- - May 17th, 2013
As an editor, there’s no better feeling than reading a submission that blinds you with its sheer brilliance. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s one of the most exciting things about working in publishing.
Bitter Seeds was one of those submissions. I’d heard some positive murmurings coming out of the US about Ian Tregillis’s debut novel, but began reading the book with no particular expectations – and was left amazed by its vivid prose, bold action sequences and the wonderful depth of its characterisation. Not to mention the underlying plot that regularly crosses into the realms of sheer genius.
Bitter Seeds – and the other two books in the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil – have something of the chameleon about them, in that their underlying plots are constantly shifting and evolving. Just when you think you might have figured them out, they’ll change direction and completely shatter your expectations (my jaw dropped so many times when reading this trilogy that I attracted more than one strange look from my fellow commuters).
These novels are also chameleonic (totally a word, I looked it up!) in the sense that they weave so many different elements together to form something unique. At heart, the books are adventure stories – Nazi superhumans battling British warlocks – with a dangerously high dosage of action and espionage. Yet these novels are also subtle and extremely intelligent, weaving plots that shock and delight in equal measure, not to mention packing a serious emotional punch when the stakes are at their highest.
There are a host of complex, memorable characters within the pages of these books, such as Raybould Marsh, who must constantly balance his loyalty to his country with his love for his family, and Will Beauclerk, whose powers may end the war but destroy him in the process. Yet most memorable of all is Gretel, a gypsy orphan who wields a manipulative power so great that life itself is just another pawn in her Grand Design – the ultimate outcome of which only she knows.
One thing is for sure: you’ll certainly never see it coming.
Bitter Seeds [UK | ANZ], The Coldest War [UK | ANZ] and Necessary Evil [UK | ANZ] are all available now in paperback and ebook.
Praise for Ian Tregillis and the Milkweed novels:
A confident and thrilling debut” – SFX
“An imaginative tour de force” – KIRKUS
“[An] astonishing, brilliant, pulse-pounding debut trilogy” – CORY DOCTOROW
“Compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing” – FANTASY FACTION
“Ian Tregillis is a major new talent . . . I can’t wait to see more” – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
- - May 2nd, 2013
One of the most highly regarded fantasy series EVER is finally coming to the UK.
Presenting a gritty action fantasy series like no other. Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar. . .
Several huge names in the fantasy world have been shouting from the rooftops about the sheer brilliance of this series by New York Times bestselling author Matthew Stover. Par exemple:
SCOTT LYNCH says:
‘Oh, you fortunate people. HEROES DIE and BLADE OF TYSHALLE directly informed the writing of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA . . . I’d dare say they were what taught me how to craft a novel. Matt is criminally underrated, and these books are bog standard for him, which is to say ‘brilliant.’ They’re bold, startling, multi-layered, humane, and laugh-out-loud wonderful at frequent intervals . . .
. . . A gritty, bloody, deeply touching work of genius’
JOHN SCALZI says:
‘A heaping plate of kickass kickassery with a side of kickass sauce . . .
If you are a fan of the meaty, bloody but smart fantasy of which authors like Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan currently traffic, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the whole Caine series . . . I doubt very seriously you will be disappointed, and if you are, well, I don’t know what to do with you, except maybe wonder if your brain chemistry is off in some unique and disturbing way. But I’m willing to bet your brain is fine and you’re going to eat this stuff up.
So: fans of fantasy, this is my recommendation. Get this one. Get them all’
FELICIA DAY says:
‘Talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I’ve read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he’s involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn.
Don’t read if you don’t like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D
THIS WAS FANTASTIC! . . . If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book’
Not convinced yet? What’s wrong with you?!
All four books in the Acts of Caine series – HEROES DIE, BLADE OF TYSHALLE, CAINE BLACK KNIFE and CAINE’S LAW – will be released digitally in the UK & ANZ on 27th May 2013.
Pre-order now for a special introductory price on book one, HEROES DIE.
