It is a landmark SF publishing event." -- Cover Copy. (see review)
Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gollancz S.F.) by Scott Lynch
(Gollancz 21 June 2007 / £18.99) - The Lies of Locke Lamora was one of the absolute highlights of last year, an extraordinary first novel that deservedly topped many Best of 06 lists. Such success is what every writer craves, but I always think that the real test comes with the second book!
Red Seas Under red Skies is published this month and is undoubtedly one of the most eagerly awaited books of 2007! Reviewed this issued. (see review)
Selling Out: Quantum Gravity Book Two: Quantum Gravity Bk. 2 (Gollancz S.F.) by Justina Robson
(Gollancz 17 May 2007 / £10.99) - Early reviews for Justina Robson's latest work, the second novel in her Quantum Gravity sequence were very good indeed - including our own review written by Juliette McKenna (which appeared in our April issue.) Selling Out is now finally available in bookstores and so you can judge for yourself what all the fuss is about.
"A heroine who's half robot and all attitude, a world of quantum strangeness; SF that has remembered how to have fun, from the UK's most successful female SF writer."
The Modern World (Gollancz S.F.) by Steph Swainston
(Gollancz 17th May 2007 / £14.99) - The hugely talanted British writer Steph Swainston offers up a third instalment of her inventive, innovative and powerfully written fantasy sequence that began with The Year of Our War. The Modern World follows the events of No Present Like Time and I was lucky enough to be able to read this in manuscript form a few months ago. Simply put, it is just brilliant! Swainston is one of the few writers who truly lives up to the hype. If you've not yet discovered her writing, you're way out of touch!
Steph Swainston's official web site is here.
Headline Book Publishing
Contract by Simon Spurrier
(Headline Book Publishing 24 May 2007 / £19.99) - A debut novel by Simon Spurrier, a UK writer who has worked extensively in the comic industry. Contract is published by Headline and they are publishing it with quite a marketing fanfare. Part of their tactics involve the unusual approach publishing the novel free online (follow the link) for a limited time.
"Life becomes complicated when the dead won't stay dead, in this stunning debut by Simon Spurrier. Michael Point doesn't seem anything special. He dresses conservatively, is thoughtful, methodical and well spoken. He also happens to kill people for a living. It's not about getting back at the world; for Michael it's much simpler than that: It's All About The Money. But things are starting to get strange: his hits are coming back to life and trying to kill him. Is he losing his mind? Or is could it be that the things he sees aren't delusions at all, but hints of a divine conflict: a heavenly war, sucking him in?
Tall, Dark and Dead by Tate Hallaway
(Headline Review 14 June 2007 / £6.99) - Headline Review approach the 'paranormal romance' market rather tentatively, disguising this apparent debut from pseudonymous US writer Tate Hallaway as something approaching mainstream fiction - as if the mere whiff of it being fantasy will somehow taint it. Consequently Tall, Dark and Dead - a book whose title gives it away immediately is being targeted towards the "Chic-Lit" market (they're calling it Chick Bit! - which I can't help but feel is a bit naff... but then as a six foot two bloke with hairy shoulders, I'm hardly the target audience!).
The author has a blog here.
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Blaze by Richard Bachman
(Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 12 June 2007 / £16.99) - Sure to have all Stephen King fans licking their lips in anticipation, Blaze was the last novel King wrote under his Richard Bachman pen name, but until it turned up in his papers at the University of Maine, it was thought irretrievably lost. Written thirty four years ago, but never published, Blaze finally arrives in bookstores complete a with a forward by King - a little late, but very welcome nonetheless.
A hardcover release from Hodder & Stoughton.
The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy 1) by Peter F. Hamilton
(Macmillan 03 August 2007 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A big release due for the summer - the first in a new trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, one of the biggest names in space opera. The Dreaming Void will be published by Macmillan in hardcover this coming August.
"At the centre of the Intersolar Commonwealth universe is a massive black hole. Inside there is a strange universe where the laws of physics are very different from those we know. It is slowly consuming the other stars of the galactic core - one day it will have devoured the entire galaxy.
It's AD 4000, and a human has started to dream of the wonderful existence of the Void. He has a following of millions of believers, who now wish to pilgrimage to the Void to live the life they have been shown. Other starfaring species fear their migration will cause the Void to expand again. They are prepared to stop the pilgrimage fleet, no matter thwta the cost."
