Monday, August 30, 2010

Death's Master by Tanith Lee

"The soul is a magician. Only living flesh hampers it." -- from Death's Master

I've just discovered that Death's Master, winner of the British Fantasy Society's August Derleth Fantasy Award, is to be reprinted next month by Norilana Books at £12 for the PB and £20 for the HB editions (go here for further information). This is good news, indeed. Death's Master is the second in the Tales from the Flat Earth series, "which, in the manner of The One Thousand and One Nights, portrays an ancient world in mythic grandeur via connected tales."

Norilana adds: "Long time ago when the Earth was Flat, beautiful indifferent Gods lived in the airy Upperearth realm above, curious passionate demons lived in the exotic Underearth realm below, and mortals were relegated to exist in the middle.

Uhlume, Lord of Death, second of the Lords of Darkness, King of Shadow and Pallor, makes an unusual bargain which sets in motion an intricate sequence of events that entangle men and gods, queens and kings, sorcerers and witches, and lowly wanderers. When the secret to immortality falls into human hands, dark magic and wickedness are unleashed, testing the bounds of mortal love and sanity, and questioning the nature and purpose of life itself.

Note: These are the definitive editions, revised and formatted as the author originally intended, containing a new original introduction by Tanith Lee, and a unique previously unpublished interior illustration. The cover image is a design by Tanith Lee's husband and artist John Kaiine, incorporating her own artwork in the center frame, which makes it a fan and collector's delight."

Further excellent news: Tanith Lee's The Birthgrave is due out on 1 November. I remember devouring these novels when they were first published.

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

Zombies seem to be livening up publishing just now. Coming soon from Orbit: Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen. This is the first in a series; volume two is due in January 2011. Discover more on Petersen's website.

"Meet Sarah and David: Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counselling. On a routine trip to their counsellor they notice a few odd things -– the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counsellor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies: Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.

Married With Zombies is a heart-warming tale of terror set during the time of the zombie uprising."

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism, book one in Brent Weeks' new Lightbringer series, is available now, published by Orbit.

The Black Prism introduces a new world, a new magic system, and a new cast of characters -- plus the twists, turns, and reversals of fortune fans loved in The Night Angel trilogy.

Grasping for the Wind calls The Black Prism “an epic fantasy unlike any of its contemporaries… a truly visionary and original work.” And Fantasy Book Critic says: “The main flaw of The Black Prism is that it ends -- despite 600+ pages and a reasonable ending point, I still wanted another 600 at least!”

You can read a three-chapter excerpt here. And right now Brent is on a ten city tour reading and signing the book. If you live in the USA check in on the tour schedule here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Coming this autumn is the latest from Stephen King. Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of four novellas, an area at which King excels. They are "1922", "Big Driver", "Fair Extension" and " A Good Marriage". Full Dark is published in November by Hodder at £18.99 (and probably as an eBook, too). Expect great things!

Blonde on a Stick by Conrad Williams

Blonde on a Stick by Conrad Williams. MaxCrime £6.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Out now is Conrad Williams' foray into crime with Blonde on a Stick. The publishers say of Williams' dialogue: "it's razor sharp [and] peppered with the poetry of everyday profanity." That's something to live up to; fortunately for Williams (British Fantasy Society member and a writer more associated with horror fiction), he does a pretty good job.

The book begins with a prologue, in which the 'Four-Year-Old' arrives in London from Liverpool. He's a killer on a mission; and no sooner does he reach Euston he meets Linda -- and the inevitable occurs. It's described discreetly with no gross out, a trap into which a lesser writer may fall.

Then chapter one starts with a different character, a different story. Joel Sorrell is a private investigator, an ex-cop -- with a past. His wife has been murdered; his daughter is long missing. He loses himself in his work. Fortunately, he seems to be a detective who is able to dump his emotional baggage at the left luggage for most of the time. Sorrell is hired to find the missing brother of Kara; but he's only been gone for hours, a day or so at most. Things are not, naturally, as they seem. She really isn't Kara Geenan. He's beaten up; someone tries to kill him (others are killed); he has problems with the police. And then reluctantly, he has to return to Liverpool, his old stomping ground, to follow up the leads.

Part one ends and the next one continues with the story of the 'Four-Year-Old'. And I think, oh bugger, I'd forgotten all about him. Here, the killer moves through London; but the now is intermingled with the story of his past. Somewhere down the line Sorrell and the killer are sure to meet.

Blonde on a Stick is a fast-moving crime-noir, played on the streets of London and Liverpool rather than LA. It has a wise-cracking detective in Sorrell who gets beaten up a lot, rather like the Jack Nicholson PI in Chinatown. Williams' novel is bound to attract a large audience from both the dark crime and horror camps, and is sure to be a hit.

Hunter Prey: film review

Hunter Prey, directed by Sandy Collora
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

There may be a few plot spoilers in this review, so be warned. After their space ship crash-lands on a barren desert planet, four bounty hunters chase after their escaped prisoner. For the first twenty minutes the hunters wear protective gear against the planet's climate, a costume that's part knight in armour, but mostly Boba Fett. During this period it's difficult to distinguish which of the hunters is talking. That is, until their bodies adjust to the external conditions and they can remove their headgear. And this is when we get the first 'shock' -- assuming you haven't already deduced it. The bounty hunters are the aliens, the fugitive the human.

One by one, the fugitive picks off his pursuers until there's only one alien left. For some reason, the man does not kill this lone bounty hunter when he has ample opportunity. Is he the noble savage in a strange land? And (you've guessed) they develop a kind of a bond, albeit one based on distrust and laced with lies. It turns out that the man is the last human being after his world was destroyed by these militaristic aliens. He must be captured alive so he can be persuaded (tortured) to divulge the co-ordinates of a space ship headed to their home planet, a ship that is, essentially, a world-destroying bomb.

