UK Books - July 2007 by John Berlyne
( 01 July 2007 / ) - Via the excellent SF Signal (one of my essential RSS feeds) this link to a fascinating essay on book reviewing from a site called Canadian Notes and Queries. It's a lengthy piece written by Alex Good, but it does examine what it is to review and to be reviewed and it furthermore acknowledges the power of Internet review sites and the impact they have made on readers, writers and publishers alike. Though I don't necessarily subscribe or agree with all of Mr Good's commentary, I do think this is a fascinating examination of what book reviewing is and why it is a very necessary exercise.
For myself, I have always kept to a pure and simple brief when reviewing - simply to answer the question of "is it worth the money?". Before I became a reviewer, I was just as voracious a reader as I am today - however, in those days I had only the slimmest of budgets with which to buy new books and if a reviewer I trusted said I should spend my few precious pounds on "Book A" rather than "Book B", I was grateful for being thus guided.
A new hardback book today costs fifteen or twenty quid, and that's a fair chunk of change. Add to that that there may be twenty or thirty new books to choose from each month, it falls to folks like the SFRevu crew to filter the wheat from the chaff and to gently prod the discerning genre reader in a direction where true quality lies. I would hate for you to spend that hard earned cash of yours on some crappy derivative trash!
In many respects UK publishers are making the reviewers job very difficult at the moment, for we're still very much in a golden age over here, where the vast majority of their output is of extremely high quality. July sees some wonderful genre releases, so brace yourselves and get ready to smash open that piggy bank...
Acorna's Children: Second Wave (Acorna 9) by Anne McCaffrey
(Corgi Adult 02 July 2007 / £6.99) - Anne McCaffrey's eternal popularity and prolific and energetic output continues apace, this time with the UK release of a new novel in her collaborative series that began with (and features) Acorna the Unicorn Girl.
Acorn's Children: Second Wave, written with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, is a paperback original released by Corgi.
Doctor Whom (Gollancz S.F.) by Adam Roberts
(Gollancz 14 June 2007 / £6.99) - The first of two Adam Roberts books in this month's listing. This is the mass market edition of Robert's (A.R.R.R. Robert's [sic], to be precise!) Dr Whom, another of the author's sharp and funny genre parodies.
"... the Doctor and his long suffering assistant Lynne travel the galaxy battling the evils of incorrect grammar and punctuation."
Hunter's Moon (Gollancz S.F.) by David Devereux
(Gollancz 21 June 2007 / £9.99) - One can only hope that David Deveraux's novel Hunter's Moon is even half as interesting as its author. Deveraux is a real life exorcist - his web site elaborates...
"David Devereux is thirty-four years old and widely considered to be one of the leading practitioners of the arts of combat magic, counter-cursing and exorcism in the United Kingdom and Europe. As Senior Field Officer for the paranormal protection & consulting agency Athanor he deals with dozens of enquiries from distressed and frightened people across the world every month, and does his work quietly and discreetly in locations ranging from suburban homes, country pubs and provincial offices to the boardrooms of multinationals and the mansions of household names."
Juliet McKenna takes a look at Deveraux's debut novel elsewhere in this issue. (see review)
Land Of The Headless (Gollancz S.F.) by Adam Roberts
(Gollancz 21 June 2007 / £10.99) - The supremely talented and relentlessly prolific British SF author and satirist Adam Roberts has an extraordinary and intriguing new novel published this month by Gollancz. Land of the Headless is described as "...a searing and supremely timely satire of religious fundamentalism, a novel of love and war, and a study of self-delusion. It is an eloquently written thought-provoking and unique SF novel".
Roberts offers some insights into this novel and you can also read the opening chapter online at adamroberts.com, the authors brand spanking, newly revamped and extremely excellent website.
Mockingbird (S.F.Masterworks S.) by Walter Tevis
(Gollancz 14 June 2007 / £7.99) - Mockingbird, Walter Tevis' 1980 Nebula Award nominated novel is released by Gollancz in their SF Masterworks series. Tevis, who died in 1984, is perhaps best known as the author of The Hustler and The Colour of Money, both of which were made into highly successful films starring Paul Newman. Tevis's other major SF work, The Man Who Fell To Earth was also filmed, with David Bowie in the title role.
