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AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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SYMBIONTMira Grant

The second terrifying novel in the Parasitology series by New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant!
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Meet Rob Boffard – author of the upcoming TRACER

Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming science fiction thriller TRACER

Tracer, the upcoming science fiction thriller from Rob Boffard

 

 

 

 

 

We’re delighted to introduce Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming TRACER, a heart-stopping SF novel set in space which will be released next summer.

As a newbie to the Orbit list, we asked Rob a few questions about what we can expect from him in 2015 . . .

– Tell us a bit about yourself!

I come from Johannesburg, and can speak enough Zulu to prove it. I have glasses, terrible hair, and exceptionally long arms. I’m 29, obsessed with hip-hop, tattoos, plane tickets, snowboarding, and the Chicago Bulls. And good stories. Both telling them, and reading them.

For the majority of my adult life, I’ve worked as a journalist, being paid specifically to not make stuff up. The fact that I can now do the exact opposite at a place like Orbit is both weird and amazing.

– What can readers expect from your new book TRACER?

I wanted to make this the baddest, fastest, craziest, most intense scifi thriller you’re going to read next year, or any year after it. It’s set on a massive space station, Outer Earth, which holds the last humans in the universe. The station’s been there for a while – everything is broken, rusted, falling apart. Nothing works anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

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Welcome To Night Vale European Tour

Welcome To Night ValeHands up who was lucky enough to go to the Night Vale European Tour! Now put your hands down again. Quickly, you don’t know who is watching and whether they already know too much.

Yes, podcast sensation Welcome To Night Vale visited Europe for the first time this October and will be wrapping up their tour this week at the O2 Academy in Shepherd’s Bush. We think there may be tickets still available, in fact. Here at Orbit, we got tickets to the first night, which was an absolute stunner at the Union Chapel.

We don’t want to spoil anything, because really the less you know the better if you’re going to see it, but suffice to say we laughed, we cried, we screamed, we pondered the meaninglessness of our existence and we  talked to absolute strangers. That was awkward. But awkward in a good way, you know? Like when you trip over and spill your coffee on a stranger  only to fall in love with them and then discover three months into the relationship that they’re actually a creature from the void wearing human skin but they imbue you with fantastic powers somehow and you remain good friends.

We were also lucky enough to meet our fabulous authors Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, whose Welcome to Night Vale novel we are going to be publishing late next year. We also met Cecil Baldwin: the fantastic star and voice of Night Vale. And yes, we have photographic proof.

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Our big question to everyone out there is have you listened to Welcome to Night Vale yet? And if not, prepare for the most hilarious and dark experience of your lives: listen now. Seriously: right now.

For more information on the Welcome to Night Vale novel, stay tuned to the Orbit UK Facebook page where we’ll be posting updates as they come in.

Purchase THE CITY STAINED RED and you could be eligible to receive a special gift!

A day in the life of an adventurer is not all fun and games, as Lenk and his reckless band of warriors will surely attest to. Everything wants to kill you; nobody wants to pay you; and it’s just about certain that you’ll die horribly.

But the life does have a certain appeal for the right sort of personality. If you’re that sort of thrill-seeker, step up to the gate and purchase THE CITY STAINED RED by Sam Sykes. The e-book is only $1.99 for a limited time. Plus, if you purchase it now, you could be eligible to pick up a free signed comic book.

Fill out the form HERE (providing proof of purchase) to claim a copy for yourself while supplies last. This offer is only open to residents of  the United States.

If you’ve already bought and are enjoying THE CITY STAINED RED, consider supporting the author further by becoming a supporter on Thunderclap.

To read an excerpt from the novel, visit the author’s website and find out more about the world and its characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Goodreads Choice Awards: The Opening Round

The initial round of voting for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards is open! Below are the selection of Orbit titles that we’re really proud to see have made the list.

Fantasy – VOTE NOW

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks (UK | US |AUS)

SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher (UK | AUS)

NIGHT BROKEN by Patricia Briggs (UK | AUS)

THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks   SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher   NIGHT BROKEN

 

Science Fiction – VOTE NOW

CIBOLA BURN by James S. A. Corey (UK | US |AUS)

ANCILLARY SWORD by Ann Leckie (UK | US |AUS)

THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North (UK | US |AUS)

HEAVEN’S QUEEN by Rachel Bach (UK | US |AUS)

Corey_CibolaBurn_HC   Leckie_AncillarySword_TPB   The cover for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, a Richard and Judy Book Club 2014 pick   HEAVEN'S QUEEN by Rachel Bach

 

Horror – VOTE NOW

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (UK | US |AUS)

THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross (UK | AUS)

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey   THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross

 

If your favourite Orbit title of 2014 isn’t listed, you can also still enter a write-in vote for it at the bottom of each genre page.

