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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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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Stross’

A Halloween Cover Launch: The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross

The Rhesus Chart: a Laundry Files novel by Charles Stross

LONDON CAN DRAIN THE LIFE OUT OF YOU . . .

Bob Howard is an intelligence agent working his way through the ranks of the top secret government agency known as ‘the Laundry’. When occult powers threaten the realm, they’ll be there to clean up the mess – and deal with the witnesses.

There’s one kind of threat that the Laundry has never come across in its many decades, and that’s vampires. Mention them to a seasoned agent and you’ll be laughed out of the room.

But when a small team of investment bankers at one of Canary Wharf’s most distinguished financial institutions discovers an arcane algorithm that leaves them fearing daylight and craving O positive, someone doesn’t want the Laundry to know. And Bob gets caught right in the middle.

The newest Laundry Files novel, and a jumping-on point for readers new to the series, THE RHESUS CHART will be released in hardback and digital July 2014. Cover design by Crush Creative.

The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Don’t forget you can now buy all four of the previous Laundry Files novels in these gorgeous paperback editions.

CHOSEN: Out Today From Benedict Jacka

Happy publication day to Benedict Jacka! The latest Alex Verus novel, CHOSEN (UK|ANZ), is released today, after much anticipation from the fans!

Alex Verus, the Camden-based mage who just can’t stay out of trouble despite his ability to see the future, returns in CHOSEN, when someone comes looking for revenge for deeds Alex commited in his past, as an apprentice to the Dark mage Richard Drakh . . .

See Benedict talk about CHOSEN’s moral abiguity here in John Scalzi’s The Big Idea: ‘In FATED, CURSED and TAKEN, Alex had gotten into quite a few fights, but not because he wanted to – it had usually been a case of self-defence. But what would he do if someone was coming after him for a justified reason? What if they wanted him dead for something that really was his fault?’

Alex Verus has a considerable number of readers rooting for him, including Harry Dresden author Jim Butcher and Laundry Files author Charles Stross, so let’s hope he survives the experience!

Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus tremendously – and be a little nervous around him. I just added Benedict Jacka to my must-read list.”

– Jim Butcher

Whoop-ass excitement from the new master of magical London”

– Charles Stross on CHOSEN

Banner shows the Alex Verus series: magical London urban fantasy by Benedict Jacka

The Laundry Files: Listen to the Audiobooks!

Fancy some spy-fi on your morning commute? The first two adventures in Charles Stross’s Locus Award-winning supernatural thriller series the Laundry Files came out today as audiobooks:  THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (UK|ANZ) and THE JENNIFER MORGUE (UK|ANZ). You can click on the images below to sample the first chapters now!

 NEVER VOLUNTEER FOR ACTIVE DUTY . . .

Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob’s under a desk restoring lost data. His world was dull and safe – but then he went and got Noticed. Now, Bob is up to his neck in spycraft, parallel universes, dimension-hopping terrorists, monstrous elder gods and the end of the world. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than a full system reboot to sort this mess out . . . THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES is the first novel in the Laundry Files.

SOME AGENTS HAVE ALL THE FUN.  OTHERS SAVE THE WORLD.

Bob Howard is an IT expert and occasional field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service that deals with occult threats.  Dressed (grudgingly) in a tux and sent to the Caribbean, he must infiltrate a millionaire’s yacht in order to prevent him from violating a treaty that will bring down the wrath of an ancient underwater race upon humanity’s head. Partnered with a gorgeous American agent who’s actually a soul-sucking succubus from another dimension, Bob’s mission (should he choose to accept it) is to stop the bad guys, avoid getting the girl, and survive – shaken, perhaps, but not stirred. THE JENNIFER MORGUE is the second novel in the Laundry Files.

The four books so far in supernatural spy thriller series The Laundry Files

You can now buy the entire Laundry Files in the new paperback cover style (click on the image for the full size covers). THE RHESUS CHART, the fifth novel in the series, will be out July 2014.

author post

Earth (Photo: NASA)

“It won’t be long until you have to answer another question: why would they ever want to have anything to do with a planet, ever again?”

You can find Part 1 of this piece at this link, posted last week on the Orbit blog.

If you posit a future populated by human beings – or posthumans – who are able to live in space without rapidly dying of asphyxiation or radiation exposure, it won’t be long until you have to answer another question: why would they ever want to have anything to do with a planet, ever again?

