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UK Books Received- 05/2008  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we prefer to receive Advance Reader Copies of books when possible. Send books to Gayle Surrette c/o SFRevu, 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613

Bantam Books Ltd

Night of Knives: A Novel of the Malazan Empire by Ian Cameron Esslemont (Bantam Books Ltd 05 May 2008 / £7.99) - 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 and has been hailed as every bit as exciting as the works of his co-creator Erikson. This is the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Press.

"It gave the Empire its name, but the island and city of Malaz is now a sleepy back-water port. This night its residents are barring doors and shuttering windows: a once-in-a-generation Shadow Moon has arrived and threatens to bring among them demon hounds and other, darker, beings.

This is also the night prophecied for the return of Emperor Kellanved, missing these last years. As factions within the Empire battle over the Imperial throne, the Shadow Moon summons a far more ancient and alien presence for an all-out assault upon the island, one that will determine the fate of the Malaz, and the entire world beyond."

(see review)

The Adventures of Indiana Jones by Campbell Black (Bantam Books Ltd 05 May 2008 / £7.99) - Hand up who isn't licking their lips at the prospect of the new Indiana Jones movie, now only a matter of weeks away?

Ah - just as I suspected - not a single hand in sight! For myself, I just can't wait!!!!! Luckily, I can get an interim Indy fix from this fabulous omnibus release from Bantam, The Adventures of Indiana Jones - a trade paperback release containing the novelizations of all three films released so far, and I won't list their titles here because you should already know them!


Acacia: Book One - The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday 19 May 2008 / £12.99) - David Anthony Durham's much-lauded fantasy début is published by Doubleday this month. Acacia has been much hyped, but will British readers find themselves as impressed as their American cousins? (see review)

Elastic Press

Another Santana Morning by Mike Dolan (Elastic Press 01 May 2008 / £5.99) - The first of two excellent short story collections released this month by Elastic Press, the outfit created by Andrew Hook and a small UK outfit that continues to impress with both the creative quality of its output and the care and dedication shown in the production and marketing of it's work.

Another Santana Morning is an updated reissue of Mike Dolan's collection of short fiction originally published back in 1970 but "...a quirk of fate has given it a forgotten history... Dolan, once lauded by the likes of Ray Bradbury slipped back into obscurity, resurfacing over thirty-five years later to put a new spin on these tales."

I don't know Dolan's work, and have not yet dipped into this fine looking trade paperback edition. But if Chaz Brenchley's excellent introduction is anything to go by (and Chaz does know his stuff) then wonderful things await us inside.

Binding Energy by Daniel Marcus (Elastic Press 01 May 2008 / £5.99) - The second collection from Elastic Press this month is a book of short stories by Daniel Marcus - a Berkeley based American writer with a fascinating history and a fine pedigree. His science fiction short stories have appeared in many of the genre major magazine venues - most notably in Asimov's where his work has appeared often. Now for the first time, his writings have been gathered together in a single smart trade paperback volume.

"Love stories, every one. Dan Marcus knows the shape and sound of tomorrow. I ndeed , like Stross and Doctorow, he is one of its most literate creators. Seeing his edgy stories together, we discover that he's been working ancient ground with modern tools. This remarkable first collection from a veteran author is a treasure for readers." -- Terry Bisson, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards


Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn (Gollancz 10 April 2008 / £6.99) - Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen, but when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of the country's supernaturals, her face gets plastered all over national TV. Before long Kitty's inherited a brand-new set of friends and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city, an über-hot Brazilian were-jaguar, and a Bible-thumping senator who plans to expose Kitty as the monster he truly believes her to be. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight - and she's about to be caught in the middle.

The Prefect (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 10 April 2008 / £7.99) - Gollancz publish the mass market edition of Reynold's seventh major full length hard SF novel.

"Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a policeman of sorts, and one of the best. His force is Panoply, and his beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone. These days, his job is his life.

A murderous attack against a Glitter Band habitat is nasty, but it looks to be an open-and-shut case - until Dreyfus starts looking under some stones that some very powerful people would really rather stayed unturned. What he uncovers is far more serious than mere gruesome murder: a covert takeover bid by a shadowy figure, Aurora (who may once have been human but certainly isn't now), who believes the people of the Glitter Band should no longer be in charge of their own destiny.

