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UK Books Received- 03/2012  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

Abaddon Books

Blood Ocean (Afterblight Chronicles) by Weston Ochse (Abaddon Books 16 February 2012 / £7.99) - A new title from Abaddon, in their post-apocalyptic franchise series The Afterblight Chronicles>

Written by the Bram Stoker Award winning author of various short stories and novels, Weston Ochse, Blood Ocean is a paperback original release.

"Survivors of the Cull, a Plague that wiped out people without the blood type O-neg, struggle in the floating Sargasso City jigsawed together with ships, submarines, barges and oil tankers off the coast of what was once known as California.

Separated by demarcations of turf, ethnicity and fear, it’s not so much living as existing. High above it all swing the Pali Boys: descendants of Hawaiian warriors, they desire to lift themselves and the spirits of the residents below by performing an increasingly impossible series of extreme stunts, designed to test their manhood, and demonstrate the vibrancy humanity once had.

But as a conspiracy of murder unfolds and blood attacks increase, Kavika a single under-sized Pali Boy must strive to overcome his lowly status and the condemnation of his peers in order to save them all from an enemy living within."

Doubleday Childrens

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (Doubleday Childrens 26 April 2012 / £9.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: With perfectly sensible timing, given that Spring will be all about The Hunger Games, Random House Childrens Books will be publishing Struck a new Dystopian adventure by US author Jennifer Bosworth with a very cool sounding hook. Aimed with lightning precision (did you see what I did there?) at the teen market, Struck will in stores in early May.

"Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything."

Gollancz

Elves: Rise of the TaiGethen (Elves 2) by James Barclay (Gollancz 16 February 2012 / ) - Prolific and consistently on target, James Barclay has year on year, proved himself the worthy successor to David Gemmell. Barclay's own brand of adventure driven, pacey, gritty heroic fantasy has deservedly made him a reader's favourite and his new novel, Rise of the TaiGethen, the second in his Elves sequence, is now published by Gollancz in trade paperback and hard cover.

"THE ELVES ARE ENSLAVED Calaius is occupied by an implacable, relentless enemy. The great elven cities are little more than prison camps. Elven slaves are forced to destroy their beloved rainforest to harvest timber for their masters. The enemy has no mercy, no honour and little skill in battle. The enemy is Man.

Those few elves who remain free are fragmented, in squabbling factions, and they must unite before they can take a stand against Man. Many believe that the battle is already lost, but Auum is not one of them. He knows Men's numbers are great but their tactics are weak; he knows Men think the Elves are already beaten; he is convinced that his people must fight now, or see their race destroyed. Takaar disagrees. He believes Elven salvation lies in unlocking their magic, not in fighting pitched battles against Man. He is determined to save his people too, but his tactics are entirely different . . . and if some Elves must die now to ensure Calaius will be free of Man in the future, it's a sacrifice he is willing to make. The Elves must choose their sides. Whatever they decide, victory will win their freedom . . . and failure will mean extermination . . ."

The Chosen Seed: The Dog-Faced Gods Book Three (DOG-FACED GODS TRILOGY) by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz 16 February 2012 / £14.99) - Sarah Pinborough concludes her Dog-Faced Gods trilogy with The Chosen Seed now published in trade paperback by Gollancz.

"His nephew has been kidnapped and, as he works desperately to save Luke, Detective Inspector Cass Jones has been framed for murder. He's on the run, being hunted by former colleagues, and is unwelcome wherever he goes . . . until he gets help from a very unexpected figure from his past. Detectives Hask and Ramsey are on a different case - searching for the killer behind the lethal Strain II virus currently sweeping its way through London . . . a search which throws up an unexpected clue that suggests Cass might be innocent of murder after all. But when they're ordered not to investigate further, they realise the mystery behind the murder is far greater than they thought. Somehow it's linked to Mr Bright, and to the Network which manipulates everyone from the shadows. A rift is growing between these rival factions as Strain II takes a firmer hold on the city, and as the Interventionists warn of a final battle which will bring them all together - or, once and for all, tear everything apart. Cass Jones is going up against The Bank and its sinister employees one last time. He needs every ally he can get, and this time he means to find answers - even if he has to uncover the true history of humanity to do it. And the more he learns, the more everything hinges on finding Luke."

