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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

New Procurements

The past two weeks have seen a steady influx of new books. Many of which I want to be reading all right now. 3 purchases showed up this week, but two were pre-orders from months ago so don't count in my buying hiatus. The first section are books sent from publishers for review.

Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars by Ken Scholes - This should be a great short collection from one of my new favorite writers and I'm eager to delve further into his short work  Here is the table of contents, which includes at least one story from the world of Lamentation:

A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon
The Night the Stars Sang Out My Name
The God-Voices of Settler's Rest
The Music of the Spheres
Four Clowns of the Apocalypse and the Mecca of Mirth
The Boy Who Could Bend and Fall
The Second Gift Given
Invisible Empire of Ascending Light
There Once Was a Girl from Nantucket (A Fortean Love Story) with John A. Pitts
The Taking Night
On the Settling of Ancient Scores
In Time of Despair and Great Darkness
Of Missing Kings and Backward Dreams and the Honoring of Lies
Grief-Stepping to the Widowers Waltz
Love in the Time of Car Alarms
What Child is this I Ask the Midnight Clear
Grail-Diving in Shangrilla with the World's Last Mime

The Wolf Age by James Enge - This is the arc of the third Morlock book from Enge after This Crooked Way. I still have to read Blood of Ambrose, but after reading the Morlock story in Swords & Dark Magic it has been moved up the to-read pile.

Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world, and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius.

The Bird of the River by Kage Baker - Baker will be missed, but she was working up to the end which is why we have a third book placed in the world of The Anvil of the World. From what I know these books standalone well so I work it in sooner than later.

In this new story set in the world of The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, two teenagers join the crew of a huge river barge after their addict mother is drowned. The girl and her half-breed younger brother try to make the barge their new home. As the great boat proceeds up the long river, we see a panorama of cities and cultures, and begin to perceive patterns in the pirate attacks that happen so frequently in the river cities. Eliss, the girl, becomes a sharp-eyed spotter of obstacles in the river for the barge, and more than that, one who perceives deeply.

A young boy her age, Krelan, trained as a professional assassin, has come aboard, seeking the head of a dead nobleman, so that there might be a proper burial. But the head proves as elusive as the real explanation behind the looting of cities, so he needs Eliss’s help. And then there is the massive Captain of the barge, who can perform supernatural tricks, but prefers to stay in his cabin and drink.

The Girls with Games of Blood by Alex Bledsoe - This is the second in a  vampire series placed in the 70s after last year's Blood Groove. I am a fan of Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse books, but I'm kind of full up on vampire reads I'm already involved with.  It does sound intriguing though.

Listen to what I tell you, son, every word is true
The sisters haunt the night, and might fight over you
Nothing can steal your soul and stamp it in the mud
Like being the new play-pretty for the girls with the games of blood . . .

The old song warns of the beautiful Bolade sisters, Patience and Prudence, whose undying rivalry was said to stretch even beyond the grave. But Count Rudolfo Vladimir Zginski has never heard the song. A suave Continental vampire, staked to death more than sixty years ago, he has risen to stalk the Southern nights of Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1975. Although new to the modern world, he has quickly developed a taste for its hot blood, willing women, and high-speed automobiles.

Yet the seventies are not without their perils, even for so cunning and ruthless a predator. Zginski’s insistent pursuit of a cherry 1973 Mach 1 Ford Mustang soon brings him into conflict with a legendary redneck sheriff with a short temper and a big baseball bat. His dangerous fascination with an enticing undead chanteuse and her equally seductive sister, threatens not only his own ageless existence, but that of the small group of modern-day vampires he has grudgingly taken under his wing. Zginski has already escaped limbo once, but can he free himself from the tangled web of the girls who play games of blood?

Vampire Earth: The Greyfrair by Clay and Susan Griffith - Another vamp read, but this has been on my want list for sometime given the steampunk angle and also vampires ruling the whole world. This is the arc with the final book coming out in November so I'll definitely be reviewing around than.

In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the gray empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.

It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.

Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to a man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.

Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding - The follow-up to Retribution Falls, which is one of my favorite reads so far this year.  I'll be chewing through this one very, very soon. In fact I can't believe I'm not reading it already. I've had it on pre-order for months and months.

Buckle up for heist action, thievery, shoot-outs and double-crossing galore

Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. So when Captain Grist meets him, with news of a crashed aircraft laden with treasure, Frey is up for a death-or-victory getrich-quick scheme. If Grist is telling the truth then there’s a fortune up for grabs; it’s going to take all of Frey’s considerable skill at lying,cheating and stealing to get his hands on it...

The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller -  The Prodigal Mage was a good continuation of the King Maker, King Breaker world and this volume closes out that storyline.  Will be getting to very soon as well. Man, I keep saying very soon, but that pile keeps getting bigger. I really mean it though. I'm going to leave off the description because if you haven't read Prodigal yet it can be spoilery.  This is another long standing pre-order.

My Dead Body by Charlie Huston - The last Joe Pitt casebooks, which is one of the vampire series I mentioned I'm already involved with.  I've gotten caught up on the series so decided to make this one of my 10 purchases for the remainder of the year for those keeping count.