Enough of the plot. What about the characters? The aliens possess little facial characteristics and so come across a bit emotionless. The man is more convincing. Some of the dialogue is corny: it seems that alien military uses the same sort of terminology, and is staffed by the same belligerent folk, as is ours. So is there any real difference between us and them? Probably not.

This movie takes its influences from a host of SF films, Star Wars in particular. It also is, of course, a huge nod and a wink to the John Boorman film Hell in the Pacific, starring Lee Marvin and ToshirĂ´ Mifune. You could say that Hunter Prey is a collage of homages. Did I enjoy the film? Once into the story, after confusing beginning was past, I found it strangely engrossing for the rest of its 88 minutes. Hunter Prey is released on DVD on 6 September by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Vintage £7.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Niffenegger’s previous novel, the SF romance The Time-Traveller’s Wife, and subsequent film, was a basic time-travel romp which, provided you could keep track of when the hero was, could be seen as a fairly simple story. You knew from the start what to expect and only the how was there for the telling. Her Fearful Symmetry, however, is more Gothic in style and content; it’s also far more subtle with far more tension, and with more than one twist to its plot.

A ghost story in every sense: Elspeth Noblin dies, having set up a series of life-changing diktats in her will, only to find that she has not moved on. As Elspeth’s twin nieces Valentina and Julia (daughters of Elspeth’s own estranged twin Edie) arrive from America to take up their inheritance, a plan gradually comes to her. Her flat overlooks Highgate Cemetery (where her body lies). In the flat above is the OCD Martin, desperate to overcome his agoraphobia so that he can follow his wife to her native Netherlands. In the flat below, Elspeth’s lover Robert mourns her death and writes his thesis on the cemetery and its inhabitants, of which his lover and her family are a part.

Death, love and obsession are the themes here, and there are plenty of all to go round. Valentina falls for Robert, and he for her, despite his still periodically masturbating over Elspeth’s possessions. Julia, jealous of her sister, attempts to fall for Martin, but fails. And Elspeth’s brooding spectre watches and guards her biggest secret of all until her ability to haunt the residents allows her to bring her self-obsessed plot to fruition. It’s impossible to say more without giving the story away.

A slow start to this book, it must be said, but once Niffenegger has finally set her scenes it is a genuine page turner with a macabre yet strangely satisfying end. It may be found on the general fiction shelf in Waterstones’ but make no mistake, this is romance of the paranormal – but not something you are likely to see alongside the standard paranormal romances. Her Fearful Symmetry is a ghost story with a genuine creep factor and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Realms 2. Stories from Clarkesworld

Realms 2 is the second volume of stories culled from Clarkesworld Magazine. The anthology is edited by Nick Mamatas and Sean Wallance and is published by Wyrm Publishing, at $14.95. If you are not keen on reading the online magazine ( for that is what Clarkesworld is), this book is the ideal solution. Realms 2 collects some 25 stories by Jeffrey Ford, Jay Lake, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo and others.

Realms 2 is copyright 2010 but I gather the stories originally appeared over a period from 2007 to 2008. For more information visit the Clarksworld and Wyrm websites.

Cinderella & The Unwritten: graphic novels

Cinderella, From Fabletown With Love by Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus is now available as a graphic novel, from Vertigo at $14.99. This volume collects issues one to six of the monthly series, using characters taken from Bill Willingham's Fables. The artwork has a comic feel to it, but this  belies the darker elements -- as are in all good fairy tales. Cinderella is a spy, an agent for Fabletown, sent to find out where magical weapons are coming from, and where mundane weapons are headed to.

Also out now is the second volume of Mike Carey's The Unwritten. Subtitled Inside Man, the book is illustrated by Peter Gross and collects issues six to twelve of the monthly comic. The Unwritten is a complex story, about tales with tales, fiction within fiction -- and is quite engrossing. Published by Vertigo at $12.99.

Why Cinderella should cost an extra $2.00, I've no idea. Both books have roughly the same page count.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ponthe Oldeguine by Andrew Hook

Atomic Fez Publishing is publishing the "never-​​been-​​revealed, true story of the legendary Ponthe Oldeguine. Kept from public knowledge for decades, now you can finally know what really happened in the halls of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in the late 1960s and early-​​1970s.

Written with loving care and attention to details by noted British author Andrew Hook, from notes left on his doorstep one day by a mysterious and smelly individual (who shouted 'PORCU–PIIIIINE' through the letter-​​box before running away giggling), Ponthe Oldenguine is the man you’ve been denied any information about. So secret was Mr. Oldenguine’s existence, you may not even be aware how badly you’ve wanted to know everything about him! But now, the story can be told and you can read it for yourself.

Ponthe Oldenguine is one part fictional biography of a former television impresario who claims he’s been hounded out of media history, and one part biography of the journalist commissioned to write his story. Where the tales merge, there is madness."

Trade Paperback copies of Ponthe Oldenguine by Andrew Hook are $16.99 (Canada/​USA) or £9.99 (UK/​Others), with pre-​​orders being taken now. The electronic book (just $9.99 Canadian) will made available on the title’s Official Publishing Date of October 8th 2010. To pre-​​order printed copies, head to Atomic Fez.

Aural Delights No 149 now available

StarShipSofa's Aural Delights no. 149 is now available online. In this issue:

Science News by J.J. Campanella
Interview with Adam Troy Castro
"Just a Couple of Highly Experimental Weapons Tucked Away Behind the Toilet Paper" by Adam Troy Castro
Film Talk By Rod Barnett
"The Barrens" (part two) by F. Paul Wilson

Aural Delights is narrated by Morgan Sterling and Amy H. Sturgis

Counterfeit Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong's long new novella, Counterfeit Magic, in which she revisits the characters from her novels Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, is due for release later this year from Subterranean Press. The limited and trade editions each have completely different dust jackets.

There's a limited edition of 1000 signed numbered copies, bound in leather, for $45. The trade edition (fully cloth bound hardcover) costs $25. Visit the Sub Press website for details.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dead End of the Street competition

Think you can write like Lee Child, Michael Connelly or Val McDermid?

Want to get some advice on how to write the perfect short crime story?

Top crime writers SJ Rozan and Jonathan Santlofer will answer the ten best questions on how to write crime fiction, exclusively from Bloomsbury.
Send in your question to by Friday 3 September 2010. The most thrilling and chilling questions will be answered and posted here on Monday 6 September 2010. And if your question makes the cut you will win a copy of The Dark End of the Street and the new novels from debut crime writers, Conor Fitzgerald and Jason Eliot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hawkwood and the Kings by Paul Kearney

Hawkwood and the Kings by Paul Kearney is the first volume in The Monarchies of God series, published this month by Solaris:

"The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Merduks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have captured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon co-exit with werewolves and sorcerers. It is the turning point when two great religions will fight to the death and the common folk will struggle to merely survive."

Paul Kearney is the author of The Monarchies of God and the Sea Beggars series. He has been long-listed for the British Fantasy Award.

The Uncrowned King by Rowena Cory Daniells

Due this month is The Uncrowned King, book two of The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin by Rowena Cory Daniells:

"Rolencia’s ancestral enemy, Merofynia, has invaded and marches on King Rolen’s castle. Powerless to help, thirteen yeard old Piro watches as her father, King Rolen, listens to poisoned whispers concerning his son Bryen. How could the King doubt his second son? Determined to prove his loyalty, Bryen races across the path of the advancing army to ask the Abbot to send the warrior monks in defense of the castle.

Rowena Cory Daniells has been involved in SF for over thirty years -- as a reader and fan, independent press, graphic artist, bookshop owner and writer. She is published in both children and adults’ fiction. Her award winning fantasy trilogy ‘The Last T’En’ was published in Australia, the US and Germany. She also writes short stories, which have appeared in magazines and anthologies including ‘Dreaming Downunder’ which won World Best Fantasy, and ‘Dreaming Again’."

The Uncrowned King is published by Solaris.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Labyrinth by Kat Richardson

Labyrinth (a Greywalker novel) by Kat Richardson. Piatkus £7.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Harper Blaine, PI, has died – several times; and on each occasion she comes a little closer to her potential, and a little deeper into the carefully laid trap of Wygan, the Pharaoh-ankh-astet (Egyptian god/vampire). Then there are Edward, Carlos and Goodall to deal with. All are uber-vamps, and all vie for possession of Harper and/or her Greywalker gifts.

So, this is Harper’s dilemma: to defeat Wygan she must reach her potential. But to reach her potential it looks like she’ll end up falling in with his plans. Status quo, it seems. But she has some cards to play: the ghost of her father, Quinton; her techno-geek boyfriend; Mara, her best friend who happens to be a witch; and, last but not least, her feisty pet ferret, Chaos. All are rooting for Harper to succeed.

I have read some of the previous books in the series. That does help because, though previous history is explained here and there, I am not sure that the uninitiated would follow all of the nuances without some prior knowledge of Harper’s world. That’s not a bad thing in itself as it keeps things fresh. It is possible to catch-up if you pay attention: there are a few sections on Harper’s dealings in the spirit world which are described in minute detail that I must own up to skipping over as they spiral away. But it’s not a real problem when considered as a whole.

This book moves along at a furious pace, with villains at every turn. Sub-plots are a tangled web of deceit and dual-alliances, where “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” seems to be the major weapon in Harper’s armoury as she pulls in deals and favours right and left to achieve her aims. Nothing and no one could be taken for granted in this battle against, what is to all intents and purposes, a demi-god. Plenty of action and a body count that I lost tally of very early on, but a lot of fun. This is a page-turner that sweeps you inexorably to a desperate and explosive end of Harper Blaine’s travails. A kick-ass urban fantasy world to enjoyably lose yourself in for a few hours.

The Mythopoeic Awards

The Mythopoeic Awards were announced on 11 July. The winners are:

Fantasy Awards

Adult Literature. Jo Walton, Lifelode (NESFA Press)

Children’s Literature. Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown)

Scholarship Awards

Inklings Studies. Dimitra Fimi, Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (Palgrave Macmillan)

Myth & Fantasy Studies. Marek Oziewicz, One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle and Orson Scott Card (McFarland)

Full details can be found here.

Website links

If you have a website -- or know of one -- that should be linked to from this blog, please send me the information. Just send it as a comment and then I'll add to the links lists.

Shirley Jackson Awards Winners

The 2009 Shirley Jackson Awards winners were announced on 11 July 2010, at Readercon 21, The Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

NOVEL. Big Machine, Victor LaValle (Speigel & Grau)

NOVELLA. Midnight Picnic, Nick Antosca (Word Riot Press)

NOVELETTE. “Morality,” Stephen King (Esquire)

SHORT STORY. “The Pelican Bar,” Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse 3, Night Shade)

COLLECTION (tie). Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson (Harper Perennial) and Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, Robert Shearman (Big Finish Productions)

ANTHOLOGY. Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Ellen Datlow (Solaris)

Full details on the winners and runners-up can be found on this website.

Congrats to the winners, commiserations to the no-so lucky ones. But hey, being in the top five or six is a fabulous achievement.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy

Volumes one and two have passed me by; the third volume, Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy edited by Kevin Brockmeier, was suddenly recommended for me by Amazon. With authors such as Stephen King, Peter Beagle, John Kessell and Lisa Goldstein, I just had to risk $14.95 (rather, the Sterling equivalent). Real Unreal consists of twenty stories, selected from a range of sources, including Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy and Strange Roads to the New England Review. Despite this book's publication date, 2010, the stories seem to have been harvested from 2008 magazines and books. The series was co-founded by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer, and the overall editor is Matthew Cheney.

Usefully, Real Unreal also includes lists of further readings and other publications. Although called Best American Fantasy, not all contributors are American (but most are): one was born in Canada and lives in India (in a temple, apparently), another lives in Switzerland. The series obviously restricts itself to publications from the USA. Real Unreal is published by Underland Press.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ultimate Avengers by Mark Millar

Ultimate Avengers: The Next Generation by Mark Millar and Carlos Pacheco. Marvel £12.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I stopped reading Marvel comics long ago, when cloning became common place in order to bring back a killed-off hero or villain – that and introducing alternate versions of characters and, worse, their pretending to be dead. It led to sloppy story telling; it irritated me that there were no consequences to actions. Then Marvel introduced the Ultimate Universe and started to tell the stories all over again, more-or-less from scratch. Unfortunately, these tricks have appeared again. I just wish that when someone has been killed, they stay dead; I wish the writers would learn to live without certain characters.

In the preceding arc, Magneto reversed the Earth’s polarity leading to catastrophic weather conditions, including a tidal wave in New York that killed thousands, if not millions. Among the dead were members of the X-Men and some of the Ultimates (aka The Avengers in the regular Marvel Universe). Giant Man died. The Wasp died. Wolverine died. The Black Widow had also died in an earlier story, killed by Hawkeye.

Now, another menace appears and a new team of heroes is required. Not the remnants of the Ultimates, but another team – so enter The Avengers. Nick Fury, who’s trying to redeem previous antics of his, leads this group. And in his team are new versions of The Wasp, The Black Widow, an alternative Iron Man (Tony Stark seems to be permanently drunk; and there’s also Stark’s brother: did you know he had a brother?) … and a cloned version of The Hulk (who has Banner’s brains and the monster’s brawn).

(After the wave, Magneto was killed – wonder how long it is before they bring him back.)

The new menace? The Red Skull. In this version, he is the— No, that would be telling. The Skull has purloined the Cosmic Cube from the ruins of the Baxter Building – which is, potentially, the ultimate weapon. So The Avengers must retrieve the Cube and arrest Captain America, who has gone berserk when he learns the Red Skull’s secret.

You probably get by now that I’m not a big fan of the replication process (however it’s done). But once I got my head past that, I have to say that Mark Millar has written a dynamic script, embellished with clean lines and colours by artist Carlos Pacheco and colourist Justin Ponsor. The graphic novel appears to have been inked by a team of people. Okay, I’ve discovered that I am still a soft touch for super-hero comics (well, the graphic novels, anyway). I enjoy their brevity, their speed, their excitement – for all their faults. This volume comprises issues one to six of the monthly title.

Back to the Middle of Nowhere

Pill Hill Press has published Back to the Middle of Nowhere, edited by Diana Catt, Mark Souza and Gregory Norris.

"Welcome back to the middle of nowhere! In this second installment of horrifying short stories, revisit rural America through the eyes of twenty up-and-coming masters of the macabre. Be afraid ... be very afraid. Fear your neighbors. Fear the plants. Fear the wildlife. What terrible things can happen when you're all alone in the middle of nowhere? Here is your chance to find out ... again! Featuring stories by the following talented authors: Diana Catt, Mark Souza, Susan Palmquist, Gregory L. Norris, Colin Insole, Mike Chinn, Erin Cole, T.L. Perry, D.B. Reddick, Jay Raven, Quinn Hernandez, S.M. Harding, Michael Giorgio, Matt Carter, Jason Barney, Blake Casselman, Noelle Bowles, Wayne Goodchild, Marianne Halbert & Michael James McFarland."

The anthology costs $16.99 and can be ordered via Amazon. For information on this and other Pill Hill books visit their website.

Orcs by Stan Nicholls: Now an Audiobook

Fantasy's bad guys finally get their own say in this omnibus edition of Stan Nicholls's bestselling trilogy. Orcs by Stan Nicholls is now appearing as an unabridged audiobook, narrated by John Lee, from Tantor Audio as a twenty CD set -- that's over 27 hours of entertainment. It's also available as MP3 files. Visit the Tantor website for ordering details.

"There is fear and hatred in your eyes. To you I am a monster, a skulker in the shadows, a fiend to scare your children with. A creature to be hunted down and slaughtered llike a beast in the fields. It is time you pay heed to the beast. And see the beast in yourself. I have your fear. But I have earned your respect. Hear my story. Feel the flow of blood and be thankful. Thankful that it was me, not you, who bore the sword. Thankful to the Orcs: born to fight, destined to win peace for all."

This package combines the international bestselling trilogy -- Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest -- plus a short story previously available only in a small-press anthology, Orcs presents the entire story of Stryke and his band of Orcs. A fast-moving, action-packed, tongue-in-cheek saga of Orc valor and human treachery.

"A wonderful piece of storytelling... Underlying all the fun and games is a core of skillfully drawn, fully realized characters who engage your sympathy from the start and never let go." -- Tom Holt

"Wall-to-wall action with undercurrents of dark humor." -- David Gemmell

"Nicholls captures adventure fantasy at its very best... This edition ... will be a cult classic with quest fantasy fans on both sides of the Pond." -- Publishers Weekly Starred Review

New Titles in the PS Pipeline

PS Publishing has announced a whole range of publications. Coming from the poetry imprint, Stanza Press:

The Charmed Pot, edited by Howard Watson
A Woman on Mars by Helen Patrice
Plus collections from Charles De Lint and Brian Lumley
And a collaborative book from Garry Kilworth and the late and hugely-missed Rob Holdstock.

Also from PS:

Showcase volumes from Kelly Barnhill (Untitled) and Darren Speegle (A Haunting in Germany and Other Stories)
Richard Parks's new novel, To Break the Demon Gate
The Metanatural Adventures of Dr. Black (collection) and The Architect (novella) from Brendan Connell
Two more Starship novellas from Eric Brown
An as-yet untitled collection from Paul Kane.


The Moment of Panic from Steve Duffy
Dogs With Their Eyes Shut from Paul Meloy
Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance by Paul Park
The Pit of Despair by Simon R. Green.

Collections and anthologies:

Ursula Pflug's Harvesting the Moon
Kit Reed's What Wolves Know
Christopher Fowler's The Horrors
Paul Di Filippo's Wikiworld and Other Imaginary Latitudes
A bumper collection of Carol Emshwiller's war and non-war stories (as yet untitled)
Haunted Histories edited by Brian J. Showers

Besides the above, there will be even more novellas from Catherynne M. Valente (The Ice Puzzle) and Matt Hughes (The Yellow Cabochon), plus Joe R. Lansdale's story extravaganza, Trapped in the Saturday Matinee: Lansdale Reloaded. Talking of Joe, his special winter novelette Christmas With the Dead will be sent out free to all subscribers to our twice-yearly anthology series. Here's the cover from PS fave "Gore-some" Glenn Chadbourne:

Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton

The long lead-up to the first PS ArtBook -- Alastair Crompton's Tomorrow Revisited, the sumptuous and lavishly illustrated biography on Frank Hampson, creator of Dan Dare -- is almost done. This book is "absolutely gorgeous and the uber-limited edition is well on the way to selling out... so don't delay in ordering if you fancy it" (says PS Publishing). There are two editions:

Tomorrow Revisited – bookshop edition (£26.99 until publication)

Tomorrow Revisited – deluxe leatherbound traycased edition (at £265.50 until publication)

PS adds: "To make things extra attractive (and to acknowledge that this project has moved forward a little slower than any of us would have liked), we're going to give each person who orders the book up to the end of September special vouchers against other PS titles -- one £5 voucher for everyone who orders the standard edition and three £5 vouchers for everyone who orders the deluxe edition (and yes, this includes everyone who has ordered already). Pretty good value when you bear in mind that the two editions are already discounted by some 10%... but do remember that the offer expires on 1 October."

Ordering details can be found at the above links.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tragic Life Stories by Steve Duffy

Tragic Life Stories by Steve Duffy is available from Ash-Tree Press: "Duffy's work has been described as 'exquisite' and 'heart-breaking' (Mark Flowers, School Library Journal), 'compelling' (Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker), and 'exceptional ... full of menace, thrills, and growing terror (Mario Guslandi, The Short Review). Tragic Life Stories demonstrates all these qualities, bringing the classic ghost-story up to date in a way that is as unsettling as it is terrifying. In these nine stories, nothing is what it seems, no one is safe, and there is absolutely nowhere to hide.

Steve Duffy lives in North Wales. Since the mid-1990s his stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies in Europe and North America. Several have appeared in Ellen Datlow's annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies, and in Best Horror of the Year. Ash-Tree Press has published two previous collections of Steve's work, both solo (The Night Comes On) and in collaboration with Ian Rodwell (The Five Quarters). His next collection, The Moment of Panic, is scheduled to appear in 2011, and will include his International Horror Guild award-winning short story from 2000, 'The Rag-and-Bone Men'."

The book, limited to 400 copies, costs £29.00 / $49.00 plus postage from Canada. Visit the Ash-Tree website to order.

Walkers in the Dark by Paul Finch

Due from the Ash-Tree Press: "In this new collection, Paul Finch draws on fact, legend, and myth to create five terrifying tales spanning the length and breadth of Great Britain, from the mountains of Snowdonia to industrial Lancashire, and from northern Scotland to a run-down district of Liverpool. Readers will encounter the shape-shifting Baobhan Sith and the horrifying 'Red Clogs'; search for the monstrous afanc of Wales; be haunted by the spectres of a war long past but not forgotten; and, in the spectacular title stry, take part in a treasure hunt that goes terrifyingly wrong. Walkers in the Dark is Paul Finch at his hard-hitting best, and a collection that will haunt you long after the last page has been turned.

Paul Finch is a former police officer and journalist. He first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama The Bill. However, he is probably best known for his work in horror, and his numerous collections and short stories have been published on both sides of the Atlantic. His first collection, After Shocks (Ash-Tree Press, 2001), won the British Fantasy Award, and he again won the award in 2007 for his novella Kid. In 2007, Paul won the International Horror Guild Award for his story 'The Old North Road'. A second Ash-Tree Press collection, Ghost Realm, was published in 2008. Paul lives in Lancashire, England, with his wife Cathy and children Eleanor and Harry."

For ordering details visit the Ash-Tree website.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Null Immortalis by Various Authors

To the casual browser, this book may look confusing. On the spine he (or indeed she) will see "Null Immortalis" and "Nemonymous Ten" and "Megazanthus Ress". The cover says "Short fiction by various authors" and on the prelims he'll note the absence of an editor's name -- but this is all in keeping with the track history of Nemonymous. Keep everyone guessing.

Seriously, Null Immortalis is the tenth book in the Nemonymous series -- and the last to be published. And it's a good-sized book with which to end the run, with 300-plus pages and 26 stories. Among the contributors are: Stephen Bacon, Mike Chinn, Gary Fry, Roy Gray, Andrew Hook, Joel Lane, William Meikle, Reggie Oliver, Steve Rasnic Tem and Mark Valentine. And in case anyone asks, the editor is the sagely D F Lewis.

Null Immortalis costs £11 in the UK, and can be ordered via the Nemonymous website.

Rare David Gemmell Legend story

A message has been issued to members of The David Gemmell Legend Awards website: Mihr from the Fantasy Book Critic website has posted a rare and previously little know short story by David Gemmell.

Mihir says, "This excerpt can be read as a preface to chapter one in The first Chronicles of Druss the legend. As the first three pages detail Druss’ wedding day (which has not been seen in any of Druss’ books) pages four and five deal with the first true fight Druss faces (parts of this are already found in the book; think of this excerpt as a first draft of that scene). So go ahead and enjoy this small tale which was almost lost and then, hopefully you will go on to read the rest of David’s work as well."

To read this story go to his website, link above. For further information on the DGLA, go here.

