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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


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

LOOKING FORWARD | Collection & Anthologies to Watch for in 2010

This is the first post of the Looking Forward feature focusing on releases in the Fantasy and Science Fiction areas in 2010. I'm planning on at least two more post like this to let readers know about some titles I excited by. UPDATE: My Fantasy list and the Sci-Fi, Steampunk, and Urban Fantasy list are now up as well.

I truly think this could be the year of the anthology with so many heavy hitters such as the GRRM edited  Warriors and Lou Anders checking in with Swords & Dark Magic which is about what you expect from that title and the superhero themed With Great Power.  Plus there are many interesting idea specific books such as Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction, Givers & Halpern's Fermi Paradox themed Is Anybody Out There?, and Gateways inspired by the universe Frederik Pohl created with many great names trying their hand at what he started.

There is a little something for everyone no matter what your tastes and even if you aren't into short stories a few of your favorite authors are bound to be in at least one of these anthologies, which for the most part are all-original, but a few reprints are included as well.  I've also included a few author specific best of collections coming out that caught my eye.  Everything is listed in publication order based off the information I've culled from various sources such as Amazon, publisher's sites, and author blogs.  The titles are than followed by a short description along with commentary on a couple since info is scant on some.  Any all-original anthologies are noted as such somewhere in the description.

The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology edited by Christopher Golden
Release Date: February 16th | Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

With original stories from Joe Hill, Mike Carey, John Connolly, Max Brooks, Kelley Armstrong, Tad Williams, David Wellington, David Liss, Aimee Bender, Jonathan Maberry, and many others, this is a wildly diverse collection focused on all things Zombie.   The Brooks story is related to World War Z and Carey's story focuses on Nicky from the Felix Castor novels. 

Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Release Date: March 16th | Publisher: TOR

Firstly, this will contain a new Dunk & Egg story, which is the longest written so far. That alone is worth the cover price, but we are further treated to new original stories taking on different aspects of the Warrior from Joe Haldeman, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, Joe Lansdale, Peter S. Beagle, Naomi Novik, Diana Gabaldon, David Weber, Carrie Vaughn, and S.M. Stirling along with quite a few other heavy hitters.

Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction edited by Jetse de Vries
Release Date: March 23 | Publisher: Solaris

Some of the world's most talented SF writers (including Alastair Reynolds, Kay Keyon, Holly Phillips, and Jason Stoddard) show how things can change for the better. From gritty polyannas to workable futures, from hard-fought progress to a better tomorrow; heart-warming and mind-expanding stories that will (re-) awaken the optimist in you!

I believe this will be a mostly original anthology, but I could ascertain that for sure.  For most of the anthology de Vries is focusing on up-and-coming writers so don't be surprised if many of these names become familiar in the years to come.  Other contributors include: Lavie Tidhar, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Paula R. Stiles, Jacques Barcia, Gareth L. Powell, Aliette de Bodard, Eva Chapman, Gord Sellar, Madeline Ashby, Eric Gregory, and Mari Ness.  The cover art is by Vincent Chong, which was originally commissioned by the Editor.

The Very Best of Charles de Lint by Charles de Lint
Release Date: May | Publisher: Tachyon

All of the finest stories of this popular pioneer of urban fantasy and creator of the mythical city of Newford have been chosen by the author — and his fans — and gathered in this extraordinary collection. Asked to suggest their own favorite stories for inclusion, de Lint's fans have been instrumental in creating a treasury that will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages. These are retold fairy tales and new modern myths that thoroughly redefine the boundaries of magic.

Between these pages are all manner of enchanted characters in unusual places: playful Crow Girls who sneak into the homes of their sleeping neighbors, a graffiti artist who risks his life to expose a deadly conspiracy, and an unrepentant trickster who throws one last party to reveal a lost folkloric tradition.

Running with the Pack edited by Ekaterina Sedia
Release Date: May 29 | Publisher: Prime Books

Fresh on the heels of Sedia's World Fantasy Award-winning Paper Cities comes Running with the Pack.  This will by and large be a reprint anthology.

Remember the werewolves of classic stories and films, those bloodthirsty monsters that transformed under the full moon, reminding us of the terrible nature that lives within all of us? Today's werewolves are much more suave - and even sexy - and they've moved from British moors to New York City lofts, shaved, and got jobs. But as the tales of these writers will show you, they remain no less wild and passionate, and they still tug at the part of our being where a wild animal used to be. Running With the Pack includes stories from Carrie Vaughn, Laura Anne Gilman, and C.E. Murphy, and they will convince you that despite their gentrification, werewolves remain as fascinating and terrifying as ever.

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders
Release Date: June 22nd | Publisher: EOS

The goal of this anthology is to create a definitive look at Sword & Sorcery for some of the longest standing and newest masters of the genre.  With all original stories by Steven Erikson, Scott Lynch, Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie, Gene Wolfe, C.J. Cherryh, K. J. Parker, Garth Nix, Greg Keyes, and Michael Moorcock this is sure to be the most sought after anthology for Fantasy fans.  Plus, the Abercrombie story is placed in the North of the First Law World, which means this is a must for me.  Also, Subterranean Press is doing a signed limited edition.

