The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.
This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more.
Over the last almost four years that I’ve been running A Fantastical Librarian, I’ve come to appreciate the art of short form more and more. But most of my short fiction consumption comes from reading anthologies and listening to podcasts such as Escape Pod, PodCastle, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld; most of the fiction published in magazines completely passes me by. And when the email about a review copy for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year volume 8 arrived, it plugged that gap nicely, especially given the fact that I was in the process of putting together my nominations for this year’s Hugo’s. What I found in this continuation of Jonathan Strahan’s series of ‘Best of the Year’-anthologies with a new publisher, was a fantastic set of stories, some of which didn’t completely work for me, but all of them interesting. Below I’ll call out some of the stories I really liked and talk in more detail about my favourites. Continue reading
By 3 April, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, science fiction
A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit.
In a time before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered.
From clues scattered among the island’s mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. Nobody is above suspicion, from the king’s heir to the tribal shaman, from the woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems. Creyak is a place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.
Graham Edwards’ Talus and the Frozen King combines three of my favourite genres into one fascinating tale. The book is a historical crime fantasy, set in an era which I’d not read any books in since reading the first four books in Jean M. Auel’s Children of the Earth series, the Neolithic. As such is more fantasy than historical fiction, a fact corroborated by the author in his Author’s Note, since there just isn’t enough historic fact to create anything but speculative fiction. The Neolithic island community of Creyak did make for an interesting setting and created the ideal stage for what is essentially a locked room mystery. Living on an island without easy access to the main land, means that the murderer is most likely a member of the community. Continue reading
By 24 March, 2014
Posted in crime, fantasy, historical fiction, review
The Great Spa sits on the edge of London, a structure visible from space. The power of Britain on the world stage rests in its monopoly on ‘The Treatment’, a medical procedure which transforms the richest and most powerful into a state of permanent physical youth. The Great Spa is the place where the newly young immortals go to revitalise their aged souls.
In this most secure of facilities, a murder of one of the guests threatens to destabilise the new order, and DCI Oates of the Metropolitan police is called in to investigate. In a single day, Oates must unravel the secrets behind the Treatment and the long-ago disappearance of its creator, passing through a London riven with disorder and corruption. As a night of widespread rioting takes hold of the city, he moves towards a climax which could lead to the destruction of the Great Spa, his own ruin, and the loss of everything he holds most dear.
A science-fictional crime novel set in a near-future London. I was sold on reading The Happier Dead, novelist and play-wright Ivo Stourton’s first SF novel, by those elements alone. Add some fascinating thought exercises about immortality, memory, and morality to that mix and The Happier Dead was a novel that was equal parts riveting action and thought-provoking ideas. Although the ending bothered me somewhat in its sudden shift away from our protagonist Oates, I very much enjoyed this book, both for its story and its prose. Continue reading
By 25 February, 2014
Posted in review, science fiction
A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family’s farm.
Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.
And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.
When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.
Paul Kearney is an author I’ve seen people rave about ever since I started blogging. At the time he was in the middle of publishing his The Macht trilogy and there were a number of bloggers I discovered early on who are huge fans of that series (Looking at you, Speculative Scotsman!). So I was excited to learn that Solaris would be republishing his earlier work and The Macht series. However, based on what I’d read about The Macht, which as I recall it was akin to military fantasy, A Different Kingdom was quite different (no pun intended) than I’d expected. Instead of a raw, hard, military fantasy, this book is a far more traditional fairy tale, though with some very dark elements. Its sensibilities reminded me powerfully of Charles de Lint’s The Little Country though with a darker edge. Continue reading
By 31 January, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
Fergus Sheppard’s world changes forever the day his car crashes near the village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he stays to work at the local stables as he. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.
Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior was ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman; their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.
Fergus discovers that his crash is linked to the excavation, and that the countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.
After reading the synopsis for Saxon’s Bane, the book immediately piqued my interest and I put it on my books-to-look-out-for-list. Then last November, I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff at WFC. We chatted for a bit and I admired the huge helmet that was on display at the Solaris table during his signing. It was a lovely chat, which made me want to read my review copy for Saxon’s Bane even more. It took me a bit longer than I’d planned, but I read the book over Christmas and I’m glad I got to read it before the end of the year so I can include it in my favourite debuts post tomorrow, because it was a wonderful read. Continue reading
By 27 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, review
In the past two and a half weeks I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Winter/Spring 2014 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Tom Pollock’s final book in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets, Douglas Hulick’s long-awaited second book Sworn in Steel and Stephanie Saulter’s Binary, the second book in her ®Evolution series. I also left off repeat offenders who also made the list last time, such as Mark Alder’s Son of the Morning. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently? Continue reading
The following is a guest review by Abhinav Jain of Shadowhawk’s Shade as part of his Advent Calender. You can find my own review of Besieged in the archives.
The first novel in author Rowena Cory Daniells’ The Outcast Chronicles is a sprawling political drama that can very well be likened to Kevin J. Anderson’s Terra Incognita series or George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. It has a similar scope, or the strong foundations of one. It mixes all that in with a species struggle that lies at the core of fantasy fiction: the tussle between men and the more fantastical races such as the Elves and Dwarves. Of course, the “Elves” of Daniells’ The Outcast Chronicles are known as the T’en and they don’t live in woods and forests but in cities, and they are as concerned with “mortal” affairs as are the men, or the Mieren as they are often called by the T’en, or True-Men as they refer to themselves. Continue reading
By 19 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, guest post, review
Each step will lead you closer to your destination, but who, or what, can you expect to meet at journey’s end?
Here are stories of misfits, spectral hitch-hikers, nightmare travel tales and the rogues, freaks and monsters to be found on the road.
The critically acclaimed editor of Magic, The End of The Line and House of Fear has brought together the contemporary masters and mistresses of the weird from around the globe in an anthology of travel tales like no other. Strap on your seatbelt, or shoulder your backpack, and wait for that next ride… into darkness.
Scary stories are still tricky reads for me. The balance between deliciously scary and nightmare-inducing is a thin line. As opposed to End of the Line which was straight-up horror, End of the Road takes road stories on with a slant to the weird, but still there are some pretty scary stories here. However, they stayed firmly on the side of deliciously scary, even if some of them pushed the line quite closely. Continue reading
By 17 December, 2013
Posted in fantasy, horror, review, science fiction
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! Continue reading
By 16 December, 2013
Posted in article, horror, science fiction