Tag Archive: Adam Christopher


hang wireTitle: Hang Wire

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

Ted is worried, he’s been sleep walking and each episode seems to coincide with the murders carried out by the Hang Wire killer.

Meanwhile the circus is in town, but the Celtic dance troop seem to be taking their act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde World Funfair has started talking to his rides and the new acrobats frequent absences are causing tensions with the rest of the performers.

Elsewhere in the city there are other new arrivals, immortals searching for an ancient power, a primeval evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world.  

Hang Wire is Adam Christopher’s fourth book and it is his best so far. That’s not saying the three that went before – Empire State, Seven Wonders and The Age Atomic – were not good, they were very good in fact, what I am saying is over the course of the previous books I have seen Adam’s style and mastery of his craft grow and expand. The result is Hang Wire, a pitch perfect story set in the world of nameless monsters and forgotten gods running rampant on the streets of San Francisco. Adam seems determined not to tie himself down with one genre, so far we’ve had a noire-gumshoe tale set in an alternative Manhattan, we’ve had a superhero team fighting the last great super-villain and we’ve returned to the alternative world of the Empire State with a tale or impending Armageddon and nuclear powered robots. Now he’s turned his unique and fresh style of writing towards mythology, but not your usual run of the mill mythos – there are no Thor’s or Zeus’ here – for this tale he’s mined the rich folklore of Hawaii, Korea and China. It’s a credit to his style that he can switch between genres so easily, whilst they all do sit firmly within the Urban Fantasy section, they each warrant their own section within.

This book also differs from his previous ones. They were all tightly focused tales centred on a few characters set within one or two locations. Hang Wire is on a more grander scale, it is not only set in the present day but it also builds a back-story through a series of flashbacks ranging from Oklahoma 1889, to the 1906 San Francisco quake, and on through the decades with interludes spread across the United States. It also has a larger cast, including Kanaloa Hawaiian god of life and death, Nezha the Chinese trickster god and Tangun the legendary founder god of Korea it also has their alter egos, and those alter egos have friends, loved ones. There is Jack Newhaven – the brilliantly named Magical Zanaar – ringmaster for The Magical Zanaar’s travelling Caravan of Arts and Sciences, his carnival manager Joel Duvall, the mystery man known only as Hirewire, Malcolm the leader of the Stonefire Celtic dance troop, Ted, Alison, Benny, Zane and everyone else that gets caught up in the events surrounding the killings carried out by the serial killer known as Hang Wire. All these elements – the characters, the locations, the back-story going back over a century – come together in a gripping tale that whips along at a frantic pace.

Adam has always put out tightly written stories, there is no fluff, no side bars that take the reader away from the action. I like this style, it drags you in and locks you down for the duration. To say a book is un put downable is a cliché that is liberally bandied about, but here is a book that is definitely that. Adam also uses his near-trademark chapter ending cliff-hanger so the reader can’t just leave it until tomorrow to carry on, you have to read just one more chapter to find out what happens. And then he goes and does it again at the end of that one. In a way his writing is episodic, his work could very easily be translated to TV – if that is intentional I do not know, but it is a style that makes for very easy reading.

I’d like to say that Adam has hit his peak with Hang Wire, the style, the dialogue, the characters and the story all flow and wind their way into your head like a worm until it takes you over, the result is you’ll find you’ve lost blocks of time and have a pile of undone jobs but a satisfied feeling that you’ve read a dammed good story.

According to my account on Goodreads I’ve read 32 books this year, well 33 as I’ve just finished one that is not currently listed on the site. So that’s 2.75 books a month, and I wonder sometimes what I spend all my time doing!

So this year, for the first time, I decided to look through what I had read and list my top 10. I’m not usually a fan of best of lists purely because tastes change on a regular basis. What might be the best today may not be tomorrow simply because something better comes along. But seeing as 2013 is in its last few hours, and the books I have read during the last 12 months will not be repeated, I thought it was fairly safe to put a list together, because even if something better does come along tomorrow, it’ll be 2014 by then.

I should point out this is a list of books I have read in 2013, not a list of books published in 2013.

