Archive for Orbit Australia

Iain M Banks and Ken MacLeod talk Sci-Fi @ BBC

Two of Orbit’s legends of science fiction, Iain M Banks and Ken MacLeod have taken part in a round-robin discussion entitled How sci-fi moves with the times over on the BBC website.

Ken discusses the role that scientific theory plays within science fiction literature:

“Science fiction is the only form of literature that sets out to bring home to our imaginations the surprising universe that science has discovered. How well it does that job depends on its scientific accuracy – up to a point.”

And Iain talks about the degree of scientific reality that he tends to incorporate into his own science fiction writing:

“…in my science fiction, I merrily break as many laws as I can get my hands on. Especially faster than light travel – I have my starships going at unfeasibly high speeds. Sometimes I pay no attention whatsoever to what’s possible and realistic. It really depends on the novel.”

(Iain also lets slip some tantalising hints about his next novel, Transition…)

The piece also includes contributions from fellow UK SF stalwarts Paul Cornell and Ian Watson. Definitely worth a read-through.

Thicker Than Water (A Felix Castor Novel)

One of the best things about working for Orbit is having so many great new books to read each month. The one I’ve just finished reading is Thicker Than Water, Mike Carey’s excellent new Felix Castor novel. This is the first of his novels I’ve read, but I had no trouble getting instantly engrossed in the storyline, as Mike has a great way of subtly filling you in while keeping the action nail-bitingly fast and fresh.

Felix is a hard-nosed and sharp-tongued freelance exorcist who doesn’t take any bull, but still manages to get himself into the direst of demonic situations. When a man is found slashed up and unconscious in his own vehicle, detectives surmise that it may be linked to Castor somehow – not least because Castor’s name is smeared over the windscreen in blood … Whilst on a mission to clear his own name, Fix discovers that the victim’s home – a depressing South London council estate – seems to be a hotspot for an unusually high number of sickeningly inventive crimes … and it may be more than failing social systems that are inciting the inhabitants to violence. Darker forces are definitely at work, so with the help of Nicky, his un-dead informant, and Juliet, the succubus who is drop-dead gorgeous (literally – she’ll draw you in then eat you alive), Fix investigates what’s behind this most hellish of situations …

With deadpan humour and super-slick style, Mike Carey paints a gritty portrait of London in this noirest of noir urban fantasies. And Castor is the kind of fast-quipping narrator that makes you want to quit your day job and hit those mean demon-filled streets just for the hell of it! Thicker Than Water is out now – highly recommended!

You can read an extract here.

Cover Launch: Mr. Shivers

Welcome to another week and another new cover! Sorry this post was delayed a bit by the Creative Director being a bit under the weather with a nasty cold. Anyway, on to…Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett.

There was already buzz about this book back when I started in November, and the cover design was already underway by Ms. Ploy Siripant, one of the fabulous designers upstairs at Little Brown (who, if you’ll recall, were handling the Orbit designs before I was brought in to be all-Orbit-all-the-time). I just finished reading it while in bed with the above-mentioned cold, and the cover is even better once you’ve read the book. It’s set in the Midwest during the Great Depression — an incredibly bleak landscape where hobos travel the rails and dust-storms cover the land. I think this cover perfectly evokes the feeling of the book, and the period, without looking too historical. Trust me, the screen doesn’t do the texture any justice. You’ll just have to wait to see it in print. (more…)

An actual Egyptian feast by Jo Graham

Hand of Isis by Jo GrahamJo Graham‘s fabulous Ancient Egyptian epic Hand of Isis is out this month, so to get in the mood she decided to make an actual Egyptian feast. Packed with all sorts of interesting historical tips on food and dining customs, this post is well-worth checking out here. And apparently only barbarians and Macedonians drink wine with the Propomata, or first course, so plan accordingly if you’re tempted to follow the recipes!

Hand of Isis itself is the story of Charmian, a handmaiden and sister to Cleopatra. It is a novel of lovers who transcend death, of gods who meddle in mortal affairs, and of women who guide empires. Against the rising power of Julius Caesar’s Rome, Egypt is the last and strongest bastion of the Eastern kingdoms. But a power struggle looms that will shape the world to come …

It’s a fascinating story, and Jo Graham clearly has a talent for this sort of thing as shown by her previous book Black Ships, which attracted some great review coverage:

‘Haunting and bittersweet, lush and vivid’ Naomi Novik

‘Fraught meaning and smoldering emotional resonance overlays her deceptively simple words’ Publishers Weekly

‘A refreshingly different approach to a legend we only thought we knew’ Locus

‘A dazzling debut novel’

‘A first-class, very readable novel’ Booklist (starred review)

‘Graham re-creates a vivid picture of the ancient world, a mysterious place in which gods and goddesses speak to their chosen’ Library Journal (starred review)

Deals and Deliveries: Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series – plus cover art news!