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REVIEW | Is Anybody Out There? ed. by Nick Givers & Marty Halpern

Theme anthologies can go one of two ways. Either they work really well or they end up feeling like the writers had to stretch themselves too much to create a story that worked for the theme. Is Anybody Out There? focused on the Fermi Paradoxes is decidedly in the camp of the former with a couple virtuosos in the short game truly standing out and a few others not working for me as they seemed a bit disorienting.

Paul McAuley starts things off well with an introduction for those not in the know about the Fermi Paradox with a grand overview and a bit of history and known theories. The paradox boils down to "Where are they?" The Universe is so big and that old if there is intelligent life out there why haven't they found us or we found them yet? Quite an intriguing idea for writers to sink their teeth into. This is ground that has been trod on before, but certainly never with such a diverse covering of new, established, and often fringe theories.

Mike Resnick & Lezli Robyn, “Report From the Field” A very quirky tale done in field report style from an alien determining if Earth is ready for inclusion in Galactic Community.

This story had me chortling left and right like few other writer can do and the only funny story in the bunch. In many ways humor is more difficult to relay in written form than something dramatic or action oriented. Resnick and Robyn excel at the funny asides as well as the satirical while this particular alien sees us at an skewed angle from viewing our television, movies, and documentaries trying to make sense of what they selected. There are perfect examples of humanity's absurd and violent side, which make me question our place in the cosmos and the fact that if there is life out there we'd probably just screw up first contact.

Jay Lake's “Permanent Fatal Errors” takes us on a space voyage with a crew of altered human immortals who are guinea pigs for longer interstellar missions. Only who among the crew actually wants to achieve the objectives of this mission?

Told from the point of view of the lowest member of the crew who sees himself as a baby next to the rest of the very old and intelligent crew as he tries to make his way through their murky machinations. An astrological anomaly confounds the crew and a conspiracy is afoot, but just who is doing what? Lake certainly shows his suspenseful flair as there is something out there. And it wants to be found. The story definitely felt unfinished though, but some nice turns more than kept my attention.

David Langford's “Graffiti in the Library of Babel” is a most unusual first contact story.  Someone or something has been marking up an important world database with odd notations. What do they want?

An intelligence has downloaded our history and science and are trying to communicate with us through it. This reminded me a lot of a Robert J. Sawyer story in the making with some very nice dialogue. I couldn't connect with any character though, but the situation grabbed me from the first page as the character tries to write back somehow.

In Kristine Kathryn Rusch's “The Dark Man” a shadow shaped like a man shows up every decade or so on the steps of a very old Cathedral in Italy.

Rusch's background as a mystery writer shines through this tale told in a very different tact than the rest as an investigative reporter takes on paranormal events to find out the truth behind them, but she has finally found a case she can't explain away as a hoax. Rusch takes the idea of a classic conspiracy and twists it into Sci-Fi spectacularly. This was my second favorite story of the bunch.

Pat Cadigan, “The Taste of Night” delves into the mental contact aspects of alien communication with people supposedly suffering mental illness and one of my favorite disorders synesthesia. If you don't know what synesthesia is than go read the wiki as I'd love to see more stories working it in.

Synesthesia causes the senses to get crossed and people associate colors with certain numbers, words, or even days of the week. What if people who had this ability were able to be contacted by aliens? Would we believe them or just call them mad? A really well done story all around. Wonderful psychology angle questions the sanity of people and how we could be missing something right in front of us.

Ian Watson's “A Waterfall of Lights” again takes the tact of alien contact through our minds, but gives it a good twist.

If there are aliens they could have died out millions of years ago, but what if they left a legacy behind that was still out there? What would they look like? A surprisingly good story from a writer new to me despite having been around for decades. The story is very similar to the work Robert Charles Wilson has been doing with his Spin books, which is probably why I like it so much.  The ending was left hanging quite a bit, but watch out for those eyes.

James Morrow, “The Vampires of Paradox” put us in present times with a religious order that is keeping a terrible event at bay by contemplating logic paradoxes along the lines of "if a tree falls in the woods with no one around does it make a sound?" The paradoxes mentioned are further reaching though and even more mind-bending.

No one does philosophical conundrums as well as Morrow and his stripes are still more than up to the task but ends up feeling a bit of heavy handed at times.  Still it fits the given setting and style. Morrow is still a master of short fiction and this was by far the strongest story of the lot and was rightly chosen to end the anthology. The inclusion of this story along makes the book worth picking up. This could also be seen as the best paradox lecture you've ever attended. I could definitely see it being referenced in some logic classes.

Is Anybody Out There? is great cross section of Fermi Paradox ideas packed with wonder. Wonders of science. Of confounding mysteries. Of what could be's. Of what should be that is well worth dipping into. A few stories left me indifferent or just plain lost, but the Morrow, Rusch, and Watson's stories more than make this volume worth grabbing. Visit Marty Halpern's blog More Red Ink for serializations of a few short stories from Is Anybody Out There? including Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Sheila Finch, and Jay Lake.