So to kick things off…

No. 10: Ace Of Skulls by Chris Wooding – whilst I was not totally blow away by this final instalment in the Tales Of The Ketty Jay series it gets a placing simply because it is the final instalment. The series as a whole has been brilliant, with a mix of fantasy, horror and steampunk it was something different and entertaining. The  mixed crew of misfits were instantly likeable and grew on you with each book. Was it original, maybe not. A lot of people likened it to Firefly, but having never seen the show I had no comparison to make.

No. 9: The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig – a mix of organised crime, fantasy and horror, this is the story of Mookie Pearl. Pearl is a hard man, an enforcer, a killer. He is also privy to the knowledge of the dark forbidden underbelly of the city where monsters lurk and death is ready for the unwilling. Along with Wendig’s trademark no-holds-barred style of story telling this is a great tale full of wit, blood and kick-ass action.

No. 8: Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell – the sequel/prequel to the excellent The Angels Are The Reapers. Set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity has fallen to the zombie hordes. But unlike your run-of-the-mill zombie tale here the walking dead are mere bit part players. Carrying on the tale of Moses Todd this story flashes back to his days on the road with his psychotic brother Abraham,  as he tries to find some form of peace in a broken world. Along the way they encounter a gifted woman who may very well be the cure everyone has dreamt of.

No. 7: Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell – Ack-Ack Macaque is a cigar chomping, whisky swilling one-eyed spitfire pilot, he is also a Monkey. Fighting the hordes of ninja-Nazi paratroopers is what he does, but he is beginning to think everything is not as real as he thinks. This is a unique tale of a sentient ape and his part in the saving of a prince and battle against the coming apocalypse. There is a twist, and its a very inventive twist that allows Ack-Ack to bridge the gap between the 1940s war and the 21st century workd where most of the story is set. Look out for the sequel Hive Monkey due out soon.

No. 6: Age Atomic by Adam Christopher – this is the follow-up to the brilliant Empire State and carries on the story of the Pocket universe that is the mirror of Manhattan. This time round the Empire State is in danger of being destroyed as earth tremors and a freezing winter threaten to tear the fabric of the Pocket apart. On top of that someone is building an army of nuclear powered robots and plan to invade New York.

No. 5: The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell – this is the latest in the Saxon Stories and continues the tale of Uhtred. King Alfred is dead, Edward now sits on the throne and his advisor’s and the church have distanced him from his fathers greatest warlord, the pagan Uhtred. After an ill advised trip to punish a wayward son, Uhtred finds himself banished from Wessex, penniless and with only a few faithful warriors still at his side he heads north to finally retake his ancestral home. But the long peace between Wessex and the Danes is about to come to a crashing end, and when the Danes strike, and blood is spilt, Wessex as always will only have one man to turn to to save them.

No. 4: The Split Worlds Trilogy (Between Two Thorns/Any Other Name/All Is Fair) by Emma Newman – the Nether is home to the Fae-touched and is a mirror to Mundanus (Earth). There is a treaty in place that forbids the Fae and their puppets from interfering in the lives of the Mundanes, a treaty enforced by the Sorcerers and their Arbitors. But someone has corrupted one of the Chapters and Mundanes are being snatched from the streets of London. This trilogy is a debut fantasy series and if you didn’t know that you’d be hard pressed to notice. Emma’s writing is pitch perfect, her characters vibrant and three dimensional. The story is one of adventure, conspiracy and rebellion. But in amongst this there is also dark subjects including murder, marital rape and slavery.

 

No. 3: The Copper Promise: Let Sleeping Gods Lie by Jen Williams – I reviewed this in the previous post to this, so most everything I have to say can be read there. But I will say this is a debut fantasy novel that breathes life into the pulp style of story telling that I grew up reading. brilliantly paced, great characters and a plot that carries you through a breathtakingly imagined fantasy world.

No. 2: The Broken Empire Trilogy (Prince Of Thorns/King Of Thorns/Emperor Of Thorns) by Mark Lawrence – another debut fantasy trilogy, and another breath of fresh aired breathed into a genre stuffed full of grim and dark. Jorg of Ancarth has to be one of the darkest characters I’ve come across in a while. Haunted by a childhood tragedy that saw his brother and mother brutally slain, and treated with scorn by an unloving father Jorg does what many boys have done before and runs away. But in running away he joins a troop of road brothers and embarks on a killing spree that would be seen as bloody by any counts, but is made more so because Jorg is barely into his teens at the time. Through the course of the three books Jorg cuts his way from road brother, to King to the Empire Throne, the body count is countless, no-one is safe, including those who ride with him. Does Jorg have redeeming qualities, yes, he is not a mindless killing machine, he does what he does for a reason. But those reasons are not always as clear as you might think.

No. 1: Sarah Pinborough’s Modern Fairy Tales (Poison/Charm/Beauty) by Sarah Pinborough – the title I made up, not sure this series of three novellas actually has an overall title? But still, Sarah’s re-imaging/retelling/modern interpretation (call them what you will) of classic fairy tales are brilliant and by far the best thing I’ve read this year. These are fairy tales for grown-ups, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty all come under the spotlight and are given the Pinborough treatment. These are not suitable reading for children, some adults of a sensible nature may want to steer clear as well. Sarah has taken the core of each story and given it a twist, added ingredients and also brought in elements from other fairy stories to make original stories that intrigued and delight.

 

Bubbling under and worthy a mention…

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough – a fresh new take on the Jack the Ripper legend that isn’t about Jack the Ripper.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill – twisted serial killer Charlie Manx kidnaps children and takes them off to Christmasland where he feeds off their fun.

The Shinning Girls by Lauren Beukes – another serial killer but this time one that can time travel between the 1920s and 1990s killing girls that show some spark of greatness.

Space Danger by Doug Strider – a series of self published novellas set about a starship captained by Kurt Dangler. To sum this up its a mix of Monty Python, Douglas Adams and Ripping Yarns, in space.

 

 

 

 

age atomicTitle: The Age Atomic

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

RRP: Print £8.99 – Kindle £5.49

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms for Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale. As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms for Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

The Age Atomic, what’s that about then I hear you ask? Well it’s a gritty noire detective story, mixed with fantasy and science fiction and the subtly blended with smooth classic 1950s style robots. You take all those ingredients, mix them with alternate universes and a frenetic prose, and you have Adam Christopher’s follow-up to 2012s fantastic Empire State. There, those few brief sentences contain all you need to know about this book, but there’s more to it than that.

Rad Bradley is back as the hard bitten and harder nosed Private Eye from the Pocket universe, known as the Empire State. But things are not going well for Rad or his city. The Fissure – the spatial link that joins the Pocket to the Origin, New York – has vanished, and Rad’s city has been plunged into a hard winter that shows no sign of ending. To make matters worse the city is being rocked by tremors that are collapsing buildings and threatening to rip the city apart. Rad is also into it up to his neck, a new case, a madman building a robot army, his friend – and probably the only man who understands the nature of the Fissure – Captain Carson missing, and a pretty secret agent who has an agenda all of her own.

Things in the Origin are not too well either; Captain Nimrod finds his department under threat from Atoms for Peace and its mysterious director Evelyn McHale. The power he once wielded slowly eroded and his department seemingly under siege in a post McCarthy 1954. Plus for some reason all contact with the Pocket has ceased, and the agents he’s sent to investigate are missing.

As with the previous book the story takes place in both universes, but unlike last time here we get more of the action in New York.  That’s not to say there’s not plenty going on in the Empire State; the fast opening first quarter is a breathless example of tight writing and multiple cliff hangers. If Adam is adept at one thing it’s his skill at keeping the reader hooked, constantly I’m reminded of the old black & white Buster Crabbe starring Flash Gordon or Buck Rodgers adventures, every episode ending with the hero’s in a dire predicament. That’s not to say every chapter is predictable in how it ends and the next starts. The thrills are unexpected and there are some interesting curve balls thrown in that Flash or Buck would have had a challenge sorting out.

