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AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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SYMBIONTMira Grant

The second terrifying novel in the Parasitology series by New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant!
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Ken MacLeod on Scotland in Science Fiction

Ken MacLeod’s DESCENT is an alien abduction story for the twenty-first century set in Scotland’s near-future, a novel about what happens when conspiracy theorists take on Big Brother. It comes out in paperback this week, and we asked Ken what is is about Scotland that brings him, and other writers, back to it as a science fiction setting again and again.

Two months ago, Scotland was in what Charles Stross called ‘The Scottish Political Singularity’. The referendum made the entire political future so uncertain that even planning a near-future novel set in the UK had become impossible – not least because you couldn’t be sure there would still be a UK to set it in.

My novel Descent, just out in paperback, was written before the result looked close, but I was careful to leave the outcome of the then future referendum open to interpretation. In earlier novels such as The Night Sessions and Intrusion, I’ve also left it up to the reader to decide if the future Scotlands described are independent or not.

Preparing for a recent discussion on ‘Imagining Future Scotlands’ I realised that the majority of my novels are at least partly set in Scotland, or have protagonists whose sometimes far-flung adventures begin in Scotland. And it made me wonder why there haven’t been more. With its sharply varied landscape, turbulent history, and the complex, cross-cutting divisions of national and personal character which Scottish literature has so often explored, Scotland may inspire writers of SF, but as a location it features more often in fantasy.

The result is that there have been many Scottish writers of SF – including Orbit’s very own Michael Cobley, Charles Stross, and the late and much missed Iain M. Banks – but not many SF novels have been set in Scotland. Of those that are, quite a few are written from outside the genre, such as Michel Faber’s Under the Skin. Flying even more cleverly under the genre radar, Christopher Brookmyre has been writing what amounts to an alternate or secret history of contemporary Scotland – some of them, such as Pandaemonium, with SF or fantasy elements – for two decades. And within the genre, there are some well-regarded novels I haven’t read, notably Chris Boyce’s Brainfix. I can’t help feeling I’ve missed stacks of obvious books. If so, I look forward to being corrected in the comments.

Let’s start with straight, unarguable genre SF.

Halting State by Charles Stross is a police procedural set in a near-future independent Scottish republic. Unlike many fictional detectives, the heroine is married, and her wife understands her. The multi-viewpoint second-person narration, though disorienting at first, soon becomes transparent – you could say you get used to it – and apt for a novel set partly in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. From the opening shots of a bank robbery in virtual reality, the story has you under arrest and briskly frogmarched along.

Time-Slip by Graham Dunstan Martin is a much grimmer vision of a future Scotland. Decades after a nuclear war, the Scottish Kirk has resumed its dour dominance of society. Our sympathy for the hero, a young heretic who founds a new religious movement on his rediscovery of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, fades as the implications sink in. It’s a thought-through and engaging novel, sadly out of print, but easily available secondhand.

Not quite SF, but set in a (then) future with a deft touch or two of technological extrapolation, the political thriller Scotch on the Rocks is an old-school Tory take on an armed insurrection for Scottish independence. Sex and violence are never far away. Glasgow gangs and Moscow gold play a bit part behind the scenes. Given that it was written by Douglas Hurd and Andrew Osmond, this isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the sharpness of its insight into the issues that drive the independence movement, from cultural alienation through economic decline to nukes on the Clyde. The speeches, give or take the odd detail, could have been delivered this September.

Moving to fantasy, Alasdair Gray’s Lanark is often rightly cited as a landmark in Scottish literature. It was an avowed influence on Iain Banks’s The Bridge, the closest Iain ever came to writing SF set in Scotland. But my own favourite of Gray’s novels is Poor Things, a Scottish revisioning of Frankenstein that confronts the poor creature with the harsh self-confidence of the Victorian age and that age with her outraged innocence.

Michael Scott Rohan’s science-fantasy novel Chase the Morning starts in Scotland – or at least in a port very like Leith – and casts off for worlds unknown on an endless ocean, full of adventure and romance. Its striking image of the Spiral, in which ships magically sail upward beyond the horizon to farther seas in the sky, was inspired by the vista down the Firth of Forth. On some evenings looking down the Firth you can’t tell where the sea ends and the sky begins, or what’s a cloud and what’s an island. Like all good science fiction and fantasy, this novel and its sequels make us see the real world in a different light.

Finally, we shouldn’t forget Scotland’s abiding presence in the wider field: Victor Frankenstein built the mate for his creature on a remote Orkney island; the Mars mission that opens Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land had as its prime contractor the University of Edinburgh; and Star Trek‘s engineer Scotty was born in Linlithgow . . . a few miles from Scotland’s notorious UFO hotspot, Bonnybridge.

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TOUCH – the new thriller from the author of HARRY AUGUST

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live another person’s life?

Claire North has, and we’re very excited to now present the cover for TOUCH (UK | US | ANZ) – her electrifying new thriller with a protagonist who can jump from one body to another, just with a touch.

Claire is the author of THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST (UK | US | ANZ), one of the bestselling genre books of the year which was picked for all three of the Richard and Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and the BBC Radio 2 Book Club in the same year – a feat which is almost unprecedented.

The novel has impressed people across the board, from Peter F. Hamilton:

“Claire North’s sophisticated writing and astute plotting have made this my book of the year”

To M. R. Carey:

‘Astonishing . . . Bold, magical and masterful’

To Judy Finnigan:

‘Utterly readable, utterly believable and compelling . . . one of the fiction highlights of the decade’

Her new novel TOUCH, dare I say it, may impress them even more.

It’s coming in February 2015 and is available for pre-order now. Catch it while you can . . .

The underworld trembles at the rise of the sun – A DANCE OF GHOSTS is available now!

“…a winning combination of A Game of Thrones, sword-and-sorcery RPGs, and vivid description.” –  Publishers Weekly on A DANCE OF CLOAKS

Today is the publication day of David Dalglish’s latest Shadowdance novel – A DANCE OF GHOSTS (US | UK | AUS)!

For longtime fans of the series, today is particularly exciting as it marks the first Shadowdance book that has never been previously published in any format.

What lies ahead for Haern and the city of Veldaren? Nothing but trouble that’s for sure.

A night of fire and blood heralds Muzien the Darkhand’s arrival to Veldaren. With him comes the might of the Sun Guild, eager to spread their criminal empire.

Left blind after being attacked by the Widow, Alyssa Gemcroft struggles to hold together the remnants of the Trifect as the Sun Guild’s arrival threatens to shatter whatever future her son might have left.

Veldaren’s only hope is in the Watcher, but Haern is no longer there. With his father, Thren Felhorn, he is traveling to the Stronghold, an ancient bastion of the dark paladins of Karak. Will they find the answers they seek? Or will the Stronghold be their final destination?

On BuzzFeed, David Dalglish pulls back the curtain on the editorial process. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a book, while we try and talk his editor out of murdering him.

Listen to a sample from the audiobook below!

Rob-Boffard
Interstellar movie, reviewed by Rob Boffard, author of scifi thriller Tracer

Interstellar official movie poster © Warner Bros UK

*Spoiler alert!*

It took me a little while to work out what was bothering me about Interstellar.

The realisation came about two thirds of the way in, when Matthew McConaughey and his merry band of intergalactic explorers were contemplating another dive into the black hole which has flung them to the other end of the universe in the search for a new home for humanity. It was then that I had the thought, “This would work so much better as a TV series.”

Going through a black hole, if we are to believe physicist (and executive producer) Kip Thorne, is a very noisy, turbulent, chaotic experience. So is the movie. Director Christopher Nolan never stops blasting you with information: quantum mechanics, on-planet disasters, portentous imagery, space-time fluctuations, really loud music, and lots and lots of Dylan Thomas.

And boy, do things happen fast. One minute, McConaughey and company are puttering about on Earth trying to grow corn, and the next they’re at the other side of the cosmos, seeing if humanity can survive on a watery planet with mountainous waves (spoiler: we can’t).

There are other problems too. The sound mix is ridiculous, juxtaposing the silence of space with long periods of bombarding your eardrums with noise. And there are several glaring plot-holes. My particular favourite: ace ex-NASA pilot McConaughey is living just down the road from their secret facility, but they somehow never bother to pop on over to his farm and ask for his help. Naturally, when he shows up on their doorstep, they immediately insert him into the ship crew. I feel a bit bad for the poor bastard he replaced.

Perhaps the biggest letdown is that the movie never asks the most important question. If humanity has wrecked the Earth so badly, do we even deserve to survive? At no point do any of the astronauts and scientists stop to ask whether we’ve learnt enough not to screw up the next planet we land on. Nolan is happy to speculate on spaceship mechanics, the power of family and the ability of love to cross the infinite gulf of space, but he never wonders if we’ve done enough to deserve any of it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see Interstellar. For one thing, there’s nothing else that looks quite like it. Everything from the different planets to the dusty, scorched fields on Earth to the black hole itself is just gob-smacking. Nolan is known for astounding imagery, but this is next level. And while McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and company are by no means giving the best performances of their careers, there’s still enough meat to make things compelling.

In the hands of a TV showrunner like David Simon or Vince Gilligan, Interstellar would be absolutely essential. In the hands of a director like Nolan, it’s a wildly ambitious movie that doesn’t quite deliver. Caine’s scientist enjoys quoting Dylan Thomas – that old chestnut about not going gently into that good night – but perhaps a more appropriate reference would be Shakespeare. Specifically, Macbeth. Interstellar may not have been told by an idiot, but it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Rob Boffard is a journalist and the author of the upcoming scifi thriller novel TRACER, releasing in July 2015.

Goodreads Choice Awards: the Semi-Finals

The semi-final round of voting for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards is now open until 15 November, and we have ever more titles in this round than in the opening round! Get your votes in for your favourite fantasy, science fiction and horror books of 2014.

 

Fantasy – VOTE NOW

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks (UK | US |AUS)

SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher (UK | AUS)

NIGHT BROKEN by Patricia Briggs (UK | AUS)

SHATTERED by Kevin Hearne (UK | AUS)

TOWER LORD by Anthony Ryan (UK | AUS)

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks   SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher   NIGHT BROKEN   SHATTERED, the seventh Iron Druid book from Kevin Hearne, an urban fantasy series starting with Hounded   Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

 

Science Fiction – VOTE NOW

CIBOLA BURN by James S. A. Corey (UK | US |AUS)

ANCILLARY SWORD by Ann Leckie (UK | US |AUS)

THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North (UK | US |AUS)

HEAVEN’S QUEEN by Rachel Bach (UK | US |AUS)

EARTH AWAKENS by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (UK | AUS)

Corey_CibolaBurn_HC   Leckie_AncillarySword_TPB   The cover for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, a Richard and Judy Book Club 2014 pick   HEAVEN'S QUEEN by Rachel Bach   Earth Awakens, book three of The First Formic War series by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston - a prequel series to Ender's Game

 

Horror – VOTE NOW

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (UK | US |AUS)

THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross (UK | AUS)

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey   THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross

 

DEAD HEAT, the new Alpha and Omega novel from Patricia Briggs

Great news! In March 2015 we’ll be releasing DEAD HEAT (UK | ANZ)  a new urban fantasy novel from Patricia Briggs – and it’s a brand new Alpha and Omega book. FAIR GAME (UK | ANZ) was the last novel in this series, and fans have been dying to find out what happens next to Anna and Charles . . .

It’s very much a case of “opposites attract” with these two. With Charles being an Alpha and Anna being an Omega, they  represent the different sides of the shifter personality. Watching their relationship develop, and how they face each dangerous new situation together is just so addictive . . .

Please see here our brand new cover artwork for the book, which is from the illustrator Fred Gambino. Look out for it in March 2015, and read the blurb below!

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, or at least it starts out that way . . .

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up – and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

DISCOVER THE NEW CHARLES AND ANNA NOVEL 2 FROM THE NO. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING PATRICIA BRIGGS.

Meet Rob Boffard – author of the upcoming TRACER

Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming science fiction thriller TRACER

Tracer, the upcoming science fiction thriller from Rob Boffard

 

 

 

 

 

We’re delighted to introduce Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming TRACER, a heart-stopping SF novel set in space which will be released next summer.

As a newbie to the Orbit list, we asked Rob a few questions about what we can expect from him in 2015 . . .

– Tell us a bit about yourself!