Dreyfus discovers that to save something precious, you may have to destroy part of it."

The Steel Remains (Gollancz S.F.) by Richard Morgan (Gollancz 21 August 2008 / £9.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Richard Morgan, whose first novel - was reviewed here when it came out (along with this exclusive author interview) - Altered Carbon is now widely (and correctly) regarded as a modern classic, has gone on to establish not only a reputation but actually a brand of SF all of his very own. He now sits atop an area of SF that is recognizably his and his alone. His fiction is renowned for it's extreme violence and it's graphic depiction of sex and at the core of each successive novel has been a damn fine piece of story telling. As Morgan's position in the the hierarchy of genre writers has become more assured, so has his voice. He is a writer unafraid to tackle issues - indeed, unafraid to tackle them and then beat the living shit out of them, shoot them in the head and leave the smouldering corpses by the roadside! The unflinching Morgan seems to revel in the fall-out of such agendas - and his new novel The Steel Remains is the fantasy equivalent of shoving a large stick into an overstuffed hornet's nest and poking around very vigorously indeed.

Due in August from Gollancz, I can guarantee that The Steel Remains is a book that will have everyone talking - and that it certainly won't be to everyone's taste. It is a work that will fuel debate, perhaps start riots in the street and have members of the church burning copies on huge pyres... actually, those last things probably won't happen - but The Steel Remains is on it's way and so you'd better make room in your reading schedule.


The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt (HarperVoyager 06 May 2008 / 17.99) - It's a little over a year ago since I reviewed Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air, a book which I had hoped to enjoy far more than I actually did (see my review here). There was an extremely odd turning point late in the novel which ultimately broke it in two in my opinion.

It is unclear from either the jacket copy of the press release whether Hunt's new book The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is directly connected to the events of it's predecessor, although both the title and branding would very much suggest this is indeed the case. I can only hope that the story-telling is more connected to itself than it was in that first novel.

Where Demons Dare by Kim Harrison (HarperVoyager 01 April 2008 / £6.99) - Whether one calls them urban thrillers, paranormal romances or Buffy/Lara - inspired spin-offs, there's no denying that the market is flooded with a certain type of novel. Regular visitors to this column will know that I tend to call them "supernatural thrillers with a kick-ass female protagonist" - hardly a good marketing sound-bite, but it does cover what we're talking about here. Suffice it to say, I am not exactly the target audience for these kinds of books, but were I a publisher, I'd sure want to make sure I was offering something in this line to the marketplace.

Kim Harrison's "Rachel Morgan" books are HarperCollins Voyager's crack at this whip and Where Demons Dare is the latest (and sixth) title in the series to be published here in the UK. I have feeling, a strong feeling that there may be more to follow.

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

The Reapers by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 15 May 2008 / £14.99) - The new novel from best-selling author John Connolly featuring his private detective Charlie Parker, is published in hard cover by Hodder & Stoughton.

"They are the Reapers, the elite among killers. Men so terrifying that their names are mentioned only in whispers. The assassin Louis is one of them. But now Louis, and his partner, Angel, are themselves targets. And there is no shortage of suspects. A wealthy recluse sends them north to a town that no longer exists on a map. A town ruled by a man with very personal reasons for wanting Louis's blood spilt. There they find themselves trapped, isolated, and at the mercy of a killer feared above all others: the assassin of assassins, Bliss. Thanks to former detective Charlie Parker, help is on its way. But can Angel and Louis stay alive long enough for it to reach them?"


Less Lonely Planet by Rhys Hughes (Humdrumming May 2008 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : Humdrumming publish this latest collection by Rhys Hughes, the prolific welsh writer whose work often leans towards the surreal and absurd. Less Lonely Planet contains "32 tales about life, non-melodic sounds, cats, adventures, love, bread, circuses, pyramids, ducks, and more!".

A PPC hard cover priced at £12.99.

