NOTE: UK Column on Hiatus for September by
( / ) - John says, "As I'm doing a bit of globe-trotting during August, the UK column will be on hiatus until our October issue. If you happen to be at this year's Worldcon in Reno, NV in mid August, do come and say hello. Offers of drink, though appreciated, will not, alas, secure positive reviews!"
Ironclad Prophecy (No Man's World) by Pat Kelleher
(Abaddon Books 21 July 2011 / £7.99) - The second in a new Abaddon fiction series, No Man's World, from author Pat Kelleher, in which a battalion of WW1 soldiers find themselves stranded on an alien planet - great, pulply mash-up fun.
"It has been three months since the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers vanished from the Somme and found themselves stranded on an alien world, and their trenches have become the target for vengeful Khungarrii attacks. Corporal ‘Only’ Atkins and his Black Hang Gang, along with a captured Khungarrii, are sent out in the tank, Ivanhoe, on the trail of Jeffries, the impostor many hold responsible for their plight. While the encampment faces an alien threat, the search party discover an ancient edifice, hiding a secret that will tear the Battalion apart...
As the Pennines fight for their lives against the mounting horrors of No Man’s World, their only hope for survival – and a way home – lie in the psychotropic fuel-addicted crew of the Ivanhoe... and its increasingly insane commander!"
Dead Bad Things (Angry Robot) by Gary McMahon
(Angry Robot 01 September 2011 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Gary McMahon has been on the scene for a while now producing consistently excellent works of dark and disturbing fiction at various lengths and in various well respected publications. His work has been much parised by the likes of has had some fantastic advance praise from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler and Tim Lebbon.
Dead Bad Things due from Angry Robot next month, is the second Thomas Usher novel and is a follow up to Pretty Little Dead Things.
"He sought to feel his tragic past, but when Thomas Usher hears a clockwork voice on the phone, and sees ever-more disturbing visions in a derelict warehouse, Usher realises that he has to return home - for the sake of his own sanity. Meanwhile, a deadly figure from Usher's past threatens to undermine the very fabric of reality."
The Crown of the Conqueror (Angry Robot) by Gav Thorpe
(Angry Robot 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A second Angry Robot release from Black Library stalwart and best-selling Warhammer author Gav Thorpe. The Crown of the Conqueror is a follow up to The Crown of Blood and is a '...A sweeping fantasy of immense battles, demonic magic and dark politics.' A third volume will be released next year.
"Ullsaard has won the crown. But when he is confronted with a truth too shocking to contemplate, he has to make the impossible choice between power and honour.
And now the real battle has begun in this stunning sequel to The Crown of the Blood, packed with gargantuan battles, demonic magic and treacherous politics."
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
(Atlantic Books 20 September 2011 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: He's a big name and he writes bloody big books full of big ideas. Neal Stephenson's Reamde is one of the major releases of the latter half of 2011 and, as was Anathem before it (which I reviewed back in 2008) it is a big commitment for intrepid readers. Those that take up the challenge will be richly rewarded. A hardcover due next month from Atlantic Books.
"Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T'Rain - an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure. But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world spreading from player to player - holding hard drives hostage in the process - the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality. A fast-talking, internet-addicted mafia accountant is brutally silenced by his Russian employers, and Zula - a talented young T'Rain computer programmer - is abducted and bundled on to a private jet. As she is flown across the skies in the company of the terrified boyfriend she broke up with hours before, and a brilliant Hungarian hacker who may be her only hope, she finds herself sucked into a whirl of Chinese Secret Service agents and gun-toting American Survivalists; the Russian criminal underground and an al-Qaeda cell led by a charismatic Welshman; each a strand of a connected world that devastatingly converges in T'Rain. An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to South-West China via Russia and the fantasy world of T'Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today's most individual writers. "
The Lion Of Cairo by Scott Oden
(Bantam 09 June 2011 / £7.99) - Perhaps not strictly within our SFrevu remit, but if you're anything like me, you're always up for a bit of Arabian Nights style adventure. If so, then Scott Oden's new novel The Lion of Cairo is going to be right up your street! Now published by Bantam in mass market paperback.
