UK Books Column - March 2007 by John Berlyne
( 01 March 2007 / ) - Welcome to this months UK Books Column. We've done a little early spring cleaning around here, and this slightly new look for the column is the result. The first improvement is this - my opportunity to wax lyrical on all the titles we've received here at SFRevu Towers (UK) - and in fact it has been a bumper month, due to the Christmas backlog finally arriving. As with everywhere, our publishers slow down a little in late December and take a well deserved rest - which can mean review copies for December and January go out a little late. Consequently, this months listings include a fair number of titles that have been in bookstores for some weeks.
Additionally, you'll see listings for quite a number of proof copies of forthcoming titles - many of which I'll be reviewing over the coming editions of SFRevu.
This month author Juliet McKenna reviews two titles for us - Grave Sight, the start of a new series by Charlaine Harris, and Dante's Girl, a rather good supernatural-vampire-thriller-with-a-strong-female-protagonist by Natasha Rhodes which is one of the launch title from new publisher Solaris. My humble offering in review terms is also without doubt my top pick for the month - Joe Abercrombie's Before They Are Hanged - fantastic fantasy fare that you don't want to miss.
Until next month...
The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks
(ATOM 28 November 2006 / £7.99) - The third title in the original Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks follows the two preceding works in these new smart hard cover edition from Atom. Be sure to check out the author's excellent and informative web site. Seminal reading for any new reader dipping a toe into the fantasy genre...
"If Harry Potter has given you a thirst for fantasy and you have not discovered the magic of Terry Brooks, you are in for a treat." -- Rocky Mountain News.
Scales by Anthony, G Williams
(authorsonline.co.uk 11 January 2007 / £9.99) - A mysterious accident leaves Matt Johnson with massive burns. When he recovers months later, he is no longer entirely human.
His search to discover what happened to him and his struggle to survive in a hostile world, lead to discoveries which threaten the existence of human civilisation. He has the chance to avert disaster, but time is running out...
By the authors of The Foresight War.
Bodley Head Children's Books
The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson
(Bodley Head Children's Books 07 June 2007 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Kate Thompson's The New Policeman won a whole host of awards back in 2005 - including (the the Children's fiction category) the Guardian Fictions Prixe, the Whitbread, the Irish book award, and it has been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal - not bad going, eh? The Last of the High Kings is the sequel, due for publication in June.
Eldest (Inheritance Trilogy 2) by Christopher Paolini
(Corgi Adult 01 March 2007 / £6.99) - The sequel to Paolini's bestseller Eragon and the second book in The Inheritance Trilogy.
Like the first book, Eldest has received some savage comments on its derivative nature from reviewers - Entertainment Weekly branded it the number one worst book of 2005, whilst (according to Wikipedia) the Kirkus review said it was a "...patchwork of dialogue, characters and concepts pulled whole cloth from the fantasy canon."
Eragon (Inheritance Trilogy 1) by Christopher Paolini
(Corgi Adult 01 March 2007 / £6.99) - Eragon is a best selling fantasy written by American writer Christopher Paolini when he was not yet nineteen years old. It has since been made into a Hollywood blockbuster and looks like it may well stay in print for years to come. Not bad for a home schooled kid!
At the same time, in spite of its sales figures, critically Eragon has been mauled by some reviewers, who have branded it derivative and flawed. This latest reissue is a mass market paperback from Corgi.
Barnaby Grimes: The Curse of the Nightwolf by Paul Stewart
(Doubleday 07 June 2007 / £8.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Steampunk for young boys - a new hero comes forward in the form of Barnaby Grimes "...a tick-tock lad, running errands in his city, day and night, and 'high-stacking' around the rooftops in search of new mysteries to solve."
A new YA series from Paul Stweart and Chris Riddell, the pair behind the hugely popular Edge Chronicles. Look for Barnaby Grimes in book stores from June.
So Far, So Near by Mat Coward
(Elastic Press 31 January 2007 / £5.99) - I don't know anything about Mat Coward, but a little Googling and I see he is a prolific British writer, who has produced works of all lengths in all sorts of fields. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed that he's not registered on my radar.
