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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

FREE FICTION | A Shweta Narayan steampunk tale + ToC to Steampunk Reloaded

Shimmer has made an excerpt of Shweta Narayan's The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar available free as an MP3.  This is notable for two reasons.  Firstly, this story has been selected to be part of the anthology Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer.  Secondly, I felt this was the best story in the The Clockwork Jungle Book (reviewed here) so I'd like more people to have a chance at.  Shimmer also has Vincent Pendergast reading his Otto's Elephant, which was also quite good. Both are very fine short stories even if you're not into Steampunk.

Jeff VanderMeer has also made public the contents of Steampunk Reloaded and the tentative cover, which will be released this November.  The VanderMeer's have outdone themselves with this one as it contains original stories, great reprints, and art. It looks even more enticing than their first take on the subject.

Original stories:

Ekaterina Sedia, “Two Short Excerpts from the Russian Book of the Improbable”
Jeffrey Ford, “Dr. Lash Remembers”
Matthew Cheney, “Confessions and Complaints of a True Man”
Ramsey Shehadeh, “The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe”
Vilhelm Bergsoe, “Flying Fish (Prometheus)”, translated by Dwight R. Decker

As well as contributions by Fabio Fernandes, Brian Stableford, Jess Nevins, and the Steampunk heretic known only as “The Mecha-Ostrich.”

Original Non-fiction:

Gail Carriger, author of Soulless (fashion and fiction)
Jake Von Slatt of the Steampunk Workshop (maker movement)
Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar (the future)

Daniel Abraham, “Balfour and Meriwether in the Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance”
Stephen Baxter, “The Unblinking Eye”
Winona Cookie, “The Unlikely Career of Portia Dreadnought,” “Artemesia’s Absinthe,” and “Obadiah Theremin, MD”
G.D. Falksen, “The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday”
William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum”
Samantha Henderson, “Wild Copper”
Caitlín R. Kiernan “The Steam Dancer (1896)”
Andrew Knighton, “The Cast-Iron Kid”
Marc Laidlaw, “Great Breakthroughs in Darkness”
Margo Lanagan, “Machine Maid”
Lisa Mantchev & James Grant, “As Recorded on Brass Cylinders: Adagio for Two Dancers”
Shweta Narayan, “The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar”
David Erik Nelson, “The Bold Explorer in the Place Beyond”
Cherie Priest “Tanglefoot”
Chris Roberson, “O One”
Margaret Ronald, “A Serpent in the Gears”
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Anachronist’s Cookbook”

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So Much Steampunk, So Little Time
INTERVIEW | Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker
LOOKING FORWARD | Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, & Steampunk to Watch for in 2010

Winner of The Somnambulist and The Domino Men

The lucky winner of both Jonathan Barnes books is Josephine O. from San Francisco. Thanks to everyone who entered.

REVIEW | Spellwright by Blake Charlton (Tor)

Blake Charlton has done the extraordinary with Spellright. He has managed to use all the tired tropes of classic Epic Fantasy (magical books, dragons, a school for wizards, and a boy who didn't fulfill his destiny) and make them all feel fresh and engaging. Plus he does it with a main character, Nicodemus Weal, who you can't help but to root for.

The dragons, although they happen off screen, are quite inventive as are the various animated helpers that swarm the keeps and grounds of Starhaven, which is the school in question. Nicodemus is an apprentice spellwright also known as authors who suffers from a form of magical dyslexia known as Cacography, which is based off the authors own battles with it. Of course the story also involves prophecies about a special Wizard who could be a a great hope to the land or harbinger of the demons of the past who wish to control the world.

There are a few bumps in the road, but most are forgivable in the name of fun escapist Fantasy. The pacing was a little stop and go, especially in the first third. The magic systems while also the strongest and most original part of the book are initially a bit confusing, but about 100 pages in a much clearer explanation is given. This could have come a tad sooner, but it probably would have slowed down the pacing of the story if it had. Also, at one point the main villain comes off a a little too much like a bad Bond nemesis by over explaining himself and the plot, which was on the excessive side. More than one soliloquy happens like this. This problem may stem from the author trying not to drag things out. Lastly, the fight at the end of the story was worth waiting for, but the very last section felt a little tacked on and Eragon-like. Still Charlton at least condensed a fairly long time frame in a short number of pages instead of stretching a training story into a whole other book as Paolini did.

There are many different wizard factions each with their own view points and magics. The histories shared from each group were quite fascinating, although there is plenty left to reveal in future installments. Charlton has also sneaked in one of my favorite and criminally underused mythical constructs, which I'd love to mention but he went through pains to make it a big reveal. The style is heavily influenced by the likes traditional Epic Fantasy from Feist, Le Guin, and Tad Williams so don't go expecting some gritty, harsh Fantasy. Blake is being evocative of something more playful yet every bit as Epic as all the aforementioned names. A whole lot of foreshadowing goes on, which was expected given it is planned trilogy.

Even though Spellwright is Charlton's debut it certainly doesn't show many freshman jitters, but he has left himself room to grow.  If you're a fan of classic style Epic Fantasy this will be a must for you.  I give Spellwright 8 out of 10 Hats. Spellwright is definitely in the running for debut of the year so far and it would be surprising if it wasn't still near the top by the end. Bring on Spellbound. Now he's gotten me all in the mood to read some classic Robin Hobb.

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FREE FICTION | Prologue to Spellwright by Blake Charlton (Tor)
REVIEW | The Prodigal Mage by Karen Miller
REVIEW | Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

MISHMASH | Scott Lynch, Tad Williams, Jim Butcher, & updatery

I finally finished my review of Blake Charlton's Spellwright, which will go up tomorrow. Also, Blake and I have something special in store for you lucky readers so stayed tuned. This past weekend I zoomed through Joe Hill's Horns, which just may be the best book I've read this year. Horns is a Horror story with a devilish heart, which is hard to come by. Hill has certainly grown as a writer with impeccable plotting and endearing characters. I devoured it in 3 sittings and nearly didn't go to a friend's party just to get further. Yeah, it is that good. Any loss of sleep that ensues is worth every second.