"Cairo, 1167 AD. On the banks of the river Nile, from a palace of gold and lapis lazuli, the Fatimid Caliph al Hadid rules over a crumbling empire. His city is awash with intrigues and in the shadow of the Grey Mosque, generals and emirs jockey for position under the scheming eyes of the powerful grand vizier, Jalal. In the crowded Souk, these factions use murder and terror to silence their opposition...Egypt is bleeding and the scent draws her enemies in like sharks: the Sultan of Damascus, the pious Nur al-Din, whose master is the rival Caliph of Baghdad; Shirkuh, the swaggering Kurd who would lead the armies of Damascus to victory and then, of course, Amalric, Christian king of Jerusalem whose insatiable greed knows no bounds. Yet the Caliph of Cairo has an unexpected ally: an old man who lives in a place that even eagles fear. He is Shaykh al-Jabal, called the Old Man of the Mountain, and it is he who holds the ultimate power of life and death over the warring factions of the Moslem world, and it is he who sends his greatest weapon into Egypt, to serve the Caliph. He is but a single man but he is an Assassin: the one they call the Emir of the Knife... "
The Nosferatu Scroll by James Becker
(Bantam Press 09 June 2011 / £12.99) - Religious conspiracy thriller expert (and author of the breathless adventures The First Apostle, The Moses Stone and The Messiah Secret) James Becker, offers up a new novel courtesy of this Bantam trade paperback. The Nosferatu Scroll is clearly more of the same (and thus will no doubt please his many existing reader) but with a dash of the undead thrown in for good measure.
On the northern banks of the Vltava River, an extraordinary event is taking place. Inside a private chapel, a high-born Hungarian lady is being laid to rest. But not before her heart is removed from her body, and she is buried beneath a layer of heavy stones - lest she rise again to prey upon her victims...
Holidaying in the world’s most beautiful city, Chris Bronson and Angela Lewis discover a desecrated tomb. Inside it is a female skeleton and an arcane diary dating back hundreds of years. Written in Latin, it references a scroll that will provide an ‘answer’ to an ancient secret.
Soon corpses of young women, all killed in the same ritualistic manner, start appearing throughout the city. And when Angela disappears, Bronson knows that he must find her before she too is slaughtered. But Bronson's hunt for Angela leads him back to the Island of the Dead, and into a conspiracy more deadly than he could ever have imagined..."
Dragongirl (Dragonriders of Pern) by Todd McCaffrey
(Corgi 04 August 2011 / £6.99) - The mass market edition of Todd McCaffrey's Dragongirl, is published by Bantam Press - a solo effort based in mum's world of Pern. Reactions to this extended collaboration seem to have been mixed, but perhaps Pern, jyst like Dune, has every chance of becoming a family franchise long after its creator has turned to dust.
"Shortly after Fiona's return to Fort Weyr, three Turns older and wiser, her queen, Talenth, is infected with the dreaded sickness that has consumed so many of Pern's precious fire-breathing dragons. Talenth's recovery and the recovery of all the other dragons of Pern is delivered by the unflagging efforts of Lorana and Kindan at Benden Weyr - but their one vital clue is only bought with the loss of all the dragons of Telgar Weyr.
Fiona is sent to relieve the distressed weyrfolk of the now-dragonless Weyr. When her queen, Talenth, rises to mate, Fiona finds herself not only Telgar's senior Weyrwoman but in the center of the dilemma that confronts all Pern - how can the one thousand fighting dragons do the job of three thousand? And, if they can't, how long will it be before all of Pern is consumed by Thread?"
Bricks: A Novel by Leon Jenner
(Coronet 04 August 2011 / £12.99) - A curious but nonetheless eye-catching release from Hodder & Stoughton's new Coronet imprint. Bricks by Leon Jenner was originally released online as an audio download and proved hugely popular, attracting, according to the Coronet press release - over one quarter of a million downloads. This smart, illustrated 136 pp hardcover is the first print edition.
"This is the story of a bricklayer. A master of his craft, he keeps its sacred teachings secret. For him a house is the dwelling place of a soul, and a house must be built in the right spirit or the soul inside it will suffer. The building of an arch is a ritual to obtain a right relation with the earth and a connection with the truth.
The bricklayer recalls his previous life as a Druid priest. He talks about the creation of the sacred landscape of these islands; how even a simple stick lying on the ground would tell people the direction they needed to go in; how when people stared at the stars, they were staring at their own mind. The reader sees the world through the eyes of this great, magical being at the time of the Roman invasion, and learns how he tricked Julius Caesar and set in train the series of events that would lead to Caesar's assassination on the Ides of March.
But as the bricklayer continues, he worries he is losing his ancient, sacred powers. The vision begins to fray at the edges as we learn how he has recently taken violent revenge on yobs who have mocked him. Is he really connected to a once living Druid priest, or is he gradually losing himself in his own fantasies?"