Is Anybody Out There? edited by Nick Givers & Marty Halpern
Release Date: June 1st | Publisher: DAW

Is Anybody Out There will be an all-original anthology focusing on the Fermi Paradox.  Paul McAuley is doing the introduction, but the contributors haven't been confirmed as of yet. However, judging by who these editors have worked with before it should be a good line-up. UPDATE: James Morrow, Jay Lake, Michael Arsenault, Pat Cadigan, Paul Di Filippo, Sheila Finch, Matthew Hughes, Alex Irvine, Jay Lake, David Langford, Yves Meynard, Mike Resnick, Lezli Robyn, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Felicity Shoulders, Leslie What, Ray Vukcevich, and Ian Watson are all the confirmed contributors.

Why is it that, in such a vast cosmos, with hundreds of billions of stars in this galaxy alone, and no doubt billions of Earth-like planets orbiting them, we have found no evidence of intelligent alien life? So: we’re asking for entertaining stories that explore explanations for this enigma, looking seriously or comically at solutions to Fermi’s question. Is intelligent life a fluke, arising only once or twice in the universe’s long history? Does intelligence arise frequently, but with gulfs of time and distance keeping technological civilizations irretrievably apart? Do such civilizations inevitably implode or self-destruct within a few hundred years? Is our definition of intelligence fatally subjective? Are aliens among us right now, unseen? Are there aliens everywhere, but determined not to let us notice them? These, or other hypotheses, no matter how unlikely, should inform contributions to Is Anybody Out There?

Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
Release date: June 15 | Publisher William Morrow

Not much info has been released about this all-original anthology other than its goal is genre as literature, but Joe Hill is confirmed and I'm sure Gaiman will treat us to something.  Given all the anthologies Gaiman has contributed to over the years he should be able to pull together a large array of authors.

The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson  edited by Johnathan Strahan
Release Date: June  | Publisher: Night Shade Books

A retrospective overview including stories from Robinson's Mars universe and more. This collection will include stories from the entirety of Stanley's career will including The Planet On The Table, The Martians, The Blind Geometer, Black Air as well as stories from The Martians.

Wings of Fire edited by Johnathan Strahan
Release Date: June | Publisher Night Shade Books

This anthology will be a reprint focused, but the line-up has not been set.  In fact Strahan is looking for recommendations here.  The art is a painting from Todd Lockwood.

Wings of Fire collects the best short stories about dragons. From fire breathing lizards to wise serpentine sages; from writhing wyrms to snakelike devourers of heroes; from East to West and everywhere in between, Wings of Fire is sure to please dragon lovers everywhere.

With Great Power... edited by Lou Anders
Release Date: July 20th  | Publisher: Pocket

A thrilling, unique anthology of original super hero fiction, with contributions from luminaries in both the comic book and science fiction fields. All original stories include Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, Mike Carey, Mike Baron, Gail Simone, Stephen Baxter, Chris Roberson, Peter David, Joseph Mallozzi, Mark Chadbourn, Marjorie M. Liu, Ian McDonald, & Bill Willingham should make this a must-have for Comic book and Fantasy fans everywhere.

I'm a big comic book fan and I have a feeling this will definitely be in the vein of Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, at least I hope some of the stories are.

Gateways edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull
Release Date: July | Publisher : TOR

An anthology of new, original stories by bestselling SF authors, inspired by SF great Frederik Pohl and edited by his wife Elizabeth Anne Hull.

It isn’t easy to get a group of bestselling SF authors to write new stories for an anthology, but that’s what Elizabeth Anne Hull has done in this powerhouse book. With original tales by Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Gene Wolfe, and others,
Gateways is a SF event that will be a must-buy for SF readers of all tastes, from the traditional to the cutting edge; from the darkly serious to the laugh-out-loud funny.

These authors all were eager to contribute to this book, because they either have been influenced by or have worked with Frederik Pohl. Each author has written a story that he or she feels reflects the effect Pohl has had on the field—in the style of writing, the narrative tone, or the subject matter. It says a lot about Pohl's career that the authors represented here themselves span many decades and styles, from the experimental SF of British SF author Brian W. Aldiss to the over-the-top humor of Harry Harrison and Mike Resnick, from the darkly powerful drama of Hollywood screenwriter Frank Robinson to the satiric pungency of multiple Hugo Award-winner Vernor Vinge. Every story here is uniquely nuanced; all of them as entertaining and thought provoking as Pohl's fiction.

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt
Release date: August 2010 | Publisher Night Shade Books

All though not final the contributors slated to this all reprint anthology include Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Kelly Link, Scott Westerfeld, Holly Black, Charles Stross, Natalie Babbit, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, Charles de Lint, Sarah Zettel, and the perennial "and many more" according to my correspondence with Pratt.  I have a feeling this will be up there with the anthology work John Joseph Adams has done with Night Shade.

Sympathy for the Devil collects the best short stories about His Grand Infernal Majesty, in all his forms. Could it be ... SATAN? Serpent, Tempter, Wanderer, Adversary, Dragon, Demon, Rebel. Sympathy for the Devil has them all.  

Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
Release date: September  |  Publisher: Tachyon

This collection is shaping up to being even better than the VandeerMeer's first steampunk outing simply titled Steampunk as it is primarily focusing on the last decade. The contents are still in the works be so far stories by Cherie Priest, Catherynne M. Valente, Daniel Abraham, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Margo Lanagan, Gail Carriger, and Jake von Slatt have all been confirmed.  I actually sent Jeff an e-mail list with a few suggestions so I am hoping some make it in.

