Notable new SF, Fantasy, and Horror books seen : January-February
* Asaro, Catherine : The Charmed Sphere(Harlequin/Luna 0-373-80203-x, $13.95, 471pp, trade paperback, February 2004)
Fantasy romance novel, the second in Harlequin's new line of romantic SF and fantasy titles (following Mercedes Lackey's The Fairy Godmother). The publisher's page for this book includes a biography and interview. The Amazon page has a brief description, and very mixed reader reviews (including one by Harriet Klausner, which shows up on several other sites via this Google search).
* Baird, Alison : The Stone of the Stars(Warner Aspect 0-446-69098-8, $13.95, 418pp, trade paperback, February 2004)
Fantasy novel, first of "The Dragon Throne" series, set on an Earth-like planet once ruled by magic. It's the first adult novel by an award-winning Canadian writer of YA novels. Publishers Weekly's starred review (from the January 5th issue) is reproduced on the Amazon page: "Baird has produced a real winner, sure to please current fans and appeal to many new ones." The book includes a glossary. This website has background on Baird's earlier books.
+ Calder, Richard : The Twist(Four Walls Eight Windows 1-56858-292-7, $12.95, 238pp, trade paperback, December 2003, cover illustration Dariusz Jasiczak)
First US edition (UK: Earthlight, October 1999).
SF novel, described thus: "After the Venusians' arrival on Earth in the 1950s, a 'psychogeographic event' split the American Wild West from the rest of the planet, creating a world in which gunslingers roam, Jerry Lee Lewis wails, and modern technology is useless", at www.richardcalder.net and the publisher's site. Faren Miller reviewed the original UK edition back in the November 1999 issue of Locus: "What had begun as a quirky, campy romp through Gothic/Romantic regions suffused with 20th-century pop culture manages to develop its own strange eloquence..."
+ Canavan, Trudi : The Magicians' Guild(HarperCollins/Eos 0-06-057528-X, $7.5, 370pp, mass market paperback, February 2004)
First US edition (Australia: HarperCollins/Voyager Australia, November 2001).
Fantasy novel, first in "The Black Magician" trilogy, by an Australian author whose website has this background on all three books. This edition is her first US publication; Eos will publish subsequent volumes in May and September. Glossary. The Amazon page has two 5-star reader reviews.
* Farrell, S. L. : Mage of Clouds: The Cloudmages #2(DAW 0-7564-0169-0, $23.95, 514pp, hardcover, January 2004, jacket illustration Jim Burns)
Fantasy novel, second in the series by the pseudonymous Stephen Leigh, following Holder of Lightning (2003). The PW review on Amazon concludes "This entry can only enhance Farrell's reputation as one of the rising stars of Celtic fantasy." The author's website www.farrellworlds.com has this page with excerpts from reviews and a timeline of the book's development, and this excerpt.
* Gentle, Mary : 1610: A Sundial in a Grave(UK: Orion/Gollancz 0-575-07250-4, £18.99, 594pp, hardcover, November 2003, cover illustration Les Edwards)
Alternate history novel about the transition of magic to science, in which Dr. Robert Fludd uses astrological calculations to foretell the end of the world in 500 years. It's on Locus's 2003 Recommended Reading List from the February issue, which also has Nick Gevers' review, calling it "one of the very finest fantasy novels of 2003." Online is John Clute's review for Science Fiction Weekly.
* Hamilton, Laurell K. : Seduced by Moonlight(Ballantine 0-345-44356-X, $23.95, 372pp, hardcover, February 2004)
Erotic fantasy novel, third in the Merry Gentry series, following A Kiss of Shadows (2000) and A Caress of Shadows (2002). Includes a pronunciation guide and bilbiography. Amazon has several enthusiastic reader reviews. This page on the author's website has links to excerpts.
+ Hobb, Robin : Fool's Fate(Bantam Spectra 0-553-80154-6, $24.95, 631pp, hardcover, February 2004, jacket illustration Stephen Youll)
First US edition (UK: HarperCollins/Voyager, October 2003).
Fantasy novel, third book in the "Tawny Man" trilogy, and "ninth and concluding volume of the Fitzchivalry Farseer saga, one of the best high-fantasy series of the turn of the millennium", according to Cynthia Ward's Amazon.com review. The author's site, www.robinhobb.com, lists all previous books, with summaries, and has this excerpt. The book appeared last year in the UK, and has been included on Locus Magazine's 2003 Recommended Reading List. Faren Miller reviews it in the February 2004 issue of Locus Magazine.
+ McKenna, Juliet E. : The Assassin's Edge(HarperCollins/Eos 0-06-050568-0, $7.99, 514pp, mass market paperback, December 2003)
First US edition (UK: Time Warner UK/Orbit, September 2002).
