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UK Books Received- 01/2011  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

Pax Brittania: Dark Side (Pax Britannia) by Jonathan Green (Abaddon 14 October 2010 / £7.99) - Hot on the heels of The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus, comes a new adventure in Jonathan Green's Pax Brittania series - Dark SIde is another madcap steampunk adventure for all the family and here's another shout-out to Abaddon for what I think is the best cover of the month!

"Ulysses Quicksilver visits the British lunar colonies, searching for his missing brother, Barty, believed to be on the run from gambling debts on Earth. The clues lead our detective and his faithful butler into the path of unsolved murders, battling robots, shady millionaries and stolen uncanny inventions. Used to working inside the law, Ulysses is stalled when his pursuit puts him on the wrong side of the Luna Prime Police Force. But why is Ulysses' ex-fiancee Emilia also in the colonies? Who is the strange eye-patched man following Ulysses? And what is really happening in a secret base on the dark side of the moon? Used to meeting every adventure with a devil-may-care attitude and a snappy one-liner, Ulysses will be forever changed by the revelations he discovers on this most deadly of trips. "

Angry Robot

Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar (Angry Robot 26 April 2011 / £5.14) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Lavie Tidhar's The Bookman has been one of the most talked about steampunk titles of 2010 - full of pulp fun and Victorian pop-culture. Now Tidhar returns to his strange world, ruled by royal lizards and tackles a narrative set on the gas-lit streets of Paris, as opposed to London. Mad-cap adventures a-plenty... due from Angry Robot this coming April.

"There's been a murder in the Rue Morgue. Looks like a job for the Quiet Council, and their most valuable agent, the mysterious and deadly Milady de Winter. Getting to the bottom of this sorry little death inside a locked and bloted room will take her to the heights and depths of the great city of Paris... and then far across the ocean, to where shadowy powers are experimenting with the very fabric of reality itself."

City of Hope & Despair: City of a Hundred Rows, Book 2 by Ian Whates (Angry Robot 29 March 2011 / £5.14) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The follow-up the City of Dreams & Nightmare by Ian Whates, a British writer, editor and publisher (of Newcon Press) who is hitting a rich vein right now and thus I seem to be seeing his name all over. City of Hope & Despair will be published by Angry Robot in March.

"The former street-nick, Tom, embarks on a journey to discover the source of the great river Thair, said to be the ultimate power behind all of Thaiburley. Accompanying him are the assassin Dewar and the young Thaistess Mildra. It soon becomes evident that their journey has more significance than any of them realise, as past secrets catch up with them and unknown adversaries hunt them... to the death!

Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, Tom, a lowly street-nick, has to run for his life through the City Below, Thaiburley's unsavoury basement world. Accused of committing the murder himself, he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilising the whole city. His only ally is Kat, a renegade like him, but she proves to have secrets of her own..."

Harbinger of the Storm: Obsidian & Blood, Book 2 by Aliette de Bodard (Angry Robot 25 January 2011 / £5.14) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: One of the most up-and-coming authors of the moment, Aliette de Bodard's Harbinger of the Storm, set in the blood-soaked midst of Aztec socitiety was described by Elizabeth Bear as "A riveting story of murder, magic, and sibling rivalry". The author now brings us a second instalment entitled Harbinger of the Storm, published this month by Angry Robot.

"The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God's power.

The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

When he hears rumours of a sinister cabal of sorcerors he must face up to demons, not all of them his own."

King's Justice: The Knights of Breton Court, Volume 2 by Maurice Broaddus (Angry Robot 22 February 2011 / £5.14) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Maurice Broaddus follows his novel King Maker with King's Justice. This edgy series I think personifies the the Angry Robot list - it's a fresh and modern take on a well-trodden fantasy trope, delivered with energy, invention and daring and packing a punch that will excite those of us who feel we've seen it all before. In doing so, it also has every chance of capturing new readers who might otherwise be lost to pastimes that require a much shorter attention span! The irresistible tag line is "American Gods meets The Wire meets Excalibur" - now come on people, who could possibly not want to read this book???

"From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. Ganglord Dred is calling together his footsoldiers, both human and worse. King tries to unite his people to stand against them, but even amongst his closest friends there's a terrible betrayal that might tear them all apart."

Point by Thomas Blackthorne (Angry Robot 22 February 2011 / £5.14) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: You may not have heard of Thomas Blackthorne, but you'll know (or certainly should) know of John Meaney, the author of both The Nulapeiron Sequence (consisting of Paradox, Context and Resolution) and also the Tristopolis books (Dark Blood - released in the US as Black Blood - and Bone Song).

