Interview with JEREMY SZAL

SzalJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jeremy Szal?

Jeremy Szal was born in 1995 and raised by wild dingoes. He spent his childhood exploring bookstores, beaches, and the limits of other people’s patience. He loves watching weird films, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and cold weather.

At least, that’s the impression I want people to have of me. I live in Sydney, Australia with my family and a hyperactive Jack Russell. I was homeschooled when I was a kid, up until the last few years of school, before heading off to university. I’m an outgoing person, but I’m also the sort of guy who’s perfectly content to stay home with a good book or engaging boxset.

Your debut novel, Stormblood, will be published by Gollancz in June. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first book in a trilogy! It’s about the DNA of an extinct alien race that’s used as a drug, making soldiers permanently addicted to adrenaline and sending them off to war. Of course, everything that could go wrong inevitably did go wrong. The protagonist is one of these soliders, returned home from the war to find his squadmates being murdered, and his estranged brother is the prime suspect. Continue reading

Quick Review: ANARCH by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-GG15-AnarchThe Victory Arc comes to an intense, bloody close…

‘Men of Tanith… do you want to live forever?’

On the forge world of Urdesh, the massed forces of the Imperial Crusade engage in a final bloody battle with the Archenemy commander known as the Anarch, and his elite warriors — the barbaric Sons of Sek. A victory for either side will decide more than just the fate of Urdesh… it will determine the outcome of the entire Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Ibram Gaunt — now serving at the right hand of Warmaster Macaroth – finds himself at the very heart of the struggle. His regiment, the Tanith First “Ghosts”, holds the vital key to ultimate success. But as the forces of the Imperium and Chaos square up for the final, large-scale confrontation, Gaunt discovers that the greatest threat of all may come from inside rather than out.

The previous novel in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, The Warmaster ended with a number of cliffhangers — beloved characters’ fates were left in question, and tension on Urdesh was building towards an almighty confrontation between the Imperial and Archenemy forces. It took me a long time to get around to reading that novel, but I knew I didn’t want to wait too long before reading Anarch. I’m glad I didn’t — this is an intense end to a the series’s most recent story-arc, and it packs quite a punch. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE GREAT WORK by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-BC1-GreatWorkA glimpse into the mind of Belisarius Cawl…

In the wake of the Great Rift, Belisarius Cawl turns his attention to the abandoned world of Sotha. Once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, it also hides a long-buried secret… and an ancient evil.

Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos Dominus of the Adeptus Mechanicus is the most brilliant mind alive. For 10,000 years he has furthered the cause of mankind, working under the aegis of the Emperor and Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman to prevent the inexorable march of the alien and the traitor. Many call him heretic, but all must recognise the magnitude of his achievements, for who else but he was entrusted to create a new generation of Space Marines? Who else but the great Belisarius Cawl could even accomplish such a task?

Now, in the wake of the Great Rift and the Indomitus Crusade, his ambitions bring him to the long-dead world of Sotha, once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, now a barren wasteland devoured by the vile Tyranids. Accompanied by Tetrarch Felix and his elite warriors, it is here that Cawl believes the lynchpin of his mysterious Great Work lies. But uncovering it is a near impossible task, one in which the Archmagos must overcome an ancient evil that threatens to extinguish the last hope of humanity.

Guy Haley continues moving the WH40k story forward, with this fascinating story centred around Archmagos Belisarius Cawl. Is he a heretic? Is he the Imperium’s greatest champion? What has he been up to since the Horus Heresy? What is he up to on Sotha? In The Great Work, we follow Cawl and a force of loyal Primaris and Space Marines to Sotha, and a reawakening Pharos… I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

Review: THE SEVENTH PERFECTION by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)

PolanskyD-SeventhPerfectionAn excellent new mystery novella about memory

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Polansky’s writing ever since his debut, The Straight Razor Cure, was published in the UK. The Seventh Perfection is his second novella for Tor.com (following the superb The Builders), and I’m very happy to report that it absolutely met my very high expectations. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE EFFORT by Claire Holroyde (Grand Central Publishing)

HolroydeC-EffortUSI spotted Claire Holroyde‘s upcoming new novel, The Effort in a catalogue. Pitched as “For readers of Station Eleven and Good Morning, Midnight” this sounds pretty interesting:

When dark comet UD3 was spotted near Jupiter’s orbit, its existence was largely ignored. But to individuals who knew better — scientists like Benjamin Schwartz, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies — the threat this eight-kilometer comet posed to the survival of the human race was unthinkable. The 150-million-year reign of the dinosaurs ended when an asteroid impact generated more than a billion times the energy of an atomic bomb.

What would happen to Earth’s seven billion inhabitants if a similar event were allowed to occur?

Ben and his indomitable girlfriend Amy Kowalski fly to South America to assemble an international counteraction team, whose notable recruits include Love Mwangi, a UN interpreter and nomad scholar, and Zhen Liu, an extraordinary engineer from China’s national space agency. At the same time, on board a polar icebreaker life continues under the looming shadow of comet UD3. Jack Campbell, a photographer for National Geographic, works to capture the beauty of the Arctic before it is gone forever. Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate poet from Brazil, struggles to accept the recent murder of his beloved twin brother. And Maya Gutiérrez, an impassioned marine biologist is — quite unexpectedly — falling in love for the first time.

Together, these men and women must fight to survive in an unknown future with no rules and nothing to be taken for granted. They have two choices: neutralize the greatest threat the world has ever seen (preferably before mass hysteria hits or world leaders declare World War III) or come to terms with the annihilation of humanity itself.

Their mission is codenamed The Effort.

The Effort is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing January 12th, 2021.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Quick Review: PLAGUE WAR by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DI2-PlagueWarGuilliman and Mortarion finally come into conflict…

Intent on rebuilding Ultramar, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman wages war on the treacherous Death Guard – but the intervention of a greater power threatens all he works for.

In the void and upon the worlds of Greater Ultramar, the battle for the Imperium continues.

Intent on rebuilding his home realm and using it as base to reconstruct the ravaged stellar empire of mankind, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman proceeds with his war to drive Mortarion and his Death Guard Traitor Legion from the domain of the Ultramarines.

But when Guilliman brings his brother to battle upon the diseased plains of Parmenio, the intervention of a greater power in their fraternal struggle threatens to upend the Imperial Regent’s understanding of the galaxy, and his place within it.

This is the second novel in Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy. Meant to coincide with the recent, epic changes in the WH40k setting, it is packed with revelations and action. I enjoyed the first novel in the series, and very much enjoyed this one, too. A must-read for all fans of the WH40k setting. Continue reading

Quick Review: AN UNNATURAL LIFE by Erin K. Wagner (Tor.com)

WagnerEK-AnUnnaturalLifeAn interplanetary tale of identity and responsibility.

The cybernetic organism known as 812-3 is in prison, convicted of murdering a human worker but he claims that he did not do it. With the evidence stacked against him, his lawyer, Aiya Ritsehrer, must determine grounds for an appeal and uncover the true facts of the case.

But with artificial life-forms having only recently been awarded legal rights on Earth, the military complex on Europa is resistant to the implementation of these same rights on the Jovian moon.

Aiya must battle against her own prejudices and that of her new paymasters, to secure a fair trial for her charge, while navigating her own interpersonal drama, before it’s too late.

Who enjoys the full protections of the law? Can an AI have a jury of its peers, if no AIs are represented? Can humans make objective choices if they need to decide the fate of an artificial being? All these and more are the questions asked by Wagner’s interesting novella. Continue reading