Thursday, April 28, 2011

Used Book Pr0n and Sully

So, after a sizeable number mass market paperbacks have been sitting in my house unread (and/or with no intention of being read), I finally packed up a bunch and headed to the closest used book store, Half Price books. The pile above is what I brought home because my to-read pile isn’t big enough. The dog, Sully who turned a year old last week, seems non-plussed by the stack.

Here’s the rundown, from top to bottom:

The King’s Peace by Jo Walton – This is her debut novel and after being entranced by her latest Among Others (review forthcoming), I wanted to give another book by her a try. In part, she's to blame for this trip because the book is very much an homage to SF and books the character read throughout the novel, which takes place in 1979/1980.

Necroscope by Brian Lumley – I’d been wanting to read this book for a while, seems an interesting take on Vampires and among other people, a former colleague kept urging me to read it.

Hell Hath No Fury by David Weber & Linda Evans – As I may have recounted in previous posts, I’m becoming a fan of David Weber. Liviu at Fantasy Book Critic indicated this was a good book, I like the premise (a mix of fantasy and science fiction) so here it sits on the pile. Coincidentally, I started On Basilisk Station, the first of Weber’s Honor Harrington novels.

Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson – I’d been wanting to read some older foundational SF for a while. Dickson is a writer whose work seems to fit the bill.

The Giants Novels by James P. Hogan – This is an omnibus of Hogan’s first three Giants novels - Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, and Giants' Star. This is sense-of-wonder SF and a series of books that have been on my radar since Hogan’s passing recently and is exactly the type of SF I’ve been wanting to read for a while. This book specifically is very tough to find.

The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson – I’ve read a few of Anderson’s fantasy novels, Three Hearts and Three Lions, The Broken Sword, and The High Crusade and I’ve been wanting to read some of his SF for a while. Though one of his later works, it has an interesting premise and was nominated for the Nebula

The Speed of the Dark by Elizabeth Moon – Though I’ve only read one book by Moon (Oath of Fealty) I was impressed enough that I’m searching out her backlist. This was a Nebula Winner and Mark Yon liked it when he read it a couple of years ago

Trading in Danger and Moving Target by Elizabeth Moon – The first two books in Elizabeth’s recent Vatta’s War sequence. Again, I’ve a growing pile of her books to read.

A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller – When thinking of classics of SF, particularly Apocalyptic SF, it doesn’t get much more foundational than this one. Since I thoroughly enjoy the subgenre of Apocalyptic fiction, I’m somewhat embarrassed to not have read this book yet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Abraham & Bennett Reviewed at SFFWorld

We’ve posted two new reviews to SFFWorld over the past week and both books happened to be published by the fine folks at Oribt. The book for which I posted a review is the launch of a new series by Daniel Abraham titled The Dagger and the Coin. The book itself is The Dragon's Path and looks to be a contender for my favorite 2011 release. Reading this book makes me realize I need to revisit Daniel’s Long Price quartet. Daniel seems served VERY well by the publisher switch from Tor to Orbit. Anyway, under the cover shot is s the snippet of my review:

The plot revolves around power struggles for a throne under hints and threats of war , familial political machinations (primarily from Killian Dawson’s POV), the coming of age of two of the three primary protagonists (Cithrin and Geder), and the redemption of the third (Wester). Where Abraham further separates his novel from other Epic Fantasies dealing with war is where he shows how the wars begin, and through the economic maneuverings that often power the undercurrent of war. On the surface it may not seem that such a premise would make for the most compelling reading, but Abraham infused the narrative with that all important addictive quality of “I need to know what happens next.” In fact, my wife noted while I was reading the book that I couldn’t put the book down and was always reading it. She doesn’t make such a remark very often and I read about a book or two a week.

A world rich with history and a variety of races serves as the backdrop for these characters. A world once ruled by dragons, dragons who in the history of this world, dabbled with genetic manipulation for lack of a better term. As a result, this world has 13 branches of humanity. In many ways, I was reminded a bit of the races of Steven Erikson’s Malazan saga for the manner in which the races interact with each other. Daniel provides an essay on these races on his Web site (, though a glossary in the book would have also been helpful for reference. So would a map, but on his blog and in the forums where he can be found (, Daniel indicated future printings of this book and/or installments of the series would include such ancillary materials.

Mark reviewed the second book by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Company Man:

It is a clever little novel which makes you feel immersed into a world of commercial skulduggery, union strikes, corrupt management and mob unrest. Reminiscient of Metropolis, it highlights not only the opportunities that technological development can offer but also shows the dark underbelly of such urban living. It is clear that there is a price to pay for such development. Progress, yes: but at what cost?

The book does slow down in the middle, but the final dénouement that elevates the tale to one worthy of the genre is very well done There is a deus ex machina moment that made me think for a while afterwards, ‘What happens next?’ . The book finishes clearly at an appropriate point but one that left me pondering more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Genre Awards, For What Are They Good?

How important are genre awards? Every year when the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations are announced, there always seems to be something “wrong” with the list of nominees with a certain segment of the genre reading public. At the very least, discussion of some sort is generated. The Philip K. Dick Award, which has a more specific criteria, doesn’t seem to suffer from that annual “the nominators just don’t get it.”

