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UK Books Received- 12/2011  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

Angry Robot Books

Empire State by Adam Christopher (Angry Robot Books 05 January 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Hot on the heels of their deserved World Fantasy Award win in the "Special Award Professional " category, Angry Robot's lead title for January 2012 is Adam Christopher's very promising début Empire State - adventures with private detectives super-heroes in a prohibition era city metropolis.

Interestingly, it is with Empire State that AR have also launched one of their latest initiatives - Worldbuilder - which essentially invites fans to contribute material to a web site dedicated to Christopher's world, and to which the publisher will add specially commissioned fiction from other authors, as well as artwork, and whatever else they can think of I should imagine. This new spin on a shared fictional world is one I shall watch with interest.

"It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist."

Arrow

Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves (Arrow 01 December 2011 / £7.99) - In this world of supply and demand the appetite for tie-in novels seem never-ending, especially for the Star Wars franchise, now well into its fourth decade. Arrow, teaming up with Boss George's own Lucas Books division, continue to pump out their Star Wars novels, though one can only hope that their readers do, at least occasionally, dip into the many other pleasures that Science Fiction has to offer.

Star Wars: Shadow Games is a new stand-alone tie in from authors Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnoff - and features a "special guest appearance" by none other than Han Solo himself!

"Stranded on Tatooine with a broken-down hyperdrive, Dash Rendar and crew--his Nautolan copilot, Eaden Vrill, and a droid named Leebo--have to find a way to raise credits. It comes in the lovely form of Javul Charn, a multi-talented human holostar being stalked by an over-zealous fan. She needs bodyguards to protect her during her tour along the Corellian Run; Dash needs credits.

It's a perfect match... until things begin to go wrong--seriously and dangerously wrong. By the time Dash realizes that the threat to Javul is not what it seems, he's in up to his neck in a conspiracy that goes much deeper than anything he would have signed up for. Even with the help of his hated rival--Han Solo--will Dash be able to protect this spoiled entertainer, all the while being reminded that he couldn't protect his own family?"

Gollancz

In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley (Gollancz 19 January 2012 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Paul McAuley, is a prolific British an author whose work - which has covered a number of genre areas - I have admired for many years. (See these links for my reviews of his previous novels Mind's Eye, The Secret of Life and Whole Wide World)

Next January he offers up a new SF novel set in the same world as his previous two releases,The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun. In the Mouth of the Whale however, can be read as a stand-alone. Due from Gollancz in hard cover and trade paperback.

"Fomalhaut was first colonised by the posthuman Quick, who established an archipelago of thistledown cities and edenic worldlets within the star's vast dust belt. Their peaceful, decadent civilisation was swiftly conquered by a band of ruthless, aggressive, unreconstructed humans who call themselves the True, then, a century before, the True beat back an advance party of Ghosts, a posthuman cult which colonised the nearby system of Beta Hydri after being driven from the Solar System a thousand years ago. Now the Ghosts have returned to Fomalhaut, to begin their end game: the conquest of its single gas giant planet, a captured interstellar wanderer far older than the rest of Fomalhaut's system. At its core is a sphere of hot metallic hydrogen with strange and powerful properties based on exotic quantum physics. The Quick believe it is inhabited by an ancient alien Mind; the True believe it can be developed into a weapon, and the Ghosts believe it can be transformed into a computational system so powerful it can reach into their past, collapse timelines, and fulfil the ancient prophecies of their founder."

The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz 10 November 2011 / £12.99) - Hugely popular US author Brandon Sanderson was recently in the UK promoting the release of his latest Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law, published in trade paperback by Gollancz. Reports suggest that this week long, country-wide tour was a rip-roaring success and, notably, the signing at London's flagship Forbidden Planet store was apparently one of the best attended in their long history of author events.

"The Mistborn trilogy has become a firm favourite with fantasy fans the world over. The imagination that Sanderson brought to the series and his skill at marshalling epic storylines and dramatic action, his ability to create vivid characters made him a natural choice to complete Robert Jordan's epic wheel of time sequence. But with Mistborn, his standalone fantasies and his new series, The Stormlight Archive, Sanderson has shown his bountiful talents in his own fiction. Now he returns to the series that made his name with a new story set years after the events of Hero of Ages. In a world recovering only slowly from evil, a world where allomancers wield immense power through their ability to unleash the magic bound up in common metals someone who can burn metals that no-one has burned before can tip the balance... Sanderson has the knack of giving the epic fantasy reader exactly what they want. This ability has thrown him to the forefront of the genre and the dramatic story within The Alloy of Law shows off this skill to its very best."

Them or Us (Hater Trilogy 3) by David Moody (Gollancz 17 November 2011 / £12.99) - The third and final novel in Moody's Hater trilogy. Originally self-published in 2006 by author David Moody, Hater was described as a mix of 28 Days Later and I am Legend and film rights being picked up by Guillermo del Toro did rather good things for the author's profile - including getting it published as lead title on the Gollancz list. They now release Them or Us in trade paperback.

"The war which has torn the human race apart is finally nearing an end. The population has been devastated, and the earth has been reduced to a poisoned ruin. Most of the towns and cities are uninhabitable, and with the country in the grip of a savage nuclear winter, both Haters and Unchanged alike struggle to survive. Hundreds of Hater fighters have settled in the east, in the relatively undamaged coastal town of Lowestoft, under the command of the ruthless Hinchcliffe. His fledgling society is harsh and unforgiving, and he'll stop at nothing to eradicate the last few Unchanged and consolidate his position at the top of this new world order. Danny McCoyne is the exception to the rule. His ability to hold the Hate has given him a unique position in Hinchcliffe's army, for he uses his unique skill to hunt out the remaining Unchanged. But as the enemy's numbers shrink, so the pressure on McCoyne increases, until he finds himself at the very centre of a pivotal confrontation. The outcome will have repercussions on the future of everyone who is still alive. It's down to him alone: will it be Them, or Us? "

Them or Us (Hater Trilogy 3) by David Moody (Gollancz 17 November 2011 / £12.99) - The third and final novel in Moody's Hater trilogy. Originally self-published in 2006 by author David Moody, Hater was described as a mix of 28 Days Later and I am Legend and film rights being picked up by Guillermo del Toro did rather good things for the author's profile - including getting it published as lead title on the Gollancz list. They now release Them or Us in trade paperback.

"The war which has torn the human race apart is finally nearing an end. The population has been devastated, and the earth has been reduced to a poisoned ruin. Most of the towns and cities are uninhabitable, and with the country in the grip of a savage nuclear winter, both Haters and Unchanged alike struggle to survive. Hundreds of Hater fighters have settled in the east, in the relatively undamaged coastal town of Lowestoft, under the command of the ruthless Hinchcliffe. His fledgling society is harsh and unforgiving, and he'll stop at nothing to eradicate the last few Unchanged and consolidate his position at the top of this new world order. Danny McCoyne is the exception to the rule. His ability to hold the Hate has given him a unique position in Hinchcliffe's army, for he uses his unique skill to hunt out the remaining Unchanged. But as the enemy's numbers shrink, so the pressure on McCoyne increases, until he finds himself at the very centre of a pivotal confrontation. The outcome will have repercussions on the future of everyone who is still alive. It's down to him alone: will it be Them, or Us? "

Headline

Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Headline 24 November 2011 / £6.99) - Paranormal Romance is still a healthy market by anyone's standard and angels and their steamy shenanigans will always have their fans (myself, alas, not necessarily among them!). Headline's acquisition of Avenger's Angel, the new novel from US author Heather Killough-Walden is, one hopes, a shrewd commercial move, particularly ahead of their own dedicated SF/F imprint which is currently being developed by newly appointed editor John Wordsworth.

"The first in Heather Killough-Walden's fantastic new paranormal series, THE LOST ANGELS, features Uriel, the Angel of Vengeance.

Four thousand years ago, four archangels were cast down to Earth in human form. God's favourites, they came to find their mates, the other half of their souls made only for them, without whom they will ever be complete.

Uriel, Gabriel, Azrael and Michael, however, were not alone. They were followed by another, determined to find the archesses for himself, and whose power cannot be underestimated. But after centuries of fruitless searching, the archangels - and their enemy - have all but given up hope.

Until one day beautiful and gifted Eleanore Granger crosses paths with Uriel, the Angel of Vengeance. And as a storm rages, outside forces conspire together, initiating an age old battle of good versus evil to win the first archess."

Hodder & Stoughton

Juggernaut by Adam Baker (Hodder & Stoughton 16 February 2012 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The second novel from UK talent Adam Baker, whose debit novel Outpost made a nice splash for Hodder's new genre friendly list when it appeared earlier this year. Baker is making a name for hismelf as new voice in British horror, and Juggernaut a taut, dark thriller due for release next February.