- - April 26th, 2013
Poster for The Wolverine 3d film – coming in July 2013
I was interested (and I’ll admit it – a little excited) to read this recent article, stating that advances in gene technology could lead to a race of genetically superior human beings by the year 2045. These were apparently the findings of a Ministry of Defence think tank during a two-day summit last summer.
Alright – so sources such as The Sun and The Daily Mail might have sensationalised the think tank’s statements a touch by claiming that in a few years time, people will have Wolverine-style adamantium claws busting out all over the shop, and will be spontaneously whipping up tornadoes left, right and centre à la Storm.
But although a real-life X-men army might not exactly be right round the corner – the underlying gist of the claim could be entirely reasonable: that we’ll likely soon be using genetic technology to enhance the strength of the human body, to eliminate imperfections and to increase stamina.
But as time goes on, who knows what the limitations will be? Who knows if by genetically developing certain parts of the brain, we’ll discover unknown abilities – telekinesis, psychic powers, control over natural elements? One needs to have an open mind, and it might not happen in 30 years time – but it’s not entirely beyond belief.
Neither are the apparent risks and dangers that certain individuals developing those powers would present.
The MoD think tank also claimed that “it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality”.
But it might not just be within one particular society that inequality is a risk. What happens, in fact, if one nation develops superhumans before another? Will it lead to an “arms race” of human augmentation, the winner of which will become the next superpower?
This is the terrifying and thrilling concept behind the Milkweed trilogy by Ian Tregillis. It starts with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ), and concludes with NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ – releasing this coming Tuesday). Read the rest of this entry »
- - March 8th, 2013
If you could fix the world, with just one pill, how far would you go to force society to swallow?
Imagine a near-future London where advances in medical science have led to the development of a single-dose pill which, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn baby.
When Hope Morrison refuses to take the pill, is this a private matter of individual choice, or wilful neglect of her unborn child?
‘This near-future sci-fi novel could almost be a sequel to George Orwell’s 1984 – 2084, perhaps’ Sun
‘A disturbingly real socialist dystopia’ Guardian
‘Thoughtful, plausible and scary’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Excellent’ Daily Mail
‘Intrusion is a finely-tuned, in-your-face argument of a novel… MacLeod will push your buttons – and make you think’ SFX
‘The message is powerful and the warning crystal clear’ SciFi Now
‘MacLeod creates a frighteningly plausible dystopia’ Interzone
‘A twistedly clever, frighteningly plausible dystopian glimpse’ Iain M. Banks
‘A haunting, gripping story of resistance, terror, and an all-consuming state that commits its atrocities with the best of intentions’ Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
‘MacLeod certainly delights in raising questions which creatively discomfort his fellow socialists’ Morning Star
‘It’s all so close to the bone it’s almost painful… Intrusion is a rather frightening vision of the road we are taking with our smoking bans and our obesity epidemics and our CCTVs. Particularly if you’re a woman’ Bookbag.co.uk
- - March 6th, 2013
This week sees one of the most important events in the urban fantasy calendar – the release of a new Mercy Thompson novel!
It’s so hard having to wait for the next chapter in the lives of mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha lover Adam, but the time has finally come. FROST BURNED (UK | ANZ), from the bestselling, chart-busting Patricia Briggs is out now – and everyone is loving it:
Mercy is my favorite urban fantasy heroine, period . . . I truly enjoyed Frost Burned . . . I cannot wait for what comes next for Mercy, Adam and the gang – THE BOOK SMUGGLERS
Fabulous . . . Such a well done urban fantasy world – SMEXY BOOKS
Ms Briggs has penned another winner that once I started I didn’t want to put down – FICTION VIXEN
I’ll always want more Mercy, but I’m learning that however long it takes, Mercy Thompson books are always worth the wait – ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY
The comments above make one thing very clear: what’s both wonderful and sad about Patty’s books is that they’re so addictive, it’s hard not to gobble them up straight away! Then comes a tough wait for the next one . . .
