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

HarperJ-2-ForceOfNature

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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Interview with DARYL GREGORY

Vt7GelpOLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Daryl Gregory?

What an impossible question! From the books I’ve read on neuroscience and consciousness, it’s clear that the contiguous self, this “I” who is typing this, is an illusion generated by the brain. Let’s not even mention the illusion of free will. So how about this? “You” and “I” will agree, for convenience, that there’s a person called Daryl who has somehow chosen to write a book. Ready? Here goes:

I’m a writer who lives in Oakland, California, and exists primarily on a diet of beer and coffee. I’ve written six novels, the novella We Are All Completely Fine, which won the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, as well as short stories, comics, and video games.

And now you may be regretting this interview. Continue reading

Review: BLACK LEGION by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

DembskiBowdenA-A2-BlackLegionThe long-awaited sequel to The Talon of Horus

Ezekyle Abaddon and his warlords strive to bind the newborn Black Legion together under threat of destruction. Now Khayon, as Abaddon’s most-trusted assassin, is tasked with ending the threat of Thagus Daravek, the self-proclaimed Lord of Hosts — a rival to the Ezekyle’s final fate. Fighting the vile whispers of the Dark Gods within his mind, Abaddon turns a fevered gaze back to the Imperium, where his destiny awaits. Yet the Emperor’s Champion and his Black Templars stand guard at the gates of Hell, and Sigismund has waited centuries to face Abaddon in battle.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. His work for Black Library has been, for the main, outstanding — especially the Night Lords trilogy, The First Heretic and Betrayer. He hasn’t been writing at the same pace as many of his peers at BL, but each of his new novels is met with quite some fanfare. Despite something of a wobble with his previous novel, The Emperor of Mankind (part of the Horus Heresy series), Black Legion sees him returning to form quite nicely. The sequel to The Talon of Horus, and picking up the story a short while after that novel, it’s a short novel, but one that manages to pack in quite a bit of story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

SakeyM-AfterlifeAn intriguing, cinematic action thriller

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

I’ve been aware of Marcus Sakey’s work for many years, and have faithfully bought a fair number of his novels. For some strange reason, though, I keep forgetting I have them on my Kindle… I started to see many thriller authors whose work I very much enjoy sharing praise for Afterlife not so long ago, so I snapped it up and started reading right away. I was certainly an entertaining read. Continue reading

Quick Review: BLACKWING by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

A promising debut grimdark fantasy

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet…

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery — a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is one of the most hotly-anticipated debut fantasy novels of the year. Social media and the blogosphere have been filled with glowing reviews, squees and other evidence that suggests the hype has been entirely justified. There’s a lot in here that will certainly appeal to plenty of fantasy fans. However, I ultimately came away from this novel underwhelmed. Continue reading

Review: THE CRIMSON KING by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

The Thousand Sons grapple with their new world and reality…

After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the aptly un-named Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terror. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, he has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.

A Thousand Sons, Graham McNeill’s first novel focusing on Magnus the Red’s legion, was the first in what I consider to be the Horus Heresy series’s revival, and the beginning of a hot streak that has continued (pretty much) ever since. In The Crimson King, McNeill continues the story of the Thousand Sons, and looks at how they are coming to terms with not only their new status as traitors, but also their new reality and freedom. It’s an excellent continuation of the series. Continue reading