Blood Trade (Roc, April 2, 2013) is the newest novel by Faith Hunter. It is the sixth novel featuring skinwalker Jane Yellowrock.
In this volume Jane and her work companions, the Younger brothers, return to Natchez, Mississippi. There is a Naturaleza vampire problem there again, and some friends from Jane’s past appear on the scene to cause additional complications.
The love triangle of Rick, Jane and Bruiser heats up when both guys are called in to assist on the case. Jane’s relationship with Evan, Angelina, and Molly moves slightly toward normal in this volume, so hopefully we will soon see them returning as regular supporting cast members.
Change also comes to the relationship between Jane and Beast as Jane starts to understand herself better. Jane’s skinwalker nature is revealed to some of her supporting cast so this changes their relationships and could lead to some interesting developments later.
The supporting characters all really shine in this volume with Eli, Alex, Rick, Bruiser, and Soul all having moments alone with Jane to tell her (and the reader) more about themselves. Jane continues to grow as a character, starting to learn more about her past and settling some issues from her time in the children’s home.
As usual for Faith’s books, this one moves quickly, with lots of action and weapon-play which results in many permanently dead vampires. This urban fantasy has just enough romance to be intriguing and enough weapons and fighting to satisfy action fans. Gun-loving guys, if you thought urban fantasy wasn’t for you, then you haven’t met Jane Yellowrock.
I’m always keeping tabs on the authors and poets and critics and artists I’ve been lucky enough to have published along the way so far, so here’s four bits of Bull Spec “Alumni” news:
- C.S. Fuqua (“Rise Up”, Bull Spec #1) interviewed by Nerine Dorman on “This is my World”
- Sofia Samatar (“The Year of Disasters”, Bull Spec #7) has a new book just out, A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press); she recently wrote an essay about the Big Idea behind her novel
- Author James Maxey (“Tornado of Sparks”, Bull Spec #4) and narrator Dave Thompson (“The Gearaffe Who Didn’t Tick”, Bull Spec #7) offer an excerpt of the audiobook for Bitterwood on Gail Z. Martin’s (interviewee, Bull Spec #5) Ghost in the Machine Podcast
- Lavie Tidhar (“The Story of Listener and Yu-En”, Bull Spec #3) a new novella, Martian Sands, forthcoming from PS Publishing
- Mur Lafferty’s (review, Bull Spec #6) forthcoming novel The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit) was just named to Publisher’s Press’ Best Summer Books of 2013
- Athena Andreadis (“Spacetime Geodesics”, Bull Spec #6) — co-editor with Kay Holt of the forthcoming anthology The Other Half of the Sky (Candlemark & Gleam, April 23)
Whew! And there’s more going on than this, but that’s what I have for now.
I’m sneaking the “Friday Quick Updates” in a day early to get the word out about a fascinating-looking symposium at Duke University which starts today, “Community & Emergent Order in non-state spaces”, which features some interesting persons (Kim Stanley Robinson, David Friedman, Paul Cantor) and topics (“Vinge, Heinlein, the Sagas, and Me”, “The Future Is My State”). All talks are free and open to the public, for more info check the events listing below the pictures. This isn’t the only symposium, as NCSU is hosting another which starts tomorrow. There’s also events this weekend (Comics Fest at the Durham County Library, again see below) but of course I want to ask you to stop what you are doing and invite all your friends to the NC Speculative Fiction Night / Bull Spec #8 Launch Party event on Tuesday — just FIVE days away! OK, you’re back? On to the listings, which feature a few of the “NEW-NEW” recently announced events that I’ve added to the newsletter. I haven’t had a chance to update the handout flyer, or put together a good display flyer for the launch party, but, hey. That’s what the midnight hour is for, right?
18 (Thursday) 7:30 pm — Science and Speculative Fiction Book Club at the NC Museum of Natural Science’s Nature Research Center, held every 3rd Thursday each month. The April book is Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling. More info: http://bit.ly/161TWtK
NEW-NEW: 18-19 (Thu-Fri) Duke University hosts a symposium entitled “Community and Emergent Order in Non-State Spaces” with talks from Kim Stanley Robinson, David Friedman, and Paul Cantor, among others. More info: http://english.duke.edu/news-events/archive/2013/04/15/symposium
NEW: 19-20 (Fri-Sat) — The CRDM program at NC State is hosting a research symposium on April 19-20 titled “Emerging Genres, Forms, Narratives—In New Media Environments.” More info: http://crdm.chass.ncsu.edu/sites/symposium/schedule
19-21 (Fri-Sun) — DeepSouthCon at JordanCon in Roswell, Georgia with guests Seanan McGuire, Eugie Foster, and Michael Whelan, along with the Phoenix and Rebel Awards.
NEW-NEW: 20 (Saturday) 10 am to 5:30 pm — Durham County Library presents its third annual Comics Fest with guests, prizes and activities for children, teens and adults at the Southwest Regional Library, 3605 Shannon Road. “This year’s guest cartoonists include Eisner winner Raina Telgemeier (Drama, Smile), Hugo winner Ursula Vernon (Digger, Dragonbreath), Harvey winner Scott Hampton (The Books of Magic, Batman), Eisner nominee Ben Towle (Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean) and Jan Burger (Uitke and the Magic Penny). Workshops and presentations will cover cartooning basics, visual storytelling and the comic art process from sketch to sales floor.” For details and a complete schedule, visit durhamcountylibrary.org/comicsfest or call 919-560-8590.
