Sunday, 30 May 2010

The BoSS for 30/05/10

Nothing huge this week - nothing, I should say, quite on the level of City of Ruin (though as one of this year's must-read fantasies, that isn't a huge surprise) - but nonetheless, the BoSS troops ever onward. Featuring the likes of Stephen Deas, Jay Lake and George Mann, all acclaimed authors who I hate to admit I've never read, the theme this week seems to be new experiences. And I'm all for new experiences. Did I ever tell you all about that one time, at band camp, when I ---

What?

Oh. My apologies. Now what was it we were talking about again?

Click through to read Meet the BoSS for an introduction and an explanation as to why you should care about the Bag o' Speculative Swag.

Read on for a sneak peek at some of the books - past, present and future - you can expect to see coverage of here on The Speculative Scotsman in the coming weeks and months.

***

The Poison Diaries
by Maryrose Wood


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
27/05/10 by HarperCollins

Review Priority:
4 (Very High)

Plot Synopsis: "A dark, gothic tale of romance... and murder. In the right dose, everything is a poison. Jessamine has spent her whole life in a cottage close to her father's apothecary garden, surrounded by medicinal plants and herbs that could kill her - although her father has never allowed her into the most dangerous part of the grounds... the poison garden. And so she's never had reason to be afraid - until now. Because now a newcomer has come to live with the family, a quiet but strangely attractive orphan boy named Weed. Though Weed doesn't say much in words, he has an instant talent for the apothecary's trade, seeming to possess a close bond with the plants of the garden. Soon, he and Jessamine also share a close bond. But little does Jessamine know that passion can be just as poisonous as the deadliest plants in the garden - for behind Weed's instinctive way in the garden is a terrible secret. The plants can talk to him - and not just the kind ones that can heal, but the ruthless ones that can kill too."

Commentary: All of which sounds very promising - very Little Shop of Horrors (oh relax, I'm kidding) - until you get to the bit in the publicity blurb which says, with a straight face, that The Poison Diaries comes to us care of an idea by the Duchess of Northumberland and the writer of such classics as How I Found the Perfect Dress and Why I Let My Hair Grow Out. But I'm being a bit mean here, aren't I? Perhaps it's just knee-jerk defensiveness, because despite the dubious talent behind Maryrose Wood's all-ages dark fantasy, I'm kind of interested. No really - I am.


Frostbitten
by Kelley Armstrong


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
06/05/10 by Orbit

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "After years of struggle, Elena Michaels - journalist, investigator, werewolf - has finally come to terms with her strange fate, and learned how to control her wild side. At least, that's what she believes when she sets off to Alaska with her partner Clay. A series of gruesome maulings and murders outside Anchorage seem to implicate a rogue band of werewolves. But the truth is more complicated. Trapped in a frozen, unforgiving terrain, they are forced to confront a deadly secret, and their own, untamed nature..."

Commentary: And so, to the last of Orbit's releases this month. Frostbitten is, yes, unless I'm mistaken, more urban fantasy. But you know what? This doesn't sound bad at all - though what with Bareback and The Leaping a few weeks ago this seems to be werewolf season - and all the raves on the Amazon page where I tend to pilfer assorted publication information for the BoSS have rather assuaged my usual fears. Will give this one a go, I think, and report back.

Pinion
by Jay Lake


Release Details:
Published in the US on
03/05/10 by Tor

Review Priority:
4 (Very High)

Plot Synopsis: "Rejoin the adventure in Lake's Clockwork Earth. Paolina Barthes, young sorceress, is crossing the Equatorial Wall, attempting to take herself and her magic away from the grasp of powerful men in the empires of the north. Emily Childress is still aboard the renegade Chinese submarine, along with her devoted Captain and the British chief petty officer, Angus al-Wazir. They are all being sought most urgently by the powers that secretly rule the Northern Earth the Silent Order and the White Birds. A third power, of the Southern Earth, has its eye on Paolina; she will not be allowed to bring the political turmoil of the North into the more mystical South."

Commentary: Another week, another embarrassing confession. I've never read Jay Lake before... but I've heard great things; particularly, I should say, about his short stories. A quick glance at the Amazon reviews of his last few novels has rather knocked my anticipation for six, but it'll recover, I'm sure. I'm a little concerned about my first experience of the author being the third part of a trilogy, though, so let me ask you: will it be safe for me to start with Pinion, do you think? I don't want to sell the gent short.

Totally loving the gruesome cover art, incidentally. Very Clive Barker...


