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
Showing posts by: niall alexander click to see niall alexander's profile
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.

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Mon
Mar 23 2015 1:15pm

Jerusalem in the Spring

Late last year, Alan Moore, author of the 1996 novel Voice of the Fire (amongst a number of other things) finally finished the first draft of his second prose piece: an expansive speculative study of his hometown of Northampton.

You must be wondering why it took him so gosh-darned long. Well, Leah Moore—who kept fans apprised of her father’s progress on Facebook—explained that it ran “to more than a million words in draft form.” A nonsense number without proper context, so let me make sense of the insensible: Jerusalem is bigger than the Bible, and fully twice the length of War and Peace.

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Fri
Mar 20 2015 2:00pm

Dwellers of the Deep: Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Harrison Squared

Not an author to dare wearing out his welcome in any one genre, Afterparty’s Daryl Gregory turns his attention to tentacles in Harrison Squared, a light-hearted Lovecraftian lark featuring a friendly fishboy and a ghastly artist which straddles the line between the silly and the sinister superbly.

It’s a novel named after its narrator, Harrison Harrison—to the power of five, in fact, but around his mom and his mates, just H2 will do. Whatever you want to call him—and you wouldn’t be the first to go with “weirdo”—Harrison has a paralysing fear of the sea. A hatred, even, and for good reason, because when our boy was a baby, his father—Harrison Harrison the fourth, of course—was swallowed by the waves, one dark day; a day Harrison has forgotten almost completely.

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Fri
Mar 20 2015 10:30am

And the Winner of the Inaugural YA Book Prize Is...

Only Ever Yours

The inaugural YA Book Prize was awarded to Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill: a “startling and refreshing” dystopian debut described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Mean Girls.

The book had some stiff competition—from The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond and seven other shortlisted novels.

The award, which welcomed nominations of any and all YA titles written by authors living in either the UK or Ireland and was supported by World Book Day and The Reading Agency, “was launched by The Bookseller at its Children’s Conference in September 2014 after publishers and booksellers bemoaned the lack of recognition for YA in current book awards.” Ironically in light of its intent, the prize ultimately went to a previous award-winner, Louise O’Neill having been named Newcomer of the Year at the 2014 Irish Book Awards.

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Thu
Mar 19 2015 1:30pm

Hunting Rebecca Levene’s The Hollow Gods

Hunter's Kind

The Hunter’s Kind is coming! Book Two of Rebecca Levene’s Hollow Gods quartet, which began with a bang last July, is to be released less than a year since Smiler’s Fair sunk its hooks into more than a few folks, including yours truly. As I concluded in my review:

Fans of either Abraham or Abercrombie—fans of fantasy full stop, in fact—will find lots to like in Smiler’s Fair. Its setting, its narrative, its characters—unlikeable though they may be—all impress immensely, developed as they are with depth and discerning detail. In truth, the only complaint I’d make about the book is that there isn’t more of it.

Well, there will be in just a couple of months. Time to start getting excited, right? Not least because this week saw the release of some cracking cover art and a tantalising plot synopsis.

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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.”

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Tue
Mar 17 2015 10:30am

The Blades of Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Blades

City of Stairs is an awesome novel. That much shouldn’t be news to you. Here on Tor.com, Kameron Hurley confessed to falling a little in love with it, and in last year’s Reviewers’ Choice, Justin Landon and Rob H. Bedford both sang the praises of Robert Jackson Bennett’s first fantasy. I only read it recently, or I’d have made mention of it in my contribution too.

But better late than never! And it turns out my timing wasn’t too terrible, because today, it’s my tremendous pleasure to tell you that the Shirley Jackson Award-winning author’s first fantasy won’t be his last.

[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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Mon
Mar 16 2015 12:15pm

Terry Pratchett: The Legend Lives On

When Sir Terry Pratchett passed away last week, we lost so much more than an inspiring author and razor-sharp satirist. We lost a husband, a son, a father, a friend. We lost, at the last, a living legend... but only in life.

Legends, after all, are not born but made, thus they do not die as men and women must. On the contrary, they live on as long as their stories are still told; perhaps for even longer than that, because of course stories can take on lives of their own.

Today, to wit, let’s leave behind the particulars of Pratchett’s last battle with the blasted embuggerance, the better to turn instead to the tributes of those storytellers whose stories tell of his tale in turn.

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Sun
Mar 15 2015 10:00am

British Fiction Hitlist: Late March New Releases

It’s been a bunch of fun blogging about new releases in the UK for the last few years. Sadly, circumstances have conspired against the future of the British Fiction Hitlist. To wit, this will be the last edition.

But stem the tide of your tears, please—enough milk has been spilt—and take heart that we have the latter half of March to transition into acceptance; a period of two weeks bolstered by a bunch of promising new novels, not least The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie, which looks to scratch some of the same itches The Night Circus did. You’re also likely to have a tentacle of a time with Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory; and look out, too, for Prudence, the first volume of Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol. Last but not least, I have high hopes that The Glorious Angels will mark a return to form for Justina Robson.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Stephen Jones, Justim Somper, Lavie Tidhar & Rebecca Levene, Tom Lloyd, Mario Routi, Christopher Fowler, Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson, Debbie Johnson, Gavin G. Smith, Chrysler Szarlan, David Wingrove, Daryl Gregory and Marie Brennan.

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Fri
Mar 6 2015 4:00pm

A Brotherhood Sundered: Sword of the North by Luke Scull

Sword of the North Luke Scull

In “the five hundred and first year of the Age of Ruin,” the line between good and evil is so diminished that most are convinced it no longer exists. It’s every man for himself, and every woman as well, whether he hails from filthy Dorminia or she from lavish Thelassa. To wit, heroes and villains are artifacts of the past; fossils of a sort, all frail and friable... which is damn near a definition of the way Brodar Kayne has been feeling recently.

The so-called Sword of the North has “killed more demonkin than he could count, dire wolves and trolls by the dozen. Even a giant that had wandered down from the Spin the autumn just past.” He knows, though, that his monster-slaying days are numbered. The years have taken their toll, of course; he’s grown “old and weak: that was the truth.” Yet as inescapable as his increasing weakness is, Kayne thinks he has one last mission in him.

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Thu
Mar 5 2015 11:50am

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!]

Tue
Mar 3 2015 6:00pm

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.

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Tue
Mar 3 2015 1:30pm

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.]

Sun
Mar 1 2015 11:00am

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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Wed
Feb 25 2015 3:00pm

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.

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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.”

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Mon
Feb 23 2015 4:00pm

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]

Mon
Feb 23 2015 1:30pm

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.