Upcoming: SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell (Hodder)

I’ve still not read anything by David Mitchell, which is probably wrong. Hotter unveiled the UK cover for his next book, SLADE HOUSE, yesterday, and it’s gorgeous:

MitchellD-SladeHouseUK

Here’s the synopsis:

Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

Turn down Slade Alley — narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn’t quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.

A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.

This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe’en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a ‘guest’ is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs…

Slade House is published in the UK by Hodder on October 27th, 2015.

Mini-Review: THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz/Roc)

A superbly written, atmospheric mystery

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out — literally — of a war in heaven

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

This is a fantastic novel. Superbly written, wonderfully atmospheric and brought to life on the page, House of Shattered Wings is a must-read novel of the year. It’s the first novel by multi-award winning/nominated Aliette de Bodard that I’ve read, and it’s quite excellent. The novel has been generating a fair bit of hype with its upcoming release, and I’m happy to say it’s entirely justified. Continue reading

Upcoming: Tor Books (US)

Today, a quick look at upcoming titles from Tor Books (US) that have caught my eye — some of these aren’t due out until early 2016, but I thought they looked interesting enough to feature now.

PrintCharlie Jane Anders, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY (January 26th, 2016)

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together — to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

Publisher’s Page

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Boy Eating
Boy Eating

Madeline Ashby, COMPANY TOWN (April 5th, 2016)

A dazzling novel of humanity, noir heroines, and the Singularity

They call it Company Town­­a city­sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.

Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio­engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig­­making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self­defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be­­but now, the danger is personal.

A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.

I think the first time I heard about Company Town was via Angry Robot Books, who published Ashby’s The Machine Dynasty series. However, I can’t find anything about Company Town on their website (this might be because of the recent purchase of the publisher and subsequent changes).

Also on CR: Interview with Madeline Ashby; Guest Post on “How Do You Make Non-Humans Seem Human

Publisher’s Page

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BelcherRS-BrotherhoodOfTheWheelUSR.S. Belcher, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL (March 1st, 2016)

A unique new urban fantasy exploring the haunted byways and truck stops of the U.S. Interstate Highway System

In 1119 A.D., a group of nine crusaders became known as the Poor Fellow­ Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon­­a militant monastic order charged with protecting pilgrims and caravans traveling on the roads to and from the Holy Land. In time, the Knights Templar would grow in power and, ultimately, be laid low. But a small offshoot of the Templars endure and have returned to the order’s original mission: to defend the roads of the world and guard those who travel on them.

Theirs is a secret line of knights: truckers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers, bus drivers, RV gypsies­­any of the folks who live and work on the asphalt arteries of America. They call themselves the Brotherhood of the Wheel.

Jimmy Aussapile is one such knight. He’s driving a big rig down South when a promise to a ghostly hitchhiker sets him on a quest to find out the terrible truth behind a string of children gone missing all across the country. The road leads him to Lovina Hewitt, a skeptical Louisiana State Police investigator working the same case and, eventually, to a forgotten town that’s not on any map­­and to the secret behind the eerie Black­Eyed Kids said to prowl the highways.

Publisher’s Page

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DickinsonS-TraitorBaruCormorantUSSeth Dickinson, THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT (September 15th)

A young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free. 

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

Dickinson’s debut is published in the UK by Tor Books, as The Traitor.

Publisher’s Page

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McDonaldI-Luna1-NewMoonUSIan McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (September 22nd)

The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did. 

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

This is published in the UK by Gollancz, on September 17th, 2015.

Publisher’s Page

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RossiV-RidersUSVeronica Rossi, RIDERS (February 16th, 2016)

For eighteen­-year-­old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen­­Conquest, Famine, and Death­­are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now­­bound, bloodied, and drugged­­Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for­­not to mention all of humankind­­he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

Publisher’s Page

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A Gathering of Shadows FinalV.E. Schwab, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (February 23rd, 2016)

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London. 

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries — a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again — and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.

The sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic (which is published in the UK by Titan Books).

Also on CR: Review of Vicious

Publisher’s Page

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StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUSBrian Staveley, THE LAST MORTAL BOND (March 15th, 2016)

War engulfs the Annurian Empire.

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all­­ Valyn, Adare, and Kaden­­ come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

The first two books in Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne are also published in the US by Tor Books: The Emperor’s Blades and Providence of Fire. The series is published in the UK by Tor (UK). I loved the first two books, can’t wait to read this!

