To Die A Stranger by Jilly Paddock. Ebook reviewComments Off
TO DIE A STRANGER by Jilly Paddock, Cathaven Press, Ebook, £3.23, http://tabbycat.wordpress.com.
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
A few months ago I had the pleasure of reading Ms. Paddock’s novella The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone. The titular “spook” was an intriguing character with deadly, apparently supernatural powers, and I wanted to know more. Now I think I do.
This is more or less a superhero story, with added space opera and a liberal dash of conspiracy thriller. Ms. Paddock is not one to be restricted by the conventions of any one genre.
Beautiful young actress Anna survives a plane crash and goes home, scarred and no longer employable in movies, to work in her father’s company. The company turns out to be mixed up in military stuff and Anna accidentally pairs with a Zenith computer, simultaneously gaining superpowers and making herself a target for evil government agents. What follows is a fast-moving thrill ride through space with lots of chases, fight scenes, cliffhangers and gloriously evil baddies. Imagine if Iain M. Banks had written The Matrix.
This is my third JP experience, and I see her contructing a universe, subtlely referencing her other works to create a consistent and intriguing mythos of her own. However, this creativity is only background work – what we really enjoy is the characters, the plotting and the storytelling. She has given us half a dozen believable and engaging characters, and spun a cracking yarn with them.
I’m not telling you any more, but you won’t be disappointed when you find it all out for yourself.
I could criticise a little, if I were feeling pedantic: the villains are perhaps too thoroughly evil to be realistic – they come across as a little pantominey. One of them even does the whole I’m going to explain my whole scheme because you’re going to die anyway Mr. Bond. But these things don’t spoil the book – if anything they add to the fun.
Another great read from an author to watch.
Dead World By Shaun Jeffrey. ebook reviewComments Off
Reviewed by David A. Riley
Shaun Jeffrey has written an enjoyable romp through a post Apocalyptic world years after a zombie holocaust has devastated civilisation. Anna and her husband Isaiah live with their children in a tightly controlled community inside a former prison, safe from the undead that prowl around the outside world. Through a twisted theology the undead are regarded as gods because they are seen as immortal and any attempt to destroy them is regarded as heresy. Impoverished, living off what scraps of food can be produced inside their dreary concrete world, strict controls are maintained on numbers. For every birth there must be a counterbalancing loss in numbers. This is carried out through the use of a lottery; the names included normally being those amongst the elderly. The winner is honoured by being ejected into the outside world to become one of the gods.
Anna has begun a guilt-ridden affair with Roman, a leading priest. When she tries to end it Roman takes his revenge by falsely reading out the name of one of her children as the winner of the next lottery. Even though her young daughter believes she is being honoured, that she will become a god, Anna is distraught. Roman lets her know what he has done, intending to use this as leverage against her to resume their affair. This sets off a train of events that result in catastrophe for most of the people in the community and revelations about what has really happened as Anna escapes from their community with her children in tow, and Roman, her husband and a band of enforcers set out in pursuit.
This is a tense read, with plenty of action and credible characters. And a world in which it is often hard to decide who the real monsters are. Some humans have descended to cannibalism while others have succumbed to greed, enslaving others or selling them off as food. It is a harsh, cruel, merciless world in which there is little to hope other than to live through another day.
At approximately 75 pages, it’s a good, brisk read, with enough originality and action for those who enjoy a zombie story.
The Spook And The Spirit In The Stone by Jilly Paddock. Ebook review(1)
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
It’s usually a positive thing if a story is difficult to categorise. This one is set in the future on another planet; only some of the characters are human; and there’s a scary supernatural beastie. At heart though, it’s a noirish thriller, complete with kidnapping, assorted murders and a gruff but engaging first person narrator.
An ambassador’s child is kidnapped, and policeman Jerome is assigned to the investigation along with his career-driven female partner and a spook, an agent from Earth with apparently supernatural powers. I’m not telling you any more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for you.
It takes both confidence and skill to mash up genres like this, and Ms. Paddock has pulled it off nicely. It’s competently set up in the first chapter, with further surprises along the way. The characters are well-drawn, and I enjoyed spending time with all of them. Her prose is classy and smooth and the unfolding of the plot is paced to keep us on our toes. The narration felt quite dry at first, but it fits the character.
My only complaint is that I wanted more. There are half a dozen good characters in here, two or three of whom are well fleshed out, but I really liked Jerome, Lamont, Sophie, Giselle, even Vincenzo. It felt like meeting some really cool people, having a brief chat about all the things you have in common, then never seeing them again. I wanted to relax a bit with Jerome and Val and find out about Lamont’s home life. I wanted to get the feel of Ms. Paddock’s world.
There is enough invention here to fill a novel, and it would be a more satisfying read at maybe three times its current length. It could even succeed as a series of novels, especially since the rules of her universe are so fluid.
An enjoyable taster, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest.
New horror magazine seeks Kickstarter fundingComments Off
John Joseph Adams is seeking Kickstarter funding for the proposed Nightmare Magazine - “a monthly magazine of horror and dark fantasy short fiction which will be published both online and in ebook format. This Kickstarter is intended to help fund the first issue and to get the magazine off the ground.
In Nightmare‘s pages, you will find all kinds of horror fiction, from zombie stories and haunted house tales, to visceral psychological horror. No subject is off-limits, and we will be encouraging our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.
Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, every month Nightmare will bring you a mix of originals and reprints, and feature a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Nightmare, it is our hope that you’ll see where horror comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.
Nightmare will also include non-fiction, fiction podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go behind-the-scenes of their stories.”
