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Ken MacLeod… A modern-day George Orwell?

If you could fix the world, with just one pill, how far would you go to force society to swallow?

Imagine a near-future London where advances in medical science have led to the development of a single-dose pill which, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn baby.

When Hope Morrison refuses to take the pill, is this a private matter of individual choice, or wilful neglect of her unborn child?

intrusion frame

‘This near-future sci-fi novel could almost be a sequel to George Orwell’s 1984 – 2084, perhaps’ Sun

‘A disturbingly real socialist dystopia’ Guardian

‘Thoughtful, plausible and scary’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Excellent’ Daily Mail

‘Intrusion is a finely-tuned, in-your-face argument of a novel… MacLeod will push your buttons – and make you think’ SFX

‘The message is powerful and the warning crystal clear’ SciFi Now

‘MacLeod creates a frighteningly plausible dystopia’ Interzone

‘A twistedly clever, frighteningly plausible dystopian glimpse’ Iain M. Banks

‘A haunting, gripping story of resistance, terror, and an all-consuming state that commits its atrocities with the best of intentions’ Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

‘MacLeod certainly delights in raising questions which creatively discomfort his fellow socialists’ Morning Star

‘It’s all so close to the bone it’s almost painful… Intrusion is a rather frightening vision of the road we are taking with our smoking bans and our obesity epidemics and our CCTVs. Particularly if you’re a woman’ Bookbag.co.uk

The new Mercy Thompson FROST BURNED is out!

Frost Burned, Mercy Thompson urban fantasy novel book seven by bestselling Patricia BriggsThis week sees one of the most important events in the urban fantasy calendar – the release of a new Mercy Thompson novel!

It’s so hard having to wait for the next chapter in the lives of mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha lover Adam, but the time has finally come. FROST BURNED (UK | ANZ), from the bestselling, chart-busting Patricia Briggs is out now – and everyone is loving it:

Mercy is my favorite urban fantasy heroine, period . . . I truly enjoyed Frost Burned . . . I cannot wait for what comes next for Mercy, Adam and the gang – THE BOOK SMUGGLERS  

Fabulous . . . Such a well done urban fantasy world – SMEXY BOOKS  

Ms Briggs has penned another winner that once I started I didn’t want to put down – FICTION VIXEN  

I’ll always want more Mercy, but I’m learning that however long it takes, Mercy Thompson books are always worth the wait – ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY 

The comments above make one thing very clear: what’s both wonderful and sad about Patty’s books is that they’re so addictive, it’s hard not to gobble them up straight away! Then comes a tough wait for the next one . . .

Aralorn, a fantasy novel from bestselling author Patricia Briggs, author of the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega novelsSo if you’ve already read everything you can get your hands on from the worlds of Mercy Thompson and the Alpha and Omega books (how could we blame you??), don’t forget that there’s a little something special from Patty also out at the moment: the tale of ARALORN (UK | ANZ).

Aralorn has fled her noble birthright to become a mercenary spy, and she also happens to be a shapeshifter . . . Everyone who’s read Patricia Briggs knows that the characters and relationships she creates are deliciously compelling. The story between Aralorn and the enigmatic, powerful Wolf is no exception!

Check this out for another hit of Patty’s fantastic writing. And if you’d like to find out more about the story behind FROST BURNED, take a peek at this interview over at Badass Book Reviews.

Ian Tregillis in conversation with Charlie Stross on The Laundry Files

The Coldest War - the second novel in the Milweed Triptych following BITTER SEEDS, a fantasy series featuring superhumand and dark magic, and earning comparisons with Charles Stross's Laundry Files novelsThis week sees the release of THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) , the second novel in Ian Tregillis’s landmark series, the Milkweed Triptych. The trilogy began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and concludes with the forthcoming NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ).

These novels feature a secret history of Twentieth Century conflicts in which scientifically-enhanced superhumans and dark magic collide. The result is described by Fantasy Faction as ‘oh-so compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing’ and by Cory Doctorow  as, ‘some of the best – and most exciting – alternate history I’ve read. Bravo.’

The Apocalypse Codex, a Landry Files novel by Charles StrossIt’s possible to draw a few parallels between the themes in the Milkweed novels and Charles Stross’s highly popular Laundry Files (including the recent THE APOCALYPSE CODEX – UK | ANZ) – a series of science fiction spy thrillers featuring Bob Howard, once an IT geek, now a field agent working for a British government agency dealing with occult threats. They’re what SFX calls ‘beautifully handled, believable and well envisioned – a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.’

For that reason we were really interested to hear these two exceptionally clever Orbit authors in conversation about their series. The results are below!

