Interview with M.C. PLANCK

PlanckMC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is M.C. Planck?

Like M. C. Hawking, except for literature rather than physics-derived rap lyrics. Also, my name. Not a pseudonym, despite the rumors.

Your latest novel, Gold Throne In Shadow, the second in your World of Prime series, is due to be published by Pyr Books in October. What can fans of the first novel expect from this sequel, and how would you introduce the series it to a potential reader?

The frame of the story is a classic: a person from our world crosses over to a world of sword and sorcery. What makes it different is the world he has travelled to: on the surface, it seems like any old pseudo-medieval fantasy kingdom, until you get to the bit about how magic is fuelled by eating people’s brains. The other difference is that our hero is not a young farm boy with a divine destiny, but a middle-aged engineer with bad manners.

Christopher Sinclair, like any sensible person, does not want to wander around waving a sword until a dragon eats him or a wizard turns him into a newt. Adventuring is only fun for the insane and the desperate; all he wants is to go home. Along the way he has some interesting, and ultimately disturbing, experiences. Continue reading

Interview with RAJAN KHANNA

KhannaR-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Rajan Khanna?

What a difficult question. I suppose it’s redundant to say I’m a writer, so I’ll also say that I’m also a blogger, a reviewer and a narrator. I live in Brooklyn, New York. I have a passion for writing and books. Also for music and beer and airships and the creatures that live in the depths of the ocean.

Your next novel, Rising Tide, will be published by Pyr in October 2015. It’s the second in your dystopian series. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of Falling Sky expect from book two?

My simple explanation for the series is that it’s post-apocalyptic with airships. It’s a fast-paced series of adventures about an airship captain trying not just to survive in the post-apocalypse, but to find a greater purpose.

Readers who read Falling Sky will know that Ben ended that book in a precarious situation. Things only get worse in Rising Tide for both Ben and Miranda. It’s still a fast-paced book, but the stakes are higher in this one.

Continue reading

New Books! (August)

MirrenBooksContainAdventure

Featuring: Matthew de Abaitua, Stephen Aryan, Bradley Beaulieu, Ben Bova, Lila Bowen, Zen Cho, Robert DeFranco, Seth Dickinson, Tom Doyle, Peter Facinelli, Charlie Fletcher, Vince Flynn, Ryan Gattis, Derek Haas, Sam Hawken, Andrew Michael Hurley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rajan Khanna, Andrew Klavan, Julia Knight, Mike Lawson, Alison Littlewood, Barry Lyga, Ian McDonald, Kyle Mills, Seth Patrick, T.R. Richmond, Adam Roberts, Lilith Saintcrow, Kieran Shea, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, David de Sola, Gav Thorpe, Ben Tripp, Anna Waterhouse, Andy Weir, Ian Winwood, Max Wirestone Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Best Villains Dress in Gray” by David Walton

What do Severus Snape, Gollum, and Darth Vader all have in common? Besides being three of the most celebrated villains in science fiction and fantasy, that is?

The way I see it, there are two types of villains. The first type is like a natural disaster. This kind of villain personifies evil, with no redemptive qualities at all. He represents a force outside of the protagonists, powerful and relentless, that can’t be reasoned with or turned aside. We rarely see the story from his point of view. Voldemort is a villain of the first type, as is Sauron. But that’s not the type I like best. Continue reading

Interview with MICHAEL ALAN NELSON

NelsonMA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Michael Alan Nelson?

I grew up in a small farming community in northern Indiana. Lots of corn and woods and swamp, but not much else. However, we lived about ninety minutes from downtown Chicago, so my parents would make sure to get me into the city now and again to remind me there was a larger world out beyond the seemingly endless cornfields. It was actually a nice place to be. I got to experience that stereotypical “small town” life (for all its good and ills) and yet still be exposed to a large, diverse world beyond my back yard. I would spend a Saturday helping my dad cut down trees and split wood (we heated our home with a wood burning stove) and then head into the city on Sunday to visit Adler Planetarium or the Field Museum–though, to be honest, I much preferred the museums to splitting wood.

