Book News, Books, News

New Book Releases, Week of May 13th, 2012

Hey all! Here’s this week’s list of fantasy, scifi, and horror books hitting the shelves. Click on the titles to see the covers!

Released Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Born of Silence (The League), by Sherrilyn Kenyon

In a universe where corruption and deception rule all aspects of life, sparks of rebellion threaten to ignite . . .
BORN OF SILENCE
As the Resistance leader, Zarya Starska’s only goal is to topple the government that destroyed her entire family and left her penniless. Her biggest asset is a mysterious man known only as Kere.
But Kere has a dark secret. Born into a world that is as privileged as it is corrupt, his real name is Darling Cruel-and he is heir to the government Zarya wants to overthrow. No one has ever seen the real man behind the legend. No one except Zarya. But when she allows a weapon he designed to be used against his beloved sister, all bets are off.
Betrayed by the Resistance, Darling’s goal is not only to reign, but to kill every Resistance member he can find. Zarya must stop Darling’s reign of terror, but can she reach past his insanity to restore the hero who once fought by her side?

 Diablo III: The Order, by Nate Kenyon

Deckard Cain is the last of the Horadrim, the sole surviving member of a mysterious and legendary order. Assembled by the archangel Tyrael, the Horadrim were charged with the sacred duty of seeking out and vanquishing the three Prime Evils: Diablo (the Lord of Terror), Mephisto (the Lord of Hatred), and Baal (the Lord of Destruction). But that was many years ago. As the decades passed, the Horadrim’s strength diminished, and they fell into obscurity. Now all of their collected history, tactics, and wisdom lie within the aged hands of one man. A man who is growing concerned.

Dark whisperings have begun to fill the air, tales of ancient evil stirring, rumblings of a demonic invasion set to tear the land apart.

Amid the mounting dread, Deckard Cain uncovers startling new information that could bring about the salvation—or ruin—of the mortal world: other remnants of the Horadrim still exist. He must unravel where they have been and why they are hiding from one of their own.

As Cain searches for the lost members of his order, he is thrust into an alliance with an unlikely ally: Leah, an eight-year-old girl feared by many to carry a diabolical curse. What is her secret? How is it tied to the prophesied End of Days? And if there are other living Horadrim, will they be able to stand against oblivion? These are the questions Deckard Cain must answer . . .

. . . before it is too late.

Railsea, by China Mieville

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham’s life that’s about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.
From China Miéville comes a novel for readers of all ages, a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick that confirms his status as “the most original and talented voice to appear in several years.” (Science Fiction Chronicle)

The Shadowmage Trilogy: Twilight of Kerberos Omnibus, by Matthew Sprange

Forced onto the streets of Turnitia after the army destroys his home and murders his parents, Lucius Kane becomes an excellent thief, gaining notoriety in his new profession. Soon drawn into a war between rival thieves guilds, Kane fights for friends and profit but finds himself pulled into the darker and more mysterious world of the Shadowmage. Mercenary practitioners who combine stealth with magic, Shadowmages make the best scouts, infiltrators, spies … and assassins!

This stunning fantasy features a never before seen final part of the Shadowmage Trilogy, completing the saga of Lucius Kane. Much sought after but previously hard-to-find in the USA and Canada the first books in the Twilght of Kerberos

The Testament of Jesse Lamb, by Jane Rogers

A rogue virus that kills pregnant women has been let loose in the world, and nothing less than the survival of the human race is at stake.

Some blame the scientists, others see the hand of God, and still others claim that human arrogance and destructiveness are reaping the punishment they deserve. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl living in extraordinary times. As her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her toward the ultimate act of heroism. She wants her life to make a difference. But is Jessie heroic? Or is she, as her scientist father fears, impressionable, innocent, and incapable of understanding where her actions will lead?

Set in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman’s struggle to become independent of her parents. As the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart, Jessie begins to question her parents’ attitudes, their behavior, and the very world they have bequeathed her.

The Witch of the Labyrinth, by Devin Graham

It has been fourteen years since the defeat of the witch that dwelt deep within the Labyrinth. But now she is back and more dangerous than ever, for her heart is filled with malice and revenge. Revenge for the one who defeated her, Definious. Though, she does not expect Rodrick, son of Definious, to fight back.

The Call of Eirian (The Faelin Chronicles), by C. Aubrey Hall

Faelin twins Diello and Cynthe children of a Fae mother and human father found their lives changed forever the day their parents were brutally murdered by a goblin horde. They discovered that their parents cautious ways hid a lifetime of secrets, including Eirian, a magical sword buried on their farm. Now their little sister has been taken by someone who wants that sword and the ultimate power that comes with it. The twins along with their friends, a goblin boy and a talking wolf pup will have to journey to Embarthi, the realm of the Fae, and seek the family they have never known to find their sister and the truth about their parents mysterious past.

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix

You’d think being a Prince in a vast intergalactic empire would be about as good as it gets. Particularly when Princes are faster, smarter, and stronger than normal humans. Not to mention being mostly immortal.

