Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Latest Images From "The Dark Knight Rises"

H/T Stephen Hunt

Graphic Novel Review - Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command

Set sometime between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (closer to the former than the latter), this story finds Darth Vader on a mission to retrieve Govenor Tarkin's son, who has gone missing while on a mission for the Imperial Navy in the Ghost Nebula. Vader is forced to take Captain Shale as his second in command, since Shale served with Garoche Tarkin and may be able to provide Vader with additional intel.

 The Imperial forces go to Tarkin's last known whereabouts, on an icy world - and once they've suppressed the population, they are introduced to a psychic named Lady Saro. She claims she can lead them to Tarkin, but only if they promise to make her queen of the Ghost Nebula. Vader is reluctant at first to work with her, but as the mission drags on he gives in to her demands, bringing them one step closer to the truth. But the question remains, is Vader's mission to rescue Tarkin, or to ensure he never returns.

 There's a lot to like about Darth Vader and the Lost Command, starting with the fact that there are so many connections between the movies and The Clone Wars TV series and the ships and designs used in this book. There are LAARTi dropships and AT-TE walkers from The Clone Wars, Jedi Starfighters from Revenge of the Sith, heck they even used the Imperial V-wing Starfighter - which I thought was only a Lego set. But then later on, they also incorporate AT-ATs, the walkers from Hoth, and Imperial Star Destroyers - so it makes for a nice blending between the trilogies.

 I wasn't sure at first what to make of the use of Padme, who seems to keep coming to Vader in his dreams. They seem to be a fantasy of sorts, one in which Anakin did not betray the Jedi or try to kill his wife. In some ways it was hard to read these parts of the book, because it's difficult to understand why Vader chose the path he did, and it's especially difficult the more you get to know him in The Clone Wars cartoon. These fantasies actually wind up playing a very important role in the overall story as well, which was a nice surprise as I kind of assumed it was just to show us inside the mind of this broken man.

 There were a couple of niggling issues I did have with the book, though nothing that would stop my recommendation. First, Vader winds up mask-less a lot in this book - and for rather lengthy periods of time. I thought it was understood that Vader couldn't breathe without his mask, and while it may be hard to show emotion from behind that facade, it's a necessary part of the character in my eyes. I also thought the plot was a little predictable at times, and while that might be something that most people expect from Star Wars, I also know that it doesn't have to be that way.

 But overall, it's one of the better stories I've read featuring Darth Vader (he actually gets very few comics or books written about him), the art is really great, and I could really connect the dots between the character shown here and his appearances in the movies (and TV series) prior to and after this point in the timeline. If Vader is a character who still holds some mistique for you, this is a fine entry point for the character in comic form - it requires that you know nothing more than the movies to enjoy it, but if you're a fan who enjoys the details you'll get a lot out of Darth Vader and the Lost Command as well.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"The Postmortal" by Drew Magary-- Funny, Grim and Thought Provoking

We live in a world that idolizes youth. We're bombarded everyday by ads that proclaim this product can erase smile lines and that product can cover gray hair and actors become more well known for their plastic surgery than their latest movie-- so the premise of The Postmortal by Drew Magary is perfectly in sync with modern society.

In the year 2019 a scientist accidentally discovers the cure for aging. "The Cure," as it becomes known, spreads like wildfire through the black market before the consequences can be fully understood. John Farrell is one of those who decides to get The Cure--it's still illegal but the lure of eternal life is enough to make a lot of people ignore their otherwise law-abiding tendencies-- and we see the evolution of The Cure's impact on society through Farrell's blog entries that chronicle events until 2090.

The downside of The Cure is that it only cures ageing. You can still die of cancer or heart disease-- but you'll look good doing it. The initial giddy rush of immortality creates a mood of worldwide celebration though terrorist cells also grow as small segments of society violently object to this unnatural advancement. Societal norms are quickly abandoned as people reassess their desire to stay married to the same person for eternity and things  like "cyclical marriage" become popular. As time passes people have their "old" kids and their "new" kids as second families become common and the end result is a predictable and ever increasing population.

"The Postmortal" is a really interesting book in that the mood significantly changes from one half to the other. The first part of the book is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. There are dark moments but they're infrequent and not as memorable as the flash of insight in which a woman realizes she's going to have her monthly cycle forever. The humorous side of human nature really flourishes as Magary shows a real talent for predicting our frailties and lack of foresight. How people cope runs the gamut from stockpiling in massive quantities of food to simply abandoning their lives and travelling the world.

The second half of the book has a decidedly grimmer tone to match an uncomfortably large population. Food and space are real issues and healthcare is prioritized for people who haven't had The Cure. God is dead in the eyes of a lot of people and a cult-like devotion develops for the "Church of Man" that preaches that we are all gods now. The mood of the book is a direct mirror of the changes the world goes through as it experiences its literal growing pains.

John Farrell is a great set of eyes to see the postmortal world through. He's the perfect everyman. The kind of guy who lives a normal life, with normal friends and a perfectly average love life. The decision he makes to get The Cure is one that we could all relate to-- a sort of spur-of-the-moment thing that most of us could imagine doing. And we can picture having a similar evolution; one that sees us going from our pedestrian life to one of drastic measures to survive.

I did like the book a lot, but there are a few leaps of logic that I couldn't quite follow. In order for the story to progress we have to believe that The Cure would initially become widely distributed on the black-market by unscrupulous doctors in fairly large numbers. I couldn't quite buy in to that notion or the fact that the serum would be that readily available. And as much as I can believe that many people wouldn't fully grasp the consequences of an ageless society, I still think that most people would immediately grasp the danger. But here there is no realistic U.S. governmental response, such as restrictions on the number of children people can have-- though China does continue its tradition of forceful means to control its population. Perhaps the lack of birth control is a literary means of allowing the story to focus more on the issue of assisted suicide, in the form of governmental "End Specialists," but I think there could have been room for both topics.

However "The Postmortal" has a lot of strengths. It's a thought provoking topic and Magary does a good job of portraying both the absurd and the terrifying consequences of this kind of an unchecked advancement. The human response is the key here and the story is written in a terrifically relatable way. I have read some reviews that didn't like the mood change from the first to the last half of the book but I thought it was a great device that really elevated the sense of impending doom. Ultimately "The Postmortal" works. It does make you think but it is also hugely entertaining. There are a lot of ideas that work their way through the story but they instantly resonate and add to the feeling that this could happen just like this and the result is a book that will keep you up late just to see what happens next.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week's can't wait to read selection is:

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Angry Robot
Date: April 24, 2012
320 pages

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.

Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can't save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she'll have to try.

I featured this book previously on the strength of its cover, but I find that I am just as attracted to the story. I really, truly can't wait for this one.

Guest Blogging...

I'm guest blogging over at The Happy Booker today. It's a simple post-- just me and my top 5 fiction picks for 2011 (though I'm pretty sure you'll see a few giveaways you might be interested in as well...) Be sure to stop by and say hi.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Movie Trailer: Men in Black 3

I don't believe this trailer is here yet, so here's a movie I've been excited about since before it was ever announced:

My analysis of the trailer: the same kind of movie as the second, with perhaps a little less blacksploitation, but clearly not as dark as the first film either. Tommy Lee Jones is clearly barely going to be in it, which is very disappointing, but just as clearly he showed up in the studio so I imagine it has more to do with Captain America or some other film in production than an unwillingness to return to the franchise, which speaks a little bit of good for the movie. Despite this, I'm a huge Men in Black fan and a huge Will Smith fan, so I'm willing to give this movie a shot and hope that they do away with the obligatory "time traveling Will hits on his own future mom" scene that has been a genre cliche ever since Back to the Future. What are your thoughts?

Episode Commentary: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode I

Tokusatsu - be it Kamen Rider, Godzilla, or American adaptations such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has a strong basis in both Science Fiction (giant mechs, by definition, are Sci-Fi) and Fantasy. In fact, as far back as I can remember, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers may be the very first show with Sci-Fi elements that I not only watched, but was marketed toward me. Superheroes, Star Wars and Star Trek would come later (among many others), but in the days surrounding my fifth birthday, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would give me a love of giant robots, dragons rising from the depths, and many other tokusatsu and Sci-Fi tropes that I've learned to love. It is for this reason that I join you with my commentaries on first Saban, then Disney's Power Rangers, starting with my brief comments on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 1: The Day of the Dumpster. I initially wasn’t going to do write this down, given Linkara’s excellent retrospective series about Power Rangers, but I felt the need to put my two cents in after watching the first episode for the first time in years last Fall.

The one thing that I don’t believe Linkara covered that I felt the need to comment on was the ending of the first battle of the Power Rangers series. There’s also the fact that the entire episode felt choppy, as though they were doing their solid best to keep it from becoming a two-parter with everything that they needed to explain, and it suffered for it.

