Category: Orbit US
In the interview section at the back of FORTUNE’S PAWN, I explained that the reason I originally decided to write the Paradox books was because I wanted to read an action packed SF romance and couldn’t find one, so I created my own. This is a true story, but it’s also true that my sudden reading urge wasn’t the only reason I decided to write about a female soldier turned mercenary who fights aliens, has a romantic subplot, and gets herself involved in a conspiracy that might doom all sentient life in the galaxy. You see, before all that, before Paradox and the xith’cal, even before Devi sauntered into my brain and informed me that I was writing her novel right that minute, I was already on the hunt for somewhere to put the Lady Grey.
I’ve been in love with powered armor since I watched my first mecha anime as a pre-teen renting anime tapes from Blockbuster in the dark days of the mid-90s. The idea of wrapping a person with all our fragile, soft flesh and emotional instability inside a machine that granted super human powers, but only under limits and often at huge costs, was like catnip for my young story-obsessed brain. I actually liked the price even better than the power it bought. Power alone is boring. It’s what power does to people—why they want it, how it changes them, and what they’re willing to do to keep it—that’s where the novel is.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a well told superhero story, you already know that the most compelling part of a any hero is their humanity. We don’t love Batman because of his toys, we love him for what he does with them, and why. We are, in short, far more interested in the man than the bat. Similarly, superheroes who have no weaknesses are boring. Even Superman, the most wish-fulfillment of all wish-fulfillment characters, needed kryptonite to be compelling in the long term.
Powered armor takes this idea a step further. Devi’s suit gives her what are essentially superpowers. She’s super fast, super tough, and super strong. She has eyes in the back of her head, the ability to look up almost any information with a thought, and a literal photographic memory. But none of this power is really hers. She’s just the driver, the breakable, fragile human at the heart of everything, and the knowledge that her power can be damaged, taken away, or even simply run out of energy, is what makes her plights that much more interesting and tense.
Powered armor certainly wasn’t the only way I could have done this. There are a million ways in Science Fiction to make someone super powered. I could have given Devi implants, or made her a genetically modified super soldier. But all of these things would have been hers, and I didn’t want that. I wanted Devi’s powers to be something she something she had to pay for and could only use at great personal risk, because the person who has the guts to willingly put their neck on the line for the power to achieve their goals is also the person who can function without it. Take Superman’s powers away and he becomes a whiny embarrassment sulking in his Fortress of Solitude. Take Batman’s money and gadgets away and he’s still freaking Batman.
This vulnerability is why I think powered armor is such a staple in our collective imagination. It’s the ultimate unstable power—a supreme weapon that’s stealable, breakable, hackable, and only ever one technological glitch away from being a metal mausoleum—and the character who chooses to use it even in the face of all those flaws is practically guaranteed to be the sort of hardcore badass you want to read about. I put Devi in the Lady Gray precisely because I wanted her to be the sort of heroine who, when I blasted her suit full of holes, would use the sharp edges to go for her enemy’s throat. The Lady Gray made Devi every bit as much as she made the Lady Gray, and I wouldn’t want either of them any other way.
Rachel Bach is the author of Paradox, a three part, heavy ordinance blast of Science Fiction that starts with FORTUNE’S PAWN (US | UK | AUS) and continues with HONOUR’S KNIGHT (US | UK | AUS), out now! Want to find out more about the Paradox series? Read the interview, which appeared in the back of FORTUNE’S PAWN.
- - February 13th, 2014
We are delighted to announce that Ann Leckie won the Golden Tentacle at the Kitschie Awards last night, in a ceremony at London’s Seven Dials Club. The judges were charged to find the most progressive, intelligent and entertaining genre novel written by a debut author in 2013, and picked ANCILLARY JUSTICE, Ann’s incredible space opera tale, released by Orbit last October.
Other winners on the night were Will Staehle, who won the Inky Tentacle for best cover art for his work on THE AGE ATOMIC; Ruth Ozeki, whose TALE FOR THE TIME BEING won the Red Tentacle for Best Novel, and Malorie Blackman, who won the Black Tentacle for a special contribution to genre literature.
Previous Kitschie winners include Patrick Ness, Lauren Beukes, China Miéville and Nick Harkaway. Winners receive £2,000 in prize money, as well as one of the prize’s iconic handmade Tentacles and (of course) a bottle of Kraken rum.
Here’s what others have been saying about ANCILLARY JUSTICE:
‘Our #1 pick for the year’s best science fiction or fantasy book . . . this Iain M. Banks-esque tale was the book that made us most excited about the future of science fiction in 2013’ io9.com
‘It’s not every day a debut novel by an author you’d never heard of before derails your entire afternoon with its brilliance’ Liz Bourke, Tor.com
‘Unexpected, compelling and very cool – Ann Leckie nails it. I’ve never met a heroine like Breq before. I consider this a very good thing indeed’ John Scalzi
‘Thrilling, moving and awe-inspiring’ Guardian
‘Signals the arrival of a hard science fiction author who just might fill the gap left by Iain M. Banks. ANCILLARY JUSTICE is a highly original novel. Highly recommended’ Independent on Sunday
‘Total gamechanger. Get it, read it, wish to hell you’d written it. Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE may well be the most important book Orbit have published in ages’ Paul Graham Raven
‘Establishes Leckie as an heir to Banks and Cherryh’ Elizabeth Bear
You can read a sample from ANCILLARY JUSTICE here. To find out more about the author, check out her website or follow her on twitter at @ann_leckie.
- - February 4th, 2014
Citizens! WOLFHOUND CENTURY is out now in paperback with a brand new look for the new format. (Click here for a larger view.) This brilliant debut will have you at the edge of your seat and waiting eagerly for more, so it’s a good thing that the next book in the series, TRUTH AND FEAR, will be available for purchase next month!
In WOLFHOUND CENTURY, Investigator Vissarion Lom is summoned to the Capital to catch a terrorist, and his task will not be an easy one. The flame of revolution burns brightly in Mirgorod, pulling Investigator Lom deeper into a war between the people and their corrupt totalitarian state. Meanwhile, in the forests beyond the Capital, a powerful archangel has fallen to Earth. Great and terrible changes are coming to the land.
As you can see below, the hardcover release received many fantastic words of praise, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Praise for WOLFHOUND CENTURY:
“Like vintage China Mieville, but with all the violent narrative thriller drive of Ian Fleming at his edgiest” RICHARD MORGAN
“An amazing, fast-paced story in a fantasy world poised dangerously on the edge of quantum probability, a world where angels war with reality” PETER F. HAMILTON
“I absolutely loved WOLFHOUND CENTURY. Higgins’s world is a truly original creation, Russian cosmism and Slavic mythology filtered through steampunk and le Carre. What really captured me was his beautiful style and language” HANNU RAJANIEMI
“An alternate history that will grab you by the lapels and snap you to attention.”— io9
“Sentient water, censored artists, mechanical constructs, old-fashioned detective work, and the secret police are all woven together in this rich and fascinating tapestry” — Publishers Weekly
“Wolfhound Century merits the attention of Miéville fans looking for something new.” — Far Beyond Reality
“Wolfhound Century is a strange, complex, earthy, sometimes violent read, and one of the best debuts I’ve gotten my hands on.” — My Bookish Ways
“This is a great, dark and fantastical thriller. It has the suspense of classic spy thrillers, mixed with the strange and the bizarre found in any number of critically-acclaimed fantasists.” — Civilian Reader
“Higgins doesn’t just build a world, he also thrusts the reader into it thanks to his incredibly adept use of an intense and stark atmosphere.” — Bookworm Blues
“Very dark, very gritty and very atmospheric. Wolfhound Century is also a book free of genre constraints, allowing for a great original and entertaining read. Top Notch stuff by Peter Higgins.” — The Founding Fields
“Fans of dystopian fiction, noir, and science fiction and fantasy (especially those weary of tired old world building that always seems to center on English history or Western European norms) will find much of interest in this book.” — Nerds of a Feather
Read the first two chapters for yourself, or check out this interview to find out more about Mirgorod and the world of WOLFHOUND CENTURY.
Our good friends at Gollancz are publishing the UK edition of WOLFHOUND CENTURY. Visit their website for more info.
- - February 3rd, 2014
Mur Lafferty will be appearing at the Southwest Regional Library, Durham, NC, 3 PM
M.R. Carey will appear at Topping & Company Booksellers, Bath, 8 PM
Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) is Guest of Honor at Boskone in Boston, MA! Mur Lafferty will also be attending.
Simon Morden will be signing ARCANUM at Forbidden Planet Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, at 1 PM
Christopher Brookmyre will be discussing BEDLAM at Primavera Bistro, The Avenue at Newton Mearns, 7:30 PM
M.R. Carey will appear at Waterstones Liverpool One, Liverpool, at 6 PM
Gail Z. Martin will be attending MystiCon in Roanoke, VA.
- - January 31st, 2014
We’ve had some magnificent new praise Kim Stanley Robinson and his novel SHAMAN (US | UK | AUS). Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder had this to say:
“KSR has turned his formidable knowledge and imagination from outer space and future science onto the deep human past. He unfolds the rich and complex lives of our upper Paleolithic forebears: a lad with no family, called Loon, makes it from boyhood to a role in his small society as a Shaman, under the difficult, nutty, mentorship of an elder named Thorn. His trials, hungers, dangers, and skills remind us that our minds and tools are sophisticated and very ancient. A moment struck by watching the great beauty of a wild horse, a vision of two young women braiding each others’ hair by a stream, put us all in the same place. Wild food, vast landscapes, insight, logic, handiness, lovely and sometimes difficult sex, and talks by the fire – all under the sky – or on a long long walk – make up a world we are still in. I don’t think anyone but Kim Stanley Robinson could have brought this off.”
World-renowned artist Marina Abramović said simply that it was the “best book of the year.”
And finally the New Yorker added that “Robinson is one of our best, bravest, most moral, and most hopeful storytellers.”
You can read the full admiring piece on the author and his work here or read a sample from the novel.
- - January 29th, 2014
Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE has just been shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Best Novel!
With shortlistings also announced for the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Kitschie Awards, Ann’s debut novel has so far been shortlisted for every single science fiction award it is eligible for. Wow!
Our biggest congratulations go to Ann and to all of the other finalists this year! The shortlists were as follows:
GOD’S WAR by Kameron Hurley (Del Rey)
ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
EVENING’S EMPIRES by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)
ACK-ACK MACAQUE by Gareth L. Powell (Solaris)
THE ADJACENT by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
Best Short Fiction
SPIN by Nina Allan (TTA Press)
“Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (STRANGE HORIZONS)
“Saga’s Children” by E. J. Swift (THE LOWEST HEAVEN, Pandemonium)
“Boat in the Shadows Crossing” by Tori Truslow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Cover for Tony Ballantyne’s DREAM LONDON by Joey Hi-fi (Solaris)
Poster for METROPOLIS by Kevin Tong (tragicsunshine.com)
“The Angel at the Heart of the Rain” by Richard Wagner (INTERZONE #246)
WONDERBOOK by Jeff VanderMeer (Abrams Image)
“Going Forth by Night” by John J. Johnston (UNEARTHED, Jurassic)
“Sleeps with Monsters” by Liz Bourke (Tor.com)
The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the Satellite4 Eastercon science fiction convention the Crown Plaza Hotel, Glasgow, where you can also meet Orbit authors such as Charles Stross and Ken MacLeod.
- - January 28th, 2014
Today we are proud to release ARCANUM (UK | US | ANZ), a majestic standalone epic fantasy from none other than the Philip K. Dick award-winning Simon Morden.
Having won the prestigious award for his science fiction series starring deliciously sociopathic Russian genius Samuil Petrovitch, Simon has now turned his considerable intellect to fantasy. And what’s resulted is rather mind-blowing . . .
Imagine that long ago, the Roman Empire was crushed by wild spell-casting shamen.
Imagine that a thousand years later, a mighty kingdom has been founded on this formidable power – with magic their tool and their ultimate weapon.
The secret to Carinthia’s dominion is the Order of the Hexmasters, whose magic can power cities, build bridges and exterminate whole armies.
