Release Week: TC McCarthy’s Exogene, Michael Swanwick’s Dancing with Bears, Sergey and Marina Dyachenko’s The Scar, and Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark

February goes out with quite a splash, with T. C. McCarthy’s Exogene: The Subterrene Trilogy, Book 2Michael Swanwick’s Dancing with Bears: A Darger and Surplus NovelSergey and Marina Dyachenko’s The Scar, and Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark.

EXOGENE: Read by Bahni Turpin for Blackstone Audio and released concurrently with the mass market and e-book from Orbit, Exogene sets up as a much more traditional military sf novel than did the author’s debut, 2011’s Germline. Germline was read by Donald Corren, and was a drug-addled war journalism narrative, glossing a bit over technical details whether of weaponry, mech suits (other than detailing a bit of the waste system), or of the eponymous genetic engineering.

 

Here, Exogene shares only the setting — a near future war over mineral resources in Kazakhstan and its surrounds — and a first person perspective. The voice has changed, as has the narrator’s attention to technical detail. Turpin shows us the Subterene War from the point of view of Catherine, one of the genetically-engineered soldiers used by the United States and its allies. We find out some technical details of her flechette rifle such as its capacity, speed, and firepower. We find out more about the science and psychology and training behind the Germline project, and the lives, loves, and losses of women who were more shallowly perceived by the aforementioned drug-addled male journalist in the first book. This is not to say that there aren’t a few missteps: in the first quarter of the audiobook, some post-production artifacts remain from re-recordings for corrected pronunciations, though they aren’t too distracting. And for my money, though this was admittedly a review copy, some of the emotional impact of these losses don’t appear fully realized or felt. (Though, again, there are drugs and psychological conditioning at work.) But overall Turpin does a quite capable job here of bringing the “girls” (16-18 year olds) to a richer life, amidst a wider and richer cast of characters than inhabited the close quarters of Germline. Turpin’s turn at Russian (and other accents) are mostly well done, easily besting recent attempts from other non-native narrators (Malcolm Hillgartner’s forgettable tries at Russian, Hungarian, and Chinese accents in Neal Stephenson’s Reamde for example) though at times the closing words of sentences lose their flavor. It’s a good thing Turpin can handle her Russians, because we see quite a few of them, and hear a fair bit of Russian along the way towards discovering what it is the Russians are up to, exogentically. (If you’re guessing “exoskeleton”, you’re on the right track.)While Germline spent quite a bit of the capital of sf ideas for the world of the Subterrene War and had a more unique voice, Exogene sees McCarthy come a bit more into his powers of plot, and already leaves me wondering on where he’ll go with the trilogy’s conclusion, Chimera, due out in August. More info: 4 short films at The Subterrene War Clips website present fictional interviews.

DANCING WITH BEARS: Read by the always amazing Stefan Rudnicki for Audible Fontiers, this book was first published by Night Shade Books on May 17, 2011. I haven’t read this one yet, so I’ll pass along Jeff VanderMeer’s thoughts in his “dozen of the best from 2011” year-in-review for Locus: In this daring post-utopian novel complete with dangerously weird robots, con-men Darger and Surplus are on their way to Russia, having quite “innocently” acquired a caravan delivering a priceless gift from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy. Once they reach Moscow, an absurd level of intrigue, revolution, and double-crossing occurs. Fritz Leiber set a high bar indeed for loveable rogues with his Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series. It’s such a high bar that I find most riffs on this kind of thing tiresome and not at all witty. But Michael Swanwick has, in Dancing with Bears, provided readers with two of the narstiest and most entertaining such rogues in recent memory.”

 

Joined today by another new Swanwick audiobook from Audible Frontiers, Jack Faust (read by Peter Ganim), Dancing with Bears caps off no fewer than five new audiobooks pairing the publisher and author this year: The Iron Dragon’s DaughterStations of the Tide, and Bones of the Earth on Feb 7 being the other three.

THE SCAR: I’ve already used up far too much space above the fold, but all-star narrator Jonathan Davis brings this Russian bestseller to audio concurrently with the hardcover and e-book from Tor. (Its release is heralded enough that Audible prepared a new mini-feature on translations in audio for the occasion.) Compared to Robin Hobb, Michael Moorcock, and Patrick Rothfuss, this Sword in the Stone winner comes across the language divide bearing a starred review in Kirkus for its “rich, vivid, tactile prose, with a solid yet unpredictable plot—and an extraordinary depth and intensity of character reminiscent of the finest Russian literature”, and narrated by commensurate pro Davis (Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Alchemist and The Windup Girl being just two of my favorites of his narrations), this one makes for quite the crowded end of February for me.