Mr Blackthorne and Mr Meaney are one and the same, and in his previous Angry Robot novel Edge the author took a sharp new direction in this work which has been described by one reviewer as "...an intelligent, slick and brilliantly executed novel with a quite unexpected but superbly scripted ending" -- ScienceFictionandFantasy.co.uk. Meaney / Blackthorne now offers up his sequel, entitled Point - GET IT!

"They call it the Cutting Circle. A gang of black-clad teens, sat in a circle, turn and slash one another's wrists. The Tyndall Corporation are driving them to do it. Point is the equally-depraved and amazing sequel to the heart-stopping Edge"

Gollancz

The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo by Adam Roberts (Gollancz 18 November 2010 / £7.99) - Product Description: A parody (with dragons) of Stieg Larsson's global bestseller, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

The Way of Kings: The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz 30 December 2010 / £16.99) - It's become clear to me of late that Brandon Sanderson is nothing less than the perfect writing machine.

He produces panoramic, epic fantasy of a consistently excellent standard, delighting legions of readers - whether they have come to his work via his Robert Jordan connection or happened upon his own superb Mistborn novels, or stand-alones Elantris and Warbreaker or even by his YA Alcatraz books.

For the trade, be it his publisher (Tor in the US, Gollancz here in the UK and others around the world) or folks who sell his books, his superhuman productivity has allowed his work to be become highly visible with multiple books in print and thus the Brandon brand is building and building and building.

Having only just seen publication of his second Wheel of Time novel (the thirteen and penultimate in Jordan's series) Sanderson own thousand page doorstop fantasy - already a New York Times bestseller in the US - is now released here in Britain. The Way of Kings begins a new (and I suspect, defining) epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive. This is the start of something big.

"According to mythology mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. But then the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms. And the Voidbringers followed...

They came against man ten thousand times. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, mankind finally won. Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world is at war with itself - and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne. On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes that blow through every few day a young spearman forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn't understand and doesn't really want to fight. What happened deep in mankind's past? Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?"

Harper Voyager

For the Win by Cory Doctorow (Harper Voyager 06 January 2011 / £7.99) - Cory Doctorow's new novel is For The Win is published in mass market paperback by HarperCollins Voyager. If you've not come across Cory, either as a SF writer or as an incisive, cutting edge commentator on our technological age, get the hell out from under that rock you've been living under and head over to his web site!

"A provocative and exhilarating tale of teen rebellion against global corporations from the New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother -- a call to arms for a new generation. Not far in the future! In the twenty-first century, it's not just capital that's globalized: labour is too. Workers in special economic zones are trapped in lives of poverty with no trade unions to represent their rights. But a group of teenagers from across the world are set to fight this injustice using the most surprising of tools - their online video games. In Industrial South China Matthew and his friends labour day and night as gold-farmers, amassing virtual wealth that's sold on to rich Western players, while in the slums of Mumbai 'General Robotwallah' Mala marshalls her team of online thugs on behalf of the local gang-boss, who in turn works for the game-owners. They're all being exploited, as their friend Wei-Dong, all the way over in LA, knows, but can do little about. Until they begin to realize that their similarities outweigh their differences, and agree to work together to claim their rights to fair working conditions. Under the noses of the ruling elites in China and the rest of Asia, they fight their bosses, the owners of the games and rich speculators, outsmarting them all with their unbeatable gaming skills. But soon the battle will spill over from the virtual world to the real one, leaving Mala, Matthew and even Wei-Dong fighting not just for their rights, but for their lives! "

Headline

I Don't Want to Kill You: v. 3 by Dan Wells (Headline 06 January 2011 / £6.99) - Our fascination with multiple murderers - whether real or fictional - seems undiminished as the years go by. I, for one, can't get enough of Dexter!

Loudly praised by F.Paul Wilson, Dan Wells' disturbing début novel I Am Not a Serial Killer was published by Hodder Headline here in the UK and by Tor in the US to much acclaim. British readers can now also get their hands on the third and final title in the John Cleaver trilogy, I Don't Want To Kill You released this month. Dan Wells' website is here.

"Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver has always known he’s different, but not because he only has one friend (and doesn’t much like him) and not because he regularly helps out in his mother’s mortuary. He’s different because he recognizes the classic signs of an incipient serial killer in his own personality, and he’s created a rigid set of rules to follow to keep his darker nature, the one he calls Mr Monster in check.

But John discovers it’s the personality traits he so fears that put him in the best position to save the people of his town from a series of horrific and disturbing killers..."

