New Treasures: Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Monday, May 21st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Wonderblood-smallThere have been a lot of intriguing fantasy debuts already in 2018, and to really stand out you need to do something different. Julia Whicker’s Wonderblood, set in a post-apocalyptic America where magic is openly practiced, sounds like it will fit the bill nicely.

Margot Livesey calls it “A stunning debut… Julia Whicker evokes an apocalyptic America where medicine is illegal, everyone is searching for portents and only a severed head can offer protection.” That’s plenty different, anyway. Wonderblood was published in hardcover last month by St. Martin’s Press.

Set 500 years in the future, a mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off most of the U.S. population. Those remaining turn to magic and sacrifice to cleanse the Earth.

Wonderblood is Julia Whicker’s fascinating literary debut, set in a barren United States, an apocalyptic wasteland where warring factions compete for control of the land in strange and dangerous carnivals. A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.

Wonderblood was published by St. Martin’s Press on April 3, 2018. It is 304 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Ervin Serrano.


In 500 Words or Less: Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

Friday, May 18th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Waypoint Kangaroo-small Kangaroo Too-small

Waypoint Kangaroo
By Curtis C. Chen
St. Martin’s Press (320 pages, $25.99 hardcover, $13.99 eBook, June 2016)

I met Curtis C. Chen at my first time out to the Nebulas (about this time last year), and I remember chatting with him in the con suite about Waypoint Kangaroo and its sequel, Kangaroo Too. The premise alone was enough for me to add it to my reading list right away: a covert agent in the near-future forced to go on vacation to Mars, but who can’t seem to avoid trouble. Oh, and he can open a window to a pocket dimension at will, which is why he’s so valuable – because otherwise, he’s a bit of a screw-up. But you know how reading lists get; they’re huge, and I never quite got to reading Waypoint, and felt like a jerk when I hung out with Curtis again at Can*Con and still hadn’t picked it up.

Now that I finally have, I feel even more like a jerk. Why?

Because the next time I write a science fiction adventure novel, I want to do it like Curtis C. Chen.

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New Treasures: Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Verdigris Deep-small Verdigris Deep-back-small

Frances Hardinge has twice been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, for her novels Cuckoo Song and The Lie Tree. Verdigris Deep has previously been published in the US under the title Well Witched (2008), and was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book. Amulet has now released it under its original title as part of a set of matching editions with Fly By Night, Fly Trap, and others. Farah Mendlesohn at Strange Horizons said:

Verdigris Deep confirms what I already suspected: Frances Hardinge is the best new fantasy writer for children since Diana Wynne Jones. There is simply no one to match her…

Three children, Josh, Ryan, and Chelle… steal money from an old wishing well. Initially, nothing much happens: then Ryan looks in a mirror and sees water running from his eyes, and passes a poster on which a woman comes alive, her eyes streaming like a fountain. The woman commands him to fulfil the wishes attached to each coin they stole. When Ryan contacts Chelle and Josh he discovers that each of them has acquired “powers” to aid this directive: Josh can now affect electricity and any item that can carry current, while Chelle has become a radio receiver for the wishers—in their vicinity she spills their every thought. Ryan’s “power” remains hidden for a while, mere warts on his hand; but as things proceed the warts develop into eyes which can see the wishes people make as long smoky threads emerging from the chest.

Serving the spirit in the well begins as empowering fun: Ryan, Chelle, and Josh help a young man to win a Harley Davidson, and facilitate a young woman none of them like in finding her true love, but as the story develops it darkens: wishes become more worrying, some of them are out of date and no longer accord with people’s desires yet must still be fulfilled, others are downright nasty or require nastiness to achieve… As the book rolls on to its crescendo, water and emotions flood the page. The ending is deeply satisfying: it is incomplete, problematic, and flows off the edge of the page.

Verdigris Deep was published by Amulet on April 10, 2018. It is 287 pages, priced at $10.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Vincent Chong.


John DeNardo on the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror in May

Sunday, May 13th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Artificial Conditions Martha Wells-small Fury From the Tomb-small Afterwar Lilith Saintcrow-small

Over at Kirkus Reviews, the always organized John DeNardo has already compiled his list of the most interesting genre fiction of the month. And as usual, it’s crammed with titles that demand our immediate attention. Starting with a new release by one of the most popular authors to ever appear in Black Gate, the marvelous Martha Wells.

