Monday, December 30, 2013

Fantasy-Faction's Best Fantasy Books of 2013

Maybe the last list of 2013, Fantasy-Faction has chosen their best fantasy books of the year:
Firstly, and fore-mostly, I want to say a huge thank you to every author, publisher and blogger involved in fantasy literature in 2013. I’ve been involved in the fantasy community for about four years now and this was BY FAR the very best year I’ve experienced in terms of the amount of quality fantasy published and the additional amount of passionate community involvement. 
For that reason it has proven impossible to do a top 10 for 2013, so we’ve been forced to come up with a top 25 instead. As always, there will be people who think some books on the list should be reordered, there will be some who disagree completely, but reading is a subjective thing and this is our opinion; I hope you will respect it  Oh yeah, and remember that although between our staff writers we read A LOT of books, we didn’t read EVERYTHING. 
So, PLEASE do leave a comment with your thoughts – we truly are interested in what you think.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kotaku's Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2013


Kotaku has assembled a fairly lengthy list of their favourite science fiction and fantasy books of 2013:
This was a banner year for science fiction and fantasy books — and choosing the year's best titles was harder than usual. From time-slashing serial killers to grand space operas to Kafka-esque nightmares, this was a year of brilliant reads. Here are the 20 best science fiction and fantasy books of 2013.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Joe Abercrombie's Process

Mr Joe Abercrombie has done some thinking and blogging about his writing process:
With some of my later books I got into planning on computer, on the very sensible grounds that I can type far faster than I can write longhand, and that any chunks of dialogue that might suddenly come to me while planning (and they quite often do) can be got down faster and more easily pasted into a document.  But I’ve actually gone back to pad and fountain pen lately.  There’s just something about the act of writing longhand with a good pen on good paper that gets the mind working in a slightly different way to the computer.
Full Story: HERE

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Fantasy Literature's Favourite Books of 2013

FanLit has posted a list of its favourite books of 2013:
Here are our favorite books published in 2013. Hover over the cover to see who recommends each book. Click the cover to read our review. Please keep in mind that we did not read every SFF book published this year, so we know we’ve missed some good ones! You can read some of our thoughts about these books in today’s later Thoughtful Thursday post, and you can add your comments there — we’d love to hear your opinions about our list.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kotaku's Best Boardgames of the Year


The year end times are upon us and that means lists! I like lists. I like 'Best Of...' lists. Not because I think they tell me which were the best thingies of the year - that's all subjective - but because lists generate discussion, and they show my thingies I might have missed.

Here's Kotaku's list of the Best Boardgames of the Year:
As I've talked about before, board games aren't simply enjoying a resurgence right now. They're in a glittering golden age with fabulous releases every single week, the entire hobby evolving and adapting with Borg-like ease. There's no easier way to prove it than with my favourite releases from 2013.
Full Story: HERE

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Thorn of Emberlain

Good new for fans of Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard Sequence: the fourth book in the series, The Thorn of Emberlain will be out Fall 2014:
“My next book, THE THORN OF EMBERLAIN, ought to be out in the fall of 2014. [It's] the fourth book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence [and] picks up about half a year after The Republic of Thieves and finds Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen trying to get back on their feet with a major con. They’re trying to sell the services of a non-existent mercenary company to the besieged city-state of Emberlain, hoping to escape with the hiring fees before the chaos of the Vadran civil war overruns Emberlain. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan…
Full Story: HERE

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Speculative Fiction: Top 10 of 2013

Pat has posted his Top 10 Speculative Fiction novels of 2013:
A few weeks ago, I was complaining on Facebook that 2013 turned out to be the year of disappointments. And yet, looking back as I put together this annual Top 10, regardless of the disappointing titles and although many of the heavyweights are absent, it's been another good year for speculative fiction readers everywhere!
Full Story: HERE

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Joe Abercrombie: Progress Report

Over on his blog, Joe Abercrombie has written up a handy progress report on his current writing projects.  The good news is book one of his new trilogy is done, and he's halfway through book two.  Also, updates on a new trilogy set in the world of 'First Law' and a brace of short stories.  It looks like there are a lot of words inside Joe that will be pouring out over the next few years.
But you know that righteousness never sleeps, and I’m already half way through a draft of the second book in the trilogy, Half the World.  Long time followers of this blog will know that the drafting is the bit I really dislike (a writer that likes writing? Puh-lease!), especially the front of a book, but I think this one’s starting to come together now, and will, of course, in my unbiased opinion, be FANTASTIC. I’m a little behind my initial, ludicrously over-optimistic schedule, but still well on target to have this one comfortably finished by the time Half a King is unleashed, hopefully with the 3rd and final book, Half a War, well underway.  I flipping despise those series which have themed titles that just change a little bit with each iteration, don’t you?  Then I went and did it.  I like to say that I’ve reinvented and subverted the concept, though, whatever the hell that means.  The dream is that these other two instalments will publish six months apart – so in Jan 2015 and July 2015 – but that’s very much not set in stone at this point. We shall see.
Full Story: HERE

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Control Freaks Make Poor Fantasy Writers

Over at FBC, Robert V. S. Redick has been writing about the need to let a story go its own way:
Nearly every writer who addresses this subject will tell you: the best stuff catches you by surprise. You think your heroine’s going to cross the Old City, climb the Long Stair to Raven’s Landing, sneak through the gardens of the Viceroys and knock on the door of the piano tuner. Because, see, the piano tuner’s shop is where the next plot element is going to snap into place. We know it is. We planned it that way.

But halfway up the Long Stair she smells smoke. She looks up from her reverie and sees her aunt—her once-beloved but long-since-vanished aunt, the one nobody speaks of anymore, the one who made her father sob like a child on the night she disappeared--gazing down at her with a look of horror. She doesn’t speak. In her hands smoldering book. She glances back over her shoulder, gasping a little, turns our heroine a final glance and dashes into a side-street.

