Monday, 30 April 2012

Books Received April 2012

Descriptions, with one exception, are from the Indigo website.

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski.  I've read this one. My review for it will appear on SF Signal first, then here a bit later. It was a fantastic read, and while it's marketed as YA, adult readers will enjoy it too.

An intelligent computer game with a disturbing agenda.
When 16-year-old Nick gets a package, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. The package contains the mysterious computer game Erebos. Players must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.
Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.
Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur.
This utterly convincing and suspenseful thriller originated in Germany where it has become a runaway bestseller.

Girl Genius: Agatha Awakens, Omnibus 1 by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Girl Genius, the multiple Hugo Award-winning steampunk webcomic by Phil and Kaja Foglio, now collected in hardcover!

The Industrial Revolution has become all-out war! Mad Scientists, gifted with the Spark of genius, unleash insane inventions on an unprepared Europe. For centuries, the Heterodyne family of inventors kept the peace, but the last Heterodyne disappeared twenty years ago, leaving their ally Baron Klaus Wulfenbach to maintain order with his fleet of airships and army of unstoppable, if not very bright, Jaeger Monsters.

At Transylvania Polygnostic University, Agatha Clay dreams of being a scientist herself, but her trouble concentrating dooms her to be a lowly minion at best. When her locket, a family heirloom, is stolen, Agatha shows signs of having the Spark in a spectacular, destructive fashion and captures the attention of the Baron-and the Baron's handsome young son, Gilgamesh.

Swept up to the Baron's Airship City, Agatha finds herself in the midst of the greatest minds of her generation, as well as palace intrigue, dashing heroes, and an imperial cat. Agatha may be the most brilliant mind of her generation and the key to control of the continent, but first, she just has to survive.

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper

The Book of Eador, Abjurations 12:14, is very clear: Suffer ye not the life of a witch. For a thousand years, the Church Knights have obeyed that commandment, sending to the stake anyone who can hear the songs of the earth. There are no exceptions, not even for one of their own.
Novice Knight Gair can hear music no one else can, beautiful, terrible music: music with power. In the Holy City, that can mean only one thing: death by fire-until an unlikely intervention gives him a chance to flee the city and escape the flames.
With the Church Knights and their witchfinder hot on his heels, Gair hasn't time to learn how to use the power growing inside him, but if he doesn't master it, that power will tear him apart. His only hope is the secretive Guardians of the Veil, though centuries of persecution have almost destroyed their Order, and the few Guardians left have troubles of their own.
For the Veil between worlds is weakening, and behind it, the Hidden Kingdom, ever-hungry for dominion over the daylight realm, is stirring. Though he is far from ready, Gair will find himself fighting for his own life, for everyone within the Order of the Veil, and for the woman he has come to love.
  Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High-until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.
A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you're as good as dead. And David has no gang. It's just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don't fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

Skylark by Meagan Spooner (synopsis from Amazon.com)

Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bookwork Blues: Special Needs in Strange Worlds Month

This month Bookworm Blues is hosting a themed month on disabilities as portrayed in science fiction and fantasy.  It's a fantastic topic, one that's avoided because, as she mentions in her introductory post, "...how many people are either afraid to talk about it because it’s a sensitive issue, or can’t think of anything to say because no one has brought attention to it before".

I had the idea a year or more ago to do an endcap with books containing protagonists (or important secondary characters) with disabilities.  I eventually discarded the idea because I couldn't think of a way to display the books without sounding... less than polite about it.  Both in terms of titling the display, but also by having one in the first place.  It's the kind of thing that gets pushed aside for pc reasons, but also because as a society we try not to talk about things that make us uncomfortable.

Now I wonder why I was so afraid to bring attention to books that showcase - or at least bring attention to - those with disabilities.  Thankfully I didn't toss my list.  In fact, I've added to it.  I'm hoping to expand it some more and post it some time this month.

Thank you Sarah for creating a theme month that addresses this sensitive topic.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

New Author Spotlight: Anne Lyle

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today's spotlight shines on Anne Lyle! Her debut novel is The Alchemist of Souls published by Angry Robot Books.

Here's the cover copy...

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers' wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I's capital? Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul.
Check out her book if you're a fan of Elizabethan style alternate history:

  • Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (Spectra)
  • The Sword of Albion by Mark Chadbourn (Bantam)
  • Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero by Dan Abnett (Angry Robot)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Mr. Foley

This is a short video we stumbled across a few days ago.  Interesting, and rather creepy.

A darkly funny but nightmarish scenario, a man wakes up in hospital with a group of sound artists soundtracking his life. Mr Foley is an award winning short film directed by Dublin directing duo Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman aka D.A.D.D.Y.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Movie Review: Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror


Director: F. W. Murnau, 1922

Pros: very creepy vampire, atmospheric, ending is different from the book (so it's a surprise), good soundtrack (in the restored version)

Cons: drags in the middle, supporting characters have little purpose, tinting made time of day difficult to determine

review contains mild spoilers

restored 2006 under the direction of Luciano Berriatua (including newly translated title cards, reconstructed score, variously tinted frames)

Real estate agent Hutter is sent to Transilvannia to arrange the sale of the house across from his in Wisborg, Germany, to Count Orlok.  The Count turns out to be a vampire, Nosferatu.  The sudden rise in deaths in Wisborg is blamed on the Plague, believed brought by the Count's ship.

The filmmakers were unable to get the rights to Dracula, but that didn't stop them from modelling their film very closely on the book.  Aside from the names, the movie follows the book almost exactly until Count Orlok arrives in Wisborg.  The action here (Act V) is truncated and ends very differently from the book when Ellen (the Mina character, played by Greta Schroeder) discovers how to defeat the monster.

The first Act is devoted to setting up Hutter (Gustav V. Wangenheim) and Ellen as a couple very much in love.  This is important as later in the film their connection saves Hutter's life.  It also makes the ending more profound. 

The Count, played by Max Schreck, is terrifying.  His head is bald, his nose large and crooked and when he shows up as the vampire, his ears become pointy, his teeth sharp and his torso, arms and fingers elongated.  Even his silhouette is terrifying.  This film contains the iconic vampire image of the Count rising from his coffin - though his arms are outstretched here, rather than crossed on his chest as later films use. 

