The Geomancer


Further Thoughts on eReader apps for the iPad

Yesterday, Barnes and Noble released their much-anticipated, long-awaiting B&N eReader app specifically for the iPad. With its arrival, there are now three excellent eReading options, and as a user of all three, I though a follow up to my "My Life in eBooks" post might be due. (I haven't downloaded the Kobo app yet, due to early reports of bugs, so that one isn't addressed but may follow in later report).

I've been reading for the two plus months on the iPad, mostly in iBooks but also in the Kindle for iPad app. But before the iPad I had read a whole novel - Fritz Leiber's Swords & Deviltry - in the B&N iPhone app, which was my favorite of the iPhone reading apps for commercially published books. I say "commercially published" because before the iPad I read all manuscript submissions in Stanza for iPhone.

I've got about twenty ebooks now on each of the three apps, and while the majority of my ebooks were free, I have paid for books from all three. Swords & Deviltry was my only purchase on B&N, The Graveyard Book and Return of the Sword, along with a few low-cost pulps (Doc Savage and Fu Manchu), were my Kindle purchases, and I've purchased six books so far via iBooks, including Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, The House on Pooh Corner, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and the Beneath Ceaseless Skies anthology.

But I've been itching for B&N to get onboard iPad and downloaded it first thing yesterday morning. So...

The B&N eReader app does a lot of things very, very well.  With its plain white background on the home page and simple page swiping, it's not as sexy as iBooks, whose virtual bookshelf and realistic page turning emulation are really, really gorgeous. But what B&N lacks in style it more than makes up for in functionality, and its iPad version is far more user friendly than its iPhone app. It now opens its dictionary inside the page of the book, rather than pulling you out of the read as the iPhone version of the app did, allows for note taking and highlighting, has an assortment of font choices and sizes etc... Of course, some version of these tools are pretty much de rigueur now for any eReader. But B&N adds two features that are very, very nice. In addition to customizing the fonts, you can alter the width of the page's margins and you can alter the spacing between lines. Between changing the margins and changing the spacing, you can really, really create a perfectly tailored, comfortable reading experience. And then you can save that as a theme to apply later! This is brilliant, and may be the nicest feature on any of the three major apps. Against this, both iBooks and the Kindle app suddenly look very limited in what they allow.

B&N's eReader also opens up the Table of Contents in a pop-up window, without pulling you out of your place in the book, along with tabs to bring up lists of your highlights and bookmarks. Which is another very nice feature. I also appreciate the fact that they have chosen to go with page numbers, rather than percentages or the perplexing Kindle location system. Yes, page count changes when you change font sizes and spacing, but then, it does the same thing when we raise the point size of a font in printing a physical book. It's still very nice aesthetically and psychologically to use actual page numbers.

I was also delighted to discover, when perusing Bram Stoker's Dracula,  that the end notes were hyperlinked. Clicking on them took me to a list of notes at the end of the chapter, with a convenient "Back" button to return me to my place in the text. Nice.

I did have a few problems with the eReader. It crashed on me twice when I was trying to highlight a chapter title in Swords & Deviltry, I have two copies of the same edition of Dracula displayed in my shelf and can't seem to get it to just show just one, and when you delete a book on your shelf, it still shows the cover with a "Download" label across it. To actually get rid of my complimentary copy of Little Women -- (no disrespect to Louisa May Alcott) -- I had to go to B& in the Safari browser and remove it permanently from My Library. This is a minor inconvenience but it will probably have the effect of preventing me from sampling as many titles as I otherwise would. I haven't tried the LendMe feature yet, but it is obviously a plus. I did make notes and highlights in a book and was disappointed to see that they didn't carry across to my iPhone edition.

Overall, it's a very good app, with a lot to recommend it, and a few key features that score higher than its competitors. And, of course, I'm sure it will only get better as updates are issued.

Meanwhile, last month I read Gaiman's The Graveyard Book on the Kindle app, which, thanks to Whispersync, was read on both my iPhone and iPad.

Kindle's aforementioned perplexing locations are augmented with page numbers for the iPad version, and I also find the actual layout of text more attractive on the iPad than on the iPhone. Visually, the home page is prettier than the B&N eReader app, and the Whispersync technology can't be beat. Its amazing how many occasions every day you find yourself with a minute or three where you can pull your phone out and read a few paragraphs, where you might not have easy access to the larger iPad.  Currently neither B&N nor Apple's iBooks has a syncing feature, though both promise that in the next iteration of their iPhone app software updates. And, of course, Kindle has by far the best selection of titles.

