Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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Apr 16 2014 7:30am

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

Today, Terry Pratchett does dragons and diaries, Anthony Horowitz moots Moriarty, Damien Walter decries the straightness of science fiction, David Mitchell signs on for a sequel, J. K. Rowling takes over the radio... and that?

That’s just a taste of all that’s to come in this week’s edition of the British Genre Fiction Focus.

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Apr 11 2014 10:10am

The Empire of Time David Wingrove

It’s the year 2999, and what do you know? The world is at war... or else what’s left of it is.

Only “the remnants of two great nations” remain—Russia and Germany, refreshingly—and having lasted this long, and suffered so much over said centuries, neither side will accept anything less than the eradication of its eternal enemy. Thus, they fight. But with the Earth a nuclear blast-blackened shadow of its former self, the only battleground they have at hand is the past.

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Apr 10 2014 5:00pm

The Revolutions Felix Gilman

John Carter from Mars meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in Felix Gilman’s boisterous new novel, in which a man of fact finds himself face to face with the stuff of fantasy.

The tale takes place in London in the late 1800s: a dark and dirty and dangerous place. Jack the Ripper has finished his grisly business, though the murders attributed to this almost mythical figure remain in recent memory, so when the Great Storm strikes, some see it as the world’s way of cleansing the city of its sins.

Other individuals, thinking this wishful, seek escape via more mystical means—among them the members of the Ordo V.V. 341, which fashionable fraternity Arthur Shaw attends at the outset of The Revolutions, with the apple of his eye, Josephine Bradman, on his arm. A science writer for the Monthly Mammoth, recently made redundant, he has precious little interest in spiritualism, however it’s her bread and butter, as a typist and translator specialising in the supernatural.

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Apr 9 2014 10:30am

Nnedi Okorafor Lagoon

At the outset of Nnedi Okorafor’s new novel, three strangers meet on Bar Beach, “a place of mixing” which provides “a perfect sample of Nigerian society.” But this evening the sea is uneasy, for from the Gulf of Guinea comes a booming sound so deep that it rattles the teeth of the few who hear it.

Agu is a military man who’s been attacked by his ahoa after refusing to stand silently by while his superior officer sexually assaulted a civilian. He’s come to the beach to take stock of his situation—as has Adaora, a marine biologist and mother of two whose “loving perfect husband of ten years had hit her. Slapped her really hard. All because of a hip-hop concert and a priest. At first, she’d stood there stunned and hurt, cupping her cheek, praying the children hadn’t heard. Then she’d brought her hand up and slapped him right back.”

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Apr 9 2014 7:30am

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

Today, we begin with news of a new annual award for horror novels in honour of the late, great James Herbert, who passed away last March.

This week also saw the announcement of a brand new book by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Buried Giant will be his first full-length fiction since Never Let Me Go almost a decade ago.

Also figuring into this edition: the ghost of Kurt Cobain, Christopher Priest’s plans, talk of Tigerman by Nick Harkaway, a couple of new covers and the launch of an eclectic assortment of novels based on a new game by David Braben.

There’s all that and much more to come, of course.

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Apr 7 2014 12:00pm

The Unquiet House Alison Littlewood

Five months since her parents passed away, the bereaved, Emma Dean, inherits a house in West Fulford. Pleased to have a project to occupy her thoughts, she sets about renovating the place, but though Emma means to make Mire House magnificent once more, it seems the house has other plans for its mawkish new occupant. Days into her stay she ends up locked in a closet in an ordeal that takes its toll on the whole of Alison Littlewood’s sinister new novel.

It’s only thanks to the intervention of Charlie—a distant relative who really should have inherited the house—that Emma sees the light of day again. But has he come to help her? Or are his designs rather darker?

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Apr 7 2014 9:00am

The Eye of Zoltar review Last Dragonslayer Jasper Fforde

Over the years, the Troll Wars have taken a terrible toll on the Kingdoms of Britain. All but a few of these fights have been finished in a matter of minutes—trolls, it transpires, are hardy targets—nevertheless countless lives have been lost to this pointless conflict... leading, among other things, to an overabundance of orphans. And what are orphans for if not enslaving, eh?

