Wednesday 31 March 2010

Update + linky links

Yeah, so been a bit quiet on the old blogging front recently, though for no particular reason. I could have posted some cover art, but to be honest I'm pretty tired of talking about covers - and there's little point when half the other blogs have already done so. Anyway, I expect to have a fair bit of content coming up over Easter, so stay tuned. In terms of reading, I've almost finished Farlander and am dipping in and out of a collection of M. R. James ghost stories - which, I've discovered, are best not read right before going to bed...

Until I get some content up, here's some tasty genre morsels for you all to get your teeth into.

Mark Charan Newton has revealed plans for an audiobook of Nights of Villjamur, and also has the revised and much-improved US artwork for the same book (see left).

Aidan's reviewed The Desert Spear by Peter Brett, and interestingly wasn't totally sold on it - great review, check it out. He's also got the blurb and US artwork (I'm not keen on it) for Joe Abercrombie's next book The Heroes.

Wert's been in full-on duracell bunny mode recently. He's reviewed Daniel Abraham's A Shadow in Summer (must get around to checking this out, it sounds like my sort of thing), as well as White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (I've got a copy of this, sounds quite interesting). Wert's also got the latest news on Paul Kearney's Corvus and Monarchies of God omnibus.

Graeme's reviewed Mark Chadbourn's The Sword of Albion, which is a book I've definitely got my eyes on.

The Speculative Scotsman has reviewed Shadow Prowler, a novel by Russian author Alexey Pehov who is huge in his homeland but until now was a name unfamiliar to UK/US readers. The premise of Shadow Prowler is horribly clichéd - evil dark lord (actually called The Nameless One) wants to destroy world, so hero needs to find magical artifact to save kingdom. Hmm. It sounds like the novel also has some issues with exposition, but the Scotsman sees enough positives in it to recommend the book, so maybe it's worth a try.

Thursday 25 March 2010

GRRM confirms page limit for ADWD

In a brief interview posted yesterday, GRRM has admitted he's rapidly approaching the maximum page-count for A Dance With Dragons:
“Practically speaking, there can’t be more than about 250 (pages)more...1550 is the limit. Any more and the binding won’t hold.”
Given that a few weeks back GRRM confirmed he was on page 1311, it appears that he's getting dangerously close to the limit.

This of course doesn't mean he's nearly finished the novel - it's not a case of "just another couple of hundred pages and it's done." If anything, this revelation creates more problems, and again hints that splitting the book in two might be necessary if GRRM goes over the limit. If for some reason the publisher is reluctant to do so (unlikely, since it would mean much more of a profit), then GRRM might end up having to go back over the novel and start removing scenes and chapters, which could be both problematic and time-consuming (and this might not even be possible, given that he's said before these pages are 'locked' and have been edited and finalised already). Ultimately, it all depends on whether he can wrap up the novel's story-arcs within the remaining amount of pages he has left. Whatever happens, fans are going to have plenty to get their teeth into when the novel is finally released.

And when that might be, GRRM naturally refused to divulge:

“I don’t do deadlines any more. I’ve been scarred too many times...Whenever I get close to a deadline, I can feel it bearing down on me. It doesn’t help. It actually hurts ..... and I wind up doing nothing.”
He also touches briefly on his fans-turned-detractors:
"I get these letters from the lunatics saying, ‘You better not pull a Jordan on us'...That really angers me on a bunch of levels. One, they’re speculating about my death and two, they’re diminishing Robert Jordan’s death, who was a friend of mine, like it was some sort of trick he did to get out of doing the book...It’s pretty nasty stuff.”

Good Show Sir - a tribute to terrible genre book covers

Seems I've come a little late to this one, but better late than never. If you're a sadist for embarrassing, vomit-worthy genre cover art (and you're in desperate need of a fix while you wait for my next instalment on the subject) then look no further than Good Show Sir, a website that celebrates crap-tastic genre covers.

They're all pretty horrendous, but the cover for Hunters of the Red Moon is particularly awful - a naked man wrestling with a lion wearing a pair of underpants. No, really - see for yourself.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Cover art for Richard Morgan's The Dark Commands

What did I tell you in my last post? That Werthead is the online pulse of the genre. He's got his fingers in more juicy genre pies than a beggar in a bakery. Earlier today, on a total whim, I did a google search to see if there was any sign of some artwork for Richard Morgan's The Dark Commands. Nothing came up in the search. Yet as usual, Wert has braved the nefarious reaches of the intarwebs to bring back said artwork. Bravo, Sir, bravo! Have a cookie.

