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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Current SFF Novels of Interest: Jean-Christophe Valtat, Antoine Rouaud, David Hair and Michael Cisco (with comments by Liviu Suciu)

As I have been really slow in reading sff recently - except for my perennial favorite author David Weber whose Like A Mighty Army (Safehold #7 - due February 2014 and full review around then) came a bit unexpectedly a few weeks ago, book which I have read twice since as well as re-reading (large) parts of the whole  series for the nth time - so novels by Gary Gibson (Marauder), Stephen Baxter (Proxima) and Alastair Reynolds (On the Steel Breeze) kind of reproach me from the tablet where they live a bit neglected for now, I decided to do a quick post with four more current sff titles of great interest, hoping that this will spur me to read/review them soon.

"It's 1907 in the icily beautiful New Venice, and the hero of the city's liberation, Brentford Orsini, has been deposed by his arch-rival -- who immediately assigns Brentford and his friends on a dangerous diplomatic mission to Paris.

So, Brentford recruits his old friend and louche counterpart, Gabriel d'Allier, underground chanteuse and suffragette Lillian Lake, and the mysterious Blankbate--former Foreign Legionnaire and leader of the Scavengers, the city's garbage collecting cult--and others, for the mission.

But their mode of transportation--the untested "transaerian psychomotive"--proves faulty and they find themselves transported back in time to Paris 1895 ... before New Venice even existed. What's more, it's a Paris experiencing an unprecedented and crushingly harsh winter.

They soon find themselves involved with some of the city's seediest, most fascinating inhabitants. But between attending soirees at Mallarmé's house, drinking absinthe with Proust, trying to wrestle secrets out of mesmerists, and making fun of the newly-constructed Eiffel Tower, they also find that Paris is a city full of intrigue, suspicion, and danger.

For example, are the anarchists they encounter who are plotting to bomb the still-under construction Sacre Coeur church also the future founders of New Venice? And why are they trying to kill them?

And, as Luminous Chaos turns into another lush adventure told in glorious prose rich in historical allusion, there's the biggest question of them all: How will they ever get home?"

I started Luminous Chaos, Jean-Christophe Valtat's sequel to the awesome Aurorarama (FBC Rv and top 10 of mine in 2010). Picking up a year after the end of the earlier book, this one lacks a little the freshness and originality of the debut but so far it has enough goodies to keep me entertained and the style is the same irreverent one of the first volume. Of course as per blurb, the action soon will move from the Polar regions to Paris where the heroes will travel by "Psychomotives":

"Once the pilot is charged with Od, it is but a matter of channelling the force efficiently. For one thing, Od, as I said, is diamagnetic and can be used for easy levitation. Then, because the two hands of the body are differently Od-polarized, they can rotate two disks in different directions, hence furnishing electromagnetic power, which in turn operates contra-rotating turbines with mobile rotor blades for steering. It’s as simple as that, really.

Brentford was unconvinced, but after all, this was New Venice. He had seen Helen stop Time and a kangaroo with a wolf’s head emit telepathic messages: if he willed it, he could make his disbelief diamagnetic and let it float on thin air."

So I guess I can make my disbelief diamagnetic too and let it float on the air too for what announces to be another superb offering!


"There will be blood. There will be death. This is the path of anger. . .

Dun-Cadal has been drinking his life away for years. Betrayed by his friends - who turned their back on their ideals in favour of a new republic - and grief stricken at the loss of his apprentice, who saved his life on the battlefield and whom he trained as a knight in exchange, he's done with politics, with adventure, and with people.

But people aren't finished with him - not yet. Viola is a young historian looking for the last Emperor's sword, and her search not only brings her to Dun-Cadal, it's also going to embroil them both in a series of assassinations. Because Dun-Cadal's turncoat friends are being murdered, one by one. . . by someone who kills in the unmistakable style of an Imperial assassin. . ."

The Path of Anger, Antoine Rouaud's much hyped world debut in various languages, including the original French (La Voie de la Colere - Le Livre et l'Epee: I) and English with a literal translation of the title, has been a highly expected novel for a long time and now that it is finally out, I plan to get and read it asap.


"The Moontide has come and the Leviathan Bridge stands open: now thrones will shake and hearts will be torn apart in a world at war.

A scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, led by the Inquisition’s windships flying the Sacred Heart, bright banner of the Church’s darkest sons. They are slaughtering and pillaging their way across Antiopia in the name of Emperor Constant. But the emperor’s greatest treasure, the Scytale of Corineus, has slipped through his fingers and his ruthless Inquisitors must scour two continents for the artefact, the source of all magical power.

Against them are the unlikeliest of heroes. Alaron, a failed mage, the gypsy Cymbellea and Ramita, once just a lowly market-girl, have pledged to end the cycle of war and restore peace to Urte.

East and West have clashed before, but this time, as secret factions and cabals emerge from the shadows, the world is about to discover that love, loyalty and truth can be forged into weapons as strong as swords and magic."

Scarlet Tides is the sequel to David Hair's superb series debut, Mage's Blood (FBC Rv and top 25 of mine in 2012). As Mage's Blood is one of those novels that grew on me in time, its sequel became a highly expected book and I plan to get a copy on its publication next week. 


"Member is the account of how Thanks (the narrator) "accidentally recruited" himself into "the cosmic game of Chorncendantra." On a night stroll, he finds himself behind another walker who apparently dies and recovers. The bag carried by the unknown Lazarus passes into his possession. Investigating, he discovers that it contains a dimensional hole to another world. By accident or design, as bearer of the bag, he is now a courier, carrying messages in a cosmos-wide game he does not understand. Arriving at "the Artifact" (a vast and never-finished machine in the form of a world-dividing wall that manufactures time), Thanks attempts to decipher his own role in the game, to determine whether he can ever become, or already is, or never will be, a member."

Despite reading only parts from most of his novels, Michael Cisco is one of the "must" authors for me as he is arguably the most interesting writer of the "weird" subgenre of today - see FBC Rv of Tyrant. So his new novel, Member, out today was another buy on release book and hopefully I will even get to finish it sooner rather than later and review it here. But in any case, even if to read only occasionally, and it's worth having the full Michael Cisco collection always at hand...


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