Category: Orbit UK
- - September 25th, 2015
We interviewed Angus Watson, author of the Iron Age trilogy. Angus debuted last year with the action-packed historical fantasy adventure AGE OF IRON. The final book in the trilogy, REIGN OF IRON, comes out this month.
What would be your quick pitch for the Iron Age trilogy?
Buy this book or I’ll drown these baby raccoons. Not really! AGE OF IRON is the best adventure story set in the Iron Age that you will ever read. Although younger readers might be better off with the Asterix books.
The final book in the series comes out this month, how does it feel to have completed the series?
I loved school and was sad to leave, but also looking forward to the next adventures. Finishing AGE OF IRON after around five years’ work feels like that. I used to think it was pretentious and a lie when authors said that characters had become their friends, but, annoyingly, it is rather like that when you spend days, weeks then months and even years sitting at your desk with only these made up people for company (and, in my case, two cats).
So, wanky as it sounds, I’m genuinely sad to leave old friends when we’ve been through so much together. However, I’m looking forward to meeting new people in the next trilogy and I daresay that some of my old friends, or at least parts of them, will be reincarnated.
And how does it feel to see the amazing reactions the book is getting?
It feels brilliant. Like spending ages on a project and then walking into a big room full of people telling you how much they like it and how well you’ve done. The odd bad review I’ve received is the opposite of that – like someone walking up to you and telling you that you’re an idiot. Luckily there aren’t enough of those yet to fill a big room, or even a small one.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Probably Dug, because he could say or think whatever the badger’s balls he wanted to.
Who are your biggest influences?
Douglas Adams, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick O’Brian, Scott Lynch, Carl Hiaasen, Iain Banks, Thomas Hardy and my Mum.
When you walk into a bookshop which section do you gravitate to first?
I buy pretty much all books online, so I’m most likely to be in a bookshop to meet a friend (note to everyone, especially internet daters – bookshops are great places to meet before pub, dinner or whatever). I used to go straight to the comic / graphic novel section so that I’d have a chance to read a substantial part of something before whoever turned up. Now I go to the fantasy section to make sure that my books are displayed prominently enough.
Where’s your favorite bookshop?
The Waterstones in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush, London. Westfield is a vast shopping center full of the dreariest, see-them-everywhere, uninspiring, unchallenging clothes shops you can imagine. Waterstones may be a chain, but, since it sells books, it stands out from the other shops like a towering volcano island of quality and knowledge from a slurry sea of vacuous crap.
What are you working on next, can you give us a hint?
I’ve researched for a few months, and now just started writing a new epic fantasy trilogy in which a mismatched group of refugees will battle animals and monsters, determined assassins, depraved tribes, an unforgiving landscape and each other as they cross a continent to fulfil a prophesy . . . how’s that for a hint?
- - September 22nd, 2015
We remember when urban fantasy first arrived on our shelves, but the genre has changed significantly since then. Are these stories still popular? If so, why? We asked some of Orbit’s authors for their take on the genre’s past, present and future.
Where does urban or contemporary fantasy come from?
JIM BUTCHER, author of the bestselling Dresden Files, as well as recent adventure fantasy THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS
‘Urban fantasy is nothing more or less than the resurgence of fairy tales. We’ve changed what our big bad wolves look and act like, and our forests appear somewhat different than they used to, and Little Red Riding Hood is generally much more heavily armed than she has traditionally been, but we’re telling the same stories, in the same ways, with the same emphasis on the fantastic and the terror and delight of its clash with our everyday world.
It’s the everyday reality that so many of us find terrifying – to such a degree that we flee to tales of vampires and werewolves and dark sorcerers just to lighten the mood.’
CHARLIE FLETCHER, author of THE OVERSIGHT and THE PARADOX
‘People have always created stories to try and make sense of stuff they could neither see nor understand. ‘Urban’ fantasy is just a logical step since as society has become less rural and more metropolitan so the old dark woods of the old fairy-stories have been replaced by a sodium-lit concrete jungle. And of course we may have moved to the cities, but we brought our darkness with us.
There’s a lot of product jammed in under the urban fantasy label that doesn’t do it for me, but the books that do mean something to me are the ones that engage creatively with the inevitable transition from the old to the new world and deal with its consequences as a central part of the story (AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman is a particularly fine and definitive example of this).’
What does the future of urban fantasy look like?
