Useless Wings January 28, 2015 Useless Wings Cecil Castellucci Of insect dreams and breaking hearts. Damage January 21, 2015 Damage David D. Levine Concerning a spaceship's conscience. And the Burned Moths Remain January 14, 2015 And the Burned Moths Remain Benjanun Sriduangkaew Treason is a trunk of thorns. A Beautiful Accident January 7, 2015 A Beautiful Accident Peter Orullian A Sheason story.
From The Blog
January 21, 2015
Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason SFF
Alex Brown
January 21, 2015
Agent Carter, I Think I’m in Love
Liz Bourke
January 21, 2015
The Illogic of Fairy Tales
Genevieve Cogman
January 16, 2015
Birdman is Actually Just a Muppet Movie
Max Gladstone
January 15, 2015
What Are Your Favorite Non-Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Shows?
Stubby the Rocket
Showing posts by: niall alexander click to see niall alexander's profile
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.”

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Jan 23 2015 11:30am

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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Jan 21 2015 10:00am

Creatureville: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society review

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen proposes that places, like people, have particular interests. Some specialise in film; some in food. Others areas boast about an abundance of athletes, or artists, or authors. The small town of Rabbit Back “was known to have no less than six writers’ associations, and that was without counting the most noteworthy writers’ association, the Rabbit Back Literature Society, which accepted members only at Laura White’s invitation.”

Laura White is an almost mythical figure in the Finland of this baffling but beautiful English-language debut, which is fitting considering the contents of her Creatureville series:

The local ceramicists for the most part produced water sprites, pixies, elves, and gnomes. Laura White had made these creatures popular all over the world through her children’s books, but in Rabbit Back in particular you ran into them everywhere you looked. They were presented as prizes in raffles, given as presents, brought to dinner as hostess gifts. There was only one florist in Rabbit Back, but there were seven shops that sold mostly mythological figurines.

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Jan 21 2015 8:30am

The Witcher Will Be Back

Sword of Destiny the Witcher

Look forward to much more Geralt of Rivia in the near future, folks!

Gollancz, who published Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, and Baptism of Fire, announced on Monday morning that they’d acquired a further three books in The Witcher Saga by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.

The first book, The Sword of Destiny, will be published in May 2015 alongside the blockbusting new computer game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, which won the Award for Most Anticipated Game during The Game Awards 2014. Sales for the previous two games in The Witcher franchise have totalled over 8 million copies worldwide. The Sword of Destiny is a collection of linked short stories which fills in some of the gaps in the Witcher’s legend.

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Jan 20 2015 1:45pm

Day Four Follows The Three

Day Four Sarah Lotz

The Three was without question one of the best and most hellish horror novels released in recent years. As I concluded in my review, Sarah Lotz’s “nightmarish indictment of contemporary culture [was] assiduously ambiguous, brilliantly balanced, carefully controlled and in the final summation fantastically crafted,” so I’m on board for Day Four, the “unforgettable sequel” Hodderscape revealed recently.

Day Four appears to shift the focus of The Three from the skies to the seas.

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Jan 20 2015 11:40am

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...

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Jan 18 2015 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Late January New Releases

new releases UK

A good beginning is a wonderful thing, but by the same measure, all things end, eventually—as this edition of the British Fiction Hitlist demonstrates.

Gareth L. Powell gives us Macaque Attack, the conclusion of the BSFA Award winning trilogy he started in Ack-Ack Macaque, and in Tamaruq, E. J. Swift brings her underrated Osiris Project to a close. That’s to say nothing of Saint Odd—the seventh and final book in Dean Koontz’s bestselling Odd Thomas saga—nor indeed to speak of The Key: the end of Engelsfors series Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg have found such success with.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Glenda Larke, Guy Adams, Amanda Hocking, Genevieve Cogman, Brian Staveley, Toby Venables, Julie Kagawa, Chuck Wendig, Samantha Shannon, Den Patrick, Neal Asher, Simon R. Green, Donald Hounam, Sarah Benwell, Bruce McCabe and Stephen Jones.

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Jan 16 2015 9:30am

Great British Bestsellers

The Fault in Our Stars

Figures collected by The Bookseller show that 2014 was a banner year for children’s fiction in Britain:

Led by hits from David Walliams, Jeff Kinney and Egmont’s Minecraft stable, the UK children’s market hit an all-time high in revenue and market share in 2014, and exceeded sales of Adult Fiction for the first time since accurate records began.

In case you were wondering, as I was, The Bookseller’s idea of “accurate records” began in 1998, when Nielsen Bookscan started analysing UK sales.

The news that the next generation is not only reading, but reading proportionately more than ever before, and reading real books in addition to digital editions has got to be good news... but where there’s good news, there’s usually bad news too. And what do you know? The market for adult fiction is failing.

