Sunday, April 29, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-04-28)

Containment by Christian Cantrell (47 North Trade Paperback / eBook 08/07/2012) – This looks to be a reissue of Cantrell’s novel which was self-published a couple of years ago

The colony on Venus was not built because the destruction of Earth was possible, but because it was inevitable… 

A brilliant young scientist and one of the first humans born on Venus, Arik works tirelessly to perfect the science of artificial photosynthesis, a project crucial to the future of his home, V1. The colony was built on the harsh Venusian surface by the Founders, the first humans to establish a permanent extraterrestrial settlement. Arik’s research becomes critical when he awakens from an unexplained, near-fatal accident and learns that his wife is three months pregnant. Unless Arik’s research uncovers a groundbreaking discovery, V1’s oxygen supply will not be able to support the increase in population that his baby represents. 

As Arik works against time, he begins to untangle the threads of his accident, which seem inextricably linked to what lies outside the protective walls of V1—a world where the caustic atmosphere and extreme heat make all forms of known life impossible. For its entire existence, Arik's generation has been expected to help solve the problems of colonization. But as Arik digs deeper and deeper, he discovers alarming truths about the planet that the Founders have kept hidden. With growing urgency and increasing peril, Arik finds himself on a journey that will push him to the limits of his intelligence and take him beyond the unimaginable.

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book #1) by Robert Jordan (Tor Trade Paperback 05/08/2012) – I originally read this fresh out of college way back in the mid/late 90s and started a re-read with The Eye of the World a little over two years ago. This is the third edition of the book I have (MMPB, Hardcover) and this one sports the art used in the eBook editions.

The Eye of the World is book one of The Wheel of Time®, Robert Jordan’s internationally bestselling fantasy series. This edition features cover art by David Grove. The art, which originally debuted on the e-book, will grace bookstores for the first time on this handsome trade paperback edition. 

The Wheel of Times turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Song of the Serpent (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by Hugh Matthews (Paizo Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012) – This is the second Pathfinder novel I’ve received though I still haven’t read the first on Death’s Heretic, which I’m looking forward to reading. I’ve read some stuff by Matt Hughes, the real name of Hugh Matthews and a enjoyed it.

To an experienced rogue like Krunzle the Quick, the merchant nation of Druma is full of treasures just waiting to be liberated. Yet when the fast-talking scoundrel gets caught stealing from one of the powerful prophets of Kalistrade, his only option is to undertake a dangerous mission to recover the merchant lord’s runaway daughter—and the magical artifact she took with her. Armed with an arsenal of decidedly unhelpful magical items and chaperoned by an intelligent snake necklace happy to choke him into submission, Krunzle must venture far from the cities of the merchant utopia and into a series of adventures that will make him a rich man—or a corpse. 

From veteran author Hugh Matthews comes a rollicking tale of captive trolls, dwarven revolutionaries, and serpentine magic, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. 


Into the Dreaming (Highlander novella) by Karen Marie Moning (Dellacorte Press Hardcover 01/18/2011) – This novella, long out of print, bridges Moning’s two popular paranormal romance series.

Between the Highlander and Fever worlds lies a place beyond imagining.
This new edition of the novella contains more than 100 pages of bonus material, including: 

  • A deleted scene from Kiss of the Highlander 
  • A proposal for a never-published romance
  • An alternate opening version of The Dark Highlander 
  • A sneak peek at art from the upcoming graphic novel Fever Moon 

For the first time in hardcover, here is #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning’s novella Into the Dreaming, a tale of Highland fantasy, star-crossed lovers, and the timeless manipulation of the ancient, immortal Unseelie king. This is Moning at her romantic, funniest finest.
Free him from his ice-borne hell . . .Stolen from his beloved home in the Highlands of Scotland, imprisoned in the Unseelie king’s dark, frosty kingdom, Aedan MacKinnon endured centuries of torture before becoming the icy, emotionless Vengeance, the dark king’s dispatcher of death and destruction in the mortal realm. 

And in his century you both may dwell . . .Aspiring romance novelist Jane Sillee has always believed that she was born in the wrong century, but she’s managed to make a decent enough life for herself—if only she could stop having those recurring dreams about a man too perfect to exist. 

In the Dreaming you have loved him . . .Haunted every night of her life by a devastatingly sexy Highlander who comes to her while she sleeps, Jane tries to write him out of her head and heart. As a child he protected her, as a woman he loves her. 

Now in the Waking you must save him . . .When an ancient tapestry bearing the likeness of her beloved Highlander arrives on her doorstep, Jane is whisked back in time to fifteenth-century Scotland, to the castle of Dun Haakon on the isle of Skye, where she is given one chance to save her dream lover . . . or lose him forever to the Unseelie king. 

Caught in a deadly game between the light and dark courts of the Fae, Jane must find a way through the ice to the heart of her Highander. But will the love of one mortal woman be enough to defeat such ancient and ruthless immortal enemies? 


Further: Beyond the Threshold by Chris Roberson (47 North Trade Paperback / eBook 05/22/2012) – Although I haven’t read all of Roberson’s fiction, what I have read I’ve enjoyed a great deal.

The thirty-fourth century. Humankind is spread across three thousand light years in a myriad of worlds and habitats known as the Human Entelechy. Linked by a network of wormholes with Earth at its center, it is the world Captain RJ Stone awakens to after a twelve-thousand-year cryogenic suspension. 

Stone soon finds himself commanding the maiden voyage of the first spacecraft to break the light speed barrier: the FTL Further. In search of extraterrestrial intelligence, the landing party explores a distant pulsar only to be taken prisoner by the bloodthirsty Iron Mass, a religious sect exiled from the Entelechy millennia before. Now Stone and his crew must escape while they try to solve the riddle of the planet’s network of stone towers that may be proof of the intelligence they’ve come to find. 

The first in critically acclaimed author Chris Roberson’s scintillating new series, Further: Beyond the Threshold is a fascinating ride to the farthest reaches of the imagination.

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley (Tor Hardcover 05/08/2012) – Mosley is well established a mystery novelist, but he has dabbled in Speculative Fiction. This ‘double’ hearkens back to the old Ace Doubles (which were popular when Tor’s publisher Tom Doherty worked at ACE) and could prove interesting.