I've also got a review brewing for Lavie Tidhar's very strange yet entirely enjoyable The Bookman, which didn't come as too big a surprise given his work thus far. Lastly but certainly not leastly, I'm a third of the way through Sam Sykes's debut Tome of the Undergates.   Not nearly as bloody as I thought it would be, at least to start. So far I like the characters despite them acting like a group of unruly fifth graders. The style reminds me a bit of Abercrombie with a dash of Lynch thrown in for good measure, but still wholly different. If it is gritty Fantasy you've been dying for than Tome will certainly be the answer for you as Sykes has made the name Adventurers out to be a very bad thing.

As announced from Wert Scott Lynch has officially submitted the long awaited The Republic of Thieves to his publishers. Publication is slated for Spring 2011 on both sides of the pond. I'm a little surprised Lynch hasn't made mention of this on his blog. Hopefully his bout with swine flu didn't knock him down too hard as it did with my wife.

The lovely Mrs. Tad Williams has announced that the fourth Shadowmarch book titled Shadowheart will be published in November simultaneously with the paperback edition of Shadowrise. Mrs. Williams has been a veritable font of info regarding Tad and his work through her twitters. It has been interesting to read about an author through the eyes of someone so close.

Next up we have the covers to the Evil Hat production of the Dresden Files RPG, which are quite colorful and action oriented when compared with the series books..

Also, Jim Butcher often pops on to his forums to answer questions and one in particular got him talking about the history of the White Council and why they don't just run the world.  It is well worth checking out if you are a Dresden fan. His post is at the bottom of the page so scroll down.  Butcher has also confirmed that the Dresden short story collection Side Jobs will be out October 26th in the US.  And below is the tentative table of contents sans the new work, which is still in progress.

  • *  "Restoration of Faith"
  • *  "Vignette"
  • *  "Something Borrowed" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
  • *  "It's My Birthday Too" -- from Many Bloody Returns
  • *  "Heorot" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
  • *  "Day Off" -- from Blood Lite
  • *  Backup -- novelette from Thomas' POV, originally published by Subterranean Press
  • *  The Warrior -- novelette from Mean Streets
  • *  "Last Call" -- from Strange Brew
  • *  "Love Hurts" -- from Songs of Love and Death

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GUEST POST | Lavie Tidhar author of The Bookman
MISHMASH | New Christopher Moore Free Reading and Other Stuff
MISHMASH | Dresden Files RPG, and ToC for Running With the Pack

New Procurements

A giant pile of things showed up this week between a trip to The Strand and a bunch of review copies, which includes some interesting audio productions for the first time.  Behold the mighty stack!

The Skinner by Neal Asher - This is the first book in his Spatterjay series, which I picked up used.  Asher is very well regarded in the UK, but he seems to have gotten short shifted a little so far in the states.  To remedy this I decided to finally take the plunge after Gav and Mark kept mentioning him and the new covers Asher has been getting in the UK.

On the planet Spatterjay arrive three travelers: Janer, acting as the eyes of the hornet Hive mind, on a mission not yet revealed to him; Erlin, searching for Ambel -- the ancient sea captain who can teach her how to live; and Sable Keech, on a vendetta he cannot abandon, though he himself has been dead for 700 years. This remote world is mostly ocean, and it is a rare visitor who ventures beyond the safety of the island Dome. Outside it, only the native Hoopers dare risk the voracious appetites of the planet's wildlife. But somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop -- and Keech will not rest until he brings this legendary renegade to justice for hideous crimes committed centuries ago during the Prador Wars.

While Keech is discovering that Hoop is now a monster -- his body and head living apart from each other -- Janer is bewildered by a place where the native inhabitants just will not die and angry when he finally learns the Hive mind's intentions for him. Meanwhile, Erlin thinks she has plenty of time to find the answers she seeks, but could not be more wrong. For one of the most brutal of the alien Prador is about to pay the planet a surreptitious visit, intent on exterminating all remaining witnesses to his wartime atrocities. As the visitors' paths converge, major hell is about to erupt in a chaotic waterscape where minor hell is already a remorseless fact of everyday life . . . and death.

Songs of the Dying Earth edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardiner Dozois - This hasn't had a big release in the states yet so when the chance of getting this large collection of shorts as an audio collection presented itself I had to partake. Stories from Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons, Liz Williams, GRRM, and Kage Baker are all included plus a whole lot more.

Half a century ago, Jack Vance created the world of the Dying Earth, and fantasy has never been the same. Now, for the first time ever, Jack has agreed to open this bizarre and darkly beautiful world to other fantasists, to play in as their very own. To say that other fantasy writers are excited by this prospect is a gross understatement; one has told us that he'd crawl through broken glass for the chance to write for the anthology, another that he'd gladly give up his right arm for the privilege that's the kind of regard in which Jack Vance and The Dying Earth are held by generations of his peers.

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams - Another audio collection, which I've already started listening to.  The narration is wonderful and the stories so far are better than expected and I haven't even gotten to the Moorcock or Sawyer yet. Tim Lebbon's The Horror of the Many Faces has been the best up till now, which is a great dark Lovecraft style Holmes piece.

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov - The last of the big audio package is one that has been making some waves. Pehov's novel was translated from Russian by the same person behind the Night Watch series, which bodes well for this classic style Epic Fantasy trilogy.

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala. Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

Reminiscent of Moorcock's Elric series, Shadow Prowler is the first work to be published in English by the bestselling Russian fantasy author Alexey Pehov.

Pleasure Model by Christopher Rowley - This is part of a joint venture between Tor and Heavy Metal magazine, which looks quite interesting just flipping through.

In Pleasure Model, the first book in the Netherworld trilogy, down-and out police detective Rook gets a big break when he’s assigned to a bizarre and vicious murder case. The clues are colder than the corpse and the case looks like it’ll remain unsolved—until an eyewitness is discovered. But the witness is a Pleasure Model, an illegal gene-grown human. Plesur’s only purpose is to provide satisfaction to her owner—in any way. When the murderer targets Plesur in order to eliminate the one witness, Rook takes her into hiding to protect her. Thus begins a descent into the dark world of exotic pleasure mods and their illicit buyers and manufacturers. Rook frantically looks for clues, struggling to stay one stop ahead of those looking to kill them both. But is Rook falling under Plesur’s spell….?

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley - This is one I've been salivating over for quite some time and will be read in very short order since I loved The Quiet War so very, very much.

