Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books.

This week's WoW selection is:

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: September 10, 2013
Pages: 352

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

I'm mostly intrigued with this title because Kendare Blake has come out with some cool books over the last couple of years (Anna Dressed in BloodGirl of Nightmares) and I'm really interested to see what she does with Greek Myth. "Antigoddess," like her other books, sounds like it's going to have a strong dark side too.

Giveaway: "London Falling" by Paul Cornell

Courtesy of Tor Books I have a copy of London Falling by Paul Cornell to offer for giveaway.

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

(The only reason I'm giving this away is because I have an ARC copy for my own greedy self...)

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 Tuesday May 7th. No multiple entries please-- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere. 

Good luck!

Monday, April 29, 2013

TV: Doctor Who Series 4

In 2008, Doctor Who reached its fourth season under the leadership of Russell T. Davies. This was his final full length season, one written as a testament to the past three years.  Catherine Tate reprised her role as Donna Noble, a middle aged woman with an attitude that had a place in the universe far beyond the obvious. While the general strengths and weaknesses inherent to Davies' run on Doctor Who are present, I would consider this to be the overall best season from 2005 to the present.
Donna Noble is a different kind of companion for new Who. She has no romantic interest in the Doctor, nor does she look up to him as a hero or a teacher. In fact, she's the kind of person week who has trouble being respectful to her boss. Donna stands with the Doctor as an equal and a friend. She also struggles with self-fulfilling self esteem issues: she treats every one the way she feels about herself, and gets crap back from life at the same time. Apart from her grandfather, the Doctor is probably the first person in Donna's life to treat her as though she's important, which is what sparks her character growth and ultimately makes the manner in which she leaves the TARDIS so devastating.
I've found that the best way to look at a season's strengths in this era is by the way each episode ties in to the finale. Series 4 is littered with several themes: Donna is important, she has no faith in herself, and something terrible is going to happen to her. There are also a few references to something invisible on Donna's back, referencing the penultimate story of this season in a Doctor Who version of "It's a Wonderful Life".  And finally, almost every episode of this season features a missing world, or a moon.  Sometimes it’s just an off-hand reference (running into a scholar who is looking for the Lost Moon of Poosh in “Midnight”) and sometimes it’s the catalyst of an episode (the disappearance of Adipose 4 in “Partners in Crime”).
As for more subtle connections between episodes, this season has more companions than ever.  Two companions who would appear in future episodes feature in this season: newcomer River Song, and returning actor Bernard Cribbins reprises his role from Voyage of the Damned as Wilfred Mott, Donna’s grandfather.  Billie Piper as Rose Tyler has several short cameos throughout the season, and Freema Agyeman appears as guest star in several episodes as Martha Jones.  Finally, in “The Doctor’s Daughter”, the Doctor, Donna and Martha are joined by Jenny, a genetically modified clone of the Doctor played by Georgia Moffett, the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison (formerly Moffett) and future wife of David Tennant.  I think future head writer Steven Moffat took notes on this relationship when planning Series 6.
This all leads up to the two-parter “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End”, arguably my favorite Doctor Who story to date.  This isn’t the most imaginative or thought-provoking episode, but Doctor Who doesn’t always need that.  “Journey’s End” is about a long-time DW fanboy writing a special about his favorite villains doing their best to destroy the Doctor and his favorite people.  Rose and Jackie Tyler, Mickey Smith, Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, Martha Jones and Donna Noble stand beside the Doctor as he faces off against Dalek creator Davros, while Wilf, Ianto Jones and Gwen Cooper from Torchwood, and Mr. Smith and Luke from Sarah Jane Adventures defend against the Daleks at home. K-9 and the Doctor’s hand from “Christmas Invasion” help deal with the crises at the end of the episode as well.  "Journey’s End" wasn’t the last thing Russell T. Davies did for Doctor Who, but it was the end of the journey.  Most of these individuals would continue to appear- Torchwood would run for two more seasons and each of the Doctor Who companions would appear in Davies’ final episode, but the end of Series 4 is the end of an era, and with a conclusion like this it’s only right that it’s the final complete season that he wrote for the show.
Barring "Journey’s End", Series 4 doesn’t have as many of my favorite moments as the earlier seasons did, but there’s also a lot less reasons to be squeamish of this season.  I’d gladly take a few “Sontaran Strategem”’s in place of the combination of “Fear Her” and “The Impossible Planet”, or “The Doctor’s Daughter” in place of “Evolution of the Daleks”.  That, and I just can’t help from watching the three episodes at the end of the season literally any time.
For a fair review, I need to admit that there are some faults here.  Davros’s appearance is completely out of the blue.  Despite the fact that 2005-2008 features more Daleks than any similar time period since 1975, there was never so much as a hint of his existence (unless you count the Doctor’s crack in “Evolution of the Daleks”).  There really was never so much as a hint that Daleks had anything to do with anything that was going on, which makes the fact that the entire season leads up to them feel slightly off.  On top of that, Donna starts off as a pretty annoying companion until she spends some time with the Doctor, and Rose and River’s reactions to Donna all but scream “ZOMG WATCH THE FINALE DONNA WON’T BE HERE NEXT SEASON!”  Still, overall I feel these are rather minor drawbacks for such a solid season.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kickstarter: Showing Support For the Sci-Fi Reviewer Community