Here it is:

I'm a fan. I like how the tone and style is similar to the first book. AND NO HOODED FIGURES.


However, it doesn't look like it will be released until next year. Still, it's apparently going to be a fair bit longer than The Steel Remains, so fans will have plenty to get their teeth into.

While we're at it, here's the blurb:

Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead, and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have. Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth Indamaninarmal, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. But Archeth Indamaninarmal has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he is seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind. Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling, and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode..

Bring it.

Striking a balance between old and new books

This is the latest debate to be doing the rounds, courtesy of Mark Charan Newton:
"Blog reviews are great. Reviewers do a great job at publicising great numbers of new titles. Where there were once gatekeepers to determining what a good genre book was, there are now hundreds of people all championing whatever worth they wish to.

But there is a fetish for frontlist titles. Frontlist – those books which are going on sale now, the ones hitting the shelves this year. The Next Big Thing. (And no I don’t mean all of you reviewers; I’m prodding the general culture, not individuals.)
What about the backlist, the great books from four or five years ago, the ones that no longer sit on table displays or promotions. What about classic genre literature? How do novels compare over time? What lineage do certain novels take, and to what do they owe their inspiration?
Questions that will largely go unnoticed, especially if bloggers are entranced on a) finding the next big thing and b) free review copies (because these will be the titles the publishers want you to read)."
This is an issue I've been aware of in the blogosphere for quite a while. Personally, I try to read and review both old novels and newer releases, as I appreciate that focusing purely on recent and upcoming releases doesn't give a decent portrayal of the genre. Then again, it's only natural for bloggers to focus on new books - by and large, these are the books we're sent to review.

Furthermore, fans are always looking for the next big thing - it's easier to get excited by a new book than an old one, as there's more buzz, more debate. To an extent, it's important as a blogger to have your finger on the pulse of the genre (although few of us can match Werthead for being first on the scene - sometimes I almost feel that he is the pulse, and the rest of us are actually just standing there touching him. Actually, scratch that - the mental picture is too disturbing).

 But older works are hugely important to the genre. And I don't mean the usual suspects like The Lord of the Rings or Ghormenghast, but books like The Book of the New Sun, The First Book of Lankhamar and Viriconium (I'm using examples that you might have heard of - there's far more examples out there that are perhaps more pertinent, such as The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick). These are books that often had a big impact on more modern writers, and to varying degrees have helped shape the genre we know today. It would be a huge mistake to ignore them in favour of newer releases.

It ought to be pointed out though, that this lack of "backlist action" is not the fault of bloggers, and is not even a recent problem: before the rise of the online book review blog, we had forums (as we still do) and the conversation on these (as it still is) is geared almost entirely around new/recent books. So to put in into perspective, blogs haven't caused this problem so much as highlighted it.

While I'd like to see more blogs reviewing older books, I don't expect to see it happen. Heck, I don't even read enough older books myself (even though I want and try to) - too many shiny ARCs on my bookshelf pouting and winking at me. And make no mistake, these new books are the lifeblood of the genre, so it's hard to ignore them. Overall, I think the best policy is one of balance. Or perhaps not even that; maybe a 70/30 split in favour of new books. Still, it's a policy that I don't expect to see implemented any time soon, though I might try and give it a go.

Anyway, enough rambling. What do you all think? Are you interested in discovering older books and reading reviews of them on blogs, or are you only interested in the here and now? Or is a book a book, and its age of no importance? Interested to hear people's thoughts.

Be sure to check out the comments section on Mark's post - plenty of good debate there as always.

Friday 19 March 2010

Thoughts on some films

Eden Lake

A British horror/dark thriller film that does a superb job of tapping into a very modern fear: the threat posed by a gang of juvenile thugs. Eden Lake follows the story of Jenny and Steve, who head off to a remote lake for a romantic weekend. Their experience is soured when they incur the wrath of a gang after a confrontation on the shores of the lake, and worse follows as petulance leads to anger, and then bloodshed. Before long Jenny and Steve find themselves in a desperate struggle for survival as, lost in the dense woods, they try to escape from the gang that are by now intent on their murders.