Lord Oda's Revenge (Blood Ninja) by Nick Lake
(Corvus 01 August 2011 / £12.99) - Nick Lake's second YA novel, Lord Oda's Revenge is published in a loud and fearsome looking trade paperback edition by Corvus. Lake is very much game-keeper turned poacher, as when not writing, he is editorial director at Harpercollin's Children's books. Follow-up to Blood Ninja.
"Taro was just a fisherman's son...but then his father was murdered and he was forced to become a Blood Ninja, fated to live by night, doomed to live on the blood of others. But he has had his revenge. He has killed Lord Oda, the warlord who had his father assassinated. But Lord Oda is not quiet in his grave. He has found a way to reach beyond death and Taro and his friends soon find themselves facing samurai armies, a deadly enemy from the past and strange ghostly creatures who suck life from the living. Dangerously weakened, Taro, must recover the one object that Lord Oda was desperate to find before he died: the Buddha Ball, the source of limitless power. But if Taro is to complete his perilous quest - to save himself, his friends, his mother, and the girl he loves - he must go to hell and back and face his arch enemy once again. For Lord Oda has returned - as a Blood Ninja."
Solstice at Stonewylde by Kit Berry
(Gollancz 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - Kit Berry's Stonewylde YA books have a large and faithful fanbase after they originally appeared as self-published novels supported by an excellent internet presence. Following their publication last month of the first book in the sequence, Gollancz now publish the third, Solstice at Stonewylde in a mass market edition.
"Yul stands at the threshold between life and death. Poisoned at the festival of the dead, his life now hangs by a thread. More than his own will to survive, it's his fellow Stonewylders who must save him. But will they, when Magus has done so much to undermine Yul and turn the people against him? Yet there are cracks in Magus' following. When he confesses a secret that shocks the community, the Stonewylde folk begin to understand his true nature. Magus' spiral into obsession and darkness continues, his kindness and charm now vanished. The cruelty that lies beneath is becoming clear . . . as is the deadly web of deceit and betrayal in which Yul and Sylvie are trapped. The Winter Solstice approaches and Yul and Sylvie refuse to give up hope. But Sylvie is unaware of Magus' real plans for her and she's horrified when he finally shows his hand. Can this really be why she was brought to Stonewylde? As the final conflict draws near, how can she avoid Magus' trap? Yul will need all his strength, and all his supporters, if he is to make a stand and put an end to what Magus has started. As the darkness draws in around them, the wise woman on the hill makes a chilling prophecy. There is no escape and no compromise when death comes knocking: five will die at Stonewylde. The only question is who..."
Ancient Blades Trilogy (1) - Den of Thieves (Ancient Blades Trilogy 1) by David Chandler
(Harper Voyager 07 July 2011 / ) - I'm sure David Chandler's first fantasy novel is well worth a look - he is, after all, an experienced and successful author, best know for his various horror series written under the name of David Wellington)- but I don't think his UK publishers at Harper Voyager have done him any favours with the cover they've given Den of Thieves. It looks like is a poorly executed rip-off of the very much better Gollancz Joe Abercrombie covers and rather gives the impression the novel is second rate too - which I'm quite sure it isn't. First in a trilogy
"Croy is a knight errant, and bearer of an ancient blade with a powerful destiny. He's also kind of, well, dim. He believes in honour. He believes that people are fundamentally good, and will do the right thing if you give them a chance.
Unfortunately, Croy lives in the city of Ness. A thriving medieval city of fifty thousand people, none of whom are fundamentally even decent, and who will gleefully stab you in the back. If you give them a chance.
Ness is also the home to Malden. Malden is a thief. He lives by his wits, disarming cunning traps, sneaking past sleeping guards, and running away very fast whenever people are trying to kill him. Which is often. One time Malden stole a crown. And then he had to steal it back to avoid a civil war. Croy got the credit, of course, because he's a noble knight. Another time the two of them went into the tomb of an ancient warrior race, and Croy accidentally started a barbarian invasion. Guess who had to clean that up?
They probably wouldn't be friends at all if it wasn't for Cythera. Cythera is a witch. A mostly-good witch. And despite herself she can't stop thieves and knights falling in love with her… At the same time."
