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UK Books Received- 08/2012  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

Angry Robot

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig (Angry Robot 06 September 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Chuck Wendig's follow up Blackbird, his very dark Angry Robot urban fantasy thriller released last year to much praise and hoo-haa. Mockingbird is due for release next month and features the further adventures of Miriam Black - a woman cursed with seeing the moment of death of anyone she happens to touch.

"Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.

It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear."

Arrow

Star Wars: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn (Arrow 28 June 2012 / £7.99) - Product Description: 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire" by Timothy Zahn the number 1 "New York Times" hardcover bestseller that relaunched the entire "Star Wars" publishing program. To celebrate this historic event Zahn returns to "Star Wars" with a brand-new novel of adventure action and intrigue starring the young Luke Skywalker Han Solo Princess Leia Organa and the beloved Mara Jade."

Star Wars: Scourge by Jeff Grubb (Arrow 03 May 2012 / ) - Product Description: When news of the death of his former apprentice reaches Jedi Master Mander Zuma, he is immediately suspicious. Toro Irana was on the trail of something big when he died--something involving a mysterious new drug. As the Jedi Master investigates further, he finds himself deeply involved in the political machinations of the Hutts, dealing with the sister of the deceased's desire for revenge, and the growing realization that there's more to being a Jedi than training and studying. A fun and exciting paperback original by Jeff Grubb.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Arrow 02 August 2012 / £7.99) - The mass market edition of Lev Grossman's The Magician King - follow-up to his much-acclaimed novel The Magicians, is released by Arrow this month.

Every so often in this reviewing lark, I find a book comes along that everyone else raves about and which leaves me cold, even perhaps suspecting I might have got a copy that somehow had a whole different satory printed inside! The Magicians was one such book - I just didn't get it... but wsith critics haling Grossman as the heir to C.S. Lewis, it would seem, I was very much in the minority!

"Quentin Coldwater is king of the bizarre and wonderful land of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are losing their appeal and Quentin is getting restless. Even in heaven a man needs a little adventure. So when a steward is murdered on a morning's hunt that is exactly what Quentin gets. But this quest is like no other. What starts as a flight of fancy, a glorified cruise to faraway lands, soon becomes the stuff of nightmares when Quentin is unceremoniously dumped at his parent's house in a decidedly un-magical suburb in Massachusetts.

Back in this grey reality, Quentin has never wanted his magical kingdom more. Fortunately he is accompanied by his old friend Julia, who learned her own brand of black and twisted magic outside Brakebills College at an illegal, underground school in the real world. As they struggle through the paranormal alleyways, past Venetian dragons and fairytale houses, it becomes clear that only Julia's black arts can save them. But there is a greater power at work, one that is threatening to destroy Fillory forever, and to defeat it they must unravel the secrets of Julia's tragic past, and the terrible pact she made to gain her power."

Bantam Press

Forge of Darkness: The Kharkanas Trilogy 1 by Steven Erikson (Bantam Press 31 July 2012 / £20.00) - Product Description: Now is the time to tell the story of an ancient realm, a tragic tale that sets the stage for all the tales yet to come and all those already told...It's a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, the realm of Darkness, where Mother Dark reigns. But this ancient land was once home to many a power...and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners' great hero, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark's hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions. The impending clash sends fissures throughout the realm, and as the rumors of civil war burn through the masses, an ancient power emerges from the long dead seas. Caught in the middle of it all are the First Sons of Darkness, Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold...Steven Erikson entered the pantheon of great fantasy writers with his debut Gardens of the Moon". Now he returns with the first novel in a trilogy that takes place millennia before the events of the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" and introduces readers to Kurald Galain the warren of Darkness. It is the epic story of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in shaping the world of the Malazan Empire."

Sky Dragons (The Dragon Books) by Todd McCaffrey (Bantam Press 05 July 2012 / £18.99) - The latest dynastic collaboration between the late Anne McCaffrey and her son, Todd. Sky Dragons is a sequel to Dragon Time, released last year and is published in this smart hard cover edition by Bantam Press.

