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UK Books Received- 12/2008  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

Elastic Press

Subtle Edens: An Anthology of Slipstream Fiction by (Elastic Press 31 October 2008 / £7.99) - "What is Slipstream? Slipstream may use the tropes and ideas of science fiction, fantasy and horror but is not bound by their rules. Slipstream may appear to be conventional literary fiction but falls outside the staid boundaries of the mainstream. In short, Slipstream is the most important, innovative and relevant fictional response to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Genre is dead; long live the genre that is not a genre!

In this anthology, award-winning editor Allen Ashley has collected 21 brand new Slipstream stories from across the globe from both established and up and coming writers. This is the fiction to thrill, puzzle, excite and disturb. You have nothing to lose but your preconceptions."

Gollancz

Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven 1) by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - To tie in with the release of a brand new Raven novel by British fantasy supremo, James Barclay, publisher Gollancz are reissuing the entire RavenDawnthiff marks the start of this excellent, must-read series.

"The Raven have fought together for years, six men carving out a living as swords for hire in the war that has torn Balaia apart, loyal only to themselves and their code. But when they agree to escort a Xesteskian mage on a secret mission they are pulled into a world of politics and ancients secrets. For the first time The Raven cannot trust even their own strength and prowess, for the first time their code is in doubt. How is it that they are fighting for one of the most evil colleges of magic known? Searching for the secret location of Dawnthief; a spell that could end the world?"

Demonstorm (Legends of the Raven 3) by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - Being book three of the second Raven trilogy, the rather idiosyncratic SFRevu database naturally wants to list this title as the second Barclay release this month - do not be fooled! - this, Demonstorm is most definitely book six in the series.

"Again the war-ravaged continent Balaia is in big trouble. Bigger than ever. Attacked for excellent reasons by the barbarian Wesmen, the magical college of Xetesk desperately misuses its doomsday weapon of "dimensional magic", and tears a hole between realms. Endless hordes of demons come swarming through, eager to make Balaia their new home. No ordinary weapon will kill them, but they can drain human souls with just a touch. The odds are, as always, impossible.

Elfsorrow: Legends of the Raven by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - The first book of the second Raven trilogy, I originally reviewed Elfsorrow back in 2002 - we're rerunning that review in this issue.

"The Raven travel to a new continent in search of mages to help the ruined college of Julatsa rebuild . . . and find themselves in the midst of an ancient curse - a curse that has unleashed a plague that threatens to wipe out the elven race. Barclay excels with another tale that pitches The Raven against the clock and unseen foes. Full of desperate fights and secret betrayals the story also fills in more of Balaia's history and delves deeper into the ancient emnities between the colleges" (see review)

Going Under: Quantum Gravity Book Three: Quantum Gravity Bk. 3 (Gollancz S.F.) by Justina Robson (Gollancz 20 November 2008 / £12.99) - Justina Robson's third Quantum Gravity novel, Going Under - see here for our review of books one and two in this superb series. A trade paperback published by Gollancz.

"...combines her trademark themes of identity and reality, magic and technology, break-neck plots, a mischievous sense of fun and a seriously sexy new heroine."

H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq (Gollancz 06 November 2008 / £8.99) - "In this prescient work, now with an introduction by Stephen King, Michel Houellebecq, the controversial and bestselling author of ATOMISED, focuses his considerable analytical skills on H.P. Lovecraft, one of the seminal horror writers of the early 20th century. Houellebecq's insights into the craft of writing illuminate both Lovecraft and Houellebecq's own work. The two are kindred spirits, sharing a uniquely dark worldview. But even as he outlines Lovecraft's rejection of this loathsome world, it is Houellebecq's adulation for the author that drives this work and makes it a love song, infusing the writing with an energy and passion that characterises Houellebecq's new novel. This is indispensable reading for anyone interested in Lovecraft, Houellebecq, or the past and future of horror."

Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven 3) by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - The concluding title in the first Raven trilogy, I reviewed Nightchild when it first came out back in 2001. That review is reprinted in this issue.

