Booktopia SF 
& Fantasy Buzz
July/August 2009 | Edition Three
Hello Spec Fiction Readers,

First up this month, our friends at Simon & Schuster are helping us celebrate the release of Winds of Dune with a complete set of Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns to give away. Simply purchase you copy of Winds of Dune to enter. Check out the details below.

I got a little overexcited by some of the books released in July and August and in the end picked four Books of the Month. They're all very different and all are excellent examples of their genre, worth making a fuss over. Ursula Le Guin has written a loving and intelligent re-creation of Virgil's Aeneid that stands out in any genre while Kim Stanley Robinson, also looking to the past, has woven together a beautiful bio-fiction of Galileo Galilei. China Miéville displays his limitless flexibility in a fascinating and thought provoking police procedural the like of which you've never seen before. And Alex Bell impresses with her second novel, a dark fairy tale for adults which continues to grow in your imagination even after you finish reading.

I have featured two debut authors who are sure to go on to bigger and better things. Jonathon L. Howard, with a witty, Faustian tale and Michelle Zink with a brooding historical thriller.

Australian fantasy is in a little golden age at the moment and I always enjoy featuring the best new books from the local scene. You will find reviews of the latest books from K.S. Nikakis, Joel Shepherd, Kim Falconer and K.J. Taylor below.

And of course there are more reviews and news from the world of science fiction and fantasy, including the best new young adult books, the Hugo Award Shortlist and some of the funniest books due out this Christmas.

And remember, as always, every book featured in this newsletter is 20% off the retail price.

Happy reading,
Richard Bilkey
SF & Fantasy Buzz

LAVINIA by Ursula Le Guin

Simply one of the most impressive  novels of the year, in any genre.

Le Guin is the undisputed queen of science fiction and fantasy. Her early works (notably the Hainish Cycle and the Earthsea novels) helped establish science fiction and fantasy as a true literary mode, capable of exploring deeper human truths and sociological trends. She cleared a path for female authors in traditionally male dominated genres and did it all with graceful, meaningful and eminently readable storytelling.

If there is any room for complaint against Le Guin it is that her early novels were so good that she has struggled to match their brilliance since. This is why I am so excited about Lavinia — it is quite possibly the best novel she has ever written and, considering her backlist, that is a very big statement indeed.

Her new book is a masterful retelling of Virgil's The Aeneid, re-imagined from the perspective of Aeneis' wife, Lavinia. Virgil was broadly dismissive of Lavinia in his epic poem, referring to her directly only twice despite the fact that, like Helen of Troy, an entire war is fought over her. An indication of the lack of respect afforded women in Virgil's time, no doubt, but Le Guin saw more in the demure Latin princess who, unlike Helen, took control of her own destiny. Lavinia emerges as a determined and courageous leader, in tune with her people and their natural surroundings.

There is so much to admire in this very mature, well rounded novel but I will limit myself to just a couple of things that I loved. The use of Virgil's ghost, visiting Lavinia from the future to instruct her on her own destiny, was a stroke of meta-storytelling genius. Le Guin also beautifully explores the contrast between Lavinia's pagan spirituality and the Greco Roman gods of Aeneis (and Virgil) providing a wonderful insight into an age of religious and political upheaval.

I can't recommend this book highly enough to anyone and everyone, but particularly if you enjoyed other reworkings of classical myths such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon or David Malouf's recent  literary masterpiece, Ransom.

Click here to buy this book

by China Miéville

One never knows exactly what you are going to get when you pick up a new novel from the genre-breaking China Miéville. His surreal urban stories have defied easy categorisation into straight SF or Fantasy, spawning the entirely distinct sub-genre of “new weird” in his ongoing rebellion against Tolkien-style fantasy. But more than this, Miéville is always looking to experiment with other literary genres and The City & The City is his homage to the classic police procedural.

Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad is investigating the murder of an unidentified woman, at first glance just another unlucky street walker in the decaying city of Beszel. But the more Borlu digs, the more he’s convinced that this woman is not where she’s supposed to be and that he has stumbled across a dangerous conspiracy that could cost him his own life.

And this is where it gets new weird.

Existing side-by-side, in the same physical space as Beszel is its twin city, Ul Qoma. Two cities separated not by geography but by social convention, enforced by the all powerful body known as ‘Breach’. So while one house on a street might be part of Beszel, its neighbour will have an Ul Qoma address. Not only this, but the inhabitants of both houses will go to great lengths to ignore, or ‘unsee’ each other, even as they share the same roads and public spaces. This social division is imprinted from a young age, with children learning to unhear, unsmell and unfeel everything not of their own city and enabled by city-specific colours for instant unrecognition.

Where most authors might reach for the standard SF or Fantasy tropes of parallel or magical worlds to tackle the idea of cultural segregation, Miéville uses the more difficult but exceedingly more powerful approach of an extended metaphor. The result is not only an intense and sustained commentary on self-imposed divisions in modern cities, but also a cracking murder mystery with the likeable and intelligent Inspector Tyador Borlu at its core.

Click here to buy this book.

JASMYN by Alex Bell

This is the second novel by Alex Bell, after her brooding supernatural thriller The Ninth Circle, which stood out as one of the better debut fantasies of last year. Jasmyn is a beautiful, dark fairytale for adults in the style of Juliet Marilier.

Jasmyn's husband Liam has just died of an aneurysm, less than a year after they were married. At his funeral six black swans fall dead from the sky, heralding a series of mysterious events and visits by strange people that unsettle Jasmyn and lead her to investigate their connection with her late husband.

Aided by her cold and inscrutably spiteful brother-in-law Ben, Jasmyn begins to uncover Liam's secret and fantastic double life and gets drawn into a fairytale world of cursed soldiers, eerie castles and potent magic. Set in modern England, it is a story of shrouded identities, murder and stolen love.

Narrated by Jasmyn in the first person, this is an emotionally intense, thoroughly gripping story driven by strong characterisation and a slow-boil plot that draws you in and stays with you well after the final pages.

Alex Bell is definitely a new fantasy author to keep your eye on.

Click here to buy this book.

GALILEO'S DREAM by Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson's name is synonymous with the term "future history", which is used to describe those highly detailed sagas that tend to damage the social lives of hard SF junkies such as yours truly. Galileo's Dream certainly has elements of future history within it  (and I will get to them soon) but  first and foremost, it is a sensitively fictionalised biography of one of the pillars of modern science.

A brilliant mathematician, though naive in politics and other practical affairs, Galileo Galilei struggles to support his family as a tutor and part time inventor. He is fascinated on hearing of the invention of lenses that enable one to view distant objects clearly and soon improves upon the idea and creates his own telescope. His subsequent astronomical observations bring him world-wide scientific recognition and seem to secure his future. But his discoveries, including the four Jovian moons, lead him to revive the heretical notion of Copernicanism, putting him at odds with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

This much will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of science but there's a twist in this version of the story. Just as Galileo's heretical studies put him in danger of being burned at the stake, he begins to suffer from a series of collapses, each lasting for several hours. While in this state he is visited by a recurring dream in which he is brought to the year 3020 as an advisor to a disagreeing group of future scientists. They are debating whether or not to make contact with a new form of life discovered beneath the surface of Europa and have brought Galileo forward in time to act as arbiter. The 'dreams' grant Galileo an insight into the future history of scientific discovery, from Newton to Einstein and beyond. All of these insights are forgotten on awakening, except for the clear knowledge that history tells he will be burned at the stake for speaking the truth.

The heart of Galileo's Dream lies in its evocation of a man prepared to stand up for scientific integrity in the face of religious dogma. But this book is much more than an exercise in scientific hero worship — it paints a mesmerising portrait of a wayward genius and devoted family man whose name and contribution to our understanding of the universe will no doubt still be remembered 1000 years from now.

