Sunday, 10 July 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 10/07/11

The BoSS is back...

You know, in point of fact, it hadn't really gone very far. Broke-ass computer or not, the legion of books I tend to receive each week for potential coverage here on The Speculative Scotsman didn't slow down one iota -- I just couldn't tell you about them! So needless to say, we've a tuckfunne of catching up to do.

Shall we get the hell to it, then? :)


Rule 34
by Charles Stross

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 07/07/11
by Orbit

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile.

Anwar: As an ex-con, you'd like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you've landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although now that you're Consul for a shiny new Eastern European Republic, you've no idea what comes next.

The Toymaker: Your meds are wearing off and people are stalking you through Edinburgh's undergrowth. But that's ok, because as a distraction, you're project manager of a sophisticated criminal operation. But who's killing off potential recruits?

So how do bizarre domestic fatalities, dodgy downloads and a European spamming network fit together? The more DI Kavanaugh learns, the less she wants to find out.

My Thoughts: Not to start with the show-stopper... but lookit! New Charles Stross!

Actually, before Rule 34, I'd read precisely one of his novels; that'd be Halting State, to which I understand this happens to be a loose sequel. Now I've heard only good things about Stross' larger body of work, but I'm afraid The Laundry series just didn't do it for me. Thus, Rule 34 feels pretty much practically made-to-order. Told entirely from the second person perspective, it's grabbed me from the first chapter, so you might rightly expect me to read the remainder for review... later in the week, say?

Titus Awakes
by Maeve Gilmore & Mervyn Peake

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 23/06/11
by Vintage

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: When Peake died in 1968, he left behind the start of a fourth Gormenghast book, Titus Awakes. His wife, the writer and artist Maeve Gilmore, completed the manuscript.
The book continues the story of the Titus, the 77th Earl of Groan, as he wanders in the modern world and finds his final resting place in Sark.

My Thoughts: Despite of an over-abundance of news posts made in the wake of the announcement of this novel - ostensibly the fourth in the Gormenghast series, written by the wife the late, great Mervyn Peake - I haven't seen hide nor hair of Titus Awakes around the blogosphere since. What gives, guys?

I'll be honest: I'm afraid it's been many years since I read these books, in my youth, and I wouldn't want to tackle Titus Awakes without a clearer recollection of the classic trilogy as was.

So: to reread, or not to reread? That is the question...

Bioshock: Rapture
by John Shirley

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 19/07/11
by Titan Books

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: After barely surviving a plane crash, a man discovers an undersea city called Rapture, a failed utopia created by Jack Ryan, a man who looked to embrace a world surrounding the objectivist ideals of Ayn Rand. Power and greed have run amok and the city has succumbed to civil war and the only question is who really deserves to survive this maniacal debacle of science gone mad.

My Thoughts: In a word? Yes!

Call me an easy sell, but I've been looking forward to Bioshock: Rapture for a looooong time. In fact from before its official announcement late last year, since a publicity rep I'm particularly talkative with teased me about it - the fiend - well in advance of that. So it's about damn time I see what all my excitement might amount to.

Now I'm trying real heard to keep my expectations of Bioshock: Rapture realistic. This is a video-game tie-in, after all; rarely do such novels aim for, far less achieve, much more than fanservice. But it's touch to keep myself in check. After all, John Shirley's a very respected genre author, and Bioshock is my favourite video game ever - bar none. Moreover, what made it so was a tremendous story set in a world the likes of which I'd never... though how all that translates remains, of course, to be seen.

So let's see, shall we? :)

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute
by Jonathan L. Howard

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/09/11
by Headline

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Beyond the wall of sleep lie the Dreamlands, a whole world formed by dreams, but not a dream itself. For countless millennia, it has been explored only by those with a certain detachment from the mundane realities of our own world, its strange seas navigated, and its vast mountains climbed by philosophers, and mystics, and poets.

Well, those halcyon days are over, beatniks. Johannes Cabal is coming...

Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, is employed by the mysterious Fear Institute to lead an expedition into the Dreamlands, an expedition whose goal is nothing less than to hunt and destroy the dread Phobic Animus, the font of terrors, the very source of all the world's fear. They will enter exotic lands where magic is common and monsters abound, see wonders, and suffer dreadful hardships. Cabal will encounter witches, vile abominations, and far too many zebras.

