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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Four More Notable 2011 Upcoming Novels: Daniel Abraham (2), "James Corey", MJ Locke, Mark Hodder (by Liviu Suciu)

Continuing the upcoming releases 2011 posts (HERE are links to my previous 7 posts on the topic), here are four more novels that are of high interest. I have finished two of them and I am reading the other two with full reviews here in due course, so for now a peak at what they are about.

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In June 2011, Orbit will publish Leviathan Wakes the series debut from established fantasy author Daniel Abraham and newcomer Ty Franck, written under the pen name James Corey. This is Solar System high level adventure set some 2-3 centuries ahead and it is just superb, as good as space sf gets without ftl, with great world building, characters, high drama and lots of action. A superb ending giving a full reading experience put Leviathan Wakes on my provisional top 2011 novel list as top sf and it will be hard to beat in the genre.

Somewhat of a surprise for me, but this novel has everything that made sf my favorite genre for 15+ years and even today when fantasy out-breadths it by a lot and I am quite jaded in it with too many books being "I've seen this already, would have been impressive 10-15 years ago for me", when a special novel like Leviathan Wakes comes, I am reminded why sf is *the* literature of our age, the only literary medium through which our fears and hopes as *the human race* are reflected.

Highly, highly recommended and while the full review will come here later in the year, you can read more about why I rave about this novel on Goodreads (of course the mini review there is rough and not that much edited, just a first impression sketch, but as usual no real spoilers).

Official blurb, accurate as it goes below:

Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship,
The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to
The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.


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And speaking of Daniel Abraham, his traditional fantasy series debut The Dragon's Path will be published in April 2011 by Orbit also. The first novel of The Dagger and the Coin series, this is traditional fantasy at its best; nothing really fancy as world building or story goes, but great execution with characters and world that make a pleasure reading about and one wants to revisit as soon as possible.

For me this was as good as epic secondary world fantasy that is not in the "new gritty/weird/early modern world" style/content goes and another A++ with a guaranteed inclusion on my top 2011 list. While offering a satisfying reading experience from a completeness point of view, this one needs more the sequels for full appreciation than say Leviathan Wakes above since in large parts it sets the stage for what is to come. As usual more rambling thoughts on Goodreads, full review in due course and official blurb - accurate as it goes - below:

"Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.

Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead -- and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.

Cithrin has a job to do -- move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank's wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she's just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?

Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path -- the path of war
"

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In March 2011, Pyr will publish Mark Hodder's The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man (Burton and Swinburne 2).

I am currently reading this and will update here when done with review in due course, but so far this one turned out to be what I expected The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack to be and it was only partly with a quite rough first half followed by a much better second half, though even there with some so-so scenes like villain and hero declaiming stuff when crossing swords.

Here the author hits his stride from page one and while I will have a final evaluation when done, this one is a major improvement as style, pacing and balance go.

Official blurb below:

From a haunted mansion to Bedlam madhouse, South America to Australia, séances to a labyrinth, Burton struggles with opponents and inner demons, as he meets the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Florence Nightingale, and the father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Update Feb 15: The Clockwork Man continues and expands on the Spring Heeled Jack story with which the author debuted; in a quite changed world of 1862, Sir Francis Burton now king's investigator and his assistant Algernon Swinburne, plus a motley cast including beggar/philosopher Herbert Spencer, various policemen and special agents of the Crown have to deal with new threats to "life as we know it" different from the events in the first volume, but related in subtle ways .

Starting innocuously with a robbery, a chase and some interesting events, followed by an excursion into seeming supernatural when Burton is drawn into the investigation of a missing aristocrat supposed return, the novel explodes into full sf action in the last part ending on a great note that promises a lot to come.

As opposed to the somewhat unbalanced first volume, this one is much more coherent and the author manages the transitions between narrative phases much better; there is still a bit of disconnect in the middle when the story jumps a little in time, jump that is quite abrupt breaking the flow of the story, and Burton is still a bit on the wooden side without a clear distinctive personality, but overall The Clockwork Man (A+) is a marked improvement on the first book making me a clear follower of the series for the foreseeable future

Will add the full FBC review in several weeks closer to the publication date


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(cover may change)

In March 2011, Tor will publish "Up Against It", the debut novel from MJ Locke about which I had no idea it existed until my FBC co-editor Robert sent me his review copy as more suited to my taste than his.

The blurb with action on an asteroid in the moderate future seemed "standard sfnal adventure limited resource human grouping in enclosed small habitat, whether asteroid or orbital habitat" as for example Mary Rosenblum's quite good Horizons of 2007 or say the late 90's novels of Howard Hendrix like the recently reissued Standing Wave, so I was unsure if I would be interested - as per my comment about a lot of sf being "read that, done with such, unless the book has something to really attract me" above - but on opening it I was hooked by its style so I am currently reading it too and I plan to have a full review closer to its publication date and an update here when done in the near future.

The official blurb that seems accurate so far below, while I want to emphasize that the book flows superbly so far and it grabbed me from page one which is what I want from an unknown book.

Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System's frontier. They're your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of 'Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans' lives.

Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff's brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant x-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.

In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony's resource manager -- a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She's more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of 'Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty contest competitor. Her maneuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.

4 comments:

Mark Lawrence said...

Leviathan Wakes certainly looks like one to get - I've loved the cover for a while now, so it's good to hear that what's inside matches up!

Liviu said...

I was surprised by how good Leviathan Wakes is; it's a combination of old themes with modern sensibilities, but the execution - world building, style, characters - is superb

shaneo52 said...

Dragon Path & Leviathin Wakes sound great, I know I'll be checking them out!

Elfy said...

Looking forward to The Dragon's Path and while I'm not really an SF person I was kind of considering Leviathan Wakes. Your review may have just swayed me on that one.

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