Category Archives: fantasy

in the bundle: Spotted Lily by Anna Tambour

Included in the infinity plus literary fantasy Storybundle: Spotted Lily by Anna Tambour

Available for a limited time only, your chance to set your own price for a set of nine fantasy books, including a World Fantasy Award-winner and three exclusive ebooks available only here.

Literary fantasy bundle

 

Spotted Lily

“a wicked, thoroughly unpredictable romp” –Locus

Spotted Lily by Anna TambourAngela Pendergast, escapee from the Australian bush, grew up with the smell of hot mutton fat in her hair, the thought of her teeth crunching a cold Tim Tam chocolate biscuit-the height of decadent frivolity.

Now, though her tastes have grown and she knows absolutely what she wants, her life is embarrassingly stuck. So when the Devil drops into her bedroom in her sharehouse in inner-city Sydney with a contract in hand, she signs. He’s got only a Hell’s week to fulfil his side, but in the meantime he must chaperone her … or is it the other way around?

Shortlisted for the William L. Crawford Award.
Locus Recommended Reading List selection.

“I hate giving away the story, but allow me to say that this novel is not going where you think it is….teaming with genuine wit and humor… excellent writing…One thing I’m sure of is that it should be required reading for all those who go into writing fiction with dreams of great remuneration and fame. If it were, Tambour would already be both wealthy and famous.”
Jeffrey Ford14theditch

“…a wicked, thoroughly unpredictable romp . . . Spotted Lily might just be a particularly inventive comic take on wish-fulfillment, but soon enough it strays far from the beaten path…a dizzying but delightful journey through old myths and modern chaos, turning Faust and Pygmalion on their ear as it cuts its own path toward something like self-knowledge.”
Faren MillerLocus

“The main thing is, the novel is real.”
Jeff VanderMeer

“One of the things I liked most about this book was that it was so difficult to tell where it was going…the book is so well written that for a lot of the time you don’t actually notice that it has a supernatural element to it.”
Cheryl MorganEmerald City

“Funny, believable, refreshingly different . . . Perhaps most of all it is a very funny book, without being what you would call a comedy. . . Anna Tambour, on the strength of Spotted Lily and her earlier story collection,Monterra’s Deliciosa & Other Tales &, is one of the most delightful, original, and varied new writers on hand. ”
Rich HortonSF Site

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com/fantasy

A personal note from bundle curator Keith Brooke

As soon as we settled on the theme of Literary Fantasy for this bundle, Anna Tambour’s wonderfully witty and sharp Spotted Lily was a must-have title. ‘Original’ is a terribly overused label, but rarely is it more appropriate than in the case of Anna Tambour: there simply is no other author like her.

Extract

‘How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’ I asked.

‘Six, I think. But, really, dear, this is not my field.’

‘And I read somewhere that you turn us into sort of butterflies, and keep us in lacquered boxes with airholes, for transport.’

‘I couldn’t possibly comment on that.’

The Devil and I were sitting in my room, getting to know each other. He’d just been accepted in our sharehouse, ‘Kitty is thirty-five dollars a week, no coffee or coffee substitutes or power drinks included’ for the room next to mine, which was convenient for both of us.

It was Pledge Week, and we had to make the most of our time, but to do that, we had to get to know each other a little better.

I changed the subject.

‘Why do you have Pledge Week?’

He examined the pressed tin ceiling, seeming to be considering whether he should answer. When I had almost forgotten my question, he answered. ‘We have to. We lose too many to heaven these days.’

I knew I had to learn fast, but if he didn’t start to make sense, this was not going to work. ‘Come again?’

He cocked an eyebrow at me, then scratched himself behind somewhere and examined his nails. I tried not to look at his hands. As he wasn’t forthcoming, I tried again. ‘Isn’t forever forever?’

‘Ah … Yes, it is, in hell as it is on earth. But you make the rules, not we. And when you change your minds, you do manage to make an ado for us.’