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Tor.com, 160 pages, $16.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, May 8, 2018) — cover by Jaime Jones

Looking for a short novel that packs a punch? Check out the fun Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. In the first one, All Systems Red, attempts by the people of a company-sponsored mission on another planet to mount a rescue are complicated by a rogue robot who hacked its own governing module and ends up with identity issues. In the new book, Artificial Condition (the second of four planned short novels), the robot’s search for his own identity continues. To find out more about the dark past that caused him to name himself “Murderbot,” the robot revisits the mining facility where he went rogue where he finds answers he doesn’t expect.

All Systems Red was nominated for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award, and is currently up for both the Locus Award and Hugo Award for Best Novella. The third installment in the series, Rogue Protocol, will be released on August 7, 2018. Read the first two chapters of Artificial Condition at Tor.com.

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New Treasures: Master Assassins by Robert V. S. Redick

Thursday, May 10th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Master Assassins-smallRobert V. S. Redick is the author of The Red Wolf Conspiracy and its three sequels in the Chathrand Voyage sequence. In her review for Black Gate Sarah Avery called the series,

Delightful… The first three books were delicious, but will he pull off the conclusion well enough to justify the time it takes you to reread the whole set? Yes…. I’ve just finished The Night of the Swarm, which I dove into without reacquainting myself with the earlier books, and though it was immensely satisfying, I will definitely be rereading the whole series.

Redick kicks off an ambitious new series The Fire Sacraments, with Master Assassins, in which two village boys mistaken for assassins become the decisive figures in the battle for a continent. It was released in hardcover and trade paperback in March by Talos.

Kandri Hinjuman was never meant to be a soldier. His brother Mektu was never meant for this world. Rivals since childhood, they are drafted into a horrific war led by a madwoman-Prophet, and survive each day only by hiding their disbelief. Kandri is good at blending in, but Mektu is hopeless: impulsive, erratic — and certain that a demon is stalking him. Is this madness or a second sense? Either way, Kandri knows that Mektu’s antics will land them both in early graves.

But all bets are off when the brothers’ simmering feud explodes into violence, and holy blood is spilled. Kandri and Mektu are taken for contract killers and must flee for their lives — to the one place where they can hope to disappear: the sprawling desert known as the Land that Eats Men. In this eerie wilderness, the terrain is as deadly as the monsters, ghouls, and traffickers in human flesh. Here the brothers find strange allies: an aging warlord, a desert nomad searching for her family, a lethal child-soldier still in her teens. They also find themselves in possession of a secret that could bring peace to the continent of Urrath. Or unthinkable carnage.

On their heels are the Prophet’s death squads. Ahead lie warring armies, sandstorms, evil spirits and the deeper evil of human greed. But hope beckons as well — if the “Master Assassins” can expose the lie that has made them the world’s most wanted men.

Master Assassins was published by Talos on March 6, 2018. It is 460 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover, and $14.99 for both the trade paperback and digital editions. Listen to Redick read the first 20 pages of the book here.


New Treasures: Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport

Monday, May 7th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Medusa Uploaded-smallEmily Devenport has written six novels under her own name, including Larissa (1993), Eggheads (1996), and The Kronos Condition (1997).

Under the name Maggy Thomas, she was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Novel, for Broken Time (2000). She’s also produced two novels set on the Belarus planet under the pseudonym Lee Hogan.

But it’s been fifteen years since she’s published a novel, so anticipation is high for her new book Medusa Uploaded. Most of the major genre sites — including io9, The Verge, and Kirkus — have selected it as one of the most interesting books of the month. It arrived in trade paperback from Tor last week.

My name is Oichi Angelis, and I am a worm.

They see me every day. They consider me harmless. And that’s the trick, isn’t it?

A generation starship can hide many secrets. When an Executive clan suspects Oichi of insurgency and discreetly shoves her out an airlock, one of those secrets finds and rescues her.

Officially dead, Oichi begins to rebalance power one assassination at a time and uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship and the Executive clans.

Medusa Uploaded was published by Tor Books on May 1, 2018. It is 317 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback, and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Sam Weber.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.


DMR Books Brings Pulp Sword & Sorcery Back Into Print

Saturday, May 5th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sapphire Goddess The Fantasies of Nictzin Dyalhis-small The Thief of Forthe and Other Stories by Clifford Ball-small

Last month I rented a booth at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show here in Chicago — my favorite local convention — and piled it high with brand new hardcovers and trade paperbacks I was giving away. I had 31 boxes of leftover review copies, duplicates from my collection, and hundreds of rare advance proofs to get out of my basement, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Bob Byrne and Steven Silver made long drives to the con to help staff the booth, and we were looking forward to handing out books to grateful attendees.

Reality was a little bit different. Most folks passed by our booth with barely a glance. If Bob and Steve and I hadn’t been tirelessly peddling books, handing out free copies as people passed by, and carting books by the dozens to the freebie pile at registration every few hours, we’d probably still be there. This was an audience more interested in pulps and vintage paperbacks than brand new science fiction and fantasy, apparently.

It’s not true that there was no interest in our booth. After eight long hours unsuccessfully giving away books on Friday, Dave Ritzlin from DMR Books joined us on Saturday, and we gladly made space for him in the booth. Once we did interest picked up immediately, as folks zeroed in on his attractive selection — and especially his new releases, The Sapphire Goddess: The Fantasies of Nictzin Dyalhis and The Thief of Forthe and Other Stories by Clifford Ball.

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New Treasures: Star Destroyers, edited by Christopher Ruocchio and‎ Tony Daniel

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Destroyers-smallWell, this is something of a guilty pleasure: an anthology with the subtitle Bigs Ships. Blowing Things Up. It’s the kind of thing you didn’t even know was missing from your life until you see it.

IN SPACE, SIZE MATTERS!

Boomers. Ships of the Line. Star Destroyers. The bigger the ship, the better the bang. From the dawn of history onward, commanding the most powerful ship around has been a dream of admirals, sultans, emperors, kings, generalissimos, and sea captains everywhere. For what the intimidation factor alone doesn’t achieve, a massive barrage from super-weapons probably will.

Thus it was, and ever shall be, even into the distant future. From the oceans of Earth, to beneath the ice of Europa, to the distant reaches of galactic empires, it is the great warships and their crews that sometimes keep civilization safe for the rest of us—but sometimes become an extinction-level event in and of themselves.

In “Superweapon” by David Drake, a fight for possession of an ancient alien warship will determine the fate of two vast interstellar powers. Then in “Hate in the Darkness” by Michael Z. Williamson, a team of libertarian Freeholders must think outside the box to do battle with the might of the United Nations and its powerful navy. And in “A Helping Hand,” Jody Lynn Nye posits an interstellar submarine on a rescue mission behind enemy lines — with the fate of an entire species hanging in the balance.

Big, bold, and edge-of-your-seat space opera and military science fiction from David Drake, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Michael Z. Williamson, Steve White, Robert Buettner, Susan R. Matthews, Dave Bara, and many more!

If you like modern space opera — and really, who doesn’t? — this book is Bean’s gift to you. It contains stories from 15 top-notch writers, most of whom have ongoing space opera series from a wide range of publishers, including Dave Bara (DAW), Christopher Ruocchio (DAW), Robert Buettner (Orbit), Mark L. Van Name (Baen), and many others. Here’s your chance to try a rich smorgasboard of writers under one cover, and maybe find yourself a few new favorites.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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2018 Locus Awards Finalists Announced

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Persepolis Rising-small New York 2140-small The-Collapsing-Empire-small

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the nominations for the 2018 Locus Awards. I still don’t understand why this isn’t a national holiday.

The Locus Awards, voted on by readers in an open online poll, have been presented every year since 1971. That’s… uh… (counts on fingers) 47 years, which makes a virtual genre institution. The final ballot lists an impressive ten finalists in each category, including Science Fiction Novel, Fantasy Novel, Horror Novel, Young Adult Book, First Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Anthology, Collection, Magazine, Publisher, Editor, Artist, Non-Fiction, and Art Book. The winners will be announced at the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle from June 22-24, 2018.

It’s an impressive list of nominees this year. Have a look.

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Future Treasures: Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

Monday, April 30th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Blood Orbit KR Richardson-small Blood-Orbit-back-small

Kat Richardson is the author of the bestselling Greywalker paranormal detective novels. For her first off-world SF noir novel Blood Orbit, the opening book in the Gattis Files, she’s chosen to don a new literary identity, “K.R. Richardson.” Comic writer Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Shipwreck) calls it,

A clever, twisting, and savage science fiction crime story that fuses colonization fiction with genuine deep noir. The end result is original, culturally rich, and as ruthless as a novel about murder, secrets, and lies should be.

And author Diana Pharaoh Francis (Diamond City Magic) says,

Richardson has written a diabolically delicious twisty murder mystery set on a faraway planet against a backdrop of corporate greed, racial tensions, corrupt law enforcement, and secrets that refuse to stay buried. This is Criminal Minds meets Sherlock Holmes in space.

Blood Orbit will be published by Pyr on May 8, 2018. It is 493 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Maurizio Manzieri. Read the first three chapters over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, and get more details at K.R. Richardson’s website.


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