NEW: 23 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Durham’s Atomic Empire (formerly Sci-Fi Genre Comics and Games) hosts a World Book Night / NC Speculative Fiction Night / Bull Spec #8 Launch Party event. More info: http://bullspec.com/2013/03/21/announcement-world-book-night-nc-speculative-fiction-night-bull-spec-8-launch-party/
24-25 (Wed-Thu) — East Coast Game Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. More info: http://www.ecgconf.com/
25 (Thursday) — Star Trek TNG episodes on the big screen continue on April 25th, with “Best of Both Worlds” parts 1 and 2. More info: http://trekmovie.com/2013/02/04/star-trek-tng-s3-best-of-both-worlds-film-single-discs-coming-april-30th-tng-theater-screening-april-25th/
NEW-NEW: 26 (Saturday) — Last day for the art exhibition Farfetched: Mad Science, Fringe Architecture & Visionary Engineering at NCSU’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design. More info: http://www.ncsu.edu/gregg/exhibitions.html
NEW: 26 (Saturday) 9 pm — Davenport & Winkleperry hosts THE CLOCKWORK BALL: A Steampunk Party: “Attention Pilots of Airships and their Crews, Mad Scientists, Explorers of the Unknown, Admirers of Verbosity, Respecters of the Strange, Those Lost in the Throes of Opium or Absinthe, Teetotalers, Scallywags, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dandies, Fops, and Urchins… Hosted by that darling duo, Emmett Davenport & Lady Nikolai Attercop. They will be spinning Jazz, Blues, Swing, Dark Cabaret, Gypsy Punk, & Dance music from times gone by or times that never were.”
4 (Saturday) — Free Comic Book Day, including events and of course free comics at all participating shops. Ultimate Comics will be hosting a very large party/gathering/thing in and around their store, including two free Jeremy Whitley comic books, one a split issue featuring Princeless and Jamal Igle’s new title “Molly Danger” and the other an NFL RushZone book. Stay tuned for lineups and plans from other local stores!
6 (Monday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Daniel Wallace, new novel The Kings and Queens of Roam Book Launch!
NEW-NEW: 6 (Monday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts RHONDA RILEY for The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope. “This first-time novelist’s exquisite language draws the reader into this improbable, beautifully rendered, somewhat biblical love story with a wildly imaginative premise that is irresistible, tender, and provocative.”
7 (Tuesday) — Quail Ridge Books hosts DANIEL WALLACE – With The Kings & Queens Of Roam at 7:30 pm.
NEW-NEW: 10 (Friday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Hugo Award winner MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL for Without a Summer. “The magical book that might result if Jane Austen’s Emma were set against the Luddite uprising in the Year Without a Summer.”
Review of The Heretic by Tony Daniel and David Drake
The Heretic (Baen, April 2, 2013) is the newest volume in the General series. In previous volumes, Raj Whitehall had been selected by the sentient battle computer Center to be the father of the future in a revived Federation. Then Raj and Center had succeeded on planet Belleview so they were copied into thousands of probes and sent into space. This volume tells of how they adopt a young local on planet Duisberg to start the cycle again.
The problem on Duisberg is that there is already a computer named Zentrum running the planet and the locals view it as a god. There are priest which worship it, follow its orders and do things to keep innovation from changing the technology level.
The volume is really a coming-of-age story for the young boy, Abel Dashian. At age six, while his father is meeting with the district priest, Abel opens a storehouse door and discovers a trove of forbidden holy objects called nishterlaub (things made of advanced metals and plastics). The probe which brought Center and Raj to Duisberg is among this trove. When Abel enters the storehouse, Raj and Center start talking to him and decide he is possibly the one they need. They enter his mind and adjust things so he can understand references to more modern technology and take him on a virtual experience of flying to show him his world.
Abel is so stubborn that he bashes himself on the head with a rock to get the voices out of his head, but all that does is make Center need to perform some brain-repair on him. While that is going on, Abel’s thoughts are sent inside Center where he can see a visual of Raj. The story follows Abel as he attends school and becomes a military cadet. He is sent out on patrol with the Scouts for the first time when he is twelve. The volume follows his progress to adulthood and higher rank in the military. Raj and Center need him to be in a position that he can change things when Zentrum decides to make a deal with barbarians in order to keep the technology level down.
It is not necessary to have read previous volumes to like and understand this one. It is very plot-oriented and stays focused on Abel with the AIs only occasionally intruding into his thoughts. This volume shares some concepts with previous ones, mainly the Raj and Center influence, the drive to change the society to make it ready for contact and the military battles. Abel is sort of like Raj in the early books, in that his tactics look at a bigger picture than most of the other officers. He usually comes out ahead and sometimes does something totally unexpected by the enemy (Redlanders on this world) because he thinks differently due to the influence of the AIs.
Abel is very likable, interesting and you really care that he is trying to survive in a world where the powers that be are manipulated by a control-freak AI. The supporting characters, particularly the priests who befriend Abel, are also well-rounded and interesting. There are some “becoming-a-man” scenes in a pleasure house which are amusing, and reveal something of the crazy culture on Duisberg as well, so watch for those as you read.
If you like your military SF to have an individual perspective, if you like land battles, or you just like well-written heroic adventures then this book is for you.