Mark Charan Newton, on his blog, has posted some snippets from his upcoming dying-Earth fantasy novel Nights of Villjamur:
Two young men talked in some local hand-language, their sentences needing a gesture and a glance for completion. Kids were sliding on patches of ice in horizontal freefall. A couple walked by, the blonde woman much younger than the man, and he judged them ‘respectable’ by the quality of their clothing. He was tempted to make eye contact with the woman, perhaps tease a reaction out of her. It seemed to matter, stealing a smile from that man’s life.
Lanterns were being lit by citizens who maybe had expected a brighter day. Glows of orange crept through the dreary morning, defining the shapes of elaborate windows, wide octagons, narrow arches. It had been a winter of bistros with steamed-up windows, of tundra flowers trailing down from hanging baskets, of constant plumes of smoke from chimneys, one where concealed gardens were dying, starved of sunlight, and where the statues adorning on once-flamboyant balconies were now suffocating under lichen.
Nothing had changed here for thirty or forty years, ever since it had been arrogated by the evening bohemians.
All along its lower walls were scribbles etched deep by knife blades over the centuries. Odes to lovers. Threats to all and anyone. Who watches the Night Guard? So-and-so sucks dicks. That sort of thing. Some of the cobbles were splashed with paint, too, and you could smell stale food despite the dampness. At night, lanterns would cast long, feral shadows down here, and if there was no breeze the darkness would become suffocating in such narrow confines.
I like this prose a lot, particularly the noir stylings. Personally I feel there's not enough decent stylists in the genre, so it's great to see a new author showing such strong prose...and also great that Tor are willing to publish something that may not be as commercial as the likes of Trudi Canavan, Karen Miller, etc...
Looking forward to this one very much indeed. Nights of Villjamur is out around June 2009. I'll be sure to do an interview with Mark nearer the time, as well as revealing the cover art (I've only seen a sketch of it so far, but it looks very promising).