Booktopia SF 
& Fantasy Buzz
November/December 2009 | Edition Six
Dear Spec Fiction fans,

Welcome to the last full size newsletter of 2009! What a great year we've had in the realms of science fiction and fantasy and it's time to have a quick look back and argue over which books stood out from the pack. You can look through my choices for the Top Ten Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult and Debut Novels and see if there are any books you missed out on this year.

But the year isn't completely done with yet - there are still some terrific new titles to peruse and loose yourself in, including some of the most anticipated books of the year. The new Wheel of Time book is finally here - against all the odds - and Stephen King is back to his best with a story reminiscent of his early work.

John Flanagan fans will be delighted with Book 9 in the Ranger's Apprentice series and Booktopia not only has SIGNED copies of the 9th book in stock, but complete sets of the entire series 1-8 to giveaway! Click here for more details. There are also some other Australian authors with big new releases that you won't want to miss.

With Christmas around the corner you might like to find something a little bit extra-special for the sci-fi or fantasy tragic in your life (or you may just want to treat yourself) so be sure to have a look at some of the Gift Editions now available. There are also a couple of great Comic Fantasy titles that would make great stocking fillers. But make sure you order by close of business December 1, to give us the best chance of delivering your books by Christmas (though books with the "in stock" bubble on the website can still be ordered up to December 13).

Don't miss the feature on Angry Robot, the new Science Fiction and Fantasy publisher out of the UK. There are also two new, very distinctive debut authors for you to test drive this month.

And, as always, you'll find in depth reviews and recommendations of all the latest Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Young Adult titles to keep you up to speed.

There's so much to discover in this newsletter, so get stuck in and watch out for my Christmas Special Edition Newsletter in mid December. Until then, happy reading!

Richard Bilkey
SF & Fantasy Buzz

What is it about Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series that has managed to keep such a large audience enthralled for so many years? Since the release of The Eye of the World back in January 1990 legions of fans have doggedly followed the fortunes of that original group of heroes who set out from Two Rivers, even as the series grew and grew to encompass the fates of many more players.

Most fans will admit to frustration in recent years as Robert Jordan continued to allow the story to diverge further and further from the original plot line. By the tenth book,  Crossroads of Twilight, it looked like the story might never come to a conclusion and the release a year later of a prequel, New Spring, produced a huge outcry from Jordan's despairing readership. Finally the message seemed to get through - enough with the new plot threads and divergences, it's time for some closure. This wasn't a call for Robert Jordan to wrap everything up and never write another Wheel of Time book, just a plea to conclude the central story before playing around with prequels and sequels and other spin-offs.

Shelving plans to write another two prequels, Jordan pumped out Knife of Dreams and suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel as a few loose threads were finally tied up and the final battle began to draw closer. But, just two months after the release of Knife of Dreams, in December 2005, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. He dedicated himself to the final volume, A Memory of Light which he vowed he would wrap everything up in, "even if it reaches 2,000 pages". Knowing he may not live to finish it, however, he wrote copious notes so that "someone could finish A Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end".

It was with Jordan's untimely death in 2007 that that someone became Brandon Sanderson and now, four years after the 11th book was released, we finally have The Gathering Storm. And the verdict? Well, the combination of Sanderson and Jordan's detailed notes has turned out to be an extremely good one. More loose threads have been tied up and the pace has definitely quickened now that we've hit the final straight and the end is in sight. Sanderson has a great feel for the characters and it feels very much like he has stuck closely to the script provided by Jordan. If he has struck out on his own in some areas, he has done so very convincingly and (unlike some previous Wheel of Time volumes) every page seems essential to the story.

This book will come as a huge relief for everyone caught up in The Wheel of Time saga and, better yet, there are still two more books to look forward to, knowing that all our questions will soon be answered!

Click here to order this title:
The Gathering Storm
RRP: $35.00 Booktopia Price $27.95 SAVE 20%

SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH by George RR Martin and Gardner Duzois (Ed)

Jack Vance wrote the Tales of the Dying Earth series over a period of 34 years from 1950-1984. It is still regarded as one of the most distinctive and influential creations in the fantasy genre and the Cugel volumes in particular are still as fresh and entertaining as ever. Set in the far far future, Vance imagines an Earth populated by humans capable of both powerful magic and impressive technology. Yet this advanced society lives with the inescapable knowledge that our Sun is in rapid decline and will soon die, dooming all life on Earth with it.

Songs of the Dying Earth is a tribute to this extraordinary series; a brilliant collection of 23 short stories from some of the today's greatest fantasy authors including Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Robert Silverberg, Kage Baker, Dan Simmons, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Moon and many more.

This is a high class performance from a list of very talented authors, all of whom obviously felt a strong personal connection and love for the Dying Earth series. There are a couple of missed notes (Jeff VanderMeer's contribution didn't quite work) but overwhelmingly the collection moves from one great story to the next. Abrizonde by Walter John Williams, The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or The Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee by Tad Williams, The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons and the concluding story by Neil Gaiman, An Invocation of Incuriousity, were the highlights in a bunch of stories that managed to capture much of the whimsical humour, tragic poignancy and vivid descriptions that so characterised this unique work of fiction.

The editors have ordered the stories beautifully, achieving a natural progression through Vance's original timeline and culminating in the inevitable conclusion, provided by the masterful pen of Neil Gaiman: a vision of those final moments as the dying red Sun sputters its last.

