Upcoming: MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeUSToday, Subterranean Press announced the latest novella by K.J. Parker that they will publish: My Beautiful Life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything Subterranean Press has published of Parker’s, although I have allowed myself to fall behind a bit. (Parker is a prolific writer of novellas and short fiction, and the publisher has released a number of anthologies that are tricky to get ahold of outside of the US, but I’ve been working on collecting them all.) If you are familiar with Parker’s Tor.com novellas — The Devil You Know (one of my favourites) and The Last Witness — then I’m sure you’ll want to pick up this latest books.

Due to be published in November 2019, here’s the synopsis for My Beautiful Life:

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells the story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother — who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows. Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself. 

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

As I mentioned above, Parker has published a number of titles with Subterranean Press, including: Father of LiesAcademic ExercisesMightier than the Sword, Downfall of the Gods, and Savages.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

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Upcoming: THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY by Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com)

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayI haven’t read anything else by Saad Z. Hossain, but his upcoming novella from Tor.com sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in mid-August. Here’s the synopsis for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday:

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK. The author’s latest work includes Escape from Baghdad! and a contribution to The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.

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Music Review: THE GHOST OF OHIO, Andy Black (Island Records)

AndyBlack-GhostOfOhioAndy Biersack/Black is, in my humble opinion, one of the best young vocalists in rock. In his “day job” as frontman of Black Veil Brides, we’ve heard his vocals and songwriting skills improve in leaps and bounds since they formed in 2006.

From the run-of-the-mill screamo of their debut album, We Stitch These Wounds (which was rather blandly stereotypical), to the way-more-glam Set the World On Fire (2011), to the monster hits of Wretched and Divine (2013) and Black Veil Brides IV (2014), he and his bandmates kept knocking it out of the park and getting better and better. Then, in 2016, he released his superb debut album, The Shadow Side: far more pop-oriented than BVB’s output, it is polished and catchy as hell. BVB’s fifth album, Vale (2018), built on everything that had come before and was another fantastic rock album. The pattern had been set: continued growth, and restrained experimentation, and more sophisticated song-writing. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE UNDEFEATED by Una McCormack (Tor.com)

McCormackU-UndefeatedA fantastic sci-fi novella

She was a warrior of words.

As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.

Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest — and self-created — enemy, the jenjer.

Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.

I’ve been looking forward to this novella ever since I read the synopsis. I’m very happy to report that it totally lived up to my high expectations. A journalist returns home as the universe holds its breath, waiting for a potential threat to reveal itself. Continue reading

Upcoming: CHANCES ARE… by Richard Russo (Knopf)

RussoR-ChancesAreUSNot sure how I managed to miss this until today, but Richard Russo has a new novel coming out this year! (Maybe it’s a late addition to the publisher’s schedule.) One of my favourite writers, I’m really looking forward to Chances Are…. Due to be published by Knopf on July 30th in North America, here’s the synopsis:

A gripping story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship.

One beautiful September day, three sixty-six-year old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today – Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971.

Now, forty-four years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives and that of a significant other are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are… also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.

Really looking forward to this. Easily one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. Russo’s most recent books have been published in the UK by Allen & Unwin, so I guess they’ll be releasing the UK edition later this year?

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Upcoming: FATE OF THE FALLEN by Kel Kade (Tor Books)

KadeK-1-FateOfTheFallenUSKel Kade‘s upcoming Fate of the Fallen is one of the many upcoming Tor Books releases that are on my Most Anticipated list. The novel has been generating some enthusiastic buzz already, even though it’s not due to be published until November. The first in the Shroud of Prophecy series, here’s the synopsis:

Not all stories have happy endings.

Everyone loves Mathias. Naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

However, saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. The going gets rough and folks start to believe their best chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the prophecy goes. At all. As the list of allies grows thin, and the friends find themselves staring death in the face they must decide how to become the heroes they were destined to be or, failing that, how to survive.

Kel Kade’s Fate of the Fallen is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (it’ll be available in the UK, too).

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