Mar 072011

I have really enjoyed Chris Wooding’s excellent retropunk novels Tales of the Ketty JayRetribution Falls and The Black Lung Captain was first and now this august it is time for The Iron Jackal.

I came across this new cover for the next Tale of the Ketty Jay earlier today. I must admit it is not quite what I expected, it seems to have lost some of the steampunk feeling from previous books and become more sleek and futuristic. What do you think?

Edit: This is an unfinished rough and the people behind the computer systems of most publishers are also responsible for Swiss cheese according to Chris himself

The Iron Jackal

by Chris Wooding (Tales of the Ketty Jay 3) Amazon US | UK (Gollancz August 2011)

There is no correct blurb out at the moment both Amazon and Gollancz has the old blurb from before Chris tossed it all and rewrote the thing.

Aug 142010

Title: The Black Lung Captain
Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay 2
Author: Chris Wooding [homepage]
Genre: Steampunk
Hardback:  448 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (2010)

Order by: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest robberies seem to go wrong. It’s getting so a man can’t make a dishonest living any more. Enter Captain Grist. He’s heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey’s help to get it. There’s only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island, populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters. Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey’s never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there’s something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it’s going to take all of Frey’s considerable skill at lying, cheating and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it …Strap yourself in for another tale of adventure and debauchery, pilots and pirates, golems and daemons, double-crosses and double-double-crosses. The crew of the Ketty Jay are back!

It is not easy to twinkle like a young boy about to read Treasure Island for the first time at my age but that was how I felt when the parcel with The Black Lung Captain arrived. It has such a beautiful cover made by Stephan Martiniere. I have to admit that it was the cover of Retribution Falls that first got me interested. It was with some concern I started to read since a few early reviewers claimed some of the magic from the first book were gone but I was fast alleviated it was there, more mature and on a different level since I first meet the characters. I feel almost guilty for indulging and enjoying this book as much as I did, almost.

The Black Lung Captain has a theme about facing fears, overcome them and grow beyond them. The Kitty Jay and her charming crew are back and they will face some of their worst fears before it is all over. It is also Captain Frey’s leadership lesson number two. I think the crew would appreciate if the team-building didn’t include treacherous partners, attacks by beast-men, mysterious but dangerous artifacts, persistent ghouls and former girlfriends but luckily for us neither them or Frey have much choice in the matter.

There are many strong character moments this time around too, and you learn more about the characters as they face their fears and grow beyond them. One of the strongest moments is when Jez face one of the Awakener’s high level operatives adding a whole new level of fear to the story. Harkins’ epic and entertaining struggle with the ship-cat takes almost the whole book before it reaches climax.

The plot is not bad either with the treasure hunt, the double-crosses and the underlying sinister plan that is gradually revealed. There is action non-stop and never a dull moment. There is also a romance or three but not in the way you expect. The ending kept me smiling for hours but that’s just me.

As you understand I am a bit euphoric about The Black Lung Captain, the sequel is almost better than original. Here we learn more of their Victorian retro-future world and the characters go places they never expected to, they grow and they overcome but they stay quirky and interesting. Frey matures a bit but I suspect he will never grow up or lose his charm. The ending is wide open for a number of sequels and plot lines to follow. I can’t wait to see where the next lesson, sorry misfortune will take them.

I have good news and bad news. As part of my research I visited, the good news is that there will be a book number three and four. The bad news is that Chris just threw the quarter he had written on The Iron Jackal in the bin and started over again that probably means the publication will get knocked back by a few months, meaning it’s likely to arrive late next year instead of the planned release date of August.

Aug 122010

Title: Retribution Falls
Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay 1
Author: Chris Wooding [homepage]
Genre: Steampunk
Hardback: 384 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (2009)

Order by: Amazon US | UK | sfbok

Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is …

I remembered sneaking a glimpse at my first pirate movie while my parents thought me sleeping. It was exciting until they caught me looking. I think it was something with Errol Flynn and Captain Frey here has the same kind of Errolesque attitude without being a gentleman about it . In a way this tale is about extraordinary accidental team-building with Captain Frey, who at first only sees the crew as a means to keep the Kitty Jay running but that change over time both for him and for his assorted crew of misfits. I like the way the story builds up depth as it moves along and we get to know the characters.

