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UK Books Received- 01/2009  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

Gollancz

Necrophenia (Gollancz S.F.) by Robert Rankin (Gollancz 29 December 2008 / £14.99) - Robert Rankin's 30th novel Necrophenia is published by Gollancz in hard cover.

Rankin is an original (to say the least!) and consistently comes up with some of the worst best puns ever found in the title of a book! - check out my reviews of his novel The Witches of Chiswick and The Brightonomicon

"When I first put biro to exercise book, way back in the nineteen-seventies, all young and fearless and hairy of head, it was my bold intention to create a new literary genre. It would have been called Far Fetched Fiction and I would have been its only exponent. My reasons for this were two fold. Firstly I had no wish to compete with any other living writer. And, secondly, I wanted my own special shelf in W H Smith " -- Robert Rankin.

Orcs Bad Blood 1: Weapons of Magical Destruction by Stan Nichols (Gollancz 21 December 2008 / £12.99) - "The original Orcs trilogy ended with Stryke and his band of Orcs finding the ancestral Orc home hidden in another dimension. Orcs Bad Blood will tell the story of their hectic adventures in the other dimensions as they attempt to find peace for their race and escape the ever greedy, savage expansion of mankind. Fast moving, tongue-in-cheek and full of sorcery and bloodshed these are the perfect reads for the fantasy reader who wants a little fresh perspective on the endless war between good and evil."

Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (Gollancz S.F.) by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz 29 December 2008 / £14.99) - The new novel from Gwyneth Jones, is released by Gollancz in trade paperback. This is a "...high octane retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo in space: a story of derring-do, honour, trechery, betrayal and vengeance..."

"Bibi (it means princess) is the sole survivor of a massacre. Lady Nef, the General's wife, stops the General taking her as a concubine, winning Bibi's eternal and passionate devotion. Years later, a diplomatic mission to a supposedly friendly planet ends in disaster. Bibi, now a junior officer in Lady Nef's household, is incarcerated with her mistress in the notorious high-security prison on Fenmu. Lady Nef, 150 years old when arrested, dies in prison; she bequeaths to Bibi her rank, her level of access to the AI systems that permeate the Diaspora of inhabited planets, and a highly secret set of 4-space co-ordinates. Bibi uses Lady Nef's death to escape from Fenmu, finds Spirit, an instantaneous-transit space pod, and follows Lady Nef's co-ordinates to a treasure beyond price: a virgin, perfect, uninhabited planet. Soon after this, the mysterious, fantastically wealthy Princess of Bois Dormant makes her debut in the high society of Speranza, the Diaspora's capital city. Thus disguised, Bibi sets out to discover why she and her mistress were condemned to a living hell; and to punish the guilty. Twenty years have passed: Lady Nef's enemies now rule Speranza. As she uncovers a forgotten, ruthless and far-reaching conspiracy, Bibi's vengeance is transformed into a project of world-changing reparation. "

The Colour of Magic/The Light Fantastic: Anniversary Edition: AND The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (Gollancz 19 December 2008 / £20.00) - A beautifully illustrated hard cover 25th anniversary reissue of Pratchett's first two Discworld novels - The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. This heavy volume contains full colour illustrations by Stephen Player.

Gorgeous!

The Colour of Magic: The Illustrated Screenplay (Gollancz S.F.) by Terry Pratchett (Gollancz 27 November 2008 / £20.00) - A huge, lavishly produced, full colour and very "wantable" release. The Colour of Magic Illustrated Screenplay is the latest tie in book for the latest of Vadim Jean's excellent Pratchett TV movie adaptations, screened on Sky One last Easter and no doubt to be (deservedly, I should add) repeated ad infinitum.

The Grave Thief by Tom Lloyd (Gollancz 29 December 2008 / £12.99) - The third title in Tom Lloyd's Twilight Reign series, The Grave Thief, is released by Gollancz.