All the surviving characters from the first book are back in play (including one who everyone would have thought they’d seen the last of), around them Adam has woven a densely complex web, multiple plots that all rumble along beside eachother, gradually throughout the course of the book these plots jockey for position until the endgame where you find out they are all intricately linked. Likewise Adam’s characters weave in and out of the plots, all have a part to play, and as before not all are as clear cut as it seems. Characters coloured a muddy shade of grey are nothing new, but here the grey is a little deeper. Double-crosses come, unexpected, that make already ambiguous characters, an even darker shade of grey.

The fantasy element is ramped up more this time round (ghosts, that’s all I’m saying), but it doesn’t detract from the science fiction but adds to it in the same way brown sauce makes a bacon sandwich complete. What Adam has done is taken both genre’s and moulded them into a hybrid that gives you something that may not be new, but is different enough to stand out from the rest, it all goes towards making the story dark and moody with some flashes of humour and plenty of action. There is a lot to like about Adam’s style, he is obviously a fan of classic sci-fi and fantasy stories, and here he’s melded them onto a hardboiled Mike Hammer style crime story.

Adam Christopher has grown as a writer and the growth shines through here, his prose has become stronger, his characters more real; his ideas, settings and themes bright and full of depth. There were times during Empire State where for me the pace became bogged down; like we were treading water waiting to be rescued. I suppose it was expected for a first novel, the writer still finding his way around a story, still trying to find his voice and that of his characters. Adam has learned his trade since; he’s grown to a stylish and exciting writer, with ideas that are full of adventure and mystery.

Title: Seven Wonders

Author: Adam Christopher

Publisher: Angry Robot

Published: Out Now

Price: £7.99 (paperback) –  £5.49 (Kindle)

 

 

 

 

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the Shining City that is San Ventura California – a city in fear, a fear of the worlds only remaining supervillain The Cowl. Tony’s a minimum wage drone working for a retail outlet, bored with life and with little to look forward to. Then he awakes one morning with superpowers, and decides to take down The Cowl. However he finds the resident superhero team, the Seven Wonders, are not too happy at his intervention or as grateful as he’d thought they’d be.

Adam Christopher showed his love of all things noir with his debut book Empire State, now he’s turned his attention to comics and the tale of superheroes and villains. Set in the imaginary city of San Ventura on the golden coast of California the story revolves around the resident super team and their attempts – or not – to bring down the worlds only remaining supervillain, The Cowl. In this world all other superheroes are either retired, media celebrities or dead, and one of the questions raised is if there are no more villains, do we really need heroes?

Reading like a comic book without the pictures the book hits the ground running with a blistering opening that doesn’t save on the violence. This is no childrens superhero story, there is death, there is destruction, and from early on you are left wondering who the real heroes are. Adam has used the format that is popular with fantasy fiction at the moment of painting his primary characters a nice shade of grey. There are a lot of agendas, some hidden, some obvious; but you need to read right to the end to get to the bottom of what is really going on in San Ventura.

Where Empire State was a fairly contained story – set as it was in a small bubble of reality – Seven Wonders has a broader scope, world encompassing and beyond scope at that. There are nods to famous heroes, trimmed down phrases, actions, powers, that are overly familiar but have a distinctive bent so as they are new and fresh. Also you are getting more than just the story of Tony Prosdocimi and his quest to rid the city of The Cowl, that is resolved fairly early on, but as one story ends so another starts, building upon the bones of the first. All linked together to make an overall arc with an endgame that rivals the New York smackdown in The Avengers film.

Adam’s writing has improved from Empire State, it seems less hesitant, less repetitive. The characters are colourful and real, with histories that are briefly touched upon. If I was to have any criticism’s it would be the main “threat” was a little too borglike. What did I like the most? The opening, every superhero story should start with a Meanwhile back at…, and the rollcall of superheroes near the end – for me – possibly hints at future stories set in the same world.

As a second book Seven Wonders ticks all the right boxes, it is a thrilling rollercoaster ride where the reader feels the wind in their hair, and their cape flapping behind them.

 

I joined Twitter late last year – October/November time. At that time in my life I was going through a rough patch in my marriage, me and my wife had separated and I was renting a single room. I endured long evenings with little to do except read and write, I had no interaction with anyone else and was in danger of becoming a recluse.

I’d always avoided social networking, I’m a bit of an anti-social sod and have always had trouble interacting socially. But I craved some sort of interaction else I’d go made. On a whim I opened a Twitter account, I had no real idea what I would find, what would happen or what I was supposed to do in order to “meet” people.

I knew a lot of people from the SFX Magazine forum who had accounts, there was a thread there dedicated to it where people posted their account names. I went through the list and added people as friends. Within a few days I found I was following nearly 100 people and had at least that many people following me. It was an eye opener, I expected it to be nothing but trivia and gossip, instead I found like minded people – some in similar situations to me – other writers, and fans of the weird and wonderful.

Fast forward to now  and I’ve found my Twitter legs, I know my way around, I know what its safe to say and not say (damned spambots), and on top of it all I’ve been introduced to a lot of people, mainly authors, I’d probably never have come across without Twitter.

To name a few, Jennifer Williams (author of The Copper Promise: Tales Of The Citadel), Jeremy C. Shipp (horror writer and champion of the Attic Clown), Emma Newman (author of Split Words, From Dark Places, 20 Years LaterTorchwood tie-in), Sarah Pinborough (author of The Dog Faced Gods trilogy), Chuck Wendig (author of Double Dead, Blackbirds & forthcoming  Mockingbird), Adam Christopher (author of Empire State & forthcoming Seven Wonders), Kevin Hearne (author of The Iron Druid series), Colin F. Barnes (author of Vex: A Modern Viking Tale & editor of Demon Day), Tina Smith (aspiring author and history buff), Robin Bell (author, scriptwriter and part of the Twisted Showcase team) and the Fantasy Faction team.

I know a lot of people frown on Twitter, say its full of useless chatter, but for me – at a time I needed contact with the outside world – it was a lifeline. I have found it is full talented people with great ideas and inspiring advice.

Empire State

By Adam Christopher

Published by Angry Robot

RRP £7.99 in Paperback (£4.49 on Kindle)

Available Now

It was the last great science hero fight, one-time partners the Skyguard against the Science Pirate, but the fight released energies that ripped a hole in reality, giving birth to the Empire State. Linked by the fissure in reality the two worlds co-existed, the smaller Empire State a mirror of prohibition New York but in a perpetual state of war with an unknown and unseen Enemy. But the link between worlds is weak, and forces from both sides of the divide are working toward severing the link risking the existence of both worlds.

A jaded Private Eye takes on a simple missing persons case, and ends up a central figure in the battle to save reality. Robots, airships, shady organisations and high adventure, Rad Bradley must face them all, but worse than that it’s prohibition and he really needs a drink.

I forgot the golden rule of alternative reality stories whilst reading Empire State, everyone has a double. Schoolboy error I know, and boy did I feel stupid once the fact dawned on me roughly halfway into the book.

Empire State is Adam Christopher’s first book for Angry Robot. He is obviously a fan of the prohibition era and has researched well. The character’s are well visualised and obviously products of the time they are set in. Combining noire theme’s with fantasy and weird science, Adam has managed to create a vivid and vibrant tale that twists and turns through the grim fog shrouded streets of the Empire State.

All along you are kept guessing as most of the main characters switch sides, cross and double cross and baffle the central figure, Private Investigator Rad Bradley. But like Same Spade or Mike Hammer before him he doggedly forges ahead, his eye’s always on the case.

The opening chapters get the reader into the world of the Empire State, the place, the characters, Wartime. Sometimes slow going it is addictive and once you get into the second half of the book, you begin to realise why Adam took his time introducing you to everyone. You need to keep your wits about you as the pace quickens and you have to keep track of the what, where and why things are progressing. Refreshingly, for a modern writer, Adam doesn’t need excessive use of F and C bombs. There is some swearing, but it is there for a reason and fits in with the characters and said because – in a similar situation – you’d say it then as well.

As a first novel this is a fresh if twisted look at a classic era that is sure to please any fan of the weird and fantastic.