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Wallpapers: ECHO CITY by Tim Lebbon

We’ve got a visual treat for you heading into the weekend: beautiful atmospheric Echo City wallpapers for your device of choice.

The imaginative Lee Gibbons has done the illustration, and Peter Cotton has designed this fantastic dark fantasy cover.

Tim Lebbon posted about Echo City earlier this week, so definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

Wallpaper download links are below. Enjoy!

iPad | iPhone/iPod | NETbook | 1024 x 768 | 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 1920 x 1200


author post

Crime and Punishment

One of the major influences on Rule 34 was a throwaway idea I borrowed from Vernor Vinge — that perhaps one of the limiting factors on the survival of technological society is the development of tools of ubiquitous law enforcement, such that all laws can be enforced — or infringements detected — mechanistically.

One of the unacknowledged problems of the 21st century is the explosion in new laws.

We live in a complex society, and complex societies need complex behavioural rules if they’re to run safely. Some of these rules need to be made explicit, because not everyone can be relied on to analyse a situation and do the right thing. To take a trivial example: we now need laws against using a mobile phone or texting while driving, because not everyone realises that this behaviour is dangerous, and earlier iterations of our code for operating vehicles safely were written before we had mobile phones. So the complexity of our legal code grows over time.

The trouble is, it now seems to be growing out of control. Read the rest of this entry »

Cover Launch: ARTEMIS by Philip Palmer

Philip Palmer’s Red Claw was one of the first covers I designed when I joined the Orbit team, and it’s still one of my faves. I love working on these covers, they’re so much fun, because his writing has this fabulous pulp scifi feel to it, and you can get that feel with the photo shoots. That’s one of the fun things about establishing a really strong author look, it anchors a book, and let’s you get crazy within that framework. It’s kind of like a mullet—business up front, party in the back! (Yes, I really just compared Book Cover Design to Mullets, call the graphic design police, it’s been a rough week.)

Photographer Laura Hanifin was my partner-in-crime for this cover, which we shot at the same time we shot for Hell Ship and the new e-book cover for Debatable Space. It was an exhausting (and smelly!) shoot, but we got three fantastic cover images out of the day, and you don’t get 3-cover-days very often, trust me!

After the jump, see the whole series of covers together, as well as a teaser!

Read the rest of this entry »

TURN COAT by Jim Butcher: a Dresden Files reread

Mark Yon has been a reviewer and web administrator at SFFWorld, one of the world’s biggest genre forum sites, for nearly ten years. He has also been on the David Gemmell Awards organisation committee for the last two years. In this series of rereads, Mark will guide us below through the whole of Jim Butcher’s fabulous Dresden Files series as we count down to the new hardback Ghost Story at the end of July.

Turncoat definition: ‘A person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party.’

After tense events featuring the Fae in Small Favour, we’re back into Wardens, Wizards and vampires in this one. The cease-fire existing between the vampires and the wizard White Council seen in Small Favour still remains, but is still fragile. This is in no small part due to the so-called Black Council (an exciting addition), the fifth-columnists within the White who seem determined to bring the wizards down.

We start, as is usual, with a bang. Though most of the Dresden novels start with a hit of adrenaline, this one tops the lot so far. Harry is at home when on his doorstep appears a badly injured Morgan, the Warden with whom Harry has had a difficult relationship with to date. Then after asking for protection from the White Council, Morgan collapses … Read the rest of this entry »

Hell Ship – its maiden voyage

Hell Ship by Philip Palmer (UK | US | ANZ)  is now unleashed, unabashed, unstoppable and available for reading! And it   is in truth a rollercoaster ride featuring adventure at its most adventurous. Look no further than the info below and this free extract to see what we mean:

The Hell Ship hurtles through space. Inside the ship are thousands of slaves, each the last of their race. The Hell Ship and its infernal crew destroyed their homes, slaughtered their families and imprisoned them forever. But one champion refuses to succumb. Sharrock, reduced from hero to captive in one blow, has sworn vengeance. Although Sai-as, head of the alien slave horde, will ruthlessly enforce the status quo. But help is close. Jak has followed the Ship for years and their battles have left Jak broken, a mind in a starship’s body, focussed only on destroying the Ship. Together, can hunter and slave end this interstellar nightmare?

Philip has been kind enough to put up a ‘moodboard‘ of what has influenced his writing journey (a.k.a. time spent exploring space) and will be unveiling further creativity on this site and his blog over the next few weeks. You can also meet the man in person at Orbit’s upcoming London Summer signing on 30th July, so please come along and say hello! Read the rest of this entry »

Orbit Summer Signing in London!


Orbit UK have gathered together some of our authors with books publishing this June-Aug, and are holding a BIG SUMMER SIGNING!

