Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In the news

After a few problems that Liz Williams had with her series of novels, of which I become aware due to Aidan post on his A Dribble of Ink and covered also on Liz Williamsown blog, Detective Inspector Chen found a new home. I am very happy to see that the new home is Morrigan Books, a small publishing house that shows real signs of growth, that offered me a few interesting readings since its beginnings and with which I had a wonderful collaboration. So far Liz Williams published four novels in her Detective Inspector Chen series, “Snake Agent” in 2005, “The Demon and the City” in 2006, “Precious Dragon” in 2007 and “The Shadow Pavilion” in 2009, that will be followed as Morrigan Books states in its website by “Iron Kahn”, due to be released in December this year, and “Morningstar”, scheduled for 2011. As the same article informs the covers will be designed by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, a talented artist with whom I had the pleasure to make an interview in my Fantasy Art posts.

A while back I spotlighted a new anthology that promises to be very interesting, “The End of the Line” edited by Jonathan Oliver. “The End of the Line” is a collection of horror stories set in the underground and is due to be released in November this year by Solaris Books. Thanks to the editor, Jonathan Oliver, now we have the final line-up of his anthology, one that like the concept of the collection looks really interesting:

“Introduction” by Jonathan Oliver
“Bullroarer” by Paul Meloy
“The Girl in The Glass” by John L. Probert
“The Lure” by Nicholas Royle
“23:46 Mordren (via Bank)” by Rebecca Levene
“End of The Line” by Jasper Bark
“The Sons of The City” by Simon Bestwick
“The Roses That Bloom Underground” by Al Ewing
“Exit Sounds” by Conrad Williams
“Funny Things” by Pat Cadigan
“On All London Underground Lines” by Adam L.G. Nevill
“Fallen Boys” by Mark Morris
“In The Colosseum” by Stephen Volk
“The Rounds” by Ramsey Campbell
“Missed Connection” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Siding 13” by James Lovegrove
“Diving Deep” by Gary McMahon
“Crazy Train” by Natasha Rhodes
“All Dead Years” by Joel Lane
“Down” by Christopher Fowler

The Black Library announces a new download-only fiction magazine that will be available through their website. Hammer and Bolter will feature brand new short fiction, advance previews of forthcoming novels and occasionally interviews and other features, all from the vast Warhammer universe. The monthly issues of Hammer and Bolter will be priced at £2.50, but the first issue will be free. More information about the debut issue can be found on The Black Library’s blog.


In September Tor UK will release Alden Bell’s “The Reapers Are the Angels”, a novel that sounds to be captivating and that already gathers praise. In September I will also have a review of Alden Bell’s “The Reapers Are the Angels”, but until then I found a trailer for the book that it is very well made and adds to my excitement regarding “The Reapers Are the Angels”. Therefore the right premises of Alden Bell’s novel are set for me.

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe...
Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.
This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization – and to those who have created a new world order for themselves.
When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right, if she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she's done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things that she's not proud of and, along the road, she’s made enemies.
Now one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the one thing that makes sense…

Monday, August 30, 2010

In the mailbox

To my delight, a few surprises awaited me inside the mailbox at my return home:

- "The Last Page" by Anthony Huso (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.
Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.
Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the
Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.
Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the
Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.

- "The Bird of the River" by Kage Baker (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

In this new story set in the world of The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, two teenagers join the crew of a huge river barge after their addict mother is drowned. The girl and her half-breed younger brother try to make the barge their new home. As the great boat proceeds up the long river, we see a panorama of cities and cultures, and begin to perceive patterns in the pirate attacks that happen so frequently in the river cities. Eliss, the girl, becomes a sharp-eyed spotter of obstacles in the river for the barge, and more than that, one who perceives deeply.
A young boy her age, Krelan, trained as a professional assassin, has come aboard, seeking the head of a dead nobleman, so that there might be a proper burial. But the head proves as elusive as the real explanation behind the looting of cities, so he needs Eliss’s help. And then there is the massive Captain of the barge, who can perform supernatural tricks, but prefers to stay in his cabin and drink.

- "The Questing Road" by Lyn McConchie (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

Searching for a stolen foal, several farming folk inadvertently cross through a gateway into a different world. Not long after, the lord and lady of a nearby keep begin a trip to find the sire of the lady’s empathic cat. They too traverse a gate unwittingly and find themselves in the same strange world.
On the other side of the gate the two groups meet and discover that the world they have entered is in great danger. The foal has been stolen to be sacrificed as part of a scheme to loose a horde of demons upon the world. Somehow the cat and the foal are the keys to the possible salvation of this world, which may prove a home to them and their owners… or their doom.