Thankfully, Elastic Press has helped put this right with their release of So Far, So Near which the author describes as "my first collection of SF (and fantasy, horror, slipstream and allied trades)." Fellow authors have also commented - most notably Ken MacLeod who says that "... [Cowards work is] fresh, and with a sharp political mind behind observant eyes. Humanist SF with Martian cool!."
So Far, So Near is available in trade paperback and as a signed hardcover limited to 26 lettered copies. these are available direct from the publisher.
Battlestar Galactica (Gollancz S.F.) by Jeffrey A. Carver
(Gollancz 11 January 2007 / £6.99) - Yeah... so I'm old enough to remember the original Battlestar Galactica!!! What of it?
The new incarnation of this hoary old SF TV show is currently one of the hottest genre shows around and Gollancz bring the first in a series tie-in novels to the UK market. Jeffey A. Carvers novel is a mass market paperback release.
Before They Are Hanged: Book Two Of The First Law (Gollancz SF S.) by Joe Abercrombie
(Gollancz 15 March, 2007 / £9.99) - The superb sequel to the superb debut novel The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie - a young British fantasy writer who is set to have a long and celebrated career. Dark, deeply ironic and full of character gems that will appeal to your cynical side, Before They Are Hanged is as brilliant as its predecessor. Highly recommended and reviewed this issue. (see review)
Black Juice (Gollancz S.F.) by Margo Lanagan
(Gollancz 08 February 2007 / £7.99) - I tend to prefer novel length works in my own reading, but every so often, a collection of short fiction crops up that simply cannot be ignored. Australian author Margo Lanagan's collection Black Juice is a perfect example of such a book, for it is rare that our larger genre publishers (certainly in the UK) will consider such collections in the least bit marketable. Gollancz showed real faith in Lanagan's wonderful work by bringing it to the attention of British readers with a hard cover release last year - I hope it now reaches a wider audience with this mass market paperback edition. Winner of the 2005 World Fantasy Award for best collection.
Celtika: The Merlin Codex: 1 (Gollancz S.F.) by Robert Holdstock
(Gollancz 11 January 2007 / £7.99) - Originally published by the now sadly defunct Simon & Schuster imprint Earthlight, Gollancz has rescued Robert Holdstock's fantasy sequence The Merlin Codex and has now released the third (and final?) book in the series (see below). To keep things neat, coinciding with the hard cover release of volume three, Gollancz have reissued volumes one and two in mass market editions.
Emperor (Gollancz S.F.) by Stephen Baxter
(Gollancz 08 February 2007 / £6.99) - One of British SF's most intelligent speculative writers, Stephen Baxter won many plaudits when this historical thriller, Emperor, the first in his Time's Tapestry series was released last year. Gollancz now issues it in mass market paperback.
"This is Baxter at his best, writing his historical fiction with an SF sensibility, and proving that genres are closer in style and creative demands than many readers realise." -- Guardian.
Mordant's Need: The Mirror Of Her Dreams & A Man Rides Through: by Stephen Donaldson
(Gollancz 18 January 2007 / £15.99) - A lonely young woman feels isolated from the world: she uses mirrors to reassure herself that she is still alive - and then they change her life when, one night, a young man appears through the mirror and persuades her to come with him to his own land, where mirrors are magical gateways to other places. This strange new land is in conflict, for war has been foretold, but the king appears completely uninterested in the fate of the world. It is left to the Imagers, masters of mirrors, try to decide the fate of the realm. Donaldson's firm control of the plot and his terrific characterisation make The Mirror of Her Dreams and the sequel, A Man Rides Through, a story of great intrigue and psychological intricacy, filled with sexual tension, lust and love, as well as magic, battles and excitement. The Mirror of Her Dreams is a compelling read: a book that should be on every fantasy fan's shelf.