HOLY TWO-HEADED ACID-SPITTING TOADS FROM HELL! Where did that woman come from? Where’s she been all these years? What’s frightened her? Why didn’t she speak? And what in God’s name is she doing with a half-burned book?
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Saga, Series and Just Plain Long Books

Over at Tor, Katherine Kerr writes about 'the saga habit': book series' that stretch beyond what many readers consider a reasonable length, and explores why that happens:
Another risk: the writer can put a lot of energy into a character or tale only to see that it doesn’t belong and must be scrapped. When I was trying to turn the original ghastly novella into Daggerspell, the first Deverry novel, the most important dweomerman was an apothecary named Liddyn, a nice fellow...not real interesting, though. My subconscious created a friend of his, a very minor character, who appeared in one small scene, digging herbs by the side of the road. When the friend insisted on turning up in a later scene, I named him Nevyn. If I’d stuck to my original plan, that would have been it for Nevyn. As soon as I asked myself, “but who is this guy?” I realized what he was bringing with him: the entire theme of past lives. Until that moment, reincarnation had nothing to do with this saga. 
Liddyn shrank to one mention in one of the later books. Nevyn took over. The past lives appeared when I asked myself how this new strange character got to be a four hundred year old master of magic. What was his motivation? How and why did he study dweomer? These questions brings us right back to the idea of consequences. As a young man Nevyn made a bad mistake out of simple arrogance. The consequences were dire for the woman who loved him and her clan, and over the years these consequences spiraled out of control until they led ultimately to a civil war. The saga had gotten longer but deeper, and I hope richer. Had I ignored these consequences, I would have been left with an interesting episode, isolated, a little thin, perhaps at best backstory.
Full Story: HERE

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dark Souls 2 Leaked Network Test

Leaked Dark Souls 2 Footage

Dark Souls (the spiritual sequel to Demon's Souls) may be my favourite game of all-time.  It is opaque and confounding, frustrating and difficult, hard to understand, and the most satisfying game I've ever played.

A sequel is coming - Dark Souls 2 - which is currently having a network test in Japan, and here is 20 minutes of leaked footage.  It's got splashes of Kanji all over it, but just look upon it, and despair...

Dark Souls 2 launches in North America on March 11 2014.

EDIT: huh, having trouble with the encoding. See next news post.
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

On Sieges by K.J. Parker

K.J. Parker, author of some of my favourite books (The Folding Knife in particular) did some writing on the history of Sieges:
The only reason to study war is the reason doctors study a disease; to find a cure. Smallpox is now officially extinct, and the same is probably true of the classical assault-and-blockade siege. There are, of course, plenty more diseases. The siege shaped our society at every level. It brought us together to live behind walls, in cities. Its fundamental influence on the nature of warfare directed political life and development for three thousand years. It was, of course, the mother of many of our essential technologies, from mining to metalworking. It would have been nice, of course, if we could have arrived at the same place without such a monstrous waste of lives, resources and effort. It’s impossible to calculate how many millions of tons of earth were shifted in its name, mostly in wooden shovels tipped with iron, steel being too rare and expensive.
Check out the full story HERE, it's fascinating reading.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Has Richard Morgan Been Reading?

Richard Morgan has fired off some thoughts on books he's read in the last while that have impressed him:
I’ve had so many requests for another Read and Recommended list over the last few years, it was starting to feel churlish not to oblige.  But what with an intense couple of years moonlighting  in the games industry, the sudden impact of  fatherhood and delayed book deadlines raging out of all decent control, it felt like I barely had time to read the books, let alone write them up.  But it has been a while – since late 2009, in fact – so here, finally, is an extra long list covering that period.  Enjoy!
Some interesting titles on his list, and some surprises.

Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dragon Age: Inquisition


It's hard to tell what is game engine and what's pre-rendered in this video but... Dragon Age 3!!

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Joe Abercrombie On Editing

Mr. Joe has written a fairly lengthy post detailing progress on editing his new trilogy:
The dream with this new trilogy was to gloriously complete a draft of the second book and a detailed plan for the third by the end of the year, therefore 6 or 7 months before publication of the first book, leaving time enough to edit the first book in the light of all I had learned about the series.  I hadn’t thought through this very clearly, however (surprise, surprise).  Because this is a new style of work, with new publishers wanting the attention of a wider spread of critics, authors, booksellers, and other advance readers, some of whom won’t have heard of me before, they want to get Advance Reader Copies (Otherwise called ARCs, proofs, or galleys) out before the end of the year.  That means having a fully edited, finished, polished manuscript by end of September.  There’ll probably be the opportunity to make a couple of changes after that point, if the way the future books are developing necessitates a pointer or an addition, but the heavy lifting needs to be done over the next few weeks.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

DOTA 2 Launches on Mac and Linux


Valve's long-gestating Defense of the Ancients 2 has launched for Mac OS X and Linux. Between this and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, productivity is going to take a hit.

Full Story: HERE

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Half a King: Joe Abercrombie Writes Young Adult Trilogy

I can't quite decide how to feel about this news. Joe Abercrombie is writing a young adult trilogy called Half a King. Aimed at ages 12-16, the first book is finished and will be published in 2014:
Before some of you groan in horror at this wounding betrayal of all you believe in, I also wrote this with established readers, and indeed with a wider adult readership, very much in mind.  In some ways it’s a very similar sort of book to what I’ve written so far.  It’s fantasy, but light on the fantasy, and heavy on the vivid characters, the visceral action, the mixture of wit and cynicism, the twists and surprises.  I hope that it will have a wide appeal.  But I don’t feel that I’ve compromised on the way I’ve written.  I think it’s as tough, surprising, challenging, and morally ‘grey’ as the rest of my output.
Okay. I love Joe's work and I will no doubt pre-order and swallow whole anything he writes, but I wonder why the detour into YA fiction? There's no way of knowing, so I'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.