I normally don't take it upon myself to post much other than reviews here.  I usually let SQT and Jim post about the outside world while I do what I joined to do: Tell you what I think of books, comics, movies, and occasionally TV shows.  However, I am the resident Whovian here, so this falls to me, and I think it's worth bringing to your attention.

Philip Sandifer is the host of TARDIS Eruditorium, a site that looks at Doctor Who with more depth and intensity than I ever considered looking at a TV show with.  While we don't always see eye to eye on what makes good fiction, the fact that he opens my eyes wide enough to look into his is enough reason for me to keep reading.

Sandifer is currently hosting (is that the right word) a Kickstarter project.  This was originally intended to fund an improved version of his first independent book, and has gone on to set up other projects for Sandifer to work on.  While it's certainly past the point of needing further donations, I think some viewers might want to see such a project evolve.  I certainly do, if only because I like to see these projects succeed, as I intend to go forward with projects that share some similarities with his in my own time.  If you are a fan of Doctor Who, it's worth noting that the Ebook versions of his books offered as incentive for donating are below retail Amazon price, so that's worth a glance if nothing else.

For the sake of disclosure, I still haven't decided if I'm going to donate to this or not, largely because I don't like spending more than $3 for a book, and because if I let myself I would buy the $250 tier, and I just can't afford to let myself do that.

As of posting this, the project has 16 days to go.  I'm curious as to what will result of this, and if the followership of this blog has any strong feelings one way or another.

Here's the video for the Kickstarter project:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming books.

This week's WoW selection is:

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date: July 16, 2013
Pages: 304

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."

This just sounds too creepy good to pass up!

"Thor: Dark World" Trailer

Monday, April 22, 2013

TV: Doctor Who Series 3

A look at Series 3 of new Doctor Who requires a look at one off the major questions of the new era:
is the Tenth Doctor a coward? The obvious answer to this is of course not. Every version of the Doctor has risked life and limb for the sake of both those he knows about and complete strangers. But a look at this season reveals a startling amount of evidence to the contrary: rather than fight a foe he can clearly dispatch, he puts the lives of a town at risk with his attempt to wait for the enemy to die on its own. Rather than attempt to defeat a clearly murderous group of enemies, he gives in to the idea that they are replacing the minds of bystanders with copies of their own and simply aims to make those copies less murderous. And of course the most questioned point of the season, when the Doctor attempts a Luke Skywalker style redemption plot with an unrepentant murderer of hundreds of millions- trillions if you take into account the classic show.

Ultimately, the Doctor's willingness to risk the health of the many for the sake of the few indicates an important change in this season: rather than goodness or determination, this season's Doctor is characterized by tiredness. He's weary of the wrath and the destruction. His statement that "I lose it all and they always survive" is more than a line for the "Daleks in Manhattan"- in certain ways it's the thesis that this season is based on. The Doctor is trying to get as far from the ruthlessness that characterized Sylvester McCoy's tenure as possible, though as "Family of Blood" indicates, it's never far from him.

At the end of Series 2, the Doctor saw his companion and lover off into a parallel universe as two armies invaded the Earth: one an alternate version of a force that was defeated in that era of time, and the other a force left over from a fleet that the Doctor had made great sacrifices to defeat. The aftermath of this leads into the series 3 opener, “Runaway Bride”, in which the Doctor faces and destroys another ancient enemy of his people, with a ruthlessness that resulted in the titular bride- next season's companion- becoming cautious enough of the Doctor to decline his offer to travel with him. This apparently struck a chord with the Doctor- as I described above, he spends the remainder of the season taking ridiculous risks to avoid doing so again.