Aidan has an interesting post, which to be honest, inspired this very post you are reading right now. The thing I agree with the most, perhaps obviously, is Aidan’s point that these awards all but ignore the online community. Something the members of SFFWorld have bemoaned in the past.

The purpose of this post isn’t about any award nominees for this year, but awards in general. I've never voted on any of these three major awards, so I am putting that disclaimer of possible ignorance right up front. The other disclaimer is that this post is VERY stream of conscience.

Here’s the rundown on the three awards alphabetically, for those not in the know:

Hugo Awards

Nominations are open to members of the current year’s Worldcon and to members of the past year’s Worldcon. The final ballot is open only to members of the current year’s Worldcon. You do not have to attend the Worldcon in order to vote. A special category of Supporting Membership is available for people who wish to vote but cannot afford to attend the convention. Supporting Membership also entitles you to all of the official Worldcon publications for that year, and entitles you to participate in the vote to select the site for the Worldcon to be held two years hence. You can find details of the current Worldcon’s membership rates by following this link.

Voting for the Hugos is a two-stage process. In the first stage voters may nominate up to five entries in each category. All nominations carry equal weight. The five entries that get the most nominations in each category go forward to the final ballot. In the final ballot voting is preferential. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference. The system for counting the votes is quite complicated but it is designed to ensure that the winner has support from the majority of voters. There is a full description of the counting procedure here.

Generally speaking, works are eligible if they were published in the calendar year preceding the year in which the vote takes place. Some Awards are given for a body of work rather than for a single item, in which case it is all work produced in the calendar year in question that is considered. See the list of Award categories for full details of eligibility rules.

Nebula Awards

The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year. There is no cash prize associated with the award, instead the award itself being a transparent block with an embedded glitter spiral nebula with gemstones cut to resemble planets.

All Active and Associate members of SFWA in good standing are eligible to make nominations during the NOMINATION PERIOD.

World Fantasy Awards

World Fantasy Award winners are chosen by a panel of judges, which differs every year. Andrew Wheeler was a past judge and blogged extensively about his experience

So, do these awards mean anything to readers? I realize that’s a naïve question, but a certain segment of fandom sees these awards as one of the most important parts of publishing in Speculative Fiction, others think the awards are narrow-minded and don’t really speak to the genre as a whole. Of course the answer is likely somewhere in the middle.

For example, from what I understand of the Hugos, you basically have to pay a not so slim chunk of change just to vote on the awards. I think the Nebula is the same, since you have to be a member of the SFWA. In my opinion, the awards are more or less a barometer of what is going on in Speculative Fiction on a year-to-year basis. With the WFAs, you only have five people really judging the awards, from what I can see, so that’s something of a narrow view. Conversely, those five people change every year, so the flavor of the voting could change every year, which is interesting.

In terms of awards upon which anybody can cast their vote, the Locus Awards are probably the longest running and may give a more clear indication of what fandom as a whole is reading. The recently instituted David Gemmell Award, which focuses primarily on Fantasy of the secondary world variety, opens up voting to the entire world. I’ve voted the past few years for both of these awards, the Gemmell especially speaks to my subgenre of preference. Of course, when you open the gates so wide, there’s a chance of vote-loading, much like the MLB All Star game.

This post is by no means exhaustive nor should it be judged for any sense of completeness. Though I’ve been reading SF for over 20 years, I’ve only become heavily involved in the past ten years through SFFWorld, so by no means am I an expert on these, just a fan asking questions.

Feel free to discuss in the comments and let me know where I’m wrong.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-02-24)

Only three books this week, which is a nice down turn from the past couple of weeks. Without further ado, I’ll let the books speak for themselves.

Conviction: (Fate of the Jedi Book Seven) by Aaron Allston (Hardcover 5/09/2011 Del Rey). Seventh book, and last contribution from Allston, in the latest series involving that pesky Skywalker clan.

Chief of State Natasi Daala has been overthrown, and the Jedi Order has taken control of the Galactic Alliance. But while the new governors dismantle Daala’s draconian regime, forces still loyal to the deposed official are mobilizing a counterstrike. And even the Jedi’s new authority may not be enough to save Tahiri Veila, the former Jedi Knight and onetime Sith apprentice convicted of treason for the killing of Galactic Alliance officer Gilad Pellaeon.

Meanwhile, Luke and Ben Skywalker are relentlessly pursuing Abeloth, the powerful dark-side entity bent on ruling the galaxy. But as they corner their monstrous quarry on the planet Nam Chorios, the two lone Jedi must also face the fury of the Sith death squadron bearing down on them. And when Abeloth turns the tables with an insidious ambush, the Skywalkers’ quest threatens to become a suicide mission.

Just Wanna Testify by Pearl Cleage (Hardcover 05/12/2011 One World/Ballantine) – This appears to be part of a larger connected series.

Familiar faces and places meet fresh twists and turns in this enthralling novel from acclaimed author Pearl Cleage.

Atlanta’s West End district has always been a haven and home to a coterie of unique characters—artists and thinkers, dreamers and doers. Folks here know one another’s names, keep their doors unlocked, and look out for their neighbors. Anyone planning to sell drugs, vandalize, or rob a little old lady should think twice before hitting this part of town. And Blue Hamilton, West End’s unofficial mayor and longtime protector, will see to it that you do. Blue wears many hats here, including adored husband to Regina, dear nephew to Abbey, and doting father to Sweetie and another little one on the way.

