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December certainly won't be a dull reading month, with new books from the likes of Victoria Strauss, Robert Charles Wilson, Stan Nicholls, Andre Norton, Peter Atkins, Diana L. Paxson, Jay Russell, Babylon 5's Captain Sheridan, and Terry Bisson's novelization of the new Dreamworks film Galaxy Quest. Or, if you're feeling nostalgic, pick up a reprint of one of the classics from such giants as Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Vance, Paul J. McAuley, or J.G. Ballard.

Books are listed alphabetically by author. Only books received are noted. Where available, links to SF Site reviews and book excerpts are provided. Click on the thumbnail image to get a closer look at the cover.

New Arrivals: November 16th - December 1st
Part II
[Cover]
Michael Evans
Mission Child
Maureen F. McHugh
Avon EOS (paperback, 370 pages, $6.99 US/$9.99 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

"Young Janna has lived her 14 years on the icy northern plains of a world that has forgotten its history. Now the arrival of alien off-worlders -- identical in appearance to her own kind but far different inthought and culture -- has violently upset the fragile balance of a developing civilization. The Earthers' advanced technology and cruel indifference to local life have brought despair and destruction to Janna's home, robbing her of family, husband, child... self. But with the cataclysmic end of everything she has ever known comes the opportunity -- unsought and unwanted -- for rebirth." Fans of the author's first two novels should find this one to be better than either of the previous two. Newcomers to McHugh's writing will find the novel to be the work of a mature writer, full of ideas and interesting characters.
review Review by Greg L. Johnson.
[Cover]
Bodyguard of Lightning, Book 1 of Orcs: First Blood
Stan Nicholls
Millennium (paperback, 298 pages, £5.99 UK/$9.99 Can)
Publication date: 1999

Wanna see life from the other side? Written from the point of view of the orcs, this is the first volume in an epic fantasy series set in a world on the brink of disaster. It's a fast-paced action-packed adventure, with undercurrents of dark humour, designed to make you re-examine the way you look at orcs.
[Cover]
Legion of Thunder, Book 2 of Orcs: First Blood
Stan Nicholls
Millennium (trade paperback, 281 pages, £9.99 UK)
Publication date: 1999

In a world full of wonder, magic and encroaching dark, the orcs play a vital role. "My name is Stryke. Orc. Renegade. Monster. Murderer. I have led my warband through blood and fire. I have fought for Jennesta in the wars that have torn our world, Maras-Dantia, apart. And yes, I have killed your kind. More than I can remember. But hear me. There is another way. There is a place for orc, dwarf, elf, even human. I have seen our destiny. And I will grasp it. Though you hunt me down, though Jennesta turn my own kind against me. Though my warriors fall in droves. I will prevail. I must. There is no choice, for a war is coming that will take us all. In the reckoning to come, either you are for me or against me. And if you are against me, beware."
[Cover]
Kinuko Craft
Wind in the Stone
Andre Norton
Avon EOS (hardcover, 280 pages, $23 US/$34.95 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

This is the latest in a very lengthy list of titles from a Grandmaster of Science Fiction and of Fantasy. The second of her novels of the senses, Wind in the Stone is set in a peaceful Valley, where the simple farming folk are able to hear the messages give out by all living things. "A student-mage -- a thief of sinister scraps of knowledge stolen from the ancient halls of learning -- seeks to enslave the Valley and destroy the Forest. To this end, the sorcerer has sundered a family, sending a mother and her infant girl-child fleeing into the woods while holding the babe's twin -- a boy -- captive in a black tower, to be used in later years to further the mage's base goals of depraved domination..."
[Cover]
Tom Canty
The Book of the Cauldron, Book 3 of The Hallowed Isle
Diana L. Paxson
Avon EOS (trade paperback, 180 pages, $10 US/$14.95 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

"The Romans came, conquered, and departed, leaving behind them a strange new religion called Christianity. The princes of Britannia have driven back the invading Saxons and dream of a return to bygone days, while others on the island invoke the magic of a time older still. For the revered ancient goddesses live on in the hearts and memories of the proud royal women of the old British tribes. And now, King Artor -- wounded in body and spirit -- proclaims that the sword and the spear must be put to rest, and summons his mother Igierne, Lady of the Lake, to use the powers of the Cauldron to heal a troubled, wartorn land. But old jealousies and new power struggles threaten disaster, as Artor's sister Morgause hides a deadly secret -- and a darker magic. It is Guendivar the queen who holds the key to their survival, if she can master her own power in time. For a darkness is emanating from high places -- and it threatens to devastate a realm."
review Review by Jonathan Fesmire of Book 2: The Book of the Spear.

review Review by Jonathan Fesmire of Book 1: The Book of the Sword.

[Cover]
John Coulthart
Waltzes and Whispers
Jay Russell
Pumpkin Books (hardcover, 305 pages, £16.99 UK)
Publication date: October 1999

First collection of short fiction from the author of Blood, Celestial Dogs, and Burning Bright. In an intro to this collection, Michael Marshal Smith says: "You'll find straight-down-the-line horror, gothic fantasy, cyberpunk and splatterpunk, literary fiction and noir. It's a smorgasbord of words, an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet of fiction. We've got searing-hot chilli over there, tasty enchiladas up front, some kind of weird gunk whose ingredients I don't want to even know about, and soothing guacamole on the side. The only thing that ties it all together is that they've all been produced by the same cook, and he knows what he's doing."
[Cover]
The Demon Awakens
R.A. Salvatore
Millennium (paperback, 607 pages, £5.99 UK)
Publication date: 30 September 1999

From the author of the very popular Dark Elf saga. "In a volcanic cavern a great, awakening beast brings to life all that is violent and base in the enchanted land of Corona. Nothing will remain unscathed. In the tiny settlement of Dundalis a savage, merciless attack by the creatures of the night leaves two orphans, Pony and her friend Elbryan, trying to rebuild shattered lives. And on a far-off island, an order of monks discovers a new source of magic. A magic that carries they key to all that is good in the world... and all that is evil."
review Review by Wayne MacLaurin.
[Cover]
Diane Fenster
Past Lives, Present Tense
edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Ace (trade paperback, 342 pages, $13 US/$19 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

"Pick a famous historical figure and experience your own life as that person. What would you do? Excel in science under the extraordinary influence of Leonardo da Vinci? Spice up your daily grind with a dash of Mata Hari? Unnerve your neighbours as Edgar Allan Poe? Or, for those who like to live dangerously, there are whispers of a black market -- where no one is forbidden. A word of caution: Previous performance does not guarantee future predictability. And in the hands of these masters of SF&F, your experience of past lives reborn may not be at all what you expect..." 15 original stories from 15 authors, including Elizabeth Moon, Kristine Kathryn Rush, Rod Garcia y Robertson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and more.
[Cover]
Moon's Dreaming, Book 1: The Children of the Rock
Susan Sizemore and Marguerite Krause
Starlight Writer (e-book)
Publication date: 1999

"In a world under three moons, in the courts and villages of three kingdoms, the fates of the Dreamers are at stake. Only Dreamers can bend the power of the gods and perform the magic that holds chaos at bay. The Dreamers are always few in number, born of rare unions between ruling Shapers and peasant Keepers. The Shapers no longer believe in magic. The practical Keepers no longer see any need for it. While the Dreamers battle against extinction with the help of only King Sene of Sitrine, the rest of the world is plunged into power struggles and turmoil. The death of a princess sends another, Vray of Rhenlan into exile, results in the murder of the queen of Dherrica, and plants the seeds of revolution in Jordy the carter and Dael, captain of the royal guard of Rhenlan. If the world no longer needs dreamers, they think, why do we need Shapers, either? If the world no longer needs Dreamers, Prince Damon of Rhenlan thinks, why bother with tradition and the vows that keep a man from obtaining all the power he can?"
excerpt Read an excerpt.
[Cover]
Moon's Dancing, Book 2: The Children of the Rock
Susan Sizemore and Marguerite Krause
Starlight Writer (e-book)
Publication date: October 1999

"Princess Vray of Rhenlan, exiled for defying her power-mad brother Damon, returns to court to challenge his right to the throne. Unfortunately, Damon's ambition is not the only danger facing the Children of the Rock. The Dreamers, who bend the power of the gods to keep otherworldly monsters at bay, have diminished in number until only a handful remain. With most of the ruling Shapers intent on politics and border feuds, and the peasant Keepers wanting only to tend their fields and raise their families in peace, the Dreamers and the importance of their magical gifts are being forgotten. As the situation in the three kingdoms deteriorates, the carter Jordy and Dael, captain of the royal guard, see no answer but revolution. But Damon is a devious adversary, and it begins to look as if the best efforts of Vray and her allies will be too little, too late."
excerpt Read an excerpt.
[Cover]
Jean Pierre Targete
Code of Conduct
Kristine Smith
Avon EOS (paperback, 346 pages, $5.99 US/$7.99 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