"Iraq 2005.

Seven mercenaries journey deep into the desert in search of Saddam's gold. They form an unlikely crew of battle-scarred privateers, killers and thieves, veterans of a dozen war zones, each of them anxious to make one last score before their luck runs out.

They will soon find themselves marooned among ancient ruins, caught in a desperate battle for their lives, confronted by greed, betrayal, and an army that won't stay dead... "

The Return Man by V. M. Zito (Hodder & Stoughton 29 March 2012 / £11.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Another début snapped up by the newish genre list at Hodder and this one looks like a truly exciting prospect. V. M. Zito's first novel is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel that taps right into our current hunger of brainsssssss, as exemplified by the popularity of The Walking Dead and the fact that the whole Zombie thing just isn't going away.

Due to be published by Hodder in trade paperback next March, The Return Man will be released in both the US and France and film rights have already been optioned by The Ink Factory. Check out this web site all about the book and this link will take you to an interview with the author.

"The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States.

It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead to deliver peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco, for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.

But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you..."

Orbit

Rise of Empire: v. 2: The Riyria Revelations (Riyria Revelations 2) by Michael J. Sullivan (Orbit 01 December 2011 / £8.99) - And here is that second volume, which came in just in time to make this column. Rise of Empire features books three and four of this epic story cycle by Michael J. Sullivan

"The birth of the Nyphron Empire has brought war to Melengar. To save her kingdom, Princess Arista runs a desperate gamble when she defies her brother and hires Royce and Hadrian to perform a dangerous mission behind the enemy's lines. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce's suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own shadowy struggle for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian's past. What he discovers leads the thieves to the ends of the world on a journey amid treachery and betrayals, forcing Hadrian to face a past he hoped never to see again. "

The Ascendant Stars: Book Three of Humanity's Fire by Michael Cobley (Orbit 03 November 2011 / £13.99) - Scottish author Michael Cobley, perhaps hitherto best known for his Shadowkings fantasy trilogy, returned to his science fiction roots with Humanity's Fire, a major new space opera series that was very enthusiastically received by readers and critics alike. Seeds of Earth and the second volume The Orphaned Worlds served to make Cobley a major name in British SF circles - the third volume The Ascendant Stars, looks set to cement that reputation.

A trade paperback released by Orbit.

"Battle-ready factions converge above Darien, all with the same objective. The goal is control over this newly-discovered planet and access to the powerful weapons at its heart. Despotic Hegemony forces dominate much of known space and they want this world too, but Darien's inhabitants will fight for their future. However, key players in this conflict aren't fully in control. Hostile AIs have infiltrated key minds and have an agenda, requiring nothing less than the destruction or subversion of all organic life. And they are near to unleashing their cohorts, a host of twisted machine intelligences caged beneath Darien. Fighting to contain them are Darien's hidden guardians, and their ancient ally the Construct, on a millennia-long mission to protect sentient species. As the war reaches its peak, the AI army is roaring to the surface, to freedom and an orgy of destruction. Darien is first in line in a machine vs. human war - for life or the sterile dusts of space."

Theft Of Swords: The Riyria Revelations (Riyria Revelations 1) by Michael J Sullivan (Orbit 03 November 2011 / £7.99) - Michael J Sullivan's epic fantasy series - The Riyria Revelations - was originally self-published by the author and became a Kindle best-seller with all five volumes riding high in the charts for long enough to catch the attention of a major trade publisher. Now Orbit are publishing the series in print omnibus editions in a deal that sees the books reach a much wider audience on both sides of the Atlantic. Way to go, Mister Sullivan!

The first volume, Theft of Swords, has just been published, with two further volumes, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron to follow in subsequent months.

"THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY MADE A BAD DECISION... Royce Melborn is a superb thief, his partner, Hadrian Blackwater is a skilled mercenary. Together they make a profitable living as agents-for-hire to wealthy nobles until someone sets them up to take the blame for the murder of the king. Captured and sentenced to death the two are saved by an unlikely woman with a simple demand that will change the lives of the thieves, the course of a kingdom, and the foundation of an empire."