‘Like what? Please don’t speak in riddles.’

‘A regular omnium-gatherum of disorder, don’t you know?’

I obviously didn’t.

‘A tumult, bother, hubbub, farrago of disorder. A regular huggermugger of change that we could well do without.’

I still didn’t understand his words in this context, and with some of them, in any context. What the hell sprang to mind, but the words that came out were, ‘Could you give me an example?’

He sighed.

‘And could you please try to speak in more accessible language. We are in twenty-first century Australia here. You do keep up, don’t you? You must have some Australians there.’

He bowed, a trifle condescendingly. ‘I will try. Eh, you know, don’t you read the papers? Don’t you see what you’re doing to us? It messes our morale something awful, you know.’

Although the ‘Eh’ was New Zealand, and he was trying a leeetle too hard, I couldn’t quibble with his delivery. However, I was no closer to understanding. I think he must have thought me frustratingly dense, because his brows beetled, and I felt a prickle of sweat chill my back. He waved his hand, and in it appeared an International Herald Tribune. ‘Look at this article,’ he commanded, and threw the paper into my lap. It was singed but readable, and two days old.

I had no idea which article, so began to read down the first page, with rising panic.

‘Oh dear. I do so apologize,’ he said, in either an apologetic or a patronizing tone. It was so hard to read him. He grabbed the paper and opened it up, folded it neatly, and handed it back. ‘Read that,’ he pointed, ‘and do try to think. Think about the after-effects.’

hate it when someone talks to me like that. But I read.

ANGLONG VENG, Cambodia In a case of Disneyland meets the killing fields, Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism is drawing up grandiose plans to upgrade the final stronghold of the Khmer Rouge into a million-dollar theme park.

I looked up, grinning. ‘This is a joke, isn’t it?’

He scowled, something I do not wish to see again. ‘Do I look like a jokester,’ he asked, rhetorically. ‘Read on.’

I did, all of it, including the part that said:

“Pol Pot was a kind man and the only people killed during the Khmer Rouge time were Vietnamese spies,” said Kim Syon, director of the Anglong Veng health center and son of a senior Khmer Rouge leader. “In the next 10 years people will begin to see the positive result of what Pol Pot did.”

I wanted to wash. ‘But this is gross.’

‘No, love, it is normal,’ the Devil said sadly. Do you know how many people we will lose, and do you know what our futures markets are saying about the new arrivals whom we had banked on for the next few years?’

Whomnow. Was he having me on? Was the ‘on’ itself, the dangling preposition—snide? And … and futures markets. Wait a bloody minute. I thought of something Dad said whenever he met someone he thought was serving him potato skin and calling it bangers and mash: ‘There’s something crook in Muswellbrook.’ I felt in this conversation with the Devil, like I was standing in Muswellbrook’s main street as the main attraction—the town fool. It was about time I assert myself.

‘You’re shitting me,’ I told him. ‘Why are you trying to take advantage of my gullibility?’

His eyelashes fluttered. ‘Oh dearie me. You asked, and I’m telling you how it is. I never lie.’

I shot him a look that would pierce most people of my acquaintance.

He looked blandly back. However, he seemed truthful.

But first, I had to take care of something that was making this getting-to-know all the harder. ‘Would it be possible if you don’t call me “dear” or “love”? In my culture, it is kind of a put-down.’

He might have been miffed, for he said, ‘Miss Pendergast—’

We could not go on like this. ‘Excuse me, but “Miss” isn’t something I’ve been called since I was fifteen, by anyone with whom I wish to associate.’

He looked uncomfortable, and his brows began to move.

‘My friends call me Angela,’ I added quickly, and then wondered if that would offend. ‘Would you mind calling me Angela?’ Or if you prefer, any other name would be fine. Like maybe Imelda. Someone you know.’

‘Imelda?’

She was the only one who came to mind. Perhaps not dead yet.