Hodder Paperbacks

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (Hodder Paperbacks 06 January 2011 / £7.99) - Product Description: The new series from Britain's most creative comic genius Jasper Fforde

Orbit

Managing Death: Bk. 2: A Steven De Selby Novel (Steven De Selby 2) by Trent Jamieson (Orbit 20 January 2011 / £8.99) - Trent Jamieson has been a fixture on the Australian scene for a while - he's a writer and editor with over 70 published short stories to his name and he teaches the craft too - most recently at Clarion South. I was delighted when Orbit picked up his new series last year, publishing it simultaneously in the UK, US and Australia. The first in the Death Works series, one that should definitely appeal in a big way to fans of Jim Butcher and Mike Carey was Death Most Definite (follow the link for Steve Sawicki's admiring review) and Jamieson now follows it with this new release, Managing Death.

"Steven has a new job, with an important-sounding job title: Australia's Regional Death. On a good day he thinks it has quite a ring to it, but on a bad day (that's most of them) it's more of a toll.

He's recently averted a Regional Apocalypse, but a huge national death count - instead of a normal, manageable death count - is still a big risk. And with barely a month to go until his first Death Moot, where the world's thirteen Deaths get together to talk, er, death, Steven feels a crisis is imminent.

People are dying in the unusually brutal summer heat. Monstrous Stirrers are on the rise as their dark god draws near. Someone is trying to kill him. And he has a conference to organise. Steven must start managing Death, before it starts managing him, or this time the Apocalypse will be more than Regional."

The Hammer by K.J. Parker (Orbit 20 January 2011 / £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 by, Parker's canon of titles has grown ever longer and the plaudits ever louder. It's patently clear that I need to give this acclaimed author another go. This brand new stand-alone novel, The Hammer looks like a very good candidate with which to do just that. A paperback original published by Orbit this month.

"The colony was founded seventy years ago. The plan was originally to mine silver, but there turned out not to be any. Now an uneasy peace exists on the island, between the colonists and the once-noble met'Oc, a family in exile on a remote stronghold for their role in a vaguely remembered civil war. The met'Oc are tolerated, in spite of occasional cattle stealing raids, since they alone possess the weapons considered necessary protection in the event of the island's savages becoming hostile. Intelligent, resourceful, and determined, Gignomai is the youngest brother in the current generation of met'Oc. He is about to realise exactly what is expected of him; and what it means to defy his family."

The Heir of Night (Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe (Orbit 03 March 2011 / £11.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Orbit have a strong track record of spotting Antipodean talent and bringing it to readers in other territories. In recent years we've seen a whole host of fantastic fantasy writers from Australia and New Zealand emerge via the Orbit list - Glenda Larke, Jenny Fallon, Karen Miller, Trudi Canavan - and joining this list is Helen Lowe, whose new series begins with The Heir of Night. Published by Eos in the US, and already released by Orbit in the author's home territories, this first novel in Lowe's Wall of Night sequence is due in the UK in March.

"The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to uphold this tradition, yet she's known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon her fortress home. In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life. But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price."

Solaris

Age of Odin by James Lovegrove (Solaris 06 January 2011 / £7.99) - James Lovegrove is a long time fave writer of mine, the kind of author who is so choc-full of ideas that he's perhaps hard for publishers to profile. Each of his books offers up a different kind of delight - see these links for my reviews of Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed and The Fledging Of Az Gabrielson) Lovegrove is a truly protean writer and in his latest offering he shows off his talents most fulsomely. The Age of Odin is published by Solaris and is the third title in this series which began with The Age of Ra which was enthusiastically reviewed by our own Liz De Jager back in our August 09 issue and which was followed by The Age of Zeus

"Gideon Dixon was a good solider but bad at everything else. Now the British Army doesn't want him any more. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project it seems like a dream come true. They're recruiting fromer service personnel for execellent pay, no questions asked, to take part in unspecified combat operations. The last thing Gideon expects is to finding himself fighting alongside the gods of the ancient Norse pantheon. The world is in the grip of one of the worst winters it has ever known, and Ragnarok-the fabled final conflict of the Sagas-is looming"

Engineering Infinity by Charles Stross (Solaris 06 January 2011 / £7.99) - Solaris continue with their program of superb quality anthologies. Put together by World Fantasy Award winner Jonathan Strahan, Engineering Infinity is a hard SF collection featuring fourteen brand new stories by some top names in the field including Charles Stross, Gregory Benford, Stephen Baxter and Hannu Rajaniemi amongst others.

"The universe shifts and changes: suddenly you understand, you get it, and are filled with a sense of wonder. That moment of understanding drives the greatest science-fiction stories and lies at the heart of Engineering Infinity. Whether it's coming up hard against the speed of light and, with it, the enormity of the universe, realising that terraforming a distant world is harder and more dangerous than you'd ever thought, or simply realizing that a hitchhiker on a starship consumes fuel and oxygen with tragic results, it's hard science-fiction where sense of wonder is most often found and where science-fiction's true heart lies..."

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