This season, even more than the last, is a regeneration.  The Doctor has a new companion, who hasn't seen the things that Rose has and reacts to them differently. In that regard this season follows many of the same patterns that Series 1 did, except with a Doctor newly confronted by a close personal loss rather than massive trauma. Rather than the Post Traumatic Dress Disorder he experienced in the past, it seems this Doctors psychological state can be more closely defined by clinical Depression. His response to his loss is to cling to everything from his old life: the Daleks, the Master, and even a world in which the Time Lords caused the extinction of the Racknos.

The season plot is pretty subtle compared to what we've seen before. Rather than setting the season up with enemies for a brawl at the end, Series 3 sets up ideals such as forgiveness (leading to the Master spending a year keeping the Doctor from telling him “I forgive you”), and technology that informs the finale, in the form of screwdrivers and fob watches.  With some of the themes I discussed in the first paragraph, this is rather bittersweet- an ambitious idea mired in its own concepts.

Martha is both the most intelligent and the wisest companion new Who has had yet, which is probably why she’s made one of the biggest marks of any one-season companion.  That, or maybe the fact that she’s a sassy black girl and the best dresser that would travel with Tennant’s Doctor.  As a medical doctor, it’s not surprising that she has traits of the 8th Doctor’s companion Grace Holloway- being kissed by the Doctor, having an episode where he’s half human (“Family of Blood”), and falling in love with him (although she denies it at first).  Still, watching Martha interact with her family and the Doctor is a blast; she really has a full life waiting for her back home and you can see that every time the TARDIS stops by the 21st century.

The only downside to Martha is that the stories she’s in could really give a shit about her.  If you ignore the fact that “Gridlock” and “The Shakespeare Code” carry elements of “End of the World”  (as Martha mentions, “ever heard the word ‘rebound’?”) and that she contributes a line at the end of the latter, the only stories that really involve Martha are the two-parters.  It’s these episodes that prove her worth as an invaluable companion, however, as in each she fights for the Doctor’s cause- without his help- for weeks or months on end, without exactly being the most popular person around, and passed with shining colors.  “Human Nature” and “Last of the Time Lords”, despite both having their problems, really shine in the companion department.

That’s the key to this season, I think.  Really great scenes, really great moments; but the episodes as a whole are too flawed to really call great.  I love this season for a lot of reasons, but I can’t call it a good one.  It’s a season that you have to watch for the characters and for the great moments, but you can’t pay too much attention to the plot or it gets a little disturbing.  I still recommend this season, but only if you fall in love with the characters in “Smith and Jones”.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Harrison Ford Flips Out on Jimmy Kimmel

Something funny...

H/T Bill Silvia

Books Received

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Passage meets Ender's Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Faeryland: The Secret World of the Hidden Ones by John Matthews

The author of Abrams’ How to See Faeries (with Brian Froud) opens the land of faerie to all readers. The book provides a broad overview of faeries, including a Who’s Who of Faeries; Good Faeries vs. Bad Faeries; Faerie Courts; Faerie Spells; and Faerie Sightings. Faeries of the British Isles as well as those of Scandinavia, Germany, North America, and even the Asian, Arabic, and African worlds are discussed. Matt Dangler and other contemporary fantasy artists bring the land of faerie to life alongside such fine artists as William Blake, Henry Fuseli, and J. M. W. Turner.Faeryland contains an envelope of faerie photos to use as postcards; an invitation from Puck to a Faerie Ball; a 19th-century faerie pull-out map (currently housed in the Library of Congress!) and more.

Can You See What I See?: Out of This World: Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve by Walter Wick

Walter Wick's new search-and-find adventure in the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!

OUT OF THIS WORLD, the ninth title in this search-and-find series, follows two characters from two separate, very different worlds--until their worlds collide! In the end, we learn that these two worlds really aren't that different at all. They both come from the same place: a child's playroom! Walter Wick's fantastic photographs bring the princess and the robot worlds together through a series of search-and-find activities.