 

AVAILABLE DARKNarrated by Carol Monda for Audible, Inc., Hand returns to the crime novel ouvre she nearly perfected with Generation Loss. Published in print by Minotaur Books on Feb 14, it’s an unexpected surprise on a day which had its share of unexpected absences.

ALSO OUT TUESDAY:

EARLIER THIS WEEK:

  • Books 3 and 4 in Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, read by Ellen Archer for Penguin Audiobooks: The High King’s Tomb: Book Three of Green Rider and Blackveil: Book Four of Green Rider
  • A Study in Sorcery (1989) By Michael Kurland Narrated by John Mawson for Audible Inc. — a Lord Darcy adventure — “It is the year 1989 in the Angevin Empire – an alternative universe much like our own, save for two vital differences: the House of Plantagenet (the descendants of King Richard I the Lion-Heart and his nephew, Prince Arthur) still rules in England and France and the New World; and, the science of magic has displaced the magic of science. But magic can’t solve everything.”
  • The Trikon Deception (1992) By Ben Bova and Bill PogueNarrated by Stefan Rudnicki for Blackstone Audio — “In the future as Bova here imagines it, Earth is an ecological nightmare, and humanity may well go the way of the dinosaurs. But overhead orbits salvation. A vast metallic island in space, the Trikon station conducts genetic research too risky to be done on earth – research that could save the planet.”
  • Sebastian of Mars (1986) By Al SarrantonioNarrated by Bruce Donnelly for Crossroad Press — “After the assassination of his mother, Haydn, Sebastian now rules Mars. But a revolt by Haydn’s old enemy forces Sebastian to make his stand.”
  • Short: Knack’ Attack: A Tale of the Human-Knacker War (2010) By Robert ReginaldNarrated by Arielle DeLisle for Audible, Inc. — 3 hours — “On the bucolic farming planet of Terr’ferme, Rabbs din Chorest, the 15-year-old youngest child of the Chorest-Grant, has just been made Hand, being sent to the Blackmarker Hills to tend a herd of clorses (cloned horses) and beefers. Not far away is the ruin of Spiretown, a long-abandoned place of the Old-uns, a race that had once inhabited this world.” From the narrator: “It was written in the dialect of rural farmers on their home planet, dystopian world, strong female lead character.”
  • Short: The Great Bazaar (2010) By Peter V. BrettNarrated by Pete Bradbury for Recorded Books — 1.5 hours — a 2010 novella set in the world of Brett’s The Warded Man
  • A series of “full production” (additional cast and sound effects) very shorts (under 1 hour) in Fangoria’s “Dreadtime Stories” series, principally read by Malcolm McDowellWolfReincarnalThe Late Shift, and Living Space

MISSING IN ACTION:

  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, read by Susan Duerden for Dreamscape — sf-influenced thriller published in January accompanied by blistering praise (“Utterly convincing and engrossing – totally thought-through and frequently hilarious. The writing is confident and fully fledged. Even this aging, jaded, attention-deficit-disordered critic was blown away.” – Lev Grossman, 7 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2012, TIME Entertainment) the audiobook was set to publish Feb 28
  • Arctic Risingby Tobias S. Buckell — published Feb 28 in hardcover and e-book from Tor, Buckell’s latest is an ecothriller set in a near future where: “Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it’s about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.” Audiobook is coming from Audible Frontiers on March 20.
  • Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper — debut fantasy novel out to quite a fanfare of praise in the UK last year, and in audio at Audible UK earlier this year, this novel was published in print and e-book in the US by Tor on Feb 28, but no US audiobook… yet?
  • Kings of Morning (Macht Trilogy) by Paul Kearney (Solaris, Feb 28, 2012) — no audio news
  • Touchstone (Glass Thorns) by Melanie Rawn (Tor, Feb 28, 2012) — no audio news
  • Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm (Angry Robot, Feb 28, 2012) — no audio news
  • Carpathia by Matt Forbeck (Angry Robot, Feb 28, 2012) — coming to audio June 1 from Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio
  • Fated: An Alex Versus Novel by Benedict Jacka (Feb 28, Penguin)
  • Collection: The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories by Andy Duncan (PS Publishing, February 2012) — no audio news
  • Unruly Islands by Liz Henry (Aqueduct, February 2012) — no audio news
  • Non-fiction: The History of Supernatural Fiction, Volume 1 by S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing, February 2012) — no audio news
  • Mare Ultimate by Alex Irvine (novella, PS publishing, February) — no audio news
  • The Ruined City by Paula Brandon (Spectra, February 28) — sequel to October 2011’s The Traitor’s Daughter — “Paula Brandon’s epic and captivating trilogy continues as magic and mystery wreak havoc with the very fabric of existence.”

LATER THIS WEEK:

NEXT WEEK (Mar 6):

TWO WEEKS (Mar 13):

THREE WEEKS (Mar 20):

FOUR WEEKS (Mar 27):

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