Archive for June, 2011

And Many More…

June 30, 2011 - 7:37 pm 5 Comments

First off, let me say that I am not a bra burning looney. Lets get that clear. However, I am passionate about the perceived absence of women SF writers. I say perceived and not actual, because at the last list produced by Ian Sayles at Eastercon, there were 151 women writers who have had an SF book published in the last rolling century.

That’s pretty impressive by any standards, but I challenge you to name 20 of them without using Google. How many are on your bookshelves? How many have you read? Conversely, how many Urban Fantasy and traditional fantasy women writers can you name? Probably more than the women in SF. My point is this: Contrary to popular opinion, women do write SF. They are out there working hard. So why don’t we know more about them? Is it that publishers devote less marketing budget to their work? Is it that publishers don’t print them? Are they comfortable writing in SF? What are the barriers preventing women becoming as successful as, say, Iain M Banks and Alistair Reynolds?

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Review – Cracking Concrete

June 22, 2011 - 6:59 pm No Comments

The Concrete Grove

Author:  Gary McMahon   

Publisher: Solaris Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  382pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Moving into a deprived council estate area, The Concrete Grove, 14yr old Hailey starts to have unimaginable nightmares and experiences that she at first puts down to the loss of her father and the previously well-to-do upbringing she had. But there is something dark hiding in the Grove. Hailey and her Mom Lana both sense it. New neighbour Tom senses it too and investigating the strange goings on at the Grove together, offers him escape from his world as carer for his disabled wife. Together they start to fight against local hoodlum Monty Bright and his criminal empire. Together, they enter an urban world of new nightmares.

The Concrete Grove, book one of a trilogy is a stunning piece of writing with moments that are poignant, disturbing, emotional, distinctly eww and outright scary.  I never imagined that hummingbirds could be frightening until reading this book. 

McMahon shows us the darkness unfurling beneath the Estates – the crime and drug ridden darkness we know of – and the hidden darkness peering around the corner invading our hopes and dreams.  With its symbolic and important imagery of trees and breathing vegetation, this novel is a forest of decay and horror.  Natural earthy symbolism flows through its entire structure from acorns to oaks, to bugs and twigs and everything in between its rotten earth.

McMahon has nailed the art of horror and is at the forefront of the British new wave of ‘mundane’ horror now emerging.

This is simply a stunning novel and I look forward to book two in the trilogy.

If you want to know more about McMahon’s latest projects take a look at his website Gary McMahon.

Review – Daemons are a Ghouls BF

June 22, 2011 - 6:30 pm 2 Comments

Desdaemona

Author:  Ben Macallan      

Publisher: Solaris Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  336pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Desi (Desdaemona) is sexy, sassy, kick ass and pretty much every young teenage boy’s dream. She has the kind of body mere mortals would envy and in the case of young runaway Jordan, lust after.  So it’s as a pretty difficult task for Jordan (who spends his time tracking down lost children and returning them to their parents for a fee) to refuse the job of tracking down Desi’s missing sister Fay.

There are only a couple of complications; Desi is a daemon (half demon half human) and Fay is being hunted by one of the most frightening and infamous demon families around; all good reasons for Jordan to run and hide. Yet if he had hidden, we would have a far less entertaining jaunt through Macallan’s world.  

On their hunt for the missing girl, Jordan and Desi experience a whole host of challenges and new experiences, including a visit to Saloman’s, a club in the heart of London where Drag Queens mingle with Demons, Wicca’s and all manner of supernatural creatures and the truth rises as all masks fall.

I have no doubt, particularly given the ending, that there will be a follow up to this novel. Not in the least because it ends with a cliff hanger. But that isn’t the main reason. Apart from plenty of shocks and incredibly strong main characters in both Jordan and Desi, sharp humour abounds in this book and brings it to a whole new dimension of Urban Fantasy. On the hunt for a vampire’s nest we are reliably informed that it’s “always worth looking at the town council”. 

Witty, intelligent and fast-paced, Desdaemona is positively the most fun read I have had in a very long time.               

If you want to know more about Macallan’s (Chaz Brenchley’s) latest projects take a look at his website Chaz Brenchley.

Review – Whates’ Wonderful Worlds

June 12, 2011 - 2:08 pm 3 Comments

The Noise Revealed

Author:  Ian Whates

Publisher: Solaris Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  425pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

The Noise revealed, sequel to space opera The Noise Within, is a brilliant book in its own right and there is no need to read the first novel in order to enjoy this wide-ranging ride through a multitude of worlds and universes. However, as this novel is such a good read, it may prompt you to dig up the first book to satiate your appetite until the third book in this series is released.

Set in ULAW, the United League of Allied Worlds, mankind is adjusting to its first contact with apparently peaceful aliens, the Byrzaen.  For Jim Leyton, black ops soldier and ex ULAW Agent, there is more to the Byrzaen than meets the eye. Jim finds his task of rescuing former lover Mya from a ULAW prison just the start of his investigation into these powerful aliens.  

As the action progresses and Jim builds relationships with the people of the habitat (rogue refugees who live in various spaceships powered by veils, the Byrzaen engine components) he encounters the alluring yet mysterious Kethi who, it seems, can run faster than a speeding bullet.  We also meet Philip Kauffman, scientist and recently deceased businessman who attempts to adapt to a life in the world of Virtuality, a play centre for the rich and young, now Philip’s only means of existing as an AI.

It is the stark realism of the habitat offset by the vibrancy of Virtuality (where avatars roam as dragon ladies, werewolves, cat headed people and cloven hoofed fauns dancing under the graffiti “Faunication 4 Ever”) that makes Whates’ worlds so entertaining. 

Ian Whates knows how to inform, amuse, surprise and challenge the reader.  The Noise Revealed is quite simply a mind-blowing, universe spanning, quality slice of space opera. You have to read this.         

If you want to know more about Ian’s latest projects take a look at his website Ian Whates.

Review – Steamnoir Goodness

June 8, 2011 - 9:02 pm No Comments

Dead of Veridon

Author:  Tim Akers

Publisher: Solaris Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  366pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Ever since holding a gun to the head of his boss and top criminal Valentine, Jacob Burn, “heir, criminal and saviour” of Veridon finds himself a little short of work and lucky to be alive.  With few prospects left, he takes a rather unsavoury job delivering a ‘package’ to the Fehn, the Dead of Veridon, who live beneath the Venice-like canals and rivers of the city. The package is more than he bargained for, injecting a crippling disease into the Fehn, leaving Jacob on the run with friend and “bug” Wilson. Something or someone is trying to kill the Dead of Veridon. But this doesn’t do justice to the scope and imagination of the city of Veridon and its strange occupants.

Just in case I’m the first and not the fiftieth person to come up with the following definition, I’m putting my stamp on it.  Time Akers’ sequel to Heart of Veridon, belongs, if such a genre exists, somewhere in the camp of ‘Steam-Noir’. With the basic Victoriana and engineering elements of Steampunk and some Nemoesque style water shenanigans going on, all written in a wonderful Noir style that would be more than welcome in a Raymond Chandler novel, the Dead of Veridon is a thrilling journey into a sumptuous and bizarre world.

Blending all of the best elements of Steampunk and the detective novel, Jacob’s pursuit of the criminal who has framed him for the destruction of the Fehn, is a high octane jaunt through a staggering vista of experiences. Throw in some politics, Jacob’s deadpan humour and his sidekick Wilson, who is fluent in sarcasm and you have a recipe for pulp perfection. Interspersed with the action, the humour bubbles to the surface frequently and this is an energetic and fun read.

I eagerly await the next Jacob Burn’s adventure. Dead of Veridon is simply – Dead Good!!      

If you want to know more about Tim’s latest projects take a look at this website Solarisbooks.com/authors.