Damaged Intelligence, the sixth – sixth! – installment of the very Traveler RPG-inflected and extremely pulpy space opera Empire Dance series, has gone live and is out there in the world!
In case you had forgotten, the cover looks very much like this:
And what’s in it, I hear you asking? Oh, the usual – artificial intelligences, Kiiren, religious fundamentalists, guns, starships, clones, explosions… all in one tasty, crunchy, 55000-word chunk. And the set-up for ED7, provisionally titled Towers In Sand, will be an absolute banger.
And where can you get it? That’s the important part, right?
Cover reveal time! The sixth installment of the Empire Dance series is sat on the launch pads, nose pointed at the stars, ready to go – and yes, there will be pre-order links soon!
That’s CAS Special Agent Kit Nagoya there, diving through clouds of shattered glass as ne pursues nir target, the fugitive Captain Kelly. A lovely, punchy cover, wrangled by An Amazing Egg. Just like the other books in the series, Damaged Intelligence will be available immediately on launch through Kindle Unlimited.
When? Oh, I was thinking perhaps the beginning of May…
That last post concerning the winding up of the David Gemmell Legend Awards was something of a downer. But earlier this week NewCon Press announced the table of contents for the third – and now final – Legends Anthology, packed full of stories in tribute to the late great master of modern fantasy fiction, David Gemmell.
I’m over the moon about this, because – look! That’s me, on the cover, alongside a whole host of extra-talented and awesome folks! There’s an RJ! And an Anna! And a Danie! KT Davies is in there too! Seriously, I’m excited to read the other stories in this, not least because what I’ve seen so far is absolutely top notch. Plus, it’s NewCon Press, y’all – Ian Whates makes his books with love and attention.
1. Introduction by Stan Nicholls
2. Blood Debt – Gail Z. Martin
3. A God’s Mercy – Richard Webb
4. Berserker Captain – Neal Asher
5. The Price of Passage – Keris McDonald
6. Summoner – Danie Ware
7. Pelicos the Brave and the Princess of Kalakhadze – Steven Poore
8. The Timekeeper’s Tarot – Den Patrick
9. Her Grail – Ben North
10. Piercing the Mist – Shona Kinsella
11. Chosen of the Slain – K.T. Davies 12. The Dying Land – Nick Watkinson 13. A Hero of Her People – Anna Smith Spark
14. All Deaths Well Intention’d – RJ Barker
15. By Any Other Name – Justina Robson
So – what’s my story?
Heir To The North and The High King’s Vengeance were both at heart stories about stories. One of the heroes of these shaggydog tales within the narrative, often merely mentioned in passing, was Pelicos the [Insert Noun]. A swashbuckler with a heart of fool’s gold, Pelicos undertook every daft quest you could think of, and more besides. In Pelicos the Brave and the Princess of Kalakhadze, our titular jack-of-all-trades scales the heights of a fabled island city to rescue the Dunundaya Heir from her tower cell so that she and her beau can elope together! Except, of course, that’s not what really happened…
Keen readers will observe a cameo appearance by a certain warlock. And, in keeping with my liking of buried histories, the Princess of Kalakhadze feeds gently into the setting of the upcoming Age of Talons trilogy. But sssshhh…. go, preorder, and enjoy!
Over the last decade, the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy have honoured the best in fantasy fiction and artwork as chosen by the readers. With a roll of honour taking in current genre luminaries such as John Gwynne, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Peter Newman, Brandon Sanderson, Andrezj Sapkowski, Brent Weeks and many more, with all of these winners chosen by a public vote, the awards have brought focus to some of the most exciting books, authors and artists in recent times.
Unfortunately, after ten years, the Gemmell Awards will draw to a close with immediate effect. With a lack of suitable volunteers to take on current committee roles, and insufficient manpower to deliver the wide range of tasks involved, the present team has been left with no choice but to wind up the awards.
The remaining members of the team would like to thank everyone who has supported the awards, including the publishers that have worked with us, our past committee members and volunteers, all the authors and artists who have offered their support, the events and venues who have hosted our ceremonies, everyone who has ever voted on the awards over the last decade and all the fans who have helped share and spread the word on the awards.