"...the Raven are faced with a terrible moral dilemma: Lyanna, the daughter of Raven warrior Denser and mage Erienne, has been blessed (or cursed) with the power of The One. This power is threatening the very land of Balaia and the four magic colleagues who are desperate to control the power or stop it--even if that means killing a five year old girl. Erienne, fearful for the life of her daughter, goes into hiding and the Raven have little time to find her. When they do, they face a terrible choice that none of them want to make." (see review)

Noonshade (Chronicles of the Raven 2) by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - Book two in Barclay's first Raven sequence, in Noonshade "...The Raven must fight to help the dragons of the Brood Kan defend the dimensional rip opened in the skies of Balaia by the casting of Dawnthief. And then they must somehow close the rip. And all the time the Wesmen are rampaging through Balaia, laying waste to its cities and besieging the mages of Julatsa in Dordova."

Ravensoul (Legends of the Raven 4) by James Barclay (Gollancz 20 November 2008 / £12.99) - The brand new Raven novel by James Barclay sees our favourite sword-wielding mercenaries return for a sequence of new adventures - released in trade paperback by Gollancz.

"The unknown warrior thought his days with the Raven were long behind him, until Hirad Coldheart, dead for ten years knocks on his door . . . The dead are not at rest. Something has travelled from far beyond the dimension which has Balaia and Calaius at its heart. It feeds off Manna. And without Manna all of Balaia and the spirit realms that surround it will collapse into nothing taking the living and the spirits of the dead with it into the void. This new threat cannot be reasoned with, it is heedless to threats or entreaties. Ethereal and so advanced it barely registers its prey as sentient it is bringing doom with it. Balaia, barely recovered from the demon onslaught is thrown into chaos as the dead walk the streets and hope fails. It is left to the Raven, both dead and alive to take their courage and their faith in each other into the spirit realms for one last fight."

Shadowheart: Legends of the Raven (Legends of the Raven 2) by James Barclay (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - Alas, this reissue of Shadowheart marks the last of the James Barclay backlist to be released this month - but come on, six oldies, plus one new one should keep you going for a week or two at least!

"Majors on sheers energy and a fast, often frenetic pace. Barclay writes with an assured gusto, has a great eye for action, and imbues his story with a fine imagination and jolts of wit. If ever there was a case of plot acting like a man-trap this is it. Barclay brings a genuine aesthetic to the fantasy action novel" -- Stan Nicholls

Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (Gollancz S.F.) by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz 29 December 2008 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : The new novel from Gwyneth Jones is a "...high octane retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo in space: a story of derring-do, honour, trechery, betrayal and vengeance..." - all of which sound pretty damn cool to me! Due for release before the end of 2008.

The Fade (Gollancz S.F.) by Chris Wooding (Gollancz 06 November 2008 / £7.99) - A brand new novel from the hugely talented Chris Wooding. The Fade is described thus by publisher Gollancz, who this month release their mass market paperback edition...

"A stunningly original fantasy... with a beautiful baroque world, sharp characterization and Chris Wooding's trademark insight into the fantasy genre, the dawning of The Fade is an event well worth waiting for."

Knowing Wooding's work as I do, I certainly do not dismiss this hype as mere hyperbole. See my reviews of The Braided Path Trilogy - The Weavers of Saramyr, The Skein of Lament and Ascendency Veil.

The Modern World (Gollancz S.F.) by Steph Swainston (Gollancz 13 November 2008 / £7.99) - The hugely talented British writer Steph Swainston offers up a third instalment of her inventive, innovative and powerfully written fantasy sequence that began with The Year of Our War. The Modern World follows the events of No Present Like Time and I was lucky enough to be able to read this in manuscript prior to publication. Simply put, it is just brilliant! Swainston is one of the few writers who truly lives up to the hype. If you've not yet discovered her writing, you're way out of touch! A Gollancz mass market paperback.

Steph Swainston's official web site is here.

