Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum. The Thyme Fiend March 11, 2015 The Thyme Fiend Jeffrey Ford It's not all in his head. The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself?
From The Blog
March 24, 2015
Protecting What You Love: On the Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Vilification
Emily Asher-Perrin
March 23, 2015
Language as Power in Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Katharine Duckett
March 16, 2015
What Changes To Expect in Game of Thrones Season Five
Bridget McGovern
March 13, 2015
Five Books with Fantastic Horses
Patricia Briggs
March 13, 2015
Is Ladyhawke the Best Fairy Tale of Them All?
Leah Schnelbach
Wed
Mar 25 2015 9:45am

Announcing Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson

Europe in Autumn Dave Hutchison

Europe in Autumn was among my favourite books of 2014. An “awesome concoction of sci-fi and spies,” I called it in the spring, that reminded me of “John le Carré meets Christopher Priest.”

What I didn’t know then, and what has only deepened my appreciation of Dave Hutchinson’s tremendous debut, is how incredibly prescient it would prove. When the summer came and went, and with it the Scottish Independence Referendum, the separatist prospect it posited—of a world in which “pocket nations” proliferate— suddenly seemed real. All too real, to tell the truth. That said, if this is the way we’re headed, then I’d rather know what’s to be expected before we get there.

Ask and ye shall receive, it seems! Because there’s more where Europe in Autumn came from—much more, according to Hutchinson. To wit, today, it gives me immeasurable pleasure to reveal the cover art and a few key details about the surprise sequel: Europe at Midnight.

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 11:30am

Margaret Atwood’s Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood

Per The Bookseller, which clearly doesn’t care enough to count The Penelopiad, it’s been fifteen years since Margaret Atwood’s last new standalone novel—the Man Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin—so for those folks who didn’t dig the MaddAddam saga, the long wait is almost over, as this autumn Bloomsbury plans to publish The Heart Goes Last.

A “wickedly funny and deeply disturbing” story set in the near future, The Heart Goes Last “combines the powerful irony of The Handmaid’s Tale with the wicked playfulness of The Edible Woman,” and, according to Bloomsbury’s editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle, represents the author “at the tip top of her form—stylish, witty, dark and delicious.”

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 9:00am

The Joy of the Journey: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Self-published in the wake of a successful Kickstarter campaign before being picked up by a traditional genre fiction imprint, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet makes its move into the mainstream this month: a real rollercoaster of a path to market I urge you to ride when it arrives.

Not for nothing did the Kitschies shortlist this progressive piece de resistance. Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight.

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Mon
Mar 16 2015 4:00pm

Call and Response: The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson

Glorious Angels Justina Robson

Mixing science fiction and fantasy with elements of horror and erotica, as well as the weird, The Glorious Angels is Justina Robson’s first non tie-in novel since Down to the Bone—the conclusion of the Quantum Gravity quintet—fully four years ago. I don’t mind admitting that I had high hopes it would represent a return to form for the oft award-nominated author, but despite its dizzying ambition and a few glimmers of brilliance, to be blunt, it doesn’t. A syrupy slow opening sees to that from the start.

The first few hundred pages of Robson’s cross-genre odyssey take place in Glimshard, a magnificent city of crystalline stems and spires at the very tip of which sits the Empress Shamuit Torada, who has in her infinite wisdom waged a war of sorts against the Karoo, a strange and essentially alien race “from so far away they were considered beyond civilisation, as elusive as the two-headed wolf of legend,” and at least as dangerous, I dare say.

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Tue
Feb 24 2015 5:00pm

The Skin I’m In: Touch by Claire North

Claire North Touch

Fresh from the success of The First Fifteen Live of Harry August, Claire North—the second pseudonym (after Kate Griffin) of prose prodigy Catherine Webb—returns with Touch, a tremendously well-travelled science-fictional thriller that’s as disturbing as its predecessor was delightful.

