The Owner: Book One: The Departure by Neal Asher. Night Shade, $15.99, 380pp, tp, 9781597804479. Science fiction.
Two Worlds, One Enemy
Earth: An overpopulated world is under the brutal, high-tech thumb of the Committee. Towering robot shepherds, pain-inducers, and reader guns maintain control over masses of zero-asset citizens, but for the elite this is not enough. Twelve billion human beings must die before the Earth can be stabilized, and the Argus satellite laser network is almost ready.
Waking in a crate destined for an incinerator, Alan Saul remembers only pain and his torturer’s face. But he has company: Janus, a rogue AI inhabiting the forbidden hardware in his skull. Saul intends to stop Argus and get his revenge on the Committee — once he finds out who he used to be.
Mars: Abandoned by the Committee, the Antares Base faces extinction. The colonists there will not be returning to Earth nor will they be receiving any additional supplies or support. Unless they are very ingenious, they will run out of resources and be dead within five years.
As if that’s not dire enough, Varalia Delex finds herself caught in a violent power struggle with the base’s ruthless political officers — who see everyone else as expendable. As spilled blood turns the Red Planet even redder, Var discovers that Mars holds very new and interesting ways to die….
The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher. Tor, $25.99, 368pp, hc, 9780765329325. Fantasy.
R.S. Belcher burst onto the fantasy scene with his debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, which has already received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Best described as Buffy meets Deadwood, Six-Gun Tarot is a historical fantasy novel that is dark and wildly imaginative!
Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.
A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn… and so will all of Creation.
Wildly entertaining and filled with intrigue and adventure, The Six-Gun Tarot will captivate and delight readers.
The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. (Book Three of The Demon Cycle), Del Rey, $28.00, 642pp, hc, 9780345503824. Fantasy.
With The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, Peter V. Brett surged to the front rank of contemporary fantasy, standing alongside giants in the field such as George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Terry Brooks. The Daylight War, the eagerly anticipated third volume in Brett’s internationally bestselling Demon Cycle, continues the epic tale of humanity’s last stand against an army of demons that rise each night to prey on mankind.
On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.
Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more — the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.
The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.
Ahmann Jadir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons — a spear and a crown — that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.
But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.
Once Arlen and jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all — those lurking in the human heart.
Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Janet Brennan Croft. McFarland, $40.00, 216pp, tp, 9780786468331. Non-fiction.
Lois McMaster Bujold has won a shelf full of awards — Hugos, Nebulas, and others — for both her science fiction and fantasy writing. She is one of the most respected names in the field, always delivering polished, thoughtful, and well-crafted writing. She consistently addresses great issues and problems on a human level, where they are faced by quirky, prickly, and very real characters, and her exploration of the theory of reader-response is an important critical contribution. Yet there has been a surprising dearth of serious critical writing about her output — in part because she resists neat and easy classification by genre, politics, or subject matter. This collection of fresh essays aims to correct that situation by presenting critical insights into many aspects of her writing. Attention is given to both her Miles Vorkosigan science fiction series and her Chalion and Sharing Knife fantasy series, as well as the books that fall outside these series.
[Contributors: Janet Brennan Croft, Sandra J. Lindow, Amy H. Sturgis, Regina Yung Lee, Andrew Hallam, Virginia Bemis, Linda Wight, Shannan Palma, Sylvia Kelso, David O. Oberhelman, and John Lennard.]
The Heretic by Tony Daniel and David Drake. (a new novel in The General Series), Baen, $25.00, 336pp, hc, 9781451638813. Science fiction. On-sale date: April 2013.
David Drake’s legendary Raj Whitehall/The General series, stunningly reborn! In a world of muskets, bows and arrows, and reptile riding nomads, a young warrior fights against a totalitarian computer devoted to stasis.
Abel Dashian’s World Doesn’t Need a Hero
Duisberg is one of thousands of planets plunged into darkness and chaos by the collapse of the galactic republic, but where other worlds have begun to rebuild a star-travelling culture, Duisberg remains in an uneasy balance between mud-brick civilization and bloodthirsty barbarism.
The people of Duisberg have a god: Zentrum, a supercomputer from the ancient past. Zentrum has decided avoid another collapse by preventing civilization from rising from where it is. And because even a supercomputer and the powerful religion which it founded cannot block all progress, Zentrum has another tool: every few centuries the barbarians sweep in from the desert, slaughtering the educated classes and cowing the peasants back into submission. These are the Blood Winds, and the Blood Winds are about to blow again.
This time, however, there’s a difference: Abel Dashian, son of a military officer, has received into his mind the spirit of Raj Whitehall, the most successful general in the history of the planet Bellevue–and of Center, the supercomputer which enabled Raj to shatter his planet’s barbarians and permit the return of civilization.
One hero can’t stop the tide of barbarians unless he has his own culture supporting him. To save Duisberg, Abel must break the power of Zentrum.
With the help of Raj and Center, Abel Dashian must become . . . The Heretic!
The Water Witch by Juliet Dark. (Book Two of The Fairwick Trilogy), Ballantine, $15.00, 352pp, tp, 9780345524249. Fantasy.
From her bestselling debut The Lake of Dead Languages to her most recent novel Arcadia Falls, award-winning author Carol Goodman’s novels have garnered widespread acclaim from readers and critics. Since the inception of her career, an element of the supernatural — along with an affinity for academia and a deep knowledge of folklore — has pervaded all of her work.
Last year, with the publication of The Demon Lover under the pseudonym Juliet Dark, Goodman crossed over into the paranormal — a genre as seductive for her as it is for many of her fans. Appropriately enough, her heroine Callie McFay is a doorkeeper — an academic, half-witch and half-fey, who stands at the threshhold of our world and the world of Faerie.
Juliet Dark’s new novel The Water Witch bears all the hallmarks we have come to love in Carol Goodman’s fiction — an evocative, atmospheric sense of place; the use of classical and fairy tale motifs; the weaving of past and present into a gripping work of literary suspense; and exquisite prose. This second installment in The Fairwick Trilogy weaves together ancient folklore and magic in a passionate and breathtaking tale.
After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the honeysuckle forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine stream, more trouble is stirring….
The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance; but Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college. To stave off disaster, Callie enlists Duncan Laird, an alluring academic who cultivates her vast magical potential — but to what end? Deeply conflicted, Callie struggles to save her beloved Fairwick, dangerously pushing her extraordinary powers to the limit — risking all, even the needs of her own heart.
Exile by Betsy Dornbusch. (The First Book of The Seven Eyes), Night Shade, $26.99, 274pp, hc, 9781597804523. Fantasy.
He lost his wife, his homeland, and his name, only to find a destiny that would shake the gods….
Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.
Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen — and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.
Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name nad avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior…
Exile is the first book in a new fantasy series by Betsy Dornbusch.
The Arena Man by Steve Englehart. (an explosive new Max August thriller), Tor, $28.99, 368pp, hc, 9780765325006. Fantasy.
Magic and reality collide in The Arena Man — the fourth Max August fantasy thriller from comics legend Steve Englehart! Max is up against The Necklace, the right-wing conspiracy which has enlisted gods and demons in a plot to massacre tens of thousands and raise terrorist fears, all part of their worldwide master plan.
Max August never ages, thanks to a gift he earned studying under the legendary alchemist Cornelius Agrippa. Now, he’s a staunch crusader against the real-world and supernatural forces of evil. Though immune to the effects of time, Max is not destructible, and now must use all his magick to face the vast, worldwide rightwing conspiracy The Necklace.
Max has only a few allies in this fight: Pam — an apprentice in the alchemical arts — and Vee — a chanteuse with an uncanny knack for magick. But The Necklace is plotting a massive catastrophe fueled by the power of a demonic entity; using Black Ops helicopters to kill all the spectators in a jam-packed domed stadium, re-awakening terrorist fears and destabilizing the US government. Max will need all the help he can get — and all his magickal skills — to thwart the attack and survive another day.
Magic and suspense abound in The Arena Man — an action-packed adventure from master storyteller Steve Englehart.
The Secret of Ji: Six Heirs by Pierre Grimbert. AmazonCrossing, $14.95, 285pp, tp, 9781612184593. Fantasy.
From France’s most celebrated author of fantasy, Pierre Grimbert, comes the story of a secret that has been kept for 118 years, only to violently resurface to alter the lives of seven heroes.
The Known World is a sprawling region ruled by mortals, protected by gods, and plied by magicians and warriors, merchants and beggars, royals and scoundrels. Here, those with the gift of the Erjak share a psychic bond with animals; a far-reaching fraternity unites criminals of every persuasion in a vast army of villainy; and upon the mighty river Alt, the dead will one day sail seeking vengeance on the enemies of their descendants.
But for all the Known World’s wonders, splendors, and terrors, what has endured most powerfully is the strange legacy of Ji. Emissaries from every nation — the grand Goranese Empire; desolate, frozen Arkary; cosmopolitan Lorelia; and beyond — followed an enigmatic summons into the unknown. Some never returned; others were never the same. Each successive generation has guarded the profound truth and held sacred the legendary event. But now, the very last of them — and the wisdom they possess — are threatened. The time has come to fight for ultimate enlightenment… or fall to infinite darkness.
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. Del Rey, $25.00, 320pp, hc, 9780345534057. Science fiction.
Karen Lord’s award-winning debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent — a brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. It was awarded the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the William L. Crawford Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Mieville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company — and, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.
Her second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds, is her most ambitious work yet. It is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought love story. A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to who they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
A man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save the vanishing race. In the process, they will discover ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely duo — one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive — will find their own destinies in each other and a force that transcends all.
Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin. Bantam, $16.00, 440pp, tp, 9780345537997. Science fiction.
Long before A Game of Thrones became an international phenomenon, #1 New York Times bestselling author George R.R. Martin took his fans across the cosmos with Tuf Voyaging. Now back in print after almost ten years, Tuf Voyaging is the story of quirky and endearing Haviland Tuf, an unlikely hero just trying to do right by the galaxy, one planet at a time.
