Saturday, July 9, 2011

In the mailbox

Although speculative fiction takes the lion’s share of my readings, science fiction seems to be the poor sister of fantasy and horror and is often left with only the crumbs from their rich meal of books. Looking over the latest arrivals in my mailbox it seems that once again science fiction will not get any reprieved and it still has to wait for a sit at the table. I am not sure about "Heaven’s Shadow", because it doesn’t appeal to me too much. "The Departure" on the other hand sounds interesting, but I was thinking of starting with an earlier novel by Neal Asher and maybe later with his new series. However, the fantasy section is another matter entirely. Mark Charan Newton’s "Legends of the Red Sun" is a series that I enjoyed so far, so "The Book of Transformation" will satisfy my curiosity about the events that follow "Nights of Villjamur" and "City of Ruin". Col Buchanan’s "Stands a Shadow" is the second novel in his "Heart of the World" series, of which I heard only good things, therefore both his books are close to my top of reading list. Daniel Polansky’s "The Straight Razor Cure" sounds really interesting and its synopsis appealed to me instantly, so it is a book that I am willing to read very soon.

It occurred to me, that for sometime I do have copies of three books that I received but did not showcase do to their arrival in electronic format. "Scenes from the Second Storey" is an anthology that gathered praise on the Australian speculative fiction scene, Lavie Tidhar’s "Osama" is put in an interesting light with the recent global events and "Black Gate" is a magazine that I wished for quite a while to start reading and recently I had the pleasure to receive a review copy from John O’Neill, the publisher and editor of "Black Gate" magazine.

- "The Book of Transformation" by Mark Charan Newton (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant. The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace. But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities - each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent. Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights’, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unweave the fabric of the world. And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his cultist order are heading back to Villjamur. And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered . . .

- "Stands a Shadow" by Col Buchanan (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Still grieving the death of her son, the Holy Matriarch of Mann has ordered her troops to embark on a mission to the Mercian Free Ports. Riding at the head of her army she plans to finally conquer the city of Bar-Khos, whose walls have kept them at bay for ten long years.
Ash has other plans for her. The old Rōshun warrior is determined that he will have vengeance for the crimes she has committed. But such a course of retribution is in direct opposition to everything he has lived for – this isn’t a Rōshun vendetta – it’s personal.
While Ash battles with his conscience, Ché, the Matriarch’s personal Diplomat and assassin, is questioning his own path. Watching as the Mannian army slaughters their way across the world, he wonders whether he believes any of the doctrine he has been taught to follow.
As the battle for Bar-Khos intensifies, more and more lives are affected: Bahn who leaves all he loves in the city to try to protect it from the ravening Mannian empire, Bull the murderer who senses a chance to make things right, and Curl, the young prostitute who is determined to seek her own retribution on the field of battle.
When the two armies clash – all looks set to be decided. But it’s not sheer force that will win this battle. But the tormented determination of one man seeking redemption . . .

- "The Departure" by Neal Asher (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it's a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers.
Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online . . .
This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator . . .

- "Heaven's Shadow" by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Heaven’s Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined . . .
What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has travelled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will ead to anything but harm for humanity.

- "The Straight Razor Cure" by Daniel Polansky (through the courtesy of Hodder);

Welcome to Low Town. Here, the criminal is king. The streets are filled with the screeching of fish hags, the cries of swindled merchants, the inviting murmurs of working girls. Here, people can disappear, and the lacklustre efforts of the guard ensure they are never found.
Warden is an ex-soldier who has seen the worst men have to offer; now a narcotics dealer with a rich, bloody past and a way of inviting danger. You`d struggle to find someone with a soul as dark and troubled as his.
But then a missing child, murdered and horribly mutilated, is discovered in an alley.
And then another.
With a mind as sharp as a blade and an old but powerful friend in the city, he`s the only man with a hope of finding the killer.
If the killer doesn`t find him first.