From word one we follow an ancient entity christened Kepler by its enemies; a continuous consciousness of some sort that at the moment of its first host’s murder moved—much to its own amazement—into its murderer’s mind, and took over his body to boot. Several so-called “skins” later, Kepler has a basic understanding of its situation; of its ability, in particular, to essentially possess a person—any person—with but a touch.

“I walk through people’s lives and I steal what I find,” Kepler confesses. “Their bodies, their time, their money, their friends, their lovers, their wives—I’ll take it all, if I want to.”

[Read More]

Tue
Feb 17 2015 1:30pm

Coming Soon to A Small, Angry Planet Near You

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Becky Chambers

What a week Becky Chambers has had! After a successful Kickstarter campaign, “the progeny of an astrobiology educator, an aerospace engineer, and an Apollo-era rocket scientist” self-published her first science-fiction novel last summer. In The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet:

The crew of the Wayfarer, a wormhole-building spaceship, get the job offer of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel at the centre of the galaxy. The journey will be time-consuming and difficult, but the pay is enough to endure any discomfort. All they have to do is survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But every crewmember has a secret to hide, and they’ll soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

“I was proud of the small following [The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet] gathered,” Chambers said of the text’s success, “but I thought that was as far as it was going to go.”

[It wasn’t.]

Mon
Feb 16 2015 10:00am

The Map is Not the Territory: Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

Something Coming Through Paul McAuley

Spinning off a series of experimental short stories, Something Coming Through marks the actual factual start of an extraordinary new project by Paul McAuley, the award-winning author of the Quiet War novels. As a beginning, it’s inordinately promising, largely because the world is so wide and relevant and well-developed, and though the characters are a little lacking, Something Coming Through satisfies as a standalone story too.

Allow me to introduce you to the Jackaroo, an advanced race of aliens whose near-as-dammit divine intervention in human history may well have saved us—from ourselves.

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Wed
Feb 11 2015 12:45pm

Ian McDonald’s New Moon

Luna

Though a far cry from the cerebral sf of the novels with which Ian MacDonald made his name, the three Infundibulum books he’s released in recent years have been bloody good fun, to a one. Stefan Raets went even farther than that in his review of Empress of the Sun—the end, evidently, of the overarching Everness narrative—saying he’d had such a good time reading about the adventures of Everett Singh and Sen Sixsmyth and so on that he felt “like writing fan-fic about its characters.”

Well... do your worst, sir! Especially now that we know the award-winning author has moved on to another project: a duology which looks “to do for the for the moon what [MacDonald] has previously (with River of Gods, Brasyl and The Dervish House) done for India, Brazil and Turkey,” which is to say “write a thrilling story of the future that is rooted in the vivid realities of its location.”

[Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Luna: New Moon.]

Tue
Feb 3 2015 2:45pm

The Look of The Book of Phoenix

The Book of Phoenix

On May 7 in the UK, Hodder & Stoughton will publish a prequel of sorts to Nigerian-American novelist Nnedi Okorafor’s breakthrough book, Who Fears Death? It’s called The Book of Phoenix, and it’s about an “abomination.”

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Wed
Jan 28 2015 12:20pm

Covering Crashing Heaven

Crashing Heaven Al Robertson

Bought eighteen months or so ago in what The Bookseller describes as “a major pre-empt ahead of an auction” that would probably have been hotly fought, Crashing Heaven is for my money among the most exciting debuts of the coming months.

According to Gollancz’s Simon Spanton, “Al Robertson [is] a writer completely in command of his material and totally at home in his chosen genre”—which is to say science fiction. “To find all this, fully formed, in the work of a debut writer is special indeed. It’s a long time since I’ve read a book that takes the familiar and fashions it into something that feels so fresh.”

[Read More]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 12:30pm

Seveneves of Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

HarperCollins now owns Neal Stephenson’s soul—or rather the rights his next two novels in most every major territory: in the US and Canada under the auspices of William Morrow, and in Australia, New Zealand and the UK by way of The Borough Press.

