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UK Books Received- 04/2012  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

Atom

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (Atom 05 April 2012 / £6.99) - Atom's lead title for the Spring and one they have understandably high hopes for. 172 Hours on the Moon is Johan Harstad's young adult crossover science fiction / horror novel and was an award winner in his native Norway when it was first published in 2008. With the current, deservedly high regard for Scandanavian writing, Harstad is definetly one to watch.

"Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It's been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2-a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world. But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now-a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun..."

Blue Door

The Testimony by James Smythe (Blue Door 26 April 2012 / £12.99) - In the dozen or so years I've been doing this monthly round-up here on SFRevu, I think I've only had one previous book sent in from Harpercollins imprint Blue Door. So receiving a copy of this smart hard cover edition of James Smythe's The Testimony is both a surprise and an intriguing proposition.

Described as "A Visionary global thriller presenting and apocalyptic vision of a world on the bringk of despair and destruction", this is the first of two Smythe novels to hit the shelves over the next year or so. His pure SF novel The Explorer will be published by sister imprint Voyager in 2013.

"What would you do if the world was brought to a standstill? If you heard deafening static followed by the words ‘MY CHILDREN, DO NOT BE AFRAID’?

Would you turn to God? Declare it an act of terrorism? Subscribe to the conspiracy theories? Or put your faith in science and a rational explanation?

The lives of all twenty-six people in this account are affected by the message. Most because they heard it. Some because they didn’t.

The Testimony – a gripping story of the world brought to its knees and of its people, confused and afraid."

Century

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning (Century 29 March 2012 / £18.99) - A big fat hardcover release for Troy Denning's latest Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi novel Apocalypse - the ninth and final on this arc - though we can be pretty certain the franchise won't be similarly ending anytime soon. Already released in the US - see Harriet Klausner's review in last month's issue.

"In the stunning finale of the epic Fate of the Jedi series, Jedi and Sith face off - with Coruscant as their battlefield. For the Sith, it's the chance to restore their dominance over the galaxy that forgot them for so long. For Abeloth, it's a giant step in her quest to conquer all life everywhere. For Luke Skywalker, it's a call to arms to eradicate the Sith and their monstrous new master once and for all.

In a planetwide strike, teams of Jedi Knights take the Sith infiltrators by swift and lethal surprise. But victory against the cunning and savage Abeloth, and the terrifying endgame she has planned, is anything but certain. And as Luke, Ben, Han, Leia, Jaina, Jag and their allies close in, the devastating truth about the dark side incarnate will be exposed - and send shoch waves through the Jedi Order, the galaxy, and the Force itself."

Doubleday

Half-Sick Of Shadows by David Logan (Doubleday 10 May 2012 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: David Logan's Half-Sick of Shadows was the winner (joint winner, actually, along with Apocalypse Cow but Michael Logan - no relation!) of the inaugural 'Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here Anywhen But Now prize'. As well as the £20,00 prize money, the winners will have Doubleday (Pratchett's publisher) will publish their novels in hardcover this coming May. Congratualtions to both Logans!

"On the eve of Granny Hazel's burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine visits five year old Edward with an odd request. Edward agrees to be his friend. Sophia, Edward's twin, brings future tragedy upon herself by misunderstanding a promise she makes to their dour father.

While Sophia stays at home, in The Manse, Edward is sent to boarding school where he encounters the strangest child, Alf, whose existence intimates universes of unlimited possibilities.

With its Gothic backdrop of rural - and institutional - isolation, Half Sick of Shadows is a comical tragedy, an evocative tale of childhood wonder, familial dysfunction, theoretical physics, poetry, and how men of vivid imagination get their ideas."

Gollancz

Asbury Park (Sailor Doyle) by Rob Scott (Gollancz 29 March 2012 / £14.99) - An interesting release this from Gollancz - Rob Scott's Asbury Park is a police proceedural with some very dark supernatural business mixed in - perfect for readers of John Connelly and perhaps also for those folks who like a bit of Patricia Cornewell mixed into their Stephen King.

Asbury Park is a follow-on from Scott's 15 Miles, which Gollancz published back in 2010, but we neever saw it here at SFRevu and somehow that title completely escaped my notice - not so this one. I searched long and hard for an author web site, but to no avail - best I could do was this brief bio on the Gollancz blog. "Ten weeks ago, Homicide Detective Sailor Doyle worked his first solo case, a gruesome double murder in a remote farmhouse in Virginia. And things turned very nasty for him . . . Now Sailor is recuperating with his family at a beach house in Belmar, on the New Jersey shore. He's struggling with prescription drug withdrawal while trying to build up his shattered shoulder and leg, and he's also trying to rebuild his shattered relationship with his wife. Jenny, while pleased he's alive, is less enamoured with the idea of reconciliation.

