- - December 9th, 2014
Today we celebrate the US publication of The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus, which includes the novels THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (US | UK | AUS), THE BROKEN KINGDOMS (US | UK | AUS), and THE KINGDOM OF THE GODS (US | UK | AUS). Since their first publication, these books have received critical acclaim and many award nominations, including the Nebula and Hugo Award. They are an absolute must-read for fantasy fans, containing the excellent world building and superb characters that every one of N.K. Jemisin’s books is known for. As a special treat, this omnibus also includes a brand-new novella in the Inheritance Trilogy world, THE AWAKENED KINGDOM! You can also purchase the novella by itself wherever e-books are sold.
Last night, we hosted our latest Google+ Hangout: The New Classics of SFFF with N.K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie. If you missed it, you can watch a video of it on Youtube. It’s a fascinating discussion of the evolution of language, the SFF genre, and much more. Enjoy!
- - December 2nd, 2014
Mardi Gras — a time of fun, frivolity, and anonymity. It is an event that draws people from around the world, and serves as the very colorful – and very deadly- backdrop for Kristen Painter’s new book in the Crescent City series!
Mardi Gras approaches, bringing with it hordes of tourists eager to see the real-life Faery Queen holding court atop her festival float. When the Queen is kidnapped, it’s up to Augustine, the fae-blooded Guardian of the city, to rescue her before time runs out.
But Augustine’s mystifying protégée, Harlow, complicates the task by unintentionally aiding the forces of evil, drawing danger closer with each step. The Queen might not be the first to die…
Check out an excerpt here.
City of Eternal Night is the second installment in the Crescent City series — an adventure you’re not going to want to miss! Check out what reviewers and fans are saying:
“Painter creates an intricate, well-crafted plot, along with compelling, distinctive characters and an enthralling twist… this story will definitely have readers turning pages all night!” — RT Book Reviews on City of Eternal Night (Top Pick!)
“Painter delivers on her promise of excitement and romance in the second installment of the Crescent city Series.” — Publishers Weekly on City of Eternal Night
“…by the end of the book I was awed because the path I thought this book would take, was nothing like how it turned out, and I LOVE when an author can surprise me…. City of Eternal Night was an excellent follow-up to my favorite book of the summer, continuing the story beautifully and keeping us on our toes.” – The Saucy Wenches Book Club
“Between the Fae and the witches, City of Eternal Night features some really fantastic magic…. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one.” – Vampire Book Club
- - December 1st, 2014
What’s your dearest wish? In celebration of the recent e-book release of JINN AND JUICE (US | UK | AUS) , we’re granting wishes! Step right up and rub the magic lamp, but be careful what you wish for….
Jinn and Juice is a brand new urban fantasy novel by Nicole Peeler, author of the wickedly awesome Jane True series. For a limited time, you can pick up the e-book for only $2.99 in the US and £1.99 in the UK
Here’s a bit more about the story:
Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Lyla nears the end of her servitude — only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human?
Born in ancient Persia, Lyla turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry — by cursing Lyla to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.
If she can remain unBound, Lyla’s curse will soon be over.
Unfortunately, becoming Bound may risk more than just her chance to be human once more — it could risk her very soul…
Praise for Jinn & Juice:
“Peeler is perfect. Jinn and Juice is her best urban fantasy yet with vibrant characters that leap off the page fully formed from the first line. Fast-paced, rowdy, smart, irresistible, and tender, there’s just no one who hits the urban fantasy marks as well as Peeler. Buy this book! Read it! Love it!”—Kat Richardson
“Peeler has done it again! Jinn and Juice is a delightful read filled with action, humor, heart, and a heroine to cheer for. And it doesn’t hurt that there are also sirens, trolls, bugbears, and plenty of Pittsburgh steel.”—Kevin Hearne
“Jinn and Juice is a raucous, raunchy tale well told. One thing’s certain: you’ll never look at Pittsburgh the same way after you’ve taken Nicole Peeler’s mythic joyride up, down, and sideways in pursuit of an abducted teenage girl and freedom from a thousand-year curse. Legend and history, betrayal and love intertwine as the story moves from lascivious sex clubs to the unraveling of a mystery to a magical jinni throw-down which will leave you panting for more. Jinn and Juice is Urban Fantasy at its smartest, naughtiest, funniest best.”—Juliet Blackwell
“Snarky, sexy! Beautifully descriptive and painstakingly plotted. Lyla is a smart, sly and just this side of scary. Peeler’s world-building is clever and complete with every possible fairy folk character! The other-worldly seems familiar and glamorous all at the same time. And I learned how to curse in a few new languages, so it was educational!”—Molly Harper on Jinn and Juice
*The print edition of Jinn and Juice will be available for purchase in April 2015.