"Because of its affirmation of such persistent human values as curiosity, courage, compassion, along with its undeniable narrative power, Mockingbird will become one of those books that coming generations will re-discover with wonder and delight" -- Washington Post.
The Cylon's Secret (Gollancz S.F.) by Craig Shaw Gardner
(Gollancz 14 June 2007 / £6.99) - The US TV show Battlestar Galactica has become an instant cult classic and the adventures continue in this new novel from bestselling SF writer Gardener as the crew fight their way across the galaxy while trying to evade the threat of the deadly and evil robotic Cylons.
The Last Wish (Gollancz S.F.) by Andrzej Sapkowski
(Gollancz 27 June 2007 / £9.99) - Originally slated for release earlier in the year, Gollancz have now finally published Sapkowski's excellent moralistic fantasy work The Last Wish in which the award winning Polish author Sapkowski charts the wanderings of his protagonist Geralt, a witcher.
I reviewed this superb Polish fantasy back in our April edition - to coincide with the delayed finished release, we're re-running that review in this issue.
Highly recommended. (see review)
The Twilight Herald (Gollancz S.F.): Book Two of the Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd
(Gollancz 19 July 2007 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The sequel to Tom Lloyd's debut fantasy, The Stormcaller, a novel that was perhaps the biggest let down of last year as far as I was concerned. (See my review here). The Twilight Herald returns us to Lloyd's fictional world and to the adventures of Isak, the new Lord of the Farlan.
King Solomon's Mines (Headline Review Classics) by H.Rider Haggard
(Headline Review 12 July 2007 / £4.99) - The first in this series of four books released this month by Headline Review under the umbrella of The Best Adventure Stories Ever.
H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1885) is regarded as the "genesis of the Lost World literary genre" -- Wikipedia entry.
"The quintessential boys adventure... the structure is perfect... still my favourite book" -- Jonathan Ross.
The Lost World (Headline Review Classics) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(Headline Review 12 July 2007 / £4.99) - Without Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1912), it's hard to imagine Crichton could have written his Jurassic Park and if it came down to a toss up between the two, my choice would be to keep the first and chuck the other to the raptors. (This works the other way round if we're talking about the movie versions, incidentally!)
"I can only pity the generation that gets its dinosaurs from Jurassic Park instead of the magic plateau in whose steamy jungle the Prof and his friends spent so much time on the run." -- Clive James.
The Man Who Was Thursday (Headline Review Classics) by G.K. Chesterton
(Headline Review 12 July 2007 / £4.99) - "A group of anarchists are under surveillance by Scotland Yard in Chesterton's hugely popular metaphysical thriller. The original X-Men -- Publisher's blurb.
The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton's 1908 classic is reissued by Headline, the third in their "Best Adventure Stories Ever" sequence. Described by Kingsely Amis as "The Most thrilling book I have ever read."
The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde (Headline Review Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
(Headline Review 12 July 2007 / £4.99) - One of my favourite classics and a cornerstone of literature that crosses any number of genres relevant to fans of science fiction and fantasy. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella is the fourth title in Headline's The Best Adventure Stories Ever series. Fantastic fiction at only £4.99.
"...the template for just about everything I have ever written. Jekyll & Hyde is about the human capacity for evil, and there's murder at the heart of it." -- Ian Rankin.
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
(Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 05 July 2007 / £12.99) - The latest installment in the considerable adventures of Thursday Next - unmissable fun from the one and only Jasper Fforde, a writer whose imagination knows no bounds and whose talent for expressing it is just as boundless.
Highly recommended... but read the other books in the series first! (see review)
Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
(Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 09 August 2007 / £14.99) - Uncorrected proof Copy : Perhaps more suited to the tastes of visitors to our sister site Gumshoe, Peter Robinson's new Inspector Banks crime thriller, Friend of the Devil is due out in hard cover in August, published by Hodder & Stoughton. (Stephen King is a big fan of these books!)
