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Book Buzz: Incandescence
Hugo Award-winner Greg Egan is back.
By Pat Ferrara
July 14, 2008
In yet another slow week of mid-month sci-fi, horror and fantasy book releases Karen Marie Moning’s audio book release of Spell of the Highlander, Greg Egan’s hardcover debut of Incandescence, and the unfortunate suicide of SF author, screenwriter and poet Thomas M. Disch snag the headlines of this week’s Book Buzz.
The winners of this year’s John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards were also tipped off by the Kansas City infoZine; Kathleen Ann Goonan’s In War Times beat out Ian Macdonald’s Brasyl and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union for the Campbell Award for best SF novel of the year while Elizabeth Bear’s “Tideline” won the Sturgeon Award for best short story fiction.
New in Hardcover:
The Silver Bear, Derek Haas (Pegasus Books)
Delve into the mind of an assassin—in this chilling psychological portrait of a hitman as he stalks his prey from Boston to Los Angeles. He wants you to know him, maybe even admire him, but only for his excellence in his craft. Perhaps he was even born for it. "A natural killer," his mentor—a middleman named Vespucci—said he was. He proved it with his first professional hit: a Fifth Circuit Court judge in Boston, executed with a sheet of Saran Wrap in the stairwell of her own courthouse. He's proved his merit often, usually with a Glock semiautomatic, but he's improvised too, with his bare hands, the heel of a shoe, knives, even a sewing machine. He is the consummate assassin, at the top of his form, immune to the psychological strains of his chosen profession. He is what the Russians call a Silver Bear. He calls himself Columbus. It's the name Vespucci gave him ten years ago, when he discovered a dark, new world of fences, clients, marks, jobs, jack. Not that his real name meant much to him anyways. He never knew his father or his mother, a prostitute who became dangerously involved back in the seventies with an earnest young congressman named Abe Mann, then a rising star in the Democratic Party. The magnetic Abe Mann has since become Speaker of the House. Currently a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in an exhausting presidential campaign, he's weaving his way across the country—with Columbus not far behind. But as the Silver Bear closes in on perhaps his most important mark, the underworld he has always ruled abruptly turns against him…
Queer Universes, Ed by Wendy Pearson, Veronica Hollinger, Joan Gordon (Liverpool University Press)
Disputes over the meaning and practice of sexuality have become increasingly central to cultural self-definition. It is hardly surprising then that science fiction, the province of new physical and psychological frontiers, has taken up the task of imagining a diverse range of queer and not-so-queer futures. Queer Universes is a landmark investigation into these contemporary and historical representations of gender and sexualities—including Wendy Pearson’s award-winning essay on reading science fiction queerly, as well as essays discussing “sextrapolation” in New Wave science fiction, “stray penetration” in William Gibson’s cyberpunk works, the queering of nature in ecofeminist sci-fi, and the radical challenges posed to conventional science fiction in the work of important writers such as Samuel R. Delaney, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Joanna Russ. In addition, this distinguished volume offers interviews with acclaimed science fiction writers, along with an array of essays from scholars and science fiction giants alike.
Incandescence, Greg Egan (Night Shade Books)
The long-awaited new novel from Hugo Award-winning writer Greg Egan! The Amalgam spans nearly the entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human, some near-human, and some entirely other. The one place that they cannot go is the bulge, the bright, hot center of the galaxy. There dwell the Aloof, who for millions of years have deflected any and all attempts to communicate with or visit them. So, when Rakesh is offered an opportunity to travel within their sphere, in search of a lost race, he cannot turn it down!
Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine, Sean Wallace & Nick Mamatas (Wyrm Publishing)
Step into a world of wonder, epiphany and danger. From the return of old gods to the adventures of the last dragon on Earth, from quantum physics to manticores trained for the circus, this unique anthology takes readers on journeys to realms both distant and oddly familiar. Selected from the critically-acclaimed online magazine Clarkesworld, Realms collects the work of twenty-four visionary writers of short fiction.
Warhammer: Renegade Crowns, David Chart, Ed by Green Ronin (Fantasy Flight Games)
Renegade Crowns is a toolbox for designing and developing principalities in the tempestuous land of the Border Princes. Inside this sourcebook, you'll find extensive guidlines for creating the lands and the secrets they hold, mechanics for creating princes, and a complete system for populating your region with Greenskins, Chaos, Undead, and other monstrous horrors. A fully detailed region to kick-off your own Renegade Crowns adventures is also provided.
Paths of the Damned: Spires of Altdorf, David Chart (Black Industries)
Though the corruption in Middenheim has been staved, the enemy within has not been defeated. Confronted with foes new and old, and blessed with only a few allies, the Player Characters must thwart the machinations of their immortal enemy or suffer the consequences! Spires of Altdorf is the second installment of Paths of the Damned, an epic adventure for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. In addition to the adventure itself, the book features details on Altdorf, including a history of the city, key locations, and advice on evoking the proper atmosphere.