And, when they finally come close to their goal, Cabal will have to face his own nightmares, but for a man who communes easily with devils and the dead, there is surely nothing left to fear. Is there?
My Thoughts: I hate to say it, but I never did get around to reading Johannes Cabal the Dectective, which is to say book two of this series from the writer behind the hillarious Broken Sword point-and-clickers.

Certainly I found the first an inoffensive bit of fun... but I'd hoped for so much more. As I recall, Amanda of Floor to Ceiling Books utterly loved it, and though we butt heads from time to time, she and I, I'll say she's not often wrong about a book.

Nor was she wrong about Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. Perhaps my hopes were simply pitched too high... perhaps I should give Johannes Cabal another shot, with my more realistic expectations in mind... and perhaps I shall. That is if you lot think I should?

The Revisionists
by Thomas Mullen

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 28/09/11
by Mulholland Books

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: The future will be perfect. No hate, no hunger, no war. Zed knows because he's seen it. He's from there. His mission is to ensure that history happens exactly as it's meant to. Even the terrible events. Even the one that's about to happen, the one that will destroy our civilisation for good.

In present-day Washington, Zed watches as people go about their daily lives. People like Leo, a disgraced former spy; Tasha, a lawyer grieving for a brother killed in action in Iraq; Sari, the downtrodden employee of a foreign diplomat. Unlike Zed, they have no idea what difference their choices will make. 

The clock is ticking. But Zed has doubts. What are his superiors not telling him? What truths has he hidden from himself? And, as he becomes more entangled in the lives of those around him, will he be able to sacrifice their present for his future?

My Thoughts: You know, much as publishers might like to think their output is consistent enough to stand as some guarantee of quality, it very rarely happens that way. The fact of the matter is that in order to stay in business, most publishers have to put out so many books every year that by rule of law there's bound to be some rubbish in the mix, bringing the overall tone down.

Not so with Mulholland Books. With the industry behemoth Hodder & Stoughton backing it up, Mulholland have been able to afford to put out only the best and the brightest. And I enjoyed Fun and Games so damn much, and Guilt By Association before it, that I put no small amount of stock in the imprint. Their next original release is The Revisionists, from the author of The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers -- which I'll admit I'd never heard of before trolling Amazon to see what else Thomas Mullen has done, but now, having heard of it, by the dead do I want to read it!

But I must remember to stay on target, as they say. So, long story short, it's practically a guarantee that I'll be reading The Revisionists; though I hear it's harder-going than either of Mulholland's previous releases. Well... whatever. If the ends justify the means, I'm fine with doing a little legwork.


And with that, we're done for the day!

As I was saying in the intro, however, there's still a staggering amount of catching-up to be done, what with the two weeks The BoSS took off. So next time - starting next Saturday - we'll be doing a buy one BoSS, get one free.'s to that? :P

I know at least one of you will be pleased about the twofer. Gav: if I'd only known you cared quite so much! This one goes out to you, good sir.

So what've you all been reading in my absence? Anything awesome?


  1. I agree with you on the Bioshock love, though I hadn't known there was a book. If you give it a good review, I might have to check it out...

  2. I've read Titus Awakes; I'm not reviewing it yet though. As for why no one else is reviewing it yet, I honestly don't see it being of much interest to people who aren't already big Peake fans.

    Having said which, you should absolutely reread the original trilogy when you have time- it will always be worth it. :)

  3. @Aishwarya - I'm dug my old, charity shop-bought paperbacks out for the very thing! Better these, I hear, than the new collected edition. As I understand it: bible pages and eensy-weensy typeface (went up the water spout)... though I'll admit the allure of the new China Mieville introduction is hard to resist, all the same.

  4. I had hoped to be able to get an early copy of The Revisionists, but alas, I was out of luck. Oh well. It looks like it's going to be amazing, and I'm looking forward to seeing reviews of it, and it's one I'll undoubtedly end up buying for myself later anyway, so I'll just have to be patient for now.

  5. Patience, eh? Who needs it? Who wants it? :)

    Mayhap you've read The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, Ria? By any chance is it half as awesome as it sounds?

  6. I'm buying the new edition anyway, in the interests of completeness (and Mieville!). There's also this new Folio Society edition, though, that is impossibly gorgeous: