Not many SFF editors are well-established enough to have an imprint named after themselves. Jo Fletcher is one of those rare editors and in the two years Jo Fletcher Books has been running it has been putting out several great titles, including some of my favourite books of the past two years. So I was really pleased when Jo was gracious enough to answer some questions on JFB and on being an editor. I really enjoyed the chance to learn more about one of the editors whose taste I’ve come to appreciate enormously, I hope you do too. Continue reading
By 21 October, 2013
Posted in interview
According to the Mayan Calendar the world as we know it is about to end – but despite the threat of impending eco-apocalypse, Sydney Travers, an impetuous blonde runaway, is determined to reinvent herself as a top hi-tec fashion model in Seoul. The glitzy Asian metropolis is also a haven for Damien Meadows, an inept drug smuggler and untrained English tutor desperate to buy a fake passport to the planet’s safest terrain. For Lee Mee Hee the road to the city is slick with tears: grieving the loss of her newborn son to famine, she lets a kind Foreign Aid medic smuggle her from North to South Korea in the bottom of a truck.
Assessing all three from a secluded mountain villa is Dr Kim Da Mi, a maverick Korean-American bioengineer with a visionary scheme to redesign humanity and survive the coming catastrophe. Mee Hee and her fellow refugees are offered sanctuary – in return for signing up as surrogate mothers – but convincing prime Caucasian specimens Sydney and Damien to donate their DNA is a more complex procedure. Over a long hot summer, seduction bleeds into coercion and mutual betrayal, until Lucifer’s hammer, the long-prophesied meteor, nears the Earth and the ruthless forces backing Dr Kim demand a sacrifice . . .
Recently I’ve found myself answering “It’s complicated.” more and more when asked how I liked a certain book and Seoul Survivors is the latest in that set. While overall I could see its potential, there were a number of elements in the book that just didn’t work for me and lots of elements that raised questions. This last isn’t really a problem, as I think one of the prime benefits of reading is expanding your mind and making you think about things you wouldn’t encounter in daily life, so Seoul Survivors did its job in that respect. But the elements that didn’t work for me, really didn’t work for me. There will be some spoilers in this review and I have to add a trigger warning for rape as well. Continue reading
By 7 October, 2013
Posted in review, science fiction
When a rotting torso is discovered in the vault of New Scotland Yard, it doesn’t take Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, long to realise that there is a second killer at work in the city where only a few days before, Jack the Ripper brutally murdered two women in one night.
But though just as gruesome, this is the hand of a colder killer, one who lacks Jack’s emotion.
Dr Bond, plagued by insomnia and an unshakeable sense of foreboding, has begun to spend his sleepless nights in a drug-induced haze in the opium dens down by the docks. He’s not the only man who looks like he doesn’t belong there: there is a stranger, a man in a long black coat, who studies the addicts as they dream.
As more headless and limbless torsos find their way into the Thames and Dr Bond becomes obsessed with finding the killer, he begins to suspect the stranger might be the key. His investigations lead him into an unholy alliance, and he starts to wonder: is it a man who has brought mayhem to the streets of London, or a monster?
Most historical crime fiction set in late 1880′s Victorian London is bound to be about that period’s most notorious murderer, Jack the Ripper. In Mayhem, however, Sarah Pinborough breaks the mould by focusing her historical crime fantasy – could a book have been more to my tastes or what? – on the, also never solved, Thames Torso Murders. For all I’ve read about the Ripper, I’d never come across these before and as such I found it a fascinating subject. I really enjoyed this view of London during the time of Jack the Ripper’s activities from an oblique angle. I also like that Pinborough doesn’t really address who Jack might be, other than having one of her secondary characters being a possible suspect. Continue reading
By 27 September, 2013
Posted in crime, fantasy, historical fiction, review
Pen’s life revolves around secrets: the secrets behind her three-month disappearance from school last winter, the secret cause of the scars that mar her face, and, most secret of all, her twin sister Parva: her doppelgänger in London-Under-Glass, the city behind the mirrors.
Pen’s trying to forget Reach, Filius Viae and the Wire Mistress and get back to a normal life, but when Parva vanishes, she has no choice but to seek out London’s stranger side. And when Pen journeys through the mirror, she finds a world where scars will make you beautiful and criminals will kill you for your face – a world in which Pen’s sister was keeping secrets of her own. . .
Last year I reviewed Pollock’s debut The City’s Son, the first book in his The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, and I completely adored it. I loved it so much I had a hard time reviewing it without gushing. And while I love The Glass Republic just as much and its protagonist Pen is amazing, there were some things that bothered me. These were mostly to do with the ending and some smaller details, as the plot is just amazing and I was completely drawn back into Pollock’s very creative world. Continue reading
By 13 September, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
After two years spent as a travelling envoy and bodyguard to his high-born cousin, Ulfar Thormodsson has one last stop to make.
But in the cold, hard town of Stenvik, not everyone is as they seem and strangers can make hard enemies.
Audun Arngrimsson works his forge and lives a secret, solitary life. No one knows about his past, and he’d like to keep it that way. But the Old Gods have other ideas.
While unseen forces move within the town, a young king’s army marches towards Stenvik, intent on raising the banners of the White Christ.
And a Viking fleet of longships brings another, more mysterious enemy from the North.
I love a good Viking tale, though I’ve read far fewer than I would like, so when I saw the announcement of Jo Fletcher’s signing of Snorri Kristjansson for a Viking novel, the first in a trilogy, called Swords of Good Men, I was immediately on board. And the book had everything you might expect from a Viking novel. Vikings! Battle! Blood! Berserkers! But it had more, it also had political machinations, a love story, and the struggle of a world torn between the old gods and the new. Continue reading
By 22 August, 2013
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, review
Surviving the Syndrome meant genetically modifying almost every person on the planet. But norms and gems are different. Gems may have the superpowers that once made them valuable commodities, but they also have more than their share of the disabled, the violent and the psychotic.
After a century of servitude, freedom has come at last for the gems, and not everyone is happy about it. The gemtechs want to turn them back into property. The godgangs want them dead. The norm majority is scared and suspicious, and doesn’t know what it wants.
Eli Walker is the scientist charged with deciding whether gems are truly human, and as extremists on both sides raise the stakes, the conflict descends into violence. He’s running out of time, and with advanced prototypes on the loose, not everyone is who or what they seem. Torn between the intrigues of ruthless executive Zavcka Klist and brilliant, badly deformed gem leader Aryel Morningstar, Eli finds himself searching for a truth that might stop a war.
When I first read the description for Gemsigns in the spring catalogue for Jo Fletcher Books I was immediately intrigued. It sounded quite interesting and post-apocalyptic and more focused on humanity’s development than on hard technical developments. What I hadn’t expected when I started the novel, was how much I would enjoy it. I loved the concept of the gems and the norms and the emancipation of the gems poses one of the most elemental philosophical questions: what makes us human? While the question is formulated a little differently – or rather Eli Walker’s research assignment is to discover what makes us normal – in essence the question isn’t normalcy, but humanity. Continue reading
By 20 August, 2013
Posted in review, science fiction
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. YA books have recaptured my heart and I’ve had a lot of fun (re)discovering the diversity and depth of the books published for this age category. Some of the best books in or out of genre are being published in YA these days. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to another post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. Today it’s time for my Science Fiction and Horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
By 23 June, 2013
Posted in article, horror, science fiction
Welcome to another post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts; this is the second half of the lists. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
By 22 June, 2013
Posted in article, fantasy
Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
By 21 June, 2013
Posted in article, fantasy