Departing Gemmell Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: ‘This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, and indeed is one that myself and my committee members make with a heavy heart. It was always important to us to do things to a high standard, and in the current situation I don’t think that we could deliver something befitting the reputation the Gemmell Awards has. I hope that the awards will be remembered for the good work they have done in supporting and championing the cause of fantasy fiction over the last ten years, and that we’ve left a legacy behind that people can look at fondly in years to come.’
From a personal point of view, I would like to celebrate the work Stan, Anne Nicholls, Alex Davis, and the rest of the DGLA team have undertaken to bring so much brilliant fantasy to the attention of so many people across the world. As a tribute to David Gemmell’s legacy, the Awards can stand as proud as Dros Delnoch itself. And, like Druss the Legend, the character whose axe Snaga inspired the shape of the original award, the DGLA will surely inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
Everybody else is doing it, so I figured I ought to jump in too. Why not? A touch of positivity is always welcome at this time of year.
Alas, my TBR pile resembles the Arts Tower of Sheffield University right now, and it’s absolutely impossible to catch up with everything that was released this year while I’ve still got so many other worlds to visit. So this round-up of the best books I’ve read over the last twelve months also includes a number that weren’t actually published this year, and I refuse to apologise for that.
In no particular order:
Under The Pendulum Sun, by Jeannette Ng (Angry Robot, 2017)
Holy heck. This is Angry Robot at its best, putting the WTF into fantasy once more, combining the detailed, refined and steady narrative of a gothic Victorian romance with the sudden sharp turns and queasy horrors of modern fiction. Jeannette Ng has created a disturbing world that resonates all the more true for the passions and obsessions its characters confront. Catherine’s arc – from Yorkshire to Gethsemane, from fragile English traveller to changeling, and beyond – is told with a sort of spellbinding quality – you want to shout and scream, and wrench her and Laon away before it is too late, and yet even when that line has been crossed you can’t help but read on and cheer their courage.
Quite probably the best treatment of the Fae since Some Kind of Fairy Tale (Graham Joyce), and that’s saying something.
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, 2016)
Holy heck (again), this was good. A broken earth, with fractured characters, and a history that is more geology and archaeology than anything else, plus giant floating obelisks, institutionalized slavery, and a narrative device that sinks the reader deep into the heart and soul of one of the most damaged characters of all. Make no bones, this is not a comfort read. The characters herein are not heroes, they are all survivors. You might call this grimdark if that label didn’t have so many negative connotations.
The City of Silk and Steel, by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, & Louise Carey (Gollancz, 2012)
A wonderful, multi-layered tale of storytellers, their stories, and a full harem of concubines who escape death during a revolution by a cult of fanatics and return to the city of Bessa to depose the cultists in turn. Told in the voices of the characters themselves, with recipes, tall tales, legends and fourth-wall-breaking meta-narratives, The City of Silk and Steel is full of action, dry wit, diplomacy, and subtle magics. I can’t believe it isn’t better known than it is.
Do yourselves a favour and search this one out, trust me, you will not regret it.
The Tower of Living and Dying, by Anna Smith Spark (Harper Voyager, 2018)
If you’ve made it this far into the glorious and murderous chaos of Anna Smith Spark’s world, then you know just how fantastically she uses language, repetition, broad strokes, and needle-sharp observations to tell a story. You won’t be disappointed this time either.
In my review of the first book in the trilogy I likened Marith to one of rock’n’roll’s early pioneers, despoiling his way across a continent. Now, with Thalia at his side, he’s an analogue of Elvis in his pomp, if Elvis had ever led an army of devoted berserkers to war.
Next? Can’t wait.
Wrath, by John Gwynne (Pan, 2016)
Fair to say we’ve crowned the next generation’s David Gemmell? I reckon so: there will be a lot of future fantasists using The Faithful And The Fallen as a foundation of their own explorations into the genre.
These are all personal choices, of course. My alternate self over at SFSF is bound to be a touch more relevant…