But it isn’t as great as it sounds. Princes need to be hard to kill—as Khemri learns the minute he becomes one—for they are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Every Prince wants to become Emperor, and the surest way to do so is to kill, dishonor, or sideline any potential competitor. There are rules, but as Khemri discovers, rules can be bent and even broken.

Soon Khemri is drawn into the hidden workings of the Empire and dispatched on a secret mission. In the ruins of space battle he meets a young woman called Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.

But Khemri is a Prince, and even if he wanted to leave the Empire behind, there are forces that have very definite plans for his future. . . .

The Forgetting Curve (Memento Nora), by Angie Smibert

Aiden Nomura likes to open doors, especially using his skills as a hacker to see what’s hidden inside. He just keeps pulling until one cracks open, exposing the flaws. It’s like a game until it isn’t. When a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic opens in Bern, Switzerland, near Aiden’s boarding school, he knows things are changing. Shortly after, bombs go off within quiet, safe Bern. Then Aiden learns that his cousin Winter has had a mental breakdown. He returns to the US immediately. But back home in Hamilton, Winter’s mental state isn’t the only thing that’s different. The city is becoming even stricter, and an underground movement is growing. Aiden slowly cracks open doors in this new world. But behind those doors are things Aiden doesn’t want to see – things about his society, his city, even his own family. Aiden may be the only one who can fix things before someone else gets hurt.

Vampire Kisses 9: Immortal Hearts, by Ellen Schreiber

Athena “Stormy” Sterling is coming to Dullsville, and Raven is both excited and panicked in anticipation of Alexander’s little sister’s visit. Alexander tells Raven that she and his sister have a lot in common, but can the mini-Raven be everything she hopes for? Alexander calls her Stormy for a reason.

Stormy’s visit stirs up the perfect immortal whirlwind. Raven is forced to take a good look at what it would really mean to be a vampire in the Sterling family, aside from some of the things she already loves, like shunning the sun and sleeping in a coffin with Alexander. When Raven compares her life with Stormy’s, she can see that it’s not all starry skies and black roses. But Raven knows she’s always wanted to be a vampire.

Alexander is as romantic and dreamy as ever, and though he keeps showing Raven how much he loves her, will she ultimately be able to convince him that it’s the right thing to turn her?

This final chapter of Vampire Kisses’ nocturnal romance will keep all mortal and immortal hearts racing.

The Weepers: The Other Life, by Susanne Winnacker

Sherry has lived with her family in a bunker for more than three years. Her grandfather’s body has been in the freezer for the last six months, her parents are at each other’s throats and two minutes ago, they ran out of food. Sherry and her father must leave the safety of the bunker. What they find is an empty Los Angeles, destroyed by bombs and haunted by Weepers – savage humans infected with a rabies virus. While searching for food, Sherry’s father disappears and Sherry is saved by Joshua, a hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a vineyard where a handful of survivors are picking up the pieces of their other lives, before the virus changed everything. Sherry must find a way to help her family, stay alive, and decide whether Joshua is their savior or greatest danger as his desire for vengeance threatens them all. This debut novel is a page-turner that is not easy to forget.

All summaries from amazon.com.

Book News, Books, News

New Book Releases, Week of November 20th, 2011

Here are this week’s new fantasy, scifi, and horror book releases:

Released Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

 Hearts of Smoke & Steam (Society of Steam #2), by Andrew P. Mayer

Sir Dennis Darby has been murdered, the Automaton has been destroyed, and Sarah Stanton has turned her back on a life of privilege and comfort to try and find her way in the unforgiving streets of New York. But Lord Eschaton, the villain behind all these events, isn’t finished with her yet. His plans to bring his apocalyptic vision of the future to the world are moving forward, but to complete his scheme he needs the clockwork heart that Sarah still holds.

But she has her own plans for the Automaton’s clockwork heart—Sarah is trying rebuild her mechanical friend, and when she is attacked by The Children of Eschaton, the man comes to her rescue may be the one to make her dreams come true. Emelio Armando is a genius inventor who had hoped to leave his troubles behind when he and his sister left Italy for a life of anonymity in the New World. Now he finds himself falling in love with the fallen society girl, but he is rapidly discovering just how powerful the forces of villainy aligned against her are, and that fulfilling her desires means opening the door to a world of danger that could destroy everything he has built.

THE SOCIETY OF STEAM takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for, and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.

Borderlands: The Fallen, by John Shirley

WHAT KIND OF MAN MAKES A LIVING IN HELL?

His name’s Roland. Soldier class, a former mercenary, he’s on a full-time mission to scrape a living out of the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.

Is he qualified? He’s well armed, he’s ruthless, and he’s tougher than skag hide. And, oh yeah—he’s strapped with some of the most exotic weaponry this side of the Vault, not to mention possessing fists like chunks of steel.