I was also a bit of a kid-of-all-cliques when I was growing up. I was always shy so people never paid much attention to me. That allowed me to occupy this odd space that floated between several different social strata. I was in theater, competed on the speech team, but I was also a varsity wrestler. Of course, sometimes I would skip practice to play Dungeons&Dragons. When I was supposed to be working on takedowns, I’d be in the bed of a pick-up truck parked in some random cornfield rolling for initiative. Needless to say, I didn’t have a very promising wrestling career. Continue reading

Interview with DAVID WALTON

WaltonD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is David Walton?

As well as a science fiction author, I’m an engineer, a Christian, and the father of seven children. My oldest child is fourteen, and my youngest is only one and a half, so my home is a riotous place, full of love, adventure, and chaos. During the day, I work for Lockheed Martin, a satisfying career that makes use of my interests in math and algorithms. On my blog, I’ve written about how my Christian faith interacts with my love for science and science fiction.

Your next novel, Superposition, will be published by Pyr in the US, in April 2015. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it part of a new series?

As a quantum physics murder mystery! Superposition is a fast-paced thriller, with high-stakes danger and a race to the finish. It starts when a former colleague shows up at Jacob Kelley’s door full of unbelievable tales and fires a gun at Jacob’s wife. When the colleague shows up dead, Jacob is accused of murder. Soon he and his teenage daughter are on the run, pursued by the police and by a quantum intelligence unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. Father and daughter have to pick up the pieces, following multiple paths of possibility to get to the truth and put their lives back together again. Continue reading

Excerpt: EDGE OF DARK by Brenda Cooper (Pyr)

CooperB-GE1-EdgeOfDarkEDGE OF DARK is the latest science fiction novel from Brenda Cooper. It is the first in the Glittering Edge Duology, and is published next month by Pyr Books. Here’s the synopsis:

What if a society banished its worst nightmare to the far edge of the solar system, destined to sip only dregs of light and struggle for the barest living. And yet, that life thrived? It grew and learned and became far more than you ever expected, and it wanted to return to the sun. What if it didn’t share your moral compass in any way?

The Glittering Edge duology describes the clash of forces when an advanced society that has filled a solar system with flesh and blood life meets the near-AI’s that it banished long ago. This is a story of love for the wild and natural life on a colony planet, complex adventure set in powerful space stations, and the desire to live completely whether you are made of flesh and bone or silicon and carbon fiber.

In Edge of Dark, meet ranger Charlie Windar and his adopted wild predator, and explore their home on a planet that has been raped and restored more than once. Meet Nona Hall, child of power and privilege from the greatest station in the system, the Diamond Deep. Meet Nona’s best friend, a young woman named Chrystal who awakens in a robotic body….

Now, on with the excerpt… Continue reading

Books Received… (June)

BooksReceived-20140628

Featuring: Megan Abbott, Robert Galbraith, Robert Goddard, Carl Hiaasen, Stephen King, J.F. Lewis, Richard K. Morgan, Warren Murphy, M.C. Planck, Kim Stanley Robinson, Thomas Sweterlitsch, Jon Wallace, Jo Walton

Abbott-DareMeMegan Abbott, Dare Me (Reagan Arthur Books)

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls – until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” – both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death – and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

This came out when I was in the States last, and I thought it looked pretty interesting. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up at the time, though. Regardless, I picked it up last week, and have been hearing very good things about this and Abbott’s latest novel, The Fever, which I’d also like to read.

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GalbraithR-2-SilkwormUKRobert Galbraith, The Silkworm (Sphere)

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives – meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

Finished The Cuckoo’s Calling over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. I received this for review from Sainsbury’s eBook division (a pleasant surprise), and intend to read it very soon.

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GoddardR-WW2-CornersOfTheGlobeRobert Goddard, The Corners of the Globe (Bantam Press)

Spring, 1919. James ‘Max’ Maxted, former Great War flying ace, returns to the trail of murder, treachery and half-buried secrets he set out on in The Ways of the World. He left Paris after avenging the murder of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, a senior member of the British delegation to the post-war peace conference. But he was convinced there was more – much more – to be discovered about what Sir Henry had been trying to accomplish. And he suspected elusive German spymaster Fritz Lemmer knew the truth of it.