- "The Sword of the Dawn" by Michael Moorcok (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

In Michael Moorcock’s vast and imaginative multiverse, Law and Chaos wage war in a never-ending struggling over the fundamental rules of existence. Here in this universe, Dorian Hawkmoon traverses a world of antique cities, scientific sorcery, and crystalline machines as he pulled unwillingly into a war that pits him against the ruthless and dominating armies of Granbretan.
The Sword of the Dawn, Dorian Hawkmoon’s quest to destroy the Dark Empire of Granbretan leads him onto the path of a man who possess a rare ring that allows men to travel through time. Hawkmoon uses this ring to travel to a far future New Orleans, where he must battle the Pirate Lords who possess the Great Sword of the Dawn, which can end the Dark Empire once and for all.

- "Dragongirl" by Todd McCaffrey (through the courtesy of Transworld Books);

Shortly after Fiona's return to Fort Weyr, three Turns older and wiser, her queen, Talenth, is infected with the dreaded sickness that has consumed so many of Pern's precious fire-breathing dragons. Talenth's recovery and the recovery of all the other dragons of Pern is delivered by the unflagging efforts of Lorana and Kindan at Benden Weyr - but their one vital clue is only bought with the loss of all the dragons of Telgar Weyr.
Fiona is sent to relieve the distressed weyrfolk of the now-dragonless Weyr. When her queen, Talenth, rises to mate, Fiona finds herself not only Telgar's senior Weyrwoman but in the center of the dilemma that confronts all Pern - how can the one thousand fighting dragons do the job of three thousand? And, if they can't, how long will it be before all of Pern is consumed by Thread?

- "The Holy Machine" by Chris Beckett (through the courtesy of Corvus Books);

George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. Worse, a robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. And beneath her good looks and real human skin, her seductive, sultry software is simmering on the edge of consciousness.
To the city authorities, robot sentience is an embarrassing malfunction, curable by periodically erasing and resetting silicon minds. Simple maintenance, no real problem, it’s only a machine. But its a problem for George, he knows that Lucy is something more.
Their only salvation is to flee the city, but Illyria is the last enclave of logic and reason in a world otherwise consumed by religious fundamentalism. Taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands is an almost suicidal risk. She has to pass as human because robots are seen as demonic mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified.
Their odyssey leads through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine…

- "Demons" edited by Jason M. Waltz (through the courtesy of Rogue Blades Entertainment).

Demons. Creatures of the Darkness. When the gates of Hell open, who stands between Man and the Abyss? From mankind's infancy, people have huddled in the dark, drawing signs in the air, muttering quiet prayers, quivering with dread at what roams in the night. Evil spirits riding dark winds blew at mouths of caves, scratched on walls of huts, rapped on stones of castles, whispered under eaves of mansions. And mankind trembled. Yet a few stood, drew steel imbued with magic to hue spirit as well as flesh, and walked out into the night to meet the foes of mortal men. Join the struggle in these 28 masterful tales of adventure and mayhem as heroes, forged as ‎strong as the steel they wield, defy foes from the realms of nightmare.

Thank you all very much!

Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Chesley Awards

While away on vacation one of the awards I follow with great interest announced its winners. The Chesley Awards are at their 25th Anniversary and The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists announced the winners of 2010 Chesley Awards, for works eligible from 2009, at ReConStruction, the 10th Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention, held between 5th and 8th of August in Raleigh, NC.

Best Cover Illustration – Hardback Book: Matthew Stewart for “The Valley of Shadow” by Brian Cullen (Tor Books)

Best Cover Illustration – Paperback Book: Scott Altmann for “The Mysterious Mr. Spine: Flight” by Jason Lethcoe (Grosset & Dunlap)

Best Cover Illustration – Magazine: John Picacio for “Asimov’s”, September 2009

Best Interior Illustration: Gary Lippincott for “Come to the Fairies Ball” by Jane Yolen (Wordsong)

Best Color Work – Unpublished: Raoul Vitale for “Unrequited”

Best Monochrome Work – Unpublished: Justin Gerard for “Steampunk Wizard of Oz”

Best Three Dimensional Art: Vincent Villafranca for “The Switching Hour”

Best Gaming-Related Illustration: Lucas Graciano for “Silverwing” (Legends of Norrath card)

Best Product Illustration: Matthew Stewart for “Battle Under the Mountain” (Illuxcon 2 ID tag, info folder and show catalog)

