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  1. #46
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    I asked this elsewhere on the site, no idea where, and no idea if it was answered: Is this reissue also happening in the US, or is it a UK-only thing?

  2. #47
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    I asked this elsewhere on the site, no idea where, and no idea if it was answered: Is this reissue also happening in the US, or is it a UK-only thing?
    According to Wert's review, it's UK only at the moment but that's not to say a US publisher won't pick this up. I guess it's a case of just waiting and seeing.

  3. #48
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    I asked this elsewhere on the site, no idea where, and no idea if it was answered: Is this reissue also happening in the US, or is it a UK-only thing?
    It's UK-only at the moment, but an American reader pointed out that he was able to get the Kindle version of the first book from Amazon USA with no trouble at all. Which is a very interesting approach. When the full schedule kicks in (one book every two to three months after Book 3 comes out in late 2012), the Kindle route will become very attractive. If Corvus UK, a relatively small UK publisher, are selling the Kindle editions in the USA and if they manage to get the series noticed in the US through the blogosphere, they could do very nicely indeed out of it without even getting an American-specific book deal.

    However, I suspect a US SF publisher will pick up the series after they've seen how well it does in the UK. It'd also be interesting to see if a US publisher would stick with the current 20-short-book approach or if they'd want to do 10 longer books instead.

  4. #49
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    Has anybody read the first two novels? I am thinking of starting them, but I got so much on my plate that I want to get some opinions first.

  5. #50
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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  6. #51
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    Thanks! That was helpful

  7. #52
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    And Thank you, Roland.

    I'm a big fan of David's books. I am really looking forward to the revamped Book Three, which is where the original series started.

    Might find the interview I did with David for SFFWorld useful as well. Talks about the rewrite and the proposed future releases!

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  8. #53
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    Just read it. Seems promising.

    I had very fuzzy feelings for the first four books (the last four were never published in my country, and I didn't have the means to order them back then, not to mention most of them were out of print at the time), but I have since grown somewhat... sensitive to depictions of sexual violence, and I'm not sure I want to revisit that one particular part of (what is going to be) Book 3...

  9. #54
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I have since grown somewhat... sensitive to depictions of sexual violence, and I'm not sure I want to revisit that one particular part of (what is going to be) Book 3...
    Agree; but I accepted the violence as reflecting the harsh and rather polarised society created by the Seven. And such actions do have consequences...

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  10. #55
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    I got no problem with violence. It's sexual violence I get a bit too uncomfortable with...

  11. #56
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Revised release schedule for the series:

    Book 3: The Middle Kingdom - 1 October 2012
    Book 4: Ice and Fire - 1 December 2012
    Book 5: The Art of War - 1 March 2013

    Cover art for Ice and Fire (and with titles, couldn't find a larger version).

  12. #57
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Chung Kuo 3: The Middle Kingdom

    2196. For more than a century, the Earth has been under the rule of Chung Kuo, a world-spanning civilisation founded by a Chinese warlord using advanced technology. That warlord was later deposed by the T'ang, seven senior rulers who feared his insanity. The T'ang now rule a strictly hierarchical world at peace, but one where the powers of the privileged few are built on a pyramid of oppression and strictly-enforced order. With thirty-six billion people packed into the vast, continent-spanning cities of 'ice' (a nanotech-based material with super-strong properties), the dangers of chaos are all too apparent.

    But there is growing discontent in Chung Kuo. Wealthy industrialists and ambitious scientists want change and growth to prevent stagnation. The enforcers of order will not stand for this. When the Minister of the Edict, whose job it is to prevent any drastic change to the order of things, is assassinated, it becomes clear that a war is coming. The War of Two Directions, which could spell a new dawn for humanity or spell its utter extinction.