Blue is also the man you pay your respects to if you’re looking to set up shop in this urban enclave—just ask Serena Mayflower, whom Blue sees striding down Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard wearing skin-tight black leather pants, thigh-high boots, and bright red lipstick. This tall, slender, ethereally beautiful woman and her four equally striking sisters make up the Too Fine Five, a quintet of international supermodels who have arrived in town for an Essence magazine photo shoot.

But Blue’s gut tells him that there’s more to these Mayflower mademoiselles than their affection for full moons and Bloody Marys. With the help of his beloved Regina and their close friends and relations in West End, Blue vows to uncover the women’s secret intentions—and prove once and for all that there is no greater force on earth than the power of love.

A mesmerizing slice of not-so-everyday life, brimming with wicked wit and spiced with a few supernatural surprises, Just Wanna Testify showcases Pearl Cleage’s masterly storytelling at its soulful and satisfying finest.

Ascencion: (Fate of the Jedi Book Eight) by Christe Golden (Hardcover 8/16/2011 Del Rey). Eight and penultimate book in the latest series involving that pesky Skywalker clan.

How long can the Jedi remain in power? How far will the Sith go to rule supreme? What chance do both stand against Abeloth?

As Luke and Ben Skywalker pursue the formidable dark-side being Abeloth, the Lost Tribe of the Sith is about to be sundered by an even greater power—which will thrust one Dark Lord into mortal conflict with his own flesh-and-blood.

On Coruscant, a political vacuum has left tensions at the boiling point, with factions racing to claim control of the Galactic Alliance. Suddenly surrounded by hidden agendas, treacherous conspiracies, and covert Sith agents, the Jedi Order must struggle to keep the GA government from collapsing into anarchy.

The Jedi are committed to maintaining peace and ensuring just rule, but even they are not prepared to take on the combined threats of Sith power, a deposed dictator bent on galaxy-wide vengeance, and an entity of pure cunning and profound evil hungry to become a god.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview with Peter Orullian at SFFWorld

While I was reading Peter Orullian's debut novel The Unremembered he and I were corresponding over e-mail about a number of things, including his writing and music.

This all led to the interview with Peter I just posted at SFFWorld.

I enjoyed the book, enjoyed corresponding with Peter and look forward to where Peter takes his characters in the next volume.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

I just posted my latest review at SFFWorld, which happens to be for the US release of Chris Wooding's awesome Retribution Falls. UK readers saw this book initially in 2009 and now Bantam Spectra will be releasing their version in about a week. In July, they'll be publishing the second book, Black Lung Captain and will hopefully time the 3rd book's release The Iron Jackal closely with the UK release.

Here's the usual excerpt of the review, with the cover linking to the review itself.

The story tells of a riffraff crew with Captain Darien Frey at the center. He’s a typical roguish-type who cares more about his ship, The Ketty Jay, more than the people working the ship. At least at the outset. Who are those crew members – Crake, the Daemonist and his golem Bess; Silo, the difficult to understand and little spoken ship’s engineer; the ship’s doctor Malvery; pilots Pinn and Harkins; and the newest member of the crew; Jez the navigator. Frey is looking to make a tremendously big score and against his better instincts, bites onto the bait of what is obviously too good to be true. In tying to escape the authorities and the consequences of their framed actions, Frey eventually attempts to bring his crew to the mythical pirate haven of the titular Retribution Falls.


Wooding is mixing a lot of elements in this delicious stew of a book from the larger Speculative Fiction pantry, so to speak. We’ve got pirates, an ill defined future; sorcery (or rather daemonology); beings somewhere between living, dead, and undead; an often steampunkish feel, especially with Crake’s golem; depth of an imagined world and history; and sense-of-wonder adventure. In that sense, the book will very much appeal to readers who tend to science fiction over fantasy, and vice versa. I think Chris may have even dubbed what he’s doing in The Tales of the Ketty Jay as bucklepunk. The term certainly works for this satisfied reader.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-04-16)

Two weeks in a row with a lot of arrivals at the stronghold of the ‘o Stuff. What of these will I read? I don’t even know right now, though deciding what I won’t read is a much easier task for my mind to attack. Regardless, I will not be reading at 9PM tonight.

The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 3 by Ellen Datlow (Trade Paperback 3/09/2010 Night Shade Books) – The third volume in the latest incarnation of Ellen Datlow’s annual retrospective on horror

A doctor makes a late-night emergency call to an exclusive California riding school; a professor inherits a mysterious vase... and a strange little man; a struggling youth discovers canine horrors lurking beneath the streets of Albany; a sheriff ruthlessly deals with monstrosities plaguing his rural town; a pair of animal researchers makes a frightening discovery at a remote site; a sweet little girl entertains herself... by torturing faeries; a group of horror aficionados attempts to track down an unfinished film by a reclusive cult director; a man spends a chill night standing watch over his uncle's body; a girl looks to understand her place in a world in which zombies have overrun the earth; a murderous pack of nuns stalks a pair of Halloween revelers...

What frightens us, what unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the seventeen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year.

Legendary editor Ellen Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound, Tails of Wonder and Imagination), winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, joins Night Shade Books in presenting The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Three.

Table of Contents:

Summation 2010 by Ellen Datlow /At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow /Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver / City of the Dog by John Langan /Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge /Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge / When the Zombies Win by Karina Sumner-Smith /--30-- by Laird Barron /Fallen Boys by Mark Morris / Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert /The Fear by Richard Harland /Till the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones /Shomer by Glen Hirshberg /Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler /The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle /Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson /The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente /The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale /Just Another Desert Night With Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. /Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee /At Night When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley /The Revel by John Langan

Blood Reaver (A Night Lords Novel, Book Two) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Pyr, Trade Paperback 05/19/2011) – Dembski-Bowden seems to write or contribute to every other book the Black Library publishes, this is the second in a series that began with Soul Hunter.

Driven on by their hatred of the False Emperor, the Night Lords stalk the shadows of the galaxy, eternally seeking revenge for the death of their primarch. Their dark quest leads them to a fractious alliance with the Red Corsairs, united only by a common enemy. Together with this piratical band of renegades, they bring their ways of destruction to the fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant.

Age of Darkness (Horus Heresy) edited by Christian Dunn, (Black Library, Paperback 05/12/2011) – The Horus Heresy is one of the hottest franchises in SF right now and this anthology could serve as a terrific introduction/overview to the saga, and it includes stores by some of the Black Library’s top writers: Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, James Swallow and Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

After the betrayal at Isstvan, Horus begins his campaign against the Emperor, a galaxy-wide war that can lead only to Terra. But the road to the final confrontation between father and son is a long one – seven years filled with secrecy and silence, plans and foundations being formed across distant stars. An unknown history is about to be unveiled as light is shed on the darkest years of the Horus Heresy, and revelations will surface that will shake the Imperium to its very foundation...Contents: Rules of Engagement by Graham McNeill / Liar's Due by James Swallow / Forgotten Sons by Nick Kyme / The Last Remembrancer by John French / Rebirth by Chris Wraight / The Face of Treachery by Gav Thorpe / Little Horus by Dan Abnett / The Iron Within by Rob Sanders / Savage Weapons by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (Trade Paperback 06/28/2011 Del Rey) –This is Gregory’s third novel and chances are I’ll be reading it in the near future. Well, maybe by the summer. I thought his second novel The Devil’s Alphabet was fantastic, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say about a zombie baby.

From award-winning author Daryl Gregory, whom Library Journal called “[a] bright new voice of the twenty-first century,” comes a new breed of zombie novel—a surprisingly funny, vividly frightening, and ultimately deeply moving story of self-discovery and family love.

In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.

The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run.

Soon Stony learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world. There is an entire undead underground. As Stony gets radicalized, he also discovers why he’s never been ravenous for human flesh. But in a world where humans want to cut off his head and burn him, can Stony embrace his identity, save his people, and protect his human family? The answer is not so dead certain.

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, Mass Market Paperback 05/03/2011) – Debut novel from Kevin Hearne, which takes one shape-shifting Druid and his dog pitted against all sorts of supernatural problems. Once again, Del Rey is employing a proven publishing strategy – three books released over the course of three consecutive months. There’s already a decent amount of chatter at SFFWorld about these books.

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old — when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power — plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish — to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil..

Happily Ever After edited by John Klima (Night Shade Books Trade Paperback 06/05/2011) – Klima is a Hugo award winner and edits Electric Velocipede, this anthology reprints twisted fairy tales.

Once Upon A Time... the faraway land of Story, a Hugo-winning Editor realized that no one had collected together the fairy tales of the age, and that doorstop-thick anthologies of modern fairy tales were sorely lacking...

And so the Editor ventured forth, wandering the land of Story from shore to shore, climbing massive mountains of books and delving deep into lush, literary forests, gathering together thirty-three of the best re-tellings of fairy tales he could find. Not just any fairy tales, mind you, but tantalizing tales from some of the biggest names in today's fantastic fiction, authors like Gregory Maguire, Susanna Clarke, Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Aletha Kontis, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, Paul Di Filippo, Gregory Frost, and Nancy Kress. But these stories alone weren't enough to satisfy the Editor, so the Editor ventured further, into the dangerous cave of the fearsome Bill Willingham, and emerged intact with a magnificent introduction, to tie the collection together.

And the inhabitants of Story, from the Kings and Queens relaxing in their castles to the peasants toiling in the fields; from to the fey folk flitting about the forests to the trolls lurking under bridges and the giants in the hills, read the anthology, and enjoyed it. And they all lived...

...Happily Ever After.

Bill Willingham – Introduction /Gregory Maguire - The Seven Stage a Comeback/Genevieve Valentine - And In Their Glad Rags/Howard Waldrop - The Sawing Boys/Michael Cadnum - Bear It Away/Susanna Clarke - Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower/ Karen Joy Fowler - The Black Fairy's Curse /Charles de Lint - My Life As A Bird/Holly Black - The Night Market /Theodora Goss - The Rose in Twelve Petals /Jim C. Hines - The Red Path /Alethea Kontis - Blood and Water /Garth Nix - Hansel's Eyes /Wil McCarthy - He Died That Day, In Thirty Years/ Jane Yolen - Snow In Summer /Michelle West - The Rose Garden /Bruce Sterling - The Little Magic Shop /K. Tempest Bradford - Black Feather /Alan Rodgers - Fifi's Tail /Kelly Link - The Faery Handbag /Peter Straub - Ashputtle /Leslie What - The Emperor's New (And Improved) Clothes /Robert J. Howe - Pinocchio's Diary /Wendy Wheeler - Little Red /Neil Gaiman - The Troll Bridge /Patricia Briggs - The Price /Paul Di Filippo - Ailoura /Jeff VanderMeer - The Farmer's Cat /Gregory Frost - The Root of The Matter /Susan Wade - Like a Red, Red Rose /Josh Rountree - Chasing America /Nancy Kress - Stalking Beans /Esther Friesner - Big Hair /Robert Coover - The Return of the Dark Children

Shadow Chaser (The Chronicles of Siala #2) by Alexey Pehov (Hardcover 4/23/2011 Tor) – Second in the Russian import trilogy pitting a hero Shadow Harold against the Nameless One, who is stirring. Nameless Ones, I’ve learned, tend to stir quite a bit.

Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles…and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.

Shadow Chaser is a novel of intricate plots, surprising twists and finely drawn characters that will not leave you when you put the book down. Shadow Chaser is truly something different in the world of fantasy, something special; it is something truly Russian, a fantasy that is gripping and haunting, fascinating and imaginative.

The Alchemist in the Shadows (The Cardinal’s Blades) by Pierre Pével (Pyr Trade Paperback 04/04/2011) – This is the second book in a series, translated from the French, about swashbuckling holy men fighting dragons. Perhaps you can think of these books as Dragons meet the Three Musketeers? Pével is the winner of the 2010 David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer.:

Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again.

So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen ...and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows ...

Sati by Christopher Pike (Trade Paperback 03/29/2011Tor) –This is a re-issue of one of Pike’s early novels about a girl who challenges readers religious notions.

I once knew this girl who thought she was God. She didn’t give sight to the blind or raise the dead. She didn’t even teach anything, not really, and she never told me anything I probably didn’t already know.

On the other hand, she didn’t expect to be worshipped, nor did she ask for money. Given her high opinion of herself, some might call that a miracle.

I don’t know, maybe she was God. Her name was Sati and she had blonde hair and blue eyes.

For all who meet her, Sati will change everything. Sati may change everything for you.

The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike (Trade Paperback 03/29/2011Tor) –This is another re-issue of one of Pike’s early novels this time about the aftermath of a manned mission to mars.

Dr. Lauren Wagner was a celebrity. She was involved with the most exciting adventure mankind had ever undertaken: a manned expedition to Mars. The whole world admired and respected her.

But Lauren knew fear. Inside—voices entreating her to love them. Outside—the mystery of the missing group that had gone before her. The dead group.

But were they simply dead? Or something else?

A haunting and unforgettable blend of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense from one of America’s bestselling writers. A novel you won’t soon forget.

Bloodshot (Cheshire Red Reports Series #2) by Cherie Priest (Spectra , Trade Paperback 08/30/2011) – Second in Priest’s urban fantasy mixing vampires, thieves, spies, and governmental intrigue.

Cherie Priest — the acclaimed author of Boneshaker, the hottest steampunk novel of 2009 — now returns with the second novel in her hip urban fantasy series, following February's Bloodshot.

With the government now off her tail, vampire and superthief Raylene Pendle is up to her old tricks, hired to retrieve a valuable magical artifact. But this time, a powerful witch also wants the artifact — which she plans to use to unmake the world as we know it. And to make matters worse, someone wants to kill the only friend Raylene has made in years. So now, Raylene must cross the country in company with ex-Navy SEAL and fabulous drag queen Adrian, trying to juggle two incredibly tricky assignments at the same time without losing control of either.

Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker (Night Shade Books Hardcover 04/26/2011) – Rucker has written a tetralogy of books, the Ware tetralogy, the first two of which were awarded the first and second Philp K. Dick awards.

Jim and the Flims is a novel set in Santa Cruz, California... and the afterlife. Acclaimed cyberpunk/singularity author Rudy Rucker explores themes of death and destruction, in the wry, quirky style he is famous for.

Jim Oster ruptures the membrane between our world and afterworld (AKA, Flimsy), creating a two-way tunnel between them. Jim's wife Val is killed in the process, and Jim finds himself battling his grief, and an invasion of the Flims--who resemble blue baboons and flying beets. Jim's escalating adventures lead him to the center of the afterworld, where he just might find his wife.

Can Jim save Earth with the help of a posse of Santa Cruz surf-punks, and at the same time bring his wife back to life? Jim and the Flims is the Orphic myth retold for the twenty-first century. Will there be a happy ending this time?

Caledor (A Tale of the Sundering #3) by Gav Thorpe (Paperback 05/07/2011 Black Library) Final volume in Thorpe’s trilogy which takes place in the pre-history of the Warhammer Fantasy universe.

The rise of the Druchii has driven the land of Ulthuan into a brutal civil war. As conflict rages through the cities and forests, sides must be chosen and old allegiances and friendships will be torn apart forever. After by the betrayal by Malekith and the murder of his court, Prince Imrik adopts the name of his grandfather, the mighty Caledor, and the bloodshed escalates. No elf can escape the fighting, and the mighty dragons are awakened to the call of battle once more. Only a confrontation between legends can decide the future of Ulthuan, with Malekith and Caledor meeting blade to blade in a long-overdue reckoning. But even worse is to follow, as Malekith launches a final, desperate plan to triumph...

