Rockton by Kelley Armstrong – The Beautiful World of Books

You’d be forgiven for not realizing it, but Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton series came to a close in February of this year with the release of the Deepest of Secrets. February was jam-packed with releases, so I almost missed it myself. In fact, it wasn’t until Mogsy’s review of it that I found out it was the final book.

Though I guess it makes sense. Just how many murders can one stage in the remote Yukon wilderness, where the population of moose almost surely exceeds that of humans? Now I haven’t read the latest book yet (or #6, for that matter), but does that mean that we can’t take a look back on the seven covers that have led us to this point?

Well, I’m doing it anyway.

Now I’m going to post two separate sets of seven. The first are those covers from Minotaur Books. The others… are… kind of a collected set from other publishers in English. I don’t know why, but there were some that I couldn’t find covers for from one certain publisher that I’d never heard of. So… yeah, two sets of seven.

Rockton (Set #1)

Rockton (Minotaur Books)

So, which do you like better? The Minotaur ones or the… others? Personally, I’d pick most of the others, but not absolutely all of them.

Well… maybe all of them.

By the way, just in case you were curious, check out my reviews for the first 3 books in the series below! I uh kinda skipped #4, Watcher in the Woods (as in I DNFed it), but my review of Alone in the Wild should be out sometime soon—maybe by the end of March.

• Review of City of the Lost

• Review of A Darkness Absolute

• Review of This Fallen Prey

Until next time!

Music Monday – The Sounds of Scifi

If you didn’t know, “Tokyo Rose” was what the Allied forces in the South Pacific called the Japanese propaganda machine abroad—an organization comprised of several English-speaking women scattered throughout the Japanese Empire at the height of World War II. Their job was to demoralize the Allies through reporting military losses, costly engagements, and other difficulties (I composed this from multiple sources including my own brain, but then learnt that it was all just on Wikipedia. So, if you’re interested in learning more, maybe just try there.

Anyway, Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek in order to share music that you enjoy (“eargasm” is a term I stole from Holly the Grimdragon—you should totally follow them both).

Today’s artists—in honor of Scifi Month—just happen to start with TOKYO ROSE, an American musician often partnered with ALEX to pioneer the genre darkwave (which is just synthwave that sounds… darker, I guess?). When I think of science fiction—especially a cyberpunk or AI dystopian kinda future—Synthwave, EDM and various forms of Electronica are the sounds that come to mind. Part of the Fixt label, they’re often compared to Scandroid (Celldweller), whom you’re probably heard of. This song, Out of Luck, features TOKYO ROSE, PYLOT, and Essenger (who I’ve featured in this segment before).

Zombie Hyperdrive (other than being a killer name) is a electronic musician from Halle, Germany. I’ve literally not heard of them before this month, but the stuff is pretty good. Black Wolf is like a cross between synthicized horror movie soundtracks and so-called darkwave beats. And while this isn’t my favorite song they have—it’s quite the thing, even if it’s not yours. If you’re interested, the first album, The Cobalt Ship, is free on bandcamp.

I’ve already featured Daniel Deluxe for his work on the Ghostrunner soundtrack, so I figured I’d add a wildcard. Joss Nemesys is a synthwave project out of Spain. Don’t know much about him, other than I think it’s a guy, and he’s/they’re Spanish. Oh, and I like his/their track VR.

Last but not least we come to the track that’s been sneaking into all my playlists this year. Think I mentioned it earlier in a monthly recap, but I got his album Solid State for a couple bucks earlier this year. I know it’s not synthwave, but is classed as Electronic Metal instead. I’m not really sure about the distinctions here, but I do love this song, so I guess it’s all a bit moot. Oh, and I think I featured him in a Beautiful World of Books thing to better demonstrate recycled covers.

Welcome to Revelation Space – The Beautiful World of Books

One of the hallmarks of modern space opera, Revelation Space has been around for nearly twenty years, having first been published in 2002. While I’ve read remarkably few of this series, even I can’t deny the effect that it’s had on recent science fiction and space opera. While Alastair Reynolds pens each book as its own complete adventure, the overarching plot is set on a scale much grander, so that it doesn’t take much digging in to the series to realize that there’s more going on than what meets the eye.

Seven full-length novels have been published to date, of these there have been one standalone (Chasm City), two in the Dreyfus Emergencies, and then four in the Inhibitor Sequence—the most recent being Inhibitor Phase, released just this year. There’ve also been a number of novellas and shorts set in the same universe, many of which have been collected within the two omnibus editions found below. Since Inhibitor Phase is one of the books I have on tap for Sci-Fi Month, I figured this would be the perfect time to feature some cover art, while at the same time introducing the universe in a bit more detail.

The Inhibitor Sequence

Revelation Space

Redemption Ark

Absolution Gap

Say what you will about the Orbit reissues (on the right), but I’m intimately familiar with the Ace covers and vastly prefer them. For the first two, at least. I hadn’t started (or acquired) Absolution Gap yet and somewhat like the blue gas giant when compared to the scarred ice world. It doesn’t help that the craft on the Ace cover of Book #3 is so indistinct.

Inhibitor Phase

I’m currently reading this one and vastly prefer the sleek Orbit cover complete with dark ice and/or water with a planetary corona in the background. Nothing wrong with the Gollancz cover—it might actually be the only one I’ve seen with a Yellowstone that’s actually yellow.

Oh wait—that’s a star. Well, it features the Scythe prominently, at least.

Dreyfus Emergencies

Aurora Rising

Here we have three covers of the same book, each with a very different style! Additionally, the 2007 original issue of Aurora Rising actually bore the title The Prefect, before it was changed for additional release. I have no idea why it was changed, or when for that matter. I haven’t read this series, and can only guess what each publisher was thinking with each (very different) cover.

Prefect Fire

Here we have the Orbit vs. Gollancz covers of Elysium Fire. Only the two this time. Now, say what you will about the Orbit cover (at left), but personally I like this minimalist style and would probably choose it over the Gollancz edition. That said… at least the Gollancz cover features Tom Dreyfus, who bears the series’ name. When confronted with that tidbit, the Orbit cover just can’t measure up.

Standalones

Chasm City

Chasm City is a enclosed-environment city on the planet Yellowstone. And while these covers are two different takes on Yellowstone, neither shows the city itself. Which is disappointing, honestly. I mean, I’m quite partial to the reissue cover from Orbit (on the right)—with the planet and nebulae behind it—as opposed to the original Ace cover (to the left), but I would’ve liked to see something of the city itself rather than some generic (if lovely) planetary shots.

Novellas & Collections

Galactic North

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

Here we have the Ace covers for the novella collections, with Galactic North (the omnibus) and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (just those two novellas). Since it’s the same style throughout, I won’t over-analyze them. Although, I swear that’s the Pirate Starbridge from the Escape Velocity series (in both Glactic North covers)—anyone know? EV Nova is one of my all-time favorite games. Anyone else played those?

Anyway… books, covers. Ahem. So… has anyone read these? I know several of you have—Todd and Maddalena to start with. What did you think, is the series worth continuing with? I was so-so on Revelation Space but have been enjoying Inhibitor Phase more (at least so far).

Music Monday – Welcome to Hell by Mono Inc.

Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek over on his blog, all about sharing some music you’ve been bingeing or are high on.

So I just stumbled upon Mono Inc last week and… I’m not really sure what to call them. Rock, I guess? Or maybe folk? Certainly their lyrics have a bit of darkness to them, but they’re not full on atmospheric like Wardruna. I suppose it’s no wonder that they’re classed as Dark Rock—a genre I confess I’ve never heard of. But I guess it does fit them quite well. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of their songs off their 2018 album Welcome to Hell, but there are two in particular I keep coming back to.

Think I prefer the sound of Heart of the Raven, to the sound and repetition of A Vagabond’s Life, but y’all are entitled to your own opinions. So, what do you think of this band? If you like these songs, maybe check out the rest of their stuff (they’ve probably got at least a dozen long, looong albums if you fancy a deep dive and/or binge). Or is there something else I need to check out? I’m up for so many new, different sounds!

Music Monday 10/11

Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek over on his blog HERE. ‘Tis a way of sharing a song you’re keen on.

While I still hope to throw together a recap post for September, out comes a single I’m legitimately excited for, albeit one I didn’t know anything of until it dropped on Thursday. Starset is a cinematic rock band from Columbus, Ohio. They’ve released three full-length albums to date, none better than their debut, TRANSMISSIONS, back in 2014. Since then—though their efforts have somewhat underwhelmed—their music, message and influence have remained strong. From what I’ve heard of their latest album, HORIZONS (due out October 22), I’m hopeful that they’ve finally regained the stride struck by their very first album.

Thus, here’s their most recent single: Earthrise.

Music Monday 9/06

Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday. Bumped this from yesterday because I generally don’t like having two posts in a day. Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek. It’s a way of sharing a bit of music you’re generally high on.

I just bought a Korven Kuningas/Karkelo bundle the other day—they’re Korpiklaani albums from 2008 & 2009. Paid about $12 for it new, but figured it was worth it over buying the digital versions of both for $23. Anyway, I’ve been listening to everything on them a fair amount but especially Northern Fall, the song I’ve chosen for this. No idea what it means (any of the Finnish words, or how they’re put together), but that’s never mattered much to me. They sound great together, which is what I love about music.

Okay so yeah, I understand some of the English bits about how the woods getting naked and weather getting colder means that winter’s coming—it’s quite a short song, isn’t it? Lyrically, at least. Still, I love how it sounds. And that’s the only real important bit.

The Beautiful World of Books – The Expanse

After last week’s post, the absolutely lovely cover of Leviathan Wakes had me thinking of the other special edition Expanse covers I’d seen. Specifically, those from Subterranean Press. Any one of these eight is a trophy in its own right. If you’ve somehow managed to collect them all however…

Leviathan Wakes & Caliban’s War

These two are the only I can’t find spreads for, but still these lovely covers retails for $75 a piece, $350 if you were ambitious enough to wrangle a lettered edition. I absolutely adore this one of Leviathan Wakes (Caliban’s War features just a little too much grey for my tastes)—but at more than twice the price of that copy last week (and, to be fair, the Subterranean one was out of stock before I’d ever heard of it), it likely wouldn’t’ve happened. Regrettably both are out of print (along with everything else on this list), but fortunately you can still pick up both for the low, low price of $1325.

Abbadon’s Gate

One of the next pair at $80 retail, Abbadon’s Gate gives us what must be our first good look at the Rocinate in all her glory. Wait, was Rocinate a girl horse or…? No. No, I’m pretty sure it was a boy horse. So here’s the Rocinate (probably) in all his glory. The cheapest I could find this one used was $500, so… let me know how it looks, eh?

Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn’s cover of course features the race to the space gate, pictured in all its glory. At least… I think that’s what’s going on. Actually lol I’m not too sure what we’re burning towards or away from, but… IT. LOOKS. AMAZING. The cheapest copy of this I could find would’ve taken $400, unless by some miracle you got it new, which would’ve saved you $320.

Nemesis Games

Another lovely and horribly expensive piece of art that I’ll never own. Can you tell I wrote this one last?

Babylon’s Ashes

Babylon’s Ashes contains what’s likely our second incredible view of the Rocinate is also probably my favorite of all 8 currently out. This is actually one that I’d consider buying—amazing, considering it continues the trend of $85 books. I couldn’t actually find a copy of this used at under $600, though I did come across a metal (and probably unlicensed) poster for just under $60. Unfortunately, it’s a wee bit small (and unlicensed) so I ultimately decided to skip it.

Persepolis Rising

Having not yet read this one, I cannot even guess what might be going on here—but I can wildly speculate! Well hmmmm… it looks like we have two kinds of spaceships shaped like fish. Probably turned that way by the protomolecule as part of some evil plan involving the universe as a fish bowl. Maybe. Anyway, originally retailing at $85 US, this was a piece of art worthy of framing. If you wanted the signed, lettered edition, I did find one used on eBay for $395—a very slight increase on its original $350 price tag.

Tiamat’s Wrath

Again, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it reminds me of some kinda platformer. Lovely picture though—almost looks like a photo! Yet another initially retailing at $85—these are all a lot is the message. Waaaaay too much for my tastes, sadly, as the entire series (if you went and bought them them upon release) signed and bound in cloth would’ve run you $650.

They’re all absolutely gorgeous, though. I kind of want to print them out into some kinda collage. Doubt I’ll ever get that far either, but it’s a more worthy (and waaaay cheaper) goal. Assuming the final Expanse book maintains the others’ price tags, the entire 9 book series bound in leather, lettered, and housed in a custom traycase would’ve run you $3150 if you ordered each directly upon release. If you tried to buy them all now, however… you’d be lucky to complete your set at $5k. Which… wow.

Music Monday 7/26

Well, I went and promised Ola a Polish band and since I know of, like, one… guess it has to be UnSun. But first, Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek on his blog. I’m a bit on and off posting it, but I love my music—and my tastes are a bit eclectic—so it makes for an interesting time, I hope.

UnSun was a Polish gothic metal band that existed from 2006-2016. I really liked them in my college years, when I burned through a lot of gothic and symphonic metal—that mix of classic vocals mixed with hardcore metal sounds. Sadly, they broke up in 2016 after only two released albums. See their vocalist, Anna Stefanowicz suffers from a rare illness that affects her nervous system and since about 2014 had been affecting her throat. For two years she gave it a go, even though singing caused her pain. But in 2016 the illness had worsened to the point where she was apparently in pain all the time. Though I’m not certain, I believe she is doing much better now, though probably isn’t cured by any means.

The Beautiful World of Books – Leviathan Wakes

Beautiful World of Books is a post showcasing a certain special, limited, anniversary, or just particularly eye-catching cover that I love—even if it’s not one I have. Yet. In fact, I don’t own most of the copies that I’ve planned to feature here over the next handful of weeks (or however long this new attempt at something from me lasts), but there’s still time for that to change~

Leviathan Wakes was released just a little over a decade ago, back in June 2011. The author, James S.A. Corey, is actually a collaboration between authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. An amazing space opera, it initially featured the exploits of James Holden and the crew of the Canterbury, as well as the detective stylings of Joe Miller—a detective of Ceres searching for the missing Julie Mao. In the interests of spoilers, I won’t address any more, but if you haven’t read it in the last ten years, well… you really should. REALLY. SHOULD.

Since it’s initial release, Leviathan Wakes has spawned a literary series—The Expanse—which is set to end this year with the release of Leviathan Falls in November, as well as a television series, The Expanse, due to enter its 6th season in… I dunno, probably next year. Needless to say, I am woefully behind on both. I’ve read up through Book 5 (Nemesis Games) in the written series and watched through Season 2 of the show—both of which are quite good.

Now, I love the original cover—its use of the spacecraft and asteroids set against the deep planetary blue, while the light from a certain star shines brightly in the background—but what is an anniversary for if not a new beginning? The original cover is great, but a new take on it is always appreciated. Hell, even if the new one sucks, you’ve always got the tried and true version to fall back on.

Anyway, in homage to the original release being a decade past, and the series set to reach its conclusion later this same year, Orbit is releasing a special anniversary edition of Leviathan Wakes on September 7th.

And I WANT IT.

It’s just… look at those colors! I find the violet and blue against the blackness of space to be haunting; a promise of mystery and adventure amongst the pinpricks of stars all around. The pages itself (well, their edges—can’t remember the term for that) bear a matching violet, all of which promises a lovely adventure just within its pages. Which I know for a fact, having read the book three times to date.

Should you be keen to own your own of these beauties, the pre-order price is currently set at just over $30. Despite my desire to own one of these meself, I’ll probably wait til it falls in price a bit—at least to $25 or so.

What do you think of the cover? Is it your favorite in the series, or do you fancy some other one? Maybe make a note of it, because I just might revisit this thought in the very near future 😉

Music Monday 7/19

Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek over on his blog yonder. It’s a way of sharing a song that you’re high on.

Written By Wolves is a rock band from Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve been following them for a few years now, and Spotify claims that I’ve enjoyed 27 of their songs enough to add them to my library. This makes me reasonably confident in the assertion that they have released AT LEAST 27 songs. One of their two new singles released in 2021, Help Me Through the Night also features the vocals of Kellin Quinn, the frontman of post-hardcore rock band Sleeping with Sirens (who I’ve been assured are good but am not too familiar with). They also released a single, Better Luck Next Time, on July 13, 2021. I was going to feature that one tbh, but I’d missed Help Me Through as well and ended up preferring it to the other.