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Jan 15 2015 5:00pm

Three Moments and Uprooted Cover Art

British Fiction Focus cover art

To extend the incredibly complicated case I made in the first 2015 edition of the British Fiction Hitlist, a new year means a bunch of new books means a raft of new cover art, and boy oh boy! Do I have a couple of lovely lookers for you?

Yes. Yes I do.

See, in the last week, Tor UK has unveiled the final frontispieces for a pair of eagerly-anticipated new books: namely one novel, by Temeraire’s Naomi Novik, and one collection of short stories by China Mieville, the incomparable author of The City & The City and my favourite trilogy of all time: the Bas-Lag saga.

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Jan 15 2015 12:30pm

Back to Hell with Clive Barker

Clive Barker The Scarlet Gospels

Get ready to say hello and goodbye both to two classic characters. Harry D’Amour—a major player in Everville—and Pinhead himself, he of The Hellbound Heart in part and the whole of the Hellraiser film franchise, are finally ready to return in “a good versus evil saga that goes straight to Hell.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you—or rather reintroduce you—to The Scarlet Gospels, a “farewell speech” of sorts, and Clive Barker’s first book for adults since 2007’s altogether too brief masterpiece Mister B. Gone:

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Jan 14 2015 12:30pm

Cold Season, Cold Silence

A Cold Season Alison Littlewood

Jo Fletcher Books has successfully concluded negotiations for not one, not two, but three new books by bestselling horror author Alison Littlewood, who today described the deal as “a very nice Christmas present indeed.”

The first of the three is called A Cold Silence—a surprise sequel to Littlewood’s 2012 debut. At the same time as getting all kinds of excited about its similarities to the Silent Hill series, I called A Cold Season “a powerful story about motherhood... about family, and the ties that bind us.” It went on to sell tremendously well, not least because it was featured in the Book Club chaired by former daytime television personalities Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

In the years since A Cold Season’s release, Littlewood has written two other unrelated novels—namely Path of Needles and The Unquiet House—alongside a whole host of superlative short stories. I for one thought she was done with Darnshaw, but obviously not.

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Jan 14 2015 11:45am

David Mitchell Reprises “The Right Sort”

David Mitchell The Bone Clocks

I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting for new books by David Mitchell. The man might well be one of the best and brightest writers of fiction in Britain, but alas, for he’s far from fast.

Though his first few books came out in relatively quick succession, there were four years between the release of Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and another four between that latter and last year’s The Bone Clocks. To wit, till this morning, I wouldn’t have expected its successor to see store shelves until 2018 at least—nor, it seems, would Carole Welch, the publishing director of Spectre.

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Jan 14 2015 11:05am

Ark Leads the Robot Reboot

Patrick Tomlinson

Gloomy as things looked for Angry Robot Books before the rapid round of deals done in November and December, there was light at the end of the tunnel, ultimately. In previous British Genre Fiction articles Chu’s Day and If Then What When I was pleased as a machine can be to report the British-based genre fiction imprint’s masterplan to get back on track, and a month later, the signs of the imminent Robot Reboot show no sign of abating.

In March, look forward to two terrific debuts—Ferrett Steinmetz’s first urban fantasy, Flex, and The Buried Life by Carrie Patel—in addition to a new edition of Ramez Naam’s Prometheus Award-winning science fiction novel, Nexus, ahead of the trilogy’s conclusion by way of Apex in May. And beyond that? A veritable raft of talent, with books by Rod Duncan, Danielle L. Jensen and Alyc Helms due soon—on top of If Then by Matthew de Abaitua of The Red Men renown and The Rebirths of Tao by bestseller Wesley Chu.

To make things still more interesting, Tuesday afternoon saw the announcement of another name to add to the Robot Army’s renewed roster: a recovering hippie by the name of Patrick S. Tomlinson, who lives, alliteratively, in Milwaukee with a Mustang and “a menagerie of houseplants in varying levels of health.”

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Jan 13 2015 1:30pm

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.

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Jan 7 2015 3:30pm

This Awakening World: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven Emily St John Mandel review

The “lost world” of Station Eleven, our world, is not recovered—it can never be that, alas—but it is remembered in Emily St. John Mandel’s aching account of the apocalypse: a tale of two times which takes as its basis the affairs of the folks affected, both before and after the fact, by the actor and philanderer Arthur Leander.

The man himself dies of a massive heart attack in the first chapter, passing away onstage during the climactic fourth act of a performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, an apprentice paramedic in the audience that evening, does his level best to save the day, but Arthur Leander is already lost: the last celebrity to fall before the Georgia Flu takes them all.

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Jan 6 2015 10:00am

Primal Scream: Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Monkey Wars Richard Kurti review

Imagine a marketplace in Kolkata. Can you see the vendors selling stalls full of colourful fruit? Smell the heady scent of spices lacing the hazy air? Hear the buzz and the bustle of customers bargaining and bartering? Good.

