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Dark Matter’s ‘recently received’ pile exposed

It’s that time of year when people other than publishers and authors give me epic lewt not to be included in the Dark Matter ‘recently received’ pile.

This is the birthday lewt.

birthday items recently received

Well, akshully, there are a couple of things there that might be review items recently received – like Terror of the Zygons, Steelheart and The Storyteller and His Three Daughters – but they arrived the day before and the day after my birthday. Convince me that Hachette and Roadshow didn’t INTEND for them to be birthday presents. Try it. Convince me.

If you noticed Grumpy Cat, Star Wars Scoundrels, Pride and Prejudice and the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2, then you’re  observant. The minion, knowing my diverse tastes, hunted down lewt he knew I’d appreciate <3

This is the rest of the ‘recently received’ pile

other items recently received

What has accumulated in Dark Matter‘s recently received pile in the past two weeks, you ask? 

This is the actual official review pile – after I claimed one or two items. [whistles]

Note the invisible media pass to the Interactive Entertainment conference to be held on Monday and Tuesday in Melbourne. More information below.

Some of these review items aren’t technically SF or fantasy but reviewers requested them. They look to be interesting books that I hope will be promptly reviewed [looks off screen, way, waay, waaaaay off screen]

Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons

How many times have we all seen THIS little beauty?  When I opened the parcel, both hubby and I squeed with delight: nostalgia win!

We watched this two nights ago; I’ll write the review once I’ve watched the extras. This is due for release on 2 October.

BBC says:

Starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. Returning to Earth, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive in the Scottish Highlands to investigate the mysterious destruction of several oil rigs in the North Sea. Local superstition speaks of a deadly threat that lurks in the mists on Tulloch Moor, but the truth is even more disturbing: the legendary Loch Ness Monster is a terrifying cyborg beast which is controlled by the Zygons, an advanced alien race who are desperate to ensure their own survival, at any cost… Special Features include a Director’s Cut, Commentary, a Making Of and more!

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Ever since I read Way of Kings, my introduction to Branderson, I have enjoyed his work. I also interviewed Brandon last year; we had a really interesting discussion. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

Gollancz says:

The first book in a new, action-packed thrill ride of a series, from the No.1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and THE WAY OF KINGS.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics. . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

The storyteller and his three daughters by Lian Hearn

This is part of a long-running series I picked up after asking the Hivemind for Australian fantasy with Asian influences.

Hachette says:

From the internationally bestselling author of the Tales of the Otori, comes a tale of families, love, intrigue and betrayal.

TOKYO 1884

Sei has devoted his life to storytelling, captivating audiences with his tales. But now he is starting to wonder if the new world has left him behind.

Just when he thinks he will never write again, his own life and the lives of the people around him begin to spiral out of control providing the inspiration for the greatest story he has ever told. A story of love, jealousy, intrigue, and betrayal.

Set against the background of Japan’s first incursions into Korea, Sei offers a wise and witty reflection on the nature of storytelling, its perils and delights, its lies and, ultimately, its truth.

Black Mirror

This is a TV series that is doing the rounds lately, causing much discussion among adults of all ages. Likened to the Twilight Zone, each episode is stand-alone with different characters.

Madman says:

Over the last ten years, technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives before we’ve had time to stop and question it. In every home; on every desk; in every palm ‐ a plasma screen; a monitor; a Smartphone – a black mirror of our 21st Century existence. Our grip on reality is shifting. We worship at the altars of Google and Apple. 

Facebook algorithms know us more intimately than our own parents. We have access to all the information in the world, but no brain space left to absorb anything longer than a 140‐character tweet. Black Mirror is a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected which taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world.

The stand-alone dramas are sharp, suspenseful, satirical tales with a techno‐paranoia bend – all audacious ‘What if’ stories: some comic, some shocking – but all entirely unlike anything else you’ve ever seen on television. 

 Justice by Ian Irvine

This is the final installment of Ian Irvine’s latest trilogy. Hachette says:

JUSTICE is the shattering finale to Ian Irvine s fantasy epic, The Tainted Realm trilogy.

The once beautiful land of Hightspall is being carved up by warring armies led by figures out of legend. One army is headed by the charismatic brute, Axil Grandys, and the other by Lyf, resurrected sorcerer-king and Axil s ancient nemesis.