But then imagine taking this power away . . .
When the age of magic dies, the world will be ignited. Some believe that any act, no matter how horrific, is justified to bring the magic back. But some believe that when the magic has gone, the age of science will be born anew.
The twelve-year old Felix will be thrust onto the throne after his father’s demise, the fiery Nikoleta must wield her power carefully as the last remaining hexmaster, and the librarian Thaler believes that salvation lies in the knowledge stored in the great library of Carinthia . . .
Chaos and order, future and past, technology and superstition – all will clash with violence in the magnificent ARCANUM, out today.
‘An enthralling read for aficionados of intelligent, impeccably rendered fantasy’ Kirkus
‘A captivating novel as well as an interesting commentary on fantasy as a genre’ Tor.com
‘A masterful foray into an alternate universe . . . An engrossing rollercoaster of a plot winds up with a solidly satisfying climax that leaves the reader craving more’ Publishers Weekly
If you’re based in the UK and would like to celebrate the release with Simon and get hold of a signed copy, there will be a signing held at the Newcastle branch of Forbidden Planet on Saturday 15th February from 1-2pm.
There’s a whole fantasy trope based around the protagonist of the story discovering that, after the initial skirmish with the forces of evil, he or she is the Chosen One, the one person who has all the skills – mental, physical and magical – to defeat the big bad and win the day.
And we love hearing about them because we can dream we are them. We’re no longer ordinary; quite the opposite. We become, for the length of the tale, extraordinary; possessing such skills, strength and stamina that no other mortal can command. The Chosen One is the archetypal super-hero story: think of Greek and Persian legends, and you’re halfway there already.
But when the story ends, the clouds come over, the sky darkens, and the world becomes colder, harsher and less caring. We’re not the Chosen One. We’re nothing unusual. Not only can we not take the battle to the forces of evil, we don’t even know where to start. We simply have to accept the way things are, with no hope of changing the slow grind of life.
But hang on. That’s not necessarily the case. We know through experience that we can claim small, if temporary, victories that bring life and light to us and ours. And we know that being inspired by our fictional heroes and heroines can make us better people – G. K. Chesterton spoke the truth when he said: ‘Fairy tales don’t tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.’ Read the rest of this entry »
- - January 23rd, 2014
We’re thrilled to see Ann Leckie has been named a finalist for The Kitchies Golden Tentacle Award for her debut novel ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS).
The Golden Tentacle is awarded annually to the debut novel that best fits the criteria of progressive, intelligent and entertaining.
Here are the rest of the nominees:
- Stray by Monica Hesse (Hot Key)
- A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock (47 North)
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
- Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
- Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloa
Congratulations to Ann and the rest of the nominees!
ANCILLARY JUSTICE was also recently nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.
- - January 21st, 2014
USA Today bestselling author Jaye Wells is back with a new urban fantasy series, one as addictive as they come. DIRTY MAGIC, book one of the Prospero’s War series, is out today!. Here’s a bit about the story:
The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.
Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.
Library Journal called it “grim, gritty, and completely fascinating.” We’ve been comparing it to The Wire with wizards, and once you start reading, I think you’ll find that to be an apt description. It has us all thinking about our favorite cop shows and how things might have been different if the perps were bigger and badder and magic were real. Jaye has written up a list of her nine favorite crime shows that would have been better if magic existed. Check it out on Buzzfeed and let us know what your picks are.
Jaye has also written a list for the Huffington post of the the eight most powerful fictional drugs. Check out the rest of her blog tour over on her website.
Praise for DIRTY MAGIC:
“Wells works her own brand of magic by laying the foundation for a complex and gritty new mythos starring a damaged, yet resilient, heroine.” – RT Book Reviews
“DIRTY MAGIC brings wizardry to the violent power struggles and chemical dependencies of the city streets, through the eyes of a heroine who has lived on both sides of the law.” – All Things Urban Fantasy
“DIRTY MAGIC is a flat-out high-octane thrill ride in an alluring world. Kate Prospero will become a highly recognizable name in Urban Fantasy.” – Under the Covers Book Reviews