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UK Books - November 2004 by John Berlyne
Review by John Berlyne
SFRevu Column  ISBN/ITEM#: 0411UK
Date: November 15, 2004 / Show Official Info /

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of why some books take longer to read than others, regardless of their relative lengths. I began the autumn reading Susannah Clarke?s monstrously huge Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell ? 800 odd pages of historical fantasy complete with footnotes ? and was through it in a matter of days. Following that with China Mieville?s Iron Council, a book just over half the size of the Clarke, but which took me more than twice the time to get through. Don?t misunderstand me ? it was a no less pleasurable or interesting reading experience, but it took so much longer and I cannot fathom why. My guess is that it is a stylistic thing ? Mieville?s prose is layered with meaning and comment. Much is happening beneath its surface and the sheer force of his imagination perhaps forces the reader to digest his words at a slower pace in order to extract their fullest expression. But then, the Clarke novel is no less detailed, no less elegant in the writing and no less substantial ? but it was an easier read! I?ve just finished up a proof of the new Andy Secombe novel ? The Last House in the Galaxy ? due out from Tor UK next May. That one was hugely enjoyable, but I whipped through it in no time at all! Go figure! The great thing is that all three books, all by British writers, are wonderful examples of the fountain of genre talent there is over here ? regardless of size, style, content or the time it takes to get through them.

October was a good month for genre releases here in the UK, with some long awaited releases hitting the bookstore shelves. Orbit released The Algebraist, a new science fiction novel by Iain M. Banks ? a writer with an impeccable pedigree both in SF and the mainstream ? and one whose work has been hugely important over the years in shaping my own reading tastes. As ever Banks does not disappoint (check out my review in our previous issue and I was lucky enough to catch the author in Manchester during his promotional tour. Banks is as much a gifted speaker and performer as he is a writer. The Algebraist is a hard cover priced at ?17.99. The other headline Orbit title is the latest in Laurell K. Hamilton?s hit Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series ? Incubus Dreams receives its UK first edition as a trade paperback priced at ?10.99. In the same vein (pun only slightly intended!), Orbit launch the novels of Tanya Huff over here. Her Blood novels will appeal to Hamilton fans and Orbit issue the first title, Blood Price, as a paperback original priced at ?6.99. Further series titles will follow in subsequent months. Other October Orbit titles (alliteration only slightly intended!) are Dragonmaster: The Last Battle, the third in Chris Bunch?s popular series (trade paperback, ?10.99); Alchymist, the third in Iain Irvine?s massive Well of Echoes fantasy saga (mass market paperback, ?7.99) ? incidentally, the concluding volume to this series, Chimaera, is due in December; and finally there is another, yes another!, Tom Holt omnibus. Fishy Wishes contains the Holt novels Wish You Were Here and Djinn Rummy and is a trade paperback priced at ?8.99.

Bantam have two titles on their October list. Northern Irish author Paul Kearney?s The Mark of Ran is the first in a new series entitled The Sea Beggars. This is a trade paperback release priced at ?10.99 and do check out my review in last months issue. Also released is the mass market edition of Sunshine by Robin McKinley, a novel warmly received by both critics and readers alike when it was first released a year or so ago. Find out what our own Antony Wagman thought of it in his review in this issue. Sunshine is priced at ?6.99. Transworld?s Doubleday imprint releases Terry Pratchett?s umpteenth Discworld novel, Going Postal. This is a hardcover priced at ?17.99 and was reviewed by Drew Bittner back in our September issue.

William Heinemann release the final volume in Neal Stephenson?s extraordinary Baroque Cycle. The System of the World fittingly concludes this quite stunning and epic work and is released in hardcover, priced ?17.99, ISBN. Be sure to read my review of the first volume Quicksilver .

HarperCollins / Voyager release Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker. This, the second of Barker?s Abarat novels aimed at the young adult market, is a beautifully produced piece and features full colour, glossy illustrations throughout by the author. It is a hard cover edition priced at ?20.00. Ironcrown Moon is the second title in Julian May?s Boreal Moon trilogy and is released in hardcover priced at ?18.99. Read Rafe Conn?s fascinating review of this title here and see how he feels it measures up to the first novel of the series, Conqueror?s Moon, which he reviewed last issue. Voyager also release the mass market edition of Terry Goodkind?s Naked Empire, priced at ?7.99.

From Hodder & Stoughton comes Settling Accounts: Return Engagements ? a treat for the many fans of Harry Turtledove?s superb alterative history novels. This is a very smart hard cover release priced at ?18.99.

UK issue the UK edition of Greg Keyes? long awaited novel, The Charnel Prince ? sequel to The Briar King and the second in his Kingdoms ohorn and Bone series. This is a hard cover edition priced at ?17.99. Keyes? A Calculus of Angels, the second in his acclaimed Age of Unreason sequence is issued in mass market paperback, priced at ?7.99.

Finally we come to Gollancz who issue another Harry Potter parody by Michael Gerber, novels perhaps not quite as popular as their subject matter, but popular nonetheless. Barry Trotter and the Dead Horse is a small format hardcover priced at ?6.99. Also released is the mass market edition of Rob Grant?s Incompetence, a novel I reviewed back in our December 2003 edition. This is priced at ?6.99. A little late in the day, Gollancz publish the movie tie-in edition of Philip K. Dick?s Paycheck ? a paperback edition priced at ?6.99. The Fantasy Masterworks series adds Ken Grimwood?s Replay and Michael Swanwick?s seminal novel The Iron Dragon?s Daughter to its ranks. Both titles are priced at ?6.99. Gollancz?s top drawer title however, is without doubt The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson, the long-awaited (and justifiably hyped) return to his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. This major release is a hardcover priced at ?18.99 and Donaldson will be touring the UK to promote the book. Finally from Gollancz?s parent company Orion, comes Gifts, a brand new fantasy by Ursula Leguin. This is a hardcover priced at ?10.99.

More next month.

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