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UK Books Received- 06/2010  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

Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)

Death's Head: Day of the Damned (Deaths Head 3) by David Gunn (Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group) 13 May 2010 / £7.99) - I'm still trying to find out who is the author behind the David Gunn pseudonym! Whoever it is, they're writing punchy and entertaining military SF and I hope the writing of these novels is as much kick-ass escapist fun for the author as they are for the reader.

The third title featuring "killing machine" Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg is Day of the Damned and is now released by Bantam in mass market paperback. See my May 07 review of the first novel in this series Death's Head, and also Harriet Klausner's April 08 take on book two, Maximum Offence.

Bantam Press

Dust of Dreams (Book 9 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson (Bantam Press 27 May 2010 / £8.99) - To described Steven Erikson's Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen as 'epic' is akin to saying that space is big! The scope of this series is staggering, the imagination and creativity behind both its conception and execution is an achievement that will be a fantasy benchmark for decades to come. Erikson's ninth and penultimate novel in the sequence, Dust of Dreams is now released by Bantam Press as a hefty mass market trade paperback of nearly 1300 pages.

"On the Letherii continent the exiled Malazan army commanded by Adjunct Tavore begins its march into the eastern Wastelands, to fight for an unknown cause against an enemy it has never seen. The fate awaiting the Bonehunters is one no soldier can prepare for, and one no mortal soul can withstand - the foe is uncertainty and the only weapon worth wielding is stubborn courage. In war everyone loses, and this brutal truth can be found in the eyes of every soldier in every world. Destinies are never simple. Truths are neither clear nor sharp.

The Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen" are drawing to a close in a distant place, beneath indifferent skies, as the last great army of the Malazan Empire seeks a final battle in the name of redemption. Final questions remain to be answered: can one's deeds be heroic when no one is there to see it? Can that which is unwitnessed forever change the world? The answers await the Bonehunters, beyond the Wastelands."

The Sword of Albion: Bk. 1 by Mark Chadbourn (Bantam Press 27 May 2010 / £12.99) - The Elizabethan era is an attractive one to both writers and readers of genre. There's plenty of gold to mine whether it's the geography, the culture, the history or the folklore. In the hands of the ever-capable Mark Chadbourn it is the swash-buckling adventure of Elizabethan espionage that will not only delight his existing fans, but also doubtless win him a whole host of new ones. The Sword of Albion is published in trade paperback by Bantam and we're delighted to welcome Gav "Nextreads" Pugh to the SFRevu staff with his review of this one elsewhere in this issue.

"1588: The London of Elizabeth I is rocked by news of a daring raid on the Tower. The truth is known only to a select few: that, for twenty years, a legendary doomsday device, its power fabled for millennia, has been kept secret and, until now, safe in the Tower. But it has been stolen and Walsingham's spies believe it has been taken by the Enemy. This Enemy is not who we usually think of as our traditional opponent. No, this Enemy has waged a brutal war against mankind since time began, and with such a weapon they might take terrible toll upon England's green and pleasant land...And so it falls to Will Swyfte - swordsman, adventurer, scholar, rake, and the greatest of Walsingham's new breed of spy - to follow a trail of murder and devilry that leads deep into the dark, venomous world of the Faerie. As Philip of Spain prepares a naval assault on England, Will is caught up in a race against time in pursuit of this fiendish device... " (see review)

Blue Door

Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan (Blue Door 27 May 2010 / £12.99) - Blue Door, the imprint of Harpercollins created by Patrick Janson-Smith, despite being a commercial rather than an overtly literary concern rarely offers up fiction that might attract readers of SFrevu - this is, I think, the first of their books I've listed here. Nonethless, noted Australian writer Andrew McGahan's novel Wonders of a Godless World has enough genre elements in it to satisfy the most ardent fan and is "an electrifying, tumultuous story of inner demons, desire and devastation."

"On an unnamed island, in a Gothic hospital sitting in the shadow of a volcano, a wordless orphan girl works on the wards housing the insane and the incapable. She counts amongst her patients a virgin, an archangel, a duke and a witch.

Everything appears fine until a silent, unmoving and unnerving new patient arrives from foreign climes. He claims to be immortal. Suddenly strange phenomena occur, bizarre murders take place, and the lives of the patients and the island's inhabitants are thrown into turmoil. What happens between the orphan and her beguiling new patient is an extraordinary exploration of consciousness, reality and madness."

Corgi Books

Going Postal (Discworld Novels) by Terry Pratchett (Corgi Books 13 May 2010 / £7.99) - Now officially recognised as a National Treasure, Pratchett's Discworld novel number goodness-knows-what, Going Postal is being televised over the May bank holiday weekend over on on Sky. This is a tie-in edition published by Corgi.

Only Pratchett could get away with a protagonist named 'Moist von Lipwig' - a convicted criminal who must either submit himself to the death penalty or alternatively attempt to fix the chaotic Ankh-Morpork postal service. As the press release says in the very best traditions of TP's corniest jokes "...perhaps there's a shot of redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who's prepared to push the envelope..."!

Corvus

Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Corvus 01 August 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Another brilliant acquisition by Corvus - Jeff Vandermeer's beautifully strange Finch receives it's British publication, having previously been available in the US via Underland Press. Nominated for the Nebula Award, Finch is described by Richard K. Morgan as "Fungal Noir. Steampunk Delirium. Paranoid spy thriller... A clear signal, if one were ever needed, that Vandermeer remains one of modern fantasy's most original and fearless pioneers."

"In Finch, mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They have disbanded House Hoegbotton and are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human tabor to build two strange towers. Against this backdrop, John Finch, who lives alone with a cat and a lizard, must solve an impossible double murder for his gray cap masters while trying to make contact with the rebels. Nothing is as it seems as Finch and his disintegrating partner Wyte negotiate their way through a landscape of spies, rebels, and deception. Trapped by his job and the city, Finch is about to come face to face with a series of mysteries that will change him and Ambergris forever."

The Holy Machine by Chris Beckett (Corvus 01 July 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Another choice selection from Corvus, the new imprint at Grove Atlantic headed up by Nic Cheetham, an editor with a real eye for quality. In July Corvus brings us The Holy Machine, the first novel length work by British writer Chris Beckett, a writer who hit the headlines last year when he was awarded the Edge Hill Short Story Prize for his collection The Turing Test, beating competition from the like of Anne Enright (a Booker winner) and Ali Smith (who won the Whitbread). The Holy Machine was previously published in the US by Wildside Press back in 2004. Hat's off to Corvus for bringing Beckett to the wider audience he so richly deserves. Published in hard cover in July.

"Illyria is a scientific utopia, an enclave of logic and reason founded off the Greek coast in the mid-twenty first century as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism sweeping the planet. Yet to George Simling, first generation son of a former geneticist who was left emotionally and psychically crippled by the persecution she encountered in her native Chicago, science-dominated Illyria is becoming as closed-minded and stifling as the religion-dominated world outside...

The Holy Machine is Chris Beckett's first novel. As well as being a story about love, adventure and a young man learning to mature and face the world, it deals with a question that is all too easily forgotten or glibly answered in science fiction: what happens to the soul, to beauty, to morality, in the absence of God?"

Doubleday

On the Third Day by Rhys Thomas (Doubleday 08 July 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: An ambitious post-apocalyptic tale by Welsh author Rhys Thomas, author of The Suicide Club. On The Third Day is pitched as 28 Days Later meets The Survivors. In SF terms, this is not exactly ground-breaking stuff, so one hopes that Thomas brings something new and exciting to the party. A trade paperback release due from Doubleday in July.

"Society is on the brink of collapse. The Old World is vanishing, the New World is taking over. There are no rules. Not now that a deadly disease is spreading that causes its victims to turn violent. Previously loving people become murderous. No-one can tell who will turn and who will not. This is a work of force and dark brilliance - the perfect expression of the terrors of the 21st Century. "

Gollancz

Absorption: Ragnarok v. 1 (Ragnarock 1) by John Meaney (Gollancz 20 May 2010 / £12.99) - The brilliant and prolific John Meaney (author of To Hold Infinity, Paradox, Bone Song and Dark Blood) makes a welcome return to hard SF with what Gollancz are hailing as "his most brilliant novel yet".

Absorption is the first book in Meaney's Ragnarok trilogy and is released in both hard cover and trade paperback.

"600 years from now on the world of Fulgor, Roger Blackstone, son of two Pilots (long-time alien spies, masquerading as ordinary humans) aches to see the mythical Pilot's city of Labyrinth, in the fractal ur-continuum of mu-space. In 8th century Norseland, a young carl called Wulf kills a man, watched by a mysterious warrior who bears the mark of Loki the Trickster God. In 1920s Zurich, Gavriela Silberstein enters the long, baroque central hallway of the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule where Einstein so recently studied. And on a nameless world, not knowing his human heritage, a silver-skinned youth tries to snatch back an Idea - but it floats away on gentle magnetic currents. There are others across the ages, all with three things in common: they glimpse shards of darkness moving at the edge of their vision; they hear echoes of a dark, disturbing musical chord; and they will dream of joining a group called the Ragnarok Council. ABSORPTION is the first novel of RAGNAROK, a new space opera trilogy of high-tech space warfare, unitary intelligences made up of millions of minds, the bizarre physics of dark energy, quantum mechanics and a mindblowing rationale for Norse mythology. "

Dog Blood by David Moody (Gollancz 17 June 2010 / £12.99) - The sequel to Hater. Originally self-published in 2006 by author David Moody, Hater was described as a mix of 28 Days Later and I am Legend and film rights being picked up by Guillermo del Toro did rather good things for the author's profile - including getting it published as lead title on the Gollancz list. They now release Dog Blood in trade paperback.

"The world has suffered a catastrophe of unknown cause, dividing humankind into two: the Haters and the Unchanged. Each group believes the other to be the enemy; each group is fighting for survival. Only by working together can the enemy - whoever that enemy is - be defeated. There are no other choices. Danny McCoyne has managed to break free, and after days of indiscriminate fighting and killing, he is determined to make his way home, to reclaim the only thing of any value to him in this strange new world: his daughter Ellis. Unlike his wife and son, Ellis is like him, and he knows, in his heart of hearts, that she is not dead. His dearest wish is for Ellis to be fighting for the world at his side - but Danny soon discovers his daughter is worth far more than just another fighting body. Others like him have discovered that children are absolutely vital to the cause. They are strong, small, fast, and they have no inhibitions. They are pure Haters..."

Stone Spring (Gollancz) by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz 03 June 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected proof Copy: The brand new novel from Stephen Baxter, one of the most admired names in British SF and a prolific author whose work never takes the path of least resistant and thus remains endlessly inventive. Due from Gollancz this month.

"8,000 years ago Europe was a very different place. England was linked to Holland by a massive swathe of land. Where the North Sea is now lay the landmass of Northland. And then came a period of global warming, a shifting of continents and, over a few short years, the sea rushed in and our history was set. But what if the sea had been kept at bay? Brythony is a young girl who lives in Northland. Like all her people she is a hunter gatherer, her simple tools fashioned from flint cutting edges lodged in wood and animal bone. When the sea first encroaches on her land her people simply move. Brythony moves further travelling to Asia. Where she sees mankind's first walled cities. And gets an idea. What if you could build a wall to keep the sea out? And so begins a colossal engineering project that will take decades, a wall that stretches for hundreds of miles, a wall that becomes an act of defiance, and containing the bones of the dead, an act of devotion. A wall that will change the geography of the world. And it's history. Stephen Baxter has become expert at embedding human stories into the grandest sweeps of history and the most mind-blowing of concepts. STONE SPRING begins a trilogy that will tell the story of a changed world. It begins in 8,000 BC with an idea and ends in 1500 in a world that never saw the Roman Empire, Christianity or Islam. It is an eye-opening look at what history could so easily have been and an inspiring tale of how we control our future."