Ancient Blades Trilogy (2) - A Thief in the Night by David Chandler
(Harper Voyager 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - And hot on the heels of Den of Thieves (see above) comes A Thief in the Night, the second of David Chandler's Ancient Blades novels. I'm still not sure of the cover look, but when placed against book one, there are the makings of a nice looking montage. It would surely, though, have made sense to put a mataching montage on the spines as well - it is after all, more likely that the books will be displayed spine outwards than front on.
"It takes a thief to destroy a demon...
Circumstance made him a criminal. Destiny may make him a hero.
As a thief, Malden is unparalleled in the Free City of Ness. But he has no desire to take up arms against the forces of horrific evil. By saving the life of the knight Croy, however, Malden has bound himself to an ancient, noble brotherhood…and he now possesses a magical weapon forged at the dawn of time – one of only seven swords capable of destroying demons.
Malden fears accompanying Croy and the barbarian Mörget on their quest to dispatch a foul creature of nightmare…nor does he want to disturb the vengeful dead. But with an assassin on his heels, the young cutpurse is left with no choice but to follow. And there is the comely sorceress, Cythera, to consider – promised to Croy but in love with Malden – not to mention the fabulous treasure rumoured to be waiting in the inescapable depths of the demon’s lair..."
Jack Cloudie by Stephen Hunt
(Harper Voyager 07 July 2011 / £12.99) - Stephen Hunt's fifth novel to be set in Victorian-style world of The Court of the Air (which I reviewed with mixed feelings a couple of years ago). Jack Cloudie is a trade paperback release from Harper Voyager, and - interestingly - features an all new cover look.
"Thanks to his father's gambling debts, young Jack Keats finds himself on the streets and trying to survive as a pickpocket, desperate to graft enough coins to keep him and his two younger brothers fed.
Following a daring bank robbery gone badly awry, Jack narrowly escapes the scaffold, only to be pressed into Royal Aerostatical Navy. Assigned to the most useless airship in the fleet, serving under a captain who is most probably mad, Jack seems to be bound for almost certain death in the far-away deserts of Cassarabia.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Omar ibn Barir, the slave of a rich merchant lord finds his life turned upside down when his master's religious sect is banned. Unexpectedly freed, he survives the destruction of his home to enter into the service of the Caliph's military forces – just as war is brewing.
Two very similar young men prepare to face each other across a senseless field of war. But is Omar the enemy, or is Jack's true nemesis the sickness at the heart of the Caliph's court? A cult that hides the deadly secret to the origins of the gas being used to float Cassarabia's new aerial navy.
If Jack and his shipmates can discover what Cassarabia's aggressive new regime is trying to conceal, he might survive the most horrific of wars and clear his family's name. If not..."
Pale Demon (Rachel Morgan 9) by Kim Harrison
(Harper Voyager 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - The latest Kim Harrison novel Pale Demon is published in the UK as a mass market paperback from Voyager. Read Gayle Surrette's review of the US release from Eos which appeared in previously on Sfrevu.
"The latest stirring instalment of the urban fantasy-thriller series starring Rachel Morgan. A pacey and addictive novel of sexy bounty-hunting witches, cunning demons and vicious vampires.
Condemned and shunned for black magic, Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the annual witches’ conference and clear her name, or be trapped in the demonic ever-after... forever after.
But a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car going across the country? Talk about a recipe for certain disaster, even without being the targets for assassination. For after centuries of torment, a fearsome demon walks in the sunlight – freed at last to slay the innocent and devour their souls. But his ultimate goal is Rachel Morgan, and in the fight for survival that follows, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her."
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
(Harper Voyager 04 August 2011 / £14.99) - Touted as one of the big summer débuts, Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns was hotly contested when it came to market, with Harper Voyager winning out. They now publish in hard cover. It has since sold around the world and a quick search of the interest will return plenty of glowing reviews. Definitely one to watch.
"Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Mark Lawrence's debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne."
Wither: Book One of the Chemical Garden (Chemical Garden 1) by Lauren DeStefano
(Harper Voyager 04 August 2011 / £9.99) - A debut novel by US author Lauren DeStefano, which taps straight into the current trend for dystopian YA fiction. First in a trilogy. Published in the US by Simon & Schguster earlier this year, this British trade paperback release is courtesy of Harper Voyager.
"A HANDMAID'S TALE for a new generation...
Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home – before her time runs out forever.
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb – males only live to age twenty-five and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape – to find her twin brother and go home. But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left."
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal 3) by Jonathan L. Howard
(Headline 01 September 2011 / £19.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A third novel from Jonathan L. Howard, a British game designer whose credit include titles such as Broken Sword and his very well received debut novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, a witty fantasy that was given a beautiful hardcover release from Headline and which "...combines the chills and thrills of old-fashioned gothic tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the mischievous humour of Wicked, and the sophisticated charms of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and spins the Faustian legend into a fresh, irreverent, and irresistible new adventure.". Book three, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute is more of the same and hoorah for that!
"Beyond the wall of sleep lie the Dreamlands, a whole world formed by dreams, but not a dream itself. For countless millennia, it has been explored only by those with a certain detachment from the mundane realities of our own world, its strange seas navigated, and its vast mountains climbed by philosophers, and mystics, and poets.
Well, those halcyon days are over, beatniks. Johannes Cabal is coming.
Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, is employed by the mysterious Fear Institute to lead an expedition into the Dreamlands, an expedition whose goal is nothing less than to hunt and destroy the dread Phobic Animus, the font of terrors, the very source of all the world's fear. They will enter exotic lands where magic is common and monsters abound, see wonders, and suffer dreadful hardships. Cabal will encounter witches, vile abominations, and far too many zebras.
And, when they finally come close to their goal, Cabal will have to face his own nightmares, but for a man who communes easily with devils and the dead, there is surely nothing left to fear... Is there"
Hodder & Stoughton
Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky
(Hodder & Stoughton 18 August 2011 / £18.99) - Just like Century, Hodder & Stoughton are no stranger to genre books - they publish Stephen King and Jasper Fforde for example. At the same time, Hodder have not invested much in the way of works that compete with the Joe Abercrombie's and George R.R. Martin's of this world - and as we're all aware, taut, cynically political fantasy with lots of swearing is pretty much what everyone's into nowadays - myself included.
Great then to see Hodder publishing this brilliantly titled and executed début novel by US author Daniel Polansky, The Straight Razor Cure. Published in hardcover in the UK, Doubleday will publish at the same time in the US and Canada - under the alternative title Low Town - and translation rights have been sold all over the globe. Definitely one to watch!
"Here, the criminal is king. The streets are filled with the screeching of fish hags, the cries of swindled merchants, the inviting murmurs of working girls. Here, people can disappear, and the lacklustre efforts of the guard ensure they are never found.
Warden is an ex-soldier who has seen the worst men have to offer; now a narcotics dealer with a rich, bloody past and a way of inviting danger. You'd struggle to find someone with a soul as dark and troubled as his. But then a missing child, murdered and horribly mutilated, is discovered in an alley.
And then another.
With a mind as sharp as a blade and an old but powerful friend in the city, he's the only man with a hope of finding the killer... if the killer doesn't find him first." (see review)
Outpost by Adam Baker
(Hodder & Stoughton 04 August 2011 / £6.99) - The end of the world has never been more popular - in terms of fiction, at least! Début novel, Outpost is a chilling (in more ways than one) post-apocalyptic horror story that Hodder are justifiably excited about, not least as it comes from home grown talent in the form of new British author Adam Baker. Now published in mass market paperback, this is one to watch, for sure.
"They took the job to escape the world.
They didn't expect the world to end.
Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home. But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands. The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way... "
Awakening (Hyddenworld Quartet 2) by William Horwood
(Macmillan 05 August 2011 / £17.99) - The second of four books in a brand new series by William Horwood, a name - in genre circles at least - very much from the 80s, and and author perhaps best known for his epic series about ...er... talking moles! Horwood's Duncton Wood novels were big sellers in their day and time will tell whether Horwood's readers and, indeed, the market have moved on since.
Horwood's return to the 'scene' is Hyddenworld - a series of four novels to be published annually, and each representing a season in an epic story arc. Awakening is a smart hardcover from Macmillan.
"A series of extraordinary events mark the beginning of summer: earth tremors ravage the Hyddenworld; Jack and Katherine have a child, Judith; and a mysterious gem is found near Brum. That same night, after decades of sleep, the Emperor of the Hyddenworld awakens...
Jack, born of the Hyddenworld, knows that he has a foot in each world but doesn’t wholly belong to either.Is he human, or hydden? Judith too is a child of two worlds, with her human mother and hydden father. She knows who she is supposed to be – the Shield Maiden, bearer of the gems and helper of humankind – but somehow this destiny seems too much to accept.
The discovered gem puts Brum firmly in the path of the Empire – Jack must travel back to the Hyddenworld. He knows that the four gems need to be reunited soon and that the Shield Maiden must be ready to wield them.
If Judith does not embark on her own great journey soon, or the gems can’t be found, then both the hydden world and the human will be threatened with extinction."
