Sunday, June 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Culled – Simon Spurrier

Kill or Cure - Rebecca Levene

Death Got No Mercy - Al Ewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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