Zac Finn and his wife and young son had better get on the right side of Roland, because a stopover in orbit has turned into a nightmarish fall to the unforgiving landscape of the Borderlands. Zac hopes to find a strange new alien treasure in the Borderlands to turn his down-spiraling life around. But his wife, Marla, and his son, Cal, just want to survive, and reunite, because catastrophe has left them separated by hundreds of klicks. Their chances aren’t good . . . and Roland is all that stands between them and the planet’s kill-crazed Psychos and murderous bandits—not to mention the grotesque primals, giant wyrm squids, insane tunnel rats, voracious skags, brutal bruisers, and ruthless mercs. . . .

An original novel set in the universe of the Rated M for Mature video game created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games.

Micro: A Novel, by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.

In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.

But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.

An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.

Lightspeed: Year One, by Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, et al.

Lightspeed (www.lightspeedmagazine.com) is the critically-acclaimed, online science fiction magazine edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams. Lightspeed publishes all types of science fiction, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. Each month, Lightspeed features a mix of originals and reprints, from a variety of authors – from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven”t heard of yet. Now, in Lightspeed: Year One, you will find all of the fiction published in Lightspeed”s first year, from new stories such as Nebula Award finalists, Vylar Kaftan”s “I”m Alive, I Love You, I”ll See You in Reno” and “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro, and Carrie Vaughn”s Hugo Award-nominee “Amaryllis,” to classic reprints by Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, and more.

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird, by Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, et al.

For more than 80 years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. His themes of cosmic indifference, the utter insignificance of humankind, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history – written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread – remain not only viable motifs, but are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it. In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction – bizarre, subtle, atmospheric, metaphysical, psychological, filled with strange creatures and stranger characters – eldritch, unsettling, evocative, and darkly appealing.

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, by Sarah Monette

The first non-themed collection of critically acclaimed author Sarah Monette”s best short fiction. To paraphrase Hugo-award winner Elizabeth Bear’s introduction: “Monette’s prose is lapidary, her ideas are fantastical and chilling. She has studied the craft of fantastic fiction from the pens of masters and mistresses of the genre. She is a poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outre, and the downright weird. There is nothing else quite like Sarah Monette’s fiction.”

 

 

 

Bad Blood (House of Comarre), by Kristen Painter

Samhain approaches, bringing with it the final melding of the mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows just how much power the night holds…

Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences.

The clock is ticking . . .

 

Saints Astray, by Jacqueline Carey

Fellow orphans, amateur vigilantes, and members of the Santitos, Loup Garron-the fugitive daughter of a genetically engineered “wolf man”-and Pilar Ecchevarria grew up in the military zone of Outpost 12, formerly known as Santa Olivia. But now they’re free, and they want to help the rest of the Santitos escape. During a series of escapades, they discover that Miguel, Loup’s former sparring partner and reprobate surrogate brother, has escaped from Outpost 12 and is testifying on behalf of its forgotten citizens-at least until he disappears from protective custody. Honor drives Loup to rescue Miguel, even though entering the U.S could mean losing her liberty. Pilar vows to help her.

It will take a daring and absurd caper to extricate Miguel from the mess he’s created but Loup is prepared to risk everything… and this time she has help.

Soul Screamers Volume One: My Soul to Lose, My Soul to Take, My Soul to Save, by Rachel Vincent

It starts with a scream….

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent’s compelling Soul Screamers series keeps getting better—here, for the first time, the original stories are compiled into one special volume….

My Soul to Lose

—The prequel: never before in print!—

Kaylee is just your average girl shopping at the mall with friends—until a terrified scream bursts from her that cannot be stopped. Taken to a hospital ward, will she be able to save her mind—and her life?

My Soul to Take

She’s always felt different, but now Kaylee discovers why. The screams that cannot be denied mean that someone near her will die—and she can never save them. Because saving one life means taking another….

My Soul to Save

Going on dates with her boyfriend is still new to Kaylee. But when the singer of the band they’re seeing dies onstage and Kaylee doesn’t scream, she knows something crazy is going on. Soon she discovers souls can indeed be sold….

Released Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations), by Michael J. Sullivan

THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles–until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

BOOKS IN THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS
Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (Wintertide & Percepliquis)

Released Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In the Forests of the Night: The Goblin Wars Book 2, by Kersten Hamilton

The battle against goblinkind continues . . . but which side will Teagan be on?

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends. Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

Unleashed (Wolf Spring Chronicles), by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, the New York Times bestselling authors of the Wicked series, have created an entirely new trilogy with the passion of Twilight and the grandeur of Fallen. The Wolf Springs Chronicles introduces readers to a town of secrets and the new girl who’s about to start believing in werewolves.

 

 

 

 

Descriptions from Amazon.com

 

Book News, Books, News

Amazing Book Excerpts from China Mieville and Catherine Fisher

More book goodness out this week for us bibliophiles to feast on!

Today we’ve got samples from China Mieville’s newest book Embassytown, and Catherine Fisher’s Relic Master: The Dark City.

Not sure what these are about? Here’s the amazon summary for Relic Master: The Dark City, which released Tuesday May 17th:

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Fans of Incarceron are predicted to enjoy this new series. The first six chapters are available in PDF form on Scribd.