I was wracking my brains when he coughed. I looked at his face and he smiled. ‘Angela has a certain ring to it. Look, Angela. Think of Jefferson. Do you know Thomas Jefferson?’

‘Yeah. Great American forefather. I don’t imagine you would know him.’

He scratched somewhere I don’t want to know again, this time with a smug grin. ‘You obviously don’t keep up. He’s in our place now. Something to do with his love life.’

‘You mean…’

‘You decide, we abide, my, er … Angela. And we must keep abiding, which means that our populations are forever moving back and forth … and even disappearing and appearing again.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Caligula? You do know of him?’

‘I saw the movie.’

‘Before the movie.’

I don’t like to be reminded of what I don’t know, but thought it best not to obfuscate. ‘No.’

‘You don’t have to feel defensive. Caligula was a wonderful … what would you say … resident, for centuries, and then faded away. He’s only recently come back to us. And with your attention span these days, it could be that we only have the pleasure of his company for one or two of your years.’

‘Unless “Caligula” is re-released,’ I mumbled, thinking.

‘Come again?’

‘Skip it,’ I said, still thinking.

Suddenly a sharp tang of stink stung my eyes and jammed its choking fumes down my windpipe.

‘I do demand respect,’ he said.

‘Sorry,’ I mouthed. And I was. It was impossible to breathe.

He waved his hand and the worst evaporated.

‘Sorry,’ I repeated, to clear the air completely. ‘I think I’m beginning to understand. ‘But don’t you gain from heaven, too?’

‘Yes. Like I said, we’ve got Jefferson now, and the markets say we’ll have Ghandi soon. You know Ghandi?’ he added somewhat condescendingly.

‘Yes,’ I said, somewhat hurt.

‘Well, it is hard to tell, you know.’

‘The markets?’ I had to ask.

I was secretly (though I couldn’t let it show) happy that he looked at last, confused. ‘Don’t you know markets?’ he asked.  ‘Futures trading? I thought you were all obsessed with it nowadays.’

‘Not all of us,’ I had to remind him. And all of a sudden I realized that for all his ultra-cool appearance, he was remarkably ignorant. Very gently and respectfully I asked, ‘You don’t know much about us, do you?’

‘What do you mean?’ he answered, and I was happy to smell that he wasn’t offended.

‘Well, here we are in a share house, and maybe you need some background on your housemates. Kate, remember—the one who chaired the interview today. She teaches ethnic studies at Sydney Uni, but she also inherited this house which was an investment from her North Shore parents who didn’t think enough of her to leave it to her unmortgaged. So then there’s us tenants who are also her housemates. Jason, who is going to bug you to death on your implants. Did you see his bifurcated tongue? It’s very like yours.’

‘I didn’t notice. I was looking at his tattoos.’

‘They’re only part of his performance. He is a work in progress.’

The Devil yawned.

I tried not to gag. ‘Do you mind if I light a cone?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Incense. I like to burn incense. Little cones of scented natural dried stuff.’

He waved his hand graciously. ‘Be my guest.’

I was crawling over to the little table with its celadon saucer and collection of Celestial Sky, thinking I should possibly change brand names tomorrow, when he grabbed my arm with a grip you might expect the Devil to have.

I thought I was about to die, or whatever.

‘It’s not garlic, is it?’

‘Never,’ I managed to smile.

‘I do apologize,’ he said after a final little squeeze. I felt like a fruit. ‘Did I hurt you?’ he asked solicitously.

‘Only a bit,’ I lied. ‘But what do you care?’

He shrugged, the same shrug as the bank manager gave me in some little French coastal town when he refused to cash my travellers cheque because my signature on it didn’t exactly match the one on my passport.

‘That reminds me,’ I said, (though it hadn’t—I just needed to change the subject), as the scent of, I think it was called ‘Bavaghindra’ filled the room. ‘Why do you have Pledge Week?’

