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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

RECENT REVIEWS

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Redshirts by John Scalzi

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My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

VIDEO | Axe Cop the Movie


Axe Cop is a webcomic I've been reading a lot late after a friend lent me the first collected graphic novel. And man, it blew me away.  Axe Cop is written by a 6 year-old boy and drawn by his 29 year-old cousin and is filled with such craziness that if an adult wrote it everyone would think he would need to be committed.  For just a taste check out one of my favorite pages from the Ask Axe Copy feature.


That's right. It's a secret attack! Now we have a fan made short of Axe Cop, which nails the flavor perfectly.




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Cover Unveiled for Ekaterina Sedia's Heart of Iron

Art by Marcin Jakubowski 
This is a mock-up for Ekaterina Sedia's Heart of Iron, which is expected sometime this Fall from Prime Books.  An official description has not been released as of yet, but the cover does tantalize us with few facts. This is looking more and more like Steampunk, but quite different from what Sedia did with The Alchemy of Stone.  The art really captures the imagination, but the grey treatment needs some work around the title. The novel is supposed to be focused on Russia and China somehow.  And what is up with the guy in the cape? More news I have it and this reminds me I really need to get around to finishing my review of Sedia's The House of Discarded Dreams. It has to be her weirdest book to date, which says a lot if you've read her other works.

UPDATE: Heart of Iron is schedule for a May 2011 release and here is the description:
In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt's feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students—an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies when Sasha's only friends — Chinese students — start disappearing, and she begins to realize that her new British companion, Jack, has bigger secrets than she can imagine.

Sasha and Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires. The only place they can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China. Sasha discovers that Jack is not quite the person she thought he was...but then again, neither is she.
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New Procurements, now with added monkey!

If you're asking yourself why a monkey than clearly you don't belong here. It is a monkey and that should be all you need to know. Anyhoo, this month's batch is made up from review copies, an online order, a trip to the bookstore, and a long-time pre-order, which necessitated reordering "The Shelf of Honor" a bit.


The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie - This is the Sub Press limited edition of one of my favorite Fantasies of the last decade. Maybe you've heard of it? Beautiful design, but the art while very attractive still didn't feel completely right to me for the world. Before They Are Hanged has just gone up for pre-order at Sub Press and I've already reserved my matching copy.
Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio - The first of my Christmas Gift cards went to this and the next two books.  The hardcover first edition has already sold out at the publisher, but most stores should have copies and a second printing is expected in February. It is slimmer than I thought it would be, but looks grand including some nice stamping done on the front of the hardcover.
Leviathan Wept and Other Stories by Daniel Abraham - I've been in something of a Abraham mood lately and have been hemming and hawing over this collection for a while, but the gift card made it an easy decision.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Blue Bear by Walter Moers - This was to fill-in a hole in my Moers hardcover collection. If you haven't read Moers do yourself a favor and grab this book. You'll laugh yourself silly.
One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde - This is the review copy from the publisher to one of my favorites series. Check out this article from last year to see why I think everyone should be reading it.
Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick - A review copy for one of my Looking Forward Fantasy books of 2011. Looks very much in the vein of Weeks and Lynch at the moment.
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder - Review copy to my favorite Steampunk novel of 2010.
Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley - Review copy of McAuley's latest for Pyr although it came out in the UK a few years back. America is trying to control alternative universes.  Sounds like a good time to me.


Midnight Riot by Ben Aaaronovitch - This is a review copy for what keeps getting batted around as a great entrant into the Urban Fantasy fold. It is being released as Rivers of London in the UK. I'll definitely be reading it quite soon.
Equations of Life by Simon Morden - This review copy is Morden's adult debut in the Sci-Fi area.  Looks like a very short novel and I'll be check it out especially since the 2nd and 3rd books will be following it a month apart.
The Alchemist in the Shadows by Pierre Pevel - Sequel to The Cardinal's Blade, which I still need to read.
Autumn: The City by David Moody - The sequel to Moddy's Autumn told from the perspective of the people who remained in the city.  Autumn didn't blow me away by any means, but I'm a bit interested to see where the story goes.
Deep State by Walter Jon Williams - Review copy to the sequel to This is Not a Game, which I've heard good things about. I read William's Implied Spaces a couple years back and liked it quite a bit.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - I head Harkness speak at NYCC this year and her book sounded rather interesting, so I'm glad this review copy came my way. This is ramping up to be a major release and has been getting some seriously good buzz putting it up there with The Historian.

There are 6 books above I wish I could read all right now. Reading vacation anyone?

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Do you know this Sci-Fi story?

I received an e-mail from a reader looking for a little help on finding out the title and author of a story they remember somewhat. Let's see if this crowdsourcing thing really works. Here is the reader's note:

I'm hoping you can help me or direct me in the right direction to find information on a story I listened to in the mid- to late-90s.

The story was of two warring alien races that come to earth. One was a larger, human-like race that was described as having skin like a pig. The other was a large cat or bear like race that associated humans as being related the other alien race. They dominate and control the humans as a large fleet of the human-like aliens is on the way. One scene I remember well is a human uprising where the leader of the hairy aliens unleashes a weapon of "nanobot-like" (not a term from the book, something I'm using for descriptive purposes) devices that eats the flesh off of the crowd where they stand. The turn of the story is when the hairy aliens realize that humans are more closely related to them than the hairless, human-like aliens and that they must fight for the earth against the invading fleet.

The majority of the story is told from the perspective of a human cop and the hairy alien general. Obviously my memories are a bit faded and I cannot remember the title, author, character names or even the names of the alien races involved. If you have any ideas of what this might be or where I could turn to find out, I would greatly appreciate it.

Just to specify the timeline a little, I listened to audio cassette audiobook version of this story in the mid-90's. All that would say is that it had to be published before then but could have been anytime before that. I wouldn't think it would have been published earlier than the early 80's just from my impression of the technology discussed. But again, the memory has faded and I may be wrong on publishing timeframe. Hope that can help someone figure this out for me.
If the story sounds familiar at all please comment even if you aren't sure.  Let the hunt begin!

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NEWS | Jim Butcher's Ghost Story Delayed


Jim Butcher has announced that Ghost Story the 13th novel in the highly popular Dresden Files series would be moved from its April, 2011 release date to July 26th.  Jim said something along the lines of:
“It came down to, readers could either get a half-assed story in April, or a full-assed one in July!”
Seems like Harry's current state of affairs is causing Butcher some writing problems. I'd like my Dresden fix sooner but I'd rather wait for a damn good book.