China Mieville fans, here’s what Amazon says about Embassytown, which also hit stores this past Tuesday, May 17th:

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—withEmbassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

The Prologue and part of chapter one are below!

****

Prologue

The children of the embassy all saw the boat land. Their teachers and shiftparents had had them painting it for days. One wall of the room had been given over to their ideas. It’s been centuries since any voidcraft vented fire, as they imagined this one doing, but it’s a tradition to represent them with such trails. When I was young, I painted ships the same way.

I looked at the pictures and the man beside me leaned in too. ‘Look,’ I said.

‘See? That’s you.’ A face at the boat’s window.

The man smiled. He gripped a pretend wheel like the simply rendered figure.

‘You have to excuse us,’ I said, nodding at the decorations.

‘We’re a bit parochial.’

‘No, no,’ the pilot said. I was older than him, dressed-up and dropping slang to tell him stories. He enjoyed me flustering him. ‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘that’s not…It is amazing though. Coming here. To the edge. With Lord knows what’s beyond.’ He looked into the Arrival Ball.

There were other parties: seasonals; comings-out; graduations and yearsends; the three Christmases of December; but the Arrival Ball was always the most important. Dictated by the vagaries of trade winds, it was irregular and rare. It had been years since the last.

Diplomacy Hall was crowded. Mingling with the embassy staff were security, teachers and physicians, local artists. There were delegates from isolated outsider communities, hermitfarmers. There were a very few newcomers from the out, in clothes the locals would soon emulate. The crew was due to leave the next day or the one after: Arrival Balls always came at the end of a visit, as if celebrating an arrival and a departure at once. A string septet played. One of the members was my friend Gharda, who saw me and frowned an apology for the unsubtle jig she was halfway through. Young men and women were dancing. They were licensed embarrassments to their bosses and elders, who would themselves, to their younger colleagues’ delight, sometimes sway or turn a humorously stilted pirouette.

By the temporary display of children’s illustrations were Diplomacy Hall’s permanent hangings; oils and gouaches, flat and trid photographs of staff, Ambassadors and attachés, even Hosts. They tracked the city’s history. Creepers reached the height of the paneling to a deco cornice, spread into a thicket canopy. The wood was designed to sustain them. Their leaves were disturbed by thumb-sized vespcams hunting for images to transmit.

A security man I’d been friends with years before waved a brief greeting with his prosthesis. He was silhouetted in a window metres high and wide, which overlooked the city and Lilypad Hill. Behind that slope was the boat, loaded with cargo. Beyond kilometres of roofs, past rotating church-beacons, were the power stations. They had been made uneasy by the landing, and were still skittish, days later. I could see them stamping.

‘That’s you,’ I said, pointing them out to the steersman.

‘That’s your fault.’ He laughed but he was only half-looking. He was distracted by pretty much everything. This was his first descent. I thought I recognised a lieutenant from a previous party. On his last arrival, years before, it had been a mild autumn in the embassy. He’d walked with me through the leaves of the highfloor gardens and stared into the city, where it had not been autumn, nor any other season he could have known.

I walked through smoke from salvers of stimulant resin, and said goodbyes. A few outlanders who’d finished commissions were leaving, and with them a tiny number of locals who’d requested, and been granted, egress.

‘Darling, are you weepy?’ said Kayliegh. I wasn’t. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, and maybe even the day after. And you can . . .’

But she knew that communication would be so difficult it would end. We hugged until she, at least, was a little teary, and laughing too, saying, ‘You of all people, you must know why I’m off,’ and I was saying, ‘I know, you cow, I’m so jealous!’ I could see her thinking, You chose, and it was true. I’d been going to leave, until half a year before, until the last miab had descended, with the shocking news of what, who, was on the way. Even then I’d told myself I’d stick to my plan, head into the out when the next relief came. But it was no real revelation to me when at last the yawl had crossed the sky and left it howling, and I’d realised I was going to stay. Scile, my husband, had probably suspected before I did that I would.

‘When will they be here?’ asked the pilot. He meant the Hosts.

‘Soon,’ I said, having no idea. It wasn’t the Hosts I wanted to see.

Ambassadors had arrived. People came close to them but they didn’t get jostled. There was always space around them, a moat of respect. Outside, rain hit the windows. I’d been able to ascertain nothing of what had been going on behind doors from any of my friends, any usual sources. Only the top bureaucrats and their advisors had met our most important, controversial newcomers, and I was hardly among them. People were glancing at the entrance. I smiled at the pilot. More Ambassadors were entering. I smiled at them, too, until they acknowledged me.

The city Hosts would come before long, and the last of the new arrivals. The captain and the rest of the ship’s crew; the attachés; the consuls and researchers; perhaps a few late immigrants; and the point of all this, the impossible new Ambassador.

Chapter One

When we were young in Embassytown, we played a game with coins and coin-sized crescent offcuts from a workshop. We always did so in the same place, by a particular house, beyond the rialto in a steep-sloping backstreet of tenements, where advertisements turned in colours under the ivy. We played in the smothered light of those old screens, by a wall we christened for the tokens we played with. I remember spinning a heavy two-sou piece on its edge and chanting as it went, turnabout, incline, pigsnout, sunshine, until it wobbled and fell. The face that showed and the word I’d reached when the motion stopped would combine to specify some reward or forfeit.

I see myself clearly in wet spring and in summer, with a deuce in my hand, arguing over interpretations with other girls and with boys. We would never have played elsewhere, though that house, about which and about the inhabitant of which there were stories, could make us uneasy.

Like all children we mapped our hometown carefully, urgently and idiosyncratically. In the market we were less interested in the stalls than in a high cubby left by lost bricks in a wall, which we always failed to reach. I disliked the enormous rock that marked the town’s edge, which had been split and set again with mortar (for a purpose I did not yet know), and the library, the crenellations and armature of which felt unsafe to me.

We all loved the collegium for the smooth plastone of its courtyard, on which tops and hovering toys travelled for metres. We were a hectic little tribe and constables would frequently challenge us, but we needed only say, ‘It’s alright sir, madam, we have to just . . .’ and keep on. We would come fast down the steep and crowded grid of streets, past the houseless automa of Embassytown, with animals running among us or by us on low roofs and, while we might pause to climb trees and vines, we always eventually reached the interstice.

At this edge of town the angles and piazzas of our home alleys were interrupted by at first a few uncanny geometries of Hosts’ buildings; then more and more, until our own were all replaced.

Of course we would try to enter the Host city, where the streets changed their looks, and brick, cement or plasm walls surrendered to other more lively materials. I was sincere in these attempts but comforted that I knew I’d fail.

We’d compete, daring each other to go as far as we could, marking our limits. ‘We’re being chased by wolves, and we have to run,’ or ‘Whoever goes furthest’s vizier,’ we said. I was the third-best southgoer in my gang. In our usual spot, there was a Hostnest in fine alien colours tethered by creaking ropes of muscle to a stockade, that in some affectation the Hosts had fashioned like one of our wicker fences. I’d creep up on it while my friends whistled from the crossroads. See images of me as a child and there’s no surprise: my face then was just my face now not-yet-finished, the same suspicious mouth-pinch or smile, the same squint of effort that sometimes got me laughed at later, and then as now I was rangy and restless. I’d hold my breath and go forward on a lungful through where the airs mixed, past what was not quite a hard border but was still remarkably abrupt a gaseous transition, breezes sculpted with nanotech particle-machines and consummate atmosphere artistry, to write Avice on the white wood. Once on a whim of bravado I patted the nest’s flesh anchor where it interwove the slats. It felt as taut as a gourd. I ran back, gasping, to my friends.

‘You touched it.’ They said that with admiration. I stared at my hand. We would head north to where aeoli blew, and compare our achievements.

A quiet, well-dressed man lived in the house where we played with coins. He was a source of local disquiet. Sometimes he came out while we were gathered. He would regard us and purse his lips in what might have been greeting or disapproval, before he turned and walked.

We thought we understood what he was. We were wrong, of course, but we’d picked up whatever we had from around the place and considered him broken and his presence inappropriate.

‘Hey,’ I said more than once to my friends, when he emerged, pointing at him behind his back, ‘hey.’ We would follow when we were brave, as he walked alleys of hedgerow toward the river or a market, or in the direction of the archive ruins or the Embassy.

Twice I think one of us jeered nervously. Passers-by instantly hushed us.

‘Have some respect,’ an altoysterman told us firmly. He put down his basket of shellfish and aimed a quick cuff at Yohn, who had shouted. The vendor watched the old man’s back. I remember suddenly knowing, though I didn’t have the words to express it, that not all his anger was directed at us, that those tutting in our faces were disapproving, at least in part, of the man.

‘They’re not happy about where he lives,’ said that evening’s shiftfather, Dad Berdan, when I told him about it. I told the story more than once, describing the man we had followed carefully and confusedly, asking the Dad about him. I asked him why the neighbours weren’t happy and he smiled in embarrassment and kissed me goodnight. I stared out of my window and didn’t sleep. I watched the stars and the moons, the glimmering of Wreck.

I can date the following events precisely, as they occurred on the day after my birthday. I was melancholic in a way I’m now amused by. It was late afternoon. It was the third sixteenth of September, a Dominday. I was sitting alone, reflecting on my age (absurd little Buddha!), spinning my birthday money by the coin wall. I heard a door open but I didn’t look up, so it may have been seconds that the man from the house stood before me while I played. When I realised I looked up at him in bewildered alarm.

‘Girl,’ he said. He beckoned. ‘Please come with me.’ I don’t remember considering running. What could I do, it seemed, but obey?

His house was astonishing. There was a long room full of dark colours, cluttered with furniture, screens and figurines.