The first of the two new books, Seveneves—being “a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years”—has a long history rooted in real world research.

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Tue
Jan 20 2015 12:40pm

Alastair Reynolds Roundup

alaistair reynolds poseidon's wake

Late last week Gollancz unveiled the Abi Hartshorne art set to grace Poseidon’s Wake, complete with a colourful new cover look for Blue Remembered Earth and On the Steel Breeze, the other volumes of the “informal trilogy” this third book concludes:

Poseidon’s Wake is a stand-alone story which follows two extraordinary characters as they begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Their missions are dangerous, and both are venturing into the unknown... but if either can uncover the secret to faster-than-light travel, then new worlds will be at our fingertips.

But innovation and progress are not always embraced by everyone. There is a saboteur at work. Different factions disagree about the best way to move forward. And the mysterious Watchkeepers are ever-present.

Poseidon’s Wake is due out in April in the UK. But that’s not the only Alastair Reynolds news that’s been doing the rounds recently...

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 13 2015 2:30pm

A New Look for Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Books

Peter Higgins Radiant State

Much as I admire those authors who take the time to write what they want to write right, I read something like a hundred books each year, and I only have so much space in my brain for stories—so when a series takes too long between instalments, I find myself flagging, forgetting, before finally saying fine, and giving up the ghost.

To wit, I love a quick turnaround on a trilogy, and two scant years since Wolfhound Century turned me on to Peter Higgins’ tremendous talents, the conclusion is coming soon: Radiant State is to be released in the UK in late May—complete with a striking new cover look.

[Read More]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 4:15pm

Swiftly Does It

Osiris Project EJ Swift Tamaruq

As curator of the British Fiction Focus, I have a kind of cause—to bring word of the best genre fiction from my neck of the woods to you fine folks in yours—but sometimes, sadly, a series slips through the cracks.

Now I don’t have any inside information about how well they’re selling, but neither do I see nearly as many people talking about The Osiris Project as I believe there should be, so consider this a call to arms, all: E. J. Swift is an awesome author. She writes “proper grown-up SF,” as her fellow proper grown-up SF author Adam Roberts says; SF that is at once “stylish, memorable, beautifully written and utterly distinctive.” The failed utopia of her fiction—“a future ocean metropolis [...] whose inhabitants believe they live on the last city on earth”—mightn’t be explosive in the mode of most such stories, but by gum, it’s stunning.

She just so happens to have a new book coming out, too...

[Read More]

Thu
Dec 4 2014 10:00am

If Then What When?

The Red Men

I’ll come right out and say it: for a moment there, I thought we’d lost Angry Robot.

Obviously not. Recently they’ve re-signed Wesley Chu, bought two books by Alyc Helms, saved Danielle L. Jensen’s Malediction trilogy—Strange Chemistry’s biggest success story—from the ashes of that much-missed imprint, and now, news of another new arrival: Will Self’s erstwhile amanuensis, author Matthew de Abaitua, has enrolled in the reenergised Angry Robot Army.

Abaitua is of course known for rather more than taking dictation: his debut, The Red Men, was nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, and in 2013, the first chapter was turned into a sensational short film. You do remember Dr. Easy, don’t you?

[Read More]

Tue
Nov 25 2014 5:00pm

The Farthest Star: Ultima by Stephen Baxter

Ultima Stephen Baxter review

Worlds and times collide in the concluding volume of the absorbing duology Proxima kicked off: “a story that encompasses everything that will be and everything that could have been,” just as Ultima’s flap copy claims, but fails, I’m afraid, to take in the little things—not least characters we care about—in much the same way as its intellectually thrilling yet emotionally ineffectual predecessor.

Ultima ultimately advances Stephen Baxter’s ambitious origin-of-everything from the nearest star to Earth at the inception of existence to the end of time on the absolute farthest, but first, the fiction insists on exploring, at length, what the galaxy would look like in terms of technology if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen in the fifth century.

