Sunday, November 30, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/29/2008)

Another slow week with Thanksgiving shortening up the week. I've read one of them (albeit in a different form, I think):

The Magician’s Apprentice The Prequel to The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan (Orbit Books , Hardcover 2/15/2009) – I haven’t read anything by Canavan, but Orbit has a pretty big push behind her now that they are publishing them in the US. The title alone implies something of a cliché, and was in fact one of the titles of Fiest’s broken up Magician. February seems a long ways off, but so did December when I received books with December pub dates in August that still remain unread.

Yokaiden by Nina Matsumoto (Del Rey Paperback November 2008) – Most people fear them, and a few people even hunt them, thinking they are horrible monsters to be destroyed at all costs. But young Hamachi wants to be friends with them! He sees them as mischievous creatures that could coexist peacefully with humans if only given a chance.

When his grandmother dies under mysterious circumstances, Hamachi journeys into the Yokai realm. Along the way, he encounters an ogre who punishes truant children, an angry water spirit, and a talking lantern. Will Hamachi be able to find his grandmother's killer, or will he be lost forever in another world?

Duke Elric (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné: Volume 4) by Michael Moorcock (Del Rey Trade Paperback March 2009) – This is the fourth volume in Del Rey’s terrific looking repackaging of Moorcock’s iconic Anti-hero, Elric. Each volume has had a different artist, this one’s cover and interior is by Justin Sweet. There’s also an introduction by Michael Chabon. I think this is the third our fourth by a different publisher to repackage and [properly[ reorder the Elric stories.

Star Wars The Clone Wars Wild Space by Karen Miller (Del Rey Trade Paperback 12/09/2008) – This is (the first?) novel based off of The Clone Wars TV show on the Cartoon Network:
The Separatists have launched a sneak attack on Coruscant. Obi-Wan Kenobi, wounded in battle, insists that Anakin Skywalker and his rookie Padawan Ahsoka leave on a risky mission against General Grievous. But when Senator Bail Organa reveals explosive intelligence that could turn the tide of war in the Republic's favor, the Jedi Master agrees to accompany him to an obscure planet in the Outer Rim to verify the facts. What Obi-Wan and Bail don't realize is that they're walking into a deadly trap concocted by Palpatine... and escape may not be an option.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving. Or, as they say outside of America, enjoy your Thursday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Juggling Reviews and Batman

I posted up my review of Juggler of Worlds, the follow-up to Niven/Lerner’s enjoyable Fleet of Worlds. I didn’t enjoy Juggler nearly as much as its predecessor:
As indicated in my review of Fleet of Worlds, I’ve not (even since then) had a chance to read any of Nivens other Ringworld or Known Space novels, so I don’t know how much overlap or retconning/re-appropriating is done for this novel. Some parts of the novel lacked dramatic tension. The earliest portions of the novel were tense as we were introduced to Sigmund, but as the novel progressed, Sigmund became less interesting and the story also felt more by-the numbers.

Mark posted his review of James Barclay’s latest, Ravensoul. I read the a bunch of Barclay’s excellent Raven novels a few years back and like them a lot, here’s a brief from Mark’s review:
…the book begins strikingly, with the return of old characters in new bodies. The souls of the dead, under threat, are drawn to those they knew best. Removed from their place of rest, they are being hunted by a new enemy travelling across dimensions, the Garonin. These seemingly unstoppable opponents appear from nowhere in Balaia, mining mana, the magical force that drives this world. Any attack on them means they vanish to other dimensions in the blink of an eye. When engaged in combat, their speed is phenomenal, their weaponry awesome and their battle-skills are ferociously scary.
On to things Batman...

I really, really hope Grant Morrison’s payoff in Batman R.I.P. is worth the hype and delays. Something inside of me hopes Bruce becomes the Joker, but that might be too extreme even for Morrison. Part I’ve been enjoying the ride Grant’s been taking us on so far and despite what others have said, I like Tony Daniel’s art. Time will tell how long “Bruce Wayne will no longer be Batman,” since DC will somehow get Bruce back under the cowl. I think the Heart of Hush storyline that just concluded in Detective was pretty good as was the Nightwing storyline involving Two-Face.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/22/2008)

"Only" four books this week…

Shadow of the Scorpion (A Novel of the Polity) by Neal Asher (Nightshade books Trade Paperback 10/22/2008) – Neal Asher has been churning out novels set in his Polity universe to a great deal of positive response over the past couple of years. The only one I’ve read is The Skinner when it was the SFFWorld SF Book Club selection back inAugust 2005. This book looks like a pretty good entry spot for his work and Neal also happens to have his official forum hosted by SFFWorld, too.

