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UK Books Received- 07/2010  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

Abaddon

The Infernal Game: Ghost Dance by Rebecca Levene (Abaddon 14 July 2010 / £7.99) - Abaddon stalwart Rebecca Levene offers up Ghost Dance, the second in the new supernatural espionage series The Infernal Game.

"At the start of the Cold War, the British secret services formed the Hermetic division, an agency charged with using supernatural powers to defend the nation. It has only one mission: to find the mysterious Ragnarok artefacts, said to have the power to end the world. Now, two of the division's most senior agents are sent on the trail of a corrupt Russian oligarch. The journey will take them across Europe and into the darkest reaches of the occult. "

Abaddon Books

No Man's World: Black Hand Gang by Pat Kelleher (Abaddon Books 16 June 2010 / £6.99) - The first in a new Abaddon fiction series, No Man's World, this initial title of which - Black Hand Gang - is penned by author Pat Kelleher.

"On November 1st 1916, 900 men of the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers vanish without trace from the battlefield only to find themselves on an alien planet. There they must learn to survive in a hostile environment, while facing a sinister threat from within their own ranks and a confrontation with an inscrutable alien race!"

Pax Britannia: Blood Royal by Jonathan Green (Abaddon Books 16 June 2010 / £6.99) - The Pax Brittannia series published by Abaddon Books ticks any number of boxes for those who like their genre stories steampunky, fast-paced and easy to digest. Perfect holiday reading or just something to curl up with on the Ottoman, with a glass of porter. Author Jonathan Green is a very experienced practitioner of franchise fiction (Dr Who, Black Library, Fighting Fantasy etc) and has penned this latest release (his fifth in the series) Blood Royal.

"In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire's rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground."

ATOM

The Dream Thief: v. 4 (Horatio Lyle) by Catherine Webb (ATOM 01 July 2010 / £6.99) - A brand new Horatio Lyle novel (the fourth so far) from the predigiously talented Catherine Webb, whom readers will also know as fantasy author Kate Griffin. The Dream Thief is published by Atom.

"London, 1865, and young Theresa Hatch (Tess, to her friends) receives a nast surprise late at night. When Horatio finds a young girl on his doorstep, passed out, dying - apparently poisoned - he's appalled. Investigations lead to Tess's old workhouse, but a surprise visit to that sorry establishment yields more questions than answers. Only one thing is clear: something very, very bad is happening to the children in the East End. There's a mystery to be solved, sending Lyle, Thomas, Tate and - naturally - Tess out into the wilds of east London and a certain former thief's old stamping grounds. What they find is terrifying: Tess's old crowd of artful dodgers and ace pickpockets are now wandering the streets like zombies, drooling in the workhouses or plain mad in the asylum. And it isn't just affecting Tess' old crowd; children all over the area are turning up with their memories in tatters and their minds all but gone. The only clue is a name, half-whispered in fear: Old Greybags. "

The Secret Hour (Midnighters) by Scott Westerfeld (ATOM 01 July 2010 / £5.99) - Scott Westerfeld received considerable and well-deserved acclaimed for his recent YA Steampunk adventure Leviathan and he remains at the forefront of both YA and grown-up genre works. His Midnighters series should appeal to both audiences with its mix of high-concept ideas including numerology and linguistics - and all three books The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness and Blue Noon are being reissued this month by Atom.

"As the new girl at Bixby High School, Jessica Day expected some unwelcome attention. What she didn't expect was to feel an instant connection to a stranger in the corridor ...Who is this boy dressed in black? And why can she feel his eyes following her wherever she goes? The answers will have to wait until the sun goes down, for here in Bixby, midnight is the time for secrets; secrets that Jessica is going to find out, whether she wants to or not. "

Avon

Uprising (Vampire Federation) by Scott G. Mariani (Avon 10 June 2010 / £6.99) - It's not often that we see books on here from Avon the imprint of Harpercollins UK - not to be confused with its counterpart in the US which of course is well known for its genre output - but Sunday Times bestseller Scott G. Mariani's Uprising looks like it should be right up our street!

Hot on the heels of Lukyanenko's Nightwatch books and tapping the popularity of recent spooky, high concept thriller such as Del Toro's The Strain, Uprising is a paperback original out this month.

"A new war is dawning...

