Saturday, December 15, 2012

Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story. Graphic novel review

Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story. Adapted by Ashley Marie Witter (Headline £13.99).

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Ashley Marie Witter has done a fabulous job in adapting Anne Rice’s seminal novel, which was published in the 1970s – that’s when I first read it. Actually, I’ve only read it the once after finding the sequel less gripping and I am yet to see the movie version – something about that deters me. Anyway, when I started this graphic novel adaptation I quickly found myself engrossed and read the book in one sitting.

Unlike the novel, the young reporter to whom Louis tells his story doesn’t appear, and the graphic novel does not suffer for this omission. Witter dives straight in to the story, when Lestat converts the girl – Claudia – into one of the undead. Witter’s version is told from Claudia perspective. Louis becomes emotionally attached to the girl – forever doomed to remain a child even though her imagination, her knowledge, becomes that of an adult woman. It’s a sort of curse – as she expresses so succinctly when in Paris.

As I read this version my memories of the novel percolated my mind: the adaption seems, to me, to be quite faithful to the Rice original. My initial reservation about starting this novel vanished after a few pages.

The artwork is stunning. Witter used a monochrome style but using a sepia-toned pen with occasional touches of colour – red of course. The layouts speed on the reader, perhaps too quickly: there are very few natural pauses if you have to break off reading for any reason. The only thing that would’ve improved the book is a larger format. The artwork deserved a bigger canvas. But for the price this hardback graphic novel is excellent value. It will make a grand Christmas gift.

Based on this book I hope that Witter becomes a mainstay of the graphic novel and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

Crossed volume 4. Graphic novel review

Crossed (volume four) by Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano, Jacen Burrows and Leandro Rizzo (Avatar $24.99/ Titan Books £18.99)

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Volume four of Crossed collects two stories, “Badlands” and “Homo Superior” – and this is the first time I’ve come across the comic. First off I have to own up: I don’t much like zombies and their stories. To me, they are one-trick ponies. And Crossed is about zombies – or zombie-like beings: out to kill anyone not converted and, more often than not, eat them.

“Badlands” is written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows. It’s set in the wilds of Scotland and follows a small troop of survivors – one of whom may or may not be a member of the Royal family – as they flee from the Crossed, looking for sanctuary. Do they make it? I’m not telling. Despite my reservations about zombies, I have to say that this tale worked quite well, and I liked the way that Ennis recognised that in order to survive the humans have to make some harsh decisions. Ennis also includes a nice little scene of black humour when the group argue amongst themselves – to go this way or that way and getting no where. The artwork is fine if appearing a little static at times. The artist enjoys depicting gore – as does Rizzo in the next story.

“Homo Superior”, by Jamie Delano (story) and Leandro Rizzo (art) is the longer story of the two. Here, the events are back in the USA where we follow the adventures of a couple of cyclists in one thread, and a family of survivalists in the second. Needless to say, their paths cross with the inevitable intrusion of the zombies and its bloody consequences. And again, do the humans survive? An added problem is that one of them is pregnant and needs to find somewhere safe to give birth to the next level of Homo sapiens. Like Burrows, Rizzo’s art is more than adequate for the tale; and in “Homo Superior” we also get much nudity and sex.

The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover

The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover is due out in February 2013 from Bantam (£14.99).

“The year is 1758. England is at war, embroiled in a globe-spanning conflict that stretches from her North American colonies to Europe and beyond. And now, after more than two years of military and diplomatic setbacks, the country itself is at risk. Across the Channel, the French prepare for an invasion — an invasion rumoured to be led by none other than Bonnie Prince Charlie. It seems the map of Europe is about to be redrawn ... again. Yet beneath the surface, behind the scenes, another war is raging – a war that will determine not just the fate of nations but of humanity itself.

Daniel Quare is a journeyman in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, an ancient guild whose royal charter confers absolute authority over the manufacture of timepieces. But Quare is more than he seems. He is a Regulator, a member of an elite spy network within the guild — a network devoted to searching out and claiming for England's exclusive use any horological innovation that could conceivably result in an advantage for Britain over her adversaries, whether in business or in war.

It is just such a mission that brings him one moonlit night to the London townhouse of the eccentric collector Lord Wichcote. But there he finds more than he bargained for. A pocket watch possessed of seemingly impossible properties — deadly properties that seem to have more to do with magic than with any science familiar to Quare or to his superiors in the guild, Sir Thaddeus Wolfe, Grandmaster of the Order, and Theophilus Magnus, head of the Most Secret and Exalted Order of Regulators.

But the strange watch has drawn the attention of others as well. The mysterious masked thief known only as Grimalkin, and a French spy — and cold-blooded killer — who seeks to bring the prize back to his masters. Soon Quare finds himself following a trail of intrigue and murder that leads far from the world he knows into an otherwhere of dragons and demigods, in which nothing is as it seems ... time least of all.”

Raw Head & Bloody Bones by Jack Wolfe

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is Jack Wolf's début novel, scheduled for early January 2013 release (Chatto and Windus £14.99). Keep an eye out for it…

“The year is 1750. Tristan Hart, precociously talented student of medicine practising under the legendary Dr William Hunter. His obsession is the nature of pain and preventing it; the relationship between mind and matter and the existence of God. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, he is a rational man on a quest to cut through darkness and superstition with the brilliant blade of science.

Tristan Hart, madman and deviant. His obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. A product of an age of faeries and goblins, gnomes and shape-shifting gypsies, he is on a quest to arouse the perfect scream and slay the daemon Raw Head who torments his dark days and long nights.

Troubled visionary, twisted genius, loving sadist. What is real and what imagined in Tristan Hart’s brutal, beautiful, complex world?”

The Betrayal of the Living by Nick Lake

Due next month (next year!) is Nick Lake’s The Betrayal of the Living, volume three in the Blood Ninja trilogy (Atlantic Books £12.99).

“Taro is at a crossroads: he has vanquished Lord Oda for good, but with no land and no title, he has no hope of marrying Hana, the daughter of a daimyo. So when Taro receives news of a murderous dragon and the large reward for killing it, he and his friends find themselves on a dangerous quest to slay the beast.

Their mission has the potential to save the people of Japan – but failure will result in the deaths of thousands. And dragons are not the only monsters they will encounter: the dead, led by the odious Kenji Kira, have begun to rise, and they have Taro in their sights.”

In this conclusion to the Blood Ninja trilogy, the future of all feudal Japan is in danger, and everything Taro holds dear will be threatened.”

Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan

We at Piper are always delighted to see new short story collections and anthologies, so we welcome from Solaris a crackingly good anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan: Edge of Infinity (out now at only £7.99).

"‘One small leap for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’ Neil Armstrong's immortal words when he became the first human being to step onto another world. Edge of Infinity is a new SF anthology that looks at the next giant leap for humankind: the leap from our home world out into the Solar System.”

With thirteen stories by Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Bear, Paul McAuley, Gwyneth Jones, Hannu Rajaniemi, Stephen Baxter, Bruce Sterling and others, Edge of Infinity is hard SF adventure that’s sure to please all science fiction readers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blood and Bone by Ian C Esslemont

Blood and Bone by Ian C Esslemont (Bantam £20.00), A Novel of the Malazan Empire, is due later this month.

“In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted another expedition in a bid to tame the neighbouring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity who some name the Queen of Witches and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata.

Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs – but it was the voices from that land’s forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers launch their invasion of this jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.

To the south, the desert tribes are united by the arrival of a foreign warleader, a veteran commander in battered ashen mail men call the Grey Ghost. This warrior leads these tribes on a raid unlike any other, deep into the heart of Thaumaturg lands. While word comes to K’azz, and mercenary company the Crimson Guard, of a contract in Jacuruku. And their employer? Could it be the goddess herself...?”

Time's Arrows by Jonathan Green

Time’s Arrow by Jonathan Green, part of the Pax Britannia series, is a Ulysses Quicksilver Adventure (Abaddon £ 7.99).

“Paris. City of lights. City of lovers. City of dreams. Yet if one man gets his way, its inhabitants will soon be forced to endure a nightmare such as they have never known.

Hero of the British Empire, Ulysses Quicksilver is determined to stand in his way ... even as he returns from the past to appear on the scene of a horrific murder.

Before he can hope to rescue the French capital from its fate, Ulysses must go on the run and track down the real killer. His intention: to clear his good name, and get back to England in one piece. And quickly, for the love of his life is about to take a most ill-advised trip to the Moon. Can Quicksilver stop the terrorist known only as ‘Le Papillon’?”

White Death by Daniel Blake

White Death by Daniel Blake is the new thriller featuring FBI Special Agent Frank Patrese, this time on the trail of a crazed serial killer targeting Ivy League colleges (out next month from Harper Collins £7.99).

“ONE GAME: Two weeks before Kwasi King, chess’s answer to Muhammad Ali, is due to defend his world title, his mother is found brutally murdered yards from Yale University. A tarot card has been left next to her dismembered body.

TWO PLAYERS: Soon, more bodies turn up at other Ivy League colleges, all with tarot cards. But while some have been killed in a frenzy, others were dispatched with clinical precision. It looks like FBI Special Agent Franco Patrese’s looking for not just one killer, but two.”

Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is Jack Wolf's début novel, scheduled for January 21013 release (Chatto and Windus £14.99). Keep an eye out for it…

“The year is 1750. Tristan Hart, precociously talented student of medicine practising under the legendary Dr William Hunter. His obsession is the nature of pain and preventing it; the relationship between mind and matter and the existence of God. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, he is a rational man on a quest to cut through darkness and superstition with the brilliant blade of science.

Tristan Hart, madman and deviant. His obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. A product of an age of faeries and goblins, gnomes and shape-shifting gypsies, he is on a quest to arouse the perfect scream and slay the daemon Raw Head who torments his dark days and long nights.

Troubled visionary, twisted genius, loving sadist. What is real and what imagined in Tristan Hart’s brutal, beautiful, complex world?”

The Educated Ape by Robert Rankin

The Educated Ape and Other Wonders of the Worlds by Robert Rankin (Gollancz £16.99) is described as “An epic in four movements.” This is the third volume in Rankin's meta-Victorian series.

“Lord Brentford has a dream. To create a Grand Exposition that will showcase The Wonders of the Worlds and encourage peace between the inhabited planets of Venus, Jupiter and Earth. Ernest Rutherford has a dream. To construct a time ship, powered by the large Hadron Collider he has built beneath the streets of London. Cameron Bell is England's greatest detective and he, too, has a dream. To solve the crime of the century before it takes place, without blowing up any more of London's landmarks.

Darwin is a monkey butler and he also has a dream. To end Man's inhumanity to Monkey and bring a little joy into the world. Lavinia Dharkstorrm has a dream of her own. Although hers is more of a nightmare. To erase Man and Monkey alike from the face of the Earth and to hasten in the End of Days. Then there is the crime-fighting superlady, all those chickens from the past and the unwelcome arrival of The Antichrist. Things are looking rather grim on planet Earth.”

Redshirts by John Scalzi

John Scalzi’s Redshirts promises to raise a few smiles – due from Gollancz later this month (£14.99).

“Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is even more delighted when he's assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better ... although there are a few strange things going on...:

(1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces

(2) the ship's captain, the chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these encounters

(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Suddenly it's less surprising how much energy is expended below decks on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned an Away Mission. Andrew's fate may have been sealed ... until he stumbles on a piece of information that changes everything ... and offers him and his fellow redshirts a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives...”

Defiant Peaks by Juliet McKenna

Juliet E McKenna brings the latest saga of wizards, wonder, and war to a climax with Defiant Peaks (due from Solaris next month, £7.99).

“Archmage Planir and the wizards of Hadrumal have demonstrated their devastating powers and the corsair threat is no more. But the mainland rulers' relief is overshadowed with fear of one day facing such a threat to their own dominion. Corrain, Baron Halferan and Lady Zurenne believe they have finally won respite from all their trials. Yet the lull before winter descends from the distant northern peaks will be a short one.”

The prequel for the series, The Wizard’s Coming, is available as a free eBook (free to download as an ePubPDF and Kindle) and introduces some of the characters and events leading up to the fantasy series.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Photographs of Boden by Simon Kurt Unsworth. Chapbook review

Photographs of Boden by Simon Kurt Unsworth, published as a 36-page chapbook, is available directly from the author.

Steve Boden has a good life with good memories, until he discovers the photo albums. As he browses their pages the images of him as a child become defaced as a chemical-like mark obliterates the faces of his younger self. But worse than that: his memories are blurring, changing; he learns that he wasn’t the boy he once recalled. He talks to friends, his father, his estranged sister and each time the conversation leaves him feeling hopelessly lost with new and uncertain memories. Photographs of Boden is a poignantly told story about identity and its loss, of losing control of one’s past and hence one’s personality.

The chapbook’s production value could be improved upon. However, the story itself transcends the publication’s appearance. The chapbook costs £3.50 with £1.00 of each sale going to Cancer Research UK. There are three other chapbooks in the series: The Pennine Tower Restaurant, Left Behind and The Pyramid Spider, at £3.50 each or £13.00 for all four (includes p&p in the UK). Email the author directly to order these chapbooks.

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Newton’s Fire by Will Adams

Newton’s Fire by Will Adams is a thriller which weaves history and religion with adventure and the “apocalypse…” – due next month from Harper £6.99.

“Luke Hayward is adrift. Blacklisted out of academia, he is in no position to refuse when a client asks for his expert help in recovering some lost Isaac Newton papers. But a chance discovery in a dusty attic plunges Luke into a race to uncover the truth behind some seemingly random scribblings – a race which pits Luke against a fundamentalist madman with dangerously powerful friends.

Luke discovers connections between Oxford, London and the Old City of Jerusalem in a breathless chase to uncover a secret hidden in the eccentric ramblings of a mathematical genius; a secret that, in the wrong hands, could be used to spark the holy war to end all holy wars…”

Heaven to Wundang by Kylie Chan

The third book in the Journey to Wundang urban fantasy series – based on ancient Chinese mythology – is published next month: Heaven to Wundang by Kylie Chan (Harper Voyager £8.99):

“The demons that could control stones and elementals have been defeated, but the most powerful of Simon Wong’s associates still remains – the one who can create almost undetectable copies of humans and Shen. This demon has allied with Kitty Kwok and together they plot to trap Emma and Simone in a web of copies.

Wudang Mountain is enveloped by dark foreboding as Xuan Wu begins to reappear – sometimes human, sometimes turtle, but always without memory. Emma and Simone must race from Hong Kong to Hanoi as they try to rescue Xuan Wu before the demons capture him.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey

Joseph D’Lacey’s latest is Blood Fugue, out later this month by Proxima/Salt Publishing at £8.99:

“Reclusive outdoorsman Jimmy Kerrigan finds himself battling a vampiric plague which threatens to destroy Hobson’s Valley, the isolated mountain community he calls home. When his family, friends and neighbours fall prey to the ‘Fugue’, Kerrigan is the only one who can save them and prevent the disease spreading beyond the remote town’s boundaries.

Kerrigan is uniquely equipped to deal with the outbreak. He carries a variant strain of Fugue enabling him to overcome and heal its victims. However, the nature of the illness ensures neither he nor those he hunts down are aware they’re infected. After feeding on humans, the diseased forget their behaviour. Even Kerrigan, having confronted or neutralised a Fugue, is unable to recall his actions as guardian of Hobson’s Valley.

Kerrigan is challenged beyond his limits when an innocent family of outsiders hikes straight into a wilderness crawling with Fugues – a wilderness he is responsible for. Can he really save them and protect the town? Can he defeat the creature who has caused the Fugue to mutate? And, most crucially, when he learns the horrifying truth about his own infection, will he even have the strength to try?”

There’s also a video promo to watch.

Tartarus news

The 2012 World Fantasy Awards have been announced; details here. Many congratulations to all the winners and runners-up.

Tartarus Press received the Special Award Non-Professional category. Tartarus's Ray Russell says: "We are absolutely delighted that Tartarus Press won the 'Special Award Non-Professional' at the World Fantasy Convention last weekend. Of course, the award doesn't just go to us, but is shared by Mark Valentine and Reginald Oliver (who both had their own individual nominations for awards), along with Michael Reynier, Tim Lees and Rhys Hughes, all of whom were published by Tartarus is 2011. And, posthumously, we should add Sarban, Gautier and Aickman to the list. Many thanks to Michael Dirda for collecting the award for us, and to everyone who has supported Tartarus for over twenty years."

Ray adds: "The latest of our Robert Aickman reprints is due to be published next week, Intrusions. In his Introduction Reggie Oliver writes that Robert Aickman ‘was one of the most original and interesting short story writers of the late twentieth century... I wonder if the adjective 'inconclusive', so often applied to Aickman, is quite the mot juste. His stories all have a beginning, a middle and an end. They conclude, but the conclusion is not absolute: puzzles remain. How like life! Aickman is both a realist and a surrealist: or, to put it another way, his surrealism is real."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Book review

Ghost Story: A Dresden Files Novel by Jim Butcher. Orbit  £8.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Volume 13 in the Dresden Files that follows on directly from the cliff-hanger ending we saw in Changes. (If you haven’t read that one yet and intend to, then stop reading this review now!)

At the end of Changes, Harry Dresden was shot, so it comes as no real surprise when he finds himself to be very much dead. Far from being allowed to rest in peace he is sent back to find his killer before three of his best friends die, not to mention half of Chicago. 

I picked up Ghost Story with some trepidation, fearing that Harry Dresden without his signature battle cries of ‘Forzare’ and ‘Fuego’ might be de-fanged. But Harry as an incorporeal being is an interesting experience. True, his ability to fight is severely restricted but that leaves Harry reliant on his legendary wits and survival instincts. He must find ways to communicate with the living and also defend himself against the dead; because a lot of bad guys that he despatched in his time want a piece of him now that he is a ghost. 

The biggest issue in Ghost Story is consequences. Harry is made aware of how his single-minded course of actions to save his daughter had a profound, and mostly devastating, affect on the lives of the people he has left behind. I say no more because I wouldn’t want to give any spoilers. Let’s just say that the ending is an odd one, thoroughly intriguing and promising many interesting events to come in the advertised volume 14: Cold Days.

An excellent read, as always, and highly recommended.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adrian Cole news

Adrian Cole now has a new website: click here.

Arian reports: “A number of new short stories are in the pipeline, including ‘You Don’t Want to Know’, a Nick Nightmare yarn that was originally commissioned for an anthology that has since crashed. The ‘Private Eye, Public Fist’ hard-boiled private eye is in the tradition of a number of psychic detectives and usually finds himself in the thick of things with Mythos beings and their dubious agents – there is more than a hint of Philip Marlowe and Mike Hammer about his dry-witted style. Long term plans are for more Nick Nightmare stories (in progress are ‘Kiss the Day Goodbye’ and ‘Nightmare in Innsmouth’) and ultimately a possible collection.”

One of Adrian's Nick Nightmare short stories appeared in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes; another of his stories also appeared in the companion anthology The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders.

Alchemy Novellas

The Alchemy Press is about to launch a new series of novellas, starting with four a year. The Press intends to publish these as individual eBooks and then collating them into an annual print book. This is a paying market, and the Press is open to submissions. Guidelines can be read here.

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron has been described as a “violent, fast-paced and compelling debut fantasy novel, in a world where heroes and monsters are not quite as they seem...” The Red Knight is now available from Gollancz at £14.99.

“This is a world dominated by The Wild. Man lives in pockets of civilisation claimed from The Wild. Within men's walls life is civilised, the peace punctuated by tournaments, politicking, courtly love and canny business. Beyond those walls men are prey – vulnerable to the exceptionally powerful and dangerous creatures which populate the land, and even more vulnerable to those creatures schemes.

So when one of those creatures breaks out of The Wild and begins preying on people, it takes a specialist to hunt it down or drive it out ... and even then, it's a long, difficult and extremely dangerous job.

The Black Captain and his men are one such group of specialists. They have no idea what they're about to face...”

The Night of the Swarm by Robert V S Redick

The Night of the Swarm by Robert V S Redick (now out from Gollancz £16.99) is the final part of the Chathrand saga:

“The struggle to prevent the sorcerer Arunis from destroying the world reaches its conclusion.

At the centre of an infernal forest there is a clearing. Above it looms a seven hundred foot tall fragment of a vast tower. At its base, a group of friends. Exhausted, terrified. They stand around the body of a sorcerer, Arunis. In his wizened hand lies the Nilstone…”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler

I think that Hodder missed a trick (or treat). Scott Sigler’s Nocturnal is published on 22nd November (£7.99) and not in time for Hallowe’en.

“For centuries, their race has lived beneath the earth, emerging only at night, to feed quietly on the dregs of society and slip back into the shadows. But now their time has come – their time to rise up from their hiding places and take back what is theirs.

San Francisco homicide detective Bryan Klauser is supposed to be hunting a serial killer. But a serial killer couldn't be responsible for the seemingly impossible DNA evidence the crime-scene techs keep finding – or for the gory, strangely prophetic dreams Bryan keeps having. And what about the connections he keeps finding to a century-old cult – and his superiors' sudden reluctance to give him the answers he needs about cases that should be dead and buried?

Ultimately, Klauser's investigations will reveal a race of killers who've long lurked beneath San Francisco's streets – and are preparing to take back the city. Klauser is the only man who can stop them, because ... he might not be a man at all.”

Anomaly by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberin. Book review.

Anomaly by Skip Brittenham (writer) and Brian Haberin (writer and artist). Anomaly Publishing $75.00

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Usually, when one reads a graphic novel it is comprised of chapters based on the monthly comic book. Not in this case. Anomaly is a 350-plus page comic strip without these natural pauses. And this means that one is compelled to read the whole thing in a single sitting. And that can be an exhausting experience.

It is the 28th century and Earth is depleted of all resources. And so the Earth government – rather the Conglomerate – raids and takes over other words, mostly by force. But there is one far-off planet that hasn’t succumbed and it is to here that Jon and Samantha and Jasson and others are despatched. They think they are there to discover what went wrong previously. In fact, the Conglomerate has sent these people – thorns in the company’s side – to die.

This planet is an anomaly – hence is named Anomaly. It is home to dozens of intelligent life-forms rather than the single one encountered elsewhere. And as is typical in this sort of story, the Earthmen find themselves in a multi-species conflict: the many intelligent species do not, after all, live in perfect harmony. After landing in a desert in which a virus-like organism consumes all polymer substances, the crew have to cope in the primitive world on an equal footing with the denizens of that place. And like John Carter of Mars, and no doubt in many other similar SF scenarios, Jon fights the leader of one band to take command of an army, to combat the evil Muties…

What makes this book extra special is its production values. They are impressive. Anomaly is a lavishly-presented, hefty publication. And I mean hefty: over 350 fifteen by ten inch glossy pages, bound in landscape format – wider than it is high. The book is around one inch thick; I haven’t weighed it but it is heavy! This wide format allows for some spectacular artwork, particularly apt for some of the landscapes and space-scapes depicted therein. The art is at times exquisite, although it can be difficult recognising some characters – but this is a problem with almost all non-superhero comics, anyway.

It looks as if the artwork was produced digitally rather than using traditional pen and ink, as if they are images used in a computer game; but on checking the web, it looks as if Anomaly has no connection with any computer game I could see. However, the company is tying in the book to digital media via iPhone and other apps, to provide an interactive experience. All details of this – and a whole lot more – can be found on the company’s website. Here’s what the website says about the company:

“Anomaly Productions is a cutting-edge media company launched by creators Brittenham and Haberlin. Anomaly Productions combines stunning artwork and rich stories to build deeply immersive worlds than can be experienced across multiple platforms and in a multitude of ways. Anomaly is its first release, with three other projects in various stages of production.”

If you like big-scale space opera mixed with helpings of Burroughs, Anomaly is right up your street. It is a stunning production all round, with great graphics tied in with the extras via computer apps. This is a visual treat!

The book comes in its own cardboard box which will provide storage protection because it will be a beast to fit on your bookshelves. The $75 price works out at around £50, I guess, although I have seen it advertised on the web for around £30. Anomaly is on target for the special Christmas gift.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New books from Titan

Titan Books has announced a range of attractive books, in time for the Christmas market. Here’s just a sample:

Prometheus: The Art of the Film by Mark Salisbury (£24.99): “As the only book to directly tie in to the film, this lavish title created such a demand from fans that the book was re-printed three times prior to its publication! Prometheus: The Art of the Film offers fans the opportunity to delve deeper into this epic science-fiction production. The lavish hardback includes newly revealed production art, exclusive interviews, extraordinary behind-the-scenes material and an introduction by legendary director Ridley Scott.”

Jaws- Memories From Martha’s Vineyard by Matt Taylor (£34.99): “For the first time ever, these behind-the-scenes photographs taken by residents of the island during the filming of Jaws, have been compiled into a virtual treasure trove of Jaws rarities. With a Foreword by director Steven Spielberg, interviews with production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, location casting director Shari Rhodes and much more, this book provides an unprecedented all-access pass to the creation of some of the most memorable and terrifying scenes in film history.”

Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart (various artists) edited by Steve White (£29.99): “Featuring ten of the most prominent artists working today, Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart is a blend of breathtaking artwork and cutting edge science that set the planetology blogs and science pages buzzing earlier this year!” “Bringing to life a lost world as seen through the eyes and informed imaginations of some of the greatest contemporary natural science illustrators in one volume.” –Terryl Whitlach, scientific illustrator, known for her creature designs for Star Wars.

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration by Scott Tracey Griffin (£24.99): “Celebrating one hundred years of Tarzan, Titan Books presents the only official commemorative illustrated history of this worldwide phenomenon. In Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration, acclaimed Edgar Rice Burroughs expert Scott Tracy Griffin explores the 24 original novels and the many varied appearances on stage, screen and in print.”

Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made? by David Hughes (£9.99): “A compulsively readable journey into the area of film-making where all writers, directors and stars fear to tread: Development Hell… This in-depth tour of tinsel-town’s unmade, takes in everything from Darren Aronofsky’s Batman starring Clint Eastwood, to a John Boorman version of The Lord of the Rings featuring the Beatles. Hughes interviews the writers and directors involved to investigate these fascinating lost projects and many more.”

The Art of Assassin’s Creed III by Andy McVittie (£24.99): “Assassin’s Creed is one of the most highly-praised, beautiful and action-packed game franchises ever created and Assassin’s Creed III sees the franchise step into a brand new era, with a new assassin in a revolutionary world. Packed with never-before-seen concept art and artists’ commentary throughout, The Art of Assassin’s Creed III is an exclusive hardback title exploring the vision and development of the game, Assassin’s Creed III.”

The Return Man by V M Zito

The Return Man by V M Zito is due in November from Hodder (£7.99).

“Before the outbreak, Henry Marco was a doctor, doing his utmost to save lives. Now his job is to end them… The Outbreak tore the USA in two. The East remains a safe haven. The West has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it The Evacuated States… Civilisation’s gone. He’s stayed to bury the Dead.”

From Hell to Eternity by Thana Niveau

From Hell to Eternity by Thana Niveau is part of the Gray Friar Press’ New Blood series, and now available (£8.99).

“From Hell... Where shadows speak from the depths of a haunted sea. Where a little girl’s obsession conjures a terrible bogeyman. Where a woman’s body becomes her own worst enemy.

... To Eternity: Where familiar places harbour ancient evil. Where a dinner party descends into blood, sex, madness and death. Where a camera can steal more than your very soul.”

The collection includes an introduction by Ramsey Campbell.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country (Gollancz £16.99) is now available:

“The past never stays buried.

Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell; er brother and sister have been stolen and she’s going to have to return to her bad old ways if she’s ever going to see them again.

The journey takes them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever … and high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies…”

Para Imminence: Stories of the Future of Wraeththu

New from Immanion Press: Para Imminence: Stories of the Future of Wraeththu, edited by Storm Constantine and Wendy Darling:

“The androgynous and mysterious Wraeththu have risen to replace humanity upon a ravaged world. Is it inevitable they will forget the mistakes of the past wrought by their human ancestors or will they truly evolve to become the guardian, sentient race this Earth deserves?

Based on the world created by Storm Constantine for her Wraeththu novels, the stories in this collection explore different aspects of Wraeththu’s possible future. Whether that is leaving the earthly realm to explore the uncharted reaches of the multiverse via the Otherlanes, raising the ancient lost continents of humanity’s myths and legends, surfing the psychic equivalent of the Internet, coming to terms with their race’s human past, or simply revisiting earlier territory where pain and disappointment might still lurk, Para Imminence offers a compendium of visions of the future of harakind."

Features stories by Storm Constantine, Wendy Darling, Martina Bellovičová, Andy Bigwood, Victoria Copus, Suzanne Gabriel, Fiona Lane, Maria J Leel, Martina Luise Pachali, Daniela Ritter and E S Wynn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hellblazer: The Devil's Trench Coat

One of my favourite comic books, Hellblazer,  sees a new graphic novel out now from Vertigo ($16.99). The Devil's Trench Coat collects issues 283 to 291 of the monthly comic. The two stories, "The Devil's Trench Coat" and "Another Season in Hell" are written by Peter Milligan, with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Stefano Landini. In the first story, Constantine's old, foul-smelling trench coat assumes a life of its own, with bloody consequences (aren't most of Constantine's action coloured with blood?). And in the second tale the anti-hero revisits hell, to rescue a lost soul. And once more he pits wits against the various demons he encounters.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers, a new Zamonia novel, is published next month (Harvill Secker £20.00). This edition was translated from the German by John Brownjohn. The book is embellished with many cartoons by the author.

“Over two hundred years ago Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, was destroyed by a catastrophic firestorm. Optimus Yarnspinner, who witnessed this disaster, has since become Zamonia's greatest writer and is resting on his laurels at Lindworm Castle. Spoilt by his monumental success and basking in adulation, he one day receives a disturbing message that finally reinvests his life with meaning: a cryptic missive that lures him back to Bookholm.

Rebuilt on a magnificent scale, the city is once more a vibrant literary metropolis and Mecca of the book trade teeming with book fanatics of all kinds. On the track of the mysterious letter that brought him there, Yarnspinner has scarcely set foot in the city before he falls prey to its spirit of adventure. He is reunited with old friends like Inazia Anazazi the Uggly and Ahmed ben Kibitzer the Nocturnomath, but he also encounters the city's new marvels, which include the mysterious Biblionauts, the warring Puppetists, and the city's latest craze, the Invisible Theatre.”

The Screaming Book of Horror edited by Johnny Mains

The Screaming Book of Horror edited by Johnny Mains is available in hardcover from Screaming Dreams (£20.00)

This anthology should remind you of a time “when horror books didn’t try to be overly literary or snobbish or superior in tone. The tales inside will take you back to when your stomach took the occasional lurch. This is a horror anthology in the tradition of the anthologies we all grew up with.”

There are 21 stories in this lovely looking tome, including tales by John Llewellyn Probert, John Brunner, Alison Littlewood, Paul Finch, Rhys Hughes, Alison Moore, Reginald Oliver, David A Riley, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Burke, Christopher Fowler and Charlie Higson.

The Pit of Despair by Simon R Green

The Pit of Despair is the new novella by Simon R Green (PS Publishing £11.99):

“Captain Varles, of the pirate ship Revenge, is desperate to find a treasure big enough to pay off all his debts. His last venture didn’t work out too well; he lost his whole crew to the ghouls of Ravensbrook. He sailed home on an empty ship, accompanied only by his female first mate Jarryl, and the enigmatic sorcerer Shade, called by some the Hanged Man.

Port Crimson is the only settlement on Paradyce Island, where the ancient rules and traditions of the Red Brotherhood apply. Unable to find a crew there willing to ship out with him, Varles persuades a voodoo witch called Mother Macabre to conjure up a crew of ghosts and dead men to sail in search of the greatest treasure of all — that of Captain Firebeard; who buried his legendary hoard in the great and terrible Pit he dug on Shaft Island ... which he left surrounded by terrible protections. But Varles’ old enemy, Captain Shatterhand, of the pirate ship Medusa, is also after the treasure. So the race is on; and the devil take the hindmost.”

Sex, Lies and Family Ties

The Alchemy Press's Sex, Lies and Family Ties by Sarah J Graham is now available for the Kindle via Amazon UK and Amazon US.

New Gaiman book on its way

Headline has acquired UK rights for The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Personally, I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Forests of Eden by Elizabeth Counihan

UK independent publisher, PS, releases novels, anthologies, collections and novellas in handsome productions. One of their latest is a novella from Elizabeth Couniham: Forests of Eden is subtitled A Science Fiction Romance (PS Publishing £11.99).

“Earth is fog-shrouded, the Amazon rainforest a desert. Sir Barrington Monroe III, Knight Commander of the Terran Legion of Honour, Fellow of the Solarian Order, is the richest man in the inhabited worlds.

Not surprising, as from its base in the Alpha system, the Monroe Corporation has total control of tachyferite, the only substance to emit faster than light signals.

But Monroe is hiding a deadly secret, a secret that has ruined another man’s life and it’s up to a young journalist to uncover the truth. To do this he must brave personal threats and corporate intrigue and eventually centuries of star travel with one embittered companion. Then, on a new, unblemished world he makes a decision which will change both their lives.”

Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback edited by Stephen Jones

Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback, edited (created) by Stephen Jones (Robinson £8.99) is the follow up to 2010’s highly successful Zombies Apocalypse. Both are portmanteau novels rather than an anthology of short stories, involving a host of horror stars, including Christopher Fowler, Reggie Oliver, Guy Adams, Sarah Pinborough, Peter Crowther, Lisa Tuttle and Nancy Holder.

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself … and zombies! Following the outbreak of Human Reanimation Virus — more commonly referred to as 'The Death' — from a hidden crypt beneath a south London church, the centuries-old plague quickly spreads throughout the world, turning its victims into flesh-eating zombies. As we learn more about the mysterious Thomas Moreby — 'Patient Zero' — the surviving members of the human race begin their fightback against the legions of the walking dead, and the Infected themselves are mutating into something ... different. Told through interconnected eyewitness accounts — emails, text messages, reports, diaries, found video footage and graphic adaptations — the remnants of humanity battle to survive in a world gone mad.”

Best New Horror edited by Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones’s essential annual, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, volume 23 (Robinson £7.99) hits the bookshops in a week or so.

The publisher states: “The year's best, and darkest, tales of terror, showcasing the most outstanding new short stories by both contemporary masters of the macabre and exciting newcomers. As ever, this acclaimed anthology also offers a comprehensive overview of the year in horror, a necrology of recently deceased luminaries, and a list of indispensable addresses horror fans and writers.”

Can’t argue with the above. In this year’s issue you’ll encounter 26 stories, including tales by Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler, Tim Lebbon, Alison Littlewood, Peter Atkins, Joan Aiken, Michael Marshall Smith, Robert Silverberg and Evangeline Walton. As usual, editor Jones includes a detailed introduction to horror in 2011, plus a necrology by Jones and Kim Newman. Stephen Jones picks from both the small press and mainstream, ensuring a selection of the very best. 

Pandaemonium by Ben Macallan

Chaz Brenchley’s alter ego Ben Macallan has a new book out later this month: Pandaemonium (Solaris £7.99).

“Desdæmona's done a bad, bad thing. A thing so, so terrible that she has to run away from the consequences. Again.

Where better to look for shelter than with the boy she was running from before? But trouble follows. And if it's not Jacey's parents who sent the deadly crow-men, the Twa Corbies, in chase of her, then who is it?

Deep under London, among the lost and rejected of two worlds, answers begin to emerge from Desi's hidden past. Answers that send her north in a flight that turns to a hunt, with strange companions and stranger prey. Dangers lie ahead and behind; inconvenient passion lays traps for her, just when she needs a clear head; at the last, even Desi has to beg for help. From one who has more cause than most to want her dead...”

The Soddit by A.R.R.R. Roberts

“Following Bored of the Rings comes the equally irreverent parody of Tolkien's other (and much, much shorter) masterwork, The Hobbit.

Bingo Sac Grabbins is asked by the coughing wizard Gandef and some (oddly Welsh) dwarves to help them relieve the great dragon Smug of his gold.

SF author and Tolkien scholar Adam Roberts has written a parody [w]ith knowing digs at the fantasy genre in general and the mystique that has built around Middle Earth in particular.”

The Soddit by A.R.R.R. Roberts is published by Gollancz in hardcover (£8.99), originally released in 2003. Is there any connect to the new Hobbit movie?

The Christmas Spirits by Whitley Strieber

“George Moore is a modern day Scrooge, a futures trader who drives his staff hard, and won't let his assistant go home to look after her autistic son on Christmas Eve.

Like Scrooge, he is mean with money, but he is also mean with his sympathies and his time. He has to swerve to avoid putting money in a charity box and also crosses the road to avoid a family he thinks are probably gypsies on his way to dinner at a cheap cafeteria. An old man sitting nearby looks as if he might be looking for the warmth of some human contact. George refuses to meet his eye and hurries home.

Various slightly odd, even disconcerting things happen. He encounters a nun who looks like an elderly child. He sees a Santa in the window of a department store, who seems to emerge from his Grotto, look confused, and is then surrounded by small elf-like figures who drag him back behind the curtains. Finally, when he arrives back in his apartment the old man from the cafeteria suddenly appears and reveals himself as George's old mentor in trading and in greed. Bill Hill reveals that he is dead and that he has come to give George a warning. He warns George he will have three visitors that night, and then in a flash he disappears…”

What else but The Christmas Spirits by Whitley Strieber (Coronet £12.99), published in a few days, just in time for the Xmas market.

The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

From Mulholland Books later this month: The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (£8.99):

“The future will be perfect. No hate, no hunger, no war. Zed knows because he’s seen it. He’s from there. His mission is to ensure that history happens exactly as it’s meant to. Even the terrible events. Even the one that’s about to happen, the one that will destroy our civilisation for good.

In present-day Washington, Zed watches as people go about their daily lives. People like Leo, a disgraced former spy; Tasha, a lawyer grieving for a brother killed in action in Iraq; Sari, the downtrodden employee of a foreign diplomat. Unlike Zed, they have no idea what difference their choices will make.

The clock is ticking. But Zed has doubts. What are his superiors not telling him? What truths has he hidden from himself? And, as he becomes more entangled in the lives of those around him, will he be able to sacrifice their present for his future?”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Alchemy Press announces three new anthologies

The Alchemy Press has announced three new anthologies, to be published in 2013. The submission guidelines can be found by visiting the books' individual pages:

The Alchemy Press Book of Astrologica

The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes volume 2

The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic

These are open markets, albeit with nominal payment. But if you want your best work showcased in fine-looking books, send us your best stories.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove: book review

The Middle Kingdom (Chung Kuo Book 3) by David Wingrove. Corvus £18.99

Reviewed by John Howard

David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo originally appeared in eight large volumes between 1989 and 1997. A decade or so later Wingrove embarked on the large scale project of ‘recasting’ the entire series, revising and enlarging it across an epic twenty not quite so large volumes. The first two books, Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain, appeared in 2011 and contained all new material and formed an extended prologue to the main sequence. They set the scene and got us from here to there: from some thirty years hence to 2098, by which time the foundations for the Han Chinese-dominated new world order of Chung Kuo have been well and truly made, literally driven into the soil of the Earth.

The Middle Kingdom is a revised and expanded version of the first half of the original first volume (also called The Middle Kingdom) of Wingrove’s first excursion into Chung Kuo. Nearly one hundred years after the prologue volumes, as the twenty-second century is about to dawn, the world’s Han rulers – the Seven T’ang – maintain the same purpose as they ever did: a unified world, a utopia of peace and stability for all. On their terms, of course.

The vast majority of the world’s population of forty billion lives in the Cities: pre-fabricated stacked hives nearly a mile high that span continents. Most of Asia is a farm. The Cities’ inhabitants rise – and fall – through the hundreds of levels depending on their position in the new society and their attitude to it. Hard work and obedience can be rewarded; mistakes and disobedience can lead to banishment: removal to levels below. Towards the bottom of the teeming Cities are the Lowers: the Net, the first few levels above the floor, where life is hard and precarious enough. But below that, sealed away from the Above, out of sight and mostly out of mind, lies the Clay: the devastated surface of the planet, left in ruins and almost total darkness. Yet people still live in the Clay: feral tribes, the descendants of those excluded from the Cities and who survived and turned into a true underclass and in effect became a separate race. (Any analogy with Wells’ Morlocks would not be at all accurate.) There are also a few who prefer the anarchy and constant danger of a life, of sorts, under the floor.

The rulers of the world intend to ensure that permanent peace and stability is achieved through the virtual elimination of change, the systematic obliteration of all traces of the past – including the rewriting of history – and by strengthening further their iron controlling grip on all aspects of everyone’s life – all those in the Cities, that is. The Edict of Technological Control was promulgated in order to monitor and regulate all technological development, and to stamp on anything that threatened the new order planned for the next ten millennia (at least). But of course change can’t be entirely stopped and crushed by the force of an edict, no matter how all-powerful the rulers and their enforcers are. When the Minister in charge of the Edict is assassinated, suspicion falls on a number of high and well-connected people. Their loyalty and commitment to the system of New Confucianism comes under scrutiny, with conspiracy and counter-conspiracy blossoming as members of the ruling families fight to maintain continuity – and their rights of succession – and prevent their grip on the world from loosening. They will do anything to stop the dreaded spectre of change – chaos, to them – being let loose again.