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Re-Covering 3 Sci-Fi Classics

These covers are part of Random House UK's Vintage imprint, which specializes in large part with--you guessed it--reprints of classics. Normally the covers for this series are fairly austere efforts, but the design Gods deigned to give genre loves some color. These hit it out of the park for the most part. I'm also told that the covers will be printed in 3-D and sold with a pair of 3-D glasses.


Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth have both had dozens upon dozens of designs over the years, but these two surely are some of the best they've seen yet with the latter being my favorite.


Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World 3-D effect looks a bit off register to me compared with the others, but maybe it will look good in the final version. Especially with the glasses.


These editions will all be released in May. I just may have to pick-up Journey as it was one of my favorites growing up along side Lost Horizon. If you know who the designers are do comment.

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INTERVIEW | Kameron Hurley author of God's War

Kameron Hurley's bug-infused debut novel God's War [reviewed here] has just been released by Night Shade Books and it left me wanting to dig a bit further. God's War had quite a rocky road to publication as I first heard about the book more than 2 years ago.  Hurley has been publishing short stories for more than a decade including “Genderbending At the Madhattered.,” which is worth the read just based on the title alone. Read on to learn more about bugpunk, boxing, and the New Weird influences on God's War.

MH: Thanks for agreeing to this interview.

KAMERON: Thanks for the invite!

MH: The tag word most associated with your debut God's War is "bugpunk," which springs all sorts of nasty ideas to mind. How would you describe God's War to unsuspecting readers?

KAMERON: The people in God’s War power the world with bugs. Some of that really is as nasty as it sounds, which, for me, was part of the fun of doing it. It’s not just about peppering a book with giant bugs, it’s about looking at ways you can use insects to save lives and keep the lights on. Literally.

I lived in Durban, South Africa for a year and a half where bugs were just a way of life. I’d wake up with cockroaches on my pillow, and watch nests of bugs swarm out from under the tub in the bathroom, and clots of gnats and flying cockroaches gather around lights. Sometimes the freak-out factor of bugs makes us forget how useful they can be, though. The more bugs I dealt with, the more fascinated I became with stories of what different species could do. Simple things like honey as an antibiotic, wasps that can sniff out explosives, and maggots for cleaning out wounds. I took that a step further and went, “What if people could actually control, manipulate, and breed bugs to perform high technology tasks like power vehicles, facilitate long-distance communications, and create massive weapons of war? And on what kind of a world would they have to resort to doing something like this?”

When I tried describing how the tech in the God’s War world worked, the “bugpunk” description was the first to come to mind. It kinda stuck.


MH: God's War has something of a sorted past. You originally sold it to another publisher only to have the whole publishing implosion of 2008 pull the carpet out from under you and two years later you sold it to Night Shade. You've already recounted the story of the cancellation, but I'm curious about how this all effected the book. Did the book change a lot from what you were originally going to publish and the version Night Shade released?

KAMERON: Not really. Night Shade had copyeditor Marty Halpern look it over, and I added in some changes from the copyedits I received from the prior publisher just before it got dropped. I maybe took out half a dozen paragraphs – mostly repetitive stuff - fixed some logical inconsistencies, and cut a bunch of commas. That’s pretty much it. We’d already finished all the heavy editing and were about to go to print when the plug got pulled at the original publisher. It was less work for Night Shade and for me – it was great to not have to deal with the push/pull in different directions from different publishers. The best part is that for the sequel, Infidel (also acquired by Night Shade), I'll be working with Juliet Ulman in her freelance editing capacity. Juliet was the editor who initially acquired God's War at the first publisher, and now she gets to work on the series for Night Shade. Funny how things work out.

MH: I can definitely see why Juliet wanted to publish you originally, especially given her work with Felix Gilman, Jeff VanderMeer, and Alan Campbell. She was building quite the New Weird cadre over at Spectra. With God's War you've created a world where women generally rule and most men take a back seat role all done through the lens of a world heavily influenced by Muslim beliefs. What brought about this direction?

KAMERON: The primary holy book I put together for use in Nasheen, Chenja, and as the first of two holy books in Tirhan in God’s War is a mishmash of many beliefs from many religions. I wanted to be clear that these were people who came from many backgrounds, but who found a few common beliefs to unite them – in the case of these countries, Islam was certainly a big influence, as was the Old Testament.

Someone once asked me if I felt that religion was the greatest threat to the equality of women in society. I said that religion isn’t inherently a threat to anything at all – it’s our interpretation of it that’s the problem. People forget that the Bible says slavery and incest are OK, too. That’s something that’s simply not emphasized anymore (whereas when owning slaves was considered OK in this country, the Bible was used to reinforce the morality of that practice). So why do we still see so many religious leaders emphasizing the misogynist stuff? They don’t have to. They can reinterpret it, or ignore it, or put it in context.

And that was the part that interested me. How could I build a world heavily steeped in old-world patriarchal religious influences (all of the major Old Testament-inspired tomes have some far-future society on this planet, which are explored more in books two and three) that turned into a matriarchy, like Nasheen? Or a more egalitarian society, like Tirhan? Or a whacked-out gender separatist playground like Mhoria?

The Quran gave women at the time many, many more rights than they were afforded in the time prior to the teachings of the book. Until the 20th century, women generally had fewer restrictions under Islamic law than they did under Western law. I knew that in a book that had heavy Islamic influences, I could build a strong case for a feminist society… if the conditions in that society were just right.

And the Old Testament, well… that had lots of blood, bodies, and an angry, jealous God, which was perfect for the resource-strapped desert in God’s War that everyone was fighting for. There’s very good reason, historically, to create a bloodthirsty god in a place with lots of people and few resources.  Then what I did was posit a world where the people doing the interpreting of the religious books were women. What would they choose to ignore, and what would they choose to emphasize? So I built a world based on what we see as heavily patriarchal religious systems and had them reinterpreted to bring about a powerful matriarchy.

As for why... well, because it was a cool exercise in "What if?"

MH: Besides being a writer you've also dabbled in boxing, which is used prominently in God's War in a few places. Did a lot of your personal experiences with boxing make it in?

KAMERON: I never boxed with any kind of actual professionalism, and certainly not to the extent that Nyx does. I took boxing classes on and off in Chicago for about four years at POW Martial Arts, which is a great mixed martial arts gym downtown. At the height of it, I was taking maybe two boxing/mixed martial arts classes a week and jogging 4-6 miles a week. Nothing serious - just fun. So there’s some actual knowledge in there, sure – I know the basics, and I have a decent right hook – but I never seriously sparred.

