Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"This guy.... This #¥<{!^£ guy...

Nominated for two Eisner awards this year Sex Criminals issues one through five get a collected edition April 15/16 just in time for Tax Day at the image first volume low price of $9.99. On to the review...




So "This guy... This ~^.&*!( guy" (yes I'm talking about Matt Fraction and I'm actually borrowing a quote from Matt's character Suzie from this very same book to describe him). This series is a great mixture of relationship tale, caper story, and comedic sexual innuendo and exploration. Sec Criminals is a book not safe for kids and may be embarrassing for adults reading ichoosing to read it in public given its somewhat explicit content but I will say it takes a fairly mature tact towards its subject matter. The artwork by Chip Zdarsky is downright georgeous, expressive and characterful and is well worth any embarrassment it may cause and manages to be fair to Bo sexes where it comes to being explicit. The title has more to say about sex and relationships then one may think and its well worth reading for people with a healthy ability to laugh at themselves and who have a fairly open mind in general.

Matt and Chip are telling several different stories within the comic and manage to do a good job of tackleing a couple per issue but with the collection that does not really stand out. There is the present day caper tale about the heroes Suzie and Jon using their orgasm given ability to freeze time to pull of bank robberies to save the imperiled library Suzie works at; then there are the tales about their first experiences with their a-hem lacking another way to put it well explorations and exploits with their seemingly unique talents. The first dealing with the combined good and back that comes with having someone as a part of your life and as a part of your life that seemed to be uniquely yours; the addition of their ability to stop time for everyone else when they climax serve to magnify the joys and difficulties that come when you have that someone special in your life. The lack of of better term origin stories for both Suzie and Jon reveal things about them how they approach finding out what the hell is going on with them and how they deal with the revelation that sex with others seems to still leave them alone when time stops for them. There is also the story following another group of characters who have the same sex derived power and their apparent attempts to police those who abuse it. All these tales leave me with the feeling there is some interesting things afoot in the world building here.

The really nice thing about reading this title and really anything ive read by by Matt is a his maintaining a "wink wink nudge nudge" sence of humor that is smile inducing and goes just far enough without breaking the tension in the story. In a book that could easily go for the quick gag or the obvious he takes things to a more interesting place then you'd expect. The same I would say for Chip's artwork which is just cartoonish enough to carry off the outlandish ideas in this without it being, well, ewww gross or off colour. Sex Criminals is nothing like anything I'm reading or have really read in comics but my taste runs more towards the more four colour titles so that may be the reason why. I do recall some titles that addressed sexuality in the past but I'm glad to say that this is nothing like the late eighties Black Kiss by Howard Chakyn that though fun for the time I could do without the shock value it had.

The stories in this form several complete story arcs and come to a satisfying climax (ok so I had to....) and conclusion. You get a real good idea about who both Suzie and Jon are good I'll and embarrassing; a pretty delightfully Coen brothers like caper gone pear shaped and the introduction to some characterful and sort of mysterious figures for stories going into the next volume. As I said Chip's art fits the tone well with its thick lined slightly cartoonish character designs and the colours by Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela do make his art pop off the page. Sex Criminals also explores the subject of sex with a kind of gentle humor that western particularly American stories usually don't have in them. I mean honestly yes its embarrassing to talk about and ask questions about and the truth and honesty Matt takes towards the outlandish things he introduces into the equation makes the story that much better. The book is clever and fun but most of all beyond the sillyness, crazyness, and even beyond the musical scene that takes over the middle issue that had me in stitches there is a lot of truth in the story he's telling. This book is a success but I've come to expect no less. Well worth it all told....

 

 

 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wanted Dispatch (first two weeks of April) plus April 12 edition

 

The Goblin Emperor by Katheine Addison

Since I read a good number of author blogs I read plenty abut this novel well before it came out and was really looking forward to it. Katherine Addison is a pseudo name for a writer I've been wanting to read for a while but I'll leave her real identity secret if not much of one. Writer Jim C Hines who seems to have reading tastes a lot like mine and Elizabeth Bear who's fiction I simply can't resist both have great things to say about this to name just a few so I'll leave you with a bit of synopsis and a link to the excerpt from tor.com.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.

 

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

Among the steampunk and western punk writers I have yet to get the time to read Felix is just about at the top. This novel promises to be a mix of elements I really enjoy Victorian setting science fiction and pulp era genre conventions. This may not exactly be your cup of tea but I think it is tea time in this here readers day. Here is the synopsis that tor.com posted a while back along with the article about the cover design.

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage throughout London. Its aftermath of the storm Arthur’s prime literary market closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiance Jo takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. Meanwhile, Arthur deciphers an encoded newspaper ad seeking able young men. It seems to be a clerking job doing accounting work, but the mysterious head man Mr. Gacewell offers Arthur a starting position at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, and the men spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad...but the salary is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the wages of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come due: a war breaks out between competing magical societies, and Arthur interrupts Jo in the middle of an elaborate occult exploration. This rash move turns out to be dire, as Jo’s consciousness is stranded at the outer limits of the occultists’ psychic day trip. Which, Arthur is chagrinned…

Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd

In this fifth book Joel returns to his part military SF part cyberpunk part part space opera creation that started years ago with the novel Crossover. Like Revolutions above when authors mix genre conventions into a new beast it often adds up to be something I particularly enjoy. Joel's earlier books read a bit like thrillers to me and though I don't read them much I think he does them pretty handily. Here is the synopsis from one of my favorite publishers Pyr...

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra's own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

 

Steles in the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

And speaking of Elizabeth Bear here is the last volume of her Silk Road fantasy series that has been heaped with praise from so many quarters. I didn't plan it this way but it seems that this will be one of the fantasy series that I will be able to read in its entirety once this is out. I know Elizabeth for her first series of science fiction novels but have every expectation that these will be equally as entertaining given her imagination and creativity. Tor.com has an excerpt here and for your reading pleasure a bit of synopsis action as always...

Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers.

But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?

Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan

Known for the epic/sword and sorcery Riyria Revelation series that he self published as ebooks and was more recently picked up for publication by Orbit Books is expanding out from his beginnings with Hollow World. A time travel novel that Michael says he never intended to write certainly is a draw for me, one of my favorite novels from last year The Shining Girls was an unconventional sci fi time travel yearn and I'm up for more explorations of this oft mishandled trope. Here is a link to Michael's website for the novel coming from Tachyon books and a short synopsis hook.

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but faced with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. Ellis could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.

 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wanted Dispatch March 22-23

Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins

Last year I had the pleasure to read the first book, Wolfhound Century, and you can find my full review along with some handy links here. I have been looking forward to reading the follow up volume of Peter's weird alternate Russia where stone angels, sentient rain, strange powers and Russian myths blend with a Stalinist police state where paranoia is and important life skill. Wolfhound Century was one of my favorite new reads from last year and to me was reminiscent of encountering China Mieville's Perdido Street Station or the more stranger works of PK Dick.

Here is the synopsis from Orion books (his UK publisher)

Peter Higgins' Vlast is a superbly imagined 'other' Russia, an epic land of trackless forest, sentient rain and deep powers in the Earth. Its capital Mirgorod is home both to a brutal dictatorship centuries old and fleeting glimpses of the houses and streets of another city. Compared to the works of both China Mieville and John Le Carre WOLFHOUND CENTURY was a hugely original creation. Now Peter Higgins returns to that world.

Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air-raids are a daily occurrance and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defence of the city.

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.

But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?


Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

Adam is having a pretty good year he's got one novel out not long ago from Angry Robot and now a completely different type of story from TOR books here in the US. Taking a break from his explorations of superhero esque stories Adam tries his hand at straight up sci if and from the sounds of the reviewers from fellow writers he's written a ripping yarn here. Here is a link to some of those thoughts and the synopsis....

Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned subspace radio, only to tune into a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

 

Code Zero by Jonathan Mayberry

Jonathan has been writing the adventures of Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences for a good few years now beginning with the amazingly fun Patient Zero and its play on zombies and terrorism. The subsequent volumes have been tales on genetic engineering and fears of robots and such so its strange to be just now hitting a direct sequel to the horror that started in that first story. I recall the truly creepy ending of the book and the story kernels it left me with so I have great hopes for this one.... Here is the synopsis from Macmillan and a link to their site where you can peruse ass the missions Joe and his crew have have seen to date.

 

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?

 

Dawns Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Well it's been a good while since I've signal boosted for a bit of the good old steampunk but here is something not to miss. Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine are a few of my favorite podcast writers from several years ago who have worked tooth separately and together on multiple projects ranging from Scifi fantasy to erotica. I've been reading great things about this Victorian era secret agent series and backed a kickstarter for an RPG based in this storyline and am glad to see it getting noticed among other writers who blog regularly like Chuck Wendig.

Here's a bit of synopsis and a link to the Ministry of Peculiar Occurances site online where there is free audio fiction and such...

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wanted Dispatch March 15-16

Rising Steam by Terry Pratchett

To those who know Mr. Pratchett I think this needs little prompting but even though I am a fan I did not know it was coming out till last month so ... here's a warning there's a new Diskworld book about to be out. Sir Terry is one of the best satirists writing today and knowing there is more of his work out the brings joy to me in that I know it will bring mirth to my days while reading it. This is one of the stories that follows the industrialization of the magic and pun rich world of his and uses the con man protagonist from Going Postal and Making Money. Though tongue in cheek and punnish these fantasy stories are no less epic then some of the doorstops filling the shelves. Everyone needs a good laugh now and again.

 

A brash new invention brings social upheaval, deadly intrigues, and plenty of wry humor to the 40th installment of Pratchett's best-selling Discworld fantasy series. When intrepid inventor Dick Simnel comes to Ankh-Morpork looking for a backer for his revolutionary steam engine, the Iron Girder, entrepreneur Sir Harry King is quick to grasp the possibilities. So is Ankh-Morpork's ruler, Lord Vetinari, who immediately puts master facilitator (and former con artist) Moist von Lipwig in charge of the Discworld's first railway. But while the would-be railway tycoons are busy cutting deals for right-of-ways, supplies, and second class coach service, a group of radically conservative dwarf extremists are determined to stop the railroad, along with anything else that threatens "the truth of pure dwarfishness." In a realm where "even the factions had factions," Moist finds himself cast as Vetinari's agent to help defeat a political coup that could re-ignite ancient hostilities between dwarves and trolls. As always, Pratchett's unforgettable characters and lively story mirror the best, the worst, and the oddest bits of our own world, entertaining readers while skewering social and political foibles in a melting pot of humanity, dwarfs, trolls, goblins, vampires, and a werewolf or two. (Mar.)

Fearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow

Ok I'm kinda an anthology fan and Ellen Datlow is the queen of the horror anthology so I'm pretty much required to signal boost this but in addition it happens to be the product of a kickstarter I put my money where my blogging mouth is. ChiZine happens to be the publisher of this one so that also places it pretty high on my must recommend list of books. Quite a few of my favorite authors are part of the anthology and though I missed the deadline there was an open call for short stories for the collection so hopefully there will be some great new voices here too.... Here is the table of contents....

Table of Contents

Introduction by Ellen Datlow

A Wish From a Bone by Gemma Files

The Atlas of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud

The Witch Moth by Bruce McAllister

Kaiju by Gary McMahon

Will The Real Psycho In This Story Please Stand Up? by Pat Cadigan

In the Year of Omens by Helen Marshall

The Four Darks by Terry Dowling

The Spindly Man by Stephen Graham Jones

The Window by Brian Evenson

Mount Chary Galore by Jeffrey Ford

Ballad of An Echo Whisperer by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Suffer Little Children by Robert Shearman

Power by Michael Marshall Smith

Bridge of Sighs by Kaaron Warren

the worms crawl in, by Laird Barron

The Attic by Catherine MacLeod

Wendigo Nights by Siobhan Carroll

Episode Three: On the Great Plains, In the Snow by John Langan

Catching Flies by Carole Johnstone

Shay Corsham Worsted by Garth Nix

The Time Traveler's Almanac edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

Did I say that Ellen was the queen of the anthology well this couple is right up there with her and the breadth and quality of the stories they choose for their anthologies wether it be Weird fiction, Steampunk or ailments, kosher animals and curiosities. This time out they pull time travel stories for the past and present that cover the staggering genre that is time travel. Coming in at eight hundred pages I'm including the table of contents for those interested but its bound to be worth the price of admission ... It even boasts nonfiction that is a common staple of their collections.....

 

In addition to collecting some of the best time travel fiction from over the past 100 years, the VanderMeers have commissioned original non-fiction, including an introduction by Rian Johnson, the writer and director of the recent Bruce Willis time travel movie Looper as well as an essay on the science of time travel by Stan Love, an astronaut from NASA. Other contributors are Charles Yu, Genevieve Valentine and Jason Heller.

