Posts Tagged ‘books’

As I mentioned earlier this week, the cover for The Death of Integrity was revealed on Amazon a while back. Here it is, and very nice I think it is too. The warrior in the Terminator Armour is none other than Chapter Master Caedis of the Blood Drinkers, and yes, he’s chopping up a Genestealer.


The Death of Integrity is a Space Marines Battles book from the Black Library. It’ll be out next September (more or less), and features both the Novamarines and the Blood Drinkers. In the story, the two chapters scour a space hulk named, you guessed it, The Death of Integrity, so it’s kind of an unofficial Space Hulk book too. Cool eh? There’s plenty of goodies in there for Space Marine fans, not least the detailing of two whole chapters, low-g combat, and some other exciting elements that it would be a shame to reveal right now (and my lords and masters would send a Callidus assassin disguised as my dog to kill me).  Still, ask yourself why Caedis is not wearing red. It’s not as straightforward as you might think…

The book’s currently with the editors, so it’s close to being locked and loaded to be shot out of the big publishing lascannon for the end of next summer. It’s a long time away, no? Clever-clogs might realise that my Blood Drinkers short story, ‘The Rite of Holos’, is a prequel to the novel, so if you fancy reading about these lesser-known scions of Sanguinius taking apart a Genestealer cult in the meantime, it’s in Hammer and Bolter 24.


All of the reviews I’ve put on this site to date have been previously published in one magazine or another, but here’s one that I wrote specifically for Goodreads, a nice book/ social networking website. If you’re interested in books, sign up and friend me, it’s populated by a lot of very nice, articulate people, many of whom write great critiques of all manner of papery products (and digital one, naturally).

I’ll probably write more of these “original” reviews, but probably not many. Nearly all books I read are for reviewing purposes, and I blush to say therefore for financial gain (no, not bribes, a magazine fee for the review. Tsk). But I enjoy Adam’s books so much, and I am determined to tell as many people as I can about them, that I wanted to have my say on this, his latest novel for FREE. Wow, an almost Christian level of generosity there.

There are reviews of Land of the Headless and By Light Alone also on this site. As always, click on the links.

Jack Glass

Roberts’ books are truly difficult to rate, because there isn’t anything else like them in the modern SF genre. He writes beautifully, really beautifully; the kind of image-dense, well-crafted sentences that you have to read three times just to savour the feel of them sliding through your neurons. His ideas are magical, and he’s no imaginative slouch – each novel he writes sports a new and freshly minted world of wondrous veracity.

Set in a future where humans thickly clot the space between the worlds of the Solar System and are ruled most oppressively, Jack Glass is a story about a kind of cosmic terrorist, but presented as a series of three murder mysteries; the literary conceit here being Roberts’ take on the old country house, Agatha Christie style whodunnit.

To a point this is what we have, but the detective angle proves more a surface gloss to SF world buildery. The murders take back seat and we’re soon hip-deep in Roberts’ usual concern of the unworthy swain courting the unobtainable damsel. Who are we to complain? All authors have their literary drums to beat, but with the gruesome first installment of Jack Glass it appears at first that we have escaped this particular obsession, and it’s something of a surprise and disappointment to be presented with it again.

Glass himself is a confident, capable man, much more sure of himself than many of Roberts’ earlier protagonists. Part of the book’s draw is the slow revelation of the various layers to his character, and the discovery of the romantic flaw in Glass is well-judged, if slightly disappointing, by which I mean it fits this story perfectly, but anyway, see above. The dividing up of the story into three undoes the pacing, and the contrast between the first taut, superbly claustrophic tale and the more languid tone of the latter two unseats the reader. There’s a little too much time spent detailing the inner thoughts of teenage girls (something Roberts already tackled brilliantly in By Light Alone). He does it well, admittedly, but too much here.

Although this is not his strongest work overall, Jack Glass contains some of Roberts’ most artful writing, and the first part of the book is among the best SF stories from one of today’s finest British SF writers.

To give myself a quick break before heading off to the great quarry of words, which must be broken free from the bedrock of language by exhausting main effort, I’ve put up a few more reviews on here on the blog, plus an interview. We have:

Masters of Horror A review of part of the anthology TV series (I love anthology horror).

Let The Right One In The Swedish book that became a Swedish film that became an American film. And an interview with its author, John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Fenrir Part two of MD Lachlan’s centuries-spanning werewolf/Norse saga.

Mammoth A silly TV movie from SciFi. So bad that it’s simply bad.


Last week, some of you might have seen an announcement from Solaris concerning my second book to be published by them. This is another of the projects I’ve been alluding to on this blog and Twitter over the last few months, but have not been able to speak about. Typically, the news broke when I was eyeball deep in anime moppets and monsters, editing SFX‘s anime special edition. I still am, in fact, editing the magazine, but I’ve a few fleeting minutes to blog about the book now and tell you a little more about it.

First up, here’s what Jonathan Oliver had to say at the Solaris website and When Gravity Fails, their editor’s blog

Unalloyed greed, markets dictating the will of humanity – when The Crash comes, nothing will be left standing.

In a topical science-fiction take on the world’s current economic woes, breakthrough author Guy Haley envisages a society in utter thrall to commerce, which must constantly expand to sustain itself. When a mission to the stars begins to go wrong, the fragility of human society and progress is exposed.

The Crash is due for release in July 2013, it is Haley’s second book for Solaris.

His first, Champion of Mars, was released in May this year and was described by SF legend Stephen Baxter as “a novel with an ambition on the scale of Olympus Mons itself, and it delivers. Recommended.

“Guy Haley’s SF invokes in me the same excitement I had when reading Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg and Arthur C. Clarke’s works for the first time,” said Jonathan Oliver, editor-in-chief of Solaris. “His fiction is packed full of ideas while maintaining a very human voice. Haley’s work is complex, exciting and vastly entertaining and I’m delighted to welcome him back to the Solaris fold.”

The Market rules all, plotting the rise and fall of fortunes without human intervention. Mankind, trapped by a rigid hierarchy of wealth, bends to its every whim. To function, the Market must expand without end. The Earth is finite, and cannot hold it, and so a bold venture to the stars is begun, offering a rare chance at freedom to a select few people.

But when the colony fleet is sabotaged, a small group finds itself marooned upon the tidally locked world of Nychthemeron, a world where one hemisphere is bathed in perpetual daylight, the other hidden by eternal night. Isolated and beset, the stricken colony members must fight for survival on the hostile planet, while secrets about both the nature of their shipwreck and Nychthemeron itself threaten to tear their fragile society apart.

I have a big old thing for colony SF. I enjoy following bands of plucky frontier types struggling to survive on alien worlds, and I absolutely love colony ship gone wrong scenarios. The tougher the odds the better. In this loose category I’d include the Deathworld Trilogy by Harry Harrison, Grass by Sheri Tepper, some of Neal Asher’s books, Non-stop by Brian Aldiss, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, the Colsec trilogy by Douglas Hill (ah, good old Douglas Hill), Aliens, Avatar (still not seen it thought), Aliens, Pandorum, Red Fang by Philip Palmer… You get the idea, there are loads more. I looked at the theme of man’s expansion into space a little in Champion of Mars, but this is more of a BIG SF take on the concept – weird alien life, interstellar travel, exotic worlds, the works.

The Crash is ostensibly a standalone novel, and naturally a part of it will deal with the way I fear Earth might be heading – overpopulated, environmentally degraded, impoverished, with a small, new aristocracy who are fabulous wealthy, and the rest of us struggling to survive.

It’s also inspired by this famous quote by Kenneth Boulding: “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” And by the concept of “Spaceship Earth.”

However, don’t expect hundreds of pages setting out what I think is wrong with modern capitalism. Most of the story is about the fight to stay alive on an alien planet with limited resources. Ultimately, I want to develop a space opera series set in this universe, charting a future history where scattered groups of human beings shipwrecked on numerous worlds take differing routes to survive, and how the very diverse range of cultures these circumstances create eventually come into contact – and conflict – with one another. All very exciting, but I need to finish the first one before all that.

What’s your favourite colony story? Let me know!

As part of my ongoing quest to put much of my archived work online, and to make up for not posting much this past week, today for you I have:

Hunter’s Run (book)  Great SF adventure collaboration between George RR Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham.

Dark Alchemy (book) Magic anthology about wizards by fantasy’s brightest and best.

300 (film) – Zac Snyder’s take on Frank Miller’s take on the Battle of Thermopylae

Perfect Creature (film) – Interesting if confused New Zealand steampunk, alt-reality, vampire movie (I did say it was confused).

Blade: House of Cthon (TV) The pilot of the TV show of the movie of the comic.

Time Trap: Quatermass (TV) – All-round information on that other great British SF character, Bernard Quatermass, who was like a more grown-up Doctor Who.

If you haven’t already, check out the other reviews I have here, there are quite a lot of them now, and still only a fraction of what’s to come.

Spring is packed this year. Omega Point was out last week (in the US, UK edition out on 6th April), and Champion of Mars is out on the 26th of this month in the US, on the 10th of May in the UK. I’m not attending Eastercon, mostly because it’s Easter and I’m off back up north, but I will be at The Discover Festival on 18th-19 May at Snibston near Leicester.

There are a couple of interviews about Champion of Mars due soon, one at Solaris the other at I Will Read Books. In anticipation of that, I thought I’d post this article I wrote for Death Ray on William Hope Hodgson, as his work was a big influence on Champion of Mars. This piece appeared way back in 2007 (sheesh, time flies). I haven’t put it up until now as I had no copy on file and had to TYPE IT IN, so I hope you enjoy it. If you’ve not read Hodgson before, I seriously recommend him. I read the Gollancz collected novels of Hodgson whilst travelling around India on honeymoon, which was interesting. Nice bit of romantic, light reading.

Terrors of the Sea

Some of the all-time greats of SF are all but forgotten. Guy Haley puts the case for William Hope Hodgson, whose tales of the occult paint a powerful picture of a wolrd threatened by unseen horrors…

On occasion, at ist very best, science fiction is a genre of truly impressive  wonders. But only infrequently  are the heights of imaginative excellence scaled, and all too often the writers who accomplish the feat soon languish forgotten.

One of those rare visionaries was William Hope Hodgson, an early 20th century author, sailor, photographer and bodybuilder whose work deals with big stuff – no less than the spiritual perils of the outermost darks, and the fate of humankind.

Hodgson’s stories crackle with muscular energy, and his prose can –at its best – attain a stunning majesty. His work bears comparison with the later HP Lovecraft, and shares similar themes; notably that there are powerful alien creatures out there, and that their very existence is inimical to human life. As Lovecraft himself said, “The work of William Hope Hodgson is of vast power in its suggestion of lurking worlds and beings behind the ordinary surface of life.” But unlike Lovecraft, Hodgson’s books brim with the indomitability of the human spirit, and his heroes are men of action who often survive their adventures to tell the tale.

Hodgson was born into the family of an Essex clergyman in 1877. At the age of 13 he attempted to run away to sea, and though initially unsuccessful, by 1891 he was allowed to become a cabin boy. He remained a sailor for eight years, and this career had great impact upon his character.

The sea appears in much of Hodgson’s fiction, although he professed to hate it. He wrote many nautical poems and stories, but it is in two of his better known novels, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907) and The Ghost Pirates (1909), that his interest in sailing and what he termed the “ab-natural” collided. The first is the more haunting (if harder going) of the two; a dark tale of shipwreck survivors who find themselves tormented by pallid creatures on an island swathed by entrapping seaweed.

Despite this recurrent theme, his finest creations actually have little to do with the sea. The House on the Borderland (1908) is a short novel that tells of a mansion built upon a metaphysical faultline, a liminal building that is neither of this world nor truly of the present. A diary reveals that the last occupant experienced an out-of-body experience there, which led to terrifying  encounters with “swine-things”, finally culminating in an almost psychedelically described trip to the end of time (a trip reminscent of that in HG Wells The Time Machine) and the house’s destruction.

It is the far meatier The Night Land (1912), however, that is generally reckoned to be his finest work, and should be read by all who enjoy weird fiction.

The Night Landis set millions of years in the future, a time when the sun has died. The ancient Earth is shrouded in blackness haunted by monsters, granted ingress to our own realm by the meddlings of aeons-dead science. Against all the odds, mankind survives in a vast pyramid known as the Great Redoubt, living in peace with one another, even as time marches on toward their unavoidable extinction. The story concerns a man who receives a message from a woman he believes to be his reincarnated wife, and he sets out to fetch her from the long-lost Lesser Redoubt.

True, The Night Land is written in appalling cod-archaic English and includes a great deal of what China Mieville – in his introduction to The House on The Borderland, the Gollancz Fantasy Masterwork collected works of Hodgson – calls “egregious romance”, but it triumphs over its self-imposed limitations to give us a quest story of breathtaking power. This is truly one instance where a writer can be seen to triumph in spite of himself, and Hodgson’s vision of this alien, inimical Earth remains in the mind long afterwards.

Other creations of note by Hodgson include Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, a collection of short stories which detail the adventures of a paranormal sleuth. Carnacki is a tough customer. While a Lovecraftian protagonist often ends a story with his sanity is tatters after an encounter with some horrifying monster, Carnacki chases after it with his revolver.

William Hope Hodgson was killed, aged 40, in The Great War by a German shell. With characteristic bravado, he died executing perilous, voluntary duty. He left behind only a relatively small body of work, but one which has had a lasting impact.

Here’s a couple of elderly websites with more on Hodgson. For general information go here, while The Night Land is devoted to, you got it, The Night Land and has stories penned by other authors. Gollancz’ collected edition of Hodgson’s novels, mentioned above, is a bargain and a great place to start.