Jul 28, 2010

Highly Disturbing Urban Fantasy Cover [I Hope To God This Is Not Legit]

First, a little background: I don't normally hang out on Craigslist. My wife is a free-lance photographer and was browsing craigslist for Chicago area photography jobs. She is very aware of my stance on Urban Fantasy cover art (read here) so when she saw this listing for a photo shoot for the cover of an unnamed genre novel (and future bestseller no less), she sent it to me.

Wow. Just wow. Please take the time to read though all the details. Now, these people have been updating the craigslist ad (as a result of questions or police inquries I'm sure) so here is the original ad as I saw it. (click to expand the screenshots). I said before I hoped that this wasn't legit but I kind of want it to be, because that is way better than any alternative scenario I can come up with.

Here are my first ten thoughts.

1) Is this a legitimate photo shoot? It sounds like it could be an urban fantasy photo shoot. But it also sounds like it could be a sexual predator trying to lure a delusional Twilight fan into a bad situation. If you are a professional, you should probably try to avoid this confusion.

2) If this is legitimate, I want to know what publisher and what book. I want to see the finalized cover art and I want to know why they can't afford to pay anyone anything. [Note: I sent an email to the creator of the ad to see if I could find out more]

3) If you are genre professional that works with cover art (or knows anything about the cover art portion of the industry), is this a normal practice?

4) There is nothing like sending mixed signals to impressionable youth.

-The main character in this book is a 15 year old girl but looks at least 17-18
-This girl is all about sex appeal and flirtation, yet staying a virgin. Let that be your guide. 
-She's a high school girl, so she won't be wearing too much make-up. We will work together to decide how much is enough.
-You must email us a head shot and a body shot (we need to be able to see your legs, from mid thigh to 6 inches below the knee.
-Must have good skin, caucasian, the color of vanilla or French vanilla, or close to it

Let me summarize, they want you to look like a virgin that's dressed up like a whore. But only a white whore, because apparently sex doesn't sell when you don't look like flavorless ice cream. And while you're at it, send us some photos that may or may not qualify as child pornography. Because we want someone whose 15 that looks 18. Not someone who is 18 and looks 15.

5) Collard Shirt? Like a shirt made out of cabbage?

6) Ok, I'll assume its legit. Let's take a look at the details.

Urban Fantasy cover.


School girl outfit.


Custom designed long sword.


Lots of blood in hair, splattered on clothing, and dripping down sword.

A little weird but okay.

Glass of milk and a cookie.

What the hell? Harry Dresden vs. Evil Grandmothers.

7) Hey Free Shoes! Awesome.

8) With the exception of a male parent, you are not allowed to bring any males to the shoot. You may bring as many females as you wish.

Oh good, because that's not sketchy at all. But I'm still a little confused. I'm a male. Can I come?

9) Of course, we've read portions of the book's manuscript, and we believe that this book has the potential to become a national best seller, and also become a popular TV or movie series. This is our first project of this type, and the first time we're working on a project with no budget, but we're still going to make sure it is a success, and we would like some of you to be a part of it.

Well if portions of the book's manuscript are good enough to make into a popular movie series, then it's okay.

10) There will be no pay. Instead, you will be recognized in the book's acknowedgements (about the 4th page of the book), and online if possible.

The acknowedgements better be on page 4. I don't take free pictures to get my name on some prime numbered page, you lying bastard...

This just too weird. What are the odds this is the self photographed cover of Terry Goodkind's new book?

Covering Covers: Kill the Dead - Richard Kadrey

Cover Artist: Unkown (but Incredible!)

October 5th marks the publication of the Kill the Dead, Richard Kadrey's second James Stark novel. This gritty Urban Fantasy series is perfect for the genre reader who wants to cut the romance part of paranormal romance out of the genre with a rusty dagger. Book One, Sandman Slim, made quite a splash last year with it's dark tone and violent content especially with fans of The Dresden Files or the Joe Pitt casefiles.

I don't think I've seen a better Urban Fantasy cover that this one. It's unique. It's creepy. The color scheme is fantastic (I love the pale green with the strong orange, very suggestive of Halloween Horror. The silhouettes of buildings and birds against the tornado lit sky is intense. A flock of birds suddenly taking off subtly suggests gunshots, explostions, or some other type of sudden disturbance. But who and what? Not to mention the lack of the trademark trampstamper.

If you read Sandman Slim and are curious as to what James Stark is up to in the sequel, here's the publisher's description from Eos:
What do you do after you’ve crawled out of Hell to wreak bloody revenge? If you’re Stark you turn to bounty hunting, tracking and descimating whatever rogue monsters you’re paid to kill. Stark hates the work, but he needs the money, especially the big bucks Lucifer is offering. In town as an advisor on a biopic of his life, Lucifer needs protection, and he wants Stark as his bodyguard. But the gig isn’t all bad; there is the very sexy, very hot French porn star Brigitte Bardo, a friend of Lucifer’s in LA to remake her reputation as a legit actress. While it isn’t love, it’s pretty damn good, and after 11 years of demonic chastity, it’s enough for now.

Stark has enough trouble juggling a diva devil and a sorching French bombshell.without a zombie plague to complicate matters. And just what happens when a human-angel half-breed is bitten by the living dead? His human side begins to die, transforming him into an unstoppable angel of death—a killing machine devoid of emotion or thought, with no regrets or future to worry about. Not a bad way to be when you’re choices are limiited. Now, Stark has to decide . . . if he does finds a cure for the zombie infection, will he take it?
Kill the Dead and it's fantastic cover hit shelves on October 5th from Eos (HarperCollins). If you know who did this fantastic cover, please let me know so I can give them the credit they deserve.

Jul 27, 2010

Authors Worth Watching, Spotlight 4 of 5

After nearly 4 months on the back burner (mostly as a result of life), I'm back with the 4th set of spotlight authors from list of 25 Authors Worth Watching. If you haven't read (or don't remember) the first few installments (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3) the basic format is as follows: I'll give you a little background on the writer, where you can find early work to sample, and what you should watch for in the next year or two.

Aliette de Bodard As technology makes the world smaller, English-language SF is expanding into oft-ignored cultural realms. Frequently focusing on Asian or Middle Eastern cultures, writers are examining the future and what it could possibly hold for non-Western cultures. While most of the Northern Hemisphere has been featured at one stage or another of this science fiction movement, comparatively few authors have visited the African and South American continents. That's where Aliette de Bodard comes in. Focusing on South and Central America, de Bodard examines the past in her fantasy work and the future and possible alternate presents in her science fiction. The details she weaves into her work are exotic and refreshing and the worlds she creates, be they past or present, beg for further exploration. But de Bodard is not a one-trick pony; her work outside of the unexplored continent is just as strong.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Servant of the Underworld - Obsidian and Blood Trilogy, Book 1 - Angry Robot - January 2010 (UK) / September 2010 (US) - To be followed by Harbinger of the Storm and Untitled Book 3
  • The Jaguar House, in Shadow” - Asimov’s - July 2010
  • Desaparecidos” - Realms of Fantasy - June 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter

Greg Van Eekhout - A regular genre journeyman, Greg Van Eekhout refuses to fit nicely into a singular subgenre or category. He's written Ragnarocking Urban Fantasy in 2009's Norse Code. He's saved the people of Atlantis from serving as carnie folk in the outstanding middle grade novel Kid vs. Squid. He's assured me that I exist only because Santa Claus believes in me. Eekhout tackles the entire Superman mythos in fewer pages than a standard comic book and gives the character a much needed conclusion. If you can't tell from those four brief examples, each of his stories is about something remarkably different. At the same time, they all share the same playful tone and demonstrate a fondness for human mythology. If Van Eekhout continues his current writing trends, the only thing you can expect for sure is quality fiction.
Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Kid Vs. Squid - Middle Grade Fantasy - Bloomsbury Children's Book -  May 11, 2010
  • Last - Middle Grade Science Fiction - A futuristic adventure about the last boy on Earth, a young mammoth, and a broken robot. - Bloomsbury - Spring 2011
  • The Osteomancer’s Son  - Adult Fantasy Novel -  The first of three novels for grownups based on my short story about an alternate version of Los Angeles founded on the magical bones of extinct creatures - Tor - TBD.
Website / Blog / Twitter

John Langan - Horror as a subgenre demands powerful prose and fiction dripping with sensory detail. As such, there are only a few authors who can write horror and manage to make it enjoyable without being campy or off-puttingly gory. John Langan is capable of maintaining that balance and one of the few developing horror writers to make this list. In addition to his focus on tone and character, Langan often imbues his work with a self-referential aspect, often criticizing the literary establishment or simply toying with the concept of story in general. Like so many of the authors on this list, Langan hasn't settled into a particular voice quite yet but he has demonstrated a talent for atmospheric horror well beyond his relatively short writing career.

Early Work:
In the Future:
Website / Blog

Leah Bobet - With the rapid growth of online publications over the past decade, it was only a matter of time before they gained respect as legitimate channels for genre fiction. Likewise, it was only a matter of time before new writers started to see the majority of their early sales go to electronic rather than print outlets. One of these writers is Leah Bobet, a author that should be familiar to anyone who follows Strange Horizons. Bobet likes to play with expectations in her fiction, often taking known quantities and using them to disguise the true purpose behind her work. The stories I sampled ranged from impressive social science fiction to deceptively simple fairy tale fantasy and for some reason or another reminded me of the diverse fiction of Jay Lake. A lot of Bobet's work has debuted online but I won't be surprised when it finds its way into the printed Best Of anthologies before long.
Early Work:
In the Future:
  • "Stay" - Chilling Tales: From the Great White North (Mike Kelly ed) - EDGE - March 2011 2011.
  • "A Thousand" in On Spec - Spring 2010.
  • "Mister Oak" - Realms of Fantasy - Feb 2010.
  • Above - An Unconventional Urban Fantasy - Unsold Novel
  • Saturnalia - A Clockwork Gothic - Unsold Novel  
Website / Blog / Twitter

Rachel Swirsky - Having earned Nebula and Hugo nominations for her short fiction this past year, Swirsky is an author poised to graduate from this list of up-and-comers into the ranks of the genre giants. Swirsky's fiction is full of beautiful, evocative prose, capturing often tragic stories with seemingly little effort. Her work reminds me of fellow Author Worth Watching Mary Robinette Kowal. Like Kowal, Swirsky is able to craft heartbreaking stories in a surprisingly small number of pages. The stories I've read suggest Swirsky tends toward the fantasy side of the genre spectrum with a touch of magical realism on the side. Be on the lookout for her, she's going to be taking home one of those trophies sooner or later.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Through the Drowsy Dark - Short Fiction & Poetry Collection - Aqueduct Press - May 2010
    • Features original stories "Through the Drowsy Dark", "The Black Angel's Kiss", and "Defiled Imagination" 
  • "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" - Subterranean Magazine - Summer 2010
  • "The Stable Master's Tale" - Fantasy Magazine - July 2010
  • "Again and Again and Again" - Interzone 226 - January/February 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter

5 left. Then the interviews. And the reviews. Can I stop yet? When I did my first interview series last year, I didn't delve into the authors nearly as much as I am this time around. It's taking a lot of work but I think the resulting interviews are going to be worth it.

As always, let me know if there are any other key pieces of info you would be interested in or if I somehow managed to get something incorrect. I hope to have the final piece ready in the next week or two but part four took me several months so please keep bugging me on Twitter.

Jul 26, 2010

Yeti Review: Occultation - Laird Barron

In A Few Words: The Stephen King of the Pacific Northwest, Laird Barron channels his past to produce a second collection full of literary horror that is as unfathomable as it is unforgettable.

Pros: The thematic balance of the natural and the unnatural works to create an atmosphere perfect for horror; Barron's style is very visual, creating images that will stick in your mind long after you finish reading; Barron's prose is dense but poetic and rewards multiple readings;  

Cons: Writing is not for anyone looking for a light read; Lovecraftian horror can often be purposefully hard to digest at times, especially the conclusions; Character focus on realism sometimes creates unlikeable protagonists.  