Long leads:

Untitled Dresden Files Short Story Collection by Jim Butcher
Release date: Fall 2010 | Publisher: Roc

Collects the majority of the already published short stories related to the Dresden Files universe as well as at least two original pieces.  I'm curious whether the Thomas centric Backup will be included in the collection as Subterranean Press usually asks for a certain period of exclusivity, but next fall will mark the 2 year mark since its original release.

Phantasmagoria and Madness: Tales from the Steampunk Century edited by Jonathan Strahan & Bill Shafer
Release date: 2010 | Publisher: Subterranean Press

Famous for teasing us Sub Press hasn't released the all-original contents, but this is high on my list as Sub Press can pull in some good writers given all they've done in the Steampunk area.  I have to imagine Sub Press favorite Jay Lake will be included, but we'll have to wait and see.

Star-Crossed Lovers Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Release date: 2010 | Publisher: Pocket

Described as cross-genre anthology featuring stories of romance in fantasy and Science-Fiction settings. Stories by Jim Butcher, Jo Beverly, Carrie Vaughn, M.L.N. Hanover, Cecelia Holland, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, Marjorie M. Liu, Jacqueline Carey, Lisa Tuttle, Linnea Sinclair, Mary Jo Putney, Tanith Lee, Peter S. Beagle, Yasmine Galenorn, Diana and Gabaldon.

The Butcher story is a Dresden, Carey’s from Kushiel, and Gabaldon’s from Outlander. All in all a great mix, but I’m a little surprised Martin didn’t do a story at all.

REVIEW | The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (Tor)

Detective novel meets Swords & Sorcery is a lethal combination in the hands of Bledsoe.  No one has succeeded with such an enjoyable melding of the two before. The Sword-Edged Blonde stars Eddie LaCrosse who is a very tragic guy, but it takes time to find out why.  Bledsoe teases well with LaCrosse's backstory, which had me up late and early to get a further into his head.  LaCrosse was a mercenary for many years after leaving his homeland and never returning.  Well, never returning until an old friend who is now King calls him home to solve the murder of his son, which right now points at his wife the Queen Rhiannon. The noir style comes out in full force as Eddie questions people and traipses about the countryside looking for evidence that will exonerate the Queen or confirm her heinous acts.

The action sequences are well planned, realistic, and exhilarating. The Sword-Edge Blonde is as fast paced a book you'll likely find.  The magic is on the low side, which works well to make the rest of the action believable, but it does seem to come in handy when it is needed. Bledsoe creates some interesting relationships and makes you think gods are not all they are cracked up to be.  Also, the names of the characters threw me a little.  This is clearly supposed to be a secondary world Fantasy so having names such as Eddie, Ryan, and Cathy seemed a little mundane and out of place.

All minor quibbles aside, I was captured by The Sword-Edged Blonde and it is definitely an action packed read to keep close at hand.  The culmination of the case had me on edge, although the last bit felt a little too nice after everything else that transpired.  But Bledsoe has more to say with Eddie so I'm sure we'll see him thrown in the mud quiet a few more times so a little happiness is probably in store for him.

The Sword-Edged Blonde is highly recommended for Swords & Sorcery fans looking for a gritty take and for those Dresden Files and Joe Abercrombie fans looking for something between books.  I give The Sword-Edged Blonde 8.5 out of 10 Hats.  The second Eddie LaCrosse novel Burn Me Deadly has just released and will be read in short order.  This will be an episodic series I'll be following for years to come with at least 4 total books signed. The Sword-Edged Blonde was originally published by Night Shade, but Tor smartly picked up mass market rights and the next 3 books in this series.  Also, go check out Jeff's interview with Bledsoe on Fantasy Book News as his review is what made me pick-up check out Eddie LaCrosse originally.

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Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
Ghost Ocean by S.M. Peters
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

Cover Unveiled for Joe Hill's Horns (US)

This cover is very bland when compared to the UK and PS Publishing's Limited edition covers for Horns.  It is another case of the publisher not wanting to go out a limb with something that will standout.  Instead we get a cove that is pretty generic and doesn't evoke the creepiness Hill is capable of.  Hill's US publisher hasn't released their synopsis yet so here is the UK version to tide you over:
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due.

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Cover Unveiled for Joe Hill's Horns UK & Limited Edition

RECOMMENDATIONS | Best Books of 2009 (That I've read)

Year end wrap ups are the most difficult, but with Christmas around the corner and people getting their wishlists all set I thought it was time to put up my favorite releases of the year.  All titles link to my reviews and if I didn't review it I included a short line.  I'm sure I've left out a couple books, but these are the new releases that are sticking out in my mind as things have flip-flopped a bit upon reflection.  Either way I'm sure there is plenty below to debate about.

Best Graphic Novel

Winner - Thor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction (Marvel) - Hands down the best treatment of Thor and it has amazing art.
Runner-up - 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
Honorable Mention - The Big Book of Barry Ween, Boy Genius by Judd Winick (Oni Press)- Think of an edgier Dexter's Laboratory with swearing and time travel.  This is an omnibus of the whole series.

