Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Dancing on the Head of a Pin

I just reviewed Dancing on the Head of a Pin by Thomas E. Sneigoski for Bookspot Central. It's the second book in a new urban fantasy series that shows a bit of promise. Click here to read the review.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New releases for the week of March 31st


The wampyr has walked the dark streets of the world's great cities for a thousand years. In that time, he has worn out many names--and even more compatriots.

Now, so that one of those companions may die where she once lived, he has come again to the City of London. In 1938, where the ghosts of centuries of war haunt rain-grey streets and the Prussian Chancellor's army of occupation rules with an iron hand.

Here he will meet his own ghosts, the remembrances of loves mortal--and immortal. And here he will face the Chancellor's secret weapon: a human child.

> The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, Mark Bould
> Rides a Dread Legion, Raymond E. Feist
> The Complete Chronicles of Conan, Robert E. Howard
> The Unincorporated Man, Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin
> The Ruby Dice, Catherine Asaro
> Emperor, Stephen Baxter
> The Holy Machine, Chris Beckett
> Kingdoms of the Night, Allan Cole, Chris Bunch
> Inferno, Ellen Datlow (Anthology)
> When the Tide Rises, David Drake
> Shadow Gate, Kate Elliott
> The Empire of Ice Cream, Jeffrey Ford
> Pearl Harbor, Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen
> From Dead to Worse, Charlaine Harris
> Renegade’s Magic, Robin Hobb
> The Court of the Air, Stephen Hunt
> Buyout, Alexander Irvine
> Irons in the Fire, Juliet E. McKenna
> Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Frederik Pohl
> Bloodheir, Brian Ruckley
> Wicked Game, Jeri Smith-Ready
> Halo: Contact Harvest, Joseph Staten
> The Valley-Westside War, Harry Turtledove
> Transhuman, Mark L. Van, T.K.F. Weisskopf

Saturday, March 28, 2009

NYT bestsellers for March 27th

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host keeps its previous position at number 4 at the end of its 45th week on the list. (Amazon, B&N)

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse also maintains its spot at number 12 in its fourth week. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool is down three points in its sixth week to number 18. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse is up a single notch to number 21 in its 26th week. (Amazon, B&N)

David Weber’s Storm From the Shadows ends its second week down six spots to number 26. (Amazon, B&N)

Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed is down five ranks in its seventh week to number 29. (Amazon, B&N)

Jim Butcher’s Small Favor finishes its third week on the paperback list down one point to number 13. (Amazon, B&N)

Though not a new release, Brent Weeks’ The Way of Shadows makes its debut on the NYT list at number 31. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas are at number 24 and number 29.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Review: River of Gods

River of Gods
by Ian McDonald

Format: Hardcover, 597 pages
Publisher: Pyr
Cover Design: Stephan MartiniereRelease Date: March 2006
ISBN-10: 1-591024366
ISBN-13: 978-1591024361

It’s 2047 and India is approaching her centenary anniversary. The country has splintered into several semi-independent nation states. Relations between them have worsened over years of drought, as water has become ever more scare and precious. Culture and society are also under great stress from quantum leaps in genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. In this setting, nine people go about their lives: a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. The most important character however turns out to be an orphan who is also a mind reader and a prophet. The characters will decide the fate of 21st Century India.

First off, like McDonald’s book Brasyl, River of Gods goes very in-depth into the culture and society of his chosen setting. 21st Century India comes alive in a myriad of cultures, castes, classes, and religions. The nuances make the background feel incredibly real and it gives the story a flavor not often found in science fiction.

Another thing I really liked was how he made artificial intelligences very different and not just a digital version of a person. In my opinion, a real artificial intelligence will not think like a human being nor will it have the same instincts or abilities. McDonald does a good job of showing this and I actually wish he had done a bit more.

The major flaws that I found turned out to be in the writing and not the book itself. For instance, I thought that the prose was very clunky. Often the story was unreadable and hard to follow, and it took me much longer to finish this book than it might otherwise have taken because of it. The other major problem I had was that I felt the book suffered from extraneous characters and storylines. I think a few of the plotlines, there are nine character points of view, were unnecessary, and the book might have benefited from been trimmed from the story.

River of Gods is a good science fiction novel with a fascinating, exotic setting, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Still, the book is definitely worth reading at least once. Recommended.