Now, enlisted under false colours in Lemmer’s service but with his loyalty pledged to the British Secret Service, Max sets out on his first – and possibly last – mission for Lemmer. It takes him to the far north of Scotland – to the Orkney Isles, where the German High Seas Fleet has been impounded in Scapa Flow, its fate to be decided at the conference-table in Paris. Max has been sent to recover a document held aboard one of the German ships. What that document contains forces him to break cover sooner than he would have wished and to embark on a desperate race south, towards London, with information that could destroy Lemmer – if Max, as seems unlikely, lives to deliver it

The sequel to The Ways of the World, this is a series I really want to read. But have been slow about getting around to. Hopefully I’ll address this very soon.

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HiaasenC-BadMonkeyUKCarl Hiaasen, Bad Monkey (Sphere)

When a severed arm is discovered by a couple on honeymoon in the Florida Keys, former police detective – now reluctant restaurant inspector – Andrew Yancy senses that something doesn’t add up. Determined to get his badge back, he undertakes an unofficial investigation of his own.

Andrew’s search for the truth takes him to the Bahamas, where a local man, with the help of a very bad monkey (who allegedly worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) is doing everything in his power to prevent a developer from building a new tourist resort on the island, with deadly consequences…

Outrageous, hilarious and addictive, this is the unique Carl Hiaasen at his absolute best. Bad Monkey will have you on the edge of your seat and laughing out loud.

It’s been a long time since I last read a novel by Carl Hiaasen. His novels are uniformly strange and amusing, although they haven’t always hit the mark for me. It’ll be interesting to return to his zany approach to crime stories after so long, and this could make a nice change from the more-serious-in-tone thrillers I usually read.

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KingS-MrMercedesStephen King, Mr. Mercedes (Hodder)

A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who’s haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular – the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again.

Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he’s preparing to kill again.

Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

I bought the eBook from Sainsbury’s after creating an account with them and getting a 20% off voucher. Last year was the first time I read one of King’s novels all the way through (The Shining), and this one sounds really interesting.

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LewisJF-GrudgebearerJ.F. Lewis, Grudgebearer (Pyr)

Kholster is the first born of the practically immortal Aern, a race created by the Eldrennai as warrior-slaves to defend them from the magic-resistant reptilian Zaur. Unable to break an oath without breaking their connection with each other, the Aern served the Eldrennai faithfully for thousands of years until the Sundering. Now, the Aern, Vael, and Eldrennai meet every hundred years for a Grand Conjunction to renew their tenuous peace.

While the tortures of slavery remain fresh in Kholster’s mind, most of the rest of the world has moved on. Almost six hundred years after the Sundering, an Eldrennai prince carelessly breaks the truce by setting up a surprise museum exhibit containing sentient suits of Aernese armor left behind, never to be touched, lest Kholster kill every last Eldrennai. Through their still-existing connection with their ancient armor, the Aern know instantly, and Kholster must find a way to keep his oaths, even those made in haste and anger. While Kholster travels to the Grand Conjunction with his Freeborn daughter and chosen successor Rae’en, his troops travel by sea, heading for war.

I’d never heard of this novel before it dropped through the mailbox. Sounds interesting, but also a little familiar. Not sure when I’ll get to this.

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MorganRK-LFH3-DarkDefilesUSRichard K. Morgan, The Dark Defiles (Del Rey)

Ringil Eskiath, a reluctant hero viewed as a corrupt degenerate by the very people who demand his help, has traveled far in search of the Illwrack Changeling, a deathless human sorcerer-warrior raised by the bloodthirsty Aldrain, former rulers of the world. Separated from his companions – Egar the Dragonbane and Archeth – Ringil risks his soul to master a deadly magic that alone can challenge the might of the Changeling. While Archeth and the Dragonbane embark on a trail of blood and tears that ends up exposing long-buried secrets, Ringil finds himself tested as never before, with his life and all existence hanging in the balance.

It feels like an absolute age since I read The Steel Remains. And even longer since I read Altered Carbon, which blew me away. This series has been met with a very wide array of criticism and praise. I’ve heard people say it’s ruined fantasy, or taken grimdark too far. Others sing its praises for breaking the boundaries of the (sub-)genre, being daring and forging a new path. I enjoyed The Steel Remains, and bought The Cold Commands (but haven’t read it yet – that may suggest something about how much I enjoyed the first novel, compared to other series I’ll buy and read each new installment as soon as possible). I hope to get caught up with this series pretty soon, given that this is the final volume. The series is published in the UK by Gollancz.

