Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Cover art for Tchaikovsky's 'The Scarab Path'
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Cover art and blurb for 'The Sorcerer's House'
I'm not particularly taken with the artwork, though it's ok. The premise does come across as a bit standard, however from what I understand the story is told through a series of letters, so it may be interesting to see how effectively Wolfe can reveal the setting and characters through this method.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Gemmell Award 2009 - Nominees for 'best debut' category
The Dwarves - Markus Heitz (Orbit)
The Adamantine Palace - Stephen Deas (Gollancz)
Blood of Ambrose - James Enge (PYR)
The Drowning City - Amanda Downum (Orbit)
The Cardinals’ Blades - Pierre Pevel (Gollancz)
Servant of a Dark God - John Brown (Tor US)
Midwinter - Matthew Sturges (PYR)
My money is on either The Adamantine Palace, The Dwarves or The Cardinal's Blades to win this award. The Adamantine Palace has apparently sold pretty well and received some decent coverage online, so I expect a strong showing from Stephen Deas' debut novel. As for The Cardinal's Blades and The Dwarves, it's worth noting that their respective authors, Pierre Pevel and Markus Heitz, are both established continental authors who are eligible for this award as both books represent their first English translations, so they count as debuts. Sapkowski was largely propelled to victory last year on the back of votes from overseas readers, and I just wonder whether the same thing might happen this year in Pevel's or Heitz's favour. Time will tell...
As for the others: Servant of a Dark God and The Drowning City haven't been out that long, so I doubt whether they've got a big enough following, while Blood of Ambrose and Midwinter didn't seem to cause much of a stir (from the reviews I've read, both seem mediocre offerings). The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is an odd one; from what I've read it apparently has minimal fantastical elements, but I don't know much else about it. Lamentation might be an outside bet, but I'm not sure whether it will receive much backing from UK readers (then again, with most votes coming from outside the UK this might not matter).
If you're wondering where Nights of Villjamur is, it's not eligible for inclusion since it's not Mark Charan Newton's debut novel. It is instead in the mix for the main award for 'best novel'.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Some filthy festive book pr0n and an early resolution
Things I've learned about blogging
Before I start, let me just point out that I'm no expert and that there is no secret formula to blogging success - blogging is not an exact science. Following the below points will not guarantee success or popularity, while ignoring them will not necessarily result in failure. So just take this advice for what it is - a series of tips that hopefully will help out aspiring bloggers (this advice is aimed primarily at book review blogs, though many of the basic principles will apply to other types of blog as well).
Don't just plunge straight in. Take time to study the more popular blogs in your chosen genre/area of interest and try and figure out what makes them a hit with readers. Look at them from an aesthetic point of view - what colours and template style do they use? (you'll probably notice that most blogs use a light background with dark text - this is generally considered to be easier to read). What sort of posts seem the most popular? What sort of style does the blogger write in? How often do they post entries? Try and figure out what these successful blogs have in common, as there will always be certain things they do that are similar.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
End of year review + top 5 reads of 2009
- My pro-GRRM rant, which attracted a fair few comments, including some amusing ones from GRRM's detractors (to use the polite term for them).
- My 'I'm a coward rant', which helped to fuel quite an intense debate about the merits of scoring systems in genre book reviewing.
- My appreciation of David Gemmell's classic Drenai novel Legend, which was very well received.
- The Gollancz Autumn Party, which was a blast.
- As always though, the highlight was meeting and interacting with such a great bunch of folks - no other genre has the passion and enthusiasm that fantasy fans bring to ours. Long may it continue.
Best music record I bought this year:
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Artwork and new blurb for Mieville's 'Kraken'
"Deep in the research wing of the Natural History Museum is a prize specimen, something that comes along much less often than once in a lifetime: a perfect, and perfectly preserved, giant squid. But what does it mean when the creature suddenly and impossibly disappears?
For curator Billy Harrow it's the start of a headlong pitch into a London of warring cults, surreal magic, apostates and assassins. It might just be that the creature he's been preserving is more than a biological rarity: there are those who are sure it's a god.
A god that someone is hoping will end the world."
