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Descent by Ken MacLeod


Author of 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated Intrusion tells a science fiction story for the twenty-first century – what happens when conspiracy theorists meet Big Brother?
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The start of a brand new epic fantasy trilogy from the author of the Stormlord series – full of scheming, spying, action and adventure.
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Category: Reviews

Space Opera Duet

Saturn Returns by Sean WilliamsWords of praise in the latest Aurealis magazine for two of Orbit’s top Australian scribes, Sean Williams and Marianne de Pierres:

Sean has produced some good work in the past; he’s had the opportunity to flex his writing muscles in a wide variety of projects. In Saturn Returns, I felt a new assuredness, a strength of voice that was compellingly entertaining and thought-provoking. Saturn Returns is Sean’s best yet — go out and buy it.

Dark Space is an exciting adventure with plenty going on to keep you turning the pages. The story is primed to enter uncharted territory at the end of Book One. Marianne has a knack for creating compelling characters in complex realities — the Parish Plessis novels showed us that — so this is one to watch as it develops through the next two volumes.”

Dark Space book jacketA shout out to former Aurealis editor, now reviewer, Keith Stevenson for his insightful reviews, which will appear in full in issue #38.

Keith also had some nice things to say about Orbit’s new global presence, so it would be rude — rude, I say! — not to repeat some of that niceness here:

The enthusiasm comes from what’s happening in the Australian market lately. This could be another false dawn — we’ve been through so many — but with the arrival of Hachette Livre and its much respected imprint Orbit into the local arena there is a level of energy and enthusiasm that I haven’t seen for a long while in Australian genre publishing . . . And so to another Orbit SF release (see what I mean: the release of two Australian science fiction books in as many months is unheard of in recent years).

Thanks, Keith. I hope we can continue to excite SF readers in Australia — and all around the world — for years to come!

Awakened Mage Giveaway

The Awakened Mage by Karen MillerFollowing on a fantastic review and interview, The Book Swede is now giving away six copies of Karen Miller’s The Awakened Mage.

Be sure to visit for a chance to win one of the most popular books this year!

The Telegraph on Charles Stross

There was a terrific double review in The Telegraph over the weekend, looking at Charles Stross’ latest books, The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue. Charlie is described as “British science fiction’s hot new writer, having turned out half a dozen novels in what seems like the last five minutes . . . Tremendously good, geeky fun.”

Link Catch-Up

Winterbirth by Brian RuckleyThings are fairly hectic at Orbit UK — we’re really looking forward to fantasy legend Terry Brooks touring the UK next week, so there’s a certain amount of dotting Is and crossing Ts going on — and it’s all too easy to miss things taking place around the blogosphere. So here’s a catch-up on what’s being happening with our books and authors:

Ian Irvine has written an essay on the books that are important to him for the distinguished academic Norman Geras’ blog.

Sean Williams is answering questions from readers on the Australian SpecFic in Focus forum — you’ve got until 15 September if you want to ask him something.

As a marketing hack, I was fascinated by this interesting analysis of how a reader decides what to buy in a bookshop, using Brian Ruckley’s Winterbirth as a case study, written by a genuine marketing expert, Roy Bayfield of Edge Hill University.

Jeff Somers’ The Electric Church is out later this month. It’s already picked up some great reviews. The Guardian called it “an exhilarating example of powerful and entertaining storytelling.” Meanwhile, blogger Graeme Flory rated it eight out of ten and wrote of it: “I read a couple of pages; then I read some more, the next thing I knew, it was Sunday night and I’d finished it. Great stuff, every single page tells you in no uncertain terms why this book has been chosen as part of Orbit’s opening salvo on the US market . . . an entertainingly bullet spattered read that hints at great things from Somers in the future.”

Graeme has also reviewed Mike Carey’s new book Dead Men’s Boots, which rates a mighty nine and a half out of ten, and the comment, “If you’ve already read the first two books then I guarantee you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t then I suggest you pick up The Devil You Know [Mike's debut for Orbit] and get reading. You won’t regret it.” There’s also an interview with Mike on Graeme’s blog.

The final word on Dead Men’s Boots goes to the estimable John Berlyne, who says in his SFRevu review: “What Carey develops . . . is yet another extraordinarily gripping supernatural mystery . . . These Castor books are as fiendishly addictive as nicotine and are made all the more satisfying by Castor’s deadpan, ironic fatalism . . . The net result is another superb, highly involving novel from Mike Carey.” You can read the rest of the review here.

Cliffhanging just posted a fantastic review of Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage.