Watch (Www Trilogy 2) by Robert J. Sawyer (Gollancz 20 May 2010 / £12.99) - The ever industrious Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer is seeing some long deserved top-tier success in the wake is the television serious Flashforward which is based on his 1999 novel of the same name. Gollancz are publishing Sawyer's latest SF series, a cyber-thriller that began with Wake the first in the "WWW" trilogy and now the second volume Watch is released in trade paperback.

"Caitlin Decter could never have anticipated what was coming when she first sensed a strange presence on the internet Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended blind mathematics genius Caitlin Decter and has grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH - the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend. "

Harper Voyager

Spellwright by Blake Charlton (Harper Voyager 27 May 2010 / £14.99) - I've seen the word/name Spellwright almost everywhere I've looked online over the last month or two - on Facebook, in Twitter feeds and in articles and interviews with début author Blake Charlton on numerous genre related sites. That's how to do folks! Get yourself and your novel out there and in the face of folks who might be interested in buying it. That it has received consistently excellent reviews on these sites indicates there is good cause for all the hype that surrounds this book.

"In a world where words can come to life, an inability to spell can be a dangerous thing. And no one knows this better than apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal.

Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without 'misspelling' – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power – power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will…"

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) by Stacia Kane (Harper Voyager 27 May 2010 / £7.99) - Voyager are celebrating fifteen years as an imprint, in which time we have seen the relentless and unstoppable rise of Urban Fantasy from a niche genre to a field that now has its own bays in bookstores. Though Voyager has consistently brought us the very best in the more traditional fantasy fields - Tolkein, Hobb, Feist, GRRM, Peter V. Brett, they have not yet found a big hitter to rival the Laurel K' Hamiltons and Charlaine Harris's of the publishing world - perhaps Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghosts will be the Voyager UF break out book? (Note that Charlaine H gives this one a fabulous cover quote!).

"Murderous spirits and ruthless drug dealers combine to create serious problems for fiercely independent heroine, Chess, in these fast-paced, sexy and addictive novels -- fitting for a witch with a serious drug problem. The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen and constantly attack the living. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch and freewheeling Debunker and ghost hunter. She's got a real talent for nailing the human liars or banishing the wicked dead. But she's keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that's landed her in hot and dangerous water. Chess owes a murderous drug lord named Bump a lot of money. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust with a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump's ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah."

Immersion Press

Fun with Rainbows by Gareth Owens (Immersion Press 20 January 2010 / £7.99) - Published in Immersion Press Fun with Rainbows is a collection of short stories by Gareth Owens.

"A bit of fantasy, a touch of chill down the spine horror, and a pinch of Science-Fiction so hard-core it's been published in Nature, mixed and served in a sweet-sour mix of warmth and cynicism. Reality is just a rainbow of information. The reality that you see depends where you look at it from: the slightest change in direction results in a different view and a different reality.

Have some Fun with Rainbows, take a tour through vistas of exotic realities. By turns disturbing funny and touching. Meet vast giggling dragons, hypersonic rock-stars and time-travelling lawyers. This rainbows sparkles with gentle ferocity and perceptive wit. "

Macmillan Children's Books

Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane (Macmillan Children's Books 04 June 2010 / £6.99) - "The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer's son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education – the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously 'unwell', Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent...

The Death Cloud is the first in a series of novels in which the iconic detective is reimagined as a brilliant, troubled and engaging teenager – creating unputdownable detective adventures that remain true to the spirit of the original books." (see review)

Orbit

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1) by Mira Grant (Orbit 03 June 2010 / £7.99) - I hear very good things about Feed, a zombie novel by Mira Grant - whom you may have encountered in her other guise as the very talented fantasy author Seanan McGuire. This one could be the surprise hit of the summer! (And a special nod too to Orbit's Lauren Panepinto for what I think is arresting and very clever cover design.)

"The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them. "

The Edge of the World (Terra Incognita 1) by Kevin J. Anderson (Orbit 06 May 2010 / £7.99) - Product Description: In a world of sea monsters, mermaids and lost islands, ghost ships, leviathans and weather witches, only the impetuous, the brave or the mad seek adventure at sea...

