- - June 14th, 2012
There are books that come along that I don’t just thoroughly enjoy, but that I feel intensely, overwhelmingly privileged to work on. THE SHADOWED SUN is one of those novels.
I don’t need to tell everyone what a stunning high fantasy writer N. K. Jemisin is. Her talents are already widely acknowledged, given that her debut novel THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (UK | US | ANZ) was nominated for pretty much every fantasy award out there.
But even so, I underestimated just how utterly captivated I would be by THE KILLING MOON (UK | US | ANZ) and THE SHADOWED SUN (UK | US | ANZ ), books 1 and 2 in the Dreamblood duology. I didn’t think anything could top the Inheritance novels, but if it’s possible I was even more intoxicated. I09 seemed to agree when they said:
The Dreamblood duology is sure to cement Jemisin’s place as one of the most exciting and innovative new fantasy authors of recent years.
There’s something beautifully poetic about a little girl’s dreams becoming a plague upon a city.
Both novels in the Dreamblood duology are based around a religion of dreaming. It’s a dual world, where the realm of dreams is as real a place as the realm of waking. Where a soul that wonders in the dreamworld can find peace or be lost to ever-lasting torment.
In the city of Gujaareh, the priests of the dream goddess are able to harness the magic of the sleeping mind. These priests are both revered and feared, as they can use this gathered magic to either to heal . . . or kill those judged corrupt. And they move silently across the rooftops of the city at night to administer the chosen judgements. Read the rest of this entry »
- - June 3rd, 2012
On Friday night I could barely contain my excitement. I – along with thousands upon thousands of people across the country – had tickets to PROMETHEUS, undoubtedly the most talked-about science fiction film release of the year so far. And where better to see it, but the glorious Empire cinema on Leicester Square, in 3D.
The air was filled with anticipation as we all crammed through the doors and were handed our 3D specs. And then when the opening scenes began, with sweeping views across spectacular landscapes on Earth, enhanced by the 3D effects (probably the most unobtrusive and therefore effective I’ve seen in a movie so far) – we knew that this was going to be something big. And then, when the shadow of a city-sized spaceship began to darken the landscape, it began to feel truly epic.
What bigger a subject is there than first contact with alien life?
I couldn’t help but constantly draw parallels with David Brin‘s new novel EXISTENCE, and not just because of the 3D effect (with our first edition featuring a very cool 3D cover). But because at the heart of EXISTENCE is the discovery of an alien artefact floating in Earth’s orbit, picked up by a galactic garbage trawler. It appears to be a message in a bottle, an invitation to “join us” from another sentient species out in the vastness of the universe. At the same time, another artefact is found in the ruins of a sunken beach-front mansion, which warns humanity away from making contact with this other life form.
This highlights the question which forever prods at us and teases us. It’s the dilemma at the very centre of both PROMETHEUS and EXISTENCE: would making contact with an alien life form be a good idea? Would these (presumably more intelligent) beings have an inherent desire to help humanity, to set us straight, sort out our squabbling, or offer us a shiny new planet when we’ve trashed our own beyond repair? Or would they in fact just try to eat our faces, use us as lovely host organisms and generally be bad news for the continuing future of mankind?
Now we all know that PROMETHEUS is a prequel to the other ALIEN films, so could safely assume that these otherwordly creatures were not going to be our BFFs. But what a thrilling experience to see the journey up until that point: where we hope to find out that mankind can have a meaningful and significant place within the universe by uniting with another sentient species. And then how awesomely epic to see those hopes dashed in spectacular, breathtaking and violently dramatic ways?
I’m glad to say that my expectations for PROMETHEUS were certainly met. The special effects are magnificent – the kind where you have to pinch yourself to remember that this isn’t real footage, and that massive organic-looking Titus of an alien spaceship did not actually just rise from behind them yonder hills. And even if it sometimes seems that the need for great effects can take over from the need for flawless acting, the performance of Michael Fassbender more than made up for it, as the eerie robot David. The pace of the film was also a real strong point. There wasn’t a single moment when my concentration lapsed and the plot was sturdy enough (although not as strong as the original ALIEN movies). Overall it was a totally enthralling, enjoyable experience.
If I was going to have one small criticism, it would be that the characters seemed a tad nonplussed when they finally discover solid proof of alien life. Whereas the beauty of EXISTENCE is that it really focuses on the question of how proof of alien life would affect mankind. What would the initial evidence of alien life mean for all different people in different walks of life? Would the politician try to veil the truth from the general public? Would the journalist become set on letting the public know what they’re in for? Would the anti-technology prophet claim that the only way to survive would be to end democracy? What would it mean for each of us? How would the world react? Is this the end, or a new beginning?