Primarily, what I took away from the experience was this incredible realization that my body was really, really good at something. Namely, hitting things very hard. Women often have the opposite pressures as men when it comes to physicality. We’re supposed to be small and soft, and I was always big and mouthy. I always felt like I wasn’t really good for anything, physically, as we’re still taught that a woman’s worth is generally measured in her adherence to a very narrow sort of femininity.

But the first time I punched a 200 lb standing bag and it fell over, I was in awe of my own physical power. “Oh,” I thought, “THIS is why it’s cool to be big and scary!”

That’s when I started lifting weights, and reveling in my body’s own personal power instead of hiding under too-big shirts and layers of flannel.

It’s that experience of personal power that I think gets translated into the books, particularly during the boxing scenes. Nasheenian women are all very aware of their physical power.

MH: I always enjoy a good kick boxing class. There is something about being able to kick the hell out of something without someone giving you an odd look that feels so good. Personal power does seem to be a theme that runs throughout without it feeling like girl power. These are certainly some tough ladies, but you've blurred the line of sex and sexuality a lot with God's War. How have your travels around the world influenced the story? In some ways is this your version of showing culture clash just on a planetary scale?

KAMERON: For the record, I despise the term “girl power.” I think “power” should cover it. Thing is, saying women and power together sounds too scary, I think. So it becomes infantilized, and women exerting power becomes the more innocuous sounding, “girl power.”

Bah. I like worlds with powerful people, in worlds where “people” really does include women.

Anyway, I recommend a lot of traveling to new writers, especially young writers. I’d been putting words on paper since I was 12, but a lot of it sounded the same as everything else. There’s something about stepping into a place that doesn’t have all the same cultural biases as you do to make you really open up your eyes to how things can be different. I remember the first time I lived in a different city when I was 18, just a five hour or so drive from my hometown, and I thought it was wickedly weird that the libraries were open on Sundays. People looked at me like I was nuts when I told them how weird this was. I didn’t realize until then just how sheltered I’d been. Sure, my family had traveled a lot, but we stuck to safe places like Reno, Las Vegas, Disneyworld, etc. Very scripted fantasy places. I still have a fondness for scripted fantasy, but living in Alaska for a couple of years and South Africa for a year and a half helped wake me up. There’s nothing like the constant threat of freezing to death or getting shot outside after dark to make you realize how fragile and wonderful life is. I’ve also traveled all around Europe, and spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand. I’m planning to get to Cairo this year and make another trip to South Africa for a friend’s wedding. I love to travel. I like what it teaches me about myself and all of my cultural baggage. You can’t hope to figure out all your baggage unless you recognize it first.

But the traveling by itself wouldn’t have had as much effect on my writing, I think, if I hadn’t also chosen to major in history. My graduate thesis looked at how the African National Congress used propaganda to encourage women to join its ranks during the war against Apartheid in South Africa. I have done a lot of reading and writing about conflict, and the role of women in conflict, from South Africa, Rwanda, Iran, Germany in WWII, ancient Babylonia and Assyria, and of course, here in the U.S. It very much interests me how we justify the oppression of – and violence against - other people, whether it’s because of their perceived race, sex, class, or beliefs. Time and again, you’ll see religion and science used to justify existing biases. We tend to emphasize evidence that supports our existing beliefs, and ignore evidence that refutes it. You see this all the time in the media. They’ll go so far as to print studies that haven’t even been peer reviewed yet, just because they make everybody feel better about their biases (it’s likely not surprising that I find psychology pretty fascinating as well).

So yes, the God’s War world did become a playground of a sort for hashing out how these sorts of conflicts might play out differently somewhere else, some when else, among distinctly different cultures with wildly different social mores.

MH: Your taste in personal reading seems to tend to the dark and New Weird stuff. God's War does seem to be a cross section of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and a little Horror as well. Were you aiming for something in the New Weird camp? The line between science and magic seems very blurred in the world of God's War between the Magicians who seem like scientists one moment and miracle workers the next with the whole bugtech development.

KAMERON: I’ve always liked a lot of elements of dark fantasy, and how magic and science are simply a matter of how much understanding one has of how the world works. That probably comes from reading too much Gene Wolfe.

I’m also definitely influenced a lot by New Weird. It was while reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station in 2002 or so that I realized I really needed to up my game. Before that, I’d compared what I wrote to the classic fantasy I read and just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting published with any kind of consistency. I felt like my stuff was the same quality as a lot of what I read. What I didn’t realize is that, though there’s certainly a place for traditional fantasy and science fiction, just aping what everyone else does isn’t going to get you anywhere (and isn’t much fun, anyway). I think New Weird helped dig some of us out of the traditional fantasy rut. From there I started reading Jeff VanderMeer, Angela Carter, KJ Bishop, Kelley Link, Tim Akers, Christopher Priest, Nicola Griffith, Melvin Burgess, Geoff Ryman, Paul Park, and Carol Emshwiller (it’s likely not surprising that I’ve always been an avid fan of Joanna Russ). I also started reading more outside the genre, people who were really good at things I wasn’t, from Sarah Waters and Michael Cunningham to Stephen King ,Toni Morrison, Mary Renault, and Rupert Thomson.

The best advice I ever got as writer was from Geoff Ryman, who said to read a lot outside the genre and travel. Taking that advice to heart has definitely made a big difference in my writing.

MH: Great name checks all around. I just read one of Ryman's shorts in Brave New Worlds that really shocked me. Was God's War the first novel you wrote or are there some in the trunk?

KAMERON: Oh, hell no. God’s War is the 9th novel I’ve finished, and the third I’ve shopped. I sent around my first novel to publishers back in 2002, with no luck. In 2004 I shopped around another one, this time to agents. No luck there either, though lots of requests for partials and a couple of rewrite requests. Ultimately, nothing came of it. Like a lot of folks, I have a five book fantasy series in the trunk somewhere. I had a pretty long slog to publication, which is fairly common. I think it was Kevin J. Anderson who said that the key to becoming a successful author is persistence. Raw, enduring persistence.

MH: God's War is very much Nyx and Rhys story. What can we expect from the sequel Infidel? New character POVs? Is it still set for publication in December of this year?

KAMERON: Yup, Infidel is still on target for December of this year, last I heard. Hoping to have a book three (Babylon) come out the year after, but that depends entirely on how well these ones do (so goes the publishing biz).

The books are very much Nyx and Rhys’s story, and their little dance certainly fuels the series, for better or worse. You’ll see some of the same POV’s in Infidel, and some new characters, too. One of the most enjoyable parts of working on these books is collecting the ragtag mix of felons, mercenaries, mad folks, deserters, and addicts for each of Nyx’s jobs. She really knows how to pick `em.

