New Treasures: Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Salvaged Madeleine Roux-smallWhen you’ve been reading and reviewing long enough, you grow a little numb to book blurbs. At least, I thought you did. But that was before I came across Madeleine Roux’s new science fiction-horror novel Salvaged, which has blurbs that didn’t just get my attention. They grabbed me by my collar and made me spill latte all over my shirt.

Christopher Golden calls the book “A breathless, claustrophobic twist on the SF thriller, full of deep space dread, conspiracies, and malevolent alien spores… This is the Alien we need right now.” And Seanan McGuire says it’s “The prose equivalent of playing a survival horror game… Beautifully written.” And Jonathan Maberry raves “Salvaged scared the hell out of me, and I write horror for a living! … a brilliant novel that any fan of Alien will simply devour. Brava!”

See what I mean? Anything with ” deep space dread, conspiracies, and malevolent alien spores” and which draws multiple comparisons to Alien definitely deserves my attention. Here’s an excerpt from the starred review at Publisher’s Weekly.

In a spacefaring future, Rosalyn Devar is a xenobiologist who takes a job as a salvager — janitor of dead space crews — to get away from her father, his business, and the man who hurt her. When caught drinking on the job, she’s given one more chance: clean up the Brigantine, a research ship whose crew is dead. But they aren’t. Aboard the Brigantine, she meets Edison Aries, the captain, and his undead crew. They are infected with a mysterious fungus, Foxfire, that has taken root in their minds, convincing them that it is their mother and that Rosalyn needs to join them. Stranded aboard the Brigantine, Rosalyn and Edison try to outwit the other crew members and Mother, while looking for a way to stop Foxfire from spreading.. This entertaining, deeply disturbing, and clever story hits all the right notes for those who like a little horror with their SF.

Salvaged was published by Ace Books on October 15, 2019. It is 368 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Faceout Studio/Jeff Miller.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

New Roads are Unfolding: The Last Road by K. V. Johansen

Monday, October 21st, 2019 | Posted by K.V. Johansen

Blackdog-small Gods of Nabban-small The Last Road-small

Cover art by Raymond Swanland (Blackdog, Gods of Nabban) and Jennifer Do (The Last Road)

The Last Road is the fifth and final book of Gods of the Caravan Road, a silk road fantasy full of gods, goddesses, demons, devils, wizards, and caravaneers. (Also camels.) Chronologically, the story begins with “The Storyteller,” which was published in Andromeda Spaceways quite a long time ago. You can find it now in my collection The Storyteller and Other Tales. I had Blackdog, the first novel, mostly written when I wrote “The Storyteller.” I’ve never been good at beginning at the beginning. I find that starting a story always raises questions about how it got to that point and I want to look backwards as well as forwards. In “The Storyteller,” the devil Moth — one of seven wizards who “in the days of the first kings in the north” bonded themselves with the souls of seven devils — is freed from her prison/grave and joins forces with the half-demon wer-bear Mikki to hunt for the devil Heuslar Ogada.

In Blackdog, a caravan-guard, Holla-Sayan, is possessed by the shapeshifting Blackdog, the obsessively protective, sometimes savage, guardian spirit bound to the goddess Attalissa, who must flee her homeland incarnated as a powerless child when her town is captured by a wizard warlord whom she believes intends to devour her. Holla takes her along as his daughter on the caravan road. Their story intersects with that of Moth, who has been set by the Old Great Gods to hunt and execute her fellow devils.

Marakand, which is published in two volumes as The Leopard and The Lady, is the story of the goddess-cursed assassin Ahjvar — who claims he died almost a century earlier — and his friend and would-be lover Ghu, as the city of Marakand rises in revolt against its goddess. With impressive bad luck, Holla-Sayan’s caravan comes to the city just in time for the civil war, and Moth and Mikki arrive on the trail of another devil.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Persistence of Vision, by John Varley

Monday, October 21st, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

The Prix Apollo was founded in 1972 and presented in France for the best book published in French during the preceding year. The first winner was Roger Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead. The award was suspended following the presentation of the 1991 award. Only five times in the awards nineteen year history did it go to works originally published in French, including 1988, when it was presented to an entire series of 36 books written by Georges-Jean Arnaud. Although technically an award for a novel, in 1980, the award was given to John Varley’s collection The Persistence of Vision.

It isn’t entirely clear what the Prix Apollo was presented for. Varley’s debut collection, The Persistence of Vision was published by The Dial Press/James Wade in 1978 and contained nine short stories, published between 1975 and 1978. The collection wasn’t translated into French until 1979, which is why it was eligible for the Prix Apollo in 1980. However, the nine stories were published in two separate volumes in French. One volume, Dans le palais des rois martiens, contained five stories, including French translations of “The Phantom of Kansas,” “Air Raid,” “Retrograde Summer,” “The Black Hole Passes,” and the titular story, “In the Hall of the Martian Kings.” The second volume, Persistance de la vision, contained the remaining four stories, translations of “In the Bowl,” “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank,” and “the titular story, “The Persistence of Vision.” It is possible that the Prix Apollo was given for the complete text of the original anthology, but also conceivable that it was only given to the volume which bears the name in French.

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The Boxed Set of the Year: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s edited by Gary K. Wolfe

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover by Paul Lehr

Gary K. Wolfe is one of my favorite Locus columnists. He also reviews science fiction for the Chicago Tribune and, with Jonathan Strahan, co-hosts the excellent Coode Street Podcast. But more and more these days I think of him as an editor. He edited the Philip Jose Farmer retrospective collection Up the Bright River (2011) and, even more significantly, American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s: A Library of America Boxed Set (2012), a massive 1,700-page, 2-volume omnibus collection of classic novels by Pohl & Kornbluth, Sturgeon, Brackett, Matheson, Heinlein, Bester, Blish, Budrys, and Leiber, all in gorgeous hardcover with acid-free paper, sewn binding, and full cloth covers.

So I was thrilled to hear that, seven long years later, Wolfe has fulfilled that promise of that first beautiful boxed set with a sequel: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s. Like the first, it will be sold as two separate hardcovers, and also available in a handsome boxed set edition. It contains eight of the finest SF novels of the 60s:

The High Crusade, Poul Anderson (1960)
Way Station, Clifford D. Simak (1963)
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1966)
…And Call Me Conrad (This Immortal), Roger Zelazny (1966)
Past Master, R. A. Lafferty (1968)
Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)
Nova, Samuel R. Delany (1968)
Emphyrio, Jack Vance (1969)

The whole package comes wrapped up in a boxed set featuring artwork from the brilliant Paul Lehr. It will be in bookstores on November 5th — and is available now at $15 below retail if you order direct from Library of America.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 John W. Campbell Memorial Award: Beyond Apollo, by Barry N. Malzberg (plus Special Award to Robert Silverberg for Dying Inside)

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

beyondapollofirsted-small Beyond Apollo Pocket-small Beyond Apollo Carol and Graf-big

Beyond Apollo (Random House, 1972, Pocket Books, 1979, Carrol & Graf, 1989). Covers by Roger Hane, Don Maitz, and unknown

Two separate awards were established in 1973 in memory of the profoundly influential long time editor of Astounding/Analog, John W. Campbell, Jr., who had died in 1971. We have already covered the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which has just been renamed the Astounding Award), which went to Jerry Pournelle.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award is given for the Best Science Fiction Novel of the year. It is a juried award. It was first established by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss, to, well, let’s reproduce Harrison’s words:

When John died it was a blow to all of us. After the memorial service a number of his writers were talking, and out of the talk came the Astounding anthology, what has been called the last issue of the Campbell magazine. It was a good tribute to a good editor. There is another tribute I think of just as highly, the award for the best SF novel of the year presented in his name and memory. An award I am sure he would have loved because it instantly became involved in controversy when the first prizes was presented. How John enjoyed a good argument and a good fight! That this fight sprawled through the letter columns of Analog for some months would have cheered him even more.

The first award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. The jury for the first award consisted of Harrison, Aldiss, Thomas Clareson, Willis McNelly, and Leon Stover.

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A Glorious Tapestry of Alternate History: The Empire of Fear by Brian Stableford

Saturday, October 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Empire of Fear-small The Empire of Fear-back-small

British science fiction writer Brian Stableford has published more than 70 novels across a career spanning nearly five decades. His first novel was The Days of Glory (Ace, 1971), his most recent was The Tyranny of the Word (Black Coat Press, 2019), which appeared just last month. He’s produced a number of popular series, including six Hooded Swan science fiction novels, beginning with The Halcyon Drift (DAW 1972), six Daedalus Mission books, his famous werewolf trilogy (The Werewolves of London, The Angel of Pain, and The Carnival of Destruction), the Genesys trilogy, and the more recent six-volume Emortality series from Tor, beginning with Inherit the Earth (1998) and Architects of Emortality (September).

Back in 2013 I wrote a brief Vintage Treasures piece on his 1998 horror novel The Empire of Fear, and in the Comments section BG blogger Joe Bonadonna offered a splendid mini-review.

I read this one right after reading George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, and these are 2 of my favorite vampire novels, because they are so much more than that. Empire of Fear is a glorious tapestry of alternate history a, “what mine have been,” had Van Helsing not slain Dracula. Beautifully written, with flesh-and blood characters, and quite well told. My only complaint — it’s too bloody short.

Joe’s comments stayed with me, and as I celebrate the spooky season by selecting classic horror novels to read in October, I picked up a copy to read this weekend.

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In 500 Words or Less: Lost Transmissions by Desirina Boskovich

Friday, October 18th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Lost Transmissions- The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy-small Lost Transmissions- The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy-back-small

Cover by Paul Lehr

Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy
By Desirina Boskovich
Abrams Image (304 pages, $29.99 hardcover, $13.99 eBook, September 10, 2019)

Did you know that Johannes Kepler wrote speculative fiction that got his mother imprisoned for witchcraft? Or that Weezer almost had an epic concept album to rival Pink Floyd and Rush? Or that Space Island One was even a thing?!

Maybe you did. We can’t quite use the excuse that an almost-thirty Millennial like myself obviously wouldn’t know a lot about the rich history of sci-fi and fantasy, however, since Lost Transmissions focuses on far more than the Golden Age. Desirina Boskovich has accumulated information on lesser-known SFF from across history, and I guarantee there are things in here you weren’t aware of. I had to tweet at Desirina while I was reading my ARC, for example, because the chapter “Speculative Music of the New Millennium” outlined artists and albums I’d never heard of, even though I should have grown up paying attention to them in the nineties and early 2000s. (My “To Listen” list doesn’t need to be any bigger, Desirina.)

My To-Read and To-Watch list doesn’t need to be any bigger, either, but too late now. After Charlie Jane Anders’ passionate and excited article about Space Island One, I’m determined to find a way to watch it, even though a DVD or streaming version doesn’t exist, apparently. Now that I’ve read the premise and background of Clair Noto’s The Tourist, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for a Netflix or Amazon adaptation. I need to look into the Mellon Chronicles to explore Lord of the Rings fandom. I want to find a group of people to try Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. And so on and so on and so on.

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New Treasures: A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs

Thursday, October 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

A Lush and Seething Hell Two Tales of Cosmic Horror-small A Lush and Seething Hell Two Tales of Cosmic Horror-back-small

I’m hearing a lot about John Hornor Jacobs’ new book, A Lush and Seething Hell. Like, a lot.

Like this starred review from Kirkus:

Two lush, sprawling novellas that are nothing like each other except that they’re both scary as hell… Two spectacular novellas. After a glowing foreword by Jacobs’ fellow fabulist Chuck Wendig, the book launches into “The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky,” a Lovecraft-ian horror story set in a fictionalized South American nation. In it, a young academic named Isabel Certa becomes involved with a famous one-eyed poet named Rafael Avendaño, a cavalier scoundrel who’s heading into a war zone… Then there’s the chill-inducing, artfully paced “My Heart Struck Sorrow,” in which we’re introduced to Cromwell, a librarian from the Library of Congress who specializes in oral tradition [who] accidentally stumbles upon a long-hidden treasure trove of blues recordings from the 1930s… Falling somewhere between House of Leaves (2000) and The Blair Witch Project, it is a terrifying, gothic descent into madness… This book has a fitting title if there ever was one, and these nightmares are worth every penny.

And Sam Reader’s rave review at The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

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Future Treasures: Quillifer the Knight by Walter Jon Williams

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Quillifer-medium Quillifer the Knight-small

Covers by Gregory Manchess and Alejandro Colucci

Walter Jon Williams is one of the most versatile writers we have. Space opera, military science fiction, cyberpunk, alternative history, SF police procedural — you name it, he’s done it. He’s written historical adventures, disaster novels (The Rift) and even a Star Wars novel (The New Jedi Order: Destiny’s Way). In his Locus review of the opening novel in William’s ambitious new fantasy series, Quillifer, Gary K. Wolfe says “Williams has been cheerfully genre-hopping for most of his career, sometimes even in the same novel.”

Quillifer is worth a second look — and not just because it’s one of Williams rare attempts at historical fantasy. Booklist calls it a “swashbuckling tale reminiscent of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman.” The second novel in the series, Quillifer the Knight, arrives in three weeks. Here’s Gary on the first volume.

Quillifer belongs to the ranks of what we might call displaced historical fantasies, stories which make meticulous use of actual historical detail (Williams’s character quote Elizabethan poets, and his weapons and ships are all historically real), but which are set in imaginary nations or kingdoms, often with restrained use of fantasy elements – such as we see from writers like Ellen Kushner, K.J. Parker, or Guy Gavriel Kay (although Kay is far more specific in his historical analogues).

In classic adventure-novel tradition, Quillifer comes from modest beginnings: the son of a butcher, he studies law in the port city of Eth­lebight, but is also something of a classic 18th-century rake, and the novel opens with his comical escape out the window of the young woman with whom he’s currently in love… things quickly begin to change when Ethlebight is invaded, plundered, and destroyed by pirates from the rival empire of the Aekoi. Quillifer survives, but is later captured by a notorious bandit calling himself Sir Basil…

With the aid of a nymph-goddess who finds him appealing, he manages to escape again, but rejects her advances as he realizes that joining her in her kingdom might result in his returning to his world as much as a century later (one of the few classic fantasy motifs that Williams employs). Spurning her sets up a threat that will hang over Quillifer for the rest of the novel, which consists largely of fully realized independent episodes: Quillifer finds his way into the court of Duisland, where he assumes the title “Groom of the Pudding” and almost accidentally proves himself to be a champion stag-killer (drawing on his background as a butcher), later a brilliant naval strategist, and eventually an effective field-marshal in a crucial land battle to save the kingdom from usurpers…  a thoroughly enjoyable series of historical adventures in a faux-Europe that is as meticulous in its details as it is vague in time and place.

Here’s a look at the back cover.

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Sorcery, Romance and Wine: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 | Posted by Caitlin McAllister

The Vine Witch-small The Vine Witch-back-small

Cover designed by Micaela Alcaino

A fantasy set in turn-of-the-century French countryside full of sorcery, romance and wine? I couldn’t wait to dive in to this debut novel from Luanne G. Smith.

Elena Boureanu is a vine witch. Not familiar? Vine witches are responsible for curating the most delectable vintages of the Chanceaux Valley, in a fantasy version of rural France. Elena is responsible for Chateau Renard, well known for producing some of the best wine in the Valley. Elena, and the vine witches that have come before her, use their powers to harness the perfect weather, moon phase, and terroir. Paired with their creative tastes they hope to blend the perfect bottle.

Our story opens with Elena cursed, stuck in the body of a toad surviving off slugs, flies and having almost no memory of who she was, and much less who would inflict such a terrible sentence on her. After all, she was so engrossed in creating the world’s best wine, she rarely paid attention to anything but her work.

During the seven years Elena has been missing, Chateau Renard has been sold to Jean-Paul Martel, a city dweller with no knowledge of spells or witches. Instead, he is focused on science and has little use for the folklore and traditions of the Valley. To help with the daily operations of the Chateau, he allowed the previous proprietor, Ariella Gardin, to stay on. As much as she tries to influence him to be more open to the “old ways,” he dismisses her claims as nonsense.

Finally, Elena is able to break the curse return home to her beloved vineyard. She is greeted by Ariella (her Grand Mere), and discovers the truth about the sale of the only home she’s ever known. What’s more, she is able to see a terrible hex has been placed over the entire vineyard. With Jean-Paul’s aversion to magic, Elena must pretend to be someone she’s not, while trying desperately trying to fix things behind his back.

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