The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself? The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized.
From The Blog
March 4, 2015
Writing Women Characters as Human Beings
Kate Elliott
March 2, 2015
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy That Would Please Crom Himself!
Leah Schnelbach
February 27, 2015
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy — What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl
Emily Asher-Perrin
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
Showing posts by: niall alexander click to see niall alexander's profile
Mar 5 2015 10:50am

The Thorn of Emberlain at Last

Scott Lynch Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora enlivened a whole lot of lives upon its publication in 2006, such that the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, was held to a hella high standard when it sailed into bookstores a matter of months later. The mixed feelings it met with then may well have played a part in the circumstances surrounding the six-year delay fans of the Gentleman Bastards were made to bear, but since the eventual release of The Republic of Thieves in late 2013, every indication has been given that the wait for the next volume of Scott Lynch’s fantasy saga would be rather more reasonable.

And readers.... it appears it will be. Gollancz plan to publish The Thorn of Emberlain before 2015 is over.

[I can hear the sighs of relief from here!]

Mar 3 2015 5:00pm

Forget Me Not: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro

Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first new novel since Never Let Me Go a decade ago appears to be another of those elderly odysseys we’ve seen with such zeitgeist-like regularity recently—albeit one with the trappings, and the characters, of a classical fantasy.

There be dragons in this book, to be sure—alongside sprites, ogres, wizards and warriors—and you can practically taste the magic in the air of its Arthurian England. But never mind that, or the fact that its narrative is arranged around an epic quest, because The Buried Giant is at its best when it’s about Axl and Beatrice, a loving couple who leave their humble home ostensibly to travel to a village a few days walk away. There, the pair hope to renew their relationship with their estranged son.

A simple enough thing, you might think, but the kicker—the tragedy, in truth—is that they don’t really remember him. They don’t really remember much of anything.

[Read More]

Mar 3 2015 12:30pm

The Skull Throne Shown

Demon Cycle Peter V Brett

Hotly anticipated doesn’t quite cut the mustard as a means of describing the excitement surrounding the publication of The Skull Throne, and though the fourth volume of Peter V. Brett’s bestselling fantasy saga is almost upon us, it wasn’t until this week that we knew what it would look like.

The design isn’t quite as striking as I’d like, but it’s what happens under the covers that counts, and from the synopsis it sounds as if The Skull Throne stands a chance of making up for the momentum The Demon Cycle lost in The Daylight War.

[The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.]

Mar 1 2015 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Early March New Releases

new releases UK

March is a special month for me—my birthday month, as a matter of fact—but if you can’t count on cake, a bunch of new books will have to do. And when I say a bunch, I really do mean it, thanks in large part to a strong showing by Titan and the re-emergence of Angry Robot, beginning with The Buried Life by Carrie Patel.

Beyond that, there’s The Buried Giant—the first new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since Never Let Me Go—and Persona by Genevieve Valentine, but The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis must be the book I’m most looking forward to in the fortnight forthcoming.

This (huge) edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Catherynne M. Valente, Dan Simmons, Ferrett Steinmetz, Kelly Link, T. C. Greene, Jo Walton, Sebastien de Castell, Michelle de Kretser, S. T. Joshi, George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozis, Col Buchanan, Lauren DeStefano, Leigh Evans, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Rowena Cory Daniells, James Goss, Pat Kelleher, John Twelve Hawks, Luke Scull, Lauren Oliver, Marie Rutkoski, Jonathan Wood and George Mann.

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Feb 25 2015 2:00pm

The Great Divide: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Our Endless Numbered Days Claire Fuller

Kids. They’ll believe almost anything if the “truth” comes from someone they trust. And why wouldn’t they? The world is wide and full of wonders we expect our children to accept without question. In that sense, the thought that a big ol’ bunny rabbit brings them chocolate eggs each Easter isn’t much less credulous than the idea that a thing called gravity keeps them from flying into the sky.

But there’s a big difference between a little white lie told with the best of intentions and the apocalyptic fiction Peggy Hillcoat’s father passes off as a fact at the start of Claire Fuller’s disarmingly dark, if indisputably beautiful debut.