Roadside Picnic (S.F. Masterworks) by Boris Strugatsky
(Gollancz 08 February 2007 / £6.99) - A classic piece of Russian SF - the brothers Strugatsky wrote their novel Roadside Picnic back in the early seventies and the book appeared thereafter in the west relatively quickly - 1977 to be precise. Gollancz now reissue it in their SF Masterworks series as #68. (For those of you out there who can enjoy their fiction without the feel of a book in their hand, Roadside Picnic can be read online for free at RussianSiFiction.com).
The Broken Kings: The Merlin Codex: 3 (Gollancz S.F.) by Robert Holdstock
(Gollancz 02 January 2007 / £14.99) - The final volume in Holdstock's Merlin Codex series. A Gollancz hard cover. Incidentally, finished copies have a dark cover that corresponds with the mass market releases of books one and two.
"...Holdstock weaves myth and history into a fabulous tale of honour, vengeance and magic. At its centre, moving along his never-ending path, is Merlin himself, an enchanter in the prime of his life, feckless, curious, powerful, yet a stranger to his own past - and a man about to find a true and honourable use for his talents." -- Publisher Blurb
The Iron Grail: The Merlin Codex: 2 (Gollancz S.F.) by Robert Holdstock
(Gollancz 11 January 2007 / £7.99) - Book two of Holdstock's series The Merlin Codex released by Gollancz in mass market.
"[A] dazzling reframing of Arthurian myth and Greek legend... With this remarkable work, Holdstock... more than lives up to his billing as one of the finest living crafters of myth." -- Publishers Weekly.
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gollancz S.F.) by Scott Lynch
(Gollancz 08 February 2007 / £7.99) - A big hit last year, Scott Lynch's remarkable debut is released in mass market paperback. A sure fire hit, this swashbuckling, stylish adventure hearlds the arrival of a major novelist on the scene. A sequel is due for release this summer and I for one cannot wait!! Meantime, be sure to check into Scott's Blog from time to time for news and updates and general Lynch related chit-chat. (see review)
The Mark Of The Beast And Other Fantastical Tales (Fantasy Masterworks) by Rudyard Kipling
(Gollancz 11 January 2007 / £7.99) - A wonderful addition to Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks list. This collection of works by Rudyard Kipling shows off perfectly the extent of this authors fascination with the dark fantastic and offers up a huge helping of classic tales ranging from chilling ghost stories to disturbing psychological horror. This volume features a specially written introduction by Neil Gaiman and an Afterword by Stephen Jones.
Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert
(Hodder Paperback 08 March 2007 / £7.99) - Fleeing from the monstrous Honored Matres -- dark counterparts of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood -- Duncan Idaho, the military genius Bashar Miles Teg, a woman named Sheeana who can talk to sandworms, and a group of desperate refugees explore the boundaries of the universe. Aboard their sophisticated no-ship, they have used long-stored cells to resurrect heroes and villains from the past, including Paul Muad'dib and his love Chani, Duke Leto Atreides and his Lady Jessica, even the traitor Doctor Yueh, all in preparation for a final confrontation with a mysterious outside Enemy so great it can destroy even the terrible Honored Matres. And, deep in the hold of their giant ship, the refugees carry the last surviving sandworms from devastated Arrakis, as they search the universe for a new Dune.
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks
(Little, Brown 01 March 2007 / £17.99) - A new Iain Banks novel is definitely of interest to our readers, regardless of whether the authors middle initial is on the cover (for those that don't know, under the name Iain M. Banks, he writes hard SF - and books without the M are literary fiction).
The Steep Approach to Garbadale is Bank's first mainstream work in nearly five years and is described as his "... most absorbing story since The Crow Road." A personal favourite author of mine, (I've been reading Banks's works for over twenty years) if you've only dipped into his genre work, a whole list of wonderful novels awaits you... why not start with this one?