Now picture the marketplace populous with as many monkeys as men and women.

Were they peaceful creatures—the monkeys, I mean—it’d be a magnificent thing; a memory to truly treasure. But they aren’t, and it isn’t. These monkeys have no money, no manners, no morals. They take what they want, when they want it, and if someone comes between them and their ends... well. People have been hurt. But because “devout Hindus believe that all monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god, Hanuman,” authorities are unable to take action against said simians.

A true story, I’m told, though the tale screenwriter Richard Kurti spins out of it—an all-ages allegory of the rise of the Nazis arranged around a tragic romance right out of Romeo and Juliet—is as much fiction as fact.

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Jan 5 2015 5:00pm

Messenger as Metaphor: The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

Like The Best of All Possible Worlds before it, The Galaxy Game is a restrained space opera committed to splitting the difference between sweeping themes and smaller, sweeter story beats. It achieves this by focusing on unsuspecting characters caught up in machinations more elaborate than they can imagine—a pretty typical trajectory, to be sure, but don’t be fooled, folks: This is the most normal thing about these extraordinary novels, which take the tropes of science fiction as starting points and twist them both conceptually and intellectually.

In place of the love story of Karen Lord’s last, The Galaxy Game gives us a study of spacefaring infrastructure-cum-coming of age chronicle of a boy from The Best of All Possible Worlds. The son of the previous protagonist’s sorry sister, Rafi Abowen Delarua also happens to have inherited the same ability to influence that his abusive father made such dubious use of—so, for a year he’s been left to languish in the Lyceum.

The sinister facility’s mandate—“to bring together all the rogue and random psi-gifted of Cygnus Beta and teach them ethics, restraint and community”—is simple; deceptively so, Rafi realises, when his masters make plain their plans to cap him.

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Jan 5 2015 2:00pm

Here Be Lions: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown reached for the stars in Red Rising—a non-stop sprawl of story about striving and surviving as a slave to the lies of society that reminded readers of Katniss Everdeen’s plight in Panem—and almost hit that monumental mark. In Golden Son, he gorydamn does. It’s a far superior sequel, in fact: one of the rare breed of reads that improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable category.

In the first instance, this is a bigger book, with still bigger ambitions, played out across a markedly larger and more elaborate canvas—which is to say, we are no longer stuck in the Institute, where the games our carved protagonist Darrow had to play to prove his worth to the masters of Mars took place. Rather, the central Red—a rebel determined to unseat the same Society that hung his young lover for daring to sing a song—has already risen.

But that which rises must also fall...

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Jan 5 2015 12:00pm

Philosophilia: The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City Jo Walton

There’s a touch of time travel in The Just City, and a rabble of robots that may well be self-aware, but please, don’t read Jo Walton’s thoughtful new novel expecting an exhilarating future history, or an account of the aggressive ascent of artificial intelligence. Read it as a roadmap, though, and this book may well make you a better person.

A restrained, if regrettably rapey fable with a focus on exposing the problems with philosophy when it’s applied as opposed to lightly outlined, The Just City takes as its basis a certain social experiment proposed by Plato:

The Republic is about Plato’s ideas of justice—not in terms of criminal law, but rather how to maximise happiness by living a life that is just both internally and externally. He talks about both a city and a soul, comparing the two, setting out his idea of both human nature and how people should live, with the soul a microcosm of the city. His ideal city, as with the ideal soul, balanced the three parts of human nature: reason, passion, and appetites. By arranging the city justly, it would also maximise justice within the souls of the inhabitants.

That’s the idea, at least. Alas, in reality, justice is far harder to achieve than the great Greek believed.

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Jan 5 2015 10:00am

Intarra’s Tears: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

The Providence of Fire Brian Staveley

Attracting complaint and acclamation in almost equal measure, Brian Staveley’s debut proved precisely as divisive as I imagined it might: there were those readers ready to invest in its incredible potential, and there were those bored by its borderline by-the-numbers nature.

The Emperor’s Blades undoubtedly did suffer from some significant issues—its manifest mistreatment of women in particular irked this critic—but at the same time, I found in the fantasy saga’s first volume quite a lot to like. What little there was of its world was wonderful; the cosmic horror of its monsters was a welcome exception to certain unwritten traditions; meanwhile most, if not all of the narrative’s central characters were well developed by the conclusion of what was an engrossing chronicle overall.

At the end of the day, I dare say I enjoyed The Emperor’s Blades. My reservations, however, came back to me in a flash when the time came to see about the sequel. By taking the better part of a hundred pages to begin, it doesn’t put its best foot forward, I’m afraid... but beyond that? Boy oh boy. The Providence of Fire stands as a lesson in a sense: that great things can spring from small beginnings.

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