Best Art Director: Irene Gallo (Tor Books)

Contribution to ASFA: Ingrid Neilson for work on the Chesley Awards for 20+ years

Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement: Greg Hilldebrandt

Congratulations to all the winners!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to the regular schedule

Hi everyone! How are you? How have you been?
Vacation is almost over here and these days I attempt to settle into the usual schedule. Luckily the batteries seem to be fully charged after three weeks of relaxing and great time. Especially the days spent in Austria worked their magic, in a very beautiful country, with wonderful people and many interesting places to visit. It is the second time I go to Austria, the first time only briefly and now on a longer vacation, but I already feel the need to go back and spend more time in the amazing Austria. Although I planned to read more than usual I didn’t manage to exceed my reading rhythm. I did finish though Nick Kyme’s “Grimblades”, S.J. Bolton’s “Sacrifice” and Rowena Cory Daniells’ “The King’s Bastard” and in the coming weeks I’ll have my reviews posted. I still have to write them, starting with Mark Charan Newton’s “City of Ruin” which I finished before I started my vacation, and I am still thinking if a review of S.J. Bolton’s “Sacrifice” will find a place on my blog since this novel doesn’t fall in the same categories as the novels reviewed here.
Anyway, it is nice to see you again and to resume my blogging schedule :)

The first Austrian who welcomed us in his country.

The lovely pension where we stayed in Zell am See.

Zeller See, the lake from Zell am See that greeted us every day.

The streets of Zell am See offered plenty of walking and relaxation.

The wonderful Mirabell Gardens and on the background Hohensalzburg Fortress.

Mozart’s Birthplace.

Salzburg seen from the Hohensalzburg Fortress. At least a part of it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vacation time

Well, it is finally here and this year a bit longer than the usual. This week there are a couple of things to put in the proper order at work, but those require my attention only in the mornings, the afternoons being free in general. This means that I can spend more time with my family these days and catch the things up. Next week, on Tuesday I’ll be leaving for 10 days in Austria, in the Salzburgerland region, for some relaxing time and to recharge my batteries for the rest of the year. I can catch up with my readings too this week and I’ll also take a few books with me in vacation, but since I didn’t make a schedule for my blog I will not update my posts until 25th of August. I’ll resume my usual schedule from the end of August though. I hope you’ll take care of yourselves and enjoy a wonderful time these three weeks too. See you again on 25th of August.

Monday, August 2, 2010

In the mailbox

The postman has been busy lately, visiting me loaded with interesting books. The timing is great since the vacation is nearly at the door and then the time for reading is supposed to increase a bit.

- "Empire of Light" by Gary Gibson (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage.
If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium's borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso's own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive - and that's only if Dakota doesn't kill him first ...

- "Blood and Iron" by Tony Ballantyne (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Appointed Commander of the Emperor’s Army of Sangrel, Wa-Ka-Mo-Do of Ko tries to establish relations between the existing robot population and the humans who have recently arrived on Yukawa.
On the continent of Shull, Kavan forms the Uncertain Army and is marching to Artemis City. Upon discovery that the city’s generals have made an alliance with the humans, he retreats to Stark where he plans the eventual overthrow of Artemis and the humans.
Meanwhile, Karel is heading South, hoping to be reunited with Susan, his wife. As he walks, he hears more of the stories of the robots, and begins to understand something about his place on the world of Penrose.
But with limited resources and tensions growing between robot and human it’s only a matter of time before problems arise. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that the humans are a lot more powerful than the robots first expected…

- "The Evolutionary Void" by Peter F. Hamilton (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Peter F. Hamilton’s startling perspectives on tomorrow’s technological and cultural trends span vast tracts of space and time, his stories are as compelling as they are epic in scope, and yet they are always grounded in characters – human, alien and other – who, for all their strangeness, still touch our hearts and fire our imaginations. Now, in The Evolutionary Void, Hamilton concludes the highly acclaimed Commonwealth saga that has unfolded in The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void.

