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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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