The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus by Harry Harrison (Gollancz 20 November 2008 / £10.99) - Hoorah! Gollancz bring Harry Harrison's classic anti-hero back into print with the release of this wonderful omnibus edition, published this month in trade paperback. For only £10.99, you get The Stainless Steel Rat, The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge and The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World!

"Endlessly inventive and studded end to end with laugh-out-loud hilarity. What Terry Pratchett has done for fantasy, Harry Harrison did resoundingly for SF. His Stainless Steel Rat storms the barricades of po-faced Golden Age SF with laughing gas grenades and rams an explosive charge right up its complacent rock-ribbed arse." -- Richard Morgan

HarperVoyager

Ray Bradbury Stories: v. 1 by Ray Bradbury (HarperVoyager 01 December 2008 / £16.99) - The first of two huge compendium volumes released by HarperCollins Voyager collecting together the stories of Ray Bradbury. A fabulous trade paperback and perhaps the best candidate for a Christmas gift released this month - with the exception of volume two!

"One hundred classic stories from the celebrated author of Fahrenheit 451. In this, the first volume of Ray Bradbury's short stories, some of the author's finest works are published together, among them 'Homecoming', 'Veldt', 'A Sound of Thunder' and 'The Long Rain'. Join an ill-fated crew of astronauts pushed to the brink of insanity by the incessant and highly corrosive rain on Venus, a high-tech virtual reality playroom that comes to life with terrible consequences, and a safari company offering tours for the wealthy back in time to the prehistoric era to stalk and kill dinosaurs, resulting in the present they return to being irrevocably altered. This collection is a rare treasure trove of wonder; as apprehensive about technology and the fate of humanity as it is elegiaic of its irrepressible progress. Each story presents an enlightening and poetic facet of Bradbury's writing, every one as relevant now as when it was first written."

Ray Bradbury Stories: v. 2 by Ray Bradbury (HarperVoyager 01 December 2008 / £16.99) - "A scintillating collection of stories from the master of science fiction. Since the beginning of his career in the 1940s, Ray Bradbury has become synonymous with great science fiction from the pulp comic books of his early work to his adaptations for television, stage and screen and most notably for his masterpiece, 'Fahrenheit 451'. Bradbury has done a rare thing; to capture both the popular and literary imagination. Within these pages the reader will be transported to foreign and extraordinary worlds, become transfixed by visions of the past, present, and future and be left humbled and inspired by one of most absorbing and engaging writers of this century, and the last. This is the second of two volumes offering the very best of his short stories including 'The Garbage Collector', 'The Machineries of Joy' and 'The Toynbee Convector'."

Orbit

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks (Orbit 04 December 2008 / £7.99) - The third and final part of Brent Weeks's hugely popular and very highly regarded Night Angel trilogy. Beyond the Shadows is a paperback original from Orbit.

"A new queen has usurped the throne and is leading Cenaria into disaster. The country has become a broken realm with a threadbare army, little food, and no hope. Kylar Stern plans to reinstate his closest friend Logan as King, but can he really get away with murder? In the north, the Godking's death has thrown Khalidor into civil war. To gain the upper hand, one faction attempts to raise the goddess Khali herself. But they are playing with volatile powers, and trigger conflict on a vast scale. Seven armies will converge to save - or destroy - an entire continent. Kylar has finally learnt the bitter cost of immortality, and is faced with a task only he can complete. To save his friends, and perhaps his enemies, he must assassinate a goddess. Failure will doom the south. Success will cost him everything he's ever loved."

Dark Heart (Broken Man 2) by Russell Kirkpatrick (Orbit 04 December 2008 / £7.99) - Russell Kirkpatrick is fast becoming a force to be reckon with in the antipodean fantasy community. His Fire of Heaven trilogy went down well with readers in both hemispheres and this latest release Dark Heart is the second novel in his Husk trilogy. The first in this series, Path of Revenge beat off seven competing novels to win the Sir Julius Vogel Award, the premier genre prize awarded by New Zealand fans.

Published here in the UK this month as an Orbit trade paperback. Find out more at the authors web site.