Penguin

Assassin's Creed: Revelations by Oliver Bowden (Penguin 24 November 2011 / £6.99) - What? You've not played Assassin's Creed??? Hey, even I've played this one, and I'm not even a gamer! Ubisoft's blockbuster has spawned a number of tie-in novels all written by 'Oliver Bowden', a pseudonym of author Anton Gill - this latest is Assassin's Creed: Revelations and is published by Penguin in paperback.

"When a man has won all his battles and defeated his enemies, what is left for him to achieve?

Ezio Auditore must leave his life behind in search of answers, in search of the truth. In Assassin's Creed®: Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of the legendary mentor Altair, on a journey of discovery and revelation. It is a perilous path - one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilise the region."

Prometheus Books

Mirror Maze by Michaele Jordan (Prometheus Books 15 November 2011 / £14.99) - A very promising Gothic ghost story from US author Michaele Jordan - not helped, I'm afraid, by the very dodgy cover Pyr have chose to front it with. If you can look beyond the awkward, Disney-esque mannequins, something more intriguing might lie within. A trade paperback release.

"Jacob Aldridge is still utterly devastated by the death of his fiance, when he suddenly encounters her doppelganger. Livia Aram's uncanny resemblance to the late Rhoda Carothers so transcends coincidence that Jacob becomes obsessed with her. The intensity of his passion terrifies her until her compassion is roused by his desperate plight. A demon is stalking him, a succubus-like entity that feeds on human pain and desire. With the help of Jacob's sister, Cecily, and Livia's guardian, the mysterious Dr. Chang, they overcome the demon. Or so it appears...

Jacob, Livia, and Cecily are all victims of a single curse, a curse that entrapped and destroyed their parents before them. Now fate has drawn the unsuspecting descendants together, and the curse is playing out again. Nothing can help them, until Cecily's husband returns from abroad. Colonel Beckford has been missing for years; he has seen strange things and acquired strange powers in his absence. Now he will do whatever it takes to free his wife and end the demon and its curse once and for all."

Rebellion

Double Dead (Tomes of the Dead) by Chuck Wendig (Rebellion 10 November 2011 / £7.99) - Chuck Wendig's distinctive name has been popping up in my feeds quite a lot of late - which shows that an online presence is hugely important in terms of up-and-coming authors getting noticed over all the white noise the interwebs produce. I see that he recently signed a two book deal with Angry Robot and this recent release from Abaddon extends his profile further. Double Dead is the latest tale in the Tomes of Dead zombie franchise and is a paperback original release.

"Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead— but not dead like him, oh no. See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like brains. He’s smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber him by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he’s starving. And nocturnal. And more pissed-off than a bee-stung rattlesnake. The vampire not only has to find human survivors (with their sweet, sweet blood), but now he has to transition from predator to protector—after all, a man has to look after his food supply. "

Theme Planet by Andy Remic (Rebellion 08 December 2011 / £7.99) - Andy Remic is a very busy man nowadays - his last novel Cloneworld was only published in March and already Solaris are releasing the first in a brand new series. This time it's Theme Planet and, in truth, this not a million light years away from its predecessor given that it's (yet) another no-holds-barred-kick-ass-out-and-out-SF-adventure-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin novel.

"It's better than sex! It's better than drugs! If you haven't been sick yet, you soon will be... Welcome to Theme Planet, an entire alien world dedicated to insane rides, excessive hedonism and dangerous adventure. Operated by the Monolith Corporation, Theme Planet is the No. 1 destination for fun-seeking human holidaymakers Galaxy-Wide! Amba Miskalov is an Anarchy Android, an assassin/torture model fitted with a Quantell Systems v4.7 KillChip. She is beautiful, merciless and deadly, and blends perfectly with her human superiors. Sent to Theme Planet on a dangerous assassination mission, Amba stumbles upon a plot to undermine and destroy Earth's all-powerful Oblivion Government and its Ministers of Joy. But Amba is twisted, damaged and decadent and this rebellion poses Amba a problem: to remain loyal to her creators and tormentors, to support the enemy or annihilate them all."

Solaris

Hell Train by Christopher Fowler (Solaris 05 January 2012 / £7.99) - The brilliant Christopher Fowler (perhaps best known as the the author of the Bryant & May 'peculiar' crime thrillers) offers up Helltrain, (his homage to Hammer Horror?) via Solaris who publish as a paperback original. If you've not discovered Fowler's work yet, get with the program!!

"Imagine there was a supernatural chiller that Hammer Films never made. A grand epic produced at the studio's peak, which played like a cross between the Dracula and Frankenstein films and Dr Terror's House Of Horrors...

