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A Rave of Reviews

We’ve had a number of excellent reviews for our titles this week:

SFDiplomat enjoys Sean William’s Saturn Returns: “Well-written, exciting and surprisingly smart despite being very accessible, it is genuinely difficult to find fault with.”

The Book Swede seems to have fallen in love with Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage: “Intriguing, funny, well-written, and worthy of many more praising adverbs . . .With great characters, a world that becomes increasingly easy to visualise and a story that captured my imagination, this book is, well, excellent!”

The Gravel Pit discovers R Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before: “I would say that characterisation is certainly one of the strengths of R Scott Bakker as a writer . . . reading this book felt like an intellectual challenge in some ways. One that I really cherished. I have not encountered any pacing problems throughout the novel, the narrative flow is pretty consistent . . . If I take the characterisation, prose, scope and world building and the fact that there is undoubtly still room for some improvement, into consideration I would rate it eight and a half out of ten.”

Finally, Clandestine Critic reviews Mike Carey’s The Devil You Know, described as: “a satisfying and engrossing read, with an interesting character in Felix Castor that makes me want to read more. I look forward to the next book in the series.”

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

No, not the Orbit Christmas Party (although . . . ); we’re talking about virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which seem to be being invaded by a new wave of cyber-crooks. There have been two stories floating about teh Intarwebs recently, involving criminal action in Second Life. Why do we care? Apart from a deeply held concern for our fellow beings, obviously? Because Orbit author Charles Stross anticipated them both. Who says SF can’t predict the future?

In an amazing case of (second) life imitating art, this story circulated a little over a week ago, outlining the theft of $3.2 million Linden Dollars from Second Life. This is scarily close to the central theme of Charlie’s forthcoming Halting State. We don’t publish Halting State until January 2008, but remember Charlie wrote it last year, so it still counts as prophecy! And as if that wasn’t enough Nostradamus-like gazing through the veil of time, we just spotted this on the website of The Australian newspaper. Again, Mr Stross was there first. The advent of virtual terrorism was outlined in this article Charlie wrote for online gaming site Guildcafé last March.

At the risk of taking liberties with Oscar Wilde’s famous wit: to predict one future event can be seen as fortunate, to predict two begins to look like cleverness.

So, if you want to know what the future might look like, read Charles Stross. He can’t do the lottery numbers (we checked) but there are few better authorities on emergent technology and how it might affect our lives.

Winterbirth Review

Winterbirth by Brian RuckleyBrian Ruckley’s debut novel Winterbirth is out in the UK in paperback this month, and we’ve received our first review for that edition from Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review:

[W]hat a story it is! It has everything that a fan of high . . . fantasy could possibly want out of a book. Epic battles, mystical forests and long journeys with a hint of magic (but not too much!) waiting in the wings. I particularly liked the air of ambiguity that Ruckley gives his characters, they all have good reasons for doing what they do and believe that they are right. Faced with such certainty on all sides, the reader really has to think about what side they will support (if any) and this makes me really look forward to the next book and what will happen next. Winterbirth is not without its flaws but if you persevere with it then I think you’ll be in for a treat of a read. I’d say that Brian Ruckley is definitely going to be one to watch out for in the future.

You can read the full review here.

Virtual Convention

Some more convention news, this time from Australia: Conflux 4 takes place in Canberra from 28 September to 1 October. As part of the build up to Conflux 4, there’s a ‘virtual minicon’ taking place on 4-5 August on the convention forums. A number of the guests appearing at the main convention will be chatting online — there’s a full list here. Orbit authors taking part include Glenda Larke, Fiona McIntosh, Karen Miller and Karen Traviss.

Orbit at Alt.Fiction 2008

It’s still quite a long way off, but planning has already started for the Alt.Fiction event in Derby next April.

2007 was Orbit’s first year at the event, and we really enjoyed it: I appeared on a panel with literary agent John Jarrold and John Berlyne of sfrevu.com, Mike Carey did a workshop and a reading, and Iain M Banks rounded off the day in triumphant style with the first public reading from his forthcoming Culture novel, Matter (a covert recording of which turned up on YouTube shortly afterwards!).

