Sunday, 25 September 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 25/09/11

In The BoSS this week: a book Patrick Rothfuss wishes he had written... what must be the shortest thing ever to bear Peter F. Hamilton's name... a selection of stories of the unpossible... one tome... and a book that's been likened to Deliverance.

Yes, the film. Curious and curiouser!

So. Shall we?


Manhattan In Reverse
by Peter F. Hamilton

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 07/10/11
by Macmillan

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: A collection of short stories from the master of space opera; his first in thirteen years.

Peter F Hamilton takes us on a journey from a murder mystery in an alternative Oxford in the 1800s to a brand new story featuring Paula Mayo, Deputy Director of the Intersolar Commonwealth’s Serious Crimes Directorate. Dealing with intricate themes and topical subjects, Manhattan in Reverse sees this bestselling author at the top of his game.

My Thoughts: How strange it is to hold in one's hands a book by Peter F. Hamilton that isn't an almighty door-stopper! Strange, but good strange, I should say; not bad. I was reading through the Commonwealth novels last year, but I'm afraid I rather stalled on the second of them, though I'd very much enjoyed my time with the first. 

Manhattan in Reverse, then, given its markedly more modest stature - only 250-odd pages, all told - should be the perfect opportunity for me to get back into the swing all things Peter F. Hamilton.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 29/09/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. "He never says please," she sighed, but she gathered up her things. 

When Brimstone called, she always came. 

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in Elsewhere, she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Thoughts: Blurbed by the beast of a thousand beards, Patrick Rothfuss himself, and highly recommended to me by Amanda of Floor-to-Ceiling Books, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is being touted as the Next Big Thing in fantasy... 

... given all of which, my hopes for it are high, setting certain expectations which the promising synopsis above does nothing to dissuade. Fingers crossed it's all that!

Unpossible and Other Stories
by Daryl Gregory

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 01/11/11
by Fairwood Press

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: The short stories in this first collection by critically acclaimed writer Daryl Gregory run the gamut from science fiction to contemporary fantasy, with a few stories that defy easy classification. His characters may be neuroscientists, superhero sidekicks, middle-aged heroes of children’s stories, or fantatics spreading a virus-borne religion, but they are all convincingly human.

Says Nancy Kress, author of Steal Against the Sky: "Facts do not begin to describe Daryl. Not describe him, not contain him, not constrain him. Both in person and in his fiction Daryl breaks the paltry bonds of fact; they cannot hold him. Read these stories for their human truths, for their inventiveness, for their verve. Most of all, read them for your own pleasure."

My Thoughts: From The Uninnocent to Unpossible, eh?

Of Daryl Gregory's three novels, I'm ashamed to admit I've only read his latest, Raising Stony Mayhall. But it was, in short, brilliant. (Stay tuned for a full review in the not-too-distant.) I am thus positively gagging to get started on this, his first short story collection, out from Fairwood Press in either October or November... I'm not 100% sure which.

In the interim, do check out this discussion about the incredible cover art, via your abominable friend and mine, what blogs at Stomping on Yeti.

A Single Shot
by Matthew R. Jones

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

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Anyone's life can change in an instant. In Matthew F. Jones's acclaimed novel, one man's world is overturned with a single shot.

Trespassing on what was once his family's land, John Moon hears a rustle in the brush and fires. But instead of the deer he was expecting, he finds the body of a young woman, killed by his stray bullet. A terrible dilemma is made worse when he stumbles upon her campground - and the piles of drugs and money concealed there.

Moon makes his choice: he hides the corpse, and takes the cash. His decision will have consequences he can neither predict or control.

My Thoughts: Apparently this book was huge in America, where it's been available for decades. Decades, I tell you!

Well... better late than never, I guess. A Single Shot is only just now coming overseas, courtesy the estimable folks in charge of Mulholland Books, and I'm quite excited to read it. The quotes on the back cover of the review copy I have reference Deliverance, of all things, and if there's anything at all to the comparison... why, I think I could come to like this book a lot.

It's been a while since I put myself through anything half so nerve-wracking as that. Too long, even!

by Neal Stephenson

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 20/09/11
by Atlantic Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T'Rain - an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure. But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world spreading from player to player - holding hard drives hostage in the process - the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality.

A fast-talking, internet-addicted mafia accountant is brutally silenced by his Russian employers, and Zula - a talented young T'Rain computer programmer - is abducted and bundled on to a private jet. As she is flown across the skies in the company of the terrified boyfriend she broke up with hours before, and a brilliant Hungarian hacker who may be her only hope, she finds herself sucked into a whirl of Chinese Secret Service agents and gun-toting American Survivalists; the Russian criminal underground and an al-Qaeda cell led by a charismatic Welshman; each a strand of a connected world that devastatingly converges in T'Rain.

An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to South-West China via Russia and the fantasy world of T'Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today's most individual writers.

My Thoughts: What, only 1000 pages long? That's positively a short story by Neal Stephenson's standards!

That said... you know, I really do want to read this - this and another recent arrival nearing 1000 printed pages, which we'll talk about next week, all things being equal - but though the idea of such mammoth narratives always appeals to me in principle, in practice, alas, only very rarely do I have time on my hands to do such stories justice.

But maybe I'll make time for Reamde. Already I've heard some very promising things about it, and I suppose it's been a while since I binged on Anathem... who knows?


With which, we come to the conclusion of another chapter in the never-ending chronicle of books received by me. It's a good life, some weeks! :)

So what should I read first, folks? There's just so much to choose from, and sadly my decision-making capabilities usually pick moments like these to vanish with nary a trace...


  1. I really want to read you views and reviews for Unpossible and Manhattan in Reverse. So, I say, read the collections in the order that I mentioned them!

  2. You have to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I finished tonight and had to hold back tears. It's classy YA with a nice twist. Really really enjoyed it. And usually I'm not that keen on YA.