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UK Books Received- 07/2011  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

The Afterblight Chronicles Omnibus: America by Simon Spurrier (Abaddon 23 June 2011 / £10.99) - The latest fantastic value omnibus from Abaddon, this time collecting three novels in the Afterblight Chronicles, their post-apocalyptic franchise series. America contains three novels by Abaddon stalwarts - The Cull by Simon Spurrier is the inaugural title in the series and it's joined in this collection by Kill or Cure by Rebecca Levine and Al Ewing's Death Got No Mercy, this latter title notably (as referred to in Jon Oliver's entertaining into) featuring a cover in which a man is punching a bear in the face! Oh yes!

"The world has been devastated by an epidemic. Although there are pockets of an attempted continuation of civilisation, the truth is that the world has gone to hell in a handcart. The reason for this is a disease that has wiped out most of the world's population. It kills almost all those who are not of the blood group 'O neg'. Those people who survive are untouched. Everyone else dies. Infrastructures have collapsed. Mobs run rampant. The only kind of law that exists is that imposed by the people with the biggest guns. In this devastated and chaotic world who can bring hope and order?"

Atlantic Books

The Mall by S. L. Grey (Atlantic Books 01 June 2011 / £14.99) - Corvus offer up one of their occasional genre releases, this time with something dark, dangerous and very interesting indeed. The Mall is a fast moving, adrenaline fuelled page turner by psuedonymous South African author(s) S.L. Grey and is published in hard cover.

"When the child she's baby-sitting goes missing in a Johannesburg mall, self-confessed outcast Rhoda Hlope bullies disgruntled shop-clerk Daniel Jacobson into helping her search for the child. As they explore the labyrinthine service corridors behind the mall's facade, they find themselves forced to flee from an inconceivable horror that chases them deeper into the bowels of the mall. Thrust together by accident, and taunted by disturbing text messages, Rhoda and Dan, travel through the murky back-end of the mall - the side that customers never see - and come out at a mirror world which seems to tell the truth, violently. But what machinations lie behind the mysterious Management's games?"

Bantam Press

Dragon's Time (Dragonriders of Pern) by Todd McCaffrey (Bantam Press 23 June 2011 / £18.99) - The latest dynastic collaboration between Anne McCaffrey and her son, Todd. Dragon's Time is a sequel to Dragongirl, released last year and is published in this smart hard cover edition by Bantam Press. Fans of the original novels seem to have taken to this extended collaboration in their droves and thus Pern, like Dune, has every chance of becoming a family franchise long after it's creator has turned to dust... and why not!

"Although Lorana cured the dragons’ sickness so many died from the disease that there are no longer enough dragons to fight the deadly Thread, and more dragons and their riders die each Threadfall. With their numbers dwindling, Lorana made the decision to fly forward in time in a desperate bid to bring dragons from the future to fight Thread. She knew that jumping so far in time would result in her losing her baby, but without her jump all life on Pern is doomed.

Back at Telgar Weyr Fiona, Kindan and T'mar realise what Lorana has done. They are desperately sad, but two things give them hope. The first is that Fiona is expecting twins, and the second the fact that all the dragonriders are exhausted, a sign that they are Timing it - existing elsewhere in space and time – which gives them hope that Lorana has found a way through time to help them.

Sure enough, led by messages left for them by Lorana, they fly through space to the Dawn Sisters, the ships hanging in space that brought their ancestors to Pern. From there they look down at the beautiful planet and see a previously undiscovered continent – this is where they are Timing it and where they are reunited with Lorana. Now they can increase the number and strength of the dragons before going back to their own time to fight Thread. Although Lorana found she couldn’t break time, she has found a way to cheat it."

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Bantam Press 21 July 2011 / £12.99) - A really nice blurb from Neil Gaiman blares out from the PR material for Maria Dahvana Headley's new book Queen of Kings. He says "It's rare that a first novel is so magical, so dark, so well-researched, so smart or so compelling." - not "so so" then, it would seem.

Now published in trade paperback by Bantam, Queen of Kings opens a trilogy of historical novels that tell of an immortal Cleopatra through the ages.

"What if Cleopatra didn’t die in 30 BC alongside her beloved Mark Antony? What if she couldn’t die? What if she became immortal? Queen of Kings is the first instalment in an epic, epoch-spanning story of one woman’s clash with the Roman Empire and the gods of Egypt in a quest to save everything she holds dear. As Octavian Caesar (later Augustus) and his legions march into Alexandria, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, summons Sekhmet, the goddess of Death and Destruction, in a desperate attempt to resurrect her husband, who has died by his own hand, and save her kingdom. But this deity demands something in return: Cleopatra's soul. Against her will, Egypt's queen becomes a blood-craving, shape-shifting immortal: a not-quite-human manifestation of a goddess who seeks to destroy the world. Battling to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome - she desires revenge, she yearns for her children - and she craves blood...

It is a dangerous journey she must make. She will confront witches, mythic monsters, the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, and her own, warring nature. She will kill but she will also find mercy. She will raise an extraordinary army to fight her enemies, and she will see her beloved Antony again. But to save him from the endless torment of Hades, she must make a devastating sacrifice."

The Watchers by Jon Steele (Bantam Press 09 June 2011 / £12.99) - Jon Steel's debut novel The Watchers gives us a good idea of where the crossover market is right now. Just released in hardcover by Bantam Press it will certainly appeal to genre reader who will be familar with the tropes and elements therein, but the 'otherness' of this book is clearly intended to also catch mainstream readers, given that it is being pitched as 'Imagine The Bourne Identity written by Neil Gaiman'.

"Lausanne, Switzerland.

In the cathedral tower lives a strange boy with a limp who talks to the bells.

In a luxury penthouse lives a high-class prostitute who's in mortal danger.

And in a low-rent hotel lives a private investigator who has no idea how he got there.

Jay Harper finds himself in Switzerland on the trail of a missing Olympic athlete. A hard drinker, he can barely remember how he got home last night, let alone why he accepted this job. When he meets the stunning but aloof Katherine in a hotel bar, he quickly realises that he's not the only one in town who's for hire. She's a high-class hooker who can't believe her luck. Which is about to change. For the worse.

In the meantime, Marc Rochat spends his time in the belfry talking to the statues, his cat and the occasional ghost. His job is to watch over Lausanne at night and to wait for the angel his mother told him he'd one day have to save. When he sees Katherine, he thinks his moment has come. Which indeed it has. But not in a good way..."

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Gamerunner by B. R. Collins (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 04 July 2011 / £6.99) - Cambridge graduate, alumni of the London School of Dramatic Art, prize-winning poet, acclaimed playwright and acclaimed (and again, prize-winning) author of YA novels, one must wonder if there's anything Bridget Collins can't make a success of! This protean talent, writing as B.R. Collins now has a new novel published in paperback original by Bloomsbury - Gamerunner is a dystopian tale described as "a sharp, futuristic thriller with a psychological edge".

"Rick is a Gamerunner. His job is to test there are no glitches or bugs in The Maze - the computer game that is much more than just a computer game. In The Maze you physically become your avatar. You fight, run and loot, all the time avoiding the deadly slicing traps - whirling blades that appear from nowhere. Rick has known nothing outside The Maze and his life at the headquarters of Crater, the company that created The Maze. When Rick's father falls out of favour and Rick is faced with being thrown out of Crater HQ into the outside world - a world of flesh-dissolving acid rain and ferocious, feral roving gangs - Rick has some life-changing decisions to make ..."

Wolf Blood by N. M. Browne (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 04 July 2011 / £6.99) - Bloomsbury bring us the latest novel from N.M. Browne, the successful British author of some great YA tales, such as Hunted, Basilisk, The Story of Stone and The Warrior's Trilogy. Wolf Blood is a stand alone novel, weaving Roman myth and Celtic legend neatly into a werewolf adventure. A paperback original release.

"A Celtic warrior girl is held captive and enslaved by a rival tribe. When fever takes her only friend she knows she must escape, but she runs straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers. Thinking they will kill a warrior instantly, the girl disguises herself as a beggar and asks to share their fire. Using her gift as a seer she discovers that one of the soldiers is not what he seems. Celtic blood courses through his veins too, but there is something else. He is a shapeshifter - a Versipellum. He shares his soul with that of the wolf. The girl needs to reach the leader of her dead friend's tribe, and the boy must escape the Romans before they discover his true nature. Their only chance of survival is to help each other. But what will happen when their powers are combined? "

Gollancz

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Gollancz 18 August 2011 / £9.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A major summer title for Gollancz, Anna Sheehan's A Long, Long Sleep has been generating something of a buzz in YA circles on the interwebs for some months pripr to publication, particualrly on Goodreads, a site that is becoming an important tool for publishers in ascertaining which way the wind is blowing amongst their readers.