Noteworthy also is the announcement by Transworld that they will be releasing eBook versions of many of the Pern novels. They'll be available by the time you read this!

"After a vicious plague swept through the world of Pern, there are no longer enough dragons to fight off the current onslaught of Thread, the deadly spore that falls like rain from the skies and devours everything organic in its path.

Pern's last chance to rebuild the decimated dragon population lies with a group of young dragonriders and their dragons, left stranded on an unexplored island. Leadership of these dragons and riders falls to Xhinna, female rider of the blue dragon Tazith, who, as the most experienced dragonrider in the new Weyr, becomes Pern's first female wingleader.

Not everyone is ready to accept a female wingleader and Xhinna must battle to earn their respect, as well as protecting the precious dragon eggs from the lethal Mrreows and voracious tunnel-snakes. Some of her newfangled ideas, like letting green dragons mate and lay eggs to hatch new dragons, cause uproar. All the while she must protect her people and baby dragons from the predators and, worse, traitors, or all hope for Pern will be lost..."

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 02 August 2012 / £12.99) - It's now ten years since Neil Gaiman's Coraline was first published (ten years!!??!!!), since which time there has been a successful Hollywood movie and the author has transcended to Rock Star status. All of which seems worthy of celebration and thus Bloomsbury are releasing this new 10th Anniversary hard cover edition, complete with disturbingly gorgeous illustrations by Chris Riddell.

"There is something strange about Coraline's new home. It's not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It's the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back."

Mazecheat by B. R. Collins (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 02 August 2012 / £6.99) - Cambridge graduate, alumni of the London School of Dramatic Art, prize-winning poet, acclaimed playwright and acclaimed (and again, prize-winning) author of YA novels, one must wonder if there's anything Bridget Collins can't make a success of! This protean talent, writing as B.R. Collins now has a new novel published in paperback original by Bloomsbury - Mazecheat, her follow up to Gamerunner, a dystopian tale described as "a sharp, futuristic thriller with a psychological edge".

"Ario is a Cheat: somebody who designs and sells Cheat Codes to Gamerunners. Rick and Pir are Gamerunners: people who try to win their fortune by playing The Maze, the interactive computer game that is so much more than an ordinary computer game. MazeCheat is set in a futuristic city scape where acid rain permanently falls. But despite the dreary surroundings there is a something that enables everybody to escape their everyday life. And that is The Maze, the interactive computer game where you don't just play the game onscreen,you physically enter the world. Once in, you play - run, fight, avoid traps, choose your weapons - as if you are actually there. The hold of the game on everybody's minds means that the company behind it, CRATER, is all-powerful. But CRATER have a game expansion that is sinister to the extreme. In their new game, if you finally manage to beat it, it takes your brain and in particular your memories, to use as material for new games, for new Gamerunners, leaving you an empty shell. Except no one knows that yet. And when something terrible happens to Pir in The Maze, Ario and Rick need to try to destroy this terrible expansion of the game that kills. But the all-seeing CRATER is also onto them and time is running out..."

Gollancz

Empty Space: A Haunting (Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy 3) by M. John Harrison (Gollancz 19 July 2012 / ) - Product Description: EMPTY SPACE is a space adventure. We begin with the following dream:

An alien research tool the size of a brown dwarf star hangs in the middle of nowhere, as a result of an attempt to place it equidistant from everything else in every possible universe. Somewhere in the fractal labyrinth beneath its surface, a woman lies on an allotropic carbon deck, a white paste of nanomachines oozing from the corner of her mouth. She is neither conscious nor unconscious, dead nor alive. There is something wrong with her cheekbones. At first you think she is changing from one thing into another -- perhaps it's a cat, perhaps it's something that only looks like one -- then you see that she is actually trying to be both things at once. She is waiting for you, she has been waiting for you for perhaps 10,000 years. She comes from the past, she comes from the future. She is about to speak--

EMPTY SPACE is a sequel to LIGHT and NOVA SWING, three strands presented in alternating chapters which will work their way separately back to this image of frozen transformation.