It’s a rare book indeed that after 640 pages, it ends on a cliffhanger, and you sit back and go, “Damn, I wish I had the second book in the series to start.” But that’s exactly what I thought after plowing through Karen Miller’s marvelous The Innocent Mage… read more >>

To all you readers dangling from the edge of that cliff, we cry from below: hold on! The second book in the series, The Awakened Mage, will be in stores this October. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can find chapter one right here.

SFX Reviews

Unmarked Graves by Shaun Hutson

The latest issue of SFX is just out, and there are a couple of reviews of Orbit titles.

Charles Stross’ The Atrocity Archives gets a four star review: “The world is beautifully handled; believable and well-envisioned . . . a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.”

Also attracting praise is Shaun Hutson’s new book Unmarked Graves: “He’s a master of the short, snappy title, as much as he is at producing succint, horror-filled novels. Subtle? Nope, but he deserves his success, as his work is both gripping and — unlike that of some of his contemporaries — rarely outstays its welcome . . . if you like your horror testosterone-charged and visceral, then you could do much worse . . . Oh, and it’s got a great ending too.”


Lamb by Christopher Moore

Hot on the heels of last month’s A Dirty Job, which SF Site calls “a book that entertains steadily, alternating Beta Male tribulations and black comedy,” comes Christopher Moore’s Lamb.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is the story of Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to fill us in on what really happened. Locus says it’s “a laugh-out-loud, roll-on-the-floor dark comedy” and is “impressed by the author’s humor, inventiveness, and bravery in taking on this story. His dialog sparkles with sarcasm and wit.”

The Bookbag is also clearly a fan, saying “it could just as easily have been called: Life of Brian — the Early Years. It is that irreverent, that subtle, that funny.”

Verily, that’s some pretty high praise. Lamb is available from all good book retailers this month.

Three Times the Horror in August!

Unmarked Graves by Shaun Hutson

And no, we’re not talking about the British weather. Orbit’s Master of the Dark, Shaun Hutson, has three titles out this month and they’re definitely not for the faint of heart.

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review says: “Unmarked Graves actually reads like an action/horror movie written on paper, a fast moving, gut wrenching roller coaster ride of gore, mania and terror.” And Dreamwatch SciFi agrees: “This book will shock you. And so it should.”

The Guardian is a fan of Dying Words, out this month in paperback, calling it “a novel that gets the job done. Pared-down prose in staccato chapters whisks the reader through a scary white-knuckle ride . . . if you want pacy, explicit, edge-of-the-seat storytelling, Hutson is always a good bet. Great fun.”

And those in the mood for some classic horror should check out Shaun Hutson Omnibus 1: Shadows and Nemesis which The Bookbag says will give you “some excellent sleepless, violence- and gore-filled nights . . . there’s plenty of gore but what really lifts this book out of the ordinary is the plot and the ending which had a twist I really wasn’t expecting . . . very, very well done.”

Looking for more terrifying treats? Shaun will be the guest author on Paul Kane’s Shadow-Writer site in September and will soon be in Hub Magazine being interviewed by Marie O’Regan.

Some Heart-y reviews for Glenda Larke

Heart of the Mirage by Glenda LarkeGlenda Larke’s latest book, Heart of the Mirage, has been getting some wonderful reviews of late:

This month’s Starburst gives it a five star rating and says “those looking for a ‘sense-of-wonder’ fix need look no further. Larke doesn’t conform to the cookie-cutter school of fantasy and has a talent for world building and a fondness for unstable landscapes . . . It’s also great fun”.

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review thinks: “It is nice sometimes to break out of the typical medieval Fantasy City and go somewhere different. Larke accomplishes this by setting her tale in the equivalent of Ancient Rome and the deserts of Africa and decorates the proceedings with some stunning imagery in the process.”

And The Bookbag calls it: “highly enjoyable, this book’s got love, betrayal, skullduggery, espionage, adventure, magic, heartbreak and plenty more besides.”

Interested in taking a peek at the finest (and possibly only) book this year to feature heartbreak and skullduggery? You can check out a sample of the first chapter here, and find the book at all good bookstores and online retailers.

Winterbirth Review

Winterbirth by Brian RuckleyBrian Ruckley’s debut novel Winterbirth is out in the UK in paperback this month, and we’ve received our first review for that edition from Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review:

[W]hat a story it is! It has everything that a fan of high . . . fantasy could possibly want out of a book. Epic battles, mystical forests and long journeys with a hint of magic (but not too much!) waiting in the wings. I particularly liked the air of ambiguity that Ruckley gives his characters, they all have good reasons for doing what they do and believe that they are right. Faced with such certainty on all sides, the reader really has to think about what side they will support (if any) and this makes me really look forward to the next book and what will happen next. Winterbirth is not without its flaws but if you persevere with it then I think you’ll be in for a treat of a read. I’d say that Brian Ruckley is definitely going to be one to watch out for in the future.

You can read the full review here.

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