New Books (November-December)

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The final New Books posts for titles received in 2022. It’s been a pretty great year for reading: plenty of great new books, as well as plenty of great advance review copies. I’ve already made quite a dent in my 2023 reading, which is a nice change — I’m still too prone to “saving for later” when it comes to books, even ones I am most anticipating or eager to read. No idea why I keep doing this. I guess one of my resolutions is to read what I want, when I want. There’s no reason why I have to stick to any kind of schedule.

So, a fond farewell to 2022, and here’s to a great 2023 of reading!

Featuring: Nicole Arend, M. R. Carey, Christopher Farnsworth, Rebecca Fraimow, K. J. Parker, Deena Mohamed, Kirthana Ramisetti, Scott J, Shapiro, Caitlin Shetterly, Richard Swan, Daniel Torday, Chris Wraight

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Upcoming: UNDER MY SKIN by K. J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-UnderMySkinAny day you learn about a new K. J. Parker book is a great day. This morning, the latest Subterranean Press newsletter dropped into my inbox, announcing the author’s latest collection: Under My Skin! I’m sure I’m becoming a broken record, when it comes to stating how much of a fan I am of Parker’s short fiction (and writing in general), but he really is an awesome talent. This new collection is over 700 pages, and is anchored by a new full-length tale, Relics. Here’s the synopsis:

These stories are everything readers have come to expect from Parker, populated by con men and kings, magicians who don’t do magic and messiahs who don’t offer redemption, by holy men and holy fools. But be warned, not only is all perhaps not what it seems, all can usually be counted on to not be what it seems. Parker’s unruly and unreliable narrators, who sometimes fool themselves even more than they fool us, stride along muddy paths through lonely hills or across marble floors in grand palaces, always finding trapdoors opening beneath them.

In “The Thought That Counts,” for example, a man who claims to have been magically granted the wisdom of the world finds that he’s not wise enough to recognize a figure from his past who may prove that wisdom isn’t enough in every situation. In My Beautiful Life, a man who starts life as the son of a village prostitute rises as high in his world as anyone can, only to find that tumbling from such a height makes for a long, long fall. And in the epistolary novel Relics, readers are offered not just one unreliable narrator but two, as an archduke and a relic hunter describe their highs and lows to one another in a series of missives that even the writers don’t necessarily fully believe, much less the recipients.

This is the third Parker collection published by Subterranean Press. The previous two — Academic Exercises and The Father of Lies — are also very highly recommended. Under My Skin is expected to go on sale on March 30th, 2023. Can’t wait!

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demons, Academic Exercises, The Big Score, The Long Game, and Pulling the Wings Off Angels

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Quick Review: PULLING THE WINGS OFF ANGELS by K. J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsAnother quirky, engaging, and twisty novella from Parker

Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox — with the student at its center — in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny — and the nature of angels.

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I am a huge fan of K. J. Parker’s novellas and short fiction. As soon as I read the synopsis for Pulling the Wings Off Angels, I was eager to read it. I was lucky enough to get a DRC a while ago, and read it right away. I’m very happy to report that it is classic Parker; I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

New Books (July-August)

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Featuring: Julia Bartz, Christopher Bollen, Ness Brown, John Brownlow, Ed Brubaker, Wesley Chu, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Frank Dikötter, Sean Doolittle, Erin M. Evans, Isaac Fellman, Denny Flowers, John French, Andrea Hairston, Thilde Kold Holdt, Jacqueline Holland, Vaseem Khan, Taylor Koekkoek, Fonda Lee, Scotto Moore, Annalee Newitz, Malka Older, K.J. Parker, Sean Phillips, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Richard Norton Smith, A. J. Tata, P. J. Tracy, Nghi Vo

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Quick Review: THE LONG GAME by K. J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-LongGameUSNo matter what we might believe, we are all pawns in a far larger, longer game than we can imagine

The unnamed narrator of The Long Game is an Adept, a member of an Ecclesiastical order charged, among other things, with opposing a race of immaterial demons, creatures capable of possessing and controlling human minds. Complicating the narrator’s life is the fact that, over time, he has developed a cordial “relationship” with one of the demons. Complicating matters further is the unexpected arrival of Amalasomtha, a young woman with impossible abilities who claims to have come from the remote — perhaps mythical — country of Idalia. She also claims that, for reasons she does not entirely understand, she has been tasked with capturing one such demon and returning with it to Idalia. The truth, it turns out, is considerably more complex.

Amalasomtha’s arrival sets in motion a chain of events encompassing murder, magic, deception, and an array of unintended consequences. By the story’s end, this consistently witty account of demonic possession, hidden agendas and Ecclesiastical politics has taken us to some unexpected places and given us a glimpse of a larger story still, the “long game” that lies at the heart of all human history.

This new novella from K. J. Parker seems to be set around the same demon mythology that the author introduced in Prosper’s Demon, and has appeared in a few other recent novellas. It’s a novella that displays all of Parker’s fantastic gifts for storytelling: a playful humour, intelligence, and a well-paced and -balanced narrative. As expected, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Tom Beckerlegge, William Brewer, Michael Connelly, Katie Cotugno, Eli Cranor, Scott Drakeford, Ren Hutchings, James Kestrel, Andrew Lipstein, Ellery Lloyd, H. M. Long, Cassidy Lucas, William Martin, T. R. Napper, Dan Ozzi, K. J. Parker, Kal Penn, Andrew Rice, Will Smith, Richard Swan, Gav Thorpe, Vanessa Veselka, Donald E. Westlake

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New Books (September-October)

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Featuring: Tariq Ashkanani, David Baldacci, James Breakwell, Aaron Philip Clark, Hillary Clinton, C.S.E. Cooney, Mark de Jager, Dave Grohl, Noah Hawley, Gish Jen, John le Carré, Grace D. Li, Emily St. John Mandel, Nick Offerman, K.J. Parker, Louise Penny, Jenny Pentland, Scottie Pippen, Katherine Ryan, Gaie Sebold, Chris Wraight

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New Books (June-July)

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Featuring: Charles Arthur, Anna Bailey, Mike Brooks, S. A. Cosby, Kate Elliott, Mirin Fader, Dan Fante, Alex Finlay, John Fletcher, Jeffrey Frank, Mike Gayle, J.T. Greenhouse, Ha Jin, Chris Hadfield, Cameron Johnston, Ward Larsen, Ben Mezrich, Alex Michaelides, Claire North, J.P. Oakes, K.J. Parker, Vince Passaro, Anna Pitoniak, Nita Prose, Catherine Steadman, Matt Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lavie Tidhar

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New Books (November)

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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

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Quick Review: THE BIG SCORE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-BigScoreSaloninus returns, for possibly his most lucrative job yet…?

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.

In K.J. Parker’s latest, he returns to the story of Saloninus. A gifted renaissance man, prone to falling on the wrong side of the law, he finds himself in a position to win the big one — one final con that could set him up for life, if only he can make it all the way through alive and not get cheated. Another fantastic, entertaining and brilliantly-written novella from the master of the form. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading