Recently arrived review copies

One here.

One here.

Courtesy of Tor Books, Tim Pratt, PATHFINDER: LIAR’S ISLAND.

And eight here.

And eight here.

And courtesy of Gollancz, Peter Higgins’ WOLFHOUND CENTURY, RADIANT STATE, and TRUTH AND FEAR. Followed by Patricia McKillip’s THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, Adam Roberts’ BETE, Jack Vance’s NIGHT LAMP, Harry Harrison’s BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, and John Hornor Jacobs’ THE INCORRUPTIBLES.

Recently arrived review copies

Eight is a lot.

Eight is a lot.

Gollancz seems happy to send me their entire month’s worth of paperbacks. I’m not complaining, exactly – complain about receiving books? NEVER! – but I am starting to wonder exactly how fast the publicity department over there thinks one person can read.

So that’s Jon Wallace’s BARRICADE of infamous memory, Kristen Britain’s MIRROR SIGHT, Peter Higgins’ WOLFHOUND CENTURY and TRUTH AND FEAR (damn, but I think those are good books – I think I reviewed both of them when they were published in hardcover), Tim Powers’ EXPIRATION DATE, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s HARD TO BE A GOD, Robert Silverberg’s DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH, and a choose-your-own-adventure book by Michael J. Ward called DESTINY QUEST: THE EYE OF WINTER’S FURY.

Peter Higgins, TRUTH AND FEAR

Reviewed over at

What Higgins does well, he does very well indeed. The prose treads a delicate line between the spare and the ornate, never quite tipping over into the latter – although at the moments when he lets moments of weirdness, bubbles of the bizarre, shines through, it can lean perilously close. There’s something almost Miévillean about Higgins’ combination of magic and the machinery of 20th century industrial totalitarianism: an innovative slipping-through-the-interstices…

Books: Coates, Higgins, Kashina, McGuire, Vaughn

Anna Kashina, Blades of the Old Empire. Angry Robot Books, 2014.

WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN. Review forthcoming (I hope) at

Yeah. So that happened.

Deborah Coates, Strange Country. Tor, 2014.

Review copy from Tor. I hope I’ll get to talk about this in my column. It’s an interesting entry in Coates’ rural-contemporary fantasy-with-ghosts. I don’t like it as much as the excellent Wide Open or its immediate predecessor Deep Down, but it’s still a very solid book.

Seanan McGuire, Half-Off Ragnarok. DAW, 2014.

Review copy from DAW. I also want to talk about this in the column. It’s a great deal of fun, although not quite as entertaining, for me, as the Verity Price installments: it’s also interesting to see McGuire’s narrative pattern at work.

Peter Higgins, Truth and Fear. Orbit, 2014.

Review copy from Orbit. Review forthcoming from Higgins has an excellent turn of with prose, and Truth and Fear pulls off its climax with rather more verve and, well, climax than its immediate predecessor, but it is more the second part of a novel-in-three-parts than a book that stands well on its own, and we have yet to see proof that Higgins can bring a narrative to an ultimately satisfactory conclusion.

Carrie Vaughn, After the Golden Age. Tor, 2011.

Copy courtesy of I want to talk about this, and its sequel, in the column too. It is a very interesting take on superhero stories, and one of the few superhero stories I’ve read that’s appealed to me on any bar the most superficial levels. It is doing interesting things with family and privilege, I think, although I’d like to think about it more.

Carrie Vaughn, Dreams of the Golden Age. Tor, 2014.

Copy courtesy of Sequel of sorts (the next generation) to the aforementioned After the Golden Age, and a little bit more straightforwardly a superhero story – and thus less appealing to me. Feels somewhat as though it might appeal to a YA agegroup, but on the other hand maybe not. Interesting and entertaining, on the whole.

Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Century

“The wolfhound century is on my back/But I am not a wolf”: Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins at

The epigraph of Higgins’ debut novel is a line from the poetry of Osip Mandelstam: The wolfhound century is on my back/But I am not a wolf. This image, as metaphor, is one that forms the novel’s thematic underpinnings: a contest between hunter and prey in which definitions are fluid, in which the world itself is fluid, in conflict with the cold, rigid requirements of the totalitarian state of the Vlast.

Priest, The Inexplicables; Higgins, Wolfhound Century; Croft, Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Let’s talk about books!

Cherie Priest’s The Inexplicables

First up: Cherie Priest, The Inexplicables. Tor, 2012. Copy courtesy of

I enjoyed this one. I think I’ve figured out why I didn’t love Dreadnought and Ganymede half so much as Boneshaker. Priest’s poisoned Seattle, with its yellow gas and its rotters, its decay and peril and strangeness, is a compelling character in its own right.

Here our viewpoint character is Rector Sherman, petty crook, small-time addict, who enters the city because he’s no other place to go. Soon he finds himself in the middle of a struggle for control, and has to pick sides.

There’s also a sasquatch. It’s really pretty good.

Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Century

Next, briefly: Peter Higgins, Wolfhound Century. Orbit, 2013. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

This? This is fluently-written, numinous, complex, promising debut. But ultimately somewhat disappointing: I expected more climactic resolution, even from the first book in a new series.

Still recommend it, though. Higgins makes very pretty sentences.

Longer, more detailed review hopefully forthcoming elseweb.

Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Janet Brennan Croft.

Last for today: Janet Brennan Croft, ed., Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. McFarland Press, 2013. e-ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Review forthcoming from Strange Horizons. Short version: there are one or two good papers in here, but my overall feeling is that this is a bloody awful mess of a collection. And most of the papers wouldn’t pass muster for critical engagement with anyone whose opinions I respect.

Yes, I’m cranky.

That’s it at the moment. Now to decide how to prioritise my present reading list, sigh.