Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Releases: Armored

Another one for the SF fans - released today from Baen Books is Armored, a new anthology from editor John Joseph Adams.

The blurb:


Decades ago, Starship Troopers captivated readers with its vision of a future war in which power armored soldiers battled giant insects on hostile alien planets. Today, with the success of Iron Man, Halo, and Mechwarrior—and with real robotic exoskeletons just around the corner—the idea of super-powered combat armor and giant mecha has never been more exciting and relevant.

Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams brings you the first-ever original anthology of power armor fiction. Join leading SF authors Jack Campbell, Brandon Sanderson, Tanya Huff, Daniel H. Wilson, Alastair Reynolds, Carrie Vaughn, and others as they explore the limits of what a soldier of the future might become—with the aid of the right equipment.

Imagine power armored warriors battling at the bottom of the sea, or on nightmarish alien worlds, or in the darkest depths of space. Imagine armor that’s as smart as you are, armor that might keep on fighting even after you’re no longer willing … or able.

The possibilities are endless, but some facts remain constant: The soldier of the future will be fast. The soldier of the future will be deadly. The soldier of the future will be ARMORED.
Armored can be had from all traditional and online bookstores, and for some extra book related goodies, check out the Armored site here!

New Releases: A Few Further Tales of Einarinn

Hot off the e-press today - a spanky new e-book collection from Juliet E. McKenna! Published by Wizard's Tower Press, A Few Further Tales of Einarinn collects together five stories from McKenna's excellent Einarinn fantasy series - from the blurb:

Win Some, Lose Some tells the story of that first encounter with Arle Cordainer which Livak mentions from time to time in the Tales. Find out why she’s intent on revenge.

A Spark in the Darkness sees Halice, Livak, Sorgrad and Gren coping with Halice’s injury between The Thief’s Gamble and The Swordsman’s Oath – tricky, when someone wants them all dead.

Absent Friends details Livak’s first introduction to Ryshad’s family, and what followed

Why the Pied Crow Always Sounds Disappointed explains why Sorgrad and Gren were in Solura before The Assassin’s Edge – and why leaving them to their own devices is seldom a good idea.

The Wedding Gift sees Livak and Halice looking forward to the future, just as long as they can tidy up a few loose ends from their old lives.
A Few Further Tales of Einarinn is available in epub & mobi formats, and can be had for £2.99 from Wizard's Tower Press here.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Coming Soon: Dark Currents

Launching at Eastercon this year is Dark Currents from NewCon Press.

With fiction from: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Nevill, Tricia Sullivan, Rod Rees, Nina Allan, Andrew Hook, Finn Clarke, Lavie Tidhar, Jan Edwards, Emma Coleman, Rebecca J Payne, Sophia McDougall, Una McCormack, Neil Williamson, Aliette de Bodard and V.C. Linde; the Dark Currents blurb says:

... an exciting blend of science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy and horror; a set of stories that traverses genre boundaries, linked only by their common source of inspiration. Contributors were given just those two words: ‘Dark Currents’ and then asked to write whatever story the phrase inspired. The result is a dazzling blend of exciting fictions, from haunted seascapes to distant starscapes, from reality-hopping soldiers in a surreal war to naval battles in the ether, from the deeply poignant to breathless excitement and back again, delving into the very undercurrents of life…

Looks funky! We're hoping to get our hands on a copy soon... It'll be available in paperback and limited signed hardback editions and can be purchased from the NewCon Press website here.

Recent Releases: Robots

One for the SF fans -recently released from Prime Books - Robots: The Recent A.I. edited by Rich Horton & Sean Wallace

The blurb:
From Karel Čapek’s biotech machines of R.U.R....to Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore’s “The Proud Robot”...to Isaac Asimov’s positronic robots...to the many stories, films, cartoons, and games that have come since featuring cybertronic sex toys, robotic rebels, grandmothers with artificial intelligence, automatons, bots, droids, and so many other variations—these machines have represented our dreams as well as our anxieties. We love these literary creations but fear them as well. Stories from the last decade by top science fiction authors representing the many facets of robots in the twenty-first century: beautiful, hideous, and everything in between.
Robots has fiction from: Elizabeth Bear, Tobias S. Buckell, James Cambias, Benjamin Crowell, Aliette De Bodard, Cory Doctorow, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Liu, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Ian McDonald, Mark Pantoja, Tim Pratt, Robert Reed, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Rachel Swirsky, Lavie Tidhar, Catherynne M.Valente and Genevieve Valentine.

Available from Prime Books here.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Prudence and the Dragon

Prudence and the Dragon by Zen Cho
Reviewed by Jenny Barber

Because Prudence Ong never read newspapers or watched British TV, she maintained a spotlessly pure ignorance of the dragon throughout. She encountered the dragon in a rather more traditional setting. She met him down the pub.
Originally appearing in Crossed Genres Quarterly #1 and currently up on the World SF Blog, Prudence and the Dragon is an enjoyable story that manages to be both sweet and beautifully humorous.