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MurphyW-D1-CreatedTheDestroyerWarren Murphy, Created the Destroyer (Orbit)

When you’re on death row, minutes from the electric chair, and a hook-handed monk offers to save your life if you’ll just swallow a simple little pill… what’ve you got to lose? You take the pill. Then you wake up, officially “dead,” in the back of an ambulance, headed for an undisclosed location. Welcome to your new life, working for CURE, the most secret, most deniable, most extra-judicial government agency ever to exist. Only the President knows about it, and even he doesn’t control it.

That’s what happened to Remo Williams, a New Jersey cop framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Framed by the very people who saved him, in fact. And now, trained in esoteric martial arts by Chiun, master of Sinanju, he’s going to become the ultimate killing machine. Remo will be America’s last line of defense against mad scientists, organized crime, ancient undead gods, and anything else that threatens the Constitution. Remo Williams is the Destroyer.

The first in a long-running thriller series, Orbit will be bringing it to the UK in the very near future. It sounds fun. So I’ll be reading this very soon.

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PlanckMC-SwordOfTheBrightLadyM.C. Planck, Sword of the Bright Lady (Pyr)

Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real-but bought at a terrible price.

A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with an arrogant nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. In desperation he agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. But when Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead, plunging the church into turmoil and setting him on a path of violence and notoriety.

To win enough power to open a path home, this mild-mannered mechanical engineer must survive duelists, assassins, and the never-ending threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic.

But the gods and demons have other plans. Christopher’s fate will save the world… or destroy it.

First heard about this novel via Staffer’s Book Review, as Justin was taking a look at the cover art. It sounds intriguing.

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SloanR-AjaxPenumbra1969UKRobin Sloan, Ajax Penumbra, 1969 (Atlantic Books)

It is August 1969. The Summer of Love is a fading memory. The streets of San Francisco pulse to the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Marvin Gaye. And of jackhammers: A futuristic pyramid of a skyscraper is rising a few blocks from City Lights bookstore and an unprecedented subway tunnel is being built under the bay. Meanwhile, south of the city, orchards are quickly giving way to a brand-new industry built on silicon.

But young Ajax Penumbra has not arrived in San Francisco looking for free love or a glimpse of the technological future. He is seeking a book – the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. The last record of the book locates it in the San Francisco of more than a century earlier, and on that scant bit of evidence, Penumbra’s university has dispatched him west to acquire it for their library. After a few weeks of rigorous hunting, Penumbra feels no closer to his goal than when he started. But late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles across a 24-hour bookstore, and the possibilities before him expand exponentially…

I really enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and so when I saw that Sloan had written this novella-length prequel, I knew I wanted to read it ASAP. It just took a little longer than normal for me to buy it. May read it as soon as I finish my current read.

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RobinsonKS-SotC2-FiftyDegreesBelowUKKim Stanley Robinson, Fifty Degrees Below  and Sixty Days & Counting (Voyager)

FDB: After years of denial and non-action, a near-future Earth faces a crossroad when it is threatened with the dire implications of global warming, an environmental crisis that ironically could unleash a devastating Ice Age on the planet.

*RobinsonKS-SotC3-SixtyDays&CountingUK

SD&C: By the time Phil Chase is elected president, the world’s climate is far on its way to irreversible change. Food scarcity, housing shortages, diminishing medical care, and vanishing species are just some of the consequences. The erratic winter the Washington, D.C., area is experiencing is another grim reminder of a global weather pattern gone haywire: bone-chilling cold one day, balmy weather the next.

But the president-elect remains optimistic and doesn’t intend to give up without a fight. A maverick in every sense of the word, Chase starts organizing the most ambitious plan to save the world from disaster since FDR – and assembling a team of top scientists and advisers to implement it.

For Charlie Quibler, this means reentering the political fray full-time and giving up full-time care of his young son, Joe. For Frank Vanderwal, hampered by a brain injury, it means trying to protect the woman he loves from a vengeful ex and a rogue “black ops” agency not even the president can control – a task for which neither Frank’s work at the National Science Foundation nor his study of Tibetan Buddhism can prepare him.