Expect the world to get a lot bigger in Infidel, with trips abroad to countries like Ras Tieg and Tirhan, both of which get some passing mention in God’s War but are never really explored. They’ll be deadlier bugs, crazier shape shifting, and far bloodier rogue assassins.

MH: What's your grossest bug story?

Personal or anecdotal? My personal one is pretty tame. That’s waking up one night in Durban, South Africa to find a cockroach as big as my thumb staring at me right there on my pillow. At night, I’d listen to them skitter across the floor. They were big. The building owners were a bit corrupt, and the place wasn’t sprayed for bugs until about six months after I started living there when the building changed hands. I had a nest of baby cockroaches living underneath the tub, geckos living in all the cupboards, and no screens on any doors or windows. When they’d seriously fumigate a house that got infested, they’d cover over the whole thing in a giant plastic tarp. The entire house. Then pump the thing with poison. I guess once you had a serious infestation, that was the only way to get rid of it. The first time I saw a house covered in plastic, being pumped full of poison, it was kinda surreal.

As for anecdotal, I’ve always been partial to the stories of bugs laying eggs in flesh (most notably, the bot fly), and then bursting out in one big ooze of blood and pus. I’m using quite a lot of those in Babylon, which I find delightful.

MH: To go along with my other obsession what is your favorite type of hat?

KAMERON: I wear bandanas. I’m wearing one with skulls on it right now, actually. As for true hats, I don’t wear them much, but I’ve always been partial to Mickey ears (see aforementioned childhood involving too much scripted fantasy).

MH: What are two things most people don't know about you?

KAMERON: I collect and mod My Little Ponies and have a level 80 warrior in World of Warcraft. I’m a casual but enthusiastic gamer when not on writing deadlines or doing book research, and I have a fondness for games like DragonAge, Unreal Tournament, Bioshock, and of course, God of War. Bonus: on a good day, I can bench about 130 lbs. This would be a far greater number if all of these games came on the Kinect gaming platform. Them's the breaks.

MH: Nice. Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

KAMERON: Thanks for the interview. I do love going on about history, words, and writing. If anybody wants to follow me in real time, I’m @KameronHurley on Twitter. I also write regularly for Night Shade’s new author group blog, The Night Bazaar and rant about books, politics, gender craziness, and history at my own place, kameronhurley.com. If you’re looking for more about God’s War, it has its own website, too: godswarbook.com

And I think that’s enough URL’s to keep anybody busy…. Thanks again!

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REVIEW | God's War by Kameron Hurley

On a distant inhospitable world thousands of years in the future humans fight for survival and supremacy. Umayma is a planet in a constant state of war with itself as different religious factions send generations of their men to face off in bitter battle after battle. People are willing to sell their body parts just to make it through another day. Large bugs proliferate the planet and some are even used to run partially organic machines. Nyx is a Bel Dame and she is out for blood and bread money.

Bugpunk. When I first heard that term I couldn't put my finger on what to expect. Will people be riding giant caterpillars around? Would people be fighting against their oppressive Ant Overlords? No and no. Hurley's engrossing debut God's War is clearly none of those things. Hurley's bugpunk is much more well thought out and intricate, which feels perfect for the world she has created. God's War dissects and melds bugs to machines while humans can control swarms of bugs to do their bidding. There is high technology on this world although much of it is given more a magic feel as the people who master the bug arts are called Magicians. Magicians were also the first to live on the world and made in semi-habitable for other people. All of this adds up to some very original world-building.

And yet, God's War isn't just about the bugs.  They merely help set the stage for a harsh world filled with people willing to sell their organs to criminals while women are sent to breeding farms to have batches of children. God's War centers around Nyx who is one of the strongest female leads I've ever come across in a genre novel. She is brash, self-serving, and can take an intense torture session with the best of them. Rhys is the other lead although he often takes a backseat role to the strong personality that is Nyx. Rhys is a fledgling Magician who is ostracized from everyone around him. He left his home country only to find refuge being surround by people who judge him based on the color of his skin. It felt strange, but nice to read a Sci-Fi novel where all the men are described as pretty and most of the women as gnarled in some fashion.

Race, religion, sexuality, and evolution are explored in new, deft, and often audacious ways. The race clashes are well handled and never feel over the top with a political agenda. Religion takes quite a hit though as we see as much as things change they stay the same with slightly differing views causing the death of thousands with neither side willing to back down. The way the religion morphs feels very plausible as Hurley draws from our own world's religion and gives them life through realistic circumstances in an unapologetic manner. Sexuality is very blurred as characters quickly pass from one sexual encounter to the next not caring at all which sex they play with.

The first section lagged somewhat as it really is just a prologue to the hornet's nest Nyx later gets trapped in for the rest of the book. But that is my only complaint. I almost wonder if it would have been better to do the first section in alternating flashbacks with the later storyline. After that first section everything moves at a breath-taking speed with visceral action. Hurley's style is close to that of Paolo Bacigalupi, but the influence of the New Weird kings Mieville and VanderMeer can also be seen. Yet I found God's War more approachable and much more action oriented.

Hurley has landed and she brings the toughness out of all her characters pushing them beyond their limits while laying the ground for larger engagements that will surely exploit this world to the utmost. Ultimately, God's War is Nyx's story of survival and fighting for what she believes in. The problem is she can't decide what that is. Hopefully she'll find out as the series progresses.

Hurley belongs in the new class of Sci-Fi authors we've been waiting for to invigorate the genre along the sides of Rajaniemi, Bacigalupi, and Yu although each brings different skills to the table. I give God's War 9 out of 10 hats. There are a lot of big questions unanswered about this world that will keep me coming back for more of what Hurley is serving such as were the bugs native to the planet or were they made? God's War is the first in a planned trilogy with the sequel Infidel schedule for later this year.

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REVIEW | The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
REVIEW | How to Live Safely In a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
REVIEW | The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
REVIEW | Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
REVIEW | Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
LOOKING FORWARD | Science Fiction Books to Watch for in 2011

A Gerbil Book Wheel for Humans

via Neatorama


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LOOKING FORWARD | Urban Fantasy and Steampunk in 2011

And the reading list just keep getting longer and longer.  Now up are my Urban Fantasy and Steampunk picks for 2011. The Sci-Fi and Fantasy lists are up already for those interested. I've dropped quite a few of the Urban Fantasy series I was reading over the last year as they were getting a bit too same-y and not building to anything I was interested in. So I'm hoping this new crop has a few I can sink my teeth into.

