This Chance Planet October 22, 2014 This Chance Planet Elizabeth Bear We are alone, except for the dog. Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch October 8, 2014 Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch Kelly Barnhill An unconventional romance.
From The Blog
October 24, 2014
“The Reckoning”
Keith DeCandido
October 14, 2014
A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville
Jared Shurin
October 10, 2014
Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV
Alex Brown
October 10, 2014
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 1
Kate Nepveu
October 7, 2014
Shell Shock and Eldritch Horror: “Dagon”
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
Showing posts by: niall alexander click to see niall alexander's profile
Fri
Oct 24 2014 11:55am

Tributaries of Rivers of London

Ben Aaronovitch

You can take the copper out of London—you can take him, to wit, to “a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children”—but you can’t take the London out of urban fantasy’s favourite copper, can you?

Foxglove Summer, the fifth of the bestselling PC Peter Grant series—which began with the wonderful Rivers of London—is, at long last, almost upon us. With the hardcover out hereabouts in early November, news of a tour in support of said text, and the announcement of an upcoming comic based on the books, I borrowed Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, his partner in sequential art, for a chat about Body Work and beyond.

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Thu
Oct 23 2014 3:00pm

City of Contradictions: Retribution by Mark Charan Newton

Mark Charon Newton Retribution Drakenfeld

The laid-back detective drama of Drakenfeld marked a propitious departure for Mark Charan Newton: an assured move from the weird and sometimes wonderful fantasy with which he had made his name to a tale of mystery and alt-history not dissimilar to C. J. Sansom's Shardlake stories.

But with all-out war in the offing—in large part because of Drakenfeld's discoveries at the end of the text so titled—and a serial killer torturing and slaughtering some of most prominent people in the kingdom of Koton, the darkness of the Legends of the Red Sun series is back; a change of pace Newton paves the way for on the first page of his new book.

“In over thirty years of life, a decade of which has been spent as an Officer of the Sun Chamber,” Lucan Drakenfeld remarks, “the world has long since robbed me of my limitless optimism.” To be sure, he appears a pretty positive protagonist compared to grimdark Princes like this year's Jalan and Yarvi, yet the events of Retribution are still to take their toll—on its hero and, indeed, its reader.

[Read More]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 12:50pm

Those Lost Lovegroves

James Lovegrove

Think you know James Lovegrove? Think again.

Having read Redlaw, large parts of the punchy Pantheon saga and several of his Sherlock Holmes stories, including The Stuff of Nightmares—highly recommended, by the by, to those looking to spend some time with the great detective after his absence from Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty—I thought I knew him too. I may have been... mistaken.

He’s the author, as it happens, of an alarming number of novels—almost forty if you figure in his fiction for children—which predate by decades this wave of his work. A fair few of those lost Lovegroves were nominated for prestigious prizes, too: Days and Untied Kingdom, for instance.

Both books have fallen out of print since. A sad thing, that. A happy thing, then, that The James Lovegrove Collection—a series of three volumes collecting the early work of the aforementioned bestseller—is poised to resolve the problem posited.

[Read More]

Tue
Oct 21 2014 4:00pm

Cosmic Chaos: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll Bathing the Lion

Jonathan Carroll’s first full-length work of fiction in six years is as rooted in the real as it is the surreal its synopsis suggests. Bathing the Lion is about a quintet of cosmic mechanics who can read minds and remake the mundane recovering their talents in advance of the arrival of a fearsome force called Chaos—which seems, I’m sure, like a properly science fictional plot. But it’s not.

To wit, the World Fantasy Award-winning author evidences precious little interest in the ultimate result of this clash between... not good and evil, exactly, but order and its opposite. Rather, Carroll restrains his tale to the strictly small scale, in the process pointedly refusing the reader’s needs.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 10:50am

British Fiction Hitlist: Late October New Releases

Jeepers creepers—the spooky season is here! A fact that figures into a few of the books due to be released in the next two weeks, including Prince Lestat, the latest Vampire Chronicles novel by Anne Rice; and—as if reality TV wasn’t already horrifying enough—the next Phil Rickman, Night After Night, wonders what could possibly go wrong when you stuff seven pseudo-celebrities into a haunted house.

Luckily, late October has more than ghosts going for it. Look out, too, for The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss; and my personal pick of the period, A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar, in which a pulp fiction author held in history’s most infamous concentration camp finds some small solace in his overactive imagination.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Brian Ruckley, Gideon Defoe, Simon Spurrier, Gavin Smith, Stephen Deas, Maggie Stiefvater, Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, Jay Bonansinga, Sam Sykes and Phil Rickman.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 9:00am

A False Premise: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Moriarty Anthony Horowitz US review

The great detective and his greatest enemy are dead—or so it is said. “After the confrontation that the world has come to know as ‘The Final Problem,’ [though] there was nothing final about it, as we now know,” Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty have absented their respective roles, each for his own secretive reasons. So what’s Scotland Yard to do when London is rocked by a series of crimes so indescribably violent that they rival the Ripper’s?

Why, hand over Holmes’ role to Inspector Athelney Jones: a man, you might remember, much maligned by Dr Watson’s depiction of him as a total dolt in ‘The Sign of the Four.’ Since then, however, Jones has “read everything that Mr Holmes has ever written. He has studied his methods and replicated his experiments. He has consulted with every inspector who ever worked with him. He has, in short, made Sherlock Holmes the very paradigm of his own life.”

And in our narrator, Frederick Chase—apparently the pick of Pinkerton’s Detective Agency—Jones’ Holmes has his Watson.

[Read More]

Fri
Oct 17 2014 12:07pm

For the Love of Those Above

She Who Waits Daniel Polansky

Over the course of the brillaint Low Town trilogy, which came to a suitably brutal conclusion in She Who Waits twelve months or so ago, I dare say Daniel Polansky established himself as one of the greats of grimdark.

Project Polansky has been paving the way for his next novel for some time. To wit, we’ve known its name for a bit: Those Above is the first half of The Empty Throne, an epic fantasy duology about race hatred.

“In a mountain stronghold amidst objects and architecture of great beauty and craftsmanship [lives] a sort of super-human elvish race,” and then there’s “the humans themselves, a subjugated race who live on the lower slopes of the mountain. Twenty-five years before [Those Above begins], the humans rose up against the Others, and were defeated. A single man, Bas, defeated one of the Others in combat, and took the sword of his foe as a trophy.”

That same sword plays a central part in the “truly iconic cover” released this week.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 15 2014 11:10am

The Man Booker and the Future

The Man Booker Prize

More than a year ago, at an impromptu press conference scheduled after the Sunday Times had gone and given the game away, the Man Booker Prize announced a novel new order. Going forward, the award would go—to paraphrase administrator Ion Trewin—to the best book to be released in the English-speaking world each year.

The eligibility of American texts in a field formerly exclusive to books from British or Commonwealth countries inevitably ruffled a few feathers. Just the other day, Peter Carey—one of only three writers to have won the prize twice—spoke to The Guardian about how the “particular cultural flavour” that set the Man Booker Prize apart would likely be lost in the process of this exercise in what he described as “global marketing.”

[Turns out... there was nothing to worry about!]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 2:30pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: Shearman, Fearman

Fearsome Magics

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

Robert Shearman may be best known for bringing back the Daleks, but as a dyed-in-the-wool Doctor Who doubter, he’s more familiar to me because of his award-winning short stories, a great swathe of which were collected last year in the deeply creepy Remember Why You Fear Me. More recently, ChiZine released They Do The Same Things Different There, an equally excellent assemblage of the author’s more fantastical fiction.

‘Ice in the Bedroom,’ the closing story of the second volume of Fearsome Magics: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy, skillfully straddles the line between the two types of stories Shearman writes. It’s as strange as it is unsettling and as suggestive as it is effective—in other words, good reading for the spooky season!

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Fri
Oct 10 2014 4:00pm

Freefall: TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews

TimeBomb Scott K Andrews review

Three teens from three times run rampant in 17th century Cornwall in the frenetic first volume of Scott K. Andrews’ TimeBomb trilogy, a paradoxical romp which, whilst engaging and entertaining, promises a little more than it delivers.

