New Treasures: The Recoletta Novels by Carrie Patel

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Buried Life-small Cities and Thrones-small

I’m a sucker for a great fantasy setting. Plot, character, sparkling prose… these all appeal to me as much as the next guy. But give me a fresh, innovative setting, and you’ve got my attention from page one.

One of the most intriguing and innovative settings I’ve come across recently is the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, where mankind huddles after a mysterious apocalypse, and whose true origins are shrouded in mystery. It is the setting for two novels (so far) from debut author Carrie Patel: The Buried Life and Cities and Thrones, both published this year by Angry Robot. Here’s a brief bit of enticing description from the starred review at Publishers Weekly:

With Regency-era sensibilities and Agatha Christie’s flair for the subtle conundrum, Patel’s debut novel introduces readers to a subterranean city of the future, centuries after what is dubbed ‘The Catastrophe’, and beautifully manages the delicate balance between entertainment and social commentary. The subtly fantastical story is resplendent with surprisingly deep villains, political corruption, and a gripping whodunit feel.

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New Treasures: No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

No One Gets Out Alive-smallBritish horror writer Adam Nevill has been winning over fans here in the US, with books like Last Days and The House of Small Shadows (which Goth Chick reviewed for us here). His latest novel, No One Gets Out Alive, looks like it will continue that trend nicely. It was recently released in hardcover by St. Martin’s Press, and has just been nominated for a 2015 British Fantasy Award.

When Stephanie moves to the notoriously cheap Perry Bar neighborhood of Birmingham, she’s just happy to find an affordable room for rent that’s large enough not to deserve her previous room’s nickname, “the cell.” The eccentric — albeit slightly overly-friendly — landlord seems nice and welcoming enough, the ceilings are high, and all of the other tenants are also girls. Things aren’t great, but they’re stable. Or at least that’s what she tells herself when she impulsively hands over enough money to cover the first month’s rent and decides to give it a go.

But soon after she becomes uneasy about her rash decision. She hears things in the night. Feels them. Things… or people… who aren’t there in the light. Who couldn’t be there, because after-all, her door is locked every night, and the key is still in place in the morning. Concern soon turns to terror when the voices she hears and presence she feels each night become hostile. It’s clear that something very bad has happened in this house. And something even worse is happening now. Stephanie has to find a way out, before whatever’s going on in the house finds her first.

No One Gets Out Alive was published by St. Martin’s Press on April 28. It is 640 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.


The Future of Fantasy: The Best New Releases in July

Monday, July 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Bone-Swans-CSE-Cooney-small Last First Snow-small The-Great-Bazaar-and-Brayans-Gold-small

We’re more than three quarters of the way through July, and I’ve barely scratched the surface on the 30 new books we covered in The Best New Releases in June. If I want to get caught up, I’ll have to cut back on late-night superhero movie marathons with my kids (and probably sleeping, and eating.)

July’s crop of new fantasy releases includes some terrific work from C.S.E. Cooney. Peter V. Brett, Max Gladstone, Wesley Chu, Lou Anders, Melinda Snodgrass, Victor Milan, Chris Willrich, Elizabeth Bear, Nnedi Okorafor, D.B. Jackson, and many others. There are 33 in the list this month, so let’s get started.

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New Treasures: Black Gods Kiss by Lavie Tidhar

Sunday, July 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gods Kiss Lavie Tidhar-smallLavie Tidhar has made a heck of a big name for himself in a very short period of time. His novel Osama won the World Fantasy Award, and his “Guns & Sorcery” novella Gorel & The Pot Bellied God won the British Fantasy Award. His novel The Violent Century was called “A masterpiece” by both the Independent and Library Journal. And his second short story collection, Black Gods Kiss, has just been nominated for the British Fantasy Award.

Black Gods Kiss is set in the same world as Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God. Theaker’s Quarterly called it “Classic heroic fantasy,” and Locus called it “One of the most flamboyantly entertaining collections of the year… almost the pure essence of pulp – violent, action-packed, paced like a runaway freight train, politically incorrect and socially unredeemable.” Originally published as a limited edition hardcover in the UK, it is now available in digital format.

His name was Gorel of Goliris and he was a gunslinger and an addict, touched by the Black Kiss. Gorel wanted nothing more than to return to his home, the greatest empire the World had ever known, from which he was banished by sorcery as a child. But wherever he went, trouble doggedly followed, and death preceded his steps.. . In Black Gods Kiss Lavie Tidhar returns to the vivid world of his 2012 British Fantasy Award winning novella, Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God. It collects 5 long adventures set before and after the events of Pot-Bellied God, and includes a brand-new novella, “Kur-a-Len.” In these pages you will find thrilling tales of guns and sorcery, filled with ghosts, mercenaries, necromancers and gods – not to mention sex, and death!

Black Gods Kiss was published in a limited edition hardcover by PS Publishing in October 2014. It was released in digital format by the Jabberwocky Literary Agency on April 30, 2015. It is 174 pages, priced at $35 in hardcover and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Pedro Marques.


New Treasures: Storm and Steel by Jon Sprunk

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Storm and Steel-smallStorm and Steel, the long-awaited sequel to Blood and Iron, was published last month by Pyr. In her feature review of the first volume, Sarah Avery wrote:

Of all the wild re-envisionings of the Crusades I’ve seen lately, Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron may be the wildest. His alternate-universe Europeans are recognizably European, but the opposing culture they face is that of a Babylonian Empire that never fell. And why has this Babylon-by-another-name persisted for thousands of years, so powerful that only its own internal strife can shake it? Because its royals actually have the supernatural powers and demi-god ancestry that the ruling class of our world’s Fertile Crescent claimed…

Jon Sprunk’s book takes the prize for strange worldbuilding. The Akeshian Empire is approximately what the Akkadian Empire might have looked like, had each of its major cities lasted as long and urbanized as complexly as Rome did. When monotheism comes to Akeshia, it arrives as a local heresy run amok, rather than as a foreign faith attracting converts. Akeshia’s gods are not kind gods; its semi-divine ruling caste are not nice people. However, when our hero comes to understand them from something closer to their own perspective, he finds much to admire and many people worth trying to save from the civil war that is beginning to take shape around him…

Blood and Iron is overall a strong book, full of powerful imagery and a vivid sense of place, with intriguing historical what-ifs and a sense of moral urgency to match its sense of moral complexity.

Jon Sprunk is also the author of the popular Shadow Saga (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, Shadow’s Master), and expectations are running high for the second volume of his new trilogy, The Book of the Black Earth.

Storm and Steel was published by Pyr on June 2, 2015. It is 479 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Jason Chan. Learn more at Pyr Books or read our exclusive excerpt of the first novel here.


New Treasures: A Confederacy of Horrors by James Robert Smith

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

A Confederacy of Horrors-smallWhen I returned from the World Fantasy Convention in November, I wrote a series of articles about what it was like to wander one of the finest Dealer’s Room in the country. One of those highlighted the marvelous Hippocampus Press, publishers of Simon Strantzas’s Burnt Black Suns, Clint Smith’s Ghouljaw and Other Stories, John Langan’s The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, and many other fine titles. However, one of their most intriguing books wasn’t released until after the convention: James Robert Smith’s A Confederacy of Horrors. Smith is the author of The Flock, The Living End, and The New Ecology of Death, and his debut collection, released in January, features creatures from the depths of space, vampires, occult horrors, and stranger things.

In recent years, James Robert Smith has emerged as a distinctive new voice in contemporary weird fiction. Melding a smoothly flowing prose style, powerful horrific conceptions, and a keen sense of character and locale, Smith has written dozens of stories that expand the boundaries of the weird tale and take it into new and dynamic directions.

This first collection of his short fiction displays the many virtues of his work. Several of his tales are set in the South, a region he knows well through long residence. Whether it be the alienated youths in “Toke Ghost,” the ruthless plutocrat of “Moving,” or the comic terror of “The Reliable Vacuum Company,” Smith depicts a South where the lush, kudzu-choked landscape breeds horrors both earthly and unearthly.

Monsters from the depths of space are the focus of “On the First Day,” while rats of a more than usual malignancy are featured in “Dope.” “Translator” tells of mysteries emerging out of World War II, while in “Love and Magick” a man battles occult creatures with magic of his own. The ecological horrors of “Symptom” are matched by the existential horror of “Wet.” The end of the world appears imminent in “One of Those Days,” and a vampire of an unusual sort stalks through the pages of “Just a Gigolo.”

With this collection, James Robert Smith presents a rich and diverse smorgasbord of weirdness and terror that will delight his many devotees and bring new ones into his fold.

A Confederacy of Horrors was published by Hippocampus Press on January 15, 2015. It is 236 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback, and $6 for the digital version. The cover is by Pete von Sholly.


The Omnibus Volumes of Andre Norton, Part One

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

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If you’re like me, you enjoy vintage science fiction and fantasy, and tracking down old paperbacks to add to your collection. But nothing beats the convenience of having those fragile old books available in a modern reprint. Unless it’s having multiple books in a single omnibus volume, under a great new cover, for the price of a single paperback. When that happens, we like to make some noise about it here — especially when the books involved are true classics of the genre.