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Top 5 Reads for first half of 2010 (Plus Top 5 Most Anticipated)

With the year half over I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what I've enjoyed the most so far this year and what I'm most looking forward to for my loyal readers to squeeze a few more reads in their busy summer. In no particular order here are my favorite reads of the year:

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis - A shockingly good debut. Tregillis has an ability to twist history in a beautiful and sometimes scary ways. His characters have depth and he puts each and every one of them through paces of mental and physical anguish.

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky - This is a book that leads to so much as the series progresses. A wonderfully imaginative fantasy world with technological advancement  that makes sense along with human's having insect abilities. An odd coalescing that works so well.  And you never know what Tchaikovsky is going to throw at you next. The second volume Dragonfly Falling is a actually stronger though, but for those uninitiated start with Empire.

Horns by Joe Hill - Where did this kid come from? Oh, yeah he is Stephen King's son, but Hill picks apart characters better and can do a fine and believable ending more imaginative than his father has done lately. Horns will be seen as a classic of the Horror genre years from now.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding - I've already gushed about this one quite a bit so let me just say this book has everything an adventure novel should have. Great characters, story arcs, tension, and setting.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton - What an awesome and expansive world with a history of more than 60,000 years in the making. Shades of Mieville and Vance do apply.

Bonus classic:

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. - If you have never read this you should. One of the best Apocalyptic novels ever that spans thousands of years as humanity tries to rebuild itself after a nuclear holocaust. There are three linked novellas that comprise the whole with each story separated by 600 years as the Order of Leibowitz strives to collect and safe guard humanity's store of books and other written knowledge through the eons.

The Way of Kings was pretty close as well and might knock one of the above once I reflect a little more.  Kraken nearly made it too, but was a bit of a mess in many ways.

Now here are the books I'm most looking forward to that will be out before the end of the year:

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey - Sandman Slim kicked the right amount of ass and Kadrey certainly has plenty more to do with this character. October release.

Antiphon by Ken Scholes - The third Psalms of Isaak. September release, but I'm reading the arc right now. So far I'm not as enthralled as I was during the first two, but I've plenty more to go.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest - Can this live up to the steampunkitude of Boneshaker? We shall see. Clementine definitely surpassed my expectations although it had a very different temperament than Boneshaker. October release.

The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers - I'm really eager to see how Aker's develops his style of Noird a bit more after Heart of Veridon. November release.

Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding - Wooding's first Tale of the Jetty kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page, which is why I can't wait for this to land in my mail box. I've had it on pre-order since before I finished Retribution Falls. July UK release.

Also, I'm really looking forward to Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special. Weird West here we come. I just noticed that of the five mentioned above only one is not from a series. Hmmm.... So what are you favorite reads this year and what are you looking forward to?

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GUEST POST | Karen Miller author of The Reluctant Mage

Breaking up is hard to do.

And so, with this month’s Orbit hardcover release of The Reluctant Mage, book 2 of the Fisherman’s Children duology, I’ve come to the end of the story that began five years ago now with The Innocent Mage.

Actually, truth be told, it began before that. The Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology was bought by HarperCollins Australia in late 2003, with The Innocent Mage being published locally in 2005. But the actual seed of the idea at the heart of the story sprouted some ten or so years before that.

So really, I’ve been living with Asher and Gar and Dathne and Matt and Pellen and Morg for many, many years. And I have to say, finally bidding them farewell when I wrote ‘The End’ on the last manuscript page of The Reluctant Mage was a darn sight more difficult than I’d ever anticipated. And not only them – the Fisherman’s Children duology saw some new characters stride onto the stage – Deenie and Rafel and Charis and Arlin and Ewen and Tavin – and I fell in love with them, too.

It was a wrench saying goodbye to everyone. Such a wrench, in fact, that I kept adding one more scene, one more scene, just a bit, just a bit, because I couldn’t bear to say goodbye! I know them so well, and I care about them so much, it just felt wrong to be walking away. Which might well sound crazy, but you have to be a little bit crazy if you’re going to play this game.

The Mad Hatter’s Michael asked me if these books, these characters, have changed my life … and if so, how.

Well. Let me count the ways!

Before The Innocent Mage was published I was a hungry aspiring novelist, dreaming of reaching a wide audience with this story that had lived inside me for years, never letting go of me even though I tried to let go of it a couple of times. Just getting the nod on the sale, making that first amazing sale, that changed me. It changed my perception of me – I was no longer aspiring, I was pre-published, and my often faltering confidence got an enormous boost.

But even so, there were jitters. Getting a contract is wonderful, but the book actually selling well enough that a publisher will take a risk on you again? That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Publishing is a very odd business, without any rhyme or reason. Basically it’s one big gamble, and all you can do is cross your fingers and wish on an entire galaxy of stars that you’ll be one of the lucky ones.