Jennifer Strange, the narrator of Jasper Fforde’s fun-filled fantasy fable, was one of the lucky ones.

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Apr 2 2014 7:30am

The White Mountain David Wingrove

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

Assuming you made it through April Fools’ Day okay, consider this here the all clear. At the very least you can breathe a sigh of relief, because the funny business is finally done.

Amongst the serious matters we’ll be touching on today, a belated update on Chung Kuo by David Wingrove—I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you, folks—as well as the announcement of a sequel to Tony Ballantyne’s dreamy look at London, and in Odds and Sods, press regulation, literacy in prisons, the opening of a bookshop for the 21st century.... plus plenty more where that came from.

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Mar 30 2014 10:00am

UK new releases April

From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your biweekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

Good god, would you look at all these books!

There are a silly number of series set to start, such as Roads to Moscow by Chung Kuo’s David Wingrove, the Songbird saga by Danielle L. Jensen, Kelley Armstrong’s Age of Legends and the chronicles of Caeli-Amur byRjurik Davidson. In addition to this, keep your peepers peeled for several exciting sequels, beginning with Binary by Stephanie Saulter, alongside the finale of Aidan Harte’s Wave Trilogy, a new Pantheon book, Gail Z. Martin’s return to the Ascendant Kingdoms, and the second Zenn Scarlett.

But the highlights of early April for me have to be new novels by a few of my favourite writers—like Django Wexler, Nnedi Okorafor, Alison Littlewood, Jasper Fforde and John Connolly. In short, it’s a hell of a fortnight to be a genre fiction fan.

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Mar 28 2014 9:00am

You will die, one day. As will I. Our time will come, and we will go. As the most memorable character in Claire North’s astonishing novel notes, that is “the fundamental rule of this universe. The very nature of life is that it must end.”

Many of us spend our days denying death, yes, but whether it is conscious knowledge or not, the inescapable fact that the worst will occur factors into our every decision. The paths we take, the choices we make—all are dictated by the finiteness of our futures. With just one life to live, our achievements are all the more meaningful. With no guarantee, really, that there’s more than this, our mistakes have to matter.

But what if they didn’t? What if death were not the end? What if there were... exceptions?

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Mar 26 2014 5:00pm

A Love Like Blood review Marcus Sedgwick

I’ve often heard it said that the littlest things in life can have the biggest impact—an assertion evidenced by Charles Jackson, a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps whose subsequent career in the field of haemophilia springs from something seemingly insignificant. Celebrating the liberation of Paris from the hands of the Nazis, he hunkers down in a bunker, only to half-see something weird: someone gulping blood from the warm body of a woman.

A vampire? Perhaps. But more likely a mere madman. “It was ludicrous; it was, as I’ve said, something I should not have seen, something wrong. Not just violence, not just murder, but something even more depraved than those acts.” Absent any evidence that a crime has been committed, Charles does his level best to dismiss this wicked thing he’s witnessed. But the damage is done, and the unsettling story told in A Love Like Blood begun.

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Mar 26 2014 7:30am

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

This week in the business, the Tolkien estate has reached a deal with HarperCollins to publish the grandfather of fantasy’s take on Beowulf, whilst Hodder & Stoughton has set about rescuing Quercus. What does it cost to buy a publisher this close to going under, one wonders?

Later on, Abercrombie readers rejoice, for Half a King is nearly here! And even without the fancy foils and finishes the author promises, the recently released cover art looks lovely.

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Mar 25 2014 12:00pm

The Elivs Room Stephen Graham Jones

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.

The sixth in a series of darkly fantastic chapbooks bearing the This Is Horror hallmark, ‘The Elvis Room’ by Stephen Graham Jones is an unsettling exploration of the science of the supernatural.

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Mar 21 2014 2:00pm

The Happier Dead Ivo Stourton

As one of the twentieth century’s most missed musicians once wondered, who wants to live forever?

A better question to ask, perhaps: who among us doesn’t? As far back as in The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world’s first literary works, we have dreamed as a people of sidestepping death; as far back as that, and further, immortality—whether through mythical or material means—has fascinated us in fiction and in fact.