The Quiet War is over. The city states of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn 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, 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 anatomise the strange gardens abandoned in place by Avernus, the Outers' greatest genius, 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 in Greater Brazil, the Outers' democratic traditions have infected a population eager to escape the tyranny of the great families who rule them. 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..

The Dream of Perpertual Motion by Dexter Palmer - This steampunk debut caught my eye with its cover a few months ago and than I went and forgot all about it until the review copy showed up.  Well, it certainly caught my eye again.  Seriously go take a look at this well done cover.

Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.

The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - So far this seems to be the debut of the year gaining huge accolades throughout the blogosphere. I grabbed a copy while at The Strand where I was quite betwixt and between many selections as always.  Since nearly everyone has reviewed it already I'll probably hold off for a little while.

The Lord of the Sands and Time by Issui Ogawa - Another one from my Strand trip.  This is part of Viz Media's attempt to publish translations of popular Japanese Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  I've heard mixed things, but the description sounds interesting enough since I'm a sucker for time travel books.

Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras—during the Second World War and ancient Japan, and even back to the dawn of the species itself—to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by war and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?

Prince of Storms by Kay Kenyon - The final book in The Entire and the Rose Space Opera/Fantasy series, which I still have to catch up with.  Another really great  Pyr cover.

MINI REVIEW | Ars Memoriae by Beth Bernobich (PS Publishing)

Ars Memoriae is Beth Bernobich's first book, which is set in her Éireann world with past short stories appearing in Asimov's and Postscripts that I have unfortunately not yet read, but missing those didn't lessen my enjoyment of this richly accented alternative history. Ars Memoriae also sports a gorgeous cover by the always brilliant Vincent Chong.

For the last 800 years or so the seat of European power has not been placed in England, but with Ireland here called Éireann. The Queen of Éireann suspects different factions may be starting trouble in Montenegro that could throw off the balance of power in the region. She decides to send one of her must trusted agents, Adrian Dee, to task as he falls into political intrigue on the home front and abroad.

Adrian is a likable--albeit stuffy--character whose disability makes him immediately intriguing.  Adrian is plagued by fantom memories of a person he almost could have been in another reality. These flashes had taken him out of service to the Crown, but when he is called back he does his duty to in order to regain some of the respect he lost. There are some personal journal entries mixed in the narrative that give a good inkling of the mental turmoil he goes through that left me curious for an episode centered around the start of these memories.

Ars Memoriae is a subtle Science Fiction story, which falls into place with an unexpectedly sweet and romantic ending. Adrian's spy tactics are well thought-out, but the story meanders a little too much during his initial investigations causing a very slow start. Once another pivotal character is introduced the speed bumps even out to a strong and climatic ending. There is a steampunk/dieselpunk aspect, but it is little exploited in this novelette for me to get a grasp on, but there is quite a cool device that turns up at one point.

Fans of Kage Baker and other time twisters should definitely take note of Ars Memoriae and its associated stories. I give Ars Memoriae 7 out of 10 Hats. Beth Bernobich is one of the Yeti's authors to watch for 2010 and she has certainly earned that place. Bernobich's first full length novel Passion Play is set for a an October release from Tor.

UPDATE: Bernobich and I just traded e-mails and she has officially sold her Éireann stories to Tor to be published in novel form.  The 3 published stories along with a new one will be combined into one novel tentatively titled The Time Roads.  The stories will be changed somewhat to better fit into a normal narrative instead of separate adventures.  This is part of a two book deal that includes a fourth book in The Erythandra Series, which starts with the aforementioned Passion Play and again shows what potential Tor sees in Bernobich.  Over the next 3 years she is slated to publish at least 4 books with the possibility of Éireann coming out in that time frame as well.

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Cover Unveiled for Is Anybody Out There? Ed. By Nick Givers & Marty Halpern

I've mentioned the all-original SF anthology Is Anybody Out There? a couple of times now.  DAW just released the cover, but it is a little on the low resolution side of things.  Overall, it is a bit of a safe cover, but the title treatment is nice. The sun image is interesting and certainly helps the spine treatment stand out well.

Here is the back cover copy:
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 planted orbiting them, we have found no evidence of intelligent alien life? No evidence that aliens have ever visited Earth (other than discredited UFO mythology), no detectable signals in all our SETI searches with radio telescopes…?

The stories in this anthology offer intriguing explanations for this enigma looking seriously or comically at solutions. Is intelligent life a fluke, arising only once or twice in the universes 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? These are just some of the many possibilities explored in Is Anybody Out There

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LOOKING FORWARD | Collection & Anthologies to Watch for in 2010
Cover Unveiled for Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction

REVIEW | Heartland by Mark Teppo (Night Shade)

Heartland by Mark Teppo is the second in The Codex of Souls series, which picks up soon after the action of where Lightbreaker (reviewed here) drops you. In fact the excerpt for Heartland at the end of Lightbreaker doesn't appear in Heartland itself so definitely check it out as it lays out the impetus behind this volume. The reasons are still explained well in Heartland, but it helped introduce a fairly pivotal--if short lived--character.

Markham is back to his old haunts this time around as he travels to Paris to face La Société Lumineuse, the very group that thinks him 5 years dead. His strings have been pulled and he must fulfill the clouded wishes of its now deceased leader as Markham just have happened to add his soul to the recently rebooted Chorus, which leads to all kinds of odd and cryptic internal dialogue. Teppo smartly avoided having the obligatory fight on the Eiffel Tower, but he does visit other well known sites of Paris in a very action oriented story as Markham jumps from one fight to the next barely catching his breath in between.

Teppo doesn't suffer the sophomore slump at all with Heartland. In fact, the same level of cleverness and knowledge of the occult still clings to Teppo's prose as this man is a knowledge bucket of the arcane and manages to make it fresh and undaunting. Markham is given some added depth filling in his back story and the relationships he left behind. Even with all the reveals I can't help but think there is still a lot more of Markham left in the dark. Lightbreaker Markham was continually fighting to keep the Chorus in control, but now he is learning how powerful it can be when its working towards his own ends. Yet I still don't have a clear picture of how powerful Markham is despite all the opponents and obstacles he faces. This could stem from Teppo not wanting to empty his quiver too quickly, but it certainly left me more than curious about Markham. I guess it is a case of whetting my appetite for more.

