HomeAll postsPaper books, plastic discs and kittehs

Paper books, plastic discs and kittehs

Paper books, plastic discs, eCopies and Kittehs

Once upon a time a pissing contest – who has the biggest pile of paper books – started on Twitter.

Someone who will not be named started it with this tweet:

Paper books, plastic discs and kitteh

It then became a challenge – who could display the biggest pile?

I looked around and, for sanity’s sake, decided to just put up my monthly ‘items received’ post. Perhaps I’ll add a more comprehensive pile photo soon… or a photo of a pile of laptops…

(For an explanation of that silliness, I recommend reading the conversation that follows the tweet.)

Anyhoo, my monthly items received post was due. I was planning to wait for Easter Eggs to adorn the photo but the minion hasn’t bought them yet and this challenge will wait no longer!

I’ve split the books into nonfiction and fiction so you can enjoy your meat & veg as well as your dessert!

Contents list



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Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

I’m never sure how to classify poetry but Maxine’s poetry speaks to real issues – racism, sexism and more – so I’m putting it here in nonfiction. This will be an amazing read; I’ve heard Maxine perform live already so I’m really looking forward to her book.

Maxine’s fans need to campaign for a CD. [HINT] Her recitals are musical.

Foreign Soil won the Victiorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award for 2013 and, on May 1, it will be published!

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GandolfiniGandolfini by Dan Bischoff

Does this dude look familiar? Gandolfini played Tony Soprano. Scribe says:

An intimate, intelligent portrait of a man destined to be regarded as one of television’s most enduring icons.

When James Gandolfini died suddenly at the age of 51, there was an outpouring of sympathy and sorrow around the world. As Tony Soprano, Gandolfini was the face of a new golden age of television, and his portrayal of the New Jersey mobster has become part of American mythology.

In Gandolfini: the real life of the man who made Tony Soprano, journalist Dan Bischoff pays tribute to this remarkable actor. Bischoff shows us how a boy from a typical Italian–American family became one of the world’s biggest stars, and examines not only Gandolfini’s struggles with fame and relationships, but also the cultural significance of his career.

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InvisibleInvisible edited by Jim C Hines

A collection of personal essays about representation in science fiction and fantasy, Invisible is an important contribution to discussion of equity in literature, pop culture and the community. Launched yesterday, Invisible sold 100 copies on its first day. With all proceeds going to Con or Bust, Invisible raised between $100 and $200 on that first day.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m one of the authors published in this anthology.

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Power of BonesPower of Bones by Keelen Mailman

This true story is still under embargo so I’ll just copy this from the publisher’s website:

A heartbreaking tale of childhood poverty, abuse and racism that happily becomes an inspiring story of an extraordinary woman’s strength through adversity.

There is a lot more about the Power of Bones on Allen & Unwin’s website.

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Small BambooSmall Bamboo by Tracy Vo

Vietnamese refugees are a theme in my reading at the moment: I’ve just finished reading the macabre Anguli Ma: a gothic tale by Chi Vu. Small bamoo will be interesting and, as nonfiction, a welcome counterpoint.

Like Chi Vu, Tracy Vo escaped Vietnam in a leaky boat following the fall of Saigon. A&U say, ‘An extraordinary story of escaping Vietnam to create a happier life in Australia.’

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Telling True StoriesTelling True Stories by Matthew Ricketson

An engaging book about writing and reading nonfiction, discussing many of the issues surrounding controversial yet acclaimed books, Telling True Stories is highly recommended!

Oops. I haven’t finished reading it yet. Review coming soonish.

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Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

NEW SHAUN TAN. Need I say more?

If so, my review of Rules of Summer will be published tomorrow.

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Eye of Zoltar by Jasper FForde

The third in the Last Dragonslayer series, Eye of Zoltar follows the Song of the Quarkbeast. Fforde’s storytelling is quirky, humorous and surreal so I’m looking forward to this.

H&S (the publisher) says:

The Mighty Shandar, the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen, returns to the Ununited Kingdoms. Clearly, he didn’t solve the Dragon Problem, and must hand back his fee: eighteen dray-weights of gold.

But the Mighty Shandar doesn’t do refunds, and instead vows to eliminate the dragons once and for all – unless sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange and her sidekicks from the Kazam house of enchantment can bring him the legendary jewel, The Eye of Zoltar.

The only thing that stands in their way is a perilous journey with a 50% Fatality Index – through the Cambrian Empire to the Leviathan Graveyard, at the top of the deadly Cadir Idris mountain. It’s a quest like never before, and Jennifer soon finds herself fighting not just for her life, but for everything she knows and loves…

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Missing Presumed EvilMissing Presumed Evil by Garth Nix & Sean Williams

The fourth in the Troubletwisters series for ages 8 – 12, I’ve been enjoying this series as a light snack, a sorbet to cleanse the palate, between heavier adult books. Especially good as a break from grimdark!