- - November 25th, 2014
Today is the publication day of SYMBIONT (US | UK | AUS), the second book in Mira Grant’s wonderfully frightening Parasitology trilogy, which takes us inside a world where a powerful drug company has unleashed a medical nightmare in the name of progress and profit:
The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world’s population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.
Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.
This is a series that will haunt and thrill you in equal measure and, ahem, worm its way into your brain (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
More praise for Mira Grant’s Parasitology trilogy:
“Grant extends the zombie theme of her Newsflesh trilogy to incorporate thoughtful reflections on biomedical issues that are both ominously challenging and eerily plausible. Sally is a complex, compassionate character, well suited to this exploration of trust, uncertainty, and the price of progress.” — Publishers Weekly on Parasite
“Fans of [the Newsflesh] series will definitely want to check this new book out. But fans of Michael Crichton-style techno thrillers will be equally enthralled: as wild as Grant’s premise is, the novel is firmly anchored in real-world science and technology.” — Booklist
“Readers with strong stomachs will welcome this unusual take on the future.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A riveting near-future medical thriller that reads like the genetically-engineered love child of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.” — John Joseph Adam
Ken MacLeod’s DESCENT is an alien abduction story for the twenty-first century set in Scotland’s near-future, a novel about what happens when conspiracy theorists take on Big Brother. It comes out in paperback this week, and we asked Ken what is is about Scotland that brings him, and other writers, back to it as a science fiction setting again and again.
Two months ago, Scotland was in what Charles Stross called ‘The Scottish Political Singularity’. The referendum made the entire political future so uncertain that even planning a near-future novel set in the UK had become impossible – not least because you couldn’t be sure there would still be a UK to set it in.
My novel Descent, just out in paperback, was written before the result looked close, but I was careful to leave the outcome of the then future referendum open to interpretation. In earlier novels such as The Night Sessions and Intrusion, I’ve also left it up to the reader to decide if the future Scotlands described are independent or not.
Preparing for a recent discussion on ‘Imagining Future Scotlands’ I realised that the majority of my novels are at least partly set in Scotland, or have protagonists whose sometimes far-flung adventures begin in Scotland. And it made me wonder why there haven’t been more. With its sharply varied landscape, turbulent history, and the complex, cross-cutting divisions of national and personal character which Scottish literature has so often explored, Scotland may inspire writers of SF, but as a location it features more often in fantasy.
The result is that there have been many Scottish writers of SF – including Orbit’s very own Michael Cobley, Charles Stross, and the late and much missed Iain M. Banks – but not many SF novels have been set in Scotland. Of those that are, quite a few are written from outside the genre, such as Michel Faber’s Under the Skin. Flying even more cleverly under the genre radar, Christopher Brookmyre has been writing what amounts to an alternate or secret history of contemporary Scotland – some of them, such as Pandaemonium, with SF or fantasy elements – for two decades. And within the genre, there are some well-regarded novels I haven’t read, notably Chris Boyce’s Brainfix. I can’t help feeling I’ve missed stacks of obvious books. If so, I look forward to being corrected in the comments.
Let’s start with straight, unarguable genre SF.
Halting State by Charles Stross is a police procedural set in a near-future independent Scottish republic. Unlike many fictional detectives, the heroine is married, and her wife understands her. The multi-viewpoint second-person narration, though disorienting at first, soon becomes transparent – you could say you get used to it – and apt for a novel set partly in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. From the opening shots of a bank robbery in virtual reality, the story has you under arrest and briskly frogmarched along.