Best Fantasy Series Debut

WinnerLamentation/Canticle by Ken Scholes (TOR) -  The first two books in the Psalms of Isaak series both appeared in 2009, which is a feat in and of itself, but the fact they are getting better is astounding.  This series could be up there with A Wheel of Time someday.  The characterization is impeccable and back-story supremely deep.
Runner-up - The Patriot Witch (Traitor to the Crown) by C.C. Finlay (Del Rey)-  Books two and three have been released as well.
Honorable Mentions - Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo (Night Shade) and Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit)

Best Fantasy

WinnerBest Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit)
Runner-up - The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Viking)
Honorable Mentions - Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley (Orbit) / The Prodigal Mage by Karen Miller (Orbit)

Best Urban Fantasy

Winner Tie - Dead Men's Boots (Felix Castor 3) by Mike Carey (Grand Central) and Turn Coat (Dresden Files 11) by Jim Butcher (Roc)
Runner-up - Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (EOS)
Honorable Mention - The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (TOR)

Funniest Book

Winner - Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Delecorte)
Runner-up Tie - Fool by Christopher Moore- Moore left his comfort zone and it has paid off in this bawdy riff of King Lear.  The Alchemaster's Apprentice by Walter Moers (Overlook)
Honorable Mentions - Monster by A. Lee Martinez (Orbit) and Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit)

Best Science Fiction Release

Winner - The Quiet War by Paul McAuley (Pyr)
Runner-up - Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Pyr)
Honorable Mention - The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)

Now I'll admit I didn't read as much Science Fiction this year as I would have liked but these titles would standout in any year. There were quite a few older Sci-Fi titles I read that didn't qualify.

Anthology of the Year

WinnerPaper Cities Edited by Ekaterina Sedia (Sense Five Press)
Runner-up - Mean Streets with novellas by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, and Thomas E. Sniegoski (Roc)- Each take a crack at shorter stories placed in their popular Urban Fantasy Detective worlds with great results.  The Butcher story is a must for fans of the series and Sniegoski's tale will make you want to check out his Remy Chandler series.

Truthfully, I wish I'd read more short story collections this year.  I still have John Joseph Adam's two most recent reprint collections By Blood We Live and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes sitting on my shelves, which I'm sure will be good.  Look for an article on anthologies coming out next year shortly.

Most Original Debut

Winner - The Sad Tale of the Brother Grossbart by Jesse Bullington (Orbit)
Runner-up - The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade) - Bacigalupi is writing some very important work that is destined to effect the Science Fiction genre for years to come

Publisher of the Year

I'll have to give this to Pyr and Lou Anders for rekindling my love of Science Fiction along with some quality Fantasy and continually publishing series over consecutive months which all Fantasy fans adore.  Plus they have some of the best covers in this or any genre. Runner-up would be Roc for all the great Urban Fantasy they are continually doing.  Honorable mentions to Orbit and Night Shade for pushing the envelope of what the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres can be.

Best Book of the Year

Winner - The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Doubleday)
Runner-up - The City & The City by China Mieville (Del Rey)
Honorable Mention - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (TOR)

The Angel's Game and The City & The City are nearly unclassifiable other that to say they are amazing works of literature.  Boneshaker is another I felt was hard to put in other categories, but its very memorable and is the best treatment of Steampunk I've seen to date.

Book Most Destined to Be Re-Read:

Winner - Couch by Benjamin Parzybok (Small Beer)- This came out last year so it was out of the running for most of the other categories.
Runner-up The Angel's Game by Carols Ruiz Zafon (Doubleday)

Even with all I've read this year I still have loads of books sitting around I'm sure I'll think highly of including Morgan's The Steel Remains, Redick's The Red Wolf Conspiracy, and Westerfeld's Leviathan.  Plus Jasper Fforde's new series debut Shades of Grey comes out two days before New Years, which just has to be good.

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Best Books of 2010 (That I've Read)
Best Genre Books of the Year - 2010 Long List Edition
LOOKING FORWARD | Fantasy & Cross Genre Books to Watch for in 2011

Cover Unveiled for The Ragged Man by Tom Lloyd (US)

Tom Lloyd's fourth Twilight Reign novel again features strong art from Todd Lockwood, which is probably my favorite of the series thus far.  The shading and coloration work well and it makes me itch to see what is behind the door.  The Ragged Man is due from Pyr in August 2010, which catches the series up to the UK release schedule.  I'm not going to post the synopsis for fear of a big spoiler it contains for those who aren't caught up on the series.  I am myself behind with the 2nd and 3rd volumes starring at me from my shelves.

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Fall of Thanes (Godless World 3) by Brian Ruckley
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Cover Unveiled for Paul McAuley's Gardens of the Sun

RECOMMENDATIONS | Books Read Recently But Not Reviewed

My reading habits are still a bit ravenous, but lately I've cut back on reviews a tad to focus on certain books that I have a bit more to say about.  It doesn't mean the below are not quality reads and in fact that is quite to the contrary as many were very enjoyable and authors I'll keep reading.  Plus reviews are coming for a few of these books, so it can also be thought of as coming attractions.  I have a few interveiws in the pipeline as well.

Ariel: A Novel of the Change by Steven R. Boyett - Recommend for Urban Fantasy and Apocalyptic lit fans. A cult classic returns for a second serving. The setting is earth, but after all technology stops working and magic develops along with magical creatures appearing out of nowhere. At first I wasn't too sure about Ariel as the title character is a talking unicorn, but the realism is high and Boyett's twisting of Fantasy works well. I'll be reading the follow-up Elegy Beach shortly to see what Boyett has done to this world 30 years into the change with a review to follow.

