Saturday, April 30, 2011

Capsule Review: “One of Our Thursdays is Missing” by Jasper Fforde (Hodder)

Fforde-OneOfOurThursdaysIsMissingReviewed by Emma

The Sixth Thursday Next Adventure

It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister? All is not yet lost.

Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake. The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

In Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next novel, we get some glimpses of his prodigious imagination and inventiveness. Unfortunately, however, the novel doesn’t quite stack up with the rest of the series.

Friday, April 29, 2011

News: Alan Campbell’s LYE STREET…

Campbell-DC0-LyeStreet… is now available as Kindling! The novella, which forms a prequel to Campbell’s first trilogy, the Deepgate Codex, was originally a limited edition release.

Here’s what Alan wrote about the release on his blog:

“A lot of people have asked me how they can get hold of my novella, LYE STREET, which was published by Subterranean Press as a limited edition. The simple answer is, unfortunately, that you can't unless you spend a lot of money. Copies of this little book are now selling for crazy prices.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CR’s May Picks



With the month of May (very) fast approaching, I thought I’d just share a quick post and some thoughts on next month’s most-anticipated releases.

So, without further ado, read on for a breakdown of my most-anticipated novels coming in May (in no particular order).

[Warning: A couple of the synopses have spoilers of varying detail.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Interview with Alan Campbell

Campbell-GC1-SeaOfGhostsAlan Campbell’s latest novel, The Sea of Ghosts is easily one of the best novels I’ve read in a good number of years. It had everything – superb characters, great plotting, a vivid and interesting world, and of course exceptional writing. In order to find out a little more about Campbell’s books and writing, I contacted him with a handful of questions, and he was kind enough to answer them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Capsule Review: “The Reapers Are The Angels” by Alden Bell (Tor)

Bell-ReapersAreTheAngelsUKReviewed by Shevaun

Intriguing, yet slightly flawed, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie fiction

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.

Temple has known nothing else. This is the world she was born into. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization – and to those who have created a new world order for themselves.

When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right, if she can just get him back to his family then maybe it will bring forgiveness for some of the terrible things she's done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, along the road she's made enemies – and one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the only thing that makes sense...

The Reapers Are The Angels is one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated novels in the post-apocalyptic genre. The novel is certainly entertaining and ticks many zombie-fiction boxes, but it is not without its faults or shortcomings.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Latecomer: “Jhereg” by Steven Brust (Ace, 1983)

Brust-1-JheregThe first Vlad Taltos novel

There are many ways a young man with quick wits and a quick sword can advance in the world. Vlad Taltos chose the route of the assassin. To his other qualifications he added two things: The first was a smattering of witchcraft – badly thought of on Dragaera, but only a fool refuses a weapon…

The second was his constant companion, a young jhereg, its leathery wings and poisonous teeth always at Vlad’s command, its alien mind psionically linked with his own.

A good number of authors and friends had recommended Steven Brust, many listing him as an inspiration and early fantasy-favourite. I had hoped to get this read for the 28th anniversary of its publication (first week of April), but other things pushed it out of the way. Nevertheless, having now read it, I am very grateful for the recommendation.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“X-Men: Prelude to Onslaught” (Marvel)

XMen-0-PreludeToOnslaughtThe Stage is set for one of Marvel’s most Momentous Events

The prologue to the saga that literally remade the Marvel Universe of the 1990s.

Onslaught unnerved the X-Men and their enemies even before he entered the game, leading killer mutants and mutant killers alike to start the fight for survival early. Already edgy from the Age of Apocalypse, good, evil, and neutral wage war as the nemesis of the Nineties rears his telepathic head. Guest-starring Cable, Domino, and Nate Grey the X-Man.

As I’ve mentioned previously on the blog, I started reading X-Men and other Marvel comics during the Operation: Zero Tolerance ‘event’ (as Marvel terms the story arcs that can span their entire catalogue). The Onslaught Saga is the event that took place immediately before Zero Tolerance, and directly after the Age of Apocalypse (which I have also recently started). While spotty, this volume suggests it will be an interesting read.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Interview with David Chandler/Wellington


A little while back, I noticed on Voyager’s release schedule a mention of Den of Thieves by David Chandler. There wasn’t any more information available, so naturally I went hunting about on the internet, but was still not able to dig up much information. Some weeks have passed, and it was revealed that ‘David Chandler’ is the fantasy-writing alter-ego of horror author David Wellington – and not a world-renowned chemist, as Google would have me believe.

So, I contacted David himself through his website, to see if he might be able to shed some light on his upcoming fantasy series and his newly-published-in-the-UK vampire series. Thankfully, he was kind enough to fill me in on some details…

Monday, April 18, 2011

“The Company Man” by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)


An intriguing noir-thriller with a difference

A trolley car pulls into the station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the factory workers were seen boarding at the previous station. Now, all are dead. And all of them are union.

The year is 1919. The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built airships that crossed the seas. Guns that won the Great War. And above all, they built Evesden: the city of tomorrow, dominated by the immense McNaughton Tower. But something is rotten at the heart of Evesden and one man must uncover its dark secret before it all goes up in flames.

Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, McNaughton investigator Cyril Hayes must find the truth behind the city of the future. Because if he doesn’t . . . he’s history.

The Company Man is a noir-ish crime thriller set in an alternate 1919 America. It is a time in which the McNaughton Corporation, a mega-company that dominates global innovation and trade, is at the heart of America’s power. The novel draws on elements of a number of genres to make it an intriguing and original read.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Capsule-Review: “Seasons of War” by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)

Untitled-3Reviewed by Shevaun

Book Two of The Long Price Quartet

The poets and their magical andat have protected the cities of the Khaiem against their rivals in Galt for generations.  Otah Khai of the Winter City of Machi, has tried for years to prepare his people for a future in which the andat can no longer be safely harnessed, but his warnings have been ignored.  And now it's too late.

A ruthless, charismatic Galtic general believes he has found a way to strip the andat of their power.  If he is wrong, Galt will be destroyed.  If he is right, the Khaiem will fall.  Only one thing is certain: comflict is inevitable, and Otah and his old friend and enemy, the disgraced poet, Maati, must fight a desperate battle to protect their cities from slaughter.

These two men, bound together by shadow and betrayal, will bring the world to the edge of a cataclysm unlike anything either side had imagines.

For if the cost of war is high, the price of peace may be unimaginable...

The two novels that make up this second Long Price Quartet omnibus follow on from Shadow & Betrayal (which Stefan reviewed), and conclude the intertwined tales of Otah and Maati. Abraham brings their world to bright, bloody and compelling life, the very strangeness of the customs and culture somehow serving to make them that much more believable. A new culture and new civilisation is introduced, the Galts, and the politics and intrigue are deftly handled in a way that feels very natural and true to human nature. We are also introduced to the children of Otah, and their part in the conclusion to this magnificent series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

“The Land of Painted Caves” by Jean M Auel (Hodder & Stoughton)

Auel-6-TheLandofPaintedCavesUKReviewed by Shevaun

The Conclusion to the Earth’s Children Series

Europe is in the grip of the Ice Age. Its harsh but spectacularly beautiful terrain supports many varieties of animal but few people. They are Cro-Magnons – the first anatomically modern people – and Neanderthals, the other race with whom we shared that cold, ancient land.

THE STORY SO FAR: Ayla is a Cro-Magnon child who lost her parents in an earthquake and was adopted by a tribe of Neanderthal, the Clan. The Clan’s wary suspicion was gradually transformed into acceptance of this girl, so different from them, under the guidance of its medicine woman Iza and its wise holy man Creb. But Broud, the Clan’s future leader, becomes an implacable enemy, and causes her exile. Forced into dangerous isolation, she eventually finds her soul mate and fellow Cro-Magnon, Jondalar.

Their epic journey across Europe is complete and Ayla and Jondalar join his people in the region now known as south-west France.

Settling into the rhythm of life in the Ninth Cave, the couple find much pleasure in their baby daughter and in being reunited with friends and family. Ayla plays a vital role in the area of healing: her knowledge of plants and herbs, gleaned from her days with the Clan, strikes awe in her new tribe. They are also both impressed by and wary of her uncanny affinity with long-time companions, the mare Whinney and Wolf. But, torn between her desire to concentrate on her new child and the rigours of her training as a Zelandoni acolyte, Ayla finds her relationship with Jondalar moving into stormy waters. Can she manage to balance her sense of destiny with her heart?

Though Jean Auel has dedicated thirty years of her life to the Earth’s children series, this is only the sixth book since Clan of the Cave Bear was first published in 1980. The long waits between books is explained by her as research time, and it is absolutely clear that Auel’s meticulous attention to detail and research has paid off. Having studied palaeolithic archaeology and having excavated a cave dwelling myself, I can vouch for the sheer breadth of study Auel has undertaken: archaeological, sociological, zoological, anthropological, and art studies (I could go on) are all evident in her books. The Land of Painted Caves is the conclusion to the series and no less well researched for it. Ice Age France comes vividly to life with all the sounds, smells and flavours of Cro-Magnon existence leaping from the page.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

“Blood Reaver” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)

Dembski-Bowdeb-BloodReaverThe Night Lords Return!

Driven by their hatred of the False Emperor, the Night Lords stalk the shadows of the galaxy, eternally seeking revenge for the death of their Primarch. Their dark quest leads them to a fractious alliance with the Red Corsairs, united only by a common enemy.

Together with this piratical band of renegades, they bring their ways of destruction to the fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant. Their mission: to steal the loyalist Chapter’s gene-seed, dooming them to a slow demise.

In Blood Reaver, we get the continuation of the story begun in Soul Hunter and Throne Of Lies – of a company of traitor Night Lords, as they struggle to survive and continue the Great War against the Imperium. Soul Hunter took me by surprise – it was a superb science fiction novel, populated by complex and interesting characters, with a solid and engaging premise. Blood Reaver takes things one step further and transcends its predecessor. This is, truly, a superb novel by anybody’s standards.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More “Snuff”…

Terry Pratchett’s next novel, of course! Following up from my previous post about Sir Pratchett’s next Discworld novel, which will feature Sam Vimes back at its centre, the artwork has now been unveiled! So here it is:


[Thanks due to Adam at The Wertzone, where I saw this first.]

A Quick Chat with Jon Sprunk, author of “Shadow’s Son” and “Shadow’s Lure”


Last year, Pyr in the US and Gollancz in the UK published Shadow’s Son, the debut novel of Jon Sprunk. It was a rollicking fantasy tale of an assassin who is faced with a fateful decision on which the future of a nation depends. It was classic character-driven and action-led fantasy, which I really rather enjoyed. With the sequel’s publication later this year, I contacted the author with a handful of questions, and he was kind enough to answer them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

“Age of Darkness” edited by Christian Dunn (Black Library)


A new chapter in the epic Horus Heresy history

After the betrayal at Isstvan V, Horus begins his campaign against the Emperor, a galaxy-wide war that can lead only to Terra. But the road to the final confrontation between father and son is a long one – seven years filled with secrecy and silence, plans and foundations being formed across distant stars. An unknown history is about to be unveiled as light is shed on the darkest years of the Horus Heresy.

Age of Darkness collects nine short stories written by the creme-de-la-creme of Black Library’s Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy authors. Set in the dark time between the betrayal on Isstvan V and the siege of Terra, this volume sheds some light on previously-uncovered age in the history of the conflict, from a multitude of angles and perspectives. It’s a diverse collection of well-written stories, and definitely a must for fans of the series.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

“The Winds of Khalakovo” by Brad Beaulieu (Night Shade Books)


An unusual, intriguing and original start to a new fantasy series

Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, it’s prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky.

Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo’s eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo’s future.

When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming warship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo…

In this highly imaginative and original fantasy, debut novelist Bradley Beaulieu has created something special. The author’s imagination is impressive, and the world he has created – not to mention the characters and politics that comprise it – intriguing and engaging. I really enjoyed this.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sanderson Returns to Mistborn, UK Edition: “The Alloy of Law” by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Just a very quick post about the newly-revealed UK artwork for Brandon Sanderson’s fourth Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law. I’ll refer you back to my previous post for my thoughts on the plot, etc., so I’ll get straight to the new art (which I really, really like):


An Interview with Blake Charlton, Author of “Spellwright” & “Spellbound”


Last year, there was a lot of chatter on the interwebs about new fantasy author Blake Charlton, and the interesting magic system he had created for his new fantasy series. I was lucky enough to get hold of an early copy of Spellwright, which I very much enjoyed. Spellbound, the sequel, is published this year, so I thought it would be a great time to see if Mr Charlton was available for interview. Luckily, he was, and below are his enthusiastic responses to a few questions I posed to him.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

“New X-Men: Ultimate Collection, Book 1” by Grant Morrison et al (Marvel)


A gripping X-Men reboot (of sorts)

Sixteen million mutants dead – and that was just the beginning. A sinister force has embarked upon a mission of revenge and hatred, targeting Earth’s mutant population. Everyone and everything is expendable, as it works towards its ultimate revenge.

In this, the second X-Men omnibus of my re-introduction to comics, Grant Morrison (All Star Superman, We3) has penned a bold forced-reboot of the X-Men world. And it’s really very good.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

“Hellhole” by Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson (Simon & Schuster)


A new Sci-Fi series that shows potential, despite some flaws

Only the most desperate would ever dare to make a new home on Hellhole, a planet ravaged by natural disasters. The planet is a dumping ground for undesirables, misfits and charlatans. But its location out on the wild frontiers of the Constellation, among the Deep Zone worlds, makes it the final refuge for those fleeing from the rule of tyrant, Diadem Michella Duchenet.

General Adolphus, the military leader of a failed rebellion, is exiled to Hellhole, which he is determined to transform into a place of opportunity. While colonists work to develop the planet, the General forges secret alliances with leaders of the other Deep Zone worlds. He dreams of turning his prison into the centre of a new coalition of planets free from the Diadem’s iron grip.

On the decadent capital planet, Sonjeera, surrounded by corruption and consumed by the plots and feuds of the old guard nobles, Diadem Michella is confident that the General has been neutralized.

The planet Hellhole, though damaged and volatile, hides secrets of historic magnitude. Lurking beneath the surface are the remnants of an obliterated alien civilization, detailing an unrecorded past, which, if unearthed, could tear the fragile human civilization apart.

I had high hopes for this novel, co-authored as it is by Kevin J Anderson, an author whose novels have thus far never failed to entertain. With Hellhole, however, I was left a little less entertained and gripped than usual. It’s a solid premise, imaginatively drawn, but the execution is a little inconsistent, and there are too many voices for a first volume.

Friday, April 01, 2011

“X-Men: The Complete Age of Apocalypse Epic, #1” (Marvel)


A Fan-Favourite Alternate Reality X-Men storyline

In a cracked-mirror world ruled by the genocidal mutant despot Apocalypse, only one hope remains: Magneto and his Astonishing X-Men!

This is the second graphic novel I’ve read, as part of my attempt to get back into reading comics and reacquainting myself with some of my favourite characters from my youth. While I was disappointed by All Star Superman, reading this was an entirely different experience. It’s only book one-of-four, but it’s a considerable tome, and one that was enjoyable throughout.