Post-assessment catch-up: the twin towers of items received

Post-assessment catch-up: the twin towers of items received

Over the past few weeks Dark Matter’s items received created a leaning tower of Pizza – well, books, DVDs and blurays to be precise. Upon receiving Magician’s End in hardcover, the pile would have toppled to the floor unless I’d split it into two.

Magician's EndMagician’s End

It’s the end of an era, with the release of the final of Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle. The publisher says:

The final book in the Riftwar Cycle. It is thirty years and more than thirty books since the publication of MAGICIAN, the fantasy classic that enchanted readers and propelled Raymond E. Feist to international acclaim. Now it will all end. In MAGICIAN′S END Raymond E. Feist brings his much loved series to a stunning and epic conclusion. Readers will finally discover the fate of the original black Magician, Pug, and his friends. Will they survive? Or will someone die? One of the best-selling fantasy authors worldwide, Raymond E. Feist is without doubt the grand master of magic and epic adventure.

Black Sun Light My WayBlack Sun Light My Way

The sequel to Winter Be My Shield, I have high hopes for this second novel by Jo Spurrier. This is a fantasy series that can be read as action epic fantasy or as deeply as you wish to delve; the thinky aspects don’t overshadow the plot but they’re present for the reader who wants MOAR. I was pretty excited by Winter Be My Shield as you can tell from the length of and the discussion in my review (note: often when I’m excited about a book I don’t want to spoil it, it’s just ‘READ THIS. NOW.’ but with WBMS I felt I could sink my teeth into a review without spoiling the reading experience too much.)

The Hunt for Pierre JnrThe Hunt for Pierre Jnr

Science Fiction. The publisher says:

Pierre Jnr has a mind more powerful than any the world has encountered before. He can make you forget, he can control you and he is only eight years old. Three months after his birth he escaped. An hour later he was lost to surNo one knows where he has been for the last eight years … Now Pierre Jnr is about to return.

THE HUNT FOR PIERRE JNR follows the activities of an elite group dedicated to tracking down the eight-year-old boy who is currently the greatest threat humanity has ever known. It′s a pacy and gripping chase, and an impressive vision of our future.

Dead Ever After

The very last of the Sookie Stackhouse series upon which the True Blood TV series was loosely based, Dead Ever After is the end of another era. I’ve already read this one; a review will be coming soon. Until then, the publisher says:

Sookie Stackhouse has one last adventure in store. Life has taken her from a waitress in Merlotte’s Bar, Bon Temps, to part owner; from social outcast to the heart of her community; from a vampire’s girlfriend to the wife of one of the most powerful vampires in the state. She has survived explosions, revolutions and attempts on her life. Sookie has endured betrayal, heartbreak and grief. . . and she has emerged a little stronger, and little wiser, every time. But with life comes new trials. The question is, in the end: who will love, who will live, and who will be dead ever after?

Shield of Sea and SpaceShield of Sea and Space

This is book three of a trilogy; I haven’t received books one and two so I can’t comment on the series to date. The publisher says:

Vidarian Rulorat, called the Tesseract, a powerful magic-user whose abilities spread across multiple elements, finds himself at war with the Alorean Import Company, a powerful cabal of merchants wealthy enough to buy nations. By opening the gate between worlds, Vidarian released the Starhunter, goddess of chaos. With her coming, wild magic returned to the world of Andovar, bringing with it shape-changers and strange awakened elemental technologies, including many-sailed ships powered by air magic, and mechanical automata lit from within by earth and fire. Now, Vidarian discovers that the Alorean Import Company is determined to eliminate two-thirds of this new life on Andovar in the hopes of hoarding more magic for themselves in a new, worldwide plutocracy. Along with his human, gryphon, and shapechanger allies, he must stop the Company if he is to safeguard any future for the diverse life of Andovar, including his and Ariadel’s newborn daughter. With the existence of whole species hanging in the balance, Vidarian is locked in a race for the future of the world.

The Shambling Guide to New York City

I’m not into zombies but this novel and World War Z both have me somewhat intrigued. I might just indulge myself. The publisher says:

Sex and the City with monsters! Witty urban fantasy from fan favourite Mur Lafferty, about a travel writer finds she’s agreed to write a guide to New York – for the undead! Following the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel writer in New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position, though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her r sum – human. Not to be put off by anything – especially not her blood-drinking boss or death goddess co-worker – Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her assignments turn deadly when the careful balance between humans and monsters starts to crumble – with Zoe right in the middle.