Full Story: HERE

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Name of the Wind T.V. Series

Tor has a notice up that Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind is coming to television:
Deadline has just announced that 20th Century Fox has optioned the television rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicles to develop into an ongoing series. Eric Heisserer (Hours, The Thing) is attached to adapt the series as its executive producer. 
The show will begin with the events of The Name of the Wind and follow through the other two books in the trilogy. No word yet on how the show will otherwise be structured, or if they will incorporate aspects of Rothfuss’ planned works after the Kingkiller trilogy
Curious about the world (worlds?) of Kvothe? Visit our extremely detailedPatrick Rothfuss reread, curated by Jo Walton.
Source: Tor.com

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Joe Abercrombie on 'The Last Of Us'

Joe writes here about The Last Of Us, which is, thus far, my favourite game of 2013:
Let me be clear.  From its title to its final scene, it is a superb experience.  Raw, thrilling, affecting, uncompromising.  Quite possibly the best tightly scripted game I ever played.  This may be the old generation of hardware, but it is a new generation, a quantum leap, a brave new world in character, story, setting, and, you guessed it, emotional involvement.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Movement Within Fantasy

Mr. Joe Abercrombie continues to answer reader mail. This week he tackles a question about a 'third wave' movement in fantasy and if he sees himself as part of it:
The truth of the matter, as far as I can remember it, is much less impressive.  I played a lot of role-playing games and read a lot of epic fantasy as a kid, got a bit bored with the way it seemed to stick closely to a predictable formula, largely stopped reading it at the start of the 90s and read other things.  Then I read GRRM’s Game of Thrones and saw that it was possible to do something daring, unpredictable, gritty and character-centred while still writing in the commercial core of the genre – I saw a lot of what I felt had been missing very clearly expressed in that series.  Some time after that, in 2001, I think, and largely because I found myself with time on my hands as a freelance TV editor, I started trying to write, initially without the slightest expectation of being published.  My aim, insofar as I had one, was to produce my take on a classic epic fantasy trilogy, very much in the vein of Lord of the Rings, David Eddings or Dragonlance, but with a tight focus on vivid characters with setting very much a backdrop, a grittiness and hence a punch and drive to the action, a lot of twists in the plot (almost a mystery plot, in a way), a stripped-down modernity to the prose, and above all a sense of humour.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, June 14, 2013

There is no shortcut to being good...

Scott Lynch has built some word fields for you to absorb into your thinky meats. He writes about what it takes to get published:
However, the part you didn’t see before that “shortcut” was the long span of years I spent writing miserable, pretentious, silly, derivative nonsense before I became capable of writing those sixty crucial pages. I went through a Lovecraft phase. I went through a Poe phase (Gah! My Poe phase. Welcome to Farcetown, population ME). I went through a confused Clive Barker-y phase. I wrote a looming shitstack of Vampire: The Masqueradefanfic and character fic that made later Anne Rice look respectable. I wrote and desktop published a series of roleplaying games. I wrote marketing crap, memos, and business letters. I did freelance editing and PDF self-publishing. I wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of stuff that had to be presented with a modicum of competence and clarity. In those days, a modicum was about all I could manage. An older friend once took me to a Disney animated film, and as it started he whispered “Dude, you really need to pay attention to this. I’ve already seen it, and I brought you because you need to learn how basic story structure works.”
Full Story: HERE

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Raging Heroes - The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy

Here's a Kickstarter that snagged my attention. A French company called Loud'n Raging is making a series of female wargame miniatures:
  • Miniatures with tons of attitude, dynamic posing, exquisitely detailed sculpts
  • An amazing range of over 150+ unique sculpts planned
  • Sculpts that look exactly like the concept art
  • Utra-customizable multi-part troops, thanks to multi-part ball-joint system
  • Beautiful casts in super high quality metal and spin-cast resin
  • Outstanding pledge rewards compared to regular street price
  • An optional special delivery program that can ship your pledge in several waves to ensure you don't have to wait for months, with a first wave planned as early as September!
My regular gaming group doesn't play any sci-fi titles but this is an issue we run into often: the miniatures in many games are usually male, and if there are women represented in the game they're often 'evil' (like Morgana in Shadows Over Camelot).

Take a look at the models and consider chipping in.

Kickstarter Page: HERE

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Just How Bad Was Your First Draft?

More from Mr. Abercrombie.  Today he tackles the question of how bad was his first draft of The Blade Itself:
As George points out, I’d actually had a lot of the ideas for the First Law for a very long time.  Some of the characters and settings go back well into my childhood.  I first tried to make some actual prose writing out of all that mass of stuff shortly after leaving university in … er … 1994, would you believe, mostly as an exercise to practice my touch typing (employable skills, and all that).  It was mannered, it was adolescent, it was cheesy, it took itself way too seriously, it was not very good.  And there was no Glokta in it, either.  After writing three or four chapters, I gave up, though the ideas still kept bubbling away in there.
 Full Story: HERE

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Joe Abercombie: Why The Third Person?

Someone asked Joe what made him decide to write in the third person and Joe responds:
So George RR Martin very successfully uses third person limited in Song of Ice and Fire, titling each chapter with the character whose point of view it’s written from.  James Ellroy is another writer whose use of that approach was very influential on me.  Third person limited doesn’t have quite the level of intimacy first person can provide, but it can still be very visceral and involving, while giving you much more flexibility to shift between characters, and perhaps to vary the degree of focus on the point of view character if you want – you can stick very close to their own thought process and experience or take up a slightly more detached position should you so desire.  Being able to shift between characters also allows you to clue the reader into things the individuals might not independently know, or to contrast the way characters see themselves with how others see them to great effect.  I also try and vary my style as widely as possible depending on the point of view – so a Logen chapter instantly has a different voice, a different vocabulary, a different rhythm and feel from a Glokta one, and the style hopefully communicates something about the nature of that character right away.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Board Game Piece Is More Than A Mere Chunk Of Plastic


Over at Kotaku, Quintin Smith has written about boardgame pieces, and why he loves them so:
When I started getting involved in board games, I picked up on the obvious quickly. The game as physical object is a pleasing thing. Working with your friends to set up a game brings a happy psychological bookending, like opening a brand new book. “Pirating” a bluffing game like Skull & Roses out of some coasters at your bar and a sharpie is cool. 
After that, I started learning a little science. Humans prefer handling wooden components to plastic. Heavier is better, and size is to be handled in extremes. Big playing pieces are great, but so are tiny ones. Even individual games can teach you a lot. Dixit's oversized cards stealthily make you feel like a child again. The rotating the gears of the aforementioned Tzolk'in lay down the tactile equivalent of ASMR. Mage Wars, which my site covered here, has an actual, physical spellbook. These things have to be touched to be believed.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do You Read Lots of Fantasy, Joe Abercrombie?

