Thursday 31 October 2013

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in December 2013

I remembered to use the Canadian Amazon site, so the list was easier to put together than some of the other months have been.  That means we're back to Canadian release dates.


Brazen – Kelley Armstrong
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic – Emily Croy Barker
Mars, Inc. – Ben Bova
1920: America's Great War – Robert Conroy
Andromeda's Choice – William Dietz
The Night of the Hunter – Davis Grubb (reprint)
Magistrates of Hell – Barbara Hambly
Warhammer: Bane of Malekith – William King
The Man Who Made Models: The Collected Short Fiction – R. A. Lafferty & Michael Swanwick
The Space Trilogy, 75th Anniversary Edition – C. S. Lewis
Dangerous Women – George Martin & Gardner Dozois, Ed.
The Suicide Exhibition: The Never War – Justin Richards
Kaleidocide – Dave Swavely
Something More Than Night – Ian Tregillis
The Bread We Eat in Dreams – Cathrynne Valente & Kathleen Jennings
War of the Grail – Geoffrey Wilson

Trade Paperback:

Warhammer 40K: Pariah: Ravenor vs Eisenhorn – Dan Abnett
Perception – Alaric Albertsson
Board Stiff – Piers Anthony
The Winter Witch – Paula Brackston
The Last Ship – William Brickley
Her Husband's Hands and Other Stories – Adam-Troy Castro
A Dance of Mirrors – David Dalglish
Sunroper – Natalie Damschroder
Witches of East End – Melissa de la Cruz
A Distant Soil: The Ascendant – Colleen Doran
The Chaos Crystal – Jennifer Fallon
Venus on the Half-Shell – Philip Jose Farmer
A Game of Battleships – Toby Frost
Lady into Fox – David Garnett & R. A. Garnett
Malice – John Gwynne
Year's Best SF 18 – David Hardwell, Ed.
Kicking It – Faith Hunter & Kalayna Price, Ed.
The Man With Six Senses – Muriel Jaeger & Mark Kingwell
Warhammer: Sword of Caledor – William King
The Maggot People – Henning Koch
Ascension – Jacqueline Koyanagi
Warhammer 40K: Vulkan Lives – Nick Kyme
Dragon's Teeth – Mercedes Lackey
Prospero Regained – L. Jagi Lamplighter
Night Watch – Sergei Lukyanenko (reprint)
Fire Logic – Laurie Marks
Things Withered – Susie Moloney
Man-Kzin Wars XIV – Larry Niven, Ed.
Dark Descent – Marlene Perez
The Chosen Seed – Sarah Pinborough
The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Greatship – Robert Reed
Wild Fell - Michael Rowe
Strykers – K. M. Ruiz
Was – Geoff Ryman
The Seventh Day – Scott Shepherd
Taste of Darkness – Maria Snyder
The Secret Zombie History of the World: Best of Tomes of the Dead, Vol 3 – Toby Venables, Paul Finch & Matthew Sprange
A Young Man Without Magic – Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker
The Broken Wheel – David Wingrove (reprint)

Mass Market Paperback:

Flamebound – Tessa Adams
Once Upon a Time in Hell – Guy Adams
Deadshifted – Cassie Alexander
Farside – Ben Bova
Witch Wraith – Terry Brooks
Shadowdance – Kristen Callihan
The Spider – Jennifer Estep
Seven Sorcerers – John Fultz
Great North Road – Peter Hamilton
Tarnished – Rhiannon Held
When It's a Jar – Tom Holt
A Study in Ashes – Emma Jane
Fifth Grave Past the Light – Darynda Jones
A Memory of Light – Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Everlasting Enchantment – Kathryne Kennedy
Alien Research – Gini Koch
Elementary – Mercedes Lackey
Dragondoom – Dennis McKiernan
The Iron Breed – Andre Norton (reprint)
Hive Monkey – Gareth Powell
The Doctor and the Dinosaurs – Mike Resnick
Shannivar – Deborah Ross
The Grendel Affair – Lisa Shearin
The Shadowed Throne – K. J. Taylor
Darkwalker – E. L. Tettensor
Invasive Species – Joseph Wallace
Star Trek: Peaceable Kingdoms – Dayton Ward
The Cormorant – Chuck Wendig
Sunset of the Gods – Steve White
The Sharpest Blade – Sandy Williams
Pathfinder Tales: The Dagger of Trust – Chris Willrich


Blade to the Keep – Lauren Dane

Whom The Gods Would Destroy - Brian Hodge
The Furnace – Timothy Johnston
Doctor Who: The Death Pit – A. L. Kennedy
Hot Redemption – K. D. Penn
Journey of Wisdom – Shawna Thomas

Young Adult:

The Grey Star – James Bartholomeusz
Swamp Angel – Colleen Boyd
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Deep Betrayal – Anne Greenwood Brown
Rise – Anna Carey
Pawn – Aimee Carter
Snakeroot – Andrea Cremer
Virus – Megan Crewe
Vortex – Julie Cross
Doomed – Tracy Deebs
Gates of Paradise – Melissa de la Cruz
The Essence – Kimberly Derting
The Offering – Kimberly Derting
After Eden – Helen Douglas
The Hidden World – Schuyler Ebersol
Glass Heart – Amy Garvey
Princess of the Silver Woods – Jessica Day George
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow – Jessica Day George
Firstborn – Lorie Ann Grover
Boundless – Cynthia Hand
Blood Storm – Rhiannon Hart
Echo in Time – C. J. Hill
Control – Lydia Kang
These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Night Creatures – Jeremy Jordan King
Unravel Me – Tahereh Mafi
Lost Covenant – Ari Marmell
Don't Close Your Eyes (Omnibus Edition: Wake, Fade & Gone) – Lisa McMann
Vampire Academy – Rachel Mead
Asunder – Jodi Meadows
Let The Sky Fall – Shannon Messenger
Prophecy – Ellen Oh
Warrior – Ellen Oh
Faebles: Birds Without Wings – Cally Pepper
Summerking – Sarah Prineas
The Extraordinaries – Michael Pryor
Sorrel – David Randall
Code – Kathy Reichs
Rebel Spring – Morgan Rhodes
Through the Ever Night – Veronica Rossi
Altered – Jennifer Rush
The Revolt – Gloria Skurzynski
Deadly Little Lessons – Laurie Faria Stolarz
Eternally Yours – Cate Tiernan
The Book of Love – Lynn Weingarten
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers – Lynn Weingarten
Rain of the Ghosts – Greg Weisman
Pivot Point – Kasie West
Fireblood – Trisha Wolfe

Happy Halloween!

Whether you're trick or treating, handing out candy, attending a party or working (like me), be safe and have an awesome Halloween. :D

Wednesday 30 October 2013

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth's Book Trailer

Now this is a fun book trailer.  Chris Hadfield's awesome.

Books Received in October, 2013

I've already read and reviewed the first two books on this list, so instead of giving the synopsis, I'll just link to my reviews.  I really enjoyed both books, though for different reasons.  My work schedule has increased dramatically, giving me less time for reading and reviewing books.  I'm still hoping to get reviews up for some of these, but things are moving at a slower pace than anticipated.

I also attended the Random House kids preview for booksellers, but I'll cover those books in a separate post.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

Zombies: A Hunter's Guide by Joseph McCullough

The dead have always walked among us, from the shambling corpses of Eastern European folklore to the drug-created zombie of Haitian voodoo. Now, in the post atomic-age, advanced science and globalization have increased the threat a thousand fold. Since World War II, the number of zombie outbreaks has increased every year, while governments desperately try to cover up the facts.
Zombies: A Hunter''s Guide contains all of the information necessary to recognize and combat this growing threat. Beginning with an explanation of the historical origins of zombies, it follows their history straight through to the threat they pose to the world today. All varieties of zombie are cataloged and examined, giving their strengths and weakness, with a special emphasis on recognition and elimination.

Finally, the book covers the tactics and equipment used in zombie fighting, from the man on the street with his sharpened hockey stick to the latest fully automatic grenade launchers and anti-undead armor employed by top-secret government "Containment Teams." Accompanied by numerous full-color reconstructions to help with identification, this book is a must for anyone on the frontlines of the Zombie Wars.
Myths and Legends: Thor, Viking God of Thunder by Graeme Davis

In the stories of the ancient Vikings, Thor is a warrior without equal, who wields his mighty hammer in battles against trolls, giants, and dragons. He is the god of storms and thunder, who rides to war in a chariot pulled by goats, and who is fated to fall in battle with the Midgard Serpent during Ragnarok, the end of all things. This book collects the greatest myths and legends of the thunder god, while also explaining their historical context and their place in the greater Norse mythology. It also covers the history of Thor as a legendary figure, how he was viewed by different cultures from the Romans to the Nazis, and how he endures today as a popular heroic figure.

The One-Eyed Man by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. - I've never read Modesitt, Jr., but I suspect I'll have to change that.

The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.

Offered the job of assessing the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, freelance consultant Dr. Paulo Verano jumps at the chance to escape the ruin of his personal life. He gets far more than he bargained for: Stittara's atmosphere is populated with skytubes--gigantic, mysterious airborne organisms that drift like clouds above the surface of the planet. Their exact nature has eluded humanity for centuries, but Verano believes his conclusions about Stittara may hinge on understanding the skytubes' role in the planet's ecology--if he survives the hurricane winds, distrustful settlers, and secret agendas that impede his investigation at every turn.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autusm by Naoki Higashida - I heard about this book from a co-worker, who read and loved it (and is, incidentally the mother of an autistic boy herself).  Given the number of autistic characters popping up in SFF novels, I'm very curious to hear what life is like from an actual autistic POV.  It may also be a great reference material for authors choosing to write such a character accurately.

A story never before told and a memoir to help change our understanding of the world around us, 13-year-old Naoki Higashida's astonishing, empathetic book takes us into the mind of a boy with severe autism. With an introduction by David Mitchell, author of the global phenomenon, Cloud Atlas, and translated by his wife, K.A. Yoshida.
Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of autistic children. Naoki examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy.
This book is mesmerizing proof that inside an autistic body is a mind as subtle, curious, and caring as anyone else's.
Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin - A history of money isn't something I'd have gone looking for, but I must say, this sounds fascinating.

The essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand how our economic system really works, what has gone wrong with it, and what we can do to fix it.

What is money and how does it work? The conventional answer is that once upon a time people exchanged what they produced for what they wanted--cod in Newfoundland, sugar in the West Indies, tobacco in Virginia--and that today's financial universe evolved from barter. But there is a problem with this story. It''s wrong. And dangerous.

Putting the record straight, Money: The Unauthorised Biography draws on stories from around the world and throughout history, from the primitive tribe using as cash an enormous underwater stone wheel to the credits used by modern-day babysitting circles, taking in along the way spendthrift Dauphins, sixteenth-century vampire squid, rituals of sacrificial feasts in Ancient Greece, and the credit crisis in Ancient Rome (an eerie pre-echo of recent events).

In wonderfully witty and lucid style Felix Martin unfolds this panoramic secret history and explains the truth about money: what it is, where it comes from, and how it works. His absorbing account will rearrange your understanding of the world and show how money can once again become the most powerful force for good. By misunderstanding money we have become its slaves. This book sets us straight in order to set us free.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Book Review: This House is Haunted by John Boyne

Pros: some chilling scenes

Cons: it takes Eliza a long time to figure out what's happening

After the sudden death of her father, Eliza Caine answers an ad to become governess at Gaudlin Hall.  But something's not right in her new home and no one will answer her questions about the parents of her charges, the tragedies that have taken place at Gaudlin Hall, or the ghost that's trying to kill her.

I'd say this book is a cross between The Haunting of Hill House, for the atmospherics and period, and The Shining, for the constant anticipation of something bad happening.  Boyne does an excellent job of putting you in Eliza's place, feeling her terror, and trying to survive what's to come.

While I really liked Eliza I did feel it took longer than it should have for her to figure out what was going on.  Having said that, I enjoyed seeing regular life at the Hall interspersed with her learning more about the place's history.

If you like ghost stories, this is a winner.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Shout-Out: The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke

This book came out earlier this month but as I haven't seen anyone talking about it I thought I'd give it a shout-out.  It sounds pretty interesting.

Biologist Domenica Ligrina fears her planet is dying. She might be right.
An atomic disaster near the French-German border has contaminated Northern Europe with radioactivity. Economic and political calamities are destroying the whole planet. Human DNA is mutating, plant species are going extinct, and scientists are feverishly working on possible solutions. It becomes increasingly apparent that the key to future salvation lies in the past. In 2052 a secret research facility in the Vatican is recruiting scientists for a mission to restore the flora of the irradiated territories. The institute claims to have time travel. When Domenica's sometime-lover tells her that he knows her future but that she must decide her own fate, she enlists despite his ambiguous warning.
The Middle Ages hold Domenica spellbound. She immerses herself in the mysteries, puzzles, and peculiarities of a culture foreign to her, though she risks changing the past with effects far more disastrous than radiation poisoning. Perhaps there is more than one Domenica, and more than one catastrophe
In the tradition of Stanislaw Lem and Philip K. Dick, Wolfgang Jeschke's The Cusanus Game is a novel of future disaster in Europe by the grand master of German science fiction.

Friday 25 October 2013

Recommended Reading by Professionals... with David Lomax

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven't received the recognition they deserve.

Today's recommendations are by David Lomax. David Lomax is an English teacher who's dreamed of writing since he was eight. His first novel, Backward Glass, has just come out from Flux books.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Angry Robot Books - Open Door for Submissions & Cover Contest

Angry Robot Books is having another open door for submissions.  They'll be accepting novel submissions (agented and unagented) for fantasy, science fiction and WTF from the end of this week until the end of the year.  Check out their post for the current details (the site says all the details will be there this Friday).

They're also doing a cover competition where you can remake one of their book covers for as yet unidentified prizes.

Cosplay is for Everyone

Things have been pretty busy around here so I keep forgetting to post about these articles.

If you haven't read the Geeks of Color Assemble! post from NYCC at, then head over and do that as it's great.  

The article links to Beyond Victoriana: A multicultural perspective on steampunk, Cosplaying While Black, and Islam and Science Fiction.  All of which have some interesting stuff on them.

I've been following Medieval POC for a while and he recently posted these fantastic pictures from witchsistah of a group of fantastically dressed cosplayers.

While scrolling through Cosplaying While Black I encountered this fun tutorial for Sailor Neptune that goes over make-up tips and do it yourself accessories by MilesJaiProductions.  I loved the outer scouts and this costume rocks.  (Note: there is some swearing in the video.)

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Book Review: Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

Pros: interesting mystery, slow romance

Cons: map

Delia Martin returns to San Francisco after a 3 year absence because the ghost that's been haunting her for the past 6 months demands it.  The ghost, which Delia calls shadow, seems to have a connection to a string of recent murders in the city.  The murder investigation is headed by Gabe Ryan, best man at the upcoming wedding of Delia's best friend, Sadie, and his partner Jack.

Set around the events of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 the novel includes a mix of detective work and spiritualism as we see events from the alternating viewpoints of Delia and Gabe.

The romance is light hearted and grows organically from Delia and Gabe's interactions throughout the book.  In several ways the book reminded me of Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey, though the magic/paranormal elements here are more pronounced.

There are two maps of the fair grounds at the beginning of the book.  They're both black and white though one's an annotated line drawing and the other's a picture with text that is difficult to read.  For some reason the second map is upside down in relation to the first, making the places more challenging to line up.  There's no real need for the maps beyond giving a better image of the area some of the events take place in, so this is a cosmetic complaint as it doesn't detract from the text in any way. 

This is a slow moving story, but by no means is it a slow read.  The dual mysteries of the murderer and Delia's shadow unfold at a quick pace, even as Delia and Gabe get to know each other better.  

If you want a lot of action this isn't a good pick, but if you like well rounded characters living life and dealing with difficult circumstances, than you'll find this an enjoyable read. 

(As an aside, if you want to read about a real serial killer that stalked a World's Fair, read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.)

Friday 18 October 2013

Publisher Spotlight: Hammer Books

Looking for some horror novels to read this coming Halloween?  Then check out Hammer Books.  Known for their horror films they've been releasing exclusive novelizations and reprints of some classic horror novels. 

Here are some of their titles:

Countess Dracula by Guy Adams

One can do anything in Hollywood and be forgiven, anything except grow old. It's the 1930s and cinema stands at the dawn of a new age—the silent era is all but dead, talkies are here, and Technicolor is on its way. The whole world loves movie icons Frank Nayland and Elizabeth Sasdy, lapping up each new picture and following their romantic life story both on and off the screen; but all is not as perfect as it appears. Not only has the advent of talkies meant torturous sessions with a vocal coach to try and remove Sasdy's Hungarian accent, but she's starting to spot the first few grey hairs, and the lines on her face get deeper every day. If she loses her looks she'll lose everything, but even a woman as powerful as Elizabeth Sasdy can't fight nature—can she? A chance accident reveals the solution. But just how far is the Queen of Hollywood prepared to go to stay beautiful forever?

Family Portrait by Graham Masterton

The first body was found in Europe. She had once been a beautiful young girl, but with exquisite skill someone had carefully teased the skin entirely away from her body, leaving nothing but a flayed and bloody carcass. A full examination of her ruined body reveals an horrific truth: She had been skinned alive. The second blood-raw corpse turned up in New England. Followed soon after by another, this time a victim of extreme decomposition, a mess of flesh convulsing with maggots. 

When a mysterious, crumbling painting is implicated in the deaths it seems that the investigating team has resorted to madness. But this rotten painting hides a terrifying family secret.

Twins of Evil by Shaun Hutson 

In nineteenth-century middle-Europe, orphaned teenage twins Maria and Frieda go to live with their uncle Gustav Weil, who heads the Brotherhood, a vigilante group trying to stamp out vampirism. But their methods are random and misplaced and the only result is a terrorised populace. The real threat lies with Count Karnstein, and although the twins seem outwardly to be identical, Frieda finds herself much more drawn than her sister to the Count's castle dominating the skyline.

The Witches by Peter Curtis

Walwyk seemed a dream village to the new schoolteacher, Miss Mayfield. But dreams can change into nightmares.

When one of her students accuses his friend Ethel's grandmother of abusing her, Miss Mayfield cannot let it go. But Ethel won't say anything, despite the evidence of Miss Mayfield's own eyes. But as she attempts to get to the truth of the matter, she stumbles on something far more sinister. Walwyk seems to be in the grip of a centuries-old evil, and anybody who questions events in the village does not last long.

Death stalks more than one victim, and Miss Mayfield begins to realise that if she's not careful, she will be the next to die.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Stranger Than Fiction: Africans in York

My thanks to Medieval POC for the link to this 3 year old article from Yorkshire Museum proving (for those that still doubt) that people of African descent lived in England in the middle ages and were not slaves/lower class.

Skull and reconstruction images by Aaron Watson of the University of Reading
A picture of multi-cultural Britain in 4th Century AD has been revealed using the latest forensic techniques in archaeology. The new research, published in the March issue of the journal Antiquity, demonstrates that Roman York of the period had individuals of North African descent moving in the highest social circles.
The article's quite interesting, though if you want to read the PDF paper this article was cribbed from at Antiquity, it'll cost you GBP 15.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Pokemon - The Musical

Apparently Pokemon's coming back into popularity.  And here's a well done musical about it by the AVbyte Brothers to brighten your day.  They've also got a hipster Disney princesses musical that's quite fun.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Book Review: The Hangman's Replacement: The Sprout of Disruption by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko

Pros: fascinating characters, philosophical slant, subtle humour, set in Zimbabwe 

Cons: slow to reveal pertinent information, pronunciation guide at the end difficult to refer to in ebook format

I normally summarize books myself, but this one's got so much going on that I've decided to use the author's words.

Zimbabwe’s last hangman retired in 2004. As the nation drifted towards abolition, no determined effort was launched to find a replacement. However, the discovery of carnivorous flame lilies at the Great Zimbabwe monument triggered a spirited search for a new executioner. Those who know why this discovery energized the recruitment effort refused to talk.

The frantic attempts to find a new hangman were impeded by the lack of suitable candidates. Well-placed sources confirmed that the fear of ngozi was a deterrent. According to this traditional belief, the spirit of a murdered person torments the killer and his family for generations. However, this is only half the story. Several promising applicants did come forward. None met the minimum requirements for the job. The selection criteria were designed to exclude the mentally ill, the vindictive, and the sadistic. However, they did not rule out the desperate.

The Sprout of Disruption (Book 1) introduces the universe of characters whose lives have been set alight by the plant which sparked the recruitment effort. It tells the story of the aspiring hangman who was obsessed with securing the job, the sympathizers who fought to protect him from his prize, and the anxious men who believed that emptying death row would end their horror before the meat-eating plants constricted around their necks.

There's no protagonist in this book.  The story is told in stages from various character's points of view.  Each character's story - and subsequent conversation(s) - is directly or indirectly essential to piecing together the plot.  And there's a lot of piecing to do.  Characters and stories from the beginning of the novel that don't seem important show up later as important elements to the whole.  You learn a lot about each character, their background and the choice they have to make with regards to the novel's plot.  There's a LOT of backstory, but it's engagingly told and quick to read.

I loved the setting.  I know very little about Zimbabwe so that alone made this a fun read.  I loved that there were several strong female characters and characters from different walks of life.  There's a bordello mistress, a peasant farmer, a carpenter who creates gallows as a hobby, a professor of botany, some lawyers, lots of unsavoury characters, a genius etc.  I really liked the interview chapter (chapter 2) and the acknowledgement that a lack of education does not equal a lack of intelligence.

While the book has a meat eating plant, there's little else for the SF lover here, and the plant doesn't show up until the 100 page mark.  Once it does show up, it's mainly the impetus for the other events in the story, rather than a large element on its own.  SF aside, if you like mysteries, psychopaths and brilliant storytelling, there's plenty here to hold your interest.  

I was particularly fond of the occasional bits of philosophical wisdom scattered throughout the book as well as the author's subtle sense of humour.  Take for example, these lines, "The man had a chocolate charisma.  Its low nutritional value did not stop people from eating it up."  It's not humour that will make you laugh out loud, but it will make you smile.  Another favourite is this passage:

"Imagine how wonderful this world would be if potential criminals asked the police for permission? 'Please, may I kill my boss?' 'No!' 'Please may I steal a cow?' 'No!' 'Please may I burn my neighbour's house?  He is so annoying.' 'No!'
"We could slash the law enforcement budget by ninety-nine percent.  We would only need a single police officer and a desk.  The officer's only job would be to say 'No!'

For the most part I didn't mind how slowly the book revealed the plot, as the story and characters were so interesting.  But around the 250 page mark I started to wonder when the plot was going to show up, only to discover I was already knee deep in it.  This is very much a novel designed to make you think.

My other 'complaint' is format related.  I started reading this on a Kobo, which isn't the best reader if you want to jump to the back of the book to look at the pronunciation guide.  It wasn't until I switched to the iPad that I was able to check how characters names were pronounced.  While it's standard to have this at the back of the book, in the ebook age, a short list at the beginning, next to the map, would have been fantastic.

There's a 16+ rating on the book that probably isn't necessary.  While violence is mentioned there's little on the page.  And while there are some bizarre sexual scenarios described there's nothing graphic or obscene.  

This is the start of a series and I assume the flesh eating flame lilies will be more prominent in the later books.  This one was mostly set-up, but it was incredibly interesting set-up and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Friday 11 October 2013

Recommended Reading by Professionals... with Violette Malan

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven't received the recognition they deserve.

Today's recommendations are by Violette Malan. Violette Malan lives in southeastern Ontario with her husband. People tend to ask her about the choreography of stripping – and she'll answer – but most of the time she's the author of the Dhulyn and Parno novels, and the Mirror Lands novels, fantasies available from DAW. You'll find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and check her website.

  1. Howard Andrew Jones - I really enjoyed Jones' Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones, two novels chronicling the adventures of the scholar Dabir, and the guard captain Asim. First, they're sword and sorcery, my own preferred genre. Second, I felt there was actually a flavour of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin – the intellectual and the man of action, coming together to form the perfect campaigning duo. Third, they're set in the world of the Arabian Nights, one of my favourite story cycles.
  2. Kari Sperring - Think of a cross between Gene Wolfe and Alexandre Dumas, and you've got a fair idea of Sperring's work. Her two novels, Living with Ghosts and The Grass King's Concubine, are compelling, multi-layered and dark. Her worlds are completely imaginary, and yet they're imbued with a subtle familiarity that adds to their complexity. It's not often we can get truly alien perspectives in fantasy, but we can find them here. Not for the faint of heart, but irresistible.
  3. Dave Gross - Gross' Radovan and Count Jeggare novels are set in the Pathfinder universe, though you don't have to be familiar with that setting to thoroughly enjoy them. The series starts with Prince of Wolves, and the latest is King of Chaos, but each is a stand-alone adventure, so you don't have to read them in any particular order. An unusual touch is Gross' use of two first person narrators.  As the pov alternates between the two main characters, we not only get broader story lines, but occasionally different – and amusing – perspectives on the same events.
Stay tuned for the next post where we learn whom David Lomax thinks we should be reading more of!

Thursday 10 October 2013

Music Video: Want You Gone

Mystery Guitar Man (aka Joe Penna) and Peter Hollens have teamed up to do two versions of Want You Gone from Portal 2.  MGM's version has more of a story, which is why I'm embedding that one here.  Peter Hollens's is A cappella and worth checking out as well.  You can find it here.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Kickstarter - Statisticity, an Interactive Dystopian Novel App

Yaron Glazer emailed me last week about his project, which begins phase 2, a kickstarter campaign, today.

Phase 1 is a facebook and twitter timeline that "narrates in headlines from the future (with links to curated articles and pictures from the present) just how today’s trends in science, technology, and geopolitics led to tomorrow’s dystopia, elaborating the details of a spiraling climate crisis."

In the future he imagines, China has risen to dominance.

Phase 3, which the kickstarter campaign is funding, is an interactive ebook app that includes an already completed novel set in future Shanghai, with a lot of extras (artwork, bios, maps, etc).

For $20 you get the ebook download, for $50 you get the download and physical book.  There are, of course, other options as well.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Book Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Pros: superb world-building, interesting mix of characters

Cons: characters full names always used, slower middle, defeat the main enemy with surprising ease

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is an old man, and one of the last true ghul hunters.  When his former lover's niece is killed in a ghul attack, he hunts it, and its creator, down.  Accompanying him is his apprentice, a skilled and devout Dervish.  But what they find isn't an easily defeated evil man who's learned to raise a few ghuls, but monsters the likes of which the doctor has only read about in ancient storybooks.  

On their quest, they meet Zamia Badawi, whose desert living band has recently met with the monsters the doctor hunts and who possesses ancient magics herself.

Meanwhile, the 'Falcon Prince', an outlaw who steals from the rich and helps the poor, is inciting rebellion against the Khalif of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms.   

I really enjoyed the varied characters in the book.  The Doctor is irreverent but knowledgeable in the ways of the world.  By the middle of the book he's requested help from an older couple, two of his travelling companions from times past.  The contrast between the experienced old people and the two teens (the apprentice and Zamia), makes for some fun scenes.  The elders quickly become exacerbated by the simple beliefs of the teens, while the teens help infuse the adults with determination and belief in their eventual victory.  

In addition to having older protagonists, the book also brings in characters with different backgrounds.  Zamia is a tribeswoman, derided by the doctor for her people's 'barbaric' beliefs.  And his friends are both from different nations.  Each character had good and bad traits, as well as personal struggles to overcome in the book.  They all felt like real people, with real challenges, trying to figure out what to do next when there's no right - or easy - answers.

While most of the novel took place in and around the city of Dhamsawaat, having characters from other nations helped make the larger world come alive.  The city itself felt like a character at times, sprawling across the pages in all its glory.  The scents, sounds and feelings of grandeur, squalor and packed humanity are vividly told, though not overbearingly so.

The beginning and ending of the book are filled with monsters, spell work and sword fighting, which makes the middle - with its numerous conversations - seem a bit dull by comparison.  Important stuff happens, gathering information, resting, intrigue and gossip, but there was a stretch where it seemed talking was all that was happening.

Each character had a fairly long name and for some reason their full name was always used.  I ended up abbreviating the names in my head so I could move on with the story.

Given the character's difficulties when facing one of the big bad guys, I was surprised by how quickly they dealt with all their enemies at the end of the book.  While it was a satisfying ending, it seemed a bit quick for all the lead-up.   Having said that, I did appreciate that each character was changed by the events of the ending.  It was nice seeing that the violence and difficult choices had consequences for them. 

This tale is self-contained, though it is the first of a series.  Despite my minor complaints, it was a fantastic book that really pulled me into the story.  I wish I'd been able to read it in a less disjointed way than I did, giving it the attention it deserved.  As many other reviewers have said, Saladin Ahmed is a name to watch for.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Prix Aurora Award Winners 2013

I've grabbed this list of winners from the Prix Aurora Award site and added links where appropriate:

Novel: The Silvered – Tanya Huff  [out in mass market November 5th]

YA Fiction: Under my Skin, The Wildlings – Charles de Lint

Short Fiction: The Walker of the Shifting Borderland – Douglas Smith

Poem / Song: A Sea Monster Tells His Story – David Clink

Graphic Novel: Weregeek – Alina Pete

Related Work: Hayden Trenholm – Blood and Water

Artist: Erik Mohr – Cover Art for ChiZine Publications

Fan Publication: Speculating Canada Blog – Derek Newman-Stille

Fan Filk: Kari Maaren – Body of Work

Fan Organizational: Randy McCharles – When Worlds Collide

Fan Related Work: Ron Friedman – Aurora Awards Voter Package

They've also reported that: 

For the first time in 30 years-and only the fourth time ever-the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) is bestowing a Lifetime Achievement award on an author.
That honour has been bestowed on Robert J. Sawyer, who has won numerous awards for his science fiction novels over the years.

Congratulations winners!

Shout-Out: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata

I found out about this book when posted an excerpt a little while back.  It sounds pretty interesting.

There Needs To Be A War Going On Somewhere: Lieutenant James Shelley commands a high-tech squad of soldiers in a rural district within the African Sahel. They hunt insurgents each night on a harrowing patrol, guided by three simple goals: protect civilians, kill the enemy, and stay alive-because in a for-profit war manufactured by the defense industry there can be no cause worth dying for. To keep his soldiers safe, Shelley uses every high-tech asset available to him-but his best weapon is a flawless sense of imminent danger . . . as if God is with him, whispering warnings in his ear.

Friday 4 October 2013

Author Interview: Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator
The Exodus Towers
The Plague Forge


> What is The Dire Earth Cycle about? 

It's the late 23rd century. A plague has swept across the globe and the only people who are safe are in Darwin, Australia where a space elevator of mysterious alien origin protects against the disease. A small group of people with a rare immunity scavenge the dangerous wastelands beyond Darwin for useful items, a role that eventually draws them into the efforts to unravel what these aliens want.

> What drew you to writing about an alien caused apocalypse?

I'd wanted to write a story with a space elevator at the center of it, but I kept reading how building such a device would be impossible. The contrarian in me thought, "who says we're the ones to build it?" and the story took off from there.

> How do your aliens differ from what we've seen before?

Well, for one they're largely unseen.  They're sending ships to earth in what appears to be a carefully crafted sequence, but to what ends nobody knows.

> What made you want to be a writer?

After leaving my job as a game designer, I needed a new hobby to fill the creative void in my life.  I decided to try writing and quickly came to love the craft.

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

Nah, I'm having too much fun.  Besides I'd miss my wife and kids!

> You were a game designer for several years.  Did you have any game or literary influences for The Darwin Elevator?

Most of the games I designed were real-time strategy, and there are a few aspects of those games that wormed their way into the books.  As for literary influences, I'm truly a product of everything I've read.  Specifically, these books were strongly influenced by post-apocalyptic novels like Stephen King's The Stand, and first contact stories like Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

> You wrote The Darwin Elevator in 2008 as a Nanorimo project.  You didn't get a publishing deal until 2011.  How did you stay motivated to keep refining the manuscript until it was publication worthy?

I told people, friends and family, that I was working on it.  That way I had to work on it, lest I admit failure when they asked me how it was going.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?
The end of the third book. It was really hard for me to draw everything together in a satisfying way, but still leave open the door for more stories later.

> When and where do you write?

I write in the mornings, usually in my den or at a coffee shop.

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

It's largely solitary. This is good because your success or failure is entirely up to you, but bad because you can wind up in a creative vacuum.

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

That they would offer to buy a series of books simply based on their impression of the first book.  The publisher offered a contract for a trilogy without even asking me how many books I envisioned, or indeed where the overall story was going. Which was actually a good thing, since I had very little written down in terms of plans.  In the end my editor and I were able to collaborate very closely on the outlines for books 2 and 3.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Listen to audiobooks. You'll get a new appreciation for language, learn what kinds of prose hamper or improve pace, and eventually you'll start to hear your favorite narrators in your head as you write.

> Any tips against writers block?

Close your eyes and watch the movie. Seriously, try to picture the scene as if it were a film, and keep rewinding until you can envision it clearly enough to write it.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Penguin Random House Fall Preview Picks

One of the benefits to being a bookseller is the chance to attend publisher preview presentations where you get to see what's coming before everyone else.

Here are some fall titles from their catalogue I'm hoping to read at some point...

The first two books I got copies of, and you can read about them on the books received post for last month.  They are: The Night Film by Marisha Pessl, which the presenter compared to works of Ira Levin, and More Than This by Patrick Ness.  I loved Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, so I'm looking forward to this one.

The Circle by Dave Eggers - the book sounds very topical, dealing with privacy vs openness on the internet.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world-even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

1867. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.
When she finally arrives, shaken, at the hall she is greeted by the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her mysterious employer. The children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, a second terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.
From the moment she rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence which lives within Gaudlin''s walls. Eliza realises that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall''s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past...

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - the follow up to the fun and creepy Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Not SF, but something I'm looking forward to nonetheless, is Longbourn by Jo Baker.

The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic--take centre stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn't in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Phoenix Pick, Book Bale +

Phoenix Pick, for those of you who haven't heard of them, is an online bookstore for older, classic SF.  They do paperback and ebook editions of mostly (entirely?) out of print titles.  Their monthly newsletter always has a code for a free ebook.  This month's book is Halo by Paul Cook (yes, he of the controversial Amazing Stories "When Science Fiction is Not Science Fiction" post).

Regardless of his definition of 'real' science fiction, his book sounds pretty interesting.  So I may give it a try next year when the retail holiday season is over and my essential reading pile is gone.

The mysterious alien artifact called the Halo came quietly and mysteriously and then sowed the earth with seeds that threatened to destroy humanity by destroying their souls.

But the aliens had underestimated the human spirit and a band of Moon-based scientists survive to fight and take back what is rightfully ours.

A powerful, visionary and scary look into our future and a possible encounter with an alien species almost impossible to beat.
Phoenix Pick is also starting their own book bundle, pay what you want (minimum $2.99) program called Bookbale.  The first bundle will include books by Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, Mercedes Lackey, Andre Norton, Kevin J. Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Robert J. Sawyer.  It goes on sale November 1st.  I'm curious to see what titles have been chosen (they're not visible yet).  I think these kinds of things are great, even though I haven't had time to read the books from the other bundles I've bought.  Too many books...

Finally, if you like magazines, Issue 4 of Galaxy's Edge is up.  You can buy and download it for $3.99 or read it online for free.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Science Fiction and Fantasy Coming in November 2013

Once again, this list was taken from (rather than and therefore represents US release dates for the books mentioned.  For some reason the site didn't sort books properly by release date, so I apologize if some books on this list don't belong here.  I tried to check each book listing to verify the date, but I may have missed a few.  Similarly, Amazon likes to emphasize the kindle editions even when other editions of the book are coming out at the same time making it hard to differentiate when it's just the ebook edition for an older book coming out vs a new book entirely.  In some cases, it looked like there were kindle editions for out of print books, I've called those reissues, but again, I may be mistaken about the out of print, so apologies if that's the case. 


Iron Winter – Stephen Baxter
Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug – Raymond Feist & Stephen Abrams
The Song of King Gesar – Alai & Howard Goldblatt
The Princess Bride: Illustrated Edition – William Goldman
Twenty-First Century Science Fiction – David Hartwell & Patrick Nielsen Hayden
The Ape's Wife and Other Stories – Caitlin Kiernan
Come and Take Them – Tom Kratman
The Man Who Made Models: The Collected Short Fiction – R. A. Lafferty & Michael Swanwick
Bleeding Shadows – Joe Lansdale
Trade Secret – Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Long Live the Queen – Kate Locke
Apparition – Trish MacGregor
Starhawk – Jack McDevitt
The Severed Tower – J. Barton Mitchell
Watcher of the Dark – Joseph Nassise
The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below – Patrick Rothfuss & Nate Taylor
Limit – Frank Schatzing
Royal Airs – Sharon Shinn
Death Star Manual: DS-1 Orbital Battle Station – Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas
Doctor Who: Essential Guide to 50 Years of Doctor Who – Various 
Horse of a Different Color: Stories – Howard Waldrop
Burning Paradise – Robert Charles Wilson

Trade Paperback:

Warhammer 40K: First and Only – Dan Abnett
To Dance With the Devil – Cat Adams
Fortune's Pawn – Rachel Bach
In the Company of Thieves – Kage Baker
Resistance – Samit Basu
One-Eyed Jack – Elizabeth Bear
Masks – E. C. Blake
The Golden City – J. Kathleen Cheney
A Dance of Blades – David Dalglish
A Cosmic Christmas 2 You – Hank Davis, Ed.
Tyrannia: and Other Renditions – Alan DeNiro
The Time of the Raven – Charles Dowling
City of Lost Dreams – Magnus Flyte
Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
The Horus Engines – Scott Harrison
Gamification / C-Monkeys – Keith Hollihan
Sister Mine – Nalo Hopkinson
Space Opera – Rich Horton, Ed.
Votan and Other Novels – John James
Time's Dark Laughter – James Kahn
Warhammer: Trollslayer – William King
World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects – Richard Knaak
Last to Rise – Francis Knight
Probability Moon – Nancy Kress
Warhammer: The Great Betrayal – Nick Kyme
Moon's Artifice – Tom Lloyd
We Will Destroy Your Planet: An Alien's Guide to Conquering the Earth – David McIntee & Miguel Coimbra
Warhammer 40K: Nightbringer – Graham McNeill
Spectrum – Jason Melby
The Fairy Visions of Richard Dadd – Miranda Miller
Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo – Miyuki Miyabe
Intermezzo – Melinda Morgan
Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour – Garry Thomas Morse
Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural – Victoria Nelson
Spheres of Influence – Ryk SpoorThe Watcher - Nicholas Oakley
The Interpretation of Zines: A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Fanzines – Luis Ortiz
Fiddlehead – Cherie Priest
The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, book III – R. A. Salvatore
Plastic Jesus – Wayne Simmons
John Sladek SF Gateway Omnibus: The Reproductive System, The Muller-fokker Effect, Tik-tok – John Sladek
Orphans – Ben Tanzer
Myths & Legends: Hercules – Fred Van Lente & Alexey Aparin
Beyond the Rift – Peter Watts
The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide: Contraptions, Creations, and Curiosities Anyone Can Make – Thomas Willeford
Warhammer: Master of Dragons – Chris Wraight

Mass Market Paperback:

Warhammer: Pariah – Dan Abnett
Darkness Splintered – Keri Arthur
Pink – M. James Baxter-Reynolds
Bard's Oath – Joanne Bertin
Magic and Loss – Nancy Collins
Andromeda's Fall – William Dietz
Fringe: Sins of the Father – Christa Faust
Alien Honor – Vaughn Heppner
The Silvered – Tanya Huff
Pathfinder Tales: Stalking the Beast – Howard Andrew Jones
Flame of Sevenwaters – Juliet Marillier
The Eidolon – Libby McGugan
The Lair – Emily McKay
Tour of the Merrimack – R. M. Meluch
Hell Bent – Devon Monk
Robert Asprin's Myth-Quoted – Jody Lynn Nye
The End of the Road – Jonathan Oliver, Ed.
The Misfortune Cookie – Laura Resnick
Grimm: The Icy Touch – John Shirley
Star Trek: The Poisoned Chalice – James Swallow
47 Ronin – Joan Vinge


The Arrows of Time – Greg Egan
The Ravenglass Eye – Tom Fletcher (reissue)
Temporary Monsters – Craig Shaw Gardner
The Rising Dead – Stella Green
Rebel's Cage – Kate Jacoby (reissue)
The Complete SF Collection – Richard Morgan
The Foreworld Saga: Marshal Versus the Assassins – M. Harold Page
The City's Son – Tom Pollock (reissue)
A Sky of Spells – Morgan Rice
Carlucci's Edge – Richard Paul Russo (reissue)
Redemption - Stephanie Tyler
Through the Black Veil – Steve Vera
Jaydium – Deborah Wheeler (reissue)
The War of the Grail – Geoffrey Wilson

YA Fiction:

The Keeper – Ellen Jenson Abbott
Sentinel – Jennifer Armentrout
Infinity – Andria Buchanan
Daylighters – Rachel Caine
Curtsies & Conspiracies – Gail Carriger
Pawn – Aimee Carter
Reached – Ally Condie
Rise – Andrea Cremer
Cracked – Eliza Crewe
Crystal Fire – Jordan Dane
After Eden – Helen Douglas
*The Letter For the King – Tonke Dragt 
World After – Susan Ee
The Ninth Day – Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Extracted – Sherry Ficklin & Tayler Jolley
Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza – M. L. Forman
Tinder – Sally Gardner & David Roberts
Katya's War – Jonathan Howard
Pushed – Corrine Jackson
Elemental – Antony John
Firebrand – Antony John
Afterglow – Karsten Knight
Flash Point – Nancy Kress
Contagion – Tim Lebbon
A Stranger Thing – Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
Mothership – Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
Champion – Marie Lu
Uncrashable Dakota – Andy Marino
The Fiery Heart – Richelle Mead
The Severed Tower – J. Barton Mitchell
Horizon – Alyson Noel
The First Dragon – James Owen
Cold Spell – Jackson Pearce
Fabrick – Andrew Post
Shades of Earth – Beth Revis
THe Snowmelt River – Frank Ryan
The Salvation: Unspoken – L. J. Smith
Revelations – J. A. Souders
The Uprising – Lisa Stasse
The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya – Nagaru Tanigawa
Engines of the Broken World – Jason Vanhee
THe Sapphire Quest – Gill Vickery
Angel Fever – L. A. Weatherly
Bloodmark – Aurora Whittet
Twinmaker – Sean Williams
Shamanka – Jeanne Willis
Fireblood – Trisha Wolfe
The Other Book – Philip Womack
This Wicked Game – Michelle Zink