A dragon comes to town, and titular heroine Prudence manages to remain blissfully, almost deliberately, unaware of it for a good part of the tale. The dragon, meanwhile, is in town to secure himself a maiden and is quite relentless in his pursuit of Prudence. This does come off more than a tad stalkery as the dragon manages to blag his way into her home as a permanent houseguest despite Prudence's initial reactions of throwing things at him and threatening him with the police. Fortunately, Prudence remains quite sensible about his attempts at courtship.

“Come away with me,” said Zheng Yi. “I will show you sorcerous wonders the likes of which you have never imagined. You will learn how to put your hand into fire and grasp its beating heart. You will speak to fairies, and they will speak back if they know what’s good for them. I will teach you the secrets of the moon and the language of the stars.”

Prudence threw the hairdryer at him.

There are all kinds of nice touches in the story, weaving the fantastical with the mundane - like the dragon's arrival bringing statues to life and having the pigeons get jobs in the City (more efficient as they don't use Facebook!) and the cooking -
With a supernatural effort at politeness, Angela said, “Oh, that smells delicious. What is it?”

“Potatoes, carrots, swede, some grated apple for sweetness, fairies for protein. But only non-sentient ones,” said Zheng Yi reassuringly. “Fairies are terribly good for you.”

They were also quite crunchy, and froze well.

The interactions between Prudence and best friend Angela are fun, and also a little heartbreaking when the dragon's glamour causes a temporary rift; and while the dragon throwing his glamour around to impress Prudence could be a slightly problematic twist, it is implied that Prudence is unaffected by it and develops a fondness for the dragon based on deeper virtues than the image he's attempting to project.

Zen Cho weaves a wonderful setting with some easily relatable characters and has created a very entertaining story that is a definite must-read.

Check out the World SF blog here, where Zen Cho was interviewed here. More about Zen Cho can be found on her livejournal here and if you fancy reading more of her excellent fiction, try out the highly recommended 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion—The Lion Bows) in Strange Horizons.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Recent Releases: Witches

Recently released from Prime Books is the fab looking Witches: Wicked, Wild & Wonderful edited by Paula Guran.

The blurb:

"Surrounded by the aura of magic, witches have captured our imaginations for millennia and fascinate us now more than ever.

"No longer confined to the image of a hexing old crone, witches can be kindly healers and protectors, tough modern urban heroines, holders of forbidden knowledge, sweetly domestic spellcasters, darkly domineering, sexy enchantresses, ancient sorceresses, modern Wiccans, empowered or persecuted, possessors of supernatural abilities that can be used for good or evil—or perhaps only perceived as such.

"Welcome to the world of witchery in many guises: wicked, wild, and wonderful. Includes two original, never-published stories.

With stories from: Elizabeth Bear, Lean Bobet, Neil Gaiman, Theodora Goss, Nancy Holder, Ellen Klages, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margo Lanagan, Tanith Lee, Madeleine L’Engle, Kelly Link, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Andre Norton, Richard Parks, T.A. Pratt, Linda Robertson, Delia Sherman, Cory Skerry, Cynthia Ward, Don Webb, Leslie What & Jane Yolen.

Definitely one to go on the read pile so watch out for the review!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Hounds of Tindalos

The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

For want of something to read last night before falling asleep, I browsed my bookshelves and chanced upon the collection The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long. This slim book – less than 180 pages – originally appeared as an Arkham House edition in, I believe, 1946. My paperback version was published by Belmont in 1963. But sadly, I gather that this book does not include the same content as the Arkham House original.

Back to last night’s reading. I was pretty tired and so only read one of the tales, the title story. It’s clear from the start that this is a Mythos yarn – Long and Lovecraft were contemporaries.

Chalmers summons his friend Frank to witness and record a time travel experiment. Chalmers is convinced that time can be bypassed via the fourth dimension, using a mix of mathematical formulae and mind-enhancing drugs. Of course, Frank is sceptical of all this but agrees to write down everything that Chalmers describes as he travels back, far back to the very beginning. But things go wrong for Chalmers. He travels to an era of angular rather than curved time. And there are beings inhabiting that place, creatures that hound him back as he returns to the twentieth century.

Frank agrees to help Chalmers fortify his rooms, to eliminate all the corners, all the angles of his apartment. Yet later, the dismembered body of Chalmers is discovered, covered in a protoplasmic gloop. And, of course, his diary is discovered, which details his final days.

Despite this story being over 60 years old, I found the writing quite invigorating, and was swept along with the tale. And it had its bleak touches of humour, too. Chalmers wrote in his diary:
“They are breaking through! Smoke is pouring from the corners of the wall. Their tongues— ahhhh—”

I always had to smile at these passages; I read a lot of this when I was much younger. Still, that aside, this is a fine story of paranoia, and a warning against searching for the darkest secrets. Man’s hubris can get him into a lot of trouble.

Note: Back in 1997 I produced on behalf of the BFS a chapbook, Long Memories: Recollections of Frank Belknap Long by Peter Cannon. This is an affectionate reminiscence of Long by Peter Cannon; Ramsey Campbell provided the afterword – who also met Long before the latter’s death in 1994. I’m not sure if copies still remain. Contact the BFS stockholder via the BFS website.