I won’t give any spoilers, but what happens all feels frighteningly, awe-inspiringly real. EXISTENCE is set a few decades in the future, but who knows if the day when we’ll actually be answering some of these questions is closer than we think? Let’s see if 2012 might really be as significant a year as the Mayans thought…
PROMETHEUS is at cinemas nationwide now, and EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ) will be released on 21st June 2012 with a limited edition 3D cover.
- - March 31st, 2012
Patricia Brigg‘s Fair Game (UK / ANZ) was released this month and has got off to a storming start. With a current average of 5 stars on the UK Amazon site, and a positive plethora of great reviews plastering the web (including this fantastic top 10 of why you should read Fair Game from Paranormal Romance Fanatic), make sure you check out this third instalment in the Alpha and Omega series if you haven’t done so already. Here’s why:
‘[Patricia Briggs] spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters and magic and, my, does she do it well’ USA Today
‘I freaking loved this book! I loved the mystery, I loved Charles and Anna! I loved the glimpses of Adam and the Mercy Thompson world’ BadassBookReviews.com
‘Best book I ever read!’ Paranormal Romance Fanatic
‘I LOVE how Briggs writes her wolves . . . I seriously can’t get enough of this world. So well built’ Smexybooks.com
‘This is a very hard book for me to review simply because I loved it. I don’t want to come across as a babbling fan girl but I’m afraid I might’ 104 Reviews
‘Double bonus points for a spectacular ending . . . I can’t wait to see what happens next’ RedHotBooks.com
- - February 3rd, 2012
Out now is The Dread (US | UK | ANZ), the second and final part in Gail Z. Martin‘s Fallen Kings Cycle. This compelling epic fantasy series began with The Sworn ( US | UK | ANZ) and is set in the same world as her highly regarded Chronicles of the Necromancer series, and I’m very happy to say this has turned out to be a magnificent finale to the whole story arc. If you haven’t tried any of Gail’s books yet – don’t worry, you can jump right in at The Sworn without having read any of the Necromancer series. And here’s why it’s worth giving it a go:
Gail’s a master at weaving together a world together intricately and spectacularly – and you simply cannot resist being awed by the strong sense of atmosphere she creates . . . In the dark, medieval-gothic world of the Fallen Kings Cycle, necromancers wield deathly powers of magic, ghosts toy with the living, and vampires, werewolves and demons roam the land. See some of the fantastic reviews this series has earned so far:
‘Top notch, engrossing fantasy’ SFRevu.com
‘Those who enjoy the large-scale fantasy of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan should enjoy this’ Library Journal
‘I found myself caught up in the story and the characters almost from the first page …very enjoyable’ Bookgeeks.co.uk
‘Very well-written and intricately plotted . . . I can’t wait for the second book in the cycle, The Dread’ Civilian Reader
You can also read a sample extract right here. Read the rest of this entry »
- - January 31st, 2012
Released in February is The Legend of Eli Monpress ( US | UK | ANZ) – Rachel Aaron‘s fantasy tale of the incorrigible thief who plans to pull of the greatest heist in history . . . If you’re a fan of K. E. Mills’ Rogue Agent series or Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora then this is likely right up your street. You can sample the delights of an extract right here.
This edition contains the three titles The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater – all in one handy volume and topped off with this gorgeous packaging from Sam Weber (see this great post here showing him at work in his studio on these very illustrations).
Take a minute to stop by Rachel Aaron’s attractive new site, where’s she’s posted some very interesting tidbits recently, such as this fantastic book trailer put together by our friends at Orbit France for the très sophistiquée French version of The Legend of Eli Monpress. Also, check out this extremely creative pictorial review for The Spirit Thief, part one of the Legend. Good effort!
Read on for the blurb and some great reviews: Read the rest of this entry »
- - September 14th, 2011
As we’ve had such a fine crop of reviews for Philip Palmer’s rumbustious tale, we thought it was only fair to share. Click on the following links for more on Hell Ship’s swashbuckling story (UK | ANZ | US ) plus here’s a free extract and reviews follow below … the Sun review is just hilarious in itself!
