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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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

Quick Review: HER SILHOUETTE, DRAWN IN WATER by Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com)

KaftanV-HerSilhouetteDrawnInWaterAn intriguing novella about identity, memory and relationships

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her — until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I’ve not read anything else by Kaftan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water. What I found was a well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking novella that touches upon a number of interesting and timely issues, hung on a science fictional frame.
Continue reading

Quick Reviews: THE BONE DESERT by Robbie MacNiven & ONE, UNTENDED by David Guymer (Black Library)

MacNivenR-AoSG-BoneDesertTwo short Age of Sigmar outings for Gotrek Gurnisson, my favourite dwarf…

The world that Gotrek Gurnisson knew is long dead, alongside every soul the legendary monster slayer once cared for. Adrift in this curious new age, the duardin scours the treacherous Bone Desert in search of the axe he inherited from the God Grimnir, which too has been lost to the annals of time.

When a series of assassination attempts strike, Gotrek and his aelf companion Maleneth soon learn that it is not only the wasteland’s ravenous beasts and sinking sands that hunger for their flesh. The heroic duardin is certain these highly calculated and creative attacks are the work of his infamous nemesis – the skaven, Thanquol. But is all as it seems?

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a couple of times (at least) on CR, I’ve been reading about the exploits of Gotrek Gurnisson for decades. I first stumbled across his adventures, alongside his human companion Felix Jaegar, in the Warhammer Armies books. Then, William King and others’ novels that I still return to whenever I feel like a fantasy-comfort-read. With the demise of the Old World, and the shift to the Age of Sigmar, the venerable dwarf returns! Continue reading

Quick Review: THE TEST by Sylvain Neuvel (Tor.com)

NeuvelS-TestA superb immigration dystopia

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

As someone who has lived in multiple countries, I’ve always been interested in immigration and the policies and rhetoric that surrounds it. While immigrants frequently feature in fiction, rarely (to my knowledge) is the process itself the central focus of the story. Set against a subtly dystopian backdrop, this is an interesting, well-written and sometimes thought-provoking story. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: VIGILANCE by Robert Jackson Bennett (Tor.com)

BennettRJ-VigilanceA superb parable of an all-too-believable future American dystopia…

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize.

The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.

In Vigilance, Robert Jackson Bennett has written a frightening parable of a future, rapidly-declining America that has surrendered itself to gun violence. The author has managed to pack in a lot of commentary into this powerful novella. I very much enjoyed reading this, despite how disturbing it was. Continue reading