Goth Chick News: Tales from the Haunted Mansion Book Series

Thursday, July 18th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Tales from the Haunted Mansion

Disney parks worldwide have a lot of things in common, namely being the ‘Happiest Place(s) on Earth’, which is why the Haunted Mansion ride may seem like a bit of an anomaly. From Mystic Manor in Hong Kong, to Phantom Manor in Paris, to the Haunted Mansions in Tokyo, California and Florida, each park has a unique haunted house ride. The only park where you won’t find one is Shanghai, where ghosts and the fear of hauntings have a very real place in the Chinese culture.

The first Disney “imagineers” dreamed up the idea of a haunted attraction in the late 1950’s, starting with the story of a “house on the hill” inhabited by 999 ghosts. The actual mansion didn’t open to the public until 1969 and guests were immediately hooked on the experience, though much of the backstory by that time had faded into the background. The attraction gained an enormous cult following, bolstered with oodles of official merchandise and even more homages created by its fanbase. Though hardcore fans can tell you the mansion’s story, which ties together even the minutest details seen in the ride, most visitors simply enjoy the spookiness of the experience without ever knowing the significance of “The Hatbox Ghost,” “The Bride,” and “Madame Leota.”

Until now.

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Vintage Treasures: The Demu Trilogy Omnibus by F.M. Busby

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Demu Trilogy-small The Demu Trilogy-back-small

Cover by Vincent di Fate

F.M. Busby was a well known science fiction fan who graduated to professional writer in the early 70s. He won a Hugo in 1960 for his fanzine Cry of the Nameless, and when he took early retirement in 1971 he became a full time science fiction writer at the age of 50. He was enormously productive for the next quarter century, publishing 19 novels and numerous short stories between 1973 and 1996.

He never broke out of midlist, and gave up writing after that, blaming the infamous Thor Power Tools ruling in an email to fan George Willick.

No, I haven’t been writing fiction for some time. Many if not most of us “midlist” writers have been frozen out like a third party on an Eskimo honeymoon. The IRS started it by getting the Thor Power Tools decision stretched to cover an inventory tax on books in publishers’ warehouses (so they don’t keep ’em in print no more), and the bookchains wrapped it up by setting one book’s GROSS order on that writer’s previous book’s NET sales. 4-5 books under those rules, and you’re road kill; a publisher can’t be expected to buy a book the chains won’t pay out on.

Busby (“Buz”) produced four novels in The Rebel Dynasty (Star Rebel, Rebel’s Quest, The Alien Debt, and Rebels’ Seed), three Rissa Kerguelen novels, and the Slow Freight trilogy. But his most popular series was probably The Demu Trilogy, which Pocket Books kept in print for nearly seven years in an omnibus collection.

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A Beautifully Written Kung-fu Godfather Story: Jade War by Fonda Lee

Sunday, July 7th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Jade City Fonda Lee-small Jade War Fonda Lee-small

Fonda Lee’s debut novel Jade City won the World Fantasy Award last year, beating out some very stiff competition, including John Crowley’s Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr and Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders. It earned plenty of praise in the usual quarters as well — it was Library Journal‘s Pick of the Month, for example, and they called it “a Godfather-inspired fantasy series that mixes bold martial-arts action and vivid worldbuilding… terrific.”

I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since Derek Kunsken reviewed Jade City for Black Gate, calling it “a heroically, beautifully written kung-fu Godfather story,” and it finally arrives in hardcover from Orbit in two weeks. In this volume, the second in a forecast trilogy, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich — or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival — and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of what’s now being called the Green Bone trilogy. It will be published by Orbit on July 23, 2019. It is 609 pages, priced at $26 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. Read the first four chapters of Jade City at the Orbit website.


New Treasures: Shadowblade by Anna Kashina

Thursday, July 4th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Shadowblade-small Shadowblade-back-small

Ah, Angry Robot. Is there any other publisher out there taking chances on new fantasy writers they way they are? They’ve certainly claimed more than their fair share of my recent book-buying dollars, anyway. Last week it was Shadowblade, the latest from Anna Kashina. In his feature interview with Kashina at Clarkesworld, Chris Urie summarized the novel nicely.

Most of us are prone to flights of fantasy. We imagine ourselves capable heroes of a mythical kingdom full of mystery, intrigue, swordplay, and magic. But fantasy stories are often shackled by shadows of elves, rings, and medieval knights. When a fantasy novel brings ideas both new and surprising, it’s worth celebrating.