A&U says:

Trouble is looming over the quiet coastal town of Portland. A door has been opened to the Evil Dimension, and twins Jack and Jaide are about to face their greatest challenge ever …

Jack and Jaide Shield finally learn what it means to be a warden in training as they pit their wits and gifts against mysterious fellow troubletwister Stefano Battaglio. But the competition soon gets serious when a way is opened to the dangerous realm of the Evil. Grandma X discovers her twin sister, Lottie, is stranded there – but she’s forbidden from travelling through the vortex to look for her. That doesn’t stop Jaide and Jack from trying, and the rescue becomes urgent when the twins find out about a plan that will trap Lottie on the other side forever. Can the twins find Lottie, defeat the Evil and get everyone safely home to Portland – before it’s too late?

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BarrowBarrow by Mark Smylie

The observant will notice that Dark Matter Zine already listed the Barrow as an item received. The Barrow is being listed again because another copy – this one is a retail copy not an Advanced Reading Copy – was received. I loves my preciousssss ARCs but the retail copies can look sexier, as is the case with the Barrow.

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Blood and IronBlood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

Michael J Sullivan gives this novel a shout-out, saying ‘A fun adventure of magic, political intrigue and good, old-fashioned heroes.’

Pyr, the publisher, says:

This action-heavy EPIC FANTASY SERIES OPENER is like a sword-and-sorcerySpartacus set in a richly-imagined world.

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand.  Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

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Codex BornCodex Born by Jim C Hines

Cover Girl Jim C Hines does it again – Codex Born is the sequel to the fannish Libriomancer, a fantasy about a magical librarian who has acquired a nymph lover in a polyamorous relationship where both the nymph’s lovers help her achieve a measure of freedom.

Codex Born continues the battle against the Devourers while our heroes engage with a new group of magical books and Isaac tries to figure out whether Gutenberg is a good guy or a bad guy.

I may have read this already . A review will be coming soon.

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The Headmaster's WifeHeadmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

To be released on 23 April, A&U says:

A haunting novel of obsession and betrayal, told from the perspective of a man who may have committed an horrific act of violence: The Secret History meets Before I Go to Sleep.

Arthur Winthrop is a middle-aged headmaster at an elite prep school in Vermont. When he is arrested for an act that is incredibly out of character, the strait-laced, married headmaster confesses to a much more serious crime.

Arthur reveals that he has had a passionate affair with a scholarship student called Betsy Pappas. But Betsy is a fickle and precocious teenager. When she switches her attentions to a classmate, Arthur’s passion for Betsy turns, by degrees, into something far darker. Now Arthur must tell the truth about what happened to Betsy. But can Arthur’s version of events be trusted – or is the reality much more complex and unnerving?

The Headmaster’s Wife is a dark, sinuous and compelling novel about marriage and obsessive love.

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Inside OutInside Out by Will Elliott

Award-winning Will Elliott’s latest. HarperVoyager says:

INSIDE OUT is the story of Denton, a down-and-out no-hoper who lives with his mother and hits rock bottom one day during a road-rage incident. What should be the lowest moment of his life turns into a moment of revelation when he is rescued by members of the Sect of Bliss. Denton is quickly drawn into their world, mostly thanks to the attractive qualities of Sister Sarah and the persuasive power of the Sect’s leader, Daniel Mason. Mason and his sidekick Coolan are initially less than impressed with their new recruit, until they discover Denton has just inherited an enormous amount of money, and doesn’t even know about it yet… They have no qualms about getting the money, even if it means getting rid of Denton permanently. But INSIDE OUT is also the story of another group of characters – the people in charge of Denton’s mind. Mr Scott, the brisk and orderly man who runs the logic department; DM, the calm enigma creating Denton’s dreams; Len, who enjoys inventing nightmares; and Wetpatch, who runs amok with Denton’s libido. While the outside Denton is being lured into the cult, those inside Denton are well-aware that something is very wrong … and they will do whatever it takes to save him. This is a terrific read that is both amusingly inventive while being deeply clever and inspiring. As always, Will Elliott gives us a unique perspective on life while also creating a superbly entertaining narrative.

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King by J R Ward

The 12th the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, there seems to be some confusion about whether it’s out now (as on Hachette’s website) or coming out in September as on the media release that came with the book.

Hachette says:

Long live the King . . .

After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle – with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything – and everyone – at risk.

Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response – or the distance it creates between them.

The question is, will true love win out . . . or tortured legacy take over?