Paths of the Damned: Ashes of Middenheim, Various (Black Industries)
All is not well in Middenheim! Corruption eats at the very heart of the City of the White Wolf, and it's up to your heroes to help root it out! Ashes of Middenheim is the first installment of Paths of the Damned, the epic adventure trilogy for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. In addition to the adventure itself, this book also contains a full description of Middenheim, including a detailed city map and descriptions of neighborhoods, key NPCs, and a host of important locations.
New in Paperback:
Supreme Constellations: Warrior’s Valor, Gun Brooke (Bold Strokes Books)
Environmental activist Dwyn Izsontro and law enforcement officer Emeron D'Artansis instinctively dislike everything about each other, even if the attraction between them is unmistakable. While Dwyn surveys an endangered region of a remote planet and Emeron acts as her security escort, Ambassador M'Ekar has bribed his guards to facilitate his escape from Jasin, the planet where he is incarcerated. As part of his escape plan, he kidnaps one of the individuals he holds responsible for his humiliation, Dahlia Jacelon. When a spacecraft crashes to the surface close to where Dwyn and Emeron are working carrying an unexpected cargo, the two women are unexpectedly hurled into a search and rescue mission where the fate of millions rest with their ability to work together. The stakes go up when Rae Jacelon and Kellen, the Protector of the Realm, join in the search.
Henghis Hapthorn: The Spiral Labyrinth, Matthew Hughes (Night Shade Books)
It was bad enough when Henghis Hapthorn, Old Earth's foremost discriminator and die-hard empiricist, had to accept that the cosmos was shortly to rewrite its basic operating system, replacing rational cause-and-effect with detestable magic. Now he finds himself cast forward several centuries, stranded in a primitive world of contending wizards and hungry dragons, and without his magic-savvy alter ego. Worse, some entity with a will powerful enough to bend space and time is searching for him through the Nine Planes, bellowing "Bring me Apthorn!" in a voice loud enough to frighten demons. This is the follow-up to Majestrum, and the second in a loose trilogy featuring Henghis Hapthorn.
Bar None, Tim Lebbon (Night Shade Books)
Six months have passed since the end of the world, leaving a handful of survivors holed up in a Welsh manor with little to do but survive. They've made the best of things, planting food, drinking their way through the cellar's wine and ale, and reminiscing about the way life used to be. But with supplies running thin, everything is about to change. The arrival of a stranger named Michael sheds new light on their circumstances. If the survivors can reach Cornwall, a few days' journey north, they will find a safe haven, called Bar None, quite possibly the last bar on earth!
Necrophenia, Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
The symptoms have been studied, the diagnosis is confirmed, the prognosis is bleak. The universe will cease to exist in just 12 hours—12 hours during which time all of the loose ends must be tied up, all of the Big Questions answered, and all of the Ultimate Truths revealed. It promises to be a somewhat hectic half-day. During which a Brentford shopkeeper will complete a sitting room for God, a Chiswick woman will uncover the Metaphenomena of the Multiverse, an aging supervillain will put the finishing touches to his plans for transdimensional domination, serious trouble will break out at the New Messiah's Convention in Acton, and a Far-Fetched Fiction author will receive Divine Enlightenment. Will the universe end with a bang or a whimper—or something else entirely, possibly involving a time-traveling Elvis Presley with a sprout in his head?
Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris (Gollancz)
Charlaine Harris is already a star and a New York Times bestseller with her vampire mysteries starring Sookie Stackhouse and her Lily Bard mysteries. This second installment to her new supernatural mystery series might just be her biggest hit yet. Grave Sight's Harper Connelly is back, and her ability to find the dead and see their last moments is in higher demand than ever... A college class gets more than it bargained for when Harper gives a demonstration of her uncanny talent. Instead of just finding one body in an old grave, she finds two: the original occupant and a recently deceased girl whom Harper had tried, and failed, to find two years previously. To dispel suspicions about her own innocence, Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer-only to find yet another body in the same grave.
The King’s Daughters, Nathalie Mallet (Night Shade Books)
Far to the north of the hot desert land of Telfar lies the frozen kingdom of Sorvinka. Prince Amir has traveled there, leaving his sultanate in the hands of his half-brother Erik as he seeks to ask the king, the father of the beautiful Princess Eva, for her hand in marriage. But Sorvinka has grown dangerous during Princess Eva's absence, as she and Amir discover to their terror, when their force of guards and eunuchs is cut down by ruthless brigands. And upon their arrival, their welcome to Eva's family stronghold is as bitterly cold as the land itself. Accustomed to the golden cage of his upbringing, Prince Amir must navigate his way through the strange and cold-blooded customs of the Sorvinkans, and somehow find the truth behind the kidnapping of the king's youngest daughter, the Princess Aurora, by the Sorvinkan's traditional enemies, the neighboring Farrellians. But what can a stranger in a foreign land do?
New in Audiobook:
Spell of the Highlander, Karen Marie Moning (Brilliance Audio Unabridged)
Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male. Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass eleven centuries ago. And when the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it. For Jessi, the sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he’s offering his protection - from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants in exchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed. Read by Phil Gigante.
Check back next Monday for all the latest info on current sci-fi, fantasy, and horror book releases. Questions or comments? Hit me up at Pferrara.firstname.lastname@example.org.