The Land at the End of the Working Day by Peter Crowther (Humdrumming March 2008 / £25.00) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : A collection of four glorious novellas by Peter Crowther, one the genres most versatile, respected and industrious folk. Issued as a limited edition by the very excellent Humdrumming - a quirky small press that I admire enormously. This smart hard cover is available in two states - a "Special Edition" of 100 numbered hard cover copies signed by Crowther at £25.00, and a "Very Special Edition" of 52 lettered copies signed by Crowther and also by the four introducers of the various contents, namely Elizabeth Hand, Ian Macdonald, Lucius Shepherd and Joe Hill, priced at £50.00... which I beleive has sold out prior to publication!

Little, Brown

Lost Boys by James Miller (Little, Brown 03 July 2008 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : A début novel from James Miller, a young British writer listed in Time Out magazine as one of "London's Rising Stars". Literary, dsytopian SF - thus something we may well see on next year's Clarke short list!

"Urgent, shocking and controversial, Lost Boys sheds light on the secret fears and desires underlying our society, the family, and childhood itself. Drawing disturbing parallels between the childhood desire to resist growing up and the War on Terror. In the tradition of JG Ballard and William S Burroughs, this is a contemporary Lord of the Flies."


Kytos (Rathing Chronicles Trilogy) by John von Kesmark (Matador 02 April 2008 / £9.95) - A self-published title sent in by Troubador/Matador - Kytos : The Dark Beyond looks to be the second title in a sequence that follows the "science of hybrid cloning gone badly wrong" disaster scenario theme. Author John von Kesmark's web site offers further background to the book including the following synopsis which, sadly, does nothing to make me want to read the novel.

"The part human, part rodent Rathings rule with an iron fist but have to rely on human civil servants to run the country and the economy, crumbling due to trade and travel embargoes imposed by the rest of the world. Humans are also regularly press-ganged into slavery. A disillusioned and altruistic Rathing General, Ströesser and a cabal of senior officers plan to overthrow the government and launch an invasion, initially into Europe, and then further afield with a view to conquering the world. Ströesser accepts the assistance of Memnon, an amoral Rathing Senator from the parallel future dimension. The Senator sends troops from the parallel future dimension whose actions swing the balance of power. (An early critique of the novel drew parallels of the political machinations taking place between the Rathings with those of the Romans and Nazis but with the added viciousness of the rat, this obviously being a strong characteristic amongst Rathings). An epic battle takes place between the government troops and rebels forces and the losing General is executed in a most barbaric manner."


Black Ships by Jo Graham (Orbit 03 July 2008 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Already released by Orbit in the US, Jo Graham's début novel, Black Ships received some excellent reviews when it first appeared. This UK edition is a trade paperback due for released in early July.

"The world is ending. One by one the mighty cities are falling, to earthquakes, to flood, to raiders on both land and sea. In a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle. Daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, chosen at the age of seven to be the voice of the Lady of the Dead, it is her destiny to counsel kings.

When nine black ships appear, captained by an exiled Trojan prince, Gull must decide between the life she has been destined for and the most perilous adventure -- to join the remnant of her mother's people in their desperate flight. From the doomed bastions of the City of Pirates to the temples of Byblos, from the intrigues of the Egyptian court to the haunted caves beneath Mount Vesuvius, only Gull can guide Prince Aeneas on his quest, and only she can dare the gates of the Underworld itself to lead him to his destiny.

In the last shadowed days of the Age of Bronze, one woman dreams of the world beginning anew. This is her story."

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan (Orbit 01 May 2008 / £6.99) - The new novel from Marie Brennan, described as a "... breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England," this does look to be a fascinating release and may well prove to be the author's break-out book. Further information on both Brennan and her forthcoming novel can be found on the author's web site - and I should add that the information Brennan offers up on this forthcoming release - background, soundtrack listings, photos from her research trips excerpts, journals - is an abject lesson in how to get people interested in one's work. Top stuff!

"England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs - but a great light casts a great shadow."

Song of the Shiver Barrens (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke (Orbit 01 May 2008 / £7.99) - Orbit further their tireless campaign to bringing quality works of Australian fantasy over to the UK - Song of the Shiver Barrens is the third novel in The Mirage Makers sequence by Aussie writer Glenda Larke (admittedly, she currently lives in Malaysia, but let's not split hairs here!).