    The Middle Kingdom is the third novel in David Wingrove's revamped Chung Kuo mega-sequence. Originally published in eight volumes in the 1980s and 1990s, the series was abruptly cancelled and the author forced to write a highly unsatisfying quick ending which satisfied no-one. With new publishers Corvus at the helm, Chung Kuo has been recast in twenty volumes, including an all-new beginning and ending. The first two novels, Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain, showed the foundation of Chung Kuo and the destruction of the world before, serving as scene-setting prologues. The Middle Kingdom, picking up a hundred years later, is where the story itself really gets started. It's also where the series catches up to the original series, and in fact The Middle Kingdom consists of the first half or so of the original novel of the same name, published in 1988.

    This means that you don't need to have read the first two novels to leap straight into The Middle Kingdom. For those who have read the first two books, The Middle Kingdom features a surprising (and welcome) shift in gear. The first two books were extremely fast-paced, with some character development and worldbuilding having to be sacrificed to get through epic events in a reasonable page-count. The Middle Kingdom is slower-paced, with events more deliberately unfolding. Characters are established and explored, the opposing thematic concepts of change and stasis are set up well and complex conspiracies unfold with relish. This doesn't mean the book is devoid of incident, with several assassinations and bombings, some underworld crime machinations and high-level political intrigue making for a busy novel, albeit one that is not as rushed as its predecessors. The pacing is pretty solid, though the later-novel introduction of a whole new major character and situation does betray the book's status as merely the opening salvo in a much vaster tale.

    The characters are split between the Chinese and Western-descended inhabitants of the world (those who've read the first two books will know that Africa and the Middle-East did not fare well during the takeover) and such characters are present on both sides of the central thematic argument of the series. Wingrove's characterisation is pretty good, though he tends to lean a little more towards the broad rather than the subtle. Still, it is effective. Wingrove is also non-judgemental (at least at this stage) about his thematic argument: in a society of almost forty billion people, utterly dependent on technology to survive, the dangers of both change and stagnation are clear. With a few exceptions, his characters are not clear-cut good or bad guys either, with both honourable men and the amoral present on both sides of the debate.

    The Middle Kingdom (****&#189 is a highly enjoyable SF novel that leaves the reader eager to read more. It is available now in the UK, with US readers able to order (with free delivery) from the Book Depository. The fourth volume in the series, Ice and Fire, will be published in December.

  13. #58
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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  14. #59
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Chung Kuo 4: Ice and Fire

    2201. Chung Kuo, the world-girdling city ruled by the Seven T'angs, is caught in a struggle between two ideologies. The T'angs favour stability and stasis. The House, the bureaucratic body that rules City Europe in the T'angs' name, advocates change and progress, exemplified in their construction of a generation starship. The Seven are now faced with the choice of allowing their Empire of Ice to be swept away by progress or by launching a pre-emptive strike to win back control of the situation...but risk triggering a civil war.

    Ice and Fire is the fourth volume in the 'new' version of the Chung Kuo series, picking up shortly after the events of The Middle Kingdom. As well as being a continuation of that novel (understandably, as Ice and Fire was originally published in 1988 as part of the original Middle Kingdom), it also contains a number of self-contained character and story arcs standing against the epic events unfolding from previously.

    If Ice and Fire does have a self-contained theme, it's the hope of the young to bring a brighter future than what their elders have achieved, only for that hope to be eroded by cynicism and, in some cases, cruelty. The novel focuses on characters such as Li Yuan, the heir of one of the T'angs, who hopes to be an intelligent and fair ruler but is distracted by his love for his murdered brother's widow. Ben Shepherd is a highly intelligent, gifted artist who is also ruthlessly intelligent and able to see what others cannot. Kim Ward is a young boy from the Clay, the darkest, lowest levels of the world city, who has shown an aptitude for science and engineering. However, Kim has also discovered the Aristotle File, a document which exposes the lie that Chung Kuo is built upon.

    Wingrove manages the character development of these individuals with surprising effectiveness, given the slimness of the volume (under 300 pages) and the large number of storylines that are in motion. There are also complex political machinations between the Seven and the House, whilst Howard DeVore (the series' main antagonist) is manipulating both sides to his own ends. It's a busy novel, somewhat less relaxed than its immediate predecessor, and is a fast-paced read.

    The book suffers from two distinct weaknesses. The first is a result of Corvus, a small (-ish) publisher, picking up the series. Rather than publishing the series as ten 600-800-page novels (still a lot shorter than the individual volumes of many epic fantasy series) over three years, they have chosen to publish it as twenty 300-400 page ones over six. This has its benefits (each book is a concise and fast read), but it also risks frustration as each book stops just as it is getting going. There are also cost issues (buying twenty hardcovers, paperbacks or ebooks is simply more expensive than buying ten, whichever way you cut it). Ice and Fire is the first book in the series where it feels like this is a bit more of an issue, and it may well become more of one as the series continues to progress.

    The other is a notable rise in the amount of sex and violence in the book, including a torture sequence which recalls the more gratuitous excesses of Terry Goodkind (fortunately this torture sequence only lasts five pages, not the forty plus of a Goodkind novel). The sudden increase in such scenes feels a bit jarring after the first three books, which certainly were not for children but did not contain as many scenes. Probably not an issue for some readers, but definitely an element of concern (and, based, on how the original series unfolded, something that might become more notable in later volumes).

    Ice and Fire (****) is a well-written, fast-paced and page-turning read. It suffers a little from its shortness, with the story cutting off just as it's getting going, but otherwise this is another solid instalment in what is turning out to be an impressive SF epic. The novel will be published on 1 December in the UK, and American readers will be able to get copies from the Book Depository.

  15. #60
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Chung Kuo 5: The Art of War

    Summer, 2206. The great war is winding down. The Dispersionists, those citizens of the great world-girdling city of Chung Kuo who have argued in favour of change and technological advancement, have been defeated by the forces of the T'ang, the Seven, the guardians of stasis and the status quo. All that remains is for the T'ang to distribute the wealth they stole from their foes and return to ruling the world in peace. But things have changed too much for that. DeVore, most infamous of the Dispersionists, remains at large and now plots to restart the war with the help of some new allies.

    The Art of War is the fifth volume in this recasting of David Wingrove's epic Chung Kuo series. It opens five years after the events of Ice and Fire. Those hoping to see the War of Two Directions (or, more accurately, its opening moves) in all its glory will be disappointed as Wingrove skips most of the conflict to concentrate on the aftermath and the attempts by Howard DeVore to keep the struggle going through other means. The Art of War disdains the sprawling morass of plots of the previous couple of volumes in favour of a tighter focus on DeVore's plans, the machinations of the redoubtable Hans Ebert and the development of Ben Shepherd as he tries to realise his destiny. A few other chapters concentrate in short bursts on other characters as they get into position for the next stage of the conflict, most notably on the T'ang themselves. Several of the T'ang have fallen and their replacements may not quite have the same respect for precedent, honour and tradition their forebears possessed.

    The Art of War is nicely paced and opens with an effective series of chapters catching us up with what the major characters have been up to. For those comparing the new version of the series with the original, The Art of War makes up the first third or so of the original second volume, The Broken Wheel. This has the advantage of easing us in (relatively) gently to a new era in the history of Chung Kuo, but has the major problem that the book just stops in mid-flow rather than climaxing (unless you count the fact that the book ends with a rather inexplicable incestuous sex scene). Lots of pieces are put on the table in this volume, lots of characters start getting into position to do things, but it's mostly all set-up and no pay-off (though we do get a couple of effective action sequences along the way). Most of these plotlines should evolve through the next two volumes An Inch of Ashes and The Broken Wheel, but it's still somewhat frustrating for those reading along this series as it is released.

    On the plus side, more of Wingrove's vision is unveiled here as DeVore's plans become a bit more apparent and Ben Shepherd begins the construction of the Shell, a device that will revolutionise the idea of entertainment in Chung Kuo. Wingrove's prose also improves noticeably in various dream sequences, where his writing takes a more poetic quality than the straightforward, prosaic writing used elsewhere.

    The Art of War (****) is a very solid instalment in this ongoing (and lengthy) series. The book is available now in the UK and via the Book Depository in the USA. American branches of Barnes and Nobel are also beginning to stock the UK editions of the series. The sixth volume, An Inch of Ashes, will be published on 4 July.

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