Here’s the HUGE (alphabetical) table of contents:

FICTION

“Young Zaphod Plays It Safe” by Douglas Adams

“Terminós” by Dean Francis Alfar

“What If?” by Issac Asimov

“Noble Mold” by Kage Baker

“A Night on the Barbary Coast” by Kage Baker

“Life Trap” by Barrington J Bayley

“This Tragic Glass” by Elizabeth Bear

“Enoch Soames” by Max Beerbohn

“The Most Important Thing in the World” by Steve Bein

“In The Tube” by E.F. Benson

“The Mask of the Rex” by Richard Bowes

“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

“Bad Timing” by Molly Brown

“The Gulf of the Years” by George-Olivier Châteaureynaud

“The Threads of Time” by C.J. Cherryh

“Thirty Seconds From Now” by John Chu

“Palindromic” by Peter Crowther

“Domine” by Rjurik Davidson

“The Lost Continent” by Greg Egan

“The Gernsback Continuum” by William Gibson

“3 RMS, Good View” by Karen Haber

“Message in a Bottle” by Nalo Hopkinson

“The Great Clock” by Langdon Jones

“Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters” by Alice Sola Kim

“On the Watchtower at Plataea” by Garry Kilworth

“Time Gypsies” by Ellen Klages

“Vintage Seasons” by Henry & C.L. Moore Kuttner

“At Dorado” by Geoffrey Landis

“Ripples in the Dirac Sea” by Geoffrey Landis

“The Final Days” by David Langford

“Fish Night” by Joe Lansdale

“As Time Goes By” by Tanith Lee

“Another Story” by Ursula K. LeGuin

“Loob” by Bob Leman

“Alexia and Graham Bell” by Rosaleen Love

“Traveller’s Rest” by David Masson

“Death Ship” by Richard Matheson

“Under Siege” by George R.R. Martin

“The Clock That Went Backwards” by Edward Page Mitchell

“Pale Rose” by Michael Moorcock

“The House that Made the Sixteen Loops of Time” by Tamsyn Muir

“Is There Anybody There?” by Kim Newman

“Come-From-Aways” by Tony Pi

“The Time Telephone” by Adam Roberts

“Red Letter Day” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“The Waitabits” by Eric Frank Russell

“If Ever I Should Leave You” by Pamela Sargent

“How the Future Got Better” by Eric Schaller

“Needle in a Timestack” by Robert Silverberg

“Delhi” by Vandana Singh

“Himself in Anachron” by Cordwainer Smith

“The Weed of Time” by Norman Spinrad

“Palimpsest” by Charlie Stross

“Yesterday Was Monday” by Theodore Sturgeon

“Triceratops Summer” by Michael Swanwick

“The Mouse Ran Down” by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Augusta Prima” by Karin Tidbeck

“Twenty-One and Counting Up” by Harry Turtledove

“Forty, Counting Down” by Harry Turtledove

“Where or When” by Steve Utley

“Swing Time” by Carrie Vaughn

“(excerpt from) The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells

“Fire Watch” by Connie Willis

“Against the Lafayette Escadrille” by Gene Wolfe

“The Lost Pilgrim” by Gene Wolfe

NON-FICTION

Introduction by Rian Johnson

Music for Time Travelers by Jason Heller

The Science of Time Travel by Stan Love

Trousseau, Fashion for Time Travelers by Genevieve Valentine

Top Ten Tips for Time Travelers by Charles Yu


 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wanted Dispatch Mar 8-9

Blood and Iron by John Sprunk

I'm reading the ARC for this gem right now that PYR kindly sent to me; like The Dahger and The Coin series by Daniel Abraham its a mix of great elements from disparate fantasy novels making a very interesting whole. The main viewpoint characters tale reminds me in ways of Raymond Fiest's Daughter of the Empire with its fish out of water man in a foreign land alone tale who goes from prisoner to another more gilded kind of captive. In a way wether literal or more psychological all the players in this tale of intrigue, intimidation and violence are captives to their fates. I'm anxious to get to the crux of this story to see where it may be heading, A bit high fantasy a bit Game of Thrones politics and a bit Spartacus The Books of the Black Earth has a lot going for it and will have something for many if not all fantasy fans to sink their teeth into.

Tor.com put up an excerpt here and a bit of synopsis to get you started....

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand.

Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

 

The Fell Sword

The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron

Sequel to The Red Knight Miles continues the grim monster hunting medieval European fantasy tale of the Traitor Son cycle. The first book proved to me that though I love non European fantasies these days there is plenty of life left in the Arthurian western fantasy setting. Miles plays with the ideas of mercenarie companies, hermetic magic and corrupting influences and creatures making something complex and conflicted on multiple levels. Loved reading The Red Knight last year and sad I didn't recall this was coming out till just this week....

