The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This was a pretty big week for books. I splurged on the Black Friday sale, and that order showed up this week. Plus some finished copies and an ARC showed up. Two of the final copies are ones I already talked about when ARCs showed up so I’m not going to list them again. But in case you missed either of them the first time, here they are with their release dates and a link to the post where I do talk more about them:

1. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton – January 1, 2013 (Read an Excerpt)
This is a really nice looking hardcover book. And massive. It sounds great and I really want to read it, but it will take me forever to read it at approximately 1,000 pages long!

2. The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman – Available Now (Read an Excerpt)

On to the rest of the books! All of them are from the book-buying spree other than the last three (one of which is not SFF but a book my husband cowrote and got a copy of this week).

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I love Robin McKinley. When I first started really reading fantasy when I was in college, I ended up reading a few of her books since I tried to track down a Beauty and the Beast story I remembered getting from the library and loving when I was young. It turned out it was Beauty by Robin McKinley, and I loved it when I reread it as an adult as well. After that, I read Spindle’s End, The Hero and the Crown, and Rose Daughter. I’m not quite sure how I managed not to have The Blue Sword, especially considering it’s related to The Hero and the Crown, which I rather enjoyed (it’s my favorite of McKinley’s books after Beauty).

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sunshine and The Outlaws of Sherwood-now in trade paperback.

This is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad- sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.

Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh

Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh

This Hugo-award-winning science fiction novel sounds pretty interesting, and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since Courtney Schafer mentioned it in her interview. I haven’t read anything by Cherryh before, but she’s an author I’ve been meaning to read for awhile now.

A brilliant young scientist rises to power on Cyteen, haunted by the knowledge that her predecessor and genetic duplicate died at the hands of one of her trusted advisors. Murder, politics, and genetic manipulation provide the framework for the latest Union-Alliance novel by the author of Downbelow Station. Cherryh’s talent for intense, literate storytelling maintains interest throughout this long, complex novel.

Catch the Lightning by Catherine Asaro

Catch the Lightning (Saga of the Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro

This is the second published book about the Skolian Empire, but it’s last in chronological order. I’ve been slowly making my way through this series, which has quite a few books. Which book to start with is debatable since this is one of those series that follows a few different characters and is not published in chronological order. I usually see Primary Inversion, the first published, suggested as a good starting point, and I think either that or The Last Hawk is a good place to start out of the ones I’ve read. Skyfall is the first chronologically, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of the others even though I did like it.

In the distant future, the Skolian empire rules one third of the human galaxy, and is the most powerful of all. For the ruling family has the power of telepathy, and through it, the ability to communicate faster than light across the interstellar space. but their most determined enemy, the traders, who thrive on human pain, need to interbreed with a Skolian to gain their powers. And now they have her.

Forerunner by Andre Norton

Forerunner (Forerunner Series) by Andre Norton

I haven’t yet anything by Andre Norton, but I heard this one was good and added it to my wish list awhile ago. Not having read Andre Norton seems like one of those things I really need to remedy!

This book has a sequel, Forerunner: The Second Venture. There is an omnibus version containing both books titled The Forerunner Factor. There are many more books set in the same universe as this duology.

Andre Norton was one of the best known writers of science fiction in the genre’s history, and the subject of especially fervent loyalty and enthusiasm. One of her greatest triumphs is the Forerunner series, which has earned a place of legend among fans with such books as The Time TradersGalactic DerelictSargasso of Space, and many more.Forerunner is the definitive novel in that series. It also holds a special place in the history of Tor, as it is the first book Tor ever published.

“Kuxortal has always been,” Forerunner begins. This ancient port was established in the time of antiquity and has built and rebuilt itself on the ruins of former civilizations. Kuxortal is inhabited by a lowly race of Burrowers, who tunnel and excavate beneath the city’s towers and sometimes discover artifacts from the past. Simsa is a Burrower who has spent her entire life in the service of an older, crippled mentor, Ferwar, who had reputedly rescued Simsa from a trash heap when she was an infant. Simsa, with her blue-black skin and platinum hair, clearly comes from different stock than the other Burrowers, but Ferwar never revealed her origin.

When scavengers attempt to loot the treasures that Ferwar had left behind, it becomes clear that Simsa must flee. Especially when they discover that the scavengers consider Simsa one of the treasures that they have come to steal….

Glamour In Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal

This is the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, a fantasy book inspired by Jane Austen which I reviewed earlier this year. A third book, Without a Summer, will be available in April 2013, and there will also be a fourth book (Valour and Vanity).

Glamour in Glass was released in hardcover and ebook earlier this year, and there is an excerpt from it on

The first edition hardcover of this book is actually missing the first line, and there are some other corrections that didn’t make it into the book.

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.

The Novels of Tiger and Del Volume I by Jennifer Roberson

The Novels of Tiger and Del Volume I (Sword-Dancer Saga #1-2) by Jennifer Roberson

This omnibus contains Sword-Dancer and Sword-Singer. There are two more omnibus editions containing the remaining four novels in the series: Volume II contains Sword-Maker and Sword-Breaker and Volume III contains Sword-Born and Sword-Sworn. Jennifer Roberson is writing a new Sword-Dancer book and has plans to write another one as well.