Angels Cry Too by Mark Garrett
(Matador 03 April 2007 / £7.99) - Paul Sayers is an ordinary man, living an average life in the Fens. A first meeting with Rebecca turns out not to be chance, as he'd supposed, but the start of a succession of life-changing events. Rebecca guides Paul through a car accident safely, an accident in which he was supposed to die...but her subsequent disappearance forces him to conclude that she is his guardian angel. After a lonely year his dreams start to be haunted by vivid nightmares, and he senses something is dreadfully wrong. Days later he is visited by another angel, who tells him that Rebecca has been taken by a group of beings whose only desire is to bring devastation to the guardians. Paul sets out to find Rebecca, but the path is fraught with danger. Will he succeed in finding Rebecca, and can he overcome the evil that haunts him? And can life ever be normal again?
Barking by Tom Holt
(Orbit 01 March 2007 / £12.99) - Monsters are roaming the streets of London. Of course, some monsters are scarier than others: Unicorns? No bother. Vampires? Big deal. Werewolves? Ho hum. Lawyers? ...Aaargh! Duncan's boss doesn't think that he's cut out to be a lawyer. He isn't a pack animal. He lacks the killer instinct. But when his best friend from school barges his way back into Duncan's life, with a full supporting cast of lawyers, ex-wives, zombies and snow-white unicorns, it's not long before things become distinctly unsettling. Hairy, even.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Runelords) by David Farland
(Orbit 01 February 2007 / £7.99) - The epic struggle begun in The Sum of All Men [see below] continues in Brotherhood of the Wolf. Gaborn has managed to drive off Raj Ahten, but Ahten is far from defeated. Striking at far-flung cities and fortresses and killing dedicates, Ahten seeks to draw out the Earth King from his seat of power, in order to crush him. But as they weaken each other's forces in battle, the armies of an ancient and implacable enemy issue forth from the very bowels of the Earth...
Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow
(Orbit 07 December 2006 / £6.99) - Mixed word on this Gothy supernatural thriller from Lilith Saintcrow, the second of her Dante Valentine novels and a paperback original release from Orbit. There's stiff competition in this corner of the marketplace and much of it comes from fellow Orbit authors! Find out more on Saintcrow's web site.
"Something is wrong in Saint City. Psions are dying. The cops can;t catch the killer or find what connects the victims, leaving them with one option. They call in Valentine."
Dragonmaster: The Omnibus Edition (Dragonmaster) by Chris Bunch
(Orbit 01 February 2007 / £9.99) - A wonderful omnibus release from Orbit of all three volumes of Chris Bunch's Dragonmaster trilogy.
"When the uneasy peace of the three kingdoms is threatened by war, Hal's dream of riding dragons becomes a reality. For this is a conflict like no other. For the first time, wild dragons have become living weapons. ridden by men of cold daring and ruthless ambition. And the greatest of the is Hal Kailas. Dragonmaster."
Glasshouse by Charles Stross
(Orbit 01 March 2007 / £6.99) - The latest Orbit release from prolific flavour-of-the-month (and deservedly so) Charles Stross whose novel Glasshouse is issued in mass market paperback here in the UK this month.
The US release was reviewed and highly recommended by Sam Lubell in our June 2006 issue. And in case you missed it, last months issue carried Ern's review of The Jennifer Morgue and an exclusive interview with the author.
In the Earth Abides the Flame (Fire of Heaven Trilogy) by Russell Kirkpatrick
(Orbit 06 November 2006 / £7.99) - A big hit in the southern hemisphere, the Fire of Heaven trilogy is being brought to the UK by Orbit. They now publish the second volume, the somewhat wordily titled In the Earth Abides the Flame. The third volume, The Right Hand of God is due to follow in May.
In an exciting development for Kirkpatrick, Orbit's new US imprint will be bringing the trilogy to an American audience as part of their initial release list. More on this in due course - in the meantime, check out Russell Kirkpatrick's website.
Last of the Wilds (Age of the Five) by Trudi Canavan
(Orbit 18 January 2007 / £7.99) - I think I'm right in saying that Trudi Canavan is Orbit's best selling writer at the moment - a fact supported by the seven figure deal they offered her to write a prequel sequence to her massively popular Black Magician Trilogy. Whilst we await the arrival of those books, Canavan's second (unrelated) trilogy, the Age of the Five is being published and January saw the mass market release of Last of the Wilds, the second title in the sequence.
