Upcoming: FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper (Flatiron/Little, Brown)

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Early next year, Jane Harper‘s eagerly-anticipated follow up to the critically-acclaimed The Dry will hit shelves! Force of Nature, which also stars Detective Aaron Falk, is due to be published in North America by Flatiron Books, and in the UK by Little, Brown. Here’s the synopsis:

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

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Upcoming: IRONCLADS and DOGS OF WAR by Adrian Tchaikovsky

As longtime readers will no doubt be aware, I love Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s work (despite having fallen behind a bit…). In addition to the recently-released The Bear and the Serpent (Tor UK), Adrian has a two other books coming out this year:

TchaikovskyA-IroncladsIRONCLADS (Solaris)

Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear.

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad — the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war — but something has gone catastrophically wrong. Now Regan and his men, ill equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed.

Is there a new Ironclad-killer out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?

Ironclads is due to be published by Solaris in November.

Tchaikovsky-DogsOfWarUKDOGS OF WAR (Head of Zeus)

Rex is a Good Dog. He loves humans. He hates enemies. He’s utterly obedient to Master.

He’s also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he’s part of a Multi-form Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, Southeastern Mexico.

Rex is a genetically engineered bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies. But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

Dogs of War is also due to be published in November by Head of Zeus in the UK.

I’m really looking forward to both of these!

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”, “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn

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SDCC: First teaser for READY PLAYER ONE movie!

I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One in two sittings, separated only by a few hours of sleep. I loved it — it was maybe the first time I would describe a reading experience as “joyous”. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the movie ever since it was announced — even though I was a little concerned about how they might translate from page to screen. The new trailer, below, suggests that the adaptation is going to be awesome!

Warner Bros. is due to release the Steven Spielberg-directed movie in March 2018, and I can’t wait! In case you’re unfamiliar with the novel, it’s published by Arrow in the UK and Crown in North America. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS — and his massive fortune — will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions — and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

You can read my 2011 review of the novel here. I think I’m due for a re-read soon…

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Upcoming: THE TWO OF SWORDS, Vols.1-3 by K.J. Parker (Orbit)

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The Two of Swords has already been serialized over the past couple of years (not sure if it’s finished?). I’ve tried the first part, but I decided I wanted to wait for more of it to be available before diving in properly. I’ve often had mixed feelings about Parker’s work, but after reading the superb The Devil You Know and also The Last Witness, I want to read more of his stuff. Anyway, here’s the synopsis for Volume 1:

“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.

The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

The series is published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in October, November and December.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know and The Last Witness

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Upcoming: THE MIDNIGHT FRONT by David Mack (Tor)

MackD-DA1-MidnightFrontUSThis is the first novel in David Mack’s Dark Arts series, and I’m really looking forward to giving it a try. I think I’ve only read one other (urban) fantasy set during one of the World Wars — Andy Remic’s very good A Song For No Man’s Land — and I’m certainly interested in trying more. (Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments.) Here’s the synopsis for The Midnight Front:

On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front — the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program — and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first — his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick — Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul — and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.

The Midnight Front will be published by Tor Books in January 2018, and will be available in the UK.

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Upcoming: THE STONE IN THE SKULL by Elizabeth Bear (Tor)

BearE-LK1-StoneInTheSkullUSElizabeth Bear‘s The Stone in the Skull begins a new trilogy set in the author’s critically-acclaimed Eternal Sky trilogy, and “takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.” Now, I haven’t read the Eternal Sky trilogy, but I’ve heard many people say it’s great. Here’s the new book’s synopsis:

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.

They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.

The Stone in the Skull is due to be published by Tor Books in October 2017. The Eternal Sky trilogy is also published by Tor Books, and is available in the UK.

BearE-EternalSkySeriesUS

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Upcoming: NIGHTWISE and THE NIGHT DAHLIA by R.S. Belcher (Tor)

BelcherRS-N1-NightwiseUSR.S. Belcher‘s latest series only really grabbed my attention when I saw information for the second instalment, The Night Dahlia, which is set in Los Angeles (I’ve been on an LA-based fiction kick at the moment, for some reason — the title, I’m sure, is a nod to Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia). Ok, I’ll admit the cover for The Night Dahlia had a lot to do with grabbing my attention. The first novel, Nightwise, is due to be published in paperback in January 2018, and the second novel in April 2018.

Here’s the synopsis for Nightwise:

In the more shadowy corners of the world, frequented by angels and demons and everything in-between, Laytham Ballard is a legend. It’s said he raised the dead at the age of ten, stole the Philosopher’s Stone in Vegas back in 1999, and survived the bloodsucking kiss of the Mosquito Queen. Wise in the hidden ways of the night, he’s also a cynical bastard who stopped thinking of himself as the good guy a long time ago.

Now a promise to a dying friend has Ballard on the trail of an escaped Serbian war criminal with friends in both high and low places-and a sinister history of blood sacrifices. Ballard is hell-bent on making Dusan Slorzack pay for his numerous atrocities, but Slorzack seems to have literally dropped off the face of the Earth, beyond the reach of his enemies, the Illuminati, and maybe even the Devil himself. To find Slorzack, Ballard must follow a winding, treacherous path that stretches from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to backwoods hollows and truckstops, while risking what’s left of his very soul…

BelcherRS-N2-NightDahliaUSAnd the synopsis for The Night Dahlia:

Laytham Ballard once protected humanity as part of the Nightwise, a secret order of modern-day mages dedicating to holding hellish supernatural forces at bay, but that was before a string of sadistic ritual murders shook everything he believed in—and sent him down a much darker path. One that has already cost him most of his soul, as well as everything he once held dear.

Now a powerful faerie mob boss has hired Ballard to find his lost-lost daughter, who went missing several years ago. The long-cold trail leads him across the globe, from the luxurious playgrounds of the rich and famous to the seedy occult underbelly of Los Angeles, where creatures of myth and legend mingle with street gangs and sex clubs, and where Ballard finds his own guilty past waiting for him around every shadowy corner. To find Caern Ankou, he will have to confront old enemies, former friends and allies, and a grisly cold case that has haunted him for years.

But is Caern still alive? And, perhaps more importantly, does she even want to be found?

Both novels will be published by Tor Books in North America and the UK.

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