Featuring: Robert Bickers, C. L. Clark, P. Djèlí Clark, Michael Connelly, Ben Counter, Aliette de Bodard, Sebastian Fitzek, Harald Gilbers, David Guymer, Guy Haley, Michael Holley, Joe Ide, Femi Kayode, Gary Kloster, Robert Littell, Arkady Martine, Barack Obama, Aimee Ogden, A. E. Osworth, K. J. Parker, Keith Rosson, Andrew Kelly Stewart, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Danie Ware
Robert Bickers, CHINA BOUND (Bloomsbury)
From its origins in Liverpool in 1816, one unusual British firm has threaded a way through two centuries that have seen tumultuous events and epochal transformations in technologies and societies. John Swire & Sons, a small trading company that began by importing dyes, cotton and apples from the Americas, now directs a highly diversified group of interests operating across the globe but with a core focus on Asia. From 1866 its fate was intertwined with developments in China, with the story of steam, and later of flight, and with the movements of people and of goods that made the modern world.
China Bound charts the story of the firm, its family owners and staff, its operations, its successes and its disasters, as it endured wars, uprisings and revolutions, the rise and fall of empires — China’s, Britain’s, Japan’s — and the twists and turns of the global economy. This is the story of a business that reshaped Hong Kong, developed Cathay Pacific Airways, dominated China’s pre-Second World War shipping industry, and helped pioneer containerization.
Robert Bickers’ remarkable new book is the history of a business, and of its worlds, of modern China, Britain, and of the globalization that entangled them, of compradors, ship-owners, and seamen, sugar travellers, tea-tasters, and stuff merchants, revolutionaries, pirates and Taipans. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in global commerce, China Bound provides an intimate history that helps explain the shape of Asia today.
I’ve enjoyed Bickers’s other books, and I’m particularly interested in how foreign businesses operated in and around China. China Bound is out now, published by Bloomsbury in North America and in the UK.
C. L. Clark, THE UNBROKEN (Orbit)
An epic tale of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
The first novel in the Magic of the Lost series, and one that’s been generating a fair amount of pre-publication buzz. (In part because of that eye-catching cover.) Looks really interesting, and I hope to get to it soon. (I may hold off on posting the review until January or February, though.) The Unbroken is due to be published by Orbit Books on March 23rd, 2021, in North America and in the UK.
P. Djèlí Clark, A MASTER OF DJIN (Tor.com)
Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.
So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world fifty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.
Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a mysterious person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…
This is Clark’s latest book to feature Fatma el-Sha’arawi, following A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (both of which are excellent and highly recommended.) Really looking forward to reading this new one! A Master of Djinn is due to be published by Tor.com on May 11th, 2021, in North America and in the UK.
Michael Connelly, THE LAW OF INNOCENCE (Little, Brown)
Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller must defend himself against murder charges…
On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can’t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.
Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder — as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.
But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he’s been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.
Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won’t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.
The latest novel from one of my favourite authors. The latest starring Mickey Haller (and also Harry Bosch), I’ve been impatiently awaiting its release ever since it was announced. The Law of Innocence is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Orion in the UK.
Ben Counter, TRAITOR BY DEED (Black Library)
On the isolated world of Kepris, a Primaris Space Marine Chapter deploys to break the bloodthirsty cult that rules the world. But will this new Chapter’s name spell its doom? After all, the universe has never been kind to the Soul Drinkers…
In the galaxy-spanning conflict of the Indomitus Crusade, an Imperial force is sent to bring the Emperor’s rule back to the isolated world of Kepris. They are the Soul Drinkers, Primaris Space Marines bearing the name and heraldry of a Chapter lost to Imperial history. This strike force finds the planet ruled by a bloodthirsty cult – its cities seized and loyal shrines under siege by the mysterious arch-heretic Yeceqath, the Voice of All. Striking swiftly and with cold fury, only the Soul Drinkers can unravel the heretic’s foul machinations and break Yeceqath’s hold over the world… but there is more at play here, as one of mankind’s oldest enemies lies at the heart of a conspiracy to see Kepris fall, taking the Soul Drinkers with it.
Also on CR: Review of Cassius
Aliette de Bodard, FIREHEART TIGER (Tor.com)
Fire burns bright and has a long memory…
Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.
Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.
Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate — and her own?
A new novella by Aliette de Bodard is always something to cheer. I read this very soon after I got the DRC, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it. Fireheart Tiger is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 9th, 2021.
Sebastian Fitzek, THE PACKAGE (Head of Zeus)
All you’ve done is taken in a parcel for a neighbour. You have no idea what you’ve let into your home.
Emma’s the one that got away.
The only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as ‘the hairdresser’ – because of the trophies he takes from his victims.
Or she thinks she was.
The police aren’t convinced. Nor is her husband. She never even saw her tormentor properly, but now she recognises him in every man.
Questioning her sanity, she gives up her job as a doctor in the local hospital and retreats from the world. It is better to stay at home. Quiet. Anonymous. Safe. He won’t find her here.
And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour.
She has no idea what she’s let into her home.
Thought this sounded very interesting (and chilling). Looking forward to reading it soon. The Package is published by Head of Zeus in the UK (out now) and in North America (February).
Harald Gilbers, GERMANIA (St. Martin’s Press)
The heart-pounding story of Jewish detective Richard Oppenheimer as he hunts for a serial killer through war-torn Nazi Berlin…
Berlin 1944: a serial killer stalks the bombed-out capital of the Reich, preying on women and laying their mutilated bodies in front of war memorials. All of the victims are linked to the Nazi party. But according to one eyewitness account, the perpetrator is not an opponent of Hitler’s regime, but rather a loyal Nazi.
Jewish detective Richard Oppenheimer, once a successful investigator for the Berlin police, is reactivated by the Gestapo and forced onto the case. Oppenheimer is not just concerned with catching the killer and helping others survive, but also his own survival. Worst of all, solving this case is what will certainly put him in the most jeopardy. With no other choice but to futher his investigation, he feverishly searches for answers, and a way out of this dangerous game.
The first novel in the Richard Oppenheimer series, it sounds really interesting, and quite different to any thriller (historical or otherwise) that I’ve read. Looking forward to reading it soon. Germania is published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, and will be available in the UK.
David Guymer, BONEREAPERS (Black Library)
For generations, Arbitrium has given up the bone tithe to the skeletal servants of Nagash. Now, with a lodge of Fyreslayers coming to their aid, they might finally be able to break the cycle of servitude and forge their own destiny.
The Free City of Arbitrium is dying. For countless generations it has submitted to the Ossiarch Empire and its relentless demand for bone. With inevitable extinction on the horizon, the city’s Freeguild general gambles everything, daring to defy Nagash’s armies. Yet, Arbitrium has a small hope, for a band of mighty Fyreslayers has come to their aid. Can Arbitrium defeat the Bonereapers, or will the tithe be taken from their corpses?
I’m a fan of Guymer’s work, so I was curious to see what he came up with for this new faction in the Age of Sigmar (a setting I’m still making only a few forays into). Bonereapers is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Guy Haley, DARKNESS IN THE BLOOD (Black Library)
Delve into the dark, beating heart of the Blood Angels with a novel that focuses on their twin flaws and the desperate struggle to prevent them from damning the Chapter for eternity.
The galaxy is in flames. Chaos is in the ascendant across the stars. The Great Rift has split the holdings of the Imperium in twain, isolating entire sectors from the light of Holy Terra.
But all hope is not lost. The Primarch Roboute Guilliman has returned from deathless sleep, and appointed Commander Dante, lord of the Blood Angels, as Regent and Warden of the newly dubbed Imperium Nihilus.
In the Baal system, the shattered holding of the Chapter is being rebuilt, and Dante plans the greatest campaign of his long life, to retake half an empire. And yet at this moment of rebirth there are dangers close to home that could overwhelm all those who carry the blood of Sanguinius in their veins, stopping Dante’s noble endeavour before it is begun.
The Flaw in Sanguinius’s sons is growing. As the twin curses of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage threaten everything, the hardest ordeal will fall upon Mephiston, twice-born Lord of Death and Chief Librarian of the Blood Angels. Among the mighty lords of Baal, perhaps only he can save them all, by mastering the darkness in the blood…
Haley’s latest Blood Angels novel. I’ve been looking forward to this for some time, ever since I finished The Devastation of Baal and Darius Hinks’s Revenant Crusade — this new novel (originally published in a special, limited edition) fits into the timeline just before Hinks’s third Mephiston novel, City of Light. I read Haley’s novel very soon after getting it, and I intend to get around to Hinks’s very soon. Between the two authors, they’ve done a great job of fleshing out the Blood Angels’ story in the “current” WH40k meta-story. Darkness in the Blood is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Interview with Guy Haley (2015); Reviews of Dante, The Devastation of Baal, Pharos, Wolfsbane, Perturabo, Corax, Konrad Curze, The Lost and the Damned, Dark Imperium, Plague War and Darkness in the Blood
Michael Holley, THE BIG THREE (Hachette)
The inside story of how Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett joined together to form the most dominant team in basketball and lead the Boston Celtics to their first championship in more than two decades.
The first of “The Big Three” was Paul Pierce. As Boston Celtics fans watched the team retire Pierce’s jersey in a ceremony on February 11, 2018, they remembered again the incredible performances Pierce put on in the city for fifteen years, helping the Celtics escape the bottom of their conference to become champions and perennial championship contenders. But Pierce’s time in the city wasn’t always so smooth. In 2000, he was stabbed in a downtown nightclub eleven times in a seemingly random attack. Six years later, remaining the sole star on a struggling team, he asked to be traded and briefly became a lightning rod among fans.
Then, in 2007, the Boston Celtics General Manager made two monumental trades, bringing Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston. A press conference on July 31, 2007 was a sight to behold: Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen holding up Celtics jerseys for the flood of media. Coach Doc Rivers made sure the team bonded over the thought of winning a title and living by a Bantu term called Ubuntu, which translates as “I am because we are.” Rivers wanted to make it clear that togetherness and brotherhood would help them maximize their talent and win. What came next — the synthesis of the Celtics’ “Big Three” and their dominant championship run — cemented their standing as one of great teams in NBA history, a rival to Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and LeBron James’s Cavaliers.
This is the team that brought excitement back to the Garden, and therefore to one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. They met their historic rivals, the Lakers, in the 2008 NBA Finals, winning the series in Game 6, in a rout on their home court with a raucous, concert like atmosphere. Along the victory parade route, Paul Pierce smoked a cigar — as a tribute to legendary former Celtics Coach Red Auerbach. In a city now defined by a wealth of championships, “The Big Three” joined the club. Michael Holley, the premier chronicler of Boston sports, brings their story to life with countless untold stories and behind-the-scenes details in another bestselling tome for New England and sports fans across the country.
This year, I’ve read quite a few books about basketball and the NBA. In at least a couple of them, the Pierce-Garnett-Allen Celtics have featured, and in Ian Thomsen’s The Soul of Basketball, there was a particularly interesting, albeit brief, account of the team’s successes and personalities. (The other book I think they featured a little bit in is Brian Windhorst’s Return of the King.) When I saw this was on the way, I knew I had to read it. The Big Three is due to be published by Hachette in North America and in the UK, on December 1st.
Also on CR: Review of The Big Three
Joe Ide, SMOKE (Mulholland)
In this fifth installment of the IQ series, both Isaiah Quintabe – an unlicensed detective for all seasons – and his best friend and masterful sidekick, Juanell Dodson, are at a crossroads. This time, their lives may never be the same.
Isaiah is no longer IQ, the genius of East Long Beach; instead he’s a man on the road and on the run, hiding in a small Northern California town when his room is broken into by a desperate young man on the trail of the state’s most prolific serial killer.
Dodson must go straight or lose his wife and child. His devil’s bargain is an internship at an LA advertising agency, where it turns out the rules of the street have simply been dressed in business casual, but where the aging company’s fortunes may well rest on their ability to attract a younger demographic. Dodson – “the hustler’s hustler” – just may be the right man for the job.
The fifth novel in Joe Ide’s excellent IQ series. I managed to get caught up on the previous books since the pandemic started, so I’m very much looking forward to reading and reviewing this in a more timely fashion. I read this pretty soon after I got the review copy. Smoke is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and W&N in the UK, on February 23rd, 2021.
Femi Kayode, LIGHTSEEKERS (Mulholland)
A respected Nigerian psychologist travels to a remote southern border town to uncover the truth about the murder of three university students
When Dr. Philip Taiwo is called on by a powerful Nigerian politician to investigate the public torture and murder of three university students in Port Harcourt, he has no idea that he’s about to be enveloped by a perilous case that is far from cold.
Philip is not a detective. He’s an investigative psychologist, an academic more interested in figuring out the why of a crime than actually solving it. But when he steps off the plane and into the dizzying frenzy of the provincial airport, he soon realizes that the mob-driven murder of the Okriki Three isn’t as straight forward as he thought. With the help of his loyal and streetwise personal driver, Chika, Philip must work against those actively conspiring against him to parse together the truth of what happened to these students.
A thrilling and atmospheric mystery, and an unforgettable portrait of the contemporary Nigerian sociopolitical landscape, LIGHTSEEKERS is a wrenching novel tackling the porousness between the first and third worlds, the enduring strength of tribalism and homeland identity, and the human need for connection in the face of isolation.
This sounds really interesting, and quite different from my normal “US-based thriller” reading. Very much looking forward to reading this. Lightseekers is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (March 2nd) and Raven Books in the UK (February 4th)
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
Gary Kloster, SPARK OF REVOLUTION (Black Library)
Civil war wracks the House of Chains, and Goliath fights Goliath. For the ogryn Breaker Brass, this is an opportunity to free himself from slavery and forge his own destiny in the underhive.
In the foundries of Necromunda, Breaker Brass toils for the House of Chains. His steel fists shape molten metal into machines of war for his masters, and shatter the bones of their enemies. But now the gangs of House Goliath turn against each other, and the ogryn servitor is caught in the broken teeth of this bloody feud. They tear him apart and spit him out to die, but instead he is reborn… with golden fists, with intelligence, and with a purpose. Revolution.
More Necromunda! I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before (probably often) that Necromunda is easily one of my favourite of the WH40k settings — this, despite letting a fair number of novels go by unread… (I’ll fix this oversight soon. Maybe over Christmas?) Very much looking forward to reading this soon. Spark of Revolution is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Robert Littell, COMRADE KOBA (The Overlook Press)
A tight, captivating story of a naive child’s encounters with a Soviet dictator…
After the sudden death of his nuclear physicist father and the arrest of his mother during the Stalinist purge of Jewish doctors, young Leon Rozental — intellectually precocious and possessing a disarming candor — is hiding from the NKVD in the secret rooms of the House on the Embankment, a large building in Moscow where many Soviet officials and apparatchiks live and work. One day after following a passageway, Leon meets Koba, an old man whose apartment is protected by several guards. Koba is a high-ranking Soviet officer with troubling insight into the thoughts and machinations of Comrade Stalin.
Through encounters between a naive boy and a paranoid tyrant, Robert Littell creates in Comrade Koba a nuanced portrayal of the Soviet dictator, showing his human side and his simultaneous total disregard for and ignorance of the suffering he inﬂicted on the Russian people. The charm and spontaneity of young Leon make him an irresistible character — and not unlike Holden Caulﬁeld, whom he admits to identifying with — caught in the spider’s web of the story woven by this enigmatic old man.
I can’t remember where I first heard about this novel, but it caught my attention. Looking forward to reading it pretty soon (it’s quite short). Comrade Koba is out now, published by The Overlook Press in North America and in the UK.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Arkady Martine, A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE (Tor)
An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.
In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass — still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire — face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.
Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction — and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion.
Or it might create something far stranger…
The second novel in Martine’s critically-acclaimed, Hugo Award-winning Teixcalaan space opera series (following A Memory Called Empire). Looking forward to reading the two novels, hopefully back-to-back, very soon. A Desolation Called Peace is due to be published by Tor Books on March 2nd, 2021, in North America and in the UK.
Barack Obama, A PROMISED LAND (Crown)
A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making — from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy
In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency — a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective — the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
In a rare move for me, I pre-ordered this memoir in three different editions: hardcover, eBook and audiobook. (I like options, apparently.) In part, this is because I own Obama’s other memoirs in multiple formats — his narration for the audiobooks is superb, but I often find that reading the book (in eBook or print) allows me to pick up things that I might miss in the narration. One day, I’ll manage to get hold of signed first editions of all of Obama’s books… One day. I started listening to the audiobook as soon as I had it, and I can report that it is superb. A Promised Land is out now, published by Crown in North America and Viking/Penguin in the UK.
Aimee Ogden, SUN-DAUGHTERS, SEA-DAUGHTERS (Tor.com)
One woman will travel to the stars and beyond to save her beloved in this lyrical space opera…
Gene-edited human clans have scattered throughout the galaxy, adapting themselves to environments as severe as the desert and the sea. Atuale, the daughter of a Sea-Clan lord, sparked a war by choosing her land-dwelling love and rejecting her place among her people. Now her husband and his clan are dying of an incurable plague, and Atuale’s sole hope for finding a cure is to travel off-planet. The one person she can turn to for help is the black-market mercenary known as the World Witch — and Atuale’s former lover. Time, politics, bureaucracy, and her own conflicted desires stand between Atuale and the hope for her adopted clan.
Thought this sounded really interesting. As it turns out: it was! I ended up reading this the same day I got the DRC, and have already reviewed it (in what can only be described as surprising, uncharacteristic diligence and quick turn-around on my part). Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 23rd, 2021.
Also on CR: Review of Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters
K.J. Parker, THE BIG SCORE (Subterranean Press)
Welcome to the world of Saloninus, the most unlikely Renaissance Man you will ever encounter. A man of many and diverse talents, he is the hero and narrator of K.J. Parker’s witty, hugely entertaining novella, The Big Score.
Saloninus is a man with two distinct professions. In idle moments, he dashes off immortal masterpieces — philosophical treatises, musical compositions, dramas of Shakespearean range and depth — that never manage to turn a profit. His primary profession — that of thief, grifter and itinerant con man — is equally unprofitable, and he spends his life in constant flight from the encroaching forces of the law.
The story opens in the aftermath of Saloninus’s own funeral, an act of self-concealment he has staged many times before. Newly risen from the dead, he encounters an old flame — a sort of archetypal femme fatale — with whom he shares a colorful — and highly illegal — history. She has a plan in mind, one that involves both of Saloninus’s skill sets: criminality and literary genius. If successful, that plan will lead to the elusive “big score” that will set them free forever. Against his better judgment, and fully aware that failure and betrayal may await him, Saloninus agrees to participate. The result is this ingenious — and very funny — tale.
This is Parker’s third Saloninus novella, a great protagonist who also appears in the Blue and Gold (Subterranean Press) and The Devil You Know (Tor.com). The former is also included in the Academic Exercises collection, and the latter in The Father of Lies collection (both published by Subterranean Press). This is one of my most-anticipated books of 2021, so I am very happy to have an early ARC. I started reading it as soon as I got it. I thought about holding off posting a review until the new year, I wanted to let everyone know how much I loved it ASAP. The Big Score is due to be published by Subterranean Press, in March 2021.
Keith Rosson, FOLK SONGS FOR TRAUMA SURGEONS (Meerkat Press)
With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels.
In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town.
With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.
Andrew Kelly Stewart, WE SHALL SING A SONG INTO THE DEEP (Tor.com)
A lyrical and page-turning coming-of-age exploration of duty, belief, and the post-apocalypse…
Remy is a Chorister, rescued from the surface world and raised to sing in a choir of young boys. Remy is part of a strange crew who control the Leviathan, an aging nuclear submarine, that bears a sacred mission: to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right.
But Remy has a secret too — she’s the submarine’s only girl. Gifted with the missile’s launch key by the Leviathan’s dying caplain, she swears to keep it safe. Safety, however, is not the priority of the new caplain, who has his own ideas about the mission. When a surface-dweller is captured during a raid, Remy’s faith becomes completely overturned. Now, her last judgement may transform the fate of everything.
This has a very intriguing pitch: “A Canticle for Leibowitz meets The Hunt for Red October“. It’s not out for a while, but I think I’ll be reading it very soon. We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep is due to be published by Tor.com on March 9th, 2021, in North America and in the UK.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, GOOD COMPANY (Ecco)
Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring — the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.
Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company — Good Company — afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?
The Nest was one of my favourite books of 2016, and I’ve been keeping my eyes open for Sweeney’s next book ever since. I’m really looking forward to reading this. It’s not out for some time, so I’ll hold off on the review for a little while, but probably read it very soon. Good Company is due to be published by Ecco in North America, on May 4th, 2021.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, BEAR HEAD (Head of Zeus)
WELCOME TO HELL CITY, MARS
Jimmy Martin has a sore head.
He’s used to smuggling illegal data in his headspace. But this is the first time it has started talking to him.
The data claims to be a distinguished academic, author and civil rights activist.
It also claims to be a bear.
A bear named Honey.
Jimmy has nothing against bioforms – he’s one himself, albeit one engineered out of human stock – and works with them everyday in Hell City, building the future, staking mankind’s claim to a new world: Mars.
The problem is that humanity isn’t the only entity with designs on the Red Planet. Out in the airless desert there is another presence. A novel intelligence, elusive, unknowable and potentially lethal.
And Honey is here to make contact with it, whether Jimmy likes it or not.
A new novel from one of the hardest working authors in SFF! (Also, one of my favourite authors.) The follow-up to the acclaimed Dogs of War. I’ll be reading this very soon. Bear Head is due to be published by Head of Zeus in the UK, on January 7th, 2021.
Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn”, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and Gold, Guns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads, and Children of Ruin, and The Doors of Eden
Danie Ware, THE ROSE IN ANGER (Black Library)
The Order of the Bloody Rose unleash the Emperor’s wrath upon hereteks across a corrupted forge world – but something terrifying lurks within the planet’s darkness.
Returning to the forge world of Lycheate, Sister Augusta and her squad are deployed as part of their Order’s battle muster. But will the wrathful fire that burns from the battle tanks of the Bloody Rose be enough to face the heretek’s Mechanicus army? And what if something even more malign already inhabits the planet?
Danie Ware has written a number of great Adepta Sororitas short stories and novellas, so this was always going to be a must-buy. I read it the day I got it, and I can report that it’s another very good story — it’s different to the previous ones, though, in that there are more pitched-battle scenes. But, still very enjoyable, and a must-read for anyone who has enjoyed Ware’s previous Sororitas fiction. I hope there are more on the way. The Rose in Anger is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.