Comment: The Stormcaller
Right, back on topic. So yeah, The Stormcaller... I had a couple of issues with this book that unfortunately made me put it down.
Friday, 18 December 2009
US artwork for Tchaikovsky's 'Blood of the Mantis'
Yay or nay? And while we're on the subject...better or worse than the UK version (below)?
While the UK version looks better when you see it first hand rather than on a screen, I'm thinking that I actually like the US cover more...
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Alan Campbell on life as a writer
Whenever I hear that song now, it makes me smile."
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Assorted author news
Although Adrian Tchaikovsky's next book, Salute the Dark, is not released until February 2010, the author of the Shadows of the Apt series has already announced that the fifth book in the series - due for release in August 2010 - will be called The Scarab Path, and that he's currently working on book seven (I half-expect that if I go to dictionary.com and type in 'workaholic' it will pop up with a picture of Tchaikovsky). He's also revealed a full 'dramatis personae' has been posted online, due to requests from fans - be warned, if you've not read the first three books then it may contain spoilers.
Andy Remic, author of the highly enjoyable Kell's Legend, has revealed that he has finally received his first hatemail, which accused him of being a "dick-less ladyboy fagot" [sic]. Remic's posted the entire (highly amusing) message on his blog. Here's an entertaining snippet:
"HOW DO YOU GET PULBISHED? IS THE EDITOR OF YOUR PUBLISHING HOUSE RETARDED? DOES THE EDITOR KNOW HOW TO READ? I HAVE READ FORTUNE COOKIES WITH MORE WIT, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, AND PLOT THAN YOUR NOVEL."
Ah, God bless the interwebs - allowing anonymous, illiterate dickheads to vent their anger since 1989. In this particular case, I wonder whether the abuser actually knows anything about Andy Remic. I mean, calling a man who climbs mountains in extreme weather conditions a "dick-less ladyboy fagot" is really the height of stupidity.
In other news...
Alan Campbell, author of The Deepgate Codex, has a few choice words for the 'literary Taliban' (literary snobs, in other words):
"Of all the genres, fantasy seems to me to represent the greatest departure from reality. Yes, it requires the reader to suspend disbelief and use his imagination. And, yes, there's a lot of crap out there, just as there is in any other corner of the bookshop. But to dismiss fantasy outright is narrow minded and snobbish. What do we gain by restricting our literature to what we can perceive, rather than what we can imagine? Impossible worlds? Monsters and magic? Milton, Homer, and Shakespeare did not find them too ridiculous to write about. The Literary Taliban might look down on Fantasy with a vague air of contempt, but I think our culture would be so much poorer without Beowulf, without dragons, Titans, Oberon and Puck, vampires, hellfire and Quidditch."
Peter V. Brett, author of the hugely successful The Painted Man, is running a competition for ARCs of his highly anticipated sequel, The Desert Spear.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Hawk the Slayer sequel
If you're unfamiliar with Hawk the Slayer, all you really need to know is that it is one of the worst fantasy films ever made - it's one of those films that is so terrible that it's funny. A laughable mishmash of bad fantasy clichés, the film follows Hawk (who has less charisma than a corpse) on his quest to defeat the Evil Dark Lord™ Voltan (comedy bad guy name 4tw!) who - wait for it - just happens to be his brother.
The script is awful, there are glaring continuity issues (watch the 'magic gate' scene) the plot is hopelessly pedestrian, the acting is wooden, the soundtrack is abysmal, and the 'special effects' are dire even by 1980s standards. One of the film's few redeeming qualities is the inclusion of an elf that can fire arrows at a rate that would - in the words of Shadows of the Apt author Adrian Tchaikovsky - "impress an AK47."
In short, it's a diabolical mess of a film and subsequently very, very fun to watch while drunk. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Hawk the Slayer has become something of a cult classic. Nonetheless, the news that a sequel is in the works still came as something of a surprise (to put it mildly).
Tentatively titled Hawk the Hunter, the sequel is allegedly being directed by Terry Marcel, who wrote and directed the original film. On the basis that the slated budget - £10 million - is tiny, and the fact that the first film is total and utter dogshit, I don't hold out very high hopes for the sequel.
