New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Luke Arnold, Leigh Bardugo, Timothy Brook, Kacen Callender, Miles Cameron, Andy Clark, Michael Connelly, Nate Crowley, Flea, Denny Flowers, Rana Foroohar, R.W.W. Greene, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, James Islington, Joseph Kanon, Rym Kechacha, John le Carré, Brian McClellan, Graham McNeill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Tochi Onyebuchi, K.J. Parker, Kate Reed Petty, Tasha Suri, A.P. Sylvia, Timur Vermes, K.B. Wagers, Danie Ware, Elizabeth Wetmore, Ryan Wick

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Quick Review: THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY by Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com)

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayAn amusing, interesting and thought-provoking sci-fi novella

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

This novella was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t read anything by Hossain before, but The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday turned out to be amusing, engaging, and also thought-provoking. I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: THE LAST ROAD by K.V. Johansen (Pyr)

JohansenKV-GotCR5-LastRoadThe Last Road is the fifth and final novel of Gods of the Caravan Road, and although the other novels in the series can be read alone (counting The Leopard and The Lady as one book, Marakand, in two volumes) it’s written assuming that the reader has at least read Blackdog. You could probably get by piecing together supposition about Ahjvar, Ghu, and Yeh-Lin from the middle books, but you need to know Moth and Mikki and Holla-Sayan. However, they aren’t the people they were at the end of Blackdog. This is almost two centuries later. Their world has changed and so have they.

I’m very excited — make that, very nervous — to be offering this up to you at last.

First, here’s the novel’s synopsis:

When even the gods are dying, the hope of the world may lie in its most feared enemies. A new god proclaimed as the All-Holy has arisen in the west and leads an army eastward, devouring the gods and goddesses of the lands between, forcibly converting their folk and binding their souls to himself. The very fabric of the world appears threatened by forces beyond the understanding of scholars and wizards alike. Even the great city of Marakand, where the roads of east and west converge, seems powerless to resist the All-Holy, though the devils Moth and Yeh-Lin and the assassin Ahjvar, undead consort of the god of distant Nabban, have come to stand with it. That may avail Marakand little, for the shapeshifting Blackdog, once a champion of the gods, follows obediently at the All-Holy’s heel and Lakkariss, the sword of the cold hells, is in his master’s hand.

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Upcoming: WAR OF THE MAPS by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)

McAuleyP-WarOfTheMapsUKPaul McAuley‘s novels always sound fascinating. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read as much of his work as I would like (especially given how many of his books I own).  His most recent novel, Austral, is of particular interest and I hope to get to it very soon. In March 2020, Gollancz are due to publish his latest sci-fi adventure, War of the Maps. Check out the synopsis:

On a giant artificial world surrounding an artificial sun, one man – a lucidor, a keeper of the peace, a policeman – is on the hunt. His target was responsible for an atrocity, but is too valuable to the government to be truly punished. Instead he has been sent to the frontlines of the war, to use his unique talents on the enemy. So the lucidor has ignored orders, deserted from his job, left his home and thrown his life away, in order to finally claim justice.

Separated by massive seas, the various maps dotted on the surface of this world rarely contact each other. But something has begun to infiltrate the edges of the lucidor’s map, something that genetically alters animals and plants and turns them into killers. Only the lucidor knows the depths to which his quarry will sink in order to survive, only the lucidor can capture him. The way is long and dangerous. The lucidor’s government has set hunters after him. He has no friends, no resources, no plan.

But he does have a mission.

Really looking forward to reading this one. War of the Maps is due to be published by Gollancz on March 19th, 2020, in the UK.

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Quick Review: MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeAn excellent new novella from a master of the form

The story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother — who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows.

Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself.

Each new K.J. Parker novella is something to be cheered. A prolific writer of short fiction (and full-length novels), Parker always brings something new to his stories. Written with a gentle, observant wit, this novella manages to pack a lot into its slim frame. Continue reading

Quick Q&A with JENN LYONS

LyonsJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jenn Lyons?

I’m a writer, artist, and gaming nerd with a love of all manner of esoteric fields. I have previously worked as a video game producer and as a graphic designer.

Your debut novel, The Ruin of Kings, will soon be published in paperback by Tor Books. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader?

It would tell a reader that this was my chance to twist the “Chosen One” trope, because what if you were “chosen” to be something actively terrible? And also: there’s a volcanic dragon and a kraken. Continue reading

Upcoming: ANTHROPOCENE RAG by Alex Irvine (Tor.com)

IrvineA-AnthropoceneRagNext year, Tor.com are due to publish a new novella by Alex Irvine that looks very interesting: Anthropocene Rag. I wasn’t sure if I’d read anything else by Irvine, but while putting together this post, I remembered his short story Black Friday (which I enjoyed). He has also worked extensively in comics, games, and many other novels and short stories. Anthropocene Rag is due to be published on March 31st, 2020. Here’s the synopsis:

In the future United States, our own history has faded into myth and traveling across the country means navigating wastelands and ever-changing landscapes.

The country teems with monsters and artificial intelligences try to unpack their own becoming by recreating myths and legends of their human creators. Prospector Ed, an emergent AI who wants to understand the people who made him, assembles a ragtag team to reach the mythical Monument City.

In this nanotech Western, Alex Irvine infuses American mythmaking with terrifying questions about the future and who we will become.

Looking forward to this.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter