Featuring: Kelley Armstrong, Greg Bear, Sandra Brown, Steven Erikson, Liu Cixin, Sergei Lukyanenko, Alexander Maskill, Amy McCulloch, David Mitchell, Joseph O’Neill, Alice Peterson, Cherie Priest, Mike Resnick, Jamie Schultz, Adam Sternbergh, Jeff VanderMeer
Kelley Armstrong, Otherworld Nights (Orbit)
A suspenseful, sexy new collection of stories and novellas, both original and curated by the author from her short fiction.
Sunday Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong captivated readers with her Women of the Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. In this new anthology, favourite characters return in stories of drama, danger and desire. Legendary werewolf partners Elena and Clay stalk the pages of this book, along with vampires, witches, half-demons and sorcerers.
Filled with fan favourites and rarities, Otherworld Nights concludes with a brand-new novella, “Vanishing Act”: This thrilling longer story is set after series finale 13, and features much-loved characters Savannah and Adam as they begin a new life – and a mysterious new case – together.
I have never read any of Armstrong’s novels, despite being really interested in them. I remember having a quick look at Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic years ago, but it was around the time I started getting review copies – therefore, I was still going through the, “Oh, well, I can’t buy more books yet, because I have to read and review these ones…” I have since got over that. And so, I went out and picked up the aforementioned Dime Store Magic (I know that’s not technically the first novel in the Women of the Otherworld series, but I think it sounds like a more interesting starting point than Bitten).
Greg Bear, War Dogs (Orbit)
One more tour on the red. Maybe my last.
They made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago.
Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of. They became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus.
It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back.
It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap.
They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin – and they needed our help.
And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always.
These enemies were already inside our solar system and were moving to establish a beachhead, but not on Earth.
Military science fiction, from a respected author – but yet another I have never read before. Looking forward to this.
Review copy via NetGalley.
Sandra Brown, Mean Streak (Grand Central)
Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.
While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.
Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion.
As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead – and from heartbreak.
Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world’s best loved authors, MEAN STREAK is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make in order to survive.
Never read anything by Brown before. This looks interesting, so I picked it up.
Steven Erikson, Willful Child (Tor)
From the New York Times Bestselling author Steven Erikson comes a new science fiction novel of devil-may-care, near calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through the infinite vastness of interstellar space.
These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the…
And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’
The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.
Erikson is likely know to the vast majority of readers of CR as the author of the Malazan series. Which I have never read (though I think I probably should at some point). This seems to be an entirely different kettle of fish – a humorous Sci-Fi romp. Certainly intrigued. Will go in with an open mind.
Review copy via NetGalley.
Liu Cixin, The Three-Body Problem (Tor)
Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
Don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it sounds interesting. So… that was enough for me to request it.
Review copy via NetGalley.
Sergei Lukyanenko, The Genome (Open Road Media)
Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror. Alex is a spesh – a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks. As a captain and pilot, Alex has a genetic imperative to care for passengers and crew – no matter what the cost.
His first mission aboard Mirror is to ferry two representatives of the alien race Zzygou on a tour of human worlds. His task will not be an easy one, for aboard the craft are several speshes who have reason to hate the Others. Dark pasts, deadly secrets, and a stolen gel-crystal worth more than Alex’s entire ship combine to challenge him at every turn. And as the tension escalates, it becomes apparent that greater forces are at work to bring the captain’s world crashing down.
I never read Night Watch or any of the novels in that series. I did see the movie, and thought it was pretty interesting. Didn’t love it, though. This, on the other hand (which I think I first heard about via SF Signal) sounds pretty interesting. I’ll hopefully get to it pretty soon, when I get a jonesing for Sci-Fi.
Review copy via NetGalley.
Alexander Maskill, The Hive Construct (Doubleday)
Situated deep in the Sahara Desert, New Cairo is a city built on technology – from the huge, life-giving solar panels that keep it functioning in a radically changed, resource-scarce world to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any of mankind’s medical problems.
But it is also a divided city, dominated by a handful of omnipotent corporate dynasties.
And when a devastating new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, the city begins to slide into the anarchy of violent class struggle.
Hiding amidst the chaos is Zala Ulora. A gifted hacker and fugitive from justice, she believes she might be able to earn her life back by tracing the virus to its source and destroying it before it destroys the city. Or before the city destroys itself…
With its vivid characters, bold ideas and explosive action, The Hive is science fiction at its most exciting, inventive and accessible.
The Hive Construct is the latest winner of the Terry Pratchett Prize. I seem to have missed this year’s prize announcement, etc., so this was a nice surprise. I’m intrigued, but I can’t say I’ll be getting to it in a timely manner (I just have so many books to get caught up on, plus work to plan around).
Amy McCulloch, The Shadow’s Curse (Doubleday)
Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.
In Khareh’s camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she’s gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He’s done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he’s got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What’s more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South – but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane?
Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, and I’m really looking forward to completing the story. And seeing if my theory is correct…
Also on CR: Interview with Amy McCulloch
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (Knopf)
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.
For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.
A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence; a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from Occupied Iraq; a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list: all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.
Another critically-acclaimed author I’ve never read. This was released. It seemed like a good time to see what everyone else was talking about.
Joseph O’Neill, The Dog (Knopf)
Distraught by a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, our unnamed hero leaves New York to take an unusual job in a strange desert metropolis. In Dubai at the height of its self-invention as a futuristic Shangri-la, he struggles with his new position as the “family officer” of the capricious and very rich Batros family. And he struggles, even more helplessly, with the “doghouse,” a seemingly inescapable condition of culpability in which he feels himself constantly trapped – even if he’s just going to the bathroom, or reading e-mail, or scuba diving. A comic and philosophically profound exploration of what has become of humankind’s moral progress, The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark eloquence, empathy, and storytelling mastery. It is a brilliantly original, achingly funny fable for our globalized times.
This sounded really interesting. So I bought it.
Alice Peterson, One Step Closer To You, By My Side and Monday to Friday Man (Quercus)
OSCTY: After Polly ends her relationship with the father of her young son, Louis, she is determined to move on. All she wants is to focus on her job, her friends and to be a good mum. No more looking over her shoulder. No more complications…
Then Polly meets Ben.
Ben is guardian of his niece, Emily. They become close, with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily’s hair, and Ben playing football with Louis. Their friendship is unexpected. Polly’s never been happier.
But when Louis’s dad reappears in their life, all Polly’s mistakes come back to haunt her and her resolve weakens when he swears he has changed.
Will she give herself a second chance to love?
Haven’t read anything by Peterson before. Not entirely sure why they were sent to me, but I’m willing to give them a try.
Cherie Priest, Maplecroft (Roc)
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one…
The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.
But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.
This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.
The first in Priest’s new series, the Borden Dispatches. Enjoyed Boneshaker (despite some flaws) and also Clementine. Really need to get caught up on the steampunk novels. So very far behind…
Mike Resnick, Fortress in Orion (Pyr)
The Democracy is at war with the alien Traanskei Coalition. War hero Colonel Nathan Pretorius has a record of success on dangerous behind-enemy-lines missions, missions that usually leave him in the hospital. Now he’s recruited for a near-impossible assignment that may well leave him dead.
At the cost of many lives, the Democracy has managed to clone and train General Michkag, one of the Traanskei’s master strategists. Colonel Pretorius and a hand-picked team must kidnap the real Michkag if they can, assassinate him if they can’t, but no matter which, put the clone in his place, where he will misdirect the enemy’s forces and funnel vital information to the Democracy.
Against the odds, Pretorius, along with Cyborg Felix Ortega, computer expert Toni Levi, convict and contortionist Sally “Snake” Kowalski, the near-human empath Marlowe, the alien Gzychurlyx, and Madam Methuselah – the Dead Enders – must infiltrate the Fortress in Orion, accomplish their mission, and escape with their lives.
The start of a new sci-fi series. Haven’t read much by Resnick in the past. Could be a good intro-proper.
Jamie Schultz, Premonitions (Roc)
Two million dollars…
It’s the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of — enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.
The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting — and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you’re in business with him, there’s no backing out.
Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It’s a piece of something larger. Something sinister.
Karyn’s crew, and even Sobell himself, are about to find out just how powerful it is… and how powerful it may yet become.
Didn’t know anything about the novel, really, but the author reached out, and I thought I’d give it a try. Hopefully very soon.
Adam Sternbergh, Near Enemy (Crown)
It’s a year after Shovel Ready. Persephone is ensconced with her newborn upstate; Simon the Magician is struggling to keep control of Harrow’s evangelical empire; and Spademan has accepted a seemingly routine job: to snuff out a no-good bed-hopper named Lesser. Lesser has been causing headaches all over the limnosphere, racking up enemies left and right. But Lesser comes back from the dream with a wild claim: that the terrorists have found a way to infiltrate the limnosphere, to hijack the luxury virtual escape from the inside. And they’re doing it from somewhere in New York.
Spademan is not used to having enemies – his foes usually end up dead pretty quickly – but he tries to stay vigilant about the dangers that lurk right under our noses. He’s about to find out just how close these new enemies are – and how dangerous they can be.
Shovel Ready, the first book in this series, was pretty good – the writing was tight and plotting was brisk. My only real issue with that novel, though, was that there wasn’t a whole lot of world-building. Hopefully, with this second installment, we’ll get to see a bit more. Expect a review soon.
Review copy via NetGalley.
Jeff VanderMeer, Authority & Acceptance (Harper Collins)
Authority: For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X — a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves — and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.
The second and third books in the author’s Southern Reach trilogy. Now that I have all three, I have a feeling I’m going to blitz through them. I’ve never read a novel by VanderMeer, so this will be interesting.