We finally meet Marielle, Markham's perplexing lover from his days in Paris. If I had any complaints it would be the readiness that Marielle accepts what happened to her father, which came a bit too easy for me even given the explanation later on and there are almost too many turnabouts. Teppo really hammers home the old adage of trust no one.  Also, the pacing does feel a bit jumpy in a couple spots, but this was mostly due to Markham getting incapacitated a few too many times.

The Codex of Souls is without a doubt one of the most original Urban Fantasy series going right now. It has stepped away from the pack and embraced a different type of magic and a very different sensibility worth checking out. I give Heartland 8 out of 10 hats. While the series is projected to be 10 books when done the first two books comprise an arc that feels complete, but lays the ground work for a beautifully realized dark-world full of surprises and twists. The third in the series Angel Tongue can't get here soon enough for me.

Teppo has the prequel story Wolves, In Darkness up on the Codex of Souls site, which introduces many of the characters who show up in Heartland and also tells a much alluded to story from Markham's time with La Société Lumineuse. The story will also give you a good idea if you'd like Teppo's style.

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Contest for Two Jonathan Barnes Books

Once the toast of good society in Victoria's England, the extraordinary conjurer Edward Moon no longer commands the respect that he did in earlier times. Still, each night he returns to the stage of his theater to amaze his devoted, albeit dwindling, audience, aided by his partner, the Somnambulist—a silent, hairless, hulking giant who, when stabbed, does not bleed. But these are strange, strange times in England, with the oddest of sorts prowling London's dank underbelly. And the very bizarre death of a disreputable actor has compelled a baffled police constabulary to turn once again to Edward Moon for help—inevitably setting in motion events that will shatter his increasingly tenuous grasp on reality.

I have a hardcover copy of both The Somnambulist and The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes to give away to one lucky person. The Somnambulist  is more of a Historical Thriller while The Domino Men has a Lovecraftian flare to it yet both are placed in the same world and have some recurring characters.  To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address and "BARNES" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight February 26th. I'll announce the winner on the following day. This contest is open to the people of the United States and Canada only. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest.

NEWS | Jim Butcher's Dresden Files Short Story Collection-Title/Release

According to Amazon the title to the Dresden Files short collection will be Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files. The title is in keeping with the format for the rest of the series except for the forthcoming Changes. Side Jobs is slated for a October 26th release date in the United States.
So far Jim Butcher has only hinted at what the new stories will be.  Recently in twitter he said he was most likely doing 3 short stories from the points of view of Murphy, Thomas, and Molly which could be really interesting, especially given what Thomas is going through presently.

UPDATE: Butcher has commented on his forums about the Murphy story:
Aftermath--Murphy (That one will be exclusive to SIDE JOBS, is set forty five minutes after the end of CHANGES, and is turning into a novella on me, rather than a short story.)
I wonder if this means he won't do the other two stories now as he mentioned in the past he would do 3 shorts or one novella/novellette for Side Jobs?  In the same link Butcher discusses other stories he may tell, but he also makes it clear that he has not decided what book or series he'll do other than more planned Dresden files novels. It looks like alterntive points of view might come into play down the line from some other Dresdenverse characters.  Here are the rest of the contents of Side Jobs:

* "Restoration of Faith"
* "Vignette"
* "Something Borrowed" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
* "It's My Birthday Too" -- from Many Bloody Returns
* "Heorot" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
* "Day Off" -- from Blood Lite
* Backup -- novelette from Thomas' POV, originally published by Subterranean Press
* The Warrior -- novelette from Mean Streets
* "Last Call" -- from Strange Brew

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MISHMASH | Dresden Files RPG
NEWS | Jim Butcher's Future Projects
REVIEW | Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
LOOKING FORWARD | Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, & Steampunk Coming in 2010

INTERVIEW | Zombie Style with Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Mike Carey, Tim Lebbon, David Wellington, & Jon Maberry

When I heard about Christopher Golden's all Zombie anthology The New Dead I knew it would be one not to miss as it is comprised of all original tales from the likes of Joe Hill, Max Brooks, Tim Lebbon, Mike Carey, Kelley Armstrong, David Wellington, Jon Maberry, and pretty much any other author you'd care to tackle the subject. The stories range from the heart-wrenching to the depraved and all types in between with nearly every style and perspective represented. There is even a story in tweet form from Joe Hill, which ends up being one of the creepiest in the lot.  All in all this is a solid collection any Zombie fan shouldn't miss.  With that in mind I convinced 6 of the contributors to a fun interview about all things Zombies. Enjoy!

MH: The New Dead hits nearly every angle of Zombies and the worlds that could come about because of them. Where does our fascination with Zombies come from? Is it the idea of the dead rising that frightens us, or the focus of our loved ones coming back that truly scares us? In the same vein are we more frightened of dying at the hand of zombies, or of rising as one of them?

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: The idea of BEING a zombie doesn't frighten me at all, because I can't imagine I'd be aware. If I were aware, that would be hellish, no question.  And the idea of surviving in a world overrun by zombies is horrid, but no more so than so many of the more realistic terrors we have these days, the prospect of surviving terrorist attacks, nukes, worldwide food shortage, a superflu, or any of the other terrors that hang over us at all times. But as for where our fascination comes from...that's the underlying question of this entire anthology. I believe a lot of it--this increased fascination--has to do with how we are attempting to process all of the other things we are afraid of, and all of the death and terror and torture we hear about on the news every day, and the soldiers out there dying while we experiment with foreign policy, trying to figure out how to deal with the 21st century global power paradigm, at the daily expense of lives. Hey, you asked.

KELLEY ARMSTRONG: I think the appeal behind zombies depends on the person. For some, it's the fear of being a zombie--alive yet not alive, a horrible and ironic twist on the idea of eternal life. For others, it's a fear of being under siege by zombies--a representation of death itself, relentless and unstoppable.

MIKE CAREY: All the best monsters are variations on a human template.  I think a big part of the frisson of horror comes from that unholy amalgamation of the self and the other. Something that's entirely alien can still be scary, but then it's the same kind of fear as the fear of being bitten by a dog or run over by a truck. Something that's like-us-but-not-like-us can stimulate a more complex and unsettling range of emotions.