Haviland Tuf is an honest space-trader who likes cats. So how is it that, in competition with the worst villains the universe has to offer, he’s become the proud owner of a seedship, the last remnant of Earth’s legendary Ecological Engineering Corps? Never mind; just be thankful that the most powerful weapon in human space is in good hands — hands which now have the godlike ability to control the genetic material of thousands of outlandish creatures.
Armed with this unique equipment, Tuf is set to tackle the problems that human settlers have created in colonizing far-flung worlds: hosts of hostile monsters, a population hooked on procreation, a dictator who unleashes plagues to get his own way… and in every case, the only thing that stands between the colonists and disaster is Tuf’s ingenuity — and his reputation as a man of integrity in a universe of rogues.
Ghost Spin by Chris Moriarty. Spectra, $16.00, 592pp, tp, 9780553384949. Science fiction. On-sale date: 30 April 2013.
The Age of Man is ending. The UN’s sprawling interstellar empire is failing as its quantum teleportation network collapses, turning once-viable colonies into doomed island outposts. Humanity’s only hope of survival is the Drift: a mysterious region of space where faster-than-light travel — or something far stranger — seems possible. As mercenaries and pirates flock to the Drift, the cold war between the human-led UN and the clone-dominated Syndicates heats up. Whoever controls the Drift will chart the future course of human evolution — and no one wants to be left behind in a universe where the price of failure is extinction.
When the AI called Cohen ventures into the Drift, he dies — allegedly by his own hand — and his consciousness is scattered across the cosmos. Some of his ghosts are still self-aware. Some are insane. And one of them hides a secret worth killing for. Enter Major Catherine Li, Cohen’s human (well, partly human) lover, who embarks on a desperate search to solve the mystery of Cohen’s death — and put him back together. But Li isn’t the only one interested in Cohen’s ghosts. Astrid Avery, a by-the-book UN navy captain, is on the hunt. So is William Llewellyn, a pirate who has one of the ghosts in his head, which is slowly eating him alive. Even the ghosts have their own agendas. And lurking behind them all is a pitiless enemy who will stop at nothing to make sure the dead don’t walk again.
Peeled and Quartered by Jessica Rowe. $8.00, 62pp, tp, 9780988561106.
Peeled And Quartered is a good-weird, sci-fi, not-too-short story that will leave you wondering what’s next. If you like Philip K. Dick or Chuck Palahniuk, you should check this out.
The Mongoliad, Book Three by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo. 47North, $14.95, 804pp, tp, 9781612182384. Fiction.
In 2012, fans of Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear were introduced to The Mongoliad: Book One and The Mongoliad: Book Two, the first two installments in the Foreworld Saga, a collaborative series unlike any other that has enthralled fans of fantasy, martial arts, and historical fiction. Readers can now conclude this extraordinary journey this February with the final leg of the Foreworld journey, The Mongoliad: Book Three.
The Foreworld medieval adventure saga was actually born out of swordfighting. Stephenson and his fellow authors are avid practitioners of Western martial arts and they are part of an enthusiastic study group in Seattle. When Stephenson realized that the descriptions of swordfighting in his novels would have been much better with contributions from people with fighting expertise, the idea for a saga about the complex, bloody history of Western martial arts was born, featuring Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Joseph Brassey, Erik Bear, and Cooper Moo.
The Mongoliad: Book Three is the riveting third and final installment in this epic tale.
The shadow of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II hangs over the shattered Holy Roman Church as the cardinals remain deadlocked, unable to choose a new pope. Only the Binders and a mad priest have a hope of uniting the Church against the invading Mongols. An untested band of young warriors stands against the dissolute Khan, Onghwe, fighting for glory and freedom in the Khan’s sadistic circus of swords, and the brave band of Shield-Brethren who set out to stop the Mongol threat single-handedly race against their nemesis before he can raise the entire empire against them. Veteran knight Feronantus, haunted by his life in exile, leads the dwindling company of Shield-Brethren to their final battle, molding them into a team that will outlast him. No good hero lives forever… or fights alone.
In this third and final book of the Mongoliad trilogy from Neal Stephenson and company, the gripping personal stories of medieval freedom fighters form an epic, imaginative recounting of a moment in history when a world in peril relied solely on the courage of its people.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, adapted by Loic Dauvillier and Aude Soleilhac. Papercutz Classics Illustrated Deluxe, $13.99, tp, 9781597072830. Graphic novel adaptation.
It’s the Original Amazing Race…
London, 1872. The manservant Passepartout enters the service of the severe and punctilious Phileas Fogg. The latter having wagered with his friends that he would travel around the world in eighty days, they both embark the very next day on a voyage riddled with hazards. But they are unaware they’re being followed by a stubborn detective, convinced that Fogg is responsible for a theft at the Bank of England.
“Around the World in 80 Days” is the most-read book by Jules Verne. Mixing travel accounts and technical data, it recreates all of the author’s interest for science and the Industrial Revolution. Jules Verne was one of the first authors to successfully unite in his novels science fiction, adventure, and fantasy, to such extent as to now be considered a visionary.