The characters are all charming quirky refugees from society. There is the haunted daemonist, his hard hitting daemon possessed suit of armor with a personality of her own, the alcoholic doctor afraid to do surgery, the former slave engineer, and two outrider fighter pilots one pining for his sweetheart at home and the other a coward outside the cockpit. We learn to know them when Jez their new navigator signs on. She has a dark secret of her own, that’s why she ended up where she is.

Frey is not the most competent Captain around but he is persistent and charming. The plot is maybe not the most original but it is mighty fun to read. It contains airship battles, conspiracies, daring rescues, vengeful former fiancées, mystic artifacts and a secret pirate lair. One of the most entertaining scenes in the book is when Captain Frey visits his former fiancée in the monastery her father forced her into to obtain information. The characters are well developed and interesting especially Jez.

The Victorian retro-future world comes alive around the characters and makes me want to know more about the Coalition, their enemies and their history. The world building is not extensive but effective for the story. I hope we will learn more in future books. Chris Wooding is a new to me author and I am mighty impressed with Retribution Falls. It is a well balanced fun adventure tale that makes me want to read more by Chris.

I am half way through the next standalone sequel The Black Lung Captain and I am still as impressed. A review will be forthcoming.

Jul 012010

Lets have a look at July for books. I usually check my pre-orders mid June and then revisit the list around the start of July. These are the books I am interested in. I try to put new never before published books here, for me there is no difference if the book is first published in the US, UK or in Australia. The delivery time to the far north is about the same. So we are going for world’s first here.

This month holds some very anticipated books, two of them where on my list of New SF to Read 2010 in January. Honor Harrington is one of the most popular science fiction characters out there and David Weber [profile] is one of my favorite authors. Mission of Honor is the next main story novel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it (it is in transit atm, curse the slow mail service). The other book is Pathfinder by Laura E. Reeve [profile]. Her writing is influenced by Greek culture and feels refreshing and new. This time Ariane Kedros has a mission from the mysterious Minoans, I have been waiting since book one for her to go exploring again.

I realized I was missing out on Karl Schroeder who I haven’t read since Permanence (great book by the way). That book needs company on it’s shelf  and the Virgo setting in its steampunk pocket universe sounded too good to resist. Gibson and Wooding have been on my radar for a while now so I felt it was time for a sample. Howard Birnberg is more of a shot in the dark from my side, I liked the blurb, hope it is good.

Since last time I also decided I need the new Ian McDonald – Dervish House.

The Puppets Masters is a book that has been with me from adolescence. It is a fun read and you should get a copy if you don’t own one.

And I always use the Publishers dates when release dates don’t match between the online stores and publisher, unless I know otherwise (like the book is in the mail from the store).

These are my recommendations for July

On Order

Title: Mission of Honor
Series: Honor Harrington 12
Author: David Weber
Genre: Military Science Fiction | Space Opera
Publisher: Baen
Hardcover: 864 pages
Buy:  Amazon
US | UK | B&N | sfbok

A new main story Honor Harrington is a must read for me, cant wait. It is on my list of New SF books to read in 2010.

The Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven have been enemies for Honor Harrington’s entire life, and she has paid a price for the victories she’s achieved in that conflict. And now the unstoppable juggernaut of the mighty Solarian League is on a collision course with Manticore. The millions who have already died may have been only a foretaste of the billions of casualties just over the horizon, and Honor sees it coming.

She’s prepared to do anything, risk anything, to stop it, and she has a plan that may finally bring an end to the Havenite Wars and give even the Solarian League pause. But there are things not even Honor knows about. There are forces in play, hidden enemies in motion, all converging on the Star Kingdom of Manticore to crush the very life out of it, and Honor’s worst nightmares fall short of the oncoming reality.

But Manticore’s enemies may not have thought of everything after all. Because if everything Honor Harrington loves is going down to destruction, it won’t be going alone.