This is an absolute must read for all Dying Earth fans but also a great starting point for readers yet to be introduced to Vance's distinctive vision of our planet's twilight years.

Click here to order this title:
Songs of the Dying Earth
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price $27.95 SAVE 15%

by John Flanagan

Booktopia not only has SIGNED copies of book 9 in the Ranger's Apprentice series in stock, we also have the entire series 1-8 to giveaway to those lucky customers who order any book featured in this newsletter and write to us at with their order number and the answer to this question:
If you could invent a fantasy weapon what would it be?

The Ranger's Apprentice has established itself internationally as one of the most anticipated and closely followed series behind Harry Potter and Twilight. It's not difficult to see why; John Flanagan consistently delivers an adrenaline pumping blend of great action, intriguing mystery and heart stopping suspense with every single book. But more than this, these books have tremendous heart with a core cast of characters that live so large in our imaginations we can't help but live and laugh and hurt alongside them.

By now we have become so close to Will and Halt and Horace that the mere thought of losing one of them is too dreadful to consider but this is exactly what Flanagan forces us to confront constantly through this latest instalment. Halt's Peril will have you on tenterhooks the entire way as this trio of heroes pursue the dangerous cult leader Tennyson from Hybernia and across the sea back to Araluen. As the title suggests, Halt's life will hang in the balance but Will and Horace are both prepared to risk everything to save him and you truly won't be able to tell the outcome.

In a lot of ways Halt's Peril is the most thrilling Ranger's Apprentice adventure so far. The tension never lets off and there are more hold-your-breath moments than ever before. There are also some nice cameos from some favourite allies and, of course, lots of beautiful humour to keep you from literally exploding from the suspense.

Although this is aimed squarely at the 12+ boy market, this is classic storytelling that appeals to everyone; boys and girls, young and old. Whenever a new Ranger's Apprentice book is due it is one of the most requested reading copies by booksellers around the country and truly a favourite across the entire reading spectrum. It is one of the first books I recommend to any teenagers and their parents as well. If you still haven't seen what all the fuss is about make sure you start with Book 1, The Ruins of Gorlan, available for only $4.00!

Click here to hear the author speak directly to Booktopia customers.

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Halt's Peril
RRP: $16.95 Booktopia Price $13.50 SAVE 20%

UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King

This is a welcome return to the classic sagas of King's early career with powerful human drama, a sprawling cast and constant action, all choreographed by a master storyteller. It's a book that's been over 25 years in the making, mixing beautifully some themes and ideas that have been simmering away in King's potent subconscious mind with current world events and even some very entertaining pop-culture references.

The essential premise is classic sci-fi: one October morning (this October just gone in fact) an invisible force field completely encases the town of Chester Mills in Maine. Completely impenetrable, the dome causes a number of explosive traffic accidents and even a plane crash before the reality of the situation is grasped by both the residents and the outside world. Families lose loved ones, either killed by the Dome or cut-off by it, and in the chaos that follows Big Jim Rennie, a second-hand care dealer and crystal-meth manufacturer, seizes power and enacts his own little dictatorship.

Big Jim quickly points out that the Dome must be a terrorist plot and accuses anyone who disagrees with him of being with the terrorists. What unfolds is an intricate and claustrophobic account of the development of a fascist state. Big Jim uses fear and prejudice to manipulate the townspeople and there are few who stand up to him - indeed the crime of complicity is a recurring theme through the novel. His most prominent enemy is Dale Barbara, an Iraq War veteran battling demons from Fallujah, a man who has seen fascism in person and knows what symptoms to look for.

King is certainly making a few political statements here, and organised religion doesn't escape attention either, but what really stands out in this very impressive novel are the individual stories and human reactions to the arrival of the Dome. There's Big Jim's son and his growing psychosis, to the strength of women such as the Diner owner Rose, the Dome-widowed Brenda and those who take on roles as surrogate mothers for children separated from their parents by the dome. The cast runs to over 100 people and the book reads as a masterclass of characterisation.

The sci-fi aspect of the novel takes a back seat to the lives of the people trapped in the Dome and the resolution of the question about the Dome's origins is never quite as important as the events that transpire beneath it. This is true of some of the greatest sci-fi stories, where the simple ability to ask "what if?" opens up entirely new avenues to explore the human condition. In the hands of a writer as talented as Stephen King the results speak for themselves.

Click here to order this title:
Under the Dome
RRP: $34.99 Booktopia Price $28.99 SAVE 17%

Juliet Marillier

NZ born author Juliet Marillier has achieved a huge international audience with her elegant historical fantasy novels. Like some of her previous series, Heart's Blood takes inspiration from a traditional fairy tale. In this case it's Beauty and the Beast - and no, you can forget that saccharine sweet Disney version, this is a story with a lot more guts to it.

Set in 12th Century Ireland as the Anglo-Norman Lords are manoeuvring to wrest control from the High Kings and their chieftains, Heart's Blood centres on the Western settlement of Whistling Tor. Caitrin, a young woman fleeing a life of mental and physical abuse, seeks shelter in the village and learns of its cursed history. For nearly a hundred years the Tor has been haunted by an uncanny host of beings that whisper from the mist and lure victims away from safety.

