Archive for October, 2012

Let the Old Dreams Die

October 13, 2012 - 2:34 pm No Comments

Let the Old Dreams Die
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: Quercus
Page count/size: 400pp
Release Date: 30th August 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Whatever happened to Oskar and Eli after the events that took place in Let the Right One In? And what became of the beleaguered families in Handling the Undead, Lindqvist’s seminal ‘zombie’ novel with a difference? Find out in Let the Old Dreams Die this new story collection by Lindqvist.
In other tales from this collection, a woman finds a dead body and decides to keep it for herself, a customs officer has a mysterious gift which enables him to see what others hide, and a man believes he knows how to deceive death. These are the stories of Lindqvist’s rich imagination. They are about love and death and what we do when the two collide and the monsters emerge.
These stories, which are surreal, complex, gives the reader insight into the human psyche, where ordinary people experience the extraordinary.
As always Lindqvist’s delivers tightly paced character driven narrative, which engages the reader from the off, particularly in his story `The Final Processing’, which focuses on those families from Handling the Undead, incidentally my favourite book of his.
It is amazing to think that English is Lindqvist’s second language, given his superior knowledge and skill with words.
A stunning collection.

Jo Fletcher Books News

October 11, 2012 - 4:01 pm No Comments

Jo Fletcher has won an auction for World Rights to a trilogy, The Walkin’, by David Towsey from Sam Copeland at RCW. The first book in the series, Your Brother’s Blood, will be published in 2013.

It has been nine hundred years since man last used machines. Technology, science and medicine have been forgotten, leaving in their wake a twisted legacy: the Walkin’. The disease is passed down from generation to generation; it causes men, women and children to live on after death.

In these turbulent times a community seeks isolation. Their plain existence is based on an incomplete copy of the Bible and the teachings of John Sebastian Barkley, town founder. Following his example, they burn the bodies of their dead to stop them from living again. Except that doesn’t always happen . . .

Thomas McDermott has died. A man of Barkley, he should have been burnt on a funeral pyre, but instead, he wakes from his death. Torn between the desire to see his wife and daughter, and the shame of what he has become, he travels to Barkley – but his return endangers everything and everyone he once loved.

David Towsey, 27, has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa, and is continuing his studies as a PhD student at Aberystwyth University. He was nominated for a British Fantasy Society award for Best Short Fiction in 2008. He regularly reviews for critical journals, including the New Welsh Review and the BSFA’s critical journal, Vector.

Jo Fletcher said, ‘The agent described this as “a bastard post-apocalyptic cross between The Passage, The Sisters Brothers and Cormac McCarthy”, and was hugely excited. Normally I take that excitement with a pinch of salt – it’s an agent’s job to sell, after all – but the moment I started reading this unique zombie western I knew if was every bit as special as Sam had said, and thus perfect for Jo Fletcher Books, so we at JFB and Quercus are thrilled David’s joined us.’

David Towsey said, ‘I can’t wait to start working with Jo Fletcher and her team. The titles coming out under the Jo Fletcher imprint are unbelievably exciting; to have my work become part of such a vibrant and diverse list is a real honour.’

Agent Sam Copeland of RCW Literary Agency said ‘Both the author and I were bowled over by Jo Fletcher’s enthusiasm and intelligence in talking about David’s work. We were totally persuaded that JFB at Quercus was the perfect fit, and we are hugely excited.’


Halloween Comp

October 11, 2012 - 2:14 pm 3 Comments

Dear All

Do I ever have an amazing guveaway for you this Oct? Apart from my regular comp to win Jaine Fenn’s Downside Girls, this month I have TWO, YES TWO copies of Vampire Circus by Mark Morris to throw your way. Not only that, they’re SIGNED!!

So, what do you have to do I ask? Share this amazon link for my book on FB AND drop me an email and tell me what is your favourite monster and why?

The link you need to share is;

Many Thanks and good luck

Ash – James Herbert

October 11, 2012 - 2:03 pm No Comments

Author: James Herbert
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: 30th Aug 2012
Page Count: 600pp (approx)
Reviewer: Michael Jones

The eponymous David Ash, detective of the paranormal, is hired through his employers the Psychical Research Institute to investigate strange goings-on at a place called Comraich Castle. This, he learns, is a “Retreat” where the sufficiently wealthy (and they need to be very wealthy indeed) can withdraw from the world at a large – as often as not to escape the consequences of their past misdeeds – and live out their lives in luxury, comfort and safety without anyone knowing where they are. It also transpires that the wealthy can be provided with a hiding place for relatives whom they wish, or need, to conceal: the mad, the bad and the just plain embarrassing. The castle is run by a secret cabal allegedly set up a couple of centuries ago with the connivance of the Royal Family of the time. Since then it has grown in power and influence and, being privy to the guilty secrets of the highest in the land, is effectively outside the law. It even arranges political assassinations on behalf of the government.

Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that the Castle is haunted, although that is scarcely an adequate word to describe the situation. A brutal incident in its history resulted in a curse being placed upon it and the resulting evil influence has grown and festered through the years and is now being magnified and channelled through some of its less sane inhabitants. There have been one or two strange incidents, but it is the unpleasantly bloody death of one of the paying guests that has led to outside help being sought.
As Ash arrives, it all begins to escalate. During dinner one evening the food on everyone’s plate turns to maggots halfway through the meal, causing widespread panic as those who have already eaten them find flies hatching in their stomachs. Things then go from bad to worse, with people being dismembered, torn to pieces by wild animals, blown to smithereens, burned alive, etcetera, etcetera, all described in graphic detail. Ash’s encounters with rats and quite large spiders en route to his escape from the castle almost pale in comparison. The unpleasantness of these various set pieces is an essential constituent of this kind of modern horror novel.

It is almost a pleasure to see so many thoroughly nasty individuals receiving their just desserts, which provides a kind of rationale for the more horrific aspects of the story. At the same time, there is a conspiracy theory side to it which is highly intriguing, providing as it does contrived explanations for a number of the mysteries and unexplained disappearances. It should be said however, that the inclusion of at least some of these subsidiary plot elements, referring to real people, may be of questionable taste. Be that as it may, this aspect certainly makes the book into something more than a mere tale of horror or the supernatural.

It is, in all honesty, not the best written book ever. It is over elaborate, chunks of exposition are almost forced in here and there, the dialogue can be suspect and some situations and subsidiary characters are clearly shoehorned in just to provide opportunities to disgust the susceptible reader. Thus it is longer than it needed to be. If, however, one can overlook these faults, it is possible to be quite enthralled by the story and the way it all works out, which may broadly speaking be predictable, although the ending includes a couple of unexpected twists. A reader with a broader range of interest than merely the most rigorous SF will find much of interest.

The Windup Girl

October 3, 2012 - 3:30 pm 1 Comment

Meet Chris Amies – he is the author of one published novel (“Dead Ground”, published by Big Engine) and several stories in magazines, anthologies and online publications. Recently he has been producing flash fiction, one of which was translated into the constructed language Toki Pona. He was born in Surrey and lived in London until a recent move to Birmingham where he works for a housing association. A languages graduate, he also works as a translator from French into English and is interested in translating French-language Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. He is currently working on a ‘remake’ of one of his unpublished novels, a fantasy set in West London, where much of his fiction takes place.

The Windup Girl
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 505
Released: 2010
Reviewer: Chris Amies

Near-future Thailand. In a world where disaster has befallen the food supply and calories are the hardest currency, an artificial person – a windup – escapes from servitude and finds herself at the centre of a time of political and social meltdown.

I have no idea if this is a well-depicted Thailand. I’ve only been there once, years ago as a tourist but the world depicted is an engaging and credible one. One character, Hock Seng, is a refugee from the Muslim fundamentalist state of Malaya, a name some people have taken as historical inaccuracy but which may just mean this isn’t quite the same country as our-world Malaysia. He and western expat Anderson Lake manage a factory whose motive power is supplied by ‘megodonts’. Megodonts are genetically-engineered elephants only larger (not sure why these creatures would exist instead of ordinary elephants which have been used for motive power in Thailand for centuries, other than ‘because gengineered four-tusked elephants would be cool’). In this post-peak oil world muscle power counts for a lot. What isn’t provided directly by large animals is stored up in kink-springs, which are spring-loaded mechanisms used in much the way petrol engines are today. And most of the world is under the control of food-supply companies as the plant gene pools have been attacked by genetic plagues.

Hock Seng and Lake are not the pivotal characters of this narrative – this would be the windup girl of the title, Emiko, who fled Japan and is now living a degraded life in Thailand. Also key to the story is Police officer Kanya, who with her superior officer and mentor Jaidee is witness to much turmoil in a country torn between past and present, between the wish for purity and isolation and openness to the outside world. Cheshires – ghost cats – lurk in the shadows, and there are airships up above.

It is a complex novel and one which does read like several linked stories, what with characters leaving centre stage only to turn up as minor characters later on. Even if this reader has no sense of what the real place is like it seemed compelling enough even if not very appealing – it is a largely dystopian future though more by implication. The outside world, which the Thais have been keeping at bay, is implied to be worse than what we see here.

The windup girl is in some ways better than human – but deliberately impaired so as to mark out her otherness (she moves with a jerky gait, hence the word ‘windup’ and the slang term for them, ‘herky-jerky’). This flawed nature recalls the strong, fast but doomed replicants of “Blade Runner” and the novel itself is not unlike, while twenty years or so on from cyberpunk. It’s quite an ambitious technology to be paired with a post-peak-oil civilisation, but really Emiko is a symbol, something fantastical like the Cheshires, a point that brings together the disparate lives of the people in this twisty novel. Bacigalupi has pulled off an interesting and attractive dystopia, and if that is a contradiction, well contradiction is the spring that drives SF.