Title: Pathfinder
Series: Major Ariane Kedros 3
Author: Laura E. Reeve
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Paperback 336 pages
Publisher:  ROC 6 July 2010
Order from: ROC | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Pathfinder is on my most anticipated books list for 2010.

Reserve Major Ariane Kedros needs a shot at redemption-and the mysterious aliens known as the Minoans need an extraordinary human pilot with a rejuv-stimulated metabolism like Ariane for a dangerous expedition to a distant solar system. But there’s a catch. The Minoans have to implant their technology in Ariane’s body, and it might not be removable. Ariane is willing, but as she begins the perilous journey, there is an old enemy hiding within the exploration team who is determined to see them fail…

Title: Empire of Light
Series: Stealing Light 3 | Shoal Sequence 3
Author: Gary Gibson
Genre: Space Opera
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor UK 2 Jul 2010
Order from: Tor | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage.

If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium’s borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso’s own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive – and that’s only if Dakota doesn’t kill him first …

Title: The Dervish House
Author: Ian Mcdonald
Hardcover: 410 | 480 pages
Publisher: Pyr 27 July 2010 | Gollancz 29 July 2010
Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

In the CHAGA novels Ian McDonald brought an Africa in the grip of a bizarre alien invasion to life, in RIVER OF GODS he painted a rich portrait of India in 2047, in BRASYL he looked at different Brazils, past present and future. Ian McDonald has found renown at the cutting edge of a movement to take SF away from its British and American white roots and out into the rich cultures of the world. THE DERVISH HOUSE continues that journey and centres on Istanbul in 2025. Turkey is part of Europe but sited on the edge, it is an Islamic country that looks to the West. THE DERVISH HOUSE is the story of the families that live in and around its titular house, it is at once a rich mosaic of Islamic life in the new century and a telling novel of future possibilities.

Title: The Black Lung Captain
Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay 2
Author: Chris Wooding
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Gollancz 29 July 2010
Order from: Gollancz | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest robberies seem to go wrong. It’s getting so a man can’t make a dishonest living any more. Enter Captain Grist. He’s heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey’s help to get it. There’s only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island, populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters. Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey’s never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there’s something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it’s going to take all of Frey’s considerable skill at lying, cheating and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it . . . Strap yourself in for another tale of adventure and debauchery, pilots and pirates, golems and daemons, double-crosses and double-double-crosses. The crew of the Ketty Jay are back!

Title: The Genius Gene
Series: Catherine Fox Trilogy 1
Author: Howard Birnberg
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Book Guild Ltd 29 July 2010
Order from: Book Guild | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Einstein, Newton, Da Vinci. The names are synonymous with genius; however, is genius nurtured or does nature provide it? In the fictional scientific thriller, The Genius Gene, young geneticist Catherine Fox has the surprising answer. She has discovered a source of genius in our genes. Unfortunately, her former mentor and spurned lover, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, Stephen Yates would do anything to obtain her confidential research. Backed by greedy pharmaceutical companies, Yates has become corrupt and he wants to engineer the genius gene into the unborn children of wealthy parents. The time is the mid-21st century and Stephen has established clinics to design the genome of children according to their parents’ preferences. Catherine calls these offspring ‘Frankenstein children’ and she fears the creation of a master race. Her research may make this possible and she struggles to prevent Yates from learning the workings of the genius gene. Unknown to Catherine, there are other secrets to protect. On the eve of crucial hearings on legalizing Yates’ process, he vanishes and Catherine becomes a suspect in his disappearance.

On Order New ReReleases

Virga: Cities of the Air
Series: Virga
Omnibus: Sun of Suns (2006), Queen of Canedsce (2007)
Author: Karl Schroeder
Paperback: 592 pages
Publisher: Tor 6 July 2010
Order from: Tor | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Sun of Suns – It is the distant future. The world known as Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and aimlessly floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and “towns” that are in the shape of enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for gravity.