I’ve been curious about these for awhile, but ever since seeing they were on Angie’s list of some of her favorite SF&F books by women, I’ve really wanted to read them.

He was Tiger, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior’s skill. She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Together, they discover a kinship and friendship that grows to love while facing dangers of both sword and sorcery.

Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott

Spirit Gate (Crossroads #1) by Kate Elliott

The next two books in the Crossroads trilogy are Shadow’s Gate and Traitor’s Gate, respectively.

After reading the Spirit Walker books, especially Cold Fire, I want to read all of Kate Elliott’s backlist. (Cold Steel is one of my most anticipated releases in 2013.)

World Fantasy and Nebula Award finalist Kate Elliott breaks new ground in a brilliantly original new fantasy set in a unique world of fabled cities, mysterious gods, and terrible dangers. From the first page readers will be swept up in the story of Mai and Captain Anji, as they become unwitting players in a conflict that began many years earlier, and which will shake the foundations of their land.

For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians’ power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.

A haunting tale of people swept up by the chaos of war, this is superlative fantasy adventure, rich in texture, filled with color and excitement, masterfully crafted by a brilliantly gifted storyteller.

Up Against It by M. J. Locke

Up Against It by M. J. Locke

I haven’t read anything by M. J. Locke/Laura Mixon, but I’ve heard really good things about this hard science fiction novel.

Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System’s frontier. They’re your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of ‘Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans’ lives.

Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff’s brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk. And in short order, we discover that the whole thing may have been cooked up by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a rogue AI that was spawned during the industrial emergency and slipped through the distracted safeguards, and a giant x-factor in the form of the Viridians, a transhumanist cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels.

In addition to Geoff, our story revolves around Jane, the colony’s resource manager — a bureaucrat engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on an artificial island of humanity poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. She’s more than a century old, and good at her job, but she is torn between the technical demands of the colony and the political realities of her situation, in which the fishbowl effect of ‘Stroiders is compounded by a reputation economy that turns every person into a beauty contest competitor.  Her manoeuverings to keep politics and engineering in harmony are the heart of the book.

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

This Star Wars novel will be released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook on January 1, 2013. An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks.
But even he can’t do this job solo.

Han Solo should be basking in his moment of glory. After all, the cocky smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon just played a key role in the daring raid that destroyed the Death Star and landed the first serious blow to the Empire in its war against the Rebel Alliance. But after losing the reward his heroics earned him, Han’s got nothing to celebrate. Especially since he’s deep in debt to the ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt. There’s a bounty on Han’s head—and if he can’t cough up the credits, he’ll surely pay with his hide. The only thing that can save him is a king’s ransom. Or maybe a gangster’s fortune? That’s what a mysterious stranger is offering in exchange for Han’s less-than-legal help with a riskier-than-usual caper. The payoff will be more than enough for Han to settle up with Jabba—and ensure he never has to haggle with the Hutts again.

All he has to do is infiltrate the ultra-fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime syndicate underboss and crack the galaxy’s most notoriously impregnable safe. It sounds like a job for miracle workers . . . or madmen. So Han assembles a gallery of rogues who are a little of both—including his indispensable sidekick Chewbacca and the cunning Lando Calrissian. If anyone can dodge, deceive, and defeat heavily armed thugs, killer droids, and Imperial agents alike—and pull off the heist of the century—it’s Solo’s scoundrels. But will their crime really pay, or will it cost them the ultimate price?

Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon

Limits of Power (Paladin’s Legacy #4) by Elizabeth Moon

Limits of Power will be released in hardcover and ebook in June 2013. It is the fourth book in a series of five books that follow The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy (Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold). The books in Paladin’s Legacy so far are as follows:

  1. Oath of Fealty (Read an Excerpt)
  2. Kings of the North (Read an Excerpt)
  3. Echoes of Betrayal (Read an Excerpt)

Elizabeth Moon is back with the fourth adventure in her bestselling fantasy epic. Moon brilliantly weaves a colorful tapestry of action, betrayal, love, and magic set in a richly imagined world that stands alongside those of such fantasy masters as George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb.

The unthinkable has occurred in the kingdom of Lyonya. The queen of the Elves—known as the Lady—is dead, murdered by former elves twisted by dark powers. Now the Lady’s half-elven grandson must heal the mistrust between elf and human before their enemies strike again. Yet as he struggles to make ready for an attack, an even greater threat looms across the Eight Kingdoms.

Throughout the north, magic is reappearing after centuries of absence, emerging without warning in family after family—rich and poor alike. In some areas, the religious strictures against magery remain in place, and fanatical followers are stamping out magery by killing whoever displays the merest sign of it—even children. And as unrest spreads, one very determined traitor works to undo any effort at peace—no matter how many lives it costs. With the future hanging in the balance, it is only the dedication of a few resolute heroes who can turn the tides . . . if they can survive.

10 Print

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 by Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter

One of the authors of this collaborative book is my husband. The book has been mentioned on a lot of sites lately, including Boing Boing, which is pretty cool. The entire book is also available for free, even though there is a hardcover version as well.

This book takes a single line of code–the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title–and uses it aa a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text–in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources–that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.