To wit, TimeBomb begins quite brilliantly, with a fleeting glimpse of future New York: a sprawling city in which forty-storey superstructures are “dwarfed by the looming organic skytowns that twined sinuously up into the cloud base.” Here, we meet Yojana Patel, the determinedly independent daughter of... a powerful politician, I think? We can’t be certain because Andrews doesn’t dally. In a matter of moments, rather than give her pursuers the satisfaction of catching her, Jana has thrown herself off the roof of a great skyscraper.

[Read More]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 11:00am

Here and There: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil Stephen Collins review

Beneath the skin of everything is something nobody can know. The job of the skin is to keep it all in and never let anything show.

So begins The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, award-winning cartoonist Stephen Collins’ first graphic novel proper, and it is as dark and charming a parable as the poetry of its first panels portends.

The eventual originator of the evil beard is a drone called Dave. Not literally a drone, however his behaviours are practically mechanical. In that, Dave is not dissimilar to the other strangely hairless inhabitants of Here; like them, he lives in almost constant fear of There. Happily, his job at A&C Industries occupies his thoughts during the day, and in his downtime, Dave draws. He draws the pedestrians that pass his house; he pencil sketches pets and post boxes; but by and large his subject is the street. “It was just so neat,” you see. “So... complete.”

[Read More]

Wed
Oct 1 2014 12:30pm

It’s Dark Down Under

James Smythe

Pay attention, people: James Smythe is one of the most exciting new science fiction writers to debut in decades. He’s also been amongst the most productive, releasing two books a year since The Testimony in 2012. In between volumes of the ongoing Anomaly Quartet the English author has treated readers to The Machine—a darkly fantastic Frankenstein story for the 21st century—and No Harm Can Come to a Good Man—a paranoid power play about predictive politics.

Alongside The Explorer and The Echo, these superlative speculative texts demonstrate the breadth and depth of Smythe’s abilities, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that his next book would be something unusual too. This was back in January, when Hodder & Stoughton announced that they’d acquired the rights to a three part Young Adult series by said.

The song remains the same this week, but the lyrics are significantly different. First and foremost, the novel formerly known as The Burning Depths has a new title. Coming up: Way Down Dark’s incredible cover art, plus comments about the book from its Arthur C. Clarke shortlisted author and editor extraordinaire Anne Perry.

[Read More]

Tue
Sep 30 2014 2:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The Dream Sequence

Dream London Tony Ballantyne

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

“Smart, stylish, and as alarming as it is indubitably alluring, Dream London deftly demonstrates that the weird still has a thing or two to prove.” So reads the conclusion of my review, which was followed, in short order, by acclaim from Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Chris Beckett, who spoke highly of the author’s “combination of humour, intelligence and deep darkness” in this That Was Awesome! piece.

That same April, Solaris announced that Tony Ballantyne was doubling down on his darkling dreamscape with a sequel set in “the metropolis dubbed the most romantic city on Earth—but its connection to the lost souls of London is anything but idyllic.” The bad news: Dream Paris isn’t expected till next September.

[But I’ve got good news too!]

Tue
Sep 30 2014 1:30pm

Ghostwritten: The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley & Kat Howard

The End of the Sentence Maria Dahvana Headley Kat Howard review

In the aftermath of a tragic accident that made a mess of his marriage, Malcolm Mays retreats to rural Oregon in an attempt to begin again, however he gets more than he bargained for when he moves into a foreclosed home in Ione.

In a sense he inherits its former occupant, a convicted criminal called Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, who—having been unjustly jailed for two lifetimes and a day, he says—is preparing to reclaim his property. “The homeowner is only absent, you must understand. Not gone. The end of the sentence approaches [...] and when it comes, I will return.”

[Read More]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 11:45am

The YA Book Prize

YA Book prize

Late last week, following an article examining the array of awards on offer to Young Adult authors, The Bookseller—in association with Movellas, a “story-sharing start-up”—announced another: the YA Book Prize.

Its unique selling point? It’s only open to authors who have lived for six months or more in the UK or Ireland.

Nigel Roby, publisher and chief executive of The Bookseller Group, explained that the YA Book Prize came into being after close consultation with a number of publishers: “We have one simple desire that underpins everything we do: we want more readers reading more books. The YA Book Prize gives us a wonderful opportunity to put that desire into practice.”

[But as we all know by now, the devil’s in the details...]

Sun
Sep 28 2014 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Early October New Releases

British Fiction Focus new releases October

It’s almost October, I’m told. That means we’re this close to the spooky season—and there are a couple of spooky books coming. Most, however, have been held for Halloween, which leaves us looking lustily at a solid fortnight of science fiction and fantasy.

The most notable new releases of the next two weeks include Clariel, Garth Nix’s greatly anticipated return to The Old Kingdom; Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, the sequel to the only novel ever to win the Hugo, the Nebula and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and my personal pick of the period; alongside A Vision of Fire by Jeff Rovin and Gillian Anderson—yes, that Gillian Anderson; and The Abyss Beyond Dreams, the first volume of a new duology by Britain’s bestselling sf author, Peter F. Hamilton.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Madeline Ashby, Ferrett Steinmetz, Marcus Sedgwick, Katherine Howe, Susan Murray, Becca Fitzpatrick, James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton, J. R. Ward, Justin Richards, Jonathan Strahan, Jem Roberts, Douglas Adams, Alexander Maskill, Megan Spooner, Christopher Fowler, Rebecca Alexander, Tricia Sullivan, Scott K. Andrews, David Thomas Moore, Kim Harrison and Kim Newman.

[Read More]

Fri
Sep 26 2014 7:00am

A Dangerous Game

solaris anthologies

In recent years, no one publisher has done as much for the short form of speculative fiction in Britain as Solaris. Since the summer, they’ve released Reach for Infinity (in the US and in the UK), the latest volume of Jonathan Strahan’s continuing chronicle of the future history of humanity—reviewed right here by yours truly—alongside the eighth edition of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (US/UK) and the third in the superb Solaris Rising series (US/UK).

And there’s much more to come in the coming months. Fearsome Magics (US/UK), the follow-up to The New Solaris Book of Fantasy, is out in early October—on the same day, indeed, as Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets (US/UK) from Solaris’ sister imprint Abaddon, which proposes to showcase the great detective through a decidedly unlikely lens.

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Thu
Sep 25 2014 10:30am

Scripted: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld Afterworlds review

As someone somewhen almost certainly said, the story is the thing... and it is, isn’t it? Most readers read in order to know what happens next—to these characters or that narrative—rather than out of interest in much of anything outwith a given fiction; assuredly not the particular process of authors, though after Afterworlds, I’ve begun to wonder whether we mightn’t be missing a trick.

A twofold story about storytelling, Scott Westerfeld’s insightful new novel alternates between a pair of coming of age tales. In one, we meet Lizzie: a typical teenager, to begin with, who’s too busy texting to notice the start of a terrorist attack.

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Wed
Sep 24 2014 5:00pm

Eternal Treblinka of the Spotless Soul: Bête by Adam Roberts

Bete Adam Roberts review

Reading Adam Roberts is like participating in a literary lucky dip. It’s a bit of a gamble, granted, but every one’s a winner, and all of the prizes on offer are awesome.

Different sorts of awesome, I dare say. Always smart, and ever so sharp, but sometimes you get something scathing, and sometimes something sweet. Sometimes his stories are obscenely serious; sometimes they’re ridiculously silly. Bête represents the best of both worlds—the coming together of all the aspects of Adam Roberts: the author, the professor and the satirist, alongside a number of others.

His fifteenth full-length fiction in fifteen years—including neither his punsome parodies nor his several collections—is a book about the rise of animals with intelligence to match man’s, and it begins with a cutting conversation between a cattle farmer and the cow he had thought to slaughter.

[Read More]

Wed
Sep 24 2014 7:00am

British Fiction Focus: A New Hope

British Fiction Focus

Welcome back to the British Genre Fiction Focus, Tor.com’s regular round-up of book news from the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

But wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute—that isn’t even remotely right! For starters, that’s not the name of the column any longer, not to mention the fact that it’s been a couple of months since we last put our heads together to talk about the state of genre fiction in Britain. ‘Regular’ isn’t the right word to describe what we’ll be doing going forward, for that matter; nor, indeed, is ‘column,’ so without any further ado, let’s do a take two.

Welcome, one and all, to the British Fiction Focus, the nearly new and surely improved feature about book news in my neck of the woods.

If I were you, I’d be wondering what gives.

[Well... I’ll tell you.]