The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
(Mulholland Books 28 September 2011 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Due next month from Mulholland (a new crime oriented imprint at Hodder), Thomas Mullen's The Revisionists is a tantalising example of how genre is opening up to a wider readership. As with his previous book The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, the conceit is that Mullen - like authors such as Jonathem Letham or Michael Chabon - isn't writing genre fiction at all. But of course, discerning readers like us, we know otherwise!
"The future will be perfect. No hate, no hunger, no war. Zed knows because he's seen it. He's from there. His mission is to ensure that history happens exactly as it's meant to. Even the terrible events. Even the one that's about to happen, the one that will destroy our civilisation for good.
In present-day Washington, Zed watches as people go about their daily lives. People like Leo, a disgraced former spy; Tasha, a lawyer grieving for a brother killed in action in Iraq; Sari, the downtrodden employee of a foreign diplomat. Unlike Zed, they have no idea what difference their choices will make.
The clock is ticking. But Zed has doubts. What are his superiors not telling him? What truths has he hidden from himself? And, as he becomes more entangled in the lives of those around him, will he be able to sacrifice their present for his future? "
A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller
(Orbit 04 August 2011 / £14.99) - Karen Miller is on a roll right now and she must surely be one of the hardest working writers around. As well as the recent batch of Star Wars tie in and her urban fantasy series (written under the name K.E. Mills,) she continues to produce novels set in the world of her very successful Innocent Mage books.
The latest is a prequel entitled A Blight of Mages and is released this month in a smart royal hardback edition by Orbit.
"Dorana is a country ruled by a rigid class system based upon magical aptitude and the right pedigree. While all Doranens have mage ability, some are more blessed than others. Morgan is one of the powerful ruling elite, fanatically devoted to enforcing the regulations and maintaining the purity of mage bloodlines. When he falls in love with Barl, a woman of inferior breeding who possesses astonishing mage powers, he sets himself upon a dangerous course. A terrible mage war erupts when Morgan becomes unstoppable, driving Barl to lead a small pack of survivors into the distant mountains. When they arrive, their welcome is not what they expected, and Barl must embark upon a desperate course to protect and preserve her people until they may be needed once again ... "
Germline: Bk. 1: The Subterrene War (Subterrene War 1) by T. C. McCarthy
(Orbit 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - The market here can be pretty sniffy about military SF - the argument tends to be that it doesn't really work, but there are some notable exceptions - not least Jack Campbell, whose Lost Fleet books have been going along nicely since Titan published the series in the UK.
Germline is a near future military SF thriller, one acquired by Orbit US and released into our market too by Orbit UK - it'll be interesting to see if it proves equally popular in both territories. That notwithstanding, the author T.C. McCarthy is certainly qualified to write such novels, having, according to the press release, worked for the CIA during 9/11 and the conflicts in Iraq! This debut novel is the first in a sequence and is an Orbit paperback original.
"A hundred years from now, Russia and the USA are at odds again. This time, the cold war has gone hot. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan. War is Oscar Wendell's ticket to greatness. A reporter for the Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way ticket to the front lines. The front smells of blood and fire and death - it smells like a Pulitzer. But Kaz changes people and the chaos of war feels a bit too much like home. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of drugs and adrenaline, Oscar starts down a dark road that he won't be able to turn back from. "
Stormlord's Exile by Glenda Larke
(Orbit 04 August 2011 / £8.99) - Orbit further their tireless campaign to bringing quality works of Australian fantasy over to the UK with Stormlord Exile, the third and final volume in Glenda Larke's latest series.
"Reduner nomads have massacred the Quartern's Rainlords, leaving its cities vulnerable to the relentless desert. Now Stormlord Shale must stretch his powers to bring rain, or his people will die - if they don't meet a Reduner knife first. However, Shale can't hold out alone for much longer, and those who seek to exploit him are closing in. Rainlord Kaneth has spurned these politics for war, and plans to defeat the Reduner leader from his desert stronghold. But there are spies in Kaneth's camp. Terelle has been Shale's secret weapon until now, covertly boosting his powers. But her Uncle's magic compels her to travel to distant Khromatis - and if she disobeys him it will destroy her. Yet Khromatis gave the desert its first Stormlord, so Terelle may find hope there as well as great danger... "
The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley
(Orbit 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - I've been eagerly awaiting this, since I first heard about it on the grapevine, some years ago now. Brian Ruckley first hit the scene with Winterbirth, a bloody heroic fantasy with a Celtic twist that he followed with to further volumes which together formed the Godless World Trilogy.The Edinburgh Dead is a very different animal indeed - a Gothic murder mystery with a fantastical Frankenstein twist. It's rare, in this brand conscious industry, for an author to make such a radical stylistic switch, and for Orbit (who now publish in paperback original) to support this choice, I'm guessing the book will be very good indeed. Definitely on for my 'to be read' pile. Yours too!