‘You aren’t very perspicacious,’ he observed. ‘Pledge Week,’ he said slowly as if I were a child, ‘is necessary because, outside of our permanent population of futures markets operators, Pledge Week provides the only new source of once acquired, stable and permanent population that we have.’

The fingers of fate frolicked upon my back in a most disconcerting manner. I shrugged, which not only made me feel great and I hope, annoyed him in the same can’t-admit-it way as his shrug did to me, but I think established my position far closer to the peer level necessary to our smooth working relationship.

He must have thought I still did not understand. ‘When you come with me—’

‘My coming is forever.’

We looked into each other’s eyes for so long that I wondered whether it was a blink contest. Eventually I had to blink. ‘That is correct,’ he said. ‘When you come with me, your coming is forever.’ And his face changed from its solemnity, to one of Christmas cheer.

The actual elements of his smile, when I could steel myself to really look, were rather heart-flutteringly beautiful, and not at all like Jason’s barracuda-shaped mouth of crooked, filed teeth. The smile of the Devil was broad, and his teeth looked good enough to be capped.

(end of extract)

The deal:

A purchase of $3 gets you the basic set of five books:

  • Spotted Lily by Anna Tambour
  • A Writer’s Life by Eric Brown
  • Lord of Stone by Keith Brooke
  • The Far-Enough Window by John Grant (exclusive to this set)
  • In Springdale Town by Robert Freeman Wexler

Even better, if you pay $12 or higher, you unlock four more titles:

  • The Ragthorn by Garry Kilworth and Robert Holdstock (winner of the World Fantasy Award, and exclusive to this set)
  • Facade by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Hairy London by Stephen Palmer
  • Little Sisters of the Apocalypse by Kit Reed (exclusive to this set)

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com/fantasy


Literary fantasy: nine books, name your price!

Available for a limited time only, your chance to set your own price for a set of nine fantasy books, including a World Fantasy Award-winner and three exclusive ebooks available only here.

Literary fantasy bundle

The deal:

A purchase of $3 gets you the basic set of five books:

  • Spotted Lily by Anna Tambour
  • A Writer’s Life by Eric Brown
  • Lord of Stone by Keith Brooke
  • The Far-Enough Window by John Grant (exclusive to this set)
  • In Springdale Town by Robert Freeman Wexler

Even better, if you pay $12 or higher, you unlock four more titles:

  • The Ragthorn by Garry Kilworth and Robert Holdstock (winner of the World Fantasy Award, and exclusive to this set)
  • Facade by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Hairy London by Stephen Palmer
  • Little Sisters of the Apocalypse by Kit Reed (exclusive to this set)

The background:

When I first started talking with the fine people at StoryBundle about the possibility of putting together a bundle of books from writers associated with infinity plus we ran through a number of possible themes, but the one we kept returning to was Literary Fantasy. An elusive concept, perhaps – what marks ‘literary’ fantasy out from, simply, good fantasy, for starters? – but one that seemed to encompass the kind of books we wanted to offer: fantastical fiction with a sense of the magical and spiritual, written with a literary sensibility, by which we mean fiction with a love of language and an awareness of its place in the literary canon. As you’ll see from the books we’ve gathered together, that definition is deliberately elastic, inclusive rather than exclusive, yet still clear enough to bring a coherence to the set as a whole.

One of the first titles that came to mind for me was Stephen Palmer’s Hairy London, a quite extraordinary picaresque romp across an Edwardian London transformed by an overnight growth of… hair. In the streets, across the rooftops and bridges, submerging the parks. Everywhere. This is literary fantasy crammed full with alternate-historical and cultural references, but also one that never loses sight of the need to entertain.

About as unlike Hairy London as it’s possible to get and still feature here, Kit Reed’s Little Sisters of the Apocalypse is a novel that treads the indistinct boundaries between fantasy, science fiction and realism, as befits an author who describes her work as ‘transgenred’. A hard-hitting and impassioned story of a colony of women whose men have gone away to war and the role a gang of biker nuns plays in confronting the women’s deepest fears.