Young, fit, bitter, and friendless, Hayden Griffin is a very dangerous man. He’s come to the city of Rush in the nation of Slipstream with one thing in mind: to take murderous revenge for the deaths of his parents six years ago. His target is Admiral Chaison Fanning, head of the fleet of Slipstream, which conquered Hayden’s nation of Aerie years ago. And the fact that Hayden’s spent his adolescence living with pirates doesn’t bode well for Fanning’s chances.

Queen of Cadansce – Venera Fanning was last seen falling into nothingness at the end of Sun of Suns. Now, in Queen of Candesce, Venera finds herself plunging through the air between the artificial continents of Virga, far from home and her husband, who may or may not be alive. Landing in the ancient nation of Spyre, Venera encounters new enemies and new friends (or at least convenient allies). She must quickly learn who she can trust, and who she can manipulate in order to survive. Queen of Candesce is her story.

Titel: Diamond Star
Series: Saga of the Skolian Empire
Author: Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Baen (1st 2009)
Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok
Chapter 1-8

I have started to dive into the Skolian Empire series my first book was Primary Inversion and I liked it. It was a Romantic science fiction with space opera, military scifi and hard science influence about a formidable yet human Julia character and it avoids the usual pitfalls of that genre, it is not action packed but there is enough thrill to go around. This looks like something a bit different in the same universe.

Del was a rock singer. He was also the renegade son of the Ruby Dynasty, which made his career choice less than respectable, and gave him more to worry about than getting gigs and not getting cheated by recording companies, club owners, or his agent. For one thing, the Ruby Dynasty ruled the Skolian Imperialate, an interstellar Empire, which had recently had a war with another empire, the Eubian Concord. For another, Del was singing on Earth, which was part of a third interstellar civilization, and one which had an uneasy relationship with the Imperialate.

Del undeniably had talent, and was rapidly rising from an unknown fringe artist to stardom. But, with his life entangled in the politics of three interstellar civilizations, whether he wanted that or not, talent might not be enough. And that factor might have much more effect than his music on the lives of trillions of people on the thousands of inhabited worlds across the galaxy.

Other books of Interest

I should also mention the anthology Gateways that will be out in July. Anthologies and collections of short stories isn’t my thing but this one looks promising. I might change my mind and include it in the later post.

Title: The Restoration Game
Author: Ken MacLeod
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Orbit 1 July 2010
Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know – she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: a game inspired by The Krassniad, an epic folk tale concocted by Lucy’s mother Amanda, who studied there in the 1980s. Lucy knows Amanda is a spook. She knows her great-grandmother Eugenie also visited the country in the ’30s, and met the man who originally collected Krassnian folklore, and who perished in Stalin’s terror. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds the open secrets of her family’s past, the darker secrets of Krassnia’s past – and hints about the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game …

New ReReleases

Title: The Puppet Masters
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Baen 27 July 2010 (First published 1951)
Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

This is one of my favorite Heinlein book, the perfect summer read. It has a afterword by Sarah A Hoyt.

First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed. Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting in. And four more agents who were sent in also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his two top agents went in and managed to get out with their discovery: an invasion is underway by slug-like aliens who can touch a human and completely control his or her mind! Sam Cavanaugh was one of the agents who discovered the truth. Unfortunately, that was just before he was taken over by one of the aliens and began working for the invaders, with no will of his own. And he has just learned that a high official in the Treasury Department is now under control of the aliens. Since the Treasury Department includes the Secret Service, which safeguards the President of the United States, control of the entire nation is near at hand…

You might also want to check out recommendations from some other bloggers:
YetiStomperWalkerofworlds | Fantasy Book Critic

Jun 242010

Hello, there will be a review later today after the last rush to finish before going on holiday. Meaning I will have more time to read and write on my blog soon.

To keep you a bit exited (hopefully) I can tell you what’s been in my mail this week (all payed for by me):

  1. Veteran by Gavin Smith
  2. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1)
  3. Blood and Iron by Tony Bellantyne (Robot Wars 2)
  4. The Bloodstained Man by Christopher Rowley (Netherworld 2)
  5. Harmony by C. F. Bentley (Harmony 1)
  6. Stealing Light by Gary Gibson (Stealing Light 1)