Booktopia SF & Fantasy Buzz
July 2013 | Edition 6
Welcome to the July Science Fiction & Fantasy Buzz
This month five lucky Buzz readers have the chance to win a signed hardcover edition of Terry Brooks novel Bloodfire Quest, see the Book of the Month below for details. We also have the amazing Aussie Jo Spurrier answering our Ten Terrifying Questions below. Jo's debut novel Winter Be My Shield was nominated in the Aurealis Awards and has just been nominated in The David Gemell Awards. She is an amazing talent and you should definitely check her out.

What I've just read: Forge of Darkness by Steven Ereikson. Wow! See my thoughts below.

What I'm reading now: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. I'm just about peeing my pants over this one. At long last Scott Lynch, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, has finished and turned in the manuscript for book three of The Gentleman Bastard series. This one is due for release in October and you can be sure I will be fan-boying more over it the closer we get to the release date.

What I'm reading next: Knife Sworn by Mazarkis Williams. I read the first book of this trilogy a while back, loved it, and am now playing catch up. 

There were far too many great titles coming out this month to fit them all into the Buzz, so be sure you go to our website and check out the rest of the new SF & F releases here.

Kind regards
Mark Timmony
Supreme Overlord of Science Fiction and Fantasy


Follow me on Twitter: @MarkTimmony
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Book of the Month
Pre-order Witch Wraith before the 16th of July 2013 to go in the draw to win one of five signed hardcover copies of The Dark Legacy of Shannara: Book Two : Bloodfire Quest

Click here for more details or to orderWITCH WRAITH
by Terry Brooks

Following Wards of Faerie and Bloodfire Quest, this is the final novel in a powerful new trilogy from bestselling master of fantasy Terry Brooks.

Set in Brooks's original Shannara world, this spellbinding series will delight both seasoned fans and those discovering Shannara for the first time.

For centuries, the Four Lands enjoyed freedom and peace, protected by a magical barrier from the dark dimension known as the Forbidding. But now the unthinkable is happening: the ancient wards securing the border have begun to erode - and the monstrous creatures imprisoned there are poised to spill forth, seeking their revenge.

Young Elf Arling Elessedil possesses the means to close the breach, but her efforts may be doomed when she is taken captive. The only hope lies with her determined sister Aphen, who bears the Elfstones and commands their magic.

Now the fate of their world rests upon her shoulders ...

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Click here for more details or to order UNDER THE DOME
by Stephen King

One of the masterly Stephen King's most riveting novels - every chapter ends on a cliffhanger - a Maine town and its inhabitants are isolated from the world by an invisible, impenetrable dome.

Celebrated storyteller Stephen King returns to his roots in this tour de force featuring more than 100 characters - some heroic, some diabolical - and a supernatural element as baffling and chilling as any he s ever conjured.

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener s hand is severed as the dome comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. Dale Barbara, Iraq vet, teams up with a few intrepid citizens against the town s corrupt politician. But time, under the dome, is running out....

Under the Dome is King at his epic best and will capture a brand new readership as well as thrilling his existing fans.     

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by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

From the combined talents of the UK's bestselling novelist and a giant of British science fiction comes the sequel to the phenomenal No.1 bestseller The Long Earth...

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping The Long Earth - but in turn The Long Earth is shaping mankind...

A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of The Long Earth - and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government...

Meanwhile The Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity's thoughtless exploitation ... Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge The Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

Haven't started the series yet? Pick up a copy of Book 1: The Long Earth here.

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Click here for more details or to order THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR
by Lilith Saintcrow

Saintcrow picks up the the story not long after The Iron Wyrm Affair ends and ramps up the tension from the first chapter. This book is packed full of excitement and intrigue, a real feeling of the race against time to find the cure for the plague of the title, culminating into a truly exciting ending.

Lilith Saintcrow's style of emotional tension, dramatic gestures, and intriguing mystery is a perfect foil to this steampunk Victorian England. I loved the first book (read my review on the Booktopia Blog here) and this sequel did not disappoint.

Give me more!