Amazing photographs accompany a terrific search-and-find game by Walter Wick, the creator of the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Can You See What I See? series and the photographer of the internationally successful I Spy series.

Deep Down by Deborah Coates

Now that she's solved her sister's murder, Hallie Michaels has left the army and isn't sure what to do next. Her relationship with deputy Boyd Davies is tentative, there's still distance between her and her father, and she needs a job. The good news is, she hasn't seen a ghost in weeks.

All that changes when she gets a call asking her to help an elderly neighbor who is being stalked by black dogs, creatures from the underworld that are harbingers of death. When a black dog appears, Hallie learns, a reaper is sure to follow. And if the dark visions she's suddenly receiving are any indication, it looks like the reaper is now following her.

Meanwhile, strange events herald the arrival of ghosts from Boyd's past, ghosts the young deputy isn't ready to face. Refusing Hallie's help, Boyd takes off to deal with the problem on his own, only to find that he's facing something much larger and more frightening than he'd imagined.

Stalked by a reaper and plagued by dark visions, Hallie finds she must face her fears and travel into Death's own realm to save those she most loves.

Archvillain #3: Yesterday Again by Barry Lyga

YESTERDAY AGAIN is the third book in critically acclaimed author Barry Lyga's Archvillain series!

Kyle Camden, a.k.a. the Azure Avenger, unintentional Bouring archvillain, has a foolproof plan to finally prove that Mighty Mike, unintentional town superhero, is an alien. Kyle's going back in time to the night Mike Mighty showed up on Earth and video tape his arrival. Yet he decides to use the time machine just as something evil has been unleashed on Bouring during the Annual Time Capsule Burial. But Kyle can fix it when he's back, right?

Kyle accidentally overshoots his intended destination, landing in 1987, and burns out his time machine. Things get even stranger when he accidentally befriends his dad at age twelve, meets Sheriff Monroe (his archnemesis in present time) as a teenager, and discovers William Lundergaard lurking around. But Lundergaard isn't any younger. How did he end up in 1987 and why? Kyle better figure it out fast. Because if he doesn't get back to the present immediately, well, there might not be a present anymore!

Trinity Rising (Wild Hunt) by Elspeth Cooper

This sequel to Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper continues the story of a young man who has been sentenced to death, and then exiled, for his magical abilities.

As Gair struggles with grief over the loss of the only home he had known, and his beloved, he is walking into a conflict that's greater and more deadly than he or his mentor ever anticipated. A storm of unrest is spreading across the land and they are going to be caught up in it—at a moment when Gair's hold on his magic, his greatest defense and most valuable tool, is starting to slip….

Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill

Screenwriter and acclaimed film critic C. Robert Cargill makes his fiction debut with Dreams and Shadows, taking beloved fantasy tropes, giving them a twist, and turning out a wonderful, witty, and wry take on clash between the fairy world and our own.

Something is missing from Ewan and Colby’s lives. Residing in the corners of their memories is their time in Limestone Kingdom, a realm filled with magic and mystery, a world where only some may travel amongst the menagerie of mystical souls and sinister demons.

Cargill offers well-crafted characters and an absorbing, intricate plot that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Lev Grossman. Dreams and Shadows pulls you into an extraordinary universe of darkness that exposes the magic and monsters in our world, and in ourselves.

Deep Dive #1: Cephalox the Cyber Squid by Adam Blade

A brand-new underwater adventure from Adam Blade, author of the Beast Quest series!

Max's home, the floating city of Aquora, is attacked by Cephelox the Cyber Squid and his father is carried away by the Robobeast. Max and his robodog, Rivet, set off on a rescue mission. Along the way, they meet Lia, a princess of an ancient race of Merryns who live underwater. The Merryn's magic powers are fading because the evil Professor has stolen four pieces of a skull that is the source of their abilities. It is up to Max and Lia to retrieve these items and save Max's father before it is too late.

Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky) by Elizabeth Bear

The Shattered Pillars is the second book of Bear’s The Eternal Sky trilogy and the sequel to Range of Ghosts. Set in a world drawn from our own great Asian Steppes, this saga of magic, politics and war sets Re-Temur, the exiled heir to the great Khagan and his friend Sarmarkar, a Wizard of Tsarepheth, against dark forces determined to conquer all the great Empires along the Celedon Road.