Seeking refuge in a century-old beachfront resort hotel, Sailor meets an elderly man, Mark "Moses" Stillman, a former minor league baseball player whose wife and daughter drowned in the ocean off Belmar years earlier. Sailor's having nightmares about his previous case, and when he starts seeing things again, he realises that once again he's being guided to the truth . . . even if it's not what he wants to hear. And it's not long before he finds himself investigating those deaths."

Bitterblue (Seven Kingdoms Trilogy 3) by Kristin Cashore (Gollancz 01 May 2012 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The much-lauded début fantasy Graceling, by American author Kristin Cashore, was a popular hit indeed, delighting readers and instantly gaining a deservingly fervant fan-base. Cashore followed up with Fire, proving she was no 'one hit wonder', and we now have Bitterblue, due from Gollancz in May, which will, one can say with some confidence, pretty much cement her place as a major force in the genre.

"The long-awaited companion to the New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck's death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck's reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea's past has become shrouded in mystery, and it's only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle - curious, disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past. Whatever that past holds. Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart..."

Empire of the Saviours by A J Dalton (Gollancz 17 May 2012 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Gollancz have a deservedly fine reputation for publishing some of the very best talent that can be found anywhere in the fantasy field. Some are home-grown talents - Joe Abercrombie, James Barclay, Elspeth Cooper for example - and some imported, Brandon Sanderson, Pat Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, to name but a few. There are many other names I could include in these lists. The point is, the Gollancz team have a truly great nose for talent when it comes to these areas of genre and so when they pick up a new writer, the chances are good that they will be too.

Take note then of one A.J. Dalton - an author who has actually done quite well on a smaller stage with a self-published trilogy called Necroacer's Gambit that he describes as a 'metaphysical fantasy'. Now Dalton has landed a deal with Gollancz and they will publish Empire of Saviors next month. Congratulations to all!

"In the Empire of the Saviours, the People are forced to live in fortified towns. Their walls are guarded by an army of Heroes, whose task is to keep marauding pagans out as much as it is to keep the People inside. Several times a year, living Saints visit the towns to exact the Saviours' tithe from all those coming of age - a tithe often paid in blood.

When a young boy, Jillan, unleashes pagan magicks in an accident, his whole town turns against him. He goes on the run, but what hope can there be when the Saviours and the entire Empire decide he must be caught?

Jillan is initially hunted by just the soldiers of the Saint of his region, but others soon begin to hear of his increasing power and seek to use him for their own ends. Some want Jillan to join the fight against the Empire, others wish to steal his power for themselves and others still want Jillan to lead them to the Geas, the source of all life and power in the world. There are very few Jillan can trust, except for a ragtag group of outcasts.

His parents threatened, his life in tatters, his beliefs shaken to the core, Jillan must decide which side he is on, and whether to fight or run . . ."

HarperCollins

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (HarperCollins 12 April 2012 / £12.99) - Hillary Jordan (author of Mudlark) has a new novel out this month entitled When She Woke - not the fairy tale one might expect from the title, but instead a dystopian thriller aimed at fans of The Handmaid's Tale and The Scarlet Letter which is an interesting sounding mix indeed.

When She Woke easily gets the award for the most beautiful looking book received this month - it's a fabulous, lush looking hard back release with a deep, rich red supermatt dust jacket, gorgeous typography picked out in spot UV, crisp black endpapers and red stained edges - an absolutely sumptuous production from publisher Harpercollins.

"When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned, but the solid, declarative red of a stop sign.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes – criminals whose skin colour has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime – is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

WHEN SHE WOKE is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future – where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.".

Hodder & Stoughton

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler (Hodder & Stoughton 12 April 2012 / £12.99) - US writer Scott Sigler has quickly established himself as a notable writer of SF thrillers, not only through the medium of his fast and pacey fiction, but via his canny and unapologetic self-promotion. A visit to his web site is a must and a consummate lesson in how to use the internet to get yourself out there.

His new novel is Nocturnal and is published in trade paperback by Hodder & Stoughton.

"For centuries, their race has lived beneath the earth, emerging only at night, to feed quietly on the dregs of society and slip back into the shadows.

But now their time has come - their time to rise up from their hiding places and take back what is theirs.

San Francisco homicide detective Bryan Klauser is supposed to be hunting a serial killer. But a serial killer couldn't be responsible for the seemingly impossible DNA evidence the crime-scene techs keep finding - or for the gory, strangely prophetic dreams Bryan keeps having. And what about the connections he keeps finding to a century-old cult - and his superiors' sudden reluctance to give him the answers he needs about cases that should be dead and buried?

