Sunday, April 04, 2010

Books in the Mail (W/E 04/03/2010

Some really nice looking books from PYR in this big week of arrivals:

Neverland by Douglas Clegg (Vanguard Press, Paperback 04/16/2010) –I really enjoyed Isis, by Clegg last year. This is a reissue of one of his early novels, which has garnered some nice praise over the years.

Beau Jackson and his cousin Sumter were only six when they first met. But even then, Beau recognized his cousin's obsession with evil. Every summer, Beau and Sumter vacation with their families on the dreary bluffs of Gull Island, and every year Beau watches as his cousin grows increasingly more powerful. But nothing prepares him for the terror that emerges when Sumter introduces him to Neverland, the place where grownups are forbidden and Sumter reigns supreme. In Neverland, the boys and their sisters escape their parents' authority, only to discover a nightmarish world of garish rituals, evil games, and ultimate bloodshed.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, Hardcover 04/27/2010) – Kay is a magnificent writer, I’ve read about 1/3 to ½ of what he’s written and I wasn’t disappointed by any of it. This will be his first novel since the World Fantasy Award winning Ysabel and is the final version of the ARC I received at the end of January.

Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in the empire’s last great war against its western enemies, twenty years before. Forty thousand men, on both sides, were slain by a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently, having spoken to his son in later years about his sadness in the matter of this terrible battle.

To honour his father’s memory, Tai spends two years in official mourning alone at the battle site by the blue waters of Kuala Nor. Each day he digs graves in hard ground to bury the bones of the dead. At night he can hear the ghosts moan and stir, terrifying voices of anger and lament. Sometimes he realizes that a given voice has ceased its crying, and he knows that is one he has laid to rest.

The dead by the lake are equally Kitan and their Taguran foes; there is no way to tell the bones apart, and he buries them all with honour.

It is during a routine supply visit led by a Taguran officer who has reluctantly come to befriend him that Tai learns that others, much more powerful, have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, presents him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. They are being given in royal recognition of his courage and piety, and the honour he has done the dead.

You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Tai is in deep waters. He needs to get himself back to court and his own emperor, alive. Riding the first of the Sardian horses, and bringing news of the rest, he starts east towards the glittering, dangerous capital of Kitai, and the Ta-Ming Palace – and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.

Shades of Gray (The Icarus Project #2) by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge (Bantam Spectra, Trade Paperback 06/22/2010) – Second in a fantasy series about superheroes, the first of which I don’t have or haven’t read


Jet and Iridium—best friends turned bitter enemies—teamed up to foil the evil plans of the rogue superhero known as Night, but in defeating him they inadvertently destroyed the secret Corp-Co transmitter whose frequency kept the metapowered heroes of the Squadron in line. Now these heroes have turned against New Chicago, ransacking the city they once protected.

Even worse, the powerful antisuperhero group known as Everyman has taken advantage of the chaos to fan the flames of prejudice against all superpowered men and women. Just when New Chicago needs them most, Jet and the small band of heroes who have remained on the right side of the law find themselves the targets of suspicion and outright hatred.

Things aren’t going much better for Iridium. When she springs her father, a notorious supervillain, from prison to help her fight the marauding ex-superheroes, she finds that Corp-Co still has some nasty tricks up its sleeve.

But when the most dangerous man alive, the sociopath known as Doctor Hypnotic, suddenly surfaces, Jet and Iridium will once again be called upon to set aside their differences. Yet in the process, deeply buried secrets will come to light that will change everything the former best friends think they know about each other and themselves.

Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann (Pyr , Trade Paperback 04/13/2010) – I’ve been seeing interesting things about Mann’s writing for a while, this is a superhero steampunk mash up that sounds like a lot of fun. The cover very much evokes Will Eisner’s The Spirit and actually reminds me of The Gray Ghost from the great Batman: Animated Series from the 90s.

1926. New York. The Roaring Twenties. Jazz. Flappers. Prohibition. Coal-powered cars. A cold war with a British Empire that still covers half of the globe. Yet things have developed differently to established history. America is in the midst of a cold war with a British Empire that has only just buried Queen Victoria, her life artificially preserved to the age of 107. Coal-powered cars roar along roads thick with pedestrians, biplanes take off from standing with primitive rocket boosters, and monsters lurk behind closed doors and around every corner. This is a time in need of heroes. It is a time for The Ghost. A series of targeted murders are occurring all over the city, the victims found with ancient Roman coins placed on their eyelids after death. The trail appears to lead to a group of Italian American gangsters and their boss, who the mobsters have dubbed "The Roman." However, as The Ghost soon discovers, there is more to The Roman than at first appears, and more bizarre happenings that he soon links to the man, including moss-golems posing as mobsters and a plot to bring an ancient pagan god into the physical world in a cavern beneath the city. As The Ghost draws nearer to The Roman and the center of his dangerous web, he must battle with foes both physical and supernatural and call on help from the most unexpected of quarters if he is to stop The Roman and halt the imminent destruction of the city.

Ares Express by Ian McDonald (Pyr Trade Paperback April 2010) – Sequel/set in the same world as Desolation Road and have read some of his shorts, Dan reviewed (and thought very favorably) of Desolation Road.

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

Well of Sorrows by Benjamin Tate (DAW , Trade Paperback 05/04/2010) –Debut fantasy which has an interesting premise, a book that seems to be flying under the radar.

An epic tale of a continent on the brink of war, and a deadly magic that waits to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Colin Harten and his parents had fled across the ocean to escape the Family wars in Andover. But trouble followed them and their fellow refugees to this new land, forcing them to abandon the settled areas and head into unexplored territory-the sacred grounds of a race of underground dwellers and warriors. It was here that they would meet their doom. Driven to the borders of a dark forest, they were attacked by mysterious Shadow creatures who fed on life force. Only Colin survived to find his way to the Well of Sorrows-and to a destiny that might prove the last hope for peace in this troubled land.

Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt 2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Pyr , Trade Paperback 04/13/2010) – One (of the many) things Lou Anders and the fine folks at Pyr have been very good at doing is rolling out these trilogies in monthly succession. It worked great for Mark Chadbourn and James Barclay and I suspect it will work well for Adrian Tchaikovsky. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve seen and read good things about this series of book. This is an ARC of the 2nd book of the series.

The armies of the Wasp Empire are on the march, and first to feel their might will be the city of Tark, which is even now preparing for siege. Within its walls Salma and Totho must weather the storm, as the Ant-kinden take a stand, against numbers and weaponry such as the Lowlands have never seen.

After his earlier victory against them, the Empire's secret service has decided that veteran artificer Stenwold Maker is too dangerous to live. So disgraced Major Thalric is dispatched on a desperate mission, not only to eliminate Stenwold himself but to bring about the destruction of his beloved city of Collegium, and thus end all hope of intelligent resistance to the remorseless imperial advance.

While the Empire's troops are laying waste all in their way, the young Emperor himself is treading a different path. His thoughts are on darker things than mere conquest, however, and if he attains his goal he will precipitate a reign of blood that will last a thousand years.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Tor, Hardcover 04/13/2010) – Debut novel featuring ghosts and Nazi ubermen against British Demons. This sounds really cool.

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.

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