Jack Glass by Adam Roberts (Gollancz 26 July 2012 / £14.99) - The endlessly inventive Adam Roberts throws up another highly original novel, very different from his previous works (as each of his subsequent novels always are). I didn't managed to read his most recent, Yellow Blue Tibia, which I believe was excellent and may well have been his best-selling (non-psuedonymous) work to date, but I did review Swiftly back in our March 2008 issue.

This new novel, Jack Glass is published by Gollancz in both trade paperback and hard cover and hands down is the most gorgeous cover of the month for sure!

"Jack Glass is the murderer. We know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel tells the story of three murders committed by Glass the reader will be surprised to find out that it was Glass who was the killer and how he did it. And by the end of the book our sympathies for the killer are fully engaged.

Riffing on the tropes of crime fiction (the country house murder, the locked room mystery) and imbued with the feel of golden age SF, JACK GLASS is another bravura performance from Roberts. Whatever games he plays with the genre, whatever questions he asks of the reader, Roberts never loses sight of the need to entertain. JACK GLASS has some wonderfully gruesome moments, is built around three gripping HowDunnits and comes with liberal doses of sly humour.

Roberts invites us to have fun and tricks us into thinking about both crime and SF via a beautifully structured novel set in a society whose depiction challanges notions of crime, punishment, power and freedom. It is an extraordinary novel. "

Headline

Control Point by Myke Cole (Headline 16 August 2012 / £7.99) - Already published in the US by Ace, Myke Cole's debut novel Control Point - a 'military fantasy' (and thus perhaps an entirely new sub-genre of its own!) has received a whole bunch of plaudits and glowing reviews. It now receives its UK publication as part of the first raft of titles to be released by Headline's new genre friendly list. Here's to it making the same kind of splash over here!

"All over the world people are 'coming up latent' - developing new and terrifying abilities. Untrained and pan­icked, they are summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting every­thing they touch ablaze.

US Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton has always done his duty, even when it means working alongside the feared Supernatural Operations Corps, hunting down and taking out those with newfound magical talents. But when he manifests a rare, startling power of his own and finds himself a marked man, all bets are off.

On the run from his former colleagues, Britton is driven into an underground shadow world, where he is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known ... and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for. "

Messenger's Angel (Lost Angels 2) by Heather Killough-Walden (Headline 21 June 2012 / ) - Product Description: In the second in Heather Killough-Walden's fantastic paranormal series, THE LOST ANGELS, it is the turn of Gabriel, the Messenger Archangel, to seek his soul mate... Gabriel has always called Scotland his true home. Nevertheless, he is stunned when his archess suddenly appears in the land closest to his heart. Juliette Andersen's encounter with the gorgeous silver-eyed stranger changes their worlds for ever. But even as they find each other, enemies surround them. With danger closing in, they will have one chance to fulfil a destiny written for them in the stars...

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy 2) by Deborah Harkness (Headline 10 July 2012 / £16.99) - The follow-up to Headline's high profile genre lead title of last year, Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches, which by all reports performed very well for them, particularly in the mainstream hardcover charts. They now release Shadow of Night, which moves the story of Diana Bishop and her encounters with witches and vampires and things that go bump in the night on apace. A hefty hard cover release.

"Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers... Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale."

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (Headline 07 August 2012 / ) - A very interesting looking debut novel published by Headline Review. Colorado based award winning non-fiction author, Peter Heller, offers up this first novel The Dog Stars, a post-apocalyptic tale, described as '...similar to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but with hope'. I hope that means it's got more jokes! Released in hard cover this month.

"Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel.

But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, and eventually the temptation to find out who else is still alive becomes irresistible. So he takes his plane over the horizon, knowing that he won't have enough fuel to get back. What follows is scarier and more life-affirming than he could have imagined. And his story, THE DOG STARS, is a book unlike any you have ever read. "

Hodder

The Woman Who Died a Lot (Thursday Next 7) by Jasper Fforde (Hodder 12 July 2012 / ) - Product Description: The seventh book in the Thursday Next series by Number One bestselling author Jasper Fforde.

