Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Hallowe'en Edition (Featuring Hill, Maberry, King, Priest, & Zelazny)

Time for a preemptive Friday Round-Up for Hallowe’en weekend, since the few books I’ve covered  recently have been very much horror, as has much of my October reading.

Earlier this week, my review of the audio version of Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero read by Ray Porter posted to SFFWorld. This is Maberry’s first Joe Ledger novel and I am hooked. I think this is the first series I'm going to "consume" audio-only.

Zombie stories are a dime a dozen, they come in all shapes and sizes and are very much a pop-culture phenomenon that have transcended the horror genre. Military Science Fiction is one of the most popular of subgenres of speculative fiction. Take those two great tastes, mash them up and add a wonderful amount of wit and you’ve got Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels, which begin with Patient Zero.

Maberry masterfully crafted the character of Joe Ledger, a tough-as nails, smart character who epitomizes what it means to be an ultimate “warrior.” While he is a rugged wise-ass, he doesn’t come across as a macho asshole, either. That trap is one many a writer/storyteller has fallen into, but Maberry assimilates many archetypical elements of the hero in his construction of Ledger. Joe is a guy you immediately want to have a beer with, want in your foxhole, and don’t want to piss off. His comradery with Rudy comes across as a friendship that has seen a great deal; his interaction with Church is entertaining for Joe’s wise-ass snark against Church’s dry humor; and his introduction / assumption of Echo Team leader is pure gold.

The next day, my first Completist column in a few months posted to SF Signal. In it, I gush about two novels that climbed very quickly up my top horror reads, Cherie Priest’s Borden Dispatches, a superb Lovecraftian duet:

Lizzie Borden and her axe is as much of an American myth as she is an historical figure, but what if those forty whacks she took were in self-defense against creatures that bore a stronger resemblance to H.P. Lovecraft’s aquatic Cthulhu monstrosities than her father and step-mother? That idea serves as the launch pad for Cherie Priest’s darkly delicious “Borden Dispataches,” which is comprised of Maplecroft and Chapelwood. Priest magically mixes historical figures and events with the horror of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos in an elegant concoction that seems so logical that it almost begs the question why hasn’t it been done before? Well, Priest’s storytelling skills and lyrical, completely convincing voice elevate these books to greatness.
The Borden Dispatches aren’t simply great horror tales (and they are at the top of the list of horror novels I’ve read in the past decade), but an examination of some less savory social structures. The primary protagonists are all women, with Lizzie/Lisbeth at *the* protagonist and inMaplecroft, her relationship with her lover Nance is central. Dr. Seabury, in his “diaries” expresses disapproval of such a relationship, but he is able to get past that and still help Lizzie. In Chapelwood, there’s a layered examination of the racism and gender bias of the day, Ruth’s marriage to a Puerto Rican man is not viewed kindly, and the aura of racism haunts Birmingham nearly as strongly as does the Lovecraftian monstrosities. Those two evils work quite well together under the roof of the Chapelwood Church.

In addition to those three books, I’ve spent much of my October reading on Horror. The fine folks at audible put together a marvelous audio adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key graphic novel series. (My favorite thing Hill has done and a top 5 all time comic/graphic novel series for me).

That one was free to audible members and will be for a few more days (until November 3), so I highly, highly recommend downloading it.

With my October audible credit, I went for a big, deep cut. A horror novel I read twice before, but many years ago (at least 20 years ago was the last time I read it). I’ve been wanting to revisit IT for a few years, but the piles of review books kept pushing it away, so I finally jumped back to Derry, Maine for Stephen King’s largest book, but with the shortest (and most un-Google-able title), IT. I am thoroughly enjoying it IT even if I can see some “issues” throughout (if Bill Denbrough isn’t Stephen King, then I don’t know what writerly character is)

Over the course of a couple of days, I read through Roger Zelazny's classic A Night in the Lonesome October and had a lot of fun playing the literary guessing game. Snuff might be a new favorite literary canine. 

In the end, this October for my All Hallows Reads, I revisited two big-time favorites and found two new writers whose backlist I need to go through.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-24)

Just a few books here at the home offices of the 'o Stuff, have a gander...

Departure (A Laundry Files novel) by A.G. Riddle (HarperVoyager Hardcover 10/20/2015) – Riddle is the latest self-published sensation (having sold over one million copies) to make the jump to traditional publishing. This one, as the tag line indicates, has some resonance with Lost. This is the final/hardcover of the ARC I received back in June.

Flight 305 took off in 2014...
But it crashed in a world very different from our own...

With time running out, five strangers must unravel why they were taken...
And how to get home.


Harper Lane has problems. In a few hours, she'll have to make a decision that will change her life forever. But when her flight from New York to London crash-lands in the English countryside, she discovers that she's made of tougher stuff than she ever imagined.

As Harper and the survivors of Flight 305 struggle to stay alive in the aftermath of the crash, they soon realize that this world is very different from the one they left. Their lives are connected, and some believe they've been brought here for a reason.

In addition to Harper, several other passengers seem to hold clues about why Flight 305 crashed. There's:

Nick Stone, an American on his way to a meeting with The Gibraltar Project, an international group dedicated to building a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar and draining the Mediterranean.

Sabrina Schröder, a German scientist who has unknowingly sealed the fate of half the flight's passengers.

Yul Tan, a Chinese-American computer scientist who has just made the breakthrough of a lifetime: a quantum internet capable of transmitting more data, farther, faster than ever thought possible. His invention, however, does much more than he ever dreamed possible.

With time running out to save the survivors of Flight 305, Harper and Nick race to unravel the conspiracy that crashed their plane. As they put the pieces together, they discover that their decisions have already doomed one world and will soon determine the future of ours.

No Cover Image Available Yet

The Alchemy of Chaos by Marshall Ryan Maresca (DAW Mass Market Paperback 03/02/2016) – Third book featuring Maresca’s superhero/sword and sorcery tale. I had a lot of fun reading the first one (The Thorn of Dentonhill) earlier this year, but somehow the second book never made its way to me.

Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a pest to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood.

But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it’s exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it’s clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them…

A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar (Melville House Hardcover 03/08/2016) – Tidhar is an author I’ve been wanting to read for a few years now, very glad to get this one.

A twisted masterpiece . . . A Holocaust novel like no other, Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming comes crashing through the door of literature like Sam Spade with a .38 in his hand. This is a shocking book as well as a rather brilliant one. —The Guardian

A noir thriller with a twist and a Holocaust novel infused with the spirit of shund–the dark Israeli pulp fiction that thrived in the years after World War II–the British Fantasy Award-shortlisted A Man Lies Dreaming is a radical literary experiment that brings alternate history to life. Lavie Tidhar has reimagined the rainy, atmospheric energy of London in the 1930s, and the troubled private detective with an unspeakable secret who roams its streets. As A Man Lies Dreaming unfolds and more of its mysteries come to the surface, we find ourselves drawn into a novel at once gripping and profoundly unsettling.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Round-Up NYCC 2015, Jim Butcher & Kameron Hurley @SFFWorld, Mind Meld @SFSignal

Big Friday-Round up this week, although nothing else new from me this past week. However, but last week was quite busy indeed. Last weekend (10/9-10/11), I attended New York Comic Con with a Press Pass. I was granted this Press Pass for the third year in a row (2013, 2014) largely because of my writings for SF Signal and SFFWorld. So, it was only fitting that I posted conference reports to both of those fine sites.

In between those two Con reports, on Tuesday, at SFFWorld a “conversational review” of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass was posted. The Marks Yon and Chitty and I all loved the book so this back and forth was quite fun.

Mark Y: As you’ve said already, Rob, Rowl is a wonderfully realised character, and I think my favourite – I can see a lot of fans for him. I must admit that I also noticed what Rob has said here, that the characterisation is dominated by females, not that that’s a bad thing. I liked it! But bearing in mind Jim’s previous female leads (Karrin Murphy, Molly Carpenter, for example) how do Gwendolyn, Bridget and even Folly stand up for you by comparison here?
Rob B: Have I mentioned that I like Bridget? Gwen was a great character, too. Very headstrong and I really empathized reading the scenes written with her as the POV. I don’t think she was as frustrating to the extent that her co-characters did, I got a sense that some thought she was a bit of a nuisance but again I didn’t see her that way at all. She was just a very headstrong, youthful character who acts before thinking. Folly is a lot of fun, too, even if she was more of a secondary character. I see big things down the road for her in terms of moving up to be more of a primary player. (Or maybe if the series is popular enough, a story from her POV would be fun).
Mark C: Gwen is definitely fierce and headstrong, and her view of the world is somewhat annoying at times, though her cousin Benedict certainly balances her out. Folly is also great fun, a character that could grow massively as the story progresses. I also liked Bridget (perhaps not as much as Rob… ), and her development through the novel is perhaps the best of the bunch – it’s great to see her take such a prominent role. I’d perhaps go as far to say that it is the male characters that fall behind here, or certainly don’t have the same level of development that the female characters have.

On Wednesday, my October Mind Meld posted to SF Signal wherein I asked Michael J. Martinez, one of my SFFWorld pals Victoria Rogers, Tim Pratt, Rhiannon Frater, Nick Sharps, Priscilla Spencer, Larry Ketchersid, Shana Dubois, Kristi Charish, and Helen Lowe:

Q: Who Has Your Back when Monsters Attack
We all know the monsters are coming, whether they are zombies, vampires, orcs, dragons, or aliens, they are coming – it is known. So who would you want by your side when they arrive?

We also posted an interview at SFFWorld with Kameron Hurley wherein she answered questions from Dag, Luke, and me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-17)

You all know the drill, here's this week's version of Books in the Mail...

Shadow of Empire (Far Star Trilogy #1) by Jay Allan (Harper Voyager 11/10/2015) – Allan makes the jump from small press/self-published to one of the Big SF publishers. This launches a Space Opera trilogy to be published over the course of three months. That is proof of a publisher showing confidence in a writer. This is the final coy of the ARC I received in August.

The first installment in the Far Star series, a swashbuckling space saga that introduces the daring pirate Blackhawk and the loyal crew of the Wolf’s Claw, from the author of the bestselling Crimson Worlds saga.

Smuggler and mercenary Arkarin Blackhawk and the crew of the ship Wolf’s Claw are freelance adventurers who live on the fringe of human society in the Far Stars. A veteran fighter as deadly with a blade as he is with a gun, Blackhawk is a man haunted by a dark past. Even his cynicism cannot banish the guilt and pain that threaten his sanity.

Sent to rescue the kidnapped daughter of his longtime friend Marshal Augustin Lucerne, Blackhawk and his crew find themselves drawn into one deadly fight after another. When the Wolf’s Claw is damaged, they are forced to land on a remote planet subsumed by civil war. Pulled unwittingly into the conflict, they uncover disturbing information about secret imperial involvement that could upset the plans of Lucerne.

For the Marshal is determined to forge a Far Stars Confederation powerful enough to eliminate all imperial influence and threats in the sector. He needs a skilled warrior like Blackhawk on his side, but the mercenary, plagued by dark memories from the past, refuses to join the cause. All too soon, though, he and his crew will have to take a stand.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom (Harper Voyager 10/27/2015) – This is a trade-paperback reissue of the Hardcover originally published in 2012. I read this about a year or two ago and LOVED it.

Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head. . . . I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide . . .

The author and artist of The Child Thief returns with a modern fabulist tale of Krampus, the Lord of Yule and the dark enemy of Santa Claus

One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward, taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets back to earth, a magical sack that thrusts the down-on-his-luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse's new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, including how half a millennium ago the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

Now Santa's time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself in his family's eyes, to save his own broken dreams . . . and to help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished fold of Boone County.

Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed (Star Wars Books / Del Rey, Hardcover 09/04/2015) – Inspired by the Game based on the Star Wars universe. Freed has extensive experience writing for Star Wars – 6 years on the The Old Republic game in addition to numerous comics. Nice to see him get a “promotion” to writing one of the big SW novels. Hardcover/final version of the ARC I received about a month ago

A companion novel inspired by the hotly anticipated videogame Star Wars: Battlefront, this action-packed adventure follows a squad of soldiers caught in the trenches of the ultimate galactic war between good and evil.

The bravest soldiers. The toughest warriors. The ultimate survivors.

Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers—bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises—are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground.

Leading the charge are the soldiers—men and women, human and nonhuman—of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation—and gives the Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence.

Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver—trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.

This is the Night by Jason Hough (Little A Hardcover 11/01/2015) – Hough’s trilogy earned him some very good sales and acclaim and graduated him to Hardcover for this release.

In a world at war, four youths try to determine what’s really worth fighting for.

For more than twenty years, the Homeland has been immersed in a brutal, unwinnable war. Young men are drafted and sent to fight in a faraway jungle. Those who come back are scarred in body and mind. Lance, two weeks shy of turning eighteen, has watched his older brothers leave and his mother fall apart when they fail to return. He’s never imagined a different future for himself—until he meets an idealistic young woman named Lorrie and impulsively flees town with her.

In Western City North, on the edge of the Homeland, Lance and Lorrie move into the same building as Benny and Joe, two friends up for induction. Along with Alan, a young runaway, they frantically evade Registry agents intent on tracking down draft dodgers. With induction day looming and paranoia rampant, the only way for any of them to stay free is to uncover the truth about their uncertain world—and the forces seeking to control it. Jonah C. Sirott’s breathtaking debut is about hope, survival, and the challenge of pushing past the limits our world draws around us.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-10)

Here's the rundown of what arrived at Casa de Bedford this week..

City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett (Crown Trade Paperback 01/26/2016) – The first installment in this now trilogy was my favorite novel of 2014 and was recently shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Were it not for some puppy sadness, City of Stairs would have made the shortlist for the Hugo Award. So yeah, I’m reading this one.

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions. 

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten. 

At least, it makes the perfect cover story. 

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world--or destroy it. 

The trouble is that this old soldier isn't sure she's still got what it takes to be the hero.

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 10/27/2015) – An ambitious looking young adult novel, bit and meaty with a snazzy looking cover, this is the final/hardcover of the ARC I received a few weeks ago.

May 7, 1896. Dusk. A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected.
His second life will be nothing like his first.

Zebulon's new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there, he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares—and from poverty—in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.
Love, hate, hope, and horror—Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption?

Ambitious and heartbreaking, The Death & Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At the Edge of Empire is the epic saga of what it means to be human in a world so often lacking in humanity.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday Round-Up: de Bodard, Hough, and Wilde @SFFWorld

Seems I let some time lapse since I last did a round up. This one features latest round up features Aliette de Bodard, Jason M. Hough, and Fran Wilde. Let’s have at it…

We’ll start with de Bodard’s angelic post-apocalyptic novel, The House of Shattered Wings:

Much of the novel focuses on House Silverspires, the head of which was Lucifer Morningstar. Stress on the “was” since he disappeared years prior to the events of the novel. The head of the house is his one-time protégé Seline, who is struggling under the weight of his shadow, the post-war state of Paris, and people in her House dying. This struggle becomes even more challenging when two new people are brought into her House – a newly Fallen (Isabelle) and a mysterious man named Philippe who knows many things about the politics of this supernatural world. Though not a Fallen, he is immortal and soon comes to realize he is as haunted as is House Silverspires.

The strength of the novel is the atmosphere and world building. I thought de Bodard did a wonderful job of contrasting the beauty with the horror, giving much of the novel a dark sinister feel. The magical elements were also quite potent and well-drawn. The apocalyptic supernatural and religious elements are dressing on what is essentially a murder-mystery, which adds weight to the familiar story/plot. de Bodard’s prose is ethereal, magical and brings a great deal of weight to a story that is weighty by its nature. Despite that excellent prose, I found myself detached from the pacing and story itself. This is a case where I’ll definitely notch it up to “it is me and not you,” as life was in a bit of a transition stage for me while I read the novel. I’ve also seen a great deal of positive response to the novel and I recognize what Aliette is doing with this novel and admire it a great deal.

Up next is an action-packed Spy-Fi novel of lost memories and parallel worlds. Here’ the standard link to the review, cover shot, and review excerpt of Jason M. Hough’s Zero World:

Zero World is a high concept SF novel that takes the multiverse/parallel world theory to an ambitious, exaggerated degree and places at its center Peter Caswell, an operative of a highly secretive organization tasked with finding a woman named Alice who was thought to be dead when the vessel on which she was a crew member crashed a little over a decade prior to the events in the novel.

Hough’s plotting is terrific in this novel, the pace and action pieces in Zero World make for a page turning thrill-ride set against an epic backdrop. We are immediately thrust into Peter’s plight as his mission is thrust upon him. His limited knowledge base allows for the reader to be more attuned to Peter’s disorientation and how he absorbs his surroundings. When he arrives at the parallel world, his limited understanding of who he is comes into greater question when he realizes his target – the woman thought dead for over a decade – has set herself up on this parallel world as a scientific genius and global figure. That is of course a relatively easy task since the parallel world is a few decades behind Earth from a technological standpoint.

