Upcoming: HEROES by Stephen Fry (Penguin)

FryS-HeroesUKHCMythology was a big part of my childhood: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse… I loved it all. I remember we had a particular hardcover book of mythology, heavily illustrated that covered the first three. I read that book over and over again, poring over the details and adventures of the heroes, villains and gods. I loved it, and is most likely the root of my interest in fantasy fiction. (I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was called, though, nor who published it. I’ve been trying to remember for years, but the details escape me completely.)*

I am also a big fan of Stephen Fry‘s work — his comedy, films and also his memoirs (strangely, I haven’t read any of his novels, yet). I bought his critically-acclaimed Mythos a little while ago. Like so many of the books I buy, I have yet to get around to reading it — but it is rapidly climbing my TBR mountain. Penguin recently announced Fry’s upcoming, companion book, Heroes, which I think it also sounds great. (I think the cover was officially unveiled today.) Here’s the synopsis:

There are Heroes — and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta — who was raised by bears — outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of — at our worst and our very best.

Really looking forward to reading this. Heroes is due to be published by Penguin in the UK, on November 1st, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

* If you think you might know which book I’m referring to, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. I really want to find this book!

 

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Review: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins/Knopf/Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlackCAA gripping, beautifully written story about freedom, science, and finding one’s place in a hostile world

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning – and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.

But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington’s life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington’s head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

I first learned of Esi Edugyan’s latest novel when the Man Booker Long-list was announced. I was surprised that a novel that wasn’t even out yet would be on the long-list, but it led me to try to hunt down a copy. Harper Collins Canada was very kind in supplying me with an ARC, and I started reading it the weekend before it was published. I really enjoyed reading this novel. Continue reading

Upcoming: WHITE PEAK by Ronan Frost (St. Martin’s Press)

FrostR-WhitePeakUSI was browsing through a Macmillan catalogue, when I stumbled across this title. I rather like the cover, even though it’s not the most eye-catching. Then I saw the tag, “A new adventure book in the tradition of Matthew Reilly and James Rollins”. Well, I like both Reilly and Rollins (I’m a sucker for action-adventure fiction), so I read the rest of the synopsis. It sounds pretty interesting:

Greg Rask, a dying tech billionaire, has invested millions chasing miracle cures. None of them are worth a damn, but he refuses to give up. Now, he’s gathering a team willing to go to the ends of the earth chasing life.

Each of Rask’s crew has beaten incredible odds to rise from the ashes of their old lives to where they are now. Together, their next task is to retrieve a painting that is believed to hide a map which, if genuine, marks it as a treasure of the Ahnenerbe, the occult wing of the SS, who had devoted dozens of expeditions in search of the three cintamani stones for their combined properties, and the lost city where they were rumored to lay hidden: Shambhala. But a mystical brotherhood sworn to protect the secrets of the ancients — the same secrets that allow its members to defy death — will stop at nothing to ensure that Rask’s crew fail.

In an adrenalin-pumping quest through some of the most savage terrains known to man, the crew will be pushed to the limits of endurance and beyond.

Ronan Frost‘s White Peak is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press on April 9th, 2019, and will be available in the UK. I’m really looking forward to giving it a try.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Upcoming: THE THREE SECRET CITIES by Matthew Reilly (Gallery/Orion)

ReillyM-ThreeSecretCitiesUSThis November, Jack West Jr. returns! The Three Secret Cities is Matthew Reilly’s fifth novel featuring the soldier-turned-adventurer. I’ve enjoyed all of the novels in the series (as well as Reilly’s loosely-connected Scarecrow series), and so I am very much looking forward to this latest thriller. Here’s the synopsis:

A shadow world behind the real world

When Jack West, Jr. won the Great Games, he threw the four legendary kingdoms into turmoil.

A world with its own history, rules and prisons

Now these dark forces are coming after Jack… in ruthless fashion.

That is reaching into our world… explosively

With the end of all things rapidly approaching, Jack must find the Three Secret Cities, three incredible lost cities of legend.

It’s an impossible task by any reckoning, but Jack must do it while he is being hunted… by the greatest hunters in history.

The Three Secret Cities is published in November 2018 by Gallery in North America and Orion in the UK.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “Four Kingdoms and Twelve Labours: Turning Myths into Reality”; Reviews of Six Sacred Stones, Five Greatest Warriors and The Great Zoo of China (I thought I had reviewed The Four Legendary Kingdoms, but I can’t find the review — I’ll try to post one up soon.)

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Interview with JAMES ALAN GARDNER

GardnerJA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Alan Gardner?

I’m a Canadian writer and editor who’s written nine novels and numerous short stories. I’ve won the Asimov’s Readers Choice award (twice) and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, as well as being a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula. I have two degrees in Math, half a degree in Geology, and a second-degree black sash in kung fu.

Your new novel, the fantastically-titled All those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault, will be published by Tor Books. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s Book 1 of a series that takes place in modern times on an alternate version of Earth. In this world, vampires, were-beasts and demons came out of the closet in 1982; they offered to make anyone a Darkling like themselves in exchange for 10 million dollars. Within a few decades, most of the world’s rich and powerful had become Darklings.

Then superheroes showed up. They’re everyday people, members of the 99% who serve as a counterbalance to the supernatural power of the affluent 1%. The action of the book follows four university students who gain superpowers in a laboratory accident and find themselves entangled in Darkling shenanigans. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Write what you know… even if that’s just being an idiot” by Tom Lloyd

Write what you know, it’s the first piece of advice a writer will get. It’s sometimes useful too. After eight years and almost a decade as a published novelist, I was starting a new series and so I asked myself what I’d learned, what I liked and what I wanted for the next few years. But this time round I wasn’t some newbie, I was a wise and skilled crafter of words who utters profound witticisms as he works the room of industry types, right?

Much to my disappointment that clearly wasn’t the case. I was pretty much the same damn fool I’ve always been. Well meaning, stubborn not the cleverest, getting on a bit with something of a food preoccupation – not without some skill but not ever likely to be one of the biggest and brightest stars in the sky. So hey, write what you know? Continue reading

Review: RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

gaileys-riverofteethAn classic-style Western. Only, with killer hippos…

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

River of Teeth has a fantastic premise: what if hippos were imported into the United States, to make up for the decline in buffalo stocks? This was a real proposal, way back when, and Gailey has done a great job of imaging an America in which hippos have spread and thrived — some are used as mounts, and there are thousands of deadly “ferals” populating the waterways. Now, throw in a group of mercenaries, drawn together on an operation (not a caper), and you have all the ingredients for a fun, original adventure. Continue reading