- "Scenes from the Second Storey" edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall (through the courtesy of Amanda Pillar);

Scenes from the Second Storey is an anthology that pays homage to an album that Morrigan Books’ publisher, Mark S. Deniz, believes is one of the greatest of all time; Scenes from the Second Storey, by The God Machine.
Each story in this collection has been inspired by a track from the album. Quirky, dark, insightful and sometimes downright disturbing, these tales reflect the emotions and images our authors experienced when they heard ‘their’ song from Scenes from the Second Storey.
In Scenes, you will meet a girl struggling to find cleanliness in a world full of corruption with Kaaron Warren; follow the twisted mental pathways of the egocentric with Robert Hood; watch two men search for enlightenment down a dark path with Paul Haines; and dance with a girl struggling to find her role within society with Cat Sparks.
These snippets are a mere taste of what you will discover between the covers of this anthology. If you love The God Machine or are looking for a collection that boasts a stable of talented Australian writers, you must grab a copy of Scenes.

- "Osama" by Lavie Tidhar (through the courtesy of Lavie Tidhar);

In a world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante...
Joe’s quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books is fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe’s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he’ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul—nor for the choice he will at last have to make...
In Osama, Lavie Tidhar brilliantly delves into the post-9/11 global subconscious, mixing together elements of film noir, non-fiction, alternative history and international thriller to create an unsettling—yet utterly compelling—portrayal of our times.

- "Black Gate", issue 15, Spring 2011 (through the courtesy of John O'Neill).

The theme of our massive 15th issue, captured beautifully by Donato Giancola’s striking cover, is Warrior Women. Eight authors — Jonathan L. Howard, Maria V. Snyder, Frederic S. Durbin, Sarah Avery, Paula R. Stiles, Emily Mah, S. Hutson Blount, and Brian Dolton — contribute delightful tales of female warriors, wizards, weather witches, thieves, and other brave women as they face deadly tombs, sinister gods, unquiet ghosts, and much more.
Frederic S. Durbin takes us to a far land where two dueling gods pit their champions against each other in a deadly race to the World’s End. Brian Dolton offers us a tale of Ancient China, a beautiful occult investigator, and a very peculiar haunting. And Jonathan L. Howard returns to our pages with "The Shuttered Temple," the sequel to "The Beautiful Corridor" from Black Gate 13, in which the resourceful thief Kyth must penetrate the secrets of a mysterious and very lethal temple.
What else is in BG 15? Howard Andrew Jones bring us a lengthy excerpt from his blockbuster novel The Desert of Souls, featuring the popular characters Dabir & Asim. Harry Connolly returns after too long an absence with "Eating Venom," in which a desperate soldier faces a basilisk’s poison — and the treachery it brings. John C. Hocking kicks off a terrific new sword & sorcery series with "A River Through Darkness & Light," featuring a dedicated Archivist who leads a small band into a deadly desert tomb; John Fultz shares the twisted fate of a thief who dares fantastic dangers to steal rare spirits indeed in "The Vintages of Dream," and Vaughn Heppner kicks off an exciting new sword & sorcery series as a young warrior flees the spawn of a terrible god through the streets of an ancient city in "The Oracle of Gog."
Plus fiction from Darrell Schweitzer, Jamie McEwan, Michael Livingston, Chris Willrich, Fraser Ronald, Derek Künsken, Jeremiah Tolbert, Nye Joell Hardy, and Rosamund Hodge!
In our generous non-fiction section, Mike Resnick educates us on the best in black & white fantasy cinema, Bud Webster turns his attention to the brilliant Tom Reamy in his Who? column on 20th Century fantasy authors, Scott Taylor challenges ten famous fantasy artists to share their vision of a single character in Art Evolution, and Rich Horton looks at the finest fantasy anthologies of the last 25 years. Plus over 30 pages of book, game, and DVD reviews, edited by Bill Ward, Howard Andrew Jones, and Andrew Zimmerman Jones — and a brand new Knights of the Dinner Table strip.

Thank you all very much!

2 comments:

ediFanoB said...

Mihai,
from the five books on the pic, three are on my list:
- Mark Charan Newton’s "The Book of Transformation" (I read and liked the two previous books)
- Col Buchanan’s "Stands a Shadow" (the first book in the series has been a great read for me)
Daniel Polansky’s "The Straight Razor Cure" (I'm waiting for this debut novel; I will read it in German; Der Herr der Unterstadt will be published in September 2011)
after reading the blurb of "Heaven’s Shadow" I must say that it aroused my interest.

Enjoy reading!

Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

Those three should be quite up on my reading list :)