Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crash by Guy Haley

Crash by Guy Haley (Solaris £7.99) is now available:

“The Market rules all, an Al that plots the rise and fall of fortunes without human intervention. To function, the Market must expand. The earth is finite, and cannot hold it, and so a bold venture to the stars is embarked upon, offering a rare chance for freedom to a select few people. But when the colony fleet is sabotaged, a small group finds itself marooned upon the tidally-locked world of Nychthemeron, a world where one hemisphere is bathed in perpetual daylight, the other hidden by eternal night. Isolated and beset, the stricken colony members must fight for survival on the hostile planet, while secrets about both the cause of their shipwreck and the nature of Nychthemeron itself threaten to tear their fragile society apart...”

Affliction by Laurell K Hamilton

Affliction is the latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel from Laurell K Hamilton (Headline £18.99), out on 4 July:

“It's a typical day at work for Anita Blake, if your day job is raising the dead and being a US Marshal for the preternatural branch. One phone call changed everything. It was from the mother of one of her live-in boyfriends. Micah Callahan's father was in the hospital and he was dying. Micah had been estranged from his family for years, but now, his mother wants Anita to bring the prodigal son home for a last good-bye.”

Time Travel SF edited by Mike Ashley

The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF is edited by Mike Ashley, and is out from Robinson on 4 July (£7.99):

“These stories show what happen once you start to meddle with time and the paradoxes that might arise. It also raises questions about whether we understand time, and how we perceive it. Once we move outside the present day, can we ever return or do we move into an alternate world? What happens if our meddling with Nature leads to time flowing backwards, or slowing down or stopping all together? Or if we get trapped in a constant loop from which we can never escape. Is the past and future immutable or will we ever be able to escape the inevitable? These are just some of the questions that are raised in these challenging, exciting and sometimes amusing stories...”

Contributors include: 
  • Kage Baker
  • Gregory Benford
  • Simon Clark
  • Fritz Leiber
  • Christopher Priest
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Michael Swanwick
  • Steve Utley
  • John Varley
  • Ian Watson
  • Liz Williams
  • ...and many others

 Twenty-five stories in all – an excellent anthology, for quality and value.

Satan's Reach by Eric Brown

Eric Brown’s Satan’s Reach (Abaddon Books £7.99) is now available:

“Telepath Den Harper did the dirty work for the authoritarian Expansion, reading the minds of criminals, spies and undesirables, for years. Unable to take the strain, he stole a starship and headed into the void, a sector of lawless space known as Satan’s Reach. For five years he worked as a trader among the stars – then discovered that the Expansion had set a bounty hunter on his trail.

But what does the Expansion want with a lowly telepath like Harper? Is there something in the rumours that human space is being invaded by aliens from another realm? Harper finds out the answer to both these questions when he rescues a young woman from certain death – and comes face to face with the terrible aliens known as the Weird.”

London Falling by Paul Cornell

London Falling by Paul Cornell is released on 18 July from Tor at £7.99:

“The dark is rising . . . Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect Rob Toshack is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack’s murder is normal.

Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law – until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce

The Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce is now available from Gollancz (£12.99 – a great price for a hardback novel):

“It is the summer of 1976, the hottest since records began and a young man leaves behind his student days and learns how to grow up. A first job in a holiday camp beckons. But with political and racial tensions simmering under the cloudless summer skies there is not much fun to be had. And soon there is a terrible price to be paid for his new-found freedom and independence. A price that will come back to haunt him, even in the bright sunlight of summer.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Worse Things Than Spiders by Samantha Lee

Samantha Lee's collection Worse Things Than Spiders and Other Stories is her first collection of horror tales and will be launched at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton later this year from Shadow Publishing. The fabulous cover art is by Dave Carson.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Two from Immanion Press

Fossil Circus by John Kaiine is a horror novel now available from Immanion Press (£11.99):

“London 1992. Four ex-psychiatric patients are bequeathed a Victorian asylum by their psychoanalyst. Jerusalem Lamb, madman, lurks in the Church of Rust, a magpie-faced God chooses his victims, the Voices cheer him on. Devastation and secrets unfurl. And the circus is coming to town...”

Runners by Sharon Sant is a young adult novel, now out (Immanion Press £11.99):

“Elijah is nothing special. He’s just a skinny kid doing his best to stay one step ahead of starvation and the people who would have him locked away in a labour camp - just another Runner. But what he stumbles upon in a forest in Hampshire shows him that the harsh world he knows will become an even more sinister place, unless he can stop it.”

Checkout the Immanion website for further details.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blood & Feathers: Rebellion by Lou Morgan

Blood & Feathers: Rebellion by Lou Morgan is out from Solaris (£7.99) on 4 July:

“Following her stunning debut with Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan has returned to her genre-busting take on angels and demons. Blood and Feathers: Rebellion picks up the story after the events of the first book, with the final war between good and evil being waged, and Alice and Mallory trapped in the middle.

Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they’re winning. As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice – barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over – once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high? And what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?”

I rather like the cover artwork – very dramatic.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Joyland by Stephen King: book review

Joyland by Stephen King. Titan/ Hard Case Crime £7.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I haven’t read a Stephen King novel in a long time, just short stories and novellas, which I rather enjoy. And to be honest, I’m often deterred by the size of some of his novels – The Dome, for instance. Thus getting my hands on Joyland, at a mere 280 or so pages, should’ve been a delight. Well, was it? In a word: yes!

However, the first 60-80 pages are mostly scene setting, and the story proper doesn’t start until then. That’s when Devin’s character – the narrator – blossoms. That’s when the relationships with his friends and co-workers at Joyland come into their own. That’s when the story of the murdered Linda Gray (killed in the 1960s) really begins to impinge on Devin’s life.

Devin Jones takes a job at Joyland in the summer of 1973. Joyland is a fairground, with rides and stalls and a ghost train, and a fortune-teller who does, in fact, have some psychic abilities. And in the House of Horrors: that’s where the ghost of Linda Gray is sometimes seen. He also encounters another psychic, this time a crippled 12-year old boy called Mike, and his mother Annie.

Devin becomes fixated on the murder of Linda Gray and soon discovers that there are other murdered girls, a connection that the police had missed. Needless to say, the story of Linda Gray becomes entwined with Devin losing his girlfriend and his growing relationship with Mike and, especially, Annie. And it all builds up the expected climax as a tropical storm heads towards Joyland.

Because those early pages were written in such an easy-going, engaging style it soon didn’t matter that they were mainly exposition for the following narrative. In truth they become essential background reading and once your engagement in the story kicks in you, the reader, will be hooked, and drawn into the delights – and horrors – of Joyland.

Although published as part of Titan’s crime line, Joyland could easily be read as a supernatural tale. Stephen King is a past-master at story telling. He’s a bard who is able to build dark and frightening worlds, spinning yarns that net in the audience. A thoroughly satisfying read, however you interpret it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New and Forthcoming Books

  • James Barclay – Elves: Beyond the Mists of Katura. Gollancz £12.99
  • Lauren Beukes – The Shining Girls. Harper Collins £12.99
  • John Carter Cash – Lupus Rex. Raven Stone/Rebellion £12.99 (John Carter Cash is the son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and is a singer-songwriter in his own right. His first children’s book was Momma Loves Her Little Son, published in 2009)
  • Jocelyn Drake – Dead Man’s Deal. Harper Voyager £7.99 (18 July)
  • Cate Gardner – In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair. Alchemy Press ebook £1.35
  • David S Goyer & Michael Cassutt – Heaven’s War. Tor £8.99 (4 July)
  • John Gwynne – Malice. Tor £8.99 (4 July)
  • Stephen Lloyd Jones – The String Diaries. Headline £14.99 (4 July)
  • Richard Kadrey – Aloha From Hell. Harper Voyager £7.99 (18 July)
  • Richard Kadrey – Devil Said Bang. Harper Voyager £7.99 (18 July)

  • Guy Gavriel Kay – River of Stars. Harper Collins £18.99 (25 July)
  • Stephen King – Joyland. Titan £7.99
  • Anne and Todd McCaffrey – Sky Dragons. Bantam £7.99 (20 June)
  • George R R Martin – Tuff Voyaging. Gollancz £14.99
  • George R R Martin – A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Volume Two. Harper Voyager £14.99
  • Alan Moore and Ian Gibson – The Ballad of Halo Jones. 2000AD £13.99
  • Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – The Long War. Doubleday £18.99 (20 June)
  •  Christopher Priest – The Adjacent. Gollancz £12.99
  • Jessica Rydill – Malarat. Shamansland ebook £3.99
  • Jonathan Strahan – Fearsome Journeys. Solaris £7.99
  • Gordon Van Gelder – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (May/June issue) $7.99

Malarat by Jessica Rydill

Malarat is Jessica Rydill's third book set in the same world as her earlier stories, but can be read as a stand-alone novel (available for the Kindle): “Annat Vasilyevich is a shaman and an outcast Wanderer. No longer her father's apprentice, she watches enviously as he sets out into enemy territory with his new pupil, Huldis of Ademar, and their companions. War has come to Lefranu, and while Annat remains to defend the city of Yonar from siege, her father Yuda has to face his destiny and confront a demon from the lore of the Wanderers.”

Jan Edwards asked the questions and Jessica Rydill provided the answers:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the younger daughter of a naval architect and a social worker. My elder sister is the Fantasy writer Sarah Ash, who has had a huge influence on me, though our books are very different. I’ve spent most of my life living in Bath or London, but I think Bath has won out now. I studied English at University and would have liked to become an academic, but I didn’t get a good enough degree. So I trained as a solicitor and had a somewhat chequered career in local government. The best bit by far was working as a locum for the London Borough of Lambeth; as a housing lawyer as I got to stand up in court (though solicitors have horrible gowns, unlike barristers). I gave it all up in 1998 in order to write. A writing course at Fen Farm taught by David Gemmell was a breakthrough for me. It made a huge difference to my writing though it was still some time before I produced a book that was publishable!

Malarat is standalone book and somewhat darker than previous books in this world. Can you tell us a little about that?

I suppose Malarat is on a more epic scale than the others. I like to imagine my books as movies, and Malarat is a bit like War and Peace in scope. The beginning is quite light, and one of the main characters is preoccupied with what she’s wearing. But in that first chapter there is a hint of what’s to come. There will be a war, and all the characters will be affected.

In some ways it’s a story about obsessions of various kinds. The Duc de Malarat wants to rule the country through a puppet king. The Inquisitor wants to eradicate magic. And behind that is a man with the weirdest obsession of all – Colonel Carnwallis. He sets out to change history and the afterlife in line with his view that the Anglit – the English, in effect – are true descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The way in which these characters set out to achieve their ends is disastrous for everyone else. So there are some dark episodes. The standalone bit relates to the fact that you don’t need to have read my first two novels to understand this one. If anything, I have enlarged the amount of contextual detail relating to the world and country where the story is set. Some of the characters are the same, but the entire episode is separate.

You have two previous novels set in this world: Children of the Shaman – short- listed for a Locus Best first Novel – and The Glass Mountain. Fill us in on the details.

Children of the Shaman introduced the Vasilyevich family. They are Wanderers, an ethnic group similar to the Jews. They also have magical powers to varying degrees, which is why they are known as shamans. The children, Annat and Malchik, have been brought up by their aunt and grandparents. Their father abandoned them and their mother died young. Malchik is rather nerdy and weedy and Annat, the young girl, is bolder and more adventurous. When their aunt has to go into hospital, their father, Yuda, takes custody of them. He’s on a secret mission to a frontier town called Gard Ademar (which does exist – it’s called La Garde Adhemar). Since the Great Cold ended, the Railway People have been constructing a railway north into the unknown wastes of what is (more or less) northern France. And when they reach Gard Ademar, they accidentally disturb a hornet’s nest.

Yuda is there to investigate a series of murders, and he and his children get caught up in the magic of the place. He’s a very mercurial and charismatic person and not at all an ideal father; he can’t accept that his son, Malchik, is not only not a shaman but also completely bookish and wimpy.

The Glass Mountain deals with some of the fallout from Children of the Shaman. It talks a lot more about what it means to be a shaman and focuses on Yuda’s twin sister, Yuste. In this story most of the trouble is caused by a Magus who carries two suitcases with … unusual … contents. He practises necromancy and fancies himself as a rival to the powerful Sklavan Magus Kaschai the Deathless. The mountain of the title is his hideout, and he kidnaps Annat and Malchik to further his purposes. The setting is 19th century again but there are mediaeval elements because of the fact that parts of the world have been set back by the Great Cold.

There are (at least) two kinds of magic in this universe. Shamans are an evolutionary phenomenon. Before the Great Cold, they were rare and were found mostly in Cine (which is China). After the Thaw, the centre for the study of shamanism was established in Inde (India). They had a long tradition of academic study, and they were excited when news came through that shamans were starting to be born in Europe. So they sent out a number of emissaries, one of whom was Prakhash Sival, who planned to establish a school or college for shamans in Masalyar. Sival “discovered” Yuda and Yuste Vasilyevich when they were children, and recognised that they were both unusually powerful. So he set out to study and train them.

The characteristics of a shaman are that they can use telepathy, heal, and travel into other dimensions, particularly the spirit world. A small number of them have much more flamboyant powers and can also fight. They are often but not always bisexual, and they tend to be on the short side. But there are exceptions to every rule!

The Magus is a shaman who uses other forms of magic. He casts spells and uses mirrors. The shamans frown on this type of magic because it’s superstitious and tends to involve abuse of power.

There is another species of magic which only gets hinted at: gifts, which are a specific magical ability. In Children of the Shaman there is a painter called Cluny who can use his paintings to escape from his confinement. He is not a shaman and has no other magical powers.

If you could visit a fantasy world from another book where would it be?

That’s a tricky one! I would once have loved to go to Narnia, but discovering that it was a Christian allegory rather knocked that on the head for me. More recently, I have wanted to go to Lyra’s Oxford. The trouble with fantasy worlds is that they’re dangerous. It’s not unlike travelling, going backpacking, and I these days I prefer my home comforts such as sanitation, hot and cold running water, and sofas. I’m emotionally close to Bilbo Baggins before he set out for Erebor. So I think I’d choose Middle-Earth, specifically the Shire, because you can smoke and drink beer (and eat well) but there is also the possibility of Elves.

How do you see the rise of ebooks affecting writers and writing?

I believe it’s too soon to call, really. The effect could be quite deleterious in one scenario. At the moment, many people are rushing into print before they have had a chance to learn their craft, and there is no editorial control. There are thousands of ebooks out there and it is hard to discover which ones are any good. It’s also very hard to get reviews for self-published ebooks due to the sheer volume being produced. So on the one hand there is the opportunity for people to publish work that might not otherwise have been published – but on the other hand there’s no gateway, no vetting process and so it’s almost as if there is an ebook for everyone in the world.

I love “traditional” reading but I fear that in the future it may not survive. I may be completely wrong, but I get the impression that young people enjoy so many different formats – games, films, tablets, music and more. Sitting down to read a book is a much more concentrated and reflective experience. On the other hand, ebooks have a lot of unexplored potential. One could incorporate music, images – who knows what! – into such a book.

So I feel the rise of ebooks is a challenge; they rely on technology and a hi-tech society to exist. I’m a bit of a Luddite – I love low-tech things like steam trains and wind-up gramophones – but I have to confess I also love iPads and computers and suchlike.

Who is hot on your reading list?

I want to read Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell, which has been waiting on my Kindle. Lots more Sherlock Holmes, and some of my Terry Pratchett pile. The Kindle is quite bad for a book hoarder like me (in one way) in that I can download stuff and there it is, waiting for me! I am keen to read more of the Graceling books by Kristin Cashore.

What next?

I’ve started something called Winterbloom. That’s its working title. I’ve got to scan my first two books to bring them out as ebooks, but Winterbloom is pre-occupying me. It’s my work-in-progress and it looks as though some of it may take part in England – a fictional 19th century England – and also in the Anglond of the shaman world. At the moment there appear to be characters from three parallel worlds interacting. It may also have Sherlock Holmes in it, but I’m not sure because Conan Doyle was such an outstanding writer. But I used to love the old Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett playing the Great Detective, and now I am a huge fan of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss. I’m terribly fan-girly about the whole thing! So Winterbloom might have a Sherlock Holmes strand. After Malarat, I wanted to do something a bit more playful, and I have always wanted to mingle my characters with someone else’s. The main problem at the moment is structural – I know what I want to do but not how to get there!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic

The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber, is scheduled for launch at the 2013 World Fantasy Convention. The final line up, in alphabetical order, is: 
  • James Brogden – The Smith of Hockley
  • Joyce Chng – Dragonform Witch
  • Zen Cho – Fish Bowl
  • Graham Edwards – A Night to Forget
  • Jaine Fenn – Not the Territory
  • Christopher Golden – Under Cover of Night
  • Kate Griffin – An Inspector Calls
  • Alison Littlewood – The Song of the City
  • Anne Nicholls – The Seeds of a Pomegranate
  • Jonathan Oliver – White Horse
  • Mike Resnick – The Wizard of West 34th street
  • Gaie Sebold – Underground
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky – Family Business
  • Ian Whates – Default Reactions
Cover by Ben Baldwin

Joyland by Stephen King

Stephen King’s Joyland is now available from Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint (£7.99). “Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work in a fairground and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.”

This is a paperback book – with a fabulous cover – but Titan also published Joyland in two limited editions but these sold out pretty quickly, sadly.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fearsome Journeys edited by Jonathan Strahan

A new fantasy anthology is now available from Solaris (£7.99). Fearsome Journeys, edited by Jonathan Strahan, is set to be part of a new series of anthologies from the publisher. And any new anthology is to be gratefully received. I haven’t yet read this book, but personally speaking, I welcome the chance to prove that fantasy is equally at home in the short story format – in the tradition of Jack Vance, CL Moore, Fritz Leiber, and Robert E Howard.

“From dragons to quests, from battles to magic:

An array of some of the most popular and exciting names in epic fantasy are set to appear in the first in a brand new series of anthologies from the master anthologist Jonathan Strahan ... featuring original fiction from authors including Trudi Canavan, Daniel Abraham, Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, Glen Cook, and Scott Lynch – and many more.”

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

New from World Fantasy Award-winner Guy Gavriel Kay: River of Stars is due from Harper Collins on 25 July (£18.99):

“Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life — in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later — and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor — and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.”

The Adjacent by Christopher Priest

“Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled to Britain from Anatolia where his wife Melanie has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity – hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and the death of Tarent's wife are somehow connected.

A century earlier, a stage magician is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. On his journey to the trenches he meets the visionary who believes that this will be the war to end all wars.

In 1943, a woman pilot from Poland tells a young RAF technician of her escape from the Nazis, and her desperate need to return home.

In the present day, a theoretical physicist stands in his English garden and creates the first adjacency.”

All this can be found in the new novel from Christopher Priest. The Adjacent is out later this month from Gollancz (and £12.99 for 400-page hardback can’t be bad).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Ballad of Halo Jones

A new edition of The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson is now out from 2000AD (£13.99). Lauren Beukes provides an introduction, in which she says that Halo Jones was a major influence on her (Beukes’) childhood.

“When Halo Jones grows bored with her life in The Hoop — a futuristic world where jobs are scarce and excitement is non-existent — she sets out to see the galaxy any way she can. But can she survive the highs and lows that lie in her path, including an extended period of ship-board servitude and a tour of duty in a terrifying war that defies the physics of space and time?”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pulp Heroes volume 2

Editor Mike Chinn has announced the contents for the forthcoming The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2:

Pandora’s Box – Chico Kidd
The Flier – Bryn Fortey
Griffon’s Gamble – Arch Whitehouse
Night Hunter – Pauline E Dungate
Meeting at the Silver Dollar – Marion Pitman
The Monster of Gorgon – Ian Hunter
Dragon’s Breath – Anne Nicholls
The Law of Mars – Robert William Iveniuk
The Penge Terror – William Meikle
Ula and the Black Book of Leng – Andrew Coulthard
The Sons of Crystal City – Martin Gately
Kiss the Day Goodbye – Adrian Cole
Do Not Go Gently – Stuart Young
The Incarceration of Captain Nebula – Mike Resnik

The cover artwork is by Les Edwards. The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2 is scheduled for publication at this year's World Fantasy Convention.

The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

"A jumble of entries, written in different hands, different languages, and different times. They tell of a rumour. A shadow. A killer. The only interest that Oxford Professor Charles Meredith has in the diaries is as a record of Hungarian folklore ... until he comes face to face with a myth.

For Hannah Wilde, the diaries are a survival guide that taught her the three rules she lives by: verify everyone, trust no one, and if in any doubt, run. But Hannah knows that if her daughter is ever going to be safe, she will have to stop running and face the terror that has hunted her family for five generations.

And nothing in the diaries can prepare her for that."

The String Diaries is out early July from Headline. The book has already been selected for the Simon Mayo Book Club on Radio 2. And you can watch the video here.