Ian: In an afterword to THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (“Inside the Fear Factory”) you mention that while writing the first Laundry novel you were advised to avoid Tim Powers’s novel DECLARE.  And that later you were made aware of the Delta Green supplement to The Call of Cthulhu RPG, which again resides in a similar neighborhood.

Bitter Seeds - the first novel in the Milweed Triptych, a fantasy series featuring superhumand and dark magic, and earning comparisons with Charles Stross's Laundry Files novels(After BITTER SEEDS debuted, people assumed I had been influenced by DECLARE, Delta Green, *and* the Laundry novels!  But, like you with DECLARE, I wanted to avoid cross-contamination. So I didn’t dive into THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES until after I turned in THE COLDEST WAR, at which point I was 2/3 through the Milkweed trilogy and the story was on a ballistic trajectory.)

But of course even Powers wasn’t the first to marry espionage and the occult – Dennis Wheatley’s novel THEY USED DARK FORCES first appeared in 1964, and Katherine Kurtz‘s LAMMAS NIGHT was published in 1983, as just two examples.

In the above-mentioned afterword, you make a strong case for why it’s natural to blend horror, the occult, and espionage.  So is this an idea that’s continually bubbling into the aether to be rediscovered by other writers?  Or have we reached the point where we’re having a conversation within an actual subgenre?

Charlie: It is indeed an actual subgenre! Or maybe a sub-subgenre: a corner of that section of urban fantasy that is preoccupied with the interaction between agents of the state and the occult. Read the rest of this entry »

SEVEN KINGS – epic fantasy with a capital EPIC

Seven Kings, the second novel in John R. Fultz's Shaper series, an epic fantasy series of huge proportions, perfect for fans of Dungeons and DragonsToday is the worldwide release date for the SEVEN KINGS (UK |US | ANZ), the masterful second book in the Shaper series by John R. Fultz.

Starting with SEVEN PRINCES (UK |US | ANZ), this whole epic fantasy series really made a big impact on us here in Orbit. It’s crazily imaginative, powerful, energetic and so damn enjoyable.

We loved an io9.com review which said:

‘Breakneck pacing and nonstop insanity . . . It’s epic with a capital EPIC’

. . . as that just about summed it up for us.

With giants walking alongside men, monstrous serpents wreaking havoc and kingdoms doing battle with sorcery, we think this is ideal for anyone who likes their fantasy big, epic and about the ultimate clash between good and evil.

Whilst in some ways the series could be said to hearken back to the “old school” or “traditional” type of fantasy, in many other ways we really felt this series was one of the most original we’ve read in years – having a beautifully lyric, mythical tone and what we considered to be a very unique, distinguished style.

Seven Princes, the first novel in John R. Fultz's Shaper series, an epic fantasy series of huge proportions, perfect for fans of Tolkien and Dungeons and DragonsWe were really interested to hear about how this style of writing came about. So we asked John what the influences behind his series were:

I could write a whole book answering this question, but I’ll try to contain myself.

Lord Dunsany was perhaps the inventor of the modern fantasy tale. His work never ceases to inspire me, and his novel The King of Elfland’s Daughter is an immortal classic. His gift for speaking with clever metaphor and concise imagery is stunning, even a hundred years later. Fantasy writers should study his works the way classical composers study Mozart and Bartok.

I’m also a big Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft fan, but Clark Ashton Smith is my favorite of the old-school Weird Tales writers. In my opinion Smith invented the whole dark fantasy genre. He had the lost cities, the sorcerers, the creatures from beyond space and time, the mummies, the vampires, the decadent dying empires of Zothique and the primordial ooze of Hyperborea. Read the rest of this entry »

Publishers Weekly on Joe Abercrombie’s RED COUNTRY

RED COUNTRY cover

Joe Abercrombie’s newest epic fantasy, RED COUNTRY, comes out this October. Publishers Weekly gave this “gripping and violent stand-alone military fantasy” a starred review, and said, “Terrific fight scenes, compelling characters (some familiar, some new), and sardonic, vivid prose show Abercrombie at the top of his game.”

If you can’t wait until October, you can read an excerpt of RED COUNTRY on Joe Abercrombie’s website.

 

WARDS OF FAERIE by Terry Brooks: 5 reasons to read it . . .

Wards of Faerie, the first fantasy novel in the brand new Dark Legacy of Shannara series by Terry BrooksHurrah! It’s released today! The new Terry Brooks novel, Wards of Faerie (UK | ANZ), book one in the brand new fantasy series The Dark Legacy of Shannara, has finally arrived.

It’s set in Terry’s core Shannara world (after all his fans begged him to return to it) and it’s delighting Brooks fans far and wide already. In the words of Aidan Moher at A Dribble of Ink:

WARDS OF FAERIE is the best novel Brooks has written in years . . . It’s full of hair-raising escapes . . . magic and monsters.

