Archive for June, 2014

JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR RGB

 

The world ended when The Cull swept through civilisation, killing billions and sparing only those fortunate few blessed with the right blood. But in times of need heroes must rise. Here three fantastic authors lead us into the apocalypse in the latest omnibus in the hit Afterblight Chronicles series.

Abaddon’s shared world series, The Afterblight Chronicles, has been a huge success in the post-apocalypse genre with a number of authors producing great storylines within the setting. This latest collection introduces three debuting sci-fi writers, two of whom (Malcolm Cross and C.B Harvey) have come to the attention of Abbadon’s commissioning editor, David Moore, through its open submission call.The third author, Adrian Tchailovsky, is a prolific fantasy writer – check out his Shadow Apt series – who is cutting his teeth with some great science fiction work under Abaddon. Due for release in the UK in July (and in the US/Canada in August), I’ll definitely be reading this shortly as each novella has already grabbed my interest. Check out the blurbs below.

In Malcolm Cross’ Orbital Decay astronaut Alvin Burrows watches helplessly as the world collapses and the crew on board the Space Station are slowly and gruesomely murdered, one by one. Exiled from Earth by his blood-type, can he use his position to solve the mystery of the “Pandora” experiment in time?

In C.B Harvey’sDead Kelly fugitive Kelly McGuire returns to the lawless city of Melbourne to bring vengeance down upon his old gangmates. McGuire has three jobs to do: be revenged, confront the uncomfortable truths of his past and face the discovery of his own terrible destiny.

In Adrian Tchailovsky’s The Bloody Deluge biochemist Katy Lewkowitzand colleague Dr Emil Weber flee the brutal cult of ‘The New Teutonic Order’ who are set on purging “undesirables;” as they take refuge within the walls of the Jasna Góra monastery a battle of faith ensues that could decide the future of humankind.

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I think I must be missing The Walking Dead a bit too much. My latest read was another fantastic zombie novel, this time the aptly named Dead City by Joe McKinney. It was first published in 2006, playing a great part of the resurgence in zombie literature. I sat reading by my book light whilst looking after my sleeping son and the island of light I occupied in the blacked out room definitely added some atmosphere to the experience.

McKinney sets up the main character, a normal cop, and the action really well. Against a background of hurricanes and desperate refugees, an everyday dispatch call turns out to be the beginning of a zombie invasion. As a police officer himself, McKinney really captures the feel of the patrolman; his everyday routines, his expectations and experience and his subsequent horror as the world falls apart.

The premise of the book revolves around the protagonist, Eddie Hudson, trying to make it across San Antonio to his wife and baby son. It’s a rough ride from the outset. Surviving the first attack, Hudson’s confusion and terror is soon magnified as he finds himself in a pitched battle against a horde of the undead. His fellow officers are equally caught between the protocols of the law and the desperate need to survive. Hudson ends up alone, working his way through a city that is quickly unravelling. Along the way he encounters a particularly selfish and unpleasant character whose ideas about zombies are at odds with the reality of the situation. He also meets up with his old partner and a bit of a buddy cop scenario ensues. The humour and bravado all feel very real, especially against such a visceral and frightening backdrop.

A great factor in McKinney’s book is how unprepared and unremarkable his main actor is. Yes, he’s a cop with a gun but he’s also a new father, a husband and a normal guy not in terribly good shape. All these factors ramp up the tension as he seeks to find his family amid the chaos and seemingly insurmountable odds. As a new father myself there was a particular scene that really grabbed me and, whilst the action was a supercharged hell ride through the apocalypse, McKinney also got just the right balance of gore to humanity to make this into my top zombie novel recommendations.

If you’re interested, the author has a great site explaining his books but beware of the spoilers…

http://joemckinney.wordpress.com/a-readers-guide-to-dead-world/

Published by Pinnicle
My copy

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I was intrigued by the premise of James Thornton’s novel along with the pretty heavy tag line that he is ‘one of ten people who could change the world’. Clearly his work as an environmental lawyer and as a Zen Buddhist priest are reasons behind that statement. Obviously, they also play a huge factor in his novel Sphinx: The Second Coming.

For me the book had a slightly unsettling mix of big ideas and, at times, dislocated execution. However, I was drawn into the story and really wanted to reach the conclusion. Thornton starts his novel with a preface that sets an odd tone, one that doesn’t really have much to do with the story and seemed contradictory to the final act. As I mentioned though, the premise was interesting and what we have is a story that bounces between and interweaves ancient Egypt, the modern world, an alien multiverse and certain super beings that are thought of as ‘gods’.

Thornton sets up the history of the Pharaohs and the pyramids brilliantly, explaining the super beings in terms of gods and magic. Although it has the feel of Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Däniken at times, Thornton does a decent job interweaving different narrative strands into the book which make more sense in the final pages. Interestingly, I found his alien worlds and creatures more believable than the team of Earth based scientists.

Ultimately, this book is about good and evil, right and wrong, especially in a moral and ethical approach to the environment from an individual, collective and political point of view. Some of the author’s tactics seemed heavy handed but the underlying message was clearly well intentioned.

Wrapped up in a great narrative about the Sphinx as a supreme being, aliens battling for the supremacy of peace over chaos, and humans dealing with the messy, politically fraught nature of our being and our planet, you can forgive some of Thornton’s clunky dialogue.

It’s an ambitious book with some huge ideas strewn throughout and Thornton deserves praise for his message of peace, awareness and environmental morality.

Published by Barbican Press
Review copy

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Having spent all weekend climbing up and down a 20ft ladder, fixing render and painting the house, not much reading or blogging was achieved. However, lucky me did get sent a number of great looking books to ease those aching legs and slightly frayed nerves (my son is teething, poor boy and poor wife).

I’ve not had the chance to read Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s previous collaborations – The Long Earth and The Long War but they sound great. More books to add to the list!

I have, however, read Stephanie Saulter’s first offering in her Revolution series and I’m really looking forward to Binary. Check out the blurb below.

Zavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.

Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.

Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after – not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…

Another book that I’m eager to read is Ian McDonald’s Empress of the Sun. The third book in his Planesrunner series, I’d want to read it for the cover artwork alone.

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Finally, I was sent the first two books in Anna Thayer’s The Knight of Eldaran series. The blurb sounds interesting enough for me to add to the To Be Read pile….which is towering…

I’m still reading Sphinx by James Thornton and it’s definitely setting an interesting premise. Review should be up soon (as there is no way I’m going back up the ladder this week). What are you reading?