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Descent by Ken MacLeod

DESCENT 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 LASCAR’S DAGGERGlenda Larke

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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What message would you give to your past self?

In just two weeks, the ingenious novel THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST will be hitting shelves internationally, published in the UK by Orbit and in the US by our good friends at Redhook. This extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character has already captured the hearts and minds of many early readers.

No matter what Harry August does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, he always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.

Inspired by Harry and his astonishing tale, we’ve been asking people what they would do differently the next time around if they could live their life all over again. What advice would you give to your younger self?

We’ve had so many fantastic responses, from the heartfelt – to the very practical – to the downright cryptic. Now it’s your turn.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice from a life already lived, what would it be?

Leave your past self a message at www.harryaugust.net, and read the advice others have already given.

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Return to Mirgorod with TRUTH AND FEAR!

“I fell into Wolfhound Century and devoured it in three days.”— Richard Morgan

Today we are proud to release the greatly anticipated TRUTH AND FEAR, Peter Higgins’s enthralling sequel to WOLFHOUND CENTURY. TRUTH AND FEAR is the second novel in the Wolfhound Century trilogy, published by Orbit in the US and Gollancz in the UK.

TRUTH AND FEAR finds Investigator Lom returning to a Mirgorod in crisis, with the war against the Archipelago looking grim for all. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defense of the city.

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.

As complete destruction looms, Lom must find a way to save the city and save himself – before the horrors of war overtake them all.

Praise for WOLFHOUND CENTURY:

“Like vintage China Mieville, but with all the violent narrative thriller drive of Ian Fleming at his edgiest” RICHARD MORGAN

“An amazing, fast-paced story in a fantasy world poised dangerously on the edge of quantum probability, a world where angels war with reality” PETER F. HAMILTON

“I absolutely loved WOLFHOUND CENTURY. Higgins’s world is a truly original creation, Russian cosmism and Slavic mythology filtered through steampunk and le Carre. What really captured me was his beautiful style and language” HANNU RAJANIEMI

“An alternate history that will grab you by the lapels and snap you to attention.”— io9

“Sentient water, censored artists, mechanical constructs, old-fashioned detective work, and the secret police are all woven together in this rich and fascinating tapestry” — Publishers Weekly

“WOLFHOUND CENTURY merits the attention of Miéville fans looking for something new.” — Far Beyond Reality

“WOLFHOUND CENTURY is a strange, complex, earthy, sometimes violent read, and one of the best debuts I’ve gotten my hands on.” — My Bookish Ways

“This is a great, dark and fantastical thriller. It has the suspense of classic spy thrillers, mixed with the strange and the bizarre found in any number of critically-acclaimed fantasists.” — Civilian Reader

“Higgins doesn’t just build a world, he also thrusts the reader into it thanks to his incredibly adept use of an intense and stark atmosphere.” — Bookworm Blues

“Very dark, very gritty and very atmospheric. WOLFHOUND CENTURY is also a book free of genre constraints, allowing for a great original and entertaining read. Top Notch stuff by Peter Higgins.” — The Founding Fields

“Fans of dystopian fiction, noir, and science fiction and fantasy (especially those weary of tired old world building that always seems to center on English history or Western European norms) will find much of interest in this book.” — Nerds of a Feather

Read an excerpt from TRUTH AND FEAR or start from the beginning with WOLFHOUND CENTURY

THE REMAINING: TRUST is available now!

THE REMAINING: TRUST is the first in a series of novellas set in the world of D.J. Molles’s phenomenal Remaining saga.  It is a world ravaged by a virus that has turned 90% of the population into ravenous animals resulting in the complete collapse of society.

Following the initial outbreak and collapse of the social order, forty-eight “Coordinators”, specially trained soldiers of the U.S. Armed forces, are activated to locate survivors and restore order where they can. It’s a monumental order, and success seems all but impossible. The Remaining saga is the story of our darkest hours and those who were still willing to fight. Here’s a bit more about the novella:

“While Captain Lee Harden struggles to fulfill his part in Project Hometown his trusted friend and ally Major Abe Darabie works to hold up his end of the mission. But caught between his responsibility to the mission and the ambitions of a new president Abe must decide where his duty lies and whom he can trust in a country beset by the rabid infected, violent marauders, and fragile allegiances.”

