Friday, September 20, 2013

The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark

Between 1971 and 1978, during the Christmas holiday period, the BBC broadcast a series of dramas under the umbrella title of A Ghost Story for Christmas, most based on stories by M. R. James and all directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark. This December, Spectral Press will be publishing its first hybrid/non-fiction book, The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark, in celebration of those classic short films.

Edited and introduced by Tony Earnshaw (Beating the Devil – The Making of Night of the Demon); Foreword by Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock, First Men in the Moon, the forthcoming The Tractate Middoth); plus all the M. R. James tales from which the dramas were adapted, each prefaced by a new introduction by Clark.

Additionally, there will also be a reprint of an unfilmed “Count Magnus” script by Basil Copper, as well as other material including unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs.

Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry is available from Simon and Schuster (£7.99).

“Benny Imura and his friends have found the jet and Sanctuary — but neither is what they expected. Instead of a refuge, Sanctuary is a hospice, and the soldiers who flew the plane seem to be little more than bureaucrats who have given up hope for humanity’s future. With Chong hovering between life and death, clinging to his humanity by a thread, Benny makes a startling discovery: A scientist may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Desperate to save Chong, Benny and his friends mount a search and rescue mission. But they’re not the only ones on the hunt. The reapers are after the cure too, and they want to use it turn all the zombies into superfast shock troops — and wipe humanity off the face of the earth.”

This is the conclusion to the Rot & Ruin series.

The Devil Delivered by Steven Erikson

The Devil Delivered by Steven Erikson (Bantam £16.99) includes three novella-length stories:

The Devil Delivered: “In the breakaway Lakota Nation, in the heart of a land blistered beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains of North America, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the world's powers to their knees.”

Revolvo: “In the fictitious country of Canada, the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.”

Fishing with Grandma Matchie: “A children's story of a boy tasked with a writing assignment becomes a stunning fantastical journey with his tale-spinning grandmother.”

Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams

Out next week: Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams (Hodder & Stoughton £18.99):

“My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me — I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld — Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.”

Marauder by Gary Gibson

Marauder by Gary Gibson is now available from Tor (£18.99).

“Megan has a mission. But must she sacrifice herself to save our worlds?

Pilot Megan Jacinth has three goals, and they all seem unattainable. She must find her friend Bash, who she’d left for dead to save her own life. Then she needs Bash’s unique skill-set to locate an ancient space-faring entity. Lastly she must use this Wanderer’s knowledge to save human-occupied worlds from an alien incursion. The odds seem impossible, but the threat is terrifyingly real.
Megan finds Bash, but the person she’d known and loved is a husk of his former self. Bash is also held captive by her greatest enemy: Gregor Tarrant. Tarrant wants the Wanderer too, even more than he wants her life, with motives less pure than her own. And he’s close to finding Megan’s most closely-guarded secret.

A race across space to reach the Wanderer seems Megan’s best option. But this entity is also known as the Marauder, and is far from benign. The price for its secrets may be just too high. Megan should know, as she still bears the scars from their last encounter…”

Rome: Destroy Carthage by David Gibbins

Total War: Rome: Destroy Carthage is a tie-in novel (with the computer game) by David Gibbins (Macmillan £16.99).

“Carthage, 146 BC. This is the story of Fabius Petronius Secundus – Roman legionary and centurion – and of his general Scipio Aemilianus, and his rise to power: from his first battle against the Macedonians, that seals the fate of Alexander the Great’s Empire, to total war in North Africa and the Siege of Carthage.

Scipio’s success brings him admiration and respect, but also attracts greed and jealousy – for the closest allies can become the bitterest of enemies. And then there is the dark horse, Julia, of the Caesar family – in love with Scipio but betrothed to his rival Paullus – who causes a vicious feud.

Ultimately for Scipio it will come down to one question: how much is he prepared to sacrifice for his vision of Rome?”

On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds

On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds comes out later this month from Gollancz (£16.99).

“It is a thousand years in the future. Mankind is making its way out into the universe on massive generation ships... It’s a tale of betrayal and deceit aboard a flotilla of hollowed-out asteroids as they take millions of people to start a new world on a far distant planet at one seventh the speed of light.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s latest book for young children is Fortunately, the Milk (Bloomsbury £ 10.99), illustrated by Chris Riddell.

“You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK.

Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back.

Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.”

The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald

The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald is released on 8 October by Hard Case Crime (£7.99):

“‘You can rid yourself of the wolf at your door, but what do you do when the wolf is in your bed...?’

Two identical twin sisters — one a sexually repressed defense attorney, the other a former libertine now living a respectable life in suburbia — are about to have their darkest secrets revealed, to the men in their lives and to themselves.

As one sister prepares for the toughest trial of her career and the other faces a stalker who knows details of her life that even her husband doesn’t, both find themselves pushed to the edge, and confronted by discoveries about their husbands that shock and disturb them.”

The Secret Lives of Married Women is Elissa Wald’s first novel in twelve years.

Halo: The Thursday War by Karen Traviss

Halo: The Thursday War by Karen Traviss is published by Tor (£7.99).

“This is a life-or-death mission for ONI’s black-ops team, Kilo-Five, which is tasked with preventing the ruthless Elites, once the military leaders of the Covenant, from regrouping and threatening humankind again. What began as a routine dirty-tricks operation ― keeping the Elites busy with their own insurrection ― turns into a desperate bid to extract one member of Kilo-Five from the seething heart of an alien civil war.