The BookWorld's leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following an assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you'd expect to be a time of recuperation. If only life were that simple. Thursday is faced with an array of family problems - son Friday's lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday's difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed to thwart an angry Deity's promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn't exist. And that's not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday's Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday's retirement is going to be anything but easy . . .

Hodder & Stoughton

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar 1) by Tad Williams (Hodder & Stoughton 13 September 2012 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Marquee name Tad Williams moves from Orbit to the new genre list at Hodder with The Dirty Streets of Heaven, the first in a new Urban Fantasy thriller. The central schtik here isn't anything genre readers have not seen before. The front cover of the proof proclaims "Bobby Dollar is a private investigator with a difference. For one, he's dead. For another, he's an angel." In truth, that makes him pretty similar to most UF detectives - they're either dead, or zombies, or werewolves, or angels or leprecauns or whatever. However, it's clear that Hodder have every intention of marketing this well beyond the usual genre audience and if they manage to take it into the mainstream, so much the better.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven will be published in hard cover in September.

"Bobby Dollar would like to know what he was like when he was alive, but too much of his time is spent working as an extremely minor functionary in the Heavenly Host as an afterlife investigator and advocate for the recently departed. And now he’s stepped into the middle of something that has both sides very nervous — an unprecedented number of missing souls.

A new chapter in the war between Heaven and Hell is about to open, and Bobby is right in the middle of it. Someone has summoned a truly unpleasant Babylonian demon that’s doing its best to track him down and rip him to pieces. His opposite number on the case is arguably the world’s sexiest she-devil, and Bobby has feelings for her that Heaven definitely does not allow. And somehow he has to find out who he was before he becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of power that could end in the destruction of the entire human race."

The Wrath of Angels: The Eleventh Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton 30 August 2012 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof : A new novel from best-selling author John Connolly featuring his private detective Charlie Parker, due in hard cover from Hodder & Stoughton late August.

"In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of an aeroplane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time. What the wreckage conceals is more important than money: it is power. Hidden in the plane is a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the Devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and the serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter.

But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets.

Someone has survived the crash.
Some *thing* has survived the crash.
And it is waiting . . .
"

Tomorrow, the Killing (Low Town 2) by Daniel Polansky (Hodder & Stoughton 11 October 2012 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Daniel Polansky's follow-up to his excellent debut The Straight Razor Cure (published in the US as Low Town), which I reviewed here last August. Tomorrow the Killing is due in hard cover from Hodder & Stoughton in October and if it's even half as good as the first (and I hear it may even be better!) I shall definitely be seeking it out.

"Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

Dark, violent, and shot through with corruption, TOMORROW, THE KILLING is a fantastic successor to one of the most heralded fantasy debuts of recent times."

Orbit

13 (Women of the Otherworld) by Kelley Armstrong (Orbit 24 July 2012 / £16.99) - Kelley Armstrong has been a consistently high quality author for Orbit here in the UK, her strong performance indicated by the classy hard cover releases of her books, with mass market editions following.

Now, after more than a decade after she began with Bitten, she finally brings her Women of the Otherworld series to a gripping conclusion with the release of 13... " War is coming to the Otherworld. A sinister cult known as The Supernatural Liberation Movement is hell-bent on exposing the truth about supernaturals to the rest of the world. Their violent, ruthless plan has put everyone at risk: from werewolves to vampires, from witches to half-demons.

Savannah Levine - fiery and unpredictable - stands at the heart of the maelstrom. There is a new, dark magic inside her, granting her the power to summon spells of terrifying strength. But whether this magic is a gift or a curse, no one knows.

On the eve of battle, all the major players must come together in a last, desperate fight for survival - Elena and Clay; Adam and Savannah; Paige and Lucas; Jeremy and Jaime; Hope, Eve and more... They are fighting for lives. They are fighting for their loved ones.

They are fighting for the Otherworld."

Bitter Seeds (The Milkweed Triptych) by Ian Tregillis (Orbit 12 July 2012 / £7.99) - Ian Tregillis' brilliant, brilliant, brilliant debut is choc full of everything I want in a genre book - pitches as X-Men meets Inglorious Basterds - this is the second world war depicted along supernatural lines. Brilliant writing, brilliant plotting, brilliantly executed - my pick of the month for sure. Read it. Published in B format by Orbit.

"Their darkest powers are yet to be unleashed.

The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troops walking through walls, bursting into flames and hurling tanks into the air from afar.

If the British are to believe their eyes, a twisted Nazi scientist has been endowing German troops with unnatural, unstoppable powers. And Raybould will be forced to resort to dark methods to hold the impending invasion at bay.

But dealing with the occult exacts a price. And that price must be paid in blood."

Chimera: A Subterrene War Novel (The Subterrene War Series) by T. C. McCarthy (Orbit 02 August 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 third and final volume book in the sequence Chimera.

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!

"Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. A job that takes him to every dark spot and every rat hole he can find.

Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits.

Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell them everything they need to know about this new threat, the one called "Project Sunshine"."

God Save the Queen: Book One of the Immortal Empire by Kate Locke (Orbit 05 July 2012 / £7.99) - The web site for new Orbit author Kate Locke is sufficently vague in the information it provides. From what I can work out Locke has published books under another name (when, what name and what genre is left (deliberately?) unclear. Also unclear is where Locke hails from - she is described as an Anglophile, which suggests she is not a Brit - but might quite like to have been one. This is compounded by the release of her very Britishly branded novel God Save the Queen, an Urban Fantasy-steampunk-London-based-kitchen-sink-mash-up published by Orbit just in time to miss the Jubilee celebrations, but to cannily cash in on the London focus that will be world-wide when the Olympics hit town this summer.

"The Year is 2012 - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.

She's the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself."

Sharps by K.J. Parker (Orbit 05 July 2012 / ) - I dipped into K. J. Parker's Colours in the Steel back when this pseudonymous author first appeared on the scene in the late 1990s - and I really didn't 'get it', instead finding the writing remote, tinder dry and rather cerebral. As time has gone by, Parker's list of titles has grown longer and the plaudits ever louder. It was patently clear that I needed to give this acclaimed author another go and having dipped back into his work with his marvellous Subterranean Online novella A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong - which you can read for free here - and I'm really glad I did so.

Parker now has a new novel being release by Orbit, a stand-alone novel entitled Sharps and I'll be making some for it it on the TBR pile for sure.

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money . . .

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games of skill and chance. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.

When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all.

The Ascendant Stars: Book Three of Humanity's Fire by Michael Cobley (Orbit 02 August 2012 / £8.99) - 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, now released by Orbit in this mass market paperback edition certainly cements that reputation. US readers will see this fantastic series in stores later this year.

"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."

The Heretic Land by Tim Lebbon (Orbit 02 August 2012 / £8.99) - A brand new dark fantasy from prolific and industrious UK author Tim Lebbon, a writer whom Steven Erikson describes as "one of the genre's most original and inventive writers" - a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree.

With a Stoker and four British Fantasy awards to his name, Lebbon is in the midst of mining a rich seam of work, whether they be solo efforts, collaborations (most often with Christopher Golden), novels or shorter works.

Given he is a home-grown talent, Lebbon had, ironically, until recently been far more present in the US than in the UK, but this imbalance is finally being addressed by Orbit who this month release The Heritic Land in a smart paperback original edition.

"Arrested by the Ald, scholar Bon Ugane and merwoman Leki Borle find themselves on a prison ship bound for the island of Skythe - a barren land and the site of long-ago wars.