Come to Forbidden Planet, London on Saturday 30th July, 3-4pm, to meet…


Four brilliant authors, loads of fantastic books and an entire shop worth of other exciting distractions.  What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Full details on the Forbidden Planet events page, here.


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Artificial Stupids

One of the hoariest of science fictional archetypes is the idea of the artificial intelligence — be it the tin man robot servant, or the murderous artificial brain in a box that is HAL 9000. And it’s not hard to see the attraction of AI to the jobbing SF writer. It’s a wonderful tool for exploring ideas about the nature of identity. It’s a great adversary or threat (‘War Games’, ‘The Forbin Project’), it’s a cheap stand-in for alien intelligences — it is the Other of the mind.

The only trouble is, it doesn’t make sense.

Not only is SF as a field full of assumed impossibilities (time machines, faster than light space travel, extraterrestrial intelligences): it’s also crammed with clichés that are superficially plausible but which don’t hang together when you look at them too closely. Take flying cars, for example: yes, we’d all love to have one — right up until we pause to consider what happens when the neighbour’s 16 year old son goes joy riding to impress his girlfriend. Not only is flying fuel-intensive, it’s difficult, and the failure mode is extremely unforgiving. Which is why we don’t have flying cars. (We have flying buses instead, but that’s another matter.) Food pills out-lived their welcome: I think they were an idea that only made sense in the gastronomic wasteland of post-war austerity English cuisine. I submit that AI is a similar pipe dream. Read the rest of this entry »

You need to know RULE 34

I feel like announcing this with some kind of roar or perhaps a drum roll as I’ve been waiting for this for so long and today is actually LAUNCH DAY! But as we’re open plan and I’m highly unmusical I’ll let this do the job …

Charles Stross’s Rule 34 (UK | ANZ) is many amazing things. It’s a fast-paced Edinburgh-based crime novel set a few years into the future. It also displays lashings of Charles Stross’s wry humour and I enjoyed more than a few winces and chuckle-out-loud moments. Another aspect I really enjoyed was Stross’s extrapolation of our current technology, where our usual gadgets have been moved on a step or three.  The BBC’s Click technology programme covered augmented reality just last month, but in Rule 34 it’s a useful, fully-fledged reality.

But perhaps most importantly, I found myself completely caught up in the colourful characters (a detective inspector, a young scalleywag called Anwar and a master criminal showing signs of psychosis known as the Toymaker). There’s not the space here to revel in the bizarre crimes DI Liz Kavanaugh has to investigate (domestic appliances in unlikely places …), or talk about the highly suspicious Eastern European bread-mix young Anwar is peddling. But you can sample for yourselves by reading this plot summary or by enjoying chapter one here. Read the rest of this entry »

WIN! An exclusive advance copy of THE MEASURE OF THE MAGIC

To celebrate today’s release of Terry Brooks’ Bearers of the Black Staff in paperback, we’re giving a few lucky UK readers the chance to be extremely smug and read its sequel The Measure of the Magic weeks before anyone else!

The official UK release date of The Measure of the Magic, the second book in the Legends of Shannara duology, is 1st September 2011. But at the start of August, we’ll be giving away 5 exclusive advance copies, allowing 5 people the chance to get their hands on it weeks before publication.

All you have to do to enter is be based in the UK and enter your details in the form below. The closing date is 22nd July, and winners will be announced on 1st August 2011 via the Orbit Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Good luck everyone! Read the rest of this entry »

The rise of The Reluctant Mage . . .

THE PRODIGAL MAGE (UK/US), book one of The Fisherman’s Children duology, saw Karen Miller returning to the world of her bestselling debut novel THE INNOCENT MAGE (UK/US), spinning an epic tale of a kingdom threatened by a natural cataclysm, where the only hope of salvation was the forbidden talents of a young man named Rafel.

This absorbing story is concluded in THE RELUCTANT MAGE (UK/US), which sees Rafel’s sister Deenie setting out on a desperate quest to find her brother, missing beyond Barl’s treacherous mountains. Deenie is convinced that only her brother’s magic can heal a fractured land, yet the more she sees of the dark sorceror Morg’s deadly legacy, the more she starts to suspect her brother is somehow involved in the scheme of an evil power that now seems reborn . . .

For a taster of this powerful fantasy, check out this exclusive excerpt.

Here’s what readers have been saying about The Fisherman’s Children:

“A compelling portrait of a blighted world in the company of flawed, fascinating people” SFX

“The Reluctant Mage is one of those rare tales that keep you entertained from beginning to end” SFBOOK.COM

“All the elements that will please fans of fantasy, and above all else it’s the characters that really bring this book to life” FALCATA TIMES


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