So if you’ve already read everything you can get your hands on from the worlds of Mercy Thompson and the Alpha and Omega books (how could we blame you??), don’t forget that there’s a little something special from Patty also out at the moment: the tale of ARALORN (UK | ANZ).
Aralorn has fled her noble birthright to become a mercenary spy, and she also happens to be a shapeshifter . . . Everyone who’s read Patricia Briggs knows that the characters and relationships she creates are deliciously compelling. The story between Aralorn and the enigmatic, powerful Wolf is no exception!
Check this out for another hit of Patty’s fantastic writing. And if you’d like to find out more about the story behind FROST BURNED, take a peek at this interview over at Badass Book Reviews.
- - February 8th, 2013
This week sees the release of THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) , the second novel in Ian Tregillis’s landmark series, the Milkweed Triptych. The trilogy began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and concludes with the forthcoming NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ).
These novels feature a secret history of Twentieth Century conflicts in which scientifically-enhanced superhumans and dark magic collide. The result is described by Fantasy Faction as ‘oh-so compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing’ and by Cory Doctorow as, ‘some of the best – and most exciting – alternate history I’ve read. Bravo.’
It’s possible to draw a few parallels between the themes in the Milkweed novels and Charles Stross’s highly popular Laundry Files (including the recent THE APOCALYPSE CODEX – UK | ANZ) – a series of science fiction spy thrillers featuring Bob Howard, once an IT geek, now a field agent working for a British government agency dealing with occult threats. They’re what SFX calls ‘beautifully handled, believable and well envisioned – a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.’
For that reason we were really interested to hear these two exceptionally clever Orbit authors in conversation about their series. The results are below!
Ian: In an afterword to THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (“Inside the Fear Factory”) you mention that while writing the first Laundry novel you were advised to avoid Tim Powers’s novel DECLARE. And that later you were made aware of the Delta Green supplement to The Call of Cthulhu RPG, which again resides in a similar neighborhood.
(After BITTER SEEDS debuted, people assumed I had been influenced by DECLARE, Delta Green, *and* the Laundry novels! But, like you with DECLARE, I wanted to avoid cross-contamination. So I didn’t dive into THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES until after I turned in THE COLDEST WAR, at which point I was 2/3 through the Milkweed trilogy and the story was on a ballistic trajectory.)
But of course even Powers wasn’t the first to marry espionage and the occult – Dennis Wheatley’s novel THEY USED DARK FORCES first appeared in 1964, and Katherine Kurtz‘s LAMMAS NIGHT was published in 1983, as just two examples.
In the above-mentioned afterword, you make a strong case for why it’s natural to blend horror, the occult, and espionage. So is this an idea that’s continually bubbling into the aether to be rediscovered by other writers? Or have we reached the point where we’re having a conversation within an actual subgenre?
Charlie: It is indeed an actual subgenre! Or maybe a sub-subgenre: a corner of that section of urban fantasy that is preoccupied with the interaction between agents of the state and the occult. Read the rest of this entry »
- - January 15th, 2013
Today is the worldwide release date for the SEVEN KINGS (UK |US | ANZ), the masterful second book in the Shaper series by John R. Fultz.
Starting with SEVEN PRINCES (UK |US | ANZ), this whole epic fantasy series really made a big impact on us here in Orbit. It’s crazily imaginative, powerful, energetic and so damn enjoyable.
We loved an io9.com review which said:
‘Breakneck pacing and nonstop insanity . . . It’s epic with a capital EPIC’
. . . as that just about summed it up for us.
With giants walking alongside men, monstrous serpents wreaking havoc and kingdoms doing battle with sorcery, we think this is ideal for anyone who likes their fantasy big, epic and about the ultimate clash between good and evil.