"Edinburgh 1827. In the starkly-lit operating theatres of the city, grisly experiments are being carried out on corpses in the name of medical science. But elsewhere, there are those experimenting with more sinister forces. Amongst the crowded, sprawling tenements of the labyrinthine Old Town, a body is found, its neck torn to pieces. Charged with investigating the murder is Adam Quire, Officer of the Edinburgh Police. The trail will lead him into the deepest reaches of the city's criminal underclass, and to the highest echelons of the filthy rich. Soon Quire will discover that a darkness is crawling through this city of enlightenment - and no one is safe from its corruption. "
Sword of Fire and Sea: The Chaos Knight Bk.1 by Erin Hoffman
(Prometheus Books 01 July 2011 / £14.99) - Erin Hoffmans's Sword of Fire and Sea is the first book is a series entitled The Chaos Knightt - and the cover copy, press release and the look of the book, as published in trade paperback by Pyr, suggests a work of good traditional, adventure based fantasy. The cover approach is perhaps a little backwards looking though - beefy hero standing next to his barking griffon whilst a winsome, chiffon-clad, maiden with a bare midriff wafts a sparkly spell from her fingertips. It's pretty in a cake tin kind of way, but not exactly cutting-edge. But then, as the adage goes, "Don't judge a book..."!
"Three generations ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat's great-grandfather gave up an imperial commission to marry a fire priestess. For love, he unwittingly obligated his descendants to an allegiance with the High Temple of Kara'zul, domain of the fire priestesses. Now Vidarian, the last surviving member of the Rulorat family, struggles to uphold his family's legacy. The priestess Endera has called upon Vidarian to fulfill his family's obligation by transporting a young fire priestess named Ariadel to a water temple far to the south, through dangerous pirate-controlled territory. A journey perilous in the best of conditions is made more so by their pursuers: rogue telepathic images called the Vkortha who will stop at nothing to recover Ariadel, who has witnessed their forbidden rites. Together, Vidarian and Ariadel will navigate more than treacherous waters: imperial intrigue, a world that has been slowly losing its magic for generations, secrets that the priestesshoods have kept for longer, the indifference of their elemental goddesses, gryphons - once thought mythical - now returning to the world, and their own labyrinthine family legacies. "
The Falling Machine: The Society of Steam Bk.1 by Andrew P. Mayer
(Prometheus Books 01 July 2011 / £14.99) - A lot of publishers I speak to are very lukewarm about Steampunk, which is a sub-genre I'm particualrly fond of. Hats off to Pyr therefore, whose strong support all things clockwork and brass brought us the recent Philip K. Dick award winning book The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder, and now offers up The Falling Machine, the first in a new series sub-titled The Society of Steam by first time novelist Andrew Mayer.
"...a rip-roaring steam-punk adventure that will have you one the edge of your seat to the very last page. In 1880 women are not allowed to vote, much less dress up in costume and fight crime. But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York's greatest team of gentlemen adventures, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face-to-face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her mechanical mate. "The Falling Machine" takes place in a Victorian New York transfixed by the discovery of 'Fortified Steam' a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary power and which can corrupt even the strongest. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that evil men will gladly kill for and one that the redoubtable Sarah must try and protect no matter what the cost."
Blackdog by K.V. Johansen
(Pyr 15 November 2011 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Gods and Devils abound in Blackdog, an ambitious epic fantasy from highly experienced Canadian author K.V. Johansen. Forthcoming from Pyr later this year.
"Long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, there were seven devils...
In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping a bloodily-conquered lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, he flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.
And long ago, after the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods...
Necromancy, treachery, massacres and rebellions, gods dead or lost or mad, follow hard on the devils' heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog's -- and Holla-Sayan's -- doom. And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still."
