Hello, hello and welcome to the latest Robot Round-Up. We’re kicking off with a couple of pieces of coverage for one of our forthcoming titles, Madeline Ashby‘s debut novel vN, which we have more than a sneaking suspicion you’ll be hearing a lot more about this summer:

Charlie Jane Anders has reviewed vN for the mighty IO9.com and under the headline “The Most Messed Up Book About Robot Consciousness Ever” draws a few comparisons to Philip K. Dick, Amy Thomson and Battlestar Galactica, before concluding “So yeah, if you have been missing the kind of thought-provoking-yet-exciting stories about artificial creatures that only come along once in a while, vN is well worth grabbing … a strikingly fresh work of mind-expanding science fiction.” We’ve also heard from the one and only Cory Doctorow, whose full review will be going live on BoingBoing later in the year, but who has given us permission to post a snippet in the meantime: “Ashby’s debut is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring.”

You can look forward to seeing vN on a bookshelf near you (virtual or otherwise) from August onwards.

Back to our current crop of top-notch new novels and we’ve seen a bunch of new reviews of Justin Gustainis‘ second Occult Crimes Investigation, Evil Dark, this week (enough for him to get his own bullet-list, no less):

• Ed at Starburst Magazine said: “Fans of TV shows like Supernatural and Grimm will find this worth a read, and it’s a lovely mix of real world nightmare and fantastic horror” and draws comparisons to Mike Mignola and Jim Butcher as well.
• Over at The Bibliophilic Book Blog, they said: “Rich and diverse, this gritty noir thriller will leave you thirsting for more!”
• Julia at All Things Urban Fantasy said: “The dry police banter, methodical exploration of crimes, and a story and world that were easy to jump into make this a great introduction to the series as well as a satisfying stand alone.”
• Mieneke at A Fantastical Librarian said: “Evil Dark was a terrifically entertaining read, which kept me invested in its characters from beginning to end.”
• Laura at Book Chick City reviewed series-opener Hard Spell and said: “Hard Spell was a nice sojourn from my usual urban fantasy style. Gritty, dark, with a mystery that kept you guessing … An enjoyable read for urban fantasy and police drama fans alike.”

Justin has guest-blogged at The Bibliophilic Book Blog as well, on the subject of James Bond… but not as we know him. And at All Things Urban Fantasy he muses on the topic of “What the Hell Is Urban Fantasy, Anyway?”

Blackbirds, by Chuck WendigBlackbirds by Chuck Wendig has been on the receiving end of another round of glowing reviews in the past few days:

• Gef at Wag the Fox said: “I want to find fault with the novel somewhere, but nothing springs to mind. The damned thing is about as immaculately gritty and unrelenting, while avoiding nihilistic venom, as a guy like me could ask for. I have a feeling this one will be on a lot of summer reading lists this year.”
• Niall at The Speculative Scotsman said: “Chuck Wendig was one to watch beforehand, but with this twisted little treat he cements an already-estimable reputation. Blackbirds is dirty, filthy, nasty… fantastic. If you can stand the sight of some awfully ugly stuff, you’re exceedingly likely to love it.”
• Ros at Warpcore SF said: “I finished the book wanting to know more about Miriam’s world with all its peeling paintwork, fading bruises, and grotification. It’s the kind of story where no-one is getting out without a fair amount of staining, but the characters are more interesting as a result.”
• Bobby at This Writing Life, drawing a comparison between Chuck and The Beastie Boys c.1984, said: “Look in the dictionary under the word audacious. There’ll be a picture of Chuck Wendig.”

Chris F. Holm is the subject of a New Author Profile at SF Signal. He’s also a guest, along with Stina Leicht, on the 102nd episode of the Functional nerds Podcast. Meanwhile, Dead Harvest has been reviewed by Dan O’Shea, who said: “If you are an urban fantasy fan, than Dead Harvest is sure to be a new favorite. But even if you’re not, I encourage you to give it a shot.”

David Tallerman – author of Giant Thief and the forthcoming sequel Crown Thief (October 2012) – has been interviewed at length by Ryan at Fantasy Book Review, with discussion roaming over David’s writing habits, the background and inspiration for Giant Thief and his plans for the future.

Snippets from our Authors’ Blogs:

Guy Haley has been exploring the Mythology of Star Wars and has re-posted a 2010 interview with fellow AR author Dan Abnett as well.

Aliette de Bodard has been discussing SFF as metaphor: aliens, vampires, foreigners and immigrants, sparking off a lively debate in the comments thread in the process.

Gary McMahon has been getting to grips with Meme Horror and in the process has discovered the creepy delights of Marble Hornets, which by all accounts isn’t for the faint-hearted: “The whole thing is both epic and intimate, absurd and insightful, messy and often completeley fucking terrifying. I think it’s the first masterpiece of internet-based meme fiction.”

Chuck Wendig was both surprised and delighted to realise that he has fans. We weren’t. Surprised, that is. Delighted, definitely. But not surprised in the slightest.

Anne Lyle is giving away three copies of her swashbuckling, Elizabethan alt-history debut novel The Alchemist of Souls to readers from the UK/EU. Head on over to www.annelyle.com for entry details.

And finally…

Here’s a short animated film by Kibwe Tavares that was released last year and won a great deal of acclaim, as well as the RIBA Presidents’ Medal, but which we (or I anyway – DT) only saw for the first time this week thanks to a mention from Mark C Newton.

Robots of Brixton… welcome to your robo-future, meat-sacks:

(Hmmm. A tale of dark, dystopian robotics? That’s a meme we like the sound of. Wonder where we can get us some more of that sort of thing..?)