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Click here for more details or to order THE TYRANT'S LAW
By Daniel Abraham

Remember I told you last month about the SF writer James S. A. Corey being a pseudonym for Ty Franks and Danieal Abraham? Well this is Daniel Abraham! The Tyrant's Law is the 3rd volume in his epic fantasy The Dagger and the Coin series where he laces traditional fantasy with something new and pulls off a gripping tale of war and death, honour and destiny. A must read for lovers of epic fantasy.

The great war cannot be stopped.

The tyrant Geder Palliako begins a conquest aimed at bringing peace to the world, though his resources are stretched too thin. When things go poorly, he finds a convenient target among the thirteen races and sparks a genocide.

Clara Kalliam, freed by having fallen from grace, remakes herself as a "loyal traitor" and starts building an underground resistance movement that seeks to undermine Geder through those closest to him.

Cithrin bel Sarcour is apprenticing in a city that's taken over by Antea, and uses her status as Geder's one-time lover to cover up an underground railroad smuggling refugees to safety.

And Marcus Wester and Master Kit race against time and Geder Palliako's men in an attempt to awaken a force that could change the fate of the world.

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Click here for books from Richard Matheson It seems that too often this year we have said a sad farewell to some of the greats whose works have made the genre what it is today, inspiring and influencing many of the modern writers whose works we also cherish.

Richard Matheson, aged 87, author of such notable works as I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man, has passed away. His will be missed greatly by his friends and family, and the legion of readers with whom he shared his imagination and his gift of words.

Thank you for all the stories Richard.

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Richard Matheson
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by Steven Erikson

Set thousands of years before The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Forge of Darkness tells the story of the Tiste people and their civil war that sundered the realm. If you have read the Malazan books and think you know the story you are in for a surprise. If you haven't, I envy you for you are about to embark on an epic journey that has turned the tropes of the genre on its head.

This is Erikson's first book after the mammoth ten volume epic that is the Malazan sequence and far exceeded any expectations that I had starting it. Flagged as a prequel this story is set thousands of years before the Malazan books proper and tells the tale of the Tiste people and the civil war that sundered a realm. More reminiscent of Martin's Game of Thrones then Erikson's previous work - and yet totally different to GoT at the same time - Forge of Darkness provides answers to so many questions it blew my mind and was utterly thrilling to read. The fact that this is only the first book of The Kharkanas Trilogy is mind boggling when I think of how much else could be revealed in coming volumes.

If you haven't read Erikson before and are daunted by the length of the Malazan series this is the perfect place to start. Forge of Darkness introduces us to characters we thought we knew and fleshes them out even more, and it never assumes the reader knows anything about the world or story that is being told. It is slightly different in style to the Malazan books, a little tighter and more concise, but it is utterly Erikson in brilliance, action and depth.

The tale is that of the creation of a legend, and an important work in the realm of fantasy fiction.      

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Click here for more details or to order THE GLASS GOD
by Kate Griffin

The 2nd book in Griffin's spinoff from the Matthew Swift novels following the adventures of Sharon Li, apprentice shaman, who runs a support group for people with magical issues, amongst whom are Kevin, a vampire with OCD who carries dental floss and sterile wipes, Gretal, a troll with a taste for gourmet food, Rhys, the druid who develops an allergy every time he tries to practice magic and Mr Roding, a necromancer with a bad case of decay.  Nothing is ever easy in Griffin's books and this tale is no different.

Griffin is an amazing writer. Her prose is lush and vibrant and London comes alive like never before, painted with brilliant technicolour magic that is so thick and syrupy it literally drips off the pages. She creates spellbinding stories with endless inventiveness and artful, luxurious prose, that are packed full of characters who are both human and other. Her books are urban fantasy at its very best and if you haven't read them you must GO BUY THEM NOW! 

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Click here for more details or to order BLOOD SONG
by Anthony Ryan

Reviewed by Michael Marlow: Author Anthony Ryan initially made a name for himself in the cutthroat marketplace of self-published online eBooks. He has now made his first foray into the printed world with the brutal and skilfully paced Blood Song. Showing a slightly different approach to his contemporaries, Ryan takes a step back from the traditional gods and monsters of fantasy to present a more secular but no less engaging creation.