"When Karen Drew is found sitting in her wheelchair staring out to sea with her throat cut one chilly morning, DI Annie Cabbot, on loan to Eastern Area, gets lumbered with the case. Back in Eastvale, that same Sunday morning, 19-year-old Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled in the Maze, a tangle of narrow alleys behind Eastvale's market square, after a drunken night on the town with a group of friends, and DCI Alan Banks is called in. Banks finds suspects galore, while Annie seems to hit a brick wall - until she reaches a breakthrough that spins her case in a shocking and surprising new direction, one that also involves Banks. Then another incident occurs in the Maze which seems to link the two cases in a bizarre and mysterious way. As Banks and Annie dig into the past to uncover the deeper connections, they find themselves also dealing with the emotional baggage and personal demons of their own relationship. And it soon becomes clear that there are two killers in their midst, and that at any moment either one might strike again."
Lisey's Story by Stephen King
(Hodder Paperback 12 July 2007 / £6.99) - The mass market edition of King's most recent novel Lisey's Story a work that was loudly applauded amongst the critical community and had fans thanking their lucky stars that the author had decided not to hand in his noticed as had been rumoured. I reviewed Lisey's Story back in October 2006 , and to celebrate the reissue of the book in paperback, we're running the review again in this issue. (see review)
Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara) by Terry Brooks
(Orbit 05 July 2007 / £7.99) - "Here begins the tale of the world that will emerge from the Great Wars to become one of the greatest in modern fantasy. Here begins the Genesis of Shannara" -- Cover Copy.
Terry Brooks reveals the origins of his hugely popular and seminal world of Shannara in this prequel series. Armageddon's Children is now released in mass market paperback and the publicity material states that Brooks will be touring the UK in September to promote the next book is this series, The Elves of Cintra
Odalisque (Percheron) by Fiona McIntosh
(Orbit 05 July 2007 / £7.99) - Australian fantasy writer Fiona McIntosh has received much acclaim for her rich trilogies The Quickening and Trinity, both of which Orbit have published here in the UK over the last couple of years. Now comes a new (-ish, books one and two have already been published in Australia) trilogy of novels entitled Percheron, the first of which is Odalisque, a paperback original issued this month in the UK.
Incidentally, Orbit have a bright shiny new blog website, full of juicy news and updates on their output - well worth a visit!
Saturn Returns (Astropolis) by Sean Williams
(Orbit 05 July 2007 / £10.99) - Well established, award-winning Australian author Sean Williams, offers up this tantalising space opera which features, as he puts it in his blog, "the uniquely dystopian and very SFnal lyrics of legendary electro-goth, Gary Numan...I'm not talking about a quote here and there.... Nor am I talking about cheesy post-modern flashbacks reflecting on the good old days of synthpop....I'm talking about a major character who speaks solely in Gary Numan lyrics. Every word, without exception--from common, everyday interjections to long, introspective rants."
I've not managed to read Saturn Return's as yet, but I must admit, Williams's blog claim does make me want to see if he managed to pull this off! Saturn Returns is published by Orbit this month in trade paperback.
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
(Orbit 05 July 2007 / £6.99) - Twice published in the US already (as a ltd edition by Golden Gryphon and in trade paperback by Eos) it is only now that Charlie Stross's 2004 "science fiction/Lovecraftian horror/humorous spy thriller" The Atrocity Archives is published for his native audience. I've no idea why there has been this delay - it could be contractual or perhaps due to scheduling issues caused by Stross's quite extraordinarily prolific output. Whatever the reason, this is a quite marvellous piece of work and British readers are in for a treat!
The Atrocity Archives was reviewed back in our Jan 06 issue by George Shaner.
Voice of the Gods (Age of the Five) by Trudi Canavan
(Orbit 05 July 2007 / £12.99) - Trudi Canavan brings her Age of Five trilogy to a close with Voice of Gods, published this month in hard cover by Orbit. The previous titles in the sequence, Priestess of the White and Last of the Wilds both figured in The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers list and this one ought to follow suit.
High calibre fantasy from one of Australia's best - find out more at www.trudicanavan.co.uk.
12 Collections & The Teashop by Zoran Zivkovic
(PS Publishing August 2007 / £15.00) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : "What lies behind the human urge to collect things? What is the true psychology of the kleptomaniac? These questions bear on all of us; within every person there lurks a fanatical philatelist or a monomaniacal lepidopterist, just waiting to burst forth. In his new story cycle, Twelve Collections, Zoran Živković, the master of mind-bending surreal fantasy, applies his fertile mind to this problem."