And if you’ve never tried Terry yet, this is your chance – and here are 5 very solid reasons to do so!

 

‘Terry Brooks is a master of the craft and a trailblazer . . . Required reading’ Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel Trilogy

‘I can’t even begin to count how many of Terry Brooks’s books I’ve read (and re-read) over the years’ Patrick Rothfuss, author of THE NAME OF THE WIND

‘Terry Brooks has been my constant companion over a lifetime of exploring my beloved fantasy genre. I say with all honesty I would not be writing epic fantasy today if not for Shannara. If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle’ Peter V. Brett, author of THE PAINTED MAN

‘If you haven’t read Terry Brooks, you haven’t read fantasy’ Christopher Paolini, author of ERAGON and BRISINGR

‘Terry’s place is at the head of the fantasy world’ Philip Pulman, author of THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Cover launch! EXISTENCE and the new-look David Brins

EXISTENCE, a science fiction novel from the award-winning David Brin, admired by Stephen Baxter

This November, we’re releasing the paperback edition of David Brin’s science fiction masterpiece EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ). It’s his first novel to be released in ten years, and he’s truly returned in triumphant form.

It’s a breathtaking novel about First Contact – one that asks ‘why are we alone?’ and ‘are all civilisations doomed to fail?’ And it does it in spectacular, imaginative, mind-boggling, heart-thumping style.

See the paperback cover to the left and just a few of the reviews this unmissable book has been receiving:

‘Cleverly argued and uncomfortably plausible’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

‘A masterpiece of rock-hard SF’ SUN

‘Brin tackles a plethora of cutting-edge concepts…with the skill of a visionary futurologist’ GUARDIAN

‘Bursting with ideas, including near-future tech, first contact with aliens, and the exploration of what it means to be human’ i09.com

‘Existence is my top SF novel of 2012 and I recommend it without hesitation’ SFFWORLD.COM

But it’s not just EXISTENCE that we’re releasing this winter. We’re also giving a makeover to some of David Brin’s most classic titles. See the new-look covers below in all their glory…

New-look covers for David Brin's classic science fiction titles EARTH, POSTMAN, the UPLIFT trilogy and the second Uplifgt triology, called EXILES

See more info about each title below! Read the rest of this entry »

Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss and The Measure of the Magic

The cover for the fantasy novel The Measure of the Magic by fantasy legend Terry Brooks, who recently interviewed Patrick Rothfuss

In case you’ve missed it, the fantasy legends Terry Brooks and Patrick Rothfuss have been interviewing each other on their websites throughout July, and it makes for some very compelling reading . . . 

My personal highlights include Terry describing himself as being like the OCD-ridden TV detective Monk, and where Pat talks about skipping his writing teacher’s class to go on a date with that same teacher’s daughter. Very sneaky indeed.

Check out part one here on Terry’s site. Also, check out this awesome cartoon of the two of them.

Don’t forget also that Terry’s conclusion to the Legends of Shannara duology, The Measure of the Magic (UK | ANZ), is released tomorrow in paperback! Read an extract here. And here’s what fans have been saying on online retailer sites about the book:

”Terry Brooks is one of the best fantasy novelists of our time . . . He does not disappoint his many fans with this latest book’ Dee

‘Terry Brooks continues to be my longest standing favourite author’ S. Wilson

The cover for the fantasy novel Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks, who recently interviewed Patrick Rothfuss‘This is a really great series of books that have haunting and fleeting references to present worldwide problems. Long may he keep on writing these great books’ Colin L. Williams

There’s also not long to wait now until Terry’s brand new series begins with The Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie (UK | ANZ) – released 23rd August. 

If you like what you hear above, this will a great place for any new readers to jump in and experience the Terry phenomenon!

Assassins, dreamworlds and a plague of nightmares: welcome to THE SHADOWED SUN

The fantasy novel THE SHADOWED SUN by the multilple-award winning N. K Jemisin - featuring assassins, dreamworlds and a plague of nightmaresThere are books that come along that I don’t just thoroughly enjoy, but that I feel intensely, overwhelmingly privileged to work on. THE SHADOWED SUN is one of those novels.

I don’t need to tell everyone what a stunning high fantasy writer N. K. Jemisin is. Her talents are already widely acknowledged, given that her debut novel THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (UK | USANZ) was nominated for pretty much every fantasy award out there.

But even so, I underestimated just how utterly captivated I would be by THE KILLING MOON (UK | US | ANZ) and THE SHADOWED SUN (UK | US | ANZ ), books 1 and 2 in the Dreamblood duology. I didn’t think anything could top the Inheritance novels, but if it’s possible I was even more intoxicated. I09 seemed to agree when they said:

The Dreamblood duology is sure to cement Jemisin’s place as one of the most exciting and innovative new fantasy authors of recent years.

There’s something beautifully poetic about a little girl’s dreams becoming a plague upon a city.

Both novels in the Dreamblood duology are based around a religion of dreaming. It’s a dual world, where the realm of dreams is as real a place as the realm of waking. Where a soul that wonders in the dreamworld can find peace or be lost to ever-lasting torment.

In the city of Gujaareh, the priests of the dream goddess are able to harness the magic of the sleeping mind. These priests are both revered and feared, as they can use this gathered magic to either to heal . . . or kill those judged corrupt. And they move silently across the rooftops of the city at night to administer the chosen judgements. Read the rest of this entry »

Prometheus, First Contact and David Brin’s EXISTENCE

Poster for the movie Prometheus and how it relates to David Brin's science fiction novel EXISTENCEOn Friday night I could barely contain my excitement. I – along with thousands upon thousands of  people across the country – had tickets to PROMETHEUS, undoubtedly the most talked-about science fiction film release of the year so far. And where better to see it, but the glorious Empire cinema on Leicester Square, in 3D.

The air was filled with anticipation as we all crammed through the doors and were handed our 3D specs. And then when the opening scenes began, with sweeping views across spectacular landscapes on Earth, enhanced by the 3D effects (probably the most unobtrusive and therefore effective I’ve seen in a movie so far) – we knew that this was going to be something big. And then, when the shadow of a city-sized spaceship began to darken the landscape, it began to feel truly epic.

What bigger a subject is there than first contact with alien life?

Existence, a new science fiction novel from David Brin about first contact with alien life - and how it relates to the Prometheus filmI couldn’t help but constantly draw parallels with David Brin‘s new novel EXISTENCE, and not just because of the 3D effect (with our first edition featuring a very cool 3D cover). But because at the heart of EXISTENCE is the discovery of an alien artefact floating in Earth’s orbit, picked up by a galactic garbage trawler. It appears to be a message in a bottle, an invitation to “join us” from another sentient species out in the vastness of the universe. At the same time, another artefact is found in the ruins of a sunken beach-front mansion, which warns humanity away from making contact with this other life form.

This highlights the question which forever prods at us and teases us. It’s the dilemma at the very centre of both PROMETHEUS and EXISTENCE: would making contact with an alien life form be a good idea? Would these (presumably more intelligent) beings have an inherent desire to help humanity, to set us straight, sort out our squabbling, or offer us a shiny new planet when we’ve trashed our own beyond repair? Or would they in fact just try to eat our faces, use us as lovely host organisms and generally be bad news for the continuing future of mankind?

Now we all know that PROMETHEUS is a prequel to the other ALIEN films, so could safely assume that these otherwordly creatures were not going to be our BFFs. But what a thrilling experience to see the journey up until that point: where we hope to find out that mankind can have a meaningful and significant place within the universe by uniting with another sentient species. And then how awesomely epic to see those hopes dashed in spectacular, breathtaking and violently dramatic ways?

I’m glad to say that my expectations for PROMETHEUS were certainly met. The special effects are magnificent – the kind where you have to pinch yourself to remember that this isn’t real footage, and that massive organic-looking Titus of an alien spaceship did not actually just rise from behind them yonder hills. And even if it sometimes seems that the need for great effects can take over from the need for flawless acting, the performance of Michael Fassbender more than made up for it, as the eerie robot David. The pace of the film was also a real strong point. There wasn’t a single moment when my concentration lapsed and the plot was sturdy enough (although not as strong as the original ALIEN movies). Overall it was a totally enthralling, enjoyable experience.

If I was going to have one small criticism, it would be that the characters seemed a tad nonplussed when they finally discover solid proof of alien life. Whereas the beauty of EXISTENCE is that it really focuses on the question of how proof of alien life would affect mankind. What would the initial evidence of alien life mean for all different people in different walks of life? Would the politician try to veil the truth from the general public? Would the journalist become set on letting the public know what they’re in for? Would the anti-technology prophet claim that the only way to survive would be to end democracy? What would it mean for each  of us? How would the world react? Is this the end, or a new beginning?

I won’t give any spoilers, but what happens all feels frighteningly, awe-inspiringly real. EXISTENCE is set a few decades in the future, but who knows if the day when we’ll actually be answering some of these questions is closer than we think? Let’s see if 2012 might really be as significant a year as the Mayans thought…

PROMETHEUS is at cinemas nationwide now, and EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ) will be released on 21st June 2012 with a limited edition 3D cover.

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