Purchase THE REMAINING: TRUST by D.J. Molles, or check out The Remaining saga (available now in ebook, print editions coming Summer 2014).

Molles_TheRemaining-TP   Molles_TheRemainingAftermath-TP.jg   Molles_TheRemainingRefugees-TP.jpg   Molles_TheRemainingFractured-TP.jpg

Glenda Larke

Glenda Larke’s exciting new epic fantasy novel, THE LASCAR’S DAGGER, came out just last week. It is a tale of spying, of action and adventure in an unfamiliar land.

I was 21 years old when I discovered what it was like to be an alien.

I had just landed in a strange country at night, then was driven along dark country roads with rubber trees meeting overhead. Near our village destination, a coconut tree had fallen across the power lines, so when I met my husband’s parents for the first time, along with his brother and five sisters, it was by the flickering light of tiny coconut-oil lamps.

I soon discovered that my meagre knowledge of formal, grammatical Malay was about as much use in his village as a meagre knowledge of Oxford English would be to someone hearing Geordie dialect for the first time. The matriarchal society that was my husband’s by birth still used the Sumatran dialect they’d brought with them from Indonesia centuries earlier. I barely understood a word. At that point, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of not belonging, of being way out of my comfort zone.

As lovely as my in-laws were, I learned then, and in the years that followed, how challenging it is to be the stranger, the outsider. And as if that first total immersion by lamplight wasn’t enough, I did it again, repeatedly — living for years not only in west Malaysia, but also in Austria, in Tunisia, in Borneo. I had to learn the same tough lesson over and over, which was this: those around me weren’t weird. I was. It’s always the stranger who’s the alien.

It might have been a challenge for me to adapt, but it was also wonderful — a fascinating learning curve that never ended. No wonder, then, that I am intrigued by protagonists who are flung into unfamiliar worlds they don’t quite understand . . .

Like the lascar, for example, one of the protagonists in my new epic fantasy novel, THE LASCAR’S DAGGER, Book One of The Forsaken Lands. He is friendless and alone, half a world away from the place of his birth, learning to survive in a country where people dismiss his half of the globe as “forsaken”, that is, forsaken even by God. Or like Saker, the priest, reluctantly thrust into life at a royal court when he’d much rather lead a life of action. Or Lady Mathilda, a royal who must marry a man she doesn’t know and move to a foreign land for reasons of State. Or Sorrel Redwing, on the run from the law, learning to live in disguise as a servant. All are characters way out of their comfort zone.

Of all of them, the lascar has the hardest task because he’s the furthest away from all that is familiar. But then, he also has a very special dagger, or kris . . .

My husband wore a Malay kris the day we were married, tucked into the waist of his national costume like the warriors of a bygone era. The traditional form of the kris, usually with a wavy blade, is crafted from iron and meteorite nickel. Part of its mythos is the belief in a presence of a spirit (whether for good or evil) within the blade. Just as the kris in legend often possesses supernatural power or ability, so it is with the lascar’s dagger of my novel. Just what it’s up to is quite another matter, and for that, you’ll have to read the book.

ANCILLARY JUSTICE makes the Clarke Awards Shortlist!

Our congratulations go today to Ann Leckie, who has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award for her debut novel, the fantastic space opera ANCILLARY JUSTICE!

This means that ANCILLARY JUSTICE has so far had an unbroken chain of shortlistings for every science fiction award of the year: that’s the Kitschies (where it already won the Golden Tentacle), the Philip K. Dick Awards, the BSFA Awards, the Tiptree, the Goodread Reader’s Choice Awards and the Nebula Awards. What a record!

The shortlist this year has been characterised by several debut novels – Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley and Ramez Naam are, impressively, all first time novelists. Alison Flood at the Guardian wrote about the debuts here: ‘SF newcomers invade Arthur C Clarke award shortlist’.

Big Orbit congratulations to Ann, and to all the shortlistees! The full shortlist is here:

ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie
GOD’S WAR by Kameron Hurley
THE MACHINE by James Smythe
THE DISESTABLISHMENT OF PARADISE by Phillip Mann
NEXUS by Ramez Naam
THE ADJACENT by Christopher Priest

Glenda Larke

Author post

The Lascar’s Dagger: What is a Lascar?

With her brand new epic fantasy adventure THE LASCAR’S DAGGER out today, we asked Glenda to tell us a bit about the book and the story behind that title.

“What’s your book about?” It’s a question dreaded by every fantasy author.

After all, what if Tolkien had said, “A company of little guys with hairy feet who go on a long journey to throw a ring into some molten rock under a mountain…”  Would you have bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

With my latest book – THE LASCAR’S DAGGER – I discovered a new problem.

“What’s your book about?”

“A lascar, and the spice trade and –”

“Alaska? Really?” (At which point I am on the receiving end of a peculiar look.) “I didn’t know they had a spice trade! And have you even been to Alaska?”

Er, no.

So I usually end up telling people about lascars instead.

The word ‘lascar’ rather carelessly bundles together men of many different nationalities. The only thing they had in common was that they were south Asians who worked for Europeans. They could come from any country from Yemen to Indonesia. They were mostly sailors, although sometimes the term was applied to the servants of British army officers. Generally, they were worked hard and were poorly paid.

Possibly the very first lascar was an Indian who sailed with Vasco da Gama in 1498. By 1660, they were so common on board British ships that the British Government enacted a law to limit their employment to no more than 25% of the crew. By the First World War, there were over fifty thousand lascars actually resident in Britain; lascars were in fact the first wave of Asian migrants.

But THE LASCAR’S DAGGER is not just about a man and his knife. It’s about a western civilization on the cusp of change as it comes into conflict with cultures on the other side of the globe. It’s about ambition and greed and the spice trade. It’s a fantasy, set in a world that never existed, but which evokes a time when Asia and Europe were on a collision course. In our world, Asia lost, and most countries ended up under colonial rule. In my world … there may be a different ending.

The cast of my trilogy is large and varied: clerics and royalty, merchants and servants, assassins and beggars, a lawyer, a prince, a privateer and a woman wanted for murder … and more importantly, there’s the lascar — and his blade.

The lascar’s dagger is, in fact, a character too, one that can manipulate events. After all, I write fantasy and there’s got to be magic, right? Better still, with magic, perhaps one can change the course of history.

An interview with Glenda Larke

Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.  The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.

THE LASCAR’S DAGGER (US | UK | AUS) is the first book of an brand new trilogy by Glenda Larke. Get to know Glenda and find out what her new series is all about in the interview below. 

1.) When did you first start writing?

I was still in elementary school when I discovered I could write stories and – better still – I could persuade other kids to listen to them. When a teacher asked us what we would like to be when we grew up, my reply was ‘an authoress’!

2.) What made you want to write fantasy?

My first novel (unpublished!) was actually not fantasy at all. It was a thriller with a strong dash of romance, set in Malaysia, where I was living at the time. I showed it to someone, and to my alarm discovered that she equated the main character’s views with mine simply because the main character was, like me, an Australian living in Malaysia. I figured that the book – if ever it was published – would get me into trouble with the community I was living in at the time, so I shelved it and turned instead to writing fantasy. After all, no one was going to equate me with a woman born in the Keeper Isles and living in a place called Gorthan Spit, were they? (It was no hardship switching genres, of course. I loved reading fantasy and it makes sense to write what you love.)

3.) Who are some of your major influences in the genre?

It’s hard to single out any particular book or writer. I suspect it was Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ that started me reading fantasy in the first place. The authors I read in the 1980s as I was developing my skills as a writer of fantasy were people like Barbara Hambly, Janny Wurts, Guy Gavriel Kay, Raymond Feist and Ann McCaffrey.

4.) Where did the idea for The Lascar’s Dagger come from?