The Review: Do not go out in the woods. Bad things will happen. Do not go out alone. Do not go out in groups. Again, bad things will happen. If there’s one thing to be gleaned from Occultation, Laird Barron’s second collection of horror shorts, it’s that the deep forest of the Pacific Northwest is one seriously disturbing place. Out of all of the strange events chronicled in Occultation, the unifying element is an unnatural world hidden just beyond our grasp. On the surface, Barron regionalizes his horror in a style reminiscent of Stephen King’s backwater Maine, imbuing the forest and offending towns with an understated malice more appropriate in a stealthy predator than a copse of trees. On a less literal level, he takes everyday occurrences and distorts them along the way, letting the hidden horrible world bordering our own infest and corrupt late night pillow talk and light-hearted reunions with friends.

As a quick aside, it’s important to note that Barron is an accomplished outdoorsman, having grown up in Alaska and even raced the Iditarod on several occasions. In an interview I conducted with Barron last year, he mentioned that “growing up in an environment hostile to humans is a formative experience, physically and psychologically. Profound cold, profound heat, exaggerated extremes of light and dark, and intense isolation, are elements of the person I've become and inform the subjects I choose to write about.” I was often reminded of this response while reading Occultation, as the isolation his characters experience resonates strongly, both physically in the environments they explore and emotionally as a result of the supernatural ordeals they encounter. The saying goes, “write what you know” and it’s clear that Barron knows the world his characters inhabit intimately, both in its beauty and its horror.

Another common thread in Barron’s work is a propensity for the enigmatic ending. It is easy to get frustrated with the obtuse conclusions common in short fiction, especially where incomprehensible horrors are involved and Barron is frequently guilty of providing less when more is desired. Expect to reread more than a few pages in Occultation. I’m reluctant to mark this as a strength or a weakness in his fiction as the complex language is clearly deliberate. Barron’s work is not for skimmers or escapists, rewarding multiple readings with subtle detail - details often missed while plowing forward after the driving tension that fills his fiction.

Although the eight stories that comprise Occultation do share Barron’s strong literary prose and penchant for a slow-lead up to an abrupt conclusion, I would caution reader that you should read the stories in order rather than skipping around. There is a distinct pattern to the stories alternating between the occult, Lovecraftian Horror, and less supernatural fare. This keeps the stories fresh and interesting, avoiding the subgenre burnout that sometimes occurs in single author collections. I made the mistake of jumping around at first and started to wonder if all the stories shared the same dark fantasy vibe before being hit with a string of more unique stories, most notably the excellent Strappado. To better illustrate the structure, take a look at each of the stories in order:

The Forest - A suitable opening to Barron's second collection, The Forest both introduces and encapsulates Occultation. Friends with dark pasts, hidden knowledge, maddening encounters, disturbing revelations, the duality of the natural and the un – The Forest is all of this and more, throwing open the doors to the indescribable horrors that lurk just outside our imagination. Although the occult revelation is a common occurrence in all of Barron’s stories, the language captured in The Forest as a cinematographer is introduced to a world he had only glimpsed before is some of his best. The Forest also appears to be linked to Mysterium Tremendum and The Broadsword, set against a shared backdrop that begs for further exploration.

Occultation - The titular story of the collection is a strange one. Two lovers cling to each other while the world outside their motel bed is anything but ordinary. Surreal stories typically put me off due to their lack of logic but I enjoyed Occultation to a surprising degree. This short short finishes on an unexpected note and Barron’s writing creates a sharp visual that really stuck with me, particularly when I awake to a dark room in the middle of the night. This is one of those stories where you don’t realize how much it affected you until hours after turning the final page.

The Lagerstatte – Utilizing a nonlinear structure to great effect, The Lagerstatte depicts a woman’s psychological break after the loss of her husband and son. The story alternates between the “present” and a series of recordings of her psychiatric visits which illuminate her actions in the main thread. The structure of the story coupled with Barron’s supernatural world had me questioning if she was really crazy or not. I mentioned earlier that Barron often uses the seclusion of the natural world as a mirror for the most disturbing of his occult encounters and the final revelations of The Lagerstatte are a perfect example of that trend.

Mysterium Tremendum - Mysterium Tremendum is another entry in a linked series of tales (along with The Forest and The Broadsword) hinting at some unimaginable horror lurking just beyond reality. Two couples plan a camping trip in the Pacific Northwest using a recently discovered almanac of the occult and (as typically happens) discover more than they anticipated. While the Lovecraftian Horror that Barron concocts is purposefully hard to wrap your head around, there is no denying that whatever macabre monstrosities he creates, they are downright chilling in all the right ways. Barron builds up the story slowly in a profoundly unsettling fashion, something that seems to happen in most of his work to great effect. Mysterium Tremendum continues the trend of making the natural world anything but, and as the male protagonists delve deeper and deeper into the forest they find little of the solace they set out to find. The only criticisms I can raise are the four main characters felt a little too similar and were easily confused and that certain portions of the story felt a little superfluous (although it might have added to gradual build-up of tension). But definitely one of my favorite stories in the collection, overall.

Catch Hell - Catch Hell, a tale which sees a couple travel to a remote hotel in the Pacific Northwest (again, never go there) with a rather occult legacy. As always, Barron uses the natural world to draw out the unnatural to great effect, allowing the husband’s occult explorations to contrast to his wife’s less geographical but equally sinister quest. As is often the case with horror, my largest complaint is a personal one. I find that stories that throw logic out the window hard to wrap my head around and Catch Hell has arguably the most confusing conclusion of the bunch. This is particularly troublesome when the protagonists aren’t particularly enjoyable. After multiple rereads, I was reasonably sure of what happened to the characters during the surreal ending but I was still at a lost as to why I should care. This may be a love it or hate it type story.

Strappado - This short story was originally published in an Edgar Allen Poe inspired anthology and it is one of my favorites in the collection. So many of Barron's stories concern supernatural horror, so when he makes the abrupt change back to a human but no less grotesque evil, it is both unexpected and jarring. Two jetsetters find themselves invited to an exclusive after-after party and discover that it’s not quite what they signed up for. To provide further detail would ruin the story. It’s easy to disregard supernatural horror as a figment of your imagination but the when the carnage has a more human origin; it’s significantly more pervasive and disturbing. This is only compounded by Strappado’s tone and length in contrast with the more supernatural nature of the rest of Occultation’s stories. As a result, Strappado is one of the stand out stories of the collection.

The Broadsword – Although I read The Broadsword before I delved into the Mysterium Tremendum, I would argue that The Broadsword is a better introduction to the world shared by the two stories. Pershing Dennard is a long time resident of The Broadsword, an old hotel turned apartment complex that may or may not have been built on top of something else entirely. Where Strappado takes the quick approach, the gradual build-up of The Broadsword is equally effective. With a sentiment similar to that of Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window, Dennard begins to suspect that some of the residents of his building may be up to no good. The way Barron slowly unravels Dennard stable Broadsword based reality is masterful and the grotesque implications of the climax have cemented the story in my mind for months if not years. I only wish that Barron hadn’t been so ambiguous about the atrocious act in question.

--30-- – Two scientist-types are conducting researching on land once occupied by a cult that would make the Manson Family look normal. What could go wrong? Despite an unexpectedly strong final scene reminiscent of that of Occultation (for the creep factor, not the content), I thought –30—was one of the weaker stories in the collection. It’s not a bad story per se but while it touches on most of the themes that repeat throughout Occultation (particularly the theme of isolation), it feels like more of the same rather than an innovative work.

Six, Six, Six – Another “sinister revelation” story in which one member of a couple confesses the horrors of their past, Six, Six, Six is both a simple horror story and a meditation on child abuse coupled with the love/hate nature of familial obligations. The story occurs in a very small, domestic setting atypical to the collection but it carries the same sense of looming malice within its walls. As with many of Barron’s stories, the ending of Six, Six, Six is left more than a little unclear but I didn’t mind as much because of the startling clarity of the final scene. I liked it, though I’m not sure why or how. I don’t think that Six, Six, Six worked as well to close the collection as The Forest did to open it, but the story itself definitely lingers with you after you have shut the cover.

Taken together, these stories form yet another excellent horror collection (after The Imago Sequence and Other Stories) that both excites and profoundly disturbs. Barron’s prose is intelligent and exhilarating, subtly increasing the tension at a gradual pace before plunging abruptly into conclusions that are as unfathomable as they are powerful. The Forest, Mysterium Tremendum, and The Broadsword form a standout trio of possibly linked stories and Strappado, arguably the most realistic of the stories, manages to be equally good and no less menacing. Occultation reinforces the promise introduced by The Imago Sequence and it’s clear that Barron’s future in the genre is as bright as his work is dark.

Jul 21, 2010

Covering Covers - The Broken Kingdoms - N. K. Jemisin

Cover Artist - Cliff Nielsen (art) & Lauren Panepinto (design)

Earlier this year, N.K. Jemisin made huge waves with her excellent debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Now just a few months later, Jemisin returns with the 2nd novel in the The Inheritance Trilogy, The Broken Kingdoms. Earlier today, Jemisin debuted the final cover on her blog.

It's great to see to a fantasy trilogy being released in such a timely fashion. The third book, tenatively titled The Kingdom of Gods, will likely be out in mid 2011 meaning that you don't have to wait years or decades before getting some sort of conclusion.

And what a cover! I loved the original cover but this one tops even that with its beautiful art. The blue and green tones are stellar. I wish I knew who put this together (I'm assuming its the same person), because I want to see more art from them. But what of The Kingdom of Gods? A red and purple flavor obviously (after bluegreen and orangeyellow) but what would replace the city and the tree? My guess, a mountain?

My only complaint is that I wish they had kept the placement of the text and the Inheritance Trilogy Banner intact but that's a minor quibble as long as the book is still the same size and format. Here is the summary according to Amazon:
In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree's guest is at the heart of it. . .
Anyone who has read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms will be interested to see how that description meshes with the events of the first book. It's the same world but different characters. I'm sensing a vibe similar to that of Ursula K. Le Guin's Voices/Powers/Gifts.

The Broken Kingdoms will be released by Orbit on November 3rd, 2010.

Jul 20, 2010

Cemetery Dance Announces New Norman Partridge Anthology - Johnny Halloween!

Cover Artist: Alex McVey

That cover is correct. The October Boy is back!

I discovered Norman Partridge after a recommendation from Joe Schreiber and I haven't looked back since. After the outstanding Dark Harvest (my review) which Schreiber recommended, I picked up his next collection, Lesser Demons (my review), and only found more to love. Partridge's prose is paradoxically perfect. It's heavenly prose married to hellish content. It's dense but incredibly readable. It's heavy on metaphor and symbolism but the end result often evokes a unforgettable image. It's bloody but beautiful.  It's just damn good.

So far I've been unable to track down his other short fiction collections but I've made a point to keep track of what Partridge has been up to. Yesterday on his blog, American Frankenstein, Partidge announced a new collection complete with a return to the world of the excellent Dark Harvest.
"Given that little slice of history, it's with great pleasure that I announce Johnny Halloween is back at Cemetery Dance, this time as the lead story in a special Halloween collection due this fall. Along with a fantastic Alex McVey cover, Johnny Halloween features a half-dozen tales of the darkest season, including a new story set in the world of Dark Harvest.

That's right. The October Boy returns in the pages of Johnny Halloween -- and this time he's got a shotgun and one bad döppelganger on his tail. There's also a brand new introduction and a nonfiction piece on the Zodiac Killer ("The Man Who Killed Halloween"). You can check out all the details right here, plus snag a $15 coupon for a future purchase if you preorder the book in the next seven days.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the shadows. Listen for the whisper of that October wind. It's coming your way... and sooner than you might think."
He also posted the Alex McVey cover to the anthology. Normally, I wouldn't be the biggest far of that cover art but if you've read Dark Harvest it captures the essence of the October Boy perfectly. And the more I look at it, the more I like it. The textural elements that look like knife slashes are subtle but brilliant and the block lettering for the title and Partridge's name is an excellent font choice. I don't think the "Johnny Halloween" necessarily matches the "Tales of the Dark Season" but I can forgive that small issue.

You can order Johnny Halloween from the Cemetery Dance website, which also provides a bit more detail about the contents of the collection.

Norman Partridge's Halloween novel, Dark Harvest, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2006. A Bram Stoker Award winner and World Fantasy nominee, Partridge's rapid-fire tale of a small town trapped by its own shadows welcomed a wholly original creation, the October Boy, earning the author comparisons to Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson.

Now Partridge revisits Halloween with a collection featuring a half-dozen stories celebrating frights both past and present. In “The Jack o' Lantern,” a brand new Dark Harvest novelette, the October Boy races against a remorseless döppelganger bent on carving a deadly path through the town's annual ritual of death and rebirth. “Johnny Halloween” features a sheriff battling both a walking ghost and his own haunted conscience. In “Three Doors,” a scarred war hero hunts his past with the help of a magic prosthetic hand, while “Satan's Army” is a real Partridge rarity previously available only in a long sold-out lettered edition from another press.

But there's more to this holiday celebration besides fiction. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is an extensive essay about growing up during the late sixties in the town where the Zodiac Killer began his murderous spree. In an introduction that explores monsters both fictional and real, Partridge recalls what it was like to live in a community menaced by a serial killer and examines how the Zodiac's reign of terror shaped him as a writer.

Halloween night awaits. Join a master storyteller as he explores the layers of darkness that separate all-too-human evil from the supernatural. Let Norman Partridge lead you on seven journeys through the most dangerous night of the year, where no one is safe…and everyone is suspect.
I'm not quite ready for summer to be over, but if fall promises another Partridge collection, I won't be as sad to see it go.

Jul 19, 2010

Covering Covers: Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal

Cover Artist: Terry Rohrbach of BaseArtCo

I'm reading Shades of Milk and Honey now. I find this cover very peculiar. It's by no means bad -- the homage to period paintings is beautiful and the font choice feels natural with the art. I just feel like the marketing is going in two different directions (assuming of course, that this book will be shelved with the science fiction and fantasy books and not with period pieces over in Regular Lit). That would mean that the people the cover is most likely going to appeal to will not see it and the people who are mostly likely going to see the cover, won't pick it up. And I'm afraid that this possible distinction could negatively impact the beginning of a hugely promising career. Hopefully, I'm just plain wrong (about the negative impact, not the hugely promising bit).

If you are of the science fictiod and fantasy mindset and would not pick up this book based on the cover, at least read the summary of the book:
I do think that the cover is indicitative of the story. As of the halfway mark, Shades of Milk and Honey is a very quiet, intimate novel, especially compared to what I am used to. Shades is focused tightly on the two young girls and their attempts to find a desireable husband. So many of the books I read threaten the end of something major (be it planet, universe, fantasy world, United States, human race, etc.) and this change of pace is very welcome. In her short fiction, Kowal's stood out for her exceptional dialogue and for crafting realistic human relationships in only a few pages. So far, her debut novel is more of the same.
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
Shades of Milk and Honey comes out from Tor on August 3rd. Look for a review in the next few weeks.

Jul 18, 2010

Fast Fiction Friday: Swirsky, Abraham, and Barron

This week's Fast Fiction Friday features Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, and an update on Laird Barron.

A Memory of Wind - Rachel Swirsky
Featured as an original story on Tor.com. Nominated for a Nebula award. Available for free Kindle or iBooks download.

Tor.com just celebrated their second anniversary. In just two years, they've quickly established themselves as a reputable publishers of online fiction and with stories like A Memory of Wind it's easy to see why. This heartbreaking story is written from the perspective of Iphigenia, a character from Trojan War mythology who was sacrificed in exchange for a favorable wind. While not a lot is mentioned a lot about Iphigenia in the original Greek myth, Swirsky fleshes out her character and the circumstances surrounding her death. Featuring a split perspective that is both aware that she will be sacrificed to the gods and slowly losing a sense of who she was, A Memory of Wind overflows with haunting prose that transforms Iphigenia from a minor sidenote into a tragic victim. I can't say that Swirsky deserved to win the Nebula (as I haven't read the winner) but this is the type of fiction that gets you on the short list for sure.

The Cambist and Lord Iron - Daniel Abraham

Originally published in the Logorrhea (2007). Nominated for a Hugo Award. Reprinted in Leviathan Wept and Other Stories. Can also listen at Podcastle.

The Cambinst and Lord Iron is the first entry in Daniel Abraham's first collection from Subterranean Press and another award nominee. A simple man works as a cambist (exchanger) and he soons attracts the attention of Lord Iron, a man with too much money and not enough to do. Iron challenges the lowly cambist to determine exchange rates for not one but three exotic transactions, each more abstract than the last. It's the cambist's solutions to these problems that really make the story and although the last solution fell a little flat for me, these aspects keep the story fresh and unique. Rather than getting lost in the tangle of overworked prose that often plagues short fiction, Abraham writes with a direct style and an economy of word that make his stories read effortlessy. That's not to say you won't want to read them again. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this collection.

Catch Hell / Strappado / --30-- - Laird Barron

Originally published in Barron's 2nd Collection, Occultation.

I've been reading Laird Barron's 2nd collection collection and for whatever reason, I decided to skip around from story to story rather than reading them in order. After reading most of the stories I felt that while fantastic, they were starting to be a little too similar for my taste. Then I read the last 3 stories (Catch Hell, Strappado, and --30--) and realized that they were ordered the way they were for a reason, staggering the Lovecraftian Horror that is Baird's specialty with more unique but equally disturbing stories. I'm not going to get into detail right now but expect a full story by story review of Occultation next week.

Jul 14, 2010

SFF Masterworks Blog / Review: The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

I've just posted my first review over at the SFF Masterworks Review. You've probably heard about it from some of my fellow reviewers but if for some reason you only read Stomping on Yeti (it's okay if you do), grab your s'mores because I'm going to retell the legend of How the SFF Masterworks Blog Was Created.

Now, I own a lot of the Science Fiction Masterworks titles. All of them in fact. Shamefully, I've read very few of them. In this case, a few equals 8. Out of 125+

So when I saw a post on Larry's excellent OF Blog of the Fallen about Thing's He Would Like To See Posted Online, one of the bullet points his wishlist read
"A group of people, over the next year or so, to combine to review all of the Gollancz SF and Fantasy Masterworks books. I would imagine that 10 reviewers, covering 5-10 books each over the course of a year, could achieve this without emptying their savings."

So I said to myself. I can be that group of people! One quick dictionary check later, I realized that I can't be a group, not by myself anyway and so I reached out to Larry to see if he was willing to back up his blog post and join in a group blog dedicated to tackling these 125+ books. Fortunately, he was and so we set out to assemble a Round Table of the Greatest Bloggers In Existence!TM (or whoever else was interested in participating that day on Twitter). We are currently at 12 reviewers (see who here) and growing and still have room for more, if you want to join in the fun. And by fun we mean rereading suppossed SF classics that may or may not be horribly dated...

Anyway, my first book was Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. It was definitely one of those books that you think you know a lot about but when you read it, it's nothing like you expected. Everyone knows it's an alternate history in which the German's win World War II, right? But what I didn't expect (and maybe should have) was the thematic depth that Dick created in his work. There's a lot of mind bending philosophy (no surprise with PKD) under a thin layer of post war intrigue and it's really no surprise that the book has ended up on so many classic lists.

You can read the full review here. I'd recommend checking the site regularly. There are a lot of good reviewers (full list) reading a lot of good books (full list SF and F).

My next Masterwork is Greg Bear's Blood Music so if you are interested in reading along, that's the one.

Jul 12, 2010

Yeti Review: Ghost of Manhattan - George Mann

30 words or less: Ghost of Manhattan delivers on its promise of " steampunk superhero" but fails to deliver a logical plot, deviating wildly to reach a frustrating and seemingly random conclusion

Pros: Prose reads quickly and effortlessly; Action sequences are well written and fun.

Cons: Ending and its twist are not set up at all and conflict with previous world building effort; Secondary characters get little to no development; Identity of "The Ghost" is drawn out for far too long; Some of the action sequences feel out of place.

The Review: For better or worse, a lot of books are defined by their endings. A great ending will stick in the mind of the reader. A terrible one will see the book flung across the room in disgust. Unfortunately, the current state of my copy of Ghosts of Manhattan suggests it is one of the latter.

Simply put, the conclusion to Ghosts of Manhattan is inexplicably poor. The best endings are ones that are completely unpredictable but in hindsight, perfectly arranged. The ending of Ghosts of Manhattan doesn't just come out of left field, it comes from a whole different sport and one that the first two hundred or so pages never even hinted was being played. Imagine if the Great Gatsby ended with an alien invasion led by the robot disguised as Daisy or if zombies killed Ric at the end of Casablanca. The seeming randomness of the final scenes was so problematic that the text itself was actually revised between the ARC edition and the final print run. In fairness to the work, I reread the final version to see if my qualms were addressed. They weren’t.

From the beginning, Mann introduces us to the world of Gabriel Cross, a mash-up of Jay Gatsby and Bruce Wayne who spends his nights fighting crime as a vigilante known only as The Ghost. Like Batman, The Ghost has no actual superpowers, relying instead on gadgets and guns to clean up the streets of an alternate 1920s New York City. Unlike Batman, The Ghost has no problem killing people, making it difficult to sympathize with an often brutal enforcer. Mann’s version of the 1920s features coal powered cars, holographic communicators, and rocket powered airplanes giving it the steampunk vibe promised in the “Steampunk Superhero” tagline, albeit in an eclectic fashion.

The jumble of worldbuilding elements is further compounded by the inclusion of more supernatural elements ranging from semi-sentient men of clay to xenobiological curiosities. There seems to be no limit to what can occur in Mann’s steampunk world and the lack of internal cohesion grows more and more evident as the story progresses. The plot seems to create the setting rather than the setting influencing the plot. This is a subtle but important distinction in the craft of genre worldbuilding and one that is largely responsible for the disappointing ending.

Before the veritable train wreck of the final chapters, Ghosts of Manhattan does manage to provide the fun, fast paced read it is advertised to be. Detective Felix Donovan and The Ghost cross paths in their investigations of The Roman, a new gangster who has been making his name killing city officials in grotesque fashion and leaving a pair of ancient coins on the victim’s eyes. The investigation soon becomes personal as The Roman’s henchmen attempt to abduct Cross’s love interest, Celeste. Before long, Donovan and Cross team up to find the Roman and put an end to his heinous crimes.

In true pulp fashion, the book is more about the providing action than depth, resulting in several excellent fight sequences and a paper thin cast of characters. The action itself is the highlight of the novel and aside from the rather contrived and implausible rocket powered biplane chase it is all grand fun.  Writing prolonged action without losing a sense of spacial awareness is very difficult and the Mann's scenes play out like an action film. There is a fluid grace to this aspect of his prose, allowing for narrative focus amidst the chaos. Despite any misgivings about the subject matter, there is no denying that Mann manages to keep the plot moving and the pages turning.

Ghosts of Manhattan appears to be the first book in a sequence of “Ghost” stories. There is no denying the latent potential within the world of George Mann's steampunk superhero. If Mann can tighten up his plotting and find a better balance between character and action, future installments of this new series may be excellent indeed. Series debuts are often the weakest of the bunch (see The Dresden Files for proof) as the introduction of characters often comes at the expense of their development. Unfortunately, potential and actual are two different things and until Mann delivers on the pulpy promise hinted at in his action sequences, I can’t recommend Ghosts of Manhattan.

Jul 8, 2010

SF Masterworks Meme

You may have seen this list making it's way around certain portions of the SFF Blogosphere including some of my compatriots (Larry and Niall) at the SFF Masterworks Reading Project (catchy name right?). As a project contributor (and accused mastermind), I figured I needed to keep it going.

This one is simple and potentially shameful. Bold the books you've read. Italicize the ones you own but haven't read.