And I was incredibly lucky. The Innocent Mage sold well in Australia, and as a result was bought for UK publication by Orbit. To my enormous surprise – and great pleasure – The Innocent Mage became the most successful UK debut fantasy novel of 2007. In 2008 it was chosen as one of the titles to launch Orbit US, and again fared extremely well. The follow-up volume, The Awakened Mage, also sold well and my next project, the Godspeaker trilogy, was accepted for publication.

And not just that. Because of those first two Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books I was given the enormous privilege of writing in the Star Wars universe, sold the Rogue Agent series under my pen name KE Mills, was able to go back to Lur with the Fisherman’s Children duology and have recently signed a new deal with Orbit for a 5-book epic fantasy saga called The Tarnished Crown Quintet. I now have the rare luxury of doing what I love for a living – and that’s thanks to The Innocent Mage.

Seriously, there are many, many days when I have to stop and convince myself that yes, this really is my life!
I think I’m a better writer now than when I started, and that’s because being part of the publishing cycle exposes you to a lot of criticism, a lot of feedback, the professional kind, that an aspiring novelist doesn’t get. It also exposes you to reader feedback, and while that can sometimes be a bit confronting it can also really help you develop as a writer – if you can grow a thick enough skin fast enough! Readers have no vested interest in keeping you happy. They’ve bought your book, and with it have purchased the right to say whatever they like about the work, however they feel like saying it! Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received has been from readers, who were honest and blunt and absolutely right. I owe them a great deal.

Michael also asked me if the characters in my books were like my children. I have to say no, they’re not. If they were I don’t think I could kill so many of them off with such ruthless abandon! To me, characters – and this is all characters, not just mine but the ones other people create, that I love – are totally real people who just happen to live in another dimension. They live, they love, they fight, they make up, make mistakes, make sacrifices, redeem themselves and live happily ever after – or not -- just like the people of Earth do. I just get to eavesdrop on them.

When I start a book sometimes I know the people in it really well from the beginning, like Asher, and sometimes I get to know them through the process of discovering the story. Sometimes they burst onto the stage and sometimes they sneak up on me while my back is turned. There are two new characters in The Reluctant Mage, Ewen and Tavin, and they really did surprise me. Seriously, I just fell head over heels in love with both of them. I’m so hoping everyone else does too.

I said at the start of this ramble that with the publication of The Reluctant Mage I’d bid farewell to the land of Lur and the people who live there … but that’s not quite true. Right now I’m deep in the throes of writing A Blight of Mages, which is a stand alone prequel to the entire saga. It tells the story of Morgan and Barl, who were ultimately responsible for what happened in the four Mage books. It’s a real challenge, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

The last five years have been such a roller coaster ride, I can’t tell you. I’ve worked harder that I ever have before, even when I had my own business. I’ve known the heights of elation and the utter depths of despair. I’ve met some truly amazing readers, some fabulous, fabulous writers, and been given opportunities it’s sometimes hard to believe I deserve. All because I had an idea for a book.

Life really is very odd … and I love it.

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Cover Unveiled for The Blade Itself (Limited Edition)

Cover art by Alex Preuss

Subterranean Press is a bit behind in the production of the limited edition version of The Blade Itself. The delay had to do with finding the right artist and also one who could fit it in their schedule. Alex Preuss, best known for his Sci-Fi art, is the final artist who does some gorgeous work. I like the illustration and understand the reason for keeping the same font from the original edition, but it does seem a bit incongruous to the art.

This is a project close to my heart since I'm among those who have pre-ordered The Blade Itself from Sub Press as a hardcover US edition never happened. Sub Press has also released one of the interior colorplates, which I had a lot of trouble placing in the world of the First Law since it looked more Sci-Fi than Fantasy. Theories say it is the shipyards of Gurkhul, the house of the Maker, or Dagoska.

UPDATE: Abercrombie has confirmed it is the shipyards of Gurkhul.

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VIDEO | Sneak Peek at The Goon Movie

The Goon is now one of my all-time favorite graphic novel series.  Powell has won multiple Eisner Awards for the art, which is second to none.  The stories are damn good too, which is why I can't wait for the animated The Goon Movie to hit.  It is still very much in development and in search of a studio, but mark my words it will get made so we can feast our eyes on Powell's twisted world filled with gangsters, zombies, and mad science.  Paul Giamatti is already on board to voice the quick-lipped Franky and Clancy Brown covering the Goon.  Now check out the video. A slightly more polished versionis available here that they've made to shop to studios.

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How often do you read outside of SFF?

You'll notice two polls in the upper right. Yesterday's cover post made me think about this since it was the first non-genre cover I've put up here. Most other SFF fans I'm friends with read mostly SFF and hardly ever step outside that box, which brings me to the polls as I would like to get a handle on other people's reading habits.

Fantasy and Science Fiction have always been my mainstay reads since I was little, but I've always considered myself a pretty varied reader on the whole. Although, I don't normally talk about it here, if much at all, given the standard purview of this blog I've been an avid reader of most every section of the bookstore except for Romance and Westerns. Something about frilly dresses and cowboy hats generally don't do much for me.