Caledor is the epic conclusion to The Sundering trilogy, telling the incredible tale of the battles that would change the fate of the elves forever.

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn (Hardcover 04/12/2011 Tor) –Vaughn has turned into something of a writing machine over the past few years, this is the second of four books she’s publishing this year. This is a superhero story.

Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.

Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.

This all-new and moving story of love, family, and sacrifice is an homage to Golden Age comics that no fan will want to miss.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prince of Storms & Wise Man's Fear

Sometimes books take longer to pull of the to-read pile than I initially intended. This doesn't mean I didn't want to read it, just that other books kept pushing it down. Well, I finally remedied that last week, at least with one book. Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose four-book saga concluded early last year and as a whole, I thought the series was great. Here's the blurb from my review of the concluding volume, Prince of Storms:

...that fourth and final volume arrived and despite having the book for a year before reading it, the story was fresh enough in my mind that I was able to pick up the storyline very quickly. The storyline is quite simple – the protagonist Titus Quinn has a difficult choice to make. He must determine the outcome of two worlds – his birth world of Earth (the Rose) and his adopted alien world the Entire. Complicating this choice is the fact that his daughter Sydney was taken by inhabitants of the Entire, and because of the inequality of time’s passage on the two worlds, she has risen up to a position of power in the beautiful world of the Entire and taken the name Sen Ni. Kay managed to make The Prince of Storms a strong novel that truly wraps up the story rather than simply extending it. In other words, the series is incomplete without the book and the book itself is necessary and not simply tacked on and is more than a mere afterthought or epilogue to the saga.

Also, Mark weighed in on what is, thus far, the biggest fantasy novel of the year, both from a sales and critical/reader response perspective. Of course, I mean The Wise Man's Fear:

This voyage of discovery resonated with lots of other tales for me. Whilst reading I was reminded of many, including Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle, Raymond Feist’s Magician and even The Empire Strikes Back or the TV series Kung Fu.

None of this is a particularly bad thing. Partly as a result of these touchstones, the tale in its telling feels deceptively comfortable and engaging, likeable and engagingly atmospheric.

Some have commented that it is a somewhat leisurely trawl through the story. I didn’t have any problems with that, personally, though some readers have felt it to be slow. I prefer to think of it as ‘that immersive thing’. With such an immersive process there’s a lot to follow and a lot to remember, some of which is as a consequence of the events of the previous novel. I would recommend reading (or re-reading) The Name of the Wind before it, though.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Books in the Mail (2011-04-09)

After a small respite last week, a big haul with quite a few books that jumped out at me begging to be read. How’s about some of my loyal readers tell me in the comments what looks most interesting and least interesting, or, what I’m most likely to read and least likely to read?

Spellcast by Barbara Ashford (DAW Mass Market Paperback 05/05/2011) – Debut novel from a writer who has published a number of short stries.

When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon found herself part of the summer stock cast. But her previous acting experiences couldn't prepare her for the theater's unusual staff-and its handsome, almost otherworldly director.

Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier #1) by Jack Campbell (Ace Hardcover 04/26/2011) – Campbell’s Military SF series has really been gaining momentum over the past few years, with the most recent volume published (concluding volume of the original series) in late 2010 hitting the New York Times Bestseller list, and this book marks Campbells jump from mass market paperback to hardcover. Hobbit of SFFWorld reviewed the first book The Lost Fleet: Dauntless recently released in the UK and Mark Chitty (who runs the best SF fan blog Walker of Worlds) is a big fan of the books. Good news for me is that this specific book seems to be the first of a new series and a good jumping on point.

The New York Times bestselling series that delivers "edge-of- your-seat combat" (Elizabeth Moon, author of the Vatta's War series).

The Alliance woke Captain John "Black Jack" Geary from cryogenic sleep to take command of the fleet in the century-long conflict against the Syndicate Worlds. Now Fleet Admiral Geary's victory has earned him the adoration of the people-and the enmity of politicians convinced that a living hero can be a very inconvenient thing.

Geary knows that members of the military high command and the government question his loyalty to the Alliance and fear his staging a coup-so he can't help but wonder if the newly christened First Fleet is being deliberately sent to the far side of space on a suicide mission.

The Hidden Goddess by M.K. Hobson (Del Rey, Paperback 04/26/2011) – This is the sequel to Hobson’s Nebula nominated debut novel, The Native Star, which I also have. The book has been lingering on my to-read pile for a few months, so with the recent Nebula nomination and this sequel, I am more eager to read it. The first book, that is, then this one.

In a brilliant mix of magic, history, and romance, M. K. Hobson moves her feisty young Witch, Emily Edwards, from the Old West of 1876 to turn-of-the-nineteenth-century New York City, whose polished surfaces conceal as much danger as anything west of the Rockies.