LILITH SAINTCROW, author of the Bannon and Clare Affairs and BLOOD CALL, as well as many other urban fantasy series
‘I think the last five years, as with any shiny new trend, have brought a certain amount of reader fatigue. Urban fantasy isn’t going away, but it’s not so much of a Wild West ‘let’s throw a vampire in there and hope it sticks!’ anymore. Which is very good, if sometimes frustrating when paranormal or urban fantasy is what you want to write.
After working in publishing for so long, I see “urban fantasy” as a genre title, nothing less, nothing more. There’s always a market for tales well told, and urban fantasy, like any genre, offers a set of tools and toys for a writer to play with.’
BENEDICT JACKA, author of the Alex Verus novels
‘I’d have trouble pinning down exactly how urban fantasy’s changed over the last five years, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll stay popular for the foreseeable future. The mash-up nature of urban fantasy lets it evolve easily, and the sources it draws on (comic books, games, epic fantasy) still have a lot of resonance for city-dwellers. So while I’d expect the type of urban fantasy stories to shift over time, I think the genre will stick around for a good while yet.’
PATRICIA BRIGGS, author of the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series
‘There isn’t a reader appetite for urban fantasy the way there used to be. Five years ago, any book that was urban fantasy was guaranteed a certain number of readers. I think, and it is not a bad thing, that readers are pickier now. For me as a reader, right now, what I love about urban fantasy is that there are so many good storytellers working in this field. Good stories still work and can still find an audience, though it might take longer to find a readership than before.
One of the things that I actually like about this is that we are seeing more diversity in books that are published again. I love, love, urban fantasy. But I also love space opera, traditional fantasy, and contemporary fantasy – and those genres were getting drowned.’
ELLIOTT JAMES, author of CHARMING
‘I like to read stories where the extra-ordinary and the ordinary mingle. Some people sneer at escapist literature, but “escape” implies relief, release, and freedom, none of which are bad things. Escape also inevitably holds a mirror up to the thing being escaped from.
Urban fantasy often gives ordinary characters a chance to demonstrate extraordinary qualities. It encourages readers to examine what it means to be human through contrast or by eliminating a lot of the obvious assumptions.
There have always been stories that introduced fantastical otherworldly elements into the everyday knockabout world that we humans optimistically call reality, and I expect there always will be.’
- - September 18th, 2015
This September we have a fantastic series of events lined up in the UK for Claire North – bestselling author of THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST and TOUCH – and Stephen Aryan – debut author of magic-fuelled and explosive fantasy epic, BATTLEMAGE (released this month). Follow the event links below for more details:-
‘An Evening with Claire North’ at Waterstones Leeds, Monday 21nd September, 7pm
‘An Evening with Local Author Stephen Aryan’ at Waterstones Leeds, Tuesday 22nd September, 7pm
‘An evening with Claire North’ at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, Tuesday 22nd September, 7pm
Stephen Aryan signing BATTLEMAGE at Forbidden Planet, Shaftsbury Avenue, London, Tuesday 29th September, 5:30pm
Super Relaxed Fantasy Club – Stephen Aryan reading and drinks at The Grange Holborn Hotel (Rooftop ‘Sky Bar’), 50-60 Southampton Row, London, 29th Sept, 6:30pm until late
‘An evening with Claire North’ at Waterstones Liverpool, Wednesday 30th September, 6.30pm
Also look out for upcoming appearances from Stephen Aryan at Fantasycon in Nottingham in October, and SLEDGE-LIT – alongside Guest of Honour Charles Stross, and THE OVERSIGHT author Charlie Fletcher – in Derby in November.
- - September 17th, 2015
Today, we’re very excited to unveil the newest novel in the the Seraphim series by USA Today bestselling author, David Dalglish. If you like aerial combat, swords on fire and more than a touch of mayham and war, then this is the series for you.
Art by Tommy Arnold, Design by Kirk Benshoff
Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned.
A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center’s tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side.
Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them.
This is the second novel in the trilogy and follows Skyborn, (US | UK | ANZ) which is out this November and it is available for pre-order now. To read more about the cover design process and the art of Tommy Arnold, check out this article.
“David Dalglish’s Skyborn is a compelling story. More than anything it reminds me of the best aspects of the Final Fantasy (ital or no?) games with their flying islands, fast pacing, and tonal mix of sunlight and shadow. Once you pick up Skyborn you won’t want to put it down, as the story carries you along from one high contrast moment to the next. Dalglish has really mastered the art of focusing the reader’s attention. I expect this series to fly off the shelves.”
“A soaring tale that nails the high notes. Skyborn had me gazing heavenward, imagining what could be.”
- - September 14th, 2015
We’re excited to be able to share the cover for Babylon’s Ashes (coming out in June 2016), the sixth novel in James S.A. Corey’s New York Times bestselling Expanse series – now a new original series from the Syfy Channel, premiering December 14th 2015.
Artist Daniel Dociu, Designer Kirk Benshoff.
A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.
The Free Navy – a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships – has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.
James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.
But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante’s problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.
If you haven’t started the series then don’t delay!
For more work by Daniel Dociu, visit his website.
- - September 11th, 2015
We are excited to release the cover for THE OBELISK GATE, which was launched at The Mary Sue earlier this week. This is the second novel in the Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin, and we know that you’ll love it as much as you did the first novel, THE FIFTH SEASON (US | UK | AUS). The Obelisk Gate continues the story of Essun and Alabaster as each continue their search. A post-apocalyptic fantasy at its core, this is a novel of the end of the world, of secrets revealed and of betrayals that still scar the land.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.
The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring — madman, world-crusher, savior — has returned with a mission: to train his successor, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.
It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.
Check out what reviewers have been saying about The Fifth Season:
“Intricate and extraordinary.”
— New York Times
“[Jemisin has packed] sumptuous detail and dimensionality… into her premise. … Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come.”
— NPR Books
“Elegiac, complex, and intriguing…. Jemisin’s graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Multi-award winner Jemisin breaks uncharted ground with this long-awaited title…. A must-buy for all speculative fiction collections.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now…. [She] is a master at what she does.”
— RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
“[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn’t become apparent till toward the end of the novel.”
- - September 9th, 2015
I love me a great sci fi novel, and these are great sci fi novels! I got assigned the Lazarus War series by Jamie Sawyer (US | UK | AUS) which is set in a future where mankind battles a hostile alien race. All that protects us are an elite military team, remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war.
Lauren had reached out to the ever talented Ioan Dumitrescu to work on the series. Jon took the proverbial bull by the horns and came back with illustrations that blow you away like an old school Maxell Ad. It only seemed appropriate to have the art keep pace with the story, so we wanted movement and action that jumps off the page!
Here’s Jon (Ioan) to talk about the project!
Hi everybody, my name is Ioan Dumitrescu and im a professional concept designer / ilustrator for games and movies.
And sometimes im in that zen zone where i get to do sci fi book covers. This time that opportunity came with Lazarus War by Jamie Sawyer.
Story about incredible space battles between starships and behemoth alien flotillas, plasma shooting crazy dudes, in short an adrenaline rush ride.
My first assignment came from Lauren P, and i was briefed to work around a lead ship. The thing i love about doing book covers is they give me a great freedom to experiment and see where it can take me. The starship was supposed to be a bulky, can take a hit, huge gun/ cannon.
Stage 2 Sketch
The vibe i followed was to make a very dynamic image, and show a race for life. I took advantage of 3d to get the best angle and shapes. After that the image started coming along, having a huge star like explosion, which i thought would show how anything can happen at any given moment. We also see a glimpse of the aliens, the Krell ( thats a cool alien name) with their smaller needle attack ships, that swarm and overwhelm. The colors of orange yellows described the imeddiate danger the starship is in, but you can also see hints of blue and green at the front which gives hope to escaping alive.Next came the email from Kirk B, saying to start focusing on the second book, which would come down to showing what the Krell are all about, behemoth motherships, 10 times the size of the starships, that deliver thousands of expendable attack ships. Process was similar, using 3d to decide on the best angle. I wasnt ready to give up on the dynamic action packed feeling, and i also wanted to be different from the „all out” first cover.I decided to show the moment before the Krells choose and attack their targets. Having left the last battle in the background, now stands the mothership, in all its biomechanic glory, in a somehow proud stance, a relic of times unknown, that conquers everything it sets it sight on, no fear, no emotion. I choose to make it a bit more slimy and also a small tribute to the genius of H.R Giger. It just felt right! All the attack ships are waiting to jump at their target when given the order! Tension in the air treated with an unearthy like calm. The colors followed that feeling, having the ship wrapped in serene white light and surrounded by blacking greens. The touch of red is also a sign of the carnage that might follow.