That's if the project even gets off the ground - for some reason I have serious doubts this sequel will ever see the light of day, and that's probably a good thing. Then again it would be interesting to see whether Marcel can deliver a film that is as mind-numbingly crap as the first one.
Still, on the positive side it's been 29 years since the first film was released, so if the sequel does materialise then at least Hawk has had plenty of time to cultivate a personality. And we can but hope that in the intervening decades Gort the giant has grown a few feet (he's barely over six foot tall in Hawk the Slayer), that Crow the elf has managed to hang on to his AK47, sorry, longbow, and that Baldin the dwarf has found a way to transcend death in order to join his chums on their quest (well, someone has to make the crap puns, and besides, having a whip-wielding dwarf was one of the very, very few moments of originality in the original film).
Sunday, 13 December 2009
The Last Page - a more interesting debut for 2010?
Poptwats Jedward 'invited to audition' for Hobbit movie
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Cover art and blurb for 'Soul Stealers'
The only blurb I can find so far gives little away:
"The sequel to Kell’s Legend – more blood-soaked, action-packed, vampire-laced dark epic fantasy. Kell is being hunted. The vampires are fighting back against him, and the mighty hero finds himself the prey of two beautiful but deadly vampire assassins.
Their bronze fangs are coming for him.
He will strike back."
Have to say the cover doesn't do much for me - I like the continuity in terms of style, but the image itself doesn't strike me as having the power or presence of the cover for the first book. Still, I don't much care since this is a series that has already well and truly hooked me. If Soul Stealers is as good as its predecessor, then we're in for some serious entertainment...bring on the carnage!
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Last year, Pat Rothfuss raised an impressive amount of cash for his favourite charity, Heifer International, and he's now looking to do it all over again. There's several ways of donating cash, with a plethora of awesome prizes up for grabs, so head over to Pat's blog for the full details.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Now, this is the sort of book cover I like...
Friday, 4 December 2009
Friday linky links
Mark Charan Newton has posted about what he perceives as the death of science fiction and why fantasy is the future.
2010 debut author Sam Sykes has blogged about his upcoming release from Gollancz, Tome of the Undergates, and very kindly mentions that Speculative Horizons - among some notable others - is the "gold standard for all opinions and reviews of fantasy fiction in the UK." Hmm, I think I'm liking this guy already! :) As it happens, I've got an ARC of this book (it's a monster) and I'm hoping to get around to it early next year.
Dark Wolf has reviewed The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel. I've also got an ARC of this one, will hopefully get around to it at some point. Incidentally, this might just be a serious contender for the 'best debut novel' award at the Gemmell awards next year (while it's not his first book, it is his first book to be published in English). Pevel is a well-known French author with plenty of books under his belt, so we might see a similar situation to last year's awards where the overseas readers vote in full force...
Aidan's got the full news about Pat Rothfuss's charity fundraiser. He's also got the cover art for the e-book edition of Robert Jordan's The Dragon Reborn (which is very nice) and a review of Lev Grossman's The Magicians (as usual, Aidan's thoughts mirror my own very closely). In fact, Aidan's got tons of recent content at A Dribble of Ink that's worth checking out, far too much to link to. So just go have a look. Oh, and congrats on finishing your novel, Aidan - great achievement. Fingers crossed that it finds a publisher.
The Wert-meister has got news of a recent response to Michael Moorcock's famous anti-Tolkien essay Epic Pooh, which allegedly provides a more in-depth and sophisticated response than many others written over the years.
Gav's conducted an interview with author Neal Asher and also has five copies of Asher's short story collection The Gabble to give away. This is yet another book that I've got on my frightfully large to-read pile...
Pat's got a guest post from genre artist Vincent Chong (who I seem to recall won 'best artist' at the British Fantasy Awards recently).
Graeme's got a review of Dan Abnett's Titanicus.
There's plenty of other interesting stuff out there, but that's all I've got time to link to at the minute. Check out my blog roll at the side for further tasty morsels. :)
Thursday, 3 December 2009
I'm full of contradictions and know nothing about the genre!