Also on CR: Reviews of The Emperor’s Blades and Providence of FireExcerpt from The Emperor’s Blades

Publisher’s Page

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TurnerM-2-DragonHuntersUSMarc Turner, DRAGON HUNTERS (February 9th, 2016)

Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles.

Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords, but she has no intention of standing down graciously. As part of her plot to hold onto power, she instructs an order of priests known as the Chameleons to sabotage the Dragon Gate. There’s just one problem: that will require them to infiltrate an impregnable citadel that houses the gate’s mechanism — a feat that has never been accomplished before.

But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. And when Imerle sets her scheme in motion, that enemy uses the ensuing chaos to play its hand.

Turner’s debut, When Heavens Fall, is also published by Tor Books in the US, and in the UK by Titan Books. I assume they’ll be publishing book two as well.

Also on CR: Review of When the Heavens Fall; Interview with Marc Turner

Publisher’s Page

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WildeF-UpdraftUSFran Wilde, UPDRAFT (September 1st)

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage. 

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever — if it isn’t destroyed outright.

Publisher’s Page

Guest Post: “Demand Quality Aliens!” by Alex Lamb

LambAlex-AuthorPicI’ve always been fascinated by aliens. From about the time I could talk, I’ve been obsessed with them. For a while, growing up, I was convinced I was one. Now, as an author, I love writing about them.

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve also had an unusual amount of exposure to the science of things alien. I studied artificial intelligence at university, married an astronomer, and recently worked as a researcher in Princeton’s biology department, doing research on abiogenesis. I’ve had the chance to talk to scientists studying exoplanets, researchers at SETI, exobiology, and other wonderful people working in a host of related fields.

Having that science under my belt makes me want to get extraterrestrials right in my novels. It makes me a little fussy about them. And because I care, I want you to get fussy too, dear reader.  Continue reading

Upcoming: THE PROMISE OF THE CHILD by Tom Toner

Today, Barnes & Noble’s sci-fi/fantasy blog hosted a cover reveal (and guest post) for Tom Toner‘s upcoming debut, The Promise of the Child, which Night Shade Books will be publishing in September in the US. The novel, which is the first volume in the Amaranthine Sequence, is also due to be published in the UK by Gollancz. The two publishers have gone for similar cover designs, but taken different approaches to the synopsis. So, I thought I’d do another UK-vs.-US comparison posts.

TonerT-PromiseOfTheChildUKFirst (because they revealed first a while ago), here’s the UK cover and synopsis:

In the far future man has spread out into the galaxy. And diversified. Some have evolved physically into strange new forms, some have become immortal. Some hark back to the old ways. We have built a glorious new future. One that stretches from the sleepy Old World, to new terraformed planets and Dyson spheres built around artificial suns. For as long as we can remember (and some have lived 12,000 years) we have delighted in a rich new existence. Yes there have been wars but we are content in our splendour. Art is revered, life is easy, death forgotten for many. But now there are rumours of a bid to oust the Emperor and a worrying story that our history is not as we remember it — not only man left Earth…

TonerT-AS1-PromiseOfTheChildUSAnd here’s the more colourful US cover and more-descriptive/-detailed synopsis:

It is the 147th century.

In the radically advanced post-human worlds of the Amaranthine Firmament, there is a contender to the Immortal throne: Aaron the Long-Life, the Pretender, a man who is not quite a man.

In the barbarous hominid kingdoms of the Prism Investiture, where life is short, cheap, and dangerous, an invention is born that will become the Firmament’s most closely kept secret.

Lycaste, a lovesick recluse outcast for an unspeakable crime, must journey through the Provinces, braving the grotesques of an ancient, decadent world to find his salvation.

Sotiris, grieving the loss of his sister and awaiting the madness of old age, must relive his twelve thousand years of life to stop the man determined to become Emperor.

Ghaldezuel, knight of the stars, must plunder the rarest treasure in the Firmament — the object the Pretender will stop at nothing to obtain.

From medieval Prague to a lonely Mediterranean cove, and eventually far into the strange vastness of distant worlds, The Promise of the Child is a debut novel of gripping action and astounding ambition unfolding over hundreds of thousands of years, marking the arrival of a brilliant new talent in science fiction.

Review: CROOKED by Austin Grossman (Mulholland)

GrossmanA-CrookedAn excellent secret history

Richard Milhous Nixon lived one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century. Our 37th President’s political career spanned the buttoned-down fifties, the Mad Men sixties and the turbulent seventies. He faced down the Russians, the Chinese, and ultimately his own government. The man went from political mastermind to a national joke, sobbing in the Oval Office, leaving us with one burning question: how could he have lost it all?

