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Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution

R. F. Kuang

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation -- also known as Babel.

Babel is the world's center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel's research in foreign languages serves the Empire's quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel -- a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell -- grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

The Anubis Gates

The Anubis Gates: Book 1

Tim Powers

Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a London filled with deformed clowns, organised beggar societies, insane homunculi and magic. When he is kidnapped by gypsies and consequently misses his return trip to 1983, the mild-mannered Doyle is forced to become a street-smart con man, escape artist, and swordsman in order to survive in the dark and treacherous London underworld. He defies bullets, black magic, murderous beggars, freezing waters, imprisonment in mutant-infested dungeons, poisoning, and even a plunge back to 1684. Coleridge himself and poet Lord Byron make appearances in the novel, which also features a poor tinkerer who creates genetic monsters and a werewolf that inhabits others' bodies when his latest becomes too hairy.

Fevre Dream

George R. R. Martin

Marsh meant to turn down York's offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve-coupled with the terrible force of York's mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind's most impossible dream. Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire's quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman's dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.

Hide Me Among the Graves

The Stress of Her Regard: Book 2

Tim Powers

London, winter of 1862, Adelaide McKee, a former prostitute, arrives on the doorstep of veterinarian John Crawford, a man she met once seven years earlier. Their brief meeting produced a child who, until now, had been presumed dead. McKee has learned that the girl lives—but that her life and soul are in mortal peril from a vampiric ghost. But this is no ordinary spirit; the bloodthirsty wraith is none other than John Polidori, the onetime physician to the mad, bad, and dangerous Romantic poet Lord Byron. Both McKee and Crawford have mysterious histories with creatures like Polidori, and their child is a prize the malevolent spirit covets dearly.

Polidori is also the late uncle and supernatural muse to the poet Christina Rossetti and her brother, the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. When she was just fourteen years old, Christina unwittingly brought Polidori's curse upon her family. But the curse bestowed unexpected blessings as well, inspiring Christina's poetry and Gabriel's paintings. But when Polidori resurrects Dante's dead wife—turning her into a horrifying vampire—and threatens other family members, Christina and Dante agree that they must destroy their monstrous uncle and break the spell, even if it means the end of their creative powers.

Determined to save their daughter, McKee and Crawford join forces with the Rossettis, and soon these wildly mismatched allies are plunged into a supernatural London underworld whose existence goes beyond their wildest imaginings. Ultimately, each of these disparate individuals—the sensitive poet, the tortured painter, the straitlaced animal doctor, the reformed prostitute, and even their Artful Dodger–like young daughter—must choose between the banality and constraints of human life and the unholy immortality that Polidori offers.

Sweeping from the mansions of London's high society to its grimy slums, the elegant salons of the West End to the pre-Roman catacombs beneath St. Paul's Cathedral, Hide Me Among the Graves blends the historical and the supernatural in a dazzling, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride—a modern horror story with a Victorian twist.

Drood

Dan Simmons

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.

Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research... or something more terrifying?

Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.