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore (Orbit 04 December 2008 / £6.99) - Seasonal silliness from the prolifically silly Christopher Moore. The Stupidest Angel is a "heart-warming tale of Christmas terror". This is the UK mass market release from Orbit.

"'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas and little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Josh is sure he saw Santa take a shovel to the head and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please Santa, come back from the dead! But coming to Earth seeking a small child whose wish needs granting is none other than Archangel Raziel. Unfortunately, he's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch and before you can say 'Kris Kringle,' he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen."

Pan Books

Thunder Moon by Lori Handeland (Pan Books 05 December 2008 / £6.99) - The latest UK release from Lori Handeland who this year celebrates 25 years since her first novel sale. Thunder Moon is a Pan paperback original.

"There's something in the air tonight ...Practical, sceptical Grace McDaniel was not looking for romance. The sheriff of Lake Bluff, Georgia, and the granddaughter of a Cherokee doctor, Grace's hands are full with the daily trouble of small-town life. Arriving in the wake of a freak storm is Ian Walker, a mysterious stranger who blends modern medicine and traditional Native American cures. Even though she is wary of his ideas, Grace cannot resist what his touch awakens in her. But Ian is hiding a terrifying secret. And only he knows the truth about a creature stalking the citizens of Lake Bluff. A creature who preys on the dying ...and then on the young, the living, the vibrant ...Now, to save her people, Grace must put her faith in Ian's haunting power and succumb to her wildest passions - before the rumble of thunder fills the air, and a relentless evil strikes again"

Penguin

Journey into Space by Toby Litt (Penguin 05 March 2009 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy : Mainstream novelist Toby Litt crosses over into Science Fiction with his forthcoming novel Journey into Space, due next March from Penguin.

"A vast generation ship hurtles away from a violent, troubled Earth to settle on a distant planet orbiting an alien star. Those who set out on this journey are long-since dead. Those who will arrive at their destination have yet to be born. For those who must live and die in the cold emptiness between the stars, there is only the claustrophobic permanence of non-being. Life lived in unending stasis. Then the unthinkable happens: two souls - Auguste and Celeste - rebel. And from the fruit of their rebellion comes a new and powerful force which will take charge of the ship's destiny. Journey into Space is science fiction at its most classic and beguiling: timeless, vast in scope and daring in execution."

Solaris

Biohell by Andy Remic (Solaris 02 February 2009 / £7.99) - Andy Remic's sequel to his no-holds-barred-kick-ass-out-and-out-SF-adventure novel War Marchine... irrefutable proof that hyphens can kill! Biohell is published in mass market paperback by Solaris.

" On a planet teeming with corruption, a global technology corporation manufactures the Biomod Human Upgrade. However, when hackers break the code it heads onto the black market, creating a zombie population packed with hardcore weaponry. The Combat-K squad must uncover what's really turned this planet into a wasteland of murder and mutations, and they focus on the darkness at the heart of the corporation that created the upgrade…"

Dark Haven (Chronicles of the Necromancer3) by Gail Martin (Solaris 02 February 2009 / £7.99) - Solaris switch to a friendlier and more portable paperback original format for this first appearance of book three in Gail Z. Martin's Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Dark Havens is available in February 2009.

Be sure to check out Gail's excellent website, where sneak peaks of this new book are available in all sorts of formats.

"The kingdom of Margolan lies in ruin. Martris Drayke, the new king, must rebuild his country in the aftermath of battle, while a new war looms on the horizon. Meanwhile Jonmarc Vahanian is now the Lord of Dark Haven, and there is defiance from the vampires of the Vayash Moru at the prospect of a mortal leader. But can he earn their trust, and at what cost?"

Poe by Ellen Datlow (Ed) (Solaris 05 January 2009 / £7.99) - Solaris further enhance their growing reputation with the publication of Poe - nineteen tales inspired by guess who...? Yep! Edgar Allen Poe. This, the latest in a series of superb anthologies released by Solaris, has been edited by the evergreen and brilliant Ellen Datlow and ties in with 2009 being the bicentennial anniversary of Poe's birth. Poe contains all new stories by Kim Newman (one of my favourite short story writers), Gregory Frost, Pat Cadigan, Lucius Shepard, Nick Royle and others.

