Sunday, 6 November 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 06/11/11

In The BoSS this week: Richard Morgan returns to A Land Fit For Heroes... friend of the blog Adam Christopher makes his bow in another New York City... and there's more steampunk too, given a Shakespearean twist by debut author Lev AC Rosen... meanwhile one short story collection documents the biggest names in science fiction, whilst another showcases the talents of a rising star in the field.

We are a go for launch in 3, 2, 1... mark!


The Cold Commands
by Richard Morgan

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 13/10/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run - from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead, and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have.

Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn: Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth Indamaninarmal, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. But Archeth Indamaninarmal has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he is seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind.

Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling, and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode...

My Thoughts: So everyone and their mothers loves this book. I really should read it, right? But to be honest I'm not much moved to go back to A Land Fit For Heroes at this very moment. I did not adore The Steel Remains at all, and though the word on the street about The Cold Commands is almost uniformly positive, as I recall the early reviews of book one in the series were similarly adulatory. Thus, my skepticism.

Or am I just being a grouch?

Empire City
by Adam Christopher

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 05/01/12
by Angry Robot

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing) 

The Blurb: It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State - a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York. When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and must fight for the right to exist.

My Thoughts: Short and sweet... that's how I like my blurbs!

If you've been paying attention, Empire State should be familiar to you for many reasons - among them this post on TSS. It's a must-read for me not simply because Adam Christopher has been a warm, if inconstant presence in and around the genre blogosphere - though truth be told, that'd have been enough - but also because the excerpt Angry Robot released a bit back was solid stuff, and the quotes adorning my ARC of Empire State, taken from any number of names I respect, could be proof of pudding. I hope so.

Solaris Rising
ed. by Ian Whates

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/11/11
by Rebellion

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: The first in an exciting new series of anthologies that are set to reaffirm Solaris' proud reputation for producing high quality science fiction, Solaris Rising features all-original short stories from a star-studded cast of authors, including Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Paul di Filippo, Adam Roberts, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Watson, Ken MacLeod, Mike Resnick, Tricia Sullivan, Eric Brown, Steve Rasnic Tem, and many more; stories guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight their readers, demonstrating why science fiction remains the most innovative, satisfying, and downright exciting genre of all. 

My Thoughts: Just take a moment to absorb all those names.

Never before have I laid eyes on a science fiction anthology with half such a sterling array of talent as there looks to be in Solaris Rising. Given two or three of the authors above I'd have given this new series a shot. Given all of them? I'd have hardly thought it possible.

It's been a while since we did a Short Story Corner here on TSS. It probably won't be a while before you see one inspired by something in Solaris Rising.

All Men of Genius
by Lev AC Rozen

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 27/09/11
by Tor

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Inspired by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, All Men of Genius takes place in a Victorian London familiar but fantastical, where mad science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father's policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won't be easy, not with her friend Jack's constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke's young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet's alter ego, "Ashton." Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, the way Violet's pulse quickens whenever Ernest speaks to her, and a deadly legacy left by Ernest's father. She soon realizes that it's not just keeping her secret until the end of the year she has to worry about: it's surviving that long. 

My Thoughts: The last time I said steampunk I got a bit of a telling off in the comments, so I'm going to play it safe today, and say this is, uh... alt-historical?

In any event the reviews I've read of All Men of Genius have been positive to a one, and though to be perfectly honest I haven't found a great deal to love about this genre, I'm willing to give it another go. For science.

You monster.

by Tim Maughan

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 29/05/11
by Createspace

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Augmented reality street artist 3Cube wants to break into the mainstream, and as one of the best in the graffiti mecca of Bristol he stands a real chance. Except that someone, some unseen rival, seems set on using even the most old-fashioned of methods to stop him from succeeding.

John Smith was successful once, if only for a fleeting moment. Now the documentary film maker is broke and jobless, and finds himself putting his life on the line as one of the new-breed of paparazzi - snapping celebrity video gamers in virtual worlds.