[Read More]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 11:00am

We Are Family: Symbiont by Mira Grant

mira grant symbiont review

On the back of the unsightly excitement of Parasite, something like rigor sets in as the second half of what was a duology turns into the middle volume of a tolerance-testing trilogy. Symbiont isn’t a bad book by any means—it’s accessible, action-packed, and its premise remains appallingly plausible—but absent the ambiguity that made its predecessor so very unsettling, it’s lamentable for its length and lack of direction.

The first part of Parasitology chronicled the apocalyptic consequences of SymboGen’s latest and greatest innovation: the ubiquitous Intestinal Bodyguard—a magic pill meant to protect against allergy, illness and infection—was a worm which, in time, turned; a symbiotic organism supposed to support its host yet set, instead, on supplanting said. Before long, of course, this conflict of interests turned the population of San Francisco and its suburbs into zombies of a sort—sleepwalkers, as Mira Grant would have it.

The transition went differently for a few folks, though. After a catastrophic car crash, and at the cost of her every memory, Sally Mitchell’s parasite saved her life... or so she thought.

[Read More]

Tue
Nov 18 2014 11:37am

Chu’s Day

In something of a show of force, Angry Robot—the British base of “SF, F and WTF?!?” which was bought by Watkins Media in October, shortly after the sudden shuttering of its sister imprint Strange Chemistry—has signed a six-figure deal, reportedly the biggest in its history, for another three novels by Wesley Chu.

Chu might be new—his Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award-winning debut, The Lives of Tao, was only released in 2013—but according to Angry Robot’s Managing Director Marc Gascoigne, he’s made quite an impression in the brief period he’s been on the scene:

Wesley Chu’s Tao series has been a runaway success for Angry Robot, and we’re delighted that he has re-signed for us for this brand new trilogy of novels. He manages to combine lofty science fiction themes with pure Hollywood pacing, and quite frankly his novels just rock. With Angry Robot recently moving to new owners, Watkins Media Ltd, we’re delighted to have the resources to take Wes’ sales to a whole new level. His world domination is now only a matter of time.

Having read one of Chu’s two Tao books myself, I’d suggest that this isn’t such an improbable possibility. The dude is good!

[Read more]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 3:15pm

Robson Returns

Justina Robson Silver Screen

I have a real soft spot for Justina Robson.

I don’t know exactly what it was about Silver Screen that caught my eye. It might have been the Giger-esque qualities of the art on the first edition’s front cover; it might have been the thoughtful concepts the synopsis suggested; it might merely have been because I fancied some sci-fi—a much rarer impulse in those days than these—and the South African bookshop I bought it in didn’t exactly specialise in speculative fiction.

Whatever it was, I spent the next few nights with my nose buried in that book, and I knew, even sixteen or so years ago, that I’d read something remarkable. I remember feeling oddly fulfilled when the markedly more informed minds behind the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the BSFAs agreed with me.

Justina Robson has been busy since: with Mappa Mundi, the Natural History novels, and the five volumes of the Quantum Gravity saga. The last we heard from her, however, was with respect to her short story collection, Heliotrope, in early 2011. Only recently have there been rumblings about her next novel.

[Read More]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 12:25pm

The BFI Celebrates Sci-Fi

BFI Virtual SciFi Festival

Love science fiction?

Then you’re in luck, because the British Film Institute does too. As a matter of fact, they’re in the middle of “a major celebration of film and TV’s original blockbuster genre.” Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder is a season-long salute to the tales of tomorrow we here at Tor.com spend much of our time trumpeting. The programme is primarily arranged around a series of screenings—over a thousand at last count—but it also takes in talks with some of our favourite creators; discussions with directors, actors, screenwriters and the like.

Which is all well and good... but what about the books?

Once again, the BFI has our back. In partnership with HarperCollins’ hallowed genre fiction imprint Voyager, they’re staging the first #BFIVoyager Virtual Sci-Fi Festival this weekend, which proposes to explore “the link between science fiction literature and film with events on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms.”

[Read More]