Urban Fantasy

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest | January 25, Spectra

Sure vampire Urban Fantasies are plentiful, but Priest has the skills to make this start to a new series quite entertaining.  Plus the sequel Hellbent will be out in August for all of us that hate waiting.
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.
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The World House by Guy Adams  | Jan 25, Angry Robot  |  DEBUT

I'm calling this a debut while in reality it is Adams' fifth or sixth book, but all the rest were established properties related to the TV shows Torchwood and Life on Mars. I just love this idea. Read on...
Combining the puzzle box of Hellraiser with the explorartion of Tad Williams' Otherland series, this is the perfect blend of fantasy and adventure, an exceptional modern fantasy debut.

THERE IS A BOX. INSIDE THAT BOX IS A DOOR. AND BEYOND THAT DOOR IS A WHOLE WORLD.

In some rooms, forests grow. In others, animals and objects come to life. Elsewhere, secrets and treasures wait for the brave and foolhardy.

And at the very top of the house, a prisoner sits behind a locked door waiting for a key to turn. The day that happens, the world will end...File under: Modern Fantasy [Worlds within Worlds | Prison Break | Exploring the Unknown | Dark Powers]
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Midnight Riot/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch  |  Feb 1, Del Rey | DEBUT

This one has the title Rivers of London in the UK and Midnight Riot in the US.  Some are calling it British Dresden Files, but I always thought that was Mike Carey's Felix Castor?  But I digress as this is getting many rave reviews with the sequel Moon Over Soho coming out in March.
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
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Ghost Story by Jim Butcher  | July 26, Roc

A new Dresden Files is always an event and with the giant cliff-hanger from Changes we all need to know what will happen to Harry. WARNING: Do not read the blurb if you are not up-to-date on the series.
When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...
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After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn  |  April 12, Tor

I love superhero stuff done in prose form.  This time around the POV is from the mundane daughter to superheros parents. Definitely sounds like good times to me.
Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.

Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope

This all-new and moving story of love, family, and sacrifice is an homage to Golden Age comics that no fan will want to miss.
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Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne | April 19, Del Rey | DEBUT

A new Urban Fantasy series with a quick succession planned for publishing--with book two Hexed out in May and book three Hammered in June--this could become a popular series quickly. I was always fascinated with the early Highlander books and this seems to be in that vein starring an immortal druid.
Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained an annoyingly long-lived fugitive, those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret.

Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.

Unfortunately, the very angry Celtic god who wants that sword has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power, plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good, old-fashioned luck of the Irish to kick some arse and deliver himself from evil.
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The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes | June, Angy Robot

Book 1 in the Hell & Back series from the author of the Henghis Hapthorn series. It seems like this will be a lighter series than the Hapthorn books and the awesome cover pulled me in immediately. Some black humor perchance?
After accidentally summoning a demon, Chesney Anstruther refuses to sell his soul, which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike. Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world… with disastrous consequences.
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No Hero by Jonathan Wood    | July 2011, Night Shade  |  DEBUT

Described as Jim Butcher meets James Rollins this could be a good action packed Cthulhu/Urban Fantasy.
"What would Kurt Russell do?"

Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He's a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals.

But then, secretive government agency MI12 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO.

Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?
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Low Town by Daniel Polansky | August 16, Doubleday | DEBUT

With Joe Pitt being done and the Nightside coming to a close it is time for a new place to visit and "Low Town" could just be it. This is being published under the title The Straight Razor Cure in the UK. I wonder if "Low Town" means something to the British causing the title change? This has been pitched as "an edgy noir/fantasy crossover pitched as Tarantino meets Tolkien." Let's see if that pans out. The cover certainly works well. Do you feel the gritty?
Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.

In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its champion& is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.

The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his discovery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . setting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn't get investigated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.

Daniel Polansky has crafted a thrilling novel steeped in noir sensibilities and relentless action, and set in an original world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. Low Town is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted . . . and hun­gry for more.
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The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley | August 17, Orbit

I'm a fan of Ruckley's very grim Godless World Trilogy. This one looks to be worlds apart from his earlier work so it will be interesting to see his take on something with a slightly more modern setting.
The year is 1827. For Adam Quire, an officer of the recently formed City Police, Edinburgh is a terrifying place. It is a city populated by mad alchemists and a criminal underclass prepared to treat with the darkest of powers. But nothing can prepare him for the trail of undead hounds, emptied graves, brutal murders and mob violence that will take him into the darkest corners of the underworld and to the highest reaches of elegant Edinburgh society.
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Aloha from the Dead by Richard Kadrey | October 18, Harper Voyager

Sandman Slim Book 3 can't get here soon enough for me. This volume should see some sort of showdown with Stark and the angels that have been plaguing him. No synopsis has been released as of yet.
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Steampunk

Like 2010 it seems a whole lot of Steampunk novels will be released near the end of the year so info on this list is a bit more scant as you go down.

Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio | January 12, Night Shade | DEBUT

This is the Foglio's prose novel debut based on their Nebula award-winning graphic novel Girl Genius. Fans of Gail Carriger should eat up this series. Sexy herione. Check. Airships. Check. Strange mechanicals. Check.
The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been sixteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over - and terrorizing - the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Hetrodynes' return. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach - and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.
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The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder  | March 22, Pyr

The sequel to what I called the best Steampunk novel of 2010 The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. I'm eager to see how far Hodder takes his alternative timeline. Let the fun ensue.
It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be...

Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king’s agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended.

When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection—black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times.

His investigation leads to involvement with the media sensation of the age: the Tichborne Claimant, a man who insists that he’s the long lost heir to the cursed Tichborne estate. Monstrous, bloated, and monosyllabic, he’s not the aristocratic Sir Roger Tichborne known to everyone, yet the working classes come out in force to support him. They are soon rioting through the streets of London, as mysterious steam wraiths incite all-out class warfare.

From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from séances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons, meeting along the way the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

Can the king’s agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?
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Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine  |  April 25, Prime Books  |  DEBUT

Valentine has become one of my favorite new short story writers over the last couple of years. I've been waiting for this one since I first heard the title. It is about a Steampunk style circus in a dystopian future. Need you know more? Oh, very well. A short story placed in this world is available here and as audio here.
It's about a post-apocalyptic steampunk circus, and what happens when a dozen brittle, vicious people are forced to form a makeshift family whether they like it or not. Also, there’s war.