New York Times bestselling authorWalter Mosley delivers two speculative tales, in one volume, of everyday people exposed to life-altering truths. 

The Gift of Fire - In ancient mythology, the Titan Prometheus was punished by the gods for bringing man the gift of fire—an event that set humankind on its course of knowledge. As punishment for making man as powerful as gods, Prometheus was bound to a rock; every day his immortal body was devoured by a giant eagle. But in The Gift of Fire, those chains cease to be, and the great champion of man walks from that immortal prison into present-day South Central Los Angeles.

On the Head of a Pin  - Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are working at Jennings-Tremont Enterprises when they make the most important discovery in the history of this world—or possibly the next. JTE is developing advanced animatronics editing techniques to create high-end movies indistinguishable from live-action. Long dead stars can now share the screen with today’s A-list. But one night Joshua and Ana discover something lingering in the rendered footage…an entity that will lead them into a new age beyond the reality they have come to know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mark conducted an e-mail interview with Jeff Salyards, whose debut novel Scourge of the Betrayer publishes next Tuesday (May 1, 2012) from Night Shade Books. I think Mark has read (or is reading) the book, I’ve got it queued up on my Kindle as my next read. Justin (whose blog everybody reading mine should read) had some good things to say about the novel. Anyway, here’s the interview link and a snapshot of what Mark and Jeff discussed: 

Your first book, Scourge of the Betrayer, is due out soon (as we type.) I would say that it is dark heroic Fantasy, but what can you tell us about it? 

It might fall under that tag/label, but then again, it might resist it, too. I suppose it depends how we’re using it—we’d have to unpack the term a bit more, maybe. In Scourge, there are no huge sweeping conflicts between good and evil. In fact, the scale of this first book in the series is pretty small and tight. I was shooting more for intimate and character-driven than epic and far-reaching. Which isn’t to say it’s Scourge and Prejudice—there’s plenty of bloodletting. It’s not all clever banter or meditative reflection. So, the cast of characters is small, the story doesn’t traverse huge kingdoms/lands, and the world definitely has a hard-boiled feel to it. In some ways, the book shares more in common with film noir than a lot of traditional fantasy. The term “gritty” has lost a lot of the punch it might have had, simply due to oversaturation. Same dealio with “grey characters.” Some readers take that to mean that there is no good or evil in the fictional world focusing on grey characters, or that all the characters gravitate to the centre where there are no real delineations, just various subtle shades of self-serving, mercenary impulse. There are plenty of “grey” characters in Scourge, but I’m using that in the sense that their motivations aren’t known or laid bare, and that even in those instances where they are, the characters often prove complicated or conflicted, full of contradictions and tension lines that cross each other.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fuzzy Nation and a Blood Red Baron

Back to a normal Tuesday here at the ‘o Stuff with a review by me and a review by Mark. For whatever reason I missed out on John Scalzi’s’s Fuzzy Nation when it published about a year ago. Shame on me, I know, but I’ve remedied that recently much to my reading joy:

In initial essence, Fuzzy Nation is a first contact story. Jack Holloway is former lawyer turned prospector for ZaraCorp on the planet Zarathustra where he’s searching out precious ore. His one companion, at the beginning of the novel, is his dog Carl when he finds a deposit of the sunstones, the most valuable mineral in the universe that will make him an ultra-billionaire. One of the rules a company like ZaraCorp must abide by is that any work they do on a new planet must not impact any intelligent life native to the planet. Upon his return from this amazing find of sunstones, Jack finds a small, fuzzy creature in his home. Fortunately, Jack once dated the planetary biologist Isabel Wangai whom he asks to ‘meet’ the Fuzzy, which soon turns into a small family of Fuzzys whose visits become more frequent.

I’ve been a fan of Scalzi’s writing since reading Old Man’s War a few years back and visiting his blog every day. His smart, snarky, and engaging style that I (and many, many readers) have come to enjoy is on full display here in Fuzzy Nation. The pacing is extremely brisk, making the 300 pages quite readably and consumable. I’ll admit to wishing there was more to the novel because reading Scalzi is lots of fun. He intersperses humor and thought-provoking ideas seamlessly, from the depiction of how the Fuzzys interact with Holloway’s dog Carl to the ethical pontifications and ramifications of alien life in a place where humans have begun to feel a sense of comfort.
Mark has been on a bit of a Kim Newman kick lately. The trend continues with the re-issue of Bloody Red Baron, the sequel to his landmark novel Anno Dracula:

In this second tale, the set up of Anno Dracula becomes international. We spend most of our time here not in England but in France, following the actions of heroic pilots, both vampire and human, as they struggle to cope with the stresses and slaughter of such desperate battles. When not flying, the pilots would live life almost as dangerously on the ground trying to make their sacrifices worth it. 
Kim here steps it up a notch. The story is as detailed and yet at the same time as much fun as ever. Anyone who has thrilled to stories of WW1 aerial combat and the heroic actions of aviators on both sides will love this, as such events are described in brilliant action sequences. We have dogfights, Zeppelin raids and trench battles which tell in thrilling detail how deadly such fighting must have been. Elsewhere, on the ground, the effect of the War on the French civilians and their towns and cities are told but with the added effect of the war being fought with some un-human elements.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-04-21)

This weed's batch of arrivals are brought to you by the fine people from Del Rey, Night Shade Books, and Tor  

Wards of Faerie (The Dark Legacy of Shannara) by Terry Brooks (Del Rey Hardcover 8/21/2012) – I’ll repeat my little mantra about Brooks from previous times I’ve received his books: I find him a frustrating writer in that I like the concepts of what he wants to do, but my reading sensibilities don't always agree with his execution of those concepts. I really enjoyed The Scions of Shannara when I read it and think Brooks is one of the most important fantasy writers of the last 25-30 years. Maybe I’ll give him another try with this one.  

Seven years after the conclusion of the High Druid of Shannara trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks at last revisits one of the most popular eras in the legendary epic fantasy series that has spellbound readers for more than three decades. When the world was young, and its name was Faerie, the power of magic ruled—and the Elfstones warded the race of Elves and their lands, keeping evil at bay. But when an Elven girl fell hopelessly in love with a Darkling boy of the Void, he carried away more than her heart. Thousands of years later, tumultuous times are upon the world now known as the Four Lands. Users of magic are in conflict with proponents of science. Elves have distanced their society from the other races. The dwindling Druid order and its teachings are threatened with extinction. A sinister politician has used treachery and murder to rise as prime minister of the mighty Federation. Meanwhile, poring through a long-forgotten diary, the young Druid Aphenglow Elessedil has stumbled upon the secret account of an Elven girl’s heartbreak and the shocking truth about the vanished Elfstones. But never has a little knowledge been so very dangerous—as Aphenglow quickly learns when she’s set upon by assassins. Yet there can be no turning back from the road to which fate has steered her. For whoever captures the Elfstones and their untold powers will surely hold the advantage in the devastating clash to come. But Aphenglow and her allies—Druids, Elves, and humans alike—remember the monstrous history of the Demon War, and they know that the Four Lands will never survive another reign of darkness. But whether they themselves can survive the attempt to stem that tide is another question entirely.  

The Sum of Her Parts (Tipping Point Trilogy #3) by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey 07/27/2012) – Third in the series which began with The Human Blend

 In this thrilling science fiction adventure—the triumphant conclusion to the Tipping Point trilogy—New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster returns to a near future in which genetic manipulation and extreme body modification have changed profoundly what it means to be human. Dr. Ingrid Seastrom was once a respected American physician. Whispr, whose body has been transformed to preternatural thinness, was once a streetwise thief. Now, in a world on the edge of catastrophe from centuries of environmental exploitation, they are allies—thrust together by fate to unravel an impossible mystery—even as they are stalked by a relentless killer. Ingrid and Whispr are hunted fugitives bound together by a thread: a data-storage thread made of a material that cannot exist, yet somehow does. Their quest to learn its secrets—and, in Whispr’s case, sell them to the highest bidder—has brought them to South Africa’s treacherous Namib desert. Beyond its dangers waits a heavily guarded research facility that promises answers, if they can survive long enough to get there. But that won’t be easy, not with Napun Molé on their trail. They’ve already escaped the assassin twice, and as far as Molé is concerned, finishing them off isn’t just a job anymore . . . it’s personal.  

Sky Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and Todd J. McCaffrey (Del Rey Hardcover 06/26/2012) – Right on schedule a new Dragonriders of Pern novel arrives (one day short of EXACTLY a year since the last installment) and this is the last installment that will feature the late Anne McCaffrey.  

From the New York Times bestselling mother-and-son team of Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey comes the final installment in the riveting Pern saga that began with Todd’s solo novel, Dragonsblood. Now, with all of Pern imperiled by the aftereffects of a plague that killed scores of dragons and left the planet helpless against the fall of deadly Thread, the only hope for the future lies in the past. There, on an unexplored island, a group of dragonriders led by Xhinna, a brave young woman who rides the blue dragon Tazith, must battle lethal Merows and voracious tunnel-snakes to build a safe home for themselves and the dragons, whose offspring will one day—if they survive—replenish Pern’s decimated dragon population. But as the first female rider of a blue dragon, and the first female Weyrleader in the history of Pern, Xhinna faces an uphill battle in winning the respect and loyalty of her peers . . . especially after an unforeseen tragedy leaves the struggling colony reeling from a shattering loss. Amid the grieving, one girl, Jirana, blessed—or cursed—with the ability to foresee potential futures, will help Xhinna find a way forward. The answer lies in time . . . or, rather, in timing it: the awesome ability of the dragons to travel through time itself. But that power comes with risks, and by venturing further into the past, Xhinna may be jeopardizing the very future she has sworn to save.  

Shadow Blizzard (The Chronicles of Siala #3) by Alexey Pehov (Hardcover 4/23/2011 Tor) – Third in the Russian import trilogy pitting a hero Shadow Harold against the Nameless One, who is stirring. Harold is questing for a Horn.

After the loss of friends and comrades, after betrayal and battle, master thief Shadow Harold finally enters Hrad Spein — the dreaded underground complex where the object of Harold’s quest, the Rainbow Horn, is hidden. With nothing more than his wits, the advice of a goblin shaman, and a stolen map, he must succeed where battalions of soldiers and wizards have failed. On top of that, Harold must outwit an enemy within Hrad Spein who is working with a powerful sorceress in an attempt to find the Horn before he does. Before the master thief are many dangerous obstacles — including ghouls, long-dead armies of elves, orcs, and magical traps...and, he is sure, even more deadly obstacles that are yet unknown. Will Shadow Harold be able to pull off the greatest theft in history? Unfortunately, even if he does, he’ll not be home free. The Forest of Zagrabia, through which Harold must make his way home, is controlled by the armies of orcs that have come to join The Nameless One. For the first time in centuries, they have united into a vast army about to cut a bloody swath through the lands of men. Another huge army collected by The Nameless One has already begun the titanic battle with King Stalkon, and the final war has begun, bringing bleak days of despair and devastation. Harold will have to use all his guile, cunning, and luck to find a way to escape the Labyrinth and get to Avendoom in time to save his world from destruction. Alexey Pehov is an exciting new-generation talent whose fantasies have gained him a large and still rapidly increasing fan base in his native Russia. In 2002, the complete Chronicles of Siala (comprised of Shadow Prowler, Shadow Chaser, and Shadow Blizzard) was awarded the Russian fantasy community’s highest professional honor, the Silver Kaduzei.  

Scourge of the Betrayer Bloodsounder’s Arc Book One) by Jeff Salyards (Night Shade Books Hardcover 5/01/2012) – I’ve already seen some very positive things about Jeff’s debut, including favorable comparisons to Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook.

Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies-or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon's dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he's about to find out for himself. Hired to chronicle the exploits of a band of rugged Syldoon warriors, Arki finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the men's enigmatic leader, Captain Braylar Killcoin. A secretive, mercurial figure haunted by the memories of those he's killed with his deadly flail, Braylar has already disposed of at least one impertinent scribe . . . and Arki might be next. Archiving the mundane doings of millers and merchants was tedious, but at least it was safe. As Arki heads off on a mysterious mission into parts unknown, in the company of the coarse, bloody-minded Syldoon, he is promised a chance to finally record an historic adventure well worth the telling, but first he must survive the experience! A gripping military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, Scourge of the Betrayer explores the brutal politics of Empire-and the searing impact of violence and dark magic on a man's soul.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Girl Genius, Mike Shevdon, and the Company of the Dead

A new batch of reviews posted to SFFWorld over the past week, two from Mark and one from Nila...

Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius comics have been the darling of the Internet for quite a few years. Tor recently bound up the first three issues into book form and Mark had a look Girl Genius Omnibus, Volume One: Agatha Awakens:

There are three issues in this omnibus edition. Issue One introduces us to the main characters and shows us the world Agatha lives in. When Agatha is mugged and has a brooch (that she must not lose) stolen, she comes to the attention of Baron Wulfenbach, and also gains the attentions of the Baron’s son, Gilgamesh (Gil). When banned from the University, Agatha ends up at the Airship City in Issue Two. Issue Three is where Agatha discovers her secret past and true identity.

The story here is great fun, and clearly plays on the traditional steampunk tropes with a great deal of humour and panache. There’s lots of big machines and strange laboratories, with masses of arcane power at work. The characters are imaginative and memorable, from the evil villain to the many mad scientists to Krosp, the bio-constructed talking cat. The drawing is fluid and detailed, and adeptly combines black and white drawings and shades of copper in its initial pages with vivid, vibrant colour, when Agatha is in the Airship City (in Issues Two and Three.)

The charm of Mike Shevdon’s The Courts of the Feyre is still high for Nila, she reviewed the third novel in the series, Strangeness and Charm:

… Niall Petersen … finds himself and his family tearing at each other throats. There are also all the other inmates of the special hospital that held the half-fey mongrels set loose on the world and Garvin, the head of the Court’s Warders, has given Niall the responsibility of bringing them all in before they upset the Human-Feyre treaty. If Niall doesn’t or can't do it, Garvin will send the other Warders and they won’t be as nice. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably kill the mongrels rather than deal with bringing them in. But all Niall wants to do is help them. …

This installment of the Courts of the Feyre series is a fine continuation of Niall Petersen’s story. Again, not as fast paced as the first in the series, and not as spectacular as the second (in my opinion), but I very much enjoyed Strangeness and Charm. Mr. Shevdon continues to show his readers fresh insights about his characters and his wonderful imagination manifests in the fey magic mixes with human blood to create interesting fey-mongrels.

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, Mark posted his review of The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski:

Like the Titanic itself, in terms of size this novel is a monster: 800+ pages of fairly small print and not for the faint-hearted.

Pleasingly though, it is a satisfyingly complex tale, one involving alternate history and time travel, with a touch of conspiracy theory and even romance. Considering this is a debut novel, it is quite daunting to see an author cover such a wide range of ideas. And yet, impressively, David manages to juggle these disparate elements into a book that entertains without lecturing.

Our tale here begins with events upon the original Titanic being changed, yet the ship still sinking. Flash forward to 2012 and the descendant of one of the original ship’s officers, John Jacob Lightholler is now the Captain of a new version of the Titanic, sailing across the Atlantic for a commemorative centennial service of the original journey. On Lightholler’s arrival to New York, we find him contacted by Joseph Kennedy, one of the descendants of the Kennedy family, who tells him that he has been honourably discharged from the Titanic, put back into British Naval service by King Edward IX of Britain and is being made to work with the Confederate Bureau of Investigation (CBI). At a time of emerging nuclear weapons Japan seems to be declaring war on Germany and the US. To avert global disaster Kennedy and his team must put the world on the time-track it should be. Lightholler finds himself part of that group that are to travel back in time and correct the minor changes to the past that have diverted history from its predetermined route.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Caine's Law by Matthew Stover

Today, I posted my review of Caine’s Law by Matthew Stover, one of my favorite writers in any genre. To say I was looking forward to this novel is an understatement. As I intimate in my review, this was probably the first time I was a bit daunted at writing a review.

Check out the cover, review excerpt and the link to the review

This all brings us to Caine’s Law, the second Act of Atonement. Like the previous novels in the sequence, the narrative structure of Caine’s Law isn’t exactly straightforward. Stover employs first person narrative, third person omniscient, as well as narrative from the point of view of multiple characters. Originally titled His Father’s Fist, this fourth novel in Stover’s Acts of Caine sequence focuses a great deal on Hari Michaelson’s father, Duncan Michaelson. Not that Hari Michaelson and his alter-ego Caine (who are very much one and the same now) don’t play the part of protagonist, but Duncan is one character just to the left of Caine at the center of the story. In fact, Duncan is the element of the novel that drives nearly all of the action but he is much more than a simple MacGuffin. The other character, you might say to the right of Caine’s center, is a woman known only as the horse-witch, a woman of none-too-many words whose often peaceful and calm manner are very much the opposite of Caine’s violent and volatile character.
As I was reading the novel, I could not get out of my head the resonance of the overall theme and feeling I felt between Caine’s Law and the great ”Last Superman Story” Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow by Alan Moore. The same sense of nostalgia, past coming forward to effect the present, and almost bittersweet melancholia pervaded the story for me. By many, Alan Moore is considered the greatest storyteller in the history of comic books and his “Last Superman Story” is considered a defining moment for the character and quite possibly the template by which any hero should get their sendoff from being a hero. Put another way, it’s a comic book story I have to revisit very regularly because to me, it’s just that damned good. With Caine’s Law, Stover has achieved very much a similar effect with Caine’s story and supposed send off in this novel. I only say supposed because The Acts of Caine was never intended to be a series and two of the books in the series were, according to Stover himself, written as the last story for Caine.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Random Reaction: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Taking a page out of Stefan’s book (he runs an excellent blog Far Beyond Reality, I've been clicking over there quite often recently), I’ll be doing very random 50-ish page reactions too books I’m reading. I don't know how often I'll be doing these Random Reaction posts, but here goes...

This subject of today’s ‘reaction’ is The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch translated by Lee Chadeayne and illustrated by Ben Gibson.

My wife gave this to me for Christmas thinking it might something I would be interested in reading: mystery story, hints of supernatural/witchcraft, set in Germany by a German writer [my mother was born in Germany and I took three years of the language in high school], all wrapped in a beautifully designed package. The version I’m reading is the Deluxe edition from AmazonCrossing (amazon’s imprint focusing on translated works). In short, this gift is just more proof that I've got myself an awesome wife.

