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UK Books Received- 10/2010  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

Angry Robot

Amortals by Matt Forbeck (Angry Robot 01 November 2010 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Matt Forbeck is a name new to me, but a little digging around merely shows this is down to my ignorance rather than Forbeck's lack of impact. If you're a fan of Black Library, you'll know Forbeck as the author of four novels in the Blood Bowl series and if you're a RPGer he'll be familar to you as the creator of Brave New World and the author of tonnes of gaming resources. He is clearly a creative force to be reckoned with and so hats off to Angry Robot for extending Forbeck's repertoire with the publication of Amortals, a high energy, fast moving near future thriller.

"It’s Lee Child vs. Altered Carbon in a high-tech blast of tough-as-nails future thrills. Matt Forbeck arrives as the new king of high-concept – with a blockbuster action movie in a book. In the near future, scientists solve the problem of mortality by learning how to backup and restore a persons memories into a vat-bred clone. When Secret Service agent Ronan “Methusaleh” Dooley is brutally murdered, he’s brought back from the dead yet again to hunt his killer, and in doing so uncovers a terrible conspiracy."

Damage Time by Colin Harvey (Angry Robot 01 October 2010 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: British author Colin Harvey follows his previous novel Winter Song with a slight change of direction. Bucking the trend that sees a number of UK (and US) publishers shying away from Science Fiction, Angry Robot offer us Harvey's Damage Time - described by C.C. Finlay as a novel "...for science fiction readers who love 'Homicide' or 'The Wire' - a gritty cop drama set in a future New York on the verge of collapse. Peter Shah is a memorable hero and the memory rip technology will make your skin crawl."

"NEW YORK IS A MESS. It's 2050 and sea-levels have swamped the coastal regions. The walls are failing, the city has been carved up between the Chinese and the Muslims, and the USA is bankrupt. Detective Peter Shah serves with the NYPD as a Memory Association Specialist - reading the last memories of murder victims. When he's accused of killing a glamorous woman in a bar, he must find the killer, save himself... and the city."

Pretty Little Dead Things by Gary McMahon (Angry Robot 01 November 2010 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Gary McMahon has been on the scene for a while now producing consistently excellent works of dark and disturbing fiction at various lengths and in various well respected publications. Pretty Little Dead Things has had some fantastic advance praise from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler and Tim Lebbon and may well turn out to be McMahon's break out book - due from Angry Robot next month.

"THOMAS USHER HAS A TERRIBLE GIFT. Following a car crash in which his wife and daughter are killed, he can see the recently departed, and it’s not usually a pretty sight. When he is called to investigate the violent death of the daughter of a prominent local gangster, Usher’s world is torn apart once more. For the barriers between this world and the next are not as immutable as once he believed."

Soul Stealers (Clockwork Vampire Chronicles) by Andy Remic (Angry Robot 02 October 2010 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: We reviewed a couple of Andy Remic's earlier novels here in past issues (see here for Spiral and here for Quake). Since those early, slightly clunky futuristic thrillers published by Orbit, Remic has changed tack straying into boysie Military SF with Biohell and War machine (published by Solaris) and he's now found a new home with Angry Robot for whom he's writing boysie fantasy. Following Kell's Legend comes Soul Stealers, the second book of The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles

"... more blood-soaked, action-packed, vampire-laced dark epic fantasy.

Kell is being hunted. The vampires are fighting back against him, and the mighty hero finds himself the prey of two beautiful but deadly vampire assassins. Their bronze fangs are coming for him. He will strike back."

BBC Books

Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock (BBC Books 14 October 2010 / £16.99) - The Coming of the Terraphiles is the first Doctor Who 'Special' from BBC (and who can blame them given the global success of the show's reboot) and they've gone for a heavyweight name to write it - no less a personage than genre giant Michael Moorcock. Featuring the current Doctor, his beautiful assistant Amy, Moorcock offers a true mash-up, throwing in his own Multiverse hero, Jerry Cornelius for good measure. This mix will obviously appeal to both fans of both franchises but how well these two strong personalities work, may be a source of some discussion. Reviewed in this issue by Gavin Pugh.