Warped and ruined by the ancient conflict, survival on the island is tough and its original inhabitants are neither friendly nor entirely still human. But something else waits on the island, a living weapon whose very existence is a heresy. Destroyed many years ago, it silently begins to clutch at life once more. "

The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture 10) by Iain M. Banks (Orbit 04 October 2012 / £20.00) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A new Culture novel from Iain M. Banks? Yes please!

I confess I've been a little underwhelmed by some of Iain M. Banks' recent SF offerings. I found The Algebraist a ponderous, thick-skinned beast (see my review here) and Matter (reviewed here), hailed as a return to The Culture turned out to be only peripherally so. I didn't get to his previous SF offering Surface Detail but have high hopes of The Hydrogen Sonata, due from Orbit in October. Fingers crossed it proves as stunning as those early books in the sequence which turned me onto SF more than anything else I read in my teens.

"The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.

An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.

Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous. "

The Iron Wyrm Affair: Bannon and Clare: Book 1 by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit 02 August 2012 / £7.99) - A switch of direction for Orbit author Lilith Saintcrow from the more orthodox, city-based, modern-day urban fantasy she's had published over here to a more steampunk based one. Personally I'm happy with either from this very capable author! The Iron Wyrm Affair is a paperback original released this month.

"Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot.."

The Traitor Queen: The Traitor Spy Trilogy: Book Three by Trudi Canavan (Orbit 02 August 2012 / ) - Product Description: Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels. The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the huge task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors. Lorkin has also had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians - or make Lorkin an outcast forever. The Traitor Queen is the triumphant conclusion to the Traitor Spy Trilogy, which began with The Ambassador's Mission and continued with The Rogue.

Paizo Publishing, LLC.

Pathfinder Tales: City of the Fallen Sky by Tim Pratt (Paizo Publishing, LLC. 19 June 2012 / £7.50) - Three tie in novels in the Pathfinder RPG franchise have arrived in the UK mailbox here at SFRevu Towers. This very popular D&D spin-off attracts some really high calibre authors - as these novels attest. First up is City of the Fallen Sky by Hugo award winner Tim Pratt, which arrived in stores in mid June, is

"Once an alchemical researcher with the dark scholars of the Technic League, Alaeron fled their arcane order when his conscience got the better of him, taking with him a few strange devices of unknown function. Now in hiding in a distant city, he’s happy to use his skills creating minor potions and wonders—at least until the back-alley rescue of an adventurer named Jaya lands him in trouble with a powerful crime lord.

In order to keep their heads, Alaeron and Jaya must travel across wide seas and steaming jungles in search of a wrecked flying city and the magical artifacts that can buy their freedom. Yet the Technic League hasn’t forgotten Alaeron’s betrayal, and an assassin armed with alien weaponry is hot on their trail..."

Pathfinder Tales: Nightglass by Liane Merciel (Paizo Publishing, LLC. 17 July 2012 / £7.50) - Next up, published in mass market paperback and available now is Nightglass, penned by US dark fantasy author Liane Merciel...

"In the grim nation of Nidal, carefully chosen children are trained to practice dark magic, summoning forth creatures of horror and shadow for the greater glory of the Midnight Lord. Isiem is one such student, a promising young shadowcaller whose budding powers are the envy of his peers. Upon coming of age, he’s dispatched on a diplomatic mission to the mountains of Devil’s Perch, where he’s meant to assist the armies of devil-worshiping Cheliax in clearing out a tribe of monstrous winged humanoids. Yet as the body count rises and Isiem comes face to face with the people he’s exterminating, lines begin to blur, and the shadowcaller must ask himself who the real monsters are..."

Pathfinder Tales: Song of the Serpent by Hugh Matthews (Paizo Publishing, LLC. 15 May 2012 / £7.50) - And finally, we have Song of the Serpent by Hughes Matthews - which I happen to know is a cunningly disguised pseudonym of veteran writer Matthew Hughes, perhaps best known latterly for his fabulous Vancian SF, The Tales of Hengis Hapthorn now available as ebooks, and his comic urban fantasy To Hell and Back series published by Angry Robot.

Song of the Serpent is a paperback original and is available now.

