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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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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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Press Release: Orbit UK to publish Welcome to Night Vale novel

Night Vale logo by Rob WilsonOrbit UK has acquired a novel based on WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE, to be written by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink. The WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE podcast is described by the TELEGRAPH as ‘a cultural phenomenon’, the GUARDIAN calls it ‘extremely addictive’ and it has topped over twenty-three million worldwide downloads since its first episode aired in 2012. The Night Vale book will feature both new characters and beloved favourites from the show.

Commissioning editor Jenni Hill bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Angharad Kowal at Writers House UK, on behalf of Jodi Reamer at Writers House US, in a heated auction last month. Publication is expected for autumn 2015.

 WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a free, fictional podcast set in a creepy desert town. It takes the form of a radio show full of news reports from Cecil Palmer, the town’s affable radio host who doesn’t quite understand that hooded figures in the dog park and hypnotising glow clouds in the sky are not facts of life anywhere outside Night Vale. As hilarious as it is disturbing, the show can be described as a cross between THE TWILIGHT ZONE and TWIN PEAKS, or your local news report written by Stephen King.

Angharad Kowal said: “Orbit is the perfect home for the WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE novel – their enthusiasm for the project is hard to surpass. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Jenni Hill said: “I first listened to WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE last summer, and I fell in love instantly with Jeffrey and Joseph’s smart writing, fascinating characters and comic but wonderfully creepy storylines. I’m overjoyed that Orbit will be publishing this in the UK and I know that the novel is going to absolutely delight both Night Vale’s loyal fans and plenty of new readers.”

And now, the weather.

About WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE: The brainchild of writers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE podcast is narrated by Cecil Baldwin, with music by Disparition. More information, and links to the podcast, can be found at www.commonplacebooks.com/welcome-to-night-vale.

 

mur-rounded-corners

Last year, out-of-work travel writer Zöe Norris found herself in the Big Apple — looking for work and finding more than she bargained for.  Mur Lafferty’s THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY (US | UK | AUS)  is a hip and fun take on urban fantasy, which Cory Doctorow called “an unbeatable mixture of humor, heart, imagination and characterization.”

We’re thrilled to bring you the exciting sequel, GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS (US | UK | AUS), which is available now!  Zoe and crew head south for an assignment in the Big Easy.

Since today is also Mardi Gras, it seemed appropriate to ask for Mur’s excellent travel advice on enjoying the celebration….if you’re a vampire that is.

Plan ahead

The most difficult thing in New Orleans for vampires is accommodation. New Orleans is 8 feet under sea level, and graves and coffins and any sort of tunnel system are nonexistent. You must plan early to book a crypt, or find room in some of the hotels that feature sunlight-tight rooms. These hotels and the rentable crypts are often booked by November, so plan early.

Know the local laws

Every city has laws specific to itself, for example, no earth demons welcome in Boston, and zombies must visit only downtown hospital morgues for brain retrieval. New Orleans is no different. Hunting can only be done in the cemeteries, all parties must be invite-only to limit the number of humans that try to attend, and the legally drunk limit is drinking one pint of blood that has a .10 blood alcohol content. So watch how many parting humans you partake of.

Do not dress in costume

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the one time and place  where you can be yourself. You can dress in clothes that you find comfortable, even if they are from the 1300s, and you can avoid putting on makeup to disguise the paleness of your skin. Out and proud, that’s the chant of local vampires, as they proudly display all that they are this one time during the year.

Catch Mardi Gras throws

If you attend the correct parades, you may have a chance to catch throws such as frozen blood cubes, candied brain bits, or hedgehogs. These parades are often late at night on side streets to not attract too much human attention. WATCH OUT: some hunters will throw rosaries and crucifixes at eager vampires looking to catch throws, so make sure you know what you’re asking for when you get your loot.

Ask before you participate

Many parades will allow you to join them, if you ask before the parade begins. Parades are a wonderful opportunity for all supernatural creatures to walk in the open with no disguises. Even larger creatures such as dragons and wyrms can pass themselves as floats in a parade. But do not join a parade as it’s moving along; the vampires in the parade may see that as a threat.

Watch your children

Since so many supernatural creatures fit in seamlessly with the chaos that is Mardi Gras, many sire vampires will use it as a “coming out” party or “Debutante ball” for their newest progeny. The baby vampires will likely still be hesitant to use their new powers, but most likely they will be excited for the opportunities to hunt and party and get drunk like they did in life. This means they will be more liable to step out of line, attract the attention of the authorities, accidentally kill a party attendee, or worse. It’s a fun, family-friendly event, but that doesn’t mean your children don’t need watching.

Watch for thieves

Thieves are wonderful, and Mardi Gras is full of them. They’re very good at what they do: lifting wallets and cell phones and the like. Thieves also make for very tasty pickings, as their blood is usually spiked with adrenaline, so after one attempts to rob you, capture him and take him somewhere safe (like the nearest graveyard) and feast away. The best part is, authorities will often look the other way if you can produce proof that you were only protecting the other humans. (Usually handing over the thief’s stolen goods will get you in the clear here.)