"Ligea's son, Arrant, leaves Tyrans for Kardiastan to take his place as Mirager-heir, while Ligea prepares to halt an insurrection. But Arrant's skills as a Magoroth are dangerously inconsistent, and his father, Temellin, finds it difficult to communicate with this secretive young man he barely knows. Arrant's singular ability to communicate with his half-brother, Tarran - a part of the collective mind known as the Mirage Makers - leads them both towards the possibility of a tragic clash with the encroaching Ravage. As Arrant's enemies among the Magoroth plot to ruin his family and his future as heir, he begins to realise there is a greater mystery to solve if he is to prevail."

The Better Mousetrap by Tom Holt (Orbit 01 May 2008 / £14.99) - Orbit's top tier comic fantasy author, the prolific Tom Holt offers up a brand new novel, The Better Mousetrap, released this month in hard cover.

"It touches all our lives; our triumphs and tragedies, our proudest achievements, our most traumatic disasters. Alloyed of love and fear, death and fire and the inscrutable acts of the gods, insurance is indeed the force that binds the universe together. Hardly surprising, therefore, that Frank Carpenter, one of the foremost magical practitioners of our age, felt himself irresistibly drawn to it. Until, that is, he met Emily, a high-flying corporate heroine with an annoying habit of falling out of trees and getting killed. Repeatedly. It's not long before Frank and Jane find themselves face to face with the greatest enigma of our times: When is a door not a door? When it's a mousetrap."

The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers (Orbit 15 May 2008 / £6.99) - An Orbit paperback original, The Digital Plague is the (pulse-pounding according to the marketing blurb!) sequel to Jeff Somers' creditable SF " heist caper" début The Electric Church.

"Avery Cates, criminal 'king' of New York, has climbed his way to the top of a heap of trouble. On his knees in the snow, with a gun to his head, Avery thinks this must finally be it. Instead, he is injected with nanotech and left confused but alive. The everyone around him starts dying."

The Electric Church by Jeff Somers (Orbit 03 April 2008 / £6.99) - The mass market edition of Jeff Somers' debut novel The Electric Church is released by Orbit. It ain't deep or profound in any way whatsoever, and this was precisely why I rather enjoyed this book when I first read it last September. We're re-running my review in this issue. Look for the details on the sequel, The Digital Plague, elsewhere in the UK Books column. (see review)

The Harlequin (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Orbit 01 May 2008 / £7.99) - The fourteenth title in Laurel K. Hamilton's long running and best selling series featuring good old Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter - a book series that has spawned any number of clones whilst ironically being something of a clone (of Buffy?) itself. The Harlequin is an Orbit mass market paperback.

We reviewed the US release of The Harlequin twice when it was released last June - follow the links for Drew Bittner's impressions and here for Harriet Klausner's.

To Hell and Back (Dante Valentine Novel) by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit 01 May 2008 / £6.99) - The fifth and apparently final title from Lilith Saintcrow featuring her "Necromancer-for-hire" kick-ass female protagonist Dante Valentine. An Orbit paperback original.

"Plot. Counterplot. Betrayal. Intrigue. When you're working for the Devil, it's all par for the course. You just have to live with it. Right?

Wrong. When you're Danny Valentine and the Devil double-crosses you one too many times, there's only one thing to do.

Fight back. No matter how hopeless it is. No matter how suicidal it is. No matter how far the game is rigged in the Devil's favor.

Welcome to Hell."

Orion Books

Neuropath by Scott Bakker (Orion Books 15 May2008 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : Scott Bakker, the acclaimed author of the fanatasy series The Prince of Nothing now turns his hand to thriller writing. Neuropath, his new novel published by Orion this month is targeted towards fans of Thomas Harris and the like.

"Tom's life is not what it once was. His marriage to the beautiful Nora is on the rocks and he now sees his two young children only on her say so. His best friend - and best man - Neil has moved away to California to teach neurology and he barely sees him. He has one successful book - on human psychology - but he now wiles away the time trying to teach bored grad students things that they are often not equipped to understand.

But that all changes when Neil comes back into his life. For it seems that his best friend was no teacher - he was working for the US government, cracking the minds of suspected terrorists. But now it is Neil himself that has cracked and gone AWOL - what's more he has left behind evidence that he has been employing his unique skills on civilians - obsessed with the idea that he can control the human brain.