I - Dune - Frank Herbert
II - The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin
III - The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
IV - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
V - A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
VI - Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
VII - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
VIII - Ringworld - Larry Niven
IX - The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
X - The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
1 - The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
2 - I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
3 - Cities in Flight - James Blish
4 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
5 - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
6 - Babel-17 - Samuel R. Delany
7 - Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
8 - The Fifth Head of Cerberus - Gene Wolfe
9 - Gateway - Frederik Pohl
10 - The Rediscovery of Man - Cordwainer Smith
11 - Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
12 - Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
13 - Martian Time-Slip - Philip K. Dick
14 - The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
15 - Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
16 - The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin
17 - The Drowned World - J. G. Ballard
18 - The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
19 - Emphyrio - Jack Vance
20 - A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick
21 - Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
22 - Behold the Man - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
24 - The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
25 - Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
26 - Ubik - Philip K. Dick
27 - Timescape - Gregory Benford
28 - More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon
29 - Man Plus - Frederik Pohl
30 - A Case of Conscience - James Blish
31 - The Centauri Device - M. John Harrison
32 - Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick
33 - Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss
34 - The Fountains of Paradise - Arthur C. Clarke
35 - Pavane - Keith Roberts
36 - Now Wait for Last Year - Philip K. Dick
37 - Nova - Samuel R. Delany
38 - The First Men in the Moon - H. G. Wells
39 - The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke
40 - Blood Music - Greg Bear
41 - Jem - Frederik Pohl
42 - Bring the Jubilee - Ward Moore
43 - VALIS - Philip K. Dick
44 - The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin
45 - The Complete Roderick - John Sladek
46 - Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - Philip K. Dick
47 - The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells
48 - Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
49 - A Fall of Moondust - Arthur C. Clarke
50 - Eon - Greg Bear
51 - The Shrinking Man - Richard Matheson
52 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K. Dick
53 - The Dancers at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock
54 - The Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
55 - Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick
56 - Downward to the Earth - Robert Silverberg
57 - The Simulacra - Philip K. Dick
58 - The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick
59 - Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
60 - Ringworld - Larry Niven
61 - The Child Garden - Geoff Ryman
62 - Mission of Gravity - Hal Clement
63 - A Maze of Death - Philip K. Dick
64 - Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
65 - Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke
66 - Life During Wartime - Lucius Shepard
67 - Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm
68 - Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
69 - Dark Benediction - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
70 - Mockingbird - Walter Tevis
71 - Dune - Frank Herbert
72 - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
73 - The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
74 - Inverted World - Christopher Priest
75 - Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle
76 - H.G. Wells - The Island of Dr. Moreau
77 - Arthur C. Clarke - Childhood's End
78 - H.G. Wells - The Time Machine
79 - Samuel R. Delany - Dhalgren (July 2010)
80 - Brian Aldiss - Helliconia (August 2010)

81 - H.G. Wells - Food of the Gods (Sept. 2010)
82 - Jack Finney - The Body Snatchers (Oct. 2010)
83 - Joanna Russ - The Female Man (Nov. 2010)
84 - M.J. Engh - Arslan (Dec. 2010)

In summary:

I've read 8 out of the 80 released titles
I own 79 out of 80 (all in the Masterworks format no less)

Glorious, Glorious Shame

Oh the shame. Go ahead. Say it. I deserve it.

Can anyone guess why I decided to kick off the project?
In my defense, I doubt there are too many readers out there who have read more that 50% of these books. In fact, I bet you 10 Internets that you haven't.

In true meme fashion, feel free to post this list on your own site, highlighting the book you've read or own. If you've read more that 40 of these titles feel free to make fun of me. Either way, be sure to include a link back to the SFF Masterworks site. Hopefully, this will inspire more than a few readers to finally get to that dusty tome that they've always intended to read. I know it's helping me.

I recently finished PKD's The Man in the High Castle. My review should surface over on the Masterworks blog in the near future.

Jul 7, 2010

Covering Covers: The Buntline Special - Mike Resnick

Cover Artist: J Seamas Gallagher
I think it's safe to say that Steampunk has finally arrived. At first, it seemed like the Steampunk movement was all style and no substance but the lineups of 2010 / 2011 appear chock full of boiling water and bronze gears. One such title is Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special: A Weird West Tale. I've yet to read many Steampunk titles but this one is sure to make the shortlist based on the excellent cover alone. Prostitutes and ray guns! And even though I typically don't like the overly stylized font, it works here. It seems to flow directly from what I presume are powerlines, creating a cohesive feel. Very pulpy and very cool.

Speaking of cool, I also have it on good authority that Gallagher is doing some interiors for the novel. If his interiors are even half as impressive as the work Keith Thompson put together for Leviathan, The Buntline Special could be something special indeed. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of details about this book right now, but Lou Anders did provide a teaser or two over on the Pyr blog.

We've just signed with [Mike Resnick] for The Buntline Special: A Weird West Tale. Picture a fractured America, steampunk technology, cowboys, rayguns, Native American shamans, and, drum roll please, zombies! I feel very safe guaranteeing that the West will never be the same.
The Buntline Special comes out from Pyr this December.

Jul 5, 2010

Books Received: Late June

It's about time I started mentioning the books I've sent for review. I've reached the point where I am getting them at a faster rate than I can read them (and that's not counting the books I still buy for myself). I want to read them all (or at least 90% of them, I've gotten some strange books) but unfortunately, I just don't have the time.

So I'm going to put together a brief biweekly post to make sure the books I receive get at least some coverage here at Stomping on Yeti.

Title: The Way of Kings
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor
Edition: ARC
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Blurb: Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore. The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Title: The Last Song of Orpheus
Author: Robert Silverberg
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Edition: ARC
Release Date: September 2010
Blurb: In the course of his extraordinary--and prolific--career, Robert Silverberg has made an enormous contribution to imaginative literature. In The Last Song of Orpheus, his longest story in more than a decade, Silverberg has given us one of his most remarkable accomplishments, a resonant recreation of one of the central myths of western civilization.

In this mesmerizing narrative, Orpheus--wanderer, demigod, and master musician--recounts his own astonishing story. That story ranges from the depths of the Underworld, where he attempts to rescue his beloved but doomed Eurydice, to the farthest, most dangerous corners of the ancient world, where he journeys in search of the legendary Golden Fleece. It is a tale of men and gods, of miraculous encounters, of the binding power of inescapable Fate. More than that, it is a meditation on the power of the creative spirit, and on the eternal human search for balance and harmony in a chaotic universe. Beautifully constructed and masterfully written, The Last Song of Orpheus is Silverberg at his incomparable best, showing us a deeply familiar series of scenes, themes, and characters from a fresh, wholly original perspective.