The use of the plague to explain the deaths was, I thought, rather clever.  I was disappointed that Professor Bulwer (the Van Helsing character) didn't have much of a role.  In fact, they could have left him out completely and nothing would have changed.  The same can be said for some of the other supporting characters.

The restored version I watched had a fantastic reconstructed score (which helped set the mood and add to the creepiness) and distracting tinted frames.  I'm not sure if it was due to the tints or the photography, but title plates had to explain when it was night time, as you otherwise couldn't tell (and yellow tints made it look like afternoon).  In a film wherein the antagonist is only out at night, knowing when it's day and night is rather important.  It makes me curious how the film was originally released (as the tinted frames used were taken from different preserved versions of the film).

The movie drags a bit in the middle, but on the whole is an enjoyable retelling of Dracula.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fantasy Fatigue

Going along with yesterday's unfinished book post, I've realized something recently that greatly disturbs me.  I'm a fantasy girl.  I've been reading predominately traditional fantasy for 20 years.  And I'm getting tired of it.

I suspect I've just read too many fantasy novels in my life.  Even books and authors whose work I love (and there are many) just don't interest me right now.  I've got several series that I enjoy that I simply can't bring myself to read the next book of.  And that despite the fact that I know I'll like the books when I read them.  I'm just getting too much of a 'been there, read that a dozen times already' feeling.

I've been reading a lot more science fiction in the past year or so and I believe this is why.  I'm not as familiar with the tropes, so when I read something that's been done a thousand times it still feels fresh and new to me.  My husband has a great collection of books (mostly hard SF and space opera, which I rarely read, even when I read SF) that I'm looking forward to reading.

What does that mean for this blog?  After I'm done my current batch of books I'll be doing a LOT more SF reviews.  I expect to read a lot of older books, classics and books in subgenres I haven't touched on much so far.  I won't ignore fantasy, but I feel I need a break from it for a few months at least so I can rediscover my love for the genre.  And all its tropes. 

Unique - And Literal - Book Launch

Kevin McGill, author of Nikolas & Company: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten, launched his book into space, as part of his book launch on April 20th.

And took a video of it.



He's having a contest to win a Kindle Fire - all you have to do is guess how far away from the launch site the book landed.  Learn more about the book here.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tor / Forge ebooks to go DRM free

Charles Stross predicted that selling ebooks DRM free would be the fall out of the DOJ lawsuit against the big six, as a way of avoiding giving Amazon a monopoly on the ebook market.

DRM on ebooks is dead. (Or if not dead, it's on death row awaiting a date with the executioner.)
...
If the major publishers switch to selling ebooks without DRM, then they can enable customers to buy books from a variety of outlets and move away from the walled garden of the Kindle store. They see DRM as a defense against piracy, but piracy is a much less immediate threat than a gigantic multinational with revenue of $48 Billion in 2011 (more than the entire global publishing industry) that has expressed its intention to "disrupt" them, and whose chief executive said recently "even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation" (where "innovation" is code-speak for "opportunities for me to turn a profit").
And so they will deep-six their existing commitment to DRM and use the terms of the DoJ-imposed settlement to wiggle out of the most-favoured-nation terms imposed by Amazon, in order to sell their wares as widely as possible.

And Tor / Forge is the first to do so.  From their site:

Tom Doherty Associates, publishers of Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, today announced that by early July 2012, their entire list of e-books will be available DRM-free.
“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” said president and publisher Tom Doherty. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”
DRM-free titles from Tom Doherty Associates will be available from the same range of retailers that currently sell their e-books. In addition, the company expects to begin selling titles through retailers that sell only DRM-free books.



Unfinished Book Review: Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper


(With a short essay on Character Driven Fantasy)

Pros: good writing, some great action scenes, realistic world-building, some interesting plot developments (with the Hidden Kingdom and the priests)

Cons: religion is too close to Catholicism (bumped me out of the story), becomes character driven, Gair is too perfect/able

Gair, who has spent the last 10 years of his life training to be a holy knight, is found practicing magic and accused of witchcraft.  The sentence of execution is mitigated and he's let go.  One of his accusers sends a witchfinder and knights to kill him.  A mysterious old man, Alderan, helps him and offers to train him in the use of magic.

I've mentioned on my blog before that I'm not a fan of character driven books.  There are two reasons for that.  The first is that I like accomplishment (in my own life and the lives of those in books).  I like to see advancement of some sort.  I like the feeling that the characters are working towards a final confrontation/revelation/whatever.  I suppose that's one reason I like quest stories so much.  Instant plot arc.

Character driven stories don't always have a plot arc (I say always because some do, if only visible from the ending looking back - like Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon).  As such, I generally find myself in the middle of the book wondering why all of this is happening.  Sure the character is doing stuff, but to what purpose?

That brings me to point two: the character MUST be interesting.  And frankly, there are few characters that are so interesting I'll follow their meanderings in order to find out where they're going with their lives.  If I want to witness people doing random things for random reasons, I'll pay more attention to real life.  I go to books for a story, and I really like to see where the story goes.  A story told just to let a character do stuff... makes me wonder why I care.  How do their actions affect the world?  Do they affect the world at all?

I'm also a reader who tends to prefer side plot elements to the central character in character driven books (Robin Hobbs' Farseer trilogy ticked me off because we followed the assassin rather than getting to see how the war ended).

So, back to The Songs of the Earth.  It begins promisingly with a trial and Gair having to escape the diocese before sundown.  My only complaint about this section of the book was that the Edoran religion was a little too similar to Catholicism.  This is the prayer that starts the book:

"Hail, Mother, full of grace, light and life of all the world.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall find strength in you.  Blessed are the lost, for they shall find salvation in you.  Amen."

Now, I'm not Catholic, but that sounds pretty similar to the rosary to me, subbing out "Mary" for "Mother".  That made me question the setting.  I was pretty sure this wasn't meant to be earth, but I could be wrong.  And it took several chapters to verify that this was, in fact, not earth. 

Gair is an interesting character, but he becomes too much of a Mary Sue (is there a name for a male Mary Sue?).  When he reaches the school Alderan takes him to he's tested in magic.  Up until recently in the book he's been afraid of using magic for fear that it will break loose and cause destruction.  Suddenly he can work all forms of magic (including the apparently very rare shape shifting magic) without much trouble, if with a fair amount of effort.  He's also very good at sword fighting (which one would expect of a man who's trained for 10 years to be a knight) and yet, not quite as good as I'd expected, given all his training vs that of the people at the school (who would have been studying a lot of other things as well).  He's also an all-round nice guy.  He has faults, but they're easily forgiven and mostly ignored.

