Inspired by Books That I’ve Bought of Late on Savidge Reads

Simon’s post is a rundown of books he’s bought recently with a commentary of why he bought them. It gives a different side of him as a reader.

He rightly points out that ‘book blogging’ and ‘free books’ are seen by some as synonymous, which is unfair and slightly insulting to lots of book bloggers who have never had a ‘free book’ from a publisher.

‘Free books’ aka ‘advance reading copies’, as I understand it, come out of an author’s marketing budget so they won’t receive royalties on the copies that are sent out to create awareness of that book.

The point really of review copies is they aren’t ‘free’ but they are given in exchange for raising awareness of a book’s existence. This is why some bloggers get more books than others and as I said in my last post, I’m very privileged.

The books publishers send out are part of a pre-publication marketing cycle. People get selected to receive certain books at a certain time, which often make book blogs look very generic.

Now, I have no problem with that. I like a lot of the books I get sent and would happily recommend reading them. I’m a third into The Rhesus Chart and on prior performance I’m hoping I’ll be shouting about how good it is. But I also have my own tastes and whims, which is satisfied by buying books in one form or another.

And there are good reasons for me doing it – I like browsing and finding books, paying means that both the author and shop get revenue so they can write and sell more books in future (I’m a lover of short fiction and try to buy a lot of it because I want to add to sales numbers and have more to buy in future). And most importantly, paying dispels any obligation (publishers large or small are professionals I try and treat them as such) implied or otherwise – like I said the advance reading copies aren’t ‘free’.

And with that out of the way look at this pile of joy (I’ll be listing some ebooks in a Part Two):


Charlaine Harris’s Dead Until Dark, Lilly Bard Mysteries Omnibus & Harper Connelly Omnibus. I’ve read some of Harris’s Teagarden Mysteries and recently enjoyed Midnight Crossroad. There is something about her writing style which is soothing and enjoyable, so I thought I’d stock up (that’s a theme in my book buying) and as Midnight Crossroad has a lot of intertextually it seemed like a good reason to explore her other works. When I’m thinking of buying books a level of OCD kicks in. Here it looked like the Lilly Bard Omnibus was on the verge of being OOP (it was published a while ago and is now out as single volumes). I got the last copy from Waterstones online. The Book People have been selling the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries as a bundle of ten for £9.99 (I think) for ages. That leaves Harper so why not complete the set?

Votan and other novels: this one is easy as it’s the next in the new Fantasy Masterworks series (see precious post on historical speculative fiction) and I’ve got the aim of collecting and reading them all.

Unquenchable Fire, Ammonite and Sarah Canary: The obvious reason is they are all SF Masterworks (again see previous post) but also they are from the under-represented group: women. I’m trying to balance my SFM collection as best I can to have a high percentage of women’s SF, which is hard as they don’t make up a high percentage of what’s published. As for why I chose each author, Rachel Pollack (who is also a trans-women and even less represented in SF) has a new book out, The Child Eater, and it’s about time I read UF. Nicola Griffin also has a new book out, Hild, but I bought Ammonite when I  was about 1/3 into Slow River because I found her writing remarkable. Karen Joy Fowler, again, has a new book out (until I wrote this I didn’t actually make that connection between all three), We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which I picked up as an ebook. I’ve been put off by the blurb of Sarah Canary for ages. Somehow I came across another blurb which completely changed my mind.

Bear Grylls A Surval Guide to Life: I should have photographed Your Life – Train For It as they go hand in hand. Put this down in the ‘life challenging’ category as on a personal note I’ve been trying to improve different aspects of my personal life and his fitness book is helping with that so why not try his thoughts on life?

About Writing by Samuel Delany: This blog started as an offshoot of my writing blog when I was studying for my Creative and Professional Writing degree a few years ago and my passion with reading feeds my writing side and my passion for writing feeds the blog – though I don’t want to be seen as an ‘aspiring’ writer who blogs. No hidden agenda here just sharing good books. But the opening essay has completely changed by focus on my own writing and the struggles I’ve been having with it. It also, quite funnily, contradicts a huge aspect of Slow River’s construction, proving every rule has an exemption.

Don’t Point That Thing At Me: Completely new to me but reminded me of The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair, which was a fun take on existing crimey tropes.

Mystery Mile: I’m slow reading around the contemporaries of  Gladys Mitchell and Campion seems like a good direction to go in.

Gladys Mitchell: Vintage as releasing the Mrs Bradley Mysteries as a mix of normal print and  POD, as well as ebook, and I’m going to slowly collect all the series so why not keep going as and when?

Reach for Infinity/The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Anthology editor Jonathan Strahan has the most room on my book shelves, including the other two books in the Infinity series and the other seven Best of books. He has me covered in trying to keep up. The other reason is that I’ve bought the majority of Solaris’ anthology output as I want them to keep doing it.

Blythe Spirit by Nöel Coward: This is a keepsake from seeing Angela Lansbury’s performance being the text – and an ending I wasn’t expecting from my memory of the film.

Big Mamma Stories: I’ve probably had this too long to be here but it’s worth pointing it out as it’s from a small press and it’s collection of shorts. It came to my attention being part of this year’s James Tiptree Award honours .

Dead Man’s Hand: Joe R Lansdale’s ‘Dead in the West’ is the only Weird Wild West story I remember reading and this contains a new tale featuring its protagonist Reverend Jebediah Mercer. Plus, I’m exploring the Weird and this linked in a roundabout way to the Western-related ebooks that I’ll be mentioning in Part Two.

The City’s Son by Tom Pollack: I confess to having an early reading copy of this book but when it’s placed next to the next two in the series (The Lady of the Streets is out best month) it didn’t look right – and now it does it.

Fearful Symmetries: Ellen Datlow has the second amount of anthology space on my shelves at home so I try and keep that topped up when I can – plus it’s a small press book that came originally from Kickstarter.

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: it’s one of my favourite childhood films and this is a re-release of the novelisation with extras.

You’ll be glad to know that’s it until Part Two next weekend. I’m a little scared by how many books I’ve bought over the last few months but it was fun trying to figure out why I bought them.

So, what was the last book you bought and why did you buy it.


This post was inspired by reading Benchmarks by Algis Budrys and being impressed by how many of the mentioned works were so readily available on SF Gateway

As I mentioned a couple of days ago I’m exploring more and more of SF’s (Speculative Fiction’s) history, which is something I’ve been doing it off and on for ages (see Grass, The Stars My Destination,  Blood Music and The Body Snatchers along with shorts, ‘The Eyes Have It’ from Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett andThe Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaulefrom The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard )I’ve also got a review of Slow River I need to finish writing.

I’ve been reading The Weird off and on since it came out (Published on 8 May 2012, it contains 110 short stories, novellas and short novels. At 1,152 pages in the hardcover edition [though the UK is 1111], it is probably the largest single volume of fantastic fiction ever published, according to Locus.[1]). It contains over 100 years of weird fiction and I’m currently reading Bruno Schulz’s ‘Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass‘, 1937 (translation, Poland), which is very strange, as you’d expect.

I’ve been trying to make some headway with Michael Moorcock – seeing as I read the last one in  September after mentioning it in May  headway might be an optimistic way of saying it. Though, I’m almost done with Elric: The Fortress of the Pearl, so that is some kind of progress. I think I was put off by the bitty nature of Elric of Melniboné but The Fortress of the Pearl is ripping along at wondrous page. Proper old school adventure though I think that one that only Moorecock can tell.

I’m note sure why I want to try and cover more areas with my reading as I’m already trying to read more classic crime (cracking on with Mitchell’s Mrs Bradley. Crispin’s Gervase Fen, Allingham’s Campion, Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey and Bonfiglioli’s Charlie Mortdecai to name a few).

All this and keeping up with the SF present and trying to read more short fiction and that SF criticism. I’m  a little crazy.

Anyway SF Gateway’s Big Number, as of 29th May 2014, they’ve published 2599 classic SF titles. let me say that again: TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE titles.

I knew it was going to be lot as I’ve ben following their grow but they release a spreadsheet every now and again giving an update. That’s a scary number. It’s more than the average reader would ever read but it contains a back catalogue that you can dive into with a huge range of award-winning fantasy. SF Gateway have even provided lists of  BSFA, Arthur C. Clarke, Hugo and John W. Campbell awards-winners for easy access (which I’ve included at the end of this post).

It’s honestly impressive but also an illustration of how much of a multi-dimnesional-iceberg SF is. Whichever way your approach it it’s yours as Jared kindly pointed out the other day:

No denying it, I do. It’s a struggle to keep diving backwards with the all the new books coming out keeping you current. Or at least I think it is but YMMV. And being as unlimited as it is there really is something for everyone.

What older SF have you read recently?

And if you’re looking for a place to start with some SF here list a long list of   award winners:

 SF Gateway: The BSFA Award-Winners

A staggering 33 of the 43 winners to date are published by Gollancz or SF Gateway. Some have always been Gollancz titles, while others were first published by other imprints but are Gollancz or SF Gateway now. Take a look . . .

SF Gateway:

1970 Stand on ZanzibarJohn Brunner
1971 The Jagged OrbitJohn Brunner
1974 Rendezvous with RamaArthur C. Clarke
1975 Inverted WorldChristopher Priest
1976 OrbitsvilleBob Shaw
1977 Brontomek!, Michael G. Coney
1978 The Jonah KitIan Watson
1979 A Scanner DarklyPhilip K. Dick
1981 TimescapeGregory Benford
1982 The Shadow of the TorturerGene Wolfe
1983 Helliconia SpringBrian W. Aldiss
1984 Tik-TokJohn Sladek
1985 Mythago WoodRobert Holdstock
1986 Helliconia WinterBrian W. Aldiss
1987 The Ragged AstronautsBob Shaw
1988 GráinneKeith Roberts
1989 LavondyssRobert Holdstock
1991 Take Back PlentyColin Greenland
1992 The Fall of HyperionDan Simmons
1994 Aztec CenturyChristopher Evans
1999 The ExtremesChristopher Priest
2001 Ash: A Secret HistoryMary Gentle
2003 The SeparationChristopher Priest


1990 PyramidsTerry Pratchett
2002 Chasm CityAlastair Reynolds
2004 Felaheen: The Third ArabeskJon Courtenay Grimwood
2005 River of GodsIan McDonald
2006 AirGeoff Ryman
2007 End of the World BluesJon Courtenay Grimwood
2008 BrasylIan McDonald
2011 The Dervish HouseIan McDonald
2012 The IslandersChristopher Priest
2013 Jack GlassAdam Roberts

 SF Gateway: The Arthur C. Clarke Award-Winners

1988 The Sea and SummerGeorge Turner (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1989 Unquenchable FireRachel Pollock (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1990 The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman (SF Masterworks paperback)
1991 Take Back PlentyColin Greenland (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1992 SynnersPat Cadigan (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1992 FoolsPat Cadigan (SF Gateway eBook)
1996 FairylandPaul McAuley (SF Gateway eBook |Gollancz paperback)
1999 Dreaming in SmokeTricia Sullivan (SF Gateway eBook)
2003 The SeparationChristopher Priest (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)
2007 Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)
2008 Black ManRichard Morgan (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)

 SF Gateway: The Hugo Winners

Following our posts celebrating Gollancz and SF Gateway’s BSFAArthur C. Clarke and Nebula Award-winning novels . . . it’s the Hugo Awards!  And we’re delighted to say we have a very creditable 30 out of 62 winners, including the first and (for another couple of months, at least) most recent winners. Look:

1953 The Demolished ManAlfred Bester (SF Masterworks paperback)
1956 Double StarRobert A. Heinlein (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1958 The Big TimeFritz Leiber (SF Gateway eBook)
1959 A Case of ConscienceJames Blish (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1961 A Canticle for LeibowitzWalter M. Miller, Jr. (SF Masterworks hardback)
1963 The Man in the High CastlePhilip K. Dick (SF Masterworks hardback)
1964 Way StationClifford D. Simak (contained in SF Gateway Omnibus | SF Gateway eBook)
1965 The WandererFritz Leiber (SF Gateway eBook)
1966 DuneFrank Herbert (SF Masterworks hardback | SF Gateway eBook)
1967 The Moon Is a Harsh MistressRobert A. Heinlein (SF Masterworks hardback)
1968 Lord of LightRoger Zelazny (SF Masterworks paperback)
1969 Stand on ZanzibarJohn Brunner (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1971 Ringworld, Larry Niven (SF Masterworks paperback)
1972 To Your Scattered Bodies GoPhilip José Farmer (SF Gateway eBook)
1973 The Gods ThemselvesIsaac Asimov (SF Masterworks paperback)
1974 Rendezvous with RamaArthur C. Clarke (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1975 The DispossessedUrsula K. Le Guin (SF Masterworks paperback)
1976 The Forever WarJoe Haldeman (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds SangKate Wilhelm (SF Masterworks paperback)
1978 GatewayFrederik Pohl (SF Masterworks paperback)
1980 The Fountains of ParadiseArthur C. Clarke (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1990 Hyperion, Dan Simmons (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1993 (tie) Doomsday BookConnie Willis (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1993 (tie) A Fire Upon the DeepVernor Vinge (In Zones of Thought omnibus | SF Gateway eBook)
1998 Forever PeaceJoe Haldeman (Gollancz omnibus paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
1999 To Say Nothing of the DogConnie Willis (SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook)
2000 A Deepness in the SkyVernor Vinge (In Zones of Thought omnibus | SF Gateway eBook)
2006 SpinRobert Charles Wilson (SF Gateway eBook)
2011 Blackout/All ClearConnie Willis (Gollancz paperbacks | SF Gateway eBooks)
2013 RedshirtsJohn Scalzi (Gollancz paperback | Gollancz eBook)

SF Gateway & Gollancz: The John W. Campbell Award-Winners

1974 (tie) Rendezvous with RamaArthur C. Clarke
1975 Flow My Tears, the Policeman SaidPhilip K. Dick
1978 GatewayFrederik Pohl
1979 GlorianaMichael Moorcock
1981 TimescapeGregory Benford
1982 Riddley WalkerRussell Hoban
1983 Helliconia SpringBrian W. Aldiss
1984 The Citadel of the AutarchGene Wolfe
1988 Lincoln’s DreamsConnie Willis
1990 The Child GardenGeoff Ryman
1993 Brother to DragonsCharles Sheffield
1995 Permutation CityGreg Egan
1997 FairylandPaul J. McAuley
1998 Forever PeaceJoe Haldeman
1999 Brute OrbitsGeorge Zebrowski
2000 A Deepness in the SkyVernor Vinge
2001 GenesisPoul Anderson
2002 (tie) Terraforming EarthJack Williamson
2002 (tie) The ChronolithsRobert Charles Wilson
2005 Market ForcesRichard Morgan
2011 The Dervish HouseIan McDonald
2012 (tie) The IslandersChristopher Priest
2013 Jack GlassAdam Roberts

I was in London on Thursday as Forbidden Planet had another of their mega signings bringing together five Gollancz authors: David Devereux, Paul McAuley, Justina Robson, Adam Roberts, Chris Wooding all there signing their new books.

Eagle RisingGARDENS OF THE SUN HBK AW PFP CS3.inddChasing the DragonI am Scrooge A Zombie Story for Christmas Retribution Falls

Strangely I only spoke to Adam Roberts and Chris Wooding. I was too shy to speak to Paul McAuley as I’m stuck on a detail in The Quiet War and didn’t want to look like an idiot by having to ask him about it… David Devereux was being amazingly charming and Karen was having a big fangirl moment with Justina.

I had my own fanboy moment asking Adam Roberts to sign a copy of Stone, it has the best narrator and central character ever. He talks to a rock. And the tale he tells is amazing. I also got him to sign a copy of I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story For Christmas, which he promised would enhance my sense of the joy of Christmas no end.

I also got a copy of Retribution  Falls signed. And after I told him that Liz had been bigging him up and this is what he wrote:

Chris Wooding Sig

I love it!

I also had a good chat about dragons with Stephen Deas as well as talking maps, bitch fights and the King of Crags (I think that a fight could have broken out over the only proof of that in the pub afterward…)

There was also some discussion of covers… but that’s getting a little old to go into again…

It was great to meet everyone and if I start naming them I’m going to forget people and that’ll just make me feel bad. If you can go to any signing in Forbidden Planet they are usually, though there is the Del Toro effect, small enough to be intimate but not quiet.

That’s enough with the Gollancz promo me thinks as exciting as it was.

I was late to the event as I grabbed some time with one of the lovely people from Orbit before I went.

Every Last Drop Joe Pitt novel Charlie Huston Deep Water

So they have some fab books out around now too like the final books in both Charlie Huston Joe Pitt and Pamela Freeman’s Casting Trilogy series. I’m guilty to be being one book behind on both.

I got an ARC copy of Mr Shiver:


What’s it about?

It is the time of the Great Depression. The dustbowl has turned the western skies red and thousands leave their homes seeking a better life. Marcus Connelly seeks not a new life, but a death – a death for the mysterious scarred man who murdered his daughter. And soon he learns that he is not alone. Countless others have lost someone to the scarred man. They band together to track him, but as they get closer, Connelly begins to suspect that the man they are hunting is more than human. As the pursuit becomes increasingly desperate, Connelly must decide just how much he is willing to sacrifice to get his revenge.

How cool does that sound?

Something that’s very brutal is a book I was reading on the way up:


It’s been getting plenty of good reviews but what I didn’t realise was that it was a very well researched story as well. Loved the opening. It’s looking good.

If you’re on Twitter you’d hopefully have seen some cool stuff coming out of the offices of Tor UK. Here is a sample:


Nights of Villjamur

An ARC that was just amazing when it arrived was:


Hyddenworld: Spring is by William Horwood. Now I’m going to show ignorance but  I couldn’t see what was so exciting about it until I chatted to Graeme (of Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review – that’s a link to his post on the above event BTW)

Now a look at Angry Robot Books , who have a great trailer for Servant of the Underworld by Aliette De Bodard.


Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead. But how do you find someone, living or dead, in a world where blood sacrifices are an everyday occurrence and the very gods stalk the streets?

And I’ve just seen this fabulous cover for The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar


A brilliant criminal stalks the streets of London. Scotland Yard is on his trail. But how can the city remain safe when every book is a potential weapon?

Yay steampunk!

And  finally fabulous cover for the new new book from my favorite writer of the last ten years. The Sword of Avalon by Mark Chadbourn (via Speculative Horizons):


Now there is some interesting stuff behind this one. I’m a big Chadbourn fan so I had a dilemma as the US version called (The Silver Skull) is out first and out now. But Mark is asking his UK fans to wait for the UK version. So I am. Doesn’t stop me showing off the cover. The book is out in the UK 1 April 2010.

The book features Will Swyfte who if you’ve read Kingdom of the Spiders or Solaris Book of Fantasy you’ll have met before.