Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Terminal World by Reynolds Reviewed & Sprunk Interviewed

Some new content up at SFFWorld over the past week, one review and one interview. Let's begin with my review, shall we? The book's been sitting on my to-read pile for over a year, but I finally read it. The book? Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, which will also be SFFWorld's Science Fiction Book Club selection in July (2011). After the cover shot, the usual review excerpt

Spearpoint is a city-world separated by zones, wherein each zone is the equivalent of its own country and even its own atmosphere, technology, and power sources. The divide between zones is so marked that denizens of one zone have difficulty surviving unaided in other zones for long periods of time. Spearpoint itself is a powerful blending of storytelling and world-building, a characteristic Reynolds has demonstrated in previous novels and perhaps most strongly here in Terminal World. Throughout Quillion and Meroka’s journey, they encounter the denizens of each zone from Skullboys to Vorgs to all sorts of post-human creatures. In some respects, Reynolds could probably pen a short-novel centered on each zone of Spearpont.

The relationship between Quillion and Meroka reminded me a great deal of the relationship between Yorick Brown and Agent 355 (at least the early portion of their relationship) in Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra’s landmark comic/graphic novel saga Y: The Last Man. There’s antagonism on one side, frustration on the other and as the story progresses in both Terminal World and Y: The Last Man a level of respect does grow between the characters.

The interview, conducted by SFFWorld's KatG is with, Jon Sprunk, author of Shadow's Son and Shadow's Lure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-06-25)

A handful of arrivals here at the ‘o Stuff, so what’s say we jump right into them?.

The Traitor’s Daughter by Paula Brandon (Spectra Trade Paperback 10/04/2011) –This could be a promising debut from fellow NJ native Paula Brandon, what with a very nice blurb from Jacqueline Carey. I don’t know the name of the trilogy nor does the author yet have a Web site so information, other than what is on BN.com, is somewhat scarce.

Here’s the beginning of a lush, epic, wholly original new trilogy that shines with magic, mystery, and captivating drama.

On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. The polarity of magic is wavering at its source, heralding a vast upheaval poised to alter the very balance of nature. Blissfully unaware of the cataclysmic events to come, Jianna Belandor, the beautiful, privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband. But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold, insurance against what are perceived as her father’s crimes.

The resistance movement opens Jianna’s eyes―and her heart. Despite her belief in her father’s innocence, she is fascinated by the bold and charming nomadic physician and rebel sympathizer, Falaste Rione—who offers Jianna her only sanctuary in a cold and calculating web of intrigue. As plague and chaos grip the land, Jianna is pushed to the limits of her courage and resourcefulness, while virulent enemies discover that alliance is their only hope to save the human race.

Nagash: The Immortal (Warhammer Fantasy – Time of Legends) by Mike Lee (Black Library, Mass Market Paperback CD 8/4/2011) –Concluding volume in the saga of one of the Old World of Warhammer’s ancient eviles. .

In the tunnels of Nagashizzar, a new threat to the realm of the undead is rising. Nagash must call upon all his reserves of power to defeat the skaven assault and continue his unholy reign. But when Nagash realises he can use his enemy for his own nefarious needs, an uneasy alliance is struck and a vast, nightmarish army is formed. The necromancer launches his final attack on the lands of Nehekhara, sweeping all before him. Only one man dare stand in his way – Alcadizzar, a peerless warrior and the leader of a defiant force. Their confrontation will not just decide the fate of Nehekhara, but of all the Old World.

Kitty’s Big Trouble (Kitty Norville fantasy) by Carrie Vaughn (TorMass Market Paperback 06/28/2011) – One might say Vaughn has evolved into a well-oiled and respected writing machine, a publisher switch for this series showed no lightening up of her workload. I’ve only read the first of this series, so I’ve got a ton of catching up to do.

Kitty Norville is back and in more trouble than ever. Her recent run-in with werewolves traumatized by the horrors of war has made her start wondering how long the US government might have been covertly using werewolves in combat. Have any famous names in our own history might have actually been supernatural? She's got suspicions about William Tecumseh Sherman. Then an interview with the right vampire puts her on the trail of Wyatt Earp, vampire hunter.

But her investigations lead her to a clue about enigmatic vampire Roman and the mysterious Long Game played by vampires through the millennia. That, plus a call for help from a powerful vampire ally in San Francisco, suddenly puts Kitty and her friends on the supernatural chessboard, pieces in dangerously active play. And Kitty Norville is never content to be a pawn. . . .

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) by Chris Wooding (Spectra Trade Paperback 07/26/2011) – I absolutely loved Retribution Falls, the first book in this sequence, and Hobbit/Mark said the second one was even better. I’m considering this one a must read.

Chris Wooding, author of the thrilling novel Retribution Falls, returns to a fantastical world of spectacular sky battles and high-flying heroics for another epic adventure.

Deep in the heart of the Kurg rainforest lies a long-forgotten wreck. On board, behind a magically protected door, an elusive treasure awaits. Good thing Darian Frey, captain of the airship Ketty Jay, has the daemonist Crake on board. Crake is their best chance of getting that door open—if they can sober him up. For a prize this enticing, Frey is willing to brave the legendary monsters of the forbidding island and to ally himself with a partner who’s even less trustworthy than he is.

But what’s behind that door is not what any of the fortune hunters expect, any more than they anticipate their fiercest competitor for the treasure—a woman from Frey’s past who also happens to be the most feared pirate in the skies.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

11 Years

Eleven years ago was the best and most important day of my life. It was the day I married my college sweetheart, best friend and soul-mate. These three qualities, as well as many other great qualities, were embodied in one beautiful, amazing woman. I still consider myself the luckiest guy in the world and know I am a better man for having her as my wife.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Used Book Pr0n - June Edition

Another trip to the Book Trader and another haul of used books, because, hey, I’d rather have 10 books I know I’ll read than 20 books I know I won’t read. Sully read all the books already and is exhausted.

