Quite a few books came into my mailbox this month, a bit more than the usual:
- Interzone, issue 228 (through the courtesy of TTA Press
- "The Dream of Perpetual Motion" by Dexter Palmer (through the courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.
The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.
The Earth has been torn into two parts by an irreversible division. Whether due to nature, or the unknown depths of the mind itself, everyone is now either Human or Hater. Victim or killer. Governments have fallen, command structures have collapsed, and relationships have crumbled. Major cities have become refugee camps where human survivors cower together in fear. Amidst this indiscriminate carnage, Danny McCoyne is on a mission to find his daughter Ellis, convinced that her shared Hater condition means her allegiance is to people like him. Free of inhibitions, unrestricted by memories of peace, and driven by instinct, children are pure Haters, and may well define the future of the Hater race. But, as McCoyne makes his way into the heart of human territory, an incident on the battlefield sets in place an unexpected chain of events, forcing him to question everything he believes he knows about the new order that has arisen, and the dynamic of the Hate itself.
- "The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions" by Robert Rankin (through the courtesy of Gollancz
The pickled Martian's tentacles are fraying at the ends and Professor Coffin's Most Meritorious Unnatural Attraction (the remains of the original alien autopsy, performed by Sir Frederick Treves at the London Hospital) is no longer drawing the crowds. It's 1895; nearly a decade since Mars invaded Earth, chronicled by H.G. Wells in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Wrecked Martian spaceships, back-engineered by Charles Babbage and Nikola Tesla, have carried the Queen's Own Electric Fusiliers to the red planet, and Mars is now part of the ever-expanding British Empire.
The less-than-scrupulous sideshow proprietor likes Off-worlders' cash, so he needs a sensational new attraction. Word has reached him of the Japanese Devil Fish Girl; nothing quite like her has ever existed before.
But Professor Coffin's quest to possess the ultimate showman's exhibit is about to cause considerable friction amongst the folk of other planets. Sufficient, in fact, to spark off Worlds War Two.
- "Crossing Over" by Anna Kendall (through the courtesy of Gollancz
Whether it's a curse or a blessing the fact remains: whenever Roger is in enough pain he can cross over to the Land of the Dead and speak to the people there. It's an unexpected gift - and one that, throughout Roger's life, his violent uncle has taken advantage of. Roger has been hauled from fairground to fairground, and beaten into unconsciousness, in order to bring word of the dead to the recently bereaved. It's a hard, painful way of life, deceiving the living for a crust of bread.
So when Roger has the chance of a new life, it seems a gift. He has a chance at safety and at living a life of his choosing, tucked away in the royal court. But life is unexpected, and when Roger falls in love with the bewitching, willful Lady Cecilia he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. With every step he takes towards her, he is drawn deeper into court intrigue, into politics, and even into war . . .
. . . and when Roger's curious abilities come to the Queen's attention, everything changes forever.
Trapped in courtly politics, bound by secrets, Roger is torn between his own safety and that of his friends. He can save them . . . but only if he can bring himself to perform a deed so unthinkable that the living and the dead shrink from it alike. . .
The Land of the Dead is a dangerous place to be . . . and so is the Land of the Living.
- "The Magic Thief: Found" by Sarah Prineas (through the courtesy of Quercus Books
Conn is following a shooting star through a wilderness of woods and mountains, far from his home. What is he up to? Conn thinks the star will lead him to his locus magicalicus, or wizard stone. He needs this to save his city of Wellmet, whose magic is close to dying. With a new order of exile from Wellmet, this time with a death penalty, Conn has never been in such a tight fix. When a flame dragon shoots from the sky to pick him up in his mouth, Conn is swept away to a further adventure. Who is the dragon and will Conn ever get back to save his city, and himself, in time?
- "The Ninth Avatar by Todd Newton (through the courtesy of Trapdoor Books
Wizards have wondered for generations when a human would ascend to become the Ninth Avatar, and what would happen when they did. Opinions differ, but the Ninth Pillar of Magic—that of Darkness—is feared by many whether they use magic or not.
When Starka, an outcast priestess of the magic loathing Cathedrals of Myst, receives a prophecy heralding this ascension, a new force rises to threaten the entire known world. The Carrion army, a race of transformed humans bearing black horns and an unquenchable thirst for blood, destroys every city it comes across. Their leader, Zion, has only one goal: to become the living embodiment of magic that is the Ninth Avatar.
Aiding Starka in her quest to halt this are DaVille, a mysterious warrior bent on killing the Carrion leader; Cairos, a wizard from the betrayed city of Illiadora; and Wan Du and Lady Mayrah, a man and woman from rival nations now decimated by the Carrion. Amidst all this turmoil, Wadam, a Cardinal of Starka’s faith, seeks to seize control of Myst for himself and thereby subjugate the female leaders.
With the world in peril Starka must find the means to prevent these things, or die trying.
Mars has a hero that will defy both god and man ...
Rhone is an ex-soldier of mixed blood, more man than demon but with reserves of hellish power. He has led a peaceful life as a fisherman since his soldiering days and is raising his daughter, Enna. Returning home one day, he discovers Enna murdered ... or so he believes.
And so begins Rhone's manipulation by Ducain, a demigod hell-bent on ruling the heavens. After avenging his daughter's death, Rhone grieves and isolates himself in the mountains. Ducain tells him his daughter's soul is locked in purgatory but can be retrieved ... and if Rhone also frees the titan who once defied the king of gods, Enna will live again.
- "The Killing Moon" written by Rod Glenn, story by Rod Glenn & Jamie Mitchell (through the courtesy of Wild Wolf Publishing
A series of cataclysmic events bring about the global collapse of civilisation. The few remaining survivors must fight for their survival in a world plunged back into the dark ages.
Twenty years on, a new generation grow up out of the ashes and, after their idyllic life is destroyed, five friends must leave their childhood home in rural Northumberland and embark on a perilous journey to Middlesbrough, a city gripped with gang violence and sectarian killings.
Tragedy, lies and deceit mar their every step as they are cast into a dark and twisted world that is itself on the brink of destruction.
Thank you all very much!