Whilst in some ways the series could be said to hearken back to the “old school” or “traditional” type of fantasy, in many other ways we really felt this series was one of the most original we’ve read in years – having a beautifully lyric, mythical tone and what we considered to be a very unique, distinguished style.
We were really interested to hear about how this style of writing came about. So we asked John what the influences behind his series were:
I could write a whole book answering this question, but I’ll try to contain myself.
Lord Dunsany was perhaps the inventor of the modern fantasy tale. His work never ceases to inspire me, and his novel The King of Elfland’s Daughter is an immortal classic. His gift for speaking with clever metaphor and concise imagery is stunning, even a hundred years later. Fantasy writers should study his works the way classical composers study Mozart and Bartok.
I’m also a big Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft fan, but Clark Ashton Smith is my favorite of the old-school Weird Tales writers. In my opinion Smith invented the whole dark fantasy genre. He had the lost cities, the sorcerers, the creatures from beyond space and time, the mummies, the vampires, the decadent dying empires of Zothique and the primordial ooze of Hyperborea. Read the rest of this entry »
- - September 4th, 2012
Joe Abercrombie’s newest epic fantasy, RED COUNTRY, comes out this October. Publishers Weekly gave this “gripping and violent stand-alone military fantasy” a starred review, and said, “Terrific fight scenes, compelling characters (some familiar, some new), and sardonic, vivid prose show Abercrombie at the top of his game.”
If you can’t wait until October, you can read an excerpt of RED COUNTRY on Joe Abercrombie’s website.
- - August 23rd, 2012
Hurrah! It’s released today! The new Terry Brooks novel, Wards of Faerie (UK | ANZ), book one in the brand new fantasy series The Dark Legacy of Shannara, has finally arrived.
It’s set in Terry’s core Shannara world (after all his fans begged him to return to it) and it’s delighting Brooks fans far and wide already. In the words of Aidan Moher at A Dribble of Ink:
WARDS OF FAERIE is the best novel Brooks has written in years . . . It’s full of hair-raising escapes . . . magic and monsters.
And if you’ve never tried Terry yet, this is your chance – and here are 5 very solid reasons to do so!
‘Terry Brooks is a master of the craft and a trailblazer . . . Required reading’ Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel Trilogy
‘I can’t even begin to count how many of Terry Brooks’s books I’ve read (and re-read) over the years’ Patrick Rothfuss, author of THE NAME OF THE WIND
‘Terry Brooks has been my constant companion over a lifetime of exploring my beloved fantasy genre. I say with all honesty I would not be writing epic fantasy today if not for Shannara. If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle’ Peter V. Brett, author of THE PAINTED MAN
‘If you haven’t read Terry Brooks, you haven’t read fantasy’ Christopher Paolini, author of ERAGON and BRISINGR
‘Terry’s place is at the head of the fantasy world’ Philip Pulman, author of THE GOLDEN COMPASS
- - August 10th, 2012
This November, we’re releasing the paperback edition of David Brin’s science fiction masterpiece EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ). It’s his first novel to be released in ten years, and he’s truly returned in triumphant form.
It’s a breathtaking novel about First Contact – one that asks ‘why are we alone?’ and ‘are all civilisations doomed to fail?’ And it does it in spectacular, imaginative, mind-boggling, heart-thumping style.
See the paperback cover to the left and just a few of the reviews this unmissable book has been receiving:
‘Cleverly argued and uncomfortably plausible’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
‘A masterpiece of rock-hard SF’ SUN
‘Brin tackles a plethora of cutting-edge concepts…with the skill of a visionary futurologist’ GUARDIAN
‘Bursting with ideas, including near-future tech, first contact with aliens, and the exploration of what it means to be human’ i09.com
‘Existence is my top SF novel of 2012 and I recommend it without hesitation’ SFFWORLD.COM
But it’s not just EXISTENCE that we’re releasing this winter. We’re also giving a makeover to some of David Brin’s most classic titles. See the new-look covers below in all their glory…
See more info about each title below! Read the rest of this entry »