Anna Kashina’s new novel Shadowblade seamlessly blends together adventure, romance, swordplay, and intrigue with a unique world. Naia dreams of becoming a Blademaster. After her training goes awry, she meets a stranger who rescued the sole survivor of a horrific massacre. This stranger wants to topple the line of imperial succession — and Naia finds herself at the vanguard of a plot that will change the world.

Anna Kashina is also the author of The Majat Code series, published from 2014-2016 by Angry Robot with moody covers by Alejandro Colucci. Check them out below.

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Future Treasures: Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio

Monday, July 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Empire of Silence Ruocchio-small Howling Dark-small

I first noticed Christopher Ruocchio last year, when he showed up as co-editor of a couple of the better Baen anthologies, Star Destroyers (co edited with Tony Daniel) and Space Pioneers (with the man himself, the great Hank Davis). Neither of those books, excellent as they were, prepared me for his debut novel, Empire of Silence, the opening volume in the epic Sun Eater space opera, which Library Journal called a “wow book… stretched across a vast array of planets,” and which my buddy Eric Flint called “epic-scale space opera in the tradition of Iain M. Banks and Frank Herbert’s Dune.” I’ve been looking forward to the follow up volume impatiently, and was surprised and delighted to receive a review copy last week. It will be published in hardcover by DAW in two weeks. Here’s the publisher’s blurb.

Hadrian Marlowe is lost.

For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to find a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has not succeeded, and for years has wandered among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries.

Determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind.

If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails… the galaxy will burn.

Howling Dark will be published by DAW Books on July 16, 2019. It is 679 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $12.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Kieran Yanner. See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy and SF here.


New Treasures: Reentry by Peter Cawdron

Friday, June 28th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Retrograde Peter Cawdron-small Reentry Peter Cawdron-small

I missed Peter Cawdron’s Retrograde when it was released by John Joseph Adams Books last year. But I received a review copy of Reentry, became immediately intrigued, and eventually figured out it was a sequel. Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly, clearly more on the ball than I, said about the first novel.

Post-apocalyptic disaster meets fractured utopian space exploration in this terrifying tale, which Cawdron sets in a scientific outpost on Mars. Geologist Liz inhabits one of four subterranean modules built through massive cooperation among earth’s space agencies. Hazy news of a widespread nuclear war back home sends the astronauts into paranoid seclusion… This tense cat and mouse game plays off fears of self-aware computers to satisfying result.

Here’s the publisher’s description for Reentry.

After almost dying on Mars, astronaut Liz Anderson returns to Earth, but not to a hero’s welcome. America is in turmoil. The war is over, but the insurgency has just begun. So while life on Mars may have been deadly, at least up there she knew who the enemy was. Along with her, Liz has brought the remnants of the artificial intelligence that waged war on two planets. Buried somewhere deep within the cold electronic circuits lies the last vestiges of her dead partner Jianyu. Liz is torn, unsure whether he’s somehow still alive in electronic form or just a ploy by an adversary that will go to any length to win. Heartbroken and treated with suspicion, she finds herself caught up in the guerrilla war being waged on Earth, wondering if the AI threat is truly gone, or if it has only just begun.

Now all that’s left to decide is which one to read first. Here’s the complete publishing details.

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Future Treasures: Priest of Lies, Book II of War for the Rose Throne by Peter McLean

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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When you’ve been reading fantasy as long as I have, you get used to hyperbolic praise plastered all over book covers. But even so, you don’t see the kind widespread acclaim that was heaped on the opening novel in Peter McLean’s new fantasy series last year, Priest of Bones.

Booknest called it “Absolutely sensational… Low Fantasy at its finest, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the Fantasy Debut of the Year,” and Fantasy Book Review said, “I can safely say that this will be the book dark fantasy and grimdark fans will be raving about at the end of this year.” Even Booklist raved, proclaiming it “A pitch-perfect blend of fantasy and organized-crime sagas like Puzo’s The Godfather… Expect word of mouth support from fantasy fans to turn this one into a genre hit.” But I think my favorite came from Publisher’s Weekly, with their usual economy:

Tomas Piety [is] a nefarious crime lord turned priest. After being away at war for many years, Tomas comes back to find that Ellinburg is changed… With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas embroils himself in cutthroat politics and epic barroom brawls to win back the city that once was his… Anyone itching to read a high-stakes story should pick up this delightful combination of medieval fantasy and crime drama.

Read the complete PW review here.

The second book in the series, Priest of Lies, is one of the most anticipated books of the year. It arrives in trade paperback from Ace Books next week. Here’s the description.