"Scree has been wiped from the face of the Land in a brutal demonstration of intent. While those responsible scatter to work on the next step in their plan, the stakes are raised - all the way to the heavens - as the Gods themselves enter the fray. Returning home to a nation divided by fanaticism, Lord Isak is haunted both by the consequences of his actions in Scree and by visions of his own impending death. As the full extent of Azaer's schemes become clearer, he realises prophecy and zealotry must play their part in his battle-plans if there is to be any chance of surviving the coming years. As a white-eye, Isak has had to embrace the darker parts of his own soul, but now the savage religious fervour sweeping his nation must also be accepted and turned to purpose, in the name of survival. With the battle lines vague and allegiances uncertain, the time for heartless decisions and ruthless action has come. Two figures oppose Isak and his allies: the greatest warrior in history, who dreams of empire and Godhood, and a newborn baby whose dreams have no limit."

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. Masterworks) by Robert A. Heinlein (Gollancz 11 December 2008 / £7.99) - Gollancz add Heinlein's seminal 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to the superlative Masterworks series - the only question is begs is why did it take them so long! A true classic, released as a PPC hard cover with glossy boards.

"Luna is an open penal colony and the regime is a harsh one. Not surprisingly, revolution against the hated authority is planned. But the key figures in the revolt are an unlikely crew: Manuel Garcia OKelly, an engaging jack of all trades, the beautiful Wyoming Knott - and Mike, a lonely computer who likes to make up jokes..."

Harper

Justice Denied by J.A. Jance (Harper 01 December 2008 / £7.99) - A taut thriller from New York best-selling author J. A. Jance - visit her official web site here.

"The investigation of LaShawn Tompkins's murder seems straightforward enough. Upon his release from death row, the ex-drug dealer returned to his old neighborhood, where he was gunned down on his mother's doorstep. Just another case of turf warfare.

At least that's what it looks like on the surface to Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont, who's been handed the assignment under the strictest confidence. But as Beau starts digging, the situation becomes more complicated than he'd thought. It appears that LaShawn really had turned over a new leaf at the King Street Mission and his murder was premeditated. Someone had targeted the man for death.

Meanwhile, Beau's lover and fellow cop, Mel Soames, is given her own hush-hush investigation. A routine check on registered sex offenders has revealed a disturbing pattern: they're dying off at an alarming rate, and not all due to natural causes. Details of the latest death suggest an inside job, and Mel isn't letting this go.

Suddenly, Mel's investigation becomes entangled with Beau's, and the two begin to uncover a nightmarish conspiracy that could involve people in high places—including their own top brass."

HarperVoyager

The Nightmare Factory: Bk. 2 by Thomas Ligotti (HarperVoyager 05 January 2009 / £10.00) - The mind-bending universe of horror master Thomas Ligotti awaits in another graphic adaptation of his haunting work. Enter a sphere where bizarre gas station carnivals serve as the first stop on the road to oblivion, a malevolent puppet steals people's identities, a deranged chemist engages in horrific experiments, and nameless beings skulk about in a stone tower, waiting to envelop the unsuspecting into the nebulous reaches of unreality.

Ligotti's world is a thoroughly modern one where both identity and reality are fleeting, and nothing is truly as it appears to be.

Four more of Ligotti's arresting tales are adapted into fine graphic literature by famed creators Stuart Moore, Joe Harris, Vasilis Lolos (The Last Call), Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Toby Cypress (Killing Girl), and Nick Stakal (Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby), featuring all-new introductions to each story by Thomas Ligotti.

Hodder Paperback

The Reapers by John Connolly (Hodder Paperback 19 February 2009 / £6.99) - The latest novel from best-selling author John Connolly featuring his private detective Charlie Parker, is published in mass market paperback by Hodder & Stoughton.

"They are the Reapers, the elite among killers. Men so terrifying that their names are mentioned only in whispers. The assassin Louis is one of them. But now Louis, and his partner, Angel, are themselves targets. And there is no shortage of suspects. A wealthy recluse sends them north to a town that no longer exists on a map. A town ruled by a man with very personal reasons for wanting Louis's blood spilt. There they find themselves trapped, isolated, and at the mercy of a killer feared above all others: the assassin of assassins, Bliss. Thanks to former detective Charlie Parker, help is on its way. But can Angel and Louis stay alive long enough for it to reach them?"