I've read a heck of a lot of what I'd call fun yet informative History books such as 1491, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, The Little Ice Age, and Guns, Germs, and Steel. Arm chair Science books also pique my attention from time to time. The World Without Us is more eye opening than most other apocalyptic novels and makes humanity seems so fragile and insignificant in comparison to the world, which will endure in some form. I've been in love with Edge.Org's series of short essay books the last few years with What's Your Dangerous Idea? being the best. And than there are the books that my wife and I enjoy together, which tend to be travel narratives and memoirs from odd people or people in at least an unusual situation. Think Bill Bryson, who I can't get enough of and if you haven't read J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals, get on with it! There are also my guilty please reads about Secret Societies, Pyramids, and Ancient Mysteries that I sneak from time-to-time. You won't regret it.

I also like my normal fiction as well often called Literature, but isn't it all literature? I can't go on vacation without at least one Nick Hornby type book. Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia was the first book I ever lent the woman who would go on to become my wife and to this day I think that is what sealed the deal on our relationship. It was exactly the type of book she loves that has odd characters placed in questionable sexual situations.

These sorts of non-SFF spurts have happened less and less the past couple of years, partially due to the blog I'm sure, but I still can't go too long without a romp on the wild side. Sometimes I read a non-SFF just as a palette cleanser as I try not to read the same type of book back to back, which is why you see me going from a Fantasy review to a Sci-Fi to Urban Fantasy to Steampunk and than a Epic Fantasy.  I've gotta mix my reading up lest it all seem the same.

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I just love this cover...

What's this you say? Tesla and Einstein juggling the universe and electrcity? Is this some kind of mad Sci-Fi mash-up? Well, no. Not even a little bit. But it does looks like a heck of a lot of fun. They Called Me Mad falls under the Science History category, which is an area of the bookstore I always find myself drawn too despite not mentioning those types of reads here much. With this one I couldn't help myself. The title alone was enough to sell me.

Discover the true genius behind history's greatest "madmen."

From Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll, the image of the mad scientist surrounded by glass vials, copper coils, and electrical apparatus remains a popular fixture. In films and fiction, he's comically misguided, tragically misunderstood, or pathologically evil. But the origins of this stereotype can be found in the sometimes-eccentric real life men and women who challenged our view of the world and broke new scientific frontiers.

They Called Me Mad recounts the amazing true stories of such historical luminaries as Archimedes, the calculator of pi and creator of the world's first death ray; Isaac Newton, the world's first great scientist and the last great alchemist; Nikola Tesla, who built the precursors of robots, fluorescent lighting, and particle beam weapons before the turn of the twentieth century-and more.
They Called Me Mad is probably going to end up on my Christmas wishlist as it comes out December 7.

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VIDEO | Neal Stephenson & Greg Bear on the historical scope of The Mongoliad

News is slowly trickling out about The Mongoliad and this video is the latest.  I'm hoping we get to see some samples online soon or maybe a release date, but it seems the group wants to keep things under the wraps for now.

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MEME | Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks

We're still hard at work on the SF and Fantasy Materworks Reading Project and still showing how we stack up in the scheme of things. We did this with the Sci-Fi list of Masterworks first and not it is time to turn to the Fantasy set, which I was hoping to have done better at. What I've bolded are books read and italics means I own it, but it has been gathering dust. Hopefully in a year's time this list will look a lot more bolded.

1 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe
2 - Time and the Gods - Lord Dunsany
3 - The Worm Ouroboros - E.R. Eddison
4 - Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
5 - Little, Big - John Crowley
6 - The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
7 - Viriconium - M. John Harrison
8 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard
9 - The Land of Laughs - Jonathan Carroll
10 - The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea - L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
11 - Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
12 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 2: Sword and Citadel - Gene Wolfe
13 - Fevre Dream - George R. R. Martin
14 - Beauty - Sheri S. Tepper
15 - The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
16 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard
17 - Elric - Michael Moorcock
18 - The First Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
19 - Riddle-Master - Patricia A. McKillip
20 - Time and Again - Jack Finney
21 - Mistress of Mistresses - E.R. Eddison
22 - Gloriana or the Unfulfill'd Queen - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
24 - The Second Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
25 - Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll
26 - The Emperor of Dreams - Clark Ashton Smith
27 - Lyonesse I: Suldrun's Garden - Jack Vance
28 - Peace - Gene Wolfe
29 - The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford
30 - Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe - Michael Moorcock
31 - Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams - C.L. Moore
32 - The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
33 - The House on the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson
34 - The Drawing of the Dark - Tim Powers
35 - Lyonesse II and III: The Green Pearl and Madouc - Jack Vance
36 - The History of Runestaff - Michael Moorcock
37 - A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
38 - Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson
39 - The Mabinogion - Evangeline Walton
40 - Three Hearts & Three Lions - Poul Anderson
41 - Grendel - John Gardner
42 - The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
43 - WAS - Geoff Ryman
44 - Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
45 - Replay - Ken Grimwood
46 - Sea Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories - Leigh Brackett
47 - The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
48 - The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip
49 - Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
50 - The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales - Rudyard Kipling

Only 6 read out of 50 with 5 others owned but not read. Pitiful. That'll be changing as my next read for Masterworks will be Lud-in-the-Mist. So what does your list look like?

