The Lives of Tao. Book ReviewComments Off
Angry Robot Books, p/b, 416pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
The book opens with a scene almost out of a Bond movie – Edward Blair seduces a woman in a bar to steal her keys to break into a top secret tower block, all the while conducting a silent conversation with an alien in his head (the titular Tao).
This mission does not end well for Edward, and at his moment of death, Tao is released from his body and drifts insubstantially looking desperately for another host to save him from certain death, and enable him to continue his mission. An ancient alien, who has previously inhabited Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Genghis Khan, he has to lower his standards slightly when the only host is the slovenly, out-of-shape IT technician Roen Tan.
Tao’s race crashed on Earth before the time of the dinosaurs and has been trapped since; trying to direct human-kind to produce the technology they need to leave the planet and head home again. Split into two factions – the peace-loving Prophus (Tao’s side) and the ruthless Genjix, their war has raged for centuries.
An exceptionally entertaining book, Chu’s writing is easy to consume and leaves you wanting more. Definitely one to read, and an author to watch.
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. Book reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Glen Mehn
Let’s split up New York from around 1985, imagine that no one ever bought up the nasty bits on 42nd Street. Accelerate to today. There are million dollar lofts, but there are also gangs like the ones in the 70s and 80s Marvel comics New York: Rollergirls and men with paper bag masks. There are also goblins in the subways & sewers, plus a gateway to hell.
In this mix, meet Mookie Pearl, a massive bruiser who makes things happen for the Organisation: a shadowy mob which controls, among other things, the drug trade with hell. Mookie hurts people for the mob, however they need hurting, and to wind down, he makes and consumes charcuterie – dried, cured meats requiring finesse. Mookie is a classic dark hero with a heart of gold. He’s loyal to a fault, and to the serious detriment of his familial relationships. He’s a hero, but you’ll kind of hate him, and you’ll have good reason for doing so.
This book is Lovecraft – I can’t tell you about the Great Old Ones, as that would be really spoilery – mixed with late 70s era Daredevil. No one says “With great power comes great responsibility”, but that echoes through the book.
Wendig is maturing in this tome. The adventure is there, and the certain sense of hang on for the ride, but he pauses occasionally to chew over a bit. This isn’t his breakthrough book – there’s some reliance on stock situations and characters, and an occasional continuity slip – but Wendig’s taking a step up in ambition, and this is a good thing.
Inside here is an old-time superhero-style adventure, but the superhero is just a big, meaty guy who you should hate but you end up sort of admiring. There are mobsters. Daemons. Goblins. Weird crazy shadowy things. It’s a bang-up adventure book that’s the essence of fun, from someone who appears to be a serious emerging talent.
Angry Robot Acquires Third Ramez Naam TitleComments Off
The as-yet unnamed book is the follow-up to 2013′s Nexus and the forthcoming Crux, and will be published in late 2014.
The deal for worldwide English and translation rights was negotiated by Angry Robot Senior Editor Lee Harris and Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency.
Ramez was heard to say “I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Angry Robot again for the third Nexus book. I couldn’t ask for better partners in bringing this story to life and getting it out to fans. Especially after I injected Nexus nanoparticles into their brains and used those to control the team’s every thought.”
Whilst Lee came back with “Absolute poppycock, of course. We bought the series because it is one of the smartest near-future technothrillers we’ve seen in ages, and not because Ramez (who, incidentally, is superhumanly handsome, gifted and generous, and an amazing dancer) is controlling our thoughts and actions.”
Ramez Naam is a professional technologist, and was involved in the development of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook. He was the CEO of Apex Nanotechnologies, a company involved in developing nanotechnology research software before returning to Microsoft. He holds a seat on the advisory board of the Institute for Accelerating Change, is a member of the World Future Society, a Senior Associate of the Foresight Institute, and a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Ramez is the author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, and is also the recipient of the 2005 HG Wells Award for Contributions to Transhumanism, awarded by the World Transhumanist Association.
Nexus was his first novel, and Crux will be published in September 2013.
Angry Robot Signs Chuck Wendig in Two Book DealComments Off
The first acquisition, Bloody Brides, is a sequel to Wendig’s 2013 title – the first Mookie Pearl book - The Blue Blazes, and will be published in early 2015. The as-yet unnamed second title will follow later in the year.