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LeopardLeopard by K V Johansen

To be released on 10 June 2014, a sexy Advanced Reader Copy arrived recently. Pyr says:

Part one of a two-book epic fantasy, set in a world as richly drawn as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but with Mideastern and Eastern flavors.

Ahjvar, the assassin known as the Leopard, wants only to die, to end the curse that binds him to a life of horror. Although he has no reason to trust the goddess Catairanach or her messenger Deyandara, fugitive heir to a murdered tribal queen, desperation leads him to accept her bargain: if he kills the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach will free him of his curse. Accompanying him on his mission is the one person he has let close to him in a lifetime of death, a runaway slave named Ghu. Ahj knows Ghu is far from the half-wit others think him, but in Marakand, the great city where the caravan roads of east and west meet, both will need to face the deepest secrets of their souls, if either is to survive the undying enemies who hunt them and find a way through the darkness that damns the Leopard.

To Marakand, too, come a Northron wanderer and her demon verrbjarn lover, carrying the obsidian sword Lakkariss, a weapon forged by the Old Great Gods to bring their justice to the seven devils who escaped the cold hells so long before.

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MonaMona by Dan Sehlberg

This techno-thriller features a character with a disability so I figured I need to read this one. Also: SWEDISH, so not a Hollywood-esque story, yay!

Scribe says:

When nothing else makes sense, the impossible is all that’s left to believe.

Eric Söderqvist, a professor of computer science at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, has invented Mind Surf, a pioneering thought-control system that allows people with disabilities to browse the web.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Samir Mustaf, a former MIT professor whose beloved daughter Mona was killed by a cluster bomb, has just finished creating the most sophisticated computer virus the world has ever seen, for the purpose of launching a devastating cyber attack on Israel’s financial system.

When Eric’s wife, Hanna, falls into a coma — after having tested her husband’s invention — the doctors are at a loss. Eric, guilt-stricken and distraught, fixes on the unthinkable, becoming convinced that his wife has been infected by a powerful computer virus, and that the only way he can save her life is by tracking down its creator.

What follows is a compelling and high-octane pursuit that spans the Middle East and Europe. Conceptually breathtaking and emotionally compelling,Mona is a story about the good — and the evil — that people are prepared to do in order to save or avenge the ones they love.

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North Star Guide Me HomeNorth Star Guide Me Home by Jo Spurrier

North Star is the third and final in the Children of the Black Sun trilogy. Spurrier’s world-building and characters are to be commended. I’ve been spruiking for Spurrier to win the Norma K Hemming Award; she was a runner up last year.

HarperVoyager says:

Some things are broken beyond mending … Grievously wounded in battle, Isidro’s life hangs in the balance – but the only person who can help him is the man he can never trust. Sierra is desperate to rebuild shattered bonds with her old friends, but with Isidro incontrovertibly changed and her own wounds still fresh, things can never be as they once were. Burdened by all he’s done at Kell’s command, Rasten knows he cannot atone for the horrors of his past. But when their enemies in Akhara follow Cam’s small clan back to Ricalan, carrying a thirst for vengeance, the skills Rasten swore he’d renounce may be their only hope for victory…

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Operation ShieldOperation Shield by Joel Shepherd

Pyr says:

Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra’s own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

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Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

My copy has a pretty cover with the title on the spine but not the front. HarperVoyager’s website doesn’t have a cover so I’m guessing this title, to be released in June, hasn’t been finalised quite yet.

HarperVoyager says:

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north. In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice. Experience does not lend Jalan wisdom; but here and there he unearths a corner of the truth. He discovers that they are all pieces on a board, pieces that may be being played in the long, secret war the Red Queen has waged throughout her reign, against the powers that stand behind thrones and nations, and for higher stakes than land or gold.

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Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong creates great characters who have fantastic adventures while still being, to an extent, relatable. Atom’s blurb for Sea of Shadows:

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend. But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court – and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever.

The first volume in the Age of Legends trilogy, Sea of Shadows is a thrilling dark fantasy where evil hides in every shadow and the deadliest monsters of all come in human form …

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Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is back, no longer ghostly and still fighting the forces of evil in book 15.

BTW Melbourne, where were you when Jim Butcher was signing books at Supanova?

Hachette says:

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. As Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

This time, it’s worse than that. Mab’s involved Harry in a smash-and-grab heist run by one of his most despised enemies, to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure horde in the world – which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess – assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance . . .

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SunstoneSunstone by Freya Robertson

Freya has been a guest blogger and a guest on Dark Matter’s podcast, sharing her views of diversity and gaming. Already established as a romance writer, Freya debuted as a fantasy author with Heartwood. Sunstone is the second novel in this trilogy.

Angry Robot says:

The Incendi elementals that dwell beneath the mountains have found a way to tap into the Arbor’s roots, which stretch not only across the land but also through time, and King Pyra is determined to crush the ancient tree.

Twenty-two years after the defeat of the Darkwater Lords, Chonrad’s widow Procella and their three children are drawn back to Heartwood to investigate the rumour of strange fires springing up across the land. Across three separate timelines, the heroes must battle to join together their ancient sunstones, to overcome the Incendi threat, and to protect the Arbor and make earth victorious once more.

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Telling TalesTelling Tales by Patience Agbabi

A slim retro hardcover volume, Telling Tales harks back to days of yore. A&U says:

In Telling Tales award-winning poet Patience Agbabi presents an inspired 21st-Century remix of Chaucer’sCanterbury Tales retelling all of the stories, from the Miller’s Tale to the Wife of Bath’s in her own critically acclaimed poetic style.

Celebrating Chaucer’s Middle-English masterwork for its performance element as well as its poetry and pilgrims, Patience’s newest collection is utterly unique. Boisterous, funky, foul-mouthed, sublimely lyrical and bursting at the seams, Telling Tales takes one of Britain’s most significant works of poetry and gives it thrilling new life.

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Sherlock season 3Sherlock

The crimedy (comedy/crime) returns with Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Surprisingly, Sherlock wasn’t killed at Reichenbach Falls – oops, hospital – so we hear all about how his fans think he survived, presenting the fans as basement-dweller types. Eventually Sherlock can’t resist revealing his brilliance to an uninterested Watson…

Sociopath versus doctor. It’s on.

I reviewed Sherlock already.

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Da Vinci's DemonsDa Vinci’s Demons

I’ve had a quick look at the pilot – there is very little fact and a lot of fiction with sumptuous costumes against obvious green screen. Personally, I’m ok with spending less on the SFX and more on the writing so I’ll let you know how this one goes.

Roadshow says:

In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free.

 The secret history of Leonardo da Vinci’s tantalising life reveals a portrait of a young man tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He is a heretic and sceptic intent on exposing the lies of religion. An insurgent seeking to subvert an elitist society. A bastard son who yearns for legitimacy with his father.

 He finds himself in the midst of a storm that has been brewing for centuries. A conflict between truth and lies, religion and science, past and future. His aspirations to improve his position in life bring him into contact with the two opposing forces of the time?the Vatican and the Medici family who both try and lure him onto their side.

 Leonardo must take up the fight against foes who use history to suppress the truth. A hero armed only with his genius, da Vinci stands alone against the darkness within, and the darkness without. Facing an uncertain future, his quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing as he explores the fringes of his own sanity. Da Vinci uses his unparalleled genius as a weapon against his enemies and emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light.

 His story becomes a mirror into our own world, calling us all to join his fight to Free the Future.

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Dr Who Ultimate GuideDr Who: Ultimate Guide

Roadshow says:

Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman celebrate the 50th anniversary of the space-travelling Time Lord and take an in-depth look at of one of the most intriguing fictional characters of all time.
We explore the eleven incarnations of the Doctor to date, and their most famous scenes and storylines. Plus, a look at the Doctor’s many travelling companions and adversaries over the years and how they all contribute to creating the longest running science fiction show of all time.

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eCopies for review from Vodo
Tier 1 (Pay What You Want)
  • Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now [Book] – Graphic novel of six stories by Cory Doctorow.
  • Bientôt L’été [Game] – Heavily atmospheric game for two players.\
  • 2145 [Audio] – Dark Ambient music from Sabled Sun
  • The Surrogates [Book] – Acclaimed five-part comic series. NY Times Bestseller.
  • Blink [Film] – 4 tightly-crafted visions of beyond in 1 short film.

Tier 2 (Beat the average price):

  • Ghosts With Shit Jobs [Film] – Macro-satire on a micro-budget
  • Future My Love [Film] -A documentary meditation on financial collapse, utopia and love.
  • Ai Wars: Fleet Command [Game] – Space-based RTS game and expansion pack.
  • Clarkesworld Subscription [Book] – Clarkesworld Sci Fi Magazine, 4-month subscription.
  • Apex Book of World Sf [Book] – 16 sci-fi short stories from Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe and more.
  • 2146 [Audio] – AudioThe Dark Ambient sequel to 2145
  • Out There Ep [Audio] – Bespoke compilation of haunted space-pop from Not Not Fun records

Tier 3 (Beat the Premium price):

  • The Surrogates: Flesh And Bone [Book] – Prequel to The Surrogates. Sci-Five!
  • Drones [Film] – A trip of an office comedy.
  • The Surrogates: Case Files 1 & 2 [Book] – 2 great graphic novellas set between Volumes 1 and 2.
  • Signals [Audio] – Triple-album spin-off to Sabled Sun’s Dark Ambient odyssey.

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Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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