CharlieFletcher

This Halloween we asked Charlie Fletcher to write about what the festival of all things ghastly and ghoulish means to him. Charlie’s supernatural fantasy novel, THE OVERSIGHT, comes out in paperback next week, with its sequel, THE PARADOX to follow next summer.

I like Halloween, for two reasons. The first has to do with being a dad, the second is a writer thing. When our kids were toddlers we lived in Los Angeles, where Halloween was a suitably big and authentic deal, the full American trick-or-treat experience, with pumpkin-carving parties (not to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal when it comes to carving a wicked Jack o’ Lantern), cool and unusual costumes and enough candy and e-numbers to stun a Clydesdale. My favorite costume ever was at a house in the Palisades: our four year old (suitably dressed as a furry bat) knocked on the door, which swung open to reveal a man sitting at a solitary table in the hallway, apparently eating his supper. He seemed the nicest Norman Rockwellish old geezer and he beckoned us to come in and choose some candy from under the domed silver dish cover in the centre of the table. When the cover was lifted it revealed neither candy-corn nor Tootsie Rolls, but a woman’s head on a bed of lettuce. A beat of silence followed. It was a very realistic head, eyes closed, dead as mutton. And then the eyes opened and it spoke to our kid. Screams, shock and finally hilarity ensued. I loved, and still love the fact that this couple built a table with a hole in the middle, and that the wife spent all evening lying in wait for the unsuspecting trick-or-treaters to scare the pants off them.

The take away from that is if you want to scare people you have to put work into it, and when we came back to Scotland we set to with a will: high points in our ignoble but committed campaign to traumatize our and others children’s childhoods was a ghost trail laid through a rambling highland lodge in the wilds of Argyll in a howling storm, with the electricity turned off. The unconscionably small children set off in the dark, alone, by the light of a single guttering candle. All the supposedly responsible adults dressed up and secreted themselves throughout the building. A hidden fiddler played the children through the house, unseen, a spectral Pied Piper, always a floor ahead of them, leading them from the cellars to the attic and back again. Almost none of them made it back to the kitchen under their own steam. We topped that with an outdoor version the following year, involving grandparents wandering around as ghostly monks and witches, and ending with a test of bravery in which each child had to descend a mossy series of steps and enter an ancient crypt-like ice-house where a single candle in a jar sat on the floor of a darkened doorway, next to a tempting pile of brightly wrapped sweets. As each child tentatively reached for them, a bloody hand shot out of the inner dark and grabbed their hand. Oh, the screaming and oh, the therapy those kids will require in the future. Worth every penny, and had I not foolishly bloodied my hand with red gloss paint and had the devil of a time getting it off afterwards, it would have been perfect. It was certainly worth crouching in the dark for half an hour or so…

FullSizeRenderAnd that’s the second thing I like about Halloween. The dark. More specifically being in the dark. Trick or treating in LA was fun, but in truth it was more Frank Capra than John Carpenter when it came to scary. It was Americana of most enjoyable kind, but there were no true chills. And there should be a shiver and a frisson at Halloween. It’s the start of the Dark Half of the year after all (Winter has come . . .), Allhallowtide is upon us, as is Samhain, the time when the border between us and “them” – the dead and the uncanny – thins and becomes scarily permeable. And that’s what you feel in the dark. Less rational, unmoored from the certainty of daylight. Crouching under ground, in the blackness, waiting to scare the children, I too felt the chill of the shadows behind me. It’s a good thing to do, every now and then, to let yourself be that guttering candle in the surrounding dark. There are good things there as well as bad, same as in daylight: I’ve walked alone in a deserted glen far down Loch Etive and definitely felt watched by something not entirely well disposed to me as I passed through the ruins of a tiny hamlet abandoned in the Clearances. And that was in bright noon-day sun.

In The Oversight the Sluagh inhabit that unlit space; they stalk the book as Shadowgangers and Nightwalkers, and they certainly came out of the darkness into my head. As to whether they are evil – as some readers have asserted – time (and The Paradox) will begin to tell. What they certainly are is ‘other’. And though they are not quite the same as the Celtic fairy host of the undead sinners that share their name, they do of course owe a big debt to them. One of the reasons I avoid the F-word in my books is it has become too overlaid with ‘cute’ and winsome (for which we can start by blaming the Victorians, as with so much, and then proceed to Disney and the Dreaded Pink Aisle in Toys’r’Us). But as someone who spent way too much of his third year at university reading about the Fairy faith in Celtic cultures I do like the muscular fear and healthy wariness about the unseen and what might lurk there that used to fill people’s heads. Not because I think people should be scared all the time, but that in thinking about the dark they can exorcise those fears a bit and realize they too are a candle against it.