The Mechanical Circus Tresaulti travels the landscape of a ruined country under the spectre of war, but when two of its performers become locked in a battle of wills, the circus’s own past may be the biggest threat of all.
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Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar | April 26, Angry Robot

The sequel to one of the most odd Steampunk novels of 2010, The Bookman. This time around it seems the story will focus on different characters and mostly be placed in Paris.
CAN'T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL.

The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city - and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself.
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The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer  | May 24, Pyr  |  DEBUT

A Steampunk Justice League you say? You know I've got to be there for that. This is Mayer's debut and the first in The Society of Steam series.
In 1880 women aren't allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime. But nineteen year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when Dennis Darby, the leader of the Society of Paragons—New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers—is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with Darby's greatest creation; the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they begin to unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. But it is only when Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder that she will discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and truly become the hero she has always wanted to be.

The Society of Steam takes place in a Victorian New York where Fortified Steam allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, but can also corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The formula behind this amazing substance is something that villains will gladly kill for, and a secret that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.
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Dead of Veridon by Tim Akers  |  May 31, Solaris

This is the sequel to Akers's debut Heart of Veridon, which established the Jacob Burn character as one hard-ass to keep down. Very Noir style set in a very different Steampunk world. This isn't alternative history Steampunk, but more of a second world Fantasy with a lot of Sci-Fi elements.
Trouble finds Jacob Burn: kicked out of his house, out of his comfortable life – out of everything that is familiar – even turned away from his circle of criminal friends and interesting enemies. Two years after he saved an ungrateful city from a mad angel, thwarting the plans of every powerful faction in Veridon, Jacob is still trying to pull his life together. And still trouble finds him. A bad job goes worse, and soon old enemies present themselves as allies, and former friends set themselves against Jacob as he tries to put the dead to rest and the living to justice. Things gets even harder when he’s appointed by the Council to investigate the rise of the cog-dead, while some hold him personally accountable, and others in the city work to use the chaos to their advantage.
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The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan  |  July,  Night Shade

This is the first in Egan's Orthogonal series. The synopsis immediate intrigued me and I've been liking Steampunk related stories that are taking place off Earth.
In Yalda's universe, light has mass, no universal speed, and its creation generates energy; on Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting light into the dark night sky. And time is different: an astronaut might measure decades passing while visiting another star, only to return and find that just weeks have elapsed for her friends. On the farm where she lives, Yalda sees strange meteors that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed - and it soon becomes apparent that more of this ultra-fast material is appearing all the time, putting her world in terrible danger. An entire galaxy is about to collide with their own. There is one hope: a fleet sent straight towards the approaching galaxy, as fast as possible. Though it will feel like weeks back home, on board, millennia will pass before the collision, time enough to raise new generations, and time enough to find a way to stop the ultra-fast material. Either way, they have a chance to save everyone back on the home world.
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Heartless by Gail Carriger | July 7, Orbit
Timeless by Gail Carriger | November 3, Orbit

The 4th and 5th novels in the very wry Parasol Protectorate series. Here is the description for Heartless:
Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?
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The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper | December 1, Ace

This is Harper's first Steampunk novel, but it is the start to a trilogy. In Book One, The Doomsday Vault, Alice Webb and Gavin Michael join an underground police force in Victorian London, where they fight zombies, mad scientists, and air pirates in an attempt to save the British Empire from a terrible plague, only to discover that the cure may be worse than the disease. Books two and three are tentatively titled The Impossible Cube and The Dragon Men. No full description has been release yet.

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Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia  |  Fall 2011?, Prime Books

I'm not sure this belongs in the list as a description hasn't been released so it may not be Steampunk at all. Regardless Sedia is always on my must-read list. If you haven't tried Sedia yet grab The Alchemy of Stone for a good helping of her Clockpunk style.

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Ganymede by Cherie Priest  | Winter 2011, Tor

The third (fourth if you count Clementine) Clockwork Century novel described by Priest as:

My Hunley version 4.0 submarine book about Andan Cly and his crew having a damp misadventure in a Texian-occupied New Orleans, plus Bonus! guerrilla warfare, other assorted historic pirates, and an octoroon madam who moonlights as a Union spy.
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All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen | 2011?, Tor | DEBUT

Lev is very well known in the Steampunk culture world, but this is his first novel. The blurb sounds especially delicious.
A steampunk novel inspired by both Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The novel follows Violet Adams as she disguises herself as her twin brother to gain entry to Victorian London’s most prestigious scientific academy, and once there, encounters blackmail, mystery, gender confusion, talking rabbits and killer automata.
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ART | A Fun Map for Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

This just in from Sam Sykes author of the fun dark Fantasy adventure Tome of the Undergates.

Art by Michael Lee Lunsford

The best part is the shark and little asides.  It certainly shows off the dark humor Sykes uses in Tome of the Undergates.  This map was made to go along with the German edition of Tome.

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Cover Unveiled for Black Halo by Sam Sykes

RE-READING | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - Part 2

My re-read of The Name of the Wind is done. I was planning on splitting these posts into three discussing every 200 pages or so, but I zoomed through the last few hundred pages in a day and a half due to some free time and the fact no one could pry it from my hands. My discussion of the first two hundred pages can be found here.


"He's telling the truth."
"Why do you say that?"
"He sounds more sincere than that when he lies."

The Name of the Wind is an immersive reading experience. It's a very personal story and Kvothe's voice is so strong you feel like you're sitting at the Inn listening alongside Bast and The Chronicler. His voice demands your complete rapt attention and draws you into his world deeper and deeper as the telling unfolds.

Magic is not overused. It is certainly present and important in certain sections, but even Kvothe's time at the College is more about him learning to deal with others and setting up events that build him up to the person he becomes and his eventual change to an inn keeper hiding himself away than just trying to be flashy. Plus he is still learning about magic. He's clearly powerful and a fast learner, but there are many mysteries for him to uncover about the nature of magic and the world at large. Woman are a big mystery to him, which makes it easier to like him even if he is blind to the attention from the fairer sex. He has other flaws that will probably only enlarge as he grows older.

There is something to say for a society where a man can cry in public because of a beautiful song and not be thought of as weak because of it. The scene I mention was one of the most vivid in The Name of the Wind for me despite not being high action yet the tension and desire for Kvothe to succeed is where he comes into his own as more than just a know-it-all. I could almost hear the song he played and feel cheated that it doesn't exist is our own world.

Rothfuss certainly tugs at the heart strings creating a deep emotional resonance with Kvothe building him up just to knock him down. Why has he lost his magic, but what led him to this path? Is it all for show? Rothfuss has captured the essence of any character driven story and dressed it in a highly detailed world I lost myself in. It is a world of magic, mystery and legends coming alive. And Bast is a lot more bad-ass that I recall.

The only people who probably would not enjoy The Name of the Wind are those looking for stories that move at breakneck speeds. You won't find that with the methodical The Name of the Wind, but when you look up at the clock you'll be surprised how fast the time flies and how hard it is to pull yourself away from Kvothe's story. The life of a living legend can be the hardest for the legend themselves to accept.

The Name of the Wind can come off as a frustrating yet fulfilling first date with Rothfuss playing the part of a tease and in may ways this novel just feels like an appetizer of the feast that is to hopefully come. So many little things are mentioned about what Kvothe will do no matter how long this book is or the next it will never be enough. I can't wait to meet the Amyr and the Adem and hopefully learn how he earns the name "Kvothe the Kingkiller". Now I'm ready for The Wise Man's Fear. Anyone else with me?

I'm also planning on doing a re-read of A Game of Thrones before the HBO series starts. I've actually been itching to do a re-read of the whole series, but have been waiting for word on A Dance With Dragons as many other readers are. I'd like to see how the book matches up with the series. I expect somethings to change such as character introductions and the combining of some characters, but beyond that I've no clue what will translate to the small screen.

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LOOKING FORWARD | Science Fiction Novels in 2011

2011 is shaping up to an amazing year for Speculative Fiction at large not just Fantasy although that is looking damn good all by itself.  My Sci-Fi list last year was only 7 books long, which grew a little with the year, but it was so short I combined it with UR and Steampunk picks. This year Sci-Fi warrants a post all its own with loads of debuts and returning stars. The people claiming Sci-fi is dying or already dead should shear the wool off their eyes and see what is brewing.

Science Fiction

God's War by Kameron Hurley   | January 18, Night Shade  | DEBUT

Always on the look out for a new Sci-Fi debut God's War first caught my eye a couple years back when Spectra was going to publish it and than Random House had a shuffle and God's War went in search of a new publisher. And here we are with Night Shade bringing us this Sci-Fi Bugpunk fest. What is bugpunk? We'll have to read to find out.
Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn t make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price? The world is about to find out.
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Up Against It by M. J. Locke  | March 1, Tor  |  DEBUT

The first is a series called Wave that sounds like a delightful disaster in space. Below is the blurb from the author's site, which describes the story more succinctly:
Up Against It is a disaster novel set four hundred years from now, deep in interplanetary space. A hardy group of souls has carved out a life for themselves in the Phocaean asteroid cluster. Among them are Geoff, a teen rocketbiker who can’t seem to keep out of trouble, and Jane, head of resource management, whose decisions can mean life or death for her fellow stroiders.

When an explosion wipes out nearly all their methane ice–the source of their energy, air, and water–the Phocaeans’ lives are changed forever. Worse, it turns out to have been sabotage–and the disaster spawned a rogue artificial sapient that is wreaking havoc in their computer systems.

The citizens of Phocaea have only three weeks to live–unless they can team up to outwit the saboteurs, subdue the artificial sapient, and replace their missing ice stores in time.
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Equations of Life by Simon Morden  | March 29, Orbit  | DEBUT

This is Morden's adult novel debut although his YA effort The Lost Art garnered quite a bit of praise.  Equations of Life is the start to the Samuil Petrovitch series, which will have 3 books out in 3 months with Theories of Flight in April and Degrees of Freedom in May. Orbit gave them some truly trippy covers that will burn the images on to your retina. Whether that is a good or bad thing is debatable.
Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor.

He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic.

For example, getting involved = a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London.

And clearly saving the girl = getting involved.

Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex.

Russian mobsters + Yakuza + something called the New Machine Jihad = one dead Petrovitch.

But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one.
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Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh | April, Night Shade | DEBUT

McIntosh is the writer of "Bridesicle", which won the Hugo in 2010 for best short story of the year as well as being nominated for a Nebula. Soft Apocalyse is based on a short story that was a finalist for the 2005 British Sci-Fi Association Awards. The idea of a slow decline is a take not often seen in apocalyptic fiction.
What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.

"It's so hard to believe," Colin said as we crossed the steaming, empty parking lot toward the bowling alley.

"What?"

"That we're poor. That we're homeless."

"I know."

"I mean, we have college degrees," he said.

"I know," I said.

There was an ancient miniature golf course choked in weeds alongside the bowling alley. The astroturf had completely rotted away in places. The windmill had one spoke. We looked it over for a minute (both of us had once been avid mini golfers), then continued toward the door. "By the way," I added. "We're not homeless, we're nomads. Keep your labels straight."

New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the South East of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.
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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi | May 10, Tor

Fuzzy Nation is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's classic Little Fuzzy using the basic idea of the story, but making it his own. Quite an oddity in publishing today to try something like this, but given how well it works (sometimes) in TV and movies it is amazing we haven't seen it done sooner. After Scalzi's announcement about the book I immediately went out and read Little Fuzzy and can definitely see how it fits Scalzi's tone and approach. Big government doing nasty things and a lot of playful language.
Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.
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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi  | May 10, Tor | US DEBUT

I've already extolled on Hannu's debut just a few weeks back. Sufficed to say I absolutely loved this Sci-Fi caper.  He is a major new voice that could take some getting use to, but it is definitely worth it in the end.
Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed ...The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy.
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Embassytown by China Mieville | May 10, Del Rey

Mieville takes on Sci-Fi head on, but just how will he make it his own? We all know he can't help himself from integrating styles so we shall see what the modern master has up his sleeve this time.
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.
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City of Ruins by Kathryn Kristine Rusch | May 24, Pyr

Rusch's Diving Into the Wreck was one of my favorite Sci-Fi novels of 2009, bringing back the golden age feel that is missing in so many Sci-Fi novels nowadays. I'm happy to have Boss back in my life.
Boss, a loner, loved to dive derelict spacecraft adrift in the blackness of space. But one day, she found a ship that would change everything–an ancient Dignity Vessel–and aboard the ship, the mysterious and dangerous Stealth Tech. Now, years after discovering that first ship, Boss has put together a large company which finds Dignity Vessels and finds “loose” stealth technology.

