‘This book shows that young writers have to start somewhere, that they can learn and improve, that the road is long but not that long.’
Christopher Priest introducing Ersatz Wines, a collection of his short stories that have never before been collected in book form.
Like thousands of others, Priest dreamed of becoming a writer. He was 18 years old, languishing incompetently in a job he neither liked nor understood – the world of books was his main hold on sanity. One day he decided that he would change his life and become a published writer. With no advantages to speak of, he had to start from nothing.
Within three years, though, he had sold his first story and by the time he was 25 he was a full-time author, selling books in Britain, the USA and several other countries. This book traces the process by which he did it.
‘These are the stories I wrote while I was learning how to be a writer. They are not intended to explain or excuse or brag about what I did. They are simply to encourage others, who might have now the same objective as I had then.’
Fritz Leiber - The Big Time
Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn't seem to recall exactly the same past from one day to the next? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, then you've had hints of the Change War. It's been going on for a billion years and it will last another billion or so. Up and down the timeline, the two sides--"Spiders" and "Snakes"--battle endlessly to change the future and the past. Our lives, our memories, are their battleground. And in the midst of the war is the Place, outside space and time, where Greta Forzane and the other Entertainers provide solace and r-&-r for tired time warriors.
Karl Marlantes - What It Is Like to Go to War
In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of a platoon of forty Marines who would live or die by his decisions. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his war experience. In What It Is Like to Go to War, Marlantes takes a deeply personal and candid look at what it is like to experience the ordeal of combat, critically examining how we might better prepare our soldiers for war. Marlantes weaves riveting accounts of his combat experiences with thoughtful analysis, self-examination, and his readings—from Homer to The Mahabharata to Jung. He makes it clear just how poorly prepared our nineteen-year-old warriors are for the psychological and spiritual aspects of the journey. Just as Matterhorn is already being acclaimed as acclaimed as a classic of war literature, What It Is Like to Go to War is set to become required reading for anyone—soldier or civilian—interested in this visceral and all too essential part of the human experience.
Chuck Palahniuk - Diary
Diary takes the form of a 'coma diary' kept by one Misty Wilmot as her husband lies senseless in hospital after a suicide attempt. Once she was an art student dreaming of creativity and freedom; now, after marrying Peter at at school and being brought back to once quaint, now tourist-overrun Waytansea Island, she's been reduced to the condition of a resort hotel maid. Peter, it turns out, has been hiding rooms in houses he's refurbished and srawling vile messages all over the walls. Angry homeowners are suing, and Misty's dreams of artistic greatness are in ashes. But then, as if posessed by the spirit of Maura Kinkaid, a fabled Waytansea artist of the nineteenth century, Misty begins painting again, compulsively. The canvases are taken away by her mother in law and her doctor, who seem to have a plan for Misty - and for all those annoying tourists...
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Namesake
'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes...' For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that the boy be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' - after his favourite writer. Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss... Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane storytelling. Elegant, subtle and moving, The Namesake is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.
Agatha Christie - The Hound of Death
Twelve unexplained phenomena with no apparent earthly explanation… A dog-shaped gunpowder mark; an omen from ‘the other side’; a haunted house; a chilling séance; a case of split personalities; a recurring nightmare; an eerie wireless message; an elderly lady’s hold over a young man; a disembodied cry of ‘murder’; a young man’s sudden amnesia; a levitation experience; a mysterious SOS. To discover the answers, delve into the supernatural storytelling of Agatha Christie… ‘Twelve thrilling, chilling, mysteries.’ Observer
Kate Wilhelm - Juniper Time
Man reached for the stars - and failed to keep the Earth in his grasp. With the western United States devastated by drought, the survivors huddle in squalid concentration camps in the east. And still the dream won't go away. In high orbit, an artefact is found that may be man's first contact with aliens. The only woman who can decode it has found her future in the past, in the remote Indian territories of the Pacific Northwest. But in which direction does the planet's survival lie?
Agatha Christie - The Listerdale Mystery
After Mr St Vincent’s death, his family are plunged into poverty. Living in reduced circumstances their lives change when they find an elegant town house with staff, for a suspiciously cheap rent. Why would Lord Listerdale rent his home out for such a low price and why are the staff so accommodating?
Kate Wilhelm - Let the Fire Fall
The alien spaceship landed in a cornfield. Its crew died rapidly, leaving only one survivor - a baby, conceived on an unknown world, carried in its mother's womb across space and delivered even as the mother died on a hostile Earth. But the alien woman had given birth to more than a child. With her last act she had bequeathed to the Earth that hated her and her kind decades of turmoil and strife that would come close to tearing the whole planet apart.
Agatha Christie - Miss Marple's Final Cases
Despite the title, the stories collected here recount cases from the middle of Miss Marple's career. They are: "Sanctuary"; "Strange Jest"; "Tape-Measure Murder"; "The Case of the Caretaker"; "The Case of the Perfect Maid"; "Miss Marple Tells a Story"; "The Dressmaker's Doll"; "In a Glass Darkly"; "Greenshaw's Folly".
