Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013

By Jackie Cassada

Fantasy predominates in this late-summer selection of titles for lovers of imaginative and speculative fiction. Phillipa Bornikova continues her urban fantasy series featuring vampire lawyers with Box Office Poison , while Jim C. Hines’s Codex Born delivers another adventure starring book-wielding mage Isaac Vainio. Mark Lawrence brings his “Broken Empire” series to a definitive end with Emperor of Thorns , while Michael J. Sullivan launches an open-ended series with The Crown Tower.

Two sf novels by established authors James Gunn (Transcendental) and Michael Shea (Assault on Sunrise) cover topics from far-future space travel to the possible fate of reality TV, while Impossible Futures, a collection of sf tales that look back on once-predicted futures, adds a note of nostalgia. [For what’s up and coming in sf, see Kristi Chadwick’s feature.]

delia1 Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013OrangeReviewStar Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013Moyer, Jaime Lee. Delia’s Shadow. Tor. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780765331823. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429949484. FANTASY

Since the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 that killed her parents, Delia Martin has been able to see ghosts. Accepting a teaching job in New York City helped keep the spirits at bay for a few years, but now one persistent presence, a young woman Delia calls Shadow, is demanding that she return to San Francisco to bring the spirit—and, perhaps, Delia herself—the peace she seeks. The city Delia finds upon her return, though, is a more sinister one in which a killer who stalks the streets may, in fact, be the same person who murdered the young woman who is now Delia’s ghostly companion. Moyer’s first novel captures the feel of San Francisco in 1915, with its genteel upper class and ambitious working class, as well as the excitement for the future brought about by the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. VERDICT Both major and minor characters spring to life in this polished historical fantasy/mystery that should appeal to a wide variety of readers and could cross over to mainstream readers as well.

OrangeReviewStar Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013Williams, Mark H. Sleepless Knights. Atomic Fez. Aug. 2013. 410p. ISBN 9781927609019. $24.99. FANTASY

As butler to King Arthur, Sir Lucas has always managed the affairs of Camelot’s elite, and he’s still doing it, as the Knights of the Round Table continue to exist, in hiding, in the modern world. When Arthur, whose connection to reality comes and goes, determines to enact a ritual bringing Merlin into the world, he does not realize that the act will also open a door to other banished creatures. As havoc in the form of wild dragons and other fantastical beasts draws the attention of the modern media, the spotlight also focuses on the knights of Camelot, whose swords and courage are all that stand between the world and destruction. Williams’s first novel begins humorously, as it imagines the heroes of Arthurian legend living quietly in the English countryside. Soon, however, the tale takes on a more serious note as it deals with the problems of those who try to live beyond their time. VERDICT Written with obvious love for the Arthurian mythos, this tragic-comedy should appeal to anyone who shares a longing for the days of Camelot.

ADDITIONAL SF/FANTASY

OrangeReviewStar Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013Karpyshyn, Drew. Children of Fire. Del Rey: Ballantine. (The Chaos Born, Bk. 1). Sept. 2013. 512p. ISBN 9780345542236. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780345546760. FANTASY

Slayer has had plenty of time to plan his escape. The one-time champion of the Old Gods, appointed to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos, was himself raised to immortality by the power of their talismans. However, he was corrupted by his power. For the past several centuries, Slayer has been imprisoned behind a magical barrier known as the Legacy. But the Old Gods were drained beyond recovery by their creation of the Legacy, and the Legacy itself is weakening. Slayer’s plan is to send his seed across the barrier to create a child of Chaos in the mortal world—a child destined to tear down the Legacy. But even a god’s plan can be flawed: the seed splits as it crosses the Legacy, and not one but four children of fire are born, each an heir to one aspect of Slayer: prophet, wizard, warrior, and king. VERDICT Karpyshyn, the author of several novels in the “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and “Star Wars: Darth Bane” series, weaves a compelling tale with complex characters. This first series volume has all of the elements of a great new epic fantasy. The reader is left not knowing where the story will end up but definitely wanting to be along for the ride. Recommended for all lovers of epic fantasy.—William Baer, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta

DEBUT OF THE MONTH

OrangeReviewStar Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013Lain, Douglas. Billy Moon. Tor. Aug. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780765321725. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429948074. FANTASY

Christopher Robin Milne, aka “Billy Moon,” has never quite outlived the image of him presented to the world by his father, the illustrious A.A. Milne. After service in World War II, Christopher and his wife operate a low-key bookstore (sans the tales of a certain stuffed bear). When a French college student invites him to Paris to witness the student uprisings in 1968, Christopher accepts on a whim—and enters a scenario every bit as “magical” and much more dangerous than any from his fictional childhood. Lain’s first novel combines two unlikely topics to form a tapestry of life in the late 1960s, when Europe, as well as America, experienced the revolutionary fervor of youth. Milne’s friend and guide, Gerrard, has a curious relationship with time and space, and Milne finds himself caught up in the transient nature of both while seeking desperately to anchor himself to his real present. VERDICT Luminous storytelling and brilliant period descriptions make this fictional biography a priceless addition to the American magical realism canon; the book should be recommended to fantasy and general fiction readers.[See Prepub Alert, 2/25/13.]


The following titles are reviewed in the August 15, 2013 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

CHECK THESE OUT

Bornikova, Phillipa. Box Office Poison. Tor. Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780765326836. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429948906. FANTASY

Gunn, James. Transcendental. Tor. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780765335012. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466820814. SF

Hines, Jim C. Codex Born. DAW, dist. by Penguin Group (USA). (Magic Ex Libris, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780756408169. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101635759. FANTASY

Lawrence, Mark. Emperor of Thorns. Ace: Berkley. (Broken Empire, Bk. 3). Aug. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780425256855. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101624937. FANTASY

Lazellari, Edward. The Lost Prince. Tor. (Guardians of Aandor, Bk. 2). Aug. 2012. 528p. ISBN 9780765327888. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429947435. FANTASY

Pinborough, Sarah. The Shadow of the Soul. Ace: Berkley. (Forgotten Gods, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780425258484. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101624968. FANTASY

Sapkowski, Andrzej. The Time of Contempt: A Novel of the Witcher. Orbit: Hachette. Aug. 2013. 352p. tr. from Polish by David French. ISBN 9780316219136. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780316219143. FANTASY

Shea, Michael. Assault on Sunrise. Tor. (Extra Trilogy, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780765324368. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429988278. SF

Sniegoski, Thomas E. Walking in the Midst of Fire: A Remy Chandler Novel. Roc: Penguin. Aug. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780451465115. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781101614211. FANTASY

Sullivan, Michael J. The Crown Tower. Orbit: Hachette. (Riyria Chronicles, Vol. 1). Aug. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780316243711. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780316243704. FANTASY

QUOTABLE

“The cat’s name is Nefertiti. She’s convinced this office belongs to her and I can’t dissuade her of the idea. Nor can I get her to stop sleeping on my correspondence.” Professor Adams dropped his stack of papers on the desk. The cat opened one eye to glare balefully at him and promptly went back to sleep. “Take my advice, Delia. Never name a cat after a powerful queen, even one long dead. They do their best to live up to the name.” —Jaime Lee Moyer, Delia’s Shadow

COLLECTIONS & ANTHOLOGIES

Impossible Futures: An Anthology. Pink Narcissus. Aug. 2013. 235p. ed. by Judith K. Dial & Thomas Easton. ISBN 9781939056023. pap. $16.95. SF

ADDITIONAL SF/FANTASY

DeCandido, Keith R.A. Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. Plus One. Aug. 2013. 246p.ISBN 9780986008566. pap. $16.95. Fantasy

Grimes, Linda. Quick Fix. Tor. Aug. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780765331816. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429956451. FANTASY

Littlewood, Alison. A Cold Season. Jo Fletcher: Quercus. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781623650223. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623650230. Horror

Schwarz, Liesel. A Clockwork Heart. Del Rey: Ballantine. (Chronicles of Light and Shadow, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780345545084. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780345541291. FANTASY

MASS-MARKET PAPERBACKS OF NOTE

McGuire, Seanan. Chimes at Midnight: An October Daye Novel. DAW, dist. by Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780756408145. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101635667. FANTASY

Half-human, half-Faerie October “Toby” Day treads a fine line between her Faerie existence and her life in her earthly home of San Francisco. When local changelings begin dying from overdosing on goblin fruit, Toby must stop the problem or else bear the wrath of the Queen of the Mists, who has no love for her anyway.

Vaughn, Carrie. Kitty in the Underworld. Tor. Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780765368683. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429956048. FANTASY

The latest outing for werewolf Kitty Norville ensnares her in a trap within a silver mine by supernaturals who want to use her unique qualities to destroy a powerful vampire.

NEWSWORTHY

David Wingrove’s 20-volume masterwork of Chinese far-future history, Chung Kuo, is being revised and re-released by Corvus Books in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats. Originally intended as a nine-book (one trilogy per book) series and first published beginning in 1989, only eight volumes were eventually produced. The re-release includes two new prequel novels, Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain. The third volume (originally the series starter) The Middle Kingdom, was released last month. The revised series contains around 500,000 words of previously unpublished material. Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chung_Kuo_(novel_series) for the above information.

Fans of the late Anne McCaffrey should look for Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern (Smart Pop. Aug. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781937856830. trade paper $14.95), edited by her son Todd McCaffrey, inheritor of the Pern mantle. Containing tributes from friends such as singer-songwriter Janis Ian, artist Michael Whelan, and fellow writers including Mercedes Lackey, David Brin, Lois McMaster Bujold, and many others, this heartfelt outpouring of love and grief provides a fitting memorial for one of the genre’s most beloved authors.

 

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