JONATHAN MABERRY: There are a couple of different ways to answer that. From the viewpoint of the fan (the ‘zombie lover’ as some phrase it) zombies are stand-ins for anything that we fear and want to see quantified. They ‘embody’ things like the fear of death, fear of disease, fear of our individual and cultural loss of identity.  They’re wonderfully elastic in that regard. By making our fears real, by putting them into flesh, we can direct our anger and outrage, we can vent, and we can do something about it. We can hide, or we can attack. It’s much harder to do that with disease or mortality. At least with zoms we have a fighting chance.
From the storyteller’s point of view, zombies are much more interesting to write about than vampires. Over the last few decades vamps have become something of a ‘type’. They’re the pale, gorgeous, tragic anti-heroes who will never get sick and who will live forever. They’re rock stars and celebs of the supernatural world. Because their nature has shifted from the ‘monster in the dark’ to key players in the story, much more of the story has been given over to them, and therefore less story is devoted to the humans. The humans are our stand-ins, so this means that we have less of a connection to the tale. Zoms have no personality (in most tales). They represent the BIG THING that we are afraid of, and once introduced, we writers can settle down to tell a tale of human beings in crisis. Stress warps personalities, changes relationships, reveals good and bad personality elements, etc. Crisis equals drama, so with a good zombie tale we can have our dreadful threat, but at the same time we can tell a whacking great story about real people.

(In answer to In the same vein are we more frightened of dying at the hand of zombies, or of rising as one of them?) That depends on each person’s insecurities. I was always more afraid of losing loved ones than of my own mortality. And I’m a pragmatist, so I wouldn’t care of if I was a zombie (how would I know, after all?). My concern would be that I would become a danger to those I loved if I was infected.

      If I was infected during a zombie plague, and once I realized that I was doomed, I’d probably do something like a Kamikaze mission to destroy as many zoms as I could in a plot to distract them while my loved ones escaped. A suicide zombie.  Mmm…might be a good story in that.

DAVE WELLINGTON: I've done a lot of thinking on this subject, and I think what scares us is that we're already the zombies. At least--everybody else is. You know you're a unique individual with deep and meaningful thoughts and emotions. But other people? The ones surrounding you on every side, right now? How can you know they aren't mindless bodies driven by nothing but desires they don't even understand? You can't know.  In a crowded city, the feeling is much more intense.

TIM LEBBON: I think part of the fascination is the post-apocalyptic world that many speculative writers like playing in. It’s been a favourite of mine for a long time. I think writers of the fantastic like writing about extremes—of reaction, or personality, of fears and wonders—and the apocalyptic landscape is as extreme as you can get. Zombies are so other, and yet they’re still us, and your comment about loved ones returning as zombies rings true, too. There’s something unbearable about a loved one becoming such a monster, more so than with, say, vampires, where they’d still retain some element of their history.  In a way they’re the perfect monster.

MH: What was the inspiration behind your story in The New Dead?

MIKE CAREY: My story, SECOND WIND, is sort of a spin-off from a series of novels that I'm currently writing - the Felix Castor stories. Castor doesn't feature in SECOND WIND, but his undead data-fence friend Nicky Heath takes centre stage instead.  It's the story of how Nicky died and came back, and how the traits that define you when you're alive probably don't just suddenly go away when you're dead.  It's completely independent of the novel sequence, though: Castor gets a single elliptical mention.

ARMSTRONG: In my story(LIFE SENTENCE), I was playing with the concept of using zombies as a method of achieving immortality. In the fictional world of my main series--the Otherworld--zombies are human souls returned to their rotting corpses. That world also has corporations of supernaturals, with a lot of money and scientific resources.  It would make sense, then, that at some point one of those corporations would try to eliminate the nastier side-effects of zombification so it can be used to achieve eternal life.

MABERRY:  I love apocalyptic fiction, particularly of the kind that deals with someone surviving the end of the world as we know it.  Stories like Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison, The Quiet Earth by Craig Harrison, No Blade Of Grass by John Christopher, Path to Savagery by Robert Edmond Alter, and Wolf of Shadows by Whitley Strieber.  But you rarely see what happens after that.  Most of the stories are either days/weeks after things end, or many years.  I wanted to explore what it would be like to grow up in a world that had just ended.  The character of FAMILY BUSINESS, Benny Imura, was a year and a half old when the zombie apocalypse wiped out most of humanity, and he grew up after.   I wanted to take a look at that world: its organization, its industry, its customs.

WELLINGTON: I never know where inspirations come from. They just pop into my head, and I don't question them too much.  Considering how dark my stories are, I kind of don't want to know how I come up with them...

LEBBON: It’s set in a little town close to where I live, and it actually comes from a dream I had about that place.  I dreamed that I was alone in the town, wandering the streets calling for people in the blazing sunlight, and there was no one else there.  It was a quick dream and I can’t recall where it went, but that basic set-up formed the backdrop to IN THE DUST. It’s also to some extent a siege story, and I love writing them—even though my three survivors have a whole town to exist in, there’s a claustrophobia to the story that I love.

MH: With the proliferation of Urban Fantasy would you consider Zombies strictly Horror or have they broken away?

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: Zombies are whatever the author wants them to be, now.  Joe Lansdale has a fantastic story in THE NEW DEAD that is about real zombies--people who are living on borrowed time, or people whose lives are so aimless or dead-end that they really ARE the walking dead.  Zombie stories can be horror, mainstream, fantasy, science-fiction, western, romance...whatever you want them to be. I think the NEW DEAD has a fantastic variety of approaches that proves that argument.

ARMSTRONG: I do urban fantasy and I have used zombies for years in my adult series.  In my teen series, my main character is a necromancer, meaning she can raise zombies (a skill no 15 year old girl wants!) I play that aspect up for full-on horror. Other urban fantasy writers--particularly in teen fiction--use a more sanitized version of zombies, where they're really more like defanged vampires. So the transition has been made...for better or worse!

MIKE CAREY: Genre is a movable feast anyway, isn't it?  it helps with marketing a book or a movie, and it gives a reader a rough set of expectations which they take with them into the story: after that, all bets are off. Land of the Dead was horror, for example, but that opening sequence of the Zombies in the bandstand forlornly trying to get a sound out of the instruments they played when they were alive... that's moving into a different register entirely.  I think you can take horror staples and do what you like with them, from a genre point of view.  If it's a good story, the audience will roll with you.

