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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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ARCANUM – epic fantasy with a spark of genius

Today we are proud to release ARCANUM (UK | US | ANZ), a majestic standalone epic fantasy from none other than the Philip K. Dick award-winning Simon Morden.

Having won the prestigious award for his science fiction series starring deliciously sociopathic Russian genius Samuil Petrovitch, Simon has now turned his considerable intellect to fantasy. And what’s resulted is rather mind-blowing . . .

Imagine that long ago, the Roman Empire was crushed by wild spell-casting shamen.

Imagine that a thousand years later, a mighty kingdom has been founded on this formidable power – with magic their tool and their ultimate weapon.

The secret to Carinthia’s dominion is the Order of the Hexmasters, whose magic can power cities, build bridges and exterminate whole armies.

But then imagine taking this power away . . .

When the age of magic dies, the world will be ignited. Some believe that any act, no matter how horrific, is justified to bring the magic back. But some believe that when the magic has gone, the age of science will be born anew.

The twelve-year old Felix will be thrust onto the throne after his father’s demise, the fiery Nikoleta must wield her power carefully as the last remaining hexmaster, and the librarian Thaler believes that salvation lies in the knowledge stored in the great library of Carinthia . . .

Chaos and order, future and past, technology and superstition – all will clash with violence in the magnificent ARCANUM, out today.

‘An enthralling read for aficionados of intelligent, impeccably rendered fantasy’ Kirkus

‘A captivating novel as well as an interesting commentary on fantasy as a genre’ Tor.com

‘A masterful foray into an alternate universe . . . An engrossing rollercoaster of a plot winds up with a solidly satisfying climax that leaves the reader craving more’ Publishers Weekly

If you’re based in the UK and would like to celebrate the release with Simon and get hold of a signed copy, there will be a signing held at the Newcastle branch of Forbidden Planet on Saturday 15th February from 1-2pm.

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There’s a whole fantasy trope based around the protagonist of the story discovering that, after the initial skirmish with the forces of evil, he or she is the Chosen One, the one person who has all the skills – mental, physical and magical – to defeat the big bad and win the day.

And we love hearing about them because we can dream we are them. We’re no longer ordinary; quite the opposite. We become, for the length of the tale, extraordinary; possessing such skills, strength and stamina that no other mortal can command. The Chosen One is the archetypal super-hero story: think of Greek and Persian legends, and you’re halfway there already.

But when the story ends, the clouds come over, the sky darkens, and the world becomes colder, harsher and less caring. We’re not the Chosen One. We’re nothing unusual. Not only can we not take the battle to the forces of evil, we don’t even know where to start. We simply have to accept the way things are, with no hope of changing the slow grind of life.

But hang on. That’s not necessarily the case. We know through experience that we can claim small, if temporary, victories that bring life and light to us and ours. And we know that being inspired by our fictional heroes and heroines can make us better people – G. K. Chesterton spoke the truth when he said: ‘Fairy tales don’t tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE nominated for The Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award!

We’re thrilled to see Ann Leckie has been named a finalist for The Kitchies Golden Tentacle Award for her debut novel ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS).

The Golden Tentacle is awarded annually to the debut novel that best fits the criteria of progressive, intelligent and entertaining.

Here are the rest of the nominees:

  • Stray by Monica Hesse (Hot Key)
  • A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock (47 North)
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloa

Congratulations to Ann and the rest of the nominees!

ANCILLARY JUSTICE was also recently nominated for the  Philip K. Dick Award.

Cover launch: UNFETTERED, Tales by Masters of Fantasy

We’re delighted to unveil our cover for UNFETTERED (UK), an anthology of original fiction from some of the biggest names in fantasy, to be released digitally this February.

It will include stories from Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett, Mark Lawrence, Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, Michael J. Sullivan, and even deleted scenes from A MEMORY OF LIGHT, the final book in Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time series.

Unfettered, Tales by Masters of fantasy including Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time, Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett, Mark Lawrence, Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, Michale J Sullivan and Many others, edited by Shawn Speakman

This collection is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right, but it’s also a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community.

When author Shawn Speakman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011 and didn’t have health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, he incurred a huge medical debt that he was unable to pay. That’s when New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell to help cover those bills. He also recommended he ask the same of his other writer friends, and UNFETTERED is the impressive result.

The collection includes twenty-four tales, including an extra story for the UK edition from Speakman himself. As the title suggests, the writers were free to contribute whatever they wished, resulting in a truly unique selection from some of the brightest minds in fantasy fiction.

UNFETTERED will be released digitally in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other territories on 20th February 2014. It is available for pre-order from online retailers now.

Get addicted to DIRTY MAGIC by Jaye Wells

USA Today bestselling author Jaye Wells is back with a new urban fantasy series, one as addictive as they come. DIRTY MAGIC, book one of the Prospero’s War series, is out today!. Here’s a bit about the story:

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

Library Journal called it “grim, gritty, and completely fascinating.” We’ve been comparing it to The Wire with wizards, and once you start reading, I think you’ll find that to be an apt description. It has us all thinking about our favorite cop shows and how things might have been different if the perps were bigger and badder and magic were real. Jaye has written up a list of her nine favorite crime shows that would have been better if magic existed. Check it out on Buzzfeed and let us know what your picks are.

