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Weekly Book Buzz: Final Ballots for the Nebula and Stoker Awards

We Review Blackout by Connie Willis

By Tim Janson     February 21, 2010


BLACKOUT by Connie Willis(2010).
© Spectra

 

We lead the week with awards news as the final ballots for both the Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards were announced this week. Here are some of the highlights:
 
For the Nebula the nominees for best novel are:
 
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
The Love We Share Without Knowing, Christopher Barzak (Bantam)
Flesh and Fire, Laura Anne Gilman (Pocket)
The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)
Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)    
 
The complete list can be seen here: Nebula Nominees
 
For the Stoker awards the nominees for best novel are:
 
Audrey's Door, Sarah Langan (Harper)
Patient Zero, Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin's Griffin)
Quarantined, Joe McKinney (Lachesis)
Cursed, Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
 
The complete list can be seen here: Stoker Nominees
 
New In Fantasy
 
Falconfar (The Falconfar Saga) Ed Greenwood (Solaris)
 
FALCONFAR is the third thrilling adventure in the Falconfar saga. Fantasy writer Rod Everlar is now hopelessly lost in the magical world he once thought he'd created, as he searches for his only friend, the guide who brought him there: the maimed warrior-woman Taeauna. She has been captured by the evil wizard Malraun, who has taken her to his bed—while Malraun's armies conquer Falconfar, castle by castle and hold by hold. Malraun has his rivals, other evil wizards who seek to defeat him and rule all Falconfar. Rod Everlar, the fell ?Dark Lord? of legend, supposedly able to hurl world-shattering spells, is feared and hated by everyone . . . but can't cast a single spell.Beset by the wizards, their armies, and the dragonlike monsters they command, Rod finds his luck running out as his ruthless foes discover a new world to conquer: our Earth.
 
Demon Possessed (Megan Chase, Book 3) Stacia Kane (Pocket)
 
Psychologist and psychic Megan Chase has grown remarkably comfortable hanging out with demons. The demon "family" she leads is happy, her solo practice is stabilizing, and she and her steamy demon lover, Greyson Dante, are closer than ever. But when the couple books a week at a luxury hotel to attend a meeting of demon leaders, some unanticipated problems appear. An FBI agent with an unhealthy interest in less-than-legitimate demon business practices shows up; the demon community is urging Megan to undergo the rite that will make her a real demon; and a slightly shady minister is holding one of his wildly popular "weekend exorcisms" just down the road. And oh, yes, someone with scary magical abilities is attempting to kill her. Then, just when it seems as if things couldn't possibly get any worse, a secret comes to light that could jeopardize Megan and Greyson's future -- if Megan manages to live that long. With things heating up, it's becoming difficult for her to keep a cool head...
 
Dead Matter Anton Strout  (Ace)
 
The spirit populace of Manhattan doesn't appreciate its well-deserved RIP being disturbed, and Department of Extraordinary Affairs Agent Simon Canderous is sent in to do damage control. Meanwhile, his vacationing partner, Connor Christos, is in a sorry state, and he tells Simon that each night he's being haunted by visions of his long-lost brother at his window. Simon is worried that his partner may be going crazy-or worse, maybe he's not...
 
The Conqueror's Shadow Ari Marmell  (Spectra hardcover)
 
They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.
 
Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewoman Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.
 
Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action.
 
Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.
 
Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.
 
But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?
 
 
Cat's Claw Amber Benson  (Ace)
 
Calliope Reaper-Jones is Death's Daughter. She owes a debt to Cerberus, the three headed dog that guards the gate's of hell-a debt that involves a trip to Purgatory, Las Vegas , ancient Egypt , and a discount department store that's more frightening than any supernatural creature she'll ever encounter.
 
Call to Arms (Empire Army) Mitchel Scanlon  (Games Workshop)
 
Dieter Lanz is a young recruit to the 3rd Hochland Swordsmen, otherwise known as 'the Scarlets'. His regiment is called into the battle when an orc army starts to rampage across the countryside, and when the Scarlets are defeated, Hochland is threatened with collaspe. As a desperation measure, legendary general Ludwig Von Grahl is bought out of retirement-he is the last hope to stem the vicious green tide.
 
Blood of the Demon (Kara Gillian, Book 2) Diana Rowland  (Bantam)
 
Welcome to the world of Kara Gillian, a cop with a gift. Not only does she have the power of “othersight” to see what most people can’t even imagine, but she’s become the exclusive summoner of a demon lord. Or maybe it’s the other way around. The fact is, with two troublesome cases on her docket and a handsome FBI agent under her skin, Kara needs the help of sexy, insatiable Lord Rhyzkahl more than he needs her. Because these two victims, linked by suspicious coincidence, haven’t just been murdered. Something has eaten their souls.
 