According to certain scientists, these discoveries may be made mere decades from today, thus the promising premise of The Happier Dead. In the near future of Ivo Stourton’s new book, eternal life is indeed achievable, but far from free, I’m afraid. You could spend your entire natural life putting every penny you earn in a pot and you’d still struggle to cough up the deposit.

But in a society where passing away has become an embarrassment, what price wouldn’t you pay to avoid dying one day?

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Mar 19 2014 7:30am

Folio Prize

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

I was AFK last week, celebrating my thirtieth birthday, so there’s lots to talk about today, beginning with the question alluded to in the header: is British writing in decline? Say it ain’t so! Alas, a leading academic believes exactly that.

Later on, join me in riding the Red Eye by way of a new fiction list which promises to satisfy the same itch Point Horror did, then in Cover Art Corner, a look at Smiler’s Fair—the first secondary-world epic fantasy Hodder has ever published—and our first peek at Charlaine Harris’ new series.

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Mar 18 2014 7:00am

Den Patrick The Boy with the Porcelain Blade

To paraphrase A. A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh—and Tigger too!—the things that make us different are the very things that make us us.

But when you’re different—and who isn’t?—fitting in is a difficult thing. It’s far harder, however, for the likes of Lucien de Fontein, a young man who has no ears, I fear, and must display his most significant difference every day, come what may.

There are others like Lucien. Other Orfano, which is to say “witchlings [...] whose deformities were an open secret among the subjects of Demesne in spite of the Orfano’s attempts to appear normal.”

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Mar 15 2014 10:00am

New Releases March

From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your biweekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

There may be no competing with the monolithic last edition of the Hitlist, but there’s still loads to look forward to in the fortnight forthcoming, including the start of several new series—like The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke, Den Patrick’s much-discussed debut, and The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher, which is the inaugural volume of The Spider Wars.

As a matter of fact, wars and the horrors thereof are rather well represented in this roundup of notable novels, in sequels such as Valour by John Gwynne and Peter Higgins’ Truth and Fear. But of all the new releases published in this period, it’s standalones such as The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Echo Boy by Matt Haig, A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick and Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes that really do it for me.

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Mar 10 2014 4:30pm

Black Moon Kenneth Calhoun review

Black Moon is a book which wants to confuse you, and in that sense, it’s a soaring success.

The thought behind its apocalypse is appallingly plausible: a plague of infectious insomnia has wounded the world, laying almost the lot of us low in the process. Without sleep, the larger part of the population is losing it. Unable “to distinguish fact from fiction,” to tell dreams apart from reality, the inflicted become zombies, of a sort. Thankfully they’re absent that habitual hankering for brains, but “the murderous rage they feel when seeing others sleep” has already led to indescribable violence on a scale that beggars belief.

It falls to the few who remain relatively rational to figure out what in God’s name is going on...

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Mar 10 2014 9:30am

Descent Ken MacLeod review

The truth is out there, somewhere. But pinning it down can be pretty tricky.

In “an iffy skiffy future like none I would or could have imagined in my teens,” Scotland is independent, airships ride high in the sky, everyone wears capture glasses, and the poke bonnet has come back into fashion. Ridiculous, right? But that’s reality for Ryan—a teenage boy at the beginning of Ken MacLeod’s Descent—whose coming of age is dictated by the close encounter he has in the company of his neanderthal pal Calum.

It’s not as if they set out to see something weird—they’re just bored boys who decide one day, mid revision, to hike up a hill—but “that’s how it always begins,” isn’t it? “You wanted a walk. It was a wet afternoon and you fancied a drive. The night was vile and you were minded to check on the cow.” And then the aliens came!

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Mar 5 2014 4:00pm

Blood Kin review Steve Rasnic Tem

Folks are rarely as forthright in life as they are in literature.

Communicating the truth of the human condition would make for some messy stories, so even the most deftly developed characters are at best partial pictures of the people they’d really be. After all, we wear different faces each day, don’t we? We wear one at work, another at home; one in the company of our mothers, another alongside our lovers.

Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem is a book about the conflicting legacies we leave which deals with death and depression and disability whilst trading in tension and frequently intolerable terror to excellent effect.

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