Macmillan New Writing

Hoard of Mhorrer by M.F.W. Curran (Macmillan New Writing 02 January 2009 / £14.99) - Curren's second novel is a sequel to his 2007 début, The Secret War. This hardback release of The Hoard of Mhorror is a hard cover from Macmillan New Writing.

" A fearless cohort of soldier-monks, led by Lieutenant William Saxon, has been dispatched to Egypt on the most important mission in history. For thousands of years a great secret has been kept: a stockpile of appalling malevolence, which, if let loose, will plunge the world into eternal damnation. This is the Hoard of Mhorrer. The soldiers must find and destroy the Hoard before the daemonic agents of the evil Count Ordrane of Draak locate it.

In a heart-stopping race against time, ranging from Papal Rome to the desolate heart of Egypt's Sinai peninsula, the soldiers must battle murderous militiamen and pitiless daemons, and finally, terrifyingly, the bloodthirsty Guardians of the Horde.

If William and his men succeed, the clandestine war between Heaven and Hell will at last begin to favour the forces of light. But if they fail, and the agents of Hell claim the Hoard, then they will unleash an army of invincible daemons, and humankind – what is left of it – will come to know the true meaning of evil."

Orbit

Gears of War: Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss (Orbit 04 December 2008 / £7.99) - Karen Traviss, as well as writing her own wonderful stuff, has made a hugely successful career writing franchise tie-in novels - a career choice that has made her a #1 New York Times best selling author and one of the best around when it comes to this kind of thing.

This latest is a tie into the Gears of War computer game - Aspho Fields is a paperback original from Orbit.

Hammer of God (Godspeaker) by Karen Miller (Orbit 15 January 2009 / £7.99) - The third title in Karen Miller's acclaimed Godspeaker trilogy - Hammer of God is published in paperback by Orbit.

"In Ethrea, Rhian sits upon a precarious throne. Defiant noblemen who won't accept her rule threaten the stability of her kingdom, Zandakar, a man she thought was her friend, has been revealed as the son of a woman sworn to destroy her and her husband, King Alasdair, is increasingly unsure of her love. Rhian's most grave problem, however, lay outside the borders of her realm. The trading nations refuse to believe Mijak is a threat and promise reprisals if she dares to protect her realm. If she cannot unite the warring factions within her land, a move again Mijak might prove the end of her reign. Which is exactly what the empress of Mijak has planned..."

Orphan's Alliance (Jason Wander Series) by Robert Buettner (Orbit 15 January 2009 / £6.99) - The fourth title in Robert Buettner's Orphan series - Orphan's Alliance is an Orbit paperback original.

"Jason's army defeated the slugs on Bren and now, fifteen years later, he finds himself once more commanding an invasion force. This time they must expel the Slugs from a small moon, where they decimated the human inhabitants. And although Earth has finally begun to mobilise against the aggressors, a new and problematic faction has arisen. The totalitarian government of Tressel, a strategically-situated planet, is willing to defeat the Slugs at any cost ? regardless of the human casualties. Unfortunately for Jason, his godson, Jude, is attracted to Tressel's total-war policies. As the struggle continues, Jason is not only fighting for the survival of the human race, but for his relationship with the only family he has left."

The Accidental Sorcerer (Rogue Agent) by K.E. Mills (Orbit 15 January 2009 / £6.99) - The first title in new sequence of comic fantasy written by K.E. Mills (aka Karen Miller). Looks like fun! An orbit paperback original.

" For the life of him, Gerald Dunwoody can't seem to keep a job or a roof over his head. When disaster strikes again it looks like his days of being a wizard are over for good ... until his friend Monk, genius of the government's secret research department, helps him to get appointed as Royal Court Wizard to the King of New Ottosland. His offsider, Reg, an ensorcelled bird with a mysterious past, isn't so sure this is a good idea. But Gerald's choices are limited. It's New Ottosland, or starve.