MABERRY: Zombies are science fiction for the most part.  Except in rare cases, they aren’t created by supernatural means.  They are the result of a plague, radiation, a toxic spill, etc.   If you stick with Romero as a model, then you could make a case for the genre as part of ‘Urban Fantasy’, because at certain points the science fails.  The fact that the zoms stop decaying gives it a mystical twist. Why? Whereas science can be stretched to explain a lot of the qualities of a zombie, it can’t explain the cessation of the decaying process in a creature that is supposed to be dead flesh.

WELLINGTON: Please don't start writing zombie shagger books! I really don't want to read about the sable-haired beauty and her tempestuous and complicated romance with a rotting shambler. Let's keep them as strictly horror, okay?

LEBBON: The concept of a zombie, as I talked about above, is pure horror.  It’s humanity facing the darkest fragment of itself. That said, you can write any sort of story and include zombies … consider Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

MH: What is your first Zombie memory? Book, movie, or personal experiences all apply. For me it was probably Night of the Living Dead, which freaked the 12 year-old me out quite a bit.

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: I have no idea. In many ways, I suppose FRANKENSTEIN is my first zombie experience.  The movie. He really is a zombie, after all. I was watching on a small black and white TV on the back porch--I was seven years old--and when Frankenstein throws the little girl into the lake, and then is carrying her dead body into the village, I cried.  Not because I was afraid, but because he had done a horrible thing that he barely understood, and now the girl was dead and he was in anguish. It made me incredibly sad.

ARMSTRONG: Yep, definitely Night of the Living Dead at far too young an age. My youth was "pre-VCR" so horror movies were restricted to those on late-night TV, and this was one that came on every Halloween.

MIKE CAREY: Probably a story from House of Secrets or House of Mystery, where a woman brought her lover back from the dead, hoping to rekindle the relationship, and discovered that his appetites had changed.

MABERRY: By the time I was ten I’d seen double my share of vampire and werewolf flicks and I’d seen every giant bug flick they’d show during the Saturday double-features at the Midway Theater in my hometown of Philadelphia.  I thought I had monster-fighting all figured out and I knew how to stake vampires, stop werewolves, and defeat mummies. All that changed when I saw The Night of the Living Dead on its release in October 1968. I had to sneak in to see it (since it was clearly not intended for ten year olds). I remember very clearly sitting in my balcony seat watching that movie and becoming suddenly very aware of how big and dark that balcony was. How far from the lights of the lobby it was. How remote it was. I sat in the dark and thought about how overwhelming a rising of the dead would be, and I got really, really scared. So…naturally I stayed and watched the film again. And came back the next day and saw it again.  I was hooked for life.

WELLINGTON: Easy. I grew up in Pittsburgh, where George Romero made his classic zombie films.  I saw Dawn of the Dead on TV in primetime one summer night. About half an hour in, I turned to my Dad and said, "didn't we buy our school clothes at that mall last month?" and he said that yes, yes we had.  My reply was simple. "That is so cool."

LEBBON: The one that leaps to mind is Day of the Dead, to be honest.  I think I came late to the brain-eaters.

MH: What is your preferred weapon when the Zombie hordes attack?  Any preferred Zombie killing partner?

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: Hmm.  Angelina Jolie, and Tallahassee from Zombieland. Preferred weapon? That big Gatling gun type pistol Hellboy wields in the second movie. If I could lift it off the ground.  Or, wait, speaking of lifting...Mjolnir. Thor's Hammer?  Yeah, I'll take that. Call down the lightning and crispy-fry those motherf**kers.

ARMSTRONG: My preferred weapon? Retreat. Let everyone else fight them, while I find a safe place to hole up with supplies and come up with a long term strategy.

MIKE CAREY: When the zombie hordes attack, I'm going to try to blend in. I reckon I've got a fairly good chance.

MABERRY: I’ve been practicing and teaching jujutsu and kenjutsu (Japanese swordplay) for well over forty years. I’m very handy with a katana –the sword of the Samurai. It’s going to take a whole lot of zombies to keep me from getting out alive. I intend to survive.

WELLINGTON: Weapon? For zombies? Distance is the best weapon you'll ever have. Don't get near them. There's always some reason in books and movies why you have to go back to the big city and enter the dark tunnel and head alone into the old farmhouse. But no, you don't have to.  Not in real life. Zombie killing partner? Someone who can't run as fast as I can.

LEBBON: My partner would have to be Milla Jovovich, because she can kick butt and is also extremely hot. As for weapon, I think I’d choose a tank. Milla can drive. I’ll use the gun.  There’ll be lots of wine. It’ll be cosy.

MH: Favorite type of Zombie? Slow and shambling or fast moving?  Brain eaters or fleshing eating?

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: The hot, naked zombie chick in Return of the Living Dead.

MABERRY: For film I like fast zoms. My favorite all time zombie flick is the director’s cut of the remake of Dawn of the Dead. But for fiction I like slow zoms. Film is more about reaction, so fast works better; but fiction is about imagination, so the slow build-up of inevitable doom is fun to read about, and to write.

ARMSTRONG: I think the fast-moving one is an intriguing twist, but I like slow and shambling.  And I prefer flesh-eating.  It's more immediately visual--to get to the brain requires some work!

MIKE CAREY: Fast zombies, a la 28 Days Later, are scarier for me than shamblers. Diet is a lesser concern.

WELLINGTON: I like them all, but will always have a fond place in my heart for slow, shambling flesh eaters. Gut-munchers. And they have to die when you shoot them in the head. Otherwise, you just don't stand a chance.

LEBBON: I have no preference, they’re all equally horrific and terrifying.  I think the ‘slow zombie/fast zombie’ debate is a chuckle, especially when it gets quite heated … they’re a mythical creature, for fuck’s sake!  I’m as much a fan of the Dawn remake as I am of the original.

I’m actually writing a zombie novel right now—the longest, most complex novel I’ve ever written—and they’re as fast as people when first infected, then the slow down over time. That seems to work best for me. But if you’re a fan of shambling brain eaters, that’s fine too. Hottest zombie ever, by the way, is Davina McCall from the Charlie Brooker-penned Channel 4 zombie-fest Dead Set.  Brilliant, if you haven’t seen it yet.

MH: What is the one Zombie related book my readers should check out?  That is besides The New Dead or your own work.

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: Do an online search for "The March Of the Dead" by the poet Robert Service. My favorite zombie story of all time is a poem. And I'm not the poetry type.  Trust me.

ARMSTRONG: Brian Keene's The Rising is a favourite of mine.