Things were moving, automa on their tasks. We had creepers on the walls of our nursery but nothing like these shining blackleaved sinews in ogees and spirals so perfect they looked like prints. Paintings covered the walls, and plasmings, their movements altering as we entered. Information changed on screens in antique frames. Hand-sized ghosts moved among pot-plants on a trid like a mother-of-pearl games board.

‘Your friend.’ The man pointed at his sofa. On it lay Yohn.

I said his name. His booted feet were up on the upholstery, his eyes were closed. He was red and wheezing. I looked at the man, afraid that whatever he’d done to Yohn, as he must have done, he would do to me. He did not meet my eyes, instead, fussing with a bottle. ‘They brought him to me,’ he said. He looked around, as if for inspiration on how to speak to me. ‘I’ve called the constables.’ He sat me on a stool by my barely breathing friend and held out a glass of cordial to me. I stared at it suspiciously until he drank from it himself, swallowed and showed me he had by sighing with his mouth open. He put the vessel in my hand. I looked at his neck, but I could not see a link. I sipped what he had given me. ‘The constables are com- ing,’ he said. ‘I heard you playing. I thought it might help him to have a friend with him. You could hold his hand.’ I put the glass down and did so. ‘You could tell him you’re here, tell him he’ll be alright.’

‘Yohn, it’s me, Avice.’ After a silence I patted Yohn on the shoulder. ‘I’m here. You’ll be alright, Yohn.’ My concern was quite real. I looked up for more instructions, and the man shook his head and laughed.

‘Just hold his hand then,’ he said.

‘What happened, sir?’ I said.

‘They found him. He went too far.’

Poor Yohn looked very sick. I knew what he’d done. Yohn was the second-best southgoer in our group. He couldn’t compete with Simmon, the best of all, but Yohn could write his name on the picket fence several slats further than I. Over some weeks I’d strained to hold my breath longer and longer, and my marks had been creeping closer to his. So he must have been secretly practicing. He’d run too far from the breath of the aeoli. I could imagine him gasping, letting his mouth open and sucking in air with the sour bite of the interzone, trying to go back but stumbling with the toxins, the lack of clean oxygen. He might have been down, unconscious, breathing that nasty stew for minutes.

‘They brought him to me,’ the man said again. I made a tiny noise as I suddenly noticed that, half-hidden by a huge ficus, something was moving. I don’t know how I’d failed to see it.

It was a Host. It stepped to the centre of the carpet. I stood immediately, out of the respect I’d been taught and my child’s fear. The Host came forward with its swaying grace, in complicated articulation. It looked at me, I think: I think the constellation of forking skin that was its lustreless eyes regarded me. It extended and reclenched a limb. I thought it was reaching for me.

‘It’s waiting to see the boy’s taken,’ the man said. ‘If he gets better it’ll be because of our Host here. You should say thank you.’

I did so and the man smiled. He squatted beside me, put his hand on my shoulder. Together we looked up at the strangely moving presence. ‘Little egg,’ he said, kindly. ‘You know it can’t hear you? Or, well . . . that it hears you but only as noise?

But you’re a good girl, polite.’ He gave me some inadequately sweet adult confection from a mantlepiece bowl. I crooned over Yohn, and not only because I was told to. I was scared. My poor friend’s skin didn’t feel like skin, and his movements were troubling.

The Host bobbed on its legs. At its feet shuffled a dogsized presence, its companion. The man looked up into what must be the Host’s face. Staring at it, he might have looked regretful, or I might be saying that because of things I later knew.

The Host spoke.

Of course I’d seen its like many times. Some lived in the interstice where we dared ourselves to play. We sometimes found ourselves facing them, as they walked with crablike precision on whatever their tasks were, or even running, with a gait that made them look as if they must fall, though they did not. We saw them tending the flesh walls of their nests, or what we thought of as their pets, those whispering companion animal things. We would quieten abruptly down in their presence and move away from them. We mimicked the careful politeness our shiftparents showed them. Our discomfort, like that of the adults we learned it from, outweighed any curiosity at the strange actions we might see the Hosts performing.

We would hear them speak to each other in their precise tones, so almost like our voices. Later in our lives a few of us might understand some of what they said, but not yet, and never really me. I’d never been so close to one of the Hosts. My fear for Yohn distracted me from all I’d otherwise feel from this proximity to the thing, but I kept it in my sight, so it could not surprise me, so when it rocked closer to me I shied away abruptly and broke off whispering to my friend.

They were not the only exoterres I’d seen. There were exot inhabitants of Embassytown – a few Kedis, a handful of Shur’asi and others – but with those others, while there was strangeness of course there was never that abstraction, that sheer remove one felt from Hosts. One Shur’asi shopkeeper would even joke with us, his accent bizarre but his humour clear.

Later I understood that those immigrants were exclusively from species with which we shared conceptual models, according to various measures. The indigenes, in whose city we had been graciously allowed to build Embassytown, Hosts were cool, incomprehensible presences. Powers like subaltern gods, which sometimes watched us as if we were interesting, curious dust, which provided our biorigging, and to which the Ambassadors alone spoke. We were reminded often that we owed them courtesy. Pass them in the street and we would show the required respect, then run on giggling. Without my friends though I couldn’t camouflage my fear with silliness.