Where iBooks scores over both of them is in presentation and in the ability to easily load ePub format ebooks acquired from other sources into iBooks with just one click. Because of this, iBooks has been my default reader for amassing a library, in the same way all my music, whether purchased digitally or ripped from CDs, goes into iTunes. I also use Stanza Desktop's "Save as ePub" feature to convert Word Docs into ePub format files, so now I'm doing all my manuscript reading on the iPad. And it's amazing how helpful it is, when thinking about how a particularly manuscript would be if you acquired it and turned it into a book, to actually see it looking like a book, with actual pages. It's really intuitively helpful to me, when judging a book's pacing, to be able to see how far into the book I am, and the feature that tells you how many pages remain in a chapter is fantastic!

Currently you can't take notes in iBooks, though I can't imagine that will be long in coming, and while you can copy sections of text from non DRM's ePub files, you can't cut and past lines into email from the books purchased from the iBookstore (at least the ones I've purchased). So the annotation features in Kindle and B&N score over iBooks in that respect. The iBooks reader needs to do more than it does, but its too strongest selling points - its beauty and its ability to accept ePub files into iTunes - are extremely attractive features that will probably keep it in the top slot for my primary reader. On the downside, the selection at iBooks isn't what it needs to be, though that is something that will be changing fast. But given there is no way to browse through the iBookstore, unless an author/book is listed in the promotional displays in a genre's category, there is no way to know if the book is there except by running a search, which right now will return no results more often than not.

Sadly, none of the eReaders allow you to bring up a full-page view of the cover, which is a shame given how good the iPad is at displaying art. Since this is a complaint with all three apps, I'm wondering if it is somehow a limitation of ePub. Either way, it seems like an essential element of book reading that needs to be addressed and thus, presumably, will be.

In summary, B&N's eReader app is a welcome addition to the iPad eReader space and offers enough that I won't be penalizing it too much for being late to the party. iBooks versatility will make it my default manuscript reading app, and probably my first choice for an eReader, but I anticipate continuing to buy some books from the Kindle (due, if nothing else, to their wide selection) and some from B&N (most notably, the rest of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series). Instead of having one reading app and one online library, it looks like I'm going to have one device (or family of devices) and multiple apps. For now, I can live with that. Of course, all the competition between apps and devices can only be good for the overall evolution of the eReader, so who knows where things will be next year? Personally, I'm eager to find out.

B&N eReader:
  • Customizable fonts, colors, margins, spacing
  • Annotations
  • Wide Selection
  • Dictionary opens inside page. 
  • Visually boring interface.
  • Currently no sync with iPhone version.
  • Can only take B&N books despite ePub format.

Kindle for iPad:
  • Whispersync
  • Enormous selection
  • Visually attractive
  • Proprietary Format.

  • Visually stunning.
  • Can import any non DRM ePub files.
  • Dictionary opens inside page.
  • Currently no iPhone version.
  • Currently no annotation. 
  • Currently small selection, poor inventory browsing. 
  • No dictionary.


Prometheus Books at Book Expo America

Pyr parent company Prometheus Books are at Book Expo America right now (without me, sniff). Here are some pics from their booth, including an enormous stack of free copies of Joel Shepherd's Petrodor and Mark Chadbourn's The Devil in Green.


Pyr on the Kindle

We're up to 50 Pyr books on the Kindle now (more formats coming).


NASA's Project M

Via io9, seriously cool, and a great save in the wake of the Constellation cancellation:


For Your Viewing Pleasure: The Hounds of Avalon

Cover Illustration © John Picacio
Back Cover Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

The Hounds of Avalon are coming....
For these are the twilight days, when eternal winter falls and the gods destroy themselves in civil war ... when an invasion force of ghastly power threatens to eradicate all life.
Humanity's last chance lies with two friends, as different as night and day, but bound together by an awesome destiny.
Hunter: a warrior, a rake, an assassin; Hal: a lowly records clerk in a Government office. They must pierce a mystery surrounding the myths of King Arthur to find the dreaming hero who will ride out of the mists of legend to save the world.
But time is running out, for when the Hounds of Avalon appear, all hope is lost....

Coming in July! 


Presenting Pyr's Fall Winter 2010-2011 Season

Presenting Pyr's Fall/Winter 2010-2011 Season.

Salute the Dark
Shadows of the Apt 4

Adrian Tchaikovsky
Trade Paperback September 2010
Cover Illustration © Jon Sullivan 

Design by Jacqueline Cooke

The fourth novel in the thrilling fantasy series: Shadows of the Apt. Following on from Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling and Blood of the Mantis.

The vampiric sorcerer Uctebri has at last got his hands on the Shadow Box and can finally begin his dark ritual - a ritual that the Wasp-kinden Emperor believes will grant him immortality - but Uctebri has his own plans both for the Emperor and the Empire.

The massed Wasp armies are on the march, and the spymaster Stenwold must see which of his allies will stand now that the war has finally arrived. This time the Empire will not stop until a black and gold flag waves over Stenwold's own home city of Collegium.

Tisamon the Weaponsmaster is faced with a terrible choice: a path that could lead him to abandon his friends and his daughter, to face degradation and loss, but that might possibly bring him before the Wasp Emperor with a blade in his hand - but is he being driven by Mantis-kinden honour, or manipulated by something more sinister?

Praise for the series:

Empire in Black and Gold is a very strong debut. It is a fast-paced and action-driven novel that nonetheless leaves plenty of room for character-development. Its primary strength is, however, the highly imaginative world that Tchaikovsky’s has created. …a remarkably strong fantasy debut and I for one am eagerly anticipating the sequels Dragonfly Falling and Blood of the Mantis.” Book Spot Central 

Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack
Mark Hodder
Trade Paperback September 2010
Cover Illustration © Jon Sullivan 

Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

When one man changes history, history changes everyone!

London, 1861.

Sir Richard Francis Burton--Explorer, linguist, scholar and swordsman; his reputation tarnished; his career in tatters; his former partner missing and probably dead.

Algernon Charles Swinburne--Unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade; for whom pain is pleasure, and brandy is ruin!

They stand at a crossroads in their lives; and are caught in the epicentre of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labour; Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity; while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behaviour to the limits with magic, drugs and anarchy.

The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack, and to find out why werewolves are terrorising London's East End.

Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age; and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn't exist at all!

"This is an exhilarating romp through a witty combination of 19th century English fact and fiction. Mark Hodder definitely knows his stuff and has given us steam opera at its finest. ...A great, increasingly complex, plot, some fine characters, and invention that never flags! It gets better and better, offering clues to some of Victorian London's strangest mysteries. This is the best debut novel I have read in ages." Michael Moorcock

Jasper Kent
Trade Paperback September 2010
Cover illustration © by Paul Young 

Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

Russia, 1812

It began as a last stand against Napoleon’s invading army. It would end as a fight against an enemy of mankind itself…

As his face came close to mine, a sudden miasma surrounded me, the stench of his breath. I recalled years ago standing over a mass grave where the bodies of brave soldiers had been lying for many days. It was that same odour of decay and I felt the same urge to run as I had then, accompanied by an even deeper sense of dread which I could not place...

The voordalak – a creature of legend; the tales of which have terrified Russian children for generations. But for Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov – a child of more enlightened times – it is a legend that has long been forgotten. Besides, in the autumn of 1812, he faces a more tangible enemy – the Grande Armée of Napoleon Bonaparte.

City after city has fallen to the advancing French, and it now seems that only a miracle will keep them from Moscow itself. In desperation, Aleksei and his comrades enlist the help of the Oprichniki – a group of twelve mercenaries from the furthest reaches of Christian Europe, who claim that they can turn the tide of the war. It seems an idle boast, but the Russians soon discover that the Oprichniki are indeed quite capable of fulfilling their promise…and much more.

Unnerved by the fact that so few can accomplish so much, Aleksei remembers those childhood stories of the voordalak. And as he comes to understand the true, horrific nature of these twelve strangers, he wonders at the nightmare they’ve unleashed in their midst ...

Full of historical detail, thrilling action and heart-stopping supernatural moments, Twelve is storytelling at its most original and exciting.

"Good vampire-hunting fun." SFX

Tome of the Undergates
The Aeon's Gate Book 1

Sam Sykes
Trade Paperback September 2010
Cover illustration © by Paul Young 

Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

Adventurer. The term has long been synonymous with cutthroat, murderer, savage, zealot and heathen. And Lenk, an errant young man with only a sword and a decidedly unpleasant voice in his head, counts all five amongst his best and only associates. Loathed by society and spurned by all merciful gods, he and his band are recruited for only the vilest of jobs.

Denaos, the lecherous thug; Asper, the cursed priestess; Dreadaeleon, the pubescent wizard; Gariath, the psychotic dragonman; and Kataria, the savage shict who farts in her sleep have all followed Lenk out of necessity. But as their companionship increases, so too does their enmity for each other. Thrown together by necessity, motivated by their distrust for each other, it falls to Lenk to keep them from murdering each other long enough to allow something more horrible the pleasure.

When an esteemed clergyman hires them to track down a missing book stolen by a zealous foulness risen from the depths of the ocean, intent on using the tome to raise its abyssal matron from her hell-bound prison, Lenk finds his skills put to the test. Faced with titanic, fish-like beasts, psychotic purple warrior women and the ferocity of an ocean that loathes him as much as his own people do, the greatest threat yet may be the company he keeps.

Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

"Wildly descriptive slaughter-fest fantasy with a surprising pathos. Monstrous, murderous, psychotic, deranged, possessed and insane – the only question is what our heroes hate more: The demons they're fighting, each other or themselves. Sam Sykes has invented a whole new genre – Call Of Duty: Demon Warfare." Stephen Deas (The Adamantine Palace)

The Wolf Age
James Enge
Trade Paperback October 2010
Cover Illustration © Dominic Harman 

Design by Jacqueline Cooke

"Spear-age, sword-age:
shields are shattered.
Wind-age, wolf-age:
before the world founders
no man will show mercy to another."

Wuruyaaria: city of werewolves, whose raiders range over the dying northlands, capturing human beings for slaves or meat. Wuruyaaria: where a lone immortal maker wages a secret war against the Strange Gods of the Coranians. Wuruyaaria: a democracy where some are more equal than others, and a faction of outcast werewolves is determined to change the balance of power in a long, bloody election year.

Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world, and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius.

“James Enge writes with great intelligence and wit. His stories take twisty paths to unexpected places you absolutely want to go. This isn't the same old thing; this is delightful fantasy written for smart readers.” --Greg Keyes, New York Times bestselling author of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series

A Trial of Blood & Steel Book Three
Joel Shepherd
Trade Paperback October 2010
Cover Illustration © David Palumbo 

Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

For two hundred years Tracato has been the center of enlightenment, as the serrin have occupied human lands and sought to remake humanity anew. But the serrin have not destroyed Rhodaan’s feudal families entirely, and as Tracato faces the greatest threat to its survival in two centuries, old rivalries are stirring. Sasha must assist her mentor Kessligh to strengthen the Tracato Nasi-Keth, yet with one royal sister siding with the feudalists, and another soon to be married to Tracato’s most powerful foe, her loyalties are agonizingly divided.

Worse still, from Sasha’s homeland the Army of Lenayin are marching to make war upon Tracato. Can she fight her own people? Or must she join them, and fight not only her lover Errollyn, but to extinguish the brightest light of hope in all the land -- serrin civilization itself?

"...quite engrossing... this heroic fantasy should please fans of, say, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels." Booklist

The Cardinal’s Blades
Pierre Pevel
Translated by Tom Clegg
Trade Paperback October 2010
Cover Illustration © Jon Sullivan 

Design by Jacqueline Cooke

Welcome to seventeenth century Paris, where intrigue, duels and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu’s men may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment’s notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing.

Danger is rising from the south--an insidious plot which could end with a huge dragon- shaped shadow falling over France. A shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets which roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible and powerful... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of men.

Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of men, the Cardinal’s Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves. 

It’s death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.

“Bold and completely absorbing, Pevel’s English language debut is exciting stuff.” Total Sci-Fi Online

The Horns of Ruin 
Tim Akers
Trade Paperback November 2010
Cover Illustration & Type © Benjamin Carré 

Eva Forge is the last paladin of a dead God. Morgan, God of battle and champion of the Fraterdom, was assassinated by his jealous brother, Amon. Over time, the Cult of Morgan has been surpassed by other gods, his blessings ignored in favor of brighter technologies and more mechanical miracles. Eva was the last child dedicated to the Cult of Morgan, forsaken by her parents and forgotten by her family. Now she watches as her new family, her Cult, crumbles all around her.

