Tag Archives: Solaris Books

A Look at Jonathan Strahan’s Year’s Best Collection

strahan years best 10The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 10
Jonathan Strahan, ed.
trade paper $19.99
ebook $7.99

So back at the beginning of the summer, I decided to try to read through all of the year’s best anthologies, or at least as many as I could. That project hasn’t gone very well for the same reason I’ve not gotten much blogging done in general. Life has been happening, in other words, and I’ve had to devote my time to other things.

But I’m going to try to get as many of these volumes finished as I can before the end of the year. Jonathan Strahan’s series is probably the second longest running after Gardner Dozois’s, a series which had its 33rd installment released earlier this year. I’ve gotten a couple of review copies of previous volumes of Strahan’s series in the past, but this is the first one I’ve finished. Solaris only made the review copies available in PDF format, which my ereader didn’t deal with very well. I would need to resize the font, and doing so messed up the formatting. This year I spent my own money and sprung for the print edition.

Unlike Neil Clarke’s volume (reviewed here), which was exclusively science fiction, Strahan mixes the sf with fantasy.  Here are my thoughts. Continue reading

Be Careful When You Play Dangerous Games

Dangerous-Games-Jonathan-Oliver-smallDangerous Games
Johnathan Oliver, ed.
Solaris Books
Paper $9.99
electronic $7.99 Kindle Nook Kobo

Solaris has become one of the premiere publishers of original anthologies, and I would like to thank Lydia Gittins at Solaris for the review copy. Dangerous Games is a concept anthology that overall I found quite satisfying.

The premise (obviously) is that some sort of game must play a significant role in the story, and that there’s an element of risk involved.  With a theme like that, possibilities are wide open.  And while there are examples of science fiction and fantasy, the overall trend is towards horror, often with elements of other genres thrown in.

Here are some of the ones I like the most: Continue reading

When October Goes

Layout 1Now that Halloween is over, I’m going to shift gears a bit.  Time to return to more sword and sorcery here at Adventures Fantastic.  Or at least solid adventure fantasy.  I’ve already started reading Shattered Shields, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which hits shelves on Tuesday.  I don’t know if I’ll have the review up by the release date, but I’ll do my best.

Pyr and Solaris have both sent me copies of some cool titles since the first of the summer that I never got a chance to work into the schedule.  I really want to go back and pick read some of them.  They’re mostly fantasy, but there’s some science fiction mixed in.  Also, Night Shade has sent me some titles, and one of the first I’ll read is Stories of the Raksura, vol.1, by Martha Wells.  I’ll probably start that one by the end of the week.

Speaking of science fiction, there are some titles sitting around I want to read.  Some of them will be popping up at Futures Past and Present as I work them in.  I’ll also be reading some mystery/noir titles and reviewing them at Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams.

Plus there are some titles from various other publishers I want to read.  I’ll be mixing them in at random.  I’m going to try to strike a balance between titles that someone has sent me and stuff I just want to read for fun.  So you never know what’s going to pop up next.

A Review of Fearsome Magics

FEARSOME MAGICS COVERFearsome Magics The New Solaris Book of Fantasy
Jonathan Strahan, ed.
Solaris Books
Release date October 7, 2014 US, October 9, UK
Mass market paperback $9.99 US,  £7.99 UK
ebook: There’ll be one, but I have no specifics at this time

Solaris is one of the few publishers who still do anthologies on a regular basis. And I don’t mean one or two. I mean at least four or five a year, and well put together ones, at that. And Jonathan Strahan is one of the field’s premier editors at short length. Any anthology with his name on it is going to get my attention. Put the two together, and it’s like peanut butter and chocolate. I’ve got several of his anthologies from Solaris in my virtual TBR pile. (Yes, I’m behind on my reading.)

The one I want to talk about today is his their next one. It’s Fearsome Magics. It’s a followup to Fearsome Journeys (which is in the real TBR pile). A number of years ago, and I won’t look up how many because I don’t want to depress myself with contemplating the passage of time, Solaris published three volumes of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and one of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy. They were great anthologies, but for some reason, Solaris didn’t continue them.

Now both series are back. The science fiction can be found in the Solaris Rising series (review of the first volume here). Fearsome is the operating title of the fantasy, with a loose them being defined by the second word.

The theme of this volume is magic.  There’s a lot of variety here, enough that I can almost guarantee that there will be multiple stories that will appeal to any reader and a high likelihood that there will be at least one that won’t be to your taste.  As long time readers of my reviews know, I consider that to be a strength.  An anthology which has a great deal of variety will be a strong anthology.

This one is no exception.  Here are a few of my favorites, in the order they appear in the book. Continue reading

Feasting at The Raven’s Banquet

the_ravens_banquet_250x384The Raven’s Banquet
Clifford Beal
ebook, $6.99  Kindle Nook

I didn’t realize (because I didn’t read the promotional email carefully) that The Raven’s Banquet was the prequel to Beal’s first novel, Gideon’s Angel. Which I haven’t read. But I intend to.

This was a riveting historical fantasy set during the Thirty Years War. Richard Treadwell is a younger son, setting out to make his fortune as a mercenary. He gets a lot more than he bargains for.