Following a hunch, Boss and her team come to investigate the city of Vaycehn, where fourteen archaeologists have died exploring the endless caves below the city. Mysterious “death holes” explode into the city itself for no apparent reason, and Boss believes stealth tech is involved. As Boss searches for the answer to the mystery of the death holes, she will uncover the answer to her Dignity Vessel quest as well—and one more thing, something so important that it will change her life—and the universe—forever…
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Timecaster by Joe Kimball  |  May 31, Ace

Under the pseudonym, Joe Kimball, J.A. Konrath is trying his hand at Sci-Fi. Given the humor Konrath brings to his Jack Daniels novels this could be a fun trip. The main character is also supposed to be Jack Daniels' grandson, but having read those books doesn't seem necessary at all.  Merely an extra get for fans of Konrath's to try this series out.  Sounds a bit like a rip-off of Minority Report, but the humor could make the difference. Plus I love time related novels. The second novel in the series is to be titled Timecaster Supersymmetry and will probably be out near the end of 2011 as well.
Chicago, 2064: Talon Avalon is bored.

Talon is a timecaster—one of a select few peace officers who can operate a TEV—the Tachyon Emission Visualizer—which allows the user to record events (most specifically, crimes) that have already happened. Violent crime is at an all-time low and there hasn’t been an unsolved murder in seven years. So Talon has little to do except give lectures to school kids—and obsess about his beloved wife’s profession as a licensed sex partner.

Then one of her clients asks Talon to investigate a possible murder. And when Talon uses the TEV to view the crime, the identity of the killer is unmistakable—it’s him, Talon Avalon. Someone is taking timecasting to a whole new level and using it to frame Talon. And the only way he can prove his innocence is to go off the grid—which even in 2064 is a very dangerous thing to do…
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Heaven's Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt  |  July 5, Ace |  DEBUT 

I'll admit it. It is the Goyer name alone that caught my eye here. Goyer is the screenwriter of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the Blade Trilogy. So yeah he has some decent cred to go by. He's had some stinkers as well. Jumper anyone? I might lose interest in this one if I hear sour things as I did with Tim Kring' Shift last year, but time will tell. Goyer does have a good sense of the dramatic and action.
Heaven's Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race - but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined ...What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has traveled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will end with anything but harm for humanity.
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Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson | July 5, Tor

The final sequel to Spin, which was one of the strongest Sci-Fi novels of the last decade. Axis was a little bit of a let down, but I'm hopeful that Vortex can finish things out strong and answer most of the remaining questions.
Vortex tells the story of Turk Findley, the protagonist introduced in Axis, who is transported ten thousand years into the future by the mysterious entities called “the Hypotheticals.” In this future humanity exists on a chain of planets connected by Hypothetical gateways; but Earth itself is a dying world, effectively quarantined.

Turk and his young friend Isaac Dvali are taken up by a community of fanatics who use them to enable a passage to the dying Earth, where they believe a prophecy of human/Hypothetical contact will be fulfilled. The prophecy is only partly true, however, and Turk must unravel the truth about the nature and purpose of the Hypotheticals before they carry him on a journey through warped time to the end of the universe itself.
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7th Sigma by Steven Gould  | July 5, Tor

From the author of the very enjoyable Jumper (the book not movie) comes a story set in an American Southwest ravaged by bug-like metal-eating, self-replicating robots. Set in the same universe as his short story "Bugs In the Arroyo." The cover immediately drew me in and the short was rather a good intro to this world.
Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they’ll go right through you to get it…. Don’t carry it, don’t wear it, and for god’s sake don’t come here if you’ve got a pacemaker.

The bugs showed up about fifty years ago—self-replicating, solar-powered, metal-eating machines. No one knows where they came from. They don’t like water, though, so they’ve stayed in the desert Southwest. The territory. People still live here, but they do it without metal. Log cabins, ceramics, what plastic they can get that will survive the sun and heat. Technology has adapted, and so have the people.

Kimble Monroe has chosen to live in the territory. He was born here, and he is extraordinarily well adapted to it. He’s one in a million. Maybe one in a billion. In 7th Sigma, Gould builds an extraordinary SF novel of survival and personal triumph against all the odds.
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Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey  | July 15, Orbit

James S. A. Corey is a pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck that looks like it will be Space Opera series with legs. The cover is awesome and the world has been in development for years as an RPG from Franck. This is the first in The Expanse series.
Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.
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Machine Man by Max Barry | August 9, Vintage

Barry is the author of Jennifer Government and Company both of which skewered corporate politics with JG giving it a nice Sci-Fi twist. Machine Man has an interesting pedigree in that Barry serialized it online (pay only) and has already sold the movie rights to Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky was at one time trying to do a reboot of Robocop, which fell through. Now that he is on board he probably has all sorts of sly ideas for Machine Man in his quiver.
One Tuesday afternoon my left leg was severed. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. Well, it was. It was agonizing. There was a lot of screaming and flopping around and trying to tear my shirt into pieces to stem the bleeding. While I was busy with this, my co-workers stared through two-inch polycarbonate security glass and beat on the door. They couldn't get in. It was sealed for their safety. I had to apply my own tourniquet and try not to pass out for eight minutes. While I lay there, waiting for the time-release, I could see the top of what used to be my leg poking out from between two thick slabs of steel, gently dripping blood to the floor. I felt sorry for it. My leg hadn't asked for this. It had been a good leg. A faithful leg. And now look at it.
But in the weeks afterward, as I lay in my hospital bed, I came to see the bright side. I remembered that expression: A setback is just an opportunity in disguise. I decided that was true. Because while I was sad to lose my leg, now I could build a better one.
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The Recollection by Gareth L. Powell | August, Solaris

I guess this would be Powell's novel length debut although he had a rather beautifully produced novella called Silversands come out last year that reminded me a lot of Gateway. I'm eager to see how his writing matures to a longer length.
In modern-day London, failed artist Ed Rico is secretly in love with his brother’s wife, Alice. When his brother disappears on a London Underground escalator, Ed and Alice have to put aside their personal feelings in order to find him. Their quest reveals to them terrifying glimpses of alien worlds and the far future. Meanwhile, 400 years in the future, Katherine Abdulov must travel to a remote planet in order to regain the trust of her influential family. The only person standing in her way is her former lover, Victor Luciano, the ruthless employee of a rival trading firm. And in the unforgiving depths of space, an ancient evil stirs...
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A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge  | August 16, Tor
Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge  | October, Tor

A Fire Upon The Deep is considered a classic is the Sci-Fi area and I've never read it even after a friend told me I had to. Well, I plan to read it sometime this year as Tor is reissuing it in a trade paperback and if things work out I'll probably read the long awaited sequel Children of the Sky coming in the Fall.
Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unguessable, godlike "Powers." When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilizations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.

Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the doglike aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.

Vinge's climax is suitably mind boggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness.

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