Like it or not, Emily has fallen in love with Dreadnought Stanton, a New York Warlock as irresistible as he is insufferable. Newly engaged, she now must brave Dreadnought’s family and the magical elite of the nation’s wealthiest city. Not everyone is pleased with the impending nuptials, especially Emily’s future mother-in-law, a sociopathic socialite. But there are greater challenges still: confining couture, sinister Russian scientists, and a deathless Aztec goddess who dreams of plunging the world into apocalypse. With all they must confront, do Emily and Dreadnought have any hope of a happily-ever-after?

Sword of Fire and Sea (The Chaos Knight Book One) by Erin Hoffman (Pyr, Trade Paperback 06/19/2011) – This is Hoffman’s debut novel, the first of a series, but she’s designed quite a few video games and authored a fair number of short stories..

Three generations ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat's great-grandfather gave up an imperial commission to commit social catastrophe by marrying a fire priestess. For love, he unwittingly doomed his family to generations of a rare genetic disease that follows families who cross elemental boundaries. Now Vidarian, the last surviving member of the Rulorat family, struggles to uphold his family legacy, and finds himself chained to a task as a result of the bride price his great-grandfather paid: the Breakwater Agreement, a seventy-year-old alliance between his family and the High Temple of Kara'zul, domain of the fire priestesses.

The priestess Endera has called upon Vidarian to fulfill his family's obligation by transporting a young fire priestess named Ariadel to a water temple far to the south, through dangerous pirate-controlled territory. A journey perilous in the best of conditions is made more so by their pursuers: rogue telepathic magic-users called the Vkortha who will stop at nothing to recover Ariadel, who has witnessed their forbidden rites.

Together, Vidarian and Ariadel will navigate more than treacherous waters: Imperial intrigue, a world that has been slowly losing its magic for generations, secrets that the priestesshoods have kept for longer, the indifference of their elemental goddesses, gryphons—once thought mythical—now returning to the world, and their own labyrinthine family legacies. Vidarian finds himself at the intersection not only of the world's most volatile elements, but of colliding universes, and the ancient and alien powers that lurk between them.

Night Mares in the Hamptons by Celia Jerome (Paperback 05/07/2011 DAW) –Second novel in Jerome’s series which began with Trolls in the Hamptons

Graphic novelist Willow Tate is a Visualizer, able to draw images of beings from the realm of Faerie, bringing them from their world to ours in the process. After a ten-foot-tall red troll follows her from Manhattan to Paumanok Harbor in the Hamptons, Willow realizes that many of her relatives and their neighbors possess psychic talents-truth- knowing, scrying, weaving wishes, picking lucky numbers, and more.

So when magic and mayhem return to Paumanok Harbor, and Willow is called upon to rescue the town, she enlists the local talent. Three magical mares are searching the Long Island village for a missing colt, and their distress is causing sleeping nights, bad tempers, and dangerous brawls among the gifted but peculiar residents.

Though the Department of Unexplained Events sends Willow a world-famous horse whisperer, Texan Ty Farraday seems more interested in whispering in her ear than in rescuing the kidnapped colt whose terror only Willy can feel. Even with help, she still has to struggle with snakes, drug dealers, tourists, hidden caves, a mad scientist-and the almost overwhelming distraction of that sexy cowboy...

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc, Trade Paperback 05/11/2010) – Kay is a magnificent writer, I’ve read about 1/3 to ½ of what he’s written and I wasn’t disappointed by any of it. This is the third version of the book I’ve received, and this time I’ll actually read it. I think.

Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in the empire’s last great war against its western enemies, twenty years before. Forty thousand men, on both sides, were slain by a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently, having spoken to his son in later years about his sadness in the matter of this terrible battle.

To honour his father’s memory, Tai spends two years in official mourning alone at the battle site by the blue waters of Kuala Nor. Each day he digs graves in hard ground to bury the bones of the dead. At night he can hear the ghosts moan and stir, terrifying voices of anger and lament. Sometimes he realizes that a given voice has ceased its crying, and he knows that is one he has laid to rest.

The dead by the lake are equally Kitan and their Taguran foes; there is no way to tell the bones apart, and he buries them all with honour.

It is during a routine supply visit led by a Taguran officer who has reluctantly come to befriend him that Tai learns that others, much more powerful, have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, presents him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. They are being given in royal recognition of his courage and piety, and the honour he has done the dead.

You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Tai is in deep waters. He needs to get himself back to court and his own emperor, alive. Riding the first of the Sardian horses, and bringing news of the rest, he starts east towards the glittering, dangerous capital of Kitai, and the Ta-Ming Palace – and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.

The Unremembered (Vaults of Heaven #1) by Peter Orullian (Tor, Hardcover 04/15/2011) – Since receiving the ARC back in January, I’ve read this book and, for the most part, enjoyed it with some reservations. I’m cooking up an e-mail interview with Peter for SFFWorld, too.

The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song.

Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells….

The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey.

Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.

The Council of Shadows (The Shadowspawn) by SM Stirling (Roc, Hardcover 05/11/2011) – Second offering in prolific author Stirling’s take on urban fantasy

New from the New York Times bestselling author of A Taint in the Blood.

Adrian Brézé defied his own dark heritage as a near-purebred Shadowspawn for years, until his power-hungry sister Adrienne kidnapped his human lover Ellen.

Now, Adrienne is dead, and the Council of Shadows is gathering its strength. To stop the Council from launching an apocalypse, Adrian and Ellen must ally with the Brotherhood, a resistance group dedicated to breaking the Council's hold on any means necessary.

In the coming confrontation, Adrian must fight not only the members of the Council but also his own nature-and, as he will come to suspect, traitors within the Brotherhood itself...

Well of Sorrows by Benjamin Tate (DAW, Paperback 05/11/2011) –Debut fantasy which has an interesting premise, a book that seems to be flying under the radar. I received the trade paperback about a year ago and have been adding and removing it from the TBR pile. DAW repackaged the book with a much more powerful cover image that I hope will draw more readers into the pages.

An epic tale of a continent on the brink of war, and a deadly magic that waits to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Colin Harten and his parents had fled across the ocean to escape the Family wars in Andover. But trouble followed them and their fellow refugees to this new land, forcing them to abandon the settled areas and head into unexplored territory-the sacred grounds of a race of underground dwellers and warriors. It was here that they would meet their doom. Driven to the borders of a dark forest, they were attacked by mysterious Shadow creatures who fed on life force. Only Colin survived to find his way to the Well of Sorrows-and to a destiny that might prove the last hope for peace in this troubled land.

Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding (Spectra Trade Paperback 04/26/2011) – Wooding has been writing for quite some time, his YA books have been well received . This is his first adult novel and, when published in the UK two years ago, garnered a great deal of praise, from no less than SFFWorld’s own Hobbit/Mark. Chris has also taken to visiting the forums.

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.

Friday, April 08, 2011

How to Begin a Definitive Epic

Let's see:

  • Return of a race of fearful creatures once thought legendary, mythic and the source of nightmares
  • A beheading
  • Return of another creature thought to be legendary, mythic and perhaps unreal
  • Incest
  • Attempted murder of a child
  • A wedding
  • Return of what could be the seeds (or rather eggs) of extinct, legendary, mythic creatures
  • A royal feast

Yup, that sort of sums up some of the things that happen in the first 100 pages or so of A Game of Thrones. I'm in the midst of my third reading of the book and I'm loving it as much as the previous readings.

The cover below is the version of the book I'm reading, which is the first Mass Market Paperback published in 1997, when I first picked up the book because (I'm guessing) the awesome cover art with the direwolf Ghost on the back and that little blurb from Robert Jordan up top.

Soon after reading the book, well, actually when I bought the hardcover of A Clash of Kings, I saw a hardcover first edition of A Game of Thrones on the remainder shelf for like $6.99. Nice investment, huh?

Just over a week remains until the Game begins.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

In a week, Peter Orullian's debut novel, The Unremembered, will be released, but thanks to the fine folks at Tor, I received and ARC a while back and finished the book last week. On the whole, I enjoyed the novel, but I'd consider it a flawed debut with potential. I'm in the midst of interviewing Mr. Orullian via e-mail, but for now, here's the blurb for my review which just went live at SFFWorld today:

Orullian has the formula down very well in The Unremembered – naïve youth (the woodland archer Tahn Junell) plucked from his hum-drum life by outsiders (the cleric-like Sheason by the name of Vendanj and his companion the warrior woman Mira), to secure his help in vanquishing a mysterious evil that is returning to the land. Reading through the first hundred to two hundred pages, I was very much reminded of the way Robert Jordan began The Eye of the World, itself a homage to The Lord of the Rings.


The world in which these characters live has a great deal of depth which is hinted by the dense and intriguing prologue. Here, Orullian mines nothing less than Paradise Lost for the fall preceded by pride and shows higher powers that can be just as contentious and vain as the best and worst of humanity. Orullian has a lot to play with and it becomes clear that the prologue is table setter for the novel as well as the series, The Vault of Heaven.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-04-02)

Only two books this week at the ‘o Stuff.

Woflsangel by M.D. Lachlan (Pyr Trade Paperback 03/26/2011) – Mark had good things to say about this novel when this published in the UK last year. I’m looking forward to reading this one myself.

The Viking king Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately, but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy—a prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.

But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. After ensuring that his faithful warriors, witnesses to what has happened, die during the raid, Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.

So begins a stunning multivolume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin, and Loki, the eternal trickster, spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history and our lives.

This is the myth of the werewolf as it has never been told before and marks the beginning of an extraordinary new fantasy series.

All the Lives He Led: A Novel by Frederik Pohl (Tor Hardcover 04/12/2011) – Pohl is one of the few writers who can still hold the name living legend, and this is his latest novel.

Two thousand years after Pompeii’s destruction, a thriller of upheaval—volcanic and political—as only SF Grandmaster Frederik Pohl can write it!

With a keen eye for the humanity in any situation, science fiction icon Frederik Pohl has crafted a compelling new novel of a not-too-distant future we can only hope is merely science fiction.

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. it gave so little warning that Pompeiians were caught unawares, and many bodies were preserved in volcanic ash. Two thousand years later, in 2079, Pompeii is a popular theme park eagerly anticipating Il Giubeleo, the Jubilee celebration of the great anniversary. But Vesuvius is still capable of erupting, and even more threatening are terrorists who want to use the occasion to draw attention to their cause by creating a huge disaster. As the fateful day draws near, people from all over the world—workers, tourists, terrorists—caught in the shadow of the volcano will grapple with upheaval both natural and political.