Thus begins a terrifying sequence of events as Neil starts to kidnap and mutilate people with a connection to Tom. He damages their brains selectively and then releases them - often leaving them mad. But it is only when he gets near his ultimate target does he reveal the full horror of his plan.

Pan Books

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton (Pan Books 02 May 2008 / £8.99) - The mass market paperback edition of Peter F. Hamilton's latest humongous science fiction offering, The Dreaming Void. I reviewed this when it came out in hard cover and we're re-running my thoughts in this issue. As an additional note, Macmillan are this month publishing an audiobook version of this novel -- the first PFH novel to be issued in this format. The release is a 20-CD box set read by Toby Longworth and priced at £34.99. You can order direct from Macmillan Audio. (see review)

Prime Books

Pretty Little Things to Fill Up the Void by Simon Logan (Prime Books 30 November 2007 / £7.95) - The first full length novel from Scotland based author Simon Logan, a self-confessed specialist in what he terms "industrial and fetishcore fiction". Pretty Little Things To Fill Up The Void is published by World Fantasy Award winning outfit, Prime Books and the author's web site has a set of excellent pages devoted to the promotion of this novel.

"Pretty Little Things To Fill Up The Void is the story of four characters whose lives become inextricably linked over the course of the novel through a series of literally explosive events. The novel is rooted in the industrial style first realised in my short story collection I-O, set in an unnamed city of run-down warehouses and chemical factories. Skaters, punks, terrorists and anarchists freely intermingle amidst this crumbling wastescape."

Prometheus Books

Multireal: Jump 225 Trilogy v. 2 (The Jump 225 Trilogy) by David Louis Edelman (Prometheus Books 01 July 2008 / £9.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: This July will see Pyr in the US publish the second of David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 books - described rather tantalisingly as a "hybrid of Neuromancer and Wall Street".

The first book in the sequence, Infoquake is due for publication here in the UK also in July, issued by Solaris Books, who are doing a fine job of acquiring some excellent US imports. Impatient readers will be able to get hold of this US release of this second volume, Multireal, around the same time.

PS Publishing

Basil Copper : A Life in Books by Stpehn Jones (PS Publishing February 2008 / £15.00) - One of the best releases noted this month's column is this in-depth and meticulously researched homage to the career of Basil Copper, the renowned British macabre and crime writer Basil Copper.

Compiled by genre expert and well known horror editor Stephen Jones, this beautifully laid out labour of love contains an extensive bibliography of Copper's work as well as all sorts of wonderful ephemera - scripts, excerpts, letters, commentary, short fiction &etc. A truly superb resource.

"An outstanding British writer in the genre." - August Derleth

Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian Cameron Esselmont (PS Publishing July 2008 / £75.00) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The second Malazan novel from Ian Cameron Esslemont, co-creator of this huge and panoramic fantasy world along with Steven Erikson. Esslemont's first novel Night of Knives was published first as a limited edition by PS Publishing and has since been issued here in the UK by Bantam(see above).

This second novel, Return of the Crimson Guard - due as a trade hardcover from Bantam in August - will also appear first from PS Publishing, who will released it in the middle of the year as a two volume hard cover, limited to only 300 copies which will be signed by the author. This release will also feature artwork by Edward Miller. A release aimed very much at collectors, the book will be priced £75.00 and will most likely be sold out on publication. Order now directly from PS Publishing.

"The return of the mercenary company the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for the Malazan Empire. Drained by constant warfare, weakened by betrayal and rivalries, many see the grip of Empress Laseen weakening. Conquered kingdoms and principalities test their old independence. Into this gathering civil war on Quon Tali - the Empire's homeland - comes the Guard. And with their return comes the memory of their hundred year old vow: undying opposition to the existence of the Empire. Yet rivalries and betrayals stalk the Guard as well - elements of its elite, the Avowed, scheme to open paths to even greater power. Ancient potent entities, Ascendants, also lend a hand exploiting all sides to further their own arcane ends.Meanwhile, a swordsman, Traveller, and his companion Ereko, move from one strange encounter to another in a mysterious dance meant ultimately to bring the swordsman to a final confrontation from which none have ever returned. As the Crimson Guard gathers itself from around the globe, Empress Laseen faces more immediate threats. To feed her wars she has bled dry provincial garrisons across Quon Tali and now regional nationalists see their chance.