That’s why we end up talking about Baen so much. Last week it was the trio of Baen’s Murray Leinster omnibus volumes; before that it was their seven volumes featuring James H. Schmitz. Today, I’d like to take a look at three of the many omnibus volumes collecting some of the best work of Andre Norton, published by Baen last decade.

First up is Darkness and Dawn, which collects perhaps the first Andre Norton book I ever laid eyes on, in my elementary school library in Kentville, Nova Scotia: Daybreak—2250 A.D.

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Future Treasures: Covenant of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

Monday, July 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Banished of Muirwood-small The Ciphers of Muirwood-small The Void of Muirwood-small

Jeff Wheeler’s Muirwood trilogy is one of the success stories of self-publishing. All three volumes were released in 2011, and they did so well they were picked up by 47North, Amazon’s new fantasy and SF publishing arm, and republished in handsome new editions in January 2013.

Those of you who hate waiting for the next installment of your favorite fantasy series are in luck. It looks like 47North will release the entire sequel trilogy, Covenant of Muirwood, in a tight schedule over the next three months: The Banished of Muirwood on August 15, followed by The Ciphers of Muirwood (September 15), and The Void of Muirwood (October 27, 2015). The sequels tell a standalone story, and need no knowledge of the earlier trilogy.

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New Treasures: The Chart of Tomorrows by Chris Willrich

Monday, July 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Chart of Tomorrows-smallBack in May I published a brief head’s up about the latest Gaunt & Bone novel, The Chart of Tomorrows. I finally have a copy in my hot little hands, and I’m impatient to start reading it.

Chris Willrich’s “The Lions of Karthagar,” set in the world of Gaunt and Bone, appeared in the last issue of Black Gate. The first novels featuring the two heroes, The Scroll of Years (2013) and The Silk Map (2014), were both published by Pyr. In this third installment, the two find their plans to retire interrupted when their son becomes the chosen vessel of a powerful spirit…

The poet Persimmon Gaunt and the thief Imago Bone had sought only to retire from adventuring and start a family, but they never reckoned on their baby becoming the chosen vessel of the mystical energies of a distant Eastern land. With their son Innocence hunted by various factions hoping to use him as a tool, they kept him safe at the cost of trapping him in a pocket dimension of accelerated time.

Now free, the thirteen-year-old Innocence has rejected his parents and his “destiny” and has made dangerous friends in a barbaric Western land of dragon-prowed ships and rugged fjords. Desperately, Gaunt and Bone seek to track him down, along with their companion Snow Pine and her daughter A-Girl-Is-A-Joy, who was once trapped with Innocence too.

But as the nomadic Karvaks and their war-balloons strike west, and a troll-king spins his webs, and Joy is herself chosen by the spirit of the very land Innocence has fled to, Gaunt and Bone find themselves at the heart of a vast struggle — and their own son is emerging from that conflict as a force of evil. To save him and everything they know, they turn to a dangerous magical book, The Chart of Tomorrows, that reveals pathways through time. Upon the treacherous seas of history, Gaunt and Bone must face the darkness in each other’s pasts, in order to rescue their future.

The Chart of Tomorrows was published by Pyr Books on July 7, 2015. It is 541 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Kerem Beyit.


July 2015 Lightspeed Magazine Now on Sale

Sunday, July 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed July 2015-smallLightspeed has some intriguing new fiction this month, from Carrie Vaughn, Andrea Hairston, and Taiyo Fujii (translated by Jim Hubbert). But they also have four top-notch reprints, including a Hugo nominee from Tony Daniel (“Life on the Moon”), a Detective Inspector Chen story from Liz Williams (“Adventures in the Ghost Trade,” a 2000 British Science Fiction Award Nominee), and classic stories from Mary Robinette Kowal and William Alexander.

Lightspeed publishes fantasy and SF, both new fiction and reprints. Here’s the complete fiction contents of the July issue.

Fantasy

Adventures in the Ghost Trade“ by Liz Williams (from Interzone #154, April 2000)
Saltwater Railroad“ by Andrea Hairston
“Ana’s Tag” by William Alexander (from Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, #23, November 2008; available 7/28)

Science Fiction

Crazy Rhythm” by Carrie Vaughn
Life on the Moon” by Tony Daniel (from Asimov’s Science Fiction, April 1995)
“The Consciousness Problem” by Mary Robinette Kowal (from Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 2009; available 7/21)
“Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fuji. Translated by Jim Hubbert. (available 7/28)

Readers of the eBook version also get a reprint of the novella “Dapple,” by Eleanor Arnason, and two novel excerpts: Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman, and Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand.

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