A Sunday Times best selling author, Trudi Canavan's web site can be found here.
Shadowplay (Shadowmarch Trilogy) by Tad Williams
(Orbit 06 March 2007 / £18.99) - This chunky Orbit hardcover release is the sequel to the acclaimed bestseller Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, author of the acclaimed Otherland series and the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn sequence. He also wrote stand-alone novel The War of the Flowers, which I reviewed back in our May 2003 issue.
Shadowmarch has its own dedicated web site, and you can find out more about the author at www.tadwilliams.com .
Smoke and Mirrors by Tanya Huff
(Orbit 07 December 2006 / £6.99) - Having released Tanya Huff's entire Vicky Nelson sequence last year, Orbit is now catching up with the rest of her output. Smoke and Mirrors is the second in Huff's follow up Smoke and Shadows series, linked to her first series and sharing some of the main protagonists. A third title, Smoke and Ashes will follow. An orbit mass market paperback.
The Burning Tower by Larry Niven
(Orbit 18 January 2007 / £8.99) - Niven and Pournelle's 2005 sequel to their 2000 fantasy novel The Burning City. An Orbit mass market paperback edition.
"The people of Tep's Town are desperate. Monstrous invaders have emerged from the desert, and people are being slaughtered. Danger on the roads means no trade. No trade means that Tep's Town itself will die."
The Lair of Bones (Runelords) by David Farland
(Orbit 01 March 2007 / £7.99) - The stars fall from heaven and the very earth trembles in pain. With Gaborn's kingdom of Mystarria in ruins, four powerful kings march to claim its spoils, even as a vast army of reavers sallies forth from the underworld, intending to put an end to mankind. In one last-ditch effort to heal the earth, the wizard born Averan leads the Earth King, Gaborn Val Orden, far below the surface to the Lair of Bones, to face the leader of the reaver hordes. There Gaborn must confront an ancient evil - before the world is torn apart...
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
(Orbit 18 January 2007 / £6.99) - The latest of Christopher Moore's backlist to be released by Orbit in the UK. The Lust Lizard of Melacholy Cove (1997) is a mass market paperback edition.
" The town psychiatrist has decided to switch everybody in Pine Cove, California, from their normal antidepressants to placebos, so naturally -- well, to be accurate, artificially -- business is booming at the local blues bar. Trouble is, those lonely slide-guitar notes have also attracted a colossal sea beast named Steve with, shall we say, a thing for explosive oil tanker trucks. Suddenly, morose Pine Cove turns libidinous and is hit by a mysterious crime wave, and a beleaguered constable has to fight off his own gonzo appetites to find out whats wrong and what, if anything, to do about it."
The Sum of All Men (Runelords) by David Farland
(Orbit 01 February 2007 / £7.99) - In the first book of The Runelords, Raj Ahten, the Wolf Lord of Indhopal, uses magic to transform himself into the ultimate warrior: The Sum of All Men. He seeks to bring all of humanity under his rule - destroying anything and anyone in his path. Standing in his way is Prince Gaborn Val Orden, who must fulfil a 2,000-year-old prophecy and become the Earth King, a mythic figure who can unleash the forces of the earth itself. Only then will humanity have a chance to survive...
Traitor to the Blood by Barb Hendee
(Orbit 07 December 2006 / £6.99) - An orbit paperback original, previously publish by Roc in the US. The fourth of Barb and J.C. Hendee's Noble Blood novels. Traitor to the Blood continues this popular vampire saga set in a high fantasy world. Find out more at the Nobledead.com.
