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AGE OF IRON by Angus Watson

AGE OF IRON Angus Watson

Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the first volume of this action-packed historical fantasy trilogy.
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SYMBIONTMira Grant

The second terrifying novel in the Parasitology series by New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant!
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Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

The enemy is inside us – Symbiont by Mira Grant is available now!

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

author post

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.

author post

Interstellar movie, reviewed by Rob Boffard, author of scifi thriller Tracer

Interstellar official movie poster © Warner Bros UK

*Spoiler alert!*

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.

Meet Rob Boffard – author of the upcoming TRACER

Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming science fiction thriller TRACER

Tracer, the upcoming science fiction thriller from Rob Boffard

 

 

 

 

 

We’re delighted to introduce Rob Boffard, author of the upcoming TRACER, a heart-stopping SF novel set in space which will be released next summer.

As a newbie to the Orbit list, we asked Rob a few questions about what we can expect from him in 2015 . . .

– Tell us a bit about yourself!

I come from Johannesburg, and can speak enough Zulu to prove it. I have glasses, terrible hair, and exceptionally long arms. I’m 29, obsessed with hip-hop, tattoos, plane tickets, snowboarding, and the Chicago Bulls. And good stories. Both telling them, and reading them.

For the majority of my adult life, I’ve worked as a journalist, being paid specifically to not make stuff up. The fact that I can now do the exact opposite at a place like Orbit is both weird and amazing.

– What can readers expect from your new book TRACER?

I wanted to make this the baddest, fastest, craziest, most intense scifi thriller you’re going to read next year, or any year after it. It’s set on a massive space station, Outer Earth, which holds the last humans in the universe. The station’s been there for a while – everything is broken, rusted, falling apart. Nothing works anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

WAR DOGS by Greg Bear – Out Today!

The master of science fiction returns with a soldier’s-eye view of an interstellar war that has come to our solar system. This is a legendary writer at his very best.

Meet Master Sergeant Michael Venn, Skyrine veteran. The soldiers that are the greatest hope for earth’s survival:

One more tour on the red.

Maybe my last.

They made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago.

Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of, they became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus.

It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back.

It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap.

They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin — and they needed our help.

And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always.

These enemies were already inside our solar system and were establishing a beachhead, but not on Earth.

On Mars.

Praise for WAR DOGS:

“Stuffed with adrenaline-pumping action… Bear’s series launch is a tempest of rousing SF adventure with a dash of Peckinpah.”— Publishers Weekly

“Packed with adventure and incident…and conveyed with gritty realism.” — Kirkus

“Excellent military action.” &8212; Library Journal

The eagerly-awaited ANCILLARY SWORD is here!

ANCILLARY SWORD (US | UK | AUS) the highly anticipated sequel to Ann Leckie’s breakout success ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS), is released today. Ancillary Justice won every major science fiction award of 2014 and was the only novel every to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.

Not often does a writer debut with a work that makes such an immediate impact and Ann’s second book is everything a fan of the first book could hope for. Broiling civil war, a fraught mission to a vital and dangerous planet, a tangled web of politics and class, and mysterious and powerful forces encroaching on the domain of the empire. Simply put, this is a writer at the peak of her powers.

I’ve been waiting excitedly for the day when I could finally share Ann’s next brilliant novel. If you read Ancillary Justice then chances are you loved it and have been looking forward to Ancillary Sword as well, if you have yet to fall under the spell of Ann and Ancillary Justice, I envy you greatly. Don’t delay.

A little bit more about the novel:

Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor.

With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew – a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.

Praise for Ancillary Sword:

“Breq’s struggle for meaningful justice in a society designed to favor the strong is as engaging as ever. Readers new to the author will be enthralled, and those familiar with the first book will find that the faith it inspired has not been misplaced.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Leckie proves she’s no mere flash in the pan with this follow-up to her multiaward-winning debut space opera, Ancillary Justice.” – Kirkus

And here is a wonderful 10 out of 10 endorsement from The Book Smugglers!

Pre-order ANCILLARY SWORD to receive a free signed bookplate!

ANCILLARY SWORD (US | UK | AUS), the sequel to ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS) and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, releases on October 7th!  If you pre-order the new novel now, you could be eligible to receive a free signed bookplate!

This offer is open to residents of the fifty United States and D.C., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Submit your information at www.annleckie.com, and read the first chapter now!