There’s never a single idea! If I had to sum up the sources for my inspiration, I’d say: the great port cities of the Netherlands and the U.K. in the time of sailing ships, my mother-in-law’s kitchen, the Malay dagger, my ancestor sailing around the world on Captain Cook’s ‘Endeavor’, the spice trade, my husband’s background, privateers, birds of paradise…

The Malay/Indonesian dagger, with its distinct wavy blade, is part of my husband’s culture. Called a kris, it is a traditional weapon of his people, and historically it was thought to contain a spirit or presence (which can be good or evil). Folk tales often tell stories of a kris with magical powers. What fantasy writer can resist the idea of that?

Most of the trilogy, though, is set in my version of Europe about to embark on colonial expansion and trade dominance of the East. There’s a bit of a twist on our history, though: in my books, the East has a novel way of fighting back…

Read more. 

The Red Knight returns in THE FELL SWORD!

“Do well. Act with honor and dignity. Not because there is some promised reward, but because it is the only way to live.”

Today we are excited to release the long-awaited THE FELL SWORD, Miles Cameron’s epic sequel to THE RED KNIGHT. THE FELL SWORD is the second book in the Traitor Son Cycle, published by Orbit in the US and Gollancz in the UK. This second volume has all the action and intrigue that delighted fans and critics alike in THE RED KNIGHT, only now the stakes are higher than ever as the pursuit of honor falters against a backdrop of vicious battles and betrayals. Here’s what THE FELL SWORD has in store:

Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free.

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand — and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But the Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time — especially when he intends to be victorious on them all?

“A medieval-fantasy at its finest … If you’re a fan of characters that are incredibly realistic and battles that put you right in the sweaty, gritty action, this is a book for you.” – Fantasy Faction on The Red Knight

Read an excerpt from THE FELL SWORD or start from the beginning with THE RED KNIGHT! And for a bit of extra fun, watch what happens when an epic fantasy novel and an armored knight go up head-to-head.

Shiny new Patricia Briggs, now in hardback!

Urban fantasy fans rejoice! Today we release NIGHT BROKEN, the brand new Mercy Thompson novel. And for the very first time in the UK, we’re releasing it as a shiny new hardback. Feast your eyes on this beauty.

The Mercy Thompson books make up one of the most compelling and addictive urban fantasy series out there – and it’s shown by the fact that Patricia Briggs just keeps gaining more and more fans.

And now there’s a real treat in store for all those readers. All I can say is, this book starts out in a very tense emotional way for the pack, Mercy and Adam – and the tension just keeps ramping up further and further. There’s danger, supernatural threats, crazy ex-lovers – and lots of those characters you might have been missing will reappear . . .

Be one of the first to get your hands on the hardback now!

Seeing is not Believing: Weirdest Alien Encounters

Ryan, the star of Ken MacLeod’s latest SF thriller, DESCENT, had a childhood encounter with an unidentified flying object in the hills above his home town. He’s done his research – he knows of all the hoaxes, justifications and explanations for UFO sightings, but can’t even begin to explain what happened to him. And in a future Scotland where nothing seems secret, where everything is recorded on CCTV or reported online, why can he find no evidence that the UFO ever existed?

DESCENT (UK|ANZ) is a science fiction story for the 21st Century – a story of what happens when conspiracy theorists take on Big Brother. To celebrate its release today, here’s our rundown of some of the weirdest reported alien encounters…

Space Brothers

Aliens aren’t just little green men – sometimes they look like ABBA.

‘Space Brothers’, ‘Nordic aliens’ or even ‘Pleiadians’ are the blond, beautiful human-looking aliens who many UFO believers have reported communicating with since the 1950s.

The first person to report contact with this type of alien was George Adamski, who reported seeing UFOs twice with friends before deciding on the third time that the craft must be looking for him! Separating from his friends, he saw the craft land and a blond man emerge, who claimed to be an alien named Orthon, who warned Adamski of the dangers of nuclear war and took him on a trip around the Solar System. That wasn’t the end of it, either – in the sixties Adamski claimed to have attended an interplanetary conference on the planet Saturn.

Once upon a time people would tell stories about how they were kidnapped by fair, beautiful elves in the woods – now it’s beautiful aliens. Why the obsession with blondes, though? It’s all a bit disturbing. (Some theorists have claimed ‘Orthon’ was a lost Nazi soldier testing a new aircraft.) Read the rest of this entry »

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