I come from Johannesburg, and can speak enough Zulu to prove it. I have glasses, terrible hair, and exceptionally long arms. I’m 29, obsessed with hip-hop, tattoos, plane tickets, snowboarding, and the Chicago Bulls. And good stories. Both telling them, and reading them.

For the majority of my adult life, I’ve worked as a journalist, being paid specifically to not make stuff up. The fact that I can now do the exact opposite at a place like Orbit is both weird and amazing.

– What can readers expect from your new book TRACER?

I wanted to make this the baddest, fastest, craziest, most intense scifi thriller you’re going to read next year, or any year after it. It’s set on a massive space station, Outer Earth, which holds the last humans in the universe. The station’s been there for a while – everything is broken, rusted, falling apart. Nothing works anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome To Night Vale European Tour

Welcome To Night ValeHands up who was lucky enough to go to the Night Vale European Tour! Now put your hands down again. Quickly, you don’t know who is watching and whether they already know too much.

Yes, podcast sensation Welcome To Night Vale visited Europe for the first time this October and will be wrapping up their tour this week at the O2 Academy in Shepherd’s Bush. We think there may be tickets still available, in fact. Here at Orbit, we got tickets to the first night, which was an absolute stunner at the Union Chapel.

We don’t want to spoil anything, because really the less you know the better if you’re going to see it, but suffice to say we laughed, we cried, we screamed, we pondered the meaninglessness of our existence and we  talked to absolute strangers. That was awkward. But awkward in a good way, you know? Like when you trip over and spill your coffee on a stranger  only to fall in love with them and then discover three months into the relationship that they’re actually a creature from the void wearing human skin but they imbue you with fantastic powers somehow and you remain good friends.

We were also lucky enough to meet our fabulous authors Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, whose Welcome to Night Vale novel we are going to be publishing late next year. We also met Cecil Baldwin: the fantastic star and voice of Night Vale. And yes, we have photographic proof.

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Our big question to everyone out there is have you listened to Welcome to Night Vale yet? And if not, prepare for the most hilarious and dark experience of your lives: listen now. Seriously: right now.

For more information on the Welcome to Night Vale novel, stay tuned to the Orbit UK Facebook page where we’ll be posting updates as they come in.

Purchase THE CITY STAINED RED and you could be eligible to receive a special gift!

A day in the life of an adventurer is not all fun and games, as Lenk and his reckless band of warriors will surely attest to. Everything wants to kill you; nobody wants to pay you; and it’s just about certain that you’ll die horribly.

But the life does have a certain appeal for the right sort of personality. If you’re that sort of thrill-seeker, step up to the gate and purchase THE CITY STAINED RED by Sam Sykes. The e-book is only $1.99 for a limited time. Plus, if you purchase it now, you could be eligible to pick up a free signed comic book.

Fill out the form HERE (providing proof of purchase) to claim a copy for yourself while supplies last. This offer is only open to residents of  the United States.

If you’ve already bought and are enjoying THE CITY STAINED RED, consider supporting the author further by becoming a supporter on Thunderclap.

To read an excerpt from the novel, visit the author’s website and find out more about the world and its characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Goodreads Choice Awards: The Opening Round

The initial round of voting for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards is open! Below are the selection of Orbit titles that we’re really proud to see have made the list.

Fantasy – VOTE NOW

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks (UK | US |AUS)

SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher (UK | AUS)

NIGHT BROKEN by Patricia Briggs (UK | AUS)

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks   SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher   NIGHT BROKEN

 

Science Fiction – VOTE NOW

CIBOLA BURN by James S. A. Corey (UK | US |AUS)

ANCILLARY SWORD by Ann Leckie (UK | US |AUS)

THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North (UK | US |AUS)

HEAVEN’S QUEEN by Rachel Bach (UK | US |AUS)

Corey_CibolaBurn_HC   Leckie_AncillarySword_TPB   The cover for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, a Richard and Judy Book Club 2014 pick   HEAVEN'S QUEEN by Rachel Bach

 

Horror – VOTE NOW

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (UK | US |AUS)

THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross (UK | AUS)

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey   THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross

 

If your favourite Orbit title of 2014 isn’t listed, you can also still enter a write-in vote for it at the bottom of each genre page.

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