In a world where time is running out as quickly as its natural resources, where surveillance is almost total and freedom nearly nonexistent, the forecast for the Chase administration looks darker each passing day. For as the last – and most terrible – of natural disasters looms on the horizon, it will take a miracle to stop the clock… the kind of miracle that only dedicated men and women can bring about.

The second and third novels in Robinson’s Science in the Capitol series (for some reason, Forty Days of Rain is not available as an eBook). They’ve been on my Kindle Wish List for ages, and when I checked this morning they had dropped to just 99p. So, naturally, I bought them. Hope to read them soon. I also picked up Red Mars, which was also knocked down to 99p, but these two are higher on my priority list.

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SweterlitschT-TomorrowAndTomorrowThomas Sweterlitsch, Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Putnam)

A decade has passed since the city of Pittsburgh was reduced to ash.

While the rest of the world has moved on, losing itself in the noise of a media-glutted future, survivor John Dominic Blaxton remains obsessed with the past. Grieving for his wife and unborn child who perished in the blast, Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the Archive – a fully interactive digital reconstruction of Pittsburgh, accessible to anyone who wants to visit the places they remember and the people they loved.

Dominic investigates deaths recorded in the Archive to help close cases long since grown cold, but when he discovers glitches in the code surrounding a crime scene – the body of a beautiful woman abandoned in a muddy park that he’s convinced someone tried to delete from the Archive – his cycle of grief is shattered.

With nothing left to lose, Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the ruins of the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.

This has been described as a follower in the footsteps of William Gibson’s cyberpunk, which certainly caught my eye. Pretty intrigued by this.

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WallaceJ-BarricadeUKJon Wallace, Barricade (Gollancz)

Kenstibec was genetically engineered to build a new world, but the apocalypse forced a career change. These days he drives a taxi instead.

A fast-paced, droll and disturbing novel, BARRICADE is a savage road trip across the dystopian landscape of post-apocalypse Britain; narrated by the cold-blooded yet magnetic antihero, Kenstibec.

Kenstibec is a member of the “Ficial” race, a breed of merciless super-humans. Their war on humanity has left Britain a wasteland, where Ficials hide in barricaded cities, besieged by tribes of human survivors. Originally optimised for construction, Kenstibec earns his keep as a taxi driver, running any Ficial who will pay from one surrounded city to another.

The trips are always eventful, but this will be his toughest yet. His fare is a narcissistic journalist who’s touchy about her luggage. His human guide is constantly plotting to kill him. And that’s just the start of his troubles.

On his journey he encounters ten-foot killer rats, a mutant king with a TV fixation, a drug-crazed army, and even the creator of the Ficial race. He also finds time to uncover a terrible plot to destroy his species for good – and humanity too.

One of Gollancz’s 2014 debuts, I picked this up on the eBook promotion. His recent guest post for CR has caused a bit of a stir, too, and I really want to see what all the fuss is about (if, indeed, there’s something to cause a fuss about – I think his guest post has suffered from poor structuring and wording, which has led to some of the criticism he’s receiving. Can’t be sure until I read the novel, though). Will read this soon.

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WaltonJ-MyRealChildrenUKJo Walton, My Real Children (Corsair)

What if you could remember two versions of your life? My Real Children is an alternate history, in which a woman with dementia struggles to remember her two contradictory lives. It’s a book about life and love and choices and moonbases. The day Mark called, Patricia Cowan’s world split in two.

The phone call.

His question.

Her answer.

A single word.

“Yes.”

“No.”

It is 2015 and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War – those things are solid in her memory. Then that phone call and… her memory splits in two.

She was Trish, a housewife and mother of four.

She was Pat, a successful travel writer and mother of three.

She remembers living her life as both women, so very clearly. Which memory is real – or are both just tricks of time and light?

My Real Children is the story of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives – each with its loves and losses, sorrows and triumphs, its possible consequences. It is a novel about how every life means the entire world.

Another new book in the UK from Walton (she’s been enjoying a string of re-issues over here), and it sounds really interesting. I still haven’t got around to reading anything by her. Hope to do so soon.

