Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.
According to this week's selection of books and proofs received for review, zombies have been menacing a poor blogger after Anne Frank's heart, the Nazis have spread to Africa like a particularly racist plague, and the Prime Minister of Sweden has been assassinated - presumably by neither zombies nor Nazis, but who could truly say?
What an odd lot...
by Madeleine Roux
Locked away with an oddball collection of colleagues and under siege, Allison takes advantage of a surviving internet connection and blogs. She writes, as the food runs out and panic sets in, as relationships develop and friends die, and as zombies claw at the door, all in the hope of connecting with other survivors out there. But as she reads the replies to her posts, Allison begins to comprehend the horrifying scale of the damage. And when no one comes to the group's rescue, they are forced to leave the safety of their room and risk a journey across the city; streets that crawl with zombies, and worse - fellow humans competing for survival.
A Scotsman's Thoughts: A modern-day take on The Diary of Anne Frank, by the sounds of it, substituting Anne for Allison, the Nazis for zombies and the diary in question for a blog - like this one here.
Wait, did someone say blogging zombies? Like in last year's Feed?
Well, I guess that's that. I'm in. I'd give good odds Graeme is too. He and I, we'd be brothers in the undead army, we're so easy pleased when it comes to a good zombie.
Johansson quickly realises that there is nothing routine about this little death as it quickly catapults him from mere domestic drama straight to the rotten heart of Sweden’s government.
by Faber & Faber
A Scotsman's Thoughts: It feels like I've been hearing great things about The Carhullan Army all year, and always from people and places I've the utmost respect for. From the Other Niall, for one thing - though I can't for the life of me find the right link - whose recommendation led me to this old review on Strange Horizons, which contrasts Sarah Hall's little-known novel with The Pesthouse, my very favourite Jim Crace.
All of which put me in mind no end of In Great Waters, another criminally under-appreciated gem of literary British speculative fiction. A pittance on Amazon Marketplace later and I have a gorgeous shrink-wrapped first edition giving me evils from the bookcase.
Plus I'd kinda like to chip in on the great debate going on here and there, about women writing SF. This meets the criteria, right?
by Hodder & Stoughton
In Africa, the swastika flies from the Sahara to the Indian Ocean. Gleaming autobahns bisect the jungle and jet fighters patrol the skies. Britain and the Nazis have divided the continent but now the demonic plans of Walter Hochburg – architect of Nazi Africa – threaten Britain’s ailing colonies.
In England, ex-mercenary Burton Cole is offered one last contract. Burton grabs the chance to settle an old score with Hochburg, despite his own misgivings and the protests of the woman he loves. If Burton fails, unimaginable horrors will be unleashed in Africa. No one – black or white – will be spared.
But when his mission turns to disaster, Burton is forced to flee for his life. His flight takes him from the unholy killing ground of Kongo to SS slave camps and on to war-torn Angola, finally reaching its thrilling climax in a conspiracy that leads to the dark heart of the Reich itself.
The Africa Reich sounds a little crass, sure. Heart of Darkness as written by Tom Clancy or some such - and though I've never been a Clancy fan, this, I'll admit, kind of appeals. Presumably I've just fallen victim to the big pimping The Africa Reich is getting from its marketers at Hodder & Stoughton. But sometimes, hookers are hot.
Huh. Hookers, tits and ass... this particular commentary sure has brought out the best in me!
That's it for this week. But never fear: the nearly-new and probably only moderately improved BoSS will be back at the same bat-time next week, in the same bat-place. See you then.
Friday, 28 January 2011
e synopsis you'll have read of The Diviner's Tale isn't a particularly gross offender in that regard, though I'll say it does manage to muddy at least one aspect of Conjunctions founder and editor Bradford Morrow's latest novel: the dead girl supply teacher, mother-of-two and sometime diviner Cassandra Brooks sees hung from a tree in the deep of the forest "with her [bare] feet pointed outward... like some ballet dancer frozen in the classic first position" (pp.9-10) isn't, as the sales pitch would have it, identical to the presumed runaway dragged from its inner reaches a day later.