The appearance of Little Sisters of the Apocalypse in this bundle marks its first – and so far exclusive – appearance in ebook format. John Grant’s The Far-Enough Window is another title making its first ebook appearance, exclusive to this bundle: a classic fairytale that both delights the reader and cleverly challenges the form, from a Hugo- and World Fantasy Award-winning author. The Ragthorn, by Garry Kilworth and the late Robert Holdstock won the World Fantasy Award back in 1992 but, inexplicably, until now has never been published in standalone form – another exclusive first edition for this bundle.

It seems invidious to single out particular titles here from a bundle that manages to be so diverse in theme and approach, so all that remains is to urge you to explore what’s on offer before choosing the price you want to pay for either the core bundle or the entire set. From classic fairytale, ghosts and a deal with the Devil, through strange alternative pasts and presents to those biker nuns, there’s a bit of everything. Call it literary fantasy, or simply good fantasy, or give up labels altogether and simply read on.

A bit more detail:

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com/fantasy. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Buying this bundle also allows you to give to worthy causes: bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. We’re currently featuring Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

 


Fish Eats Lion: new print edition of Singaporean speculative fiction anthology

Just out – the first infinity plus print edition of Fish Eats Lion, edited by Jason Erik Lundberg:

Fish Eats Lion: Singaporean speculative fictionFish Eats Lion collects the best original speculative fiction from Singapore – fantasy, science fiction, and the places in between – all anchored with imaginative methods to the Lion City. These twenty-two stories, from emerging writers publishing their first work to winners of the Singapore Literature Prize and the Cultural Medallion, explore the fundamental singularity of the island nation in a refreshing variety of voices and perspectives. This anthology is a celebration of the vibrant creative power underlying Singapore’s inventive prose stylists, where what is considered normal and what is strange are blended in fantastic new ways.

“Lundberg combines accessibility with a uniquely Singaporean flavor in his selections. SF readers looking to expand their horizons will enjoy visiting new worlds from an unaccustomed point of view.” – Publishers Weekly

“I doubt I’ll read a more engaging collection this year. […] There’s a rich optimism to be found here that speaks of lesser-known spec-fic writers rising to a challenge, and that challenge being more than adequately met.” – Pete Young, Big Sky

“Entertaining in this post-colonial era, it hints at how storytellers can become mythmakers, with the power to change the world.” – Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 1502984822): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers

Also available as an ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UK – Barnes and NobleKoboApple – Smashwords


Just out: Story Behind the Book, Volume 3 (Essays on Writing Speculative Fiction)

Story Behind the Book, volume threeAnother of these excellent volumes collecting nearly 40 non-fiction essays from some of the most exciting authors working today. Offering an unique insight into the creative and publishing process, these essay reveal all the beauty, effort and frustration that inevitable comes hand in hand with the urge to write, edit or illustrate.

Contributors include Steven Erikson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Hugh Howey, Richard Kadrey, Christopher Fowler, Gary Gibson, Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ian R. MacLeod, Cat Sparks, James Everington, Pat Cadigan, Freda Warrington, Nick Mamatas, Robert Reed and many more.

And what’s more, like the earlier volumes editors Kristijan Meic and Ivana Steiner are donating all proceeds to the charity Epilepsy Action, who have been hugely supportive of my daughter Molly (to whom this book is dedicated).

Lots of good reasons to grab a copy!

Buying at Amazon.com in the US
E-bookPaperback

Buying at Amazon.co.uk in the UK
E-bookPaperback


Publication day for new infinity plus titles from Brooke & Brown

Today sees publication of two new titles from infinity plus, Keith Brooke’s epic fantasy novel Riding the Serpent’s Back and Eric Brown’s science-fiction story collection Deep Future.

Both are available at an introductory price of 99c/77p for a few days only (note: this price is only available at Amazon).