Still, as interesting as he is as a character (and he is interesting, despite his virtual perfection), 100 pages of travelling and several chapters of him at school, falling in love (with a woman who's only interested in him due to his shape shifting ability) wasn't endearing him to me.  He simply isn't interesting enough to me to carry a novel without a plot.  I stopped reading on page 236 when I asked myself why I cared about him and his studies.  Why I cared to learn what he was doing from day to day.  The answer was that I didn't.

And it's a shame, because the world was interesting and it's clear there are plot elements to be uncovered (with the wall between their world and the Hidden World that's currently failing, and the reason why the priest, Goran, wants Gair dead so badly he's sent a witchfinder after him).

If you like character driven fantasy, then pick this up, because it does have a number of things going for it.  If you don't like character driven fantasy, then there are a lot of other books out there you'll prefer to this one.  

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Gone Reading's Month Of Mom Giveaway

Gone Reading, the philanthropic book product site, is having a giveaway in May - which they're calling the Month of Mom.  The prize is $100 to use on the Gone Reading site and a $25 gift card for Amazon.

There is a rafflecopter entry form, as well as suggestions for Mother's Day gifts.  You can enter several times for liking them on facebook and following them on twitter, pinterest, etc.  It doesn't say who's eligible to win (but I assume it's US + wherever they ship to *).

*Which according to an email I received (and now written on their giveaway post) is: the US, Canada, UK and Australia.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Darth Vader and Son

Most of you (all of you?) will probably have seen this Today on TOR.com, but it's too cute to not repost.  Jeffrey Brown has done a comic detailing what Luke's life would have been like had Darth Vader raised him.  And the segments on the author's site, are simply adorable.  The book is now in stores and available online.  Check out the author's website for more information about the book and to sample more images from it.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Silent Movie Reviews

Before this week the only silent movie I'd seen was a non-restored cut of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.  After seeing three more films, here are some general impressions I've made about silent films:

1) for complicated stories title cards are necessary to understand the plot (Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll); for simplistic plots they're unnecessary (Le Voyage Dans La Lune)
2) once you've read the title card, grand gestures by the actors get other aspects of the film across
3) music really makes a difference (two of the films I saw were completely silent, one - Frankenstein - had an added soundtrack.  The music increased the tension by marking when the monster appeared and reducing tension for the scenes with Frankenstein's sweetheart.
4) they tended to be quite short and so had to distill the essence of the stories, removing character development *

Now on to more specific observations about the films themselves.

Frankenstein
Producer: Thomas Edison, 1910
IMDB listing, view it online at Archive.org

Victor Frankenstein creates a monster that then haunts him and threatens his sweetheart.

Frankenstein (at least the version I saw) is a black and white film with some tinted images.  Yellow tints were used for scenes with the monster, a light purple for scenes with Frankenstein's lady love and blue when the creature attacks.  Even if you know the story, you'll need the title cards to understand what's happening.  The creation of the monster is done very differently from both the book and later films (a slowly built up skeleton standing in a cauldron).  The monster itself looks different (seen above) and causes much less damage to Frankenstein.

The mood is very tense during the creation scene and again when the monster visits Frankenstein at his home.  There's no development of the creature, no intelligence such as it shows in the novel.  In fact, the film sort of ends with no resolution.

Still, it's only 16 minutes, and worth a look if you're interested in film history or monster movies.

Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Director: Georges Melies, 1902
IMDB listing, view on Archive.org (b&w untinted version)

A group of men make a rocket and travel to the moon, fight the creatures living there, and return home.

Originator of one of the most iconic images in science fiction film history, the movie itself is short (14 minutes), and yet at the same time, too long.  As it uses no title cards everything must be explained via gestures - and the movie really drives its point, having each scene drag on longer than necessary.  The moon people are men wearing bird style masks and crab claws and look pretty cheesy, but the woman in the moon is a nice set design.

Interesting only as a curiosity, it certainly shows why moving pictures captured the imagination but isn't that interesting to watch.  Perhaps a soundtrack (played in theatres but missing here) would have improved it?

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 
Director: Herbert Brenon, 1913
IMDB listing, view on Archive.org

Kind Dr. Jekyll tests a solution that transforms him to the deformed and malicious Mr. Hyde.

By far the longest of these three picks, Dr. Jekyll clocks in at a whopping 26 minutes.  This allows it to do what the other two films didn't have time for - add character.  To Hyde that is.  Jekyll isn't given much time, just a scene (and card) to show he does charity work.  From then on, the actor is mostly Hyde, who does horrible things that Jekyll must pay for (generally with money).

The plot actually develops well and the transformation between Jekyll and Hyde is well done and frankly scary (the actor, King Baggot, stoops and changes his mannerisms, rather than using make-up).  There's also more subtlety with the acting.  It's all still wide gestures, but you can better see the despair in Jekyll as he realizes Hyde is taking over as well as Hyde's joy in wanton destruction.

Of the three films here, I'd recommend this one the most.

* This holds true for the three films reviewed here and other early silent films, but later silent films were feature length, like Nosferatu.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pop-Up Book Puppetry Used in Music Video

While I'm not keen on the band's name, Sh*tdisco's music video for "OK" is pretty cool.  Here's something you can't do with an ebook.  The beat's pretty good, though the lyrics aren't the best.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Book Review: Partials by Dan Wells


Pros: realistic societal tensions in a post-apocalyptic world, compelling quests, strong female protagonist

Cons: don't learn as much about the partials as you'd like, the protagonists get out of several tough situations with surprising ease

For Parents: no sex, no swearing, lots of violence, but nothing too graphic (shooting/death, off stage torture)  

It's been 11 years since the genetically engineered partials rose up against their human creators, unleashing a virus that decimated the human population.  Now, the remaining survivors live on Long Island, most in the community of East Meadow, which, due to its Hope Act of forcing all women 18 and over to give birth as often as possible, has created a resistance movement called the Voice.  Into this turmoil comes a brilliant young hospital intern, Kira.  She wants to study the one thus far unstudied aspect of the plague that still kills all human children born.  Partials.