Behind their insurrections stand the veteran commanders of Laseen's predecessor, Emperor Kellanved. These generals and powerful mages, the "Old Hands," have lost patience with what they see as Laseen's mismanagement and have selected their own replacement. Yet there are hints that Laseen may be using the uprisings to draw out and finally eliminate these last irksome survivors of her predecessor's rule."

Song of Time by Ian R. Macleod (PS Publishing Mid - Late 2008 / £20.00) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A new novel by MacLeod, author of The Light Ages and The House of Storms, both of which I have reviewed here (follow the links).Song of Time will be published by PS Publishing in two states - a trade hard cover priced at £20.00 and a slip cased hard cover limited to 100 numbered copies signed by the author, priced at £50.00.

"A man lies half-drowned on a Cornish beach at dawn in the furthest days of this century. The old woman who discovers him, once a famous concert violinist, is close to death herself... or a new kind of life she can barely contemplate. Does death still exist at all, or has it finally been obliterated? And who is this strange man she's found? Is he a figure returned from her past, a new messiah, or an empty vessel? Is he God, or the Devil?

Filled with love and music, death and life, mind-stretching ideas and sheer, simple humanity, spanning the world from the suburbs of Birmingham to the streets of a new-Renaissance Paris via the ruins of post-apocalyptic India.


The Martian General's Daughter by Theodore R. Judson (Pyr April 2008 / £7.46) - Pyr publish this trade paperback edition of Theodore Judson's far future SF novel, The Martian General's Daughter.

"The Martian General's Daughter expertly conveys the SF theme once noted by Robert Charles Wilson: 'No human institution, good or bad, secular or religious, cultural or technological, is fore-ordained or guaranteed to last'."


Lint by Steve Aylett (Snowbooks 01 February 2007 / £7.99) - Reaching us here at Sfrevu quite some time after publication, genre iconoclast Steve Aylett's brilliantly creative Lint is very much worth the wait. Essentially a spoof biography, Lint charts the career of Jeff Lint, contemporary of SF writers such as Philip K. Dick. A superb satire, Lint was originally published in the US by the now defunct Thunders Mouth Press and published here in the UK by Snowbooks.

"Lint: in Steve Aylett, this clearly much misunderstood writer has found his Boswell, his Gilchrist, his Ackroyd. A cultural unearthing to equal those of Philip K Dick or Harry Stephen Keeler, this has to be the literary biography of the year. Highly recommended." -- Alan Moore.

The Red Men by Matthew de Abaitua (Snowbooks 01 October 2007 / £7.99) - Like other in the SF community, I have some big issues with this year's shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke award - the premier genre prize for the best SF novel published in the UK in a given year. My problem stems from the simple fact that of the six books on the shortlist, I had only heard of half of them. This implies that either I am not doing my job as an SF commentator who specific brief is to focus on the UK market at all well (not true!) or (and this is how it seems to me) that the Clarke judges are going out of their way to chose obscure titles that fall beneath well the radar of the folks who might like to read them, perhaps wishing to be seen more as a literary rather than a genre prize. If that is the case, then I think they're going about it all wrong - see this link to agent John Jarrold's blog for fiery commentary on this whole contentious subject, and I see in the editorial of the latest print edition of LOCUS, that Charlie Brown agrees with my thoughts too.

To flip my argument on it's head though, it is nice to see smaller, independent publisher receive some recognition for their SF output, and this novel The Red Men, published by the very fine and professional Snowbooks is one of the titles that has caused so much fuss. I never saw a copy when it came out last October, but they have now kindly sent one over.


The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Sphere 25 April 2008 / £14.99) - Stephenie Meyer has become a name to reckon in YA circles following the massive success of her trilogy of vampire novels, Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse published here in the UK by Atom. She now sets out capture a more mature audience with her new novel The Host, "... a gripping novel of love and betrayal set in a future when the fate of humanity is at stake." - I bet she does it too! A lead title released by Sphere in hard cover. (see review)


Iron Angel (Deepgate Codex) by Alan Campbell (Tor 02 May 2008 / £17.99) - Alan Campbell's long-awaited follow-up to his excellent début, Scar Night. A hardcover released by Tor UK.