But once Gerald arrives it quickly becomes clear that King Lional isn't the vain, indolent young man he first appeared to be. And with the passing of time, it becomes even clearer that Lional's plans may not, in fact, be in Gerald's best interests ..."

Orion

Survivors by Terry Nation (Orion 27 November 2008 / £6.99) - Terry Nation's cult plague drama of the seventies, Survivors is reissued in trade paperback by Orion as a tie in to the recent BBC adaptation, screened in November.

"A virus has wiped out 95 per cent of the world's population in just a few weeks, leaving the remaining 5 per cent to stay alive in a world devoid of the most basic amenities - electricity, transport and medicine. The few survivors of the human race are forced to fall back on the most primitive skills in order to live and re-establish some semblance of law and order. Abby Grant, widowed by the plague, moves through this new dark age with determination, sustained by hope that her son, who fled his boarding school at the onset, has survived. She knows she must relearn the skills on which civilisation was built. With others, she founds a commune and the group return to the soil. But marauding bands threaten their existence. For Abby, there's a chance for a new life and love when she encounters James Garland, the fourteenth Earl of Woodhouse, who is engaged in a desperate fight to save his ancestral home. But more important, she must find her son."

Prometheus Books

City Without End: Book Three of the Entire and the Rose (Enitre and the Rose): 'Entire and the Rose' Bk. 3 by Kay Kenyon (Prometheus Books 24 February 2009 / £16.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The third title in Kay Kenyon's The Entire and The Rose series. City Without End will be published by Pyr next month.

"Titus Quinn has forged an unstable peace with the Tarig lords. The ruinous capability of the nanotech surge weapon he possesses ensures detente. But it is a sham. In what the godwoman Zhiya calls a fit of moral goodness, he's thrown the weapon into the space-folding waters of the Nigh. This clears the way for an enemy he could have never foreseen: the people of the Rose. A small cadre led by Helice Maki is determined to take the Entire for itself and leave the earth in ruins. The transform of earth will begin deep in a western desert and will sweep over the lives of ordinary people, entangling Quinn s sister-in-law Caitlin in a deepening and ultimate conspiracy.In the "Entire", Quinn stalks Helice to the fabled Rim City, encircling the heart of the Entire. Here he at last finds his daughter, now called Sen Ni, in the Chalin style. Outside of earth-based time, she has grown to adulthood. He hardly knows her, and finds her the mistress of a remarkable dream-time insurgency against the Tarig lords and more, a woman risen high in the Entire's meritocracy. Quinn needs his daughter's help against the woman who would destroy the earth. But Sen Ni has her own plans and allies, among them a boy-navitar unlike any other pilot of the River Nigh a navitar willing and supremely able to break his vows and bend the world.Quinn casts his fate with the beautiful and resourceful Ji Anzi who sent on a journey to other realms holds the key to Quinn's heart and his overarching mission. But as he approaches the innermost sanctuary of the Tarig, he is alone. Waiting for him are powerful adversaries, including a lady who both hates and loves him, the high prefect of the dragon court, and Quinn's most implacable enemy, a warrior whose chaotic mind will soon be roused from an eternal slumber.""

Starship: Rebel by Mike Resnick (Prometheus Books 01 December 2008 / £16.99) - "The date is 1968 of the Galactic Era, almost three thousand years from now. The Republic, dominated by the human race, is in the midst of an all-out war with the Teroni Federation. Almost a year has passed since the events of Starship: Mercenary. Captain Wilson Cole now commands a fleet of almost fifty ships, and he has become the single greatest military force on the Inner Frontier.

With one exception. The Republic still comes and goes as it pleases, taking what it wants, conscripting men, and extorting taxes, even though the Frontier worlds receive nothing in exchange. And, of course, the government still wants Wilson Cole and the starship Theodore Roosevelt. He has no interest in confronting such an overwhelming force, and constantly steers clear of them.

Then an incident occurs that changes everything, and Cole declares war on the Republic. Outnumbered and always outgunned, his fleet is no match for the Republic's millions of military vessels, even after he forges alliances with the warlords he previously hunted down. It's a hopeless cause...but that's just what Wilson Cole and the Teddy R. are best at."