This blog is in serious danger of becoming a Joe Abercrombie Satellite Blog, but he always has such interesting things to reveal.  Here he answers the question: "Do you read lots of fantasy?"
I read a whole lot of fantasy in my youth, but I’ve always read a lot of other stuff, and I think that’s probably important for a writer to do.  My own feeling has tended to be that original ideas and approaches are more likely to be found outside the genre you’re working in, than by exhaustively reading within it.  Sometimes I hear people express an attitude of – ‘if you aren’t totally aware of the field in infinitesimal detail, how can you write something original?’ which seems to me so arse about tit I hardly know where to begin with it.  For me, originality is in the authorial voice, the authorial attitude, the take on the material, rather than in the magic system or the shape of the continents or the arrangement of blobs of narrative.  Originality comes from an honest look inside, and a pulling together of disparate influences from all kinds of sources, rather than an exhaustive look outside.
Full Story: HERE

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Joe Abercrombie plays Bioshock Infinite

Mr. Joe writes up his thoughts on Bioshock Infinite, and finds the game a messy success:
The crowning glory though is Elizabeth, co-star, companion, axle of the plot and emotional anchor of the story.  Generally speaking, in video games, no one likes an escort mission.  Companions are dumb, boring, get in the way, get themselves killed, undermine any sense you’re in a real place containing real people.  This is the first time I’ve ever seen one work anywhere near so well.  She’s superbly designed – hitting that spot between realism and cartoon-i-ness, actually useful from a gameplay standpoint, and highly expressive (especially about the eyebrows), her reactions adding extra emotion to the events, providing a naive counterpoint to the used-up pessimism of the central character.  In a way the whole plot (and indeed experience of the game) is based around their relationship.  On occasion you’ll see the joins – she’s got a habit of flicking coins at you when you’re concentrating on something else, sometimes not looking right at you during an emotional speech, but overall she’s a pretty amazing achievement.
SOURCE

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The First Law Graphic Novel


Mr. Joe Abercrombie announces a graphic novel based on his First Law Trilogy, and it's FREE!
It’s been put together by Rich Young of Blind Ferret, adapted by Chuck Dixon, with art by Andie Tong, colours by Pete Pantazis, lettering and design from Bill Tortolini, all done under the horrifying gaze of my single flaming unblinking eye.  I am hugely pleased with the results, which, no lie, have exceeded every expectation. 
But the thing that’s of particular interest to me about this project, and probably will be of some interest to you as well, is the method of distribution. Mainly – that we’re giving it away to anyone with an internet connection
Yes, you heard me right.  We’re serialising it, free, at www.firstlawcomic.com.
SOURCE

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Iain M. Banks Culture Spits in the Eye of Nihilism


Mordicai Knode, over at Tor, has written up some thoughts on Iain M. Banks' enigmatic civilization: The Culture:
What is The Culture? There are two comparisons that I think really explain it. The Culture is like Star Trek’s Federation, flipped on its head. A hyper-advanced post-scarcity, post-Singularity human civilization. An anarchist collective that just works, where you can get anything you want, do anything you want. Tooling around the galaxy in spaceships with billions of people on them, run by the Minds. The Minds are…well, the post-Singularity bit. Humans build an AI and then that AI builds a better AI, and then later, rinse, repeat until the super-sentient computers are building their circuits in hyperspace because the speed of light was getting to be a drag on their processing power.
SOURCE

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Richard Morgan & Iain M. Banks

Richard Morgan writes movingly about his relationship with the novels of Iain Banks:
Then there’s the direct literary influence – Banks was an early weapon for me in my secession from the po-faced literary establishment.  He was a bloody great broadsword of kinetic fictional prowess, pointing the way you could go if you weren’t up for this gnawing, angst-ridden navel-gazing the English literary scene seemed so wedded to at the time.  His books were about stuff, in a way that so much other so-called literary fiction of the period wasn’t.  Shit happened in them – violent, exciting, often silly, hilarious, fantastical shit.  Just as you could see the man’s human warmth underlying the prose, so you could detect a delight in fireworks on the page and daft jokes for their own sake.  No-one was less surprised than me to discover that the man was also writing outrageously sardonic wide-screen space opera.  I can still recall the smile that came to my lips when, reading Consider Phlebas on a plane back to a job in Istanbul, I first stumbled on the deadpan names of the Culture’s starcraft and what they implied about the Culture as a whole.  Later, I became a fully paid up devotee of the sardonic wit and black humour of those Minds, drones and other assorted dream machines.  Later still, that same sardonic black humour would creep in and tinge my own writing to no small extent.
Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Personal Statement From Iain M. Banks


I am officially Very Poorly.

After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.

I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day.  When it hadn’t gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice.  Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.

I have cancer.  It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.

The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year.  So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.

As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps).  By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon.  We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us.  Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.

There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available.  However that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and anyway it is out of the question until my jaundice has further and significantly, reduced.

Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive.   We’re all just sorry the outcome hasn’t been more cheerful.
A website is being set up where friends, family and fans can leave messages for me and check on my progress.  It should be up and running during this week and a link to it will be on my official website at www.iain-banks.net as soon as it’s ready.