But troubles never come singly for Kilo-Five. Colonial terrorism is once again surfacing on one of the worlds that survived the war against the Covenant, and the man behind it is much more than just a name to Spartan-010. Meanwhile, the treasure trove of Forerunner technology recovered from the shield world of Onyx is being put to work while a kidnapped Elite plots vengeance on the humans he fears will bring his people to the brink of destruction.”

Monsters by Ilsa J Bick

Monsters by Ilsa J Bick is the third volume in the Ashes trilogy – due from Quercus on 26 September (£7.99):

“Alex is tough. She has survived the EMP blast, she has lived among the flesh-eating Changed, and she has been separated from Tom for months. And she hasn’t given up.

But on the brink of starvation and in the grip of a winter that just won’t end, Alex discovers a new and terrible truth: The Changed are still evolving.

And … they’ve had help.”

Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard marks the start of a new YA series (Headline £12.99 – out later this month):

“Earth is no longer ours. It is ruled by the Illyri, a beautiful, civilised yet ruthless alien species. But humankind has not given up the fight, and Paul Kerr is one of a new generation of young Resistance leaders waging war on the invaders.

Syl Hellais is the first of the Illyri to be born on Earth. Trapped inside the walls of her father's stronghold, hated by the humans, she longs to escape.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Syl's life is about to change forever. She will become an outcast, an enemy of her people, for daring to save the life of one human: Paul Kerr. Only together do they have a chance of saving each other, and the planet they both call home.

For there is a greater darkness behind the Illyri conquest of Earth, and the real invasion has not yet even begun...”

Proxima by Stephen Baxter

Proxima is Stephen Baxter’s latest, due next week from Gollancz (£12.99):

“The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light...

The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun – and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The 'substellar point', with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the 'antistellar point' on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world?

Needle ships fall from Proxima IV's sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out.”

King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels

King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniels (due next month from Solaris, £8.99) continues the story of Byron, Fyn and Piro, and picks up immediately following the cliff-hanging ending of The Usurper.

“When Cobalt stole the Rolencian throne, Byren, Fyn and Piro were lucky to escape with their lives; now they’ve rallied, and will set out to avenge their parents’ murder.

Byren is driven to defeat Cobalt and reclaim the crown, but at what cost? Fyn has sworn to serve Byren’s interests but his loyalty is tested when he realises he loves Byren’s betrothed. And Piro never wanted to win a throne, but now she holds the fate of a people in her hands.”

The Clown Service by Guy Adams

The Clown Service by Guy Adams hits the shelves on 19 September (Del Rey, and only £12.99 for the hardcover):

“Toby Greene has been reassigned. 

The Department: Section 37 Station Office, Wood Green.

The Boss: August Shining, an ex-Cambridge, Cold War-era spy.

The Mission: Charged with protecting Great Britain and its interests from paranormal terrorism.

The Threat: An old enemy has returned, and with him Operation Black Earth, a Soviet plan to create the ultimate insurgents by re-animating the dead.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dream London by Tony Ballantine

Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London appears from Solaris in October:

“Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage by the bucketful. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world, and he knows it.

But in Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. The towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the east end and a path spiralling down to another world.

Everyone is changing; no one is who they seem to be.”

The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann

The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann comes out later this month from Titan (7.99):

“A collection of short stories detailing the supernatural steampunk adventures of detective duo, Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes in dark and dangerous Victorian London. Along with Chief Inspector Bainbridge, Newbury & Hobbes will face plague revenants, murderous peers, mechanical beasts, tentacled leviathans, reanimated pygmies, and an encounter with Sherlock Holmes.”

It’s great to see another short-story collection appearing from a mainstream publisher.

Orcs: War Fighting Manual by Den Patrick

“The essential guide for anyone who wants to fight with or against fantasy's most fearsome foe: the Orc. Written in the form of a soldier's manual on strategy, tactics and weapons The Orcs War-Fighting Manual is an innovative and fun way for readers and gamers to add colour and excitement to their knowledge of fantasy's premier villains.

Translated from the original Orcish the book contains details on Orc strengths and weakness, key tactics, survival and field tips and accounts of notorious battles from Orc history as well as key tips on defeating Elves and Dwarves. Puny humans are not considered worth discussing.”

Orcs: War Fighting Manual by Den Patrick is available from Gollancz (£9.99).

The Devil’s Apprentice by Jan Siegel

The Devil’s Apprentice by Jan Siegel is published in October by Raven Stone/ Rebellion (£7.99):

“The Devil is retiring – but who’s taking over?

Wearied by endless aeons of immortality, the Dark Lord in his Dark Tower plans to lapse into limbo till the end of Time. But he still has to choose a successor to take over his evil empire, someone to wear the Horned Crown, wield the Sceptre of Fire, and sit behind the gleaming Desk in the Circular Office overseeing the downfall of humanity. The ancient spirits who might have followed him are all weakened or jaded; he must find a mortal heir (or heiress), who will sit on his throne and assume his immortal powers. A group of would-be apprentices, young, enthusiastic, and malleable, are trapped in a space/ time prism, in various dimensions of magic and the past, undergoing hideous trials to turn them to the dark side. Those who survive – if any – will emerge to compete for the ultimate prize…”