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Final Ballot for the Nebula Awards Announced

New Fantasy from Dave Duncan Leads the Week

By Tim Janson     March 01, 2009


The Alchemist’s Pursuit by Dave Duncan(2009).
© Ace Books

 

Having tackled the top Sci-fi and Horror writers of all-time with recent lists I’ve been debating whether or not I want to complete the trilogy and go for the fantasy writers. Fantasy I think will be the most difficult to take on because it has becomes such a huge genre in the past 30 – 40 years and there are so many different branches of fantasy. Stay tuned on that one!
 
…The big news this week was unfortunately sad. Legendary Sci-fi writer Philip Jose Farmer passed away Wednesday at the age of 91. Farmer’s most famous works were his Riverworld and World of Tiers series. He was named a SFWA Grandmaster in 2001, and his many honors include a World Fantasy Life Achievement Award (2001), three Hugos, and a First Fandom Award. He is survived by his wife Bette, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
 
…The Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) has announced their final ballot for the 2008 Nebula Awards. Here’s the List:
 
Novels: Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (Tor); Powers, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt); Cauldron, Jack McDevitt (Ace); Brasyl, Ian McDonald (Pyr); Making Money, Terry Pratchett (Harper); Superpowers, David J. Schwartz (Three Rivers).
 
Novellas: "The Spacetime Pool", Catherine Asaro (Analog 3/08); "Dark Heaven", Gregory Benford (Alien Crimes); Dangerous Space, Kelley Eskridge (Dangerous Space); "The Political Prisoner", Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF 8/08); The Duke in His Castle, Vera Nazarian (Norilana).
 
Novelettes: "If Angels Fight", Richard Bowes (F&SF 2/08); "Dark Rooms", Lisa Goldstein (Asimov’s 10-11/07); "Pride and Prometheus", John Kessel (F&SF 1/08); "Night Wind", Mary Rosenblum (Lace and Blade); "Baby Doll", Johanna Sinisalo, David Hackston, trans. (The SFWA European Hall of Fame); "Kaleidoscope", K.D. Wentworth (F&SF 5/07).
 
Stories: "The Button Bin", Mike Allen (Helix 10/07); "The Dreaming Wind", Jeffrey Ford (The Coyote Road); "Trophy Wives", Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Fellowship Fantastic); "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss", Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 7/08); "The Tomb Wife", Gwyneth Jones (F&SF 8/07); "Don’t Stop", James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s 6/07).
 
Scripts: The Dark Knight, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (Warner Bros.); "The Shrine", Brad Wright (Stargate Atlantis); WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Peter Docter (Pixar).
 
Andre Norton Award: Graceling, Kristin Cashore (Harcourt); Lamplighter, D.M. Cornish; Savvy, Ingrid Law (Dial); The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson (Holt); Flora's Dare, Ysabeau S. Wilce (Harcourt).
 
 
 
 
Top Picks in Fantasy
 
The Shadow Queen (Black Jewels, Book 7) Anne Bishop (Roc Hardcover)
 
Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand—without a leader and without hope. Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Blood’s code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again.
 
Renegade Wizards: Tracy Hickman Presents the Anvil of Time Lucien Soulban (Wizards of the Coast)
 
Before the War of the Lance, magic faced and fought its own demise. The Journeyman is charged to use the ancient Anvil of Time to travel back along the river of time and find the lost stories that fell between the pages of the history books.  He finds Tythonnia, a young red robe learning magic in company with Ladonna of the black robes and Par-Salian of the white. The three are sent on an easy quest to find the leader of the renegade wizards, a man named Berthal, but if it was that simple, they wouldn't need mages. Instead, what started out easy turns into betrayal - magic against sorcery, the wizards against each other, and Tythonnia against herself. When Berthal finally unleashes his final attack, everyone knows that it won't end that simply.
 
Lord of Lies David Zindell (Tor)
 
The seventh and youngest Valeri, Valashu Elahad, noble warrior and prince of the royal house of Mesh, has sought the mythical Lightstone in a quest to stop the dreaded Dark Angel Morjin from enslaving all of Ea.With his stalwart companions, Val braved great dangers and fought many battles in their search for this elusive totem. And find the sacred object they did.
But sometimes fulfilling a quest doesn’t bring serenity but instead madness untold. Now that the Lightstone has finally been found, Morjin will use all of his talents to get it back. Val's victory in Argattha was only the beginning of a war with Morjin.
 
Val knows that he alone must protect the sacred vessel. But he is coming to understand just what powers he is confronting and he is not sure that he is strong enough to follow the path of righteousness. He wonders who he can trust to help him as he encounters treasonous plots and betrayal by those closest to him, evidence of Morjin's power to destroy him and take the Lightstone.
 
