Sunday, 17 April 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 17/04/11

Met the old BoSS? Well, let me introduce you to the new BoSS - same as the old BoSS, more or less... except less is more. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.


Need I say more?


The Dragon's Path
by Daniel Abraham

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/04/11
by Orbit

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: The dragons are gone, the powerful magics that broke the world diluted to little more than parlour tricks, but the kingdoms of men remain and the great game of thrones goes on. Lords deploy armies and merchant caravans as their weapons, manoeuvring for wealth and influence. But a darker power is rising - an unlikely leader with an ancient ally threatens to unleash again the madness that destroyed the world once already. Only one man knows the truth and, from the shadows, must champion humanity. The world's fate stands on the edge of a Dagger, its future on the toss of a Coin ...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Slowly but surely, I've been working my way through The Long Price Quartet. I don't know that I've said word one about it on the blog before now - the timing wasn't quite right - but now that the timing is right, you'll be seeing a pair of long reviews of the omnibus editions Orbit put out last yet... not too long from now.

Suffice it to say Daniel Abraham is in my book right up there on a pedestal alongside my other favourite writers: at long last, some competition for Guy Gavriel Kay and Catherynne M. Valente!

Since the winter I've been looking forward to The Dragon's Path, the first book of The Dagger and the Coin, as well as Abraham's other new series: Leviathan Wakes. And while The Dragon's Path looks to be a more traditional variety of fantasy than that which astounded me in The Long Price, it comes from an author who's well and truly earned the benefit of the doubt. So.

Who Goes There?
by John W. Campbell

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 01/04/09
by Rocket Ride Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Who Goes There? is best known to science fiction and horror film fans as The Thing because it is the story that formed the basis of Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World (1951) and John Carpenter's famed 80s adaptation. But to ardent readers of SF literature, it is the legendary SF-suspense classic penned by none other than John W. Campbell. With its vivid ensemble of characters, forbidding antarctic setting, and an unforgettably original creature at the center of all the action, the story well deserves its legendary status; it was voted "one of the finest science fiction novellas ever written" by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

This all-new edition features an introduction by William F. Nolan (Logan's Run, Burnt Offerings), and includes his never-before-published Screen Treatment of the story.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: As an addendum to the arrival of Kincaid last week, the care package Rocket Ride sent along also included a copy of Who Goes There?, the very novella which inspired one of my favourite films of, you know, ever: The Thing.

I spent uncountable hours in my youth wondering about the last scene of that movie. Who was the thing in the end? It couldn't have been Kurt Russell's character... he was the good guy after all. Or was he?

Perhaps Who Goes There? will answer some of the questions which used to keep me up nights. Though I don't know that I want it to, particularly...

Home Fires
by Gene Wolfe

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 18/01/11
by Tor

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. Chelle returns to recuperate from severe injuries, after months of service, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person -- while Skip is in his forties and a wealthy businessman, but eager for her return.

Still in love (somewhat to his surprise and delight), they go on a Caribbean cruise to resume their marriage. Their vacation rapidly becomes a complex series of challenges, not the least of which are spies, aliens, and battles with pirates who capture the ship for ransom.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: "There is no writer in SF like Gene Wolfe and no SF novel like Home Fires," concludes the bit of the blurb I usually cut out; a sentiment I find myself in this instance in utter agreement with. In fact I'd go further, and say there is no novel in Gene Wolfe's entire back-catalogue quite like any other. The man's a literary wizard. A bona fide genius whose work, though I hate to say it, tends to go right over my head.

But year in and year out, I try. My feelings as regards his last book, The Sorcerer's House, were predictably somewhat mixed... and going from the write-ups that have come and gone since its release this past January, I expect I'll emerge from Home Fires feeling much the same way: dazed and confused. But it's always a good sort of bafflement, with Gene Wolfe. In any case I'm a glutton for punishment.

And hey, there's always the chance I finally get it. It could happen. It could!

The Land of Painted Caves
by Jean M. Auel

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 29/03/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: All things must end, and so concludes the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla. The Land of Painted Caves will take readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni – one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers. Once again, Jean Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago, rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today's news.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: My mum's not much of a reader, but when she does read - or when she used to, I should say - she reads The Clan of the Cave Bears. She loves that book. Like no other, except perhaps Dune. But the sequels, as indeed she's informed me on several occasions... not so much.

Now my mum's taste in fantasy is questionable at best. I mean, she might be the only living person who's kept up with the dreadful extended Dune canon and not seen fit to bitch about it whenever the opportunity arises. But I would like to give Earth's Children a chance; it means so much to her, I'd be an ass not to, at some point.

However methinks the final volume of the long-running series, The Land of Painted Caves - utterly lovely though it looks, and impressive as all the embedded AR and QR stuff is - will not in all likelihood be the book with which I begin that endeavour.

The Black Chalice
by Steven Savile

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 17/03/10
by Abaddon Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Son of a knight an aspirant to the Round Table, Alymere yearns to take his place in the world, and for a quest to prove his worth. He comes across the foul Devil's Bible - said to have been written in one night by an insane hermit - which leads and drives him, by turns, to seek the unholy Black Chalice. On his quest he will face, and overcome, dire obstacles and cunning enemies, becoming a knight of renown; but the ultimate threat is to his very soul.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Purporting to be author Steven Savile's translation of "The Tayle of Sir Alymer and hys Queste for the False Grayle," which is to say the first of a series of books recounting the events chronicled in a recently rediscovered manuscript: The Second Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights.

Nudge nudge, wink wink, in case you were wondering.

Now it's not come up on TSS as far as I recall, but I've always had a soft spot for Arthurian mythology. Add to that the fact that I like to give every new series a shot (presuming I'm able to jump in from the beginning) and the odds on me giving The Black Chalice the old once-over at some point only increase. So sure.


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!

In the meantime, I'll be reading The Dragon's Path, of course. How about yourselves? Anything particularly exciting propping up the TBR tower?


  1. I have a copy of The Dragon's Path waiting for me via NetGalley, but I haven't read it yet. But from everything I've been hearing about it lately, I think I'm going to have to make sure that changes soon!

  2. Abraham is fantastic. I'd also recommend his short story collection - Leviathan Weeps. I'll be diving into The Dragon's Path before too long, I think.