Fantasy novel, "The Fifth and Final Tale of Einarinn". The author's website includes a page about the series, with pages for each book, excerpts from reviews, etc.
* McKillip, Patricia A. : Alphabet of Thorn(Ace 0-441-01130-6, $22.95, 314pp, hardcover, February 2004, jacket illustration Kinuko Y. Craft)
Fantasy novel, concerning a young Queen and an ancient book translated from a strange alphabet. The Publishers Weekly starred review (from the Jan 19th issue) is on the Amazon page, calling it a "spellbinding story that brilliantly modernizes a beautiful old formula.." Jonathan Strahan reviews it in the March '04 Locus, calling the novel "among her best".
* Robinson, Kim Stanley : Forty Signs of Rain(UK: HarperCollins UK 0-00-714886-0, £17.99, 359pp, hardcover, January 2004)
Near-future SF novel about global warming, politics, and scientific research. It's first of a planned trilogy called "The Capital Code". The publisher's site has this description. Both Gary K. Wolfe and Nick Gevers reviewed it in the January '04 Locus. Reviews in UK papers have appeared in Independent and Guardian, while SF Weekly's recent interview (conducted by Nick Gevers) goes into detail about the book. The US edition isn't due until June (Amazon's listing retains the originally-announced series title), but you can order the UK edition by clicking on the title or cover image.
* Shepherd, Mike : Kris Longknife: Mutineer(Ace 0-441-01142-x, $7.99, 389pp, mass market paperback, February 2004, cover art Scott Grimando)
Military SF novel. Shepherd is a pseudonym for Mike Moscoe. The Amazon page has a Booklist review by Regina Schroeder, and reader reviews.
* Strauss, Victoria : The Burning Land(HarperCollins/Eos 0-380-97891-1, $24.95, 479pp, hardcover, February 2004, jacket illustration Mark Harrison)
Fantasy novel, with a premise too elaborate for brief summary here. The publisher has this description, with links to an excerpt and an author's note. The author has a webpage with a description, excerpts from reviews, links to excerpts and background information, and a deleted scene. Carolyn Cushman reviewed it in the February 2004 Locus: "A complex background of history, culture, and religion gives unusual depth to this powerful fantasy of faith and oppression." Online at January is this review by Sienna Powers.
* Williams, Walter Jon : The Sundering(UK: Earthlight 0-7434-6125-8, £10.99, 452pp, trade paperback, November 2003, jacket illustration Bob Warner)
Second volume in far-future space opera trilogy "Dread Empire's Fall", following 2002's The Praxis (US edition Oct. '03). Russell Letson cited the series in last year's special "New Space Opera" issue of Locus Magazine, and reviewed this volume in the November '03 issue, noting its similarities both to the work of Patrick (Master and Commander) O'Brian and Jane Austen. The author's website has this excerpt. The US edition from Eos will be out in March.
* Wright, Peter : Attending Daedalus: Gene Wolfe, Artifice and the Reader(UK: Liverpool University Press 0-85323-828-6, £20, 15+237pp, trade paperback, September 2003, cover illustration Bruce Pennington)
Nonfiction study of Gene Wolfe's tetralogy The Book of the New Sun and its sequel The Urth of the New Sun, arguing for a "controversial secular reception of a narrative in which Wolfe plays an elaborate game with his reader." The full description is on the publisher's framed site (follow links) and the Amazon UK page (click title or cover image). For a taste of Wright's work, see Mapping a Masterwork: A Critical Review of Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun at Ultan's Library, "a journal for the study of Gene Wolfe" edited by Jonathan Laidlow & Nigel Price.
Weekdays always begin the same. The alarm goes off and you are startled out of dreams that you immediately forget. Pre-dawn light in a dim room. Stagger into a hot shower and try to wake up all the way. Feel the scalding hot water on the back of your neck, ah, the best part of the day, already passing with the inexorable clock. Fragment of a dream, you were deep in some problem set now escaping you, just as you tried to escape it in the dream. Duck down the halls of memeory - gone. Dreams don't want to be remembered.Opening lines:
The work continues well. The troubles in Jülich-Cleves look set to become war within another year, perhaps a year and a half. I am leaving the French King no option about what he says and does. And that man of his, Sully, and his foolish Grand Design - what does he know of designs, a French duke who came to manhood in the wars of religion, and who understands finance, violence, and very little of men's minds?Opening lines:
The defeated squadron was locked in its deceleration burn, the blazing fury of its torches directed towards the capital at Zanshaa. Bombardment of Delhi groaned and shuddered under the strain of over three gravities. At times the shaking and shivering was so violent that the woman called Caroline Sula wondered if the damaged cruiser would hold together.
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