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TOUCH by Claire North

TOUCH Claire North

The electrifying new thriller from the author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Read a sample

PRUDENCEGail Carriger

A new novel in the world of the Parasol Protectorate starring Prudence, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti.
Read a sample.

Joe Abercrombie vs. Brent Weeks

In a literary feud certain to divide the genre, Joe Abercrombie, author of Best Served Cold (US) and Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel Trilogy (US|UK|AUS) , have thrown down the gauntlets, stomped their boots threateningly, and now meet in the gladiatorial arena of Babel Clash.

Their first disagreement involves blogging, naturally.

Says Brent: “J.R.R. didn’t blog; George R. R. does. William Shakespeare didn’t; Joe Abercrombie does. Need I say more?”

Responds Joe: “J.R.R. would definitely have blogged had he had the technology available, but he was totally a console guy, played way too much Halo, and wouldn’t allow a PC in his home. Shakespeare? Have you read the sonnets? Obviously primitive blogs. Some of them he even printed out from his Sinclair ZX80, they have some of the original silvery whorls of printer tape in a glass case in the foyer of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford. FACT.”

Be sure to tune in over the next two weeks as these two new stars of fantasy put the CLASH in Babel Clash.

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Best Served Cold “Best Book Yet” — G.R.R.M.

George R. R. Martin weighs in:

Joe Abercrombie’s BEST SERVED COLD is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword ‘n sorcery COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, Dumas by way of Moorcock. His cast features tyrants and torturers, a pair of poisoners, a serial killer, a treacherous drunk, a red-handed warrior and a blood-soaked mercenary captain. And those are the good guys. Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, could teach even Gully Foyle and Kirth Gersen a few things about revenge. The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet. All that’s missing is a map.

ITOW’s – Jim Butcher on the Codex Alera and K.E. Mills on the Rogue Agent series

Jim says:

The first two Codex Alera novels were faced with with a considerable disadvantage–the main protagonist was a child.

Now granted, this is hardly anything new when it comes to fantasy protagonists, but it
does present a writer with a number of challenges which adult characters do not.  Children have, generally speaking, much less ability to affect the environment about them, and are forced to go about the pursuit of their goals in very different ways.

Cursor’s Fury marks a turning point in the Codex Alera for two reasons.  First, because the main protagonist, Tavi, has become a functioning adult–a young one, true, but he has earned a considerable amount of trust and responsibility through his actions in the first two books.  Second, because all of the intrigue and covert planning that happen throughout the first two books begin to boil over into open conflict, not just for Tavi, but for all the realm of Alera.

Tavi finds himself forced to become an adult very rapidly, and must take upon himself far more serious (and dangerous) tasks than he or his instructors had ever imagined.  This time, Tavi’s wits alone might not be enough to carry the day, and the young Cursor will find himself tested to his limits and beyond.

I *loved* writing this book.  It was a tremendous amount of fun.  I sincerely hope that you get half as much enjoyment out of reading this story as I did out of writing it.

Karen say’s

The Rogue Agent series is my chance to combine two of my favourite genres — fantasy and mystery. I suppose it started with the question — what happens when the most ordinary and unassuming person discovers they have more power than anyone should ever possess? How does that change them? How do they stay sane, stay the same, when so many of the rules no longer apply to them? That was the driving question that got the series started, and it’s the answering and exploring of that question that gives the series its momentum.

But it’s not all deep and philosophically serious. The Rogue Agent series also allows me to have some out-and-out fun, introducing humorous elements  to the story while still keeping it grounded in drama. Just as important, for me its characters are a family, and I love exploring the dynamics of family. I love throwing my characters in the deep end, too, and watching what happens as they try to swim before they sink.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the main reason I’m enjoying the series so much is because of these characters. Sometimes it feels like I’m a fly on the wall taking dictation. Someone starts talking, someone else chimes in, and the next thing I know it’s a dingdong free-for-all with Reg being sarcastic and Melissande taking her to task and Bibbie squabbling with her brother Monk and poor old Gerald stuck in the middle like the ringmaster of the craziest circus ever, trying to keep everyone and everything on track. And then prowling around the outside, the mysterious Sir Alec — who knows more than he’s telling about a great many things, and who has a few secrets of his own to protect.

At the end of the day, I love writing these books and it’s my hope that readers will love them a lot too.

Cursor’s Fury: the Codex Alera Book Three [UK] and Witches Incorporated: the Rogue Agent Book Two [UK|US] are both out this month, available from all good bookshops.

Australian fans of Jim Butcher – don’t miss Furies of Calderon, Codex Alera Book One coming September to Orbit Auz.

Cover Launch: HAND OF ISIS

Hand of Isis is the next book from Jo Graham that we are repackaging for the mass market version. If you’ll recall the cover launch for Black Ships, Mario Pulice and Debra Lill had designed lovely covers for the original trade paperback version, but we wanted to go with a more traditional fantasy look for the new versions and commissioned new artwork from the famous, and fabulous, John Jude Palencar.

Black Ships and Hand of Isis definitely go together, but I wouldn’t call them a series, exactly. You can read either first, but as you read more of the books (I am lucky enough to have already read the next book, Stealing Fire, which comes out in 2010) you will realize that while the characters are different, the souls of the characters appear again and again. But you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy any of the books alone. They’re just fabulous historical fiction, with a fantasy leaning. If you like Mists of Avalon, this is definitely up your alley. Jo Graham’s great accomplishment on these is the very personal perspective her characters give you on famous events everyone already knows the story to. Read the rest of this entry »

The Summoning New Cover Style

This month sees the re-release of The Summoning (UK/ANZ), the first book in Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series. It’s got a new cover to fall in line with the look we’ve given to its sequel The Awakening (UK/ ANZ), and we think it’s super-stylish. The reviewers have had some great things to say about what’s inside the covers too – here’s what Melissa Marr, author of Wicked Lovely has to say about the book:

Action, danger, supernatural secrets, and a hint of romance – Armstrong’s world is one in which trusting the wrong person can have dire consequences. You’ll be desperate for a sequel.

And DeathRay have been equally complimentary, calling it:

A punchy opening to the series, benefitting from strong characterisation and atmosphere.

The Summoning sees Kelley Armstrong returning to the Otherworld, but this time from a teenage perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009

We’d like to note the passing of and fondly remember Charles N. Brown, founder and longtime editor of Locus magazine, who died July 12. His numerous opinions regarding sf, fantasy, its practitioners, its critics, and its media spinoffs are well recalled, by both those with whom he agreed and with whom he disagreed. It is impossible to overstate his influence on the development of the field during the past forty years.

Charles passed away in his sleep, peacefully, on his way back from Readercon, having just seen many of his friends. Ave atque vale.

Listen to Charles Stross

Following on from last week’s post about the publication of Saturn’s Children and Wireless, I see that the powers that be on the excellent SF podcast magazine, Escape Pod, have offered up their latest podcast and lo! it is none other than Charles Stross‘s ‘Rogue Farm’, which appears in the aforementioned Wireless.

So, point your iTunes, web browser or enslaved artificial intelligence at Escape Pod, and enjoy some free Strosstime: ‘Rogue Farm’, recorded at Balticon 43.

New Series from Daniel Abraham!

I’m delighted to announce that Orbit has acquired World English Language rights in The Dagger and the Coin, a new series from Daniel Abraham. Daniel is, of course, the author of the acclaimed Long Price Quartet, which Orbit will publish in the UK at the end of January 2010, in two omnibus-style volumes.

Changing direction a little, The Dagger and the Coin will be epic fantasy on a grand scale, Very much in the tradition of George R. R. Martin‘s wonderful A Song of Ice and Fire –  fast-paced and filled with war, intrigue, sex, murder, magic, great fortunes lost and won, dark gods, crime, exotic races, fantastic set pieces, dragons, underground resistance movements and strange occult powers.