The novel will be released next month in the UK and also in the UK by Random House.

"Rosalinda Fitzroy had been asleep for 62 years when she was woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically-induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose - hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire - is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes - or be left without any future at all."

Blackout by Connie Willis (Gollancz 01 June 2011 / £14.99) - Since I first encountered Connie Willis' time travel masterpiece, Blackout - the first volume of a two an epic two-part story - it has deservedly picked up a whole host of nominations for various industry awards, winning the coveted Nebula for best novel in the process. This is no surprise, given that it's an absolutely brilliant piece of work, as is the second part, All Clear. Originally published in the US in February last year by Spectra, the novel(s) finally get their UK trade release from Gollancz. To celebrate, we're re-running my original review.

"In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-travelling future of 2060—the setting for several of her most celebrated works—and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler’s bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.

Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own—to find three missing needles in the haystack of history.

Told with compassion, humor, and an artistry both uplifting and devastating, All Clear is more than just the triumphant culmination of the adventure that began with Blackout. It’s Connie Willis’s most humane, heartfelt novel yet—a clear-eyed celebration of faith, love, and the quiet, ordinary acts of heroism and sacrifice too often overlooked by history. " (see review)

Red Glove by Holly Black (Gollancz 16 June 2011 / £12.99) - Holly Black is best known as the co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles, which unless you live under a rock, you'll have seen one or two copies of on the shelves of your local book store - and that isn't something confined to the UK or US, as they've been translated into 32 languages and been made into a Hollywood movie!

Red Glove is Black's follow-up to White Cat which was described by publisher Gollancz as "Ingenious, inventive and addictive ... one of the most entertaining and original fantasy novels of the year." Out now in trade paperback.

"The Sopranos meets Six Feet Under - a wonderfully dark, supernatural vision of modern day America. Cassel has discovered the dark secret of his past, the secret that set him apart from his family. Now he must take his new knowledge and his new powers out into the world. A dark and twisting contemporary fantasy set in a beautifully rendered, subtly different world this is a wonderfully nuanced and involving fantasy, at once melancholy, ironic and terrifying. It is perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman."

The Traitor's Gate: The Nowhere Chronicles Book Two by Sarah Silverwood (Gollancz 02 June 2011 / £9.99) - The second novel in Sarah Silverwood's YA series, The Nowhere Chronicles and sequel to The Double-Edged Sword. The Traitor's Gate is released in trade paperback by Gollancz.

Silverwood is a pseudonym of Sarah Pinborough who, when not writing rip-roaring magical yarns like this, is writing scaryfying and disturbing tales under her own name. Whatever you do, don't mix up the brands when handing out the Christmas pressies...

"It's Christmas-time, and Finmere Tingewick Smith (Fin to his friends) is back in Orrery House, with Christopher, one of his two best friends. They're there for the Initiation of the new Knights of Nowhere. The boys have tried to find some normalcy after their recent adventures, but they're badly missing Joe. He's stuck in the Nowhere, guarding two of the Five Eternal Stories that weave all the worlds together; they're held inside his own body. In the Somewhere, Christmas is a time of glad tidings and gifts and goodwill, Christmas trees, carols and the celebration of good things. But there is no Christmas in the Nowhere, and in both worlds, things are not as settled as they look, for Justin Arnold-Mather is getting ready to make his move. In the Nowhere, something is moving through the streets, attacking people - random victims - and leaving them mad and disfigured. And in Orrery House, a tiny crack has appeared in the Prophecy table. The Prophecy is coming alive. The battle lines will be drawn between even the closest of friends, for the fight is on. The Dark King is rising."

Harper Voyager

King's Wrath: Book Three of the Valisar Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh (Harper Voyager 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - Fiona McIntosh moved from Orbit to HarperCollins Voyager with her new fantasy series, The Valisar Trilogy. Previously issued only in royal hardback, Voyager now publish the mass market edition the third and final volume, King's Wrath.

"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."

Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire 6) by Naomi Novik (Harper Voyager 09 June 2011 / £7.99) - I loved Naomi Novik's debut novel Temeraire, but found the subsequent follow up works Throne of Jade and Black Powder War suffered rather from the law of diminishing returns. Her latest novel, the sixth in the sequence, The Tongue of Serpents, is now released by Voyager in mass market paperback and takes Lawrence and Temeraire to the Antipodes where they continue their adventures.

"Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon's invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence—stripped of rank and standing—have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons. Temeraire and Laurence carry with them three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony and destined to be handed over to such second-rate, undesirable officers as have been willing to accept so remote an assignment—including one former acquaintance, Captain Rankin, whose cruelty once cost a dragon its life.

Nor is this the greatest difficulty that confronts the exiled dragon and rider: Instead of leaving behind all the political entanglements and corruptions of the war, Laurence and Temeraire have instead sailed into a hornet's nest of fresh complications. For the colony at New South Wales has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh—better known as Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. Bligh wastes no time in attempting to enlist Temeraire and Laurence to restore him to office, while the upstart masters of the colony are equally determined that the new arrivals should not upset a balance of power precariously tipped in their favor.

Eager to escape this political quagmire, Laurence and Temeraire take on a mission to find a way through the forbidding Blue Mountains and into the interior of Australia. But when one of the dragon eggs is stolen from Temeraire, the surveying expedition becomes a desperate race to recover it in time—a race that leads to a shocking discovery and a dangerous new obstacle in the global war between Britain and Napoleon. "

Hodder Paperbacks

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Hodder Paperbacks 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - There are very few authors out there who are commercially viable enough for major trade publishers to bring out collections of their shorter works, but the evergreen grandmaster himself Stephen King has a proven track record in this respect the mass marker edition of a brand new collection, Full Dark, No Stars published, featuring four brand new novella length works, plus a bonus story not seen in the original hard cover release - a Hodder and Stoughton release.

"'I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger...' writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up '1922', the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife Arlette proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In 'Big Driver', a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger is along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

'Fair Extension', the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Harry Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

When her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It's a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends 'A Good Marriage'."

Orbit

Bearers of the Black Staff (Legends of Shannara) by Terry Brooks (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - The first of two new novels in a brand new Shannara sequence by the evergreen Terry Brooks. Bearers of the Black Staff, book one of the Legends of Shannara duology is now published in mass market paperback by Orbit.

"Five hundred years have passed since the devastating demon-led war that almost exterminated humankind. Those who escaped the carnage were led to sanctuary by the boy saviour known as Hawk: the gypsy morph. But now, the unimaginable has come to pass: the cocoon of protective magic surrounding the valley has vanished. When Sider Ament, last surviving Knight of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley, and Trackers from the human village of Glensk Wood, find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: the once safe haven of generations has been laid bare. Together, the young Trackers, the aging Knight, and a daring Elf princess race to spread word of the encroaching danger. But suspicion and hostility among their countrymen threaten to doom their efforts from within, while beyond the breached borders, a ruthless Troll army masses for invasion. Standing firm between the two, the last wielder of the black staff and its awesome magic must find a successor to carry on the fight against the cresting new wave of evil. "

Echo City by Tim Lebbon (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - Steven Erikson describes British author Tim Lebbon as "One of the genre's most original and inventive writers" - a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly. With a Stoker and four British Fantasy awards to his name, Lebbon is in the midst of mining a rich seam of work, whether they be solo efforts or collaborations (most often with Christopher Golden), novels or shorter works.

Given this home-grown talent, Lebbon has ironically hitherto been far more present in the US than he has in the UK, but this imbalance is, it appears, finally being addressed with the British publication by Orbit of Echo City, Lebbon's latest dark fantasy, previously published in the US by Spectra.

"Surrounded by a vast, toxic desert, the inhabitants of labyrinthine Echo City believe there is no other life in their world. Some like it that way, so when a stranger arrives he is anathema to powerful interest groups. But Peer Nadawa found the stranger and she is determined to keep him and the freedom he represents alive. A political exile herself, she calls on her ex-lover Gorham, now leader of their anti-establishment network. Then they recruit the Baker, whose macabre genetic experiments seem close to sorcery. However, while factions prepare for war, an ancient peril is stirring. In the city's depths something deadly is rising, and it will soon reach the levels where men dwell. "

Ghost Story: A Dresden Files Novel by Jim Butcher (Orbit 28 July 2011 / £14.99) - The latest title in Jim Butcher's evergreen and hugely popular Harry Dresden series. Ghost Story is released in hardcover by Orbit (showing off their very cool re-branded cover look to full effect) and once again shows why Jim Butcher rules the roost.

"Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago's first (and only) Wizard PI. Turns out the 'everyday' world is full of strange and magical things - and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. But he's forgotten his own golden rule: magic - it can get a guy killed. Which didn't help when he clashed with unknown assailants with his murder in mind. And though Harry's continued existence is now in some doubt, this doesn't mean he can rest in peace. Trapped in a realm that's not quite here, yet not quite anywhere else, Harry learns that three of his loved ones are in danger. Only by discovering his assailant's identity can he save his friends, bring criminal elements to justice, and move on himself. It would just be easier if he knew who was at risk. And had a (working) crystal ball. And access to magic. Instead, he is unable to interact with the physical world - invisible to all but a select magical few. He's also not the only silent presence roaming Chicago's alleys. Hell, he put some there himself. Now, they're looking for payback."

Heartless: The Parasol Protectorate: Book 4 by Gail Carriger (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - One of Orbit's more prominent releases of last year were Gail Carriger's debut Parasol Protectorate novels, comprising Soulless, Changeless and Blameless and. These books proved something of a talking point - combining a well-written, fun and witty genre adventure with great design and marketing, an arrival on the scene right when Steampunk books were cool and a talented, colourful and very visible author who is aware of the need to get "out there" and able to do so without being obtrusive. It was an impressive start to what will doubtless be an impressive career and one with, one hopes, impressive returns for the publisher who got this one right on so many levels. A new title in the series, Heartless is now published by Orbit, like the others as a paperback original.

"Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble in the air is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines - and Alexia barely has time to remember she just happens to be eight months pregnant. Will Alexia be able to figure out who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it's too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And do they really have to take up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?"

Hell Ship by Philip Palmer (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £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 and Version 43 with their fantastic retro cover look and this month we have the release of Hell Ship, another brash, violent, pulpy SF tale, this time featuring aliens, invaders and pirates in space! I really do recommend Palmer's work - he's an unflinching and relentlessly ballsy writer, completely unafraid to shock and unapologetic in the "glam rock", over-the-top invention that characterises his work - that's pretty refreshing in an age where sometimes one gets a sense more of franchise than of fiction. Hell Ship is an Orbit paperback original.

"The Hell Ship hurtles through space. Inside the ship are thousands of slaves, each the last of their race. The Hell Ship and its infernal crew destroyed their homes, slaughtered their families and imprisoned them forever. One champion refuses to succumb. Sharrock, reduced from hero to captive in one blow, has sworn vengeance. Although Sai-as, head of the alien slave horde, will ruthlessly enforce the status quo. But help is close. Jak has followed the Ship for years and their battles have left Jak broken, a mind in a starship's body, focussed only on destroying the Ship. Together, can hunter and slave end this interstellar nightmare? "

Rule 34 by Charles Stross (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £12.99) - Another hugely prolific Orbit author, Charles Stross, has a new novel out this month. Rule 34 (see this definition of exactly what this is!)is described as a "cutting edge cyber-thriller" and fans of Stross' particular brand of uber-geek-dom will find much to please them here. Interestingly, the novel is written entirely in second person (as was one of his previous novels, Halting State) which is a method of story telling I find very alienating and not at all to my taste - but don't let that stop you!

"DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile. Anwar: As an ex-con, you'd like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you've landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although now that you're Consul for a shiny new Eastern European Republic, you've no idea what comes next. The Toymaker: Your meds are wearing off and people are stalking you through Edinburgh's undergrowth. But that's ok, because as a distraction, you're project manager of a sophisticated criminal operation. But who's killing off potential recruits? So how do bizarre domestic fatalities, dodgy downloads and a European spamming network fit together? The more DI Kavanaugh learns, the less she wants to find out. "

The Key to Creation (Terra Incognita) by Kevin J. Anderson (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £13.99) - Book three of Kevin J. Anderson's Terra Incognita series is released by Orbit as a hefty large format trade paperback - The Key to Creation concludes this epic fantasy of sailing ships, crusading armies, sea monsters and enchanted islands! What's not to like?

