Posts Tagged ‘Solaris Books’

IMG_5227.JPG

The Shield is Earth’s only defence. Rendering the planet invisible from space, it keeps humanity safe – and hidden. The exceptional minds of the Actives maintain the shield; without them, the Shield cannot function.

When an Active called Tobe finds himself caught in a probability loop, the Shield is compromised. Soon, Tobe’s malady spreads among the Active. Earth becomes vulnerable for the first time in a generation.

Tobe’s assistant, Metoo, is only interested in his wellbeing. Earth security’s paramount concern is the preservation of the Shield. As Metoo strives to prevent Tobe’s masters from undermining his fragile equilibrium, humanity is left dangerously exposed…

Savant is an extraordinary book, wonderfully written. It’s unique (and quite possibly one of the best novels I’ve read this year). It’s sci-fi at its most human whilst it’s concern is the human condition dealt with in such a sci-fi setting that it’s almost an enigma. It’s thoughtful and thought provoking.

The setting is slowly sketched out in small ways – there’s no major info dump, no big exposition. We are just there, watching and learning about this future Earth and it’s strange new culture. Academies cater to great minds and, in turn, each ‘master’ is served by companions, assistants and students. Some of these intellectuals are so brilliant that their very being helps to power a shield which protects the planet. However, none of the greater questions are ever really answered.

What we have is a very personal drama, played out on scale that, on one hand, affects the global community whilst, on the other, concerns only Tobe and Metoo. The ‘action’ for what it is, is based within an incident room type setting and suffers no less for it. CCTV-esque operators monitor minds and are themselves observed within a system called ‘Service’. Tobe’s digression into the maths of probability sets off a series of chain reactions within Service, forcing beaurocratic decisions and machinations to react in ever greater yet decreasing ways.

It’s thrilling and intriguing to read. These individuals caught in a system, and a system caught up in its own methodology all trying to deal with a problem that is really like a ghost in the machine. It’s a curious and charming world Nik Abnett has created, and the story of the relationship between Metoo and Tobe is delicately woven. The interaction between the global network of Service and the individual produces a brilliant dichotomy on which to base their narrative.

Savant is a hard book to pin down (and put down). It’s like some of the great sci-fi movies of the 1970’s with their weirdly retro-futuristic settings and their considered approach to the genre. At its heart is a simple story but, in itself, it’s a complex journey into the human mind.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

IMG_4442.JPG

There’s world building and then there’s world building; Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit falls firmly in the latter category. It’s a stunning piece of creativity that melds futuristic ideas of technology and the feel of an epic space opera with the ephemeral and magical vibe of pure fantasy. Add in to that a complicated relationship to mathematics and ideas of game theory, you’ll be somewhere close to what Ninefox Gambit achieves. Yet, it does so much more.

Cheris, a Kel soldier, is made a pawn in the schemes of the ruling hegemony as it seeks to destroy the rot of heresy within one of it’s star system citadels. Shuos Jedao, a long dead, mad general, is a data ghost resurrected and implanted into such pawns to crush uprisings and rebellions. However, Cheris is a formidable mathematician and Jedao is far from insane. Together the pair are forced into a game of far-reaching politics and terrible consequences.

From the outset the application of unique symbols and signifiers, far from the normal tropes of sci-fi, give the novel a wondrous appeal that grips the imagination tighter and tighter as the story gathers pace. While on the surface Cheris and Jedao engage in a siege action against the heretics, where we get to learn more about the math based technology (a fascinating feature) and hierarchy of archetypes (like Kel and Shous) it is the underlying plot that slowly and ominously surfaces to produce such a memorable conclusion.

Yoon Ha Lee possesses an amazing talent for prose, adding a tumbling poetry to the stark rigidness of the society she has created. Yet her ability to weave the story and hide the twists and turns of her plot so effectively was refreshing. Ninefox Gambit is epic fantastic sci-fi at it’s best; it’s full of politics, space warfare, treachery and revenge. The book is an astounding work of creativity, sumptuous writing and thrilling story telling. As the opening of a proposed trilogy, Ninefox Gambit promises to be the start of an awesome series.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

Solaris Books are starting and ending two intriguing series. First up, K. M. McKinley begins with the first volume of The Gates of the Word, The Iron Ship. Emily Gee’s final volume of The Cursed Kingdoms trilogy: The Blood Curse will bookend this spring month for the publisher.

Check out blurbs and covers below..

IMG_2695.JPG

Merchant, industrialist and explorer Trassan Kressind has an audacious plan – combining the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship to navigate an uncrossed ocean, seeking the city of the extinct Morfaan to uncover the secrets of their lost sciences.

Ambition runs strongly in the Kressind family, and for each of Trassan’s siblings fate beckons. Soldier Rel is banished to a vital frontier, bureaucrat Garten balances responsibility with family loyalty, sister Katriona is determined to carve herself a place in a world of men, outcast Guis struggles to contain the energies of his soul, while priest Aarin dabbles in forbidden sorcery.

The world is in turmoil as new money brings new power, and the old social order crumbles. And as mankind’s arts grow stronger, a terror from the ancient past awakens…

IMG_2697.JPG

Those who drink the water shall thirst for blood. They shall be as wild beasts.

A curse is ravaging the Seven Kingdoms. Fugitive Osgaardan prince, Harkeld, is the one person who
can destroy it. Guarded by Sentinel mages, pursued by Fithian assassins, he begins the final—and most dangerous—stage of his quest: entering the cursed kingdom of Sault, where drinking even one drop of water means madness and death.

But the mages aren’t the only travelers heading east. Princess Brigitta, abducted by the Fithians, is also bound for Sault—unless she can escape. And in close pursuit is her loyal armsman, Karel.

Young orphan, Jaumé, is also headed for Sault—where he will be forced to make decisions that will change the fate of the Seven Kingdoms forever.

IMG_2486.JPG

I’ll confess that this book was buried in a box marked ‘to review’ but jumped the line after I read an article in The Guardian praising it as one of the best of the year. I’ve read some great novels in 2014 and Europe in Autumn is definitely up there amongst the best of them. I, unfortunately, don’t remember who wrote that article (thanks!) but I will remember this book.

Europe in Autumn is a slow burn that gathers pace with real style until it’s stunning conclusion. Check out the blurb below…

Rudi is a cook in a Kraków restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career – part spy, part people-smuggler – begins. Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. Recruited by the shadowy organisation Les Coureurs des Bois, Rudi is schooled in espionage, but when a training mission to The Line, a sovereign nation consisting of a trans-Europe railway line, goes wrong, he is arrested and beaten, and Coureur Central must attempt a rescue.

With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him. With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws itself, Europe in Autumn is a science fiction thriller like no other.

What begins as an espionage-esque thriller with an intriguing protagonist bumbling through and learning his trade, soon evolves into something intricately more gripping. As Rudi develops his trade craft and delves deeper into the world of the Coureur, things begin to take a strange turn. From his first mission it seems that a number of players have been directing the hapless Rudi. Yet, the chef is not as helpless as he seems, nor as gullible and so begins an odd, out in the open game of cat and..well cat.

Enveloping the whole of a fractured Europe, a cast of characters including gangsters, neo-nazis, forest rangers and unwitting accomplices, Europe in Autumn achieves a spectacular breadth and depth. Yet, it is in the last quarter of the book where things really get interesting. From a brilliant spy novel emerges an even more brilliant and speculative sci-fi consideration of maps, psycho-geography and the idea of parallel worlds inhabiting the same space.

This is a great book that starts off subtly and turns into a barn burner. Definitely recommended.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

IMG_2429.JPG

Solaris Books appear to be publishing a diverse yet very interesting number of works, especially in the Alternative History sub-genre. Cannonbridge is promoted as being part fantasy, part satire and part speculative thriller. I’m definitely interested to check it out. Blurb below…

Flamboyant Matthew Cannonbridge was the greatest figure of his time: co-conspirator to Mary Shelley, benefactor to a young Charles Dickens, confidant to the imprisoned Oscar Wilde, and, as beleaguered 21st Century English-professor Toby Judd comes to realise, a historical fraud that never should have come to be.

IMG_2369.JPG

As part of a three volume retrospective of James Lovegrove’s early writing, Solaris Books will publish the first part at the end of 2014. A New York Times best seller and a highly regarded voice amongst the talent of the British sci-fi genre, Lovegrove will see Days and United Kingdom published together for the first time. Check out the blurbs below…

Days is a gigastore the size of a small city, whose security men are licensed to kill and whose seven owners, a group of very different brothers, brood in a penthouse far removed from the desperate scramble of consumerism. But at what price consumerism? Security man Frank has lost his reflection, Books has entered a localised war with Computers, and there is a riot in Third World instruments. Time for another flash sale..

United Kingdom: When the village of Downbourne and schoolmaster Fen Morris’ wife Moira is snatched, there are no authorities to turn to. In the absence of its government – in exile in the Caribbean following the ‘Unlucky Gamble – and subject to random bombings and leaflet drops, the UK is lawless and falling apart. Their marriage was a disaster but Fen sets out to recover her anyway; but does she even want rescuing?

Sounds like more excellent festive season reading is on the cards.