Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kickstarter Shout-out: Tak


Some friends of Patrick Rothfuss are doing a kickstarter project to create a real world version of his game, Tak, from the world of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear


If you think you might be interested, the link for the project is here.



Eye on New Releases for April 26, 2016


 (Story collection)
(B&N, Nook, Amazon, Kindle)                                (Amazon-UK, Book Depository)

Table of Contents:
"A Beautiful Bastard: The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one big enough to think he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Made a Monster: After years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion.

Small Kindnesses: The hopes of Shevedieh, the best thief in Westport, to turn her back on crime, come crashing down when she finds a huge drunkard sleeping in her doorway. Doing the right thing always comes at a price…

The Fool Jobs: Curnden Craw has been sent with his dozen to recover a thing from beyond the Crinna. One small problem. No one seems to know what the thing is.

Skipping Town: Shevedieh and Javre, ill-matched adventurers, find themselves forced to flee yet another self-made disaster.

Hell: ‘I have seen hell, and it is a great city under siege.’ The fall of Dagoska through the eyes of a young acolyte.

Two’s Company: Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, runs into Cracknut Whirrun on a bridge over a remote canyon. Can Shevedieh persuade either of these proud heroes to step aside?

Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Three not entirely innocent bystanders are sucked into the  chaos of Monzcarro Murcatto’s vengeance.

Some Desperado: There is no honour among thieves when the outlaw Smoke finds herself being hunted down by her own comrades.

Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden: Royal Observer Bremer dan Gorst reports to the king on another ugly little skirmish as summer dies in the North.

Three’s a Crowd: It’s a foolish man who steals from the best thief in Styria, and when Horald the Finger steals her lover, it’s time for Shevedieh to stop running and start fighting. For those who work in the shadows, though, few things are ever quite as they seem…

Freedom: Being an absolutely true account of the liberation of the town of Averstock from the grip of the incorrigible rebel menace by the famous Nicomo Cosca.

Tough Times all Over: All Carcolf wants is to take her package from here to there, but in the city of fogs and whispers, there are always a dozen other rogues with their own ideas."



Synopsis:
"In the opening pages of the action-packed Book One of Lian Hearn's epic Tale of Shikanoko series--all of which will be published in 2016--a future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning.

As destiny weaves its rich tapestry, a compelling drama plays out against a background of wild forests, elegant castles, hidden temples, and savage battlefields. This is the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn's imagination, where animal spirits clash with warriors and children navigate a landscape as serene as it is deadly."


 (Debut novel)

Synopsis:
"A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?"


(English translation debut)

 Synopsis:
"Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past."


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Eye on New Releases for April 19, 2016


 (Tor.com novella)
(B&N, Nook, Amazon, Kindle)

Synopsis:
"Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…



Synopsis:
"22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion.
And now it’s time . . .

The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.

“Crap.”

2015. A thief named Coop—a specialist in purloining magic objects—steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him—and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think . . .And suddenly, everyone is out to get it."


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Eye on New Releases for April 12, 2016


(Story Collection)
(Small Beer, B&N, Amazon, Kindle)

Synopsis:
"Here is the whisper in the night, the creak upstairs, that half-remembered ghost story that won’t let you sleep, the sound that raises gooseflesh, the wish you’d checked the lock on the door before it got really, really dark. Here are tales of suspense and the supernatural that will chill, amuse, and exhilarate."
 
Table of Contents
Introduction by Kelly Link
“The Power of Storytelling: Joan Aiken’s Strange Stories” by Lizza Aiken
Cold Flame
The Dark Streets of Kimball’s Green
Furry Night
Hope
Humblepuppy
The Lame King
The Last Specimen
A Leg Full of Rubies
Listening
Lob’s Girl
The Man Who Had Seen the Rope Trick
The Mysterious Barricades
Old Fillikin
The People in the Castle
A Portable Elephant
A Room Full of Leaves
She Was Afraid of Upstairs
Some Music for the Wicked Countess
Sonata for Harp and Bicycle
Watkyn, Comma
 
 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Eye on New Releases for April 5, 2016


 (Book Four of The Memoirs of Lady Trent)

Synopsis:
"Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent's expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries.

As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet."



Synopsis:
"Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It's a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess."


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: mini-reviews of The Man Who Spoke Snakish and The Ballad of Black Tom


This is the English translation of a book that was a big hit in its native Estonia, about a world where snakes have taught humans Snakish, the language of animals.  The story is set in the medieval period where people are leaving the forest to live in villages and the main character is the last man who can speak Snakish.  The author heavily satires village life and Christian beliefs, but to be fair he does much the same to the Pagan characters as well.  Despite that, it's surprising dark at times.  It's well written and engaging, but where it fails for me is that I think the author had the opportunity to make some meaningful statements on social and cultural change, but concentrates instead on satire and drama.

Rating: 7.5/10.


This is another of the novellas that Tor.com started putting out last year.  It's a retelling and deconstruction of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook".  I haven't read the original story, but from looking it up online some of the same characters appear, but the important new one is one Charles Thomas Tester, a young black man who deals with sorcerers, elder gods, and racism in 1920's New York.  Halfway through the narrative switches to the cop, Malone, and while it makes sense for plot reasons, I didn't find his character quite as engaging.  Otherwise, the story was very good.

Rating: 8/10.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Eye on New Releases for March 15, 2016



(Paperback and ebook reprint)

Synopsis:
"When a young Victorian couple inadvertently tamper with Sir William Reynolds's latest invention, a time-space machine, they find themselves flung not only into the future but also across the void of space. Now, trapped on an alien world with a landscape of weird vegetation and overseen by giant, long-legged machines operated by gruesome octopus-like creatures, they must find a way to survive. And when they learn that the monsters are plotting an invasion of Earth, can they find a way to return home and save the planet?"




This one has been seen in the wild already and I myself got from the publisher three weeks early.  My review is here.

Synopsis:
"Four women—a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite—are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their loyalties and agendas and ideologies come into conflict, the four fear their lives may pass unrecorded. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Eye on New Releases for March 8, 2016


 (Fifth and final book of The Dagger and the Coin)

Synopsis:
"Lord Regent Geder Palliako's great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent conflict of all against all.
In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world."


 (Tor.com novella)

Synopsis:
"Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest."


(Story collection)

Bestselling author Ken Liu selects his award-winning science fiction and fantasy tales for a groundbreaking collection—including a brand-new piece exclusive to this volume.
Table of Contents:
  • Preface
  • The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species
  • State Change
  • The Perfect Match
  • Good Hunting
  • The Literomancer
  • Simulacrum
  • The Regular
  • The Paper Menagerie
  • An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition (previously unpublished)
  • The Waves
  • Mono no aware
  • All the Flavors
  • A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel
  • The Litigation Master and the Monkey King
  • The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: The Winged Histories


The Winged Histories
by Sofia Samatar



Format: Hardcover, 337 pages
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Cover Art: Kathleen Jennings
Release Date: March 16, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1618731142





"Four women — a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite — are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their loyalties and agendas and ideologies come into conflict, the four fear their lives may pass unrecorded. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history."
______________________________________

Sofia Samatar's debut novel was the lovely A Stranger in Olondria, released in 2013, about a young island boy who journeys with his father, a trader, to the empire of Olondria, and becomes haunted by a ghost.  The Winged Histories is the follow-up story.  It's billed as a "companion novel" rather than a sequel as only two minor characters from the first book show up here and the main plot is not directly connected.  So while it's not necessary to have read A Stranger in Olondria in order to read The Winged Histories, I would recommend it if only because it was a great read. 

The Winged Histories is itself a fantastic novel.  Like I previously stated, it's not a direct sequel, taking tensions simmering in the background of the first book and putting them center stage here.  The story is of a civil war, however, the conflict is not just political, but also cultural and religious as well.  There also seems to be an undercurrent of an ancient Olondrian superstition running through this too. 

Like the blurb above says, the story follows four women on various sides of the civil war.  Tavis/Tav is a girl from a noble family who defies her family to become a soldier and joins her cousin in launching a rebellion.  Tialon is the scholar, the daughter of a priest of a cult that has supplanted the land's primary religion.  Seren is a woman of a nomadic tribe often persecuted by the other ethnic groups and is also Tav's lover.  Siski is Tav's sister and is the socialite, who has rejected her cousin and comes to regret it later.

While the book deals with heavy themes of war and religion, it's more concerned with the effect on the characters and how each woman has made an impact on history.  After an opening chapter that was slightly incoherent (perhaps deliberately?), the story is easy enough to follow, though it does jump back and forth between narratives and chronologies.  I believe readers who are patient though will be rewarded.  The prose is excellent.  Samatar can certainly write and knows what she's doing. 

The Winged Histories is a fantastic, wonderful book and companion novel to the also lovely A Stranger in Olondria.  Very highly recommended. 

Rating: 9/10.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Rovina Cai



Rovina Cai is a fairly new artist in the genre scene.  She first caught my eye with her art for Tor.com short stories "The Maiden Thief" by Melissa Marr and "Tom, Thom" by K.M. Ferebee.  As you can see, her style is quite evocative and intriguing, and influenced by pencils and graphite materials.  I look forward to seeing more of her work. Her website is here