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Books Received…

BooksReceived-20140514

Featuring: Kristen Britain, Brian Freeman, Christopher Galt, Nick Harkaway, Snorri Kristjansson, Ursula le Guin, Peter May, Karen Miller, Paul Sussman, Chris Willrich, & graphic novels

BritainK-MirrorSightUKKristen Britain, Mirror Sight (Gollancz)

Magic itself under threat – and the key to saving it lies far in the future…

Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider – a seasoned member of the royal messenger corps whose loyalty and her bravery have already been tested many times. And her final, explosive magical confrontation with Mornhavon the Black should have killed her.

But rather than finding death, and peace, Karigan wakes to a darkness deeper than night. The explosion has transported her somewhere – and into a sealed stone sarcophagus – and now she must escape, somehow, before the thinning air runs out and her mysterious tomb becomes her grave.

Where is she? Does a trap, laid by Mornhavon, lie beyond her prison? And if she can escape, will she find the world beyond the same – or has the magic taken her out of reach of her friends, home and King forever…?

That’s a nice cover. In fact, Gollancz have commissioned great covers for all of Britain’s novels. None of which, sadly, I have read… I’m not entirely sure if this is connected to her previous novels. It sounds interesting, but also not quite my preferred fantasy sub-genre. I may give it a try, but I’m afraid it’s not too high on my priority list. (If someone else would like to review it for CR, just get in touch.)

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FreemanB-CB2-SeasonOfFearUKBrian Freeman, Season of Fear (Quercus)

Lake Wales, Central Florida. Ten years ago, a political fundraiser became a bloodbath when a hooded assassin carried out a savage public execution. Three men were massacred, casting a dark shadow over the Sunshine State.

A decade on, history is threatening to repeat itself. The widow of one victim, herself now running for governor, has received an anonymous threat – a newspaper clipping from that fateful day, along with the chilling words “I’m back.”

Florida detective Cab Bolton agrees to investigate the threat against this candidate, Diane Fairmont: an attractive politician who has a complicated history with Cab’s mother, Hollywood actress Tarla Bolton – and with Cab himself.

But by doing so, Cab is entering dangerous waters. Fairmont’s political party is itself swamped in secrecy – a fact that, unknown to Cab, has led one of its junior staff to start asking very sensitive questions about the death of a party employee.

Both Cab and this young researcher, Peach Piper, are digging up the kind of dirt that ten years can’t wash away. And as the powerful crosswinds of state politics swirl around Cab and Peach, and the threat of a tropical storm hangs over Florida, this whirlwind of pressure and chaos will ultimately unearth a poisonous conspiracy, and reawaken a killer who has lain dormant for a decade.

It’s been quite a while since I last read a novel by Brian Freeman (I read his debut and maybe a couple of others after that, but I forget). This sounded interesting, so I was rather glad to get it through NetGalley. Season of Fear is the sequel to The Bone House, and is published at the end of June 2014.

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untitledChristopher Galt, Biblical (Quercus)

An apocalyptic thriller on an epic scale that will make you question your own reality.

All around the world, people start to see things that aren’t there, that cannot be. Visions, ghosts, events from the past playing out in the present.

To start with, the visions are unremarkable: things misplaced in time and caught out of the corner of the eye; glimpses of long-dead family or friends. But, as time goes on, the visions become more sustained, more vivid, more widespread. More terrifying.

As the visions become truly apocalyptic, some turn to religion, others to science.

Only one man, driven by personal as well as professional reasons, is capable of finding the real truth. But the truth that psychiatrist John Macbeth uncovers is much, much bigger than either religion or science.

A truth so big it could cost him his sanity. And his life.

This just sounds pretty interesting. Hopefully soon. It is already out, too.

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Harkaway-TigermanNick Harkaway, Tigerman ()

Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He’s spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he’s nearly forty and burned out and about to be retired.

The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It’s a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution – a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.

But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled street kid with a comic-book fixation who will need a home when the island dies – who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, as Mancreu’s small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer.

In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he’s a soldier with a knack for bad places: “almost anything” could be a very great deal – even becoming some sort of hero. But this is Mancreu, and everything here is upside down. Just exactly what sort of hero will the boy need?

I’ve had rather mixed experiences with reading Harkaway’s fiction. He is undoudtedly talented, and can certain spin a fantastic yarn and phrase. It hasn’t always worked for me, but this novel I have very high hopes for. The premise just sounds really interesting. This is very high on my TBR mountain. Tigerman is published next week in the UK.