No one writes SF quite like Palmer… Hell Ship is a freewheeling extravaganza replete with a hundred varieties of alien, vast spacecraft, exotic worlds… aficionados of bizarre space opera will be amazed and delighted”
“The triumphs and tragedies of this novel are told in the style of ancient legend. But there is also a sense of irrepressible fun … This is epic science fiction with a twinkle in its eye”
“I really do recommend Palmer’s work – he’s an unflinching and relentlessly ballsy writer”
“Great storytelling … a joy to read. Great stuff from Philip which proves why he’s fast becoming my favourite science fiction author”
FALCATA TIMES WEBSITE
“Palmer’s imagination knows no bounds … readable and enjoyable”
“I knew I would love it after reading just a couple of pages … You will be treated to an entertaining tale of heroics, tragedy and selfless sacrifice all written with a gleam in the eye”
- - September 13th, 2011
It’s publication time (UK | ANZ) for Blood Rights — the first book in Kristen Painter’s eagerly-awaited, explosive, down-right fabulous new urban fantasy series. The books are set in a version of our world, but one twisted so it’s not quite as we know it. And US readers only have to wait a short time longer, as Blood Rights is released next month in the US. You can also get a free extract of the book here. Book one will be closely followed by the next two books Flesh and Blood (US | UK | ANZ) and Bad Blood (US | UK | ANZ). All three covers are fabulously striking too and check out all of them below:
We’ve had amazing advance coverage of these fast-paced adventures and just look at what these experts have to say about the rising star that is Kristen Painter!
Passion and murder, vampires and courtesans — original and un-put-downable. Do yourself a favor and read this one”
“Dark and rich with layer after delicious layer. This spellbinding series will have you begging for more”
“A world full of rich potential. Excellent!”
“Kristen Painter brings a sultry new voice to the vampire genre, one that beckons with quiet passion and intrigue”
“Gripping, gritty, and imaginative. If you love dangerous males, kick-ass females, and unexpected twists, this is the series for you!”
- - September 7th, 2011
The Business of Death (ANZ | UK | US) is out this month and a fun-packed, fast-paced basket of grim it is too! Trent Jamieson’s fantastic Death Works trilogy is a lively, urban fantasy read featuring a hard-pressed hero whose job is to ease the passing of spirits from one world to the other. But as Steven de Selby’s life goes rapidly to hell in a handcart, he finds there’s more rather more at stake than the job description indicated:
Steven de Selby has a hangover. Bright lights, loud noise, and exercise are the last thing he wants. But that’s what he gets when someone starts shooting at him. Steven is no stranger to Death – Mr. D’s his boss after all – but it’s still a shock when a dead girl saves him from sharing her fate. It’s a bigger shock when he finds his friends, family and colleagues have also been targeted. His job is to guide the restless dead to the underworld, but he didn’t expect to find his loved ones among his ‘clients’.
With Mr. D missing and no one in charge, the living are being hunted, the dead start rising and the whole city is headed for a regional apocalypse. Steven must shake his hangover, not fall for the dead girl, and find out just what’s going on – or there’ll be hell to pay.”
The Business of Death is a three-book omnibus (you can get a sample chapter here) so no need to wait for next instalments. And terrific quotes for this series include the following:
Jamieson writes a fast-paced story studded with action-movie beats”
“An intriguing evolution of the undead genre”
“Refreshingly original and enjoyable”
“There is a lot to like … Combine this with the corporate version of Death, the subtle blend of humour and dry wit and you get a well-thought-out rewarding story. I heartily recommend.”
- - September 6th, 2011
The wonderful drama that is Kate Elliott’s Cold Fire (US | UK | ANZ) is at last out and ready for reading! This follows up last month’s mass market paperback publication of Cold Magic (US | UK | ANZ) and moves on that story with high tension and style. You can get a free extract here and here’s a bit more on this wonderful, stirring tale of two girls finding their path in a world of magic, deceit and complex politics:
Cat and her cousin Bee are key players in a drama of dragons and politics. Warring factions want to use or destroy their growing powers, and they’re closing in. The Cold Mages are conspiring to take them prisoner and the warlord Camjiata thinks it’s their destiny to help him conquer Europa – whether they want to or not. And the man Cat was forced to marry is back, as arrogant and annoyingly handsome as ever. Worse still, as Hallows Night approaches, powers hidden deep within the spirit world are rising. Cat must seek allies against these threats, for if she makes the wrong choices, she’ll lose everything.
Only one thing is certain. When Hallows’ Night comes the Wild Hunt will ride – and it feeds on mortal blood.”