For millennia, the vampires walked the earth undetected, feasting on humans in keeping with ancient tradition.In the Information Age, vampires realised they must be more careful to avoid detection. In the late 20th century they created the global Vampire Federation to police vampire activity, with special agents like Alex Bishop authorised to hunt down her own kind who break the laws. The old traditions are history.

But not all vampires bow down to Federation rule. When rebel vampire Gabriel Stone declares war against them, Alex and her team are plunged into danger.

Police inspector Joel Solomon, haunted by a secret terror of vampires, discovers a series of corpses left behind by Stone's bloodthirsty gang. As he and Alex are drawn together in an unlikely alliance between human and vampire, the race begins to destroy the evil Stone before his uprising tears their world apart."

Corvus

Holy Machine by Chris Beckett (Corvus 01 July 2010 / £14.99) - Another choice selection from Corvus, the new imprint at Grove Atlantic headed up by Nic Cheetham, an editor with a real eye for quality.

The Holy Machine is 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?" (see review)

Doubleday

On the Third Day by Rhys Thomas (Doubleday 08 July 2010 / £12.99) - 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 from Doubleday.

"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

Dead in the Family: A True Blood Novel by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz 10 June 2010 / £14.99) - Product Description: It's all about family ...

The Alchemist in the Shadows by Pierre Pevel (Gollancz 16 September 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: At the David Gemmell Legend Award a few days ago (as I write) Pierre Pevel's English language début The Cardinal's Blades (published by Gollancz) won the Morningstar Award for best newcomer - an absolutely fantastic achievement for a French author. Though I admit I found the winning book somewhat underwhelming, to have broken into the heavily contested English language market is very impressive indeed and to have won an award for the feat even more so. Gollancz will publish the sequel, The Alchemist in the Shadows this coming September.

"Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again. So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen . . . and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows..."

The Black Lung Captain: Tales of the Ketty Jay: Bk. 2 (Tales of the Ketty Jay 2) by Chris Wooding (Gollancz 29 July 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The new novel from the immensely talented Chris Wooding, due from Gollancz later this month. Black Lung Captain is set in the same world as Wooding's Arthur C. Clarke Award nominated Retribution Falls, a book also acclaimed by The Guardian as one of their recommended 2009 Summer Reads and blurbed by Joe Abercrombie as being a novel that "...picks you up, whisks you swiftly and entertainingly along and sets you down with a big smile on your face." I've long been an admirer of Wooding's work and have no doubt this new one will garner equally impressive plaudits.

"Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest robberies seem to go wrong. It's getting so a man can't make a dishonest living any more. Enter Captain Grist. He's heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey's help to get it. There's only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island, populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters. Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey's never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there's something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it's going to take all of Frey's considerable skill at lying, cheating and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it . . . Strap yourself in for another tale of adventure and debauchery, pilots and pirates, golems and daemons, double-crosses and double-double-crosses. The crew of the Ketty Jay are back!"

The Dervish House (Gollancz) by Ian Mcdonald (Gollancz 29 July 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Ian McDonald's Brasyl (which I reviewed back in August 2008) was described by Jeff VanderMeer in his review in The Washington Post as "... as close to perfect as any novel in recent memory." - which is about as close to perfect as any review could possibly be! With the forthcoming publication of The Dervish House, McDonald has produced another masterpiece, this time turning his powerful imagination to a near-future Turkey, just as he did for Brazil in Brasyl and India in River of Gods. Highly recommended.

"In the CHAGA novels Ian McDonald brought an Africa in the grip of a bizarre alien invasion to life, in RIVER OF GODS he painted a rich portrait of India in 2047, in BRASYL he looked at different Brazils, past present and future. Ian McDonald has found renown at the cutting edge of a movement to take SF away from its British and American white roots and out into the rich cultures of the world. THE DERVISH HOUSE continues that journey and centres on Istanbul in 2025. Turkey is part of Europe but sited on the edge, it is an Islamic country that looks to the West. THE DERVISH HOUSE is the story of the families that live in and around its titular house, it is at once a rich mosaic of Islamic life in the new century and a telling novel of future possibilities. " (see review)

The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions by Robert Rankin (Gollancz 02 September 2010 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The mere idea of a Rankin-style Steampunk yarn has a virtually irritable attraction does it not? He's been around for a while now, ladling out his own particular brand of wonderfully silly, yet compulsively readable genre buffoonary. This new one, The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions is due from Gollancz in September. Robert Rankin is the stuff that cults are made of, for sure.