Wingrove’s approach continues to be necessarily widescreen, with a cast of characters ranging from the most privileged to those scrabbling in the darkness of the Clay, from mere talking heads and execution-fodder to those with lives and motivations explored in some depth. From now on in it seems clear that the end of each volume will provide a sort of pause for breath rather than a conclusion, and many of the characters to be introduced in each volume will appear and re-appear, allowing the story to unwind and spread over the great space allotted to it, pushing out against its bounds as the inhabitants of the sprawling Cities press on each other and against the walls, floors, and ceilings that keep them in place. The main cast now seems to be assembled for the struggle ahead, although there will no doubt be unexpected deaths and betrayals, new developments and the intrusion of the unplanned to disturb the rulers’ dream of ten thousand years of their version of peace. A civil war of planetary dimensions seems in the offing, with those who resent the suffocation of their current situation lined up against the Han ‘establishment’. It might seem that nothing can withstand the weight of the new order, but…

As with the previous books, The Middle Kingdom moves along at an exhilarating pace. By turns portraying a world alien and mundane, brutal and sentimental, the scale continues to range from the tremendous and remote to the intimate and deeply personal. It’s still too early to tell how David Wingrove’s new version of the Chung Kuo future history will turn out – surely there are new developments in this recasting, surprises in store – but it seems set to be a roller-coaster ride that it will be impossible to leave until the author is done with it. 

Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall

Published in November by ChiZine: Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall ($16.95):

“A child receives the body of Saint Lucia of Syracuse for her seventh birthday. A rebelling angel rewrites the Book of Judgement to protect the woman he loves. A young woman discovers the lost manuscript of Jane Austen written on the inside of her skin. A 747 populated by a dying pantheon makes the extraordinary journey to the beginning of the universe.

Lyrical and tender, quirky and cutting, Helen Marshall’s exceptional debut collection weaves the fantastic and the horrific alongside the touchingly human in fifteen modern parables about history, memory, and cost of creating art.”

I picked up a copy at FantasyCon and my initial thoughts are: Wow! This is wonderful stuff. Rob Shearman says so, too, in his introduction.

Black Light by Melton, Dunstan & Romano

Out very soon: Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan & Stephen Romano (writers of the Saw franchise; Mulholland £8.99):

“If you have a supernatural problem that won't go away, you need Buck Carlsbad: private eye, exorcist, and last resort. Buck's got a way with spirits that no one else can match, and a lot of questions that only spirits can answer. 

Buck has spent years looking deep into the Blacklight on the other side of death, trying to piece together the mystery that destroyed his family and left him for dead. It's dangerous, but it's his only hope of finding out what happened to them - and what made him the way he is. But then Buck takes a call from a billionaire, and finds himself working the most harrowing case of his career. One that will either reveal the shocking secrets of his life, or end it forever...”

Osama -- book launch

The official launch for Osama by Lavie Tidhar (Solaris £7.99) takes place in the Gallery, Third Floor, Foyles Bookshop, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. It’s free, but you need to reserve your ticket by emailing

“The events of 9/11 seemed to alter the world so radically that portraying them in fiction felt almost impossible. Israeli-born author Tidhar, already a controversial and outspoken voice, has risen to the challenge with his alternate-reality novel Osama. Lavie will be in conversation with Sophia McDougall to discuss the novel, and how 9/11 and the figure of Bin Laden have shifted our perspective on the world and how fiction can respond to it, in what promises to be a fascinating and thought-provoking evening.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alchemy Press book launch - reminder

The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber, and The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, edited by Mike Chinn, receive their official launch at FantasyCon. Afterwards, copies can be purchased via Amazon US and UK, Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository. Check out The Alchemy Press's website for further information.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson is now available from Gollancz (£16.99).

“Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream… And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.”

Crown of Embers is the sequel to Fire and Thorns.

Helix Wars by Eric Brown

“The Helix: a vast spiral of ten thousand worlds turning around its sun. Aeons ago, the enigmatic Builders constructed the Helix as a refuge for alien races on the verge of extinction.

Two hundred years ago, humankind came to the Helix aboard a great colony ship, and the Builders conferred on them the mantle of peacekeepers. For that long, peace has reigned on the Helix. But when shuttle pilot Jeff Ellis crash-lands on the world of Phandra, he interrupts a barbarous invasion from the neighbouring Sporelli -- who scheme to track down and exterminate Ellis before he can return to New Earth and inform the peacekeepers.”

Helix Wars, by Eric Brown, is the sequel to the best-selling Helix (Solaris £7.99).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Graven Image by Charlie Williams. Book review

Graven Image by Charlie Williams. Crime Express/ Five Leaves Publishing £4.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

The dealer assured me that this is a grim crime story – not a police procedural, something I wanted to avoid. And she was correct: this is a hard and downbeat tale about Leon, who’s searching fro his daughter, kidnapped by Graven. Leon was a bouncer at a brothel run by Graven but something not fully explained causes Leon to go on the run. Besides his search, people are looking for him, such as Dux and Sid – unpleasant youths armed with an Uzi. Leon is captured, escapes and goes on a rampage…

So far, this sounds quite straightforward. Yet as I was reading it I felt that the author had a trick up his sleeve, something that meant not all was as it appears at first glance. And yes, there is a surprise twist, one that I didn’t fully anticipate. I don’t mean that this is a twist-in-the-tail type of story, which I don’t much care for – and so I was more than happy to be “shocked”.

Because of this doubt it was difficult to fully empathise with Leon in his quest – but not impossible. Leon does come across as a real person, if somewhat crazy and bloodthirsty. The story grabs you and takes you along for the ride – like being in a Beamer bombing along at 60 m.p.h. The author packs in a lot of excitement and tension in this novella. Although first published in 2011, copies may still be available from FiveLeaves.