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington - Highly Recommend.  One of the most original books I've read all year.  Bullington gives folktales a spin that is classic yet feels strangely modern.  Review to come.

Lamentation: The First Book of The Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes - Highly recommend.  Lamentation is a very pleasing start to a series that deserves a wide readership.  Scholes is going far places with these books and I'll be there for every step of the way. He manages to mix genres, cultures, and create memorable characters in a rich world.

Canticle: The Second Book of The Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes - Highly recommended.  The Second Book of The Psalms of Isaak is even better than the first and gives the characters depth along with breaking the world open.  Layers and layers of intrigue are developed.  I did happen to interview Scholes recently because I thought so highly of his work.  I'll be following this series very closely.

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe - Highly recommended.  Action packed and fun.  This cross of Detective and Swords & Sorcery is a lethal combination to your sleep.  Review to come. A few people caught a sneak peek of my not even half formed thoughts a few days back when I hit the post instead of save button. I promise the final review will make much more sense.

Beyond the Shadows: Book Three of the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks - Recommended.  I'm sorry I took so long to finishing the last of the Night Angel series.  It is a worthy conclusion to the story arc. Weeks has earned his place in the new gritty Fantasy regime with the likes of Abercrombie and Lynch.

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi - Recommended.  This is so much better than I was expecting given the unusual premise.  It succeeds in all its goals with humor all along the way.  Scalzi again proves he is one of the most entertaining voices in Science Fiction.

How to Make Friends With Demons by Graham Joyce - Recommended.  This is what we'd get if Nick Hornby tried his hand at Paranormal Fiction.  Review to come.

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Revert - Recommended for Mystery fans.  In some circles this is compared to The Shadow of the Wind, which I can kind of see yet it is not as memorable or as heartrending. However, this is one of those big twist reads that definitely surprised me.  Also, the Johnny Deep movie The Ninth Gate was based off The Club Dumas, but this is a case of the book being light years better than the movie and also the movie changed the last third of the story.

Not a Star by Nick Hornby - Recommend for Hornby fans. This novelette is only about 70 pages in big type, but it was an enjoyable read. The opening lines just make you fall into this story:
 "I found that my son was the star of a porn film when Karen dropped an envelope through our letter box. Inside the envelope was a video and little note."
Hornby's cinematic short take works, but you'll want more.  This would definitely be a good taste for someone who hasn’t read him before.

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VIDEO | Mieville, Ringo, and Link Sci-Fi Discussion from Book Expo

Some Love for the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

A few months back I finished the 4th Thursday Next novel Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde, which finished off the first story arc. Instead of doing a review for book 4 in a series I haven't reviewed on this site before and one that has been out for a few years I thought I'd show some love for the series on a whole and in turn hopefully entice people to try it out.

I admittedly got on the Jasper Fforde bandwagon very late since his first book The Eyre Affair came out a little more than 7 years ago. I was introduced to the series by a good friend about 2.5 years ago who told me I would devour them and that they only get better. How right he was. However, the first book in the series The Eyre Affair ended up sitting on my shelf for 6 months until I finally cracked. I'm not much of a Jane Eyre fan so I was a bit thrown off by the title and the fact that the books are pushed to the literary crowd rather than the fantasy. The series now stands as one of my favorites and the font of ideas that Fforde manages to fill a chapter with is often more imaginative than most authors devout in half of their books.

Fforde has accomplish an amazing feat by seamlessly combining a work full of literary references, good and bad puns, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, and Fantasy elements and yet they all meld into something very comprehensible and an absolute joy to read. The series arc is also clearly well planned as seemingly insignificant things are mention in early books only to be pivotal later on. I can also attest that the series only gets better as Fforde lets loose his imagination.  Fforde is kind of like a classy version of Christopher Moore.  So if you like your books with a touch of humor look no further than Thursday Next, which oozes funny goodness with heart and lots of action.  Read on to learn more about this series.

The Eyre Affair - In which we Meet Thursday, her world, and her enemies

Thursday Next is a female Literary Detective or LitTech in Britain on an alternative earth with a slightly different history than our own. Britain is still fighting the Crimean War with Russia. Thursday's father Colonel Next has been eradicated by the Chronoguard (Time Police) yet she and her brother still live even though no one else can remember him except her mother, which never makes sense fully but if you go mucking about with time you get what you deserve. A similar action befalls someone else Thursday loves in later books, which leads to a long storyline. In Thursday's world literature is considered of the highest order and protected vehemently.

Neanderthals have been brought back by science as well as dodos that are no longer extinct and are common pets, which includes Thursday's lovable Pickwick. Thursday's Uncle Mycroft is a genius inventor. His invention is the Prose Portal which allows people to enter books. There is an evil Corporation fronted by a character aptly named Jack Schitt as well as a super villain of sorts which Thursday must capture or he will use the Prose Portal to change the ending of a literary classic, which cannot be allowed. Thursday also lends a hand to a Werewolf hunter for extra cash, who seems to pop-up in every book.  All in all this is a splendid introduction to Thursday and even through all the oddness connects you to Thursday as a strong and smart character.  The world building is immense for such a short book and you get many inklings of things to come.