"'There are dark tides runing through the universe...' Miggea – a star on the very edge of reality. The cusp between this universe and the next. A point where space-time has worn thin, and is in danger of collapsing... And the venue for the grand finals of the competition to win the fabled Arrow of Law. The Doctor and Amy have joined the Terraphiles – a group obsessed with all aspects of Earth's history, and dedicated to re-enacting ancient sporting events. They are determined to win the Arrow. But just getting to Miggea proves tricky. Reality is collapsing, ships are disappearing, and Captain Cornelius and his pirates are looking for easy pickings. Even when they arrive, the Doctor and Amy's troubles won't be over. They have to find out who is so desperate to get the Arrow of Law that they will kill for it. And uncover the traitor on their own team. And win the contest fair and square. And, of course, they need to save the universe from total destruction" (see review)

Gollancz

Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Gollancz S.F. S.) by Stephen Donaldson (Gollancz 28 October 2010 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A big release coming this autumn - the third of a four book sequence that see the conclusion of Stephen Donaldson's Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the continuation of his seminal fantasy series, one that formed a cornerstone of formative fantasy reading for anyone who was growing up in the 80s.

Gollancz publish Against All Things Ending in a thwacking great hardcover this month, all eight hundred and ninety-six pages of it!.

"Desperate for help to find her adopted son, Jeremiah, Linden Avery has resurrected Thomas Covenant in a cataclysmic exertion of Earthpower and wild magic. But the consequences of her efforts are more terrible than she could have imagined. Sorcery on that scale has awakened the Worm of the World's End: the ultimate end of all Time, and therefore of all life, has been set in motion. And on a more personal level, the results are no less extreme. The stress of reincarnation so many centuries after his death has fractured Covenant's mind. He cannot tell Linden where to find her son. And his leprosy has renewed its grip on him, inexorably killing his nerves. The Ranyhyn had tried to warn her. Now, plunged to depths of desperation and despair for which she is entirely unprepared, Linden seeks radical responses to the dilemmas she has created. Searching for Jeremiah, and accompanied only by a few friends and allies - some of them unwilling - she takes chances that threaten her sanity, forcing her to confront the Land's most fearsome secrets. Dreadful futures hinge on all of her choices, and she and her companions are driven beyond the limits of their endurance. Yet she still walks paths laid out for her by the Despiser, and his forces are ready..."

Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn (Gollancz 02 September 2010 / £12.99) - Product Description: On a mission to expose evil, it's all too easy for the hunters to become the hunted ...

The Alchemist in the Shadows by Pierre Pevel (Gollancz 16 September 2010 / £12.99) - Product Description: Superb swashbuckling fun - with dragons!

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz 30 September 2010 / £12.99) - 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. 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 author, 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. "

Harper Voyager

King's Wrath: Book Three of the Valisar Trilogy (Valisar Trilogy 3) by Fiona McIntosh (Harper Voyager 15 October 2010 / £14.99) - The third, and last, instalment of Fiona McIntosh's gripping epic fantasy, set in a world torn by revenge, love and ancient magic.

Loethar the Tyrant has established himself as the King of the Devona Set. No longer seen as a tyrant, his reforms and peace-making efforts have won over a section of society, especially since over the last 15 years, his people from the steppes have migrated and integrated into the Devona kingdoms.

Loethar no longer believes Prince Leo, the rightful heir to the throne, to be dead and hunts him and his outlaw allies; but another heir also exists - one the usurper should fear more than a prince on the run… and she has possession of the ancient Valisar enchantment.

Having learnt the truth of her parentage, her world and her family's fate, she must decide whether to stay and face the King's wrath, or escape back into the world she has hidden within for so many years.

Headline Review

The Bride That Time Forgot (Brenda 5) by Paul Magrs (Headline Review 28 October 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: British author Paul Magrs, received some wonderful comments following the publication of his novel Never The Bride. Perhaps though he is best known in genre circles for his many Doctor Who related works, which include both novels published by the BBC and dramatic presentations for Big Finish.

Headline now publish a new Brenda and Effie adventure, entitled The Bride That Time Forgot and they describe it, rather intriguingly as "Alan Bennett meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"An outrageous adventure with the most terrifying villain Brenda has ever faced - her best friend, Effie.

Something is biting people on the streets of Whitby. In an ordinary town, this would be worrying. Here, it's disastrous, and only Brenda has guessed why. She's also trying to prepare for a packed festive break at her B&B, but her best friend Effie is in distracted mood: she just hasn't been the same since her suave gentleman friend Alucard reappeared.

Meanwhile, Penny has joined a book group in the new mystery bookstore, the Spooky Finger. As she is drawn into the strange and fantastic works of Edwardian lady novelist Beatrice Mapp, she makes some very surprising discoveries. Discoveries that will soon impact upon the lives of all the ladies of Whitby. When unexpected help from the shadows of the past arrives to illuminate the dangers awaiting them all, Brenda realises that unless she can find a way to save Effie, the consequences may be eternal. "

Orbit

Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £8.99) - She's not one of the quickest writers around, but I guess that always makes a new novel from Arthur C. Clarke award winner Tricia Sullivan something of a publishing event. This month sees the release of Lightborn which one hopes will live up to the 'cutting edge' hype that Orbit are attaching to it. See here for my review of Maul, published back in 2003.

"Lightborn, better known as 'shine', is a mind-altering technology that has revolutionised the modern world. It is the ultimate in education, self-improvement and entertainment - beamed directly into the brain of anyone who can meet the asking price. But in the city of Los Sombres, renegade shine has attacked the adult population, resulting in social chaos and widespread insanity in everyone past the age of puberty. The only solution has been to turn off the Field and isolate the city. Trapped within the quarantine perimeter, fourteen-year-old Xavier just wants to find the drug that can keep his own physical maturity at bay until the army shuts down the shine. That's how he meets Roksana, mysteriously impervious to shine and devoted to helping the stricken. As the military invades street by street, Xavier and Roksana discover that there could be hope for Los Sombres - but only if Xavier will allow a lightborn cure to enter his mind. What he doesn't know is that the shine in question has a mind of its own ... "

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £18.99) - I confess I've been a little underwhelmed by Iain M. Banks' two most recent SF offerings. I found The Algebraist a ponderous, thick-skinned beast (see my review here) and his last straight SF novel Matter (reviewed here), hailed as a return to The Culture turned out to be only peripherally so. This new work, Surface Detail is also a novel of The Culture and I do hope it proves as stunning as those early books in the sequence which turned me onto SF more than anything else I read in my teens. Published by Orbit in hardcover.

"It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture. Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality. It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether. "

Version 43 by Philip Palmer (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £8.99) - British author Philip Palmer impressed greatly with his energetic and vibrant début Space Opera Debatable Space when it was released back in 2008 - see here for my review. Palmer followed up with Red Claw, with its fantastic retro cover look and this month we have the release of Version 43, also featuring that same cool cover style.

"The odds of surviving quantum teleportation to the Exodus Universe are, more or less, fifty/fifty. The only ones crazy enough to try it are the desperate, the insane and those sentenced to death for their crimes. Belladonna is home to the survivors and, in a planet run by criminals and desperados, death is commonplace. But a particularly horrific (and improbable) killing attracts the Galactic Police force, and a cyborg cop is sent to investigate. Version 43 has been here before, and has old scores to settle. The cop was human once, but is now more programme than man. And he intends to clean up this planet, permanently, whatever the cost."

Pan

The Pan Book of Horror Stories by Various (Pan 01 October 2010 / £7.99) - This most classy of classic horror anthologies is reissued by Pan this month with a brand new forward by renowned horror expert Johnny Mains. The original Pan Book of Horror Stories first appeared fifty years ago and went on to and some of these authors may no longer be household names, the shadow they cast over the field still remains as scarily charged as when these stories were first released.

" Fifty years ago Pan launched a series of books that were to delight and disgust - sometimes even on the same page – readers for thirty years. From classics in the genre to scraping-the-barrel nastiness, the Pan Books of Horror had them all and they continue to be a major influence in published anthologies to the present day.