I’m just over fifty pages into this novel and I’m hooked. I didn’t doubt I would finish it when I opened it up, but I am enjoying the novel a great deal. Not only is the novel keeping my interests high, the book itself (in a physical sense) is very beautiful. The book is wrapped in a lovely cloth embossed cover. The text and art on the interior pages of the book brings in red as a third color with illustrations throughout that seem ripped from a 17th Century manuscript (the novel takes place in the 17th Century) lending an authentic look to the book. Also, the edges of the paper are red, which further give that bloody accurate look and feel of something historical and authentic.

Speaking of authenticity, the author purports that “He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria's leading dynasties of executioners.

The novel begins with a prologue featuring a hangman and the son who helps him on an execution day. The novel then jumps about three decades focusing on the son (Jakob Kuisl), who has taken over the father’s role as Hangman. A dying boy is found in a river with strange stab wounds and the mark of a witch on him. The Hangman/Executioner is considered an Important person in the community, he is both respected and disdained. When the village riots at the home of the midwife (Martha Stechlin) who helped to birth the boy found in the water, Jacob puts the woman in prison for her own safety. Other characters featured, thus far, are the titular Hangman’s Daughter Magdalena and Simon, son of the village’s doctor. A touch of potential romance is in the air between the two youths and there's a little hint of conspiracy when Jacob is called to the clerk's office regarding his detaining of Martha.

That’s about where I’m at in the novel now, but as I said, the mystery has me hooked and I am very intrigued about the characters, who at this point in the novel, seem to form the triangle of protagonists.

Though not quite as dark as Jess Bullington's debut, the setting and tone (to a small extent) of The Hangman's Daughter reminds me a bit of The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart.

At this point, I'd recommend the book, but by no means is this a final verdict.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-04-14)

After a large collection of books arrived last week, a little respite this week with just two books and two books for which I’ve already received ARCs.

The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod (Pyr Trade Paperback 04/17/2012) – This is the second MacLeod novel Pyr’s reissuing in the US after an initial UK release. Mark/Hobbit had some good things to say about the book when he read it upon the UK release “Intelligent, entertaining and knowledgeable, this is everything you might expect or hope for from a Ken MacLeod SF novel. Perhaps slightly more SF than The Execution Channel, though not that much more, it does make an interesting counterpoint with Charles Stross’ Halting State, which has similar elements in a near-future setting (and who, coincidentally, is acknowledged at the beginning of the book.)”

A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it’s a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It’s been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history.

After the Middle East wars and the rising sea levels, after Armageddon and the Flood, came the Great Rejection. The first Enlightenment separated church from state. The Second Enlightenment has separated religion from politics. In this enlightened age there’s no persecution, but the millions who still believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority. Now someone is killing them.

At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous.

Rage of the Dragon (Dragonships of Vindras #3) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Tor, Hardcover 04/12/2012) – Through their DragonLance and Darksword sagas this author team helped to introduce me to the genre in the 1980s. introduced This is the third book of their latest collaborative effort – a six book series.

From New York Times bestselling authors Weis and Hickman comes Rage of the Dragon, the action-packed third book in their Dragonships fantasy series.

Skylan Ivorson is the gods-chosen Chief of all Vindras clans. But the gods from whom the Vindrasi draw their earthdwelling power are besieged by a new generation of gods who are challenging them for the powers of creation. The only way to stop these brash interlopers lies within the Five Bones of the Vektia Dragon—the primal dragon forged during the creation of the world—which have been lost for generations.

With the Gods of the New Dawn amassing a vast army, Skylan finds allies in former enemies. Calling upon the ogres to fight their common foes, the Vindrasi soon find themselves in the middle of an even larger war. Skylan and his Vindrasi clan must sail the Sea of Tears into the heart of the Forbidden Empire of the Cyclops, to implement a cunning yet delicate plan that risks his life and leadership at every corner. But a new enemy lies deep in the sea, one who draws upon powers never harnessed by land dwellers.

Master world-builders Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, who have entertained generations of fans with the Dragonlance series and the Death Gate Cycle, prove they’re at the top of their game.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stark's War by Hemry/Campbell and Kim Newman interview

Well before The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell was published to huge success in the Science Fiction genre Cambell, under his real name, John G. Hemry published another Military SF series, Stark’s War. With the success of The Lost Fleet, the Stark’s War books were reissued with new covers and Campbell’s name in big letters. I reviewed the first one, titled aptly enough Stark’s War:

Where Stark’s War differs greatly from his later work in the Lost Fleet is the intimacy of the combat. Much of the fighting is more personal, ground level and not across the distances of space where the combatants more or less direct the combat rather than participate in it. In some scenes, Hemry really put me in the trenches and the most recent novel to do so was T.C. McCarthy’s Germline. With Hemry, those scenes were spaced out more in the breadth of the narrative giving Stark’s War a much less bleak feel than McCarthy’s excellent debut novel.

Stark’s War was an enjoyable novel, though a not quite as polished or fully formed as The Lost Fleet novels I’ve read. I did have a couple problems with the novel, unfortunately. Though short, the book is broken into thirds, or three large chapters. While this works to give the novel a three-act structure, it doesn’t give the reader much of a chance to effectively take a break from the book. A contradictory statement, I realize, but this structure gave me the feel of “pretty long short novel.

Also, Mark was lucky enough to interview one of his favorite writers, Kim Newman

SFFWORLD: The books are known not only for their rapid pace but also for their mixing up of real and fictional characters. Have you always enjoyed mashing up the real and unreal?

Kim: Yes. I suppose a lot of it comes from that 1970s craze – which, in some ways, I'd like to get away from – for looking at characters like Dracula, Mr Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, etc., and unearthing the 'real' Vlad Tepes, Deacon Brodie or Joseph Bell. McNally and Florescu's In Search of Dracula was a big influence on this way of thinking. I now think that all this is interesting but slightly detracts from the real achievements of authors who might have been inspired by historical events and people but then came up with lasting work through their own imagination and efforts. The ultimate version of this is those stories which take Poe or Stoker or HG Wells or Mary Shelley or Lovecraft as lead characters and then get them mixed up with the events of the novels they will write – essentially robbing them of their actual genius and reducing them to diarists. I like some of the books that fit this pattern (Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard, especially) but the cumulative effect of them chips away at the reputations of the authors. The mix of real people and fictional ones (and especially borrowed fictional ones) really clicked for me in Doctorow's Ragtime and Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-per-cent Solution. Because I invented the world of Anno Dracula, the characters imported into it are taken out of their original contexts – which gives me the freedom to play with them a bit more than in a straight historical novel or a literary pastiche.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Hugo Awards Shortlist 2012 - My Contribution to the Genre Meme

I was going to respond to Larry’s post about the Hugo Awards, but I figured I’d just write up a blog post myself.