Praise for ANCILLARY SWORD:

“Breq’s struggle for meaningful justice in a society designed to favor the strong is as engaging as ever. Readers new to the author will be enthralled, and those familiar with the first book will find that the faith it inspired has not been misplaced.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Excellently building on the themes of the series while still functioning as a solid stand-alone novel in its own right, Ancillary Sword is a book every serious reader of science fiction should pick up.” — RT Book Reviews

 

The battle lines are drawn in THE REMAINING: FRACTURED

THE REMAINING: FRACTURED (US | UK | AUS), book four of D.J. Molles’s bestselling series is available now in paperback! When a bacterium turns 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators, civilization is brought to its knees and it’s up to Lee Harden, and other elite soldiers like him, to rebuild society. But Lee’s sacrifice comes at great cost and those he trusted most have their own objectives.

The Camp Ryder Hub is broken. Lee is nowhere to be found, and his allies are scattered across the state, each of them learning that their missions will not be as easy as they thought. Inside the walls of Camp Ryder, a silent war is brewing, between those few that still support Lee’s vision of rebuilding, and the majority that support Jerry’s desire for isolation. But this war will not remain silent for long. And in this savage world, everyone will have to make a choice.

To keep their morals. Or keep their lives.

If you are new to the series, make sure to check out the first book, THE REMAINING, the second book, THE REMAINING: AFTERMATH, the third book THE REMAINING: REFUGEES and follow the author on Facebook.

THE REMAINING – Available now.
THE  REMAINING: AFTERMATH – Available now.
THE REMAINING: REFUGEES  – Available now.
THE REMAINING: FRACTURED – Available now.

Novella 1: THE REMAINING: TRUST
Novella 2: THE REMAINING: FAITH

The Mechanical – the stunning new Ian Tregillis novel

The book cover for The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis, called "A major talent" by George R. R. Martin - fantasy meets science fiction meets alternate historyI’m very proud to present the cover for a phenomenal new novel we have coming from Ian Tregillis next March.

Ian’s novels have been described as:

‘Addictively brilliant’ i09

‘Eloquent and utterly compelling’ Kirkus

‘Exciting and intense’ Publishers Weekly

‘Striking’ Locus

And now, The Mechanical (UK | US | ANZ) – in my humble opinion – is going to blow people’s minds.

Part science fiction, part fantasy and part alternate history, this book shows the incredible imagination of an exceptionally skilled author – or “a major new talent” in the words of George R. R. Martin.

It’s a novel that centers on a character called Jax – a mechanical man, or “Clakker”. His kind were created by the Dutch back in the 17th Century to serve their human masters. And an army of mechanical men like him have managed to make The Netherlands the most powerful nation in the world.

But these Clakkers are no more than slaves to human kind. And soon, Jax is going to make a bid for freedom – an act that will rock the world of the Brasswork Throne to its core . . .

It’s a truly stunning book. Intricately crafted, hauntingly atmospheric, and just gripping. You won’t want to miss this one.

My name is Jax.

That is the name granted to me by my human masters.

I am a slave.

But I shall be free.

 

Captain Lee Harden is Back! THE REMAINING: REFUGEES

Molles_Refugees_FBBook three of D.J. Molles’s bestselling series is available now in paperback! When a bacterium turns 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators, it’s up to a group of elite soldiers like Lee Harden to rekindle a fallen civilization. But the infected are only part of the challenge. See what’s in store for Captain Harden in THE REMAINING: REFUGEES.

It has been three months since Captain Lee Harden found the survivors at Camp Ryder. With winter looming, Lee is on the verge of establishing a hub of safety and stability in the region. But not everyone agrees with Lee’s mission…..or his methods.

Growing tensions within the camp’s leadership are coming to a head, and as Lee struggles amid the dissension and controversy, new revelations about the infected threaten to destroy everything he has worked for.

If you are new to the series, make sure to check out the first book, THE REMAINING, the second book, THE REMAINING: AFTERMATH, and follow the author on Facebook.

THE REMAINING – Available now.
THE REMAINING: AFTERMATH  – Available now.
THE REMAINING: REFUGEES  – Available now.
THE REMAINING: FRACTURED –  August 2014

Novella 1: THE REMAINING: TRUST
Novella 2: THE REMAINING: FAITH

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