"To an experienced rogue like Krunzle the Quick, the merchant nation of Druma is full of treasures just waiting to be liberated. Yet when the fast-talking scoundrel gets caught stealing from one of the powerful prophets of Kalistrade, his only option is to undertake a dangerous mission to recover the merchant lord’s runaway daughter—and the magical artifact she took with her. Armed with an arsenal of decidedly unhelpful magical items and chaperoned by an intelligent snake necklace happy to choke him into submission, Krunzle must venture far from the cities of the merchant utopia and into a series of adventures that will make him a rich man—or a corpse."

Pyr

Cuttlefish by Dave Freer (Pyr 17 July 2012 / ) - A new title from Pyr, whose Young Adult line is shaping up very nicely indeed. Cuttlefish is the latest addition, an involving adventure by Dave Freer, perhaps best known for his many collaborations with Eric Flint. Now published in a very nice hard cover edition.

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London's canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power."

Hunter and Fox (A Shifted World Novel) by Philippa Ballantine (Pyr 08 June 2012 / ) - 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.

The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire) by Clay Griffith (Pyr 04 September 2012 / £11.48) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The final volume in Clay & Susan Griffith's Vampire Empire series - a series which I couldn't help but notice was plastered all over my news feeds and mentioned on many of the blogs I visit in the weeks before and following the release of the first book. Much positive coverage ensued (the press release for this new book features 24 (count' em!) great quotes for it's predecessor) and this third title, The Kingmakers, looks already to be attracting similar plaudits.

"Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.

To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fearsome weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.

As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans – Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.

The Vampire Empire trilogy rushes to a heart-wrenching conclusion of honor and love, hatred and vengeance, sacrifice and loss "

Solaris

Besieged (Outcast Chronicles 1) by Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris 05 July 2012 / £7.99) - The opening title in a brand new trilogy from prolific Australian writer Rowena Cory Daniells, an author whom Solaris are giving a big push. Besieged, is book one of The Outcast Chronicles, and the second two books in the series, Exile and Sanctuary, will follow on in consecutive months, making this what Solaris are calling 'The fantasy event of the summer!'.

"For nearly 300 years the mystics have lived alongside the true-men, who barely tolerate them, until...

King Charald is cursed with a half-blood mystic son. Sorne is raised to be a weapon against the mystics. Desperate to win his father’s respect, Sorne steals power to trigger visions. Unaware King Charald plans their downfall, the mystics are consumed by rivalry. although physically stronger, the males’ gifts are weaker than the females. Imoshen, the only female mystic to be raised by males, wants to end the feud. But the males resent her power and, even within her own sisterhood Imoshen’s enemies believe she is addicted to the male gifts.

Sorne tries, but cannot win the respect of true-men. When he has a vision of half-bloods in danger he has to ask himself where his loyalty lies.

Convinced he can destroy the mystics, King Charald plans to lay siege to their island city. Will Imoshen win the trust of the mystic leaders and, if she does, will she believe the visions of a half-blood?"

Exile (Outcast Chronicles 2) by Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris 02 August 2012 / £7.99) - And, as promised, hot on the heels of Beseiged, comes Exile, the second in Rowena Cory Daniels' Outcast Chronicles. A Solaris paperback original - with, I must note, a striking cover visual that develops over the series...

"For over three hundred years the mystics have lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald lays siege to the mystic’s island city.

Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, is elected to negotiate with the true-man king. the male mystics still resent her, but she has an ally in Sorne, the half-blood, who was raised by true-men. even though he is vulnerable to her gifts, he gives Imoshen his loyalty. In return, she gives him the most dangerous of tasks, to spy for her.

She negotiates exile for her people. They must pack all their valuables, reach port and set sail by the first day of winter. But to do this, they have to cross a kingdom filled with true-men who are no longer bluffed by their gifts. Meanwhile, there are mystics living in the countryside, unaware that their people have been exiled.

King Charald announces any mystics who remain behind after they are exiled will be hunted down and executed."

