Sunday, August 01, 2010

Incoming! (#1 of 2)

Yup: I’m still trying to come up with a good title for these posts. “Recent Acquisitions” was too boringly descriptive, and I unfortunately couldn’t come up with something as interesting as the Speculative Scotsman’s Bag of Speculative Swag. Which is a very good title. Alas, ‘Civilian Reader’ does not lend itself well to such puns. As I’m reading a military science-fiction novel at the moment, I thought I’d go with Incoming! for this one (and the next one, which will go up in the next couple of days)…


It’s been a slow couple of weeks, which isn’t a bad thing – I’m making my way through the books I really want to read rather quickly, which has left me in somewhat of a pickle of late. I am very eagerly awaiting a number of books that will be released over the next couple of months, so I’m currently trying to fill the in-between time. I still have a number of interesting-looking Black Library titles, not to mention some great Orbit releases (see below for one in particular).

As of this month, I will also be properly working on more retrospective reviews. I never got around to publishing my response to a months-old meme about the obsession with “newness” in reviews, but my main point was that ‘newness’ is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, I’ll be reading a few more older novels each month, as well as posting reviews of some of my favourite novels (Terry Pratchett, Anne Rice, Scott Lynch, to name but three).

Gary Gibson, “Empire of Light” (Tor UK)

Gibson-EmpireOfLight Book Three in the Shoal Series

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage.

If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium’s borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso’s own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive - and that's only if Dakota doesn't kill him first ...

I’ve only heard good things about Gary Gibson, but have yet to actually read anything by him. As the third book in a pretty long series, I imagine it might take a little while for me to get to this. I will, however, endeavour to do so at some point.

Tony Ballantyne, “Blood and Iron” (Tor UK)

Ballantyne-BloodAndIron Second book of Robot Wars! (Actually, book two in Penrose series)

Appointed Commander of the Emperor’s Army of Sangrel, Wa-Ka-Mo-Do of Ko tries to establish relations between the existing robot population and the humans who have recently arrived on Yukawa.

On the continent of Shull, Kavan forms the Uncertain Army and is marching to Artemis City. Upon discovery that the city’s generals have made an alliance with the humans, he retreats to Stark where he plans the eventual overthrow of Artemis and the humans.

Meanwhile, Karel is heading South, hoping to be reunited with Susan, his wife. As he walks, he hears more of the stories of the robots, and begins to understand something about his place on the world of Penrose.

But with limited resources and tensions growing between robot and human it’s only a matter of time before problems arise. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that the humans are a lot more powerful than the robots first expected…

This looks very cool. I have the first in the series on my shelf, ready for reading and reviewing, so as soon as I get a thirst for robot-sci-fi, I get them both reviewed.

Peter F. Hamilton, “The Evolutionary Void” (Macmillan)


In The Evolutionary Void, Hamilton concludes the highly acclaimed Commonwealth saga that has unfolded in The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void.

Strangely, I couldn’t find a blurb for this easily available on the internet. The proof that arrived in the mail is wonderful – a signed and numbered limited edition (thank you, Tor!).

Unfortunately, it’s also huge and book three in the series… I have no idea when I’ll be able to get to this.

R.J. Frith, “The Nemesis List” (Tor UK)

Frith-NemesisList Winner of the War of the Words competition

Humanity has expanded into the stars, but at the price of its freedom. An autocratic and overbearing government now rigidly controls every technical and scientific advancement. Deviation is punishable by death.

Out on the edges of space, criminals thwart the law, making money out of illegal tech, their ships jumping from galaxy to galaxy to avoid detection. Ex-soldier Frank Pak doesn’t care about politics or breaking the law, he just wants to keep his ship running. When he’s offered a contract to escort a runaway back home to his loving family – he doesn’t ask questions.

But his cargo is more dangerous than he realizes. Jeven Jones is no ordinary passenger. A result of illegal human experimentation, he’s a fast-tracked evolutionary leap into the future. Thanks to his ability for perfect recall and a series of mental skills that he has no control over, Jones is a wanted man. The government wants him dead. A fledgling revolution want to use him to unlock every advancement the government has ever denied them.

If Jones lives he’ll start a war. If he dies the entire future of humanity dies with him…

This sounds very interesting. I will definitely be reading and reviewing this over the course of the next month or so.

Gav Thorpe, “The Crown of the Blood” (Angry Robot)


A new trilogy, and Thorpe’s first non-Black Library novel…

He had brought his master’s Empire to the furthest reaches of the world. All had fallen before him. Now he longs for home.

But home isn’t what it was. Could it be that everything he’s fought for all those years has been a lie?

A sweeping fantasy of immense battles, demonic magic, and dark politics.

I’ve liked Mr Thorpe’s novels and short fiction for Black Library, so I was eager to see how he fared outside the comfort-zone of the well-established Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 settings. From a quick glance through the book, he seems to have managed it quite well. Expect a review of this up on the site pretty soon.

I’ve been tempted to make some of August into the ‘Great Heroes’ week, which would allow me to read a selection of books that seem to revolve around the experiences or troubles of great heroes – it would include this one, K.J. Parker’s The Folding Knife, and Brent Weeks’ The Black Prism (which will be reviewed as soon as I get my hands on a copy). I still might do this, of course, so keep an eye out.

Nicole Peeler, “Tempest Rising” (Orbit)

Untitled-1 Book one in the Jane True series

Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn’t quite fit in with so-called normal society.

During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures that are terrifying, beautiful and deadly – all of which perfectly describe her new ‘friend’ Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.

It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never – ever – rub the genie’s lamp.

Emma pinched this off me very quickly, and has almost finished it, so a review should be forthcoming pretty soon. Initial reports seem to be positive.

Trent Jamieson, “Death More Definite” (Orbit)


The first in the Death Works series 

Steve knew something was wrong as soon as he saw the dead girl in the Wintergarden food court. Nothing new – he saw dead people all the time – but this one was about to save his life...

Steve is a necromancer in the family firm, tasked with easing spirits from this dimension to the next after death. And he’s kind of OK with that, until someone high up the corporate hierarchy makes a bid to be Australia’s new Regional Death. This means killing all of the current Death’s staff. After his parents, relatives and pretty much every other necromancer he ever knew has been killed, Steve is left to make a reluctant stand.

But to do this he must stay alive. Threatened at every turn, Steve and the perilously attractive (and dead) Lissa go on the run to save what’s left of their world.

This sounds great, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release for some time. Expect a review relatively soon.

Jeff Somers, “The Terminal State” (Orbit)

Untitled-2 The latest Avery Cates techno-thriller

Avery Cates is in better shape than ever with the top-class augments the army’s fitted him with. Pity he’s no more than a puppet then, because they’ve also got a remote that can fry his brain at any second. And now a corrupt colonel is selling his controls to the highest bidder.

Avery has visions of escape and bloody revenge – until he realises just who’s bought him. Because the highest bidder is Canny Orel himself, Avery’s oldest enemy. And as the System slides into chaos, Canny wants Cates to do one last job. Avery just needs one chance to get back at the old gunner – but this time, it’s Canny who’s holding all the cards.

I have a couple of these novels ready for reading, now, so I think I’ll probably try to find some time to delve into Cates’ world. All the novels sound interesting and original; and the feedback I’ve seen has been uniformly positive.

Celia Friedman, “Wings of Wrath” (Orbit)

Untitled-4 The Second in the Magister Trilogy

In a world where the price of magic is life itself, a group of seemingly immortal sorcerers appear to have cheated the system.

And now Kamala has breached their secrets, she seeks to join their ranks as the first female Magister. But they would rather see her dead, forcing her to flee to the frozen north. There Kamala will find an evil far greater than a sorcerer’s enmity, and will hear a dire prediction of a future war.

In a past age, an ancient bloodline was cultivated to stand in the path of darkness. Now its warriors must unearth the truth at the heart of the legends, and stand firm against an enemy that brought mankind to the very edge of destruction. And Kamala must join their battle.

Yet another great premise. This is the second book in the series, and the synopsis is interesting enough that I will probably buy the first book to give it a try at some point in the future.

Kate Elliott, “Traitor’s Gate” (Orbit)

Untitled-1 Third in the Crossroads series

Reeve Joss is struggling to defend a country ravaged by the assaults of twin armies. His men now patrol a land of burning villages and homeless refugees as Joss tries to separate traitor from friend.

The Reeve’s thoughts are also plagued by the intriguing Zubaidit, pleasure-giver, spy and temple-trained assassin. But Zubaidit is focused on a dangerous mission, her target being warped Guardian Lord Radas. His death would leave the invading militia in chaos, but the old tales tell truly of the Guardians’ immortality – and of the powers they now wield to twist the hearts of men.

Joss’s nights are also troubled, disturbed by dreams of Marit. His lost love has returned from death to become a feared Guardian herself, but Marit rejected the corrupt temptations they offered. She now seeks others of her kind, praying some are yet uncontaminated by the blight on the land – and have the will to fight it.

Another third volume, unfortunately. It’s a series I’ve long-considered reading, as the premise does sound interesting. Untitled-1However, I have no idea when I’ll be able to get around to it. I do  know, however, that Elliott’s next book – Cold Magic (published in September) – sounds really interesting, so if that arrives I will definitely read that: it seems to be a mixture of fantasy, magic, steampunk, and dragons!

*   *   *

So, some excellent looking books, but a number of them are sadly going to probably remain unread for quite some time. It’s an unavoidable hazard, I suppose – when someone is new to reviewing, then sometimes excellent books that come later in a series will get missed as the reviewer has not read the previous volumes – when each instalment is over 500 pages long, this is only more likely. I’ve written about ‘lost’ series before – specifically, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series, and Brian Ruckley’s Godless World trilogy – and I will get around to reading them, but it will likely take some time.

Happy reading.

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