Partials is quite an adrenaline rush.  There's a lot of action and several quests, starting, but not ending, with Kira's quest to find and capture a partial.  While I wasn't always convinced that their plans would work as well as they did, enough things went wrong that I was willing to overlook how often enough went right.

Kira herself was an interesting character.  She's borderline irritating, in that she's stubborn and 'knows' the best course of action, despite only being 16 and a 'plague baby' (ie, someone born just before the end of the modern world and too young to know what happened with the partials from personal experience).  What redeems her is her reliance on her friends and her willingness to accept a change of plans when necessary.  

What really sets this book apart is in its realistic depiction of society.  There's a wide spectrum of viewpoints, each valid given the circumstances.  East Meadows slowly becomes more and more of a dictatorship, as the Voice attacks escalate and the senate institutes more laws to keep the citizens 'safe', or, as Kira starts to believe, 'controlled'.  Even the principle characters argue over the right and wrong of the senate's decrees.  Particularly the debated decision of lowering the Hope Act to include those 16 and up (which would affect them directly).  The disconnect between the older generation and the 'plague babies', shown by the adults' disdain, was also well written.

My only complaint was that you don't learn as much about the partials as you'd like.  This book is set up for a sequel, so I'm hoping the partials - and ParaGen, the company that created them - will have more of a part to play.

I'll be waiting eagerly for the next book in this series.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Varied Things

First up, if you have a manuscript ready for submission and are unagented, Angry Robot Books is having another Open Door event.  They're only looking for particular subgenres, so read the information here.

Fantasy Cafe has another great week of Women in SF&F posts prepared, and Kristen is hosting a giveaway for the excellent Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.  And if you didn't see the guest post I did for her, check it out.

Bastard Books has an interesting discussion on what happens with reviews if the author's gender isn't known and what the gender balance for reviews would look like if the charts showed what subgenre of books were being reviewed by each gender.  I didn't really agree with the conclusions, but it's certainly worth thinking about.

Towards that end, I've decided to do a yearly wrap-up where I parse my blog reviews by gender and subgenre.  I did this last year and am curious if my number stay consistent or shift, depending on my interests/books I'm sent.

I've also decided that since I'm reading pulp short stories, I should read some by women (seems bizarre to campaign for more reviews of women's works and then only read stories by men).  Towards that end, I need suggestions for female pulp authors.  I know a few: Andre Norton, Leigh Brackett, C. L. Moore, Anne McCaffrey, James Tiptree, Jr. ... but would love to hear about more authors.  I'm thinking older authors who wrote from the 1900s to the 60s.  If there's someone you've read and would recommend, please post their names in the comments.  

Finally, I've been reading through Claws and Saucers, an upcoming movie guide for science fiction, fantasy and horror films and have found a ton of movies that I want to watch.  So it was with glee that I discovered there are some cool sites that offer free downloads/torrents for public domain movies,  Archive.org and Public Domain Torrents.  Look forward to reviews of some old, likely cheesy, classics.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Author Interview: Anne Lyle

Novel: The Alchemist of Souls

Website: www.annelyle.com

> What is The Alchemist of Souls about?

The Alchemist of Souls is the story of Mal Catlyn, an impoverished Elizabethan swordsman who is plucked, almost literally, from the gutter and given a prestigious job as bodyguard to a foreign ambassador. Quite why he's been chosen, Mal can't fathom - and when he does find out, he wishes he hadn't!

To make matters worse, the ambassador in question is not human but a skrayling. These mysterious creatures have brought exotic trade goods from the Americas, but what is their true purpose in London? Are they the faerie folk of the New World, are they demons as the Puritans claim, or something else entirely?

Soon Mal finds himself up to his neck in intrigue and dark magics, and what he finds out about the skraylings and their unholy powers could lose Mal and his twin brother their lives - and their souls.

> What drew you to writing historical fantasy and why did you set your series in 16th Century Europe?

I've always been interested in history, especially the late medieval and early modern periods. That might be because they were the settings of many of the swashbuckling movies I loved as a kid. As I grew older I became interested in the political intrigue behind the names and dates we were taught in school, and also the everyday life of the period: clothes, architecture and so on.

The 16th century is an important era in English history, as it's when our national identity really emerged as separate from the rest of Christendom, and it was when we stepped onto the world stage by sending men to explore and colonise the New World. Of course the latter part of the century saw a great flourishing of the arts, particularly secular drama, and the explosion of the English language with new words and grammar. All in all it was a very vibrant period of our history, full of storytelling possibilities, but also not so very different from our own in many ways.

> What made you want to be a writer?

I was a voracious reader as a child and teenager, and it just seemed the natural next step to "join in the game", so to speak. Especially when I read books that weren't so great and thought "I can do better than that!".

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

I'd love to change places with Coby, who's a tireman (costumier and dresser) with a London theatre company. My parents met through an amateur dramatics society and I always loved hanging out backstage. Her job is quite creative, though sometimes hard work - she lives disguised as a boy, so she's expected to help haul the chests of costumes around when the company goes on tour - but it would be worth it to see the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe performed by real Elizabethan actors.

> What were your literary influences for The Alchemist of Souls?

I always loved swashbuckling movies as a kid, so when I got older I naturally gravitated towards historical novels such as "The Three Musketeers" and also swords-and-sorcery, particularly Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series. Later on I discovered writers like Ellen Kushner and Tim Powers who were blending those two genres in a more sophisticated way.

I suppose those are the most direct influences, but I read quite widely - fantasy, science fiction, historical mysteries, classics like Jane Austen - and it all gets thrown into the mental melting-pot. That's probably why I'm not very good at sticking to a single genre in my books!

> What's the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

The Alchemist of Souls is actually my first completed novel. Before that I'd made many stabs at novels but never managed to get more than a few chapters in before running out of steam. To break this pattern I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2006, and whilst the resulting draft was in no way publishable, it gave me a complete story and well-developed characters that I loved and couldn't walk away from.

After that it was just a matter of rewriting. And rewriting. The whole process, from that first draft to sending it out to agents and editors, took almost exactly four years.

> When and where do you write?