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KristjanssonS-2-BloodWillFollowSnorri Kristjansson, Blood Will Follow (Jo Fletcher Books)

Ulfar Thormodsson and Audun Arngrimsson survived the battle for Stenvik, although at huge cost, for they have suffered much worse than heartbreak. They have lost the very thing that made them human: their mortality.

While Ulfar heads home, looking for the place where he thinks he will be safe, Audun runs south. But both men are about to discover that they cannot run away from themselves. For King Olav has left the conquered town of Stenvik in the hands of his lieutenant so he can journey north, following Valgard in the search for the source of the Vikings’ power.

And all the while older beings watch and wait, biding their time, for there are secrets yet to be discovered…

Vikings! I do like me some vikings. In fact, I’m about to embark on a bit of a vikings kick, so expect the first book in this series, Swords of Good Men, to be featured soon.

Also on CR: Interview with Snorri Kristjansson, Excerpt from Blood Will Follow

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LeGuinUK-Unreal&Real-Vol.1-WhereOnEarthUrsula Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real (Gollancz)

The first volume of collected short stories by multiple award-winner Ursula K. Le Guin, selected by the author herself.

For over half a century, multiple award-winner Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories have shaped the way her readers see the world. Her work gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider and speaks truth to power. Le Guin’s writing is witty, wise, both sly and forthright; she is a master craftswoman.

This two-volume selection of almost forty stories was made by Ursula Le Guin herself. The two volumes span the spectrum of fiction from realism through magical realism, satire, science fiction, surrealism, and fantasy.

WHERE ON EARTH focuses on Ursula Le Guin’s interest in realism and magic realism and includes 18 of her satirical, political and experimental earthbound stories. Highlights include World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winner “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight”, the rarely reprinted satirical short, “The Lost Children”, Jupiter Award-winner, “The Diary of the Rose” and the title story of her Pulitzer Prize finalist collection “Unlocking the Air”.

Sad to say, I haven’t read nearly enough of Le Guin’s work. This collection does look like a perfect introduction, though. Will probably read this over time, sprinkling parts of it between full-length novels.

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MayP-EF2-TheCriticPeter May, The Critic (Quercus)

GAILLAC, SOUTH-WEST FRANCE

A bottled-up secret

Gil Petty, America’s most celebrated wine critic, is found strung up in a vineyard, dressed in the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Divine Bottle and pickled in wine.

A code to crack

For forensic expert Enzo Macleod, the key to this unsolved murder lies in decoding Petty’s mysterious reviews – which could make or break a vineyard’s reputation.

A danger unleashed

Enzo finds that beneath the tranquil façade of French viticulture lurks a back-stabbing community riddled with rivalry – and someone who is ready to stop him even if they have to kill again.

The second novel featuring Enzo, and one I can’t wait to get around to.

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MillerK-1-TheFalconThroneKaren Miller, The Falcon Throne (Orbit)

NOBODY IS INNOCENT. EVERY CROWN IS TARNISHED.

A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne.

A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.

A duke’s widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who’d control them both.

And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was. As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.

The start of a new series. Will hopefully get to this pretty soon. Sounds great.

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SussmanP-FinalTestimonyRaphaelIgnatiusPhoenixPaul Sussman, The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix (Doubleday)

“My name is Raphael Ignatius Phoenix and I am a hundred years old – or will be in ten days’ time, in the early hours of January 1st, 2000, when I kill myself…”

Raphael Ignatius Phoenix has had enough. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, he is determined to take his own life as the old millennium ends and the new one begins. But before he ends it all, he wants to get his affairs in order and put the record straight, and that includes making sense of his own long life – a life that spanned the century. He decides to write it all down and, eschewing the more usual method of pen and paper, begins to record his story on the walls of the isolated castle that is his final home. Beginning with a fateful first adventure with Emily, the childhood friend who would become his constant companion, Raphael remembers the multitude of experiences, the myriad encounters and, of course, the ten murders he committed along the way…

And so begins one man’s wholly unorthodox account of the twentieth century – or certainly his own riotous, often outrageous, somewhat unreliable and undoubtedly singular interpretation of it.

I had never heard of this novel, before it arrived this morning. Sussman also wrote a handful of international thrillers (e.g., The Lost Army of Cambyses and The Last Secret of the Temple). This is his final novel, though, as he sadly passed away in 2012. It sounds pretty interesting, too. Hopefully get to this soon. (I should probably be banned from writing that statement…) This novel is published on May 22nd in the UK.

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WillrichC-G&B2-SilkMapChris Willrich, The Silk Map (Pyr)

At the end of The Scroll of Years, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, had saved their child from evil forces at the price of trapping him within a pocket dimension. Now they will attempt what seems impossible; they will seek a way to recover their son. Allied with Snow Pine, a scrappy bandit who’s also lost her child to the Scroll of Years, Gaunt and Bone awaken the Great Sage, a monkeylike demigod of the East, currently trapped by vaster powers beneath a mountain. The Sage knows of a way to reach the Scroll – but there is a price. The three must seek the world’s greatest treasure and bring it back to him. They must find the worms of the alien Iron Moths, whose cocoons produce the wondrous material ironsilk.

And so the rogues join a grand contest waged along three thousand miles of dangerous and alluring trade routes between East and West. For many parties have simultaneously uncovered fragments of the Silk Map, a document pointing the way toward a nest of the Iron Moths. Our heroes tangle with Western treasure hunters, a blind mystic warrior and his homicidal magic carpet, a nomad princess determined to rebuild her father’s empire, and a secret society obsessed with guarding the lost paradise where the Moths are found – even if paradise must be protected by murder.

This is the second novel in the Gaunt & Bone fantasy series. Not sure how I managed to miss the first, as both of these novels sound really interesting – their Middle Eastern/Asian-influenced setting also sounds like it would make a very welcome change. I’ll have to hunt down a copy of The Scroll of Years before diving into this one, but I do hope to do so ASAP.

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Graphic Novels

CoffinHill-Vol.01Coffin Hill, Vol.1 – “Forest of the Night” (Vertigo)

Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward-and one knows that Eve is responsible.

Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge.

Set against the haunted backdrop of New England, COFFIN HILL explores what people will do for power and retribution. Noted novelist Caitlin Kittredge, author of the Black London series, brings a smart, mesmerizing style to comics. Artist Inaki Miranda (FABLES) brings his dynamic storytelling to COFFIN HILL, following an acclaimed run on FAIREST.

Collects: Coffin Hill #1-7

Heard a lot of great things about this series, not to mention really liking Inaki Miranda’s artwork from Fairest. Have very high expectations for this. Let’s hope they’re met!

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Superman-Vol.04-PsiWarSuperman, Vol.4 – “Psi War” (DC New 52)

Writer: Scott Lobdell | Art: Kenneth Rocafort & Aaron Kuder

The Queen of H.I.V.E. (Holistically Intergrated Viral Equality) has placed the telepathic Dr. Hector Hammond’s thoughts deep into the recesses of Superman’s mind in an effort to control the Man of Steel. The merging of Hammond and the Superman’s minds brings about vivid hallucinations that cause Superman to experience different realities and view longtime allies as potential threats.

With the Man of Steel unable to tell what is real and what is a hallucination, it is up to Orion of the New Gods and Wonder Woman to release the H.I.V.E.’s grip on Superman and save the universe from succumbing to power of the H.I.V.E.

Collects: Superman #18-24, Annual #2

I do like a good Superman tale. The New 52 run on the series has been a bit hit-and-miss (sadly, more miss than hit). I enjoyed the first story arc, which doesn’t appear to have been as popular among the wider readership. Lobdell’s done a decent job on the series, though, so I’m interested to see how this rather-weird-sounding tale shapes up.

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International Giveaway: THE BARROW by Mark Smylie (Pyr)

SmylieM-TheBarrowToday, Pyr Books are offering two copies of Mark Smylie’s THE BARROW, with no geographical limitations at all! The novel has been racking up some impressive reviews since its release. In case you aren’t aware of the novel, however, here’s the synopsis…

Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this stand-alone fantasy novel with series potential. Set in the world of the Eisner-nominated Artesia comic books.

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they’ve struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin’s sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed.

I’m going to keep this simple – the first two people to leave a comment saying they’d like a copy of the book, get the books. Simples. I’ll keep checking back, so if you enter, please be sure to send me your details.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Smylie