The Hidden City: The House Wars: Book One Michelle West (DAW)
 
Orphaned and left to fend for herself in the slums of Averalaan, Jewel Markess—Jay to her friends—meets an unlikely savior in Rath, a man who prowls the ruins of the undercity in search of artifacts and treasure. Nursing Jay back to health is an unusual act for a man who renounced his own family long ago, and the situation becomes stranger still when Jay begins to form a den of other rescued children in Rath’s home. But worse perils lurk beneath the slums: the demons that once nearly destroyed the Essalieyan Empire are stirring again, and soon Rath and Jay will find themselves targets of these deadly and ruthless beings.
 
Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne David Gaider (Tor Trade paperback)
 
The thrilling prequel to Dragon Age: Origins, the hit role-playing video game from award-winning developer BioWare! After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a foreign tyrant.
 
His countrymen live in fear; his commanders consider him untested; and his only allies are Loghain, a brash young outlaw who saved his life, and Rowan, the beautiful warrior maiden promised to him since birth. Surrounded by spies and traitors, Maric must find a way to not only survive but achieve his ultimate destiny: Ferelden’s freedom and the return of his line to the stolen throne.
 
Deathwish (Cal Leandros, Book 4) Rob Thurman (Roc)
 
Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who has been following him—until Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead). Worse still is the return of Cal’s nightmarish family, the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. But first, they’ll destroy everything Cal holds dear...
 
The Alchemist's Pursuit Dave Duncan (Ace Trade Paperback)
 
Hampered by arthritis, Nostradamus is in no mood for granting favors or running about looking for trouble. But when his apprentice Alfeo’s mistress asks him to investigate the murder of her beloved courtesan mentor—and promises a fortune in payment—he comes around. It appears that someone is murdering the courtesans of Venice. All were well-known, admired for their skills—and somehow connected by a sinister event involving one of the great families of the city.
While Nostradamus attempts to use the dark arts to solve riddles which confound explanation, Alfeo finds himself led by a possibly demonic force through a maze of deceit and death. And when the master and apprentice come to the end of their intertwined paths, there may be hell to pay.
 
Top Picks in Science Fiction
 
Storm from the Shadows David Weber (Baen Hardcover)
 
Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force led by Honor Harrington in an all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle’s ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been officially exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war’s battle lines. What she didn’t realize was that she would find herself on a collision course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for eliminating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade, deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.
 
Prophets: Apotheosis: Book One S. Andrew Swann (DAW)
 
It’s been nearly 200 years since the collapse of the Confederacy, the last government to claim humanity’s colonies. So when signals come in revealing lost human colonies that could shift the power balance, the race is on between the Caliphate ships and a small team of scientists and mercenarys. But what awaits them all is a threat far beyond the scope of any human government.
 
Escapement Jay Lake (Tor)
 
Paolina Barthes is a young woman of remarkable intellectual ability – a genius on the level of Isaac Newton. But she has grown up in isolation, in a small village of shipwreck survivors, on Wall in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She knows little of the world, but she knows that England rules it, and must be the home of people who possess the learning that she so desperately wants. And so she sets off to make her way off the Wall, not knowing that she will bring her astounding, unschooled talent for sorcery in this world of God’s Clockwork to the attention of those deadly factions who would use or kill her for it.
 
Coyote Horizon Allen Steele (Ace Hardcover)
 
The planet of Coyote has become the last, best hope of humankind, but it has also become the principal point of contact with the hjadd, the alien race encountered by a European starship many years earlier. Although the hjadd have built an embassy near the original colony, they remain a mystery. And as the colonists make preparations to explore the rest of the new world, ex-convict Hawk Thompson discovers more about the hjadd than anyone has learned before—and his knowledge will change human history…
 
Top Picks in Horror
 
Waking Brigid Francis Clark (Tor)
 
Waking Brigid is a darkly evocative novel set in haunting Savannah, Georgia. Though the city was physically spared during the Civil War, its citizens did not come through unscathed. Into this dark and battered culture comes young Brigid Rourke, a beautiful Irish nun. Driven by the ravages of the famine, Brigid's family chose to give the girl up to the service of the Church to ensure her survival. But in order to do that she had to reject her people's pagan ways. The Church is all she has known and she seeks to do her duty…all the while fighting the lure of her people’s legacy. 
 
Brigid's resolve is tested when a prominent Savannah citizen is cruelly murdered behind a locked and bolted door in an insane asylum. The last words of the man chilled the blood of all who heard him, and the fact that he was murdered while he was alone in the cell defies all logical reason. What follows is nothing less than an amazing clash between the forces of good and evil—dedicated white magicians versus the entrenched devil worshippers--for the soul of a city.
 
Nyarlathotep H.P. Lovecraft & Chuck BB (Boom! Studios Graphic Novel)
 
Presents horror legend HP Lovecraft's short prose piece "Nyarlathotep". This book presents Lovecraft's original poem in its entirety and also features a visual interpretation.
 
New in Non-Fiction
 
Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3 Nicholas Knight (Titan Books)
 
The hit show from the producers of The O.C. and The X-FiIes, starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, continues its spooky roadtrip through the dark heart of America.
 
