Posts Tagged ‘Abbadon’

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A collection of fourteen short stories about the ever popular and evolving Sherlock Holmes, I just read Jamie Wyman’s A Scandal in Hobohemia. Published by Solaris, the anthology looks set to be a must read if all the stories are as satisfying and creative as Wyman’s. And, as you can expect from a publisher as innovative as Solaris/Abaddon, these are not your usual, run of the mill Victorian fodder.

Wyman deftly introduces setting and character in her opening paragraphs, slowly revealing a ‘Watson’ looking for answers in a travelling carnival in the US. Signified by his injured leg, Jim Dandy (our Watson) is trying to question an old palm reader and soothsayer about the whereabouts of a man. Yet, nothing is as it seems.

The classic Holmesian tricks and deceptions are all there but Wyman adds a few neat ploys of her own. The writing is wonderful and it’s a great introduction to the collection. Precise and neat yet immensely engaging, it’s a great example of the craft of short story telling. Plus, it left me hankering for some more alt-Sherlock.

Review copy
Published by Solaris

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Described as a reimagining of colonial India, Eric Brown has turned his sights on steampunk with an intriguing premise. Check out the press release and blurb below.

The first title in the series – Jani and the Greater Game – releases this July and follows bold protagonist Janisha Chaterjee as she uncovers the secret behind the mysterious power source known as Annapurnite, which sits at the centre of the British Empire and drives the British, Russian and Chinese political stand-off that is the “Greater Game.

Eighteen-year-old Janisha Chatterjee is returning to the death bed of her ailing father when her airship is attacked and wrecked. Saved from the debris of the ship by a stranger, she is entrusted with a mysterious device that finds her pitched into the centre of the international conflict.

Dodging British officers, Russian spies, and the dangerous priest Durga Das, Jani must bring the device to home of Annapurnite at the foot of the Himalayas, and what she learns there will be a truth that changes the world of the Empire forever

I haven’t read much steampunk but the stuff I have has been lots of fun. With Eric Brown at the helm (and with such a cool cover), I think this could well get a read soon.

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Based on the best selling comic book Kingdom created by Dan Abnett and artist Richard Elson, Fiefdom returns to that world with an original story set one hundred years after the 2000 AD series. I’ve only read one of Abnett’s novels before (a battered second hand copy of a Black Library book bought at a boot sale) but the man is a prolific and touted writer. That, and the fact that I was caught with only this in ebook format available to read on my phone, made for an easy and very enjoyable choice. Check out the blurb.

Evelyn War is a Believer. She knows that in the Old Time, long before the Time of Ice, the Masters fought a war with Them. But in the frozen
ruins of Berlin, Them have not been seen for many
years and now the Aux fight among themselves
and say all that was just stories.
But the ice is melting and the whistling call of Them can be heard in the tunnels of the U-Bahn once more. She knows that the stories are not just lessons in the ways of war. Them were real.

Though Fiefdom is based on a comic book, it reads like a stand alone novel (and even, hopefully, the start of a series). The authors cleverly set the scene and introduce some important factors without any clumsy info dumps. Set in a post-apocalypse Berlin, the novel centres around the ‘Zoo pack’ and Evelyn War whose recently deceased father was a ‘Hearer’ of the Masters voice.

It quickly becomes clear that the pack is a group of dog-human hybrid warriors descended from a long line of soldiers, engineered and bred by humans to fight a terrible enemy. Using the idea of fire-side stories and legends to explain their histories and continue their teachings, it seems that these warriors have lost their connection to the Masters. Living in old, underground train tunnels, the dog warriors have formed packs with tribal territories. However, history is set to repeat itself. The frozen wastelands above ground are thawing and the ice age is coming to an end, and with it the emergence an old and fearsome enemy.

In a way, Fiefdom is pulp fiction at its absolute best. It’s a fast, high energy story full of conflict and explosive action. The plot is a straight shot whilst the characters and the setting are superb. The authors use a narrative trick that, though slight, imbues the soldiers with a canine-human hybrid quality and the tribal idea of the pack, with its Alpha males, hierarchies and territories truly paints a picture. As the threat of the ‘Them’ turns from myth to reality and the tunnels cease to be safe, the book hits an unstoppable pace. I literally didn’t put the novel down until I’d consumed it whole.

The authors’ inventiveness with their characters is brilliant and the action is highly visual. To be honest, if I’d been told ‘hybrid dog soldiers battle giant insects in the underground ruins of Berlin’s train system’ I would have been sold on the book. But, it’s so much more. Yes, there’s gore and frantic battles but there is also a number of deft touches that hints at a greater story and a very creative setting. It’s like a howl in the night; explosive and immediate but hinting at something more impressive and solid at its source.

Review copy
Published by Abaddon

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The first novella in Journal of the Plague Year definitely gets things off to an impressive start. All three of the stories in this collection are set in Abaddon’s shared world Afterblight series where an apocalyptic virus has wiped out humanity, leaving only a tiny percentage of the world’s population – some crazy, some desperate but all trapped in the nightmare of survival. It’s a great setting and has produced some decent novels but Cross’ effort to tell the beginning of the story is noteworthy.

Set on the International Space Station, six characters witness the beginning of the end in perfect isolation as they orbit the Earth. From the first seemingly innocuous reports of a new strain of bird flu, to the horrifying realisation that it is actually a deadly man made virus, the astronauts struggle with the fact of being safe but utterly powerless to help. Stranded two hundred and fifty miles away from the surface, with little chance to communicate to family and friends, things begin to go sour very quickly as tensions rise and arguments boil over.

From the outset, Cross really makes the reader feel immersed in the gravity-free wonder of a space station. Yet, very quickly, that wonder is turned up side down as the protagonist discovers that one of his duties involves an experiment that is suspiciously similar to the virus ravaging Earth. Suddenly, the silence and isolation of the space station becomes a claustrophobic warren as trust and friendship is tested, questioned and, finally, destroyed.

It is a microcosm of madness created to tell the narrative of the virus, brilliantly handled by Cross. The writing is controlled whilst the scientific discussions are extremely realistic, giving the whole novella a very believable and very scary feel. However, it is the sense of dread, slowly constructed by dark airlocks, whirring oxygen fans and radio static that drives the story, making it such a fantastic read.

Review copy
Published by Abbadon

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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.