"The pickled Martian's tentacles are fraying at the ends and Professor Coffin's Most Meritorious Unnatural Attraction (the remains of the original alien autopsy, performed by Sir Frederick Treves at the London Hospital) is no longer drawing the crowds. It's 1895; nearly a decade since Mars invaded Earth, chronicled by H.G. Wells in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Wrecked Martian spaceships, back-engineered by Charles Babbage and Nikola Tesla, have carried the Queen's Own Electric Fusiliers to the red planet, and Mars is now part of the ever-expanding British Empire. The less-than-scrupulous sideshow proprietor likes Off-worlders' cash, so he needs a sensational new attraction. Word has reached him of the Japanese Devil Fish Girl; nothing quite like her has ever existed before. But Professor Coffin's quest to possess the ultimate showman's exhibit is about to cause considerable friction amongst the folk of other planets. Sufficient, in fact, to spark off Worlds War Two. "

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz 30 September 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: One of the 'buzz' titles of this year's Gollancz releases, Edinburgh based Finnish author Hannu Rajaniemi's SF début The Quantum Thief is being hailed as marking the arrival of a major new talent. Due to be released in late September this one has a great 'road to publication' story attached, as Hannu's agent sold the book (in a three book deal) to Gollancz Deputy Publishing Director Simon Spanton on the strength of a single sample chapter - something practically unheard of for a début SF suthor, and certainly in today's difficult market. It must be good!

"Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . . The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut. "

The Ragged Man: Book Four of The Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd (Gollancz 19 August 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: I reviewed Tom Lloyd's début fantasy The Stormcaller back in March 2006 and was not very impressed with it, to say the least. However, reviewing is a subjective art - if art it can be said to be - and there were plenty of glowing appraisals of Lloyd's novel from any number of respectable and respected pundits.The Stormcaller - Twilight Herald and The Grave Thief and now it's time to prepare for book four in this sequence, The Ragged Man, due from Gollancz in August.

"Continuing the powerful epic that started with THE STORMCALLER; the Lord Isak is dead, his armies and entire tribe in disarray. It falls to King Emin to continue the war alone, and the Menin are only too happy to meet his challenge. In Byora, Ruhen is developing his 'Saviour' persona. The Harlequins start preaching in his name and many of the pilgrims who flock to him are recruited to be 'Children', disciples who spread Ruhen's message. All over the Land people are starting to see Ruhen as the answer to their troubles. A showdown is coming: battle lines are finally drawn and the atrocities quickly mount. The spectre of the Great War looms, but in this age the Gods cannot and will not come to King Emin's aid. With the peoples of the Land turning against Emin and his few remaining allies, their only chance for survival lies in the hands of a dead man."

The White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1) by Holly Black (Gollancz 17 June 2010 / £10.99) - Product Description: The extraordinary new adult fantasy of magic in our world and the price we pay for it by the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Zendegi by Greg Egan (Gollancz 17 June 2010 / £14.99) - Nasim is a young computer scientist, hoping to work on the Human Connectome Project: a plan to map every neural connection in the human brain. But funding for the project is cancelled, and Nasim ends up devoting her career to Zendegi, a computerised virtual world used by millions of people. Fifteen years later, a revived Connectome Project has published a map of the brain. Zendegi is facing fierce competition from its rivals, and Nasim decides to exploit the map to fill the virtual world with better Proxies: the bit-players that bring its crowd scenes to life. As controversy rages over the nature and rights of the Proxies, a friend with terminal cancer begs Nasim to make a Proxy of him, so some part of him will survive to help raise his orphaned son. But Zendegi is about to become a battlefield . . .

Headline

Bullet (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter 19) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Headline 01 June 2010 / £12.99) - The nineteenth Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novel by Laurell K. Hamilton is Bullet, the third such book released by Hamilton's new(ish) UK publisher, Headline. A smart hardcover in an eye-catching livery.

"I am back in St Louis and trying to live a normal life – as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a US Marshal. I have my lovers, my friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all this ordinary happiness a vampire from my past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, the dark creator, and it’s hard to kill a god. She has reached out to me here – in St Louis, home of everyone I love most. She has decided she has to act now or never, to control me, and all the vampires in America.

