New Treasures: The Breach by M.T. Hill

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover design by Julia Lloyd

M.T. Hill has had a busy few years. Last year Locus reviewer Paul Di Filippo raved “his third novel, Zero Bomb, is so good that you will want to snatch up copies of the first two, as I just did.” Those first two books were written under the name Matt Hill, and they include the 2017 Philip K. Dick Award nominee Graft, which we covered back in 2016. His fourth novel in four years, The Breach, was released back in May, and fulfilled the promise of his early books. Lucy Wood at Sublime Horror was clearly impressed:

In a period of state-sanctioned exercise and rationed food, I have lost myself in M.T. Hill’s The Breach, a story of infection, incubation, contagion and transmission, of invasion and quarantine, that, although very much firmly in the sci-fi realm, could not be more appropriate right now.

The Breach is told in the main by local newspaper reporter Freya and Shep, a thrill-seeking trainee steeplejack. Freya is sent to cover the funeral of a young climber, Stephen, whose death is not as straightforward as it’s being claimed. When Shep isn’t shimmying up sky-high stacks for work, he is an urban explorer – a highly illegal activity in this near future world they live in. They cross paths when Freya uncovers a post uploaded to an urbex forum by Stephen, showing what appears to be a nest. As Freya’s probe into the circumstances of his death grows more unsettling, both she and Shep journey headlong into a situation with devastating consequences.

Hill’s storytelling is second-to-none… I’ve read some horrifying stuff in my time. The Breach notches up the fear incrementally, almost imperceptibly. Before you know it, we are head-deep in a skin-crawling version of life, where what’s real and what isn’t merges… The Breach is a smart novel for our ever-shifting times and a reminder of our fragility. It also gives us the space to draw our own conclusion on what it is to be human. And it allows us to really think about our rights to privacy and to be an individual. Most of all it’s a rollicking good read, with a resonance that lasts long after the final page has turned. Trust me, this one will get under your skin.

The Breach was published by Titan Books on March 17, 2020. It is 380 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by the tireless Julia Lloyd. Read a brief excerpt at Ginger Nuts of Horror.

See all our coverage of the best new releases in fantasy and horror here.


A World of Pirates and Victorian Detectives: The Map of Unknown Things Trilogy by Rod Duncan

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Covers by Will Staehle, Amazing15, and Kieryn Tyler

Rod Duncan’s debut was the supernatural mystery trilogy The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, a series I found fascinating in part due to the main character, Elizabeth Barnabus, a woman who lives a double life as herself and as her brother, a private detective.

His next project, The Map of Unknown Things, is set in the same world. It opened with Queen of all Crows (2018), in which Elizabeth investigates the disappearance of an airship that went down in the Atlantic. Sydney Shields at The British Fantasy Society said “Duncan’s Gas-lit Empire reads and feels like the world of a Victorian detective adventure (think Sherlock Holmes, the Blake & Avery Mysteries, Charles Dickens) but the twist is that the year is actually 2012… Definitely recommend.” The Outlaw and the Upstart King was published last year, and the third volume, The Fugitive & the Vanishing Man, arrived in January of this year. Here’s an excerpt from the PW review:

Illusionist spy Elizabeth Barnabus has barely returned from her pirate voyage in The Outlaw and the Upstart King when she is forced to venture back to the fringes of the Gas-Lit Empire in the exhilarating third installment of Duncan’s The Map of Unknown Things series. Upon returning to London, Elizabeth must recount her adventures to the hostile Patent Office, a clever bit of exposition that will ease new readers into the steam punk world of this alternate history. When the Patent Office brands Elizabeth a traitor, she flees to America and the untamed wilds of the Oregon territory to track down her long-lost twin, Edwin, and prove her patriotism… But trouble’s brewing in Oregon, and Elizabeth is torn between loyalty to her twin or her beloved Empire. The charismatic duo at the heart of this adventure are sure to please.

The Fugitive & the Vanishing Man was published by Angry Robot on January 14, 2020. It is 401 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Kieryn Tyler. Read the first three chapters at Issuu.com.

See all our recent coverage of the best new series fantasy here.


A Sinister Quartet: An All Authors-Signed Giveaway, with 4 Original Postcards by Paula Arwen Owen

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

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We, the authors of The Sinister Quartet, have done it all this year!

We’ve done ZOOM readings! We’ve made up playlists, recipescocktails (and mocktails!) to go with our dark-hearted stories! We’ve done a Reddit AMA, and The Big Idea over at Scalzi’s blog!

Lately, we did that GINORMOUS interview with Zig Zag Claybourne here at Black Gate magazine!

And now, we’ve got PRESENTS! For YOU!

We’re doing a GIVEAWAY here at Black Gate magazine!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS.