‘It’s asking if the boy’ll be alright,’ the man said. He rubbed his mouth.

‘Colloquially, something like, will he run later or will he cool? It wants to help. It has helped. It probably thinks me rude.’ He sighed. ‘Or mentally ill. Because I won’t answer it. It can see I’m diminished. If your friend doesn’t die it’ll be because it brought him here.’

‘The Hosts found him.’ I could tell the man was trying to speak gently to me. He seemed unpractised. ‘They can come here but they know we can’t leave. They know more or less what we need.’ He pointed at the Host’s pet. ‘They had their engines breathe oxygen into him. Yohn’ll maybe be fine. The constables’ll come soon. Your name’s Avice. Where do you live, Avice?’ I told him. ‘Do you know my name?’ I’d heard it of course. I was unsure of the etiquette of speaking it to him. ‘Bren,’ I said.

‘Bren. That isn’t right. You understand that? You can’t say my name. You might spell it, but you can’t say it. But then I can’t say my name either. Bren is as good as any of us can do. It . . .’ He looked at the Host, which nodded gravely. ‘Now, it can say my name. But that’s no good: it and I can’t speak any more.’ ‘Why did they bring him to you, Sir?’ His house was close to the interstice, to where Yohn had fallen, but hardly adjacent.

‘They know me. They brought your friend to me because though as I say they know me to be lessened in some way they also recognise me. They speak and they must hope I’ll answer them. I’m . . . I must be . . . very confusing to them.’ He smiled. ‘It’s all foolishness I know. Believe me I do know that. Do you know what I am, Avice?’ I nodded. Now, of course, I know that I had no idea what he was, and I’m not sure he did either.

The constables at last arrived with a medical team, and Bren’s room became an impromptu surgery. Yohn was intubated, drugged, monitored. Bren pulled me gently out of the experts’ way. We stood to one side, I, Bren and the Host, its animal tasting my feet with a tongue like a feather. A constable bowed to the Host, which moved its face in response.

‘Thanks for helping your friend, Avice. Perhaps he’ll be fine. And I’ll see you soon, I’m sure. “Turnaround, incline, piggy, sunshine”?’ Bren smiled.

While a constable ushered me out at last, Bren stood with the Host. It had wrapped him in a companionable limb. He did not pull away. They stood in polite silence, both looking at me. At the nursery they fussed over me. Even assured by the officer that I’d done nothing wrong, the staffparents seemed a little suspicious about what I’d got myself into. But they were decent, because they loved us. They could see I was in shock. How could I forget Yohn’s shaking figure? More, how could I forget being quite so close up to the Host, the sounds of its voice? I was haunted by what had been, without question, its precise attention on me.

‘So somebody had drinks with Staff, today, did they?’ my shiftfather teased, as he put me to bed. It was Dad Shemmi, my favourite.

Later in the out I took mild interest in all the varieties of ways to be families. I don’t remember any particular jealousy I, or most other Embassytown children, felt at those of our shiftsiblings whose blood parents at times visited them: it wasn’t in particular our norm there. I never looked into it but I wondered, in later life, whether our shift-and-nursery system continued social practices of Embassytown’s founders (Bremen has for a long time been relaxed about including a variety of mores in its sphere of governance), or if it had been thrown up a little later.

Perhaps in vague social-evolutionary sympathy with the institutional raising of our Ambassadors. No matter. You heard terrible stories from the nurseries from time to time, yes, but then in the out I heard bad stories too, about people raised by those who’d birthed them. On Embassytown we all had our favourites and those we were more scared of, those whose on-duty weeks we relished and those not, those we’d go to for comfort, those for advice, those we’d steal from, and so on: but our shiftparents were good people. Shemmi I loved the most.

‘Why do the people not like Mr Bren living there?’

‘Not Mr Bren, darling, just Bren. They, some of them, don’t think it’s right for him to live like that, in town.’

‘What do you think?’

He paused. ‘I think they’re right. I think it’s . . . unseemly. There are places for the cleaved.’ I’d heard that word before, from Dad Berdan. ‘Retreats just for them, so . . . It’s ugly to see, Avvy. He’s a funny one. Grumpy old sod. Poor man. But it isn’t good to see. That kind of wound.’

It’s disgusting, some of my friends later said. They’d learnt this attitude from less liberal shiftparents. Nasty old cripple should go to the sanatorium. Leave him alone, I’d say, he saved Yohn.

Yohn recovered. His experience didn’t stop our game. I went a little further, a little further over weeks, but I never reached Yohn’s marks. The fruits of his dangerous experiment, a last mark, was metres further than any of his others, the initial letter of his name in a terrible hand. ‘I fainted there,’ he would tell us. ‘I nearly died.’ After his accident he was never able to go nearly so far again. He remained the second-best because of his history, but I could beat him now.