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
(Orbit 07 June 2007 / £6.99) - Is Christopher Moore the American Robert Rankin, or is Robert Rankin the British Christopher Moore? Either way round, fans of one will love the work of the other. Orbit have been releasing Moore's backlist over the last few months and have now very nearly caught up with this prolific author of very black humorous fantasies. A Dirty Job is the latest to be released over here and has been described by Kirkus Reviews as "One of Moore's funniest capers yet."
Find out more at the author's web site. Or read the SFRevu review by Paul Haggerty from our Nov. 2006 issue.
Danse Macabre (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter 13) by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Orbit 07 June 2007 / £7.99) - The mass market edition of Danse Macabre, the thirteenth title in Hamilton's long-running and best-selling Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. Published to coincide with the hardcover release of The Harlequin (see below), book number fourteen. Sex sells, that much we know... but sex and death can buy you a beach house!
Dead Men's Boots: A Felix Castor Novel by Mike Carey
(Orbit 06 September 2007 / £6.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: This is perched high on the TBR pile - I was absolutely knocked out by Mike Carey's first two books, The Devil You Know and Vicious Circle, supernatural thrillers that dwarfed the competition and books that have that indefinable "unputdownable" quality that provide for the ultimate reading experience. In short, both novels were bloody brilliant (or perhaps that should be bloody and brilliant!) and the third in this Felix Castor sequence, Dead Men's Boots, is due out this coming September. Watch this space for my review.
No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong
(Orbit 03 May 2007 / £12.99) - No Humans Involved is Kelly Armstrong's latest, an author part of Orbit's pedigree stable of writers specialising in the sub-genre of the supernatural thriller with a strong female protagonist. There is, I feel a glut of this kind of fiction around, but part of the problem is that much of it is pretty good! And certainly it continue to sell, sell, sell. Armstrong's selling power is acknowledged by her publisher Orbit in this smart hardcover release.
Spindrift: A Coyote Novel by Allen M. Steele
(Orbit 07 June 2007 / £6.99) - American SF author and two time Hugo winner Allen Steele returns to his Coyote universe with his new novel Spindrift.
"June 1, 2288-Europe's first starship, the EASS Galileo, launches on its maiden voyage to investigate an unidentified object, code-named Spindrift, which is travelling outside our solar system. An object that may be alien in origin. The Galileo disappears soon after...
February 1, 2344-The Galileo's shuttle returns to Earth carrying three surviving expedition members, who still appear to be the same age they were when they departed. They report that they have, indeed, made contact with an extraterrestrial race-and become enmeshed in a conflict that brought them face to face with the most apocalyptic force in the galaxy.
It is up to Director General John Shillinglaw to piece together the puzzle created by these events- for the survivors tell their stories from their own conflicting perspectives. And the truth is more difficult to glean than it appears."
The Fate of the Fallen (Song of Tears) by Ian Irvine
(Orbit 07 June 2007 / £7.99) - The start of a brand new series by one of Australia's most popular fantasy authors, Ian Irvine - author of the View from the Mirror and the Well of Echoes. This is the mass market paperback edition of The Fate of the Fallen, another solid fantasy from Irvine, perfect for fans of Eddings, Goodkind and Jordan. The author's web site is here - though it looks to have been a good few years since the last comprehensive update!
The Harlequin (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Orbit 07 June 2007 / £12.99) - Buffy may have started it all, but Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter has held the torch aloft ever since.
A new supernatural thriller - the fourteenth - in this long-running and massively popular series. The formula is the pretty much what one might expect, but Hamilton has a real talent for giving readers exactly what they want. The Harlequin is a smart hardcover release from Orbit.
Of Fire and Night (Saga of Seven Suns 5) by Kevin J. Anderson
(Pocket Books 04 June 2007 / £7.99) - The fifth momentous event in the hugely successful Saga of the Seven Suns space opera series.
Prolific, award winning author Kevin J. Anderson sees the mass market edition of Of Fire and Night released by Pocket Books.
Breakaway: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel by Joel Shepherd
(Prometheus Books 03 April 2007 / £7.60) - Cassandra Kresnov is a highly advanced hunter-killer android. She has escaped the League and fled to Callay, a member of the Federation. Because of her fighting skills she was able to save the president's life and is now a trusted member of the security forces. However, not all Tanushans are happy to have her on their turf and Cassandra has to tread carefully. As Callay moves towards a vote on whether to break away from the Federation, confusion reigns and terrorist groups plot their own agendas. Cassandra becomes involved with two young troubleshooters for the secret service and finds out more than she ever wanted to know about the Tanushan underground and those on the fringes.