Lastly, and most recently, Fran Wilde’s stunning debut novel, Updraft:

For such a relatively short novel (350 pages), Wilde packs a great deal of detail into her world and the consequences of living in such a strange place. It seems clear that Wilde put a enormous effort and time constructing this world, but she does not dole out those details with reckless, word-dumping abandon. The world-building comes as the plot comes, in the adequate amounts to round out the characters and push the story forward. There’s enough detail about the flying equipment to give a good understanding of the challenges Traders/fliers face without dragging down the narrative. The Spires themselves are harrowing constructions, and even more harrowing are the lower levels. They are made of bones, but bones of what? It isn’t clear (and that’s a strength of Wilde’s storytelling), so in that sense there’s the right amount of detail leaving me wanting more. The spires and a (once?)-living environment constructed of bone, reminded me of Mike Underwood’s highly enjoyable Shield and Crocus. There’s a vein of mysterious darkness in Wilde’s fantasy world that echoes some of the darkness underlying the New Weird just as it did in Mike’s novel.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-03)

Here goes the books from last wheek which arrived on my doorstep.

An Apprentice to Elves (Iskryne #3) by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette (Tor, Hardcover 10/13/2015) – Third in the collaborative series from Bear and Monette

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear return with the third book in their Iskryne trilogy, An Apprentice to Elves. The trilogy began with A Companion to Wolves, and continued in The Tempering of Men. This novel picks up the story of Alfgyfa, a young woman who has been raised in the Wolfhall by her father Isolfr, who is the human leader of the queen-wolf Viridechtis' pack, and was the protagonist of the first book.

The warrior culture of Iskryne forbids many things to women-and most especially it forbids them bonding to one of the giant telepathic trellwolves. But as her father was no ordinary boy, Alfgyfa is no ordinary girl. Her father has long planned to send his daughter to Tin, a matriarch among the elves who live nearby, to be both apprentice and ambassador, and now she is of age to go.

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow #1) by Lila Bowen (Orbit, Hardcover 10/27/2015) – Weird West with praise from Matthew Stover?! Of course I’m reading this one because Lila Bowen is an open pseudonym for Delilah Dawson.

A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound ability is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding -- at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin... if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.

The King's Justice: Two Novellas by Stephen R. Donaldson (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Hardcover 10/15/2015) – Donaldson is one of those writers I read when I was first really getting into the fantasy genre, specifically his Thomas Covenant books, but I haven’t read the final 4. Yet. This book looks very interesting. Hardcover of the ARC I received in July.

Two new, original novellas—Donaldson's first publication since finishing the Thomas Covenant series—are a sure cause for celebration among his many fans. 

In The King's Justice, a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle's Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself "Black," though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle’s Crossways.

The Augur's Gambit is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queen--and to her only daughter. The "Augur's Gambit" is his mad attempt to save a kingdom.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Gary Gianni (Spectra Hardcover 10/06/2015) – A collection of the three Dunk and Egg novellas/short novels.

Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.

Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name (hidden from all he and Dunk encounter) is Aegon Targaryen. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two . . . as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.

Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.

Ancillary Mercy (Volume 3 of Imperial Radch) by Orbit, Trade Paperback 10/06/2015) – The finale to Leckie’s multi-award-winning trilogy.

The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself.

Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before. 

In the Ancillary world: 
1. Ancillary Justice
2. Ancillary Sword
3. Ancillary Mercy

The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey (Ace Mass Market Paperback 09/29/20145 – Sequel to Lindsey’s VERY enjoyable first book in the series The Bloodbound. I hope to get to this sooner rather than later. Lindsey also writers under the name of E.L. Tettensor. This publishes one day short of exactly a year since the previous installment

The epic saga that started in The Bloodbound continues…

As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…

When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the king’s retinue in relative anonymity. Though she’s once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince.

Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself.

Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (TorHardcover 10/20/2015) – I’ve been meaning to read Valente’s work for quite some time. This is the second book by her I’ve received this year so perhaps my excuses are wearing thin.

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own, from Catherynne M. Valente, the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck's father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father's films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony's last survivor, Severin will never return.

Told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

A Borrowed Man edited by Gene Wolfe and (TorHardcover 10/20/2015) – A brand new SF novel from Gene Wolfe. ‘Nuff Said..

A Borrowed Man: a new science fiction novel, from Gene Wolfe, the celebrated author of the Book of the New Sun series.

It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.