‘How do I spell Bren’s name?’ I asked Dad Shemmi, and he showed me.

‘Bren,’ he said, running his finger along the word: seven letters; four he sounded; three he could not.

 

Embassytown © 2011 China Mieville

 

 

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of May 15th, 2011

Here’s a list of all of sci-fi and fantasy coming out this week.

Released Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Embassytown, by China Mieville

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

Dancing with Bears, by Michael Swanwick

Dancing With Bears follows the adventures of notorious con-men Darger and Surplus: They’ve lied and cheated their way onto the caravan that is delivering a priceless gift from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy. The only thing harder than the journey to Muscovy is their arrival in Muscovy. An audience with the Duke seems impossible to obtain, and Darger and Surplus quickly become entangled in a morass of deceit and revolution. The only thing more dangerous than the convoluted political web surrounding Darger and Surplus is the gift itself, the Pearls of Byzantium, and Zoesophia, the governess sworn to protect their virtue.

 

 

Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince (Tales of the Magatama), by Noriko Ogiwara

Reads L to R (Western Style)

Oguna is an orphan with a secret even he doesn’t know—he’s a prince and heir to a terrible power. His best friend Toko is a member of the Tachibana clan and a potential high priestess able to tame that power…or destroy it.

 

 

 

 

Pax Britannia: Anno Frankenstein, by Jonathan Green

In 1998 Magna Britannia remains the undisputed superpower of the world whereas, since the Second Great European War, Hitler’s Nazi party has been reduced to the status of an underground terrorist movement. But fifty-five years ago… The Nazis are at the height of their power. Much of Europe has fallen beneath their inexorable march, but with the automaton armies of Magna Britannia poised to invade and bring about a swift end to the war, Germany finds its resources stretched to the limit. What Hitler’s legions need now is a miracle. And a miracle may be what they are about to receive; a gift from the future, something that should not exist in the year 1943, for one man has stolen fire from heaven. But another has followed him back from the future to ensure that history follows its pre-determined course. Ulysses Quicksilver finds himself in Anno Frankenstein where the bodies of the fallen are reconstructed and resurrected that they might fight again. Behind enemy lines, Ulysses Quicksilver must infiltrate the most heavily-defended fortress on the planet, and there face an age-old enemy one last time. Should he fail, history will be re-written and Ulysses Quicksilver will cease to exist, having never even been born at all.

Vampire Kisses 8: Cryptic Cravings, by Ellen Schreiber

The morbidly monotonous Dullsville has finally become the most exciting place on earth now that Raven is madly in love with her hot vampire boyfriend, Alexander, and a crew of vampires has taken residence in Dullsville’s old mill. Raven discovers Jagger’s plan to open a new club, the Crypt, right here in Dullsville. But is it her dream come true or her worst nightmare? Raven and Alexander have to figure out what the nefarious vampire has in store for Dullsville’s teen and vampire population. Can Raven convince Jagger to listen to her plans to make the Crypt the morbidly magnificent dance club it could be? Will it be safe for mortals and vampires alike?

And as Sebastian and Luna’s relationship heats up, Raven wonders about her own amorous fate: Will Alexander ever turn her? Does he crave her and does he want to spend eternity together? And what does she really want?

With cryptic secrets and cravings, this eighth installment in the Vampire Kisses series is a romantic and mysterious thrill ride.

Mercy, by Rebecca Lim

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved.Forever searching for answers.Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.

Released Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Could the Empire Kick the Federation’s Ass?, by Matt Forbeck

Could a Jedi knight use his light saber to deflect a beam from a phaser?
Which aliens are cooler: the Cardassians or the Chazrach?
Have any Federation ships ever made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs?
And most important . . . in a fight between the Empire and the Federation, who would win?

Ever since Princess Leia’s starship hove into sight on the silver screen, fans of Star Wars and Star Trek have been debating these questions. Now, side by side, they can line up aliens, technology, story points, weaponry, and heroes from the two great science fiction/fantasy stories of our age.

For fans everywhere, this volume offers detailed information about both universes, as well as trivia, quizzes, quotes, and information drawn from these two iconic settings. So phasers on stun and light sabers at the ready! It’s time for the duel to begin.

Released Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wildfire: A Novel, by Sarah Micklem

The harsh realities of ancient war and a woman’s struggle to break free of male dominance blend brilliantly in this dream-drenched sequel to Micklem’s 2004 debut, Firethorn. Exquisite prose (I had no edges between inside and out) enhances this glowing tapestry narrated by Firethorn, a healer, precognitive dreamer and slave struck by lightning while on a voyage to join her master. Believing she has been branded by the god Ardor Wildfire, she suffers a painful recovery that leaves her with a lopsided face, strange garbled speech and the ability to see shades. Sire Galan still desires her, but her rebellious acts strain their relationship. Then Galan’s adversary, King Arkhyios Corvus, takes Firethorn captive, and her further travails lead her to truly understand the gift of inward fire. Micklem has penned a rich and memorable tribute to endurance and self-enlightenment.

List from Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com