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New Procurements

So I'm doing fine in the book department since I announced my book buying hiatus. And the book haul sent to me from publishers the last couple of weeks is definitely in the manageable area. If I had been buying per my usual rate there would be at least another 2 or 3 books below. Believe me the urge has hit me.

Masked edited by Lou Anders - This is the finished copy sent from the publisher of Anders' superhero prose anthology I've been so looking forward to. I plan on getting to this quite soon, but I'm in the middle of two other anthologies so it'll have to wait, but not too long with a Mike Carey sitting in there. The cover looks even better in person.

Tracato by Joel Shepherd - This is the galley of the third book in Shepherd's Blood & Steel series, which has been likened to A Song of Ice and Fire in a lot of places.  I also have the second book in the series, but not the first so given my pledge I doubt it will be read anytime soon.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh - This is galley Cavanaugh's debut science fiction novel.  The official release is set for October so I'm sure I'll be reviewing it before than. Here is the trailer that has been making the rounds.

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn - I've been meaning to read Carrie Vaughn for a while, but didn't want to jump in to a long established series such as her Kitty Norville werewolf books, so this standalone may fit the bill.  I actually had it on my Looking Forward Urban Fantasy post and nearly forgot about it until Tor was kind enough to send a copy. Also, the protagonist is a comic book writer, which ups the ante for me to make time.

Virga: Cities of the Air by Karl Schroeder - Tor has smartly decide to do trade paperback's of Schroeder's Virga series starting with an omnibus of the first two in the series Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce. This is something I think more publishers should do.  Especially for series with four or more books. Look at the long success of The Black Company series or Wolfe's New Sun and other related books. Also over the years I've found myself less willing to read mass markets and would much rather have a trade paperback, which is easier to read and holds up better.

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New Procurements after my last major bookstore visit

REVIEW | The Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams (Spectra)

Earth has been in turmoil for decades with constant wars, and infighting. Only in the last few years have political and military powers reached a detente, which is quickly eroding as an unknown terrorist group only known as Autumn Rain seek to cause havoc around the world and in nearby space. The United States and the Eurasian Coalition have agents in the field trying to understand and control the situation lest full-scale war erupt, which both side believe would mean the end of Earth.

David J. Williams' debut The Mirrored Heavens is cross breed of Cyberpunk, Thriller, Cold War Politics, and Espionage that all starts with a loud bang as a space elevator is blown into pieces and no one is sure why. Players on all sides are thrown into the mix with hardly anyone's allegiances trusted. All the main characters just seem like shades of the same person as they are all a bit sociopathic and overly precise, which can make it hard to separate the characters as they have similar voices. But these are altered humans who are specially trained to kill and infiltrate. Most agents are sent off in pairs with one being a Razor, who is the muscle of the group nearly Terminator-like while the other, the Mech, can make computers do their bidding who have circuitry on the brain.

Adrenaline floods Haskell’s body, merges with her distant ecstasy—and as it does so, her perception in the zone sharpens even further. The nervous system into which she’s extended her own crystallizes still finer. The edges grow sharper, the colors brighter, the shadows darker.

The Mirrored Heavens is an exhilarating read as Williams moves things at such a break-neck pace I often found myself having to take breaks just to absorb everything that was going on. Williams throws so much in the well it was close to overkill on more than one occasion with too much information and action making it hard to take everything in and really nail the look of everything in your mind's eye. I'm sure I lost some meanings or connections along the way. Regardless, Williams' vision of 2110 is one of the most action packed Sci-Fi novels around today with twisty characters that have capabilities that you can never guess.

Whirling. Marlowe confronts only air—and than instinct saves his life, for instead of drawing up dumbfounded, he keeps moving, diving as his adversary’s knife (replete with powered saw-edges to shear through even heavy armor) flies through the space where his head had been a moment before. Dive seamlessly switches to somersault, leaving him on the floor, firing backward over his head, riddling the man with bullets. The whole action has taken less than two seconds. Whoever he was, this man is now dead.

Williams denies giving his characters even the briefest of breaks as they are tossed from one battle to the next in this very bleak future. One of the main questions that kept coming to mind was: Does this future humanity deserve to survive? So few people seem redeemable and most are downright unlikable as they use and twist people to their own desires. Even thinking this I didn't have a problem pulling forward given the vivid, but somewhat frantic style.

If you like complex military Sci-Fi with a razor sharp edge or cold war politics mixed with hi-tech action The Mirrored Heavens is well worth checking out despite some issues. I give The Mirrored Heavens 7 out of 10 hats. Also, I'd recommend the mass market edition as it has a nice appendix with a timeline that I made use of more than once. I have The Burning Heavens the second book in the Autumn Rain Trilogy, which I'll partake of in the future to see if some of the issues I noticed were improved upon. Plus there is a lot going on in this future that I want answers to.  Also check out the site for the series as it looks pretty cool.

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Winner of The King's Bastard [Signed] by Rowena Cory Daniels

The lucky winner of Rowena Cory Daniels's The King's Bastard is Pamela from Escondido, CA.  Look for more giveaway goodness in the weeks to come.


Your friendly book-loving Mad Hatter

REVIEW | Time and Again by Jack Finney

My first SFF Masterworks Blog review is live for Jack Finney's classic Time and Again. I think this is definitely one of my best constructed reviews with thanks to Larry for his keen eye and pushing me to raise my game. Go on over and take a gander and be sure to check what else is going on. We're already up to 9 reviews within less than two weeks of launching.  Sure plenty more are to come, but you've gotta start somewhere and we've already tackled George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream and Philip K. Dick's Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep?.

At some point I'll add my reviews to Mad Hatter's, but for the time being they'll only be available at SFF Masterworks.

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UK Cover Unveiled for The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie has released the UK cover for The Heroes, and I like.  I like it a lot.  It follows in the footsteps of the beautiful UK edition of Best Served Cold, which also had a map/weapon combo.  The map was drawn by Dave Senior and the axe is by Didier Graffet.  This is not the final draft as blood and some other details will be added.

War: where the blood and dirt of the battlefield hide the dark deeds committed in the name of glory. THE HEROES is about violence and ambition, gruesome deaths and betrayals; and the brutal truth that no plan survives contact with enemy. The characters are the stars, as ever, and the message is dark: when it comes to war, there are no heroes…


Curnden Craw: a ruthless fighter who wants nothing more than to see his crew survive.

Prince Calder: a liar and a coward, he will regain his crown by any means necessary.

Bremer dan Gorst: a master swordsman, a failed bodyguard, his honor will be restored—in the blood of his enemies.

Over three days, their fates will be sealed.

Here is the US cover from Orbit just for comparison sake:

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Cover & Table of Contents Unveiled for Life on Mars ed. by Jonathan Strahan

Science Fiction stories about Mars have been popular within the genre for more than the past century starting with The War of the Worlds and with a particular upswing in the 1950s spurred by Ray Bradbury and the pulps of the day. Life on Mars looks to revitalize the well trod upon Martian landscape yet again with a stellar crew of contributors and another inspiring cover piece by Stephan Martiniere. To say this is an amazing group of authors given the topic is something of an understatement. Reynolds, Baxter, Doctorow, McDonald, and Robinson all in the same volume with new stories! Plus what is probably one of Kage Baker's last written stories. Behold the full table of contents:

1. “Attlee and the Long Walk” by Kage Baker
2. “The Old Man and the Martian Sea” by Alastair Reynolds
3. “Wahala” by Nnedi Okorafor
4. “On Chryse Plain” by Stephen Baxter
5. “First Principle” by Nancy Kress
6. “Martian Chronicles” by Cory Doctorow (novella)
7. “Goodnight Moons” by Ellen Klages
8. “The Taste of Promises” by Rachel Swirsky
9. “Digging” by Ian McDonald
10. “LARP on Mars” by Chris Roberson
11. “Martian Heart” John Barnes
12. “Discovering Life” by Kim Stanley Robinson

I'm very curious about Doctorow's piece. Maybe an homage to Bradbury? The anthology is being pitched to a YA audience, but it should play well with adults as well. Also, the McDonald story might have something to do with the YA novel he recently sold to Pyr. Either way this will be a can't miss for Sci-Fi short story or Mars fans. Life on Mars is scheduled to be released in April of 2011 by Viking.

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MEME | Gollancz SF Masterworks

A few of my fellow SF and Fantasy Materworks Reading cohorts have been posting what they have read in the SF Masterworks series and I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring.  What I've bolded are books read and italics means I own it, but it has been gathering dust.  Hopefully in a year's time this list will look a lot more bolded.  This list also includes new Masterwork releases coming out later this year and the first section of roman numerals of the list are a special run of hardcovers in the series, which are also in the numbered series.

I - Dune - Frank Herbert
II - The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin
III - The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
IV - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
V - A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
VI - Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
VII - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
VIII - Ringworld - Larry Niven
IX - The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
X - The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

1 - The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
2 - I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
3 - Cities in Flight - James Blish
4 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
5 - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
6 - Babel-17 - Samuel R. Delany
7 - Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
8 - The Fifth Head of Cerberus - Gene Wolfe
9 - Gateway - Frederik Pohl
10 - The Rediscovery of Man - Cordwainer Smith

11 - Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
12 - Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
13 - Martian Time-Slip - Philip K. Dick
14 - The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
15 - Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
16 - The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin
17 - The Drowned World - J. G. Ballard
18 - The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
19 - Emphyrio - Jack Vance
20 - A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

21 - Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
22 - Behold the Man - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
24 - The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
25 - Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
26 - Ubik - Philip K. Dick
27 - Timescape - Gregory Benford
28 - More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon
29 - Man Plus - Frederik Pohl
30 - A Case of Conscience - James Blish