Planets are bundles of matter so massive that their own gravitational field smooths out their bumps, dragging them into a roughly spherical shape. They’re so massive that most of their volume is inaccessible, hundreds or thousands of kilometres underfoot when you’re standing on the surface. They’re also a royal nuisance if you are a spaceborne society: it takes an inordinate amount of work to give an object lying stationary on the surface sufficient kinetic energy to overcome its gravitational potential energy, i.e. to put it into orbit.

It seems logical that a space-based civilization would therefore only bother with a planet if it provided resources unavailable in smaller gravity wells, such as asteroids. And the fly in the ointment with this issue is that most planet-bound resources are far too cheap to be worth boosting into orbit. Oxygen? Water? They’re everywhere. Carbon? There’s an entire class of asteroids – carbonaceous chondrites – made of dirty carbon. Metals like platinum? They might be rarer in free-floating rocks than in planets, but in the process of planetary formation they’re likely to sink towards the iron/nickel core while the proto-planet is still mostly molten. (We know from seismic studies that the core of the Earth is not only incredibly hot and under tremendous pressure, but it’s almost certainly made of heavier elements than the upper mantle and crustal rock formations.)

So what can you mine on a water world that would justify the expense of settling its hydrosphere?

The answer depends on how long it is since the planet formed . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo showing the launch of the Kepler spacecraft (Photo: NASA/Jack Pfaller)

The launch of the Kepler spacecraft, 7th March 2009

We are living through the golden age of exoplanetography, and nobody seems to be paying any attention!

I’ve spoken a lot about the economic side of NEPTUNE’S BROOD (UK|ANZ), but pretty much forgot to say anything about one of the other aspects of this novel – the planet much of the action is focussed on, and in orbit around. So it’s time to fix that . . .

Until the tail end of the 20th century, the existence of planets outside our solar system was widely believed in by astronomers – but never directly observed. Planets do not (with a very few extremely odd exceptions) emit heat or light directly: we can only see them by the light they reflect from their sun. This in turn makes them extremely hard to see. If you approximate a star to a light bulb a kilometre away, then the planet you’re trying to see is a dust mote orbiting within a metre of the light bulb. Any photons reflected our way from the planet are drowned out by the comparative torrent from the light bulb itself.

There are ways to measure planets indirectly, of course. In 1992, several planets were detected orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12 – their mass perturbed the spin of the pulsar, adding slight irregularities to its output. But improvements in experimental design, and then the launch of the Kepler planet-finder telescope, brought a deluge of new exoplanets to light. We now know of 899 planets in 698 planetary systems, and the Kepler mission has detected another 18,000 candidates: astronomers are still trawling through the embarrassment of riches.

One thing has, however, become clear: extrasolar planets are weird. In fact, they’re so weird on average that it’s beginning to look as if our home solar system is itself the exceptionally weird one, and star systems where multiple gas giants whirl in orbit single-digit millions of kilometres from their primary are the new normal.

So, in NEPTUNE’S BROOD I decided to have some exoplanet-building fun. Read the rest of this entry »

NEPTUNE’S BROOD publishes today!

The cover of Neptune's Brood, a brand new space opera from science fiction legend Charles StrossOur brand new space opera from science fiction master Charles Stross comes out today! Buy NEPTUNE’S BROOD (UK|ANZ) as an ebook today or pick up one of these gorgeous hardback editions!

Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series, had this to say:

NEPTUNE’S BROOD is fast-paced and imaginative, with fascinating ideas about an interstellar society constrained by real physics. Above all else though, it’s just terrific fun.”

In NEPTUNE’S BROOD Charlie writes about spacefaring cultures with no faster-than-light travel, which makes for an unusually scientifically accurate space opera. Our protagonist, Krina ( a metahuman in a universe where humans went extinct five thousand years ago), embarks on a daring voyage across the star systems to find her missing sister. See Charlie, Reynolds and other science fiction authors discussing the science in this io9 article: How to Write a Killer Space Adventure Without Breaking the Speed of Light.

Charlie will be appearing at Waterstones Princes Street in Edinburgh this Thursday to sign NEPTUNE’S BROOD (buy your tickets here) and signing in London next month as well as appearing at Nine Worlds from 9–11 August. You can read the first chapter of NEPTUNE’S BROOD here.

