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

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeUSToday, Subterranean Press announced the latest novella by K.J. Parker that they will publish: My Beautiful Life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything Subterranean Press has published of Parker’s, although I have allowed myself to fall behind a bit. (Parker is a prolific writer of novellas and short fiction, and the publisher has released a number of anthologies that are tricky to get ahold of outside of the US, but I’ve been working on collecting them all.) If you are familiar with Parker’s Tor.com novellas — The Devil You Know (one of my favourites) and The Last Witness — then I’m sure you’ll want to pick up this latest books.

Due to be published in November 2019, here’s the synopsis for My Beautiful Life:

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells 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. 

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

As I mentioned above, Parker has published a number of titles with Subterranean Press, including: Father of LiesAcademic ExercisesMightier than the Sword, Downfall of the Gods, and Savages.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayI haven’t read anything else by Saad Z. Hossain, but his upcoming novella from Tor.com sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in mid-August. Here’s the synopsis for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday:

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.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK. The author’s latest work includes Escape from Baghdad! and a contribution to The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Music Review: THE GHOST OF OHIO, Andy Black (Island Records)

AndyBlack-GhostOfOhioAndy Biersack/Black is, in my humble opinion, one of the best young vocalists in rock. In his “day job” as frontman of Black Veil Brides, we’ve heard his vocals and songwriting skills improve in leaps and bounds since they formed in 2006.

From the run-of-the-mill screamo of their debut album, We Stitch These Wounds (which was rather blandly stereotypical), to the way-more-glam Set the World On Fire (2011), to the monster hits of Wretched and Divine (2013) and Black Veil Brides IV (2014), he and his bandmates kept knocking it out of the park and getting better and better. Then, in 2016, he released his superb debut album, The Shadow Side: far more pop-oriented than BVB’s output, it is polished and catchy as hell. BVB’s fifth album, Vale (2018), built on everything that had come before and was another fantastic rock album. The pattern had been set: continued growth, and restrained experimentation, and more sophisticated song-writing. Continue reading

Quick Review: MALEDICTIONS (Black Library)

BlackLibrary-MaledictionsThe first Horror collection from Black Library

Horror is no stranger to the dark worlds of Warhammer. Its very fabric is infested with the arcane, the strange and the downright terrifying. From the cold vastness of the 41st Millennium to the creeping evil at large in the Mortal Realms, this anthology of short stories explores the sinister side of Warhammer in a way it never has been before. Psychological torment, visceral horrors, harrowing tales of the supernatural and the nightmares buried within, this collection brings together a grim host of tales to chill the very blood…

CONTENTS
Nepenthe by Cassandra Khaw
The Widow Tide by Richard Strachan
No Good Deed by Graham McNeill
Crimson Snow by Lora Gray
Last of the Blood by C L Werner
Predation of the Eagle by Peter McLean
The Last Ascension of Dominic Seroff by David Annandale
Triggers by Paul Kane
A Darksome Place by Josh Reynolds
The Marauder Lives by J.C. Stearns
The Nothings by Alec Worley

The first collection of horror stories from Black Library’s recently-launched new imprint. It’s a great collection of dark WH40k and Age of Sigmar stories, each of which brings something new and distinct to the settings. While there are some stand-out stories, the collection as a whole is really good. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Review: CITY OF WINDOWS by Robert Pobi (Minotaur Books)

PobiR-LP1-CityOfWindowsUSA fantastic new thriller, and hopefully the start of a long series

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them — former FBI agent Lucas Page.

Page, a university professor and bestselling author, left the FBI years ago after a tragic event robbed him of a leg, an arm, an eye, and the willingness to continue. But he has an amazing ability to read a crime scene, figure out angles and trajectories in his head, and he might be the only one to be able to find the sniper’s nest. With a new wife and family, Lucas Page has no interest in helping the FBI — except for the fact that the victim was his former partner.

Agreeing to help for his partner’s sake, Page finds himself hunting a killer with an unknown agenda and amazing sniper skills in the worst of conditions. And his partner’s murder is only the first in a series of meticulously planned murders carried out with all-but-impossible sniper shots. The only thing connecting the deaths is that the victims are all with law enforcement — that is until Page’s own family becomes a target.

To identify and hunt down this ruthless, seemingly unstoppable killer, Page must discover what hidden past connects the victims before he himself loses all that is dear to him.

This is the first of Pobi’s novels that I’ve read, and I was intrigued by the premise. Very quickly, it became clear that this is a very good novel by an excellent writer. I really enjoyed this, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Pobi’s work in the future. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE UNDEFEATED by Una McCormack (Tor.com)

McCormackU-UndefeatedA fantastic sci-fi novella

She was a warrior of words.

As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.

Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest — and self-created — enemy, the jenjer.

Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.

I’ve been looking forward to this novella ever since I read the synopsis. I’m very happy to report that it totally lived up to my high expectations. A journalist returns home as the universe holds its breath, waiting for a potential threat to reveal itself. Continue reading