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The Enterprise of Art

Niklaus Manuel Deutsch is an artist all but forgotten in the modern age. I’m not claiming this is some great travesty, for his work, while quite good, is not necessarily outstanding, nor was he particularly prolific. In fact, Manuel abandoned painting and etching in the last decade of his life to focus on poetry, play writing, and one of the trickiest arts of all, politics. Had he stuck with one or two disciplines perhaps he might have produced a single work that endured through the ages, as opposed to creating many worthy but unexceptional pieces that have been swept away in the great flood of history, occasionally bobbing to the surface in this coffee table book or that academic tome on plays of the Swiss Renaissance.  Of course, that’s simple conjecture–it’s entirely possible that had Manuel lived an extra thirty years and painted every single day of every single one of them he may never have produced anything more memorable than what we already have of his work. It is possible, uncharitable an observation as it is to make about any artist, that the man was simply not a genius, not a savant, that he was as good an artist as he ever could have been. Read the rest of this entry »

The Company Man

From the acclaimed author of Mr. Shivers comes a gripping tale of murder and intrigue set in an America that never was. The Company Man, Robert Jackson Bennett’s second novel, takes place in an alternate early twentieth century America. Part steampunk, part murder mystery, part horror, Robert’s writing is truly unique and original. The Guardian recently had this to say about The Company Man:

“Bennett combines horror, science fiction and alternative history in a slow-burning novel which is both a superb character study of an alienated individual and a critique of heartless capitalism”

Read the rest of this entry »

Cover Launch (and Series Peek): BLOOD RIGHTS

Spring is in the air, and that means it’s about time to start launching some new Orbit book covers! First up we have a cover I’m very excited about, and even better, it’s part of an infamous Orbit 3-in-3-month trilogy. And here you have it, BLOOD RIGHTS by Kristen Painter, which is Book One of the House of Comarré.

Three covers at once is a lot to ask out of an illustrator, but damn, it looks so good all out together on the shelves. Luckily Nekro was up to the challenge. We definitely drove him through the ringer getting the perfect look for the series and for Chrysabelle, our heroine, but his signature black & red work just perfectly sets off her gold signum. Want to know more about that? You’re going to have to read the books! And they were definitely great fun for me to read and work on…the fast-paced adventure of an urban fantasy, mixed with the lush descriptions and gothic romance of an Anne Rice book. And that’s high compliments from me.

For today I’m only launching Book 1, but as soon as 2 & 3 Flesh and Blood and Bad Blood) are completely polished up, I’ll launch the whole trilogy. Finishing touches and all that. Very Exciting. And MAYBE I can show you a little sneak peak of each cover… Read the rest of this entry »

The Dragon’s Path

“With The Long Price Quartet, Daniel Abraham established himself as one of the premiere new fantasists of the last decade.  Now he’s back with a brand new series, one that promises to be even bigger and better.  The Dragon’s Path kicks off The Dagger and the Coin in fine high style, introducing us to a fascinating world and a great cast of beautifully drawn and deeply realized characters, all told in Abraham’s trademark clean and vivid prose.  This one has everything I look for in a fantasy.  I can’t wait for the second book.

— George R.R. Martin

 

Daniel Abraham is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in fantasy. No less than Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz has sung his praises, saying: “Abraham is fiercely talented, disturbingly human, breathtakingly original and even on his bad days kicks all sorts of literary ass.” Everyone from Patrick Rothfuss (“The storytelling is smooth, careful and – best of all – unpredictable.”) to Connie Willis (“To call Daniel Abraham an exciting new author is to wildly understate the case.”) to Brandon Sanderson (“Daniel Abraham knows what he’s doing!”) have weighed in with high praise for Daniel Abraham’s first series, The Long Price Quartet.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Two Tolkiens

Epic fantasy is back.  Peter Jackson brought out an unprecedented work of filmmaking with the Lord of the Rings films.  HBO is rolling out Game of Thrones based on the books of George RR Martin, the man dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine.  The publishing industry is generating a huge number of similar titles by people like Pat Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, and – putting too fine a point on it – me, many of which are showing up on the bestseller’s lists.

The faux-Medieval world of dragons and knights seems like an odd genre to have caught our collective attention, but I think you can gauge a cultural moment by its guilty pleasures.  The same way that our huge romance industry tells us something about our fears about love, and urban fantasies like True Blood and Anita Blake tell us something about our discomfort with femininity and power, the knights and orcs that got us laughed at in middle school are attracting literally billions of dollars.  That means something interesting has happened.

We as a culture are anxious about something, and these particular stories comfort us.  They say something that we, the audience are willing to pay a lot of money to hear but from a distance that we can stand to hear it.

In particular, our two Tolkiens are telling us that we’re tired of war. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ascendant Stars cover art wow

There has been plenty of wow-ing (a technical term we use round these parts) about this glorious visual for Michael Cobley’s next book – The Ascendant Stars. Illustrator Steve Stone and designer Peter Cotton have done us proud with this one and the content is no less exciting I promise you!

This is the culmination of an SF trilogy packed with invention and adventure and you can check out extracts from Seeds of Earth (book 1, UK | ANZ) and The Orphaned Worlds (book 2, UK | ANZ) with more to come in due course on book 3, published in November. Can’t wait. If  you can’t wait either, keep an eye on Mike’s website too for hints, tips and updates.

**METROZONE SIGHTINGS**

WITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE METROZONE COMING IN

Waterloo – 30/03/2011 – 1100 hours:

Southbank – 30/03/2011 – 1500 hours:

Stockwell – 30/03/2011 – 1700 hours:

 REPORT YOUR SIGHTINGS TO THE AUTHORITIES HERE.

READ A SAFETY ADVISORY ABOUT THE METROZONE HERE.

**YOU ARE NOW APPROACHING THE METROZONE**

THROUGHOUT THE CAPITAL, THE SIGNS ARE APPEARING

THE APOCALYPSE IS ALMOST HERE

AND WHAT WILL REMAIN IS THE LONDON METROZONE

WE STRONGLY ADVISE THAT YOU MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE INZONE

INDIVIDUALS LEFT IN THE OUTZONE WILL NOT BE GRANTED CITIZENSHIP

BORDERS WILL SOON BE CLOSING

FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO GAIN ENTRY, VISIT THE NEW OFFICIAL WEBSITE HERE

Cover Launch: KINGDOMS OF DUST by Amanda Downum

Behold the new artwork for the upcoming Kingdoms of Dust Amanda Downum’s rich and exotic fantasy adventure featuring necromancer-spy Isyllt Iskaldur.  

Larry Rostant has done us proud yet again with his luxurious imagery, which we feel perfectly suits Amanda’s lush and atmospheric writing style. And the visual sums up the epic setting for this book: think fiery red deserts, swirling sandstorms and ruined cities . . .

It’s the perfect addition to the gorgeous artwork for the rest of the Necromancer Chronicles series (see all the covers together below). And the joy is that, since these books can be read as stand-alones, you can pick up whichever book most appeals to you first . . . A difficult choice indeed! Larry Rostant: we truly heart you. And tons of thanks must also go to our very talented UK designer Peter Cotton, who put all of these covers together.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Recently, I posted about the influence of history on fantasy and that got me thinking about some of my favourite, historically influenced fantasy periods. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana would have to be right up there—in fact I think it was the authentic, Italian renaissance setting of the opening sequences that helped me fall in love with the story. And the basic premise of the story is straight from history—the divided peninsula of little kingdoms which fail to see the danger of encroaching empires until it is too late. Kay plays with this in Tigana, but basically France and the Holy Roman Empire—with the Turks a very real threat as well—were both encroaching on Italy during the Renaissance period.

I have always loved the stories of 5th century BC Greece—Thermopylae, Marathon and Salamis; the Peloponnesian war; and the Anabasis, the march of the 10,000 out of Asia Minor. I also love the older, more legendary stories such as the siege of Troy and Theseus and the Minotaur, which are both at least semi-historical. I particularly enjoy a fantastic twist on these tales, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Firebrand and David Gemmell’s Macedonian duology, Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince. With Bradley, I liked the way she told the old tale of Troy from the perspective of the women, just as she did with the Arthurian legend in The Mists of Avalon. In the Lion of Macedon, I was fascinated by the way Gemmell focused, not directly on Alexander and his father Philip, but on the general Parmenion. Parmenion is relatively unknown by comparison, but there is some historical weight to the view that it was his military genius that brought about Philip’s victories, which effectively conquered all of Greece. Read the rest of this entry »

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