Title: Strange Wonders: A Collection of Rare Fritz Leiber Works
Author: Fritz Leiber
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Edition: ARC
Release Date: October 2010
Blurb: In regards to Fritz Leiber, I believe that publication of such unpublished and uncollected works only strengthens his literary greatness. Through fragments, drafts and practice writings, we can clearly see the evolution from Leiber, the amateur, to Leiber, the professional. We are exposed to the clear way in which he dedicated his life to the written word and trained his abilities to produce the award-winning masterpieces that we read even today. While some may object to such a volume, I ask them this—is not the dream just as important as the empire that had been built from it? Are not the blueprints and sketches as impressive as the buildings and the artwork? We must place all this into perspective, and see that publishing such works is not a smear upon Leiber’s legacy. Rather, it completes a full circle. If we are asked to be thorough in the biography of an individual, then we must also do so for their bibliography.

— Benjamin Szumskyj, from his Introduction

Title: Out of the Dark
Author: David Weber
Publisher: Tor
Edition: ARC
Release Date: September 28th, 2010
Blurb: Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.

Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.

His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity—but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.

Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth.

Title: The Dervish House
Author: Ian McDonald
Publisher: Pyr
Edition: Final Copy
Release Date: July 27th, 2010
Blurb: It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House; the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union; a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million; Turkey is the largest, most populous and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It's a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and Central Asia.

Gas is power. But it's power at a price, and that price is emissions permits. This is the age of carbon consciousness: every individual in the EU has a card stipulating individual carbon allowance that must be produced at every CO2 generating transaction. For those who can master the game, who can make the trades between gas price and carbon trading permits, who can play the power factions against each other, there are fortunes to be made. The old Byzantine politics are back. They never went away.

The ancient power struggled between Sunni and Shia threatens like a storm: Ankara has watched the Middle East emerge from twenty-five years of sectarian conflict. So far it has stayed aloof. A populist Prime Minister has called a referendum on EU membership. Tensions run high. The army watches, hand on holster. And a Galatasary Champions' League football game against Arsenal stokes passions even higher.

The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core--the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself--that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.

Title: Passion Play
Author: Beth Bernobich
Publisher: Tor
Edition: ARC
Release Date: October 12th, 2010
Blurb: The daughter of one of Melnek’s more prominent merchants, Ilse Zhalina has lived most of her life surrounded by the trappings of wealth and privilege. She has wanted for nothing and many would consider her lot a most happy one. But there are dark secrets even in the best of families and Isle and the women in her family have learned that to be beautiful and silent is the best way to survive.

However, when Ilse fianlly meets the colleague of her father’s selected to marry her, she realizes that this man would lock in her a gilded cage. In her soul, she knows he is far crueler and more deadly than her father could ever be.

Ilse chooses to run from this life. Her choice will have devastating consequences and she will never be the same.

But she will meet Raul Kosenmark, a man of mystery who is the master of one of the land’s most notorious pleasure houses…and who is, as Ilse discovers, a puppetmaster of a different sort altogether. Together they will embark on a journey that will reshape their world.

Lush fantasy. Wild magic. Political intrigue and the games of seduction and treachery to gain control of a kingdom. PASSION PLAY is all of these and more. It is the journey of a woman who must conquer her passions in order to win all that she desires.

Title: Blood Song
Author: Cat Adams
Publisher: Tor
Edition: Final Copy
Release Date: June 8th, 2010
Blurb: In this fast-paced urban fantasy, Adams (Magic's Design), the joint pseudonym for C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp (the Sazi series), introduces readers to a new world full of treachery and action. Tough-as-nails bodyguard Celia Graves protects the rich and famous from ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities. While guarding the prince of a tiny European country, Celia is caught in a vampire ambush that leaves her wounded and partially transformed. Now she has to figure out her new limits and powers, destroy her sire before he can control her, and put together the pieces of a larger plan in which she's just a pawn. The story line and setting will draw in readers from the start, but late revelations may have them paging backwards to pick up on clues, and some answers will just have to wait for the sequels.

Title: The Office of Shadow
Author: Matthews Sturges
Publisher: Pyr
Edition: ARC
Release Date: June 3rd, 2010
Blurb: If 2009's Midwinter was the Dirty Dozen in Elfland, this thrilling sequel is Magical Mission Impossible. Former lothario Silverdun becomes a priest, but finds himself bored. When his government recruits him as a spy, he takes the offer and is shocked when they demand he learn extraordinary physical and magical skills. Silverdun, scholarly former soldier Ironfoot, and deadly empath Sela are assigned to discover the origin of Einswrath, the city-killing weapons unleashed in the previous Seelie/Unseelie war. Standard spy tropes—training sequences, double agents, betrayals from within—take on new life when melded with high fantasy, and Sturges has an easy ear for dialogue and character. Silverdun's backstory is nicely fleshed out in the process, though fans of the first book should be warned that the other characters appear briefly or not at all.

Title: Deathbird Stories
Author: Harlan Ellison
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Edition: ARC
Release Date: December 2010
Blurb: Ellison. Harlan Ellison. He wrote this book midway toward the earliest acclaim of a career that now goes into sixty years. He’s still with us. the enfant terrible has become an eminence gris but the tongue remains sharp, the wit unpredictable, the manner still singular. He has outwritten and outlived his caste, and the words in this book carry the fire and truth of his career.

Title: The Neutronium Alchemist
Author: Peter F. Hamilton
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Edition: Final Copy
Release Date: July 27th, 2010
Subterranean Press is proud to announce volume two of The Nights Dawn trilogy, one of modern space opera’s classic series.

Now the primeval evil has left Lalonde behind to spread its malign presence across the unsuspecting worlds of the Confederation. The possessed have acquired a chilling range of superhuman powers that can defeat most conventional weapons. Technology cannot defeat them. Fear multiplies like wildfire across the planets and asteroid settlements which make up the Human Confederation, the precursor to conquest and surrender. But even surrender fails to bring an end to the torment, for the possessed will not stop their campaign until their victory is absolute, with every living human taken.

Against this force the Confederation Navy is struggling to contain the threat, a battle it will ultimately lose. It seems as if individuals can make very little difference. Then out of history, Dr Alkad Mzu returns with the Neutronium Alchemist, the single most destructive weapon ever built. And she is determined to use it to avenge the death of her homeworld. It falls on Captain Joshua Calvert to try and stop her, but he’s not the only one hunting her down in an increasingly lethal universe. And not everyone thinks the doomsday device should be neutralized.

Ten books in two weeks. Now you see what I said about more books than I can read? You can see the historical list of books received here.
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