Time-Slip by Graham Dunstan Martin is a much grimmer vision of a future Scotland. Decades after a nuclear war, the Scottish Kirk has resumed its dour dominance of society. Our sympathy for the hero, a young heretic who founds a new religious movement on his rediscovery of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, fades as the implications sink in. It’s a thought-through and engaging novel, sadly out of print, but easily available secondhand.
Not quite SF, but set in a (then) future with a deft touch or two of technological extrapolation, the political thriller Scotch on the Rocks is an old-school Tory take on an armed insurrection for Scottish independence. Sex and violence are never far away. Glasgow gangs and Moscow gold play a bit part behind the scenes. Given that it was written by Douglas Hurd and Andrew Osmond, this isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the sharpness of its insight into the issues that drive the independence movement, from cultural alienation through economic decline to nukes on the Clyde. The speeches, give or take the odd detail, could have been delivered this September.
Moving to fantasy, Alasdair Gray’s Lanark is often rightly cited as a landmark in Scottish literature. It was an avowed influence on Iain Banks’s The Bridge, the closest Iain ever came to writing SF set in Scotland. But my own favourite of Gray’s novels is Poor Things, a Scottish revisioning of Frankenstein that confronts the poor creature with the harsh self-confidence of the Victorian age and that age with her outraged innocence.
Michael Scott Rohan’s science-fantasy novel Chase the Morning starts in Scotland – or at least in a port very like Leith – and casts off for worlds unknown on an endless ocean, full of adventure and romance. Its striking image of the Spiral, in which ships magically sail upward beyond the horizon to farther seas in the sky, was inspired by the vista down the Firth of Forth. On some evenings looking down the Firth you can’t tell where the sea ends and the sky begins, or what’s a cloud and what’s an island. Like all good science fiction and fantasy, this novel and its sequels make us see the real world in a different light.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget Scotland’s abiding presence in the wider field: Victor Frankenstein built the mate for his creature on a remote Orkney island; the Mars mission that opens Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land had as its prime contractor the University of Edinburgh; and Star Trek‘s engineer Scotty was born in Linlithgow . . . a few miles from Scotland’s notorious UFO hotspot, Bonnybridge.
- - November 13th, 2014
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live another person’s life?
Claire North has, and we’re very excited to now present the cover for TOUCH (UK | US | ANZ) – her electrifying new thriller with a protagonist who can jump from one body to another, just with a touch.
Claire is the author of THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST (UK | US | ANZ), one of the bestselling genre books of the year which was picked for all three of the Richard and Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and the BBC Radio 2 Book Club in the same year – a feat which is almost unprecedented.
The novel has impressed people across the board, from Peter F. Hamilton:
“Claire North’s sophisticated writing and astute plotting have made this my book of the year”
To M. R. Carey:
‘Astonishing . . . Bold, magical and masterful’
To Judy Finnigan:
‘Utterly readable, utterly believable and compelling . . . one of the fiction highlights of the decade’
Her new novel TOUCH, dare I say it, may impress them even more.
It’s coming in February 2015 and is available for pre-order now. Catch it while you can . . .
- November 11th, 2014
“…a winning combination of A Game of Thrones, sword-and-sorcery RPGs, and vivid description.” – Publishers Weekly on A DANCE OF CLOAKS
Today is the publication day of David Dalglish’s latest Shadowdance novel – A DANCE OF GHOSTS (US | UK | AUS)!
For longtime fans of the series, today is particularly exciting as it marks the first Shadowdance book that has never been previously published in any format.
What lies ahead for Haern and the city of Veldaren? Nothing but trouble that’s for sure.
A night of fire and blood heralds Muzien the Darkhand’s arrival to Veldaren. With him comes the might of the Sun Guild, eager to spread their criminal empire.
Left blind after being attacked by the Widow, Alyssa Gemcroft struggles to hold together the remnants of the Trifect as the Sun Guild’s arrival threatens to shatter whatever future her son might have left.
Veldaren’s only hope is in the Watcher, but Haern is no longer there. With his father, Thren Felhorn, he is traveling to the Stronghold, an ancient bastion of the dark paladins of Karak. Will they find the answers they seek? Or will the Stronghold be their final destination?