Here’s the rundown, from top to bottom:

The Evergence Trilogy (The Prodigal Son, The Dying Light , and The Dark Imbalance ) by Sean Williams and Shane Dix – I enjoyed the Geodesica duology by the same author team, LOVED what Sean Williams did by himself in Books of the Cataclysm and sort of enjoyed Astropolis. I’d wanted to read this trilogy for a while, but it’s been out of print for a while so I was happy to find the whole trilogy used since more often than not at these used books stores when I want to buy a series, at least one book of sequence is missing.

Earth by David Brin – The only book I’ve read by Brin is The Postman and this book is one that’s been on my radar for quite some time.

Legend by David Gemmell – Geek admission – I’ve never read this book. I did read the first two novels in his Rigante sequence as well as Echoes of the Great Song plus I have a bunch of his older books I found in perfectly good condition in the trash area (the books were in bags and boxes and untouched by real garbage) in my old Townhouse years ago, but not this book.

The Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell – I received the 2 most recent novels in this sequence for review from the publisher, and based on Mark Chitty’s praise for the books, I do want to read them but figured the first book might be the best spot to start

The Alien Years and Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg – I’ve read a bunch of shorts and a couple of books by Silverbeg but have always wanted to read his stab at Epic Fantasy and since Lord Valentine’s Castle is out of print, I made sure to snatch this one. The Alien Years is a book on my radar since it first published and it was a main selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. Plus, the new (and terrific) show Falling Skies has put me in the mood for some good ol’ alien invasion entertainment.

Field of Dishonor and The Short Victorious War by David Weber– By now, readers of my blog should know I’ve become a big fan of Weber, these are the third and fourth book in his massively popular Honor Harrington sequence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown

Just one review this week at SFFWorld, but that's fine since the book is so amazing, it isn't such a bad thing to highlight this one book alone. Eric Brown's The Kings of Eternity is one of the highlights of the 2011 SF releases, in my opinion. The novel is , a book he's been working on the better part of the last decade. My only other reading experience with Mr. Brown is the severely under-rated, in my opinion, Helix. Well, after reading The Kings of Eternity, and remembering how much I enjoyed Helix, Mr. Brown is now on my "get all his stuff and read it" list.

Anyway, as usual here's the cover of the book (and what a knock out cover it is by Dominic Harman) and the review excerpt:

The Kings of Eternity, the subject of this review, is a book he worked on for a decade and can be seen as two stories in one. In it, Brown takes a very writerly trope and chooses as his protagonists two writers who are separated by the gulf of about 64 years. Of course, going into the novel with that premise, it might be considered a foregone conclusion the two storylines will eventually converge. However; the manner in which Brown makes the twain meet makes for a wonderful journey.


The Kings of Eternity is the type of SF novel that should appeal to many readers. It has enough science fiction-y goodness for seasoned readers; conversely, it doesn’t thrust the reader into these elements unawares at the beginning of the story, thus lulling the reader into those elements; and perhaps most importantly: fully-rounded and believable characters. Though I didn’t completely like Jonathon all the time while I was reading, he felt real and I could empathize with him. The same goes for Daniel, though I did enjoy his company more. Brown, like I’ve said in a number of my reviews of other writers, allows the world and events to unfold through his characters. As I implied, this is all the more enjoyable since those characters are so alive and believable.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-06-18)

A massive haul this week as the late June releases from Del Rey/Bantam, and the July releases from The Black Library and Nightshade Books arrived.

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (Trade Paperback 06/28/2011 Del Rey) –This is Gregory’s third novel and chances are I’ll be reading it in the near future. Well, maybe by the summer. I thought his second novel The Devil’s Alphabet was fantastic, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say about a zombie baby.

From award-winning author Daryl Gregory, whom Library Journal called “[a] bright new voice of the twenty-first century,” comes a new breed of zombie novel—a surprisingly funny, vividly frightening, and ultimately deeply moving story of self-discovery and family love.

In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.

The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run.

Soon Stony learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world. There is an entire undead underground. As Stony gets radicalized, he also discovers why he’s never been ravenous for human flesh. But in a world where humans want to cut off his head and burn him, can Stony embrace his identity, save his people, and protect his human family? The answer is not so dead certain.

Sigvald (Warhammer fantasy) by Darius Hinks (Black LibraryMass Market Paperback 07/05/2010) – A lot of these recent WH fantasy releases seem tobe stand-alone in nature. Or in other words inviting to readers who don’t have extensive knowledge of the world, which is smart by my accounting. Hinks is a rising star in the ranks of Black Library..

Prince Sigvald the Magnificent has struck a pact with his Slaaneshi masters that bestows incredible power and beauty, but drives him to ever greater acts of hedonism. Despite his pre-eminence, the champion of Chaos is tricked into an impossible war with the promise of a powerful artefact to slake his dark desires. After centuries of debauchery, Sigvald rouses his army and leads them to battle against the legions of the Blood God Khorne.

Obsessed with the Brass Skull, the object of his misguided yearnings, Sigvald is unaware his enemies are closing in around him. In a hellish quest that drives him across the twisted landscape of the Chaos Wastes and culminates in an epic confrontation, he realises godhood and that the lures of Slaanesh can never be sated.

The Madness Within (Audio Drama) (Warhammer 40K/Space Marines) by Steve Lyons and performed by John Banks (Black Library, Abridged CD 8/4/2011) –BL is really pushing these audio dramas, expanding the universe of their shared properties and finding new and interesting ways to tell stories. This one focuses on the Space Marine .

Desperate and isolated, Sergeant Estabann and Brother Cordoba of the Crimson Fists Space Marines are hunting the daemon that destroyed their battle-brothers. Their only hope remains with a Librarian on the edge of sanity, a potentially tainted Astartes who they are forced to trust. His psychic abilities can lead them to the daemon, where Estabann and Cordoba can avenge their brothers’ deaths. But is the greatest threat a foul denizen of the warp, or the power contained within a psyker’s mind?