In the crumbling fortress on the Tor the reviled Chieftain, Anluan, secludes himself away, disfigured from a palsy in his youth and convinced of his own uselessness. Taking work as a scribe in the fortress, Caitrin gradually  uncovers the secrets of Whistling Tor and begins to fall in love with Anluan. The bitter sweet romance between these two beats at the heart of this atmospheric and twisted fairy/ghost story.  

Another mesmerising story from Marillier with an even more interesting lead character in Caitrin, a girl far more independent and inspiring than the Beauty of the fairy tale, but less idealised than some of Marillier's past heroines.

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Heart's Blood
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price $26.95 SAVE 18%
 Catherine Jinks

The Genius Wars is the exciting and entirely satisfying conclusion to the wonderfully original and fiendishly clever Evil Genius series by Catherine Jinks.

Cadel is finally enjoying a normal life with caring foster parents, a place at university and the freedom to go where he pleases without constant surveillance. Prosper English may have escaped from gaol but he has gone underground for nine months and it appears that as long as Cadel keeps his nose out of his business, Prosper will return the favour.

But when Prosper reveals himself again, appearing in CCTV footage around Sydney, Cadel is pulled unwillingly back into hiding. And then, as strange accidents begin to endanger the lives of his closest friends, Cadel realises Prosper has not forgotten about him at all. He alone knows Prosper well enough to be able to stop him and he'll need to call on all his training as an evil genius to  guess what he's up to - if only the police would stop treating him like a kid!

I devoured both the first two books in this series and my only disappointment in reading The Genius Wars is that this appears to be the final instalment. Catherine Jinks has outdone herself with the technical wizardry and cunning machinations in this book and, as always, the characterisation of Cadel, Sonja and their friends is an absolute joy to read. Plus, I always love the Sydney setting but the scenes in UNSW were an absolute bonus for an old alumni like me.

Click here to order this title:
The Genius Wars
RRP: $18.99 Booktopia Price $15.95 SAVE 16%
de Pierres

The third and penultimate book in the ingeniously constructed The Sentients of Orion space opera series, Mirror Space is choreographed perfectly to set up the world shattering finale in Transformation Space.

Each book in The Sentients of Orion has improved on the one before it as the scope and connections between the different story strands begin to be revealed. The major focus is the pilot Mira, denied her birthright as the captain of the biozoon Insignia, looking desperately for help to save her home planet of Araldis from the Saqr invasion. She has enlisted the help of the mercenary Rast while Trin and the other survivors on Araldis, continue to search for a safe haven.

And, constantly in the background  Tekton competes against the galaxy's cleverest minds to win the honour of becoming the initiate of Sole, the God entity. This intriguing plot line has bubbled away behind the scenes for the entire series and I am fascinated to see how it will turn out.

Mirror Space is a brilliant continuation of The Sentients of Orion series, lifting it once again to a new level. Can't wait for Transformation Space.

Click here to order this title:
Mirror Space
RRP: $19.99 Booktopia Price $16.50 SAVE 17%
  Keri Arthur

Another penultimate book, Bound to Shadows is the 8th volume in the New York Times best selling Riley Jenson Guardian Series. Keri Arthur ranks up there with the best urban fantasy writers in the world and her half-werewolf, half-vampire Riley Jenson has to be one of the best heroines in the genre.

There is great balance to the Riley Janson books: the crime elements are intelligent and well paced; the fantasy world is well developed but does not fall into the trap of being overly elaborate; Riley's success comes from her quick wits, charm and doggedness (no werewolf pun intended) not from some over-long list of special powers; the relationships are intense but do not overwhelm the plot; and the more *ahem* adult scenes are fresh and exhilarating but worked into the story well, without seeming to be thrown in at random.

Bound to Shadows is one of the best books in the series so far - Riley is maturing as a character and her dialogue is sharp all the way through. With multiple murders to solve, a killer on her tail and both her love interests looking to dominate her, she holds her own with a level head and complete class.

Click here to order this title:
Bound to Shadows
RRP: $19.99 Booktopia Price$16.50 SAVE 17%
With Christmas just around the corner here are some extra-special items for that special Sci-Fi geek or Fantasy lover in your life.

* Please note that stock will be limited for these titles and we recommend ordering as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. *

by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

There are many advantages to this new deluxe heirloom edition of everyone's favourite literary mash-up. For starters there's the beautiful faux-leather hardcover jacket  with gold foil stamping and a ribbon marker that will ensure the book sits comfortably next to all of your invaluable first edition Jane Austen books for generations to come.

But even more exciting, there's a wealth of new material not seen in the original paperback: Seth Grahame-Smith has added 30% more bone-crushing zombie action as well as a preface about his experience writing the world's first literary mash-up; there are 13 new full-colour illustrations; and there's an essay afterward by Dr. Allen Grove, Professor of English Literature at Alfred University.

Most important of all, however, the added weight and impressive solidity provided by the hardcover boards makes the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies Deluxe Edition the perfect blunt weapon to smash an undead's skull in - it may just save your life when the zombie plague returns!

Click here to order this title:
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Deluxe Edition
RRP: $39.95 Booktopia Price $30.95 SAVE 22%

by Philip Reeve

Loyal readers of this newsletter will have picked up by now my eternal undying love for this incredible series - and I'm not the only one. With only a handful of these exquisite signed and numbered editions available in Australia you really have to be quick to get your steam punk-loving hands on one. (Ahem... Mum, Dad, are you reading this?)