The novel is told mostly in flashbacks as Richard awaits trial for treason during the English Civil War. To pass time, he records his memoirs. Continue reading

Talus and the Frozen King

talus_and_the_frozen_king_250x384Talus and the Frozen King
Graham Edwards
mass market paperback, 336 p., $7.99
ebook $6.99 Kindle Nook

Talus and the Frozen King is the start of a new series, and one that I’m looking forward to. It’s a genre blending work of heroic fantasy and mystery.

The hero, known only as Talus, is a wandering bard. He and his companion Bran are looking for the source of what we would call the Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights. They enter a village on the island of Creyak, where they discover that the king has been murdered, his body left out in the cold and frozen.

Because of the timing of their visit, they aren’t allowed to leave. The king left behind six sons. Each of them had a motive to commit murder. Continue reading

Kudzu and Snake Handling from Steve Rasnic Tem

blood_kin_250x384Blood Kin
Steve Rasnic Tem
Mass Market $9.99
ebook $6.99 Kindle

Steve Rasnic Tem has been writing horror for over thirty years now. Much of his work has been at short lengths, but from time to time he turns his hand to novels. The most recent is Blood Kin, and it’s a doozy. Don’t read it late at night if you don’t like snakes.

Michael Gibson is taking care of Sadie, his ailing grandmother, up in the mountains of Virginia. He doesn’t really want to, but his life has been one failure after another, so he’s returned home. He spends his days caring for her, watching the kudzu grow, wondering about the shack in the field down the mountain, and listening to his grandmother tell about her growing up.

As he listens to her stories of the area in the Depression, his grandmother’s memories become real to Michael. Literally. He’s transported back in time and experiences everything with her. And her memories have everything to do with that shack in the kudzu. Continue reading

Reading Plans for 2014

This post is a continuation of the thoughts expressed in the previous one.  If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to just to understand the context.  Here I’m going to discuss my reading plans for the year.  They’re going to be a bit different than they’ve been.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do believe in setting goals, whether I reach any of them or not.  I know from experience if I don’t set some sort of a goal, then I won’t get anything accomplished.  Think of this post as a series of goals, goals that are flexible and highly subject to change. Continue reading

2013: An Assessment – Publishers

As I promised in yesterday’s State of the Blogs post, here’s my summary of what I read this past year.  I’m going to include both publishers and individual works that I thought were standouts, but due to length, I’m going to break the post in two.  The list of year’s best authors and titles is here. Many of them are published by the publishers listed below.

I’m going to restrict this list to imprints that have distribution in the major chains.  That means no small presses.  Small presses tend to focus on reprints or collectible editions that are often priced for the collectors market.

Also, I’m going to list some science fiction and crime/noir titles and publishers as well.  I’ve not read enough in those fields this past year to justify a separate post on Futures or Gumshoes.  I plan for 2014 to be different on that point.  Details in tomorrow’s post.

We’ll start with publishers, in alphabetical order (For publishers with more than one imprint, the imprint I read the most will be listed first.): Continue reading

Saxon’s Bane is a Harrowing Visit to the English Countryside

saxons_bane_250x384Saxon’s Bane
Geoffrey Gudgion
Solaris Books
mass market US $7.99 CAN $9.99
ebook $6.99 Kindle Nook

I’d intended to have this posted by Halloween, but dayjobbery derailed me. It’s a perfect Halloween read, but don’t let the fact that the holiday is past stop you. It’s worth the time. I’d like to thank Micheal Molcher for providing me with the review copy. He sent it at the end of the summer, and I apologize for taking so long to read it. Like I said, it looked like a good read for the Halloween season, but I didn’t finish it in time.

Very much in the tradition of The Wicker Man, Saxon’s Bane is the story of Fergus, who is injured in a car wreck outside the village of Allingley. His coworker Kate is driving, and before he’s rescued, Fergus sees a Saxon warrior stroking Kate’s hair. Clare is an archaeologist called in to excavate a man found in a drained mill pond. Or more specifically a Saxon who was murdered and buried in a bog.

After he finally gets out of the hospital, Fergus discovers that his life has changed and he can’t go back to his high pressure sales job. It’s more than survivor’s guilt over Kate’s death. He returns to Allingley, where he gets a job at a stable, hoping to continue healing. Clare, on the other hand, has begun to have disturbing dreams about the man she’s studying. Vivid dreams that become nightmares as the events of each dream move closer to the Saxon’s death.

Fergus and Clare don’t realize they have a deeper connection to the events of the past, and that those events are impacting the present.

I’ve been a fan of British television, mainly comedies and science fiction, for years. And while I haven’t had time to watch much in recent years, this book reminded me of why I enjoyed some of the shows I did. Saxon’s Bane made me want to live in a close knit British village. Just not this one.

Gudgion assembles a diverse cast of characters, from the vicar of the local church to the pagan who runs the stables to the leader of the Satanic cult that’s targeted the local church. He builds the menace and dread slowly, then when you think you know what’s going to happen, he goes in a different direction. He also manages to make even the minor characters unique individuals.

The dream/flashback scenes are well done and ultimately properly bloody, and Gudgion gives enough technical data on the history, customs, and language of the Saxons without overwhelming the reader with the amount of research he’s done. I’d love to see his try his hand at historical fantasy.

I really enjoyed Saxon’s Bane. For a first novel (I think it’s a first novel), it’s more polished and smooth than you would expect. Gudgion shows the potential to be a writer to watch. I intend to read his next book.