We're delighted, therefore, to announce the reissue of the very first Pan Book of Horror. Specially selected for Pan, here are 22 terrifying tales of horror by such famous authors as Peter Fleming, C. S. Forester, Bram Stoker, Angus Wilson, Noel Langley, Jack Finney and L. P. Hartley.

Stories of the uncanny jostle with tales of the macabre. Stories of subtle beastliness---like Rasberry Jam; of sickening horror---like The Fly or His Beautiful Hands; and of utter chilling terror---like The Horror of the Museum!

The perfect bedside book---for those with nerves of steel! "

Pocket Books

Angel Souls and Devil Hearts (Shadow Saga 2) by Christopher Golden (Pocket Books 01 October 2010 / £7.99) - The late arrival of book one (see below) in Christopher Golden's vampire series has this listing of book two seeming rather in the wrong order. However Angel Souls and Devil Hearts is at least released this month, so that much is right! Golden is, of course, a prolific and highly respected author, though one perhaps best known in the UK for his Buffey books and his collaborations with Buffey actress turned writer, Amber Benson.

"In the second book of The Shadow Saga the Shadows have been exposed as living amongst us and the ancient vampiric race now finds itself threatened by the most powerful demon of all: human prejudice. In a world where the good are no longer distinguishable from the bad and where Shadows are indeed the saints, a holy war is about to begin, pitting humans and vampires together against the dark forces of Hell. And as they fight for their survival in the face of a betrayal by one of their own, the Shadows begin to discover at last the astonishing, long-hidden truth of what they are. What they will learn about their mysterious origins is more extraordinary -- and more explosive -- than they could possibly have imagined. "

Of Saints and Shadows (Shadow Saga 1) by Christopher Golden (Pocket Books 08 July 2010 / £7.99) - Product Description: Book One of The Shadow Saga -- an epic tale of vampires, sorcery and war set in the final decades of the twentieth century

Robinson Publishing

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror: v. 21: The World's Premier Annual Showcase of Horror and Dark Fantasy Fiction by Stephen Jones (Robinson Publishing 28 October 2010 / £7.99) - The latest volume Of Stephen Jones' award winning anthology series featuring the year's best work around in the field of horror. These volumes showcase the talents of both existing grand masters and exciting newcomers and include Jones' comprehensive annual overview of horror around the world, along with his necrology of the famous recently departed and indispensable contact list of all things a fan or aspiring author might ever need.

Click here for a full table of contents. Reviewed in this issue by Liz de Jager.

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 by Lara Adrian (Robinson Publishing 26 August 2010 / £7.99) - If love transcends all boundaries, paranormal romance is its natural conclusion.

This title features over twenty tales from some of the hottest names in romantic fiction to transport you to fantastical worlds in which mythical beasts, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, heart-stoppingly handsome ghosts, angels and mortals with extra-sensory powers live out extraordinary desires. It includes stories from Lara Adrian, Ava Gray, Sharon Shinn, Robin D. Owens, Karen Chance and many more.

Solaris

Corvus (Macht Trilogy 2) by Paul Kearney (Solaris 28 October 2010 / £7.99) - Solaris signed up Northern Irish fantasy author Paul Kearney and have been publishing him very enthusiastically, reissuing his impressive backlist (most recently the omnibus reissues of his Monarchies of God series) and also publishing brand new work. October see the publication of Corvus, Kearney's follow-up to The Ten Thousand and the second book in the Macht trilogy.

"It is twenty-three years since a Macht army fought its way home from the heart of the Asurian Empire. The man who came to lead that army, Rictus, is now a hard-bitten mercenary captain, middle-aged and tired. He wants nothing more than to lay down his spear and become the farmer that his father was. But fate has different ideas. A young war-leader has risen to challenge the order of things in the very heartlands of the Macht. A solider of genius, he takes city after city, and reigns over them as king. What is more, he has heard of the legendary leader of The Ten Thousand. His name is Corvus, and the rumours say that he is not even fully human. He means to make himself absolute ruler of all the Macht. And he wants Rictus to help him."

Engineman by Eric Brown (Solaris 14 October 2010 / £7.99) - In addition to Eric Brown's novel Engineman, this paperback original from Solaris also contains nine stories set in the Engineman universe, including the Interzone award winning 'The Time-Lapsed Man'. Great SF and great value from one the most under-rated authors in the British genre scene.

"Once they pushed bigships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum. But faster than light isn't fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undisclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph's future. What he cannot anticipate is its universal importance – nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world."

The End of the Line by Christopher Fowler (Solaris 01 November 2010 / £7.99) - A top-notch anthology of new stories set in and around the Underground put together by Solaris superemo Jonathan Oliver, proving that themed anthologies are still very much alive and kicking in the wider marketplace. There are some absolute crackers here, from names that will doubtless be familar to you (or should be!) - Michael Marshall Smith, Pat Cadigan, Ramsey Campbell, Conrad Williams, Christopher Fowler, James Lovegrove, Adam Neville, Stephen Volk, Gary McMohan and others. Recommended.

"In deep tunnels something stirs, borne on a warm breath of wind, reeking of diesel and blood. The spaces between stations hold secrets too terrible for the upper world to comprehend and the steel lines sing with the songs of the dead. Jonathan Oliver has collected together some of the very best in new horror writing in an themed anthology of stories set on, and around, the Underground, the Metro and other places deep below."

Tor

The Scarab Path (Shadows of the Apt 5) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor 06 August 2010 / £7.99) - Product Description: The war with the Wasp Empire has ended in a bitter stalemate, and Collegium has nothing to show for it but wounded veterans. Cheerwell Maker finds herself crippled in ways no doctor can mend, haunted by ghosts of the past that she cannot appease, seeking for meaning in a city that no longer seems like home.

The Technician (Polity 4) by Neal Asher (Tor 20 August 2010 / £17.99) - Endlessly imaginative and industrious, Neal Asher dishes up another of his tasty action-packed SF novels. The Technician is a stand alone story, albeit one set against the backdrop of Asher's universe, one now well explored in a dozen or so novels and any number of shorter works.The Skinner, remains my favourite of this authors ever growing 'also by' list - if this latest is even half as good, then it'll be one of the this month's top picks. A hardcover release from Tor UK.

" The Theocracy has been dead for twenty years, and the Polity rules on Masada. But the Tidy Squad consists of rebels who cannot accept the new order. Their hate for surviving theocrats is undiminished, and the iconic Jeremiah Tombs is at the top of their hitlist.

Escaping his sanatorium Tombs is pushed into painful confrontation with reality he has avoided since the rebellion. His insanity has been left uncured, because the near mythical hooder called the Technician that attacked him all those years ago, did something to his mind even the AIs fail to understand. Tombs might possess information about the suicide of an entire alien race.

The war drone Amistad, whose job it is to bring this information to light, recruits Lief Grant, an ex-rebel Commander, to protect Tombs, along with the black AI Penny Royal, who everyone thought was dead. The amphidapt Chanter, who has studied the bone sculptures the Technician makes with the remains of its prey, might be useful too.

Meanwhile, in deep space, the mechanism the Atheter used to reduce themselves to animals, stirs from slumber and begins to power-up its weapons. "

Voyager

Songs of the Dying Earth by (Voyager 30 September 2010 / £12.99) - The great Jack Vance is having a well deserved renaissance at the moment, spearheaded by some gorgeous releases from Subterranean Press. Their latest is a Vance inspired volume and has such an extraordinary line up that it (quite rightly) has been picked by Harpercollins Voyager whose perhaps less lavish, but consequently more affordable edition will reach a wider readership. This is the trade paperback release and has a different cover to that shown (which is the one in the Amazon database!)

Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois Songs of a Dying Earth features all new stories by a quite staggering array of genre stars - Robert Silverberg, Matthew Hughes (whose Vancian novella Template I reviewed last year), Jeff Vandermeer, Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams, Lucius Shepard, Elizabeth Moon... and the list of luminaries goes on and on!

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