The Dragons' Nine Sons by Chris Roberson (Solaris 02 February 2009 / £7.99) - The mass market edition of The Dragon's Nine Sons by the supremely talented Chris Roberson, a young writer whose work I admire very much indeed -- see my reviews of Paragea and Set the Seas on Fire. This novel "marks the start of the epic Celestial Empire sequence, one of the most original and exciting series in modern science fiction." Check out the Solaris web site for more on this and do take a look at Roberson's excellent and informative web site.

"A disgraced naval captain and a commando who knows secrets he should never have learned are picked to lead a suicide mission, piloting a salvaged Mexica spacecraft to Xolotl, the asteroid stronghold of their enemies, armed with enough explosives to reduce the Mexica base to dust. But when they arrive to find dozens of Chinese prisoners destined to be used as human sacrifices, their suicide mission suddenly becomes a rescue operation." (see review)

Three Unbroken (Celestial Empire 3) by Chris Roberson (Solaris 02 February 2009 / £7.99) - Previously available only in online segments via the Solaris web site, this paperback original edition of Chris Roberson's Three Unbroken is part of his fascinating Celestial Empire series.

"It is the age of the Celestial Empire, and the mighty civilizations of Imperial China and Mexica have taken their ancient war to the red planet, Fire Star. The grand sweep of the battle is presented through the eyes of three members of the Dragon Throne's armed services from their induction into the armed forces to their eventual fight for survival on the front line. Time and time again they find themselves locked in a deadly struggle with the Jaguar Knights and Eagle Knights of the Mexica Dominion, and the fate of a new world lies in the balance."

Tor

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier (Tor 05 December 2008 / £7.99) - The magical sequel to Wildwood Dancing -- a beautiful young adult fantasy tale set in the glamorous world of Istanbul.

The new novel from Juliet Marillier, Cybele's Secret now available in mass market paperback from Tor UK.

"At seventeen, scholarly Paula embarks on an adventure - a trip to Istanbul with her merchant father, Teodor, to purchase an ancient artefact known as Cybele's Gift. Paula's fervent wish to rediscover the mysterious Other Kingdom, the realm she and her sisters visited as children, has been replaced by a more practical ambition: to become a trader in books and manuscripts. But the ways of the Other Kingdom are never predictable. Clues and whispers soon convince Paula that she has been set a magical quest - and that the person laying the trail may be her lost sister Tati.Competition for Cybele's Gift is fierce, and Paula and Teodor soon find themselves in deadly danger in the great Ottoman city. Their protector against worldly perils is hired guard Stoyan, a young man with secrets of his own. When the artefact is finally unveiled, Paula finds herself on a wild chase by sea and land, accompanied by an unlikely pair of companions in adventure. Puzzles, riddles, tests of strength, and of loyalty, lie before them, and the price of failure is death. Along the way there are lessons to be learned in wisdom, trust and love."

The Clan Corporate (Merchant Princes 3) by Charles Stross (Tor 05 December 2008 / £6.99) - The third of Stross's Merchant Princes books is published in the UK (having first appeared in the US a couple of years ago) - a paperback original from Tor UK.

"Miriam Beckstein has gotten in touch with her roots and they have nearly strangled her. A young, hip, business journalist in Boston, she discovered (in The Family Trade) that her family comes from an alternate reality, that she is very well-connected, and that her family is a lot too much like the Mafia for comfort. In addition, starting with the fact that women are family property and required to breed more family members with the unique talent to walk between worlds, she has tried to remain an outsider and her own woman. And start a profitable business in a third world she has discovered, outside the family reach (recounted in "The Hidden Family"). She fell in love with a distant relative but he's dead, killed saving her life.There have been murders, betrayals. Now, however, in "The Clan Corporate", she may be overreaching. And if she gets caught, death or a fate worse is around the bend. There is for instance the brain-damaged son of the local king who needs a wife. But they'd never make her do that, would they?"

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