Lost in a Good Book - In which Thursday loses someone important and travels to Bookworld

The Goliath Corp is upset with Thursday. She finds out that their is a police force of sorts that look after books called Jurisfiction who live in Bookworld made up of characters from books and a few humans. Thursday is under investigation for possibly changing something while in a book. This opens the Thursday Next series wide as characters from books come to life and it also goes into the psychology of book characters as they are forced to replay the same roles over and over and what they are doing when no one is reading them. We also learn about creatures that ruin books like locusts call grammarsites and a few other related creatures. The best part though is visiting the Great Library where all books ever written are housed. This is truly a book lovers dream come true. Catching the literary references will be half the fun as many of things brought up are not strictly literary as Fforde brings in other genres such as creating his own Darth Vader-like character.

The Well of Lost Plots - In which Thursday helps Jurisfiction and battles another super villain type

This is the book that made the Thursday next series one of my favorite as Fforde keeps surprising me with his wit and charm. The Well of Lost Plots explores Bookworld indepthly and many literary works as you visit their pages. Thursday is living in The Well of Lost Plot which is a subsection of the Great Library for works-in-progress or works that will probably never be published. A book character has escaped into the real world, which really mustn't happen. Thursday has to go toe-to-toe with many fictional and mythical characters and creatures. There is a lot of intrigue in this volume as there may be a rogue member of Jurisfiction. Fforde also introduces the footnoterphone, which could have been annoying in other hands.

Something Rotten - In which all things are answered, well most things

All I can say is it was quite a ride and Neanderthals rules.  Now go out and read The Eyre Affair to start you on becoming a lifelong fan. Fforde is every bit as wonderful as Douglas Adams was in his glory and as great a storyteller as, dare I say it, Neil Gaiman.

Whoops! I almost forgot to mention the importance of toast.  Well, it is important and don't forget it lest the Toast Marketing Board come after you for defamation.

Summation - In which I discuss other stuff by Fforde

Fforde has a second series starring Thursday and a relative of hers, which is already begun with the aptly named Thursday Next: First Among Sequels.  And than there is the spin-off series of sorts called Nursery Crimes starting with The Big Over Easy followed by The Fourth Bear with at least one more title planned. The Nursery Crimes series takes place in one of Thursday regular haunts, but from what I know you needn't have read the Thursday books at all to enjoy them.  Also, the first Nursery Crime book was originally written prior to the first Thursday book but later adapted to fit in.  Oh, and Fforde has an entirely new series starting this year with Shades of Grey, which stands apart from the Thursday Next universe.  Lastly, check out Jasper Fforde's site which has loads of info.

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Door Stopper Poll Results

Well the results are in from my most recent poll and it looks like I'll be reading Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule series before the year is out, which won with 30% of the votes narrowly beating out Stross's omnibus edition of the first two Bob Laundry books.  I was a bit surprised this series won given so many of my compatriots have reviewed it over the past few months, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.  I may break the read up with something a little different between each volume though, but I'll probably start on the first volume World's End by next week.  I also have some air travel around Thanksgiving that will help me get through the series quickly.
Age of Misrule Series by Mark Chadbourn 16 (30%)

On Her Majesty's Occult Service by Charles Stross 14 (26%)

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco 12 (23%)

Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh 9 (17%)

Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff 7 (13%)

This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman 7 (13%)

Total Votes: 52

Cover Unveiled for Karen Miller's The Reluctant Mage

The Reluctant Mage is the fourth book sent in the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker world after the recent The Prodigal Mage, which was a fantastic read overall.  The cover on this one is a bit ho-hum though.  The coloration isn't doing much, but in this case you could wrap it is old newspaper and I'd still check it out.  Here is the official blurb:
Nine months have passed since Rafel disappeared in the expedition over the mountains. Deenie, now eighteen, starts having disturbing dreams about her brother. She comes to believe he's not dead after all, but is in trouble and needs her help. 

She enlists the aid of her friend Charis, and the girls hatch a plan to escape from Lur. They succeed and survive the hazardous journey round the coastline past the mountains. But to their dismay, they discover that the lands beyond Lur are blighted with lawlessness and chaos. The remnants of Morg's consciousness that survived his death splintered at his downfall and sought refuge in whatever bodies could be found to host them.

Throughout their travels and adventures they get some answers about the other lost expeditions, and keep hearing about one fearsome mage whose stronghold is in the blighted near-mythical land of Dorana. Deenie knows this is her brother - and that Rafel is not only in danger, but has become dangerous. If he's not stopped he could become a threat to the whole world. Perhaps even another Morg.

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NEWS | New I, Robot Universe Trilogy

This is a little late, but the news have been chafing me a bit.  In a surprising move Isaac Asimov's estate has authorized a trilogy of new I, Robot Universe books.  This is shocking because Asimov had plenty of time to add to that Universe if he so desired considering the last book in the series was written about a decade before he passed away and he was prolific till the end.  Suffice it to say if he wanted more he would have done so and to add to that world is just as bad as what Brian Herbert has done to Dune and makes Eoin Colfer's take on Hitchhiker's Guide easily palatable.  I haven't mentioned much about Sanderson taking over The Wheel of Time, because I have no problem with it.  Brandon is mostly following notes that were left behind and he is trying to stay as true as he can to the series, which I laude. 