Shade Fright by Sean Cummings

Shade Fright (Valerie Stevens, book 1) by Sean Cummings. Snowbooks, £7.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

I came across this book by accident when browsing the three for two bargains. I hadn’t heard of the author or the publisher so it was a real lucky-dip item. Fortunately it turned out to be a reasonably good read (not all of my impulse buys are). Shade Fright fits into the paranormal romance/urban fantasy slot quite readily with supernatural activity combated by a feisty female protagonist.

The heroine of the piece is Valerie Stevens who works for a Canadian government department set up to investigate and control paranormal activity. She has the usual sidekicks: Dave, her opera-singing dump-truck driving boyfriend; the ghost of former Prime Minister William MacKenzie; and an ex-attorney Zombie named Caroline. There’s also Valerie’s mentor and tutor, a 400- year old Dwarf Mage known only as D.T. And the story? Things are dying. Trees, birds, you name it. Some evil creature is working its way up the food chain toward the humans and Valerie in particular... read on. The plot has many twists and a zillion characters.

This is a fun book; it romped along at a furious pace. It’s the first in what appears to be an intended series. One thing that struck me was that it did feel at times as if this were the second, or even third, book, as a great deal of history for the central characters went unexplained. I don’t expect entire histories -- that becomes boring -- but there were apparently significant points alluded to that were never fully explained. As a result the one character that stood out as a ‘real’ person was not Valerie Stevens but the gun-wielding zombie, Caroline. Now she has some mileage as a character in future adventures.

Being honest, I must say that this kind of thing has been done with more panache by the likes of Kelley Armstrong and Jim Butcher, but that can be said of some other big sellers I could mention. Don’t let that put you off, however: Shade Fright is still a entertaining read and I will look forward to reading the second book, Funeral Pallor.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wizard Squared by K E Mills

Wizard Squared (Rogue Agent volume 3) by K E Mills. Orion £6.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Witches Incorporated is part of the system, despite its best efforts to remain independent. So when it finds that in a parallel world one of its number, the powerful wizard Professor Gerald Dunwoody, has taken over this world with dark magic – and is looking to step into theirs as well – something must be done. Witches Inc realises that only person who can hope to stop him is its own Professor Gerald Dunwoody. Except that he has gone missing. There are twists and turns galore with magic and temporal glitches, and to describe any further would give too much away.

In this volume we have all the usual suspects from the first books in the Rogue Agent series: Wizard Gerald, Princess Mellisande and the anarchic bewitched bird Reg, all setting out to right the wrongs of the Gerald who, in the alternate reality took a slightly different choice for the best of reasons and became evil. This is a classic alternate universe conundrum where the ‘heroes’ in this world are faced with darker versions of themselves in the other.

Wizard Squared is a far darker story than volumes one and two. The writing is impeccable and I enjoyed all those darker elements. But I did get frustrated with long sections of dialogue that told very little and found myself skim-reading whole sections at a time. That’s not to say I disliked the book. Its inventive take on magic is a welcome change from rote fantasy, and its darker elements were especially intriguing. I look forward to reading the promised book four.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth

From the Telos Press:

In the 1960s, the BBC screened 253 episodes of its cult science fiction show Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell and then Patrick Troughton as the time travelling Doctor. Yet by 1975, the Corporation had wiped the master tapes of every single one of these episodes. Of the 124 Doctor Who episodes starring Jon Pertwee shown between 1970 and 1974, the BBC destroyed over half of the original transmission tapes within two years of their original broadcast. In the years that followed, the BBC, along with dedicated fans of the series, began the arduous task of trying to track down copies of as many missing Doctor Who episodes as possible. The search covered BBC sales vaults, foreign television stations, overseas archives, and numerous networks of private film collectors, until the tally of missing programmes was reduced to just 108 episodes.

This book looks in detail at how the episodes came to be missing in the first place, and examines how material subsequently came to be returned to the BBC. Along the way, those people involved in the recovery of lost slices of Doctor Who's past tell their stories in candid detail, many for the very first time. No more rumours, no more misinformation, no more fan gossip. The truth about Doctor Who's missing episodes can now be told in full!

Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth covers a somewhat contentious aspect of the BBC's history, that of their wholescale throwing away of archive television recordings from the sixties, in a period leading to around 1977/8 when it was largely stopped by the intervention of concerned individuals. Richard Molesworth has painstakingly peeled back the layers behind these actions, finding out exactly what was destroyed and when, and then chronicling the attempts of fans to locate and replace the BBC's lost archive of Doctor Who material - with a large degree of success.

'I've always been fascinated by the subject of missing episodes: how they came to be missing in the first place, and how they got to be found,' explains Richard. 'I remember reading about the 'first' publically announced recovered episode in Doctor Who Magazine - Part Two of 'The Abominable Snowmen' - and not being able to get my head around the concept of episodes of a BBC programme being in a private collectors hands. So I wanted to know more. As I got to know more people in the BBC, and talk to people who had returned episodes, I realised that the stories behind the finds were fascinating.

'I think fans - especially modern ones - just can not understand why the BBC don't have every single one of the Doctor's adventures sitting on the shelves of their archive. Older fans, who were watching at the time of the original series in the late 70s or 80s, wanted to see the earlier Doctors probably more than they wanted to watch the new Doctor Who programmes that the BBC were making. The older stories has such a mythos and mystique about them, and many of them had been novelised by Target books, which made you want to watvh them even more, especially when photos from these stories began appearing in books and magazines much more at this point. Those realy, really older fans, who watched the series in the 60s, wanted to watch the stories they remembered with so much affection again. And of course, everyone loves a grail quest, and to Doctor Who fans, that's what the missing episodes are. If they had all been destroyed, and not a single episode had been found in the last 30 years, then I think fans would accept they're gone, and move on. But the fact that lost episodes did pop up from time to time (although finds have dried up in the last decade-or-so) gives them hope. And like all good grail stories, more myths, rumours and misinformation have cropped up around the subject of missing episodes than any other single aspect of the series. Practically every other aspect of the series has been studied and documented in meticulous detail over the years, but missing episode rumours persisted.'

Richard has been researching the book for a good thirty years, so he had a wealth of information to draw on. 'I've written articles for magazine like DWB and Doctor Who Magazine on the subject a fair few times. But after deciding to actually write the book - which I had been wanting to do for some years - I suppose it took about a year to pull everything together, to interview the people I wanted to talk to, and to write the text. The research was difficult at times, but most of the people I contacted were actually more than happy to discuss things, and were glad that they were being asked to give their side of things for the first time.'

TV historian and researcher Richard Bignell commented about Wiped! : 'Richard's dedicated research into the story of why so many episodes of Doctor Who came to be missing from the BBC Archive and how many of those episodes came to be recovered, is a fascinating journey of discovery. With new information sourced from the original BBC documents of the time, Wiped! is a detailed account that helps to finally sort out the fact from the fiction and the truth from the hyperbole.'

Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth is published September 2010 at £15.99. Visit the Telos website for ordering details.

Newcon 5: SF convention

Newcon 5 is Northampton's Science Fiction and Fantasy literary convention. The event was established by the Northampton Science Fiction Wiriting group in 2004, from when it's gone from strength to strength and has attracted guests such as Iain M. Banks, Ken Macleod, Paul Cornell, Storm Constantine and many more.

The 2010 convention is scheduled for the weekend 9-10 October -- in Northampton, obviously. The guests of honour are Paul McAuley, Pat Cadigan and Paul Cornell.

Visit the website for registration fees, etc.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rules of Duel by Graham Masterton with William S Burroughs

"Depressed reporter Tom Crisp, sometimes known as A14, finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue as he tries to make sense of his incarceration at Tin Type Hall. ‘Just telling you’ his story unravels in a series of ‘silver film’ as he finds himself in a world full of double-agents such as the psychotic Motherwell the Everlasting Executioner, John Remorse, the Serjeant of Time Film and Samuel Baptist HM Inspector of Brothels. In a world where sexually charged sofas ejaculate black horse hair and the Hypocritic Oath is blamed for failed medical procedures, Crisp stands helplessly by as Jack Beauregard, the Eater of Cities, is hunted down. It could all be the fault of the Mysterious Babies ... but then maybe you can feel the ‘Cold Sun’ …

Graham Masterton wrote Rules of Duel between 1964 and 1970, when he was friends with William S Burroughs, the creator of the literarily acclaimed intersection writing technique. Recently rediscovered, this is a thought-provoking, triumphant and poetic tribute to Burroughs. Rules of Duel is a clever and pervasive novel, which turns literature on its head, and makes the reader work to be part of the evolving plot. Complete with original introduction by Burroughs, written before his death in 1997, Rules of Duel is a previously unpublished masterpiece from two of the greatest writers of their generations."

The book is published by Telos in September 2010 for £9.99. For ordering information go here.

The Djinn by Graham Masterton

"Anna is mysterious and beautiful, so much so that clairvoyant, Harry Erskine, breaks propriety and asks her out to lunch at his Godfather’s wake. When his Godmother, Marjorie Greaves, reveals the strange behaviour of her recently deceased husband, Max, Harry and Anna offer to investigate the strange jar that has been locked away in the turret. Harry soon learns that Anna is not all that she seems, and little can prepare him for the power of the Forty Thieves, the most potent genie in the history of Persia. Racing against time, Harry, Anna and Professor Qualt must work together to prevent an unexpected enemy from opening the jar and unleashing the ancient and prevailing djinn on an unsuspecting world."

Graham Masterton’s terrifying 1977 novel The Djinn is republished by Telos in a new edition, including exclusive introduction by the author. The cover art is by Danni Serra. Coming this September, the book costs just £9.99. Visit the Telos website for ordering details.

"Graham Masterton is one of the few true masters of the horror genre." James Herbert

Friday, August 6, 2010

FantasyCon 2010

Just over a month to go until FantasyCon. The British Fantasy Convention is scheduled for the weekend 17-19 September. Once again it returns to the Britannia Hotel in the heart of Nottingham, five or so minutes from the castle and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. The guests of honour are Gary Kilworth (In the Hollow of the Deep-Sea Wave), Brian Talbot (The Adventures of Luther Arkwrightand) and Lisa Tuttle (The Silver Bough). The master of ceremonies is James Barclay (The Legends of the Raven). Details can be found on the BFS website.

Mad Hatter figurine

I do like the looks of this ... toy? ... collectable. But I'm not sure I would want to buy one at over £200 (cheaper via online). This item is about twelve inches high, according to Forbidden Planet. It's the Blue Jacket Version by Medicom Toy, produced to celebrate the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland.

Peter Hamilton signing at Forbidden Planet

From Forbidden Planet's press release, and another date for your diary:

Peter Hamilton will be signing The Evolutionary Void at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2 H 8JR, on Friday 10 September from 6.00pm

Described by the Guardian as ‘the master of widescreen baroque’, Hamilton is one of Britain’s most respected science fiction authors whose work includes the highly successful Pandora’s Star. He has also written the Judas Unchained and the Greg Mandel and Night’s Dawn series.

Completing the epic and massively acclaimed Commonwealth Saga that unfolded in The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void, Peter Hamilton’s startling perspectives on tomorrow’s technological and cultural trends continues to be both compulsive and wonderfully readable. Spanning huge tracts of space and time, his stories are as epic in scope, and yet they are always grounded in characters – human, alien and other – who touch our hearts and fire our imaginations.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aural Delights 147 available now

If you want to listen to your fantasy & SF then try Star Ship Sofa/Aural Delights. Issue 147 features Philip Jose Farmer and Fabio Fernandes. In this edition you'll find:

Shades of Milk and Honey, interview with Mary Robinette Kowal

"They Twinkled Like Jewels" fiction by Philip Jose Famer

Interview with Fabio Fernandes

"Edgar Can’t Stand It" fiction by Fabio Fernandes

The thing is narrated by Matthew Sanborn Smith and Mike Boris. Visit their website to listen to this aural publication.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Killing Kiss by Sam Stone

Killing Kiss (Book 1 of The Vampire Gene Trilogy). Murky Depths £7.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Yes, this book has been out for some time, hence the belated review.

Gabriele has been moving on for all of his very long death: he’s a vampire of the old school. And now he is setting up a new victim for his annual feasting, a forbidden feast – she is the girlfriend of his college pal. Then the pattern of his long existence of feed-and-move-on is disturbed when he is distracted by Lilly, a new beauty on the block. After a party where his drink is spiked, he feeds on his exotic class-mate, and no-one is more surprised than he when she rises again. He is further unsettled when Lucrezia, his maker, crosses his path.

The thing I like most about Gabriele is that he is 400 years old and that he is lean, mean and deadly to know. He does not see himself as evil but merely an amoral survivor doing what he has to do to carry on into the future. Yes, this is a vampire novel far closer to ancient legend than many we have seen in recent years. There is a romantic side to his life glimpsed through flashbacks to the various women he has loved and lusted after and fed upon in his long search for ‘soul mate’ with whom to share his eternity. The shifts back and fore in Gabriele’s past are skilfully tailored to reflect what is occurring in his present. He has much to regret, yet his only nod to that past is a trophy case full of lockets containing the hair of past ‘lovers’. But he is a vampire, one that is more than prepared to kill, and suck, on anyone who gets in his way.

The language is carefully crafted without any waste or prevarication. Every plot turn has a reason for being: sex and history and vampires acting as they ought. What more can you want from any gothic novel? This is the first in a trilogy. Book two, Futile Flame, is on the British Fantasy Awards short list for the August Derleth Award for Best Novel. Later this year, the third volume, Demon Dance, is published, also by Murky Depths.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Static and WHC2011's Short Story Contest

News from WHC2011: Black Static magazine and the World Horror Convention 2011 have previously announced the WHC2011 Short Story Contest. Writers should submit their "most engaging and terrifying short fiction" to the judging panel for the chance to have their story published in the collectible WHC2011 Souvenir Book. The story will appear along work by Sarah Langan, Joe Hill, Steve Niles, Peter Crowther, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene and other top names. In addition, the winning entry will be republished in Black Static and will be paid industry professional standard rate. Full details and rules can be found on the WHC2011 website.

Next year's World Horror Convention takes place in Austen, Texas, from 28 April to 1 May. The guests of honour are Steve Niles, Joe Hill, Sarah Langan, Vincent Chong, Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi with toastmaster Joe R Lansdale. The above link will lead you to all the important details -- how to register, etc, etc.

Monday, August 2, 2010

FantasyCon 2011

I am very impressed that the 2011 British Fantasy Convention, FantasyCon, already has a venue and a committee. Usually, the organisers have barely twelve months to get everything together. So well done.

FC2011 is scheduled for the end of September next year, and will take place in the same venue as the 2010 World Horror Convention. Details can be found here.

The first main guest, the master (mistress) of ceremonies, is Sarah Pinborough. The photo is of Sarah and Michael Marshall Smith, taken at WHC2010.

[Photo (c) Peter Coleborn]

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Judging a story by its title

They say, Never judge a book by its cover. They could add, Never judge a story by its title. Too true. However, in the attention-grabbing stakes either -- or both -- can really help to attract the potential reader. In my case, two recent stories had titles that said, Read me, read me. They are "The Creative Writing Murders" by Edmund White (in The Dark End of the Street) and "Advances in Modern Chemotherapy" by Michael Alexander (in Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August issue). So did they work, did the stories offer more than just an eye-catching title?

I admit that "Chemotherapy" may come across as the title of a paper in a medical journal. I guess that my previous existence as a biomedical scientist drew me towards this story. It begins with a run down of Larry's treatment for prostate cancer -- a list of drugs, essentially, and their side effects. Larry's on a new regime, a novel drug, with an interesting side effect: telepathy. But this telepathy is only available to patients in a similar position to Larry: they are all on the last leg of journeys to their deaths -- The Last Days Club. The story deals with the telepathists coming to terms with their imminent deaths and their new powers -- and trying to learn what they can do with Headtalk.

The story by Edmund White is set in an American university's creative writing department. It deals with Manuela, a tutor seeking tenure at the university. First, she needs to finish her book about the struggles of being a Latino in white America, which she really doesn't want to write. Maybe there is another way to obtain tenure? Then there are the other professors and tutors, including the supposedly gay Bert, head of the department; he's found dead, apparently by autoerotic strangulation. Bert is the first death.

Both stories start slowly, which is all wrong according to today's imperative to begin the story just as the action kicks off, to avoid the long build up. Mostly, I agree with that. But sometimes the quality of the writing, the style, transcends that and you quickly don't realise you've read a few pages of exposition. It also helps when the characters come over as real human beings, people you can empathise with. In both these stories, the title, style and characterisations all come together to form a near-perfect storm (as they might say).

There have been many other intriguing titles, not least "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" and "'Repent Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman", both by the inimitable Harlan Ellison.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August issue

The July/August issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is now available. This is its 61st year of publication -- an amazing length of time. Hope it goes on for at least another 61 years. There are eleven stories in this issue, by: Michael Alexander, Ken Altabef, Richard Bowes, Brenda Carre, Albert E Cowdrey, John Langan, Heather Lindsley, Ian R MacLeod, Sean McMullen, Rick Norwood, and Ramsey Shehadeh. There's also a poem by Annabelle Beaver plus non-fiction (book reviews and other departments) by Charles de Lint, Paul Di Filippo, David Langford, James Sallis, Lucius Shepard, and Paul Doherty & Pat Murphy. F&SF is edited by Gordon Van Gelder. The cover is a beautiful painting by Thomas Canty. Subscription details can be found on their website.