Ultimately, Klauser's investigations will reveal a race of killers who've long lurked beneath San Francisco's streets - and are preparing to take back the city. Klauser is the only man who can stop them, because . . . he might not be a man at all. "

The Return Man by V. M. Zito (Hodder & Stoughton 29 March 2012 / £11.99) - 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.

Now ublished by Hodder in trade paperback, 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..."

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton 24 April 2012 / £19.99) - Undoubtedly THE high profile release of the month - Stephen King's return to the world of his epic, magum opus of The Dark Tower. Yes, yes - I also thought the whole thing was wrapped up in book seven, but I honestly cannot say that the prospect of returning to the tale of Roland Deschain doesn't fill me with pleasure.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is published in hard cover by Hodder - see here for my reviews of previous titles in this landmark series - The Wolves of the Callah, The Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower.

"For readers new to The Dark Tower, THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE is a stand-alone novel, and a wonderful introduction to the series. It is a story within a story, which features both the younger and older gunslinger Roland on his quest to find the Dark Tower. Fans of the existing seven books in the series will also delight in discovering what happened to Roland and his ka tet between the time they leave the Emerald City and arrive at the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis.

This Russian Doll of a novel, a story within a story, within a story, visits Mid-World's last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, and his ka-tet as a ferocious storm halts their progress along the Path of the Beam. (The novel can be placed between Dark Tower IV and Dark Tower V.) Roland tells a tale from his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt ridden year following his mother's death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape shifter, a "skin man," Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast's most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime, 'The Wind through the Keyhole'. "A person's never too old for stories," he says to Bill. "Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them." And stories like these, they live for us. "

Orbit

The Gathering Of The Lost (Wall of Night: Book Two 2) by Helen Lowe (Orbit 05 April 2012 / £13.99) - Orbit have a strong track record of spotting Antipodean talent and bringing it to readers in other territories. In recent years we've seen a whole host of fantastic fantasy writers from Australia and New Zealand emerge via the Orbit list - Glenda Larke, Jenny Fallon, Karen Miller, Trudi Canavan - and joining this list a couple of years ago was Helen Lowe, whose new series begans with The Heir of Night and now continues withThe Gathering of the Lost. An Orbit trade paperback.

"Tarathan of Ar and Jehane Mor ride into the great city of Ij in time for its grand Festival of Masks. But soon after their arrival they witness a terrible slaughter as their fellow heralds are targeted and assassinated. They must flee for their lives across the city when they discover Swarm agents at work as they attempt to destabilise the entire River Cities network for their own ends. And five years after her great flight from the Derai Wall, Malian remains hidden to those who seek her. But she has not been idle. Her goal is to muster all Derai magic users who have fled into exile rather than face destruction. Only by uniting against the Swarm menace can they hold their own against the dark tide. She has hunted down every rumour of their presence and has developed her own powers that the Swarm must learn to respect - and to fear. For Malian won't see her people fall to a dark tide of twisted magic, as demonic forces subvert a way of life."

Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine (Orbit 05 April 2012 / £8.99) - Ian Irvine has long been one of Austrailia's premier fantasy authors. It's some years ago now but I do remember Orbit's official web site stating that the author, whom they have been publishing since the late 90s at that time had more than one million books in print worldwide - doubtless it's even more than that now.!

Orbit continue their long-standing association with Irvine with the publication of Vengeance, his first title in a new series The Tainted. A B format available this month.

"Twelve years ago, two children witnessed a murder that still haunts them as adults.

Tali watched as they killed her mother and now, she has sworn revenge. Even though she is a slave. Even though she is powerless. Even though she is nothing in the eyes of those who live above ground, she will find her mother's killers and bring them to justice.

Rix watched as his parents murdered a woman for reasons he still doesn't understand. Haunted by this scene, wracked by guilt, he must find a way to live with his family's dark secret.

When a chance meeting brings the two together, everything starts to come undone. The secrets of an entire kingdom are uncovered and a villain out of legend returns to throw the realm into chaos. Tali and Rix must learn to trust each other and find a way to save the realm-- and themselves."

Penguin

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Penguin 12 April 2012 / £7.99) - US author Meljean Brook is not one I have encountered as a big name in Steampunk - the cover of The Iron Duke, with it's bare chested handsome hunk, clutching his top hat (complete with goggles) and his side-kick - a similarly chest-accentauted female, again with goggles and accessorized with straps and buckles galore - ofgfgers up a clue as to why. Add to the mix the obligatory air-ship, abstract cogs and a background featuring the Houses of Parlaiment and the feel of this is that of a pretty basic formulaic bodice ripper. I'm not sure this will appeal to fans of James P Blaylock, Cherie Priest or Lavie Tidhar! A Berkley UK paperback original.