Fortress in Shadow:A Chronicle of the Dread Empire by Glen Cook (Nightshade books Trade Paperback August 2008)– This was a nice surprise in my mailbox. I read the first omnibus of The Dread Empire - A Cruel Wind last year and posted my thoughts on the blog back in June. I said at the time how much I enjoyed the book, both the content and the awesome design by the fine folks at Nightshade. Fortress in Shadow is the follow-up and bolsters an introduction by Steven Erikson, so chances are this will move up the list a bit more quickly.

The Temporal Void Book 2 of The Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey, Hardcover 3/24/2009) – I’ve been becoming more and more of a fan of Hamilton’s epic Science Fiction ever since I read. The Dreaming Void kicked off The Void Trilogy really well so I’m looking forward to reading its follow up here, which is part of his enormous Commonwealth Universe. Hamilton always throws a nice dash of fantasy flavor into his science fiction for good measure.

Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert (Dutton Hardcover 4/2/2009) – This looks like a literary urban fantasy, here goes:
Mia Lockheart has a secret, Her mother was a Keeper, as was her grandmother - women who were warriors, healers and protectors. As Mia practices her craft among the boxers and martial artists of South London, and falls in love with her childhood friend, the fighter Nick Duffy, she has no idea that a man who calls himself Dragonfly is watching from the shadows. Adrian Ashton is a brilliant scientist, a skilled martial artist - and a modern-day vampire. With the aid of a mysterious and ancient book, he preys on other martial artists and drains them of their chi - the vital energy that flows through their bodies. Mia finds herself drawn to his dark genius. But when he targets Nick as his next victim, she is forced to choose between the two men. Soon it becomes a fight to the death in which love is both the greatest weakness - and the greatest prize.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Devil's Eye Reviewed, Gaiman-Batman, and Me

Jack McDevitt, through the fine publishing imprint Ace Books, just released a new book a couple of weeks ago. I read it, reviewed it, and posted said review to SFFWorld yesterday. I went through a spate of McDevitt’s novels a few years back and enjoyed them quite a bit, so was happy to tackle this latest one for SFFWorld. Reading The Devil's Eye reminded me how much I enjoy McDevitt's books and that I've got some catching up to do. As if I don't have enough to read.

Here’s a snapshot of my review:
The action starts when Vicki Greene, a popular horror writer of the era pleads for Benedict to help her, leaving only a cryptic message as his primary clue: “God help me, they are all dead.” Alex is intrigued, though he is relatively unfamiliar with Greene’s work, his partner Chase is and they take the job. With very few clues by which to guide them, Alex and Chase embark on a mystery that spans the galaxy and whose roots have dire ramifications for a planet with both humans and Ashyyur.

McDevitt unravels, or rather the fact that he deftly weaves a number of plot elements together keeps his skilled hand hidden, multiple plot strands throughout the novel rather seamlessly. As such, The Devil’s Eye works on many levels – mystery, conspiracy story, galactic travelogue, alien/human relations, adventure novel, horror novel, character study. Dramatic tension and sense of wonder played off each other quite well. In fact, each element serves the other in the novel very effectively, much like familiar people/characters effectively play off of each other’s personalities.
Neil Gaiman showed off some of the cool Batman stuff for his Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader storyline – an Alex Ross cover (!) and an Andy Kubert (!!) cover sketch. Newsarama posted some images, too. (!!!)

Speaking of British Comic Book writers, happy birthday to Alan Moore!

Lastly, I did something over the weekend I’d been bugging myself to do for a while. I joined the Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy & Horror (formerly hosted/sponsored by Del Rey) and submitted the first couple chapters of the novel I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. Some respected and popular authors have come out of the workshop: Joshua Palmatier (The Skewed Throne); Sarah Prineas (The Magic Thief); Chris Evans (A Darkness Forged in Fire); Elizabeth Bear and a personal favorite of mine (R.) Scott Bakker so I fell like I’m on the right track by joining the workshop.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/15/2008)

Here’s the latest batch of arrivals…

1942 by Robert Conroy (Ballantine Trade Paperback 3/24/2009)– What if Japan had taken over Hawai’i? That is the general premise of this Alternate History novel. All three of Conroy’s previous novels were alternate history, so he’s had some practice at it. This is the first of two Alternate History novels that arrived on my porch this week.