Four passengers meet on a train journeying through Eastern Europe during the First World War, and face a mystery that must be solved if they are to survive. As the Arkangel races through the war-torn countryside, they must find out: What is in the casket that everyone is so afraid of? What is the tragic secret of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them? Why is their fellow passenger the army brigadier so feared by his own men? And what exactly is the devilish secret of the Arkangel itself? Bizarre creatures, satanic rites, terrified passengers and the romance of travelling by train, all in a classically styled horror novel. "

Titan Books

An Elder Scrolls Novel: Lord of Souls: 2 (Elder Scrolls 2) by Greg Keyes (Titan Books 23 September 2011 / £6.99) - With the much vaunted release of the new Elder Scrolls game Skyrim recently, it's no coincidence that a new tie in novel has also been let loose into the world.

Author Greg Keyes pens his second Elder Scrolls novel, Lord of Souls, which is published in paperback original by Titan. Keyes is a veteran in the world of tie-ins, having sharpened his teeth in the Star Wars universe half a dozen times. He's a fine writer - and I'd be happy to see more of his original work having first encountered him with his excellent Age of Unreason series (written under the name J. Gregory Keyes) and also his more traditional fantasy series, The Kingdom of Blood and Bone, the first of which, The Briar King, I reviewed eight years ago (Yikes!) whilst moonlighting over at our sister webzine, SFSite.

"Forty years after the Oblivion crisis, the empire of Tamriel is threatened by a mysterious floating city, Umbriel, whose shadow spawns a terrifying undead army. Reeling from a devastating discovery, Prince Attrebus continues on his seemingly doomed quest to obtain a magic sword that holds the key to destroying the deadly invaders. Meanwhile, in the Imperial City, the spy Colin finds evidence of betrayal at the heart of the empire if his own heart doesn't betray him first. And Annaïg, trapped in Umbriel itself, has become a slave to its dark lord and his insatiable hunger for souls.

How can these three unlikely heroes save Tamriel when they cannot even save themselves?

Based on the award-winning Elder Scrolls® series, Lord of Souls is the second of two exhilarating novels that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, named 2006 Game of the Year by numerous outlets, including Spike TV, the Golden Joystick Awards, and the Associated Press."

Uncharted - The Fourth Labyrinth (Video Game Novel) by Christopher Golden (Titan Books 04 October 2011 / £6.99) - A tie-in novel from the prolific and and highly inventive Christopher Golden. The Fourth Labyrinth is the official novel of the award winning Naughty Dog Uncharted game franchise, now into its third incarnation on the PS3. A Titan paperback original.

"In the ancient world there was a myth about a king, a treasure, and a hellish labyrinth. Now the doors to that hell are open once again.

Nathan Drake, treasure hunter and risk taker, has been called to New York City by the man who taught him everything about the “antiquities acquisition business.” Victor Sullivan needs Drake’s help. Sully’s old friend, a world-famous archaeologist, has just been found murdered in Manhattan. Dodging assassins, Drake, Sully, and the dead man’s daughter, Jada Hzujak, race from New York to underground excavations in Egypt and Greece. Their goal: to unravel an ancient myth of alchemy, look for three long-lost labyrinths, and find the astonishing discovery that got Jada’s father killed. It appears that a fourth labyrinth was built in another land and another culture—and within it lies a key to unmatched wealth and power. An army of terrifying lost warriors guards this underground maze. So does a monster. And what lies beyond—if Drake can live long enough to reach it—is both a treasure and a poison, a paradise and a hell.

Welcome to The Fourth Labyrinth."

William Heinemann

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann 02 February 2012 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: This is exciting! Nick Harkaway's début novel The Gone Away World was one of my picks of 2008 - see my glowing review here. It's taken a while (second novels can be tricky for writer's who have great success with their first) but February next year will see the release of Angelmaker, a hard cover from William Heinemann. Put this one on your "want" list...

"From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World - a new riveting action spy thriller, blistering gangster noir, and howling absurdist comedy: a propulsively entertaining tale about a mobster's son and a retired secret agent who are forced to team up to save the world.

All Joe Spork wants is a quiet life. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don't always get paid and he's single and has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he's not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn't. She's a former superspy and now she's... well... old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don't seem to exist anymore, and she's beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client is one Edie Banister. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. With Joe's once-quiet world now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realises that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun..."

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