The Mother of All Darkness believes that the triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude with me and the werewolf Richard Zeeman has enough power for her to regain a body and to emigrate to the New World. But the body she wants to possess is already taken; I’m about to learn a whole new meaning to sharing my body, one that has nothing to do with the bedroom. And if the Mother of All Darkness can’t succeed in taking over my body for herself, she means to see that no one else has the use of it, ever again. Even Belle Morte, not always a friend to me, has sent word: ‘Run if you can...’"

Flirt: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel by Laurell K. Hamilton (Headline February 2010 / £10.99) - Also released is Flirt, one of the shorter of Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books, in an edition that weighs in at only 171 pages pages of text, plus a few more comic panels. In spite of it's brevity, it will doubtless satisfy LKH's legions of fan. Note that this is the export trade paperback - a hard cover was also released but not seen.

"When Anita Blake meets with prospective client Tony Bennington, who is desperate to have her reanimate his recently deceased wife, she is full of sympathy for his loss. Anita knows something about love, and she knows everything there is to know about loss. But what she also knows, though Tony Bennington seems unwilling to be convinced, is that the thing she can do as a necromancer isn’t the miracle he thinks he needs. The creature that Anita could coerce to step out of the late Mrs. Bennington’s grave would not be the lovely Mrs. Bennington. Not really. And not for long. "

Headline Review

Stories by Al Sarrantonio (Headline Review 15 June 2010 / £18.99) - Product Description: A hugely original anthology of imaginative fiction edited by bestselling authors Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Hodder & Stoughton

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (Hodder & Stoughton 08 July 2010 / £12.99) - "A fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled conspiracy thriller... 24 with a supernatural twist.

How cool does this one sound!!! Christopher Farnsworth's debut - Blood Oath: The President's Vampire is published here in trade paperback by Hodder & Stoughton, in the US by G.P. Putnam's Sons, and in Germany by Heyne. Given the commercial appeal in Farnsworth's brilliant central idea, other territories will doubtless follow.

"'There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us.'

Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it's not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America's best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President's vampire. And Cade is the world's only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out . . . "

Henry VIII: Wolfman by A E Moorat (Hodder & Stoughton 08 July 2010 / £7.99) - More mash-up madness from the mind of A.E. Moorat. Following the sheer fun and silliness that was Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, Moorat once again plunders Britain's royal heritage and uncovers the true history of Henry VIII: Wolfman! I love it! And I love this cover too - a pastiche of a more formal Penguin type book. Great stuff.

"DIVORCED. BEHEADED. DIED. MAULED. SAVAGED. SURVIVED?

Henry VIII was the best and bloodiest King ever to have sat on the throne of England. This fast-paced, exciting, gory, inventive and just plain gross retelling of his reign will bring to light the real man behind the myth.

When it came to his size, Henry VIII was known for being larger-than-life, with a fearsome temper and bloodthirsty reputation to match; more beast than human, some might say...

Be dragged kicking and screaming back 500 years into Tudor England..."

Hodder Paperbacks

Under the Dome by Stephen King (Hodder Paperbacks 08 July 2010 / £7.99) - Amazon.co.uk Review: The achievement of Stephen King is unlike that of any writer. He has taken a genre which was somewhat moribund when he came to it -- the horror novel -- and transformed it into one of the most phenomenally successful areas for quality popular writing -- what's more, his unprecedented sales success has inspired hundreds of imitators, and while few can match his inspiration (or, for that matter, his jawdropping productivity), there is no question that he has rejuvenated the horror field. Not that King confined himself to the strict parameters one might associate with the genre; several of his books -- such as this latest one, The Dome, stray into science fiction territory). But King's achievement doesn't end there -- such is his influence over other genres (notably the crime and thriller field) that writers in those genres have been obliged to up the ante in terms of gruesome compulsiveness (Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter books, for instance, owe much to the King transformation of the popular literature field). And as for that loaded world – 'literature' -- isn't Stephen King reputed to be the author who has brought quality writing into a field not noted for such things? (Not, that is, since the halcyon days of Edgar Allen Poe in a previous century). Is that claim true of the new book?