The fear of idle, ill-educated gangs of youths with nothing better to do than hurl abuse (and often more) at innocent people is a very British problem; over the last ten years it's become a real indication of our so-called 'broken society'. Eden Lake plays off the fear associated with such gangs very effectively indeed, giving the film a contemporary, relevant feel. Furthermore, it also explores both the nature of the problem (ie, the lack of positive parental role models) and also the pyschological dynamics of the gang (how their relationships rapidly sour as events spiral out of control is both intriguing and realistic).

In all, Eden Lake is a brutal, visceral portrayal of a series of events effectively grounded in a modern British fear. While this makes the film strikingly relevant, it may mean that viewers from outside the UK might fail to fully appreciate the themes that it explores.

The Wrestler

This film received so many plaudits, but I never got around to watching it. I remedied that last weekend by picking it up on DVD, and I'm so glad I did - it's an excellent film. Mickey Rourke turns in a career-defining performance as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, a former pro-wrestler now scrounging a living by performing small-scale shows in high school gyms around New Jersey. After suffering a heart attack, Randy is forced to re-evaluate his life, leading to attempts at reuniting with his estranged daughter and striking up a relationship with a sympathetic stripper.

Despite the subject matter, The Wrestler is a surprisingly subtle film. Randy's a relic from the 1980s and struggles to come to terms with the modern world - watching him struggling to deal with his relationships and failing health makes for a touching, absorbing experience (much credit goes to Rourke for this, but also to the excellent script - much of which was improvised). Randy - for all his faults - is a very likable character and one that invokes easy sympathy. The main question that permeates the film is whether or not Randy can give up the thrill of the ring - and thus make a permanent break from his comfort zone - or whether he will ignore his worsening health and seek respite in what he knows best. It's a question that finally gets answered in moving, convincing style. A simply wonderful film.

Shutter Island

I really liked the premise for this film: two US Marshals investigate the disappearance of a missing prisoner from a creepy institution on a remote island, only to rapidly discover that nothing is as it seems. Visually the film pushes the right buttons, creating a tense atmosphere (the flashbacks are particularly effective). I wasn't wholly convinced by DiCaprio in the lead role as Edward Daniels (no matter how old he gets, he always looks about twenty) but he does a decent enough job. The star of the show however is Ben Kingsley who turns in a very assured performance as the rather sinister Dr Cawley. Despite the strong atmosphere and visuals, and solid acting, Shutter Island ultimately falls flat on the basis of a plot device that rears its ugly head towards the end of the film. Obviously I can't reveal what it is, but it will suffice to say that I'm not a fan of this sort of plot device and it completely cheapened the film for me. Overall, a disappointment.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Joe Hill book signing

I had a really enjoyable time at Joe Hill's reading/signing session at Manchester Waterstones last night. Joe kicked off by telling an amusing story about his recent visit to the mall where the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed, using a plastic severed hand to very good effect (and much laughter). Next he donned a pair of plastic horns and read the first two chapters from his novel Horns, pressing a button to make the horns flash in warning whenever he got to a sentence containing an expletive (for reasons he had explained earlier, again to much amusement).

It was in the subsequent Q&A session that Joe's personality and love for the speculative genres really came across. Naturally many of the questions were linked to his family (did your dad give you any advice, did you want to be a writer because of your dad, etc) but Joe fielded these questions with good grace (even though he must have answered these questions a million times before, and the constant reference to his family must annoy him at times).

Most interesting was his revelation that he decided early on to deliberately drop his famous surname and to forge a career on his own terms, rather than relying on his father's influence (contrary to rumours in some quarters, Gollancz had no idea who Hill really was when they bought his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box). Joe explained that this decision was largely because he felt - quite understandably - that his parentage would distort publishers' opinions of his own work; he wanted a publisher to publish his book based on its own merits, rather than because they could market it as the debut novel by the son of a famous author.