Catopolis edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Janet Deaver-Pack (Daw Mass Market Paperback 12/2/2008) – Another month, another themed anthology from Daw and Martin H. Greenberg. This time, the stories are all the hidden city of cats. I’m not big on cats, they don’t like me and I don’t like them, although this anthology is noteworthy for one reason – it contains a story by Matthew Woodring Stover, plus many of the same writers I've seen in other recent Greenberg-edited anthologies.

Shadowrealm Book 3 of The Twilight War by Paul S. Kemp (Wizards of the Coast, Mass Market Paperback 12/15/2008) – I read Kemp’s excellent Erevis Cale Trilogy last year and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the novels and thought they were good examples of not just tie-in fiction, but sword-and-sorcery with a very heavy dose of magic. I’ve had the first two books for a while and have been waiting for the third to come out before I jumped into them, so I’m ready now. Tie-in fiction gets a looked down upon too often, but like everything there is good and bad. Kemp’s an example of the better stuff.

Dragon Strike (Age of Fire book #4) by E.E. Knight (Roc Trade Paperback 12/2/2008) – I read the first in this series, Dragon Champion three years ago and I’m impressed (and surprised) how fast this series has been coming out, especially considering Knight’s been churning out Vampire Earth novels (which I thoroughly enjoy) as well. All of this reminds me that I really need to catch up with what Mr. Knight’s been publishing.

Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar edited by Mercedes Lackey (Ace Mass Market Paperback 12/2/2008) – Lackey has written a lot of books set in the Valdemar world, just take a look at what I received in September.

Dead Reign (Marla Mason Book #3) by T.A. Pratt (Bantam Spectra Mass Market Paperback 10/28/2008) – I bought this one because I enjoyed the first two books in the series so much, Blood Engines and Poison Sleep. These Urban Fantasy novels concern Chief Sorrceress of Felport, Marla Mason, and her efforts to protect her town. My high concept take on this is Dresden meets Sopranos meets Lovecraft meets Buffy.

Peacekeeper (An Ariane Kedros novel) by Laura A. Reeve (Roc Mass Market Paperback 12/2/2008) –This debut could be promising, even though the cover does continue the trend of hot-chick-with-a-gun-wearing-a-tanktop.

Fifteen years ago, Ariane Kedros piloted a ship on a mission that obliterated an entire solar system. Branded a war criminal, she was given a new identity and a new life in order to protect her from retribution. But now, twelve of Ariane's wartime colleagues are dead- assassinated by someone who has uncovered their true identities. And her superiors in the Autonomist army have placed her directly in the assassin's line of fire on a peacekeeping mission that will decide the fate of all humanity.

The United States of Atlantis by Harry Turtledove (Roc Hardcover 12/2/2008) – The second Alternative History novel I received this week is also the second in a series, the sequel to Turtledove’s Opening Atlantis. I actually read a story set in this milieu, Audobon in Atlantis in the Jonathan Strahan edited Best Short Novels 2006. As long as I've been reading in the genre and as much as Turtledove has published (seemingly 10 books a year), I've never read one of his novels.

The Flaxen Femme Fatale (A Zachary Nixon Johnson “Hair Color” seriesby John Zakour (DAW Mass Market Paperback 12/2/2008) - This is the sixth of a pulp-SF-Private Eye novel that originally was a trilogy. Regardless, the book and series looks like a fun read.

The last freelance P.I. on earth, Zach Johnson has been hired to track down a young beauty who happens to be a deadly secret weapon for the World Council. Figuring girls just want to have fun, he follows Natasha to various vacation destinations, but she eludes him, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake.

Zach, however, isn't surprised to discover that things aren't what they seem, and to save the world, he's going to have to find a way to team up with the woman he's supposed to destroy...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Game of Thrones - HBO Greenlights Production

From the Man himself:

HBO has giv
en the production order.

They will be filming the pilot episode of A GAME OF THRONES.