So... The Dome. This massive novel, 25 years in the writing (if Stephen King is to be believed), is quite his most ambitious project, and brings to mind earlier blockbuster novels which aficionados considered to be among the writer's best work. Something like the basic premise here may be found in a classic piece of British science fiction, John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned). In that book, a village is isolated by an invisible force field -- and in the King novel, the residents can no more get out than the outside world can enter. John Wyndham's narrative involved the insemination of the women in the town by unseen alien presences, but Stephen King in The Dome has chosen to work in a different area. When the small New England town of Chester's Mill is cut off from the outside world by a mysterious force, all the laws of physics seem to be up for grabs; cars leaving town come up against invisible barriers, and there is death and mutilation for whatever was caught in the boundaries of an invisible field. Inside the dome, the inhabitants of the town deal with the catastrophe in a surprising (and often alarming) variety of ways: ex-military hero Dale Barbara has already come up against the antisocial elements of the town, and has been trying to get out. But the self-styled boss of the town, the demagogue Big Jim Rennie, soon establishes a Machiavellian control (another echo of the books of John Wyndham, in which catastrophe always throw up vicious, fascist-style leaders who capitalise on the disaster).

As ever, King develops his massive dramatis personae with great assurance, and demonstrates once again that his imagination in terms of plotting is as strong as ever. Those, however, who have made a case for King as a quality writer rather than a great popular entertainer will not find much ammunition for their arguments here, but this great sprawling canvas affords many pleasures. --Barry Forshaw

Michael Joseph

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Michael Joseph 26 August 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: This one set the news wires alight when the original acquisition was reported a year or so ago.I am Number Four is a teen-centric SF thriller by one 'Pittacus Lore' (which is little internet digging reveals to be the pen-name of Oprah favourite and author of A Million Little Pieces James Frey and newcomer Jobie Hughes). Film rights were snapped up by Dreamworks and the movie, directed by D.J. Caruso and produced by Michael Bay will be a summer blockbuster of 2011.

"John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him. But you can't run forever. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about – and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next..."

Orbit

A Princess of Landover (Magic Kingdom of Landover 6) by Terry Brooks (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £7.99) - Fantasy favourite and consistently best-selling author Terry Brooks returns to his fictional world of Landover for the first time in over a decade with the release of his latest novel A Princess of Landover is now published in mass market paperback by Orbit.

"Princess Mistaya Holiday hasn't been fitting in too well at Carrington Women's Preparatory. People don't seem to appreciate her using her magic to settle matters in the human world. So when she summons a dragon to teach a lesson to the snotty school bully, she finds herself suspended. But Mistaya couldn't care less - she wants nothing more than to continue her studies under Questor the court magician and Abernathy the court scribe. However, her father Ben Holiday, the King of Landover, has rather different plans in mind for her. He thinks he'll teach her about perseverance and compromise by sending her to renovate Libiris, the long-abandoned royal library. How horribly dull. But before long, Mistaya will long for the boredom of cataloguing an unfeasible number of derelict books - for deep within the library there lies a secret so dangerous that it threatens the future of Landover itself ..."

The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry 3) by Charles Stross (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £7.99) - The UK edition of Charlie Stross's The Fuller Memorandum is published here by Orbit and matches the US release, published over there by Ace. This is the third in Stross's quite unique Lovecraftian spy thriller series, following on from The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue and is reviewed in this issue by Benjamin Wald - great fun.

"Bob Howard is an IT specialist and field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty's secret service that deals with occult threats. Overworked and underpaid, Bob is used to his two jobs overflowing from a strict nine to five and, since his wife Mo has a very similar job description, he understands that work will sometimes follow her home, too. But when 'work' involves zombie assassins and minions of a mad god's cult, he realises things are spinning out of control. When a top-secret dossier goes missing and his boss Angleton is implicated, Bob must contend with suspiciously helpful Russian intelligence operatives and an unscrupulous apocalyptic cult before confronting the decades-old secret that lies at the heart of the Laundry: what is so important about the missing Fuller Memorandum? And why are all the people who know dying...? "

The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £12.99) - It's a busy month here in the UK for Karen Miller - the third book in her pseudonymous Rogue Agent series is published as a paperback original (see below) - and in addition, July also sees the release of The Reluctant Mage, the fourth top class fantasy novel to be set in the world of Miller's début, The Innocent Mage and a direct sequel to her third novel, The Prodigal Mage release last year. A very smart royal hard cover release from Orbit - Miller is clearly an author to watch!