Elizabeth Bear is an astonishing writer, whose prose draws you into strange and wonderful worlds, and makes you care deeply about the people and the stories she tells. The world of The Eternal Sky is broadly and deeply created—her award-nominated novella, "Bone and Jewel Creatures" is also set there.

The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire) by Mark T. Barnes

An uneasy peace has existed since the fall of the Awakened Empire centuries ago. Now the hybrid Avān share the land with the people they once conquered: the star-born humans; the spectral, undead Nomads; and what remains of the Elemental Masters.

With the Empress-in-Shadows an estranged ghost, it is the ancient dynasties of the Great Houses and the Hundred Families that rule. But now civil war threatens to draw all of Shrīan into a vicious struggle sparked by one man’s lust for power, and his drive to cheat death.

Visions have foretold that Corajidin, dying ruler of House Erebus, will not only survive, but rise to rule his people. The wily nobleman seeks to make his destiny certain — by plundering the ruins of his civilization’s past for the arcane science needed to ensure his survival, and by mercilessly eliminating his rivals. But mercenary warrior-mage Indris, scion of the rival House Näsarat, stands most powerfully in the usurper’s bloody path. For it is Indris who reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing man, the only one able to steer the teetering nation towards peace.

Rebel Angels (Lady Lazarus) by Michelle Lang

Magda Lazarus has twice come back from the dead to fight the Nazis’ devastating conquest of Poland. To prevent the Holocaust her sister has seen in terrible visions, Magda will need the Heaven Sapphire, a gem powerful enough to defeat even the demon Asmodel. With the future of all Europe in the balance, Magda and her husband, the fallen angel Raziel, begin a perilous journey to the Caucasus, the resting place of the fabled stone.

Surrounded by Germans, Russians, and mistrustful Azerbaijani tribesmen, Magda must summon all her magic to withstand the predations of the deadly supernatural foes. But more dangerous yet is the power of the Sapphire itself, which could stop Hitler…or destroy Magda.

Sovereign (The Books of Mortals) by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

Nine years after Rom Sebastian was thrust into the most unlikely of circumstances as hero and bearer of an unimaginable secret, the alliance of his followers is in disarray. An epic battle with The Order has left them scattered and deeply divided both in strategy and resolve in their struggle to become truly alive and free.

Only 49 truly alive followers remain loyal to Rom. This meager band must fight for survival as The Order is focused on their total annihilation. Misunderstood and dispised, their journey will be one of desperation against a new, more intensely evil Order. As the hand of this evil is raised to strike and destroy them they must rely on their faith in the abiding power of love to overcome all and lead them to sovereigncy.

SOVEREIGN wonderfuly continues the new testament allegory that was introduced in FORBIDDEN and continued in MORTAL.

The Stone Thrower by Adam Marek

At the core of Adam Marek’s much-anticipated second short story collection is a single, unifying theme: a parent’s instinct to protect a vulnerable child. Whether set amid unnerving visions of the near-future or grounded in the domestic here and now, these stories demonstrate that, sometimes, only outright surrealism can do justice to the merciless strangeness of reality and that only the fantastically illogical can steel us against what ordinary life threatens. Marek has blended futuristic technology, sinister traditions, and scientifically grounded superpowers into a menagerie where the absurd and the mundane are not merely bedfellows, but interbreed. In these vignettes, absurdism, surrealism, and fantasy bleed into one, causing the reader to take huge imaginative leaps while still keeping one foot firmly in reality. This strange and startling fictional world is accompanied by bonus BackLit materials which include an introduction and overview of Marek’s stories.

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn

On the heels of Kitty’s return from London, a new werewolf shows up in Denver, one who threatens to split the pack by challenging Kitty’s authority at every turn. The timing could not be worse; Kitty needs all the allies she can muster to go against the ancient vampire, Roman, if she’s to have any hope of defeating his Long Game. But there’s more to this intruder than there seems, and Kitty must uncover the truth, fast. Meanwhile, Cormac pursues an unknown entity wreaking havoc across Denver; and a vampire from the Order of St. Lazaurus tempts Rick with the means to transform his life forever.

The Gate Thief (Mither Mages) by Orson Scott Card

In this sequel to The Lost Gate, bestselling author Orson Scott Card continues his fantastic tale of the Mages of Westil who live in exile on Earth in The Gate Thief.

Here on Earth, Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can't control him…and they can't control him. He is far too powerful.

