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August 2008
Locus Magazine
New and Notable Books

Daniel Abraham, An Autumn War (Tor Jul 2008)

The third volume in the Long Price quartet reveals that the city states, remnants of a mighty empire, are soon to pay a terrible price for their long-term use of magic. ‘‘The power of the series, considerable before, becomes quite formidable... heartstoppingly surprising and exciting. Rarely does the penultimate volume in a series carry such a charge of its own.’’ [Nick Gevers]

Scott Bakker, Neuropath (Orbit May 2008)

Bakker, previously acclaimed for his epic fantasy trilogy The Prince of Nothing (written as by R. Scott Bakker), now turns to horror with this chilling, high-tech thriller about a scientist who has created a device to control human emotions, and is using it to commit atrocities. As in his fantasy, Bakker also brings up a number of philosophical questions -- the nature of reality, the ethics of medical brain manipulation, etc. -- raising this well above the ordinary thriller.

Francesca Lia Block, Blood Roses (HarperCollins/Cotler Jun 2008)

Critically acclaimed YA author Block takes young-adult readers on a lyrical and sometimes surreal journey into love and myth in this collection of nine linked stories, all but one new.

John F. Carr, H. Beam Piper: A Biography (McFarland Apr 2008)

Carr, a long-standing authority on Piper, presents this in-depth biography, drawing on unpublished papers and correspondence to put together a picture of Piper’s little-known personal life, along with a bibliography and articles on Piper’s future history, one by Piper himself.

Thomas M. Disch, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten (Tachyon Publications Jul 2008)

Satire, social commentary, religion, and autobiography mix in this eccentric fantasy novel in the form of a memoir about how Disch becomes God, opposed by his fiendish enemy, Philip K. Dick. Ironically, this was published just two weeks before Disch’s death.

Gardner Dozois, ed., The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-fifth Annual Collection (St. Martin's Jul 2008)

The heavyweight champ of the SF year’s best anthologies weighs in with 32 stories, plus Dozois’s usual insightful analysis of the year in science fiction. Authors include Stephen Baxter, Ted Chiang, Greg Egan, Nancy Kress, and Robert Silverberg.

Greg Egan, Incandescence (Gollancz May 2008)

Two quests into the galactic core ultimately converge in this far-future hard SF novel, a ‘‘curious combination of cool rationality and philosophical adventure. Egan has been working these veins since ‘Dust’, Permutation City, and Diaspora, and I say that his hand has not lost its cunning nor his mind its passion.’’ [Russell Letson]

Eric Flint & Mike Resnick, eds., The Best of Jim Baen's Universe II (Baen Jul 2008)

The second anthology in a series collecting the best fiction from one of the most successful online SF magazines, this presents 22 stories by authors including Elizabeth Bear, Jack McDevitt, Garth Nix, and Ian Watson.

Neil Gaiman, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, Coraline (HarperCollins Jun 2008)

In this graphic novel adaptation, award-winning artist P. Craig Russell ‘‘has taken Gaiman’s tale, retained the strangeness and dislocation while making it more accessible visually... Russell’s images are potent and powerful.’’ [Karen Haber]

David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer, eds., Year's Best Fantasy 8 (Tachyon Publications Jun 2008)

Noted editors Hartwell & Cramer return with their annual genre-fantasy year’s best anthology, this time presenting 23 stories by authors including Elizabeth Hand, Pat Cadigan, Tad Williams, Jeffrey Ford, and Nalo Hopkinson.

Jay Lake, Escapement (Tor Jun 2008)

Lake returns to the clockwork universe of Mainspring in this new novel following three characters on their separate quests, one involving a British expedition to tunnel through the 100-mile-high equatorial Wall in an attempt to beat the Chinese to the South. ‘‘There is excitement, novelty, and humor in the course of the quest... Lake is a skillful writer of picaresque adventure stories.’’ [Nick Gevers]

John Meaney, Dark Blood (Gollancz Mar 2008)

SF, fantasy, and dark suspense continue to mix in this sequel to Bone Song, which finds Lieutenant Donal Riordan getting used to being a ‘‘zombie,’’ and facing a new threat to his city, a permanently dark place inhabited by mortals, undead, and demons. ‘‘Meaney has concocted another rich and sometimes startling blend of ingredients from detective noir, horror, and (in a way) SF.’’ [Faren Miller]

Naomi Novik, Victory of Eagles (Ballantine Del Rey Jul 2008)

The fifth book in the acclaimed Temeraire series, a fantasy alternate history that mixes military dragons into the Napoleonic Wars. The dragon Temeraire and his Captain Laurence have been imprisoned since aiding the French in book four, but all hands are needed when Bonaparte actually invades England -- and Temeraire, as usual, has some revolutionary ideas on what to do about it.

Alastair Reynolds, House of Suns (Gollancz Apr 2008)

Clone siblings investigate the murder of most of their House in this sweeping, far-far-future space opera. ‘‘Alastair Reynolds’s vigorous and diverting eighth novel is somewhat mellower than its predecessors – more optimistic, more expansive... compelling...’’ [Nick Gevers]

Leslie What, Crazy Love (Wordcraft of Oregon Jul 2008)

What brings her distinctive brand of weirdness to this collection of 17 stories including Nebula winner ‘‘The Cost of Doing Business’’. ‘‘’Queen of Gonzo’ What drags love out of its gooey, schmaltzy rut and takes it for a joyride in this exuberant collection of 17 stories.’’ [Publishers Weekly].

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