Dragongirl by Anne McCaffrey and Todd J. McCaffrey (Del Rey Hardcover 06/27/2011) – The latest and what seems to be the annual Pern novel sees Anne McCaffrey rejoin her son to tell a tale in the world she created.

For the first time in more than three years, bestselling authors Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, mother and son, have teamed up again to do what they do best: add a fresh chapter to the most beloved science fiction series of all time, the Dragonriders of Pern.

Even though Lorana cured the plague that was killing the dragons of Pern, sacrificing her queen dragon in the process, the effects of the disease were so devastating that there are no longer enough dragons available to fight the fall of deadly Thread. And as the situation grows more dire, a pregnant Lorana decides that she must take drastic steps in the quest for help.

Meanwhile, back at Telgar Weyr, Weyrwoman Fiona, herself pregnant, and the harper Kindan must somehow keep morale from fading altogether in the face of the steadily mounting losses of dragons and their riders. But time weighs heavily against them—until Lorana finds a way to use time itself in their favor.

It’s a plan fraught with risk, however. For attempting time travel means tampering with the natural laws of the universe, which could drastically alter history—and destiny—forever. Or so it has always been thought. But Lorana discovers that if the laws of time can’t be broken without consequences, it may still be possible to bend them. To ensure the future of Pern, she’s willing to take the fateful chance—even if it demands another, even greater, sacrifice.

False Gods (Audio) (Horus Heresy) by Graham McNeill and read by Martyn Ellis (Black Library, Abridged CD 7/4/2011) –I listened to the first book in the series earlier in the year. I received the most recent Horus Rising and really enjoyed it, both for the story as laid out by Abnett and how Ellis told it. Well, Ellis is the reader on this one and McNeill is probably the #2 guy at Black Library .

The Great Crusade that has taken humanity into the stars continues. The Emperor of mankind has handed the reins of command to his favoured son, the Warmaster Horus. Yet all is not well in the armies of the Imperium. Horus is still battling against the jealousy and resentment of his brother primarchs and, when he is injured in combat on the planet Davin, he must also battle his inner daemon. With all the temptations that Chaos has to offer, can the weakened Horus resist?

The epic tale of The Horus Heresy continues in Graham McNeill's sequel to Horus Rising. The fate of the galaxy now rests in the simple choice of one man; loyalty or heresy?

Dead in the Water (Audio) (Ciaphas Cain) by Sandy Mitchell and read by Toby Longworth (Black Library, CD 6/4/2011) –Ciaphas Cain is another hero in the mold of Abnett’s Gaunt and Mitchell has penned all of the stories of the Commissar, this is the first audio drama.

Commissar Ciaphas Cain is a renowned and revered hero of the Imperium, a man who has faced and survived some of the vilest creatures the universe can throw at him. But when he is sent to a river-world, he must deal with a dangerous enemy, an enemy whose true identity remains unknown. As his vessel traverses the straits of the planet, Cain must uncover the face of this new foe so that he can understand and escape it. Caught in the enemy crossfire, the commissar has no place to run, and his nerve will be tested to the very limits.

Nights of Villjamur (Book #2 of Legends of the Red Sun) by Mark Charan Newton (Bantam Spectra Trade Paperback 06/29/2011) – Second book in the sequence begun with Nights of Villjamur, which I reviewed for SFFWorld late last year. Mark suggests that this one can be read as a stand-alone and “if anyone was going to read just one book of mine, I’d like it to be this one.” Like Robert V.S. Redick’s forthcoming book, itself the third in his sequence, the publisher decided to switch format from Hardcover to Trade Paperback. Odd, that.

In the frozen north of a far-flung world lies Villiren, a city plagued by violent gangs and monstrous human/animal hybrids, stalked by a serial killer, and targeted by an otherworldly army. Brynd Lathraea has brought his elite Night Guard to help Villiren build a fighting force against the invaders. But success will mean dealing with the half-vampyre leader of the savage Bloods gang. Meanwhile, reptilian rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd has come seeking refuge from Villjamur’s vindictive emperor—only to find a city riddled with intolerance between species, indifference to a murderer’s reign of terror, and the powerful influence of criminals. As the enemy prepares to strike, and Villiren’s defenders turn on each other, three refugees—deposed empress Jamur Rika, her sister Eir, and the scholar Randur Estevu—approach the city. And with them they bring a last, desperate hope for survival . . . and a shocking revelation that will change everything.

Afterblight Chronicles: America by Simon Spurrier, Al Ewing, and Rebecca Leven (Afterblight Chronicles Omnibus #1) (Abaddon Books Trade Paperback 06/05/2011) – Abaddon has been playing along with the Omnibus route for some of their shared world series, this is the first set of books collected under one cover chronicling a post-apocalyptic world. Ever since catching one of those History Channel mockumentaries about life after Armageddon or some such thing, I’ve had a hankering for reading a book about desolation.

The Blight arose from nowhere. It swept across the bickering nations like The End of Times and spared only those with a single fortuitous blood type. Hot headed religion and territorial savagery rule the cities now. Somewhere amidst the chaos, however, there are groups of people fighting to survive. Heroes determined to create a better world. But can these warriors of the apocalypse hope to rediscover the humanity lost long ago in the blood and filth and horror of The Cull.

The Afterblight Chronicles Omnibus Vol 1 features three action-packed novels set in dangerous broken world rules by crazed gangs and strange cults.

The Culled – Simon Spurrier

Kill or Cure - Rebecca Levene

Death Got No Mercy - Al Ewing

The Clockwork Rocket (Orthogonal Volume 1) by Greg Egan (Nightshade Books, Hardcover 07/05/2011) – Egan launches a Hard SF trilogy set in a universe with rules unlike our own.

In Yalda's universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy.

On Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky.

As a child Yalda witnesses one of a series of strange meteors, the Hurtlers, that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed. It becomes apparent that her world is in imminent danger -- and that the task of dealing with the Hurtlers will require knowledge and technology far beyond anything her civilisation has yet achieved.

Only one solution seems tenable: if a spacecraft can be sent on a journey at sufficiently high speed, its trip will last many generations for those on board, but it will return after just a few years have passed at home. The travellers will have a chance to discover the science their planet urgently needs, and bring it back in time to avert disaster.

Orthogonal is the story of Yalda and her descendants, trying to survive the perils of their long mission and carve out meaningful lives for themselves, while the threat of annihilation hangs over the world they left behind. It will comprise three volumes:

* Book One: The Clockwork Rocket
* Book Two: The Eternal Flame
* Book Three: The Arrows of Time

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock (Night Shade Books Hardcover 07/05/2011) – Night Shade continues to release intriguing looking debut novels and this one is no exception. Demons, exorcists, Fallen Angels and Hell – sounds like a good mix to me, all wrapped by a really nice looking cover.

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen's hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven's frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn't so easy to escape.

In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen's hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven's Gates.

The Shadow Men (A Hidden Cities Noel) by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Spectra, Mass Market Paperback 06/28/2011) – I’ve read one novel each from this team, but nothing by them together. This book is the fourth in a seemingly unconnected series of urban fantasies..

From Beacon Hill to Southie, historic Boston is a town of vibrant neighborhoods knit into a seamless whole. But as Jim Banks and Trix Newcomb learn in a terrifying instant, it is also a city divided—split into three separate versions of itself by a mad magician once tasked with its protection.

Jim is happily married to Jenny, with whom he has a young daughter, Holly. Trix is Jenny’s best friend, practically a member of the family—although she has secretly been in love with Jenny for years. Then Jenny and Holly inexplicably disappear—and leave behind a Boston in which they never existed. Only Jim and Trix remember them. Only Jim and Trix can bring them back.

With the help of Boston’s Oracle, an elderly woman with magical powers, Jim and Trix travel between the fractured cities, for that is where Jenny and Holly have gone. But more is at stake than one family’s happiness. If Jim and Trix should fail, the spell holding the separate Bostons apart will fail too, and the cities will reintegrate in a cataclysmic implosion. Someone, it seems, wants just that. Someone with deadly shadow men at their disposal.

Blood Secrets (Alexandria Sabian Series #2) by Jeannie Stein (Bantam, Mass Market Paperback 06/28/2011) – Second installment in a paranormal/mystery/vampire/police procedural. Side note – a search on bn.com turns up over a dozen books with the title “Blood Secrets.”


Alex allowed a case involving murdered vamps to get personal and is suspended from the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation. Now she’s facing an official inquiry but has a chance to redeem herself. The catch: She must once again work with Varik Baudelaire, her former mentor and ex-fiancé, as he spearheads a search for a missing college student. But Varik has been keeping secrets from Alex, and his mysterious past is on a collision course with his present.

When Alex and Varik discover a carefully handcrafted doll at a crime scene, neither of them can see how close the danger really is or that a killer known as the Dollmaker has made Alex the object of his horrific desire. Now the only way out of the Dollmaker’s lair is through the twilight realm of the Shadowlands, where all secrets—for better or worse—will be revealed.

Taken by Fire (The Arco Series #5) by Sydney Croft (Bantam Books, Trade Paperback 06/28/2010) – I *think* this is part of a series, but nothing on the book cover itself told me this. Check that, visiting the author’s Web site tells me this is book #5 in the series, but again, this is not easily discernable from the cover or back cover of the book.


A product of genetic manipulation, Melanie Milan shares a body with her malevolent sister, Phoebe. A sleek, blond predator with a heart of pure darkness, Phoebe puts their body through the wicked underbelly of sex for thrills—when she’s not igniting her pyrokinetic skills for an evil organization bent on taking over the world. Melanie rarely gets out to play—much less fall in love. But that changes when rival ACRO agent Stryker Wills shows up, with a mission to terminate the woman who torched his partner.

An operative with rare abilities, Stryker soon realizes that the woman he’s about to kill isn’t the murderous fire starter he’s been hunting. But he does want her. Melanie, with the power to ice anything in her path, is heating things up in ways that are setting fire to his blood. As long as Melanie stays in control, she is his best ally to bring down her sister and stop hellish havoc from being unleashed. Walking a tightrope of longing and hate, Stryker and Melanie begin to understand that true power lies in sweet surrender to each other, to the flames between them, to the erotic adventure that’s joined their hearts and abilities to become their salvation—and perhaps the world’s.

Atlas Infernal (An Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak Novel) by Rob Sanders (DAW Mass Market 7/05/2011)– Could this be the launch of a new character-specific series for WH40K? Either way, this one would seem to stand alone enough and be welcoming to readers who aren’t overly familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 univers.

Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak is a hunted man. Escaping from the Black Library of the eldar, Czevak steals the Atlas Infernal – a living map of the Webway. With this fabled artefact and his supreme intellect, Czevak foils the predations of the Harlequins sent to apprehend him and thwarts his enemies within the Inquisition who want to kill him. Czevak’s deadliest foe, however, is Ahriman – arch-sorcerer of the Thousand Sons. He desires the knowledge within the Black Library, knowledge that can exalt him to godhood, and is willing to destroy the inquisitor to obtain it. A desperate chase that will bend the fabric of reality ensues, where Czevak’s only hope of survival is to outwit the chosen of Tzeentch, Lord of Chaos and Architect of Fate. Failure is unconscionable, the very cost to the Imperium unimaginable.

No Hero by Steve SaJonathan Woodvile (Night Shade BooksTrade Paperback 07/05/2011) – Still another fascinating looking debut from Night Shade, seems a combination of police procedural, mystery and Chthulu mythos – sort of like Charlie Stross’s Laundry Stories.

"What would Kurt Russell do?" Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He's a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals. But then, secretive government agency MI12 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO! Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cover Art Spotlight: Dominic Harman

Cover art is one of the most critical tools in a publishers arsenal for selling their book. This is perhaps no more readily apparent than in Speculative Fiction. At SFFWorld, we’ve got a nice running thread on the topic The Positivity Cover Art Thread.

One of the cover artists who has been coming to my attention more and more is Dominic Harman.

Mr. Harman has illustrated all three Morlock Ambrosius novels for Pyr, but I think the best is easily the cover for The Wolf Age:

Harman’s been churning out great covers for the fine folks at Solaris Books, specifically for books by Eric Brown including the book I just finished (and think one of the top 2 or 3 Science Fiction novels thus far published in 2011) The Kings of Eternity, as well as the tryptich cover for Brown’s Bengal Station trilogy:

Also for Solaris, Harman provided the explosive cover for Ian Whates’s debut novel, The Noise Within:

Another terrific set of covers Harman created was for Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels:

One of Harman’s more recent covers looks absolutely stunning, the book is Debris and the author is Jo Anderton. The book publishes in October 2011 from Angry Robot Books:

So there you have it, a nice sampling of art from Dominic Harman. A relatively exhaustive listing of his book covers can be found here at IFSDB.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hexed in City with Hearne and Simak

Two reviews this week at SFFWorld, one from me and one from Hobbit/Mark Yon.

My review is of the second book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles - Hexed
In Hexed, Hearne further fleshes out the supporting cast introduced in Hounded, including Atticus’s new Druid-in-training Granuaile MacTiernan; his elderly neighbor Mrs. MacDonagh; the vampire and werewolf attorneys, and of course Oberon the Irish Wolfhound. Hearne does a great balancing act between moving the plot along briskly while also fleshing out those characters, introducing further complications into Atticus’s life, and keeping a cohesive and logical link of consequences to the actions previous volume. As I indicated in my review of Hounded, I adored the relationship between Oberon and Atticus and more backstory is provided between man and canine, as well as the continuing doses of humor and emotion.

The Iron Druid Chronicles is turning into a truly entertaining series with the first two volumes, one of my reading highlights of 2011. Hammered, the third volume, is (thus far) the final installment slated to be published, but I’m really hoping to see more of Atticus in Oberon in the future.

Mark is continuing his trek through the classics of SF with Clifford Simak’s saga City:
Clifford/Cliff Simak is an author I first came to when I was a teenager in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. At first I wasn’t sure – it wasn’t spaceships and action, but instead a much more subtle and gentle SF. (Mark Charan Newton has since referred to it as ‘rural SF’, which sorta works.) Instead of Star Wars bang-whizz action, we have pastoral introspection, Waltons-style homily and self-depreciating humour.
And in City in particular we have robots, ants and dogs.

Simply, it is a set of eight interconnected stories (or in some cases, nine, with an extra tale, Epilog, written in 1973 and added in the 1980’s. Here it is not included, sadly).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-06-11)

After meeting the Solaris/Abaddon folks at BEA a couple of weeks ago, they were kind enough to send me some of their books for review, five of which arrived on Monday, plus a couple of other odds and ends.

Necropath (Bengal Station #1) by Eric Brown (Mass Market Paperback 10/03/2008 Solaris Books) – Brown is one of Solaris’s top writers/authors and this book is the first of a trilogy of future psychic-detective novels. I loved Helix when I read it a couple of years ago and have been meaning to catch up with Brown’s work since.

Science fiction meets crime noir, as Jeff Vaughan, jaded telepath, employed by the spaceport authorities on Bengal Station, discovers a sinister cult that worships a mysterious alien god. There, he discovers a sinister cult that worships a mysterious alien god. The Church of the Adoration of the Chosen One uses drugs to commune with the Ultimate, and will murder to silence those who oppose their beliefs. The story follows Vaughan as his mistrust of his fellow humans is overturned by his love for the Thai street-girl Sukura, while he attempts to solve the murders and save himself from the psychopath out to kill him.

The Plain Man by Steve Englehart (The Timeless Man, Max August #3) (Tor Hardcover 06/21/2011) – Englehart has written some of the most popular characters in comics, and their most acclaimed stories. This book is the third in his urban fantasy/mystery/thriller.

Magick and reality collide in a new, fast-paced Max August thriller

Max August is not invulnerable, but he never ages—a gift he earned while studying under the legendary alchemist Cornelius Agrippa. August, now an alchemist himself, is using his magickal abilities to fight the right-wing conspiracy known as the FRC, which seeks to control all aspects of society. At the top of the FRC is a nine-member cabal, each member of which is a powerful force in one area of society, such as media, politics, finance…and wizardry.

When Max learns that two members of the cabal are en route to Wickr, a Burning Man–like festival held in the American Southwest, he stages a plan to gather information from them and, he hopes turn one member against the others. Max has been careful not to leave a trail, but the cabal sees all, and an “accident” at a nuclear waste facility just 100 miles from the festival would send a clear message to those who oppose the FRC. Max may be timeless, but he is running out of time to stop the FRC and save millions of lives.

Dark Side (A Pax Britannia novel) by Jonathan Green (Abaddon Books Trade Paperback 11/2010) – In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire's rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground.

START A NEW LIFE ON THE MOON! Yes, incredible opportunities await you on Earth’s most popular emigration destination. Let us bring you to the moon in style. Our weekly flights depart from all the major London spaceports. From the architectural splendor of Luna Prime to Serenity City, there really is something for everyone. Or if it’s adventure you’re looking for, why not seek out old enemies and win new allies as you hunt for the killer of your nearest and dearest? So what are you waiting for? Murder and mayhem await you on the dark side of the moon. But remember, in space no one can hear you hullabaloo!

Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, Mass Market Paperback 07/05/2011) – Third in the continuing adventures of the last living Druid. I read the first book, Hounded, loved it and posted the review, last week and will post the review of the second, Hexed later this week.

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself..

Song of the Dragon (The Annals of Drakis #1) by Tracy Hickman (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 07/05/2011) –My first forays into the world of fantasy were through the works of Tracy Hickman (and Margaret Weis), specifically Darksword and DragonLance. This book seems to have a lot of the similar ingredients: elves, dwarves, magic, prophecy, and of course, dragons. I might try this since it ticks some of the buttons I like in fantasy.

Once humans had magic and an alliance with dragons. Now they and the other races have been enslaved by the Rhonas Empire-the elves-and can't even remember the world the way it used to be. But thanks to the intervention of one determined dwarf and the human slave warrior known as Drakis, all of that is about to change.

The Snow Queen’s Shadow (Princess Series #4) by Jim C. Hines (DAW Books, Mass Market Paperback 07/05/2011) – I still have Jim’s first book in this series The Stepsister Scheme staring at me from the unread shelf, so I better get cracking.

A broken mirror. A stolen child. A final mission to try to stop an enemy they never dreamed they would face.

When a spell gone wrong shatters Snow White's enchanted mirror, a demon escapes into the world. The demon's magic distorts the vision of all it touches, showing them only ugliness and hate. It is a power that turns even friends and lovers into mortal foes, one that will threaten humans and fairies alike.

And the first to fall under the demon’s power is the princess Snow White.

Age of Zeus (The Pantheon Saga#2) by James Lovegrove (Solaris Books, Mass Market Paperback 04/05/2010) – I read and thoroughly enjoyed Age of Odin (third in the Pantheon Saga) earlier in the year and this book focusing on the Greek pantheon is the second of the thematically-connected saga..

The Olympians appeared a decade ago, living incarnations of the Ancient Greek gods on a mission to bring permanent order and stability to the world. Resistance has proved futile, and now humankind asunder the jackboot of divine oppression. Then former London police officer Sam Akehurst receives an invitation too tempting to turn down, the chance to join a small band of guerilla rebels armed with high-tech weapons and battlesuits. Calling themselves the Titans, they square off against the Olympians and their ferocious mythological monsters in a war of attrition which not all of them will survive!

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland (DAW Mass Market 7/05/2011)– Mystery + humor + horror + zombies = A new book (and potential series) from Diana Rowland.

Teenage delinquent Angel Crawford lives with her redneck father in the swamps of southern Louisiana. She's a high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and has a police record a mile long. But when she's made into a zombie after a car crash, her addictions disappear, except for her all-consuming need to stay "alive"...

The Black Chalice (A Malory’s Knights of Albion novel) by Steve Savile (AbaddonTrade Paperback 07/05/2011) – First in the new Arthurian series from Abaddon. Steve hunt out in the SFFWorld forums for a bit, but his writing career has taken off, with some well-received Warhammer and Primeval novels under his belt.

Son of a knight and aspirant to the Round Table, Alymere yearns to take his place in the world, and for a quest to prove his worth. He comes across the foul Devil's Bible – written in one night by an insane hermit – which leads and drives him, by parts, to seek the unholy Black Chalice. On his quest he will face many obstacles and cunning enemies, but the ultimate threat is to his very soul.

The Noise Within by Ian Whates, (Solaris Books, Mass Market Paperback 04/27/2010) – Space Opera plus Artificial Intelligence in this debut from Whates.

On the brink of perfecting the long sought-after human/AI interface, Philip Kaufman finds his world thrown into turmoil as a scandal from the past returns to haunt him and dangerous information falls into his hands. Pursued by assassins and attacked in his own home, he flees. Leyton, a government black-ops specialist, is diverted from his usual duties to hunt down the elusive pirate vessel The Noise Within, wondering all the while why this particular freebooter is considered so important. Two lives collide in this stunning space-opera from debut novelist Ian Whates!.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Hearne, Newman and Marmell reviewed at SFFWorld

We’ve got three new reviews up at SFFWorld, two from me and one from Mark. I’ll start with mine, this time which is both a debut novel and the launch of a new series by Kevin Hearne. The series is titles The Iron Druid Chronicles . The first book is titled Hounded and here’s what I thought of it:

Atticus is a 2,000-plus year old Druid who lives with his Irish Wolfhond Oberon in Tempe, Arizona; runs a shop that specializes in herbal remedies and arcane books; communes with Celtic and native American tribal gods, witches and all sort of supernatural characters. When his arch enemy cranks up the hunt for Atticus, the Druid decides to stop running and confront the Celtic God Aenghus Óg. Aenghus has a somewhat fair reason to have hounded Atticus (whose true name is Siodhachan O’Suileabhain), appropriated Aenghus’s magical sword Fragrach during a battle. So, Aenghus sends his minions after Atticus and the minions get more powerful as the novel progresses until there’s an all-out spectacular battle of magic, gods, and Tuatha Dé Danann to cap off this fine novel.

Mark reviewed a classic reissue by Kim Newman Anno Dracula :
Although Anno Dracula is Kim writing fiction, it has many of the trademarks of Kim’s other work. It is well researched, immersive, fast paced, and knowledgeable, and it drops sly and subtle genre references into the plot in almost every paragraph, and is very, very clever.

The plot is thus: In 1888 the widowed Queen Victoria remarries, to Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia. Tepes is better known to some as the renamed Count Dracula and as Prince Consort is one of the prime movers in a new repressive police state determined to maintain order between the vampires and the humans (‘Warm Bloods’).

When Whitechapel in London becomes the place of a series of horrific murders, each side is suspected by the other. Vampire Geneviève Dieudonné (from Kim’s own Warhammer series) and Charles Beauregard (of the Diogenes Club (itself a reference to a fictional club created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) are involved as they are given the job of the mystery of the Ripper murders.

Lastly, Mark caught up with a book I reviewed last year Conqueror’s Shadow by Ari Marmell
What Ari tries to do here is something interesting, to tell the tale of a Conqueror – Corvis Rebaine, Terror of the East – but by what happens twenty years later, when the Conqueror has conquered and gone away to hide in seclusion with his wife and family.

Of course, his opponents are not going to let him get away with being hidden and his home and family are discovered, with the consequence that he has to don the old armour of ‘the Terror’ and then go off to collect his former allies, the demon Khanda (held captive in a magic token), the ogre Davro and the wood-witch Seilloah, in order to take on his nemesis, Audriss.

So, we have witches, ogres and magic. Not to mention nasty goblins. Nothing particularly new there, either. The plot is really a rewritten The Magnificent Seven re-imagined as Fantasy. The main plot idea - that of the ‘old warrior returning’ is not really new, and goes back to Gemmell’s Druss for example.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-06-04)

Some July releases for the Penguin imprints arrived, along with some stuff from Nightshade and Tor. Two of these books really have “summer blockbuster” stamped on them, and oddly enough, both sort of appeal to me more than I would otherwise have expected. Here’s the weekly rundown:

The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 3 by Ellen Datlow (Trade Paperback 3/09/2010 Night Shade Books) – The third volume in the latest incarnation of Ellen Datlow’s annual retrospective on horror

A doctor makes a late-night emergency call to an exclusive California riding school; a professor inherits a mysterious vase... and a strange little man; a struggling youth discovers canine horrors lurking beneath the streets of Albany; a sheriff ruthlessly deals with monstrosities plaguing his rural town; a pair of animal researchers makes a frightening discovery at a remote site; a sweet little girl entertains herself... by torturing faeries; a group of horror aficionados attempts to track down an unfinished film by a reclusive cult director; a man spends a chill night standing watch over his uncle's body; a girl looks to understand her place in a world in which zombies have overrun the earth; a murderous pack of nuns stalks a pair of Halloween revelers...

What frightens us, what unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the seventeen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year.

Legendary editor Ellen Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound, Tails of Wonder and Imagination), winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, joins Night Shade Books in presenting The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Three.

Table of Contents:

Summation 2010 by Ellen Datlow /At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow /Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver / City of the Dog by John Langan /Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge /Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge / When the Zombies Win by Karina Sumner-Smith /--30-- by Laird Barron /Fallen Boys by Mark Morris / Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert /The Fear by Richard Harland /Till the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones /Shomer by Glen Hirshberg /Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler /The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle /Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson /The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente /The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale /Just Another Desert Night With Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. /Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee /At Night When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley /The Revel by John Langan

Undead and Undermined (The Undead Series - Betsy #10) by MaryJanice (Davidson (Berkeley, Hardcover 07/05/2011) – The continuing humorous adventures of Betsy the vampire.

All-new in the New York Times bestselling drop-dead funny series.

Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor thought she couldn't die. So what's she doing in the morgue? It could have something to do with a time- traveling trip she made, and a foe with a wicked agenda that could finally be the real death of Betsy-if she's not careful.

Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Casutt (Ace Hardcover 07/05/2011) – I know Casutt's work from his tenure writing for the defunct SciFi Wire and Goyer from his comic book work, and of course, his work on the Batman films. This seems an intriguing first contact novel.

The science fiction epic of our time has arrived.

Three years ago, an object one hundred miles across was spotted on a trajectory for Earth's sun. Now, its journey is almost over. As it approaches, two competing manned vehicles race through almost half a million kilometers of space to reach it first. But when they both arrive on the entity, they learn that it has been sent toward Earth for a reason. An intelligent race is desperately attempting to communicate with our primitive species. And the message is: Help us.

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Dutton Hardcover 07/05/2011) – History and fantasy blend in this retelling of the life of the most famous queen/empress of all time – Cleopatra.

The immortal story of Cleopatra.

Passion and seduction, witches and warriors, and history and mythology combine to bring the timeless story of Cleopatra to life like never before in this stunningly original and spellbinding debut.

The year is 30 BC. A messenger delivers word to Queen Cleopatra that her beloved husband, Antony, has died at his own hand. Desperate to save her kingdom and resurrect her husband, Cleopatra summons the most fearsome warrior goddess, Sekhmet, and against the warnings of her scholars she strikes a mortal bargain. But not even the wisest scholars could have predicted what would follow...

In exchange for Antony's soul, Cleopatra is transformed into a vampiric creature of mythical proportions, an immortal shapeshifter with superhuman strength and an insatiable hunger for human blood-a being at once ferocious and seductive. And she is bent on vengeance against those who have wronged her family and her kingdom. Clashing against witches and monsters, gods and warriors, Cleopatra journeys from the tombs of Egypt to the great amphitheaters of Rome to the ancient underworld-where she will meet her love once again, and where the battle between man and beast will determine the fate of the world.

Blending history, fantasy, romance, and the supernatural, Queen of Kings is a masterful feat of the imagination that fans of Diana Gabaldon, Patricia Briggs, Philippa Gregory, and Neil Gaiman won't want to miss.

The Left Hand of God (Left Hand of God Trilogy) by Paul Hoffman, (NAL, Trade Paperback 07/05/2011) – This was pushed big time upon hardcover release in 2010, mainstream critics seemed to like it but aside from one or two reviews, the book was generally panned by genre readers/reviewers.

"Writers like Hoffman are too rare. This wonderful book gripped me from the first chapter and dropped me days later, dazed and grinning to myself." -Conn Iggulden, New York Times bestselling author of The Dangerous Book for Boys

Raised from early childhood in the Redeemer Sanctuary, the stronghold of a secretive sect of warrior monks, Thomas Cale has known only deprivation, punishment, and grueling training. When he escsapes to the outside world, Cale learns that his embittered heart is still capable of loving- and breaking.

But the Redeemers won't accept the defection of their prized pupil without a fight.

Chicks Kick Butt edited by Kerrie Hughes and Rachel Caine (Trade Paperback 06/07/2011 Tor) –This seems to be in the vein of Esther Friesner’s popular themed anthologies featuring powerful female protagonists, though this anthology seems to skew more towards Urban fantasy rather than epic/sword & sorcery.

CHICKS KICK BUTT showcases stories of chicks who are awesome --and never more so than when they are kicking some serious vampire, werewolf, demon AND monster butt.

The collection features tales from some of today’s finest, most electrifying writers like bestselling author Rachel Caine's tale from her Weather Wardens universe of a Weather Warden, her Djinn lover and a rash newcomer teaming up to foil terrorists in “Shiny”. Or Lilith Saintcrow's vampire on a mission who encounters a tortured werewolf that needs rescuing in “Monsters”. Other selections include Nancy Holder's “Beyond the Tale”, an enticing story of the Great Hunt and the secret society that defends against it, Karen Chance's half vampire, half human "dhampir" tackles Chinese gangsters in “In Vino Veritas”, Susan Krinard's “Mist” where the Norse gods and villains have been banished and return to wreak havoc and Jeanne C. Stein's chief vampire must battle the creatures of her past in “Superman”.

CHICKS KICK BUTT features one of the best things about the urban fantasy genre: strong, independent, and intelligent heroines who are quite capable of solving their own problems and slaying their own dragons (or demons, as the case may be). CHICKS KICK BUTT guarantees fun-filled, imaginative adventures with a strong woman leading the way!

Happily Ever After edited by John Klima (Night Shade Books Trade Paperback 06/05/2011) – Klima is a Hugo award winner and edits Electric Velocipede, this anthology reprints twisted fairy tales.

Once Upon A Time...

...in the faraway land of Story, a Hugo-winning Editor realized that no one had collected together the fairy tales of the age, and that doorstop-thick anthologies of modern fairy tales were sorely lacking...

And so the Editor ventured forth, wandering the land of Story from shore to shore, climbing massive mountains of books and delving deep into lush, literary forests, gathering together thirty-three of the best re-tellings of fairy tales he could find. Not just any fairy tales, mind you, but tantalizing tales from some of the biggest names in today's fantastic fiction, authors like Gregory Maguire, Susanna Clarke, Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Aletha Kontis, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, Paul Di Filippo, Gregory Frost, and Nancy Kress. But these stories alone weren't enough to satisfy the Editor, so the Editor ventured further, into the dangerous cave of the fearsome Bill Willingham, and emerged intact with a magnificent introduction, to tie the collection together.

And the inhabitants of Story, from the Kings and Queens relaxing in their castles to the peasants toiling in the fields; from to the fey folk flitting about the forests to the trolls lurking under bridges and the giants in the hills, read the anthology, and enjoyed it. And they all lived...

...Happily Ever After.

Bill Willingham – Introduction /Gregory Maguire - The Seven Stage a Comeback/Genevieve Valentine - And In Their Glad Rags/Howard Waldrop - The Sawing Boys/Michael Cadnum - Bear It Away/Susanna Clarke - Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower/ Karen Joy Fowler - The Black Fairy's Curse /Charles de Lint - My Life As A Bird/Holly Black - The Night Market /Theodora Goss - The Rose in Twelve Petals /Jim C. Hines - The Red Path /Alethea Kontis - Blood and Water /Garth Nix - Hansel's Eyes /Wil McCarthy - He Died That Day, In Thirty Years/ Jane Yolen - Snow In Summer /Michelle West - The Rose Garden /Bruce Sterling - The Little Magic Shop /K. Tempest Bradford - Black Feather /Alan Rodgers - Fifi's Tail /Kelly Link - The Faery Handbag /Peter Straub - Ashputtle /Leslie What - The Emperor's New (And Improved) Clothes /Robert J. Howe - Pinocchio's Diary /Wendy Wheeler - Little Red /Neil Gaiman - The Troll Bridge /Patricia Briggs - The Price /Paul Di Filippo - Ailoura /Jeff VanderMeer - The Farmer's Cat /Gregory Frost - The Root of The Matter /Susan Wade - Like a Red, Red Rose /Josh Rountree - Chasing America /Nancy Kress - Stalking Beans /Esther Friesner - Big Hair /Robert Coover - The Return of the Dark Children

Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker (Night Shade Books Hardcover 04/26/2011) – Rucker has written a tetralogy of books, the Ware tetralogy, the first two of which were awarded the first and second Philp K. Dick awards.

Jim and the Flims is a novel set in Santa Cruz, California... and the afterlife. Acclaimed cyberpunk/singularity author Rudy Rucker explores themes of death and destruction, in the wry, quirky style he is famous for.

Jim Oster ruptures the membrane between our world and afterworld (AKA, Flimsy), creating a two-way tunnel between them. Jim's wife Val is killed in the process, and Jim finds himself battling his grief, and an invasion of the Flims--who resemble blue baboons and flying beets. Jim's escalating adventures lead him to the center of the afterworld, where he just might find his wife.

Can Jim save Earth with the help of a posse of Santa Cruz surf-punks, and at the same time bring his wife back to life? Jim and the Flims is the Orphic myth retold for the twenty-first century. Will there be a happy ending this time?

Rule 34 by Charles Stross (Ace Hardcover 07/05/2011) – Stross’s latest novel deals plays with Internet Rule 34 which states that "If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions."

"The most spectacular science fiction writer of recent years" (Vernor Vinge, author of Rainbows End) presents a near-future thriller.

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is head of the Rule 34 Squad, monitoring the Internet to determine whether people are engaging in harmless fantasies or illegal activities. Three ex-con spammers have been murdered, and Liz must uncover the link between them before these homicides go viral.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (Trade Paperback 06/28/2011 Vintage) –Yaaay metafiction! The author is also the protagonist of this surreal SF novel. This also happens to be the third copy I’ve received after the ARC and hardcover.

From a 5 Under 35 winner, comes a razor-sharp, hilarious, and touching story of a son searching for his father . . . through quantum space-time.

Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That's where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It's called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.