Be careful

Remember what we said about accommodations? We have more vampires killed simply by being out all night and suddenly unable to find a safe place to hide when the sun comes up. And we’re talking old vampires, people who really should know better. But there is no better place to feed freely on drunks than Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and even the most cautious vampire can get in trouble if she has had a few too many tourists. You do not want to realize it’s 5am and your only sanctuary is a porta potty, which isn’t very light tight to begin with.

No dangerous behavior elsewhere

You can actively hunt in the graveyard, and even show many of your true colors to drunk humans who think you’re just kissing them roughly on the neck. Anything goes at Mardi Gras, which makes it an ideal vacation spot for vampires and other supernatural creatures. But when you step into the working part of the city, where there are fewer parties and more people just trying to enjoy an evening, you will stand out, and the authorities will notice you. Stay in the French Quarter, stay within the invite-only parties, and stay within the cemeteries.

Read an excerpt from GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS or start from the beginning with THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY!

 

March Events

March 5: Gail Carriger at WORD Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY, 7 PM

March 6: Mur Lafferty at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC, 7 PM

March 6: Ken MacLeod Launches his latest novel DESCENT (UK|ANZ) at Blackwell’s Books, Edinburgh UK , 6.30 PM

March 7-9: Mira Grant (as Seanan McGuire) will be Guest of Honor at FOGcon, Walnut Creek, CA

March 12 and on: Gail Carriger will be participating in the Twitter Fiction Festival

March 15 Ken MacLeod will be appearing at A Celebration of the Life & Works of Iain Banks at The Huddesfield Literary Festival UK, 2PM

March 21-23: Gail Carriger will be Guest of Honor at ConDor, San Diego, CA

March 28-30: Mira Grant will be at Emerald City Comicon, Seattle, CA

First Look: Fall 2014 to Winter 2015 US Covers

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 5.09.41 PM

Are you sitting down? If not, then you should be because these covers are going to knock you off your feet. The Orbit Art Department has again delivered some positively breathtaking jackets. Enjoy this preview of our Fall and Winter line-up with more to follow over the next few months.

Click on the images below to see a larger version and appreciate each cover in its full glory.  Let us know which books are headed to your wish list!

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First Look: Autumn 2014 to Winter 2015 Orbit UK covers

AutumnCoversUK

Wishlists at the ready, it’s that time of year again! Orbit is incredibly proud to present a selection of covers from this autumn to winter in 2015. There is plenty more incredible cover art yet to be released, but for now enjoy this brilliant preview of what’s to come later this year and early next.

Which new books are on the top of your list?

Click on the covers below to see a larger version.

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shawn-speakman-press-shot

UNFETTERED should not exist.

Not in a perfect world. In a perfect world, cancer does not exist. And even if it does exist, in a semi-perfect world, there is adequate healthcare insurance covering fantastic healthcare.

Unfortunately, I found out how imperfect the world is in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I was prepared for the cancer. I had been diagnosed ten years earlier with a far graver form of the disease.  I knew what to expect – the surgeries, the chemotherapy, the fatigue and sickness. In 2001, I beat the cancer, but I had to be a mentally tough bastard to do it.

I knew it would be no different in 2011. The cancer didn’t frighten me. But it was paying for treatment that became the real problem.

I live in the United States where, in my opinion, the healthcare system is broken. Due to my pre-existing cancer diagnosis, I did not qualify for health insurance. I would not be denied healthcare but that healthcare would have to be paid out of pocket. My treatment would cost about $200,000. I would undoubtedly have to declare medical bankruptcy, ruining my financial future for the next decade.

The bastard came to the fore. I knew there had to be a way out. While I went through treatment, I began asking my writer friends if they could donate short stories for an anthology I would sell to offset those medical costs.

UNFETTERED is the result. Read the rest of this entry »

Rachel Aaron

Author post

Why Powered Armor?

In the interview section at the back of FORTUNE’S PAWN, I explained that the reason I originally decided to write the Paradox books was because I wanted to read an action packed SF romance and couldn’t find one, so I created my own. This is a true story, but it’s also true that my sudden reading urge wasn’t the only reason I decided to write about a female soldier turned mercenary who fights aliens, has a romantic subplot, and gets herself involved in a conspiracy that might doom all sentient life in the galaxy. You see, before all that, before Paradox and the xith’cal, even before Devi sauntered into my brain and informed me that I was writing her novel right that minute, I was already on the hunt for somewhere to put the Lady Grey.

I’ve been in love with powered armor since I watched my first mecha anime as a pre-teen renting anime tapes from Blockbuster in the dark days of the mid-90s. The idea of wrapping a person with all our fragile, soft flesh and emotional instability inside a machine that granted super human powers, but only under limits and often at huge costs, was like catnip for my young story-obsessed brain. I actually liked the price even better than the power it bought. Power alone is boring. It’s what power does to people—why they want it, how it changes them, and what they’re willing to do to keep it—that’s where the novel is.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a well told superhero story, you already know that the most compelling part of a any hero is their humanity. We don’t love Batman because of his toys, we love him for what he does with them, and why. We are, in short, far more interested in the man than the bat. Similarly, superheroes who have no weaknesses are boring. Even Superman, the most wish-fulfillment of all wish-fulfillment characters, needed kryptonite to be compelling in the long term.