Furthermore, there is a delegation from the League in Tanusha, and Cassandra is not sure that they won't try to take her back. Breakaway is a great story with a cracking plot and strong characters. At its heart is the enigma of Cassandra: Is she more human than human, or is she totally untrustworthy?
Postscripts Magazine, issue 10 by Various
(PS Publishing May 2007 / 12.00) - Issue #10 of Postscripts, PS Publishing's superb genre magazine is about the best value for money around right now. Launched at the recent World Horror Convention in Toronto, this bumper edition is over 350 pages long and features a celebration of the work of Michael Marshall Smith (one of the con's G.O.Hs) - however, as if that in itself were not worth the ticket price, you'll also get new fiction from Ramsey Campbell, Steven Eroikson, Joe Hill, Graham Joyce, Stephen King, Tim Lebbon, Lucius Shephard, Lisa Tuttle and Connie Willis, all contained within a very smart PPC hardcover with original cover art by John Picacio. And this embarrassment of riches will set you back a mere twelve quid! Frankly, that's such a bargain as to be bordering on the ridiculous!
For more information on Postscripts and to investigate taking out a subscription (the best money you'll spend all year) I urge you to pay a visit to the PS Publishing web site.
Dark Lord (Falconfar Saga) by Ed Greenwood
(Solaris 25 September 2007 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Solaris continue to establish themselves and impressively so. September will be the beginning of new fantasy series by Ed Greenwood, the Canadian gaming legend responsible for much of the Forgotten Realms world. Greenwood has written plenty of fiction in his time, both inside the Forgotten Realms universe and abroad. Dark Lord marks the start of the Falconfar Saga and will be released by Solaris in September.
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
(Tor 01 June 2007 / £6.99) - I've heard fantastic things about Old Man's War, the debut novel by US writer John Scalzi. This is grand SF in the tradition of Heinlein and it was a 2006 Hugo Award nominee and Scalzi himself was the winner of the 2006 John W Campbell Award for best new writer. I'm very pleased that Tor UK has chosen to bring his work to a British audience. Old Man's War is a paperback original. John Scalzi's web site is here.
The Wanderer's Tale (Annals of Lyndormyn) by David Bilsborough
(Tor 06 July 2007 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A big proof of a big title for Tor UK. David Bilsborough's epic, traditional (in that it is described as being in the Tolkien vain) fantasy has been a project the author has worked on for twelve years. The Wanderer's Tale, the first of three volumes that make up the Annals of Lindormyn comes to fruition in the form of a sturdy hard cover due to be published in July - a momentous event for both author and publisher.
Spook Country by William Gibson
(Viking 02 August 2007 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Another huge event in the 2007 publishing calendar is this new novel from genre giant William Gibson, his first in four years. Spook Country is set in the same universe as Pattern Recognition (Reviewed by Alex Lightman back in our February 2003 issue) and looks to be every big as mind-boggling.
"An utterly original political thriller on the nature of the media, espionage and America post 9/11 and post-Iraq War...
Quicksilver Twilight (Quicksilver Trilogy) by Stan Nicholls
(Voyager 04 June 2007 / £7.99) - The final volume in the powerful new epic fantasy trilogy from Stan Nicholls, the British author of the internationally acclaimed ORCS series.
Desperate to find a cure for the curse of immortality and the episodes of berserk fury that torment him, Reeth Caldason has traded his fighting skills for the promise of access to powerful ancient magic. But the Resistance group he joined as part of the bargain is in disarray since their plans were betrayed by one of their own. Now, Reeth is trapped on the Diamond Isle, fending off the pirates that plague the surrounding waters. Despite his romantic entanglement with one of the freedom fighters, Serrah, and the responsibility he feels towards Kutch, a young magician's apprentice, he is determined to set off on the search for his cure. But as his visions grow stranger, Serrah and Kutch begin to understand his true nature and the great power it represents. Back on the mainland, Reeth's arch-enemy, Devlor Bastorran, remains intent on destroying him. Overshadowing everything is the threat of Zerreiss, the conquering barbarian warlord who uses an enigmatic ability to sweep all before him. The spectre of war looms.
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