"It's been months since Rafel ventured over Barl's Mountains into the unknown, in a desperate bid to seek help. With his father's Weather Magic exhausted and Lur ravaged by polluting magics, there seemed no other hope. Now this too has died. Only Deenie believes Rafel still lives, sensing her brother in tortured dreams. She also knows she must try to find him, as only Rafel's talents could heal their land. The prospect terrifies Deenie, yet she sees no other choice. But she finds the lands beyond Lur blighted with lawlessness and chaos - and here Deenie and her companion Charis find the dark sorcerer Morg's deadly legacy. As they travel they learn of a dangerous new power in the land. Deenie comes to suspect that not only is her brother involved, but that the evil their father destroyed is somehow reborn. And if she can't save Rafel then, through him, Morg's vast power could once again command their world. THE RELUCTANT MAGE is the sequel to THE PRODIGAL MAGE, and set in the same world as Karen Miller's bestselling debut THE INNOCENT MAGE. With her cast of unforgettable characters, and masterful storytelling, Karen Miller has once again created an irresistible drama of political intrigue and magical adventure. "

The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £18.99) - One of the most wonderful things about having been doing this reviewing and commentating lark for so long (eleven years and counting!) is that I've been able to watch the careers of certain extraordinary writers develop from 'quite promising' to 'fully fledged greatness' - few personify this trajectory better than Ken MacLeod who must now surely be regarded as one of the genre's most authoritative political voices. Following his BSFA award winning book The Night Sessions, Orbit now publish The Restoration Game in hard cover.

"There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know - she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: a game inspired by The Krassniad, an epic folk tale concocted by Lucy's mother Amanda, who studied there in the 1980s. Lucy knows Amanda is a spook. She knows her great-grandmother Eugenie also visited the country in the '30s, and met the man who originally collected Krassnian folklore, and who perished in Stalin's terror. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds the open secrets of her family's past, the darker secrets of Krassnia's past - and hints about the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game ... "

The Unit by Terry DeHart (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £7.99) - A début novel from US author Terry DeHart - a former marine and NASA security analyst. Published by Orbit as a paperback original, this is a provocative post-apocalyptic thriller.

"Jerry Sharpe is an ex-marine and, for him, survival means protecting his family by any means necessary. Susan is learning just how far a mother will go for her children. But how far will she go for a man she doubted before the bombs fell? As Jerry's training and instincts take over, she is certain of one thing - her children need her. Melanie was going to go to college. Now, she is struggling to find a way to live in a world gone mad without losing sight of what she believes in. Scotty has a new mission - more than survival. He was saved, and he'll be damned if he won't fight for what's right. And Bill - Bill was locked up, but the power went out and the guards left. Now he and his fellow inmates have realised that everything is free for the taking... if you're strong enough to hold on to it. "

Wizard Squared (Rogue Agent) by K.E. Mills (Orbit 01 July 2010 / £6.99) - The third title in K.E. Mills's (aka Karen Miller) Rogue Agent comic fantasy sequence. The first book, The Accidental Sorcerer was very warmly received as was the follow up, Witches Incorporated. Book three, Wizard Squared looks set to be just as much fun! An orbit paperback original.

"When the staff of Witches Incorporated receive a visitor from an alternate reality, they are shocked to learn that life in the parallel world next door is anything but a bed of roses. And it's all because of Gerald Dunwoody. At a crucial moment in time, their Gerald turned left - but the alternate reality Gerald turned right. Now the parallel world next door is in the grip of terror, staring down the barrel of a thaumaturgical war. A war that threatens to spill across the dimensions and plunge every reality into nightmare. The only person who can stop a rogue wizard gone mad is another rogue wizard. But what do you do when another rogue wizard is nowhere to be found? "

Solaris

The King's Bastard (King Rolen's Kin) by Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris 08 July 2010 / £7.99) - Solaris publish this chunky fantasy in paperback original, the first in a new trilogy by Australian author Rowena Cory Daniells. The King's Bastard opens The Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin and it's great to see the revivified Solaris imprint signalling their intent with this 'does what it says on the tin' kind of work. Long may it flourish.

Daniells is no newbie and this series will do much to establish her work outside of Australia.

"Only seven minutes younger than Rolencia's heir, Byren has never hungered for the throne. He laughs when a seer predicts that he will kill his twin. But the royal heir resents Byren's growing popularity. Across the land the untamed magic of the gods wells up out of the earth's heart. It sends exotic creatures to stalk the wintry nights and it twists men's minds, granting them terrible visions. Those so touched are sent to the Abbey to control their gift, or die. At King Rolen's court enemies plot to take his throne, even as secrets within his own household threaten to tear his family apart. Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy. "

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