By the by, the entire Mortal Engines Quartet has been re-released with new jackets so it's a perfect time to pick up the series and lose yourself in one of the greatest adventure stories ever told.

While stocks last!

Click here to order this title:
Mortal Engines: Collectors' Edition: Signed & Numbered
RRP: $75.00 Booktopia Price $59.95 SAVE 20%

by Helen McCarthy

Osamu Tezuka is known in the West mainly as the creator of Astro Boy - the seminal anime cartoon that, with the release of the new computer animated movie, has enchanted four generations of fans. But Astro Boy was simply a small part of Tezuka's immense creative output. His impact and influence on post-war pop-culture in Japan is unmatched and there is no English-speaking comic book artist, animator, author or film maker even close in comparison.

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga is a giant slab of a book, sumptuously illustrated and admirably comprehensive as it follows Tezuka's career chronologically. This book is an absolute must for any manga or anime fan but is also a fascinating portrait of one of the most prolific and inspirational artists of the 20th Century. Much of the material within has never been seen outside Japan before and there are also many photos from private collections that haven't been made public even in Japan.

And as if this feast wasn't enough, the book comes with a  45-minute documentary of Tezuka at work. This film has never been released in English before and it is perhaps the highlight of the entire package, revealing Tezuka as a perfectionist and a workaholic completely in love with his art.

Click here to order this title:
The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
RRP: $65.00 Booktopia Price $51.99 SAVE 20%

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Published in the same year that man landed on the moon, The Left Hand of Darkness has in some ways had more impact on writers of science fiction and fantasy than that incredible leap into the frontier of space. A generation of writers credit Ursula Le Guin, and The Left Hand of Darkness in particular, as one of their core influences. Her confrontation of literary themes and contemporary social issues in undeniably science fiction and fantasy novels helped overthrow traditional literary biases towards realism, especially in America with its puritanical origins.

The Left Hand of Darkness is a multi-layered beast and readers consistently find different aspects that resonate in each new reading. Written at the height of the new feminist movement, it is first and foremost a challenge to traditional notions of gender relations and identity. Genly Ai is a man sent  as an emissary to the distant planet known as Winter where he appears utterly strange to the hermaphroditic inhabitants of the wintry planet. He struggles in turn to come to terms with the dual masculinity and femininity present in each of the Winterians.

But 40 years on readers might be less struck by the gender shock of statements such as "The King is pregnant" and more unsettled by the subtle atmosphere of suppressed violence and state-induced paranoia as Ai's offer of communication with his own advanced civilisation is lost amongst the domestic politics of nationalism and regional power struggles. Le Guin also explores what it means to be a traitor and the story of Estraven the Traitor comes back to me regularly as I read the news or hear the term un-patriotic thrown around.

This beautiful 40th Anniversary edition of The Left Hand of Darkness is the perfect gift either for the dedicated fan or for the reader yet to discover this cornerstone of literary sci-fi.

Click here to order this title:
The Left Hand of Darkness: 40th Anniversary Edition
RRP: $29.99 Booktopia Price $23.99 SAVE 20%

by Terry Pratchett

Over a decade before his first Discworld novel in 1983, Terry Pratchett wrote a children's novel called The Carpet People. It featured a tribe of tiny beings, the Munrungs, living in a flat world known as The Carpet. When the tribal village is destroyed in an event known only as 'Fray' they are forced on a quest to find a new home.

Previously described as "The Lord of the Rings on a Rug", The Carpet People shows some of the earliest conceptual and stylistic hints of Pratchett's later Discworld novels. He re-wrote the book in 1991 after his work was more widely known and this new addition has been updated further with a number of Pratchett's own illustrations. Marketed primarily at serious Pratchett fans and collectors, The Illustrated Carpet People is still a wonderfully whimsical and entertaining children's book that will delight young readers every bit as much as we overgrown Discworld tragics.

Click here to order this title:
The Illustrated Carpet People
RRP: $39.95 Booktopia Price $31.95 SAVE 20%

Jesse Bullington

What happens when the Brother's Grimm team up with Quentin Tarantino and Irvine Welsh? Diabolical carnage
of the most grotesque and disturbing kind - but funny too, right, in a sick kind of way? Welcome to the imagination of Jesse Bullington.

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is not for the weak of constitution. Hegel and Manfred Grossbart are two of the most wretched, dislikeable but fascinating characters you will read this year. Travelling across plague-ravaged Europe on a grave-robbing expedition to 'Gyptland', the twin brothers corrupt everyone that has the misfortune to cross their path. Along the way their philosophical musings and twisted moral perspective will appal and delight you in equal measure. 

This is the most exciting kind of debut novel - a book that announces an author with a fresh new style and who is unafraid to take his readers in new, dangerous directions. It's not perfect and it's definitely not for everyone but if you love your horror gruesome, your heroes morally corrupt and your humour dark and sharp, then you cannot go past The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart.

Click here to order this title:
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
RRP: $22.99 Booktopia Price $16.50 SAVE 28%
  Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger describes her first novel as "urbane fantasy" - an apt description for this paranormal Victorian comedy of manners.

In Alexia Tarabotti's London vampires enjoy positions of influence and prestige in the upper echelons of society and werewolves, while considered by some as barely civilised, play crucial roles in the military and policing. Alexia herself is something altogether different - a preternatural, born without a soul, her touch can nullify a supernatural's power.