MIKE CAREY: Well this is stretching the definition, but one of my favourite books about the dead coming back to life is Peter Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction. It's sci-fi as much as it's horror, but the blend really works.

MABERRY: I’m a big fan of John Russo’s 1977 novel, Return of the Living Dead.  It has nothing to do with the 1985 film of the same name (which is a lot of fun). Russo, who co-scripted Night of the Living Dead with George Romero, wrote the novel as a direct sequel to the movie.  It came out before the second movie in the series and kept the story in the back woods of Western Pennsylvania. Very creepy and very well written.

WELLINGTON: The classic is Brian Keene's The Rising. Walter Greatshell's Xombies is fantastic as well, and he just released a sequel that's every bit as good.

LEBBON: World War Z by Max Brooks is one of the few books that’s scared me over the past couple of years.  It’s so well written and realistic that several times I had to shake myself back to reality after reading it.

MH: What are you working on? Are there any recent releases or forthcoming books for 2010 which you'd like to mention?

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: This July, I have two books coming out the same day. The Chamber of Secrets is a supernatural thriller I co-wrote with Tim Lebbon.  And Ace is reprinting my first novel, Of Saints and Shadows, with a new cover and a short intro by Charlaine Harris.  Strangely enough, both books are obsessed with Venice.

ARMSTRONG: I have three books out in 2010. Tales of the Otherworld--an anthology of my work with all my proceeds going to World Literary of Canada. The Reckoning, which is the last in my teen trilogy. And Waking the Witch, the 11th book in my adult urban fantasy series

MABERRY: I have a bunch of projects coming up. I adapted The Wolfman for Tor Books; it’s based on the screenplay for the movie remake with Benecio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving. That drops Feb 2. In mid-February, Marvel Comics begins my 6-issue limited series, Doomwar, in which the Black Panther, the X-Men, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and Deadpool wage all-out war against Doctor Doom. In March, St. Martins Griffin will release The Dragon Factory, the second in the series of thrillers featuring hero Joe Ledger (and the first in that series pitted Joe against terrorists with a zombie plague). In April, Marvel will begin Marvel Infected, a four-issue limited series of mine in which a plague is unleashed that turns most of the superheroes into savage cannibals. Then in September, Rot & Ruin will hit from Simon & Schuster, which takes the FAMILY BUSINESS story and spins it as a novel for the Young Adult market.  Plus I have a nonfiction book, Wanted Undead or Alive, due out in August from Citadel Press.  That deals examines vampire hunters and other enemies of evil in folklore, legend, literature, comics and film –and includes interviews with everyone from Stan Lee to John Carpenter.

WELLINGTON: I've moved on to werewolves now, though I find it hard not to write zombie stories in my spare time. My next book will be Overwinter, available in October 2010.

LEBBON: I’m currently writing Coldbrook, the aforementioned zombie novel (with some SF elements), for Corsair in the UK, as well as working on a new Hidden Cities book with Chris Golden. Books due out this year include the collection Last Exit for the Lost, the novella The Thief of Broken Toys, and the novels Echo City, 30 Days of Night: Fear of the Dark, and The Chamber of Ten (also with Chris). I’m also developing a couple of TV series and some movies scripts.

MH: Thank you all. I'll leave the final word to you.

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN: Come by and visit at, or follow me at Twitter @ChristophGolden.

ARMSTRONG: Gotta plug the website.  It's loaded with free samples for anyone who wants to check out my work.  It's

MABERRY: Check out my Big Scary Blog,, in which I interview folks from the book, comics and movie world.

WELLINGTON: Check out my zombie books for free at!

LEBBON: You can always find me here

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LOOKING FORWARD | Big Anthologies Coming in 2010
REVIEW | Already Dead by Charlie Huston
REVIEW | Dead Men's Boots (Felix Castor 3) by Mike Carey
REVIEW | The Map of Moments by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

New Procurements and the Tale of the windshield

This was something of a crazy week for me.  As you've probably surmised from the above photo I was in a bit of a car accident(?).  No more of a car incident than accident.  The spider webbing looks a bit beautiful from this angle. Still quite annoying as info was exchanged after we flagged the trucker down and the cops were called.

This all happened on the Thursday drive home after a pizza box sized sheet of ice smashed into the passenger side of my windshield.  I was sitting in the passenger side and saw the whole thing coming.  My wife and I are fine.  I received a couple small nicks on my hand from the sprinkle of shards that fell out, but I was shocked by how little actual broke off.   We've already had the glass people out to replace the shield.  I had no clue they'd actually come to your house or office to do it, which certainly made it easier..    

A bit of a bumper crop this week, which is also a bit of a mishmash of genres.

Dust by Elizabeth Bear - Pat from Stomping on the Yeti suggested this one to me.  If you haven't checked out the Yeti's place do so now.  He is always up to some sort of shenanigans.

On a broken ship orbiting a doomed sun, dwellers have grown complacent with their aging metal world. But when a serving girl frees a captive noblewoman, the old order is about to change....

Ariane, Princess of the House of Rule, was known to be fiercely cold-blooded. But severing an angel’s wings on the battlefield—even after she had surrendered—proved her completely without honor. Captive, the angel Perceval waits for Ariane not only to finish her off—but to devour her very memories and mind. Surely her gruesome death will cause war between the houses—exactly as Ariane desires. But Ariane’s plan may yet be opposed, for Perceval at once recognizes the young servant charged with her care.

Rien is the lost child: her sister. Soon they will escape, hoping to stop the impending war and save both their houses. But it is a perilous journey through the crumbling hulk of a dying ship, and they do not pass unnoticed. Because at the hub of their turning world waits Jacob Dust, all that remains of God, following the vapor wisp of the angel. And he knows they will meet very soon.

Swords & Dark Magic
edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders - This is one of those books I've been aching for.  How can you not love an amazing mix of S & S masters with a new Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch?  Will be devoured in due time.

Ares Express by Ian McDonald - McDonald is a master at what he does and this sequel to Desolation Road looks to be of similar calibre.  Ares originally came out a long-time back in the UK, but Pyr is giving it a fresh start here in the states.