Here is a link to Mr Cameron's website for the series and the story synopsis....



Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free.

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand -- and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But the Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time -- especially when he intends to be victorious on them all?

Lastly fans of magical fiction should watch Tor.com this Tuesday for a new and free short fiction piece from the amazing Kelly Link....

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wanted Dispatch March 1 2014

The Barrow by Mark Smylie

I was a big fan of his comic Artesia which started just before the year 2000 written and illustrated by Mark Smylie and was conceived as a pagan Joan of Arc story in a second world setting. I read several of the stories in the series but lost track of it a while back and I'm so exited to be reminded of it and see that Mark has written a novel in the series. Here is a link to Mark's website where you can read about the history of the world, the other stories in the setting and see some of the painted art from the comic series. I'll leave you with the solicitation from PYR books and say its topping my list for the month... (Seems that this may not be out till the 20th...  Update two... Checked with our distributor at work and its out as of the 4 th.... Yeah)

Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this DEBUT EPIC FANTASY novel for fans of George R. R. Martin and Michael J. Sullivan, set in the world of the Eisner-nominated Artesia comic books.

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they've struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin's sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed.

 

Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

This is the second volume of the second world memoir fantasy series that started last year at this time with A Natural History of Dragons and explores the topics of gender roles, racial prejudice and assumptions about the nature of things. Written in a very personal voice the narrative may not be for everyone but the readers who enjoyed it loved it almost without reservation. In my mind it fits into the same fictional niche as another favorite of mine as Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamorist Histories.

Here is a link to the publishers website and the long synopsis that they provide....

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .


Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons,are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.


The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

 


Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Well, Brandon Sanderson is a pretty big name in epic fantasy and probably needs little signal boost but the world building and narrative voices in his Stormlight Archive series is far too good to let pass by without pointing an arrow towards this. These books are frankly doorstops in their size but are worth all the time and effort that went into writing them and the time investment you'll put into reading them. Tor.com has been posting preview chapters and I think they got well through chapter seven and have posted one audio file too boot in anticipation for this book. Here is a link to the prologue and the first several chapters... And here is a link to the synopsis... Its quite long befitting the length of the novel .... I'd post it but it would make the rest of this kind hard to see on my home page....

 

 

Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty

This is another sequel to a book I enjoyed and reviewed last year; this time around it is Mur Lafferty's the follow up to The Shambling Guide to New York. The series is a completely different tale on the urban fantasy mold. Mur looks at a supernaturally infused world much like the one outside your door from the more pedestrian angle of the travel guide writer and populates her story with such wonderfully broken characters that I could not help but love it. Wry whimsical and darkly funny its a great break from the grim and gritty that fills the shelves.

Here is the synopsis for this volume that started as a short store several years back and a link the publishers site....

COULD YOU FIND A MUSEUM FOR A MONSTER?

OR A JAZZ BAR FOR A JABBERWOCK?

Zoe Norris writes travel guides for the undead. And she's good at it too -- her new-found ability to talk to cities seems to help. After the success of The Sbambling Guide to New York City, Zoe and her team are sent to New Orleans to write the sequel.

Work isn't all that brings Zoe to the Big Easy. The only person who can save her boyfriend from zombism is rumored to live in the city's swamps, but Zoe's out of her element in the wilderness. With her supernatural colleagues waiting to see her fail, and rumors of a new threat hunting city talkers, can Zoe stay alive long enough to finish her next book?

 

Half-off Ragnarock by Seanan McGuire

Anyone who as been reading the Dispatch will know that Ms. McGuire is one of the many writers that I have a reader crush on and will promote without even having read the first books in a series as I'm doing with this one. In this series she has a epic fantasy sized cast of characters to writer stories from the perspective of and has several eras she can tell stories in, which you can check out through her website here. Tor.com has an excerpt to hook you in that you can get to here and well as ever a synopsis to try to get you onboard....

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone...

Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner...

Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner...

 

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

With this follow up to last years Written in Blood Anne Bishop continues her dark modern fantasy tale; known mainly for her fantasy Black Jewels series Anne proves she can write in any era. This is a modern struggle between he people of our would and those of the Other and is a draw for me because I kind of missed out on the whole Black Jewels series originally. Here is a link to her website and again as ever a synopsis.... And a hint that Tor.com is running a sweepstakes for this one so go quick and enter....

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside

Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live

among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her

abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the

humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in

nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in

the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders

whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future

threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble

finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of

humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on

reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to

destroy them all.

 

Check in later this week for the last fill in for the February releases.....

And to fill in the last week of February which had several works of note...

 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Wanted Dispatch the all February Edition.....

Since I missed all the Tuesdays in February I'm going to hit the highlights all at once .... I'm going to break them up by week at least though....

Week 1

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

I have been reading about this upcoming trilogy for months now from one of the best weird fiction writers in the US and it finally hit the shelves the first week of the month. Jeff Vandermeer 's fiction appeals to me for the same reason that the work of China Mieville and Gene Wolfe does, his world building is unique weird and brilliantly solid in its imagining no matter how weird it gets. Here is a bit of synopsis for you....

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

The book had been optioned for a television series long before it hit the shelves and I can not wait to get home to snatch up my copy finally...

 

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

This is another one I have had to wait for with anticipation... Ben's urban fantasy police procedural series is one of those that gets published in the UK first and us in the new world need to wait for us to get a shot at trading it. The first novel in this series grabbed my attention and did not let go till I finished it. If you imagine a blending of the wit and cleverness great British police shows like Morse, Louis and Luthor and the the twisted mythological world building of Joss Whedon you have an idea of what your getting. Here is a bit of synopsis for you... Here is a link to tor.coms article about the book....

Ben Aaronovitch has stormed the bestseller list with his superb London crime series. A unique blend of police procedural, loving detail about the greatest character of all, London, and a dash of the supernatural.

A mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on an housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?

Full of warmth, sly humour and a rich cornucopia of things you never knew about London, Aaronovitch's series has swiftly added Grant's magical London to Rebus' Edinburgh and Morse's Oxford as a destination of choice for those who love their crime with something a little extra.

Red Delicious by Caitlín R Kiernan writing as Kathleeen Tierney

Blood Oranges came out last year marking the debute of this urban fantasy satire starring a deliciously twisted heroine who is in addition to being a liar and an unrelyable storyteller is a junkie, a vampire and a werewolf. This series walks the razor edge between satire and loving the fact its urban fantasy. I can see why Caitlín would write under an assumed name if one she is not trying to hide at all some readers might not be up for the grim dark wry humorous take on the genre. I look forward to this one and the further sequel promised....

Here is the synopsis... And a link to the tor article about the book...

Siobhan Quinn is back and working a new case in the dark and satirical sequel to Blood Oranges.

Half-vampire, half-werewolf Siobhan Quinn survived her initiation into the world of demons and monsters. But staying alive as she becomes entangled in underworld politics might prove to be more difficult. When the daughter of a prominent necromancer vanishes, it's up to Quinn to find the girl. But her search will land her directly in the middle of a struggle between competing forces searching for an ancient artifact of almost unimaginable power...

Week 2 (the only week I actually got in... Take a look at my thoughs about The Waking Engine by David Edison a couple posts back....

Week 3

Dead Americans and Other Stories Ben Peek

My favorite Canadian publishers make an appearance this month because of this collection that promises more dark weird fiction and gets some good words via the champion of weird fiction Jeff Vandermeer. Not being familiar with Ben's work I will mearly leave you with the synopsis and the good words of Mr Vandemeer. Also a link ...

A collection of the critically acclaimed surreal short fiction of Ben Peek. Welcome to the dark, weird worlds imagined by one of the finest writers of short fiction in English:

A world where bands are named after the murderer of a dead president, where the work of Octavia E. Butler is turned into an apocalypse meta-narrative, and John Wayne visits a Wal-Mart. A world where a dreaming Mark Twain has visions of Sydney, where a crime that begins in a mosque, and answers are given to a questionnaire you never read. Where a dying sun shines over a broken, bitter landscape, and men and women tattoo their life onto their skin for an absent god.

Reviews of Dead Americans:

Ben Peek is a writer I fully expect to blunder out into the scene like a runaway brontosaurus one of these days. He has titanic talent. . . .

—Jeff VanderMeer, Locus Online

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Women who write epic fantasy often get overlooked in the genre, well with a few notable exceptions, so when there is one out there I want to get that word out. So though I missed the release a few weeks back I am exited there is a new voice out there and I'll give you the synopsis for your reading pleasure.... And a link to the publisher...

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.

 

I wanted to get to the last week of Feb to prepare for the March releases but I have to post this now... I will be on an international flight tomorrow so I will hit up the last weeks awesome and he first week of March on Monday at latest... And be up an running weekley the second week....