I first saw this while browsing Grasping for the Wind, so thanks to John for being on top of it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shadow's Edge, January Dancer, & Pyr

The second book in Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, Shadow's Edge, published last week and this week, I’m posting my review. Here’s a snippet:
Much of Shadow’s Edge concerns itself with Kylar finding himself. He yearns for a life of normalcy with Elene, the woman he loves. He hates the killer/assassin aspect of himself but can’t fight it either. His conflict spills over quite a bit of the novel and he vacillates between fighting his instincts and being the good man he thinks Elene wants. Of course, Elene doesn’t help matters. Their relationship was a frustrating aspect of the novel only in that Elene came across as a two-dimensional nag for a good portion of the novel. She and Kylar shared the same bed, but never really in the carnal sense. Their thoughts about consummating their love for each other was often at odds. Elene wanted to wait until they were married, but when she was finally ready to share the experience with Kylar, he felt unworthy of it and went on one of his nightly patrols.
I also posted my review of Michael Flynn’s The January Dancer, which didn’t work quite as well for me. I like parts of it, but didn’t feel those parts came together as congruously into a whole as I would have liked. Here's a sampler of my review:

Michael Flynn’s space opera The January Dancer is many things, part caper, part future myth, part mosaic novel; all of which come together in a very interesting stew of a novel. The object from which the book’s title is derived is a pre-human artifact first discovered by Captain Amos January on a relatively routine archaeological expedition. Human expansion is very widespread throughout the galaxy and the future is far enough beyond our time that the characters refer to Earth as Old Earth and speak of it in nigh-mythological terms.

Pyr just released their Spring/Summer 2009 catalogue with details on some really interesting books, including all three volumes of Mark Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule trilogy. I know the covers by John Picacio have been posted elsewhere, but they are terrific so here they are again:

Other books include:

James Enge, Blood of Ambrose - Behind the King's life stands the menacing Protector, and beyond him lies the Protector's Shadow... Against this evil, Morlock Ambrosius--stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, and hopeless drunk.

Matthew Sturges, Midwinter - Mauritaine once heroic Captain in the Seelie Army, now accused of treason and sentenced to life without parole, is offered one last chance to redeem himself, an opportunity to regain his freedom and his honor in the secrete service of Queen Titania.

Ian McDonald, Desolation Road - It all began 30 years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/08/2008)

Ace sent out their late November books this past week, with a few interesting titles in the mix. Let’s see what I got this past week…

The Knights of the Cornerstone by James P. Blaylock (Ace Hardcover 11/25/2008)– My experience with Blaylock is somewhat limited to a few short stories, but this looks pretty interesting.

Calvin Bryson has hidden himself away from the world, losing himself in his work and his collection of rare and quirky books. He never meant to let so much time go by without visiting his aunt and uncle in the tiny town of New Cyprus, California. When he gets there, he’ll discover the town’s strange secrets and a mysterious group dedicated to preserving and protecting holy relics—a modernday incarnation of the legendary Knights Templar…

Princeps’ Fury (Book 5 of the Codex Alera) by Jim Butcher (Ace Hardcover 11/25/2008) – This is Jim Butcher’s other series, which has been chugging along at better than a book a year since Furies of Calderon published in 2004. I’m a big fan of his Dresden novels but haven’t caught up with this one yet. This series is set in a world similar to Rome where the majority of the populace has control over elemental powers – the Furies of the title I suppose. I may jump into this without having read the other 4 sooner than later, either way, I’ll be catching up with the series at some point. Here’s the synopsis:

Tavi of Calderon, now recognized as Princeps Gaius Octavian and heir to the crown, has achieved a fragile alliance with Alera's oldest foes, the savage Canim. But when Tavi and his legions guide the Canim safely to their lands, his worst fears are realized.

The dreaded Vord—the enemy of Aleran and Cane alike—have spent the last three years laying waste to the Canim homeland. And when the Alerans are cut off from their ships, they find themselves with no choice but to fight shoulder to shoulder if they are to survive. For a thousand years, Alera and her furies have withstood every enemy, and survived every foe. The thousand years are over...

The Crown: Book 2 of The Pearls and the Crown by Deborah Chester (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 11/25/2008) – There isn’t much on the publisher’s Web site about this book, but digging through Chester’s Web site I found this:

The Pearls and The Crown (2008) are a two-book set dealing with Lea, the younger sister of the protagonist in The Ruby Throne trilogy that I wrote several years ago. They are not strictly sequels to that old trilogy, although I tied up a dangling plot question that got overlooked in the original books.

The short of it is this The Crown is the second half of a duology that is a ‘sort-of-sequel’ to an earlier trilogy.

New Tricks by John Levitt (Ace Mass Market Paperback 11/25/2008) – Whether or not this is a series, time will tell, but at the least, this book is a sequel to Levitt’s first novel, Dog Days. Ostensibly, these Urban Fantasies are about a man and his dog. The man in this case, Mason, makes sure magic users are not breaking the magical law. He does this with the help of his ‘familiar’ Louie, which looks to be a Jack Russell Terrier based on the cover.