And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless—he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North.

For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago.

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius Edited by John Joseph Adams

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

Energized by Edward M. Lerner

No one expected the oil to last forever. How right they were….

A geopolitical miscalculation tainted the world’s major oil fields with radioactivity and plunged the Middle East into chaos. Any oil that remains usable is more prized than ever. No one can build solar farms, wind farms, and electric cars quickly enough to cope. The few countries still able to export oil and natural gas—Russia chief among them—have a stranglehold on the world economy.

And then, from the darkness of space, came Phoebe. Rather than divert the onrushing asteroid, America captured it in Earth orbit.

Solar power satellites—cheaply mass-produced in orbit with resources mined from the new moon to beam vast amounts of power to the ground—offer America its last, best hope of avoiding servitude and economic ruin.

As though building miles-across structures in space isn’t challenging enough, special interests, from technophobes to eco-extremists to radio astronomers, want to stop the project. And the remaining petro powers will do anything to protect their newfound dominance of world affairs.

NASA engineer Marcus Judson is determined to make the powersat demonstration project a success. And he will—even though nothing in his job description mentions combating an international cabal, or going into space to do it.

Hellhole Awakening (The Hellhole Trilogy) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

In this exhiliarting sequel to Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Hellhole, the stakes on planet Hallholme have been raised to new heights. 

After declaring his independence from the corrupt Constellation, rebel General Adolphus knows the crackdown is coming. Now he needs to pull together the struggling Hellhole colony, the ever-expanding shadow-Xayan settlement, and his connections with the other Deep Zone worlds. Even then, he doubts his desperate measures will be enough.

Diadem Michella Duchenet has collected a huge space fleet led by Commodore Escobar Hallholme, son of the hero who originally defeated Adolphus. They expect resistance from the General's rebels, but who could possibly stand up to such a mighty fleet?

Adolphus knows he’s running out of time, but he still has some hope—the shadow-Xayans have banded together to defend their sacred planet with "telemancy," but can they discover new powers to protect all the stored alien lives on the already devastated world? And when all hope seems lost, the awakened Xayans reveal information hidden even from their own followers—the existence of a bigger threat that makes even the Constellation fleet seem insignificant.

Disaster has come for General Adolphus and Hellhole…and this time there is no escape.

Blood's Pride (Shattered Kingdoms) by Evie Manieri

Evie Manieri's Blood's Pride is the first book of The Shattered Kingdoms, an engaging, action-packed, and “highly imaginative” (Kirkus Reviews) series of fantasy novels with epic scope and “the perfect mix of romance, family ties, betrayals, and agonizing dilemmas” (RT Book Reviews).

Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.

Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?

Fall of Night: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine

Thanks to its unique combination of human and vampire residents, Morganville, Texas, is a small college town with big time problems. When student Claire Danvers gets the chance to experience life on the outside, she takes it. But Morganville isn’t the only town with vampire trouble…

Claire never thought she’d get to leave Morganville, but she can’t pass up the chance to finally attend her dream school, MIT. After all, getting to invent anti-vamp devices with Professor Anderson—a Morganville exile herself—sounds like a dream come true…until Claire realizes that there are sinister forces in play, and she’s not the only one with a vampire-related agenda.

Without her friends Shane, Eve and Michael, surviving a killer schedule may be hard…but with them, it might turn out to be impossible.

The Executioner's Heart by George Mann

It’s normal for Inspector Bainbridge to be called to the scene of a crime, but this is the third murder in quick succession, each with the victim’s chest cracked open and their heart torn out. Bainbridge suspects there’s a symbolic reason for the stolen hearts, so he sends for special agent Sir Maurice Newbury and his determined assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes.

Unfortunately, neither of them are in much shape to take the case. Veronica is busy trying to find some way to alleviate the mysterious forces hounding her family. Newbury's been retained by a private client: Edward, Prince of Wales, who's concerned that his mother is losing her grip on the nation.

Eventually, though, it is determined that someone has hired a mercenary known as the Executioner to kill current and former agents of the Queen. The Executioner—French, beautiful, and covered in tattoos, her flesh inlaid with precious metals—is famed throughout Europe, with legends going back for years. Something is keeping her in a form of living stasis, but her heart is damaged, leaving her an emotionless shell, inexplicably driven to collect her victims’ hearts as trophies.