And on the sun-bleached streets of Havana two young Cubans find themselves locked in a fierce struggle with one of the world's most powerful organisations, as a seemingly innocent video game tournament becomes a fight for both personal and national pride.

Augmented reality, celebrity gamers and global rivalries... Paintwork is a collection of three stories from our imminent future by British science fiction author Tim Maughan, including the 2010 BSFA Short Fiction Award nominated "Havana Augmented".

My Thoughts: So... three short stories in a single slim volume, including one piece of award fodder. Actually that's exactly the sort of format I'd like to see more of in this new era of e-publishing, now that the old rules need not apply; what better way to try out the work of an author that's new to you, as Tim Maughan is to me?

All signs point to a positive outcome: the award nom, the subject matter - gaming and AR are right up my alley - and the man, every inch a gent in how he offered a review copy of Paintwork. Those folks who think a 10% discount makes me more rather than less likely to review your self-published something could learn a thing or two from Mr. Tim's example, which was simply to ask if I'd like to take a look. Which I did.


So what will I be reading this week?

I should think Empire State, first and foremost, but also a whole host of short stories, beginning with "Havana Augmented" and taking in a few choice pieces from Solaris Rising and last week's Weird.

Anyone else lost themselves body and soul to the wonders of the VanderMeers' Weird? A more comprehensive education in the rise and fall of the form, so near and indeed dear to me, I could not have hope for.


  1. "The last time I said steampunk I got a bit of a telling off in the comments, so I'm going to play it safe today, and say this is, uh... alt-historical?"
    Oi :p I told off the world, not you.

  2. I've heard a lot of good things about "All Men of Genius." From the synopsis, it looks like it could be quite an interesting story.

  3. "In any event the reviews I've read of All Men of Genius have been positive to a one, and though to be perfectly honest I haven't found a great deal to love about this genre, I'm willing to give it another go. For science.

    You monster."

    Damn it, you just had to say it, didn't you? That is a nice stack of books there. Asides from EMPIRE STATE, are there any other 2012 debuts you're excited for? Doing a community poll on just that, b/c the 2nd EP on One Extra Life (first EP to release soon!)

    I've been trying to get my hands on THE WEIRD, in the hopes of a mad undertaking in the form of a group read over at the blog, but alas, Corvus is few and far between in Canadian bookstores (at least where I live). Is it good so far?

  4. Inconstant? Surely you jest. Adam Christopher's incessant in his self-pimpage. Enough to put me off reading his book, because I'm sick of hearing him bang on about it. In any case, I read the excerpt and thought it was mediocre.

  5. The Steel Remains never really rose above mediocre. The ending proved an interesting enough turn though, which is the sole reason why I have been looking forward to getting my hands on The Cold Commands. I have not been paying any attention to the reviews for the book, nor will I. For any big series release, especially those with any amount of hype behind them, reviews are not to be trusted.

  6. @Kathryn - Oh, I know. Just giving you shit. :)

    @Bibliotropic - Fingers crossed! I think it might be my next.

    @Dan - Weird has been every inch the definitive anthology of the genre I had hoped, which is to say so, so good. But so very heavy! As to my picks for 2012? I should have a blog about those on the site in early December; for the moment it's all I can do to catch up with some of the stuff I've missed this year. But Doctor Sleep will surely feature. Oh, and Railsea.

    @Anonymous - Inconstant only insofar as I still bear a grudge about the chronological Stephen King re-read Adam dropped like a rock when he Made It Big. But do I blame him? No I do not. And we'll have to agree to disagree about Empire State. I'm no steampunk groupie, as established, but I've been enjoying Adam's debut a great deal.

    @James - As I understand it, The Cold Commands expands dramatically on what I think you and I enjoyed about The Steel Remains, so there's that. Still I'm not falling all over myself to read it immediately. Maybe over Christmas? Or perhaps I'll wait till we hear of book three.