The ending of the battle, though, perplexes me. Here we have the leader of Rita Repulsa’s forces, a general who has presumably conquered entire worlds in the past. He may be a bit rusty, sure, but he’s the best his army has and he knows it. He faces the first, and potentially last line of defense Earth has against his types of magic. They’re pulling out all the stops, bringing out the most powerful of their weapons, and he fights them to a stand still.

Put yourself in Goldar’s position now. You may be breaking a sweat for the first time in a century, but you’re facing a one-time chance to defeat your opponents while they’re green, before they can learn who you are or how to make full use of their powers. They’re not beating you- again, it’s a relative standstill. You were actually winning before they pulled out their sword, and guess what? You have a sword, too.

So would you retreat, work out, and face them again after they’ve had time to learn how to use their powers, thereby becoming an exponentially more powerful enemy, or would you take one for the team, risk whatever injuries they may be capable of inflicting on you, to wipe out Earth’s last line of defense on its first day? It’s a no brainer, isn’t it?

I guess they hadn’t yet gained the ability to evolve beyond Sentai footage.

This was originally going to be a one time thing, but after this episode, I felt compelled to watch the first season, then the first series, then the entire Saban line, then the entire run of Power Rangers-related shows. So be sure to stay tuned as I dedicate my next month of posts to the show that keeps introducing new generations of fans to Sci-Fi as it did mine.

Bill Silvia is a regular contributor at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews. You can find more of his content at

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giveaway! "Count to a Trillion" by John C. Wright

Courtesy of Tor Books I have a great sci-fi title to offer for givaway!

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright

Hundreds of years in the future, after the collapse of the Western world, young Menelaus Illation Montrose grows up in what was once Texas as a gunslinging duelist for hire. But Montrose is also a mathematical genius—and a romantic who dreams of a future in which humanity rises from the ashes to take its place among the stars.

The chance to help usher in that future comes when Montrose is recruited for a manned interstellar mission to investigate an artifact of alien origin. Known as the Monument, the artifact is inscribed with data so complex, only a posthuman mind can decipher it. So Montrose does the unthinkable: he injects himself with a dangerous biochemical drug designed to boost his already formidable intellect to superhuman intelligence. It drives him mad.

Nearly two centuries later, his sanity restored, Montrose is awakened from cryo-suspension with no memory of his posthuman actions, to find Earth transformed in strange and disturbing ways, and learns that the Monument still carries a secret he must decode—one that will define humanity’s true future in the universe.

Just add your information to the form below to enter (all information is guaranteed confidential and will be discarded once the contest ends) and I will randomly pick one winner by Monday January 9th. No multiple entries please-- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere.

Good luck!

**Contest Closed**

Friday, December 23, 2011

Audiobook Review - Labyrinth of Sorrows by George Mann

Through these audio dramas from The Black Library I'm slowly getting introduced to the writers who seems most commonly associated with the Warhammer 40,000 universe, as well as the various factions that exist within it. This time around it was both the Raven Guard and the Brazen Minotaurs, two extremely different types of Space Marines.

The Brazen Minotaurs are like a blunt instrument, they have no subtlety as they rush headlong into combat and overwhelm their enemies or face death at their hands. They have come on a mission to Kasharat, a mortuary planet, seeking to reclaim one of their own who has been captured by the Death Guard. These are Chaos infused Space Marines who spread a plague across the galaxy, killing anything that stands in their way, and sometimes raising those undead things back to life again to fight for their cause.

Because of an old debt the Raven Guard owe their brothers, when they learn of this mission they infiltrate ahead of the Brazen Minotaurs, attempting to clear the path as much as possible for them. The Raven Guard operates in shadows, using stealth and cunning to outwit their opponents - and close up blade-like weapons to dispatch them.

I want to leave the plot on a cliffhanger like I usually do, to tease the story a bit and hopefully raise your interest, but it's difficult this time around. There's not much to this story, despite everything I've already mentioned. Two teams go into this underground temple - the "labyrinth" I suppose, though to be honest, it's never treated as such. The "chapters" switch back and forth between the two teams. I found the accents of the actors extremely off-putting for the Brazen Minotaurs, like a carribean accent crossed with Norwegian. There was way too much repitition of each teams purpose, I got it the first couple of times you mentioned that the Raven Guard owe the Brazen Minotaurs.

The characters were unmemorable, and despite a cast of 4 people, I couldn't tell any of them apart (other than the narrator). Not just when they were talking as Brazen Minotaurs, but when they were Raven Guards as well. There is no real definable enemy in this story, just these plague infused horrors - which we certainly get plenty of gory detail about in their descriptions, but ultimately it just came off as disgusting and then they were easily dispatched by the heroes.

The big mystery of the story is at first that you don't know what the Brazen Mintaurs are looking for - only that it could WIN THEM THE WAR! Except, it turns out to be their own librarian who's been captured. Why could he win the war? Does he have some knowledge no one else has? Is it that the enemy could learn secrets that would win them the war? Who knows, these questions go unanswered.

There were two things that I did like about this particular audio drama. The first is the sound effects themselves - we've got drop ships landing, soldiers walking through the murk of a swamp, and the sounds of these underground passages. The music wasn't as good as in past productions, but in all they continue to do an impressive job of putting out a very high quality audio product. The second aspect I enjoyed was this idea of a mortuary world - basically a planet-wide cemetary. I suppose when you have endless war, there are going to be lots of people to bury, and lost of heroes to memorialize. I found this idea fascinating, it's only too bad that the setting isn't really used to any particular effect in this story. It seems to me that this location could be a wonderful resource for the right tale.

There haven't been many of these audio dramas that I've outright disliked, but this one is pretty much my least favorite of any I've listened to. I was hoping it would end shortly after it began, and I never feel that way when listening to these. Take a pass on this audio and look for one of the many others the Black Library has done that are far more engaging.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" -- The Best "Mission" Yet

Normally I get series fatigue by the time a fourth film installment rolls around. But the "Mission Impossible" franchise is different than most in that the movies have been parceled out over fourteen years rather than being rushed through production in yearly installments and, in this case, the series has only gotten better with age.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol opens, as it always does, in the middle of the action as an IMF agent is murdered in the course of what should have been a routine operation. The film then cuts to a prison in Moscow in the middle of another IMF operation that has a team of agents attempting to extract Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) from his imprisonment in a taut sequence that shows Hunt still does things his own way. Once out, Hunt is informed that he is needed to retrieve nuclear launch codes that were stolen by the assassin who killed the other IMF agent-- who is now in the process of selling the codes to a Russian radical seeking to ignite war between Russia and the U.S.

The first part of the mission involves identifying the Russian terrorist, known only as Cobalt, which means they must infiltrate the Kremlin. But the plan goes awry as Cobalt sabotages the IMF's mission and frames the team for an attack on the Kremlin. Hunt and his team are then disavowed but allowed to continue a covert, and unassisted, operation under the "Ghost Protocol" contingency. The race is then on for Hunt and his team to find Cobalt and stop a nuclear attack while fending off an intrepid Russian investigator who has his sights on Hunt.

The plot is simple but under the direction of Brad Bird this "Mission Impossible" is anything but pedestrian. There are so many things about this movie that I liked that it's almost hard to know where to begin. The pacing is superb. The film runs over two hours, but it is strung together so tightly that there is never a feeling of wasted time or unnecessary segues that have you checking your watch. The action sequences are so suspenseful that I literally jumped out of my seat more than once and Tom Cruise proves, once again, that he has no fear as he tackles the world's tallest building in Dubai for this film's most hair-raising stunts.

"Ghost Protocol" has some of the same gadgetry of the earlier films, but it's a lot more stripped down here-- and that's a good thing because the story doesn't get weighed down by an overly clever script. The full-face masks that played such a huge part in the past are hinted at, but not a major part the story. There are still cool cars (James Bond would be impressed) and other advanced gizmos, but the cast is really the star of the show this time.

It's easy to dismiss Tom Cruise as his personal quirks have overshadowed his professional career, but he is at his action-hero best here. Bird channels Cruise's intensity and balances it well with a more thoughtful, less cocky attitude and few moments of hesitancy that do a lot to humanize the character. Jeremy Renner, who comes on board as IMF analyst William Brant, is a terrific addition who brings some extra muscle and a surprising talent for levity as well. Paula Patton, who stars as Jane Carter, isn't just gorgeous but has a kind of calm intelligence that makes you glad they hired a real woman for the role. And Simon Pegg, who returns as tech expert Benji Dunn, takes on the role of comedic foil with aplomb. This is an older cast with most of the lead actors being over 40 and they convey a believable world-weariness and bring a nice level of maturity to the film. Additionally the romantic elements that were present in the last two films have also been completely stripped away which adds to the streamlined feel.

"Ghost Protocol" isn't the kind of movie that offers introspection and character development, nor is it particularly dark or nihilistic as so many of the action-dramas are these days. What it is is pure escapist fare that is very skillfully rendered. I give Brad Bird high marks for his first foray into live action directing-- and I hope he has plans to helm quite a few more films.  "Ghost Protocol" is a great movie that has definitely brought the "Mission Impossible" franchise back to life- I absolutely hope to see Cruise and the rest of this group back for another installment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week's can't wait to read selection is:

Wide Open by Deborah Coates
Publisher: Tor
Publication date: 3/13/2012
Pages: 304

When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

This has it all-- a ghost story, a mystery, suspense and a likely love interest. What more could you want?

"The Hobbit" Trailer

Monday, December 19, 2011

Books Received

Wool by Hugh Howey

They live beneath the earth in a prison of their own making. There is a view of the outside world, a spoiled and rotten world, their forefathers left behind. But this view fades over time, ruined by the toxic airs that kill any who brave them.
So they leave it to the criminals, those who break the rules, and who are sent to cleaning. Why do they do it, these people condemned to death? Sheriff Holston has always wondered. Now he is about to find out.

Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis

The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had—even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.
Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.

In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.

Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson

Is a little time alone with the man you love too much to ask?Well, it may be—when you’re Persephone Alcmedi, Lustrata of the witches, and your lover is Domn Lup of the wærewolves. For once, however, the disturbance is not Seph’s foster daughter, Beverly, her wacky grandmother, or her newly rediscovered mother. This time, it’s the ancient and incredibly sexy vampire Menessos, bearing bad news: because the vampire council fears he is plotting a power grab, Menessos is being hunted by a trio of truth-seeking vampire sisters so dangerous they are usually kept locked in stone.His dreams imperiled, Menessos needs Seph more than ever . . . and she needs him. Now, Seph has magical promises to fulfill for the wæres, multiple mundane family challenges to meet, vampire politics to confront . . . and into the bargain she’s balancing two sexy supernatural males. It’s enough to drive any woman insane, especially when you throw in a dragon and—even worse—a government investigator. As danger threatens, Seph isn’t sure she can stay alive for the rest of the day . . . let alone long enough to accomplish all that needs to be done.

Silver Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells

Now that the threat of war has passed, Sabina Kane is ready to focus on the future. Her relationship with Adam Lazarus is getting stronger and she's helping her sister, Maisie, overcome the trauma of her captivity in New Orleans. Even Giguhl is managing to stay out of trouble thanks to the arrival of Pussy Willow and his new roller derby team. But as much as Sabina wants to feel hopeful about the future, part of her doesn't believe that peace is possible.

Her suspicions are confirmed when a string of sadistic murders threatens to stall treaty negotiations between the mages and the vampires. Sabina pitches in to find the killer, but her investigation soon leads her down dark paths that have her questioning everyone she thought she could trust. And the closer she gets to the killer, the more Sabina begins to suspect this is one foe she may not be able to kill.

Truth by Julia Karr

An exciting dystopian thriller, and sequel to XVI

Nina Oberon's life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council—ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won't be anyone's stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out . . . and the consequences can be deadly.

Charmfall by Chloe Neill

Protecting Chicago from the dark side of life can be an exhausting job, especially when you're in high school. So when the girls of St. Sophia's start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to take a break from fighting to get ready for the event. But when a Reaper unexpectedly crashes the party prep and Lily's firespell fails, she realizes that she has a much bigger problem than a full social calendar...

Sisterhood of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert

It is eighty-three years after the last of the thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. Great changes are brewing that will shape and twist all of humankind.

The war hero Vorian Atreides has turned his back on politics and Salusa Secundus. The descendants of Abulurd Harkonnen Griffen and Valya have sworn vengeance against Vor, blaming him for the downfall of their fortunes. Raquella Berto-Anirul has formed the Bene Gesserit School on the jungle planet Rossak as the first Reverend Mother. The descendants of Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva have built Venport Holdings, using mutated, spice-saturated Navigators who fly precursors of Heighliners. Gilbertus Albans, the ward of the hated Erasmus, is teaching humans to become Mentats…and hiding an unbelievable secret.

The Butlerian movement, rabidly opposed to all forms of “dangerous technology,” is led by Manford Torondo and his devoted Swordmaster, Anari Idaho. And it is this group, so many decades after the defeat of the thinking machines, which begins to sweep across the known universe in mobs, millions strong, destroying everything in its path.

Every one of these characters, and all of these groups, will become enmeshed in the contest between Reason and Faith. All of them will be forced to choose sides in the inevitable crusade that could destroy humankind forever….

Leaves of Flame by Benjamin Tate

Colin has become a master of three of the five magics, and has gifted the human, Dwarren, and Alvritshai races with magical protective Trees. But the power of the dark spirits is spreading despite this. Can Colin unite the races against this menace and prevent their enemy from complete control of the land's magic?

Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland

The homicide beat in Louisiana isn't just terrifying, it's demonic. Detective Kara Gilligan of the supernatural task force has the ability to summon demons to her aid, but she herself is pledged to serve a demonic lord. And now, people who've hurt Kara in the past are dropping dead for no apparent reason. To clear her name and save both the demon and human worlds, she's in a race against the clock and in a battle for her life that just may take her to hell and back.

Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry mast vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny.

The Mortal Bone by Marjorie M. Liu

When the bond Maxine Kiss shares with the demons tattooed on her skin is deliberately severed, the demon hunter is left vulnerable and unprotected. For the first time in ten thousand years, the demons have a taste of freedom. And as the little demons grow more violent and unpredictable, Maxine starts to fear they will lose their minds without her. Reuniting won't be easy, since a greater temptation waits for these hellions: a chance to return to their lives as Reaper Kings, and unleash hell on Earth.

Between Their Worlds by Barb & J.C. Hendee

Magiere and Leesil must rescue Wynn Hygeort from her captivity in the Guild of Sagecraft. But Wynn doesn't want to give up access to the ancient scrolls that may help them locate the last of the magical Orbs coveted by the Ancient Enemy.

The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg

Publishers Weekly
This rousing and complex good-against-evil battle, which concludes Berg’s voluminous quasi-Renaissance epic fantasy trilogy (after The Spirit Lens and The Soul Mirror), centers on Dante, a blind and irascible practitioner of soul-shaking magic now feared by almost all of his splendidly detailed world. In the aether, the medium of souls, he met courageous noblewoman Anne de Vernase, who saved him from madness and evil. Now they join familiar companions in a quest to defend the world against a new supernatural threat, which strikes before they can recover from the previous battle. Though Berg’s enormously complex plot demands acquaintance with the previous installments, her insight into the nature of human good and evil, the constantly ebbing and flowing relationships among lovers and friends, and the interplay of the mythic with the world of the senses consistently raises this novel above sword-and-sorcery routine.

The Isis Collar by Cat Adams

Celia Graves was once an ordinary human, but those days are long gone. Now she strives to maintain her sanity and her soul while juggling both vampire abilities and the powers of a Siren.

Warned of a magical “bomb” at a local elementary school, Celia forces an evacuation. Oddly, the explosion seems to have no effect, puzzling both Celia and the FBI. Two weeks later, a strangely persistent bruise on Celia’s leg turns out to be the first sign of a magical zombie plague.

Finding the source of the plague isn’t Celia’s only concern. Her alcoholic mother has broken out of prison on the Sirens’ island; her little sister’s ghost has possessed a young girl; and one of Celia’s boyfriends, a powerful mage, has disappeared.

The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green

In the secret heart of London, under the cover of endless darkness, the Nightside caters to anyone with any unusual itch that needs to be scratched. But enter at your own risk. The party animals who live here may be as inhuman as their appetites...

My name is John Taylor. The Nightside is my home. I didn't plan it that way. In fact, I once tried to get away. But I came back. And now it seems I'm settling down, with a full-time job (in addition to my work as a very private eye) as Walker-the new Voice of the Authorities in the Nightside-and a wedding in the offing.

I'm marrying the love of my life, Suzie Shooter, the Nightside's most fearsome bounty-hunter. But nothing comes easy here. Not life. Not death. And for certain, not happily-ever-after. Before I can say "I do," I have one more case to solve as a private eye-and my first assignment as Walker.

Both jobs would be a lot easier to accomplish if I weren't on the run, from friends and enemies alike. And if my bride-to-be weren't out to collect the bounty on my head...

Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes

Haden Black changed Theia Alderson's life when he appeared in her dreams. And to save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything, but the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions. Now Theia is susceptible to the same deadly hungers that Haden has long struggled with-and their return to Serendipity Falls could test their control. And someone from Haden's past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her...

Dust of the Damned by Peter Brandvold

The Hell's Angels are a gang of werewolves who have escaped from Hellsgarde Penitentiary. Originally they were recruited out of eastern Europe by Abraham Lincoln to mercilessly tear the Confederates into submission at Gettysburg, thus ending the Civil War. But the Hell's Angels never returned home. They headed west--to join the legions of other ghouls...

Armed with an arsenal of weapons, the deadliest being Deputy Marshal Angel Coffin, notorious ghoul hunter Uriah Zane must stop the hordes of shape-shifting creatures pushing west. Aided by a beautiful Mexican witch and necromancer, werebeasts are searching the deserts for the coveted key to the ghouls' everlasting life and final dominion over the earth--with humans as their servants. But first they must face the wrath of Zane, a man who understands better than most the twisted soul of the wolves...

Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder

A world of endless sky, with no land, no gravity: this is Virga. Beginning in the seminal science fiction novel Sun of Suns, the saga of this striking world has introduced us to the people of stubborn pride and resilience who have made Virga their home; but also, always lurking beyond the walls of the world, to the mysterious threat known only as Artificial Nature. In The Sunless Countries, history tutor Leal Hieronyma Maspeth became the first human in centuries to learn the true nature of this threat. Her reward was exile, but now, in Ashes of Candesce, Artificial Nature makes its final bid to destroy Virga, and it is up to Leal to unite the quarrelling clans of her world to fight the threat.

Ashes of Candesce brings together all the heroes of the Virga series, and draws the diverse threads of the previous storylines together into one climactic conflict. Blending steampunk styling with a far-future setting and meditations on the posthuman condition, Ashes of Candesce mixes high adventure and cutting-edge ideas in a fitting climax to one of science fiction’s most innovative series.

Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

The adventure continues as Royce and Hadrian aid the struggling kingdom of Melengar as it alone stands in defiance against the newly formed empire. War approaches and a desperate gamble behind enemy lines is their only chance at forming an alliance with the Nationalists to the south.

But Royce has plans of his own as he uses this opportunity to discover if an ancient wizard is using Riyria as pawns in his own bid for power. To find the truth, Royce must unravel Hadrian's hidden past. What he discovers will lead them to the end of the known world, on a journey rife with treachery and intrigue.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

The Bitter Seed of Magic by Suzanne McLeod

For once, Genny's life seems quiet. Her sexy boss isn't pushing for a decision on their relationship, and the witches have declared that she is no longer a threat. But when a teenaged faeling is fished out of the River Thames and another disappears, Genny finds herself in a race to stop a curse from taking its next victim.

Territory by Emma Bull

Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton. 
You think you know the story. You don’t.

Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 is the site of one of the richest mineral strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like ley lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone who knows how to claim and defend it.

Above the ground, power is also about allegiances. A magician can drain his friends' strength to strengthen himself, and can place them between him and danger. The one with the most friends stands to win the territory.

Jesse Fox left his Eastern college education to travel West, where he’s made some decidedly odd friends, like the physician Chow Lung, who insists that Jesse has a talent for magic. In Tombstone, Jesse meets the tubercular Doc Holliday, whose inner magic is as suppressed as his own, but whose power is enough to attract the sorcerous attention of Wyatt Earp.

Mildred Benjamin is a young widow making her living as a newspaper typesetter, and--unbeknownst to the other ladies of Tombstone--selling tales of Western derring-do to the magazines back East. Like Jesse, Mildred has episodes of seeing things that can’t possibly be there.

When a failed stage holdup results in two dead, Tombstone explodes with speculation about who attempted the robbery. The truth could destroy Earp's plans for wealth and glory, and he'll do anything to bury it. Meanwhile, outlaw leader John Ringo wants the same turf as Earp. Each courts Jesse as an ally, and tries to isolate him by endangering his friends, as they struggle for magical dominance of the territory.

Events are building toward the shootout of which you may have heard. But you haven't heard the whole, secret story until you've read Emma Bull's unique take on an American legend, in which absolutely nothing is as it seems...

Skirmish by Michelle West

At long last, Jewel is preparing to announce her candidacy to become the next Terafin and claim the House Seat. But it is a decision that has her targeted by demons who will stop at nothing to destroy Jewel and her allies as the House War begins...