Former enforcer Mason would normally be concerned with finding ghosts and vampires stalking the Castro section of San Francisco. Fortunately, Halloween provides the perfect explanation for the abundance of ghouls. But someone is trying to possess his old flame, Sarah. Now, with the help of his magical dog Louie, Mason must uncover the black magician responsible..

Unusual Suspects:Stories of Mystery and Fantasy by Dana Stabenow (Ace Trade Paperback 11/25/2009) –The subtitle of this anthology should say it all – mysteries with a supernatural element.

I’ll probably check this out, some of the authors in here will be new to me and I’ve wanted to at least try their work for a while. The list of authors include: Charlaine Harris, Simon R. Green, Carole Nelson Douglass, John Straley, Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, and Laurie R. King.

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume Four (1972-1976) by Robert Silverberg (Subterranean Press Hardcover 5/31/2009) - This is the fourth of projected 8 volumes covering the entire short story output of Silverberg’s immensely prolific career.

The stories here, all of them written between March of 1972 and November of 1973, mark a critical turning point in my career. Those who know the three earlier volumes have traced my evolution from a capable journeyman, very young and as much concerned with paying the rent as he was to advancing the state of the art, into a serious, dedicated craftsman now seeking to leave his mark on science fiction in some significant way. Throughout the decade of the 1960s I had attempted to grow and evolve within the field of writing I loved--building on the best that went before me, the work of Theodore Sturgeon and James Blish and Cyril Kornbluth and Jack Vance and Philip K. Dick and half a dozen others whose great stories had been beacons beckoning me onward—and then, as I reached my own maturity, now trying to bring science fiction along with me into a new realm of development, hauling it along even farther out of its pulp-magazine origins toward what I regarded as a more resonant and evocative kind of visionary storytelling.

--Robert Silverberg, from his introduction

Succubus Takes Manhattan by Nina Harper (Del Rey Mass Market Paperback 11/25/2008) – This a sequel to Succubus Takes the City about succubus who works for Satan living in New York City. Very little about this book or the author is available on the internet.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

VOTE, plus The Way of Shadows reviewed by Yours Truly

If you live in the U.S., vote today.

Brent Weeks has a new trilogy 2/3 of the way on the shelves at this point, I’ve read two and last night I posted my review of his first book The Way of Shadows. I was impressed and to be honest, a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. I realize I might be a bit late in posting my review, but here it is. Weeks and his work are also generating some interesting buzz in the SFFWorld Forums. Next week I’ll post my review of the second installment, Shadow’s Edge.

On the one hand the book’s design and physical feel reminded me of another recent book which I didn’t enjoy so much. On the other, the story was engaging, entertaining and hit all the right buttons for me. The story itself is the somewhat clichéd coming-of-age story of the “assassin-with-the-heart-of-gold” with a liberal dash of “hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold,” but Weeks made everything work.

I’m all for new and interesting things to read that might be out of the mold of typical (Mieville, VanderMeer), but like a fine, dependable recipe which produces a delicious meal every time you create it, I think Weeks’s The Way of Shadows is a highly enjoyable ‘meal’ that delivers very well on its preconceived expectations. I’ll also say that the book is most assuredly not a Young Adult novel, despite a youthful protagonist.

I found Mighty God King's awesomely Photoshopped literal titles of fantasy novels via SF Signal at , plus part 2 and part 3:.

Lastly, if you live in the US, go out and vote. Although I’m happy to be voting for a change in which I believe, I’ll be happy when this thing is finally over.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/01/2008)

Another week, another slew of books, with varied results this week::

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (Tor Hardcvover 11/11/2008)– Who hasn’t read Card’s landmark Ender novels? I went through a phase over a couple of years where I was devouring most of Card’s back catalogue zipping through the Enderverse. I made it through a few of the Bean sequels before stopping. I liked Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead very much and they still stand pretty high in my mind. Of course many people will say Card is milking the Ender franchise for everything he can. Either way, this will be interesting to read to see how I’ve changed as a reader since reading those books.

Swallowing Darkness: (Meredith Gentry Series #7) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Ballantine, Hardcover 11/04/2008) – This is the published book of what I received the last week of September. The Meredith Gentry novels follow the titular faerie princess private investigator in a world where faeries are part of the populace and have profound impacts on history.