Also, if you’re still here (not dashing around already trying to get hold of the book …) here are a few of the great things that have been said already:
Elliott skillfully blends intrigue and romance in this lively series about strong women caught among powerful and deadly forces’
‘Something pretty unique. Add to this the author’s usual authoritative writing voice, a cracking love story and wrap it all up in politics, machinations alongside double dealing and the result is a very tired but sated reader after a marathon night time session … the result is something that makes this for me Kate’s best series to date. Great stuff’
Gareth Wilson, Faltaca Times
- - August 8th, 2011
LEVIATHAN WAKES (UK | US | ANZ), the explosive space-opera from James S. A. Corey, received some huge praise before it was even released. In the words of genre heavyweight, George R. R. Martin:
It’s been too long since we’ve had a really kickass space opera. LEVIATHAN WAKES is interplanetary adventure the way it ought to be written, the kind of SF that made me fall in love with the genre way back when, seasoned with a dollop of horror and a dash of noir. Jimmy Corey writes with the energy of a brash newcomer and the polish of a seasoned pro.
High praise indeed, yet much more was to follow. The critical reaction to LEVIATHAN WAKES, two months on from release, has been stunning.
Here’s what readers have been saying about the first novel in a series that promises to become a classic of science fiction.
‘LEVIATHAN WAKES is an amazing book. In fact, there is not a single negative thing I can say about the novel, which delivers in all phases including setting, characterization, story, pacing, prose, and from a purely entertainment standpoint. Simply put, LEVIATHAN WAKES is the best novel I’ve read in 2011—so far—and arguably the best thing Daniel Abraham has ever written, while introducing a remarkable new talent in Ty Franck’ – FANTASY BOOK CRITIC
‘The world building, hands down, is some of the best that I’ve seen for a space opera novel, with a good cast of characters and story that go along with it . . . This novel feels like a breath of fresh air, trading in the galaxy for our solar system, but retaining an sense of the epic’ – SF SIGNAL
‘If you love tales packed with worldbuildy details like how humans cored asteroids, pumped them full of atmosphere, and spun them up for gravity’s sake, then you’ll love this novel to pieces’ – i09
‘LEVIATHAN WAKES is space opera for the masses—it asks for little from its readers other than that they show up and enjoy the ride, no doctorate in quantum mechanics necessary. The classic juxtaposition of Miller’s hard-edged noir narrative and Holden’s idealistic adventure are perfectly suited for one another and together they form the most enjoyable novel I’ve read so far in 2011. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s escapist science fiction in the purest sense of the term. One can only hope that The Expanse is expansive, indeed’ – A DRIBBLE OF INK
‘One of the best opening volumes to an SF series in recent memory, one of the most entertaining novels I’ve read in 2011 and a novel that only has me hungry for more in the series. This is a Space Opera I want to see more of on the shelves’ – SFF WORLD
‘A ridiculously entertaining space opera . . . A relentless, page-turning novel with some great character-building’ – THE WERTZONE
‘So far as cinematic sci-fi goes, LEVIATHAN WAKES is as entertaining and summer-blockbuster as you can get with a 600 page book’ – BOOK SMUGGLERS
‘LEVIATHAN WAKES has it all and I defy you to come away from this book empty handed when I’m talking about things like the death of a battle cruiser, alien infestations on a space station and gunfights in seedy space port hotels . . . If you read one science fiction novel this year I’d seriously consider making it this one. Essential space opera reading that bodes very well for future books in the series’ – GRAEME’S FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
‘This new science fiction series begins with an incredible story, complex and well-executed. With an intriguing storyline, vivid characters, and even vomiting zombies, this was highly enjoyable from start to finish. Blending suspense, horror, space opera, and mystery – this first installment is one no science fiction fan will want to miss’ – SCIFI CHICK
‘If you’re looking for some Space Opera Noir SF goodness, then read this one, people. It’s sure to please. It certainly did good things for me’ – ELITIST BOOK REVIEWS
‘LEVIATHAN WAKES is a big novel full of movie worthy space battles, hand-to-hand combat, near death experiences, a couple of love stories, and a big bad evil to be fought and conquered . . . Approachable, easy-to-read, and entertaining’ – GRASPING FOR THE WIND
If you’re still somehow unconvinced, you can check out a free excerpt here. There are also wallpapers of the fabulous artwork available here. Finally, author James S. A. Corey talks about some of the ideas behind LEVIATHAN WAKES here.
The second book in the Expanse series, CALIBAN’S WAR, is due for release in June 2012.