The Winchester brothers step up their hunt as the last year of Dean’s life ebbs away. While they try to complete their mission to locate and destroy the demons that escaped from the Devil’s Gate, Sam searches for a way to save Dean. Along the way they confront creatures most people believe exist only in folklore and nightmares, including the 7 deadly sins, a changeling, a demon anti-Santa and even a ghost ship! This official companion is packed with exclusive interviews, photos, behind the scenes secrets, a complete episode guide, plus a colour portrait gallery of the stars.
 
Capsule Reviews
 
Eve of Darkness S.J. Day (Tor)
 
Eve of Darkess is the first in a new series of Urban Fantasy titles from S.J. Day. The series title is “The Marked” and centers on Eve Hollis, a beautiful young woman who has found herself as a pawn in a game between Heaven and Hell. A one-night stand with a man named Alec Cain has forever changed her life. This man is THE Cain, the Cain of the Old Testament. Ten years later, another encounter with a mysterious man has left her with a brand, the Mark of Cain. A divine punishment or perhaps a reward, Eve learns that she has become one of “The Marked”. Endowed with superhuman abilities, Eve becomes a bounty hunter, hunting down demons, warlocks, and other assorted creatures. Where there is Cain there is also his brother, Abel and Eve will find out there is no love lost between the two ancient siblings.
 
Now the idea of a superhuman, supernatural-hunting protagonist isn’t exactly an original concept. There’s Buffy, Anita Blake, and many others. So what sets Day’s series apart from the others? First off, the characters are just plain fun. The concept of Cain and Abel, essentially on the same side, but still ready to fight to the death as soon as they see each other, makes for an interesting dynamic and places Eve in the middle of the two powerful entities. The dialogue is lively, sardonic, and had me smiling many times throughout the book. The book opens with Eve having to battle a dragon in the men’s room at a pro football game…now THAT’S the way I love a novel to grab my interest right off the bat! 
 
From there, Day turns the clock back to show us how Eve got her brand and her initial encounter with Abel where she learns her fate. The other thing that works is that the story is sexy without being tediously romantic like so many other urban fantasy series. This is one that both men and women will enjoy. Great start to the series! Eve of Darkness will be out in May from Tor Books. Grade B+
 
 

Map of Moments Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon (Bantam Spectra Trade paperback)

 
Map of Moments was kind of the opposite of Eve of Darkness.  After a hundred pages or so, I was almost ready to put it down and forget about it. The main character spends most of the first quarter of the book meandering around New Orleans with little happening to keep the reader’s interest. But…hang in there just a bit longer. When it does take off, it does so at breakneck speed and ends up being one haunting dark fantasy novel. 
 
Max Corbett has returned to New Orleans a few months after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, for the funeral of his former lover, Gabrielle. Max is shocked to find that only mourner at the funeral is Gabrielle’s cousin, Corinne. Gaby had apparently had a huge falling out with her family, but what could have been so horrible that they would not even attend her funeral? It’s the first of many mysteries that max will find himself trying to resolve. He meets a man who tells him he could save Gaby’s life by sending her a message in time to warn her. Max thinks the man is just a crazy old nut, naturally, but the man gives him a strange map. Not a map of locations, a Map of Moments…periods in time throughout New Orleans’ history. Max carefully follows the map and is transported through time to witness frightening sacrificial ceremonies. What does this have to do with saving Gabrielle? Things turn from strange to terrifying as Corinne is brutally murdered and the cops think Max is responsible. 
 
Map of Moments gives the reader an excursion into the arcane history of New Orleans and the influences of the many cultures. The deliberate pace of the first hundred pages or so merely sets the table for the rest of the book. The post-Katrina New Orleans is still being rebuilt and the atmosphere of Max’s isolation, as many of the areas of the city are still nearly empty, is one of the overriding traits in the book. Slow start but the payoff is worth it. Grade A-

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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LittleNell1824 3/1/2009 7:22:29 PM

Eve of Darkness looks like fun. My husband has been looking for a Dresden surrogate now that he's up-to-date on that series.

I wish I was more in the mood for a great read like Map of Moments. February was just so awful, so long and cold, that I can't stand anything other than light adventure reading. Come summer I'll be looking for this book. I especially like the idea that it's set in a nearly deserted city. So sad... I wonder how things are going down there?

tjanson 3/1/2009 8:23:24 PM

Nell...I'm not sure if the writers are from New Orleans or at least visited there...but they certainly seemed to paint an authentic picture of the city in the months that followed the Hurricane.  I'd guess it's pretty accurate because even in the couple of years its been you still here things are not back to normal.  That said...yes, it's certainly not an uplifting book but one you want to check out when the mood is better.

LittleNell1824 3/2/2009 5:04:47 AM

Thanks, Tim. I really appreciate your book reviews.

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