Harper Voyager

A Crown Imperilled (Midkemian Trilogy 2) by Raymond E. Feist (Harper Voyager 20 February 2012 / ) - Product Description:

The penultimate volume of the mighty Riftwar Cycle

War rages in Midkemia but behind the chaos there is disquieting evidence of dark forces at work.

Jim Dasher's usually infallible intelligence network has been cleverly dismantled; nowhere is safe. He feels that the world is coming apart at the seams and is helpless to protect his nation.

Quiet palace coups are underway in Roldem and Rillanon; and King Gregory of the Isles has yet to produce an heir. In each kingdom a single petty noble has risen from obscurity to threaten the throne.

Lord Hal of Crydee and his great friend Ty Hawkins, champion swordsman of the Masters' Court, are entrusted with the task of smuggling Princess Stephané and her lady-in-waiting, the lovely but mysterious Lady Gabriella, out of Roldem to a place of greater safety. But is there any safe haven to be found?

Meanwhile, Hal's younger brothers Martin and Brendan are attempting to hold the strategic city of Ylith against an onslaught of Keshian Dog Soldiers, and a mysterious force from beneath the sea. The Kingdom might lose Crydee and recover; but if Ylith falls, all is lost.

An unknown player appears to orchestrating these conflicts. Can Pug and the Conclave of Shadows track down this source before Midkemia is destroyed?

Fever: Book Two of the Chemical Garden by Lauren DeStefano (Harper Voyager 16 February 2012 / £9.99) - The second volume in DeStefano's Dystopian YA series sees heroine Rhine having to make some tough choices. Fever is published in trade paperback by HarperCollins Voyager - the preceding title Whither is being also published this month in mass market - see below.

"For 17-year-old Rhine Ellery, a daring escape from a suffocating polygamous marriage is only the beginning...

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ring-mistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever."

The Spellwright Trilogy (2) - Spellbound: Book 2 of the Spellwright Trilogy by Blake Charlton (Harper Voyager 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - Blake Charlton's debut Spellwright attracted much praise and profile when it was published here last year by HarperCollins Voyager. The second book in the sequence, Spellbound, is now released in mass market paperback.

"Francesca DeVega is a successful healer in the city of Avel, wielding magical text to close wounds and disspell curses, but her life is thrown into chaos when a dead patient suddenly sits up and tells her to run. Now Francesca is in the middle of a game she doesn’t understand, one that ties her to the notorious rogue wizard, Nicodemus Weal, and brings her face to face with demons, demigods, and a man she thought she’d never see again.

It has been ten years since Nicodemus Weal escaped the Starhaven Academy, where he was considered disabled and useless, where he battled the demon who stole his birthright and killed his friends. Unable to use the magical languages of his own people, Nico has honed his skills in the dark language of the kobolds, readying himself for his next encounter with the demon. But there are complications: his mentor suffers from an incurable curse, his half-sister’s agents are hunting him, and he’s still not sure what part Francesca DeVega will play. He certainly doesn’t know what to make of Francesca herself...

Introducing new twists to the unique magical system of Spellwright and uncovering more sinister dangers, Spellbound is sure to please Blake Charlton’s fans and earn him new ones."

Wither: Book One of the Chemical Garden by Lauren DeStefano (Harper Voyager 16 February 2012 / £7.99) - Lauren DeStefano's début Wither the opener to her Chemical Garden Trilogy, receives its British mass market outing, courtesy of 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."

Orbit

Exogene: A Subterrene War Novel (The Subterrene War Series) by T. C. McCarthy (Orbit 01 March 2012 / £8.99) - 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.

T.C. McCarthy's Subterranean War series of near future military SF thrillers, ought to appeal to the same market, and Orbit now release the second book in the sequence Exogene.

Incidentally, the author 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!

"Catherine is a soldier. Fast, strong, lethal, she is the ultimate in military technology. Bred by scientists, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war, no matter the cost. And the costs are high. The life span of these genetic soldiers is short, and they become unstable as they age. Then on their eighteenth birthday, when their duty is fulfilled, they are discharged - lined up and shot. But the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they aren't animals either. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life - and is prepared to pay any price to get it."

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod (Orbit 01 March 2012 / £18.99) - One of the most wonderful things about having been doing this reviewing and commentating lark for so long (twelve years and counting!) is that I've been able to watch the careers of certain extraordinary writers develop from 'quite promising' to 'fully fledged greatness' - few personify this trajectory better than Ken MacLeod who must now surely be regarded as one of the genre's most authoritative political voices. Following his BSFA award winning book The Night Sessions, and the subsequently brilliant The Restoration Game, Orbit now publish Macleod's brand new novel Intrusion in a very smart, eye-catching hard cover edition.

"Imagine a near-future city, say London, where medical science has advanced beyond our own and a single-dose pill has been developed that, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn child. Hope Morrison, mother of a hyperactive four-year-old, is expecting her second child. She refuses to take The Fix, as the pill is known. This divides her family and friends and puts her and her husband in danger of imprisonment or worse. Is her decision a private matter of individual choice, or is it tantamount to willful neglect of her unborn child? A plausible and original novel with sinister echoes of 1984 and Brave New World."

The Minority Council: A Matthew Swift novel (Matthew Swift Novels) by Kate Griffin (Orbit 01 March 2012 / £8.99) - A new novel from Kate Griffin, the pen name for popular children's author Catherine Webb - the Carnegie Medal nominated author of the Horatio Lyle YA novels and all round prodigal.

The Minority Council is the fourth title in Griffin's London Urban Fantasy series, described as being "... reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke... a compelling, original blend of fantasy, noir and urban magic...". This new title follows on from A Madness of Angels and The Midnight Mayor and The Neon Court.

"Matthew Swift, Midnight Mayor, is in charge. And London is having its issues. The new drug on the market is fairy dust and it turns humans into walking drug labs. Teenage vandals are being hunted by a mystical creature. And criminals are dying by magical means. If Swift is going to save London from a rising tide of blood, he's going to have to learn his lessons - and fast."

Timeless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book 5 by Gail Carriger (Orbit 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - One of Orbit's more prominent releases in recent years has been Gail Carriger's debut Parasol Protectorate novels, comprising (so far) Soulless, Changeless and Blameless and Heartless.

These books proved something of a talking point - combining a well-written, fun and witty genre adventure with great design and marketing, an arrival on the scene right when Steampunk books were cool and a talented, colourful and very visible author who is aware of the need to get "out there" and able to do so without being obtrusive. It was an impressive start to what will doubtless be an impressive career and one with, one hopes, impressive returns for the publisher who got this one right on so many levels. A new title in the series, the fifth, Timeless is now published by Orbit, like the others as a paperback original.

"Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle. Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?"

Prometheus Books

Thief's Covenant: A Widdershin's Adventure by Ari Marmell (Prometheus Books 28 February 2012 / £15.99) - Ari Marmell (author of, among many other works, the Corvis Rebaine novels) is having a busy time of it at the moment - his recent novel from Pyr, The Goblin Corps was a fun, gritty fantasy told from the POV of the anti-hero and was well received. Pyr will publish Thief's Covenant, the first of Marmell's Widdershins Adventures, and a second novel False Covenant will follow in a few months time.

"Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city's aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It's not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it's hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first."

Solaris

Age of Aztec (Pantheon) by James Lovegrove (Solaris 12 April 2012 / £7.99) - James Lovegrove is a long time fave writer of mine, the kind of author who is so choc-full of ideas that he's perhaps hard for publishers to profile. For many years each of his books has offered up a different kind of delight - see these links for my reviews of Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed and The Fledging Of Az Gabrielson) Lovegrove is a truly protean writer and in his latest offering he shows off his talents most fulsomely. The Age of Aztec is published by Solaris and is the fourth title in this best selling series which began with The Age of Ra which was enthusiastically reviewed by our own Liz De Jager back in our August 09 issue and which was followed by The Age of Zeus and The Ages of Odin, which hit the New York Times best seller list!

" The date is 4 Jaguar 1 Monkey 1 House - November 25th 2012 by the old reckoning - and the Aztec Empire rules the world.

The Aztecs' reign is one of cruel and ruthless oppression, encompassing regular human sacrifice. In the jungle-infested city of London, one man defies them: the masked vigilante known as the Conquistador.

Then the Conquistador is recruited to spearhead an uprising, and discovers a terrible truth. The clock is ticking. Apocalypse looms, unless the Conquistador can help assassinate the mysterious, immortal Aztec emperor, the Great Speaker. But his mission is complicated by Mal Vaughn, a police detective who is on his trail, determined to bring him to justice."