Quercus Publishing Plc
Flashback by Dan Simmons
(Quercus Publishing Plc 07 July 2011 / £20.00) - Dan Simmons is one of my favourite authors. Honestly, I think I would read anything he wrote... even his shopping lists! Like few others in the industry, Simmons is a truly protean talent, able, it seems to write amazing novels in any style and any fictional genre. Highlights of his backlist include classic horror in Song of Kali (reviewed here), seminal Science Fiction in the Hyperion Cantos, hard-nosed noir in Hard Case, incredible adventure and tragedy in The Terror (which I reviewed here and to this day revere as one of the best books I have ever read), classical allusion in Illium and Olympus and alternative Dickensian melodrama in Drood. And one still suspects he's only getting started!
His latest, Flashback (now published in hard cover by Quercus) is a fast moving, near-future thriller...
"America, 2036: a wasteland in economic ruin. Terrorism and ultra-violence plague a once powerful society, whose only escape is to numb itself on flashback - a euphoric yet cripplingly addictive drug that allows its users to re-visit their happier, past experiences.
Ex-cop Nick Bottom is about to receive a proposition. Flashback dependency has taken his badge, his reputation, and the love of his son. All he has left are the flash-induced memories of his beloved wife, Dara, taken from him in a tragic car accident. Now powerful magnate Hiroshi Nakamura needs Bottom's services, and, in particular, his memories.
As head of the original investigation into the murder of Nakamura's son - an unsolved and seemingly impossible mystery - Bottom's flashbacks now, six years later, hold the key to solving what was the toughest case of his career.
But as Nick delves deeper, the harder it becomes to trust those around him. And when he uncovers a connection to Dara's death, it is not only Hiroshi Nakamura who wants answers."
Regicide by Nicholas Royle
(Solaris 01 September 2011 / £7.99) - Hugely respected author Nicholas Royle deserves to be known far and wide. Described as "a cross between Iain Sinclair and Ian Rankin" his genre work is only occasionally considered genre enough. Consequently it's rare that we see his work published by those imprints whose output I have listed on these pages for over a decade, though his short fiction - a story length at which he is both prolific and accomplished - is often included in those genre anthologies specialising in the darker areas of the human psyche. It's great therefore to see Solaris publishing Regicide, a new, if short, novel - one developed from a story that first appeared in Newman & McAuley's classic early 90's In Dreams anthology.
"Carl meets Annie Risk and falls for her. Hurt by a recent relationship, she resists becoming involved. A chance find offers distraction: Carl stumbles across part of a map to an unknown town. He becomes convinced it represents the city of his dreams, where ice skaters turn quintuple loops and trumpeters hit impossibly high notes... where Annie Risk will agree to see him again. But if he ever finds himself in the streets on his map, will they turn out to be the land of his dreams or the world of his worst nightmares?"
Cowboys and Aliens by Joan D. Vinge
(Tor 05 August 2011 / £7.99) - Tor UK publish this novelization by Joan D. Vinge (Hugo Award winning author of The Snow Queen) of Cowboys and Aleins, which - unless you've been living under a rock - you'll know is the much-hyped bog movie of the summer starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. A paperback original.
"1875, New Mexico Territory.
A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It's a town that lives in fear.
But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breath-taking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.
Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveller Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents - townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors - all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival."
Final Days by Gary Gibson
(Tor 05 August 2011 / £17.99) - A brand new novel - and perhaps the start of a new series - from the rising SF star of the Tor UK stable, Scots author Gary Gibson.
Gibson's previous novels, particular his recent Shoal Trilogy have established him an SF name to conjure with and Final Days, which is released in hard cover this month by Tor, will further consolidate his market share.
"It's 2235 and through the advent of wormhole technology more than a dozen interstellar colonies have been linked to Earth.
But this new mode of transportation comes at a price and there are risks. Saul Dumont knows this better than anyone. He’s still trying to cope with the loss of the wormhole link to the Galileo system, which has stranded him on Earth far from his wife and child for the past several years.
Only weeks away from the link with Galileo finally being re-established, he stumbles across a conspiracy to suppress the discovery of a second, alien network of wormholes which lead billions of years in the future. A covert expedition is sent to what is named Site 17 to investigate, but when an accident occurs and one of the expedition, Mitchell Stone, disappears – they realise that they are dealing with something far beyond their understanding.
When a second expedition travels via the wormholes to Earth in the near future of 2245 they discover a devastated, lifeless solar system - all except for one man, Mitchell Stone, recovered from an experimental cryogenics facility in the ruins of a lunar city.
Stone may be the only surviving witness to the coming destruction of the Earth. But why is he the only survivor — and once he’s brought back to the present, is there any way he and Saul can prevent the destruction that’s coming?"
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