Jaye has also written a list for the Huffington post of the the eight most powerful fictional drugs. Check out the rest of her blog tour over on her website.

Praise for DIRTY MAGIC:

“Wells works her own brand of magic by laying the foundation for a complex and gritty new mythos starring a damaged, yet resilient, heroine.” – RT Book Reviews

“DIRTY MAGIC brings wizardry to the violent power struggles and chemical dependencies of the city streets, through the eyes of a heroine who has lived on both sides of the law.” – All Things Urban Fantasy

“DIRTY MAGIC is a flat-out high-octane thrill ride in an alluring world. Kate Prospero will become a highly recognizable name in Urban Fantasy.” – Under the Covers Book Reviews

Should You Stop Playing Video Games?

Bedlam by Christopher BrookmyreRoss Baker, the star of Christopher Brookmyre’s high-octane science fiction thriller, BEDLAM (UK|ANZ), can’t stop playing computer games. That’s because he’s trapped inside one.

The BEDLAM paperback comes out today, and to celebrate, we’ve teamed up with RedBedlam and Alienware for a fantastic BEDLAM-themed giveaway.

You could win one of six pieces of signed concept art from the upcoming BEDLAM computer game, or the Alienware X51, a gamer’s dream piece of hardware. If you’re based in the UK, head over to Chris’s blog to see the concept art and find out how to enter.

Chris and Orbit have also compiled this handy list, so you know when you’ve played too many computer games:

1. When you spot a CCTV camera, you flinch in case it’s directing a gun turret.

2. You notice a discoloured carpet tile, so you stomp on it in case it’s a pressure pad for opening  a secret area.

3. You are at the supermarket. Someone gets to the last frozen pizza before you. You call them “a camping b*stard”.

4. At work, your boss asks why you’re not getting as good results as your colleague. You explain that this is only because he’s got a lower ping than you.

5. You visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Staring up at Michelangelo’s handiwork on the ceiling, you are moved to remark: “Mmm. Nice textures.”

6. You’re watching Match of the Day. Man United notch up another bloody victory. You shout at the telly and accuse them of using bots.

7. Your date turns up wearing a new outfit. You say: “Hey, I dig the new skin.”

8. You’ve heard about a fantastic new novel called BEDLAM, so you know it’s time to put down the controller and pick up a paperback for a while. Now, where’s that save point?

Kate-Elliot-profile

Author post

Debuting “Amazons” by Julie Dillon

The Spiritwalker Trilogy is an epic fantasy coming-of-age-and-revolution in a gas-lamp setting written in first person from the point of view of a single character. While I really enjoyed writing in the voice of Cat Barahal, the single character first person viewpoint also presented challenges. For example, I could only ever see other characters as Cat sees them, and any incident that she does not herself personally witness she can only report on (or hear a report of) later.

As I finished up COLD STEEL (US | UK | AUS), the third in the trilogy, I decided to write a short story “coda” from the point of view of one of the other characters, Cat’s beloved cousin Beatrice (Bee). I also decided that because Bee is an artist I wanted the story to be illustrated. I’ve written about “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal” elsewhere (extensively here where I talk in detail about the process of creating a chapbook with illustrations).

The artist Julie Dillon did a fabulous job with the black and white illustrations for the Secret Journal. I also commissioned her to do a couple of color pieces, more for my own selfish desire to have the illustrations than anything else (although we are talking about doing a limited edition print run).

Julie did two spectacular pieces based on passages from COLD STEEL.

One, “Rising from the Sea of Smoke,” was debuted over at A Dribble of Ink last week. You can see it there or on Tumblr.

Today, Orbit Books is debuting the second piece, “Amazons.” (Click for a larger view.)

Amazons

I asked Julie to illustration the following passage:

A gust of wind rattled the branches. A drum rhythm paced through the woods. On its beat I heard a woman’s voice call out a verse, answered by a chorus of women singing the response.

A column of soldiers marched into view, although they were almost dancing, so proud and mighty were they, and every single one a woman.

Four drummers led them while a fifth struck a bell, the drummers prancing and stepping on their way with every bit of flash and grin that any young man could muster. Their shakos were as jaunty as my own. All wore uniform jackets of dark green cloth piped with silver braid. Some wore trousers, while others preferred petticoat-less skirts tailored for striding. Most wore stout marching sandals laced along the length of calf, brown legs and black legs and white legs flashing beneath skirts tied up to the knee. Four lancers walked in the first rank, tasseled spears held high, while the rest carried rifles and swords. A banner streamed on the wind. It depicted an antlered woman drawing a bow.

Amazons.