The Folding Knife by K.J. Parker (Orbit 03 June 2010 / £8.99) - 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 one, and Parker's canon of titles has grown ever longer and the plaudits ever louder, it's become patently clear to me that I need to give this acclaimed author another go. This new stand-alone novel, The Folding Knife looks like a very good candidate with which to do just that. Published by Orbit this month.

"Basso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. Basso the Murderer. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man. He is ruthless, cunning and, above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he's only ever made one mistake. One mistake, though, can be enough. "

The Lord of the Changing Winds (Griffin Mage) by Rachel Neumeier (Orbit 03 June 2010 / £7.99) - An author previously unknown to me, Rachel Neumeier arrives in the UK with Lord of the Changing Winds a pacey fantasy centring on the mythical Griffin that will delight readers of Naomi Novick's Temeraire novels. Published by Orbit as a paperback original. Two further books in the sequence will be rolled out over subsequent months.

"The desert winds have come to the village of Menas Ford. Griffins, creatures of fire, have appeared in a burning haze, turning the sky a blazing golden-red and the land to dry, cracked earth. These majestic beasts, half-lion, half-eagle, spread the arid desert wherever they roam. Iaor, the King of Feierabiand, will not tolerate the destruction of his people's farmland. Sending forth his army, he means to rid the griffins from his domain - whether by negotiation or brute force. But not all those who encounter the griffins fear them. Kes, a timid village girl with hidden mage powers, is summoned to heal the King of the Griffins himself. She will discover her affinity with these creatures, and may be the only one to understand the importance of their presence. For they are fleeing a menace which poses a greater threat to her people than even the blazing fires of the desert. "

The Map of All Things (Terra Incognita) by Kevin J. Anderson (Orbit 03 June 2010 / £13.99) - And book two of Anderson's Terra Incognita series is released as a hefty large format trade paperback - The Map of All Things continues this epic fantasy of sailing ships, crusading armies, sea monsters and enchanted islands! What's not to like?

"After terrible atrocities by both sides, the religious war between Tierra and Uraba has spread and intensified - the series of skirmishes erupting into a full-blown crusade. Now that the Uraban leader Soldan-Shah Omra has captured the ruined city of Ishalem, his construction teams discover a priceless ancient map in an underground vault - a map that can guide brave explorers to the mysterious Key to Creation. Omra dispatches his adoptive son Saan to sail east across the uncharted Middlesea on a quest to find it. In Tierra, Captain Criston Vora has built a grand new vessel, and sets out to explore the great unknown and find the fabled land of Terravitae. But Criston cannot forget his previous voyage that ended in shipwreck and disaster ...and the loss of his beloved wife Adrea - who is now the wife of the soldan-shah in far-off Uraba, fighting to survive against palace intrigues and constant threats against her life. "

Tor

City of Ruin (Legends of the Red Sun 2) by Mark Charan Newton (Tor 04 June 2010 / £16.99) - Mark Charan Newton's début fantasy Nights of Villjamur was one of the picks of last year's fantasy releases from Tor UK and is shortly to be published in the US by Bantam Spectra. Here in Blighty, book two in the Legends of the Red Sun series, City of Ruin is now available as a smart hard cover published by Tor UK.

" Villiren: a city of sin that is being torn apart from the inside. Hybrid creatures shamble through shadows and barely human gangs fight turf wars for control of the streets.

Amidst this chaos, Commander Brynd Lathraea, commander of the Night Guard, must plan the defence of Viliren against a race that has broken through from some other realm and already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the Empire's people.

When a Night Guard soldier goes missing, Brynd requests help from the recently arrived Inqusitor Jeryd. He discovers this is not the only disapearance the streets of Villiren. It seems that a serial killer of the most horrific kind is on the loose, taking hundreds of people from their own homes. A killer that cannot possibly be human.

The entire population of Villiren must unite to face an impossible surge of violent and unnatural enemies or the city will fall. But how can anyone save a city that is already a ruin? "

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