Saturday, December 31, 2011

Joe Abercrombie - Year In Review

Artful Joe writes here about how 2011 unfolded for him, touching on writing, gaming, book sales and general family stuff:
A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – I will admit, not my best.  I’ve written about two thirds of the first draft of A Red Country so far, and I reckon it’s going to need a fair bit of work when it’s finished.  Indeed a couple of chapters near the front might well need total rewriting from scratch, which will be the first time I’ve ever really done anything along those lines.  Why the slightly disappointing work rate?  The house was a mess when we first moved in and serious work didn’t end til April.  Then my new baby appeared, the eldest started school, Skyrim was released … so many distractions, so many excuses, and attempts to routinise the working day haven’t really panned out yet.  Hard to believe I wrote Last Argument of Kings in about 14 months while still working more or less full time as an editor.  But then I had no kids (or just the one baby towards the end) and a long-established plan to work from.  Full time authorship is a bit of a different deal, with an awful lot of additional stuff to do.  But I’ve had a good few days since Christmas, as it goes, and I’m hopeful I can hit my stride a little better next year.  We shall see…

Friday, December 16, 2011

NPR: The Year's Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy

NPR has published their list of what they consider the best Science Fiction and Fantasy novels of 2011:
2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.
They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.
Brilliant writers like China Mieville and Catherynne Valente are rethinking the basic rules of the game, telling stories that look like fantasy and science fiction, but which make us feel things that those kinds of books aren't supposed to be able to make us feel.
Here are five of the best, most interesting, most mutated science fiction and fantasy novels published this year.
More love for A Dance With Dragons.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Joe Abercrombie on Vikings (Skyrim)

(Extra)Ordinary Joe was interviewed for an article at The Escapist and has reproduced the whole interview here:
Well there’s always been a strong current of Viking inspired novels, both historical fiction (like Robert Low’s the Whale Road), fiction that mixes historical and fantasy (like MD Lachlan’s Wolfsangel), and out-and-out fantasy in invented worlds.  And Skyrim is far from the first fantasy roleplaying game to tackle the area.  I fondly remember the hugely flawed but very atmospheric Gothic 3, though it had nothing like the detail and grandeur of Skyrim.  Probably there’ll be some extra interest in the area, in the way that anything successful encourages imitation, but what I applaud about Skyrim isn’t so much that it uses Viking influences, as that it uses them with care and imagination.

N.K. Jemisin Recommends

Over at The Book Smugglers N.K. Jemisin has listed her favourite reads of 2011:
I haven’t had a ton of time to read this year. Cranking out five novels in a 3-year span will do that to a girl. Still, partly because my reading time is so limited, I’m very quick to discard a book if it doesn’t capture me immediately — so what’s listed here are the books that have swallowed me whole and only occasionally let me out for fresh air before swallowing me again. Consider everything here massively recommended, in no particular order.
And if there’s one perk of being a published author that I shamelessly take advantage of, it’s getting my hands on the good stuff early. So apologies in advance, but this list contains a lot of stuff that’s not out yet. More for you to anticipate!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fantasy Book Critic Recommends

Over at Fantasy Book Critic the peerless (and tireless) Liviu Suciu has gathered the covers of his highly recommended books for 2011.

I'm surprised to see A Dance With Dragons so highly regarded (I thought it was meandering and that Martin could easily have cut two thirds of it and folded the rest into book four) but it's nice to see Richard Morgan, K.J. Parker, and Kate Elliot are all well placed.  No Steven Erikson though?  The Crippled God was February 2011; I wonder if Liviu has read it.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Pat Rothfuss on NaNoWriMo

The beardy Mr Pat Rothfuss took a running jump at writing a whole novel in November (NaNoWriMo) and here he writes engagingly about the results:
Now I *did* start a week late. But even so, you have to admit that my graph looks…. um…. sad. One might even call it “wretched” or “sickly.” A particularly scathing person might even use the word, “flaccid.”
I wouldn’t use that word, mind you. But someone might.
When I contacted Veronica to see if she was okay with me using her stats in my upcoming blog, she said something along the lines of, “No problem. Thanks for reminding me I need to get my writing done for the day. I should really quit playing Skyrim…”
Her offhand comment filled me with a burning shame and fury. She was beating my ass AND PLAYING SKYRIM AT THE SAME TIME?
Fueled by shame, I wrote 15,000 words over the next four days
I love hearing about all these fantasy authors playing Skyrim :)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Joe Abercrombie on 'Skyrim'

Mr. J Abercrombie has been playing the new Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim:
The good news?  There’s loads of it.  While keeping what was best about it’s open-ended forebears, Skyrim triumphantly overcomes the drawbacks.  Well, most of them, anyway.  And it’s in the setting that it really scores BIG.  Skyrim is a nordic, viking-y sort of a place and it’s concentrating on that theme that has really drawn everything together.  Armour and weapons have nordic swirls, houses have dragons carved on the roofs, mammoth-herding giants roam the tundra and dragons haunt the skies.  The fighters guild in Oblivion were some fighters.  In a house.  Who fought stuff.  The Companions in Skyrim are a load of Valhalla obsessed nords who sit round a firepit in an upended longship.  They’ve got an ideology, man.
I wanted to love Skyrim, I wanted to dive in and not come up for air until the spring, but I can't get past the awful, clunky, insipid combat.  The world is incredibly detailed and undeniably immersive; the lore is rich and nuanced; the quests many and varied.  But the combat is bloody awful.

In 2009, when I first played Demon's Souls on the PS3, I worried that the melee combat was so good that the game was going to render all future RPGs pale and worthless.  And so, having gone directly from Dark Souls (the sequel to Demon's Souls) to Skyrim, I'm finding the combat to be very watery: you basically just flail about with your weapon with no real sense of how you're doing.  It wouldn't be so bad if 95% of the quests didn't require combat to bring them to completion.  Maybe I'll try again with Skyrim in a year or so.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Orb, Sceptre, Throne

I just noticed Pat has the cover and blurb for Ian Cameron Esslemont's latest Malazan novel, Orb, Sceptre, Throne:
The epic new chapter in the history of Malaz -- the new epic fantasy from Steven Erikson's friend and co-creator of this extraordinary and exciting imagined world.

Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried. A scholar digging in the plains stumbles across an ancient sealed vault. The merchant Humble Measure schemes to drive out the remaining Malazan invaders. And the surviving agents of a long-lost power are stirring, for they sense change and so, opportunity. While, as ever at the centre of everything, a thief in a red waistcoat and of rotund proportions walks the streets, juggling in one hand custard pastries, and in the other the fate of the city itself.

Far to the south, fragments of the titanic Moon's Spawn have crashed into the Rivan Sea creating a series of isles... and a fortune hunter's dream. A Malazan veteran calling himself 'Red' ventures out to try his luck -- and perhaps say goodbye to old friends. But there he finds far more than he'd bargained for as the rush to claim the Spawn's treasures descends into a mad scramble of chaos and bloodshed. For powers from across the world have gathered here, searching for the legendary Throne of Night. The impact of these events are far reaching, it seems. On an unremarkable island off the coast of Genabackis, a people who had turned their backs upon all such strivings now lift their masked faces towards the mainland and recall the ancient prophecy of a return.

And what about the ex-Claw of the Malazan Empire who now walks the uttermost edge of creation? His mission -- the success or failure of which the Queen of Dreams saw long ago -- is destined to shape far more than anyone could have ever imagined
Love that title!  Can't wait to read this.  Who do you think that 'ex-Claw' is?