Neptune’s Brood: First Chapter and Short Story

The cover of Neptune's Brood, a brand new space opera from science fiction legend Charles StrossOur brand new space opera from Charles Stross, NEPTUNE’S BROOD (UK|ANZ), will be released next week!

To help you occupy the time between now and the July 2nd release date, there’s not only a sample chapter up on the Orbit site, but Charlie has posted an entire short story set in the same universe, ‘Bit Rot’, at his blog!

“I can get you a cheaper ticket if you let me amputate your legs: I can even take your thighs as a deposit,” said the travel agent. He was clearly trying hard to be helpful: “It’s not as if you’ll need them where you’re going, is it?”

 “Is it possible to find a better price by booking me on a different routing?” I asked. “I’m very attached to my limbs.” (Quaint and old-fashioned, that’s me.) “Also,” I hedged, “I don’t have much fast money.”

 The agent sighed. His two eyes were beautiful: enormous violet photoreceptors that gleamed with a birefringent sheen. “Ms. Alizond. Krina. How can I put this? That could be a problem.” [READ THE REST OF THE SAMPLE CHAPTER HERE]

Locus Awards 2013

Locus has just announced the finalists for the 2013 Locus Awards, and we’re thrilled to see some familiar names on the list! Congratulations to Iain M. Banks, James S.A. Corey, and Kim Stanley Robinson for their nominations in the Science Fiction Novel category; and to N.K. Jemisin and Charles Stross for their nominations in the Fantasy Novel category.

Below are the full lists of nominees for those two categories.

Banks_HydrogenSonata-HC  isbn9780356501505-detail
Corey_CalibansWar TP  Robinson_2312_HC

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks (US | UK | ANZ)
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Caliban’s War, James S.A. Corey (US | UK | ANZ)
  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (US | UK | ANZ)
  • Redshirts, John Scalzi

Jemisin_Killing Moon-TP  isbn9780356500980-detail

FANTASY NOVEL

  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (US | UK | ANZ)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Hide Me Among the Graves, Tim Powers
  • The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (UK | ANZ)

You can see the rest of the categories and finalists here. The winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in late June.

Cover Preview UK: 2013 July to December

covers updatedSpring is almost here but we’re already looking forward to summer and autumn 2013! That’s because we’ve got some amazing books coming up for the rest of this year with freshly designed covers to share with you. This isn’t our whole list of published titles for the year – just the covers we think you might not have seen before.

Click on the individual cover images below to see the larger version and let us know your favourites!

Read the rest of this entry »

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During our recent conversation about his Laundry novels, Charlie Stross mentioned he’d started out seeking to revitalize the horror behind Lovecraftiana by drawing a connection between unknowable dangers and the very familiar terror of the Cold War arms race. I found that particularly interesting. After all, the Laundry series and the Milkweed books share a subgenre that pits agents of the secret state against super- or paranormal entities. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that we’ve both recast the thermonuclear deterrence of Mutually Assured Destruction as something even more precarious: the threat of a mystical and far more absolute annihilation.

(WeThe cover for THE COLDEST WAR, the second novel in the Milkweed Triptych by Ian Tregillis - with links to Charles Stross's Laundry Files novels even followed parallel lines of thought when it came to titles.  Charlie called his story of the Shoggoth Gap “A Colder War,” while I went with THE COLDEST WAR for my tale of mystical brinksmanship.)

I was a child when the Reagan-era arms race began.  But I had an early interest in science, so I’d already scoured the school library to read everything I could find about those wondrous things called atoms. Which unfortunately meant I had a vague notion of these things called atomic weapons. (Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to let me read this stuff?  Way to go, mom and dad.)

Thanks to classroom discussions of current events at the time, I also knew we were building them as fast as we could. Halfway around the world, so was another monolithic power. And we were aiming them at each other, like lions circling and snapping their teeth. But at that age I didn’t understand why this was happening, or why our enemies were so terrible that global annihilation was preferable to their triumph in some abstract and incomprehensible conflict. All I knew was the world teetered on a razor’s edge, and that my fate rested in the hands of people who knew nothing of me, my parents, or my cat (good old Gadzooks).

That’ll mess with your head when you’re 10 years old.

And so I spent the early 1980s filled with an almost paralyzing dread. Read the rest of this entry »

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