- "The Nemesis List" by R.J. Frith (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Humanity has expanded into the stars but at the price of its freedom. An autocratic and overbearing Government now rigidly controls every technical and scientific advancement. Deviation is punishable by death.
Out on the edges of space, criminals thwart the law, making money out of illegal tech, their ships jumping from galaxy to galaxy to avoid detection. Ex-soldier Frank Pak doesn’t care about politics or breaking the law, he just wants to keep his ship running. When he’s offered a contract to escort a runaway back home to his loving family – he doesn’t ask questions.
But his cargo is more dangerous than he realizes. Jeven Jones is no ordinary passenger. A result of illegal human experimentation, he’s a fast-tracked evolutionary leap into future. Thanks to his ability for perfect recall and a series of mental skills that he has no control over, Jones is a wanted man. The Government wants him dead. A fledgling revolution want to use him to unlock every advancement the Government has ever denied them. If Jones lives he’ll
start a war. If he dies the entire future of humanity dies with him…

- "The Passage" by Justin Cronin (through the courtesy of Orion Books);

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world.
She is.
Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
He's wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
It is.
Deep in the jungles of eastern Colombia, Professor Jonas Lear has finally found what he's been searching for - and wishes to God he hadn't.
In Memphis, Tennessee, a six-year-old girl called Amy is left at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy and wonders why her mother has abandoned her.
In a maximum security jail in Nevada, a convicted murderer called Giles Babcock has the same strange nightmare, over and over again, while he waits for a lethal injection.
In a remote community in the California mountains, a young man called Peter waits for his beloved brother to return home, so he can kill him.
Bound together in ways they cannot comprehend, for each of them a door is about to open into a future they could not have imagined. And a journey is about to begin. An epic journey that will take them through a world transformed by man's darkest dreams, to the very heart of what it means to be human.
And beyond.

- "The Silent Land" by Graham Joyce (through the courtesy of Gollancz);

A young couple are caught in an avalanche during a ski-ing holiday in the French Alps. They struggle back to the village and find it deserted. As the days go by they wait for rescue, then try to leave. But each time they find themselves back in the village. And, increasingly, they are plagued by visions and dreams and the realization that perhaps no-one could have survived the avalanche.
THE SILENT LAND is a brooding and tender look at love and whether it can survive the greatest challenge we will ever face.

- "Grimblades" by Nick Kyme (through the courtesy of The Black Library);

When orcs and goblins invade the Empire, the Emperor Dieter IV does nothing. While the other elector counts bicker, Prince Wilhelm is left to defend the Reikland alone. The Grimblades are among his brave army that opposes the greenskins. Amidst desperate war across the Empire and a plot to kill the prince, the Grimblades must survive this orc invasion and be victorious.

- "Sword of Justice" by Chris Wraight (through the courtesy of The Black Library);

Fresh from the slaughter of the Emperor's enemies in the north, Ludwig Schwarzhelm, Emperor's Champion, is sent to Averland to oversee the inauguration of a new elector count. Beset by greenskins, and hampered on all sides by the ambitions of rival magnates, he is soon fighting to keep the fractious province together. But the rot runs deep. Powerful forces in Altdorf seem determined to see him fail, and suspicion falls on even his most trusted allies. When all is at its bleakest, the mark of Chaos and the full horror of his task is finally revealed. Alone, doubted by those closest to him, this will be Schwarzhelm's greatest ever challenge, one on which the destiny of the Empire itself depends.

- "Johannes Cabal the Detective" by Jonathan L. Howard (through the courtesy of Doubleday);

Johannes Cabal, necromancer of some little infamy, returns in this riotously clever and terrifically twisted tale of murder and international intrigue.
In this genre-twisting novel, infamous necromancer Johannes Cabal, after beating the Devil and being reunited with his soul, leads us on another raucous journey in a little-known corner of the world. This time he’s on the run from the local government.
Stealing the identity of a minor bureaucrat, Cabal takes passage on the Princess Hortense, a passenger aeroship that is leaving the country. The deception seems perfect, and Cabal looks forward to a quiet trip and a clean escape, until he comes face-to-face with Leonie Barrow, an enemy from the old days who could blow his cover. But when a fellow passenger throws himself to his death, or at least that is how it appears, Cabal begins to investigate out of curiosity. His minor efforts result in a vicious attempt on his own life—and then the gloves come off.
Cabal and Leonie—the only woman to ever match wits with him—reluctantly team up to discover the murderer. Before they are done, there will be more narrow escapes, involving sword fighting and newfangled flying machines. There will be massive destruction, not to mention resurrected dead . . .
Steampunk meets the classic Sherlockian mystery in this rip-roaring adventure where anything could happen . . . and does.

- "The Crown of the Blood" by Gav Thorpe (through the courtesy of Angry Robot Books).

He had brought his master’s Empire to the furthest reaches of the world. All had fallen before him. Now he longs for home.
But home isn’t what it was. Could it be that everything he’s fought for all those years has been a lie?
A sweeping fantasy of immense battles, demonic magic and dark politics.

Thank you all very much!