March is here and it is time to take a look at the goodies it brings. This is me revisiting my choices at the dawn of the new month. Halfway through I will bring you my picks for the next month.
I have ordered my books, have you?
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be…
Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king’s agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended.
When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection—black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times.
His investigation leads to involvement with the media sensation of the age: the Tichborne Claimant, a man who insists that he’s the long lost heir to the cursed Tichborne estate. Monstrous, bloated, and monosyllabic, he’s not the aristocratic Sir Roger Tichborne known to everyone, yet the working classes come out in force to support him. They are soon rioting through the streets of London, as mysterious steam wraiths incite all-out class warfare.
From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from séances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons, meeting along the way the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Can the king’s agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?
Burton and Swinburne’s second adventure—The Clockwork Man Of Trafalgar Square—is filled with eccentric steam-driven technology, grotesque characters, and a deepening mystery that pushes forward the three-volume story arc begun in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.
Kings of the North
Oath of Fealty was one of the best books I read last year. Elizabeth Moon is a fantastic story teller with vivid hearty characters you can’t help falling in love with, which she proved again with Oath of Fealty last year. It was a great start of a series and now it is time for part two.
Elizabeth Moon returns to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter—Paks for short—in this second volume of a new series filled with all the bold imaginative flights, meticulous world-building, realistic military action, and deft characterization that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author. In Kings of the North, Moon is working at the very height of her storytelling powers.
Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.
On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. Kieri is being hounded to marry and provide the kingdom with an heir—but that is the least of his concerns. A strange rift has developed between him and his grandmother and co-ruler, the immortal elven queen known as the Lady. More problematic is the ex-pirate Alured, who schemes to seize Kieri’s throne for himself—and Mikeli’s, too, while he’s at it. Meanwhile, to the north, the aggressive kingdom of Pargun seems poised to invade.
Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything.
The Kings of Eternity
Eric Brown master opus Kings of Eternity is another highly anticipated read for me this year. I enjoyed the Bengali Station Trilogy (Necropath, Xenopath, Cosmopath) and Guardians of the Phoenix a lot. Eric is strong on characters that are human and easy to love. This has every possibility to become my book of the year. This story about strange creatures and connections across time will be out in March.
1999, on the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him? 1935. Writer Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there – no less than a strange creature from another world – will change their lives for ever. What they become, and their link to the novelist of the future, is the subject of Eric Brown’s most ambitious novel to date. Almost ten years in the writing, The Kings of Eternity is a novel of vast scope and depth, full of the staple tropes of the genre and yet imbued with humanity and characters you’ll come to love.
To the Galactic Rim: The John Grimes Saga
To the Galactic Rim: The John Grimes Saga by A. Bertram Chandler is another reprint of of a long series (28 novels and a number of short stories) this time by Baen and in Omnibus form. The first volume about ‘the Horatio Hornblower of science fiction’ covers the three first novels and a collection of short stories. It will be out in March. I hope Baen will pump them out fairly quickly or I will have to try for ACE’s series from the start of this century. The Flandry series suffered from horrible, horrible covers that they hopefully will avoid with this one, Pulp is okay but the homage to sleazy James Bond covers didn’t do it for me in the Flandry case.
John Grimes will one day command his own starship, and change the course of Galactic history, but right now he’s a wet-behind-the-ears junior officer who finds that he keeps running into problems which were never covered in his courses at the Academy.
- The Road to the Rim—meet Lieutenant John Grimes of the Federation Survey Service; fresh out of the Academy—and as green as they come.
- To Prime the Pump—El Dorado is a planet with a pressing problem: the men are infertile, cause unknown, and the women want someone to Do Something! Not quite the problem young John Grimes expected to deal with . . .
- The Hard Way Up—a collection of seven tales of John Grime’s adventures, meeting danger and winning glory out at the rim of the Galaxy.
- The Broken Cycle—John Grimes never intended to get lost in space, let alone being lost with a very attractive policewoman who’s all business. And he really never expected to run into an entity who claims to be a god and has a garden of Eden ready and waiting for the pair.
Three novels and a story collection, all in one attractively-priced volume of space adventure.
I try to avoid franchise series and literature, because time is limited and I have other sub genres I want to cover. The only reason I haven’t read anything by Dan Abnett before is because he mainly writes Warhammer 40k novels but this year he will be out with a story that has intrigued me since I first heard about it. Embedded that is due in March is about a reporter that is embedded in a chip on a soldier fighting a war on an alien planet. The soldier is killed so the reporter has to take over his body and get out alive by himself.
I read a review copy and it was mighty good. A review will be out closer to publishing.