Rating: 8/10.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New releases for the week of March 24th


(Amazon, B&N)

As December 12, 2012, the date the Maya predicted would mark the end of the world, approaches, the Warren Group, a shadowy conglomerate, seeks to use technological advances to forestall disaster. One way is to send the mind of Jed DeLanda, a savant skilled at a contemporary version of the Mayas' sacrifice game, into the body of a seventh-century Mayan hip-ball player to learn more about why the apocalyptic prediction was made. DeLanda's time-travel comes just as a devastating calamity, possibly triggered by biological weapons, hits Orlando, Florida.

> The Dark Volume, Gordon Dahlquist
> This Is Not a Game, Walter Jon Williams
> Great Sky Woman, Steven Barnes
> Swordbearer, Glen Cook
> Hand of Isis, Jo Graham

Saturday, March 21, 2009

NYT bestsellers for March 20th


Stephanie Meyer’s The Host rounds out its 44th week on the list up two spots to number 4. (Amazon, B&N)

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse drops three points to number 12 in its third week. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool slips a single point to number 15 in week five. (Amazon, B&N)

David Weber’s Storm From the Shadows makes its debut on the bestseller list at number 20. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse maintains its position at number 22 at the end of its twenty-fifth week. (Amazon, B&N)

Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed finishes its sixth week at number 24, down five. (Amazon, B&N)

Jim Butcher’s Small Favor is still going stronger at number 12 in its second week on the paperback list. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas are both back on the list again at number 29 and 32 respectively.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New releases for the week of March 17th


The Adamantine Palace lies at the centre of an empire that grew out of ashes. Once dragons ruled the world and man was little more than prey. Then a way of subduing the dragons alchemically was discovered and now the dragons are bred to be little more than mounts for knights and highly valued tokens in the diplomatic power-players that underpin the rule of the competing aristocratic houses. The Empire has grown fat. And now one man wants it for himself. A man prepared to poison the king just as he has poisoned his own father. A man prepared to murder his lover and bed her daughter. A man fit to be king? But unknown to him there are flames on the way. A single dragon has gone missing. And even one dragon on the loose, unsubdued, returned to its full intelligence, its full fury, could spell disaster for the Empire. But because of the actions of one unscrupulous mercenary the rivals for the throne could soon be facing hundreds of dragons . . .

> The Mystery of Grace, Charles de Lint
> The Best of Gene Wolfe, Gene Wolfe
> We Never Talk About My Brother, Peter S. Beagle

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NYT bestsellers for March 13th

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is up two points to number 6 in its 43rd week on the list. (Amazon, B&N)

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse is down nine spots in its second week to number 9. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool stumbles to number 14, down three in its fourth week. (Amazon, B&N)

Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed falls four ranks in week five to stop at number 19. (Amazon, B&N)

Anne Bishop’s The Shadow Queen makes its debut on the list at number 20. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse slips one point to number 22 in week twenty four. (Amazon, B&N)

Dan Simmons’ Drood tumbles a full twelve points in its fourth week to hit number 34. (Amazon, B&N)

Jim Butcher’s Small Favor makes its debut at number 12 on the paperback bestseller list. (Amazon, B&N)

Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Raises Hell is down to number 27 in week two, falling nine spots. (Amazon, B&N)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BSC Review: Palimpsest

I just posted a review of Catherynne Valente's latest novel over at Bookspot Central. You can read the review here.

I found it to be a good, richly imagined book yet not quite as good as The Orphan's Tales. I would recommend this book to fans of Valente and those who like a deeper, richer experience than the average fantasy novel.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New releases for the week of March 10th


As darkness falls each night, the corelings rise–demons who well up from the ground like hellish steam, taking on fearsome form and substance. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards–symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and mystery, and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile.

It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms. Once, under the leadership of the legendary Deliverer, and armed with powerful wards that were not merely shields but weapons, they took the battle to the demons . . . and stopped their advance.

But those days are gone. The fighting wards are lost. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault.Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past.