Riding the Serpent's Back - epic fantasy by Keith Brooke Deep Future by Eric Brown

Riding the Serpent’s Back by Keith Brooke
An old era is drawing to a close, a new era about to begin, and the great mage Donn has passed on his Talents to a new generation. When a rogue church leader threatens to set loose wild powers, Donn’s children must oppose him but, also, they must contend with Donn himself: the old mage has not finished with his children yet. A fantasy epic of revolution, jealousy and earth-shattering magic.
Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsWeightless Books
Print: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace

Deep Future by Eric Brown
Deep Future collects ten tales of the past, present and future by the award-winning author of the best selling Helix. Whether he’s writing about aliens coming to Earth, virtual reality, alternate worlds or immortal men, Brown imbues his fictions with a concern for character and an abiding passion for story, underlining his position as one of Britain’s finest SF writers.
Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwordsWeightless Books


Riding the Serpent’s Back: free draw

Following closely on the heels of announcing the introductory price for the ebook edition of my new epic fantasy, Riding the Serpent’s Back, we’ve just been given the go-ahead to run a Goodreads giveaway for a free copy of the paperback edition:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Riding the Serpent's Back by Keith Brooke

Riding the Serpent’s Back

by Keith Brooke

Giveaway ends September 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Riding the Serpent’s Back: epic fantasy from Keith Brooke – pre-order for 99c/77p

The ebook edition of my new 200,000 word fantasy novel is now available for pre-order from Amazon for the bargain price of 99c/77p. Later this month, the ebook will become available at other retailers, and the print edition will also come out.

~

Riding the Serpent’s Back by Keith Brooke

Riding the Serpent's Back by Keith BrookeWith his health failing, the great mage Donn has chosen to pass on his Talents to a new generation: an old era is drawing to a close, a new era about to begin. But with change comes instability. War looms and a rogue church leader threatens to set loose the wild powers of the First City. Donn’s children must oppose this man but, also, they must contend with Donn himself: the old mage has not finished with his children yet.

On the run from the religious repression of the mainland, Leeth Hamera joins a group of outcasts on the Serpent’s Back, a continually changing island continent in the middle of a lava sea. Leeth has never lived up to the expectations of his wealthy merchant family and his only magical skill is the lowly Talent of bonding with animals. But, as he learns, the greatest Talents can sometimes be the slowest to emerge.

The leader of the outcasts is Chi, son of Donn and the greatest healer of his generation. Chi is in exile for breaking the Embodied Church’s edict against intervening in the natural order: many years ago Chi used his skills to revive his son from the dead. That son, Lachlan Pas, is now a church leader tortured by the guilty knowledge of what his father had to do to return him to life. When he learns Chi is still alive, he orders his execution, determined that his secret should never be exposed.

Until now, Chi has been content to live in exile but now he knows that his son’s insane and cruel rule must be stopped. Chi summons his half-siblings from throughout the inhabited lands of the Rift valley. The need for action is confirmed when one of them reveals that Lachlan and his mage, Oriole, are rebuilding the ancient city of Samhab – an act which will release the powers of the earth with unforeseeable consequences.

Welcome to the magical island city of Zigané, endlessly adrift in the southern lava sea; the searing soda plains home of the Morani warriors; the impenetrable Zochi jungle, full of illusion and hidden hazard; the charmed fortress-like City of the Divine Wall; and Samhab, the fantastic First City of the True, built at the geographical centre of the Rift, where the magical powers of the earth rise up to be set free by the earth-charmers and mages. The novel’s cast of shape-changers, earth-charmers, healers and illusionists must battle to save civilization from the evil rule of Lachlan Pas and his followers.

For whoever controls the power of Samhab controls the future of the world.

“Keith Brooke’s prose achieves a rare honesty and clarity, his characters always real people, his situations intriguing and often moving.” World Fantasy Award-winner Jeff VanderMeer

“A progressive and skilful writer.” Peter F Hamilton, author of the Night’s Dawn trilogy

“In the recognized front ranks of SF writers.” Locus

Pre-order from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon Canada


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