When a series of kidnappings and murders makes it clear that someone is trying to hasten the death of the Cult of Morgan, Eva must seek out unexpected allies and unwelcome answers in the city of Ash. But will she be able to save the city from a growing conspiracy, one that reaches back to her childhood, even back to the murder of her god?

"Akers knows how a spin a tale with depth, complexity, and a bit of humor." - The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review 

Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar (Book 1)
Clay & Susan Griffith
Trade Paperback November 2010
Cover Illustration © Chris McGrath 

Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.

It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.

Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is The Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.

Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, Vampire Empire brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.

"I love this book. It's epic and lovely, heartbreakingly romantic (in every sense of the word) and an incredibly satisfying read, both for the characters and the richness of the world." Marjorie M. Liu, New York Times bestselling author of the Hunter Kiss and Dirk & Steele series

Legends of the Raven 1
James Barclay
Trade Paperback November 2010
Cover illustration © Raymond Swanland 

Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

Another action-packed adventure from the new master of fantasy. The Raven travel to a new continent in search of mages to help the ruined college of Julatsa rebuild . . . and find themselves in the midst of an ancient curse - a curse that has unleashed a plague that threatens to wipe out the elven race. Barclay excels with another tale that pitches The Raven against the clock and unseen foes. Full of desperate fights and secret betrayals the story also fills in more of Balaia's history and delves deeper into the ancient emnities between the colleges. Barclay has created a wonderfully appealing group of heroes and with every book their history grows and the land they live in becomes wider and richer. This is landmark fantasy in the making.

With The Raven, Barclay has created one of the more memorable casts of heroes in recent memory.” – SFSite

Legends of the Raven 2
James Barclay
Trade Paperback December 2010
Cover illustration © Raymond Swanland 

Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

The Raven is tested to the point of destruction when a savage war is unleashed across his world and the magical colleges of Balaia tear the land apart in their struggle for supremacy. Can The Raven even survive, let alone triumph?

“All five of those books are mind-numbingly brilliant.” Fantasy Book Review

Legends of the Raven 3 

James Barclay
Trade Paperback January 2011
Cover illustration © Raymond Swanland 

Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

THIS IS THE END ... The dragons have gone home, the elves are safe. The Raven have kept their promises. But fate has not finished with them. As the war between the colleges rages on an old enemy senses that his chance to revenge a bitter defeat has come. Tessaya, Lord of the Paleon Tribes has waited patiently for his moment and now, with Balaia in flames, he makes his move and unleashes the Wesmen hordes. In Xetesk, his forces scattered, Dystran, Lord of the Mount faces certain defeat by the Wesmen unless he unleashes the horrfying power of dimensional magics. And Dystran has not come this far to be beaten at the last by a rabble of ignorant tribesmen. And so the veil between dimensions is torn ... And beyond, a predatory evil stirs. Demons catch the scent of countless souls in Balaia. Can even the Raven prevail when the world is coming to an end? A fantasy milestone is reached. James Barclay brings his sensational saga of The Raven to a heartsopping conclusion.

Demonstorm is good enough that I would tell you to read all five preceding books just so you could read this one. Thankfully, all five of those books are mind-numbingly brilliant.” Fantasy Book Review 

The Buntline Special
A Weird West Tale 

Mike Resnick
Trade Paperback December 2010
Cover Illustration + Interior Illustrations © J. Seamas Gallagher 

Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

The year is 1881. The United States of America ends at the Mississippi River. Beyond lies the Indian nations, where the magic of powerful Medicine Men have halted the advance of the Americans east of the river.

An American government desperate to expand its territory sends Thomas Alva Edison out West to the town of Tombstone, Arizona on a mission to discover a scientific means of counteracting magic. Hired to protect this great genius, Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

But there are plenty who would like to see the Earps and Edison dead. Riding to their aid--old friends Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. Against them stand the Apache wizard Geronimo and the Clanton gang. Battle lines are drawn, and the Clanton gang, which has their own reasons for wanting Edison dead, sends for Johnny Ringo, the one man who might be Doc Holliday's equal in a gunfight. But what shows up instead is The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo, returned from the dead and come to Tombstone looking for a fight.

Welcome to a West like you’ve never seen before, where “Bat Masterson” hails from the ranks of the undead, where electric lights shine down on the streets of Tombstone, while horseless stagecoaches carry passengers to and fro, and where death is no obstacle to The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo. Think you know the story of the O.K. Corral? Think again, as five time Hugo winner Mike Resnick takes on his first steampunk western tale, and the West will never be the same.

"Nobody spins a yarn better than Mike Resnick." Orson Scott Card

Cowboy Angels
Paul McAuley
Trade Paperback January 2011
Cover Illustration © Sparth 

Design by Jacqueline Cooke

The first Turing gate, a mere hundred nanometers across, is forced open in 1963, at the high-energy physics laboratory in Brookhaven; three years later, the first man to travel to an alternate history takes his momentous step, and an empire is born.

For fifteen years, the version of America that calls itself the Real has used its Turing gate technology to infiltrate a wide variety of alternate Americas, rebuilding those wrecked by nuclear war, fomenting revolutions and waging war to free others from Communist or Fascist rule, and establishing a Pan-American Alliance. Then a nation exhausted by endless strife elects Jimmy Carter on a reconstruction and reconciliation ticket, the CIA's covert operations are wound down, and the Real begins to wage
peace rather than war.

But some people believe that it is the Real's manifest destiny to impose its idea of truth, justice and the American way in every known alternate history, and they're prepared to do anything to reverse Carter's peacenik doctrine. When Adam Stone, a former CIA field officer, one of the Cowboy Angels who worked covertly in other histories, volunteers for reactivation after an old friend begins a killing spree across alternate histories, his mission uncovers a startling secret about the operation of the Turing gates, and leads him into the heart of an audicious conspiracy to change the history of every America in the multiverse -- including our own.

Cowboy Angels is a vivid, helter-skelter thriller in which one version of America discovers the true cost of empire-building, and one man discovers that an individual really can make a difference.

“Fast moving, clever, great visuals: in summary, this book was great entertainment, intelligent and enormous fun. Reading it, I found that, for the first time in ages, I had to stay up to finish the last hundred or so pages. …Recommended.” SFFWorld

Thirteen Years Later
Jasper Kent
Trade Paperback February 2011
Cover illustration © by Paul Young

Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

In the summer of 1812, before the Oprichniki came to the help of Mother Russia in her fight against Napoleon, one of their number overheard a conversation between his master, Zmyeevich, and another. He learned of a feud, an unholy grievance between Zmyeevich and the rulers of Russia, the Romanovs, that began a century earlier at the time of Peter the Great. Indeed, while the Oprichniki's primary reason for journeying to Russia is to stop the French, one of them takes a different path. For he has a different agenda, he is to be the nightmare instrument of revenge on the Romanovs. But thanks to the valiant efforts of Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, this maverick monster would not be able to begin to complete his task until thirteen years later. Now that time has come: it is 1825 and Russia once more stands on the brink of anarchy, and this time the threat comes from within...

"Brilliantly weaving together history and family drama with supernatural horror, political intrigue, espionage and suspense." Fantasy Book Critic

The Scar-Crow Men
Swords of Albion

Mark Chadbourn
Trade Paperback February 2011
Cover Illustration © Chris McGrath 

Design by Jacqueline Cooke

1593: the London of Elizabeth I is in the terrible grip of the Black Death. As thousands die from the plague and the queen hides behind the walls of her palace, English spies are being murdered across the city. The killer’s next target: Will Swyfte.

For Swyfte, adventurer, rake, scholar and spy, this is the darkest time he has known. His mentor, the grand old spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, is dead. The new head of the secret service is more concerned about his own advancement than defending the nation, and a rival faction at the court has established its own network of spies. Plots are everywhere, and no one can be trusted. Meanwhile, England’s greatest enemy, the haunted Unseelie Court, prepares to make its move.

A dark, bloody scheme, years in the making, is about to bear fruition. The endgame begins on the night of the first performance of Dr Faustus, the new play by Swyfte’s close friend and fellow spy, Christopher Marlowe. A devil is conjured in the middle of the crowded theatre, taking the form of Will Swyfte’s long-lost love, Jenny - and it has a horrifying message for him alone.

That night Marlowe is murdered, and Swyfte embarks on a personal and brutal crusade for vengeance. Friendless, with enemies on every side and a devil at his back, the spy may find that even his vaunted skills are no match for the supernatural power arrayed against him.

Praise for The Silver Skull:

“There are times when you read a book that’s so amazing to you that you feel the author had you personally in mind when they wrote it, that’s exactly how I feel about Mark Chadbourn’s The Silver Skull. ….This is a must-read, and is my favorite book so far this year.” Fantasy Literature