Enchantment, peril and romance pervade the shadowy Far East, from the elegant throne room of the emperor's palace to the humble teahouse of a peasant village. In these dozen stories of adventure and magic from the Orient, a maiden encounters an oni demon in the forest, a bride discovers her mother-in-law is a fox woman, a samurai must appease his sister's angry ghost, strange luck is found in a jade locket, and dark and light are two sides of harmony.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

NYT bestsellers for March 6th

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse makes its debut on the NYT list at number 3. (Amazon, B&N)

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is down four spots to number 8 in its 42nd week. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool falls six spots in its third week to number 11. (Amazon, B&N)

Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed comes in at number 15 and down three at the end of its fourth week. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse maintains its previous position at number 21 in week twenty-three. (Amazon, B&N)

Dan Simmons’ Drood stumbles three ranks in its third week to hit number 22. (Amazon, B&N)

Carrie Vaughn's latest Kitty book Kitty Raises Hell makes its debut at number 18 on the bestseller list. (Amazon, B&N)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Review: Kitty Raises Hell

Kitty Raises Hell
Format: Paperback, 311 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Cover Design: Craig White
Release Date: February 24, 2009
ISBN-10: 0-446199540
ISBN-13: 978-0446199544

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...except when it doesn’t. Kitty and Ben return to their werewolf pack in Denver only to discover an invisible evil that smells of brimstone and plays with fire has followed them home. Stalking the whole pack, it leaves a charred trail of ashes and death across the city. Kitty seeks help from Rick, the master vampire of Denver, as well as from the paranormal investigators on a popular reality TV show. But when a mysterious vampire who claims to be a demon hunter – and the only one who can help them – suddenly arrives, Kitty and her allies won’t be able to predict what he really wants...or what they must do to extinguish the terror that can torch them all.”

As you can tell from the book’s blurb, Kitty Raises Hell quickly follows the events of the previous book. The ending of Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand was only a harbinger of things to come. Barely a week later, Kitty is scrambling to find a way to protect herself and the pack from an invisible force seems to be as much an element of fire as a being. A mysterious vampire offers to solve the problem, but for a high price, one that Kitty and her ally Rick are not willing to pay. In desperation she turns to the paranormal investigators to identify the demonic entity and find a way to end the terror it is intent on unleashing.

Apart from the spirit of a skin-walker in Kitty Takes a Holiday, this was the most supernatural story yet in the Kitty series. It certainly makes for scary storytelling. I like how Vaughn is fleshing out her universe with different kinds of supernatural entities and putting her own spin on the myths. Still, I do prefer a story with flesh and blood characters.

Another thing I like is how Vaughn is slowly extending the scope and background of the series. With more additions to the background, I think the author is starting to slowly build up a larger overall plot, namely how Kitty will fit into what the vampires in the book refer to as the Long Game. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Rating: 7.5/10.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New releases for the week of March 3rd


First contact was not supposed to be like this. The first intelligent species to encounter Mankind attacked without warning and swarmed locust-like through the solar system. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the savage invasion, Earth's last, desperate roll of the dice was to send out three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. Earth may perish but the human race would live on ...somewhere. 150 years later, the human colony on the planet Darien has established a new world for Humanity and forged a peaceful relationship with the planet's indigenous race, the scholarly, enigmatic Uvovo. But there are secrets buried beneath the surface of Darien's forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient forerunner races at the dawn of galactic civilization...

> The Shadow Queen, Anne Bishop
> A Magic of Nightfall, S.L. Farrell
> Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide, Eric Flint, David Drake
> Firebirds Soaring, Sharyn November (Anthology)
> Coyote Horizon, Allen Steele
> Storm from the Shadows, David Weber
> The Last Paladin, Kathleen Bryan
> Small Favor, Jim Butcher
> Ages of Wonder, Julie E. Czerneda, Robert St. Martin (Anthology)
> The Alchemist’s Pursuit, Dave Duncan
> Spook Country, William Gibson

> The Rolling Stones, Robert A. Heinlein
> Escapement, Jay Lake
> Mage-Guard of Hamor, L.E. Modesitt Jr.
> The Hidden World, Paul Park
> Calculating God, Robert J. Sawyer
> Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg (Reprint)
> Renegade Wizards, Lucien Soulban (Dragonlance)
> Living with Ghosts, Kari Sperring
> Prophets, S. Andrew Swann
> Deathwish, Rob Thurman
> The Hidden City, Michelle West
> Lord of Lies, David Zindell
> Journey into Space, Toby Litt