Powered armor takes this idea a step further. Devi’s suit gives her what are essentially superpowers. She’s super fast, super tough, and super strong. She has eyes in the back of her head, the ability to look up almost any information with a thought, and a literal photographic memory. But none of this power is really hers. She’s just the driver, the breakable, fragile human at the heart of everything, and the knowledge that her power can be damaged, taken away, or even simply run out of energy, is what makes her plights that much more interesting and tense.

Powered armor certainly wasn’t the only way I could have done this. There are a million ways in Science Fiction to make someone super powered. I could have given Devi implants, or made her a genetically modified super soldier. But all of these things would have been hers, and I didn’t want that. I wanted Devi’s powers to be something she something she had to pay for and  could only use at great personal risk, because the person who has the guts to willingly put their neck on the line for the power to achieve their goals is also the person who can function without it. Take Superman’s powers away and he becomes a whiny embarrassment sulking in his Fortress of Solitude. Take Batman’s money and gadgets away and he’s still freaking Batman.

This vulnerability is why I think powered armor is such a staple in our collective imagination. It’s the ultimate unstable power—a supreme weapon that’s stealable, breakable, hackable, and only ever one technological glitch away from being a metal mausoleum—and the character who chooses to use it even in the face of all those flaws is practically guaranteed to be the sort of hardcore badass you want to read about. I put Devi in the Lady Gray precisely because I wanted her to be the sort of heroine  who, when I blasted her suit full of holes, would use the sharp edges to go for her enemy’s throat. The Lady Gray made Devi every bit as much as she made the Lady Gray, and I wouldn’t want either of them any other way.

Rachel Bach is the author of Paradox, a three part, heavy ordinance blast of Science Fiction that starts with FORTUNE’S PAWN (US | UK | AUS) and continues with HONOUR’S KNIGHT  (US | UK | AUS), out now! Want to find out more about the Paradox series? Read the interview, which appeared in the back of FORTUNE’S PAWN.

 

UNFETTERED – featuring Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and many others

Today we digitally release UNFETTERED: TALES BY MASTERS OF FANTASY.

It’s a stunning and diverse collection of fantasy fiction from some of the biggest names in the fantasy genre – including Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett, Mark LawrenceNaomi Novik, Kevin Hearne, Michael J. Sullivan, R. A Salvatore, Tad Williams, Lev Grossman and many others.

It also includes deleted scenes from Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s A MEMORY OF LIGHT, the final Wheel of Time novel.

The collection was gathered by Shawn Speakman, author and web guru for Terry Brooks. When Shawn fell ill back in 2011 and  was unable to cover his medical bills, the fantasy community showed its exceptional generosity by stepping forward to help out. All of the authors involved were kind enough to donate their stories the collection to help him cover the costs – and what was produced is a truly wonderful anthology.

This is the first time UNFETTERED has been published in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and our Orbit edition contains an extra bonus story from Shawn himself. Please see below for a list of all the stories included.

It’s available now at a special introductory price, and so it’s a great time to sample the fiction of some of the some of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors writing in fantasy today.

Read the rest of this entry »

The UK’s Bestselling Epic Fantasy Debut of 2013

Next week we’re delighted to publish the paperback edition of BLOOD SONG, which in the UK was the bestselling epic fantasy debut of 2013.

Anthony’s Ryan’s powerful tale of high adventure and deadly intrigue clearly struck a chord with readers, as the critical acclaim that followed the novel’s release was nothing short of astounding. BLOOD SONG currently has over a thousand 5* reviews on Amazon and was selected as Amazon UK’s favourite SFF novel from last year.

With the hugely anticipated sequel, TOWER LORD (UK), looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time to read the epic fantasy blockbuster that took readers by storm last summer. You can find the first chapter here, and an interview with Anthony here.

And if that’s not quite convinced you, then here’s some of the praise that BLOOD SONG has received:

‘An utterly engrossing high-fantasy epic from a major new talent that explores themes of war, faith, and loyalty amidst incredible action scenes and artfully developed characters’
BUZZFEED

‘A top contender for most impressive debut of the year. . . A powerful epic’
SFFWORLD

‘This is epic fantasy at its best with action, rivalries, espionage, the promise of future revelations and ever-present twists’
BOOKBAG

Just impossible to put down . . . Fast-paced, action-packed and character-driven’ FANTASY BOOK CRITIC

An instant sensation . . . an excellent start to this series’
READ DREAM RELAX

‘Smartly-written . . . Compelling’
SFX

‘BLOOD SONG delighted me again and again’
FANTASY FACTION

‘Well wrought characters, a fascinating world, and crackling prose . . . Not to be missed’
KING OF THE NERDS

‘One of the next master storytellers’
FANTASY BOOK REVIEW

‘I still love – and want – that feeling of completely absorbing escapism that good fantasy can supply – and BLOOD SONG brings it in force’
PORNOKITSCH

‘The next epic fantasy book everybody should read’
BLOTTED PAGES

Anthony Ryan lives in London and is a full time writer. You can find him online at his website and on Twitter.

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