Hush (Dragon Apocalypse 2) by James Maxey (Solaris 05 July 2012 / £7.99) - The follow up to James Maxey's excellent, high-energy dragon fest, Greatshadow.

Hush is book two of The Dragon Apocalypse and is truly excellent fantasy fare. A Solaris paperback original.

"The invulnerable, super-strong warrior Infidel has a secret: she’s lost her magical powers right at the moment when she needs them most. To keep a promise to a fallen friend, she must journey to the frozen wastelands of the north.

Her quest leads her through the abstract realms of the Sea of Wine, where she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all life. Hush, the primal dragon of cold, has formed an alliance with the ghost of a vengeful witch to murder Glorious, the dragon of the sun, plunging the world into an unending winter night.

Without her magical strength, can Infidel possibly survive her battle with Hush? If she fails to save glorious, will the world see another morning?"

Strange Chemistry

Katya's World by Jonathan L Howard (Strange Chemistry 11 November 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Angry Robot's new YA imprint Strange Chemistry launches later in the year and one of their early titles will be Katya's World, by Johannes Cabal the Necromancer author, Jonathan L. Howard. Release in both the UK and the US, in paperback and ebook in November.

"The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet."

Titan

The Dark Knight Rises- The Official Movie Novelization by Greg Cox (Titan 24 July 2012 / £7.99) - The movie of the moment receives the obligatory tie-in novelization, and Titan, who specialise in this area release Greg Cox's The Dark Knight Rises in this paperback original edition. Cox, incidentally, is a veteran tie-in author, having penned many such franchise novels - the bat is in safe hands!

"Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return in the thrilling and hotly anticipated conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.

The blockbuster movie will introduce new faces to the franchise as well, including Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Bane (Tom Hardy), John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard).

From the team that brought you Inception, The Dark Knight Rises is guaranteed to be the blockbuster hit of 2012. This enthralling official novelization will transport fans into a Gotham City once again under threat."

Titan Books

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino (Titan Books 20 July 2012 / £7.99) - Displaying once again their canny eye for talent, Titan Books have picked up UK and commonwealth rights to Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, a debut novel of the gothic variety from US author Michael Boccacino. The book is now published in B format paperback and has been released in the US by William Morrow. Notably it has been receiving some impressive advance comments, with Publishers Weekly saying that "Debut author Boccacino bowls the reader over with his note-perfect rendition of a spooky Victorian atmosphere."

"When Nanny Prum, the nanny to the young Darrow boys, is found mysteriously murdered in the forest, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to care for the children. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, the place for the things that cannot die, where Lily Darrow, the late mistress of Everton, has been waiting to pick up where she left off. She invites them into the ominous House of Darkling, a wondrous, dangerous place filled with enchantment, mystery and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human."

Zinovii Art Studio

The God Antenna by Niko Zinovii (Zinovii Art Studio 01 June 2012 / £8.88) - Sub-titled "a tale of extraterrestrial visitation", this self-published novel, with it's rather awful cover of two naked men in a swimming pool just doesn't look all that appealing to me. However one can't ignore the endorsements on the rear cover, with glowing comments from highly respected authors Ben Bova, Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick. Nick Zinovii's The God Antenna is a paperback release from Zinovii Art Studio.

"Imagine a little white pill that can dramatically boost your memory and IQ. Oh, just one thing-it also removes your ability to believe in God... Literary science fiction with a mythic semblance, The God Antenna is a story of unusual extraterrestrial visitation and much more: artificial intelligence, post-humanity, alien beings, and the origin of the ancient entity we call God. Set in rustic Gre...ece and Israel, the story is touched gently by future technology while grounded soundly to man's past. In this time of First Contact, the seemingly miraculous and unfathomable clashes head-on with rationality and science. The duplication of biblical miracles, new-men, a slave class of artificials, love and betrayal, the oldest world in the cosmos, Centaurs from across the void, and the astounding philosophical implications of extrasolar life, nature, and science all culminate in a global event unparalleled in all human history."

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