And then again. Halloween is the traditional day of the year when those older Sluagh ride. So watch out when someone knocks on the door tonight. It could be a sugar-crazed toddler in a furry bat-suit. Or it might be the darkness calling . . .

Gail Z. Martin

In ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) and REIGN OF ASH (US | UK | AUS), Blaine McFadden is sent into exile in an arctic prison colony for murdering the man who dishonored his sister. When a war destroys mankind’s ability to control magic and bend it to their will, out-of-control wild magic brings deadly storms, monsters pulled through rifts from other realms and a madness that drives its victims to violence. Blaine discovers that he might just be the only one who can put things right.

In WAR OF SHADOWS, Blaine and his convict friends discover that plenty of people are trying to kill them. Blaine’s attempts to fully restore the magic affect the new status quo. With the king and nobility gone, there’s a power vacuum, and some ruthless players have decided to fill that gap themselves. As warring factions fight over territory in the kingdom of Donderath, Blaine emerges as a warlord trying to restore the rule of law, amid betrayal, intrigue and opponents who will go to any length to see him dead.

I’m not nice to my characters. It’s true. Blaine’s had a rum go of it. Raised by an abusive father, forced to make a choice no one should have to make in order to save his sister and younger brother, condemned by the king and exiled to the edge of the world—it hasn’t been a good seven years. Yet Blaine rises to the challenge, not because he covets power, but because he doesn’t want to live in the world as it is, and someone has to step up to make the difference.

Blaine doesn’t go looking to be a hero. In fact, when he kills his father, he fully expects to die for the crime to spare his sister and brother from further abuse. An act of ‘mercy’ commutes his sentence from hanging to exile, but the Velant prison colony is known for its inhumane, grueling conditions. But Blaine finds it within himself to adapt, and that ability to change lies at the heart of the series. Blaine and his convict friends, as well as the survivors back in Donderath, find strengths they never knew they had when confronted with challenges they never expected to face.

Blaine’s story is also about the power of ‘the family you make.’ In the brutal environment of Velant, and then later as colonists in the harsh environs of Edgeland, Blaine survives because of the ‘family’ of loyal friends who band together to protect each other. Back in Donderath, his ‘found’ family combines with what remains of his blood family, and several key people are added to the group. Blaine’s companion’s skills, courage and loyalty make the difference for his survival and for having a chance to fix the magic and set things right.

I’m also having fun looking at how a kingdom reacts in the face of overwhelming disaster, destruction of both economic and governmental infrastructure and continued instability. That ‘perfect storm’ combination affects everything from food production to religious identity to social cohesion, turning everything that people thought they knew upside-down. It’s a crucible from which everyone emerges changed—if they emerge at all. And whatever solution is found, one thing is certain: nothing will ever be the same as it was before the disaster.

Depending on your view, that’s either a terrifying statement or the glimpse of hope at the end of the storm.

War of Shadows isn’t the end to Blaine’s story. I’m working on Book 4, SHADOW AND FLAME, right now. So there is more to come. Because surviving is just the beginning of the journey.

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for stories and books by author friends of mine.  You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www. AscendantKingdoms.com.

Trick or Treat: Enjoy an excerpt from Ice Forged, and a bonus excerpt from Reign of Ash.

THE CITY STAINED RED by Sam Sykes — out now in e-book!

It’s a rough life being an adventurer. The pay is shit, and every job has the potential to prove fatal, but hey, it beats sitting behind a desk all day!

If you’re looking to escape your own desk, we recommend checking out THE CITY STAINED RED—out today in e-book for a special introductory price! Purchase it now for only $1.99 wherever e-books are sold.

The fast-paced adventure fantasy about a band of battle-scarred mercenaries is really excellent, and bestselling author Robin Hobb says it best about The City Stained Red:

When I first began reading SF and fantasy, back in the Dark Ages when I was a mere slip of a girl, one of the things I most loved about the genre was that often the tales simply engulfed the reader from page one, with no explanation of where one was or what mores to expect. I loved that sensation of sudden immersion and knowing that I knew nothing but had to trust the author to reveal as the tale unfolded.