Initial Ship Designs
This can now only get me thinking of what might be the 3d book cover, im thinking of something more intimate, that would bring the viewer and reader closer to the characters that take the action further.
I hope you enjoy the past and future covers to come!
Final Art for Book 1
Final Art for Book 2
So, without adieu, I’m thrilled to present the covers to the first two books in the Lazarus War series by Jamie Sawyer!
The Lazarus War: Artefact and The Lazarus War: Legion is out now!
- - August 19th, 2015
Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “laugh in the face of danger,” K.S. Merbeth’s upcoming debut, BITE, will make you chuckle, it will make you cry — but most importantly, it is going to make you fear our very possible and not so distant future.
To find out a little bit more about the brains behind this epic debut, we’ve asked Merbeth to stop by and answer a few of our burning questions:
Where did the idea for BITE come from?
In post-apocalyptic stories, there are always groups of gun-toting psychos looting and killing their way through life. They’re usually presented as mindless villains, by-products of the craziness of the world, without backstories or motivations or anything that makes them seem human. And yet, they are human. So I started to wonder – who are these people? How’d they end up this way? What are their lives like behind the scenes? And those questions spawned the idea of a story with typical “bad guys,” a crew of raiders, as the protagonists.
How did you create such an unusual cast of characters?
Well, to be honest, I’ve never really been a fan of “normal” characters and standard heroes. Instead, I tend to fall in love with fascinating villains and weird side-characters – so those are the types of characters I end up creating, but in my case they’re the main cast. I started with some basic concepts and traits, but discovered a lot about the characters through writing the first draft. Many of them – especially Kid, my main character – really seemed to develop on their own.
Which character was your favorite to write?
That’s a tough one! Kid, of course, was super fun because of her tendency to magnificently screw things up, and the crew’s leader, Wolf, is full of one-liners that I thoroughly enjoyed writing. However, I think my favorite overall was Dolly. She’s a blue-haired markswoman who kicks some serious ass, and her odd personality creates a lot of awkward, interesting interactions with the other characters.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson… there are plenty more, but those are some of my favorites!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Aside from reading, my main hobby is playing video games, which I probably spend way too much time doing. I also enjoy board games, binge-watching a variety of TV shows, cooking (badly), and laughing at horror movies. As for things that actually force me to get out of my pajamas and leave the house, I love to travel! I really like experiencing new places, new food, and new beer.
What are some of your favorite dystopian films or video games?
First of all, the latest Mad Max may be new, but it’s already secured a special place in my heart. Some of my other favorites are The Road, Zombieland, and The Matrix. Games-wise, I’m a big fan of the Left 4 Dead and Fallout series!
BITE will hitting bookshelves next summer. To find out more about the novel, check out the acquisition announcement.
- - August 18th, 2015
And now it’s here! THE PARADOX, the very, very, very much-awaited sequel to Charlie Fletcher’s THE OVERSIGHT is out this week, and . . .
“I’ll certainly be reading the next one” Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
the critics who loved THE OVERSIGHT . . .
“The start of something amazing” Mike Carey
will clearly . . .
“The second book can’t come soon enough” Booklist (starred review)
be . . .
“If there is a sequel to this then I shall be first in line to read it” Fantasy Book Review
very . . .
“It’s going to be something special” SF Site
happy . . .
“I’d read a prequel this evening, a sequel as soon as.” Niall Alexander, Tor.com
to . . .
“Promises a trilogy worth sinking your teeth into” SciFiNow
hear . . .
“Go on and relish The Oversight without further prompting – then we can all wait eagerly for more!” Locus
If you missed Charlie at the Nine Worlds convention last week, he’ll be at Edinburgh Book Fair on 21st August and Sledge-Lit in Nottingham in November. If you can’t make it to the UK, look out for his upcoming slot on John Scalzi’s The Big Idea, or find out what he’s up to on twitter at @CharlieFletch_r. THE PARADOX is out this week in ebook and print.
- - August 17th, 2015
We’re very proud to present the UK cover for FIRE TOUCHED, the new Mercy Thompson novel by Patricia Briggs.
Waiting for the next Mercy book can be tough for urban fantasy fans, since we’re all on the edge of our seat to find out what happens next in this gripping series . . . But we’re glad to say that that it’s coming in March 2016 and is available for pre-order now.
There’s a real treat in store with this new book . . . see what’s to come below!
Mercy Thompson is back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer . . .
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.
Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?