books monthly november 2017 sf & fantasy

This month's latest SF & Fantasy titles...

Home Page

Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes

Adult Fiction

  Crime and Thrillers

Science Fiction & Fantasy

  Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference

New from Pen and Sword...

  The Nostalgia Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

 

Gardner Dozois (Ed.): The Book of Swords

Published by Harper Voyager 19th October 2017

An epic collection of fantasy tales in the grand tradition, including a never-before-published A Song of Ice and Fire story by George R.R. Martin and an introduction by Gardner Dozois. Fantasy fiction has produced some of the most unforgettable heroes ever conjured onto the page: Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Classic characters like these made sword and sorcery a cornerstone of fantasy fiction, and an inspiration for a new generation of writers, spinning their own tales of magical adventure. Now, in The Book of Swords, acclaimed editor and bestselling author Gardner Dozois presents an anthology of sixteen original epic stories by a stellar cast of modern masters, including George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Garth Nix, Ken Liu, Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch, Cecelia Holland, Ellen Kushner, and more on journeys into the outer realms of dark enchantment and intrepid adventure, featuring a stunning assortment of fearless swordsmen and warrior women who face down danger and death at every turn with courage, cunning, and cold steel.

 

Gardner's introduction to this superb anthology is simply breathtaking - as he reminisces about discovering the genre of sword and sorcery and how it waxed and waned over the years. The stories are quite spectacularly good - I particularly liked Robin Hobb and Cecelia Holland, but the common theme that binds the stories together is now a timeless one. The book itself is exquisitely handsome...

 

 

 

Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View

Published by Century 3rd October 2017

40 Years. 40 Stories.

Experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a whole new point of view.

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the fortieth anniversary, more than forty contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the forty short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars
- Gary Whitta bridges the gap from Rogue One to A New Hope through the eyes of Captain Antilles.
- Aunt Beru finds her voice in an intimate character study by Meg Cabot.
- Nnedi Okorofor brings dignity and depth to a most unlikely character: the monster in the trash compactor.
- Pablo Hidalgo provides a chilling glimpse inside the mind of Grand Moff Tarkin.
- Pierce Brown chronicles Biggs Darklighter's final flight during the Rebellion's harrowing attack on the Death Star.
- Wil Wheaton spins a poignant tale of the rebels left behind on Yavin.
Plus thirty-four more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales from:
Ben Acker - Renee Ahdieh - Tom Angleberger - Ben Blacker - Jeffrey Brown - Rae Carson - Adam Christopher - Zoraida Cordova - Delilah S. Dawson - Kelly Sue DeConnick - Paul Dini - Ian Doescher - Ashley Eckstein - Matt Fraction - Alexander Freed - Jason Fry - Kieron Gillen - Christie Golden - Claudia Gray - E. K. Johnston - Paul S. Kemp - Mur Lafferty - Ken Liu - Griffin McElroy - John Jackson Miller - Daniel Jose Older - Mallory Ortberg - Beth Revis - Madeleine Roux - Greg Rucka - Gary D. Schmidt - Cavan Scott - Charles Soule - Sabaa Tahir - Elizabeth Wein - Glen Weldon - Chuck Wendig
All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book--a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies' longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children's books--valued at $1,000,000--to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education. Over the past sixteen years, Disney and Penguin Random House combined have donated more than eighty-eight million books to First Book.

 

This amazing book contains so much Star Wars material, and all writtenfor such a good cause, it's difficult to find anything wrong with it - it is a tribute to the greatest science fiction genre, with the emphasis on "fiction", because there are more Star Wars books in print than any other SF series, with the possible exceptionof Star Trek. I'm a sucker for both series, but I have to say that the Star Wars books come my way whilst the Star Trek ones don't. There is a newbook out about The Last Jedi, from publisher Abrams, and I'm hoping it's on its way, but maybe not in time for this issue. This book is here, it is now, and it is fabulous!

Ausma Zehanat Khan: The Bloodprint

Published by Harper Voyager 19th October 2017

The author of the acclaimed mystery The Unquiet Dead delivers her first fantasy novel―the opening installment in a thrilling quartet―a tale of religion, oppression, and political intrigue that radiates with heroism, wonder, and hope. A dark power known as the Talisman has risen in the land. Born of ignorance and persecution, it is led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher. A superstitious patriarchy, cruel and terrifying, the Talisman suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing. But there are those who seek to stop the oppressive spread of the Talisman. A resistance formed of the Companions of Hira – a group of rebels versed in the power of ancient scripture, a magic known as the Claim – believe they have discovered the key to destroying the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint. Finding this dangerous manuscript that the Talisman has tried to erase from the world promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet: a perilous journey deep into Talisman territory which may prove to be their last.

 

Top fantasy from Ausma Khan - this is deep and meaningful, not sword and sorcery as such, but nevertheless an extremely readable fantasy with references to religion and religious iconography that will whet your appetite for more of the same.

Janny Wurts: Destiny's Conflict

Published by Harper Voyager 5th October 2017

The long-awaited second book of the fourth story arc - Sword of the Canon - in the epic fantasy series, the Wars of Light and Shadow. Lysaer’s unstable integrity lies under threat of total downfall, and as his determined protector, Daliana will face the most frightening decision of her young life. Arithon, Master of Shadow, is marked for death and still hunted, when his critical quest to recover his obscured past entangles him in a web of deep intrigue and ancient perils beyond his imagining. Elaira’s urgent pursuit of the Biedar Tribes’ secret embroils her in the terrible directive of the Fellowship Sorcerers, while Dakar ― the Mad Prophet ― confronts the hard reckoning for the colossal mistake of his misspent past, and Tarens is steered by a destiny far from his crofter’s origins. The penultimate volume of The Wars of Light and Shadow will touch the grand depths of Athera’s endowment, and deliver the thrilling finale of arc IV, the Sword of the Canon. War, blood, magic, mystery – and the most hidden powers of all – will stand or fall on their hour of unveiling.

 

This is pure fantasy, on the other hand, in the tradition of Terry Brooks and George R R Martin - Wurts creates worlds that rival those of Asimov's Foundation, and yet there is intricate detail as well. Spellbinding stuff.

Peter V Brett: The Core

Published by Harper Voyager 28th September 2017

Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett brings one of the most imaginative fantasy sagas of the twenty-first century to an epic close. The war has begun… For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Two heroes arose―men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Painted Man, tattooed head-to-toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat―and emerge victorious. Ahmann Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka―the final war against demonkind. But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear―a Swarm. Now the war is at hand, and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army. Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen, and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil―from which none of them expects to return alive.

 

I remember reading the first in Peter Brett's series, several years ago, and here we are, several volumeslater, about to reach the long-awaited conclusion. Again, this is Terry brooks-style fantasy, and Brett is one of the greatest modern proponents of the genre. Expect greatness - it's cramed with it, from start to finish. A worthy ending to a brilliant series.

 

 


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.