It's a decision that Joe deserves a lot of credit for, and it's good to see that it proved the right decision: Joe did get published, and is now a New York Times bestselling author. He's also a very amusing guy, full of witty retorts and entertaining stories. If you get the chance to go along to one of his readings, then I recommend you do so.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Book review: Horns


By Joe Hill

(Gollancz, 16 March 2010)

From time to time a book comes along that takes you completely by surprise; you pick it up often on a whim you can't really fathom, you expect to reasonably enjoy it but for some reason your expectations are pretty low...and then the book completely blows apart your expectations and turns the tables on you.

For me, Horns was one such book. I freely admit that the only reason I read the book was because I'm intending to go along to Joe Hill's book signing in Manchester next week, and also because Gollancz were kind enough to provide me with a review copy. I thought the blurb on the back sounded reasonably interesting, but it didn't particularly excite me. Nor did the first few chapters; they maintained my interest, but I was hardly engrossed in the novel.

And then somehow - I'm still not sure at which point this occurred - I suddenly found myself unable to point the novel down. The sign of a good book, as far as I'm concerned, is when I think about it when I'm not reading it, and when I am reading it I don't want to stop. Horns certainly had this affect on me. More than that, it utterly bowled me over because I wasn't at all expecting such an absorbing reading experience.

Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life.

Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due.

The characterisation is what makes Horns such a success. Ignatius Perrish is a wonderfully tragic figure, a young man whose life has reached a point of utter meltdown. His various struggles - coping with the loss of his girlfriend and soulmate, dealing with the terrifying demonic abilities that he finds himself in possession of - really invoke the reader's sympathy, and inspire a genuine emotional connection. Ig's ability to discern the deepest, darkest secrets of the people around him provides moments that are humourous, startling and ocasionally heartbreaking. Yet for all of his powers, he's still a scared, confused and vulnerable young man - and seeing him deal with the horrors that come his way is both enjoyable and inspiring. The other major players - Ig's best friend Lee, brother Terry and soulmate Merrin - are equally well-rendered, and Hill creates believable relationships between them that really drive the plot forwards.

Speaking of the plot, it's structured and paced very well indeed, building up to a gripping climax. Hill jumps backwards and forwards through the story's chronology, using multiple POVs in order to ensure that the story is told from both sides. The result is that the reader is able to understand exactly why certain events happened, and to appreciate the emotions and decisions of the characters. This approach makes for a more well-rounded story; Hill clearly understands that the antagonist's perspective and backstory is equally important, and it's enjoyable to see how the motivations of individual characters come together to form a tapestry of love, envy, despair and hope.

Hill's prose is smooth and fluid; he handles exposition superbly and understands the importance of atmosphere (and how best to use it). More importantly, he understands people - for all of the fantastical elements in Horns, it's a book that is essentially about what it is to be human. I was greatly surprised at how emotionally invested I became in the book; it's been a very long time since I've read a novel that has moved me to such a degree. Unelievably, I even feel a little emotional just writing this and thinking about the book. There were certain scenes that I could personally identify with (not the growing of horns, I'd like to point out), and Hill really does absolutely nail these scenes on an emotional level. When you read a scene and think "Yes, that's exactly what it feels like" then the author is clearly doing something right. This happened more than once during my reading of the book.

Verdict: Horns is many things: a tragic love story, a tale of revenge, an examination of human emotion and a startling picture of what love and hate can drive people to do. It's lucid, funny and intelligent. It's also sad, touching and - at times - utterly heartbreaking. But most of all it's utterly brilliant in conception and execution, a startling mix of childhood joy, adult despair, and a touch of midsummer magic. Horns is one of the most emotionally-engaging books I've ever read, and if that's not a good recommendation then I don't know what is.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Solomon Kane

Really enjoyed this film. I knew next to nothing about the actual character of Solomon Kane beyond what Mark Chadbourn described in the piece he wrote for me a while back, but the film seems to do the character justice.

James Purefoy turns in a suitably brooding performance as Kane, and certainly looks the part when he's got his cloak and slouched hat on. The combat sequences are handled well, but the real strength of the film is the atmosphere: bleak, oppressive and unforgiving. The scenery proves invaluable in helping to create this atmosphere - the desolate, snow-bound woods and burnt-out settlements create a real edge of tension. The supernatural elements are also portrayed in a convincing manner - my favourite scene of the entire film involved Kane, an abandoned church, a half-mad priest, a trapdoor, and...well, go see for yourself. It was pretty chilling.