On BuzzFeed, David Dalglish pulls back the curtain on the editorial process. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a book, while we try and talk his editor out of murdering him.
Listen to a sample from the audiobook below!
Interstellar official movie poster © Warner Bros UK
It took me a little while to work out what was bothering me about Interstellar.
The realisation came about two thirds of the way in, when Matthew McConaughey and his merry band of intergalactic explorers were contemplating another dive into the black hole which has flung them to the other end of the universe in the search for a new home for humanity. It was then that I had the thought, “This would work so much better as a TV series.”
Going through a black hole, if we are to believe physicist (and executive producer) Kip Thorne, is a very noisy, turbulent, chaotic experience. So is the movie. Director Christopher Nolan never stops blasting you with information: quantum mechanics, on-planet disasters, portentous imagery, space-time fluctuations, really loud music, and lots and lots of Dylan Thomas.
And boy, do things happen fast. One minute, McConaughey and company are puttering about on Earth trying to grow corn, and the next they’re at the other side of the cosmos, seeing if humanity can survive on a watery planet with mountainous waves (spoiler: we can’t).
There are other problems too. The sound mix is ridiculous, juxtaposing the silence of space with long periods of bombarding your eardrums with noise. And there are several glaring plot-holes. My particular favourite: ace ex-NASA pilot McConaughey is living just down the road from their secret facility, but they somehow never bother to pop on over to his farm and ask for his help. Naturally, when he shows up on their doorstep, they immediately insert him into the ship crew. I feel a bit bad for the poor bastard he replaced.
Perhaps the biggest letdown is that the movie never asks the most important question. If humanity has wrecked the Earth so badly, do we even deserve to survive? At no point do any of the astronauts and scientists stop to ask whether we’ve learnt enough not to screw up the next planet we land on. Nolan is happy to speculate on spaceship mechanics, the power of family and the ability of love to cross the infinite gulf of space, but he never wonders if we’ve done enough to deserve any of it.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see Interstellar. For one thing, there’s nothing else that looks quite like it. Everything from the different planets to the dusty, scorched fields on Earth to the black hole itself is just gob-smacking. Nolan is known for astounding imagery, but this is next level. And while McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and company are by no means giving the best performances of their careers, there’s still enough meat to make things compelling.
In the hands of a TV showrunner like David Simon or Vince Gilligan, Interstellar would be absolutely essential. In the hands of a director like Nolan, it’s a wildly ambitious movie that doesn’t quite deliver. Caine’s scientist enjoys quoting Dylan Thomas – that old chestnut about not going gently into that good night – but perhaps a more appropriate reference would be Shakespeare. Specifically, Macbeth. Interstellar may not have been told by an idiot, but it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Rob Boffard is a journalist and the author of the upcoming scifi thriller novel TRACER, releasing in July 2015.
- - November 10th, 2014
The semi-final round of voting for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards is now open until 15 November, and we have ever more titles in this round than in the opening round! Get your votes in for your favourite fantasy, science fiction and horror books of 2014.
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)
SHATTERED by Kevin Hearne (UK | AUS)
TOWER LORD by Anthony Ryan (UK | AUS)
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)
EARTH AWAKENS by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (UK | AUS)
Horror – VOTE NOW
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (UK | US |AUS)
THE RHESUS CHART by Charles Stross (UK | AUS)
- - November 10th, 2014
Great news! In March 2015 we’ll be releasing DEAD HEAT (UK | ANZ) a new urban fantasy novel from Patricia Briggs – and it’s a brand new Alpha and Omega book. FAIR GAME (UK | ANZ) was the last novel in this series, and fans have been dying to find out what happens next to Anna and Charles . . .
It’s very much a case of “opposites attract” with these two. With Charles being an Alpha and Anna being an Omega, they represent the different sides of the shifter personality. Watching their relationship develop, and how they face each dangerous new situation together is just so addictive . . .
Please see here our brand new cover artwork for the book, which is from the illustrator Fred Gambino. Look out for it in March 2015, and read the blurb below!
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, or at least it starts out that way . . .
Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up – and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.
DISCOVER THE NEW CHARLES AND ANNA NOVEL 2 FROM THE NO. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING PATRICIA BRIGGS.