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Take a trip across time and space with the latest Sci-Fi titles; head to another universe with the latest and greatest Fantasy novels and get your heart pumping with a brilliant selection of Horror.
A powerful, provocative and quite wonderful modern literary fairy tale, but if you enter expecting ‘happily ever after’ you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than sugar and spice and all things nice, you’ll instead find a novel brimming with exquisitely sharp and pointed attitude. Thirteen and a half years after Cinderella married the man of her dreams and she’s had enough, she wants out. The prologue pierces love, and binds hate, firmly setting the tone, yet wicked humour and gentle observations also tickle the page. The echoes of well known fairy tales make themselves felt, adding to the enchantment. There is much to take delight in, yet beware, all magic is paid for and you’ll need to be on the look out for hidden snares. I adore the tale that runs alongside the main story, of the two mice that accompanied Cinderella and live in a world circling through an entire civilisation. How easy it is to view what you want to see, rather than what is actually there. As the fairy tale splinters and a shimmer of reality breaks through, I found my thoughts tossed high in the air, and where they will land, I still don’t know. So bright, so clever, and thought-provoking this just had to sit as a Liz Pick of the Month. I danced through the deep dark magic of The Charmed Wife, long live the fairy tale that lives beyond 'happily ever after'.
An absolute whammy of a read, and a must for anyone who enjoys a smart, fast-paced, hugely entertaining blast of speculative fiction. When Jimmy agrees to smuggle data in his headspace, he really didn’t expect it to start talking to him. Honey the bioform bear needs to make contact with an entity on Mars, and Jimmy finds himself an unwitting accessory. While you could definitely read this as a standalone, I really do recommend reading Dogs of War, in which Honey also appears, as an introduction to this fabulous bioform world. Arthur C Clarke Award winning Adrian Tchaikovsky has successfully combined weighty, thought-provoking moments, with a Trump-like baddie, full-on action and smirky humour. And oh, how I smirked, Jimmy acts as a beautifully timed foil to the powerfully intense Honey. This is one of those books where you can just throw yourself and abandon yourself to a fabulous story, knowing you will be entertained throughout. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Bear Head comes with a colossal thumbs up from me.
This high-octane, smart, whip-sharp novel is one heck of a reality and fantasy clash. It perhaps shouldn’t work, but it does, it really really does and has popped itself on my list of favourite reads. Meet Vern, he is currently hiding out in a Louisiana swamp, he doesn’t trust anyone, loves his vodka, has a thing for Flashdance, oh, and he’s a dragon. Having lived a few thousand years he really doesn’t need the escalating feud between Squib Moreau and crooked Officer Hooke to spoil his peace and quiet. This is the first novel for adults from the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. I feel as though Highfire has been waiting for me, to welcome it to my bookshelves. The balance between the different genres is beautifully done. Different emotions skittered through me as I read, there’s violence aplenty, and some wicked smirks waiting to be found too. Highly entertaining and exciting, Highfire is my kind of book, in fact if you could marry books, I’d be Mrs Highfire in no time!
Iatrogenesis is a thrilling science fiction centered around a pandemic, when faulty upgrades of microscopic medical robots, nanodocs, leads to mass mayhem and many lives on the line. I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s a great afternoon read. I would guess that the idea for this book was in part inspired by the events of 2020, and there’s some familiar measures mentioned as ways to stop the spread both before and after the cause of death and illness has been explained. The book starts with an intriguing prologue, and the “what could go wrong” stance immediately lets the reader in on what is exactly about to go wrong. We are then introduced to Dr. “TJ” Short, a doctor in a time where microscopic robots implanted in the blood cure most ailments, who is present as the devastating effects of the upgrades become apparent and becomes central in the fight to stop the spread. I found both the science-fiction and the medical language throughout this book believable and I think the author has done a lot of research to create a believable and well-rounded world that I was eager to learn more about and didn’t want to put down until I found out how it ended. There’s also a bit of a relationship story towards the end too. This is a short Sci-fi thriller that I think is well worth the read.
Matthew William Frend's Life Before Death is a book of two halves for me, one half of which I enjoyed, the other not so much. I thought the author's remit was too ambitious but then, had he chosen to write two separate books, would I have wanted to read the second one and would I have missed out? The majority of the book follows a group of four young Australians in the 1990s who, frustrated by government policies restricting their chosen lifestyle, decide to plant a cannabis farm in the outback. Their road trip to the chosen site, the narrow escapes from both the weather and the authorities and what they do while waiting at a 'safe' distance for harvest-time all make exciting, informative and dramatic reading. The suspense the author builds is incredible and the detailed descriptions of the Red Centre and the wilds of the Northern Territory are amazing, as they're based on the personal experiences of the author when he lived in Oz himself. However, I suppose a story about a group living, sometimes only just surviving, on the edge of 'normal' society, a counterculture, has to go into their reasoning and motivation, their search for the meaning of life. There are surreal descriptions of the mind expansion that takes place when using drugs and experiences that border on the paranormal. The lessons the reader should surely take from this book are to try to live in the moment, be mindful of your surroundings, to truly live before you die, though I doubt that you need drugs to do all that.
Cycles of the Phoenix is a collection of shorter stories previously published separately by C. A Nicholas compiled together for one epic read. Within this book you will find ‘Sanity’s War’ ‘Strange’ and ‘Kaya: Where Have You Gone?’ of the Interlaced Souls series. Cycles of the Phoenix remains within the realm of fantasy while it explores a wide range of topics and themes from war, to Anxiety and PTSD. I thought that this book was very well written, there is a good degree of word-building and I enjoyed the imaginative ways that the author manages to turn both mental and physical struggles into fantastical demons for the characters to face. The most poignant to me are the events in the final pages, but I shan’t risk spoilers by sharing any more. As I’ve said this book does focus on a number of themes, with references to violence and sexual abuse throughout the different stories. I liked how the author used events in the stories to demonstrate that actions can have a long term emotional impact. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing. I found it quite traditional, it reminded me slightly of a style used to tell a story of old knights, which added to the fantasy atmosphere to me. Cycles of the Phoenix is mighty, but I think that it could be enjoyed as one epic tale or by enjoying each of the Interlaced Souls books in turn. This is a book for readers looking for something to think deeply about an analyse.
Firstly I’d like to say I love the play on words with this title. This Soul’d World is presented as a new interpretation on old practices, in terms of looking both outwards and inwards to answer philosophical/ spiritual questions about life with a sci-fi twist. A science fiction adventure that crosses dimensions and themes. I liked that this book uses science fiction tropes to explore philosophical questions. The chapters are short and easy to read, and you find yourself reading “just one more” to progress further in the story. Interestingly, the main character of this story is Callison Trebla, a man about to retire, not a character at the start of a career embarking on an adventure. I liked this characterisation, I think it adds a sense of honest reflection to the more spiritual themes in this book. I was drawn in to this story early on and Callison early on and I was interested to see how the story progressed and in which ways the science fiction elements would be incorporated. I think that this book has a bit of something for everyone, there’s science fiction, spirituality and exploration into people and behaviour with a family that has endured a tragedy. As well as an entertaining story with endearing characters, this is a thought-provoking read that I would recommend for anyone looking for a multi-dimensional book.
A Maxim Jakubowski Best Science Fiction selection. A second novel by the fast rising South African author (pronounced Beukes like mucus, she tells us...), recently shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. A frantic urban fantasy in which ex-drug addict Zinzi December, whose job is to find people, is tasked to retrieve missing pop starlet Songweza. But, in a broken city peopled by crime lords, magicians, beast masters and symbiotic animals, nothing is ever straightforward, nothing is as easy as it appears. Cue a sassy and cynical heroine with a gleeful touch of mischief, twists and turns on every corner. A page turner and a pleaser. In November 2011 South African film producer Helena Spring won film rights to Zoo City. Lauren Beukes said: "Every novelist dreams of a movie deal—but you actually want more than that. You want to find a producer of great vision and integrity and experience who fundamentally gets the book . . . I'm thrilled that it's being produced in South Africa—for an international audience."
Zombies and supernatural beings are all the rage at the moment and although this is another story about a Zombie plague sweeping across the world this is told in an original and thoroughly entertaining way and by collection of some of the best modern authors around. Told through various letters, emails, blogs, TV reports etc the story unfolds at a rapid and gut wrenching speed and sweeps the reader along as fast as the zombies are taking over the planet. A great addition to the genre.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Peter Caswell is a killer without a conscience as after every mission his mind is wiped and his guilt is expunged. When he is ordered into space at short notice and against protocol to investigate a missing spaceship that disappeared ages ago, all the safeties he had in his system are thrown by the side as he has to embark on a killing spree that will lead him to another, Earth-like, planet which sits at the other end of a wormhole. Here, in a medieval world centuries behind Earth’s technology he has to track down and kill a fugitive who could change the fate of not just the two planets but the whole universe. Saddled with an involuntary companion, Melni, a spy for one of the other world’s warring factions, he slowly begins to unravel a truth many would rather be kept silent. Non-stop action powers the plot along like a runaway train. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
Former hit singer Hollis is down on her luck after the Crash and can't turn down the offer of a job again from mysterious global ad agency, Blue Ant. Stanley Milgrim, ex-addict freshly out of an expensive rehab paid for by Blue Ant-founder Hubertus Bigend, is also on the payroll. Bigend wants them to do some discreet research on an a secret, obscurely fashionable denim. It may not matter that they know nothing about fashion - but it does matter, at least to them, when bullets start to fly and they realize that Bigend's business obsession is leading them down a dangerous path.
YA Sci-Fi featuring an all-girl spaceship crew taking control and showing the boy's how it's done, with romance, tragedy and ray-guns. Lovereading Review to follow.
A blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do - before we do. Self-anointed guru of the Digital Age, Guy Matthias, has become one of the world's most powerful and influential figures. Untaxed and ungoverned, his company 'Beetle' essentially operates beyond the control of Governments or the law. But trouble is never far away, and for Guy a perfect storm is brewing: his wife wants to leave him; malfunctioning Beetle software has led to some unfortunate deaths which are proving hard to cover up and a mystery hacker, Gogol, is on his trail. With the clock ticking- Guy, his aide Douglas Varley, conflicted national security agent Eloise Jayne, depressed journalist David Strachey, and Gogol, whoever that may be - the question is becoming ever more pressing, how do you live in reality when nobody knows anything, and all knowledge, all certainty, is partly or entirely fake?
In the wake of World War Z, the 28 Days movies and TV series The Walking Dead, we've been deluged by a surfeit of zombie trash, but The Walkin' Trilogy by Towsey succeeds in infusing the sub-genre with both empathy and a strong sense of the human (or should that be non human?) dilemma the state of being dead presents. Following a near apocalyptic event, soldier Thomas returns from the bloody front as a zombie. Part road trip and part small-town family drama, the initial volume, Your Brother's Blood, set the scene. Here, seven years later, Thomas and family have left their village on a quest for some form of truth, which will keep on eluding them. An elegiac western mood dominates the book and already makes us hanker after the final volume in the series where many questions will have to be answered. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
In the wake of World War Z, the 28 Days movies and TV series The Walking Dead, we've been deluged by a surfeit of zombie trash, but The Walkin' Trilogy by Towsey succeeds in infusing the sub-genre with both empathy and a strong sense of the human (or should that be non human?) dilemma the state of being dead presents. Following a near apocalyptic event, soldier Thomas returns from the bloody front as a zombie. Part road trip and part small-town family drama, the initial volume, Your Brother's Blood, set the scene. Here, seven years later, Thomas and family have left their village on a quest for some form of truth, which will keep on eluding them. An elegiac western mood dominates the book and already makes us hanker after the final volume in the series where many questions will have to be answered.
This book is an exquisite rarity: a faerie book that is at the same time marvellously visual and imaginative, but works equally well as a study of human trauma; a love story (of sorts); a family drama; a wholly engaging mystery. I found it in my to-read pile (which this year has been sadly neglected) and started it with no great expectation, although by the end of the third page I was not only hooked, but beginning to think that this might be the best book I'd read all year. Anyone who knows me knows how often I find myself disappointed by the payoff of a novel. This one maintained the tension right till the end - another rarity -never veering into over-exposition or self-indulgence. And the faeries are both nicely original and authentically folkloric: creepy, pagan, detailed, entrancing. I loved it, and I sense that I'll be following this author's future work with excitement and admiration. She's been places. She knows things. Follow her; you'll know them, too. Selected by our December Guest Editor, Joanne Harris
Maxim Jakubowski's November 2014 Book of the Month. The final volume in THE LAST POLICEMAN trilogy reaches a melancholy and moving end. A subtle combination of police thriller and science fiction, this trilogy has turned out to be a major achievement. A comet is hurtling towards Earth and the planet's days are counted. Against this apocalyptic background and the ensuing breakdown in society a young, naively idealistic policeman insists on continuing to do his job and solve crimes that are no longer of interest to anyone else. He is clumsy, unerringly honest and as obstinate as a mule, and in this third instalment of the deliberately downbeat but most endearing series is now seeking out his sister whose disappearance might be linked to survivalist theories that might prolong the planet's existence. A quiet determination, touching encounters with the lost and the living, poetry spun about the small epiphanies of life, all emotions that are rare in crime or SF fiction. A gem of a book.
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world. When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken. Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans, where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go. Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?
Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.
This is an omnibus volume of three short but quite spectacular SF thrillers. I would also guarantee that they are quite unlike anything else you have read before. Striding along the shadowy border between SF and Fantasy, Peter Higgins has imagined something that feels a little like China Mieville writing a John le Carre novel. With a dash of Gorky’s paranoia and Martin Cruz Smith’s edge-of-your-seat plotting. Set in a world that feels like an alternate Russia (but isn’t) the trilogy compresses a sense of Sovietesque history between 1939 and 1969 into a few short months as it follows downtrodden and rumpled provincial police inspector Visassrion Lom, into a plot at the centre of the dark dictatorship that is the Vlast. But there is a lot else going on beyond the cruelties of politics. An alien visitation, the spirit of the land, the press of other realities. As I say quite unlike anything else and sometimes you do feel like you’re running to keep up with its twists and new directions. But stay on board. With engaging characters and sometimes effortlessly beautiful and poetic prose (Higgins has an amazing way with describing nature) all nailed to a steam train of a plot this is the sort of book where you can afford to forget asking what sort of novel it is and just glory in the ride. With rights acquired for TV this is a trilogy you’ll want to be reading before it hit the screens. If you like David Mitchell this could be a dream for you. ~ Simon Spanton
If you prefer your worlds dystopian, check out our Dystopian Fiction category too!
Whether you want to join Jonathan Strange on the magic-haunted streets of London or Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch on the wall Fantasy is the genre for you. Authors from Joe Abercrombie to Zen Cho have turned the modern fantasy genre into one of the most exciting and imaginative genres around. They’ve brought magic and wonder, heroes, heroines and people like you and me, together in stories that will delight, scare and mystify you. Whether you want the romance and deceit of court, the shadows of a great city’s alleyways, the clear air of a mountain range, the terrors of a bloody field let fantasy take you to new realities.
There are characters for everyone; Scott Lynch’s charming conmen, Liz William’s artful magicians. Fantasy has worlds for all; Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea, George RR Martin’s brutal Westeros, Ben Aaronovitch’s contemporary London, Naomi Novik’s dragon haunted version of our 19th century. And the genre has a style for each and every reader; whether the playful literary trickery of Angela Carter or the imaginative epic adventures of Peter Brett. Somewhere here there is a story for everyone, so follow us and let your imagination run wild.
Established names like Stephen King and new stars like Lauren Beukes alike have taken horror into the mainstream. And it’s no surprise why – we can’t help ourselves we love a good scare from the safety of our armchairs. But there are any number of authors out there ready and willing to confront you with your darkest fears and, if you’re lucky, take you through them and out into the light again.
There’s always a fresh take on whatever has scared us down through the years. Whether the dark thrills of the demons that haunt the paranormal romances of Cassandra Clare or the hunger of the vengeful ghosts and vampires of Joe Hill. Or the high concept terrors of Sarah Lotz’s work, the insidious chills of Adam Nevill’s urban horrors. Horror can be stealthy like the classic chills of Susan Hills’ ghost stories or screaming in your face like Max Brooks’ terrifying zombies. So step this way and let us put the frighteners on you; scares that are subtle and literary or full-on ‘slap the book shut and turn on all the lights’. Or scares of the best sort – where you don’t know WHAT to expect.
If you’ve ever dreamed about the world our grandchildren will live in, thought about how life could be different, looked at a star and wondered if there’s someone or something there looking at our sun you’ve been wondering about the same things as the great writers of Sci-Fi. Or perhaps you’ve simply wanted to share the excitement and danger of life on an alien world or in the harsh expanses of space? Maybe you’re so busy you wish you had a clone of yourself to do the work while you had the fun of exploring new places and experiences – how would that feel? For both of you?
Sci-Fi is all about these questions and thoughts. And it’s about things we can never experience, perhaps not even thought about yet. It’s about putting you at the centre of wonder and excitement. Whether the wide-screen excitements from the likes of Peter Hamilton and Suzanne Collins, or the noir thrills of cyberpunk by authors such as Pat Cadigan and William Gibson or the intricate speculations of authors like Ian McDonald and Nnedi Okorafor Sci-Fi really does have something for everyone and you’ll find the very best of it here.