I already made some brief comments on Justin's excellent blog post (and really, I’m sure many of the folks who read my blog read his blog, but if you aren’t go right now add it to your blog roll or RSS Feed). So I might as well join the fun and run down my thoughts on the just released Hugo Nominations even if I didn’t plunk down the $50 just to vote.

I'm sort of in tune with the voters this time 'round, at least in terms of what I read compared to what made the short list. The last time I read as many as four out of the five (like this year’s list) was 2009 whose novel short list follows: Anathem by Neal Stephenson, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, and Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi.

Having written that, here's
the rundown of the 2012 Hugo Awards (courtesy of I’ll comment on each category, at least briefly:

  • Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
  • A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
  • Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Among Others was a great book and when I read it, I predicted it would at the very least make a few short lists. I think it has a very good chance of winning the Hugo. The novel hits a lot of good nostalgic notes, the protagonist has a wonderfully engaging voice, and like films about films, books about books tend to get critical (i.e. awards) recognition. I’d have no problem with this one winning

A Dance With Dragons, though excellent was not as strong as the first three books in the series. Not to damn it with faint praise, but I found it to be far stronger than A Feast for Crows because I enjoyed the book a great deal. However had I nominated, I wouldn't have added this book to the shortlist. I wouldn’t be surprised to see A Dance With Dragons be Martin’s The Departed, though.

I am a big fan of Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy (at least the two books thus far). I find the books to be several notches above what might be considered typical Zombie fiction. Both books had me thinking long after I finished them about some of the science involved, about the characters, and how the impact of what the ‘science gone awry’ has drastically changed the world. Many people seem to be down on this book being on the list because it is a middle book of a series, but it can stand on its own. Will it win? I doubt it. Should it win? Not sure.

The last Miéville novel I read was Un Lun Dun, which was good and though I enjoyed it and Iron Council, I haven’t felt overly compelled to read more by him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his first true SF novel take away the award.

Leviathan Wakes was old-school Space Opera and a novel I thought was a blast. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it wins. However there’ve been some relatively divisive thoughts on the novel.

One novel I would have liked to see on the short list is The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown but I wonder if being a lesser known author (despite publishing novel length fiction for many years) coupled with a relatively small imprint allowed this excellent novel to fly on the radar.

BOTTOM LINE: In the end, I think it comes down to Among Others and A Dance with Dragons

Best Novella
  • Countdown by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2011)
  • “Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s June 2011)
  • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s September/October 2011)
  • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
  • Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

I’ve not read any of these, I tend not to read much short fiction. That said, I see/read nothing but praise for Ken Liu and it’s nice to see Grant get a double nomination for fiction set in a milieu I really enjoy.

Best Novelette
  • “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)
  • “Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog December 2011)
  • “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (
  • “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)

Even shorter fiction that I don’t read. I’m happy to see Paul Cornell nominated since his work in the relaunched DC “New 52” and DC Comics/Vertigo has been very solid. I need to read Charlie Jane Anders’s story and based on everything I’ve seen on the blogoverse/geekly intarwebs the story is as the kids once said “the bee’s knees.”

Best Short Story
  • “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011)
  • “The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011)
  • “Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011)
  • “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)
  • “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (

Even shorter-shorter fiction I tend not to read. My roll of the dice has John Scalzi or Mike Resnick winning this one.

Best Related Work
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
  • Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
  • The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
  • Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire
  • Writing Excuses, Season 6 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

I’ve listened to a few episodes of Writing Excuses but shouldn’t it be in the fancast category? That said, I expect The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition to win here.

Best Graphic Story
  • Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
  • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
  • Locke & Key Volume 4, Keys to the Kingdom written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
  • The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

I consider Fables to consistently be the best monthly comic on the shelves though Locke & Key is quite good, too. I’d be happy to see either of those titles win.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely, directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
  • Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
  • Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

I think if Game of Thrones doesn’t win, there will be some kind of revolt and violence. I haven’t seen Hugo and want to see it. I enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger but even by superhero movie standards, it was not the strongest superhero film last year (and I doubt I’d put any of them on a shortlist).

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
  • “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
  • “The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • “A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
  • “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Apparently the only SF show on TV is Doctor Who and that seems to be the case for the past few years. I’ll echo other thoughts, why wasn’t an episode of Game of Thrones on this list? Specifically, Baelor? Odd that an acceptance speech would be on this list. If they’re going the sitcom route, what about Big Bang Theory? I know SyFy is chastised quite often, but they produced Eureka which is quite entertaining. I would like to think shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm might get consideration next year. I fully expect "The Doctor's Wife" written by Neil Gaiman to win in a landslide.

Best Editor, Short Form
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

No problems here, between JJA (in addition to Lightspeed) and Strahan I think they’ve published a combined 483 anthologies last year

Best Editor, Long Form
  • Lou Anders
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Betsy Wollheim

Now here’s a MAJOR disconnect but should NOT be construed as a knock to Lou Anders (who I think has done an incredible job with Pyr, keeping up with and ahead of genre trends) or Betsy Wollheim (who publishes some of my very favorite authors) but… Pyr published a lot of good novels in 2011, novels I enjoyed a great deal but none of them made the short list. DAW has no books on the shortlist though is responsible for the juggernaut that is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear. On the other hand, two Orbit titles are on the Novels short list but none of their editors are on this list of Long Form editors.

Best Professional Artist
  • Dan dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Michael Komarck
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio

I feel like at least three artists appear on a rotating basis every year. Don’t get me wrong, I like the work all five of these men have done, but I haven’t seen very many covers from Bob Eggleton while somebody like Raymond Swanland is doing great work and his art appears on many, many books. All that said, I’d love to see John Picacio win here.

Best Semiprozine
  • Apex Magazine edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
  • New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

I never quite understood the term Semiprozine, do the people running these thing get paid only half a normal rate? I read every day and think JJA is doing good stuff with Lightspeed (and hey, look at this, he was nominated for editor short form and the thing he edits on a regular basis was nominated). Other than, I have nothing else to say about this batch.

Best Fanzine
  • Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • The Drink Tank edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
  • File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
  • SF Signal edited by John DeNardo

SF Signal is the only one I visit regularly (and before reading this list the only one about which I was aware beside File 770), probably my MUST visit general genre spot on teh intarwebs. I suppose Fanzine means the people running it are fans and don’t get paid.

On a more personal note, I'm wondering if SFFWorld is eligible or how to get it nominated for such an award. SFFWorld has been a very active fan community for the genre for over a decade, we have several official reviewers, and have been publishing between 50 and 75 reviews per year.

Best Fan Writer
  • James Bacon
  • Claire Brialey
  • Christopher J Garcia
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Steven H. Silver

No knock against him, but isn’t Jim C. Hines a professional writer? Aside from him, I’m only familiar with Silver but I'm thinking maybe one of the folks from SF Signal should have received a nod.

Best Fan Artist
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Randall Munroe
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

Not sure about the criteria for this award nor do those names look familiar to me.

Best Fancast
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz, produced by Patrick Hester
  • SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
  • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

SF Signal Podcast is the one I listen to most regularly so that would get my vote although I enjoy SF Squeecast a great deal.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer WHICH IS NOT A HUGO
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • Karen Lord
  • Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu

I’ve not read any of these folks but do know of Lafferty, Leicht, and Lord.

OK, so that's what I've got to say for the moment.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-04-07)

This is one of the largest batches of arrivals at the 'o Stuff household in quite some time. Lots from Black Library the mass markets for late April/Early May from Del Rey, the monthly (May 2012) Mass Markets from DAW, the May 2012 releases from Ace and an upcoming red little dandy from Orbit.

Prospero Burns (Audio) (Horus Heresy) by Dan Abnett and read by Martyn Eliis (Black Library, Abridged CD 04/10/2012) – Two Horus Audio adaptations this week. The BL folks are bouncing around the series not putting these things out in the same order in which the books were publisherd.

The Emperor is enraged. Primarch Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons Legion has made a terrible mistake that endangers the very safety of Terra. With no other choice, the Emperor charges Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, with the apprehension of his brother from the Thousand Sons home world of Prospero. This planet of sorcerers will not be easy to overcome, but Russ and his Space Wolves are not easily deterred. With wrath in his heart, Russ is determined to bring Magnus to justice and bring about the fall of Prospero.

Invincible (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier #2) by Jack Campbell (Ace Hardcover 05/01/2011) – I read the first installment of this sequels series The Lost Fleet: Dreadnaught about a year ago when it first published and enjoyed it. So, when the opportunity arose for me to write and participate in Military Science Fiction on I jumped at the chance to contribute an appreciation for The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. In other words, I’ll be reading this one, which arrived almost exactly a year after the previous volume and as I was reading his earlier work on the Hemry name Stark’s War.

Admiral John "Black Jack" Geary earned his rank after being revived from cryogenic sleep to lead the Alliance to victory against the Syndicate Worlds. But his superiors question his loyalty to the regime. Now in command of the First Fleet, Geary is tasked with exploring the frontier beyond Syndic space, a mission he fears deliberately puts the fleet--and himself--in harm's way. An encounter with the alien enigmas confirms Geary's fears. Attacked without warning, he orders the fleet to jump star systems--only to enter the crosshairs of another hostile alien armada. Ignoring all of the First Fleet's attempts to communicate peaceful intentions, this system's species sends its ships into battle on suicide runs while it guards the exiting jump point with a fortress of incalculable power. Now, with a faction of his officers determined to eliminate this new threat at any cost, Geary must figure out how to breach the enemy's defenses so the fleet can reach the jump point without massive casualties--even though the enigmas could be waiting on the other side.

Battleship by Peter David (Del Rey Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012 ) – Peter David is THE go-to guy for film novelizations. Not sure what to think of a movie based off of a board game, but this film does have Liam Neeson.


During a routine naval drill at Pearl Harbor, American forces detect a ship of unknown origins that’s crashed in the Pacific Ocean. Lieutenant Alex Hopper, an officer aboard the USS John Paul Jones, is ordered to investigate the ominous-looking vessel—which turns out to be part of an armada of ships that are stronger and faster than any on Earth. And that’s when the Navy’s radar goes down. Ambushed by a ravenous enemy they cannot see, a small U.S. fleet makes their last stand on the open ocean, armed with little more than their instincts, to defend their lives—and the world as we know it.

The official novel of the blockbuster film!
Based on the screenplay by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber

The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Boween (Black Library, Hardcover 06/07/2012) –Dembski-Bowden seems to have a book a month publishing with Black Library and the good thing about that is this – his WH fiction is well regarded. This is seemingly the launch of a new series and odd thing about the hardcover, it doesn’t have a dust jacket.

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

(Star Wars: Scourge by Jeff Grubb (Del Rey Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012 ) – Grubb has done A LOT of work for Wizards of the Coast/Dungeons and Dragons, I think this is his first Star Wars novel

In the heart of crime-ridden Hutt Space, a Jedi Scholar searches for justice.

While trying to obtain the coordinates of a secret, peril-packed, but potentially beneficial trade route, a novice Jedi is killed—and the motive for his murder remains shrouded in mystery. Now his former Master, Jedi archivist Mander Zuma, wants answers, even as he fights to erase doubts about his own abilities as a Jedi. What Mander gets is immersion into the perilous underworld of the Hutts as he struggles to stay one step ahead in a game of smugglers, killers, and crime lords bent on total control.

Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4) by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012) – This is one of my more highly anticipated 2012 releases, not only because my review of Hammered is blurbed don the front, but because I also really enjoyed Hounded, loved it and posted the Hexed.

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.

Life Guard in the Hamptons (Willow Tate #4) by Celia Jerome (DAW Mass Market Paperback 05/07/2012 ) – The continuing the adventures of Jerome’s artist who can bring things from Faerie into the real world.


Graphic novelist Willow Tate has never wanted supernatural powers. But if you're from the little Long Island town of Paumanok Harbor you don't always have a choice. Still, she's managed to survive a giant red troll, night mare horses, and fire-setting bugs. This time it's a creature from Unity who needs her help. And it doesn't hurt that handsome veterinarian Matt Spenser is ready and willing to assist Willow in her efforts...

God Save the Queen (Immortal Empire #1) by Kate Locke (Orbit Hardcover 07/03/2012) – Locke is a pseudonym for Kate Cross, and with this novel, she seemingly takes a page out of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula and launches a new pan-name and alternate history / urban fantasy / Steampunk / vampire saga.

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin (Bantam Spectra, Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012) – With the MASSIVE popularity of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones Bantam is re-releasing GRRM’s backlist in mass market. Some consider this book to be his best.


Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

Eye of Vengeance (Space Marines) by Graham McNeill, Narrated by Sean Barrett, performed by Rupert Degas and Saul Reichlin (Black Library, Abridged CD 05/10/2012) –One of the growing library of audio dramas BL is releasing, focusing on McNeill’s popular Space Marines.

When the twisted Dark Mechanicus priests of the Bloodborn descend upon Quintarn, the Ultramarines are quick to move in defence of their prized agri-world. However, it soon becomes apparent that the planet’s fate will not be decided by the massed battle companies of the Space Marines, but by the actions of just one lowly sergeant – Torias Telion. A master marksman and Scout with a long history of service to the Chapter, Telion must now face the worst of the Bloodborn’s technological terrors and secure the city of Idrisia from the enemy advance, if the Ultramarines are to have any hope of prevailing against an enemy whose numbers swell with every victory.

A Thousand Sons (Audio) (Horus Heresy) by Graham McNeill and read by Martyn Ellis (Black Library, Abridged CD 4/10/2012) –These audio versions are a lot of fun, as my reviews for Horus Rising and False Gods might suggest. The folks at BL jumped a few volumes in the saga but this tale takes place around the time of the second book, so it makes chronological sense

Censured at the Council of Nikea for his flagrant use of sorcery, Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion retreat to their homeworld of Prospero to continue their use of the arcane arts in secret. But when the ill-fated primarch forsees the treachery of Warmaster Horus and warns the Emperor with the very powers he was forbidden to use, the Master of Mankind dispatches fellow primarch Leman Russ to attack Prospero itself. But Magnus has seen more than the betrayal of Horus and the witnessed revelations will change the fate of his fallen Legion, and its primarch, forever.

A Thousand Sons is the story of Primarch Magnus the Red and the Thousand Sons Legion of Space Marines, mainly taking place before the Heresy starts. Following a reprimand by the Emperor for dabbling in sorcery, Magnus and his Legion secretly continue to study the forbidden subjects. Around the time of Horus' corruption (Book 2), Magnus learns through sorcery of his brother's impending betrayal. He tries – again through sorcery – to warn the Emperor, believing that the gravity of the news would justify his disobedience. However, Magnus overreaches with his powers and damages the vital and secret project the Emperor was undertaking (Book 1), endangering the safety of Terra itself in the process. The Emperor is enraged and orders Primarch Leman Russ and his Space Wolves Legion, accompanied by other Imperial forces, to Prospero, the Thousand Sons Legion's home world. They are to bring Magnus and his Legion to Terra to account for themselves

Chicory Up (The Pixie Chronicles #2) by Irene Radford (DAW Mass Market Paperback 5/7/2012) – This series continues with the spice and herb flavored titles about a girl with pixie friends from Oregon.

Halloween approaches and the town of Skene Falls is gearing up for one of its most important fund-raising festivals. The best part of the soggy scarecrows, witch hats, and fake cobwebs strewn about town will be the haunted maze inside the beloved Ten Acre Wood.

But Haywood Wheaton has escaped from jail and mutated into an insane half-Pixie, half-Faerie with a vengeance. He’s leading bands of enthralled dandelion Pixies and attacking humans as well as other Pixies. Will his poison dipped hawthorn spike swords and his fascination with fire destroy the entire festival before it gets started?

Once again Thistle Down gathers her friends, both Pixie and human, to save the town. But it may send her back to Pixie forever and end the deep love between her and Dick.

POD by Stephen Wallenfels (Ace Mass Market Paperback 04/24/2012) – This is an alien invasion story, and quite frankly, we haven’t had quite as many of them lately. From the little I gathered on the intarwebs, it looks like Mr. Wallenfels published an earlier version of this novel with a small press. .

Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-­surviving humanity is another.

I'm all cried out. I'm still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I've only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don't have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other?

Shadow Raiders (The Dragon Brigade #1) by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 05/07/2012) – That Margaret Weis sure likes writing about dragons, this is the first in a ‘swashbuckling’ series with a new co-author..

Lord Captain Stephano de Guichen, formerly of the Dragon Brigade, and his disparate group of friends who call themselves the Cadre of the Lost, are hired by the powerful Countess de Marjolaine, to find a Royal Armory journeyman who has mysteriously vanished, along with an invention that could revolutionize warfare. The Countess fears the invention may fall into the hands of their enemies. Always in need of money, Stephano and his friends undertake what they think is an easy job, only to discover they are being dogged by spies and targeted by assassins.

Meanwhile, Father Jacob Northrop, a priest of the feared Arcanum, and his Knight Protector, Sir Ander Martel, are dispatched to investigate the massacre of a hundred nuns at the Abbey of Saint Agnes. A lone survivor claims the nuns were attacked by demons from Hell.

Stephano and his friends take to the skies in their airship, the Cloud Hopper, still on the trail of the journeyman. Their route takes them near the Abbey of Saint Agnes. As they draw near, the Cloud Hopper comes under attack by what appear to be demons riding giant bats. Stephano teams with Father Jacob and Sir Ander and a dragon from his old brigade to fight the hellish forces.

After the battle, one question is on everyone's mind: Are these truly demons sent by the Evil One? Is this the Apocalypse?

As Father Jacob searches the Abbey to find the answer, he uncovers a startling secret that nearly gets him and Sir Ander killed. Stephano's search for the journeyman almost ends in disaster, as he and his friends encounter the deadly Freyan assassin, Sir Henry Wallace.
Schemes and tricks, lies and intrigues culminate in an exciting chase through the skies that comes to a shocking end, when friends and foes alike are caught up in the unexpected and terrifying conclusion.