The Thief-Taker's Apprentice
by Stephen Deas


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
26/08/10 by Gollancz YA

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "Berren has lived in the city all his life. He has made his way as a thief, paying a little of what he earns to the Fagin like master of their band. But there is a twist to this tale of a thief. One day Berren goes to watch an execution of three thieves. He watches as the thief-taker takes his reward and decides to try and steal the prize. He fails. The young thief is taken. But the thief-taker spots something in Berren. And the boy reminds him of someone as well. Berren becomes his apprentice. And is introduced to a world of shadows, deceit and corruption behind the streets he thought he knew. Full of richly observed life in a teeming fantasy city, a hectic progression of fights, flights and fancies and charting the fall of a boy into the dark world of political plotting and murder this marks the beginning of a new fantasy series for all lovers of fantasy."

Commentary: Ah, damn and blast it. What with all the huge new releases over the past few months, I still haven't read the two adult fantasy novels by Stephen Deas previously recounted in the BoSS - despite their gorgeous covers, and indeed my interest in gritty, Abercrombie-esque fantasy with dragons et al. Still! Another day, another opportunity, and wouldn't you know it, August will see the publication of the first in the author's YA series. As I've twittered, from my quick skim of the first few chapters, The Thief-Taker's Apprentice doesn't read at all like typical all-ages fiction to me - a good thing considering the condescension that's so prevalent in the genre - and so I'm rearing to get going with this one. Were it not for the fact that for once time is actually on my side, the review priority would be higher. Stay tuned!


The Edge of the World
by Kevin J. Anderson


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
03/06/10 by Orbit

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "After generations of friction, the leaders of two lands meet in the holy city of Ishalem to bring an end to the bloodshed and to divide the world between them. Sadly, this new spirit of fellowship is shortlived. A single tragic accident destroys, in minutes, the peace that took years to build. The world is once more cast into the fires of war - and this time the flames may burn until nothing remains. From the highest lord to the lowest servant, no man or woman will be unchanged by the conflict. But while war rages across both continents, a great quest will defy storms and sea serpents to venture beyond the horizon, where no maps exist - to search for a land out of legend. It is a perilous undertaking, but there will always be the impetuous, the brave and the mad who are willing to leave their homes to explore the unknown - even unto the edge of the world!"

Commentary: But the Orbit books keep on coming! This is a publisher with such steady output that it practically beggars belief, and though a fair proportion of Orbit's publications are urban fantasy - not exactly my cup of tea (the occasional Earl Grey if you're asking) - the remainder are often enough to get me good and excited. Curiously, Kevin J. Anderson is neither one thing nor quite the other. In my younger years, I'll fess up: I read a few books based on The X-Files, and though I remember precious little about them, I remember Kevin J. Anderson being one of the writers. Perhaps I was a less discerning reader back then, but I don't recall ever being disappointed by one of those novelisations. And so the first volume of an adult fantasy saga - set on the high seas, no less - rather appeals to me on that somewhat nostalgic level. On the other hand, this is the same fellow who rather ruined Dune, isn't it? So I'm torn. Any devoted Kevin J. Anderson readers out there prepared to make their case for The Edge of the World? I'm all ears.

 
The Osiris Ritual
by George Mann


Release Details:
Published in the US on
03/08/10 by Tor US

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by new inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, whilst ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen and journalists. But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.For this is also a world where lycanthropy is a rampant disease that plagues the dirty whorehouses of Whitechapel, where poltergeist infestations create havoc in old country seats, where cadavers can rise from the dead and where nobody ever goes near the Natural History Museum. Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, imagines life can be a little quieter from now on after his dual success in solving The Affinity Bridge affair. But he hasn't banked on his villainous predecessor, Knox, hell bent on achieving immortality, not to mention a secret agent who isn't quite as he seems.

Commentary: Oh no! This is the second in the series? And I've been so looking forward to reading my first Newbury and Hobbes investigation. I'm just going to have to go and get myself a copy of The Affinity Bridge and see what's what, aren't it? The gorgeous covers Snow Books have adorned the UK editions with certainly aren't hurting in that regard...


Feed
by Mira Grant


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
03/06/10 by Orbit

Review Priority:
4 (Very High)

Plot Synopsis: "The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them."

Commentary: More zombies! Actually, this looks rather good. I particularly like the wi-fi icon painted in blood on the front cover. Feed is book one of the Newsflesh trilogy, which rather puts me in mind of the new flesh of David Cronenberg's Videodrome (which, apropos of nothing much, I wrote my University dissertation on). I'll be gobbling this one up like so much fresh meat, make no mistake. Doesn't hurt that it's about bloggers, I suppose.

2 comments:

  1. That's not a Wifi icon on the cover of Feed, it's the icon for an RSS/Atom Feed ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ohhhhhhh. Of course! An RSS feed, hence the novel, Feed.

    Apologies for being such a dolt, all. All these icons in my taskbar make mincemeal out of my mind sometimes, I swear...

    ReplyDelete