Iain Banks


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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Sandman Reread: The Wake


Tim Callahan is finishing up his reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with The Wake:
But if you’ve sat through the extended editions of Lord of the Rings, you know that the endings upon endings feel properly paced and well-deserved. The same is true for Neil Gaiman andSandman. Though it sometimes feels as if the entire second half of the series is about saying goodbye, “The Wake” and the two single-issue stories that follow are earned and resonant. And while they may not be strictly necessary—I think you could end your reading of Sandman with The Kindly Ones, drop the book, and strut away like a champ, though that would be weird and unnecessary unless your name is “Neil” and “Gaiman”—the stories collected in The Wake provide closure to the larger story and additional flavor to the Sandman mythology.
Full Story: HERE

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Tomb Raider by Joe Abercrombie


I was all set to ignore the latest Tomb Raider game. I'd read some comments by one of the developers which turned me off (something about a near-rape, and Lara framed as a 'cornered animal') but now that Joe Abercrombie has put his seal of approval on it (and I trust Joe's radar for sexism and misogyny more than any game reviewer) I may have to look at it more closely. 
It was connection with the character where it really shone. Just a great and very cunningly calibrated central narrative, as Lara goes from helpless innocent to hardened survivor. Initially she’s stumbling about coughing, shivering, horrified.  When she first gets her hands on a gun it trembles as she aims.  But steadily her skills and yours improve.  And the stakes feel high.  The action is crunching, visceral, unforgiving.  At times there’s a resident-evil like nastiness and threat about it.  Lara’s hung upside down among corpses, impales herself on spikes escaping, slides down mountains, falls out of wrecked planes, is beaten up, and gets progressively more scratched, torn, battered, bandaged and dirty.  You never fear for Nathan Drake, and though you might be wowed by the cinematics in Uncharted, I don’t know if you’re ever emotionally affected in the way you are by Tomb Raider.  You really find yourself rooting for Lara, and that sense of immersion just ups the ante on everything. When you make a long jump over a dizzying void and she just clings on by her fingertips – you feel it. When she dodges a goon’s machete and rock-axes him in the head – you feel it. When she parachutes down a mountainside and impales herself on a tree because you were too busy watching the landscape swoop past – you feel that too.
Full Story: HERE

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The Folding Knife Reread: Ch.4


Jared Shurin (at Tor) has the latest chapter in the reread of K.J. Parker's The Folding Knife:
This chapter is unusual in that we have passages from someone else’s point of view. Previously, we’ve alternated from a tight focus on Basso to a more impersonal, historical view. But with Basso tucked away in the Vesani Republic, the narration follows Aelius—ostensibly to get a view of the Auxentine action. This mostly involves staring at maps and going “ah-HA!”
But, we also follow Aelius before he goes to war. He’s informed by Basso’s Cabinet that he’s about to lead a campaign against the Auxentines. So he walks over to Chez Basso to see exactly what is going on. Aelius, as we’re frequently reminded, isn’t a Vesani citizen—even though he’s lived there for most of his life, he’s still an outsider.
Full Story: HERE

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Joe Abercrombie Call & Answer

Mr Joe is answering reader questions over on his blog and has posted his response to the query "Why so cynical?":
Occasionally I hear people say that the world is full of light, humour, and love, and books that don’t include those things are just as unrealistic as those which feature nothing but.  Well, no book contains every aspect of life, they all emphasise some things over others.  But I think it’s fair to say that commercial epic fantasy in the wake of Tolkien, through the 80s and 90s, was generally very much on the simply heroic, trope-filled and predictable side of the scales (with some important exceptions, of course, with gaming stuff written in the Warhammer world and Martin’s Game of Thrones being important influences on me).  It seems to me that some books which examine those tropes and present a different take on life are not only unsurprising but deeply necessary.
Full Answer (with spoilers for The First Law Trilogy): HERE

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Folding Knife Reread: Ch.3


Tor tackles Chapter 3 of K. J. Parker's The Folding Knife:
Are we led to believe this is the “right” way of looking at Basso’s story? I don’t think so—if anything, what we get in this chapter is a precarious balancing act. It begins with the historical picture, then focuses in on a few key actions. Is Basso a man or a “Great Man” in the way he handles the war, or the shipyard or the cockfighting? By the end of the chapter, Basso’s questioning his own motives. The shipyard is an immediate success and incredibly significant to the Vesani Republic. Does it matter that Basso only hit on the idea as a thinly-veiled “homage” to his own father’s failures? The question of intent—how much we can ever understand how a character thinks—is critical throughout The Folding Knife, but only in this chapter do we start to see it on such a vast scale.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Sandman Reread: The Kindly Ones


The Kindly Ones is my favourite chapter in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and Tor has the reread:
Rereading The Kindly Ones this time, I was fascinated by the confidence it seemed to have as a story. So many other Sandman arc are exploratory, playful, and we can feel Gaiman learning new things about storytelling as he tries to layer in all the things he’s loved about stories in the past. EvenWorld’s End felt like Gaiman getting something out of his system, as masterful as that collection was. With The Kindly Ones, Gaiman—and Hempel, and others—seemed less interested in exploring various avenues of story and more interested in telling this one, specific story. The story about Dream facing the consequences of his previous actions. The story about Dream’s past coming back to kill him.
Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jeff Noon: On Experiments in Writing


It's not strictly fantasy, and who except marketing drones gives a fuck about labels anyway, but Jeff Noon's first novel Vurt remains a powerful force in my reading history. One of the few books I've read which felt fresh and inventive and familiar simultaneously.  In advance of the anniversary edition, the wizards over at Tor have posted a lengthy and fascinating interview with Mr. Noon:
In many ways, Vurt is a typical first novel, in the sense of it being a depository for all the stray ideas that had built up over the previous years. At the time, I was passionate about becoming a playwright, and had a lot of rejection slips from theatres to show for that desire. Many of those very theatrical ideas went into Vurt, the novel. So, once again, a weird process. Over the subsequent years, I’ve realized that, at least for me, there is no one correct way of writing a novel, or even one easy way to do it. Every novel is journey in the writing. So, although in purely formal or thematic terms there is very little experimentation in Vurt as such, its creation was one long experiment; with no recognized or even hoped for result in sight.Vurt in so many ways was my indie-produced first album: my Slanted and Enchanted or my Murmur or my Surfer Rosa; that first blind leap into the unknown, driven by the urge to escape.
Full Story: HERE