[Read More]

Feb 24 2015 4:00pm

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]

Feb 23 2015 3:00pm

Bad Blood: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House

A slim, sorrowful volume that splits the difference between The Fault in Our Stars and The Girl with All the Gifts, The Death House documents the last days of several students in a school full of Defectives: young people who have been taken from their parents and installed in an isolated location because of something bad in their blood. Something that’ll kill them all before long.

It’s school but not school. Like this whole place is life but not life. At least the teachers, who disappear off to their own wing once lessons are done, will get out of here. Sometimes I’ll catch one watching us as we work as if we’re animals in a zoo. I can never decide quite what the look is. Fascination or fear, or maybe a bit of both.

Maybe a bit of both is appropriate...

[Read More]

Feb 23 2015 12:30pm

Mazel Tov! Jurassic London Celebrates Two New Anthologies

Jews Versus Aliens Zombies

The Chosen People are set to square off against two terrible, not to mention unexpected enemies in a pair of anthologies intended to “irreverently explore the links between speculative fiction and Judaism” showcasing a selection of stories that “run the gamut from the light-hearted to the profound, in turns surreal and enchanting.” Edited by World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar and Rebecca Levene of Smiler’s Fair fame, Jews Versus Zombies and Jews Versus Aliens are to be released as ebook originals on March 19, with a limited physical edition to follow in the future.

As Theodor Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream!” No doubt he was speaking of just such a project.

Feb 17 2015 12:30pm

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.]

Feb 17 2015 10:30am

Moorcock Gets Meta

Michael Moorcock

Monday morning got off to a cracking start thanks to Gollancz, which—in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek press release—announced its acquisition of three new books by Michael Moorcock starring a character any and all fantasy fans will be familiar with.

No, not Elric of Melniboné. Better! And markedly more meta...

The author’s “first full novel” in nearly ten years—excepting Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles, then—is set in “post-Second World War London, in a city desperately trying to get back on its feet, [it] follows a young man called Michael Moorcock.” It’s called The Whispering Swarm, and it’s coming this summer—with two sequels to follow in the next three years.

[Read More]

Feb 16 2015 9:00am

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.

[Read More]

Feb 15 2015 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Late February New Releases

new releases UK February

February’s surprisingly substantial showing shows no sign of slowing down in the next fortnight, folks. Low Town’s Daniel Polansky has the first volume of a double-edged new duology on the docket in Those Above, and Claire North—aka Catherine Webb—has a new book out too. Here’s hoping Touch proves as powerful as 2014’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

Stay tuned, too, for the conclusion of The 100 in Homecoming by Cass Morgan, and my personal pick of the period: a collection of the late, great Iain Banks’ unpublished poetry selected by his friend and fellow Scot Ken MacLeod and called, of course, Poems.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Malorie Blackman, Helena Coggan, Paul McAuley, George R. R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle, Sam Stone, D. J. Molles, James Treadwell, Sarah Pinborough, Francesca Haig, Kevin Hearne, William Giraldi, Jen Williams, Alice Hoffman, Claire Fuller, Kameron Hurley, Jennifer L. Armentraut, Brandon Sanderson, Cixin Liu, V. E. Schwab and Adam Christopher.

[Read More]

Feb 12 2015 11:30am

Down to Down Station

Simon Morden Arcanum

It’s been a while since we last saw Simon Morden, author of last year’s hugely ambitious Arcanum and the four Metrozone novels starring Samuil Petrovitch, but the blog post he put up on Tuesday explains how very busy he’s been—talking terms with a new publisher at the same time as beginning The Books of Down, a brand new fantasy series I asked the author to elaborate on. He did:

Down is a world that is joined to ours, at different places, and at different times. It’s both a direction and a destination. Down is inhabited by people who have reason to find it—whether they are desperate for adventure, escaping justice, or fleeing persecution. Finding your own way to Down is impossible. Down finds you when you least expect it, but when you need it most. Finding your way back to where you started is a different matter entirely. Down is a place of extremes: the forests are vast, the mountains touch the sky, the seas endless. The creatures that live there are from our myths, and there is magic for those who wish for it.

