Quick Review: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-ProspersDemonAnother magnificent novella from the master of the form

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

I love K.J. Parker’s short fiction. In addition to his excellent prose, the author is able to pack in so much into his short stories and novellas: they are humorous, subversive, and peppered with historical allusions. Prosper’s Demon is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THESE WOMEN by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco)

PochodaI-TheseWomenUSThe next novel by Ivy Pochoda, the author of the acclaimed Wonder Valley (which I still have to read), has been unveiled: These Women, a new crime novel that is described as “a serial killer story like you’ve never seen before — a literary thriller of female empowerment and social change”. Due to be published by Ecco in April 2020, I’m really looking forward to this one. Here’s the synopsis:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner… These women in the club… These women who won’t stop asking questions… These women who got what they deserved…

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

Pochoda’s Wonder Valley, also published in North America by Ecco, is available in the UK published by The Indigo Press. I couldn’t find anything about a UK release for These Women, at the time of writing.

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Upcoming: THE KINGDOM OF LIARS by Nick Martell (Gollancz/Saga Press)

MartellN-LotMK1-KingdomOfLiars

The Kingdom of Liars is the first novel in Nick Martell‘s new fantasy series, the Legacy of the Mercenary Kings. I’ve seen this novel getting some good pre-publication buzz on Twitter, and my interest is well and truly piqued. The North American cover (and an excerpt) were revealed on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog last week. Here’s the synopsis:

Michael Kingman has been an outsider for as long as he remembers. The court which executed his father also exiled him and his family. They branded him a traitor, and the nobles who had been his friends turned their backs, prepared to let the legendary Kingman family die on Hollow’s city streets.

Only they survived.

And it should come as no surprise to Hollow Court, or the King, that they’ve been searching for the truth ever since.

History is written by the winners, truth buried beneath lies until it’s Forgotten. Justice seems impossible in a city where the price of magic is a memory. But Michael Kingman is determined to make everyone remember…

The Kingdom of Liars is due to be published in May 2020, by Gollancz in the UK and Saga Press in North America.

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Upcoming: MAKING WOLF by Tade Thompson (Constable)

ThompsonT-MakingWolfUKDeadline announced today that this new novel by Tade Thompson had been optioned for television. Surprised that I hadn’t heard of Making Wolf, yet, I learned that’s because it hasn’t been published yet. Due out next year, to be published by Constable in the UK, it sounds fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:

Meet Weston Kogi, a London supermarket store detective. He returns home to his West African home country for his aunt’s funeral. He sees his family, his ex-girlfriend Nana, his old school mate Church. Food is good, beer is plentiful, and telling people he works as a homicide detective seems like harmless hyperbole, until he wakes up in hell.

He is kidnapped and forced by two separate rebel factions to investigate the murder of a local hero, Papa Busi. The solution may tip a country on the brink into civil war.

Tade Thompson is the author of the critically-acclaimed Wormwood trilogy (Rosewater, etc.), published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK; and also the Molly Southbourne novellas, published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Murders of Molly Southbourne and The Survival of Molly Southbourne

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Upcoming: WAR OF THE MAPS by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)

McAuleyP-WarOfTheMapsUKPaul McAuley‘s novels always sound fascinating. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read as much of his work as I would like (especially given how many of his books I own).  His most recent novel, Austral, is of particular interest and I hope to get to it very soon. In March 2020, Gollancz are due to publish his latest sci-fi adventure, War of the Maps. Check out the synopsis:

On a giant artificial world surrounding an artificial sun, one man – a lucidor, a keeper of the peace, a policeman – is on the hunt. His target was responsible for an atrocity, but is too valuable to the government to be truly punished. Instead he has been sent to the frontlines of the war, to use his unique talents on the enemy. So the lucidor has ignored orders, deserted from his job, left his home and thrown his life away, in order to finally claim justice.

Separated by massive seas, the various maps dotted on the surface of this world rarely contact each other. But something has begun to infiltrate the edges of the lucidor’s map, something that genetically alters animals and plants and turns them into killers. Only the lucidor knows the depths to which his quarry will sink in order to survive, only the lucidor can capture him. The way is long and dangerous. The lucidor’s government has set hunters after him. He has no friends, no resources, no plan.

But he does have a mission.

Really looking forward to reading this one. War of the Maps is due to be published by Gollancz on March 19th, 2020, in the UK.

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Upcoming: ANTHROPOCENE RAG by Alex Irvine (Tor.com)

IrvineA-AnthropoceneRagNext year, Tor.com are due to publish a new novella by Alex Irvine that looks very interesting: Anthropocene Rag. I wasn’t sure if I’d read anything else by Irvine, but while putting together this post, I remembered his short story Black Friday (which I enjoyed). He has also worked extensively in comics, games, and many other novels and short stories. Anthropocene Rag is due to be published on March 31st, 2020. Here’s the synopsis:

In the future United States, our own history has faded into myth and traveling across the country means navigating wastelands and ever-changing landscapes.

The country teems with monsters and artificial intelligences try to unpack their own becoming by recreating myths and legends of their human creators. Prospector Ed, an emergent AI who wants to understand the people who made him, assembles a ragtag team to reach the mythical Monument City.

In this nanotech Western, Alex Irvine infuses American mythmaking with terrifying questions about the future and who we will become.

Looking forward to this.

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Upcoming: THE COMPANIONS by Katie M. Flynn (Scout Press/Gallery)

FlynnKM-CompanionsUSI stumbled across The Companions by Katie M. Flynn while browsing a Simon & Schuster catalogue. Pitched as “Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go“, I thought it sounded really intriguing and also rather unsettling. Naturally, this means I really want to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

An unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.

In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in — and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people — a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.

Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.

Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view — some human, some companion — that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

The Companions is due to be published by Scout Press/Gallery in North America, on March 3rd, 2020. (I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher or release.)

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