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 11/11/2008)- This is the final version of the ARC I received back in August?

The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “one of the finest horror stories of [the twentieth] century,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation–and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers–and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. In these and other lavishly illustrated classics, such as the revenge nightmare “Worms of the Earth” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” Howard spins tales of unrelenting terror, the legacy of one of the world’s great masters of the macabre.

Fools’ Experiments by Edward M. Lerner (Tor Hardcover 11/11/2009)– This is a near future SF thriller from the co-author of the last two Ringworld novels. We are not alone, and it's our own damn fault.

Something demonic is stalking the brightest men and women in the computer industry. It attacks without warning or mercy, leaving its prey insane, comatose — or dead.

Something far nastier than any virus, worm, or Trojan horse program is being evolved in laboratory confinement by well-intentioned but misguided researchers. When their artificial life-form escapes onto the Internet, no conventional defense against malicious software can begin to compete. As disasters multiply, computer scientist Doug Carey knows that unconventional measures may be civilization’s last hope.

And that any artificial life-form learns very fast .... .

Dragonheart (Dragonriders of Pern) by Todd McCaffrey (Del Rey Hardcover 11/11/2009) – Another year anotherPern novel, this things come out like clockwork, which is great for Pern/McCaffrey’s legion of fans.

The grim specter of sickness looms over the Weyrs of Pern, felling fire-lizards and posing a potentially devastating threat to their dragon cousins, Pern’s sole defense against the deadly phenomenon that is Thread. Fiona, the youngest and only surviving daughter of Lord Bemin, is just coming of age, and about to assume the duties of a Weyrwoman, when word spreads that dragons have indeed begun succumbing to the new contagion. With the next season of Threadfall quickly approaching, and the already diminished ranks of the dragons once more under siege, every Weyr across Pern is in crisis mode. It is hardly the time for disturbing distractions–such as the strange voice Fiona suddenly hears in her mind at the darkest and most urgent moments.

Circumstances and the mood of the weyrfolk worsen when advance patrols relay the dreaded news that black dust–the unmistakable herald of falling Thread–has been sighted. As more dragons sicken and die, leaving only a new generation of weyrlings too young to succeed them, Weyrleader B’Nik and queen rider Lorana arrive from Benden Weyr to comb Fort Weyr’s archives in a desperate search for clues from the past that may hold the solution to theplague.

But could the actual past itself prove the pathway to salvation for Pern’s stricken dragons and the entire imperiled planet? Guided by a mysterious ally from a wholly unexpected place, and trusting in the unique dragon gift for transcending time, Fiona will join a risky expedition with far-reaching consequences for both Pern’s future and her personal destiny.

The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills (Orbit Paperback 1/1/2009) - It’s pretty much an open secret that K.E. Mills is Karen Miller. Considering how I felt about the last book I read by Miller, chances are low that I’ll read this one. Here’s the dirt: Gerald Dunwoody is a wizard. Just not a particularly good one. He's blown up a factory, lost his job, and there's a chance that he's not really a Third Grade wizard after all. So it's off to New Ottosland to be the new Court Wizard for King Lional.

It's a shame that King Lional isn't the vain, self-centered young man he appeared to be. With a Princess in danger, a talking bird who can't stay out of trouble, and a kingdom to save, Gerald soon suspects that he might be out of his depth. And if he can't keep this job, how will he ever become the wizard he was destined to be...

THE ACCIDENTAL SORCERER is the first novel in the Rogue Agent trilogy, from one of fantasy's newest stars.

Gears of War - Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss (Del Rey Trade Paperback 10/28/2008) – Karen Traviss jumps from one media tie-in to another blockbuster tie-in property:

Here’s the brief description: As kids, the three of them were inseparable; as soldiers, they were torn apart. Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago fought alongside Dom’s elder brother Carlos at Aspho Fields in the epic battle that changed the course of the Pendulum Wars. There’s a new war to fight now, a war for mankind’s very survival. But while the last human stronghold on Sera braces itself for another onslaught from the Locust Horde, ghosts come back to haunt Marcus and Dom. For Marcus–decorated war hero, convicted traitor–the return of an old comrade threatens to dredge up an agonizing secret he’s sworn to keep.

As the beleaguered Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments take a last stand to save mankind from extermination, the harrowing decisions made at Aspho Fields have to be re-lived and made again. Marcus and Dom can take anything the Locust Horde throws at them–but will their friendship survive the truth about Carlos Santiago?