Click here to buy this book.

Jonathan L. Howard

For fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a brilliantly funny new take on the  Faustian bargain.

Johannes Cabal, scientific genius and renowned intellectual snob, did a deal with the devil. He sold his soul for the ability to control the dead. Unfortunately Johannes soon realises that there's little point being a necromancer without possession of his own soul. But the devil seemed like a sporting fellow — perhaps they could come to some arrangement.
As it turns out the Devil loves a wager. Enlist a hundred new souls in 12 months and Johannes is a free man— the Devil even offers Johannes a travelling circus franchise to help in the endeavour. So, it's a simple matter of raising his vampire brother from the dead, resurrecting a troupe of zombie freak show employees and hitting the road with his Carnival of Discord. If only swindling people out of their souls were that easy!

Cabal's  sarcastic wit slaps you from the page and the nightmarish bureaucracy that is Howard's vision of Hell surpasses even Douglas Adams' Vogons for pencil pushing madness. Exceedingly clever, devilishly funny and wickedly entertaining.

Click here to buy this book.
Michelle Zink

The next big thing from the publisher who discovered Stephenie Meyer, Prophecy of The Sisters is a young adult novel that is certain to bridge the gap into an adult readership just as easily as Twilight. And, for those of you who are suspicious of the kind of publicity hype  I have just regurgitated above, be assured that this book has a lot more going  for it than a good marketing campaign.

Twin sisters Lia and Alice and their younger brother Henry have just been orphaned by the death of their father. Soon after the funeral Lia notices the appearance of a mark on her wrist that grows darker every day. At the same time her relationship with her sister deteriorates rapidly until the two seem to be in direct conflict with each other over every thing they do.

Looking for an explanation for the mark on her wrist, Lia learns of a centuries' old prophecy that pits sister against sister in a battle that could unleash an army of lost souls upon the Earth and herald the end of days.

Haunting and emotionally charged, Prophecy of The Sisters is an  intense, atmospheric novel that  deserves all the readers it can get.

Click here to buy this book.
To celebrate the release of The Winds of Dune and the paperback release of The Ashes of Worlds, publisher Simon & Schuster has generously supplied a complete set of Kevin J. Anderson's The Saga of Seven Suns series to give away. To enter simply purchase a copy of The Winds of Dune and email your order number to

THE WINDS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Written under the working title Jessica of Dune, this is a direct sequel to Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah (1969) and fills in the events leading up to The Children of Dune (1976). As the working title suggests, it focuses on Lady Jessica as she investigates the disappearance of her son, the Emperor Paul Atreides, who is presumed dead after following the Fremen custom of walking into the desert after being blinded.

Frank Herbert left prodigious notes about all aspects of the Dune Universe and The Winds of Dune is the second instalment in The Heroes of Dune series (which is rather precociously being called an 'interquel tetralogy' by Brian Herbert and co-writer Kevin J. Anderson). The idea is to fill in the gaps generously left by Frank Herbert between his original novels. The first of The Heroes of Dune tetralogy was Paul of Dune, released last year, which fills the gap between the original Dune and Dune Messiah.

Obviously The Winds of Dune is not a book to pick up without first having at least read Dune and Dune Messiah. But, for the legions of Dune tragics out there, this provides a fascinating insight into the chaos within the Atreides family and the wider political upheavals caused by Paul's disappearance.

Click here to buy this book.

Click here to enter the draw to win a complete set of The Saga of Seven Suns.

* Remember to include your order number for The Winds of Dune in the body of the email.

THE ASHES OF WORLDS by Kevin J. Anderson

The concluding chapter in Kevin J. Anderson's sprawling space opera series is The Saga of Seven Suns. Anderson does an excellent and thoroughly satisfying job wrapping up all of the loose threads and bringing them to a world shattering finale. This is good old-fashioned space opera, in the tradition of Star Wars and Star Trek, with high action, great adventure and a galaxy of powerful alien races warring for dominance.