Of the piece, Julie writes:

“I made the viewpoint lower to the ground so the viewer is looking up at them a little rather than looking down, which I thought might give them a somewhat larger than life feel. I also tried to make their poses and gestures, most particularly the arms of the amazons in the front row, have a nice flow of movement between them, to try to convey the sense that they are moving a little more energetically.”

Read the first chapter of COLD MAGIC (US | UK | AUS), book one of the Spiritwalker trilogy.

Best Books of 2013

Before we move on entirely from 2013 into the new year, we’d like to take a moment to revisit some of the end of year lists that praised 2013′s releases! We had some amazing books in 2013, and we’re thrilled that others agree. Here are just a few of those lists.

NPR‘s Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2013′s Great Reads
* ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie
* LOVE MINUS EIGHTY by Will McIntosh
* SHAMAN by Kim Stanley Robinson

Los Angeles Times Holiday Book Gift Guide
*
SHAMAN by Kim Stanley Robinson
* PARASITE by Mira Grant

Publishers Weekly Best Books 2013
*
AMERICAN ELSEWHERE by Robert Jackson Bennett

io9: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2013
*
ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie
* ABADDON’S GATE by James S.A. Corey
* LOVE MINUS EIGHTY by Will McIntosh

Forbidden Planet’s Best of the Year 2013
* SHAMAN by Kim Stanley Robinson
* ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie

Bookish: The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2013
* Will McIntosh’s LOVE MINUS EIGHTY
* Mira Grant’s PARASITE
* Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE

BuzzFeed
The 12 Greatest Fantasy Books of the Year
* THE TYRANT’S LAW by Daniel Abraham
* PROMISE OF BLOOD by Brian McClellan
* A MEMORY OF LIGHT by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
* THE RED KNIGHT by Miles Cameron

The 14 Greatest Science Fiction Books of the Year
* ABADDON’S GATE by James S.A. Corey
* PARASITE by Mira Grant
* AMERICAN ELSEWHERE by Robert Jackson Bennett
* ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie
* NECESSARY EVIL by Ian Tregillis

And a few more…

  • Shadowhawk’s Shade liked Kate Elliott’s COLD STEEL and Michael J. Sullivan’s THE CROWN TOWER.
  • Bookworm Blues called out Will McIntosh’s LOVE MINUS EIGHTY, Robert Jackson Bennett’s AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE, Ian Tregillis’s NECESSARY EVIL, and Michael J. Sullivan.
  • Fantasy Faction mentioned Francis Knight’s LAST TO RISE, Brian McClellan’s PROMISE OF BLOOD, Daniel Abraham’s THE TYRANT’S LAW, Michael J. Sullivan’s THE CROWN TOWER and THE ROSE AND THE THORN, Anthony Ryan’s, BLOOD SONG,  and Robert Jordan’s and Brandon Sanderson’s A MEMORY OF LIGHT.
  • The Founding Fields enjoyed Kevin Hearne’s HUNTED, Michael J. Sullivan’s THE ROSE AND THE THORN, Daniel Abraham’s THE TYRANT’S LAW, Brian McClellan’s PROMISE OF BLOOD, Ian Tregillis’s NECESSARY EVIL, James S.A. Corey’s ABADDON’S GATE, and Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE.
  • Staffer’s Book Review praised Will McIntosh’s LOVE MINUS EIGHTY, Robert Jackson Bennett’s AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, and Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE; and among debuts, Brian McClellan’s PROMISE OF BLOOD.
  • My Bookish Ways chose Peter Higgins’s WOLFHOUND CENTURY, Robert Jackson Bennett’s AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, and Kevin Hearne’s HUNTED.
  • Far Beyond Reality picked Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE, Peter Higgins’s WOLFHOUND CENTURY, Robert Jackson Bennett’s AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, and Will McIntosh’s LOVE MINUS EIGHTY as favorites of 2013

What were your favorites from the previous year?

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is here

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for . . . Melanie is here. The superb THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (UK|US|ANZ) is released today in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Do you know Melanie’s secret yet? Get your copy to find out . . .

The incredible reviews for The Girl with all the Gifts by M R Carey

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

To read the first few chapters for free, visit the Girl with all the Gifts Facebook page.

Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award!

The nominees for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award were announced today, and we’re thrilled that Ann Leckie’s science fiction debut ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | ANZ) is among them! Here’s the full list:

  • A CALCULATED LIFE by Anne Charnock (47North)]
  • THE MAD SCIENTIST’S DAUGHTER by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Angry Robot)
  • SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE by Toh EnJoe, trans. Terry Gallagher (Haikasoru)
  • ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • LIFE ON THE PRESERVATION by Jack Skillingstead (Solaris)
  • SOLARIS RISING 2: THE NEW SOLARIS BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Ian Whates (Solaris)
  • COUNTDOWN CITY by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

Congratulations to Ann and the rest of the nominees! The award will be presented at Norwescon in Seattle, WA, on Friday, April 18th.

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