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New Treasures: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover design by Chelsea McGuckin

Ursula Vernon is one of the more talented young fantasy writers in the business. She won a Hugo and Mythopoeic Award for her webcomic Digger, which was hugely popular in the Black Gate offices (reviewed here by both Alana Joli Abbott and Matthew Surridge), another Hugo for her novelette “The Tomato Thief,” and a Nebula for her short story “Jackalope Wives.” She’s also the author of the bestselling Dragonbreath series.

As T. Kingfisher, she writes much creepier fare, including The Twisted Ones and The Seventh Bride. Her latest is The Hollow Places, which Kirkus Reviews calls “wonderfully twisted… The perfect tale for fans of horror with heart.” Here’s an excerpt from the enthusiastic notice at Publishers Weekly.

Kingfisher (The Twisted Ones) imagines the horrors lying between worlds in this chilling supernatural thriller. Recently divorced Kara (aka Carrot) moves in with her uncle Earl to help run his Wonder Museum… Then a hole mysteriously opens in the museum’s wall, revealing a hallway that should not exist. With the help of Simon, the barista from the coffee shop next door, Carrot sets out to discover where the hall leads. On the other end they find a strange world comprised of tiny islands covered in willows and containing concrete bunkers — and a mysterious group of occupants… Kingfisher has crafted a truly terrifying monster with minimal descriptions that leave the reader’s imagination to run wild. With well-timed humor and perfect scares, this one is a keeper for horror fans.

The Hollow Places was published by Saga Press on October 6, 2020. It is 341 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Chelsea McGuckin. Listen to an audio excerpt here, and read a sample chapter at Ginger Nuts of Horror.

See all our coverage of the best new SF and Fantasy here.


Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One edited by Paula Guran and The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve edited by Ellen Datlow

Sunday, October 18th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One (Pyr) and The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve
(Night Shade Books). Both published October 20, 2020. Covers by unknown and Reiko Murakami

The pandemic has shaken up publishing schedules, including the usual batch of Year’s Best anthologies. (The 2020 edition of Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy didn’t have a publication date until last week; it now looks like it will appear Dec. 8 from Prime Books.) But as we near the end of the year we’re seeing a much more crowded release schedule — and in fact on Tuesday of this week two of the most anticipated anthologies of the year will be released on the same day: Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One from Pyr, and The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, edited by Ellen Datlow, from Night Shade Books.

Paula published ten volumes of The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror with Prime Books; we covered the last in November of 2019. This year she’s switched to Pyr, who published the annual Nebula Awards Showcase for many years. The 2020 volume looks especially appetizing, wth 25 stories and over 400 pages. Authors include Theodora Goss, Maria Dahvana Headley, Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado, Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Sarah Pinsker, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, and many more. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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New Treasures: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold

Friday, October 16th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold (Orbit, 2020). Covers by Emily Courdelle

Luke Arnold is an Australian actor and star of the pirate saga Black Sails. He played Silver John, a younger version of Long John Silver, the antagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and one of the greatest characters in English literature.

Arnold is also an author, and earlier this year his fantasy debut The Last Smile in Sunder City (Orbit, February 2020) was selected by io9 as one of the SF & fantasy titles You Need to Know AboutKirkus gave it a warm review, saying:

The debut novel from Australian actor Arnold is a fusion of paranormal fantasy and mystery set in a world where magic has been effectively destroyed by humans, forcing the supernatural population to live a radically diminished existence. Fetch Phillips is a “Man for Hire,” which is another way of saying the down-on-his-luck, hard-drinking former Soldier–turned-detective will do just about anything to pay the bills. When a principal from a cross-species school enlists him to find a missing professor — a 300-year-old Vampire named Edmund Rye — Phillips quickly agrees. Without magic, the Vampires — and all other supernatural beings — are slowly dying. So how difficult could it be to find a withered bloodsucker who is so weak he can hardly move around?… The first installment of an effortlessly readable series that could be the illegitimate love child of Terry Pratchett and Dashiell Hammett.

Orbit promised the second volume would arrive in the Fall, and low and behold Dead Man in a Ditch arrived right on time last month. Here’s an excerpt from Annie Deo’s enthusiastic review at Nerd Daily.

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Stellar Empires and Space Pirates: Blackwood & Virtue by Bennett R. Coles

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Winds of Marque 2019 first edition (left, cover by Damonza) and 2020 re-release (middle, artist uncredited),
and the sequel Dark Star Rising (2020, uncredited). Published by Harper Voyager

Winds of Marque, the first volume in Bennett R. Coles’ Blackwood & Virtue space fantasy series, got my attention last year. Maybe it was the dynamite cover by Damonza, with the gorgeous orbital imagery — the four-masted deep space schooner and crossed swords — but I don’t know. I think I just have a soft spot for space pirate tales.

The book got fine notices. Publishers Weekly called it a “mix of retro and future naval adventures… Science fiction fans of the Hornblower or Aubrey/Maturin sailing sagas will likely thrill,” and Kirkus raved:

With solar sails hoisted and war with the Sectoids imminent, Imperial Navy Subcmdr. Liam Blackwood, enigmatic quartermaster Amelia Virtue, and the crew of the HMSS Daring must stop space pirates from disrupting human supply lines in the outer sectors in the first book in a new series…. the jaunty pace is unwavering and enjoyable… Traditional science fiction lovers may get distracted looking for more space tech, but lovers of classic high-seas adventures and those who enjoy genre-bending SF will find this swashbuckling space adventure a worthy read.

But a funny thing happened before the arrival of the second volume. Harper Voyager jettisoned the original cover for the June mass market reissue of Winds of Marque, replacing it with a much more staid portrait of second-in-command Liam Blackwood, looking pensive and square-jawed on deck. Dark Star Rising, when it arrived in September, featured a matching rendition of plucky quartermaster Amelia Virtue (the second half of “Blackwood & Virtue”) in an action pose. Now the books look a lot more like seafaring romances, and not space opera adventures.

Well, perhaps that’s the intention. I’m still deciding if I’ll pick up the second volume. Let me know what you think in the comments.


Halloween Horror E-Book Sale at Mythic Delirium Books

Sunday, October 11th, 2020 | Posted by Mike Allen

Mythic Delirium Halloween Horror Sale

Graphic by Brett Massé, brettmasseworks.com

Halloween Horror Sale!

 
My Mythic Delirium Books micropress and I went all in on horror for 2020, and I want to emphasize that it’s the fun horror, the kind you consume for imaginative shocks and chills, not the kind that weighs on you like the stones that killed Giles Corey in The Crucible as you helplessly doomscroll through social media.

There’s lots going on this October, to say the least, but October is the month to celebrate specters, haints and Elder Things, and we at Mythic Delirium are determined to do our part. That’s why we’ve dropped the price of our three spookiest e-books down to 99 cents. And anyone who follows the directions can get a fourth e-book free. (More about how that works below.)

Let me tell you a little bit about each book.

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Palace Intrigue, Ruins, and Ancient Libraries: The Sun Eater Series by Christopher Ruocchio

Thursday, October 8th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Covers by Sam Weber (Empire of Silence) and Kieran Yanner (Howling Dark and Demon in White)

Christopher Ruocchio’s debut novel Empire of Silence (DAW 2018) was the opening volume in the epic Sun Eater space opera. Library Journal called it a “wow book… stretched across a vast array of planets,” and my buddy Eric Flint labeled it “epic-scale space opera in the tradition of Iain M. Banks and Frank Herbert’s Dune.” Howling Dark, the second in the series, was published last July, and won Ruocchio an even wider audience.

The third novel, Demon in White, was easily one of the most anticipated novels of the summer. It was published in July and, with some 300 reviews at Goodreads, boasts an amazing 4.70 ranking — a rare accomplishment. Here’s an excerpt from my favorite Amazon review, from Dave Wilde.

The third novel in this science fiction series begins with palace intrigue so deadly and dangerous that even Hadrian the Half-Mortal thinks he might just be safer in the heat of battle.

Much of the story has Hadrian and Valka and the rest of Red Company digging through ruins or ensconced in study in an ancient library. Nevertheless, for those looking for breathtaking ferocious battle, it’s all here, nastier, dirtier, bloodier, and more terrifying. On the way, the legend of Hadrian grows as the royals fear he is on his way to becoming so powerful that even the throne will fall to him.

Balanced against fierce battles against mankind’s greatest enemies — the kind that views humans as cattle to be slaughtered for dinner — are mystical questions about fate and coincidence and free will and what forces are out there beyond history. Whose tool is Hadrian and who does he serve? And whose tools are the enemies? The fate of the universe just may hang in balance.

Demon in White was published by DAW Books on July 28, 2020. It is 784 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Kieran Yanner. See all our recent coverage of the best in new SF & Fantasy series here.


DMR Books: Swords, Sorcery, and Science Fantasy!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 | Posted by D.M. Ritzlin

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Cover by Brian LeBlanc

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most people aren’t very happy with how 2020 has turned out. However, there have been some bright spots. For one, fans of quality Sword and Sorcery have plenty of new reading material, as I’ve released six titles so far this year through DMR Books.

Things kicked off in grand fashion with the reprint anthology Renegade Swords, which collected stories that were rare or overlooked in some way. The lead story is “The House of Arabu” by Robert E. Howard, a historical fantasy set in ancient Mesopotamia. It’s not especially well-known, as it features no recurring characters, but I think it’s one of Howard’s best. (I included it in my article “The Ten Greatest Sword and Sorcery Stories by Robert E. Howard.”) Other highlights include the unabridged, rarely reprinted version of “Necromancy in Naat” by my favorite author, Clark Ashton Smith, and a previously unpublished version of A. Merritt’s classic “The Woman of the Wood.”

Let me tell you about that…

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