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.”
Things 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.
Bookgasm.com 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.
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: 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 Bookreporter.com 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.
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.”
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.
[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.
I’ve just been looking through the fourth issue of Death Ray, which, it’s pleasing to report, is full of nice things.
First up is a terrific interview with Charlie Huston, talking about his Joe Pitt books, his thrillers and his work for Marvel Comics on Moon Knight. Later in the issue, there’s a fantastic review of the new Joe Pitt book, No Dominion:
Bloody great . . . brilliantly rendered . . . The dialogue is exquisite, pared-down and telling you as much by what’s not said as by what is . . . it’s deceptively simple; there’s actually loads going on here, with relationships deepened, politics furthered, events put into motion and firmer shape given to the overall arc of the series . . . the result is a thrilling read that you’ll want to gulp down in a single draft.
Fifty pages later, there’s a flagship feature on Terry Brooks — there’s an extremely expansive interview, touching on all aspects of his work; a selection of eight of his best books with accompanying reviews; and an interview with literary agent John Jarrold, who has published Terry at various stages in his career and outlines Terry’s enduring appeal and the enormous influence his work has had on the genre. The piece concludes:
Whether it’s his affable style, his prodigious capacity to feed his fans with new books, or the simple fact that he can spin a fine yarn is unimportant: Terry Brooks remains one of the most successful fantasy writers ever, and probably will remain so for many years to come.
The first volume in Terry’s new series The Genesis of Shannara, Armageddon’s Children is out now in paperback, and Terry will be touring the UK in September to promote his new title The Elves of Cintra — watch this space for details!
John at SFsignal posts a great review of The Electric Church by Jeff Somers, giving the book 4.5 out of 5 stars and writing in summary:
PROS: Excellent pacing; well-written action sequences; fun characters; dark setting.
CONS: There’s something remarkably unsettling about passionately rooting for the killers and thieves.
BOTTOM LINE: A first-rate piece of science fiction entertainment.
You can read the full review at SFsignal.com. The monks of the Electric Church will be in bookstores this September. In the meantime, keep an eye on the official site. It’s just a splash page now, but we hear they are building something in there…