Why is Veronica acting the way she is? Why has she stopped trusting Bainbridge? What does the Prince of Walesreally want? These are just some of the mysteries that Newbury and Hobbes will confront on the way to unearthing the secret of the Executioner’s Heart.

The Omega Project by Steve Alten

On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth’s long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and before they embark Eisenbraun is the odd man out, put into cold sleep against his will….

When Robert wakes, he finds the ship deserted and not functional. He escapes to the surface of an Earth terribly changed. The plan has gone horribly wrong, but as he adapts to a hostile environment, he realizes that there is still a way to accomplish what his mission had set out to achieve. But he also discovers that he faces a new adversary of the most unlikely sort. For now, his own survival and that of the woman whose love has sustained him in his darkest hours depend on the defeat of a technological colossus partly of his own making. Confronting a foe that knows him almost as well as he knows himself, he faces the prospect of depending on resources that he has reason to believe will be available on one particular night of a full moon, a night foretold by a myseterious unseen ally to be a pivotal moment for the fate of the earth. The game has changed, and Earth’s future depends on him and him alone.

Stepping Stone / Love Machine: Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley's talent knows no bounds. Stepping Stone and The Love Machine are two complete short novels in which Mosley entertainingly explores life's cosmic questions. From life's meaning to the nature of good and evil, these tales take us on speculative journeys beyond the reality we have come to know. In each tale someone in our world today is given insight into these long pondered mysteries. But how would the world really receive the answers?

Homeland by Cory Doctorow

In Cory Doctorow’s wildly successful Little Brother, young Marcus Yallow was arbitrarily detained and brutalized by the government in the wake of a terrorist attack on San Francisco—an experience that led him to become a leader of the whole movement of technologically clued-in teenagers, fighting back against the tyrannical security state.

A few years later, California's economy collapses, but Marcus’s hacktivist past lands him a job as webmaster for a crusading politician who promises reform. Soon his former nemesis Masha emerges from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump of hard evidence of corporate and governmental perfidy. It’s incendiary stuff—and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world. Then Marcus sees Masha being kidnapped by the same government agents who detained and tortured Marcus years earlier.

Marcus can leak the archive Masha gave him—but he can’t admit to being the leaker, because that will cost his employer the election. He’s surrounded by friends who remember what he did a few years ago and regard him as a hacker hero. He can’t even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. He’s not at all sure that just dumping the archive onto the Internet, before he’s gone through its millions of words, is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they’re used to inflicting pain until they get the answers they want.

Fast-moving, passionate, and as current as next week, Homeland is every bit the equal of Little Brother—a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll

Jewelry designer Garet James is the Watchtower—the last in a long line of powerful women sworn to protect the world from evil. Although she had once defeated evil in New York City, her pursuit of her true love, the 400-year-old vampire Will Hughes, has now unleashed an age-old evil onto the modern world, and the entire planet is at risk.

Marduk, the ageless descendant of a demonic Babylonian deity, is now loose in Paris. He has joined forces with the villainous John Dee in a plan to destroy the world’s economy and plunge the entire world into chaos.

To fight this threat, Garet enlists the help of a modern-day band of knights who are dedicated to preserving the sanctity of the timeline. As she and her allies face this threat, new challenges arise in the form of a rival faction of knights who will stop at nothing to bring about the destruction of everything Garet holds dear.

Infestation by Timothy J. Bradley

A contemporary take on the classic creature-feature genre. INFESTATION is a thrilling, fast-paced story that will leave your skin crawling.

When Andy Greenwood is sent to the Reclamation School for Boys he expects the lousy food, mean drill sergeant instructors, and brutal bullies. What he doesn't expect is an infestation of weirdly large and aggressive ants, or the itching welts all over the staff and students. Even odder, Andy learns that kids never leave the school when they're supposed to. They just seem to get stuck there indefinitely.

Following a ground-splitting earthquake, however, things quickly go from bad to horrifying. The school is overrun by monstrous bugs, and Andy himself comes face to face with mutant ants the size of humans, equipped with pinchers that can cut steel. Trapped in a cinderblock institutional building in the New Mexico desert, miles from civilization, Andy must figure out a way to save himself and the surviving boys from this nightmare.

Firebrand (Rebel Angels) by Gillian Philip

At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired.

Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.

But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…

Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.