31 - The Centauri Device - M. John Harrison
32 - Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick
33 - Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss
34 - The Fountains of Paradise - Arthur C. Clarke
35 - Pavane - Keith Roberts
36 - Now Wait for Last Year - Philip K. Dick
37 - Nova - Samuel R. Delany
38 - The First Men in the Moon - H. G. Wells
39 - The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke
40 - Blood Music - Greg Bear

41 - Jem - Frederik Pohl
42 - Bring the Jubilee - Ward Moore
43 - VALIS - Philip K. Dick
44 - The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin
45 - The Complete Roderick - John Sladek
46 - Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - Philip K. Dick
47 - The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells
48 - Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
49 - A Fall of Moondust - Arthur C. Clarke
50 - Eon - Greg Bear

51 - The Shrinking Man - Richard Matheson
52 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K. Dick
53 - The Dancers at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock
54 - The Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
55 - Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick
56 - Downward to the Earth - Robert Silverberg
57 - The Simulacra - Philip K. Dick
58 - The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick
59 - Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
60 - Ringworld - Larry Niven

61 - The Child Garden - Geoff Ryman
62 - Mission of Gravity - Hal Clement
63 - A Maze of Death - Philip K. Dick
64 - Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
65 - Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke
66 - Life During Wartime - Lucius Shepard
67 - Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm
68 - Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
69 - Dark Benediction - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
70 - Mockingbird - Walter Tevis

71 - Dune - Frank Herbert
72 - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
73 - The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
74 - Inverted World - Christopher Priest
75 - Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle
76 - H.G. Wells - The Island of Dr. Moreau
77 - Arthur C. Clarke - Childhood's End
78 - H.G. Wells - The Time Machine
79 - Samuel R. Delany - Dhalgren (July 2010)
80 - Brian Aldiss - Helliconia (August 2010)

81 - H.G. Wells - Food of the Gods (Sept. 2010)
82 - Jack Finney - The Body Snatchers (Oct. 2010)
83 - Joanna Russ - The Female Man (Nov. 2010)
84 - M.J. Engh - Arslan (Dec. 2010

So what's my count? 13 read, which illustrates exactly why I wanted to get involved in the Masterwork Reading Project.  The two lonely italic books owned but not read is Ringworld, which is also my next scheduled pick for review after Time and Again from the Fantasy Masterwork list and The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard.  Look for my review of Time and Again early next week over at the SF and Fantasy Materworks Reading Blog.

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Contest for The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniels [signed]

The Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours of new Affinity Seeps, places where the untamed power wells up. By royal decree all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Ab­bey, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Elsewhere others are tainted with Affinity and must fight to survive. Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy.
Through the generosity of Rowena Cory Daniels I have one signed copy of her book The King's Bastard up for grabs.  The King's Bastard has just been released and is the first ina trilogy titled The Chronicles King Rolan's Kin that is being publishing in quick succession by Solaris Books with the 2nd volume expected late this month and the third in August. I'll be starting on my own copy shortly.

To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address and "BASTARD" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight July 14th. I'll announce the winner on the following day or as soon as I remember. This contest is open to the people of the United States only since I'm paying for shipping. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest.

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SFF Masterworks Group Project

The news hit last week about the official launch of a blog dedicated to reviewing all 130+ books in the Gollancz Fantasy and SF Masterwork series, which I am a part of called The SF an Fantasy Masterwork Reading Project.  This is my first attempt at participating in a group blog, but I couldn't pass up the chance to be part of something that would help me fill-in some of the horrendous gaps of classic reading in the genre I love so much.  My first contribution will be Time and Again by Jack Finney, which I've been meaning to read for ages. I hope to have my review up by the end of the week.

This project was started by Patrick from Stomping on Yeti so a big thanks to him for organizing and pushing us all in to this.  We've got quite a good crew of bloggers both established and new on the scene including Larry from Of Blog, Ken from Neth's Space, and Niall from The Speculative Scotsman to turn out reviews on a regular basis.  The plan is to post at least a few times a week and the first four posts are already available. So go on over and bookmark it.

Cover Unveiled for The Osiris Ritual by George Mann

A steampunk mystery adventure featuring immortality, artifacts, and intrepid sleuths Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes.

Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, imagines life will be a little quieter after his dual successes solving The Affinity Bridge affair. But he hasn’t banked on his villainous predecessor, Knox, who is hell-bent on achieving immortality, not to mention a secret agent who isn’t quite what he seems....

So continues an adventure quite unlike any other, a thrilling steampunk mystery and the second in the series of Newbury & Hobbes investigations.
The Osiris Ritual is the second in Newbury & Hobbes series from George Mann designed by Tor Books. The cover follows the same format as The Affinity Bridge, which was probably one of the best executed Steampunk cover last year having had a lot to do with the finishing details on the printed jacket with a metallic paper stock used along with copious amounts of embossing to the gears on the cover.  All around a splendid job so I'll have to reserve a bit judgement on The Osiris Ritual until I see the final job since at first blush this design is a little sedate.  But look! A Steampunk cover without an airship! What an idea!

For comparison sake here is the cover for the UK edition.  Again a lot of detail work going on, but I'm not fond of the color scheme.

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