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 d├ębut 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…”