August 10, 2014

Spotlight + Giveaways: The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson & Echopraxia by Peter Watts


I'm really excited to be spotlighting two fantastic new releases from Tor Books today! Read on for more info on the books and then enter to win your own copies of each! I know that not everyone has the same taste, so I'm splitting up the giveaways instead of bundling them together. Feel free to enter one or both!

The Ultra Thin Man
Author: Patrick Swenson
Genre: Science Fiction

Release Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books



In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?
Patrick is a writer, publisher, editor, and teacher. His first novel is entitled The Ultra Thin Man, forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others. (Taken from Goodreads)

Author Links:

Giveaway: (1) Hardcover copy of The Ultra Thin Man - Open to US/CAN only!

Echopraxia (Blindsight #2)
Author: Peter Watts
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books


Prepare for a different kind of singularity in this follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight

It's the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat's-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she's sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.
Peter Watts is generally a lot more optimistic than you might expect, considering.

He has spent much of his adult life trying to decide whether to be a writer or a scientist, ending up as a marginal hybrid of both. He's won a handful of awards in fields as diverse as marine mammal science, video documentary, and science fiction. These accolades have not gone to his head since they never involved a lot of cash.

He spent ten years getting a bunch of degrees in the ecophysiology of marine mammals (how's that for unbridled optimism), and another ten trying make a living on those qualifications without becoming a whore for special-interest groups. This proved somewhat tougher that it looked; throughout the nineties he was paid by the animal welfare movement to defend marine mammals; by the US fishing industry to sell them out; and by the Canadian government to ignore them. He eventually decided that since he was fictionalising science anyway, he might as well add some characters and plot and try selling to a wider market than the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

His success has been, shall we say, mixed. His first novel, Starfish, netted a "Notable Book of the Year" nod from the New York Times, an honorable mention for John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and rejections from both German and Russian publishing houses on the grounds that it was "too dark". (Being considered too dark for the Russians remains one of Watts's proudest accomplishments, although he remains puzzled by the translation of his book into Italian.) This also marked the beginning of a diffuse cult following of angst-ridden blogging teenaged girls who identified with Starfish's central character.

Starfish was universally praised for its evocation of the deep-sea environment; the applause for its rendering of the surface world was somewhat more muted. The sequel, Maelstrom (2001, Tor), takes place almost entirely on land: it therefore avoids the elements that readers most loved about the first book, replacing them with a sprawling entropic dystopia in which Sylvia Plath might have felt at home, if Sylvia Plath had had a graduate degree in evolutionary biology. The critical response was generally as positive as it was for Starfish, which may come as a surprize to those who've noted a virtual absence of laudatory quotes on the paperback edition (someone fucked up in Production); both books received starred reviews from Booklist, and Maelstrom may mark the first time that the NY Times used the terms "exhilarating" and "deeply paranoid" to describe the same novel. Maelstrom's release did, however, mark the end of a diffuse cult following of angst-ridden blogging teenage girls who identified with Starfish's central character.

Behemoth, the concluding volume of what had inadvertently become the "Rifters Trilogy", was released by Tor Books in two volumes for industrial-policy reasons that Watts understands even though he still thinks they suck the one-eyed purple trouser eel. Even bisected, and notwithstanding a certain inevitable sense of been-there-done-that, Behemoth garnered a fair bit of critical praise (another NYT rave, starred review from Publisher's Weekly— just check out the damn blurbs page), although more squeamish reviewers grumbled that Watts had gone too far with this whole sexual sadism thing. Commercially, it tanked.

Watts' latest book, Blindsight (Tor 2006) might be best described as a literary first-contact novel exploring the nature and evolutionary significance of consciousness, with space vampires. Astonishingly, and against all expectations, it did not tank. In fact it survived rejection from half a dozen publishers, a miniscule initial print run, zero preorders from one of the continent's largest book retail chains, an absence of relevant blurbs on an otherwise questionable cover design, and a suicidal Hail-Mary act of desperation in which its author gave the whole thing away for free online under a Creative Commons license. As of this writing Blindsight is in its fourth hardcover printing, is being translated into several languages (including— at long last— German and Russian), and made the final ballot for the Hugo, John W. Campbell, Sunburst, Locus, and Aurora awards, winning exactly zero of them.

A collection of Watts's short fiction is available in obscure magazines and anthologies or bundled together into a thick pamphlet called Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes, from Edge/Tesseract Books.

Feel free to send him e-mail. He's especially eager to hear from anyone who has less of a life than he does. (Taken from author's website)


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