Nor, indeed, are Cassandra's divinations limited to the whereabouts of wily water sources. Sometimes, she divines the future, too; fortune's fickle fingers and the dark hands of fate are for a devastating moment spread out before her in occasional episodes her ailing father Nep calls "forevisionings." As a child she saw how her brother Christopher would die, and found her efforts to save him tragically frustrated. To this day, in fact, Cassandra's powerlessness in those vital moments haunts her... so when she sees the dead girl - the actually not-identical-at-all (now that you mention it) dead girl - well. Perhaps you can imagine how she feels; perhaps you can grasp how the return of the spectre that's haunted her at such times in her life threatens to turn everything upside down.
The Diviner's Tale is a quiet triumph of a novel, more mystery than thriller, that has at its heart a family in dreadful turmoil. For Cassandra is in the process of losing her father to dementia: her father, one-time water wizard, who has been her everything, through the good times and the bad. She is losing him as decades before she lost her brother Christopher, and once again, there's nothing she can do about it. The Diviner's Tale is thus the tale of a woman coming to terms with the heart-wrenching transience of humanity, in miniature - and so many of the awful things Cassandra confronts over its perfectly judged course can be traced back to the well of regret she's filled to overflowing at the prospect of life without her brother, and now her father.
In place of Nep and Christopher, Cassandra's rocks are her precocious young boys. Twins to an overworked mother who just so happens to be the village witch, nevertheless they're a pair of charmers: sensitive, thoughtful, funny and startlingly wise. They positively tear off the page - Cassandra and Christopher and Nep too - such that in no time at all you come to care intensely for this family.Forget the precise nature of the monster that comes a-calling on Cassandra, never mind whether her forevisionings are of a crime or the divine, nor who left the vile hanged mannequin in the lighthouse on the island for her to find... the overriding concern of The Diviner's Tale comes to be: can this family, already unbearably tortured by the horrors of happenstance, come through the trials ahead of them in one piece?
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
UK Publication: January 2011, Gollancz
US Publication: February 2011, Del Rey
Buy this book from
Monday, 24 January 2011
Sunday, 23 January 2011
All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.
This week - only a month into 2011 - we finally wrap up our catch-up with the books and proofs which arrived over the holidays. Then there's a shifty of a few of this year's new releases in earnest, beginning with Ben Aaronovitch's terribly intriguing sub-London crime-cum-genre thriller. Exciting!
by Hodder & Stoughton
A Scotsman's Thoughts: An oldie, by the standards of the usual books received, but a goodie, you can be sure. One of my first ever published reviews - a canny Google will find you it, if you're interested - was of Tana French's creepy crime debut In the Woods, and though I was a mite disappointed in the sequel, The Likeness, it's been long enough, and Faithful Place sounds different enough, that I'm good and ready to get stuck back in.
Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden... and there's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.
Look out for a full review this week.
by Subterranean Press
Imagine a father who has sent his child's soul voyaging and seen it go astray. Or a backyard tale from the 1001 American Nights. Macbeth re-imagined as a screwball comedy. Three extraordinary economic tasks performed by a small expert in currency exchange that risk first career and then life and then soul.
From the disturbing beauty of "Flat Diane" (Nebula-nominee, International Horror Guild award-winner) to the idiosyncratic vision of "The Cambist and Lord Iron" (Hugo- and World Fantasy-nominee), Daniel Abraham has been writing some of the most enjoyable and widely admired short fiction in the genre for over a decade.
Ranging from high fantasy to hard science fiction, screwball comedy to gut-punching tragedy, Daniel Abraham's stories never fail to be intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and humane. Leviathan Wept and Other Stories is the first collection of his short works, including selections from both the well-known and the rare.
by Quercus Publishing