So when an unexpected vampire tries to bite her at a dinner party Alexia is almost as shocked by his woeful awareness of her soulless condition as she is by his inexcusable lack of etiquette. In the frightfully vulgar scuffle that results, Alexia accidentally kills the vampire with her parasol, bringing her once more to the attention of the bothersome werewolf and chief investigator Lord Maccon.

Alexia - spinster and insufferable blue stocking - is a terrific creation and Carriger has succeeded in mixing some of the best elements of paranormal romance, steam punk, mystery and Victorian comedy of manners to create a new series that stands out  from the pack in today's oversaturated urban fantasy market.

Click here to order this title:
Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel
RRP: $14.95 Booktopia Price $10.50 SAVE 30%


You have never seen the Peter Pan story like this. Surprised by the underlying darkness of J.M Barrie's original Peter Pan stories, Brom was struck by this line in particular:

The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.

This was no Disney cartoon. Yes, Peter was daring and full of mischief, he was an adventurer, quick to smile and always ready to play — but Peter's games often end in blood. He targets children — the broken, the hopeless and the sexually abused — and offers them another life. Tempted through the mists, faerie boys like fourteen-year-old Nick, discover there is always more to lose.

The Child Thief is a haunting and confronting re-working of a childhood classic we all think we know so well. It is an exhilarating illustrated novel, full of monsters, both human and other, both in faerie and in the real world, both adult and child.

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The Child Thief
RRP: $49.99 Booktopia Price $35.99 SAVE 28%

PETER & MAX: A FABLES NOVEL by Bill Willingham

Peter & Max is a publishing first for comic book publisher Vertigo — an illustrated novel. Bill Willingham is the author of the monthly Fables series, one of the most critically successful comic book series of the last decade. The series takes its characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes and other sources and forces them into the real world.

Peter & Max is a stand alone novel set within the Fables world but easily accessed by readers unfamiliar with the comic books. It is the story of the Piper brothers, Peter, the pickled pepper picker, and his older brother Max. Sons in a musical troupe, Peter is the more naturally gifted musician, a fact that Max can never accept. When their father gives the magical family heirloom, a flute named Frost, to Peter, Max goes mad with jealousy and seeks out black magic in his attempt to steal the flute for himself. Descending into madness, he becomes the Pied Piper and Peter is forced to pursue him as he brings death and destruction wherever he goes.

With the black and white illustrations by experienced Fables inker Steve Leialoha adding to the fairy tale charm of the story, Willingham has done a great job transitioning from the shorter comic book medium to the longer, more sustained novel format. If there is any criticism it is only that the first two chapters are blatantly expositional as Willingham tries to bring new readers up to date with his Fables world before launching into the story proper. Don't be put off by this clunky beginning — it's like the safety drill before a parachute jump — just push through it and enjoy the adventure.

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Peter & Max
RRP: $45.00 Booktopia Price $30.95 SAVE 31%

Courtney Bowman &
Cora Frasier

The ever-watchful spoofers down at The Harvard Lampoon know a plump target when they see one and always keep their wits sharpened to cut down any pop-culture tall poppies that outgrow the limits of their literary potential.

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have both come in for the treatment, now Twilight must suffer the dubious honour of a Harvard Lampoon deconstruction.

Belle Goose is the new girl in town in Switchblade Oregon and she's set her sights on Edwart, the shy computer geek who just HAS to be a vampire. Obviously his apparent revulsion towards Belle is proof of the inner turmoil between his demonic thirst for her blood and his human desire to ravish her. Perhaps he'll even do both!

Nightlight brilliantly parodies both the eccentricities of Stephenie Meyer's style as well as the obsessive fan-girls who dream of meeting an Edward Cullen of their own.

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RRP: $14.99 Booktopia Price $11.99
SAVE 20%
  A.E. Moorat

June 19, 1837. 18-year-old Princess Victoria assumes the crown. But keeping the Empire safe carries duties  far darker and more dangerous than the new queen knows.

A diabolical enemy (no, not the French!) is unleashing all manner of hell-hounds, giant rats, vampires, werewolves and flesh-devouring zombies to make a bloody mess of London's cobblestone streets. Fortunately, the plucky Victoria has the armour-clad Maggie Brown, Demon Hunter and Royal Protektor, by her side, as well as her beloved suitor, Prince Albert, a quiet chap with a German accent and secret knowledge about their powerful foe.

Filled with fog, a coronation, corsets, armour, romance, political machinations, tea, sword fights, a frenemy or two, spilled brains, lots of mayhem, and hordes of undead, Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter gives the story of this legendary ruler and her devoted prince a hilarious, demonic twist.

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Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter
RRP: $22.99 Booktopia Price $18.95
SAVE 18%
Launched earlier this year by Harper Collins in the UK, Angry Robot is a new publishing imprint "dedicated to the best in modern adult science fiction, fantasy and everything in between". Sounds like a winning mission statement to me!

They have released nine books so far his year and as you can see below the range is varied, from epic to urban fantasy, science fiction to horror. There will be something to appeal to everyone so take a look and keep your eye out in the future for the Angry Robot logo.

SLIGHTS by Kaaron Warren

Stevie is a killer. After a near-death experience she finds herself in a room with everyone she's ever pissed off. They clutch at her, scratch and tear at her but she finds herself drawn back to this place, again and again which means she has to die, again and again. And she starts to wonder whether other people see the same room when they die. Slights is a deeply intense, disturbing read that digs at our sordid fascination with misery and abuse.

Click here to order this title:
RRP: $20.99 Booktopia Price $16.50 SAVE 21%

MOXYLAND by Lauren Beukes

Moxyland is an ultra-smart thriller about technological progress, and the freedoms it removes. In the near future, four hip young things live in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone’s got to stand up to government inc., whatever the cost. A stunning first novel for fans of Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross.

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RRP: $22.99 Booktopia Price $18.99 SAVE 17%

NEKROPOLIS by Tim Waggoner

Meet Matt Richter. Private eye. Zombie. His mean streets are the city of the dead, the shadowy realm known as Nekropolis. In this first case, Richter must help a delectable half-vampire named Devona recover a legendary artefact known as the Dawnstone, before it’s used to destroy Nekropolis itself. Pulp and proud, Nekropolis is just the first of a trio of fabulous urban fantasies Angry Robot will be bringing you from the mighty Tim Waggoner.

Click here to order this title:
RRP: $20.99 Booktopia Price $16.50 SAVE 21%

THE BOOK OF SECRETS by Chris Roberson

Reporter Spencer Finch is embroiled in the hunt for a missing book, encountering along the way cat burglars and mobsters, hackers and monks. At the same time, he’s trying to make sense of the legacy left him by his late grandfather, a chest of what appear to be magazines from the golden age of pulp fiction, and even earlier. This tremendous modern fantasy is like The Da Vinci Code rewritten by the Coen Brothers.

Click here to order this title:
Book of Secrets
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ANGEL OF DEATH by J. Robert King

The angel of death in Chicago oversees all people in the megalopolis, making sure their deaths fit their lives. Though most deaths naturally do, those that result from serial murder do not, so the angel spends much time trailing a serial killer in his patch. On the trail of one such man, he encounters a cop and falls in love with her. When he is assigned to kill her, though, he has to make a choice between divinity and humanity.

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Angel of Death
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KELL'S LEGEND by Andy Remic

The land of Falanor is invaded by an albino army, the Army of Iron — monstrous harvesters who drain blood from their victims to feed their masters, and the twisted offspring of deviant vachine, the cankers. A small group set off to warn the king: Kell, ancient hero; his granddaughter, Nienna and her friend, Katrina; and the ex-Sword Champion of King Leanoric, Saark, disgraced after his affair with the Queen.

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Kell's Legend
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Sir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker. Saviour?

Pratchett goes swashbuckling in this ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day — a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure. 

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Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero
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WINTER SONG by Colin Harvey

When Karl Allman’s spaceship crashed, he had only one question: “HOW DO I GET OUT OF HERE?” Stranded on a forgotten and primitive colony world, Karl Allman's only hope is in the rumours about an old ship lost somewhere in all the ice. Aided by the outcast Bera, who seeks freedom from the oppressive society that barely holds the failed colony together, Karl's journey is a personal struggle that will throw up plenty of surprises. A vividly described world and a poignant story. Highly recommended.

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Winter Song
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SIXTY-ONE NAILS by Mike Shevdon

There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untainted unless a new hero can be found. Niall Petersen emerges from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground into the hidden world of the Feyre. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too.

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Sixty-One Nails
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Paul McCauley

Paul McCauley is one of the most interesting hard science fiction authors writing today. The Quiet War explored the frontiers of our first colonies in the outer solar system. The extremely harsh conditions breed discipline and ingenuity as the Outers, descendants of refugees from harsh regimes on Earth, invent various ways to sustain themselves.

Back on Earth, politically as fetid as the post climate change environment, fears are raised about the direction the Outer scientists are taking, particularly in the realms of human genetics. This leads to the Quiet War, a pre-emptive strike against the Outers to please the paranoid public and also a secret grab for the Outer's advanced technology.

Gardens of the Sun finds the free Outers on the run and trying to rebuild their lives while the three powers on Earth simultaneously hunt them and squabble amongst themselves for the spoils of war. This sequel is every bit as thought provoking and awe inspiring as its predecessor, taking the question "who decides what it means to be human" even further.

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Gardens of the Sun
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Robert V.S. Redick

It's all aboard the ancient sailing ship Chathrand once again in this imposing sequel to last year's best naval fantasy story, The Red Wolf Conspiracy.

The Chathrand is an immense ship, 600 years old and home to over 700 souls. Sent on a diplomatic mission to secure a peace treaty for the Emperor, there are many aboard, both human and other, with their own agendas.

The Rats and the Ruling Sea opens where The Red Wolf Conspiracy finishes, with the tar boy Pazel and the girl he loves, Thasha, about to be married against her will to seal the peace treaty. Throughout the book we learn more about the central conspiracy, that seems to be orchestrated by the 3000 year old sorcerer Aruni Wytterscorm, and see many of the side plots develop promisingly as well. Most interesting  are the fairy-like stowaways, the Ixchel, who are putting their own plans into action.

This is quickly turning into a terrific adventure series and a must read for lovers of naval fantasy.

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The Rats and the Ruling Sea
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  Katharine Kerr

The Silver Mage is the 15th and final Deverry novel by Katharine Kerr, one of the most under rated series in recent times. First started back in 1986, the Deverry Cycle is set in the mythical realm of Annwn, colonised  2000 years ago by the Devetti, a Gallic tribe escaping the Roman invasion on Earth. Passing through a magical boundary they brought their language and culture to this other-world populated by elves, dragons and other beings.

Katharine Kerr has strived to make every book stand alone but the complex universe she has developed, complete with languages and an impressive historical chronology, makes this, the final book difficult to read first. I would highly recommend going right back to the beginning and reading Daggerspell.

The Silver Mage not only closes the entire Deverry Cycle, but also the story arc of The Silver Wyrm sub series. It is a completely satisfying conclusion to both and will leave long time fans hoping she changes her mind and returns to Deverry again someday.

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The Silver Mage
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Charlaine Harris

If you have only picked up Charlaine Harris' high profile Sookie Stackhouse series then you are missing out on some of her best writing. The Harper Connelly quartet (yes, it looks like this is the final book of four) is a deeper, more thoughtful series that has a stronger edge to it.

The psychic Harper Connelly and her step brother Tolliver have returned home to Texas where the memories of their troubled youth and the continuing family problems are always waiting to greet them. But this visit promises even more stress as the step siblings announce that they are now a couple. There are also some buried family secrets that will finally come to light and change Harper's life forever.

Grave Secret is a bitter-sweet conclusion to this short but potent series. A must for fans of any psychic-related urban fantasy.

And, while we are on the topic, if you haven't yet sunk your teeth into the Sookie Stackhouse series, the True Blood Omnibus is now available with the first three books in the series conveniently in one volume.

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Grave Secret
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  Mike Carey

Catering to the more crime noire end of the urban fantasy genre, Felix Castor is an exorcist who works best when he's at rock bottom - a place he's discovering goes further down than he thought.

The Naming of the Beasts follows on directly from Thicker Than Water and both books have taken the series to another, more intense and frenetic level. With only one more book to go in the series, the trademark sarcastic wit is still there but it's obvious we're getting to the business end.

After the disastrous events at the end of Thicker Than Water Felix is coping with the self-pity and self-loathing by drinking himself stupid. Eventually he is going to need to face up to the reality of the task in front of him however. With so many enemies, both human and demon, Felix must hold onto his friends tight. But his best friend Rafi is now being possessed by a very powerful demon and Felix knows that there is no way to exorcise his friend without killing him.

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The Naming of the Beasts
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THE GATES by John Connolly

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are being enterprising, getting the jump on the rest of the neighbourhood kids by trick-or-treating two nights before Halloween. Only slightly discouraged by their failure, Samuel and his disconcertingly aware dog become intrigued by the strange going-ons at 666 Crowley Ave where a group of adults, who should know better, were mucking about with a book of occult rituals without really considering the consequences. Thus Samuel and Boswell see the gates of hell inadvertently opened and the first demon hordes come forward.

Now it's up to Samuel to raise the alarm, if only his mother would believe him.

The Gates is a wonderful read; extremely funny, the book is peppered with witty footnotes and very entertaining, often quite educational asides on everything from The Divine Comedy to the Large Hadron Collider. Samuel observes everything with a youthful acceptance and a logical practicality that is entirely charming. But the surprise star of the book is the demon Nurd, self proclaimed Scourge of Five Deities, car thief and, as it turns out, quite a decent fellow.

The Gates is a big change of pace for Irish crime writer John Connolly who obviously had a great deal of fun writing for a younger audience. Partway into the book Connolly includes a picture of Albert Einstein with his tongue out and warns his readers against taking themselves too seriously - a perfect image to set the tone of irreverence that makes this book so much fun to read for adolescents and adults alike.

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The Gates
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SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater

In previous books Maggie Stiefvater has stated clearly her attempts to stay close to faerie lore but with her new novel Shiver she has had no qualms about completely re-inventing werewolf mythology. The result is a young adult love story of surprising emotional maturity and tension.

In Mercy Falls Minnesota a wolf pack wanders the Boundary Wood during the winter months but disappears in the Summer. Grace has been obsessed with the wolves since she was attacked by them as a child. One wolf in particular stands out in her memory: the wolf with the yellow eyes. As the other wolves tore at her clothing and nipped at her flesh, the yellow eyed wolf held her gaze, comforting her and distracting her from her fear. Now she looks for the yellow eyed wolf, her wolf, every winter. And he looks for her, coming to the edge of the forest to gaze at her again.

When a group of hunters go into the woods in search of the pack Grace fear for her wolf and tries to distract them. Returning home she finds an injured boy on her doorstep and recognises him immediately as her wolf. She nurses him back to health and together they try to find a way to stop him turning back. And here is Stiefvater's twist on the myth: werewolves are not turned by the full moon but by the temperature. Once winter sets in and the temperature drops below a certain point the human becomes the wolf until the weather warms again. Shiver is a race against the thermometer to find a cure before Grace's wolf, Sam, turns back for what he realises will be the last time.

Comparisons to Twilight are inevitable, with a young girl falling in love with a paranormal boyfriend. But there is a lot more to like about Grace than Bella Swan - she is not passive and helpless in the face of Sam's paranormal powers and is able to help him come to terms with a tragic past. Neither is Sam simply a beautiful monster, a symbol of restrained danger like Ed Cullen, the lusty but abstinent vampire. The love story between the two is every bit as intense but more equal and definitely more verbose (Sam has a poet's soul and Stiefvater is much better with language than Meyer).