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Vengeful Gods, Deadly Monsters, and Secrets: God of Broken Things by Cameron Johnston

Monday, June 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Traitor-God-medium God of Broken Things-small

Cameron Johnston’s The Traitor God was one of the big fantasy debuts of last year, so I was delighted to find the sequel on the shelves during my regular trek to Barnes & Noble this weekend. In his weekly roundup of the best new SF & fantasy at The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog last Tuesday, Joel Cunningham waxed enthusiastic:

Outcast mage Edrin Walker has saved the world, but at great cost: he’s defeated the monster unleashed by his enemies, but it has already infected the leaders of his city with mind-controlling parasites…. and an [army] of invaders in marching on the city. Edrin gathers a band of anti-heroes to head them off in the mountains, but there also lie difficult trials: vengeful gods, deadly monsters, and secrets Edrin would rather stay buried. A wicked sense of humor and a cast of flawed but striving-for-good characters keeps this mid-series entry from getting too grimdark.

I never got around to reading The Traitor God last year, but the addition of God of Broken Things to the series makes it a lot more irresistible. They look damn good in my TBR pile, anyway. Here’s the publisher’s description for the sequel.

Tyrant magus Edrin Walker destroyed the monster sent by the Skallgrim, but not before it laid waste to Setharis, and infested their magical elite with mind-controlling parasites. Edrin’s own Gift to seize the minds of others was cracked by the strain of battle, and he barely survives the interrogation of a captured magus. There’s no time for recovery though: a Skallgrim army is marching on the mountain passes of the Clanhold. Edrin and a coterie of villains race to stop them, but the mountains are filled with gods, daemons, magic, and his hideous past. Walker must stop at nothing to win, even if that means losing his mind. Or worse…

God of Broken Things was published by Angry Robot on June 11, 2019. It is 432 pages, priced at $12.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Jan Weßbecher. Read an excerpt at the Angry Robot website.


Sentient Mining Robots, Interstellar Warfare, and an A.I. Revolution: The Corporation Wars by Ken MacLeod

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Corporation Wars Trilogy-smallScottish writer Ken MacLeod is the author of Cosmonaut Keep, The Cassini Division, Newton’s Wake, and roughly a dozen other science fiction novels. His books have been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, and British Science Fiction Awards. His Corporation Wars trilogy (Dissidence, Insurgence, and Emergence) is a fast-paced space opera told against a backdrop of interstellar drone warfare, virtual reality, and an A.I. revolution. In his review of the second volume at Locus Online, Russell Letson said:

MacLeod manages big Ideas (po­litical and futurological) and propulsive action without short-changing either side of that classic science-fictional tension-of-opposites, a trait he shares with Iain M. Banks and Charles Stross. I’m going add one more name and then duck be­hind the sofa: Heinlein.

I was sloppy about picking up the originals when they first appeared; that usually means I have to painstakingly track down out-of-print copies. But not this time! Orbit came to my rescue with a gorgeous (and gorgeously economical) 879-page omnibus brick: The Corporation Wars Trilogy. If you’re interested in an acclaimed space opera from a modern master, this is an excellent gift for yourself. Here’s the description.

In deep space, ruthless corporations vie for control of scattered mining colonies, and war is an ever-present threat.

Led by Seba, a newly sentient mining robot, an AI revolution grows. Fighting them is Carlos, a grunt who is reincarnated over and over again to keep the “freeboots” in check. But he’s not sure whether he’s on the right side.

Against a backdrop of interstellar drone combat Carlos and Seba must either find a way to rise above the games their masters are playing or die. And even dying might not be the end of it.

The Corporation Wars was published by Orbit on December 11, 2018. It is 896 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

If you’re in the market for fine value in reading, check out our recent coverage of fat omnibus editions here.


A Series that Embodies Delicious Steampunk Mystery: Newbury & Hobbes Investigation by George Mann

Friday, June 7th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Affinity Bridge-small The Osiris Ritual-small The Immorality Engine A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation-small The Executioner's Heart A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation-small The Revenant Express A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation-small

The Newbury & Hobbes novels. Cover art by Viktor Koen

George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes Investigations are a highly acclaimed steampunk mystery series. amNewYork called the opening volume “A riveting page-turned that mixes the society of manners in turn-of-the-century London with a gritty and brutal murder mystery,” and Entertainment Weekly says the books bring “industrial London to life like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie in book form.” Damn — I’m still not sure what these books are about, but I definitely want to read them.

There have been five so far.

#1: The Affinity Bridge (April 2010)
#2: The Osirus Ritual (June 2011)
#3: The Immortality Engine (July 2012)
#4: The Executioner’s Heart (July 2014)
#5: The Revenant Express (February 2019)

The most recent, The Revenant Express, arrived in February this year from Tor. Like the others, it’s a quick read, 237 pages, and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Here’s the description.

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