Here for the first time is the true story told in his own words: the terrifying supernatural secret he stumbled on as a young man; the truth behind the Cold War; the truth behind the Watergate coverup. What if our nation’s worst president was really a pivotal figure caught in a desperate struggle between ordinary life and horrors from another reality? What if the man we call our worst president was, in truth, our greatest?

In Crooked, Nixon finally reveals the secret history of modern American politics as only Austin Grossman could reimagine it. Combining Lovecraftian suspense, international intrigue, Russian honey traps and a Presidential marriage whose secrets and battles of attrition were their own heroic saga, Grossman’s novel is a master work of alternative history, equal parts mesmerizing character study and nail-biting Faustian thriller.

I was a relative latecomer to Austin Grossman’s novels — I only read You in 2014, and have yet to read Soon I Will Be Invincible (which I do own). When I first read the synopsis for Crooked, though, I knew I wouldn’t wait to read this one: I am a US politics and history nut, with a particular interest in the presidency. So, given that Grossman’s a great author, and that he was mixing two of my favourite things (politics and SFF), Crooked has been one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’m very happy to say, I was not disappointed. This is an excellent novel. Continue reading

Review: ARMADA by Ernest Cline (Century)

ClineE-ArmadaUKThe highly-anticipated second novel from the author of Ready Player One

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada — in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills — as well as those of millions of gamers across the world — are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little… familiar?

Ready Player One, as I’ve said many times on here, completely blew me away. I was sent an ARC, and started it pretty much immediately. I devoured it in two gleeful, gloriously entertaining sittings, breaking only to get a few hours sleep. I’ve been waiting for Armada ever since. It was a very pleasant surprise, therefore, when an ARC arrived in the mail a few weeks back. With high expectations, and confidence that it would be another tale filled with geek references, nostalgia and gripping storytelling, I dove right in. What I found, however, thoroughly disappointed. Continue reading

Interview with ROB BOFFARD

BoffardR-AuthorPicCropLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Rob Boffard?

A funny-looking South African with freakishly long arms, lots of tattoos, a really weird accent, and bad hair. I spent a decade as a journalist being paid specifically to not make stuff up, and now I’m getting paid to do the exact opposite.

Your debut novel, Tracer, will be published by Orbit Books in July 2015. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it part of a planned series?

Tracer is about a courier on a city-sized space station. Her name is Riley, she loves going as fast as humanly possible, and she makes a point of never asking what she carries. Of course, when she accidentally finds out what’s in one particular shipment, things go very wrong, very fast.

It’s the first book in a trilogy, and if you like space stations, parkour, killer gadgets, edible insects, explosions, psychotic villains or any combination of the above, you’re going to love it. Continue reading

Excerpt: CRASHING HEAVEN by Al Robertson (Gollancz)

RobertsonA-CrashingHeavenAl Robertson‘s Crashing Heaven is one of my most-anticipated novels of 2015. I’ve heard great things, too. In advance of a review, Gollancz have sent me this excerpt to share with you all. First up, though, the novel’s synopsis:

Meet Hugo Fist. The most terrifying and enticing AI to grace SF since the works of Al Reynolds and Hannu Rajaniemi

A diamond-hard, visionary new SF thriller. Nailed-down cyberpunk ala William Gibson for the 21st century meets the vivid dark futures of Al Reynolds in this extraordinary debut novel.

With Earth abandoned, humanity resides on Station, an industrialised asteroid run by the sentient corporations of the Pantheon. Under their leadership a war has been raging against the Totality – ex-Pantheon AIs gone rogue.

With the war over, Jack Forster and his sidekick Hugo Fist, a virtual ventriloquist’s dummy tied to Jack’s mind and created to destroy the Totality, have returned home.

Labelled a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, all Jack wants is to clear his name but when he discovers two old friends have died under suspicious circumstances he also wants answers. Soon he and Fist are embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not only their future but all of humanity’s. But with Fist’s software licence about to expire, taking Jack’s life with it, can they bring down the real traitors before their time runs out?

The novel is published in the UK on June 18th (tomorrow!). Now, on with the extract… Continue reading

Upcoming: CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland)

GalbraithR-CS3-CareerOfEvil

I really enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, and have been rather looking forward to the third novel starring Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott: Career of Evil. Today, the cover and plot were unveiled, for both the UK and US editions! Here’s the synopsis (from the author’s website)…

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

The novel will be published on October 20th (US) and 22nd (UK), 2015, by Mulholland/Little, Brown. Robert Galbraith is, of course, better known as a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling’s…

Also on CR: Review of The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm