LordofSilence.jpg

Lord of Silence by Mark Chadbourn
Published by Solaris and Out Now in UK (US release is 28th July)

I’m sure I’ve said it before but Mark Chadbourn via his heavily linked trilogies, Age of Misrule, The Dark Ages and Kingdom of the Serpent, is my favourite writer of modern fantasy. You’d this makes reviewing a work that isn’t linked to this series a little hard. And you’d be right.

Lord of Silence is and isn’t a departure for Chadbourn. Still here are the themes of anti-heroes, friendships, religion, symbology, and hidden knowledge but this time we’ve moved from modern day, multi-continent, multi-religion setting to a city-state surrounded by an almost impenetrable forest though the multi-religions remain.

Chadbourn has us follow two main threads starting with the murder of Idriss’s greatest hero. Vidar, the Lord of Silence has to take his place. The murder makes the start of events that are going to shake the foundations of both Idriss and Vidar. Vidar must solve the mystery of a three thousand year-old religion and its connection to the vampiric jewel imbedded in his chest.

And to be honest it’s quite an interesting mystery. Especially when you look at all the clues that are placed and the revelations throughout the story that gives a few twists in the tale. It’s not billed as the start of a series but you can see that by the end the possibilities for one are opened up.

As much as I enjoyed it by the end there is a strange sense of frustration in parts that I’m was missing something. The trouble is that Chadbourn is trying very hard to keep things from the reader and not to make things obvious. So it does get slightly confusing and the questions that come up don’t really have any satisfactory answers.

Like the nature of the forest and why it is surrounding Idriss – there is an answer of sorts but the greater sense of the place is left out. This partly because as it might spoil the sense of claustrophobia but also that there are more tales to tell and they might come to reveal more.

This holding back does make it a little tricky in the middle but we get back on track when Chadbourn reveals more evening bringing the question of science into this seemingly straight fantasy novel.

I feel that I’m treating Lord of Silence slightly too harshly as it is supposed to be less deep and more action than Chadbourn’s big series. The trouble is it seems that he’s fighting with himself not too go exploring more and delve deeper into the characters and the world with the action parts. The balance isn’t quite there.

The good thing is that if there are any more books he’s laid a good foundation with both characters and the world they inhabit – he’s definitely knocked down the walls of Idriss only to bring more enemies to the gate.

Overall a Chadbourn has made a worthy stab at traditional fantasy giving it his own twist. I’d just like to have seem more exploration of the world and people of Idriss but I was happy at the end and possibilities he’s left open.


blackmagicwoman evilways

 

Black Magic Woman

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and his “consultant”, white witch Libby Chastain, are hired to free a family from a deadly curse that appears to date back to the Salem witch trials. Fraught with danger, the trail finds them stalking the mysterious occult underworlds of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans and New York, searching out the root of the curse. After surviving a series of terrifying attempts on their lives, the two find themselves drawn inexorably towards Salem itself – and the very heart of darkness.

Black Magic Woman marks the start of an electrifying news series of supernatural thrillers following the exploits of occult investigators Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain, as they search out evil in the darkest corners of America.

Links:

Walker of Worlds Review

Evil Ways

A Quincey Morris supernatural investigation.

Supernatural investigator Quincey Morris and his partner Libby Chastain, investigate a series of murders where white witches are being hunted and killed – and Libby may be next on the list. From Iraq to America, a trail of clues is pointing to eccentric billionaire, Walter Grobius, a man fascinated with a devastating evil that can be traced back to biblical times. What’s more, it seems he may well be involved in a sick scheme for white supremacy across the USA, and Morris and Chastain find themselves in their most epic case as they look to prevent the apocalypse from being released.

Evil Ways continues the electrifying new series of supernatural thrillers following the exploits of investigators Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain.

Links:

Excerpt – bookspot central

Darque Reviews

Interviews:

Darque Reviews

Fantasy & Sci-fi Lovin’ Blog

Comment:

I have a soft spot for magic mixed with reality and when it’s mixed with detective stories I’m in my element! This series looks like it’s making the right kind of waves. Oh and I love the covers.

Anyone else have any thoughts about it?

Title: Infoquake
Author: David Louis Edelman
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 7 July 2008
Review Copy

What could high-tech business look like in the future? If Infoquake is anything to go by quite cutthroat. Dominated by bio/logics, a way of programming the body, the world that David Louis Edelman has created is packed full of technology and commentary on consumer society.

I must admit I was wary of Infoquake whilst reading the opening chapters. Who wants to read a book based on making a better way of seeing in the dark? But Edelman knocks it up a gear when we get to explore the past of Natch, a master of bio/logics and person loathed across the Data Sea.

And that is where I was hooked. Edelman creates a team of characters that you want to succeed. Not that Natch is the most likeable character but somehow I wanted him to climb up the business ladder because of Jara, Horvil and Merri.

The technology is fantastic as well as believable, at least in context.  You can project yourself anywhere whilst your physical body stays put.  Millions of people can gather in the same place at the same time.  And most impressive of all you can control your body by programming it.

Infoquake shows how a good sci-fi story can, and should, be. It shows the effect of technology on humanity and focuses on the humanity rather than the technology.

It’s not perfect. Natch isn’t an easy character to sympathise with on occasion but I think that makes him more interesting as you get to see his evolution. Some of the choices of scenes aren’t what I would have chosen. Especially the lack of tension at the end.There aren’t any aliens, any guns, explosions, space ships; just business and technology that’s going to affect millions.

And that makes it very refreshing. The drama is within the characters themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing how Eldelman expands his ideas in the next book of the Jump 225 Trilogy.

Title: Kethani
Author: Eric Brown
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 6 May 2008
Review Copy

Synopsis

It takes an alien race to show us what humanitiy truly is. This is the irony faced by a group of friends whose lives are changed forever when the mysterious alien race known as the Kethani come to Earth bearing a dubious but amazing gift: immortality.

Analyse/Comments/Thoughts

Kethani is a reality based what if? Quite different for a sci-fi story.  Brown meditates, through a series of linked tales, on the affect on immortality on the human race, but its not just immortality we’re offered, it’s the chance to escape Earth and see the stars.

And what does humanity do with this gift? Sit in the pub. A lot.  And this is the conflict I’m having with this novel.  It’s a small-scale drama with a backdrop of something larger and life changing.  I can’t help feeling a little disappointed.

Here’s why. Brown presents a series of interesting voices and takes on the how, even with promise of resurrection on death, we still need routine and we make connections that we hold on to.  He examines our feelings around death. And all round does a good job.

But he leaves the aliens, well, alien. They’re almost as mysterious at the start as they are at the end. They have enemies but there is not explanation of who they might be or what the conflict is. They have amazing technology but we only get to see it from the surface.

Though the aliens aren’t the focus of this tale. We are. And Brown chooses a narrow focus with a reason so he can explore the wider implications for a group of friends of the aliens arrival. There is a doctor, a teacher, a priest, dry-stone-waller, in other words a mix of intelligent and insightful views to draw from. And there are some impressive insights about how we grow apart when we don’t try and how death can be a freedom as well as a devastation as well as how religion can or can’t transform to encompass new ideas.

On a technical level there is a couple of annoying traits. Everything seems to take place after a heavy snowfall and descriptions are sometimes repeated and some characters are more fleshed out than others. Some of these problems are routed in the fact that some of the sections have previously been short stories and could have been fixed I think with a little more polishing. This might seem picky but I did get drawn out of the story at a few times because of them.

Summary

I’m left with feeling that there was the potential to do a lot more with the alien material especially as it’s unlikely to have a sequel. But if it did it would have to be a different beast.

Putting aside my want to have more alien insight.  Brown shows a skill for examining the human condition and how we look at death in an unconventional sci-fi story. It’s an insightful take that’s well worth reading but it might leave you wanting more, which isn’t really a bad thing, is it?

7.5/10

Don’t just take my word for it

Fantasy Book Critic review
SCI FI Weekly review

Ok, so may is almost over but the good news is that you should be able to buy any of the books listed. All expect one are British releases though a lot of them have had or are having an American release. It’s a mix of new releases and paperback releases. I’ve cut it down to the books I’d most likely read if they were put in front of me rather than books that just look interesting otherwise it would take me another month to put up the list :D

*means it’s on the shelves.

*Rant by Chuck Palahniuck
Vintage

Synopsis:
“Rant” is the oral history of one Buster ‘Rant’ Casey, in which an assortment of friends, enemies, detractors, lovers and relations have their say on the man who may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time. Rant is a darkly glittering anti-hero whose recreational drug of choice is rabies, and whose own personal Viagra is the venom of a black widow spider. He soon leaves his half-feral hometown for the big city, where he becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. On designated nights, the Party Crashers chase each other in cars in the hope of a collision, and all the while Rant, the ‘superspreader’, transmits his lethal disease…

Comment:

I reviewed the hardback of Rant last year and said:

By the time I got to the end I wanted to start all over again in order to see how what’s revealed in the end is already told to you from the beginning. I probably will re-read it was the end is a little more complicated than I expected. This might make it a little disappointing to some readers who want everything a bit more cut and dry or who enjoyed the Party Crashing for just causing chaos.

Chuck’s next book Snuff is also out in the US now and in August over here and has a great review by Fantasy Book Critic

*The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
Pan Books

Synopsis:
AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems. It is a culture of rich diversity with a place for everyone. A powerful navy protects it from any hostile species that may lurk among the stars. For Commonwealth citizens, even death has been overcome. At its centre is a massive black hole. This Void is not a natural artefact. Inside there is a strange universe where the laws of physics are very different to those we know. It is slowly consuming the other stars of the galactic core – one day it will have devoured the entire galaxy. Inigo, a human, has started to dream of a wonderful existence of the Void. He has a following of millions of believers. They now clamour to make a pilgrimage into the Void to live the life they have been shown. Other starfaring species fear their migration will cause the Void to expand again. They are prepared to stop them no matter what the cost. And so the pilgrimage begins…

Comment:

I also managed to read The Dreaming Void and concluded:

The Dreaming Void is set in an amazing imaging of the future of the human race. It’s complex and challenging but has huge moments of satisfaction throughout. If you like your science fiction to explore what it is to be human with all our potential and our weaknesses and enjoys seeing new worlds and technology you’ll love Part One of The Void Trilogy. If you like your narratives to follow a more linear path this maybe a little too in-depth to be satisfactory.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marrie Phillips
Vintage

Synopsis:
Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a delapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out…Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down. “Gods Behaving Badly” is that rare thing, a charming, funny, utterly original first novel that satisfies the head and the heart.

Comment:

Lastly of this month’s paperback releases that I’ve already reviewed. I had this to say about Gods Behaving Badly:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. It was a wonderful easy read that managed to be both entertaining and thought provoking. The characters are wonderfully imagined, though I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a few of the Gods as there was so much more I wanted to know about them.

*Iron Angel by Alan Campbell
Tor

Synopsis:
Order has collapsed in Deepgate. The chained city is now in ruins; the Deadsands beyond are full of fleeing refugees.The Spine militia, unable to come to terms with the loss of their church, are trying to halt the exodus with brutal force. Driven away by the mob, Rachel Hael leads Dill along a very dangerous route through the wastelands, but what should have been a straightforward flight to Sandport becomes a desperate march for survival after the angel is captured and mutilated. Rachel just wants to keep her friends alive, but the offspring of the dread goddess Ayen have other ideas, the death of the underworld god Ulcis having not gone unnoticed by his six siblings. Cospinol, the god of brine and fog, is coming for his brother’s murderers, and he’s bringing his own version of hell with him. Wreathed in fog, Cospinol’s foul skyship has already reached Sandport.

Cog Island will now become the focus for a clash of powers: of men and gods and archons and slaves all forced into desperate alliances, a battle in which the outcome will be decided not by force, but by sacrifice. Whoever wins, it’s bad news for everyone except Iril, god of death. For in the end there’s going to be a lot of blood.

Comment:

I received a review copy of Iron Angel a few weeks ago which speared me on to read and review its prequel – Scar Night, which I greatly enjoyed and was nothing like I expected.

Fantasy Book Critic and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review have managed to read it and pass judgement and it seems that Campbell ups his game in Iron Angel so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

*Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan
Orbit

Synopsis:

England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs. But a great light casts a great shadow. In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few. And two courtiers, struggling for the favour of very different royal patrons, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind their thrones. What they find has the potential to fracture both worlds. This is a breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England.

Comment:

Chris, the Book Swede has a wonderful interview with Marie and there is a positive review at The Bookbag. If you haven’t noticed by now that I have a thing for things faerie and worlds within our worlds. I’m wondering

*Dawn Over Doomsday by Jaspre Bark
Abaddon

Synopsis:
As America lies bleeding, Native American Chief Hiamovi seeks to unite his people into a single nation capable of reclaiming the US from the white man. His growing army is on a collision course with cult leader Samuel Colt, who intends to put the country back in the iron grip of the once mighty Neo Clergy. The two men are set for a showdown at Little Bighorn, once site of Custer’s legendary last stand, now a twisted, nuclear landscape. The fate of the battle may just be decided by Anna Bontraeger, a former sex slave from Pennsylvania, rescued from a brothel by rogue scientist Matthew Greaves and taken on a perilous road trip across a devastated continent. Greaves and his small band have to get Anna to Little Bighorn before Colt or Hiamovi, so she can unlock the secrets which will save what remains of humanity and bring about a new dawn over Doomsday!

Comment:

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review has a not so positive review and to be honest it’s not my kind of thing but I’ll give a try at some point.

*The Fabric of Sin by Phil Rickman
Quercus
Synopsis:

The Master House, close to the Welsh border, is medieval and slowly falling into ruins. Now the house and its surrounding land have been sold to the Duchy of Cornwall. But the Duchy’s plans to renovate the house and its outbuildings are frustrated when the specialist builder refuses to work there. ‘This is a place,’ he tells the Prince’s land-steward, ‘that doesn’t want to be restored. Directed by the Bishop of Hereford to investigate, deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins discovers ancient connections between the house and the nearby church, built by the Knights Templar whose shadow still envelopes isolated Garway Hill and its scattered communities. Why did all the local inns have astrological names? What deep history lies behind the vicious feud between two local families? And what happened here to intimidate even the great Edwardian ghost-story writer M R James?When Merrily learns that she – and even her daughter, Jane – are under surveillance by the security services, she’s ready to quit.

But a sudden death changes everything, and she returns to Garway to uncover fibres of fear and hatred stitched into history and now insidiously twisted in the corridors – and the cloisters – of power.

Comment:

I’ve enjoyed all the books in the six Merrily Watkins series that I’ve read so far. This is number nine and I have seven, eight and this one lined up to indulge myself in. And for some weird reason I always put books I know I’m going to enjoy below writer I’ve never tried or not sure of. Looking forward to seeing what Merrily Watkins gets involved in next.

*Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Gollancz

Synopsis:
‘Buy my stepfather’s ghost’ read the e-mail. So Jude did. He bought it, in the shape of the dead man’s suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock. But the rest of his collection doesn’t make the house feel cold. The bones don’t make the dogs bark; the movie doesn’t make Jude feel as if he’s being watched. And none of the artefacts bring a vengeful old ghost with black scribbles over his eyes out of the shadows to chase Jude out of his home, and make him run for his life …

Comment:

I’ve been following this book and waiting for the paperback release for ages. I know you shouldn’t compare but having a famous father should, I hope, help make this a cracking read.

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
Penguin
Synopsis

BOND IS BACK…
The publication of DEVIL MAY CARE is set to be one of the key literary moments of 2008. Written to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, the novel is the electrifying new chapter in the life of the most iconic spy of literature and film – Bond, James Bond.
The manuscript of the novel is currently being kept under 24 hour guard in a top-secret secure facility in the UK – the details of the plot and characters are strictly embargoed until 00.01 hours on May 28th 2008. However, snippets of information have already leaked from the publishers, including one line from the text… ]

`Come in, 007,’ said M. `It’s good to see you back.’

We have also been told that that, picking up from where Ian Fleming left off, Sebastian Faulks takes Bond back to the height of the Cold war in a story of almost unbearable pace and tension. Add to this all the glamour, thrills and excitement that one would expect from any adventure involving Bond, and DEVIL MAY CARE promises to be one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated books of the year.

Comment:

This is probably the release of the year for a lot of James Bond fans. It comes 40 years after the last Ian Fleming penned bond, Octopussy and The Living Daylights. I’ve never read a Fleming Bond book though I have been tempted. I grew up watching Bond movies when there was only three channels and films were shown at Bank Holidays and Christmas. So my idea, like my idea of Sherlock Holmes as the Jeremy Brett version is fixed from what I’ve seen rather than read and I’m not sure if the cinematic and literary versions will gel or conflict.

The Host by Stephanie Myer
Sphere

Synopsis:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading ‘soul’ who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Comment:

This is a bit of a surprise entry for me. Not because of its subject matter but because it came out of nowhere and rocketed up the hardback charts. Actually that’s not quit true. I had seen books from her Twilight Series in Borders and I avoided as I’m feeling anti-vampire at the minute. Though I understand they are quite popular ;). Again Fantasy Book Critic and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review have already read it and have a slight difference of opinion. See the comments on Graeme’s post for more thoughts.

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves by Stephen Hunt.
HarperVoyager

Synopsis:
From the author of The Court of the Air, a hugely engaging, Victorian-style adventure, filled with perilous quests, dastardly deeds and deadly intrigue – perfect for all fans of Philip Pullman and Susanna Clarke Professor Amelia Harsh is obsessed with finding the lost civilisation of Camlantis, a legendary city from pre-history that is said to have conquered hunger, war and disease — tempering the race of man’s baser instincts by the creation of the perfect pacifist society. It is an obsession that is to cost her dearly. She returns home to Jackals from her latest archaeological misadventure to discover that the university council has finally stripped her of her position in retaliation for her heretical research. Without official funding, Amelia has no choice but to accept the offer of patronage from the man she blames for her father’s bankruptcy and suicide, the fiercely intelligent and incredibly wealthy Abraham Quest. He has an ancient crystal-book that suggests the Camlantean ruins are buried under one of the sea-like lakes that dot the murderous jungles of Liongeli.Amelia undertakes an expedition deep into the dark heart of the jungle, blackmailing her old friend Commodore Black into ferrying her along the huge river of the Shedarkshe on his ancient u-boat.

With an untrustworthy crew of freed convicts, Quest’s force of female mercenaries on board and a lunatic steamman safari hunter acting as their guide, Amelia’s luck can hardly get any worse. But she’s as yet unaware that her quest for the perfect society is about to bring her own world to the brink of destruction!

Comment:

After hearing mixed things about The Court of the Air, I’ve put it to one side into the “if it’s a rainy day I really should really read it” pile (I don’t have such a pile but you get the idea). Though after reading the Fantasy Book Critic‘s emphatic review of The Kingdom of the Waves plus he liked the first one I’ll have to make up my own mind I think and actually read it ;).

Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont
Myrmidon Books

Synopsis:

Stephen Bardot is a taxi driver working on the night shift in Brighton. He works such long shifts that he is often driving while exhausted, and it is then that he starts to experience major alterations to his perception of reality. People start to take lifts in his cab who know things they shouldn’t, and who ultimately may not even be real, although the question of what constitutes reality forms one of the basic themes of the novel. He regularly gives lifts to Valerie – beautiful, haunting, but terminal – from 13 Wish Road to her positive thinking classes at the Cornerstone Community Centre on Palmeira Square. When he is no longer asked to collect her, he fears that she is dead, and queries this with Sal, one of the night operators. Her response turns Stephen’s world upside down. ‘But Stephen,’ she tells him, ‘there is no such address. Wish Road doesn’t have a number thirteen.’ As time passes, the world gets weirder. People appear (and disappear) who know far too much about Stephen and his past, and who lure him further and further into the twilight world of Thirteen. But if he asks any questions, he gets hurt. Ultimately, he decides, for the sake of both his safety and his sanity, he must walk away… but Thirteen has no intention of letting him go.

Comment:
Slipping from the end of April but I can’t let it get away. I’ve let my more literary interests wain for the last few months so I’m a little out of the loop but I know this book has been a favourite by quite a few people so I’m glad it’s finally had a paperback release. I’m going to pick this one up when I get paid.

The Reapers by John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton
Synopsis:

They are the Reapers, the elite among killers. Men so terrifying that their names are mentioned only in whispers. The assassin Louis is one of them. But now Louis, and his partner, Angel, are themselves targets. And there is no shortage of suspects. A wealthy recluse sends them north to a town that no longer exists on a map. A town ruled by a man with very personal reasons for wanting Louis’s blood spilt. There they find themselves trapped, isolated, and at the mercy of a killer feared above all others: the assassin of assassins, Bliss. Thanks to former detective Charlie Parker, help is on its way. But can Angel and Louis stay alive long enough for it to reach them?

Comment:

If I’m a little behind on the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman (see The Fabric of Sin above) then I’m seriously in arrears with John Connolly, having read only the first two Charlie Parker books and this is book eight and I’ve only dipped into Nocturnes, not to mention having The Book of Lost Things waiting. Though I always think that it’s a good thing when you know you have more books in a series that are already out there for you to move onto when you’ve finished the last one. At least that’s what I keep telling myself ;)

Hero by Perry Moore
Corgi Childrens

Synopsis:
Even though Thom Creed’s a basketball star, his high school classmates keep their distance. They’ve picked up on something different about Thom. Plus, his father, Hal Creed, was one of the greatest and most beloved superheroes of his time until a catastrophic event left him disfigured and an outcast. The last thing in the world Thom wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And he’s been asked to join the League – the very organization of superheroes that disowned Hal. But joining the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes: Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and, Ruth, a wise old woman who can see the future. Together these unlikely heroes become friends and begin to uncover a plot to kill the superheroes. This groundbreaking and widely acclaimed novel tells an unforgettable story about love, loss, and redemption.

Comment:

I’m buying this one, apart from the fact that I’ve heard good things about it. I think more publishers should take risks in their schedules and this one needs to supported!

Blind Faith by Ben Elton
Black Swan

Synopsis:
Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where ‘sharing’ is valued above all, and privacy is considered a dangerous perversion. Trafford wouldn’t call himself a rebel, but he’s daring to be different, to stand out from the crowd. In his own small ways, he wants to push against the system. But in this world, uniformity is everything. And even tiny defiances won’t go unnoticed. Ben Elton’s dark, savagely comic novel imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a sex-obsessed, utterly egocentric culture. In this world, nakedness is modesty, independent thought subversive, and ignorance is wisdom. A chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something rather closer to home?

Comment:

Ben Elton is a strange man. First coming to wide public attention as a verbal, almost ranting, political stand-up comedian, but on top of that he’s a novelist, sit-com writer, and even written musicals. This has been recommended by a friend of mine and I’d like to see what’s he’s up to. I greatly enjoyed Popcorn when I read that.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
McSweeney’s Publishing

Synopsis:
A series of linked essays analyzes works of literature important to the author, argues for the importance of enjoying a diverse range of reading options, and explores the author’s own writings from a perspective of personal history.

Comment: Another one from the end of April. His novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, brought him to attention and it would be interesting to see some non-fiction.

Death Message by Mark Billingham
Sphere

Synopsis:

The first message sent to Tom Thorne’s mobile phone was just a picture – the blurred image of a man’s face, but Thorne had seen enough dead bodies in his time to know that the man was no longer alive. But who was he? Who sent the photograph? And why? While the technical experts attempt to trace the sender, Thorne searches the daily police bulletins for a reported death that matches the photograph. Then another picture arrives. Another dead man …It is the identities of the murdered men which give Thorne his first clue, a link to a dangerous killer he’d put away years before and who is still in prison. With a chilling talent for manipulation, this man has led another inmate to plot revenge on everyone he blames for his current incarceration, and for the murder of his family while he was inside. Newly released, this convict has no fear of the police, no feelings for those he is compelled to murder. Now Tom Thorne must face one of the toughest challenges of his career, knowing that there is no killer more dangerous than one who has nothing left to lose.

Comment:

I keep meaning to try Mark Billingam… maybe this one.

Whatever Makes You Happy by William Suttcliffe
Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

In William Sutcliffe’s new novel, the hapless gap-yearers of “Are You Experienced?” have given way to three men in their early thirties who are not (in the eyes of their alienated mothers) properly settled. Matt works for lads mag BALLS! and is a serial dater of girls half his age. Paul is an experienced hand at lying and evasion to keep his life choices a secret from his mother. Daniel spends his Saturday nights alone in his flat reading novels, pining for ex-girlfriend and love of his life Erin. The mothers decide to launch a co-ordinated attack: they will arrive, without warning, to stay with their sons for one week with the intention of man-handling them back onto the right path. Wonderfully funny, with some characteristically hilarious set pieces, William has once again shone a brilliantly incisive spotlight on his generation.

Comment:

I read two of Sutcliffe’s novels what I was an emotional teenager and really enjoyed them. I wonder what he’s like now he’s grown up,

The Alchemist by Michael Scott
Corgi Childrens
Synopsis:

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects – the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Comment:

A mix of fantasy, fact and fiction for children. I’d give it a go.

The Deep by Helen Dunmore
HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

Synopsis:

The third spellbinding story about Sapphy and Conor’s adventures in the powerful and dangerous underwater world of Ingo. A devastating flood has torn through the worlds of Air and Ingo, and now, deep in the ocean, a monster is stirring. Mer legend says that only those with dual blood — half Mer, half human — can overcome the Kraken. Sapphy must return to the Deep, with the help of her friend the whale, and face this terrifying creature — and her brother Conor and Mer friend Faro will not let her go alone!

The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore

Synopsis:

The breathtaking conclusion to Helen Dunmore’s critically-acclaimed Ingo series. Sapphire, Conor and their Mer friends Faro and Elvira are ready to make the Crossing of Ingo — a long and dangerous journey that only the strongest young Mer are called upon to make. No human being has ever attempted this thrilling voyage to the bottom of the world. Ervys, his followers and new recruits, the sharks, are determined that Sapphire and Conor must be stopped — dead or alive!

Comment:

Not overly keen on water related tales but Helen Dunmore read from the first in a series at an event I went to and it was interesting enough.

Incandescence by Greg Egan
Gollancz

Synopsis:

A million years from now, the galaxy is divided between the vast, cooperative meta-civilisation known as the Amalgam, and the silent occupiers of the galactic core known as the Aloof. The Aloof have long rejected all attempts by the Amalgam to enter their territory, but have permitted travellers to take a perilous ride as unencrypted data in their communications network, providing a short-cut across the galaxy’s central bulge. When Rakesh encounters a traveller, Lahl, who claims she was woken by the Aloof on such a journey and shown a meteor full of traces of DNA, he accepts her challenge to try to find the uncharted world deep in the Aloof’s territory from which the meteor originated. Roi and Zak live inside the Splinter, a world of rock that swims in a sea of light they call the Incandescence. Living on the margins of a rigidly prganised society, they seek to decipher the subtle clues that can reveal the true nature of the Splinter. In fact, the Splinter is orbiting a black hole, which is about to capture a neighbouring star, wreaking havoc. As the signs of danger grow, Roi, Zak, and a growing band of recruits struggle to understand and take control of their fate.

Meanwhile, Rakesh is gradually uncovering their remote history, and his search for the lost DNA world ultimately leads him to a civilisation trapped in cultural stagnation, and startling revelations about the true nature and motives of the Aloof

Comment:

I’m thinking I should read more Sci-fi, and Egan is a grand master.