"After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power - and fear - of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can't afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and becoming Rhys's lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans - and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke."

The Pack by Jason Starr (Penguin 26 April 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: New formed Penguin genre imprint, Berkely UK are putting some welly behind the marketing of The Pack, the new novel from award-winning US crime author Jason Starr. Originally released in the US in June 2011 by sister imprint, The Pack (can you guess what it might be about?) hits British stores this month.

"Let the hunt begin . . .

When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss's betrayal.

Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys' night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality.

As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their "pack", they were talking about much more than male bonding . . ."

The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore (Penguin 12 April 2012 / £7.99) - I am Number Four set the news wires alight when the original acquisition was reported a couple of years ago. A teen-centric SF thriller by one 'Pittacus Lore' (which is little internet digging reveals to be the pen-name of Oprah favourite and author of A Million Little Pieces James Frey and newcomer Jobie Hughes, a movie of the same name soon followed.

Sequel The Power of Six is now published in mass market by Penguin.

"I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened to John Smith. To the world he's a mystery, but to me ... he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us, if we all still believe in our mission.

There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another, but our Legacies are developing and soon we'll be ready to fight. Is John Number Four - and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who might be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio ... and failed. I am Number Seven. And I'm ready to fight."

Pyr

Hunter and Fox (Shifted World Novel) by Philippa Ballantine (Pyr 26 June 2012 / £16.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Kiwi author Philippa Ballantine is already well known to readers in the US as the author of Ace's Books of the Order series, comprising Geist, Spectre and the forthcoming title Wrayth. As Pip Ballantine, she co-authors the popualr Steampunk series The Ministry of Peculiar Occurances. Pyr publish a brand new fantasy series by this talented author - Hunter and Fox is the first is a series of Shifted World books.

"In a world that is in constant shifting, where mountains can change to plainsand then to lakes, Talyn is the Hunter for the Caisah, and a wreck of a once-proud person. She has lost her people, the Vaerli, and her soul working for the man who destroyed her people. All unknowing, she carries within her a Kindred, a chaos creature from the center of the earth that wants to help bring the Vaerli back to power. However, she has lost the ability to communicate with it.

She must also deal with the machinations of Kelanim, the mistress of Caisah, who out of fear will do anything to bring Talyn down.

Little does the Hunter know that salvation is looking for her, and it wears the face of gentleness and strength. Finn is a teller of tales who carries his own dreadful secret. He sets out to find answers to his path but ends up in the city of Perilous and Fair where he meets Talyn. He knows the danger and yet is drawn to her. Their fates are bound together.

Meanwhile, the Hunter's lost brother Byre is searching for his own solution to the terrible curse placed on the Vaerli. He sets forth on a treacherous journey of his own, which will intersect in the most unlikely place with that of Talyn and Finn.

The ramifications of this encounter will be felt by all the people in Conhaero, from the lost Vaerli to the Caisah on his throne."

Virgin Digital

A Game of Groans by George R. R. Washington (Virgin Digital 29 March 2012 / ) - I suppose there is no better indication of true success better than being parodied. It is inevitable then that George R.R.Martin's smash hit Game of Thrones series , along with the accompanying smash hit HBO show will be given such treatment. Hat's off to Virgin Books (and simultaneously, St. Martin's in the US) for being the first out of the trap - they release the startlingly poorly titled A Game of Groans in time to co-incide with the screening of the first episodes of season two.

"A PARODY OF THE BELOVED FANTASY DOORSTOP... ER, SAGA

In the land of the Eight (or was it Six?) Kingdoms—where the seasons last as long as a series of bestselling Tolkien-esque novels—trouble is brewing. The mud is growing muddier, the onions are rotting, the Wall to the North (or is it the South?) is melting, and Lord Barker of Summerseve is getting worried. His wife is addicted to Godsweede, his King is too fat to fit into his armor, and the foreshadowing is out of control. All in all, not the position you want to be in when Summer is coming.

From this world of outdoor fornication with horse-people (and indoor fornication with blood relatives) comes an epic story of novella proportions. Amid plots and counterplots, power-hungry warriors and overworked ravens, poor reception and no wireless, the future of the Barkers, their BFFs, and their enemies dangles in the balance, as each strives to survive long enough to appear in at least two of the sequels.

“His teeth might be wooden, but his prose is not.”"

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