Darkening Skies (The Hadrumal Crisis) by Juliet E. McKenna (Solaris 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - Darkening Skies is the second in a new trilogy (The Hadrumal Crisis) by stalwart British fantasy writer, Juliet E. McKenna - a paperback original published by Solaris and the follow up to Dangerous Waters.

"In Halferan, Captain Corrain is hailed as a hero, but he knows all such praise would turn to anger if the Caladhrians knew what had really happened. The wizard who supposedly saved them has claimed the corsair island for his own. Corrain fears the worst, as he confides in Lady Zurenne of Halferan. But this disastrous turns of events cannot be concealed from Hadrumal's mages. Planir's leadership is openly questioned despite the best efforts of his confidante, the magewoman Jilseth and his other friends and allies. Surely he will enforce his authority by crushing this upstart? Unless the Aldabreshin warlords act first. That island lies on the outer fringes of their Archipelago. The warlords are watching the ominous skies as a once in a lifetime conjunction of the stars approaches. Will the warlords be content to drive this solitary wizard out of the Archipelago or had the time come for them to destroy all magic?"

Titan Books

Black Wings of Cthulhu: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror by S. T. Joshi (Titan Books 23 March 2012 / £8.99) - Another great release from Titan - a collection of all new Lovecraftian tales, edited by leading HPL scholar S.T. Joshi. There's a whole host of flesh-crawling horrors here, from familar names such as Ramsey Campbell, Michael Marshall Smith, Brian Stableford and fvrom lesser well known authors too. If you hear the call of the Cthulu, this one is for you.

"From the depths of R'lyeh come twenty-one brand-new, utterly terrifying, and thoroughly entertaining short stories of horror and the macabre!

Taking their inspiration from works by Lovecraft himself, prominent writers such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Shea, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. Burleson, and David J. Schow delve deep into the psyche, expanding on concepts H.P. Lovecraft created and taking them in new directions.

The result is stories that are wholly original, some even featuring Lovecraft himself as a character. Black Wings editor S.T. Joshi is the recognized authority on all things Lovecraftian, and is famous for his restorations of Lovecraft's original works. He has assembled a star-studded line-up in a book that is essential for every horror library. "

Eden Moore - Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest (Titan Books 10 February 2012 / £7.99) - Titan have an excellent eye for quality commercial fiction. In a canny acquisition, they now add Cherie Priest to their growing stable of impressive genre names - an author who made a huge, huge splash with her award winning novel Boneshaker a couple of years ago.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds was, I beleive, Priest's first published novel in the US and is the first novel in a new supernatural series. Pitched as a blend of Southern Gothic and African magic, it explores attitudes to race, family and identity in the American South from the Civil War to the present.

"What Eden Moore digs up in the roots of her diseased family tree takes her across the South, from the ruins of the Pine Breeze sanitarium in Tennessee to a corpse-filled swamp in Florida, and back in time to the Civil War, when the taint in her family bloodline sets in motion events building only now to a supernatural crescendo."

JAG in Space - A Just Determination by Jack Campbell writing as John G Hemry (Titan Books 10 February 2012 / £7.99) - He took a while to arrive on these shores, but having become best sellers over in the US, Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet books have been very visible in stores and selling well for UK publisher Titan. They now offer up one of Campbell's earlier military SF series, JAG in Space, written under his real name of John G. Hemry. This first release is A Just Determination.

Ensign Paul Sinclair is assigned to the orbiting space warship the USS Michaelson as the ship’s lone legal officer. When the ship’s captain is accused of ordering the destruction of a civilian research vessel and commanded to return to port for court-martial, Sinclair must testify at the hearing.

With his own future and that of his captain resting on a knife-edge, which side will Sinclair choose to fight for?"

JAG in Space - Burden of Proof by Jack Campbell writing as John G Hemry (Titan Books 10 February 2012 / £7.99) - And released alongside the above, is Burden Of Proof, Campbell/Hemry's second JAG in Space novel...

"A suspicious explosion on board the space warship the USS Michaelson costs an officer his life, and sets in train an investigation to discover why the dead man was working alone at the time of the accident.

Legal officer Paul Sinclair risks everything to expose a cover-up—to find the truth and see justice done."

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