Captain Jani Kilian almost died in a civil war among the idomeni, an alien race enough like humans to make their vast differences disturbing. Framed for treason and then presumed dead in an explosion, she has spent the years since in hiding. After the blast, her doctors put her together with illegal experiments that combined human and idomeni genes. Now it is catching up with her. Is she dying -- or changing into a new species that could threaten the existence of both humans and idomeni?
review Review by Catherine Asaro.
[Cover]
Rowena Morrill
The Garden of the Stone
Victoria Strauss
Avon EOS (paperback, 485 pages, $6.99 US/$9.99 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

SF Site contributor Victoria Strauss brings us the continuation of the story begun in her first novel, The Arm of the Stone. "At the heart of the fortress lay the Garden. At the heart of the Garden lay the Stone -- a living entity of power beyond understanding. Then came Bron, his arrival long foretold as the one who would restore the balance to a world torn asunder centuries ago. But Bron had other plans. He stole the Stone... and vanished. Now Bron's daughter Cariad, a skilled empath and assassin, must follow the footsteps of a father she's never known into the depths of the Fortress. Waiting there is Jolyon, her father's greatest enemy, a man whose thirst for domination is matched only by his taste for blood. Cariad must learn the secret of Jolyon's strength before it is too late. For as Bron's arrival was prophesied, so too is his return."
review Review by S. Kay Elmore of The Arm of the Stone.
[Cover]
Acts of the Apostles
John F.X. Sundman
Rosalita Associates (trade paperback, 361 pages, $15 US)
Publication date: 1997/98/99

SF thriller: "As American led forces assemble in Kuwait for the largest military operation since Normandy, computer chip designer Todd Griffith discovers a secret function buried within the Kali computer chip. That night he is shot in his bed. Five years later, burnt-out software engineer Nick Aubrey boards a 'red-eye' flight to Boston and winds up seated next to a very disturbed man who claims to know the secret of Gulf War Disease. Over Utah, Nick's chance companion meets his dramatic demise -- and the police suspect Nick of murder. In freeing himself from a web of murder, deceit, and double-crosses, Nick comes to learn that the key to the secret of Gulf War Syndrome resides in a pharmaceutical laboratory in Basel, Switzerland, where scientists are frantically working on submicroscopic machines to rearrange human DNA. Only Nick can stop them. But first he's going to have to find the Trojan Horse hidden in the Kali computer chip. He can't do that without Todd's help, and Todd's been in a coma for nearly half a dozen years."
[Cover]
Chris Moore
Emphyrio
Jack Vance
Millennium (trade paperback, 208 pages, £6.99 UK)
Publication date: 14 October 1999

SF Masterworks 19. "Far in the future, the craftsmen of the planet Halma create goods which, unknown to them, are the wonder of the galaxy. Their society is harshly regimented -- any use of machinery is punishable by death -- and its religion is unforgiving. When Amiante Tarvoke is executed for processing old documents with a camera, his son Ghyl rebels, and decides to bring down the system. But first he must interpret the ancient story of the legendary hero Emphyrio."
[Cover]
The Hoegbotton Guide to The Early History of Ambergris, by Duncan Shriek
Jeff VanderMeer
Necropolitan Press (trade paperback, 88 pages, $7.99 US)
Publication date: 1999

A delightful blend of humour and horror, cleverly disguised as fantastical history. Or perhaps it is history cleverly disguised as fantastical humour and horror. The real clue, no doubt, is hidden in one of the copious footnotes.
[Cover]
Chris Moore
The Sirens of Titan
Kurt Vonnegut
Millennium (trade paperback, 224 pages, £6.99 UK)
Publication date: 30 September 1999

SF Masterworks 18. Vonnegut is a writer of such flair and style that the mainstream has often tried to claim him for their own. We know better. "When Winston Niles Rumfoord flies his spacecraft into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum he is converted into pure energy, and only materializes when his waveforms intercept Earth or some other planet. As a result, he only gets home to Newport, Rhode Island, once every 59 days, and then only for an hour. But at least, as a consolation, he now knows everything that has ever happened or that will ever happen."
[Cover]
Jim Burns
Bios
Robert Charles Wilson
Tor (hardcover, 208 pages, $22.95 US/$32.95 Can)
Publication date: November 1999

From the author of Darwinia and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. Life in the 22nd Century: "Humankind has colonized the solar system. Starflight is possible but hugely expensive, so humankind's efforts are focused on Isis, the one nearby Earth-like world. Isis is verdant, Edenic, rich with complex DNA-based plant and animal life. And every molecule of Isian life is spectacularly toxic to human beings. Zoe Fisher was born to explore Isis -- literally. Cloned and genetically engineered by a faction within the hothouse politics of earth, Zoe is optimized to face Isis's terrors. But there are secrets implanted within her that not even she suspects -- and the planet itself has secrets that will change our understanding of life in the universe..."
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