Solaris

Haunting the Nightside (Nightside Omnibus 2) by Simon R. Green (Solaris 01 September 2008 / £7.99) - The idiosyncratic SFRevu database lists this above the first title in this UK reissue of Green's urban fantasy sequence (see below) but Haunting the Nightside (containing Nightingale's Lament and Hex and the City - books three and four respectively) is, in fact, the second Nightside Omnibus to be released by Solaris. A third omnibus (not listed here) has also been released and a recent news release states that Solaris have bought up the rest of the series and will be publishing them over the coming months.

Into the Nightside (Nightside Series) by Simon R. Green (Solaris 07 August 2008 / £7.99) - A little late in arriving at SFRevu Towers, but this series of reissues by Solaris of Simon R. Green's excellent Nightside novels is still very much a noteworthy release. Previously only available in the US, this sequence is now up to nine titles and is still growing strong. These UK editions are mass market paperback - the first of which, Into the Nightside collects together Something from the Nightside and Agents of Light and Darkness, the first two volumes of the series.

"John Taylor works the Nightside as a private investigator handling the strange, the oddball and the downright bizarre cases that no other PI would touch with a ten-foot wand. He's very good at what he does though thanks to his gift: the ability to find anybody or anything, anywhere or anytime.

His client list is almost as weird as the company he keeps - zombies, the possessed, angels and demons - but it's his family that he should really be worrying about..."

Sphere

The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom (Sphere 01 January 2009 / £6.99) - Having sent out lavishly packaged, beautifully produced proofs copies well in advance of publication, Sphere are now distributing finished copies of The Birthing House with similar zeal - I've received two copies here at SFRevu Towers! Clearly their pushing this title very hard indeed, and there's no doubt that Christopher Ransom's scary, haunted-house début novel is a noteworthy release. The novel is to be published in the US by St Martin's - but not for a few months. Visit www.ransomesque.com for more information on both the book and its author.

"This is a startling novel, raw and spine-tinglingley scary. It is maybe best compared to Stephen King's early novels for its addictively readable prose and its many psychological twists and turns. It might also remind of you horror films such as The Orphanage and The Others - it has that kind of visceral power and immediacy."

Tor

The Ancient (Saga of the First King 1) by R.A. Salvatore (Tor 02 January 2009 / £6.99) - R. A. Salvatore is one of the genre's giants - a prolific author of perhaps forty or so novels (I suspect this is a low estimate) he has appeared with reliable regularity on the best seller lists and sold more than ten million copies of his book! I confess I have not read his work and it's odd that he's never really been big here in the UK - lord knows why! However, Tor UK are now seeking to put that right with their publication of Salvatore's The Ancient - "A superb, multi-stranded fantasy set in the world of Corona, where magic and danger abound.".

The Secret War by M.F.W. Curran (Tor 02 January 2009 / £7.99) - First published by Macmillan's "New Writing" imprint, M.F.W. Curran's 2007 novel, The Secret War now transfers to Tor UK for its mass market release. A sequel, The Hoard of Mhorrer, is also released this month in hard cover - see above.

"For thousands of years a secret war has been fought between Heaven and Hell. Daemons and angels, vampires and knights, clash for the future of mankind, and as the two sides wage war across the world, innocent people are caught up in the conflict - men like Captain William Saxon and Lieutenant Kieran Harte, two great friends who have recently survived the horrors of the Battle of Waterloo. But now they face a greater struggle, against the daemonic forces of Count Ordrane, and the clandestine ambitions of the Vatican. They must try to survive assassination attempts, political machinations, epic battles on land and sea, and above all the power of a mysterious bronze pyramid - the Scarimadean - that brings everlasting damnation too all who come into contact with it. Their only allies are an old man, a fading secret organisation in the Church, and an enigmatic warrior, who may hold the key not only to the friends' fates, but to the fate of all mankind...The year is 1815, when angels and daemons walked our streets... "

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