Shards and Ashes

I’ve enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s work so much that I won’t pass it up when offered. Melissa Marr is to me a MUST READ author after Carnival of Souls (my review is here). And then you have authors like Veronica Roth, author of Divergent…  I have high hopes of this anthology. The publisher says:

Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested. Powerful, original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world. Stories from: Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Melissa Marr, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Carrie Ryan and Margaret Stohl.

Heart of Obsidian

Another paranormal romance from Nalini Singh (not me, different surname), so break out the chocolate and wine and settle in for an evening of indulgence. The publisher says:

A rich, delicious new adventure from the queen of urban fantasy.

The superb Psy-Changeling series continues with a delicious new adventure. Perfect for fans of spicy romantic fiction, this is a compelling read featuring two fabulous characters whoes attraction proves electric – but also dangerous. . .

Nalini Singh’s books tend to feature new protagonists emerging from the group, so old faves reappear. This kind of fanservice allows readers to follow their heroes while avoiding the on-again-off-again melodrama that gets old with some romances.

The Sea and Summer

George Turner was specifically mentioned at the recent Continuum Convention, Victoria’s annual science fiction convention. George is remembered as a significant Australian SF author; methinks Gollancz is assisting my education. Now if only books came with additional hours in the day, and I would have read this already. The publisher says:

The ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD-winning novel of climate change in the not-too-distant future. Francis Conway is Swill – one of the 90% in the year 2041 who must subsist on the inadequate charities of the state. A young boy growing Life, already difficult, is rapidly becoming impossible for Francis and others like him, as government corruption, official blindness and nature have conspired to turn Swill homes into watery tombs. And now the young boy must find a way to escape the approaching tide of disaster. THE SEA AND SUMMER, published in the US as THE DROWNING TOWERS is George Turner’s masterful exploration of the effects of climate change in the not-too-distant future. Comparable to J.G. Ballard’s THE DROWNED WORLD, it was shortlisted for the Nebular Award and won the The Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The Red WindThe Red Wind

The Red Wind is the first in this science fiction series for younger readers, the second being Cloud Road (reviewed here). I’m looking forward to reading the beginning of this beautifully written series; I cannot recommend Cloud Road highly enough, for readers and for writers learning their craft. The publisher says:

Winner of the 2011 CBC Book of the Year – Younger Readers. Now in paperback. The first book in The Kingdom of the Lost series.  When a devastating red wind sweeps across the land, brothers Bily and Zluty are forced to fight for their survival and journey into the perilous unknown. A magical new series for younger readers from the award-winning author of the Little Fur.

stungStung

A YA (12+) dystopian novel, the publisher says:

In a world in crisis, children are the future. Part of the cure. Not now. Children are deadly. Marked one to ten. Fiona is a TEN. She just doesn’t know it yet . . . She doesn’t know her true strength. Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But she has woken to find her entire world has changed – her house is abandoned and broken, and her neighbourhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she’s right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. But instead the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts. They have been branded as a warning to unvaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected inside a fortress-like wall. Fiona has awakened branded, alone and on the wrong side of the wall . . .

There was some discussion of YA dystopian novels at the recent Continuum convention. My thoughts are that good YA dystopia deals with real current issues by utilising teenage exploration of identity arising from a sense of not belonging, being alienated from the older generation and possibly society in general in order to explore and grow. I’m not a fan of the restoration ending where society is restored to present day standards because I firmly believe present day society is broken, in dire need of fixing. Eco-based novels like this one, being apolitical, can avoid that trap.

the HumansThe Humans

The publisher’s blurb is intriguing:

One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world’s greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears.
When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he’s a dog.
Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife’s eyes?

TranscendenceTranscendence

OOOooo… a time paradox novel for children… NOSTALGIA! After Doctor Who, Dar Tellum and other SF that I managed to find in the wilderness of east coast Tasmania as a child, I found a few time paradox stories and trans-time stories that I loved, before plunging headlong into Mum’s adult SF collection at the ripe old age of 10. (I was bored.) I love seeing the younger generation brought up in the way that they should go! The publisher says:

Nicole fears she’s losing her mind. Lately, everywhere she goes, everything she touches, triggers vivid scenes of a time she doesn’t know, in a place she’s never lived. Then she loses her heart too . . . When Griffon first sees Cole, he knows immediately that she is special, like him – that her visions are memories of past lives. And he is sure their paths were meant to cross in this life . . . With Griffon’s help, Cole pieces together clues from many lifetimes and discovers a secret that could ruin her only chance of a future with Griffon. But risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Memory PalaceMemory Palace

MIND. BLOWN. I tried grabbing the cover image to link here, and ended up at a Victoria and Albert Museum page and no, it was not a mistake. Part of the blurb (full blurb here):

This summer, the V&A will be staging a multi-dimensional exhibition experience. Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace will present an original work of fiction by author Hari Kunzru, transformed into a walk-in story by leading graphic designers, typographers and illustrators including Le Gun, Oded Ezer, Erik Kessels and Luke Pearson.

The multi-media project will take me a few hours to explore, I just wish I could afford to flit over and visit the actual exhibition! And the book, the picture here does NOT do it justice. The book is a modest-sized hardcover, the text in metallic copper with a textured background providing a kinaesthetic reading experience. The book has a smell of paper and ink with almost a hint of ‘old book’ smell even though it’s brand new. My only criticism: the print is TINY.

This hardcover is a collector’s item, belonging on my Special Shelf. (One of my special book cases – whatevs. Don’t nit-pick, you get the general idea.)

Tuf Voyaging

GRRM. What else do I need to say? I have started Tuf Voyaging already; it has a feel of good classic Who without the Doctor. Overtones of mild horror, but well within my tolerance levels. I’m on page 79, expecting a particular character to be next on GRRM’s hit list (yes, he’s killing off beloved characters at a rate of knots already) but this is ok. I think I know where this is going and, if I’m right, it’s going to be a fun and engaging ride. The publisher’s blurb may be slightly misleading:

Haviland Tuf is an honest space-trader (one of the few), and he likes cats. So how is it that, despite being up against the worst villains in the universe, he has become the proud owner of the last working seedship, pride of Earth’s Ecological Engineering Corps? We’ll leave that aside for now – just be thankful that the most powerful weapon in space is in good hands, hands which now control cellular material for thousands of outlandish creatures. With his unique equipment and powerful spacecraft, Tuf is set to tackle the myriad problems that human settlers have created during their colonisation of far flung worlds. Hosts of hostile monsters, a population addicted to procreation, a dictator who is willing to unleash plagues to get his own way – and all that stands between the colonists and disaster is Tuf’s ingenuity, and his reputation as an honest dealer in a universe of rogues.

Worlds Next DoorWorlds Next Door

Worlds Next Door came in the Continuum showbag. The publisher says:

Worlds Next Door is an Australian anthology of speculative fiction stories for 9-13 year olds. Published by FableCroft Publishing and edited by Tehani Wessely, Worlds Next Door contains stories by 25 Australian authors, each illustrated by Australian artists. Many of the authors in the pages are award-winning and well-known writers of children’s fiction, and the anthology is compiled to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Doctor Who series 7 part 2Doctor Who series 7 part 2

You couldn’t see them in the pile because they came in plastic slip-cases, but Roadshow kindly sent me the second half of series 7 to review. Having been busy I’m catching up on my Who, and I’ve enjoyed glimpses of the TARDIS’s library so far. More to come.

Roadshow says:

Dust off your bow ties (bow ties ARE cool) and get ready to witness the official introduction of the Doctors new companion, Clara Oswald. Set in London and featuring iconic landmarks like The Shard and Westminster Bridge, the Doctor has to battle a new enemy, the Spoonheads as he discovers that something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi. Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 promises to be the biggest and most exciting yet, to coincide with the fantastic Doctor Who 50th Anniversary year. With episodes written by Steven Moffat, Neil Gaiman and Mark Gatiss, the Doctor will have to outwit foes, both old and new including Daleks, Cybermen and Ice Warriors.

Hard Cases

At Continuum, Sean McMullen gave me a dvd case with a short film Hard Cases; watching this will be part of my research for interviewing Sean. It’s a hard life [smirk]. More on this when I know more…

kiki's delivery serviceKiki’s Delivery Service

This beautiful Studio Ghibli movie is now out on bluray. I haven’t seen it in years so I’m looking forward to a rewatch. Madman says:

There’s Magic In The Air!

1 of 9

Discover Kiki’s Delivery Service, a fantastic coming-of-age tale full of magic, adventure, and self-discovery from the sensational imagination of Academy Award–winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away). Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her chatty black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world.

And that, my friends, is a wrap of the items received recently. I may have missed one or two electronic files; when I figure out what and where they are, I’ll post them.