Down, however, is not safe. Down welcomes everyone equally, and changes everyone according to their nature. The good become saints. The wise become sages. The compassionate become healers. The strong become heroes. But Down turns the greedy rapacious, the liars into traitors and the genuinely wicked, oh, watch out for them...

[Read More]

Feb 11 2015 11:45am

Ian McDonald’s New Moon


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.]

Feb 4 2015 5:00pm

Memorylost: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes Anna Smaill

London comes alive like never before in Anna Smaill’s deeply unique debut, The Chimes: a dystopian love story about a boy who comes to the capital on a quest to find out what happened to his late parents, and why. Along the way unspeakable secrets will be revealed about a world in which “words are not to be trusted” and memories are temporary—the unintended consequences of a musical final solution:

At the height of dischord, at Allbreaking, sound became a weapon. In the city, glass shivered out of context, fractured white and peeled away from windows. The buildings rumbled and fell. The mettle was bent and twisted out of tune. The water in the river stood in a single wave that never toppled. What happened to the people? The people were blinded and deafened. The people died. The bridge between Bankside and Paul’s shook and stirred, or so they say. The people ran but never fast enough. After Allbreaking, only the pure of heart and hearing were left. They dwelled in the cities. They waited for order; they waited for a new harmony.

It never arrived. But now, if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of a beautiful new movement beginning...

[Read More]

Feb 3 2015 1:45pm

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.”

[Read More]

Feb 1 2015 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Early February New Releases

UK new releases genre fiction

A short month February may be, but it’s not short—not at all—on new books, not least Trigger Warning, the great Neil Gaiman’s first collection of short stories since Fragile Things in 2006.

The next fortnight will also see the release of Guns of the Dawn, a standalone fantasy by Shadows of the Apt’s Adrian Tchaikovsky, and my personal pick of the period: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Not only, but also: the second volume of The Shattered Sea is almost upon us. Half the World by Joe Abercrombie is only a few weeks away!

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Holly Black, Allan Stratton, Naomi Foyle, Chris Evans, Brian McClellan, Jonathan Barnes, Anna Smaill, Myke Cole, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Dave Bara, Emmi Itaranta, Victoria Aveyard, Mark Stay, Arwen Elys Dayton, Oscar de Muriel, Randy Henderson and John Joseph Adams.

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Jan 30 2015 11:00am

Song of the Shennachie: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

The Visitors Simon Sylvester review

A contemporary twist on an old fisherman’s myth complete with an immensely atmospheric setting, a strong yet sympathetic central character and a missing persons mystery that’ll keep you guessing till all is said and done—and then some—The Visitors by Simon Sylvester has everything including the girl going for it.

For all it has to offer, Bancree has seen better days. As a remote island off the coast of Scotland—bleakly beautiful, to be sure, but truly brutal too—it and its inhabitants have been hit hard by the economy’s catastrophic collapse. “There was nothing on the island that wasn’t already dying. Half the houses were for sale. The island population numbered only a few hundred, and that dripped away, year on year.”

Little wonder, as the only booming business on Bancree is whisky, and Lachlan Crane, the son set to inherit the local distillery, is at best “a bully and a womaniser,” and at worst? Well. Time will tell. For him and for Flo.

[Read More]

Jan 30 2015 10:30am

Regarding the Relevance of Rushdie

Salman Rushdie Enchantress of Florence

A staggering seven years since his last novel for adults, The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie—winner of a bunch of Booker Prizes, including the Best Of and the Booker of Bookers—is ready to re-enter the literary fiction fray with a book said to blend “history, mythology and a timeless love story to bring alive a world that has been plunged into an age of unreason.”

Based on the Arabian Nights, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is “a rich and multifaceted work [inspired by] 2,000 years of storytelling tradition yet rooted in the concerns of our present moment.”

[Read More]

Jan 28 2015 11:20am

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]