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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Folding Knife Reread: Ch.2


Tor tackles chapter two of K.J. Parker's, The Folding Knife:
Knives! Antigonus has a “silver-handled penknife that nobody else is allowed to use” (42). Palo has a “dress dagger, jeweled-gilded hilt and a bit of old tin for a blade” (56). Basso’s own knife is everywhere—cutting both cake and people. The knives fit the characters, too. Antigonus is elegant but restrained, distinguished but always useful. Palo is gaudy, appealing and, ultimately, blunt and useless. So what does Basso’s knife make him?
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Joe Abercrombie Takes Questions

Over on his blog, Joe Abercrombie has begun answering reader mail:
When did you know an idea was good enough to pursue and when you started writing, at what point did you realize your novel was good enough to go public? 
Good enough, good enough, when is it good enough?  I think the quick answer to this is that every writer worth their salt always thinks their writing is the best thing evah.  And that every writer worth their salt always thinks their writing is worthless shit. 
The task of writing a novel is huge, complex and challenging far beyond any writing that most people will ever take on.  When I sat down to write The First Law the longest thing I’d written before was my undergraduate dissertation.  The First Law is some 50 times longer.  There’s a certain arrogance required to think, ‘yeah, I’m going to have a go at that.’  There’s also a certain arrogance required to expect you can grip the attention of a fickle reader through the awesome power of you words alone, and to keep them entertained for hours, days, weeks at a stretch, to make them want to expend their valuable free time listening to you rather than watching X-Factor, or playing with their kids or, I don’t know, moaning about the ending of Mass Effect on the internet.  You’ve got to think you’re one pretty goddamn entertaining motherfucker to pull that off, right?  If you didn’t feel pretty damn clever about what you were doing you’d never get past page 1.  You’d never deserve to get past page 1.  If you don’t love your work, how can you expect anyone else to be even mildly entertained by it?
Full Answer: HERE

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Scott Lynch's 'Republic of Thieves' Publication Date


Gollancz has announced a publication date for The Republic of Thieves the third part of Scott Lynch's excellent Gentlemen Bastards sequence, which began with The Lies of Locke Lamora:
The Orion Publishing Group (UK & Commonwealth) and the Random House Publishing Group (US) are thrilled to announce the publication of the third instalment in Scott Lynch’s popular fantasy series that began with The Lies of Locke Lamora. THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES will release on October 10, 2013 in the UK and Commonwealth and October 8, 2013 in the US. 
Scott Lynch’s first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, was a critically acclaimed hit when it was published in 2006. Bestselling author George R.R. Martin called it “a fresh, original, and engrossing tale by a bright new voice in the fantasy genre.” Publication rights sold in more than 20 countries. The second book in the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies, followed in 2007 to more critical acclaim. Since then, readers have anxiously awaited the next installment. Scott has now delivered the final manuscript and we are able to confirm publication date. 
In THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES, readers will reunite with con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora—and meet the only female Gentleman Bastard. With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or, at least, Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison which no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious visitor offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all. 
Simon Spanton, Deputy Publishing Director at Gollancz, said ‘Some of you will know about the real difficulties that gathered around this novel for Scott. I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Scott for sticking with it. I know that he was always painfully aware of the delays and what those meant both for his publishers and his fans. So I’d also like to thank Scott’s readers for their patience and for the immense support and the profound goodwill towards Scott that they have shown during this time. It’s been a long wait but I have every faith that their patience will now be rewarded with The Republic of Thieves.’
Gollancz Blog: HERE

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Sandman Reread: World's End


Tor continues its reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with World's End:
But, as I’ve mentioned many times in my reread of Neil Gaiman’sSandman, the series is as much about stories and the art of storytelling as it is about the specific adventures of a pale king of dreams, and what World's End gives us is a nest filled with tales of all types. In his introduction to the collected edition Stephen King says, “It’s a classic format, but in several of [the chapters] there are stories within the stories, like eggs within eggs, or, more properly, nested Chinese boxes.” King calls it “challenging stuff,” and he’s right. It’s similar to what Gaiman had done before in previous short arcs that collected one-off tales in the corner of his Sandman mythology, but Gaiman’s narrative ambition in World's End pushes it to ever farther extremes. The stories—and the storytellers—comment upon themselves and their own traditions, while fitting into an elegant framework that ties the whole bundle of lives into the larger scope of the Endless adventure.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tor Reread: The Folding Knife - Ch.1

The reread of K.J. Parker's The Folding Knife is done with Chapter 1:
Again, we have KJ Parker mucking about with the structure. The first line of the chapter is a spoiler: “On the morning of the day when Basso (Bassianus Severus, the future First Citizen) was born...” Arguably, this is also a tip of the hat to I, Claudius, which begins with Claudius explaining that the purpose of his book is to show how he got caught up in the “golden predicament” of leading an Empire. More on Clau-Clau-Claudius and his relevance next week.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Tor Reread: The Folding Knife


Oh deep joy.  Tor is doing a reread of one of my Top Five, All Time Favourite Novels: The Folding Knife by K.J. Parker:
Why bother with this (relatively) slim, (relatively) young volume from a (relatively) unknown writer? 
First, the structure of The Folding Knife is rereadtastic. (If you’re actually going to join in this mad project, please be aware that I do make stuff up.) K.J. Parker is hell on traditional narrative structures. If you’ve read the Scavenger series or even Sharps, you’ll know what I mean: these aren’t books with beginnings, middles and ends—they’re books that spiral and loop. 
Don’t worry though—this isn’t a wacky modernist “who needs a plot?” thing. There’s story aplenty, but, as you’ll see, you start the book knowing how it ends. In fact, within the prelude, you learn a) who Basso is, b) how powerful he becomes, c) what haunting mistake he makes and d) what becomes of him. The book is all about the how, and that makes it perfect for a reread: whether you’ve read it six times or none, we’re all on the same page. It is a book nearly impossible to spoil.
Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sandman Reread: Brief Lives


Tor continues its reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with Brief Lives:
As a foil, Destruction pits Dream against his own sense of responsibility. What’s evident, in reading Sandman as a whole, is that so much of the story is based around acceptance. Acceptance of life, of death, of reality, of unreality. Acceptance of responsibility or utter rejection of it. Think of those who step forward to continue Dream’s work while he is imprisoned for all those years. Then think of Lucifer, who abandons the very underworld that defines him and gives the responsibility to someone else. Think of Morpheus, who spends almost the entire series attempting to reclaim and rebuild his Dream kingdom in just the right way—always tasking Merv Pumpkinhead with new renovations—and then finally accepting that he is destined to be replaced by a new incarnation.
Full Story: HERE

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Joe Abercrombie: The Value of Grit

Mr. Joe Abercrombie has strung together some words regarding grit: specifically, he responds to people complaining about 'grit' in fantasy novels:
Now before anyone makes a straw man out of me, let me say that this is not intended as some kind of manifesto.  I don’t think everything has to be gritty by any means, in fact there’s a degree to which grit loses its power the more of it there is.  Every writer has to find their own style, their own way to be truthful.  And with great grit comes great responsibility.  It’s easy in an earnest desire to be truthful, or perhaps a less earnest desire to bludgeon the reader with the amazing dirty grim gritty grim depths of which you are capable, to ride roughshod on your spiky horse over rightly sensitive issues.  To cause offence through crap writing.  Maybe to a degree that’s inevitable.  Removing all crap writing from a given book is a herculean challenge.  But I believe the role of a writer is not to avoid offence.  Just to think carefully afterwards and reflect on how you might do better next time.  To be assessing criticism and constantly striving to become that little bit less crap.  But you’ve also sometimes got to laugh in the face of criticism.  Because the role of the writer is also to throw caution to the wind and write the most honest and heartfelt books you can.  Better to have a book that many readers love and some find revolting than a book that no one reads at all.  Far, far better.  Gritty is one tool in the writer’s arsenal, and it’s one I personally like to use.  In discussing gritty, I’m going to be a little gritty.  Possibly even grimdark.  But if you really don’t like that shit, why are you even here?
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Trailer: Game of Thrones Season 3

They need an editor who understands eye trace and pacing but here's the trailer for season 3 of Game of Thrones:

March 31st :)

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Sandman Reread: Fables and Reflections


Tor continues their reread of Neil Gaiman's groundbreaking Sandman series with Fables and Reflections:
Orpheus is, of course, no original character himself. But Gaiman isn’t trying to mimic Virgil or Ovid in his retelling. First, in “Thermidor,” he gives us a violent historical tale about Johanna Constantine amidst the French Revolution, with the head of Orpheus as a magical artifact capable of weird and terrible things. Then, in the one-shot special appropriately titled “Orpheus” (originally with a glow-in-the-dark cover in its original, floppy incarnation) Gaiman tells the whole tragic tale of the mythical musician and his fruitless descent into the underworld. It’s one of the best—and most important—stories in all ofSandman, which makes it even stranger that it wasn’t part of the original 75 issues of the series, but released as a stand-alone special instead. “Orpheus” has the whole of Sandman in its DNA. The missing brother, Destruction, appears prominently in the story, and Orpheus’s painful life, and non-death, is not just unusually brutal because it’s the story of Morpheus’s own son, but because, in retrospect, so much of this single issue parallels the larger story of Morpheus himself.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Sandman Reread: A Game Of You


Tor continues its reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with A Game Of You:
Yes, some characters in this story have ties to previous arc, tenuously, and others will play larger roles before the series comes to an end, but for all of the resonant echoes delivered by A Game of You, the most impressive is that it’s just a really great tale. What seems at first to be Gaiman pushing the series further than it might be able to sustain (funny animals and fairy tales can be a bit much, especially in a comic that began its run in such a bleak yet ambitiously intelligent way) turns out to be exactly what Sandman needed to move away from the weight of its own central character. That isn’t to say thatA Game of You is light and airy—it’s not—but it clashes the vulnerability up against the ultra-menacing, and it smashes the visions of childhood reveries against the realities of burden and responsibility.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Sandman Reread: Season of Mists


Tor continues their reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with Season of Mists:
In the twenty issues that preceded Season of Mists, Gaiman and his artistic collaborators introduced most of the members of the Endless. We had met Dream, of course, and Death. And Desire and Despair. And Destiny had popped up, but makes his presence felt more fully in the opening chapter of this arc. And, here, we are also introduced to Delirium, the unstable pixie of a sister, and a missing brother (Destruction, though his name is never spoken in this arc) who has cut off all ties with his family, for reasons to be explored in future Sandman stories. 
Starting the arc with a family meeting, one that helps to more firmly define the rules and relationships between these characters, gives Season of Mistsmore of a sense of completeness than any other Sandman arc. Gaiman may not have been thinking about the collected editions of his works at all, but this is the first arc that feels like it could have been written with a future collected volume in mind. It references some earlier stories and points toward future tales, but it also gives you the entire picture of Morpheus’s world in this opening chapter, and tells a story that resolves by the end of Season of Mist’s final issue.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kate Elliot: Crown of Stars


Over at Orbit there's an excellent article in which Kate Elliot looks back at her series Crown of Stars:
For years I would often say apologetic things about the setting of the book – apologizing is one of those reflexive personality things that I’m really sorry I can’t shake off – calling it ‘faux medieval’ because I was hyperaware that I am not an academic or a medievalist and thus have no specialized knowledge. Sometimes I made these kind of mildly disparaging remarks about my own work thinking it would head off criticism: for one thing, because Crown of Stars is an alternate history drawn from medieval Europe not an historical novel purporting to recreate with rigor an actual period of medieval Europe (10th century Germany, if you care about such things); for another, because I so often heard people denigrate epic/high fantasy, a genre I have always loved. At times I apologized simply because I know my writing has flaws; I’m not perfect; I make mistakes: For some reason this all had to be apologized for even if it is in the nature of creative work to have flaws.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, February 1, 2013

The Sandman Reread: Dream Country


Tor continues their reread of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series with Dream Country:
Gaiman uses the story to, of course, reflect on the act of storytelling—as he does throughout Sandman—but it’s no celebration of the commercial aspects of the trade. These are desperate writers in this story—Madoc mostly, though we get the clear sense that Erasmus Fry was then what Madoc is now—and there’s nothing wonderful about their work. It comes from somewhere else, not the intangible ether, but from the sordid and terrible abuse of another soul. And Morpheus, sympathetic to suffering and imprisonment, not only frees Calliope (who he shares a past relationship with, and not a pleasant one according to their conversation), but punishes Madoc in vengeful, ironic fashion: he gives the writer an overflow of ideas, more than he can handle. Madoc goes insane, story concepts flowing out of him in a mad fervor…then he ends up with “no idea at all.” 
The real horror behind this story seems evident: for a writer, someone who lives off storytelling, it’s not the lack of ideas that’s most frightening. It’s the extremes to which the writer will go, the inhumanity he will sink to, so that the ideas may continue to flow.
Full Story: HERE

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Photos


Tor has the scoop on 30 new photos from season 3 of Game of Thrones and there's some great stuff there: Ciaran Hinds!  Diana fucking Rigg!

I like to think that when her agent phoned about the role of Brienne, actor Gwendoline Christie (above) said, "What? They want me because of my size?"

Game of Thrones third season launches Sunday March 31st on HBO.

Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Sandman Reread: The Doll's House


Tor continues its reread of Neil Gaiman's excellent Sandman series with The Doll's House:
Here, Neil Gaiman expands the mythology of Sandman—we’ve already met Dream and Death of the Endless, but now we meet sweet and manipulative and vicious Desire and the hideous Despair—and that is another of Gaiman’s great achievements in the series: he creates a clear mythological structure that allows him to play with sibling rivalry on an epic scale while also providing embodiments for all the facets of humanity. Gaiman’s mythology doesn’t strain to present itself as meaningful, or to justify the connections between the characters in some kind of Tolkeinesque ancestral map, it just reminds us of the archetypal structures that we’ve already built in our minds. Dream and Death and Desire and Despair do exist, for us, and Gaiman gives them form, and, more importantly, personality.
Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Joe Abercrombie Reveals New Trilogy

Mr. Joe Abercrombie has updated his blog, outlining his plans to take a good rest now that the admin duties on Red Country are all done.  Most relevant to my interests is the revelation that he's planning another trilogy set in the word of The First Law:
I’ve got a contract for three more books in the First Law world, and those will be a trilogy, and I have some rough ideas about what the content and characters might be.  Very rough.  But this time around, I’ve scarcely started even on the planning.  With every book I’ve finished I’ve told myself (not to mention promised close family members) that I’d take a break, and each time after about an hour off I’ve started getting twitchy about the next thing and cracked straight on.
Full Story: HERE

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Sandman Reread


Tor loves to reread stuff.  They reread things they've only just read and then reread them again to be sure what they read was to their taste. Their latest target is Neil Gaiman's Sandman series of comic books (or 'graphic novels' if you're sensitive about being seen reading a 'comic book').  I'm not a big comic book reader - I've recently enjoyed the excellent Dungeons and Dragons series from IDW publishing (and I hated Alan Moore's Watchmen, another high profile title I thought I should read) - but Sandman remains the best comic book series I've ever read.

Gaiman uses the long imprisonment of Morpheus as the engine for practically the entire series. Morpheus was the cork holding the dream-stuff inside the bottle, and he spends several story arcs worth of his time trying to clean up the mess others left behind when he wasn’t there to stop it. More importantly, perhaps, Gaiman shows us what it’s like when our hero isn’t there. I mean, he’s on the page, but he’s impotent, shackled. The loss of Dream means the loss, to a large degree, of story. And if Sandman is about anything, and it is, it’s about the power of story. This whole series is like the pilgrims headed to Canterbury, taking turns telling their tales. It’s Scheherazade weaving fictions to stay alive. It’s Neil Gaiman, building a structure through which he can tell a multitude of stories from different times and different places, but with the advantage of a single narrative thrust to tie it all together.
Full Story: HERE

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Stephen King Reread: Different Seasons


Tor continues their Stephen King reread with King's first collection of novellas, which includes Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body (which would be made into the movie Stand By Me):
In an interview, King once said, “I’ve never met a kid I thought was genuinely mean,” and his fascination with the glory and grotesquerie of childhood shows in the large number of his classic  characters who are children: Carrie White in Carrie, Mark Petrie in ’Salem’s Lot, Danny Torrance in The Shining, Charlie McGee in Firestarter, Chris Chambers in “The Body,” all the kids in It, and on and on. With this many young protagonists in his books it’s no wonder that so many people first fall in love with Stephen King in early adolescence. King, unlike a lot of writers, has always played fair with his kids, refusing to patronize them, but refusing to sentimentalize them as well. But “Apt Pupil” feels so out-of-character that it’s hard to believe it came from the same writer.
Full Story: HERE

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Saladin Ahmed on Worldbuilding

Happy 2013!  Wow!  That sure is a sci-fi date; in my head it's still 1994.  Like Billy Pilgrim, I feel like I've come unstuck from time, am floating free in history.

Enough of that blathering.  Saladin Ahmed has strung together some words related to worldbuilding:
Even among writers and readers who agree upon the importance of world-building, there is great disagreement over how to do it right. A thousand blog posts have been launched arguing over how much detail ought to be revealed to the reader. Jordan's Wheel of Time series, in particular, is a sort of perennial target of parody, even among die-hard fans, padded as it can be with relentless descriptions of clothing, hairstyles, furniture and food. And Martin can spend page after exhausting page detailing the coat-of-arms of every attendee at a royal banquet. For readers used to the protocols of literary fiction, novels that come with glossaries and appendices can feel distinctly like homework.
Full Story: HERE

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