"Order has collapsed in Deepgate. The chained city is now in ruins; the Deadsands beyond are full of fleeing refugees. The Spine militia, unable to come to terms with the loss of their church, are trying to halt the exodus with brutal force. Driven away by the mob, Rachel Hael leads Dill along a very dangerous route through the wastelands, but what should have been a straightforward flight to Sandport becomes a desperate march for survival after the angel is captured and mutilated. Rachel just wants to keep her friends alive, but the offspring of the dread goddess Ayen have other ideas, the death of the underworld god Ulcis having not gone unnoticed by his six siblings. Cospinol, the god of brine and fog, is coming for his brother's murderers, and he's bringing his own version of hell with him. Wreathed in fog, Cospinol's foul skyship has already reached Sandport.

Cog Island will now become the focus for a clash of powers: of men and gods and archons and slaves all forced into desperate alliances, a battle in which the outcome will be decided not by force, but by sacrifice. Whoever wins, it's bad news for everyone except Iril, god of death. For in the end there's going to be a lot of blood. " (see review)

William Heinemann Ltd

The Broken World by Tim Etchells (William Heinemann Ltd 03 July 2008 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Due from William Heinemann this July, The Broken World is a new and extraordinary work of literary SF from Tim Etchells, a British writer and artist with considerable creative drive.

"...steers a dizzying path between science fiction and the existential thriller, with writing that is kinetic, street-smart and supremely fertile. I picked up echoes of J.G.Ballard, Thomas Pynchon, William Vollman, even Brett Easton Ellis, but in the end Tim Etchells sidesteps all comparisons with a sensibility that is quite unique. Contemporary fiction should watch out: it's about to be ambushed." -- Rupert Thompson (see review)

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann Ltd 05 June 2008 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: One of the major débuts of the year and a book that is being hyped accordingly. With the massive advance paid for The Gone-Away World, the both the publisher and the book trade is expecting great things from author Nick Harkaway, and there is clearly no harm done by the fact that young Mister Harkaway happens to be the son of a certain John le Carré! Let's hope just as with Joe Hill and dad, Stephen King, in this case too, the apple does not fall far from the tree. The Gone-Away World will be published in early June.

"It's a story about love (and ninjas). It features battles, alarms, terrible upheavals, and disasters. In case that sounds distressing, you should know that it also contains digressions and disquisitions; showdowns and throwdowns; monsters, marvels and miracles. More than anything, I wanted this book to be fun. I wanted it to be more fun than other things you could usefully be doing with your time. I wanted it to be a book which would keep you up late and make you call in sick because you wanted to finish it. I wanted this book to steal your day." -- Nick Harkaway

Yen Press

Alice on Deadlines: v. 2 (Alice on Deadlines) by Shiro Ihara (Yen Press 26 March 2008 / £5.47) - The second in Shiro Ihara's Manga series Alice on Deadlines - now up up to it's fourth volume. The two further titles will presumably follow from Yen Press in due course.

"Poor Alice's trouble seems to know no bounds when she has to deal with a shinigami worse than Lapan...(Is that even possible??) And she has a run-in with the king of the shinigami. Some days it doesn't pay to be a girl trapped in the body of a skeleton?"

With the Light: v. 2 (With the Light...) by Keiko Tobe (Yen Press 10 April 2008 / £10.99) - A fascinating release, this huge Manga book is considered to be the masterwork of author/artist Keiko Tobe and shows how this versatile medium is far from being limited to just Final Fantasy-esque adventures.

This is volume two, and follows the first volume of the sequence which was released in October 2007. Recommended.

"Born during the sunrise - an auspicious beginning - the Azumas' newborn son is named Hikaru, which means 'light'. But during one play date, his mother notices that her son is slightly different from the other children. In this bittersweet tale a young mother tried to cope with both the overwhelming discovery of her newborn son's autism and the trials of raising him whilst keeping her family together."

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