The City Stained Red does exactly that. From the very first page, I found myself frantically swimming in a very exotic environment, accompanied by some of the most reckless protagonists I’ve ever shared a point-of-view with. I swiftly learned that most of my assumptions about who they were and what they were up to were wrong.

If you’ve followed Sam Sykes on Twitter for any length of time, you are familiar with his “Buy my book” gags. Now you can support Sam, by not only buying his book, but by becoming a supporter on Thunderclap! Details here.

Visit the author’s website to read an excerpt, discover background information on the various races and inhabitants of Cier’Djaal, and much more! Look for the print edition of The City Stained Red online and in stores this January.

An Epic New Cover — War of Shadows by Gail Z. Martin

There are no words to express how excited I am to share the epic awesomeness that is Gail Z. Martin’s new cover!  War of Shadows has it all—danger, mystery, hope, despair, and the aftermath of battle just finished… or a battle just begun.  Basically, everything you could ever want in an epic fantasy.  

Blaine “Mick” McFadden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath.  While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent.  McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long-awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king.  Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out…

War of Shadows is the third novel in the fabulous Ascendant Kingdoms Saga.  If you are unfamiliar with the series, be sure to check out the first two books—ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS), and REIGN OF ASH (US | UK | AUS)

Praise for the the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga:

” The immediate action in this story pulls the reader in… And with more than a few unexpected twists, this easy-to-follow storyline will leave the reader completely surprised and ready for the next book in the saga.”
— RT Book Reviews 

“There’s plenty of action and plot embroidery, and the pages turn easily.”  — Kirkus 

This week is Gail Z. Martin’s annual #DaysOfTheDead blog tour! Head on over to her website to check out the cool interviews, extras, and giveaways happening all week long.

“It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre.”

As first lines go, this one’s a killer.

If you’re wondering what the next big thing in epic fantasy might be, then 14th April 2015 is a date you’re going to want to add to your calendar. Just saying.

A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Look out for an interview with Alex on the blog next month.

Brian-Ruckley-photo

Brian Ruckley, author of THE FREE – a rip-roaring tale of action and adventure – talks about magic systems, and why they’re completely unnecessary. Except when they’re not.

While I was doing the interview I did here the other day about my new book THE FREE, I left out a heap of stuff. Because you always have to leave stuff out, right? But there were a couple of topics I’d like to have kicked around a bit more, and here’s one of them: magic systems.

Role-playing games have to have their magic systematised to some degree – defined, constrained, structured, all that – because otherwise the whole thing would get messy fast. But what’s the deal with magic systems in fantasy novels?

The fantasies I loved as a kid did not, as best I can recall, generally define what magic was or how it worked in any detail. In most of those books, magic was an immanent property of the world, or of individuals, or objects. It was just there, inherent in certain people or places or things. A capacity for change that was kind of unspecified, and with inner workings that remained entirely invisible.

Which, I tend to think, is the natural state of magic in fantasy novels. Why would we want to have this stuff explained and circumscribed? The ‘magic’ of magic is in its numinous quality. We don’t need to know the mechanics of it all. That’s not really the sort of awe-inspiring otherliness and wonder we’re after in fantasy. It’s engaging the wrong bit of our brain. Look what happened when Mr. Lucas tried to escape the clutches of fantasy by midi-chlorianising the Force. He gently systematized his magic, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.

So, naturally, having said all that, I’ve got a bit of a magic system in THE FREE. As you’d expect, I have reasons (excuses?) – aside from the basic one that I’ve got a brain that tends to see, and look for, systems and processes in the world around me generally.

First up, there’s the notion of having your approach to magic fit with the tone of a book. With THE FREE, I was shooting for a fairly hi-octane adventure vibe, with grounded characters making tough choices in psychologically plausible ways. It just felt consistent to have some structure to the magic that both reader and character could grasp and – to some extent – anticipate.

Of course, I decided I could have my cake and eat it too, because I didn’t want to lose the element of surprise and wonder and pyrotechnics that magic can bring. Thus, those who use magic in THE FREE (I call them Clevers) are theoretically capable of doing almost anything. Everything – physical and non-physical, every single aspect of the world – can become a part of magic, and that makes it both immensely powerful and almost infinitely varied. So although there is a sort of rationale for what’s happening and why, it’s not a prescriptive, circumscribing one.

Second up, there’s magic as an engine of plot, story, character. I figured that if I was going to have a magic system, it might as well help me as a writer, so I tried to come up with one that by its nature embodies some tension and conflict and climax. Read the rest of this entry »

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