Click here to buy this book.

Chris Wooding

Take the diamond-in-the-rough crew from Firefly, throw in some Mortal Engines  steampunk, airship action, a pinch of Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus style magic and mix it all up in a rip-roaring, Pirates of the Caribbean adventure — then you'd be getting close to the all-action fun-fest that is Retribution Falls.

But even that seem to be selling this book short. Chris Wooding has put together plot driven narrative with a cast of surprisingly well developed characters and a magically enhanced Victorian-era world as exciting and enthralling as any other. In short, this is a cut above your average SF adventure, with a depth to the characters and a level of detail to their world that allows you to lose yourself completely in their lives.

Captain Darian Frey does whatever needs be to keep his beloved Ketty Jay in the air. If that means the odd bit of smuggling or piracy to supplement the income, so be it. But when a simple job goes horribly wrong Darian realises he's been set up big time.

This is the first book in a planned series of loosely connected stories based around the pirate crew of the airship Ketty Jay. I doubt I will be the only one eagerly waiting to read them all.

Click here to buy this book.
  Robin Hobb

Following on from the events in The Liveship Traders trilogy, The Dragon Keeper  was originally intended to be a stand alone novel based in a small remote corner of Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings world. The length of the novel was considered too long by the publisher, however, and it has been split into two, with the concluding volume, Dragon Haven, due for release next year.

Dragon Keeper has an intriguing premise: with so few dragons left hopes were high that the small tangle of sea serpents undergoing their transformation in the Rain Wilds would produce healthy adults. Unfortunately they emerge from their cocoons stunted and malformed. It is decided that the deformed dragons must be relocated so, to kill two birds with one stone, a bunch of unwanted  and equally deformed humans are enlisted to shepherd the dragons up river where rumours of an ancient dragon city offer some hope of a haven. But it seems a fool's hope and the outcasts' journey into the treacherous Rain Wilds is intended as banishment, not salvation.

Robin Hobb is on top of her game, turning this sorry troupe of rejects into some of the most endearing and unlikely heroes you could find. Robin Hobb fans won't be disappointed while those new to her writing will find a lot to enjoy as well.

Click here to buy this book.
Fantasy writing is flourishing in Australia these days. Led by established authors such as Garth Nix, Kate Forsythe and Isobel Carmody, the quality of Aussie fantasy just keeps getting better and better. With so much good local fantasy available, I wanted to take some time to highlight some of the best recent releases.


K.S. Nikakis

K.S. Nikakis
actually literally has a PhD in Fantasy Fiction, with her thesis entitled The Use of Narrative in Order to Break the Masculine Dominance Of the Hero Quest. Her debut series, The Kira Chronicles, obviously benefits from her ideas on the subject. Kira is a marvellous character, compelled to undertake a perilous quest to save her besieged, pacifist community. She is a true heroine in her own right, not simply a woman adopting the traditional male hero persona. In Cry of the Marwing, the concluding chapter of the trilogy, she is forced to betray all her principles in order to save her homeland.

The Kira Chronicles is one of those special series that has everything — a gripping story in an expansive and beautifully described world, centred by three dimensional characters with true human drama.

Click here to buy this book.


Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd
has quickly made the transition from up-and-coming-writer-to-watch to an accomplished and reliable spec fiction author. His second series, A Trial of Blood and Steel, has recently been bought in the US by exciting genre publisher Pyr. Tracato, released this month, is the third volume of this politically savvy fantasy quartet. The noble-born swordswoman, Sasha, still struggles under the expectations of her people and against the squabblings of feudal lords, desperate to hold onto power in the face of revolution. And now despite all her best efforts, Rhodia has fallen into war.

sees some side characters from previous books come to the fore, giving the readers fresh perspectives and removing some of the narrative load off Sasha.