Kethani by Eric Brown
Solaris

Synopsis:
It takes an alien race to show us what humanitiy truly is. This is the irony faced by a group of friends whose lives are changed forever when the mysterious alien race known as the Kethani come to Earth bearing a dubious but amazing gift: immortality. These superbly crafted episodes deal with human emotions in the face of the vast consequences of the alien arrival, and show how people across the world react to this benign invasion, how ultimately we evolve as we gain the stars.

Comment:

More sci-fi this time from the guardian’s sci-fi/fantasy reviewer. I’m just curious if he can practice what he preaches.

Song of the Shiver Barrens by Glenda Lake
Orbit

Synopsis:
Ligea’s son, Arrant, leaves Tyrans for Kardiastan to take his place as Mirager-heir, while Ligea prepares to halt an insurrection. But Arrant’s skills as a Magoroth are dangerously inconsistent, and his father, Temellin, finds it difficult to communicate with this secretive young man he barely knows. Arrant’s singular ability to communicate with his half-brother, Tarran – a part of the collective mind known as the Mirage Makers – leads them both towards the possibility of a tragic clash with the encroaching Ravage. As Arrant’s enemies among the Magoroth plot to ruin his family and his future as heir, he begins to realise there is a greater mystery to solve if he is to prevail.

Comment:

I’ve fallen for the cover of this one – and collective minds sounds quite cool and a little scary.

The Front by Patricia Cornwell
Little, Brown

Synopsis:
Massachusetts State Investigator Win Garano is given one of his most challenging cases yet when he is asked to investigate the death of a young British woman murdered more than forty years ago. Assumed to be a victim of the Boston Strangler, blind Janie Brolin was raped and left for dead in 1962. With no DNA and sketchy police records, this is a case that will test Garano to his limits. It will take him on a journey through the archives, into the latest innovations in forensic technology, and into partnership with senior officers at London’s New Scotland Yard. And as Garano unearths deadly secrets from the past, his hard-nosed boss Monique Lamont is putting both their lives in jeopardy with her lust for power and success. With past and present colliding, the tension mounts with every page…

Comment:

Finally, I’m wondering if a different set of character will stretch Cornwell into upping her game!

And there are probably more but I think 30-odd is more than enough. Not a bad selection of stuff even if I do say so myself!

It’s always good to have something to look forward to and I now have the first book on “Must Read in 2009″ list. The Lord of Silence. This is a bonus feature in addition to his regular scheduled novels.  

SOLARIS is proud to announce a new acquisition from popular British fantasy novelist MARK CHADBOURN.

THE LORD OF SILENCE is a thrilling new epic fantasy. When the great hero of the city of Idriss is murdered, Vidar, the Lord of Silence, must take his place as chief defender against the mysterious terrors lurking in the dense forest beyond the city’s walls.  But Vidar is a man tormented—by a lost memory and a vampiric jewel that demands the life energy of others. Now, with a killer loose within Idriss, and the threat from without mounting, Vidar must solve a three thousand year old religious mystery to unlock the terrifying secrets of his own past.

A two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award, Mark Chadbourn is the author of eleven novels and one non-fiction book.  A former journalist, he is now a screenwriter for BBC television drama.  His other jobs have included running an independent record company, managing rock bands, working on a production line, and as an engineer’s “mate”.  He lives in a forest in the English Midlands.

Mark Chadbourn said, “After several years writing my own particular and peculiar brand of urban fantasy, I wanted to try something completely different.  The Lord of Silence is me cutting loose and experimenting way out of my comfort zone—a completely new world, new characters, a twisted take on magic, and a mystery that spans several thousand years. It’s a sword and sorcery, noir, puzzle-cracking, romance, serial killer, adventure-mystery.  With mad, dancing magicians.”

Publisher Marc Gascoigne added: “It’s always been puzzling to me why a writer of Mark’s immense talent, and with such a huge British fanbase, has rarely been offered the opportunity to release his books in the US. It’s time to remedy that, with the best book of his career so far.”

THE LORD OF SILENCE will be released in 2009 in the US and UK.