All in all, Shiver is a beautiful love story and the beginning of a powerful new bitter-sweet series that will capture young hearts and old.

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Kate Thompson

This is the third and final book in Kate Thompson's enchanting  Tír na n'Óg series, featuring the musical Liddy family.

Each of the books in the series, though featuring the same characters, have a distinctive feel and can be read independently of each other despite featuring the same characters. The New Policeman has a lilting, musical charm to it and remains one of my all time favourite Irish stories. The Last of the High Kings saw more action and had a stronger quest feel to it.

The White Horse Trick sees the boundary between the real world and Tír na n'Óg threatened again, this time by climate change. Intriguing huh? Set in the not too distant future, Ireland has become almost unliveable with constant rain and cut off from oil imports. As famine begins to spread some refugees find their way into the land of eternal youth, creating all sorts of havoc for the King of the Fairies who calls on JJ Liddy to investigate.

This trilogy has largely flown under the radar in Australia, which is a shame because it really is one of those special series that you remember fondly for a long time. Do yourself a favour and have a read it to yourself in a lyrical Irish accent.

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The White Horse Trick
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  Lauren Kate

If you've been to see the movie New Moon you may have seen a clip for this book already. It's no secret that the publishers are targeting the Twilight audience with this one. And no wonder - with so many teenage romantic fantasy books on the shelves, this one does stand out from the crowd.

Seventeen-Year-Old Luce is a new student at Sword & Cross, an unwelcoming boarding/reform school in Savannah, Georgia. Luce’s boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances, and now she carries the guilt over his death with her as she navigates the unfriendly halls at Sword & Cross, where every student seems to have an unpleasant — even evil — history.

It’s only when she sees Daniel, a gorgeous fellow student, that Luce feels there’s a reason to be here — though she doesn’t know what it is. And Daniel’s frosty cold demeanour toward her? It’s really a protective device that he’s used again... and again. For Daniel is a fallen angel, doomed to fall in love with the same girl every 17 years...  and watch her die. And Luce is a fellow immortal, cursed to be reincarnated again and again as a mortal girl who has no idea of who she really is.

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In This Issue

Books of the Month

Giveaway: Ranger's Apprentice latest novel

Aussie SF & Fantasy

Gifts for the Geek: Something Special for Christmas

Great Debut Authors

Graphic Fairytales

Comic Fantasy

Angry Robot: the new name in SF & Fantasy

Best International Science Fiction

Best International Fantasy

Best New Urban Fantasy

Featured Young Adult

Great New Young Adult

World Fantasy Awards

Top Science Fiction Novels of 2009

Top Fantasy Novels of 2009

Top Young Adult Novels of 2009

Top Debut Novels of 2009


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Food & Drink
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Australians dominate the 2009 World Fantasy Awards

Australia's Margo Lanagan and Shaun Tan have both picked up major prizes at this year's World Fantasy Awards in California.

Margo was awarded Joint-Best Novel for her exquisitely written and powerful novel Tender Morsels - a book that makes brilliant use of an idyllic private fantasy world that inevitably must give way before the weight of the real world. Tender Morsels was also the Best Novel Winner at the 2009 Ditmar Awards, Australia's top Fantasy prize.

Tender Morsels
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Shaun Tan was awarded Best Artist as well as being shortlisted for Best Collection with Tales from Outer Suburbia, a magical collection of illustrated short stories for older readers and adults that has won some of the most prestigious Fantasy and Children's Awards in Australia and around the world.

Tales from Outer Suburbia
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Climate Change was a big theme for the year, working its way into the plots of several different novels. We also saw science fiction try to take back some of its literary kudos and, at a time when everyone is even more focused on the future than usual, perhaps the critical dominance of the historical novel is in the past (pardon the pun).

Here are my top picks for the best Science Fiction novels of 2009:
Stephen Baxter
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Margaret Atwood
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Eoin Colfer
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Andrew McGahan
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Iain Banks
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Kage Barker
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Chris Wooding
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China Mieville
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This year had it all, no matter what flavour you like your fantasy: epic, mythical, historical, urban, naval or comic. And we even saw the birth of the literary mash-up. Here are the best of the best from the last year.

Seth Grahame-Smith
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Terry Pratchett
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Robert Jordan
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J.R.R. Tolkien
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Kate Griffin
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Charlaine Harris
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Alex Bell
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Joe Abercrombie
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Stephen Deas
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Adrian Tchaikovsky
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The last few years have seen an explosion in Young Adult literature with some of the most exciting, thought-provoking and gripping stories across all age groups. This year some of these books absolutely blew me away. These ten books in particular are guaranteed to impress.

Patrick Ness
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Suzanne Collins
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Philip Reeve
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John Flanagan
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Karen Brooks
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Scott Westerfield
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Catherine Jinks
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Richard Harland
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Kirsty Murray
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Perhaps most exciting of all were the incredible range of first novels released this year. These are the names you need to watch out for in the near future as they try to turn their brilliant debuts into glittering literary careers.
Reif Larson
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Sam Bowring
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Celine Kiernan
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Mark Charan Newton
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Carie Ryan
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Amanda Downum
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Jonathan L. Howard
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Michelle Zink
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Max Frei
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Glenda Guest
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