The deal for worldwide English rights was negotiated by Angry Robot Senior Editor Lee Harris and Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Chuck said “PLEASE CALL THE POLICE THEY WON’T LET ME LEAVE THEY JUST KEEP MAKING ME WRITE THESE BOOKS AND I HAVEN’T SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY IN TWO YEARS — oh! I’m sorry, what I mean to say is, Angry Robot is full of awesome people bringing awesome books into the world and I’m happy that they’re continuing to afford me the opportunity to reduce the overall quality of their stable of authors. I am, as always, excited to continue my relationship with these charming robot curators of genre fiction.”
Lee said “We are always delighted to read a new Chuck Wendig book, and doubly-delighted when we get to publish them. This makes six books for Chuck with Angry Robot, and long make it continue!”
Chuck has written too much. He should probably stop. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with wife, dog, and newborn progeny. You can find him at his website, terribleminds, where he is busy dispensing dubious writing advice and unstable publishing wisdom. Previous books with Angry Robots: the Miriam Black novels Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and 2014’s The Cormorant and the first Mookie Pearl title, The Blue Blazes.
The Age Atomic. Book ReviewComments Off
Angry Robot Books, s/b, £8.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
1954 New York is connected to an alternate version of itself through The Fissure – a mysterious power that the government in each reality try to control. Following the events of the previous novel in the series (EmpireState), The Fissure has vanished, and the alternate New York finds itself in the grip of sub-zero temperatures and dwindling energy supplies.
Private investigator Rad Bradley finds himself tangled up in a plot to create huge robot armies. Assisted by Jennifer Jones, who claims to be a government agent, he starts to investigate the mysterious “King of 125th Street”. Meanwhile, in the other, original New York, Doctor X is trying to find a reliable power source for an army of robots that is being built on the orders of Evelyn McHale, the (literally) ghostly director of Atoms for Peace.
Some great characters come together in an epic struggle to re-establish The Fissure and prevent the destruction of all creation. At times reminiscent of the classic Saturday morning science fiction serials like The Rocketeer and Flash Gordon, at other times, bordering on Terry Gilliam’s surreal epics like Brazil, The Age Atomic is a stunning novel from a skilled story teller.
Angry Robot Signs James A. Moore’s Epic Fantasy Seven Forges in Two Book DealComments Off
Angry Robot is delighted to announce the acquisition of the worldwide rights to two epic fantasy novels by James A. Moore, the first of which, Seven Forges, will be published in October.
The deal for Worldwide English rights in books, ebooks and audiobooks was concluded by Angry Robot Managing Director Marc Gascoigne and Donald Morhaim in New York.
James A. Moore cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty role-playing supplements for White Wolf Games. He also penned the White Wolf novels Vampire: House of Secrets and Werewolf: Hellstorm. Moore’s first short story collection,Slices, sold out before ever seeing print.
He is currently working on three new novels: Congregations of the Dead, the as-yet unnamed sequel to Seven Forges, and Boom Town, and he recently completed his latest Jonathan Crowley novel, Cherry Hill. He lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.
James said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be working with Angry Robot Books and the amazing team they’ve assembled. They’ve been enthusiastic, caring and attentive, and now that the contracts have been signed I’m happy to report to the entire team that their loved ones will be returned home safely in the very near future, most of them no worse for the wear.”
Angry Robot Signs New Zealander Freya Robertson in Two Book Epic Fantasy DealComments Off
Freya Robertson has an impressive track record, having published over twenty romance novels under her pseudonym, Serenity Woods. The deal was agreed between Robertson and Angry Robot’s Senior Editor, Lee Harris.
Freya is a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, as well as a dedicated gamer. She has a deep and abiding fascination for the history and archaeology of the middle ages and spent many hours as a teenager writing out notecards detailing the battles of the Wars of the Roses, or moping around museums looking at ancient skeletons, bits of rusted iron and broken pots.
Heartwood is a truly epic fantasy that tells the story of a dying land, a desperate quest, a love story of sorts, and the seven knights who travel the wilderness in a battle to save the land and its people.
Freya said, “I’m thrilled to be welcomed onto Angry Robot’s superb team and, as a New Zealand writer, pleased to bring a little bit of Middle Earth to the table.”
Heartwood will be published in early 2014, with the sequel to follow later in the year.
Strange Chemistry Signs Amalie Howard in Two-Book YA Science Fiction dealComments Off
Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, is delighted to announce the signing of Amalie Howard, in a two-book World English Rights deal concluded by Strange Chemistry’s editor Amanda Rutter and Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency.
The first book, YA Science Fiction novel The Almost Girl, will be published in Spring 2014, with a sequel to follow towards the end of 2014.
Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
The Almost Girl is a richly imagined story of defiance, courage, and heart. It is the tale of a girl who finds her own way on her own terms, a girl who won’t let what she is define her, and a girl who will sacrifice everything she is for the ones she loves. It is a story of someone who eclipses her predestined fate to become something more … something extraordinary.
Seventeen Magazine Summer Club author Amalie Howard grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure.
She received a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Maine in International Studies and French, and a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Travelling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children.
Angry Robot Signs Tim Waggoner’s Brand New Urban FantasyComments Off
Angry Robot, publisher of cutting-edge SF, F and WTF?! fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of a new two-book Urban Fantasy series by Tim Waggoner, author of the hugely popular Nekropolis saga.
The deal was brokered between Tim’s agent Cherry Weiner of the Cherry Weiner Literary Agency and Angry Robot’s Senior Editor, Lee Harris for worldwide English, translation and audio rights.
It’s Men In Black meets The Sandman. Meet the fine men and women of the NightWatch: a supernatural agency dedicated to hunting down rogue nightmares that escape from other realms when people dream about them, while ensuring that other dream-folk are allowed to live among the regular, human population… as long as they play by the rules.
The first book in the series - Night Terrors - will be published in the summer of 2014, with a follow-up volume scheduled for early 2015.
Tim Waggoner said: “One of the many wonderful things about Angry Robot is that they don’t publish cookie-cutter fiction. They seek out the different, the unusual, and – in my case – the downright weird. It’s a joy to be working with these mad geniuses again.”
Angry Robot Senior Editor Lee Harris said: “Tim’s Nekropolis was one of the first books we published when we launched Angry Robot, and it has been popular with our readers ever since. I’m hugely looking forward to our working with him again more than 100 books later!”
The Damned Busters/Costume Not Included by Matthew Hughes. Book reviewComments Off
Angry Robot, p/b, £7.99 ea./ebook, £5.49, http://angryrobotbooks.com/index.php
Reviewed by David Brzeski
Chesney Anstruther is an actuary. He is also a functionally autistic nerd. He has all the classic nerd traits. No social skills; bullied at school; geeky job that fascinates him, while interesting no one else; failure with women; loves superhero comics.
When he accidentally causes Hell to go on strike, something has to be done! Satan offers him a one-off deal, which results in the weirdest superhero duo ever.
It reminded me somewhat of the work of the late Robert Asprin; to the extent that I was imagining the characters as if they were drawn by Phil Foglio, the illustrator of many of Asprin’s books and comic adaptations. In the dealings with Satan and Hell I also saw some similarities with Andy Hamilton’s brilliant ‘Old Harry’s Game’ radio series, which is high praise in my book.
That’s not to say it as riotously laugh out loud funny as either of the aforementioned works. They were out-and-out comedy, whereas this is comedy-drama. The plot, which combines elements of superhero comics, police procedurals, political thrillers and religious satire is every bit as important as the humour.
‘To Hell and Back’ book one: ‘The Damned Busters’ is great fun.
‘To Hell and Back’ book two: ‘Costume Not Included’ is even better.
I can see a lot of fundamentalist (read humourless) Christians hating these books. I could see them being pulled from certain school libraries in the USA (assuming they ever got in there in the first place). The overall plot of both books explains in a very amusing fashion, all the inconsistencies in the Bible. Creation is a work in progress and God is constantly revising it, but what happens to all the material that was excised from previous drafts?
Poor Chesney Anstruther has enough trouble coping with the world around him as it is. Now he has to deal with demons, criminals, police officers (corrupt and otherwise), politicians, ambitious televangelists, a new girlfriend, Satan and his mother!
I recommend these books highly and will certainly be reading book three in the series, which has recently landed on my virtual review pile, fairly soon.