Only the escaped slave Tali and her unreliable magic stand in their way but Tali s gift grows more painful every time she uses it. As the armies converge on the fateful peak of Touchstone, Tali and her ally Rix must find a way to overcome Lyf and prevent Grandys from using the Three Spells that will destroy Hightspall forever.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Sleep will be lost over this sequel to the Shining. H&S says:

STEPHEN KING returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, THE SHINING.

An epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of THE SHINING and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of THE SHINING, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant ‘shining’ power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes ‘Doctor Sleep.’

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival…

 Countdown by Alan Weisman

Non-fiction tome discussing humanity’s self-inflicted impending doom, a hot topic while climate change has been taken off the agenda, refugees drown and prime ministers nobly rise to flee media attention.  Little, Brown says:

A controversial tour de force. Weisman seeks to answer a fundamental question – how do we manage the global population without destroying the planet?

Every four days there are a million more people on the planet. More people and fewer resources. In this timely work, Alan Weisman examines how we can shrink our collective human footprint so that we don’t stomp any more species – including our own – out of existence. The answer: reducing gradually and non-violently the number of humans on the planet whose activities, industries and lifestyles are damaging the Earth. Defining an optimum human population for the Earth is an explosive concept. Weisman, one of the most brilliant environmental writers, will travel the globe, from the settlements of Israel and the plains of Mexico to the bustling streets of Pakistan and the teeming cities of the UK. In his search for answers, he will speak to religious leaders, demographers, ecologists, economists, engineers and agriculturalists in what promises to be an international classic.

London Eye by Tim LebbonLondon Eye by Tim Lebbon

Well-presented in a neat hardcover format with a lovely dust jacket, London Eye is quite appealing.  What can I say? I love a hardcover.

Pyr says:

The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut

 Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.

But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.

Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving. 

Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins.

Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends . . . and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.

  On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds’s Terminal World was one of the first review copies I received three years ago, which I enjoyed so much I drew some fan art that featured as the cover for the first issue Dark Matter. Thus receiving Steel Breeze almost has a nostalgic element; I’m particularly looking forward to this one.

On the Steel Breeze is the second in the Poseidon’s Children series of which Blue Remembered Earth is the first.

Gollancz says:

A thousand years in the future, mankind’s influence expands into the universe. Alastair Reynolds’ epic vision of our journey into deep space will redefine Space Opera.

It is a thousand years in the future. Mankind is making its way out into the universe on massive generation ships.

The new novel from Alastair Reynolds is one for fans of Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks.

Legion and the Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon talked about these novellas during his Supanova presentation in 2012 so I’ve been looking forward to reading them.

Gollancz says:

Two standalone novellas from the bestselling fantasy author and heir to Robert Jordan.

The internationally bestselling author of the Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series presents two very different novellas that nevertheless showcase his remarkable gift for gripping narrative, world-building and empathetic characters. Available for the first time in one volume, a publishing event for all his many fans.


Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion’, is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith.


When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create – to Forge – a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape. . .

Interactive Media conference

What you can’t see in the pile – because it’s been ‘sent’ electronically – is a media pass to attend the Interactive Entertainment conference on 30 September and 1 October. I will be reporting on this event, so more to come!

RMIT says:

Interactive Entertainment is Australasia’s longest running games and digital entertainment conference, and embodies the spread of disciplines which contribute to the field. IE welcomes computer scientists, designers, artists, technicians and academics across the spectrum.

This year’s Interactive Entertainment conference will be hosted by RMIT University in Melbourne, from September 30 to October 1.

This year’s conference embraces some of the recent changes in games discourses both inside and outside the academy, and turns its attention to “Matters of Life and Death”. In a field concerned with entertainment, seriousness has hovered on the edges of discussion and helped us interpret technologies of leisure. If we reframe seriousness as ‘matters of life and death’, we can look again at the factors which impact computer games and other interactive entertainment. Questions emerge from this framing and from recent discussions such as: How do we map changes in the economic environment of games? How do designers deal with increasingly mobile, active, tactile play forms? How do scientists evaluate and build for diversifying platforms? How can we study the manufacturing, resourcing and logistics of games distribution – especially when those systems are largely digital?

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


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