Kate Wilhelm - Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
The Sumner family can read the signs: the droughts and floods, the blighted crops, the shortages, the rampant diseases and plagues, and, above all, the increasing sterility all point to one thing. Their isolated farm in the Appalachian Mountains gives them the ideal place to survive the coming breakdown, and their wealth and know-how gives them the means. Men and women must clone themselves for humanity to survive. But what then?
Agatha Christie - The Labours of Hercules
A dinner guest compares the labours of Poirot to those of his mythological counterpart, Hercules, the Greek hero. The great detective is not amused. Poirot has already decided to retire, but first he will take on twelve monumental cases in the contemporary world that correspond to the twelve labours of Hercules, as a suitable farewell. In the final short story, Hercule Poirot once again meets the love of his life, Countess Rossakoff.
George R. R. Martin - A Game of Thrones
In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their army of the dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. After more than a decade devoted primarily to TV and screen work, Martin (The Armageddon Rag, 1983) makes a triumphant return to high fantasy with this extraordinarily rich new novel, the first of a trilogy. Although conventional in form, the book stands out from similar work by Eddings, Brooks and others by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness. Although the romance of chivalry is central to the culture of the Seven Kingdoms, and tournaments, derring-do and handsome knights abound, these trappings merely give cover to dangerous men and women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King's chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control. It is fascinating to watch Martin's characters mature and grow, particularly Stark's children, who stand at the center of the book. Martin's trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes, including Hugos, Nebulas, Locus Awards and a Bram Stoker. He's probably going to have to add another shelf, at least. Major ad/promo.
Larry Niven - Jerry Pournelle - Oath of Fealty
In the near future, Los Angeles is an all but uninhabitable war zone, racked by crime, violence, pollution and poverty. But above the blighted city, a Utopia has arisen: Todos Santos, a thousand-foot high single-structured city, designed to used state-of-the-art technology to create a completely human-friendly environment, offering its dwellers everything they could want in exchange for their oath of allegiance and their constant surveillance . But there are those who want to see the utopia destroyed, whose answer to tomorrow's best and brightest hope is mindless violence. And they have just entered Todos Santos. . . .
Larry Niven - Jerry Pournelle - The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye
Humankind has spent years agonizing over the deadly threat posed by the only aliens they have ever encountered, the Moties. A race divided into distinct biological forms, each serving a different function. Now the Moties are isolated - until the empire is threatened. By the authors of "Footfall".
Larry Niven - Jerry Pournelle - The Mote in God's Eye
In the year 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a lightsail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, and an expedition is dispatched. In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years. This is the first collaboration between Niven and Pournelle, two masters of hard science fiction, and it combines Pournelle's interest in the military and sociology with Niven's talent for creating interesting, believable aliens. The novel meticulously examines every aspect of First Contact, from the Moties' biology, society and art, to the effects of the meeting on humanity's economics, politics and religions. And all the while suspense builds as we watch the humans struggle toward the truth.
Carolly Erickson - The Last Wife of Henry VIII
From the bestselling and critically acclaimed author ofThe Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette comes a powerful new novel about Catherine Parr, The Last Wife of Henry VIII. The least known of Henry VIII’s six wives was the cleverest of them all. Alluring, witty, and resourceful, she attracted the king’s lust and, though much in love with the handsome Thomas Seymour, was thrown into the intrigue-filled snakepit of the royal court. While victims of the king’s wrath suffered torture and execution, Catherine withstood the onslaught, even when Henry sought to replace her with wife number seven. She survived her royal husband, and found happiness with Seymour---but it was shadowed by rivalry with the young Princess Elizabeth, whose affection Seymour coveted. Catherine won the contest, but at great cost.
Mo Yan - Life and Death are Wearing Me Out
Ximen Nao, a landowner known for his generosity and kindness to his peasants, is not only stripped of his land and worldly possessions in Mao's Land Reform Movement of 1948, but is cruelly executed, despite his protestations of innocence. He goes to Hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, has Ximen Nao tortured endlessly, trying to make him admit his guilt, to no avail. Finally, in disgust, Lord Yama allows Ximen Nao to return to earth, to his own farm, where he is reborn not as a human but first as a donkey, then an ox, pig, dog, monkey, and finally the big-headed boy Lan Qiansui. Through the earthy and hugely entertaining perspectives of these animals, Ximen Nao narrates fifty years of modern Chinese history, ending on the eve of the new millennium. Here is an absolutely spellbinding tale that reveals the author's love of the land, beset by so many ills, traditional and modern.
Thomas M. Disch - The Businessman
The Businessman presents the sinister tale of Bob Glandier, a morally repulsive Twin Cities executive who murders his estranged wife and attempts to go back to business as usual, until she returns sets about arranging his divine retribution. With help from her dead mother and the ghost of poet John Berryman-thoroughly bored of suburban séances and all too eager to lend a hand-Giselle undertakes the elaborate, righteous, and wickedly amusing haunting of her husband. There is justice in the afterlife after all-at least in Minnesota.
J. K. Rowling - The Casual Vacancy
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?