Now Mickey Zucker Reichert has been tapped to pen the new I, Robot trilogy and if that name sounds unfamiliar that is because she is relatively unknown, especially in Sci-Fi.  Her best known work is the Norse themed Fantasy series Renshai.  The first in the new trilogy will be titled Robots and Chaos centering around Dr. Calvin, which will most likely be released sometime in 2011 with other volumes probably released a year apart.  It is no surprise they picked this title as Greg Bear's Foundation book was titled Foundation and Chaos, but again some originality would have been nice. Yes, there have been Foundation books authorized by other authors since Asimov's death, but at least those were written by the likes of Gregory Benford and David Brin, names you could trust to do his work justice to some degree, but even they failed somewhat.  However, to pull out a relatively unknown author sours me to no end.  Also, from what little has been released these will be fill-in the gap books instead of taking the narrative further.  According to one source:
The first novel, she said, would introduce Calvin as she begins her psychiatry residency at a big New York teaching hospital, "so we'll see the character's interest in 'robot psychiatry' develop from its beginnings", as well as a "witty and innovative" take on Asimov's Laws of Robotics.
Could I be wrong in that Reichert will do a bad job?  Possibly, but why can't people have respect for an author's memory?  I could see if a book was published in homage to what Asimov created as was done by the recent Songs of the Dying Earth for the world Jack Vance created, but that was done with his full blessing and as far as I know didn't impinge on what Vance has done.  By the way there was a Foundation themed anthology along the same lines as the Vance book titled Foundation's Friends about a decade back.  However, we might be in store for something worse than the abomination of a movie they slapped the name I, Robot onto a few years back.

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Cover Unveiled for Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold (Mass Market)

There was quite some heated debate over Orbit US diverting from the look of the First Law Trilogy so much for Best Served Cold.  Now Orbit has gone back to the well for a entirely new look for the mass market edition.   It is very simple but effective.  The British sensibility is definitely in effect.  I'm not sure if  This will be the US and UK mass market look though.  However, the design does greatly remind me of Warren Ellis's very strange Crooked Little Vein in many ways.

REVIEW | Couch by Benjamin Parzybok (Small Beer)

Magical, memorable, whimsical.  These are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind, but hardly do Couch justice.

Couch is quite a mundane title for such an outlandish book.  Three guys move a couch, save the world.  That is the tag line and it is quite apt. It drew me in immediately and from the moment I started I knew this would be a truly special read.  Couch is quite unlike any book I've read before.  Its aim is to tell a modern day quest  through very unconventional and seemingly meandering means yet it never falls off track.

Couch is the kind of book where the less you know about the story before you start the better it will be.  It is very intimate with its telling.   A low-level con man, a hacker, and a prophetic dreamer share an apartment and a comfortable couch and it goes from there.  I identified with hacker more than I have with any character in a very long time.  The dialogue is perfect for who the characters are as lazy, but intelligent twenty-something's with little to no prospects in life.  But each has their role to play in the quest and fulfills it to the utmost.  Giving all that they have to something they don't understand all the while trusting destiny and serendipity.

Couch is a truly magical read in more ways than I can say.  It was just the right book at the right time for me and hit every mark nearly perfectly.  Couch did have its dark and sardonic moments, but they were handled deftly through humor or well-done characterization which shows the growth of the main players.  Is it Fantasy?  Well, yes, but not really at the same time.  Couch is about the magic that could and should exist in the real world.  About what could be.

I did have a little issue with the ending, but hey this is a quest book.  It is about the journey to get there more than anything.  Also, there is a mysterious group that kind of got dropped halfway through and was never given what I feel is a sufficient explanation.  But even these quibbles aren't enough to downgrade.  I give Couch 10 out of 10 Hats.  This is the first time I've given anything that high a rating.  Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy.  You won't regret it.  I would buy anything Parzybok writes in the future.

Book Link: US | Canada | Europe 

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Cover Unveiled for Paul McAuley's Gardens of the Sun

Behold the cover of Gardens of the Sun the sequel to The Quiet War (reviewed here), which I just snagged from the Pyr's website.  The art is again done by Sparth, which makes me feel the Space Opera.  Gardens is scheduled for a March release and as of right now is my most anticipated Sci-Fi read of 2010.  My interview with Paul helps illuminate a few of the concepts for those interested.  Here is the description for Gardens of the Sun:
The Quiet War is over. The city-states of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, founded by descendants of refugees from Earth's repressive regimes, the Outers, have fallen to the Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union, and the Pacific Community. A century of enlightenment, rational utopianism, and exploration of new ways of being human has fallen dark. Outers are herded into prison camps and forced to collaborate in the systematic plundering of their great archives of scientific and technical knowledge, while Earth's forces loot their cities and settlements and ships, and plan a final solution to the "Outer problem."

But Earth's victory is fragile, and riven by vicious internal politics. While seeking out and trying to anatomize the strange gardens abandoned in place by the Outers' greatest genius, Avernus, the gene wizard Sri Hong-Owen is embroiled in the plots and counterplots of the family that employs her. The diplomat Loc Ifrahim soon discovers that profiting from victory isn't as easy as he thought. And on Earth, in Greater Brazil, the democratic traditions preserved and elaborated by the Outers have infected a population eager to escape the tyranny of the great families who rule them.

Meanwhile, in the outer reaches of the Solar System, a rag-taggle group of refugees struggle to preserve the last of the old ideals. And on Triton, fanatical members of a cabal prepare for a final battle that threatens to shatter the future of the human species.

After a conflict fought to contain the expansionist, posthuman ambitions of the Outers, the future is as uncertain as ever. Only one thing is clear. No one can escape the consequences of war—especially the victors.

Cover Unveiled for Brent Weeks's The Black Prism

Brent Weeks has become a huge name in Fantasy over the last year with the success of the Night Angel Trilogy.  The Black Prism is set in a different world from Night Angel, where instead magic is based on colors.  The cover art stands up to what was done with The Way of Shadows, but doesn't do much else. The energy coloration on the hand does look good though  The Black Prism will also be Weeks's hardcover debut releasing August 25th in the US.  Here is the blurb from Amazon.:
Set in a world where color is the basis of all magic, Gavin Guile is the current Prism - and one that happens to have many secrets. Secrets like his brother Javen, who he defeated in the great war years earlier and now keeps in a dungeon below his home. Or secrets like his son Kip, a young man raised in another land who has yet to realize the full extent of his powers.
As Kip begins to learn the truth behind Gavin and Javen's great schism, he will also learn that time is running out for the world as they know it. For the Prism is not what he seems to be, and there are greater powers afoot than could ever have been imagined.
I say bring it on.  The Night Angel series more than lived up to expectations and shows Weeks can write great characters in highly realized settings.

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New Procurements

Behold my new pile of stuff, which is a mixture of purchases and recently received review copies. This will also serve as a sort of preview of what I expect to review at least partially over the coming months.

At the bottom of the stack we have the graphic novel The Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction that I bought during's recent Steampunk sale.  Fraction wrote Thor: Ages of Thunder, which is just about the best treatment of Norse mythology Marvel has done, so I had to give his take on Steampunk a try.  Plus its got Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla as main characters.  This will be read very shortly.
True story: in 1899, Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla decided to end war forever. With Twain's connections and Tesla's inventions, they went into business selling world peace. So, what happened? Only now can the tale be told - in which Twain and Tesla collided with Edison and Morgan, an evil science cabal merging the Black Arts and the Industrial Age. Turn of the century New York City sets the stage for a titanic battle over the very fate of mankind.
Next we have Elegy Beach by Steven R. Boyett, which is the sequel to cult classic Ariel.   I just read Ariel so expect a review of sorts shortly. Though I may wait until I read Elegy and do a combined review. I received both as review copies.
Thirty years ago the lights went out, the airplanes fell, the cars went still, the cities all went dark. The laws humanity had always known were replaced by new laws that could only be called magic. The world has changed forever. Or has it? 

In a small community on the California coast are Fred Garey and his friend Yan, both born after the Change. Yan dreams of doing something so big his name will live on forever. He thinks he's found it-a way to reverse the Change. But Fred fears the repercussions of such drastic, irreversible steps.
Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson is also a review copy. I'll probably dig into this one in the next month since it is set for an end of December publication. Here is a snippet from the description:
From Galileo's heresy trial to the politics of far-future Jupiter, from the canals of Venice to frozen, mysterious Europa, Robinson illuminates the parallels between a distant past and an even more remote future—in the process celebrating the human spirit and calling into question the convenient truths of our own moment in time.
Spellwright by Blake Charlton is ramping up to be one of the most anticipated Fantasy debuts of 2010. I'm trying to hold-off reading until next year, but my curiosity may get the best of me.  It doesn't release until February, but Tor was kind enough to send a review copy.
Nicodemus Weal is a protagonist that all of us can identify with. SPELLWRIGHT features a unique system of magic and characters that are genuine inhabitants of that world. SPELLWRIGHT is a letter-perfect story: an absorbing read and recommended."  —Robin Hobb
The Good, The Bad, and The Uncanny by Simon R. Green is the 10th book in Nightside series.  I plan on catching up on the series shortly along with the mass market release of Just Another Judgement Day.  This was received gratis as well.
Things were going so well for P.I. John Taylor, that it was only a matter of time before everything hit the fan. Walker, the powerful, ever-present, never to-be-trusted agent who runs the Nightside on behalf of The Authorities, is dying. And he wants John to be his successor-a job that comes with more baggage, and more enemies, than anyone can possibly imagine. 
The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame. Maguire has entered into a charity venture with Concord Free Press.  Concord gives all of the books they publish away for free on a first-come, first-served basis, but they expect a donation to be made to a charity of your choice and the book to be passed on after reading.  I was lucky enough to be among the 2,500 people to receive a copy.
In a flyspeck upstate NY town at the end of the second millennium, something dangerous is coming—either Y2K, salvation, or murder. Following an accident in a church basement, a fundamentalist family is knocked off its fundaments while the choir director in the Catholic church next door schemes to escape both his sorry past and his sorrier future.
Next is To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, which I picked up used after the recommendation from my friend Jason.  Sounds like a fun Fantasy/Sci-Fi mix and I've been meaning to read a Willis book for awhile.
In her first full-length novel since her critically acclaimed Doomsday Book Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, once again visits the unpredictable world of time travel. But this time the result is a joyous journey into a past and future of comic mishaps and historical cross-purposes, in which the power of human love can still make all the difference.
The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe has been on my radar since Jeff over at Fantasy News gave it a great review.  A mix of Detective/Swords & Sorcery certainly sounds like it would be a fun read and the sequel Burn Me Deadly is due out shortly.  I'll probably read and review this in the coming weeks.
It should have been a case like any other: a missing princess, a king willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realizes it, sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime, and the tragic past he thought he’d left behind.