HE’D DO ANYTHING TO GET A STORY. When journalist Lex Falk gets himself chipped into the brain of a combat soldier, he thinks he has the ultimate scoop – a report from the forbidden front line of a distant planetary war, live to the living rooms of Earth. When the soldier is killed, however, Lex has to take over the body and somehow get himself back to safety once more… broadcasting all the way.
Heart-stopping combat science fiction from the million-selling Warhammer 40,000 author.
File Under: Science Fiction [ Future Warefare | Chipped-In | Anything For a Story | Get Out Alive! ]
Up Against It
It is hard to pick out the debuts that you will enjoy from the media clutter. M. J. Locke debuts with Up Against It, a workplace drama action leaning towards a somewhat twisted scifi society from what I gather from the blurbs. Sounds like fun.
Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System’s frontier. They’re your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of ‘Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans’ lives.
Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff’s brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant x-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels.
In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony’s resource manager — a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She’s more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of ‘Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty contest competitor. Her manoeuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.
Son of Heaven (Chung Kuo book 1)
Corvus is planing to reprint 20 rewritten Chung Kuo novels the upcoming years. The series is set in a future dominated by Chinese culture that goes to drastic steps to conquer and control the world. Son of Heaven is the first due in March. David Wingrove has the added value of being new to me. This looks like the type of scifi I know I am going to like. I get a bit of a Buck Rogers vibe of this, am I right?
The year is 2085, two decades after the great economic collapse that destroyed Western civilization. With its power broken and its cities ruined, life in the West continues in scattered communities. In rural Dorset Jake Reed lives with his 14-year-old son and memories of the great collapse. Back in ’43, Jake was a rich, young futures broker, immersed in the datascape of the world’s financial markets. He saw what was coming – and who was behind it. Forewarned, he was one of the few to escape the fall. For 22 years he has lived in fear of the future, and finally it is coming – quite literally – across the plain towards him. Chinese airships are in the skies and a strange, glacial structure has begun to dominate the horizon. Jake finds himself forcibly incorporated into the ever-expanding ‘World of Levels’ a global city of some 34 billion souls, where social status is reflected by how far above the ground you live. Here, under the rule of the mighty Tsao Ch’un, a resurgent China is seeking to abolish the past and bring about world peace through rigidly enforced order. But a civil war looms, and Jake will find himself at the heart of the struggle for the future.
I was thinking of trying some romantic scifi this year, again I should say. I tried it once before but where disgusted by how helpless and in need of help the supposedly formidable female protagonist was. This time I have my sights set on something more steamy Megan Hart’s Passion Model reprinted in March.
Protect and Serve just took on a whole new meaning.
For Recreational Intercourse Operative Gemma, patrolling Newcity’s Lovehuts and Pleasurebots isn’t much of a pleasure. But it’s work she clings to after an accident destroyed her marriage and left her with half her body made of replacement parts.
She keeps her head down and her mind on her job, waiting for the proverbial hammer to fall. The head of the ruling council is out to make those like her illegal. If anyone finds out she’s mecho, she’s toast.
A routine inspection of a Pleasurebot turns into a strictly forbidden—and mind-blowing—sexual encounter. Then she realizes it isn’t an “it” at all. He’s human, and despite the sweet-hot climaxes he gives her, she buries her report to save them both from the consequences.
Except he can’t seem to stay away from her, and for a time life seems almost…normal. Until Gemma uncovers Declan’s own deep, dark secret. A secret that could get her fired from R.I.O. Or both of them killed.
Warning: This book contains graphic depictions of sex with men, women, aliens and robots.
This prequel to AngeLINK novel series looks interesting and I am always looking for new authors.
North Africa is in ruins after the Aswan dams collapse and a massive flood reclaims the Nile valley. The privileged and the sane have long since abandoned Egypt to the scavengers and the dregs of society. Christian El-Aref is a street rat, living hand-to-mouth. His life is going nowhere fast. Then he stumbles over a dead body carrying revolutionary shareware tech. Now he’s being hunted. And if he’s not careful, the next dead body may be his own. This action-packed cyberpunk thriller weaves its way through the slums of a flooded Cairo, encountering murderous cults of eunuchs, an assassination plot perpetrated by angels, and an enigmatic street urchin who may or may not be the reincarnation of the prophet Mohammed. Lyda Morehouse tells the anticipated story of how Christian became the Mouse, the father of the underground Internet and the technological hope of the disenfranchised in a dystopian theocratic near-future, in this standalone prequel to her acclaimed AngeLINK novel series. Also included: Morehouse s AngeLINK-related short story, ishtartu, from the Lambda Award-nominated collection Periphery.