Click here to buy this book.


Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer
brings together science and fantasy in her first fiction series, the aptly named Quantum Enchantment trilogy. Set upon two future worlds—a post-apocalyptic Earth and a distant colony on Earth-like Gaela—Falconer plays with technology and magic, quantum theory and astrology, to create a completely original universe where space and time don't always behave the way we think they should.  Portals exist, for example, between the two worlds allowing those with the ability to jump backwards and forwards in space and time. But there's risks involved and playing with time can really mess up your day.

There's some interesting theory behind all of this and Falconer balances it all with aplomb while managing to develop some great characters to boot. The second book, Arrows of Time, is due out this month but you will need to read The Spell of Rosette first if you are going to have any chance understanding it all. For fantasy and science fiction readers looking for something thoughtfully written and original, this is just the ticket.

Click here to buy this book.


K. J. Talyor

K. J. Taylor
is a young author out of Canberra celebrating the release of her second novel and her first foray into adult fantasy fiction. The Dark Griffin takes place in the mythical world of Cymria, where griffins rule side by side with humans. There are problems both political and practical in the sharing of power and high status is afforded to the 'Griffiners', human companions who act as diplomats or ambassadors to the griffins, facilitating communication and smoothing relations between the species.

Arren is a griffiner but, being a Northerner, he is mistrusted and  despised by his colleagues so that, when his griffin dies, his grief and resentment mix dangerously. Then he meets the Black Griffin, a rogue, desperate to escape his gladiatorial enslavement and quick to recognise Arren as the perfect means to an end. The Dark Griffin is a tight psychological fantasy with memorable characters and a fascinating world to explore.

Click here to buy this book.

Jaine Fenn

The follow up to Jaine's well received debut novel Principles of Angels, Consorts of Heaven is set in the same universe and time but follows a different set of characters on a completely new planet. It is unclear whether the plot lines will intersect in the third instalment, entitled The Guardians of Paradise, but both books work beautifully on their own as individual stories.

The setting and characters aren't the only differences readers will notice; Consorts of Heaven seems much closer to fantasy than science fiction, at least in the first half, and the story moves at a more leisurely pace than the high action first book. But the time taken to set up the characters is well worth it and Kerin in particular emerges as one of the better female characters I have read recently.

Kerin is the mother of an autistic child, Damaru, who is tolerated in their community because he is 'skytouched'. This means he can affect matter, a magical ability that brings him to the attention of the religious leaders of their world. When a stranger is discovered by Damaru, Kerin cares for him as he tries to recover his memory. But what he begins to remember puts into question everything Kerin believed about her home, Damaru's abilities and the  entire nature of the universe as she understands it.

Click here to buy this book.
  David Gunn

I confess that when the original Death's Head came out two years ago, I sneered at it. Yes, sneered. Just another pulp far-future military SF action bonanza with no plot to speak of, I said. Well, I was right about most of that — but I was still wrong to sneer.

Death's Head was unbridled fun from beginning to end — the kind of book you should read with a jumbo tub of pop-corn by your side (being careful not to smear too much butter on the pages of course). The series never falls into the trap of taking itself  too seriously, letting us know reassuringly, 'don't worry, you're meant to enjoy this, not analyse it!' So sit back and put genetically enhanced mercenary Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg  in the driver's seat for the ride of your life.

Day of the Damned is the third book in the series. Sven out of favour and in exile for the crime of surviving when he was meant to fail. He awaits the assassin who is sure to arrive soon to carry out his execution. But when he is contacted, he is asked to help save his estranged employer's missing son. He returns from exile to find an empire in chaos.

If you liked the first two Death's Head books, or if you are a fan of unbridled, unashamed military SF action, you're going to love Day of the Damned.

Click here to buy this book.
Max Frei

Translated into English for the first time, The Stranger is the opening instalment in a series that has swept Russia of its feet. With ten volumes and counting, the Labyrinths of Echo series is in turn witty and philosophical, whimsical and intensely dark, and above all, uniquely imaginative.