There are new brand stories lined up for the first issue from Laird Barron, Sarah Langan, Jonathan Maberry and Genevieve Valentine.
If you are interested in backing this project please visit the Kickstarter page HERE
Download your digital copy of the BFS Journal and ShelflingsComments Off
BFS members should have received their email detailing how to download their digital copy of the Spring BFS Journal. From this edition, the Journal is available as a PDF, epub and mobi for all your ereader needs.
The email also includes details of how to download issue one of Shelflings. Shelflings, compiled and typeset by Stephen Theaker, is a new BFS ezine featuring reviews that were commissioned and edited by Craig Lockley, Phil Lunt and Jay Eales for the British Fantasy Society website, with some reviews that were commissioned by Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards.
If you have problems with your ebook editions please contact Journal Production Manager Cavan Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) and don’t forget you can discuss any of the BFS’s publications on our forum HERE
Samantha Lee’s Demon on KindleComments Off
Samantha Lee’s best selling young adult novel, Demon, originally published under Scholastic’s Point Horror imprint, has been uploaded to Amazon’s Kindle with an original cover by Dave Carson.
“Lori has three wishes – Popularity with her peers, Perry for her boyfriend and to be the perfect size eight. Not too much to ask? But then if you make a pact with the Demon, you’re apt to get more than you bargained for…”
The Belltower is in the upload process and Demon 2 will also be available on Kindle some time in April 2012.
Endless by Matt Bone. Ebook reviewComments Off
Reviewed by R A Bardy [@mangozoid]
Matt Bone’s début novel marks the start of a new prospective Fantasy series set in the world of Crescent, and I ought to say at the start that the title seems strangely appropriate: this was a tough read. It took me a while to crunch through to the end, and at time of writing Kindle hadn’t been updated with page counts, so this had a whopping 6091 ‘locations’ if that’s any help at all…
To be fair to the author, there is the core of a very good fantasy series here, but the somewhat contrived beginning can be a double-edged sword. I honestly felt the author had started with Alice In Wonderland in mind, and found myself building the barricades and preparing for the worst. Push on however, and you’ll be suitably rewarded with some quite brilliant writing, which exudes confidence, pace and all-round fluidity: as a reader we literally witness the author ‘grow’ and settle into his own strident voice, at once both distinct and manifestly lucid. And it’s a good job because this is a long book, and takes its time to gather the confidence of readers in preparation for the journey ahead.
In brief, John Bridgeman finds himself alone on a deserted, almost apocalyptic Earth, with everybody gone save a few animal rodents and several billion tons of abandoned cars, vehicles and buildings. Through a contrivance I don’t care to reveal, he finds himself plucked from our world and plunged into Crescent, a fantastic nether-world with two moons, black as night spirit storms adrift in the sky, a diabolical evil villain with an overwhelming personal ‘army’ of light-sucking beasts (The Endless of the title), and an eclectic cast, all with motivations of their own and some of whom may or may not have experienced something eerily similar to our protagonist.
It has twists, it has turns, it has strange domesticated creatures, a relatively unexpected ending, some excellent personalities, and some very strong ideas. All told, I think this is well worth your time, but you’ll need to battle through the crap beginning and brush away the cobwebs first, before the diamond within captures your imagination…
Alchemy releases Mike Chinn’s The Paladin Mandates as ebookComments Off
The Paladin Mandates by Mike Chinn (published by The Alchemy Press) is now available for the Kindle. This revised edition features seven Paladin stories including a brand new tale, “There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”.
Mixing generous dollops of The Scorpion, The Shadow and Dominic Fortune, with a fascination for old airplanes, and a taste for ’30s detective fiction … enter Damian Paladin, ghost hunter, supernatural sleuth.
The original Paladin Mandates was published in 1998, featuring a cover and internal illustrations by Bob Covington. We are pleased to report that the cover artwork graces the new edition.
Reggie Oliver’s Mrs Midnight now available in paperback and ebook formatsComments Off
Reggie Oliver‘s collection, Mrs Midnight and Other Stories, which sold out in hardback, has now been made available in paperback from Tartarus Press. The first 200 copies sold will be signed and numbered by the author. It is also available in ebook format. Visit the Tartarus Press site for ordering information.
A Tartarus Press interview with Reggie Oliver can also be found on YouTube HERE.
Science fiction novel Six Against The Stars free on Kindle this weekComments Off
Author Stephen Hunt has made the first novel of his two-book Six Against The Stars science fiction series free for readers to download on the Amazon Kindle. The free download offer is running from now until the end of Sunday 8 January 2012.
Here’s the book information …
“As the self-proclaimed biggest coward in the galaxy, Horatio has it easy on what passes for 40th century America. A much-favoured sycophant in the court of the King of Earth, Horatio lives in a genetically engineered paradise where there’s a vat-grown slave waiting around every marble column with a bunch of grapes to drop into his oh-so perfectly designed mouth.
Unfortunately for Horatio, the artificial intelligence that rules the great mass of humanity spread across the stars has other plans for this feckless seducer. So, if you ever wonder how the galaxy’s biggest coward finds himself actually trying to save it, you’re not alone… but then, unfortunately, neither is our hero!
His misadventures are abetted by a psychotic Martian warrior, a robot who thinks it’s related to Sherlock Holmes, a beautiful genetically enhanced assassin, a scientist with a computer for a brain, and a millennia-old clone who was alive when the last US President was executed by a firing squad.
It’s six against the galaxy. Six against the stars. They’ll save the universe… but they might damage it first.”