"After long voyages, encountering hurricanes and sea monsters, Criston Vora from Tierra and Saan of Uraba race to the legendary promised land of Terravitae. Saan's quest is to find the Key to Creation, a weapon that may defeat Uraba's enemies, and Criston wants vengeance against the monstrous Leviathan that ruined his life long ago. Back home, two opposing continents and religions clash for the remnants of a sacred city, unleashing their hatred in a war that could end both civilisations. Queen Anjine and Soldan-Shah Omra are driven by mutual loathing, heaping atrocity upon atrocity in an escalating conflict that only their gods can end. And amidst the carnage, the secretive Saedrans follow their own agenda, manipulating both sides with the ultimate goal of completing the Map of All Things, which will bring about the return of the world's Creator."

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong (Orbit 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - Kelley Armstrong has been a consistently high quality author for Orbit here in the UK, her strong performance indicated by the classy hard cover releases of her books, with mass market editions following. Her latest, Waking the Witch having first appeared last July now follows that same pattern - and for those interested in such things, it's worth checking this Orbit cover against the that of US release from Dutton. Ummm.... No contest, I'd say!

"Columbus is a small, fading town, untouched by the twenty-first century. But when three young women are found dead - victims of what appear to be ritual murders - things start to get very dark, and very dangerous ...Private investigator Savannah Levine can handle 'dark and dangerous'. As the daughter of a black witch, she has a lot of power running through her veins, and she's not afraid to use it. But her arrival in Columbus has not gone unnoticed. Savannah may think she's tracking down a murderer, but could she be the killer's next target? Of course she could always ask her old friend (and half-demon) Adam Vasic for back up. But Savannah has her own - very personal - reasons for keeping Adam well away from Columbus. And in any case, she can rely on her own powers. Can't she ...? "

Prometheus Books

Shadow's Lure by Jon Sprunk (Prometheus Books 01 July 2011 / £14.99) - Pyr's edition of Jon Sprunk's Shadows' Lure, follow up to his debut Shadow's Son, a solid and entertaining hooded assassin fantasy that Gollancz published here in the UK. This new one offers up the further adventures of Caim and his ghostly sidekick Kit.

"In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can't run. In this battle, all of Caim's strength and skill won't be enough. For none can resist the Shadow's Lure. "

Solaris

Dangerous Waters (The Hadrumal Crisis) by Juliet E. McKenna (Solaris 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - Dangerous Waters opens a new trilogy (The Hadrumal Crisis) by stalwart British fantasy writer, Juliet E. McKenna - a paperback original published by Solaris. If you're new to McKenna's work and like the look of this one, Solaris are currently offering a free download of The Wizard's Coming, a short story set in the same world as the novel and serving as something of a prequel to it. Grab it while you can!

"The Archmage rules the island of wizards and has banned the use of magecraft in warfare, but there are corsairs raiding the Caladhrian Coast, enslaving villagers and devastating trade. Barons and merchants beg for magical aid, but all help has been refused so far.

Lady Zurenne’s husband has been murdered by the corsairs, and a man she doesn’t even know stands watch over her and her daughters. Corrain, former captain and now slave to the corsairs, knows that Zurenne’s guardian is a rogue wizard.

If Corrain can only escape, he’ll see justice done. Unless the Archmage’s magewoman, Jilseth, catches the renegade first..."

Sympathy for the Devil by Justin Gustainis (Solaris 04 August 2011 / £7.99) - Black Magic Woman, the first of Justin Gustainis' supernatural detective stories to feature investigators Quincy Morris and Libby Chastain got a whole bunch of amazing blurbs from the likes of Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris and Rachel Caine, all of whom must be wary now of the progress Gustainis has since made in stealing their readers! The latest Morris and Chastain investigation is Sympathy for the Devil published by Solaris as a paperback original.

Gustainis has web site here though it looks to be a while since any updates were posted.

"Senator Howard Stark wants to be President of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. And if he gets there, Hell on Earth will follow.

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop this evil conspiracy. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the US Secret Service – as well as the very forces of Hell itself. Quincey and Libby will risk everything to exorcise the demon possessing Stark. If they fail, ‘Hail to the Chief’ will become a funeral march – for all of us. "

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