With an introduction by Michael Moorcock, 12 Collections & The Teashop will be available in two limited hardcover states. More info can be found at the PS Publishing web site.
Bitterwood by James Maxey
(Solaris 02 July 2007 / £7.99) - "Bitterwood, the famed dragon hunter, is growing old. His desire for vengeance on the dragon-soldiers who murdered his family finally beginning to wane after many years of bloodshed. A disastrous encounter that leads to the death of the royal prince dragon, however, incites the king's retribution and brings terror and death to the world. For the king sets out to eradicate the human race, and only Bitterwood, trapped inside a doomed city, can try to lead his people to salvation."
Helix by Eric Brown
(Solaris 04 June 2007 / £6.99) - Eric Brown, the critically acclaimed author of The Virex Trilogy, The Fall of Tartarus and numerous short stories, has penned an exciting new novel for Solaris. Helix is a grandiose space opera, a story of exploration, alien contact and desperation. It follows the plight of a group of humans who crash land on a desolate alien planet. Daylight brings the discovery that the planet is merely one of thousands arranged in a vast spiral wound around a central sun. The group set off to discover a more habitable Earth-like world, encountering bizarre alien races on the way. But they must also find a means to stay alive.
Infinity Plus: The Anthology by
(Solaris 31 July 2007 / £7.58) - Easily the best value book of the month, this superb anthology from Solaris is a steal at only a tenner.
Infinity Plus was originally released as two separate signed hard covers from PS Publishing each issued at £45.00. The collection includes stories from many top-of-the-bill genre names - Stephen Baxter, Mary Gentle, Paul McAley, Ian McDonald, Michael Moorcock, Adam Roberts, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lucius Shepard, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Jeff VanderMeer... and many other. It's an amazing roll call and an extraordinary anthology. If you're a fan of short fiction, this is definitely your pick for July.
Set the Seas on Fire by Chris Roberson
(Solaris 31 July 2007 / £9.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : The prequel to Chris Roberson's Paragaea - a hugely enjoyable pulpish adventure that I reviewed in our April 2006 edition.
Roberson's love of those stirring adventures of old underpins this work too, as our wonderfully named hero Lieutenant Hieronymous Bonaventure and his crew find themselves run aground upon a previously uncharted island where ".... an encounter with the island's natives leads to the discovery of a dark and terrible secret that lurks behind the island's veneer of beauty..." (see review)
Hilldiggers by Neal Asher
(Tor 06 July 2007 / £17.99) - The latest release from Neal Asher, one of the most vibrant and exciting SF writers at work today. Hilldiggers is a stand alone novel set in Asher's Polity universe and displays all Asher's loud, explosive and very, very readable trademarks.
Follow these links to my reviews of Asher's previous novels, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, Brass Man, Cowl and still one of my all time favourite novels, The Skinner.
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park
(Tor UK 29 June 2007 / ) - I'm really excited to see that Tor UK are bringing a number of titles out over here that have been issued in the US by their Stateside counterparts. Following on from John Scalzi's Old Man's Warissued last month, this month sees the British publication of Paul Parks' A Princess of Roumania, the first in this highly acclaimed fantasy sequence. No news yet on when the two further titles in this sequence (The Tourmaline and The White Tyger)might be due, but hopefully it won't be too long.
"A hauntingly passionate fantasy novel of wicked women, dangerous men and seductive magic"
Renegade's Magic (The Soldier Son Trilogy) by Robin Hobb
(Voyager 02 July 2007 / £20.00) - Satisfyingly solid fantasy from the ever reliable Robin Hobb, one of the authors whose work forms the bedrock of contemporary fantasy. Renegade's Magic is the third and final title in Hobb's current series, The Soldier Son.
"Nevare Burvelle, the second son of a noble Gernian family, once looked forward to a promising future as a cadet soldier, and then an officer in the King's Cavalry.
But his entanglement with the magic of the Speck people has robbed him not only of his childhood dream, but also of any hope he might have clung to for any kind of life among his kind.
In Renegade's Magic, Nevare is forced to seek out his enemies; he must learn how to harness his manipulative magic, and then join them in their fights against his own people."
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