The film's main drawback is that the overall plot is rather linear and predictable. You'll also work out the identity of the masked lieutenant both too early and too easily (plus it's a cliché I could have done without).

Flaws aside though, Solomon Kane is a very enjoyable romp: swordfights, demons, bleak landscapes and a bleaker atmosphere - what's not to like? Even better, there's (hopefully) more to come - this is allegedly the first film in a planned trilogy, with the ending certainly suggesting future instalments. Hopefully that will be the case.

Check out the trailer here.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Scott Lynch reveals reason for the delay with The Republic of Thieves...

...and it's probably not what everyone assumed. There's been all kinds of rumours and gossip flying about regarding the nature of the delay, but all of it was wide of the mark.

To quote Lynch himself:

"I have occasionally taken deliberate breaks from the internet-at-large, but my silence of the past few months has not been by choice.

I have been dealing for some time with bouts of depression, which have been bad, and ongoing panic attacks, which have been orders of magnitude worse-- positively crippling.

These attacks worsened sharply during the Season of the Long Flu last fall and reached the point where they interfered with nearly everything I tried to do, making it impossible to write, communicate, and sometimes even think straight. It has been a long, sore trial for everyone around me and it ain't over yet. I do not have a firm grip on precisely what causes the damn things, though they are related to my work, my reading, my writing, and my intellectual life. They are very much an ongoing problem.

So, for the first time in my life, I am in therapy."

It takes courage to admit you have a problem, and even more courage to make it public - I should know, as I had a similar experience to Lynch a few years back, so I can totally appreciate what a struggle it can be. Kudos to him for being open about it and I for one wish him all the best.

Check out the rest of his entry here.

Monday 8 March 2010

Kraken extract

Pan have released an excerpt from China Miéville's new book, Kraken.

Stylistically it appears to differ from the two previous Miéville novels I've read; less baroque, perhaps a little more accessible. This opening chapter didn't really do much for me, but admittedly I was reading it pretty fast.

Still looking forward to this one.

Friday 5 March 2010

Early reminder for Alt Fiction - 12 June 2010

Looks like the popular genre convention Alt Fiction is going to be held this year, after its absence in 2009, with the current projected date being 12 June 2010. Details so far are rather sketchy, though the con will once again take place in Derby. There's usually a good turnout of authors, editors, agents, reviewers and other genre folk, and a host of panels and discussions throughout the day.

Mark Charan Newton has already threatened to gatecrash the event by holding a launch party for his upcoming book City of Ruin, which should be fun (even more fun if we can get him drunk beforehand - that'll be one of my goals for the day).

Anyway, more details as and when. I'll probably be attending, though will no doubt end up in the bar (along with 99% of the other attendees).

The event's official website can be found here.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Book review: Apartment 16

Apartment 16

By Adam Nevill

(Pan, 21 May 2010)

While fantasy has gone from strength to strength in recent years, horror has gone the opposite way: the genre stagnated and then began to decline. While the genre's established authors - such as Stephen King and James Herbert - were still writing horror, there was a serious lack of new talent to drive the genre forwards. Yet 2010 might just be the year that the horror genre shows that there's life in it yet. And Adam Nevill might just be the author to do it.

Apartment 16, upon first inspection, sounds like a pretty standard ghost story:

Some doors are better left closed . . .

In Barrington House, an upmarket block in London, there is an empty apartment. No one goes in, no one comes out. And it’s been that way for fifty years. Until the night watchman hears a disturbance after midnight and investigates. What he experiences is enough to change his life forever.

A young American woman, Apryl, arrives at Barrington House. She's been left an apartment by her mysterious Great Aunt Lillian who died in strange circumstances. Rumours claim Lillian was mad. But her diary suggests she was implicated in a horrific and inexplicable event decades ago.

Determined to learn something of this eccentric woman, Apryl begins to unravel the hidden story of Barrington House. She discovers that a transforming, evil force still inhabits the building. And the doorway to Apartment 16 is a gateway to something altogether more terrifying . . .

Nothing new there, right? Wrong. This is far from a standard haunted apartment ghost story - Apartment 16 is a superbly written tale of dark forces, obsession and delirium, and a horrific secret that has destroyed many lives...and now threatens to destroy even more.