On the subject of the talented Jim Butcher, we’ve just acquired the last two books in his traditional fantasy series.

The Codex Alera sequence is set in a colourful Roman-esque world, where Alerans fight against the aggressive races that inhabit this world and against each other, helped by their unique bonds with elemental creatures of fire, water, earth and air. It’s a brutal land at times, the action being set against a background of ambition and power as the First Lord of Alera grows old and lacks an heir. Noble houses manoeuvre to place their people in influential positions, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.

Princep’s Fury (book 5) will appear in the UK in December 2009 and First Lord’s Fury (book 6) will be out in May 2010.

And as a reminder, the first four books will appear in Orbit from May this year. There’s plenty of drama to come and click here for more on book one, plus see the fantastic cover art here!

Furies of Calderon - Codex Alera bk1Academ's Fury - Codex Alera bk2
Cursor's Fury - Codex Alera bk3Captain's Fury - Codex Alera bk4

The Magician’s Apprentice – Trudi Canavan’s Australian Event Details

The Magician's Apprentice

The Magician’s Apprentice is Trudi Canavan‘s latest novel, and is a prequel to her bestselling Black Magician Trilogy. Trudi is visiting both Canberra and Sydney next week for book signings, so be sure you don’t miss out on meeting Australia’s highest selling speculative fiction author!

Tuesday 3 March
5.00 – 6.00 p.m.
Gaslight Books
Unit 10, 83 Wollongong Street
Fyshwick ACT 2609

Thursday 5 March
5.30 p.m.
Gaslight Books
143 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Please contact the bookstores for more information on these signings and don’t forget to check with them before you travel, in case of last-minute alterations.

More Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – Turn Coat extract

To get you in the mood for the next eagerly-awaited instalment of the Dresden Files, we thought we’d pass on a few sample chapters of Turn Coat, out in hardback in April.

In this latest outing for Harry Dresden, professional wizard, Harry is placed in the unlikely position of helping his long-time nemesis Morgan. This is a man with “hard, steady eyes, and all the comforting, reassuring charm of a dental drill” and all he wants is for Harry to clear his name and save his life. But one false step could spell disaster for Chicago’s leading freelance wizard-for-hire. Needless to say, this is action-packed, completely un-put-downable and contains all the hallmarks of a top-notch urban-fantasy noir.

The summer sun was busy broiling the asphalt from Chicago’s streets, the agony in my head had kept me horizontal for half a day, and some idiot was pounding on my apartment door.

I answered it and Morgan, half his face covered in blood, gasped, “The Wardens are coming. Hide me. Please.”

His eyes rolled back into his skull and he collapsed.



Up until that moment, I’d been labouring under the misapprehension that the splitting pain in my skull would be the worst thing to happen to me today.

I’d been completely wrong.

Read the full extract here.

Deals and Deliveries: two new novels from Kate Elliott

I am delighted to say that we have just acquired Traitors’ Gate – book three in Kate Elliott’s stunningly atmospheric Crossroads sequence – in addition to the as-yet untitled book four in the series.

This is a fabulous fantasy adventure where a few key individuals play their parts in a violent struggle for land and power, against a colourful backdrop of different cultures and religions. We follow spies, temple-trained assassins and otherworldly Guardians whose function is to administer justice – until corruption turns their powers to dark purposes.

Spirit Gate and Shadow Gate are already out in mass market paperback, and Traitors’ Gate will now follow in large format paperback in September 09.

Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott, UK paperbackShadow Gate by Kate Elliott, UK paperback

New Book Deal with Leading Australian Author Ian Irvine

Hello and Greetings from Australia. This is my first contribution to the Orbit blog and I’m delighted to start with news of an exciting acquisition. We have bought the rights to Ian Irvine‘s new trilogy, which we’ll be publishing around the Orbit world, beginning in 2010.

Ian is an outstanding and well-loved author of bestselling fantasy novels and futuristic eco-thrillers, including the Three Worlds Cycle and the Runcible Jones Quintet. He is also a highly regarded marine scientist who has developed some of Australia’s national guidelines for the protection of the oceanic environment. You can check out his website at

We’ll tell you more about the trilogy over the next few months, and let you know when the first book will be available.