In Daniel’s own words: ‘In the way that The Long Price Quartet was a semi-tragic meditation on the epic scale of an individual life, The Dagger and the Coin is a love letter to fantasy adventure intended to keep the reader from getting enough sleep..’

‘I’m very conscious of the influences I’m cultivating going into it – Walter Tevis, Alexandre Dumas, Tolkien, J. Michael Strazinski, Joss Whedon, GRRM, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Dorothy Dunnett, Tim Parks – and I’m trying to take the things that I love about each one of them and make a stew out of it. It’s set right at the friction point between the medieval period and the renaissance, so we’ve got knights and kings, but we also have merchant houses and finance. There’s some magic of the understated sort. There’s political intrigue. There’s a girl who was raised as the ward of a Medici-style bank, there’s a high nobleman who’s gotten himself and his family in over his head, there’s an emotionally scarred mercenary captain straight out of Dumas.

‘The point of it all is to make a book that reads to me now the way that the Belgariad did when I was 16. I’m going to be swimming in everything I think is cool for the next year, and I’m really looking forward to it

And for our part, Orbit is hugely excited to be publishing The Dagger and the Coin internationally. The combination of Daniel’s vision and talent and the grand canvas offered by epic fantasy promises to make The Dagger and the Coin something truly special. But don’t just take our word for it. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Junot Diaz says:

‘Daniel Abraham is one of the reasons the fantasy genre continues to haunt my dreams. Abraham is fiercely talented, disturbingly human, breathtakingly original and even on his bad days kicks all sorts of literary ass. Welcome to the world of the andats, of the haunted extraordinary poets, a world where men enslave ideas, where these slaves scheme to avenge themselves, where every bad deed spawns more, a world where after the treachery, the conspiracies, the journeys, all that’s ever left in the end are the consequences. Welcome to Daniel Abraham. If you are meeting him for the first time I envy you: you are in for a remarkable journey.’

A remarkable journey, indeed. Welcome aboard!

Charles Stross: Double Star

July sees the publication of not one, but two, new Charles Stross books – the paperback of Saturn’s Children and the hardback of Wireless.

Saturn’s Children is Charlie’s homage to the late Robert Heinlein, as the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted from this post’s title. It also gives Charlie a sixth consecutive Hugo shortlisting for Best Novel, which is a remarkable achievement – even the great Robert Silverberg only managed four.  Audaciously told without a single human character, it is nonetheless replete with humanity as well as Charlie’s trademark dark humour, clever plotting and 100-mile-an-hour ideas.

Wireless, is a new collection of short fiction, including Locus Award-winning novella ‘Missile Gap’, Bob Howard story ‘Down on the Farm’ (read an extract here), ‘Unwirer’, a collaboration with fellow Prometheus Award-winner Cory Doctorow and the hitherto unpublished novella ‘Palimpsest’. Running the full gamut of Charlie’s incredible imagination, which, as everyone knows, goes up to eleven, Wireless is a snapshot of a writer at the height of his powers and a wonderful introduction to an essential voice in modern science fiction.

As multi-award-winning editor and anthologist Gardner Dozois says ‘Where Charles Stross goes today, the rests of science fiction will follow tomorrow.’

The Most Awesomely Bad SFF Cover in the World II: The Worsening

The title suggestions keep rolling in, and you’ve come up with some beauties! but we’re still asking for your help coming up with the most ridiculously bad high-concept SFF cover in the universe.

So again: we look for titles that cause the reader to not merely gape in astonishment upon reading the words, but to feel suddenly thrust into a hallucinatory dream neither imagined nor desired. Or, close.

Orbit readers! Keep putting those vivid imaginations of yours to work. As we know, there are extremely high bars to meet in this particular competition and we know we won’t be disappointed.

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