As a fantasy epic Blood Song is an impressive piece of work. The reader is given the impression of a complex and constantly evolving world that exists outside of the individual stories portrayed. Despite this you are never over-saturated with names and places as can happen in some clumsier works. Ryan makes us privy to just the right amount of lore to ensure the character driven storyline never has to take a back seat.

The key name in this story is Vaelin Al Sorna. He is the boy we watch grow from abandoned youth to deadly weapon. Taken in by the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith, his is not an easy life. It is his journey that is revealed throughout the book, and it is his relentless adventures that make it simply impossible to put down.

Vaelin's journey from the trial and near-death tribulations of his training through to the unavoidable war and conflict of his future is an enjoyable read for both fantasy and fiction fans alike. The balance between the bastions of political and military powers that drive the story forward is very well structured. Add layers of intrigue on a level not normally seen in a single volume and it's impossible not to see how much work has been put in to the creation of this novel.

If you want to witness some impressive world building, fast paced action and well-crafted characters, then Blood Song is the title for you.  

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Click here for more details or to order NEPTUNE'S BROOD
by Charles Stross

Now Charles Stross is an author that few readers of SF will need an introduction to, he is one of the leading voices in the genre and blurs the lines, crossing traditional boundaries and always works at bring something new to his work. This one involves the awesomeness of a far-future Nigerian-like email scam.

Neptune's Brood is set in the universe of Saturn's Children (only a very long time later). That's not to say you need to read that before this one - they work as standalones - but come on! Who wouldn't want to?

'My friend has discovered faster-than-light travel! If we get in now, we can make it rich! Just send us your bank details today. . .'

Krina Alizond-114 is a bookish historian of accountancy practices and a metahuman in a universe where the last natural humans went extinct 5000 years ago. When a letter from her sister goes missing Krina embarks on a dangerous journey across the star systems to find her, along the way getting caught up in an elegant and unprecedented financial scam that involves the mystery of the missing space colony - Atlantis. 

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Click here for more details or to order AN INCH OF ASHES
by David Wingrove

Between 1989 and 1999, David Wingrove released the Chung Kuo series. It has been out of print ever since while remaining one of the most sort after series in Science Fiction. It has now been re-edited and re-structured and expanded by the author and picked up by a new publisher.

This is a strong vision of a very plausible future and goes from strength to strength with each new release.

A Restless Peace. The population continues to swell, the Seven - the ruling T'angs - are forced make further concessions; laws must be relaxed and the House at Weinmar reopened. Change is coming, whether the Seven like it or not.

A Secret War. The tides of unrest unleashed by earlier wars grow faster even than the population. DeVore secretly allies with newly appointed general, Hans Ebert. It seems that DeVore's plans are coming to fruition. But Ebert has his own schemes and plots - he intends to depose the Seven and control the whole of Chung Kuo. 

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Click here for more details or to order PACIFIC RIM
by Alex Irvine

Looking forward to the forthcoming Warner Bros. & Legendary movie, Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro?

Well get ahead of the crowd with the novelisaton of the movie!

When legions of monstrous creatures started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes to pilot a legendary but obsolete robot from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the apocalypse.

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Jo Spurrier 1. To begin with why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself - where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Adelaide, and never had much chance to go beyond it until I went to University. Studying Earth Sciences lets you see a lot of the country, though mostly the very isolated, desolate parts. The ones that stand out most are an ancient, eroded mountain range near Broken Hill, which I spent a week crawling over with a compass and rock-hammer and which ended up being a location in the third book of this series; and the Naracoorte caves where I spent some time digging up fossil deposits, and where my unnatural love of caves was born.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be an archaeologist because I was fascinated by the way people lived in preindustrial times. At eighteen I wanted to be a palaeontologist, because dinosaurs are awesome. At thirty I wanted to be a novelist --- after coming to terms with the fact that my disability would prevent me from having a conventional career, I put all of my energy into writing. At that point I'd been writing for ten years, and I'd just received my contract from HarperCollins for Children of the Black Sun.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

This is a hard one. I believed I'd be a scientist, but it turned out that I'm more interested in what makes for a good story than what's actually true. I believed I'd spend my twenties travelling and seeing the world, but my disability put that goal on hold, at least temporarily.

Click here for more details or to order4 you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I have to mention Jean M Auel's Earth's Children series, though I'm a little embarrassed by it now. I read these books when I was a teenager and found the glimpse into a world so different from our own utterly fascinating. I hold these books responsible for my early captivation with archaeology and pre-industrial technology and cultures, and I still find the amount of research that went into them mind-blowing.

Katharine Kerr's Deverry Cycle quartet were the first fantasy novels I ever bought for myself, and I loved them --- I still pull them out for a re-read every couple of years. The characters, the culture and the system of magic in that series was like nothing I'd read before --- the kick-ass heroine who fights with a sword, the hero who never wanted her to be a proper lady, or anything but what she is; a world with its roots in Tolkein but taking a distinctly different turn, with a hint of the grit and dirt that has become a mainstay of fantasy today. It doesn't sound very ground-breaking compared to modern fantasy, but at the time it was everything I ever wanted in a fantasy series, and for me it set the standard for many years.

The Princess Bride. I don't even know what to say about it, it's such an iconic film for me --- it'd be easier just to sit you down and make you watch it than try to explain why it means so much to me. All I can say is watch it, if you haven't, and read the book as well. And if you have watched and read them both, well then, you know what I'm talking about.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Simply put, I'd always be telling stories in my head, whether or not I write them down. There are other ways to explore invented worlds, but writing is the one that works for me, but I think it's a mistake to restrict yourself to one artistic field if there are others you want to explore. All the creative people I know express themselves in multiple ways. I firmly believe that creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. I find it important to keep the greater part of my energy focussed on my books, but it's worthwhile to have other projects on the go, particularly in fields that have nothing to do with language and which get you away from the computer!

6. Please tell us about your latest novel 'Black Sun Light My Way'

Click for more details or to order Black Sun Light My Way is a story about sacrifice, about the choices people make under extreme conditions and what they're willing to give up in order to achieve their goals. It's about the effect these choices have, not only on the people making the decisions but on the ones who love them as well. It's about gambling everything --- and the hope that what you win will be worth what you're giving up. It's about taking the risk of destroying all you have in the hopes of building something better from the ashes.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

The notion that if someone suffers a catastrophic set of circumstances, whether it's injury or illness or natural disaster or an act of crime, it doesn't mean that their story is over, it doesn't mean that they can't find the power to direct the course of their life and affect the world around them.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Iain M Banks , for flaunting his love of genre and writing his amazing sci-fi novels under a name only one letter different from his capital-L Literature works.
Terry Pratchett, for his frank and open discussion of dealing with a devastating illness. People who are ill or disabled are frequently hidden away in our society, and for such a treat talent to sacrifice his privacy and be so open about the challenges he and his family are facing is a huge step forward.

Isabella Bird , a 19th century writer who found the constraints of Victorian society intolerable and found that the only way she could be healthy and happy was to go abroad. She spent most of her life travelling, usually by herself, to areas where a woman travelling unaccompanied was unheard of --- she rode over 800 miles through the rocky mountains, and travelled through Japan at a time when western women had never been seen in some districts. She travelled extensively through Asia and the Middle East, and ultimately studied medicine in order to serve as a missionary, and was the first woman inducted to the Royal Geographical Society. Unfortunately, like many books of that era, her works can be rather tainted by racism which makes for difficult reading on occasion, but they remain a unique glimpse into a bygone era.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

At the moment my goal is to be able to complete a book in a year! Currently feels like a rather over-ambitious goal, and I'm afraid I'm still some way from achieving it.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers? Click for more details or to order

Persistence is key. Pretend you're in jail, pretend you've got nothing better to do with the next ten years but sit there and write, every damn day. Don't give it all to one project, either. My first book was an apprentice-piece, a training-ground, and though I learned a lot from it the choice to put it aside and start working on Winter Be My Shield was the best decision I could have made. Always write the book you want to read, and if you have characters and a story beating down a door in your head, drop what you're doing and go with them. Always.

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In This Issue

Book of the Month


Epic Fantasy

Space Opera


Ten Terrifying Questions

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