The narrator, main character and credited author of the series is Max Frei, though it turns out this is a pseudonym for Russian writer Svetlana Martynchik. Max is a 20 something loser. A night owl and social reject, he just can't seem to get his life together in any way. Then one day he is summoned through a dream into a magical parallel world, the City of Echo, where he is recruited into the Department of Absolute Order as a special agent, policing wizardry and other higher magic.

The Stranger is written in seven episodic chapters, each being a case that Max is attempting to solve. It is a very idiosyncratic  book that, much like Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, which rewards patience with in its utterly absorbing world - though does have an action packed plot line. It takes some time to get into the story but Max's dream world is beguilingly charming and full of a peculiar humour that grows on you quietly until you are completely hooked. An utterly unique experience.

Click here to buy this book.
  Joe Abercrombie

This stand-alone follow up to the hugely popular The First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold is a darker than dark revenge thriller that will more than satisfy Joe Abercrombie's growing legion of fans.

Abercrombie has narrowed his focus from the large scale clash of empires of The First Law trilogy down to the war-torn realm of Styria, reminiscent of the feudal City States of Renaissance Italy. Duke Orso of Talins has extended his power throughout Styria thanks to his ruthless mercenary unit, the Thousand Swords, led by Monza Murcatto and her brother Benna.

However, their fame and popularity becomes a concern and the order is given to kill them. But the job is not completed, leaving Monza barely alive but burning for vengeance. With the rest of her team slaughtered, she recruits a new gang of rogues and assassins to murder the seven most powerful people in Styria.

This is not your average revenge story though. With such a morally ambiguous cast, it quickly becomes obvious that there are no true heroes or villains in this world of mercenaries. Alliances shift with the wind, motivations are not what they seem and the twists and turns will lead you to question the very nature of vengeance itself.

Click here to buy this book.


Kelley Armstrong

Set in the same world as Armstrong's Otherworld series, The Awakening is the second part of a young adult urban fantasy featuring teenage necromancer Chloe Saunders.

Chloe is battling to understand and control the powers that awakened in her with the onset of puberty. She is still coming to terms with the revelations about her past and the true origins of her powers (I don't want to spoil the ending of Book 1 by giving too much away) and wants more then ever just to be a normal girl. For one thing, being able to see the dead makes romance tough.

Kelley Armstrong has created a wonderful team of characters in Chloe and her friends. On the run from a group who means to use them for their own ends, the action is strong and the story grips the reader even better than Armstrong's adult novels.

Click here to buy this book.

  P.C. Cast &
Kristin Cast


The fourth  novel in the best-selling House of Night  series from mother and daughter writing team P.C. and Kristin Cast.

15-year-old Zoey Redbird is having a tough time at school. Deserted by nearly all of her friends and dumped by all three of her boyfriends, life sucks pretty hard (although, let's be honest, it's not as though the promiscuous little vampyre-in-training didn't have some of it coming).

But things are getting even more serious. As the vampyres declare war on the humans in retaliation to religious attacks, Chloe feels like a lone opposition voice. But with most of her friends turned against her she seems powerless to stop the tide. And as tensions mount, another evil wakes.

This sexy, soap opera-like series is easy to read and easy to enjoy.

Click here to buy this book.


Fiona McIntosh

Fiona McIntosh is one of Australia's finest fantasy authors and she has created a beautiful story that is aimed at the younger end of the young adult market.

Griff is an apparently ordinary circus boy with the extraordinary ability to hear other people's thoughts. When the circus master tries to use his talents as part of the show, however, the results are disastrous. He runs away from the circus with his friend Tess and her troupe of magical creatures.

Meanwhile the crown Prince Lute is also on the run, from an evil uncle keen for the throne. Griff hears Lute's cries for help and together they try to reclaim the throne.

This is a delightful twist on some old fantasy standards and makes wonderful reading for younger readers 9-13.

Click here to buy this book.
Kirsty Murray

40 years in the future, a plague has destroyed human's ability to conceive females. In the Australian desert the roving bands of outstationers have cut ties with the Colony government, living out a merciless, womanless future in the outback.

In this all male world, young Callum is kidnapped from his fathers' and sold into slavery. Taking his one chance to escape, he finds himself alone and close to death in the desert only to be rescued by someone who shouldn't even be alive: Bo, a young girl living a solitary life as a technohunter with only her pack of faithful roborapters for company.

Pursued by his relentless captors, Callum and Bo seek out the safe haven of Vulture's Gate, not knowing what they will find or who they can trust.

Reminiscent of the Knife of Never Letting Go, with all the grit and action of Mad Max, this is an edge of your seat thrill ride through a disturbing vision of the future. Brilliant from start to finish. Recommended for everyone from 13+ to adults.

Click here to buy this book.
Tad Williams &
Deborah Beal

The husband and wife team of Williams and Beal are well known for their adult fantasy novels and they obviously had a lot of fun writing for a younger age group in this, the first volume of a five part series devoted to life on the ironically named Ordinary Farm.

When Tyler and Lucinda are invited to stay with their grand-uncle Gideon on Ordinary Farm they expected cows and sheep and hay rides. But uncle Gideon is breeding far more interesting (and more dangerous) livestock.

It's a pretty standard children's fantasy set up, used by C.S. Lewis, Enid Blyton and countless authors since — the distant relatives coming to spend summer in the country only to discover fantastic secrets. But The Dragon's of Ordinary Farm succeeds in putting a new spin on a favourite old idea and has a lot of fun on the way. If I have any gripe, it did take a while to get started. But the story soon picks up and the ending is well worth it. Great for ages 9-13.

Click here to buy this book.
  Joseph Delaney

The Wardstone Chronicles, book 6 sees Tom, the Spook's Apprentice, recruited on a dangerous journey to Greece to help prevent the return of the ancient and destructive god Ordeen. The matter is even more urgent since the Devil himself is still loose and the two beings together could herald a new dark age.

But the team that Mam has assembled includes some unwelcome faces — enemies that Tom has fought against to protect the people of his own country. What does Mam want with the Pendle witches or with Mab Moldheel? And can Tom trust them enough to work side-by-side with them?

The Wardstone Chronicles have stood out from the very start as some of the best young adult horror stories of all time. Filled in equal parts with suspense and adventure, Tom's adventures into the darkest corners of magic and the supernatural should never be read after dark.

Perfect for ages 12+.

Click here to buy this book.

Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert & Scott Williams

Echoing the 1986 Superman comic Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Batman #686 is intended to serve as a sort of eulogy, putting to rest all of the various plot lines that have grown up around the Caped Crusader. The fact that DC commissioned comic and fantasy superstar Neil Gaiman to write this landmark edition lets us know straight away that this is going to be no ordinary issue.

And Gaiman, ever the master of the metaphysical and symbolic, has created a platform that does great justice to the many incarnations of the Dark Knight. Rather than restrict himself to one plot line, Gaiman has imagined a funeral, hosted by Alfred and populated by all of Batman's friends and foes through the ages. It is divided into segments, with many different characters recounting their own version of his final demise.

If you are looking for continuity you will have to work hard, but  this is a memorial and Gaiman has captured many different faces of Batman and linked them together with a subtle skill that few authors could hope to match. Such an issue will always create debate but for die hard devotees and casual fans alike, this is a must read edition.

Click here to buy this book

Brian Azzarello, Jim Lee & Scott Williams

A special hardcover collector's edition containing all 12 issues of the Superman: For Tomorrow story arc that ran from June 2004 to May 2005.

Click here to buy this book.


DC Comics have been chronicling both these series, reprinting all the original comics in chronological order. These fantastic collections contain some classic golden age stories from two of the greatest superheroes ever.

Click here to buy the Superman Chronicles Vol 7.

Click here to buy the Batman Chronicles Vol 7.

Science Fiction is one of the few corners of literature where it can honestly be said that the short story format is not only holding on but flourishing. Science Fiction being such a concept-driven genre, the short story is an ideal format to float new ideas and spark inspiration. Compilations such as those below present the reader with a rich and intoxicating feast for the imagination. Short stories are the cutting edge of the science fiction universe, providing room for up-and-coming writers and master authors alike to play freely with new ideas and styles.
Gardner Duzois (Ed)

Proving just how strong and varied space opera can be, this new compilation features a list of favourite space opera authors such as Neil Asher, Sean Williams, John Scalzi and Mike Resnick. But it also includes a few more authors commonly associated with fantasy including Tad Williams and Australian Garth Nix.

This is  a stellar collection of cutting edge space opera compiled by the best science fiction editor in the business.

Available from 20 August 2009.

Click here to pre-order this book.
  Ray Bradbury

This thoughtfully selected collection of short stories written decades apart provides a unique insight into the evolving career of one of the world's iconic SF writers.

This is an eclectic mix of richly human stories, including classic Martian adventures from the golden age of pulp science fiction as well as more down to earth tales. They explore a full range of strong emotion with a keen eye and surprising poetry.

Click here to buy this book
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The countdown is on, in the lead up to Christmas, to some of the most anticipated books of the year. Here are the three comic fantasy books that I personally can't wait to get a hold of:

Terry Pratchett
The 32nd Discworld novel. Need I say more? Reading the new Pratchett in hardcover is an annual ritual that never fails to deliver. With the news about his althziemers last year, every new Discworld novel is a blessing and I intend to savour it.

Due: 3 October

Click here to pre-order this book.


Eoin Colfer
Eion Colfer was specially chosen by Douglas Adams' estate to write a new chapter to the incomparable Hitchhiker series. Expectations are high and I can't imagine how Colfer plans to do justice to such brilliance, but you can bet I'll be dropping everything else once I get my hands on this little beauty.

Due: 11 October

Click here to pre-order this book.


Jasper Fforde
A new series from the genius who gave us the Prose Portal, Jurisfiction and Nursery Crime. I'd read Jasper Fforde's shopping lists if they published them. And by the way, if you haven't read The Eyre Affair yet, you really have no way of knowing how dull your life is right now.

This book is available for pre-order, click here, just remember you will be waiting for a while yet!

Due: 1 Jan 2010


This month's movers and shakers in the world of SF & Fantasy.
Stephenie Meyer
Charlaine Harris
Seth Grahame-Smith
Laurell K. Hamilton
Patrick Ness
Various Authors
Michael Scott
Mark Charan Newton
Richard Harland
Patrick Ness

Stephen Baxter takes us aboard the Ark, a generation ship launched in the wake of the events of his apocalyptic novel Flood.

And speaking of the end of days, Mark Chadbourn has a mythological take on the apocalypse with an intense new epic fantasy, Destroyer of Worlds.

Kate Elliott is releasing the third volume in her very popular Crossroads series, Traitor's Gate, while Terry Brooks is reviving an old favourite with a new, sixth book, The Princess of Landover from the wonderful Landover series.

And the master, Iain M. Banks has written a politically charged SF crossover that mixes the modern age of terrorism with secret, mystical world of assassins, entitled Transition.

Click on the titles below to pre-order these books.

Stephen Baxter
Mark Chadbourn
Kate Elliott
Terry Brooks
Iain M. Banks

The Hugo Awards are the USA's top Science Fiction and Fantasy prizes. The winners will be announced next week. Here are the nominations for best novel:

Neal Stephenson
Neil Gaiman
Cory Doctorow
Charles Stross
John Scalzi