"A mix of Lord of the Rings.. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer... an egaging fantasy." -- Kevin J. Anderson
Wizardborn (Runelords) by David Farland
(Orbit 01 March 2007 / £7.99) - Reeling from the battle at Carris, the young king Gaborn Val Orden finds that he has lost the powers that let him protect his people. As he struggles to rid his land of reavers, he discovers that the creatures are more resourceful and terrifying than even he imagined. Desperate for any weapon that will aid him in this battle, all of his hopes come to rest upon the nine-year-old girl, Averan, the Wizardborn apprentice to the earth wizard Binnesman. Despite her fears, he must convince her to lead him in battle against the reaver lord of the underworld. Meanwhile the ailing Wolf Lord, Raj Ahten, learns that a reaver horde is decimating his own homeland. There, he confronts his enemy, and finds that he must choose to strip himself of all humanity or face ultimate defeat ...
Breakaway: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel by Joel Shepherd
(Prometheus Books 03 April 2007 / £7.66) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : Pyr's publicity material for Joel Shepherd's first Cassandra Kresnov novel displays some pretty stunning praise from all corners of the SF critical world, including (at the top of the list, I note!) a quote from our own top brass, Editor-in-Chief Ernest, whose November 06 review you can read in full by following this link.
Highly advanced killer android, Cassandra makes her return in Shepherd's new novel, Breakaway - look out for it in stores come April and check future issues for our review.
Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge by
(Prometheus Books February 2007 / £7.66) - Lou Anders, the big boss editor at Pyr in the US has put together another of his fabulous anthologies, featuring brand new stories by some of the best writers around.Fast Forward 1 - which by the nature of its title suggests it is the first in series of such collections is subtitled Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge contains offerings from British writers Ian McDonald, Justina Robson, Stephen Baxter and Tony Ballantyne and Ken Macleod. I believe some American writers may also have contributed :-)
Simon & Schuster Ltd
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
(Simon & Schuster Ltd 05 March 2007 / £18.99) - Already released in Canada to huge acclaim (it reached No. 2 in the Canadian bestseller lists) Ysabel is the new novel from Guy Gavriel Kay, one of the smartest and most meticulous of fantasy writers. This is a hard cover release by Simon & Schuster - and it sure seems a shame to me that they would spend all that money on the binding and jacket, charge £18.99 for the book, but print it on such horrible cheap paper! GGK collectors note : your first UK edition of Ysabelmay well be decay to saw-dust before the decade is out.
"Ysabel gains impetus and force from the blood-soaked soil of Provence itself. With its Celtic and Roman histories and mythologies, the region is fertile ground for the style of mythic storytelling that readers associate with Kay, and the land almost becomes a character in its own right. In Kay's hands, the tourist-friendly veneer is lifted away, revealing hills that run red with blood and memory, ruins that form the backdrop for ritual bonfires on Beltaine, and caves that sing of a love story that must play itself out, generation after generation." -- Toronto Globe & Mail
Thief with No Shadow by Emily Gee
(Solaris May 2007 / £4.08) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A debut fantasy novel from New Zealand author Emily Gee to be published by Solaris in April.
"Melke is one of the most unusual thieves ever to have walked the land of Bresse, aided by the magic which courses through her veins, allowing her to become unseen. When, however, it transpires that a necklace she has stolen holds the key to both saving her brother's life and to breaking a terrible curse, she has to do the unthinkable: steal it back from one of the most dangerous places known to man – the den of the fire-breathing salamanders.
Things are about to get very tough for Melke indeed, especially when she comes to realise that the people she thought were out to get her may actually be her only allies… Thief With No Shadow is a rich, romantic fantasy tale set in a world where the ordinary and extraordinary co-exist, where fire-breathing salamanders live alongside men, and magic runs in the blood of mortals."
Farthing Vol. 5 by
(Wendy Bradley 21 February 2007 / ) - The fifth issue of Farthing - the slick and inventive digest-sized genre fiction magazine put together by Wendy Bradley.
This new issue features work by Christopher East, Steve Vance, Anna Feruglio Dal Dan, A.H. Jennings, Charlie Avery, Craig Wolf, David Taub and Helen Keeble.
High quality fanzines like Farthing have been the backbone of fandom for years - particularly in that they are often the places that writers cut their teeth - but they need our support. Do be sure to visit the Farthing web site and consider talking out a subscription.
Return to Index