It’s a case with roots in the arcane, but whose evil has flowered among the rich, powerful, and corrupt in Beaulac , Louisiana . And as the killings continue, Kara soon realizes how much there’s still to learn about demons, men, and things that kill in the night—and how little time she has to learn it.
 
The Shadow Pavilion: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel Liz Williams (Night Shade Books)
 
Detective Inspector Chen is back! The Snake Agent returns in The Shadow Pavilion, the fourth Detective Inspector Chen novel from Liz Williams. When Chen's partner, the demon Seneschal Zhu Irzh, disappears, along with Chen's wife and Inari's guardian badger, Chen must enlist all of his allies and assets in order to locate them! From the strange streets of Singapore Three to the rough and tumble world of Bollywood, where money flows fast and emotions flare even faster; from the realms of the Celestial to the haunts of the Infernal and all the spaces in-between, The Shadow Pavilion delivers the thrills, excitement, and near-future occult action fans have come to expect.
 
New in Sci-Fi
 
Chill Elizabeth Bear  (spectra)
 
Sometimes the greatest sin is survival.
 
The generation ship Jacob’s Ladder has barely survived cataclysms from without and within. Now, riding the shock wave of a nova blast toward an uncertain destiny, the damaged ship—the only world its inhabitants have ever known—remains a war zone. Even as Perceval, the new captain, struggles to come to terms with the traumas of her recent past, the remnants of rebellion aboard the ship still threaten the crew’s survival.
 
Yet as Perceval’s relatives Tristen and Benedick play a deadly game of cat and mouse in pursuit of a traitor through a vast ship that is renewing itself in strange and dangerous ways, an even more insidious threat is building in a place no one ever thought to look. And this implacable enemy could change the face of the ship forever if a ragtag band of heroes cannot stop it.
 
Geosynchron (Book Three of the Jump 225 Trilogy) David Louis Edelman (Pyr TPB)
 
The conclusion to the "Landmark Series"! The Defense and Wellness Council is enmeshed in full-scale civil war between Len Borda and the mysterious Magan Kai Lee. Quell has escaped from prison and is stirring up rebellion in the Islands with the aid of a brash young leader named Josiah. Jara and the apprentices of the Surina/Natch MultiReal Fiefcorp still find themselves fighting off legal attacks from their competitors and from Margaret Surina's unscrupulous heirs - even though MultiReal has completely vanished. The quest for the truth will lead to the edges of civilisation, from the tumultuous society of the Pacific Islands to the lawless orbital colony of 49th Heaven; and through the deeps of time, from the hidden agenda of the Surina family to the real truth behind the Autonomous Revolt that devastated humanity hundreds of years ago. Meanwhile, Natch has awakened in a windowless prison with nothing but a haze of memory to clue him in as to how he got there. He's still receiving strange hallucinatory messages from Margaret Surina and the nature of reality is buckling all around him. When the smoke clears, Natch must make the ultimate decision - whether to save a world that has scorned and discarded him, or to save the only person he has ever loved: himself.
 
Soul Hunter Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Games Workshop)
 
The Night Lords are one of the most feared legions of Chaos Space Marines. Remorseless hunters and killers, they relentlessly battle the Imperium of Man to avenge the death of their Primarch Konrad Curze. Their dark crusade takes them to the valuable world of Crythe Primus, where they will fight Imperial forces to claim the planet. But will the allegiance with their cohorts in the Black Legion last long enough for them to be victorious?
 
New in Horror
 
Xombies: Apocalypticon Walter Greatshell  (Ace)
 
Survivors of a cataclysmic zombie-making plague leave a temporary safety of a refitted nuclear sub to scavenge for food and supplies on land. But they soon find themselves facing new terrors on the surface and mutiny below.
 
Snow Ronald Malfi (Leisure Horror)
 
When a brutal snowstorm shut down all the flights in and out of Chicago, Todd Curry and a few other stranded passengers rented a Jeep to drive the rest of the way to their destinations. But along a forested, isolated road, they picked up a disoriented man wandering through the snow. His car wouldn’t start and his daughter had vanished. Strangest of all were the mysterious slashes cut into the back of the man’s coat, straight down to the flesh….
 
