Sunday, 16 October 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 16/10/11

In The BoSS this week: gods and monsters... a Little Star from the author of Let the Right One In... some hard SF that I'm finding it hard to get into... the end of the world (again)... and me and Warren Ellis, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. By way of Duane Swierczynski's new novel. Kind of.

Shall we?


Little Star
by John Ajvide Lindquist

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 15/09/11
by Quercus Books

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: One autumn day in 1992, former pop singer Lennart Cederstrom finds something unexpected in the forest: a baby girl in a plastic bag, partially buried.

He gives her the kiss of life, and her first cry astounds him; it is a clear, pure musical note. Lennart takes her to his wife and persuades her that they should keep this remarkable child.

But the baby becomes a strange girl, made more unusual by Lennart and Layla's decision to keep her from the prying eyes of corrupting outside influence. But they can't hide her forever... 

My Thoughts: Despite being staggered by Let the Right One In and quietly impressed by Handling the Undead, somehow I managed to miss John Ajvide Lindquist's last novel, Harbour. I won't be making the same mistake with Little Star, arriving as it does in perfect time for review over Halloween week.

To that end, I've read the first half of Little Star already, actually, and though it's a narrative that changes dramatically every 100 pages or thereabouts, I don't mind saying the latest from Lindqvist is both incredibly disturbing and oddly beautiful. Really quite remarkable so far, in fact. Fingers crossed it continues thus.

The Clockwork Rocket
by Greg Egan

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 15/09/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: In Yalda's universe, light has mass, no universal speed, and its creation generates energy; on Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting light into the dark night sky. And time is different: an astronaut might measure decades passing while visiting another star, only to return and find that just weeks have elapsed for her friends.

On the farm where she lives, Yalda sees strange meteors that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed - and it soon becomes apparent that more of this ultra-fast material is appearing all the time, putting her world in terrible danger. An entire galaxy is about to collide with their own.

There is one hope: a fleet sent straight towards the approaching galaxy, as fast as possible. Though it will feel like weeks back home, on board, millennia will pass before the collision, time enough to raise new generations, and time enough to find a way to stop the ultra-fast material. Either way, they have a chance to save everyone back on the home world.

My Thoughts: I've been looking forward to the British release of The Clockwork Rocket for it feels far longer than it's actually been. It was this glowing review by Liviu of Fantasy Book Critic that got my hyped for book one of Greg Egan's new series, so I picked The Clockwork Rocket up the very day it came through my door, full of hopes and dreams.

Sadly, much to my surprise, I wasn't feeling it then, and I'm still not now. It's hard SF, and that's fine, but though I enjoyed the actual fiction of it - Yalda's narrative - chapter upon and chapter of science (complete with textbook diagrams on every other page) left me lacking in the enthusiasm department.

So what do you think? Should I give The Clockwork Rocket another shot, or admit that it simply isn't for me and move on?

Darkness Falling
by Peter Crowther

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 05/10/11
by Angry Robot Books

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: It was a typical all-American backwater – until the night the monsters came.

When four employees of KMRT Radio investigate an unearthly light that cuts off communication with the outside world, they discover that something has taken the place of their friends and fellow townfolk, and imbued them with malign intentions. Little do they know, the phenomenon is not unique to the town of Jesman’s Bend...

My Thoughts: What with my well-documented fondness for all things horror, this might surprise you, but I haven't actually read Peter Crowther before. Blurbs from Joe Hill, Adam Roberts and a bunch of other authors whose work I enjoy give me the distinct sense that I should have, however... an oversight I'll be remedying in time for Halloween week, I expect, thanks to this re-release in three parts (of which this is the first) of the duology formerly known as Darkness, Darkness.

Just out of interest, does anyone know if the text has been much revised otherwise?

Hell and Gone
by Duane Swierczynski
Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 27/10/11
by Mulholland Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: There are some criminals so dangerous the world can never know about them. They can't be held in regular prisons. They must never be released.

They're here - in a secret underground prison miles away from anywhere. And now, so is Charlie Hardie. The shadowy organisation running the jail sent him there as punishment for getting in their way. But he's not a prisoner. He's in charge.

He can leave any time he wants, he's told. There's just one catch: if he goes, everyone in the prison dies, including innocent guards.

But when Charlie realises his family may be in danger, he knows he must protect them at any cost. Even if it means blasting his way out, one inmate at a time...

My Thoughts: Perhaps you'll recall that I reviewed Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski a couple of months ago. If not, how convenient is this link?

In any event, though I do read a little crime from time to time, Fun and Games - a breathless Hollywood thriller - was a narrative largely outside my comfort zone, which I read in equal parts because of the comic book connection (Swierczynski wrote an excellent arc of Deadpool) and because I'd been so impressed by quality of the books Mulholland were betting the farm on.

Long story short, I had a great time with Fun and Games, so the sequel appeals a great deal. I expect it'll be the other side of October before I find enough time to devote to Hell and Gone, but read it I surely will, not least because it appears my review of the first book's been blurbed alongside kind words from Warren Ellis and Publisher's Weekly.

And they say crime never pays! :)

The Kingdom of the Gods
by N. K. Jemisin

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 06/10/11
by Orbit

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.

Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family's interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.

As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom - which even gods fear - is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens the kingdom of gods?

My Thoughts: Forgive the short entry, but having saved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and its sequel The Broken Kingdoms for exactly this moment - when I have the whole trilogy before me, to read from first to last - I'd really rather not spoil it for myself now.

In early November, however, once we're clear of Halloween, I aim to review all three of these beauties over the course of a week. For the moment, I'll say that they've been a bit more paranormal romance than I had expected, but if Daughter of Smoke and Bone has taught me anything, it's that there are tremendous stories to be told, and told well, in even my least favourite genres.

I'm in a holding pattern halfway through book two as I write this, and keen to get back to Sky and Shadow, despite the other delights on offer in The BoSS this week. What more need I say than that?


That's it for this week, folks. The BoSS'll be back in town next Sunday, as per usual, with at least one very special book that... I'm not allowed to talk about yet.

But never mind that. What have you all been reading? Anyone give into the temptation of those sample chapters from IQ84, for instance? I wouldn't hold it against you!

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