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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Spotlight on Three Tor 2013 Titles: Marie Brennan, M.C. Planck and R. S. Belcher (with comments by Liviu Suciu)

"You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever"

In February 2013, the unexpectedly charming book A Natural History of Dragons, subtitled A Memoir by Lady Trent  by Marie Brennan will be published. Similar in style and world building with the wonderful All Men of Genius by Lev Rosen, though this time there are dragons instead of crazy inventions and the lady in cause marries a naturalist and goes on expedition with him at least to start with, rather than going to college disguised as her twin brother as in All Men of Genius...

I read some 100 pages so far and as mentioned the book is really fun and charming; expect first impressions on Goodreads soon and a review next January/February.

The first paragraph (earc so possible to change in the final version):

"Not a day goes by that the post does not bring me at least one letter from a young person (or sometimes one not so young) who wishes to follow in my footsteps and become a dragon naturalist. Nowadays, of course, the field is quite respectable, with university courses and intellectual societies putting out fat volumes titled Proceedings of some meeting or other. Those interested in respectable things, however, attend my lectures. The ones who write to me invariably want to hear about my adventures: my escape from captivity in the swamps of Mouleen, or my role in the great Battle of Keonga, or (most frequently) my flight to the inhospitable heights of the Mrtyahaima peaks, the only place on earth where the secrets of dragonkind could be unlocked."


"Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.

Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren’t always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He’s been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.

While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.

But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity’s concerns."

In January 2013, the hard sf/space opera debut The Kassa Gambit by M. C. Planck will be out. I only took a look so far and the book reads reasonably well so I definitely plan to give it a serious try soon. I cannot say yet if the book is a planetary adventure or closer to epic space opera, but the first pages I checked had rhythm and the jargon was limited and acceptable. 

The first paragraph (earc so possible to change in the final version):

"Dropping out of node-space, Prudence instinctively knew there was trouble. Seconds later the computer complained there were no navigation beacons, and after a moment, that there was no radio chatter at all. But she already knew.

She flipped the switch and shut off her own radio signature. Should have done it when the feeling struck, but she hadn’t wanted to believe. Hadn’t wanted it to be real."


"Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation."

Also in January 2013, another debut, The Six Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher will be published. While the title is cool and I like the cover, the novel is not really my cup of tea, but Mihir expressed a great interest so there is a good chance you will see a review of it here too.

The first paragraph (earc so possible to change in the final version):

"The Nevada sun bit into Jim Negrey like a rattlesnake. It was noon. He shuffled forward, fighting gravity and exhaustion, his will keeping him upright and moving. His mouth was full of the rusty taste of old fear; his stomach had given up complaining about the absence of food days ago. His hands wrapped around the leather reins, using them to lead Promise ever forward. They were a lifeline, helping him to keep standing, keep walking."


Note:  I decided to include the first paragraph of each of the three books as together with the blurb they clearly defined my interest - the Marie Brennan book is an asap read based on the writing style, the M.C. Planck is a serious try to read at some relatively soon point, but not yet as the writing style is fairly standard sf, while the R.C Belcher is not of that much interest for me as Western stuff with/without magic rarely is, while the writing just doesn't have anything to change that.


Jamie Gibbs said...

I love the sound of "A Natural History of Dragons" - it's a shame it's not being released before CHristmas, that would have made for an easy present :)


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