A Mars of the imagination, like no other, in a colourful, witty SF novel; Taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, Ares Express is set on a terraformed Mars where fusion-powered locomotives run along the network of rails that is the planet's circulatory system and artificial intelligences reconfigure reality billions of times each second. One young woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious-Honeybun Asiim 12th, becomes the person upon whom the future - or futures - of Mars depends. Big, picaresque, funny; taking the Mars of Ray Bradbury and the more recent, terraformed Marses of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, Ares Express is a wild and woolly magic-realist SF novel, featuring lots of bizarre philosophies, strange, mind-stretching ideas and trains as big as city blocks.

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes - This behemoth of a book is looking very good.  The cover looks even better in person.

Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. 

So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.

Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

Fantasy’s newest star has arrived. A manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates has been stolen. And you don’t want the undergates open. On the other side are countless invincible demons, and they want out. Lenk and his misfit companions have to get it back.

Kid vs. Squid by Greg VanEekhout - I mentioned this one not too long ago and I'll definitely be fitting it between some longer works.

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway - Harkaway's debut has been widely lauded as an impressive work of metafiction.  I've picked it and and put it down so many times, but seeing the paperback cover cinched it for me.  I'm betting it is one of those love it or hate type book.  Hopefully it will be the former for me.

A hilarious, action-packed look at the apocalypse that combines a touching tale of friendship, a thrilling war story, and an all out kung-fu infusedmission to save the world.

Gonzo Lubitch and his best friend have been inseparable since birth. They grew up together, they studiedmartial arts together, they rebelled in college together, and they fought in the Go-Away War together. Now, with the world in shambles and dark nightmarish clouds billowing over the wastelands, they have been tapped for an incredibly perilous mission. But they quickly realize that this assignment is not all it seems, and before it is over they will have encountered everything from mimes, ninjas, and pirates to one ultra-sinister mastermind, whose only goal is world domination. Unlike anything else, The Gone-Away World is a remarkable literary debut that will be remembered and rediscovered for years to come.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith - The new book from the man who started the mash-up craze with Pride Prejudice and Zombies, which I have been avoiding.  Yet this isn't a mash-up as much as a twisted historical fantasy giving real figures of history an odd back-story, which caught me a little..

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi - Not pictured because it just showed up and I'm feel tired and lazy.  For more info on Paolo's debut YA novel check out this earlier post.

All except the Harkaway and Sykes are review copies.  I won a little contest Sykes was holding on his blog to get this copy.  Two things to learn from this: 1) Always enter free book contests because you never know 2) 42 is a good number to go with for almost any occasion.

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Winner of Mr. Shivers

The lucky fellow who won Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett is Bill O. from Birmingham, AL. Thanks to everyone who entered.  Weird fact:  Someone with the last name Shivers actually entered the contest, but the random number generator went another way.  Look for another contest shortly as I continue to thin the ranks on my shelves, which just keep getting filled back up again.

REVIEW | Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd-Century America originates from the novella Julian: A Christmas Story, which has been expanded into a rich personal life of a man who is something of a folk hero to some and a villain to others. The world of the 22nd century is still in the process of rebuilding itself after the collapse of technology and the rise of oceans with a decimated population amid the end of oil. The United States still exists although in different form. The 22nd century is now more like the 19th with a strong civil war era feel and lot of train travel. The United States, which now encompasses Canada as well, is fighting with the Mittleuropean block who are horning in on what was formerly North Eastern Canada.

Julian is as upper class as you can get, but the story is told from the point of view of Julian's best-friend and beautifully named, Adam Hazzard, who is himself a very endearing if not somewhat naive chronicler. While Julian has had every comfort in life Adam comes from what is the indentured servant class that has developed, which is essentially the middle class of this era. Julian and Adam have grown up together as teenagers being tutored by the same man to give Julian a companion for his studies. The beginning of the story is set in a remote part of the Americas where Julian is being safe guarded from his Uncle the President Deklan Comstock, who is also responsible for killing Julian's father. From there we roam across the East of America, which is only a glimpse of this rich world. 

Big bloody battles and heartfelt dialogue carry this story a long way. Julian Comstock is romantic and unflinchingly honest. With Julian Comstock the titular character Wilson has crafted his own Che Guevara, Ben Franklin, and Casey Jones all rolled into one. Even with the telling Julian is still something of a mystery, but his exploits are inventive and awe-inspiring as he holds true to his belief despite what might befall him. As Adam and Julian try to slip away from the noose that Deklan lays for them they unwittingly fall into the very trap as they are conscripted into the Army and taken to the front-lines and so the legend of Julian Comstock aka Julian Conquerer begins. Deklan Comstock the despot of a president remains a cloudy figure even when he takes center stage. A bit of missed opportunity was lost in not having a major interaction happened between Deklan and his wayward nephew Julian.

With Julian Comstock Wilson has brought back a sense of frontier adventure to Science Fiction with some of the most well thought out characters I've encountered in ages. No matter how large the scale is the story keeps its personal roots. Suffice it to say I could not get enough of this world. Julian Comstock is without a doubt the best novel Robert Charles Wilson has written to date and one of my favorites reads this year, which says a lot in my mind given how much I enjoyed his Spin. I give Julian Comstock 9 out of 10 Hats. If you're a fan of life histories this is sure not to disappoint. The mass market version will be released in May. Wilson is currently at work on the 3rd volume of his Spin Cycle trilogy titled Vortex.

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Covers Unveiled for Abercrombie, Lloyd, and Wilson

A few may remember the makeover the First Law Trilogy is getting in the UK.  Well, here is the last member of the tribe. I'm still a fan of McGrath's art, but I just don't think it fits this series perfect. Although, this is fairly close to how I picture Jezal dan Luthar, but doesn't he have a big scare on his jaw by this time? I'm not sure why McGrath has taken pains to keep the ugly side of the characters from the forefront.  Maybe it was direction from the publisher, but the cover with Glotka could have at least showed his messed up teeth.

The cover of Tom Lloyd's The Ragged Man I showed a few months back was now obviously a very unfinished version as the final came out gorgeously.  This is probably the best of the series thus far.

Artist: Unknown

I recently finished Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson (review to come) and I found out Tor is changing the art for the mass market release in May.  Sure the art is a bit clinched bringing to mind Planet of the Apes, but the scene does appear in the story so it certainly fits.  For comparison sake below is the cover for great letterpress style HC. I like both well enough.  The HC still wins out for daring to be different and subtle, but the mass market art is a bit more evocative of the story.  Either way it is book worth checking out.

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