I write whenever and wherever I can grab a little time and privacy - I still have a day-job, like most writers, so I have to fit my writing in around that. Mostly that's at home with my laptop, but I've written in the library on the campus where I work, outside at lunchtime by an ornamental lake, in cafes, on buses, trains and planes...

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing is when the words are flowing from your fingertips as fast as you can write them down; the worst is when they won't come at all and you have to keep writing anyway just to push ahead with the story and hit your deadline. That's what sorts out the men from the boys, so to speak.

> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

I used to be a non-fiction production editor (I would arrange for manuscripts to be proofread and then send them off to the printers), so I knew a lot more about the inner workings of publishing than most new authors. The one thing I've learned is that promoting your book is even harder work than writing it - I'm in awe of self-published authors who make a success of it without the advantage of a publishing team at their back!

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Write with passion. If you don't love what you're doing

a) it will lack that vital spark that gets agents interested, and

b) the path to publication is very tough - why go through that for something you don't care all that much about?

> Any tips against writers block?

I don't believe in writer's block. Sometimes you're genuinely too tired, stressed or unwell to write, or burned-out from having just finished a project, and your brain needs a break. That's fine. Chill out, do something else you enjoy, and come back to the writing when you feel better.

If you don't have a solid reason for having a problem writing, then you just need to sit down and get on with it. Don't stress about getting the words right the first time. Don't be afraid to write scenes that you know won't make it into the final draft, if that's what it takes to get back into the mood. Take your city-bred character on his first trip to the beach, or write a steamy sex scene between those two characters who hate one another - whatever it takes. Time spent writing is never wasted, ever.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

I set myself goals appropriate to the stage of the draft I'm at. That might be "brainstorm five new scenes this weekend" or "edit three chapters this week" or whatever. When I'm on a deadline I'll actually mark up those milestones on a calendar by my desk and tick them off as I reach them (or make a note in red pen when I don't!).

I find that deadlines help hugely. Even before I had them imposed on me by a publishing contract, I set them for myself. For example, I decided I was going to have the manuscript of The Alchemist of Souls finished and submitted to agents in time for FantasyCon 2010 (a UK convention), so that I could relax and enjoy myself guilt-free. I hit that deadline, and my unexpected reward was that I was then able to pitch the novel to the editor at Angry Robot Books, whom I met at the convention.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Female Science Fiction Author Reading List

This post is in belated response to all the hoopla that comes up over and over again about female authors and awards, etc.  It goes along with the guest post I've done for Fantasy Cafe (which is now up, so go and check it out).  Unlike most of my reading lists, which are endcap displays at the store where I work, this was a list I put together for my blog, by walking through the aisles and writing down every female SF writer I could find.  I know I've missed a lot (as not all authors are still in print, some still use pseudonyms and so many authors are going the epublishing route nowadays), so feel free to mention other authors in the comments.

In the case of romantic SF, I'm linking to the list I did a few months ago and adding a few names here that aren't on that list.  And if you want Dystopian, check out the reading list I did for that.

I tried to categorized authors but apologize for any mistakes I might have made.  The only places I doubled names were to flesh out Time Travel and Alternate History and in one case Series (if an author wrote one of those as well as another category).

My hard SF list is purposefully small, as it's hard to judge the accuracy of the science and if the book revolves around a specific scientific idea without reading it.  So these are books that I'm pretty sure are hard SF, but I'm also pretty sure there will be hard SF books in my general SF category.

As you can see from this long yet incomplete list, there are a lot of women writing science fiction.  Seems a shame more of them aren't remembered come award time.

Hard SF

Nancy Kress - Probability Moon
Glynn Latner - Hurricane Moon
M. J. Locke - Up Against It
Syne Mitchell - Changeling Plague
Joan Slonczweski - Brain Plague

General SF

Ann Aguirre - Grimspace
C. L. Anderson - Bitter Angels
Margaret Ball - Disappearing Act
Elizabeth Bear - Dust
Lauren Beukes - Zoo City
Leigh Brackett - The Secret of Sinharat
M. M. Buckner - Watermind
C. J. Cherryh - Foreigner
Sara Creasy - Song of Scarabaeus
Julie Czerneda - A Thousand Words for Stranger
Marienne de Pierres - Dark Space
Diane Duane - Omnitopia Dawn
Jaine Fenn - Principles of Angels
J. M. Frey - Triptych
Nicola Griffith - Ammonite
Jane Jensen - Dante's Equation
Kay Kenyon - The Braided World 
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller - Fledgling
Ursula K. Le Guin - The Word for World is Forest
Doris Lessing - Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta
Karin Lowachee - Warchild
Anne McCaffrey - The Ship Who Sang
Maureen McHugh - China Mountain Zhang
Chris Moriarty - Spin State
Sheryl Nantus - Blaze of Glory
Andre Norton - Prison Ship
Diana Palmer - Morcai Batallion
Kit Reed - Thinner Than Thou
Justina Robson - Mappa Mundi
Joanna Russ - The Female Man
Melissa Scott - Trouble and Her Friends
Suzan Shwartz - Hostile Takeover
Kristine Smith - Code of Conduct
Wen Spencer - Tinker
Sheri Tepper - Grass
Karen Traviss - City of Pearl
Joan Vinge - Psion
Lynda Williams - The Courtesan Prince
Liz Williams - Banner of Souls
Phoebe Wray - Jemma 7729

Military SF

Lois McMaster Bujold - Cordelia's Honor
Tanya Huff - Valor's Choice
Jean Johnson - A Soldier's Duty
Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon - Sassinak
Sandra McDonald - The Outback Stars
Elizabeth Moon - Hunting Party

Romantic SF

Gini Koch - Touched by an Alien
Stephenie Meyer - The Host
Sharon Shinn - Jenna Starborn
Lisa Paitz Spindler - The Spiral Path


Kage Baker - In the Garden of Iden
Linda Evans & Robert Asprin - Time Scout
Kay Kenyon - Seeds of Time
Audrey Niffenegger - Time Traveler's Wife
Andre Norton - Echoes in Time
Marge Piercy - Woman on the Edge of Time
Connie Willis - Doomsday Book


Virginia DeMarce - 1635: The Tangled Web
Debbra Doyle - Land of Mist and Snow
Bernardine Evaristo - Blonde Roots
Sophia McDougall - Romanitas
Naomi Novik - His Majesty's Dragon
Ekaterina Sedia - Heart of Iron
Jo Walton - Farthing
Connie Willis - Blackout

Steampunk (part 1 and part 2)

Gail Carriger - Soulless
Phil & Kaja Foglio - Agatha H and the Airship City
Dru Pagliassotti - Clockwork Heart
Cherie Priest - Boneshaker
Ekaterina Sedia - The Alchemy Stone


Margaret Atwood - Oryx & Crake
Octavia Butler - Parable of the Sower
Suzanne Collins - Hunger Games
Nalo Hopkinson - Brown Girl in the Ring
P. D. James - Children of Men
Nnedi Okorafor - Who Fears Death
K. M. Ruiz - Mind Storm
Mary Shelley - The Last Man

Series Books

Karen Traviss - Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice, Halo: Grasslands, Gears of War: Anvil Gate
Diana Carey - Aliens: Cauldron, Star Trek TNG: Ship of the Line
Diana Dru Botsford - Stargate SG1: Four Dragons
Olivia Woods - Star Trek DS9: The Soul Key
Kristen Beyer - Star Trek Voyager: Children of the Storm
Christie Golden - Star Craft: The Dark Templar Saga

Authors mentioned in comments

Zoe Archer - Skies of Fire (steampunk)
Catherine Asaro - Primary Inversion (general, hard, military and romantic SF)
K. S. Augustin - In Enemy Hands (romantic SF with hard SF elements)
Jay Blakeney - The Goda War (general SF)
Marion Zimmer Bradley - The Colors of Space (general SF)
Meljean Brook - The Iron Duke (steampunk)
Pat Cadigan - Dervish is Digital (general SF)
Jayge Carr - Navigator's Sindrome (general SF)
Jo Clayton - Diadem From the Stars (general SF)
Michelle Shirey Crean - Dancer of the Sixth (general SF)
L. Timmel Duchamp - Alayna to Alayna (general SF)
Suzette Haden Elgin - The Communipaths (general SF)
Kelley Eskridge - Solitaire (general SF, short stories)
Sharon Lynn Fisher - Ghost Planet (romantic SF, out December 2012)
Eileen Gunn - Stable Strategies and Others (general SF, short stories)
Gwynith Jones - North Wind (general SF)
Shariann Lewitt - Momento Mori (apocalyptic/plague SF)
Louise Marley - Singer in the Snow (general SF)
Susan Matthews - Colony Fleet (general SF)
Judith Merill - Survival Ship and Other Stories (short stories)
Judith Moffett - "Surviving" (short stories)
C. L. Moore - Northwest of East (short stories)
Pat Murphy - There and Back Again (general SF)
Linda Nagata - The Bohr Maker (general SF)
Jane Palmer - The Planet Dweller (general SF)
Doris Piserchia - A Billion Days of Earth (general SF) 
Marta Randall - A City in the North (general SF)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Diving Into the Wreck (general SF)
Pamela Sargent - Starshadows (short stories)
Jody Scott - Passing For Human (general SF)
Tricia Sullivan - Someone To Watch Over Me (general SF)
Sue Thomas - Correspondence (general SF)
James Tiptree, Jr. - Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (general SF, short stories)
Kate Wilhem - Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (general SF)
Karen A. Wyle - Twin-Bred (general Sf)
Pamela Zoline - "The Heat Death of the Universe" (short stories)

Websites to check out:

The Galaxy Express
SF Mistressworks
Daughters of Prometheus

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Book Review: A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham


(part two of the Summer and Betrayal Omnibus)

Pros: complex characters, world-building with depth, intrigue

Cons: some of the antagonist's plots worked out surprisingly well 

The eldest son of the dying Khai Machi is poisoned and all eyes turn to the succession about to take place in Machi.  When Otah Machi, the Khai's sixth son, hiding under the false name Itani Noygu, is told by his courier overseer to gather information there he knows returning to the city of his birth is potentially suicidal.  He expects his low status and new identity will hide him.  

But he is unaware that the Dai-kvo has sent his old friend and student, Maati to the city, to see if it's Otah who has been trying for the position of Khai.

Abraham's forte is in creating characters of true depth.  They're real people, with complex emotions faced with difficult choices.  After the way the first book ended, I was hesitant reading this book.  It starts 14 years after the events of A Shadow in Summer, and there seemed to be too much distance between what just happened and where the characters are at the start of A Betrayal in Winter.  But a few chapters in I was so enthralled with the characters, particularly Otah's sister Idaan, who's quite a feminist for the world in which she lives.  But realistically so.

And then there are the intrigues.  A few times I felt the plots the antagonist implemented to replace the Khai came off a little too easily, if not perfectly.  On the whole, the story is quite complex, and I did like how difficult it was for Maati to discover who was behind the assassination of the eldest son.

The world-building continued to be immersive, with everything feeling real, from the netting around the beds to keep the bugs away, to the night candles and the hand gestures and name suffixes.   

This is a book that epitomises the phrase, be careful what you wish for.  It's also about how the decisions you make change you - for better or worse.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Book Review: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham


(part one of the Shadow and Betrayal Omnibus)

Pros: lots of intrigue, complex characters, fantastic world building

Cons: characters make disappointing choices

Otah Machi, sixth son of the Khai Machi, gives up his chance to become a poet and leaves the training school he was sent to without a brand, in order to make his own way in life.  Years later, one of Otah's pupils, Maati, comes to Saraykeht to apprentice with its poet.  Poets keep Andat, spirits made flesh who perform particular tasks.  Saraykeht's Andat, Seedless, helps with the cotton trade.  The Andat does not wish to be a slave and has plotted to bring his poet down.

Otah has built a new life for himself in Saraykeht, with a powerful trading house and a woman he loves.  But everything changes when the overseer of the house finds out about Seedless's plot.

This is a very complex book.  There are plots within plots and it's hard to know what will happen next.  I loved all of the characters.  Each one felt like a real person, with problems and strengths.  In fact, when Maati makes a decision that would normally have angered me, in this book, it worked.  I felt sorry for the characters involved and understood their complicated emotions when things went wrong.  

The world also felt real.  Abraham created a complex vocabulary of hand gestures meant to explain one person's rank in relation to another's, to ask questions, to give thanks.  There's a flourishing bath culture for escaping the heat of the day as well as for doing business and learning gossip.  The court ceremony and trade bureaucracy are intricate and time intensive.  Though the greater politics between nations is only touched on in this volume, I expect it to show up more in later books.

Seeing the characters as real people made the ending difficult as I didn't like some of the choices they ultimately made.  The good thing about having a two in one volume is that it's natural to keep reading, where I might otherwise have stopped, having enjoyed the book but not being sure I want to learn what happens next (as I suspect it will be bad).

Friday, 6 April 2012

New Author Spotlight: Brett Patton

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

 Today's spotlight shines on Brett Patton! Brett's debut novel is Mecha Corps published by Roc. Here's the cover copy...

Matt Lowell is in hell-and there's no place he'd rather be. At a training camp on the backwater planet of Earth, he and his fellow cadets are learning to ride Mechas: biomechanicals sporting both incredible grace and devastating firepower. Their ultimate aim is to combat the pirates of the Corsair Confederacy, but before they survive a battle, they have to survive their training. Because every time Lowell and his comrades "plug in" to their Mechas, their minds are slowly being twisted and broken by an unseen power that is neither man...nor machine.


If you like military SF that uses mechanized armour, check out these other books:
  • Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (Ace)
  • Armor by John Steakley (DAW)
  • Germline by T.C. McCarthy (Orbit)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Movie Review: Lifepod


This review deserves some background.  I remember seeing this made for TV movie when I was in highschool, and liking it a lot.  A few years ago I decided it would be fun to watch it again but couldn't find it on DVD, used or new, so I forgot about it.  I recently placed an order with an online store and on a whim checked for Lifepod and found it.  Yay!  I watched the film knowing it would likely be cheesy and not at all worth owning.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up.

Director: Ron Silver, 1993

Pros: suspenseful, decent acting, some good SF ideas

Cons: dated special effects

When their space cruiser blows up, a small group of survivors find themselves sharing close quarters on a badly equipped lifepod.  As the days pass, it becomes apparent that what happened to the cruiser wasn't an accident, and the saboteur is still with them.

This film is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat, set in space.  A group of people, living in a tight space, all suspecting the others of horrible crimes in a life or death situation, is something that's been done in many horror movies and thrillers.  The formula works, and was used in Lifepod to good effect.  Each character had a reason for sabotaging the ship they were on and only a few of them are sympathetic.  Their paranoia and fear are palpable, as the actors give pretty good performances.  

I like the idea of a Tooli (played by Ed Gale), a person with one mechanical arm designed to use all the tools necessary to keep a ship running.  And the politics of the time, dealing with Venus and its colonies, added to the setting.

The special effects are dated, but as they're sparingly used this isn't really a problem beyond the first 20 minutes.  The plot focuses on how people survive in adverse conditions and who the saboteur is.

If you can find a copy, it's a fun way to waste a few hours.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Book Review: The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle


Pros: lots of intrigue, very interesting characters, great plot and pacing, limited use of magic

Cons: 

Down on his luck Maliverny Catlyn is very surprised to be offered a commission as bodyguard to the skrayling ambassador.  Like most Christians, he has heard that the skraylings are demons from the New World, and magic users.  But he needs the money to keep his insane twin brother in decent accommodations at Bethlem hospital.

Meanwhile, a troupe of actors, Suffolk's Men, are building a new theatre in which to perform a play for the ambassador, something not everyone in London is thrilled about.

With a lot of political intrigue, spies and plots, The Alchemist of Souls has something for everyone.  There's even a touch of romance (both gay and straight).  The book's opening reminded me very much of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, due to the setting and the mismatched friendship between Mal (nigh on penniless but son of a gentleman) and Ned (clerk and sometimes swindler).  The book quickly diverged from this pair and broadened in scope, adding more actors and political players, for which I was grateful as the relationship in Swordspoint annoyed me (I couldn't understand what St. Vier saw in his lover, as all he seemed to do was act sullenly and get St. Vier into fights to defend him).

Indeed, at times the number of offers to betray the ambassador Mal received - and the cross dressing Coby - put me in mind of Lev Rosen's All Men of Genius, though The Alchemist of Souls is by no means a comedy.  It does have a playfulness and I had to remind myself that treason had serious consequences, and that Mal's life was endangered each time he received such an offer.

The characters are fascinating, from Mal who must learn quickly how to maneuver as a spy to Coby's attempts to not let her sex be known and Ned's run in with ruffians.

The book is very accurate with regards to Elizabethan times, though it is definitely alternate history (Queen Elizabeth marries Robert Dudley and has two sons, and the skraylings are an imagined race).  Lyle uses archaic words sparingly to give a sense of place and time to help immerse you in the world she's recreated.

Magic is used very sparingly and really comes into play only at the end of the book.  Given the beliefs at the time I was impressed that some of the skrayling 'magic' was passed off as advanced learning in medicine and technology.  The limited use of real magic helped keep the world real, despite the skrayling race.

The skraylings themselves were well defined, with their own beliefs on the afterlife, way of dress, traditions, language, etc.  They really feel like a different species.

The cover makes it look like a book with either assassins (there are some, but not your traditional fantasy variety) or swashbuckling action (there's some of this, but not much).  If you're looking for a lot of fight scenes, look elsewhere.  If you like good fantasy or historical fantasy, pick this book up!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Geek and Sundry

In case you haven't seen this yet, there's a new youtube channel starting today called Geek and Sundry.  It's a combination of shows by people like Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog) and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek TNG).

Geek & Sundry offers a diverse lineup of shows that create a hub for fans of comedy, gaming, comics, music, and literature around the world.  Through compelling content and its powerful social media presence, the channel cultivates a thriving community amongst its viewers, allowing them to immerse themselves in nerd culture and connect with each other both online and off.

The shows in their line-up are:

The Flog: Hosted by Geek Goddess Felicia Day, The FLOG is a spirited, eccentric and quirky adventure through life.  Join Felicia each week as she explores new hobbies and experiences, curates links from across the web, and connects with her favorite people: her fans!
Sword & Laser: The popular podcast Sword & Laser can now been seen as well as heard on the YouTube screen! Hosts Veronica Belmont and Tom Merrit bring you the latest in tech, geek and entertainment news and engage in often irreverent, always dynamic discourse in this community-driven science fiction and fantasy-themed book club.
Table Top: Wil Wheaton hosts this fun, lively show where “Celebrity Poker” meets table top board games! In each episode, Wil plays a different game with celebrity guests from film, TV, and YouTube. Filled with witty banter and cheeky camaraderie, Tabletop introduces viewers to the best of tabletop gaming.
Dark Horse Comics: The nation's largest independent comic-book publisher brings a selection of their most popular titles to the video screen with Dark Horse Motion Comics. Using never before-seen motion graphics techniques, watch some of the comic world's most iconic characters spring to life.
Learning Town: Nerd music duo Paul and Storm bring their harmonies and smartly offbeat humor to this new comedy musical. The learning curve is steep when the two are tasked with reviving the flagging educational show of their childhoods in the face of villainous hipsters, ghosts who give bad advice and flammable puppets.
Written By A Kid: Stories told by 5-9 year olds are put in the hands of some of today's coolest online directors including Rhett & Link, Dane Boedigheimer, Daniel Strange and more! All ages will love this visually stunning, often hilarious anthology series that brings the madness and magic of a child's imagination to life.

And The Guild!  For more information, here's their website, press release, and youtube channel.  And the trailer:

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New Beginnings

After much deliberation I've finally come to a decision about what to do with my blog. If you've been following me, you know I've had questions about what you, my readership, would like to see here as well as where I think this blog is heading.

I've been reading a lot of older SF, dystopian YA and fantasy recently and enough is enough. After combing through the hundreds of emails about what you want to see I've decided to change the focus of my blog.

It's time for me to grow up. To read LITERATURE. Work that's better received by the greater public.

Towards that end, from now on I'll only be reviewing romance novels. Yes, you read that right. Romance. The more semi-naked torsos on the covers, the better.

These will be the next three books I review on my blog:



 Happy April Fools!

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in May 2012

As usual, this list comes mostly from the Chapters/Indigo website and reflects Canadian release dates for the books.  

Hardcover:

The Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier Invincible – Jack Campbell
The Monster Hunters – Larry Correia
Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
Myth and Magic: A Gallery of Tolkien and Other Fantastical Images – John Howe (reprint)
False Covenant – Ari Marmel
Damia's Children – Anne McCaffrey (reprint)
Princeps – L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
2312 – Kim Stanley Robinson
The Sourge of the Betrayer – Jeff Salyards
No Going Back – Mark L. Van Name

Trade Paperback:

The King's Blood – Daniel Abraham
The Paths of the Dead – Steven Brust
The Land That Time Forgot Omnibus – Edgar Rice Burroughs
THe Devil's Looking Glass – Mark Chadbourn
A Thief of Nightshade – J. S. Chancellor
Eye In The Dky – Philip Dick
The Man Who Japed – Philip Dick
The Zap Gun – Philip Dick
Orb Sceptre Throne – Ian Esslemont
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg – Philip Jose Farmer
What I Didn't See – Karen Joy Fowler
The Black Opera – Mary Gentle
The Mandel Files – Peter Hamilton
Queen of Kings – Maria Dahana Headley
The Killing Moon – N. K. Jemisin
The Bone House – Stephen Lawhead
The Skin Map – Stephen Lawhead
The Killables – Gemma Malley
Fire Logic – Laurie Marks
Darksiders: The Abomination Vault – Ari Marmell 
Ultramarines, the Second Omnibus – Graham McNeill
By the Blood of Heroes – Joseph Nassise
Man-Kzin Wars XIII – Larry Niven, Ed.
The Sunless Countries – Karl Schroeder
Store of the Worlds – Robert Sheckley
War of the Spider Queen Omnibus II – Lisa Smedman
The Shadowmage Trilogy – Matthew Sprange
Free Radicals – Zeke Teflon
Aurorarama – Jean-Christophe Valtat
The Moon Moth – Jack Vance
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories – Jeff Vandermeer, Ed.

Mass Market:

Flandry's Legacy – Poul Anderson
The Janus Affair – Pip Ballantine
Bleeding Out – Jes Battis
Dark Jenny – Alex Bledsoe
alt.human – Keith Brooke
The Devil's Nebula – Eric Brown
Naamah's Blessing – Jacqueline Carey
Forgotten Realms: The Rose of Sarifal – Paulina Claiborne
Out of the Waters – David Drake 
The Primarchs – Christian Dunn
Casket of Souls – Lynn Flewelling
Threshold – Eric Flint
The Minority Council – Kate Griffin
The Impossible Cube – Steven Harper
Dead as a Doornail – Charlaine Harris
Year's Best SF 17 – David Hartwell, Ed.
Star Trek: Plagues of Night – David George III
Cursed – Benedict Jacka
Night's Engines – Trent Jamieson
Under Suspicion – Hannah Jayne

Going Interstellar – Les Johnson and Jack McDevitt, Ed.
Star Wars: Deceived – Paul Kemp
Bloodsworn – Nathan Long
Dragon's Time – Anne McCaffrey
The Walls of the Universe – Paul Melko
A Blight Of Mages – Karen Miller
Wizard Undercover – K. E. Mills
Honeyed Words – J. A. Pitts
Toxicity – Andy Remic
All Spell Breaks Loose – Lisa Shearin
Shadowborn – Alison Sinclair
The Council of Shadows – S. M. Stirling
Roadside Picnic – Arkady Strugatsky
Shadow Raiders – Margaret Weis

E-books (Carina Press)

The Bewitching Tale of Story Gale – Christine Bell
Hunting the Shadows – Alexia Reed

YA

Unfamiliar Magic – R. C. Alexander
Starcrossed – Josephine Angelini
Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor – Jennifer Boylan
Beauty Queens – Libba Bray
The Demon's Covenant – Sarah Rees Brennan
Tempted – P. C. Cast
The Girl in the Steel Corset – Kady Cross
Nightspell – Leah Cypess
Crusade – Nancy Holder
Hereafter – Tara Hudson
Dancing Jax – Robin Jarvis
Die For Me – Amy Plum
Siren – Tricia Rayburn
Cryptic Cravings – Ellen Schreiber
Love Bites – Ellen Schreiber
The Warlock – Michael Scott
Ocean of Blood – Darren Shan
Shift – Jeri Smith-Ready
Linger – Maggie Stiefvater
Angel Burn – L. A. Weatherly