After such a great experience, we were keen to return for the 2008 event, and I’m very pleased to say that we’ll be back there next April — so far, Orbit authors attending include Mike Carey, Philip Palmer and Brian Ruckley and Charles Stross. You can follow updates to the Alt.Fiction schedule at organiser Alex Davis’ blog.

An Embarrassment of Riches

Charlie Huston

Charlie Huston
(photo: Karin Kohlberg)

I’ve just been looking through the fourth issue of Death Ray, which, it’s pleasing to report, is full of nice things.

First up is a terrific interview with Charlie Huston, talking about his Joe Pitt books, his thrillers and his work for Marvel Comics on Moon Knight. Later in the issue, there’s a fantastic review of the new Joe Pitt book, No Dominion:

Bloody great . . . brilliantly rendered . . . The dialogue is exquisite, pared-down and telling you as much by what’s not said as by what is . . . it’s deceptively simple; there’s actually loads going on here, with relationships deepened, politics furthered, events put into motion and firmer shape given to the overall arc of the series . . . the result is a thrilling read that you’ll want to gulp down in a single draft.

Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks
(photo: Judine Brooks)

Fifty pages later, there’s a flagship feature on Terry Brooks — there’s an extremely expansive interview, touching on all aspects of his work; a selection of eight of his best books with accompanying reviews; and an interview with literary agent John Jarrold, who has published Terry at various stages in his career and outlines Terry’s enduring appeal and the enormous influence his work has had on the genre. The piece concludes:

Whether it’s his affable style, his prodigious capacity to feed his fans with new books, or the simple fact that he can spin a fine yarn is unimportant: Terry Brooks remains one of the most successful fantasy writers ever, and probably will remain so for many years to come.

The first volume in Terry’s new series The Genesis of Shannara, Armageddon’s Children is out now in paperback, and Terry will be touring the UK in September to promote his new title The Elves of Cintra — watch this space for details!

Another Convert to the Electric Church

The Electrich Church CoverJohn at SFsignal posts a great review of The Electric Church by Jeff Somers, giving the book 4.5 out of 5 stars and writing in summary:

PROS: Excellent pacing; well-written action sequences; fun characters; dark setting.
CONS: There’s something remarkably unsettling about passionately rooting for the killers and thieves.
BOTTOM LINE: A first-rate piece of science fiction entertainment.

You can read the full review at SFsignal.com. The monks of the Electric Church will be in bookstores this September. In the meantime, keep an eye on the official site. It’s just a splash page now, but we hear they are building something in there…

Already Dead in Shivers

Already Dead by Charlie HustonThe latest issue of Shivers has a great review of Already Dead, the first book in Charlie Huston’s series of noir thrillers starring undead PI Joe Pitt:

Huston has taken the basics of the vampire mythos and produced a very well crafted tale . . . [His] telling of the tale through the world-weary eyes of a vampire is what sets the book apart. It’s a great read and drags you kicking and screaming through the action . . . There are blood and guts and action and violence and even some pondering on the nature of life and love. I really enjoyed Already Dead and it’s well worth seeking out.

The second Joe Pitt novel, No Dominion, is also out now &#8212 and a third, entitled Half the Blood of Brooklyn, will be published by Orbit UK in early 2008.

Brian Ruckley Q&A

A quick follow-up to Tim’s post yesterday about the critical reaction to Winterbirth in the US: blogger The Book Swede is inviting readers to submit questions for an interview he’s doing with Brian Ruckley — visit his site for more information.

Starred Review for Orbit US Debut

Winterbirth book jacketThe first (of many, we hope!) Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly in the US has just arrived and it’s for Brian Ruckley’s Winterbirth. In their own words, it’s an “outstanding fantasy debut … ensuring a fervent audience of epic fantasy fans looking for something innovative in a genre that can be anything but.” Scroll down the page here to read the full review.

(I’m not sure, btw, whether the fantasy genre as a whole is any more or any less innovative than other genres — answers on a postcard, please — but it’s great to see a reviewer recognizing that Brian Ruckley is a writer with his own distinctive voice.)

Meanwhile, in another lovely pre-publication notice in the US, Kirkus Reviews describe Winterbirth as “epic fantasy in the mode of George R.R. Martin and R. Scott Bakker . . . readers who like their fantasy dark, multi-threaded and political will sink their teeth into this.”

To read an extract from Winterbirth, visit www.brianruckley.com

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