Author Adam Nevill has worked as a porter and night watchman in the exclusive old apartment blocks of London, and these experiences have enabled him to invoke a streak of authenticity that resonates through his work. When you've spent hours patrolling such old buildings in the dead of night, listening to their sounds and becoming accustomed to their subtle nuances, it's logical to start thinking of them as some sort of living entity. This is exactly the effect that Nevill manages to achieve in his novel - a living, breathing (or make that wheezing) apartment block, slumbering in its own history, all shadowed staircases and sepia facades. Unsurprisingly, it makes for a great setting for the story.

Nevill's characters are as well drawn as his setting: Seth is a convincing down-and-out, whose life is teetering on the brink, and his struggles are harrowing and visceral. Apryl provides a good foil as a happy-go-lucky young woman who finds herself pursuing a mystery that quickly becomes an obsession, and which carries its own grave consequences. The other characters that populate the apartment block are also distinctive and memorable - while Neville was surely at an advantage because he's worked with these sort of people first hand, at the same time it must be said that he posesses an eye for detail and for all the little quirks and personality traits that so often define a person. Subsequently his characters - even those that appear only briefly - possess depth and presence.

Nevill's most admirable achievement in terms of characterisation is the character of Felix Hessen - at times I felt like I was reading about a genuine figure from history, such is Nevill's expertise at building up the man's background and revealing snippets about his past that contributed more and more to the dark, dangerous allure that surrounded him.

Equally satisfying are Nevill's plotting and prose. The story is carefully constructed and rips along for the most party at a gratifying pace, with a good twist thrown in for good measure. Hints are dropped here and there regarding certain characters' involvement in various events, and I enjoyed entertaining these questions and theories in my breaks between reading.

As for the prose, regular readers know, I'm a total sucker for a decent bit of stylish, noir-ish, evocative prose. And I was extremely pleased - and surprised, I'll admit - to see that Nevill really delivered on this aspect. His prose is very good, often superb - the images he paints are bleak at times, horrific at others, and his wordplay invokes an excellent sense of brooding atmosphere. The acid test to determine truly excellent prose - for me at least - is to see if I ever stop to re-read a sentence or paragraph, to fully appreciate the language used. I did this several times during reading Apartment 16, so that says it all. At times I was reminded of another excellent horror writer, Conrad Williams, whose book One was (in one of those odd coincidences) edited by Nevill in his former capacity as an editor at Virgin books.

Drawbacks? None really spring to mind. Now and again the pace of the plot faltered slightly, and one or two scenes perhaps could have been shortened since their relevance and overall importance seemed fairly minimal. But this is a very minor point.

Verdict: A wonderfully written, deftly-plotted tale of terror. Apartment 16 kept me guessing right to the end, and kept me turning pages long into the night. If horror is going to make a comeback in 2010, this is the book to lead the charge. Highly recommended.

HBO gives green light to A Game of Thrones

Fantastic news - HBO have given the green light to a full series based on GRRM's A Game of Thrones.

They've also released a still from the production (think this is a shot of one of the Night Watch (Royce?) finding the dead wildlings, as they do in the prologue to A Game of Thrones. Looks pretty cool.

Full story can be found here.

I'm not surprised by this news, I was always confident that the series would get picked up. Still, it's fantastic news and I'm really looking forward to see how it turns out.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

The City and the City tops the SF Site's Readers' Choice poll for 2009

The SF Site has revealed the first of two Best-of-2009 lists, this one having been decided by the website's readers.

China Miéville's The City and the City is - for me at least - a rather surprising choice for first place. I say surprising, because online the novel seemed to receive rather mixed reviews, with many readers clamouring for a swift return to his world of Bas Lag. Then again, The City and the City was pitched towards a more mainsteam audience, so perhaps that's made a difference in how it's fared (or alternatively, perhaps not - I doubt any mainstream converts would have voted in the SF Site poll). Still, it's good to see such a hugely important writer get the attention he deserves.

Other fantasy entries on the list include Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold at number three, a good result given that it also received very mixed reviews, and Brandon Sanderson's (and Robert Jordan's) The Gathering Storm at number eight.

The full list can be found here.