When they arrived in the nearest town it seemed deserted. Cars sat in the streets with their doors open. Fires burned unattended. But Todd and the rest of the travelers will soon learn the town is far from deserted, for they’re being watched…and hunted. Soon they will discover the inhuman horrors that await them in the…SNOW
 
Friday Night in Beast House Richard Laymon  (Leisure Horror)
 
The legendary Beast House, once home to unspeakable acts of agony and murder, is now a decrepit tourist attraction where the curious go for cheap thrills and daily tours. These days few actually believe the stories of slaughter and sexual torture are true, or that the beast really exists. But in the silence of the night, the cellar door of Beast House opens once again….
 
Mark and Alison snuck into Beast House after the tours were over for a midnight rendezvous. Mark hopes to get lucky but Alison seems more interested in the gruesome legends. But if the beast is only a legend, who’s responsible for the mutilated carcass of a dog outside? And why is the padlock missing from the cellar door? Will this be the date of a lifetime or a date with death?
 
Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives Volume 2  (Dark Horse Books)
 
Spirits of a Ouija board possess a dutiful housewife. A pleading ghost haunts a father for his refusal to forgive. An army major's dead body carries a deceptive message to Nazis in WWII. A phantom ship seeks a new captain. A possessed armored hand defends a castle from a hostile takeover. These stories and many, many more are collected in Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives Volume 2! These are tales of suspense, crime, intrigue, horror, and irony hosted by the renowned actor Boris Karloff and featuring art from some of the finest comics storytellers from the sixties. Contains issues #5-#10 of Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery.
 
Reviews
Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives Volume 2 (Dark Horse Books)
Once again Dark Horse has come to the rescue of a comic series that may have been lost to obscurity. This time its Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. In the 1960s, the aging horror icon lent his name for this anthology series from Gold Key Comics. This second volume presents issues #5 – 10 in their entirety, originally published in 1963 – 1965.  In much the way that the Cryptkeeper or Uncle Creepy introduced the stories in “Tales from the Crypt” and “Creepy” magazine, Karloff introduces readers to the stories within.
Like classic EC Comics, the stories generally featured ironic twists at the end or had a moral message to relate. In “Possessed” a group of friends who have a ‘black magic club’ foolishly play with a Quija board and end up trapped by evil spirits. In “A Cage for Hassan” a greedy and paranoid Arab merchant has the tables turned on him at the end leaving him trapped in a prison of his own mind’s making. In “The Terrible Dark Glasses” a man murders a wealthy Optician in order to marry his wife and steal his fortune. But the dead Doctor’s mysterious eyeglasses reveal imagery, which is too terrifying for the murderer to bear.
Each issue of the comic also included a one-page text story and a Key of Knowledge feature, which featured various topics such as archaeology, or understanding weather. The main difference between theses stories and those of EC Comics or Warren magazines lies in the art. The quality of art in Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery was simply not on a par as those other magazines. Occasionally there would be art by people like Joe Orlando, Frank Thorne, or Wally Wood, but more often than not, the art was by capable but mediocre journeymen artists and thus these stories lack that extra appeal. Still, the stories are a fun read and its great to see these in print after nearly fifty years. Grade B
 
Blackout Connie Willis (Spectra Hardcover)
Blackout is Connie Willis’ first novel in a number of years but it is well worth the wait. This book is actually the first of a two-part, time travel epic that is one of the best takes on the subject in many years. It is the year 2060 and time-travel is as commonplace as driving to the corner market for milk. Historians at Oxford send three researchers back in time to the early days of World War II in order to integrate themselves into the society of the time period to observe and note details about life and behavior. Now they have not come back to observe Churchill or Hitler or Roosevelt, but rather the lives of everyday people and what effects the war had on them. 
However from the start, things don’t go quite as planned. Schedules for travel back in time are changed abruptly as researchers who planned to be in one part of the world find themselves sent to another. Also the time travel has also miscued sending the researchers days off their scheduled arrival points. Who or what is causing these glitches? One Researcher, Mike Davies, is assigned to observe the evacuation at Dunkirk but inexplicably breaks the code of time travel by directly getting involved in events that could change history. And even worse, the researchers find themselves seemingly stranded during this period.
Blackout isn’t fast-paced by any means. Certain parts can leave the reader having to make a strong effort to trudge through but in the end it is all worth it. This is a time-travel novel that is clever and well researched with characters that are both real and garner sympathy from the reader. It’s incredibly complex and ends on a heavy cliffhanger so we’re all going to have a wait until the next novel for the resolution. Grade B+

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