Thursday, April 24, 2014

Joël Dicker introduces THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIRS (Penguin US, MacLehose Press UK)

Last week, I published my review of Joël Dicker’s debut novel and international sensation, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR. A thoroughly enjoyable read, the novel was provided for review by Dicker’s UK publisher, MacLehose Press (an imprint of Quercus). This week, I have a video interview with the author to share, provided by his American publisher, Penguin:

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is published in the UK on April 30th, 2014, and in the US on May 27th, 2014.

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffair

US & UK Covers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UK Giveaway: TWO SOLDIERS by Roslund & Hellström (Quercus)

untitledThe lovely people at Quercus have provided four giveaway copies of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström’s latest novel, TWO SOLDIERS! I have a copy for myself, too, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. I haven’t read much Scandinavian thriller fiction, so I’m eager to start this. Roslund & Hellstrom also wrote the bestselling Three Seconds and Cell 8 (both of which are under £2 for UK Kindle, incidentally).

Two Soldiers was translated by Karl Dickson. It is published tomorrow! Here’s the synopsis:

TWO SIDES.

In the Stockholm suburb of Råby, tensions between the Swedish authorities and organised juvenile gangs are approaching critical mass.

TWO SENTINELS.

Investigators José Pereira and DCI Ewert Grens are increasingly disturbed by the escalating militancy of these criminal enterprises.

TWO SOLDIERS.

The police are of little concern to blood brothers Leon and Gabriel. They have vowed to secure dominance in the area, at any cost.

A dangerous collision awaits both sides. And so does a shocking revelation that will make all four men question the direction their lives have taken.

I’m afraid this is a UK-only giveaway, so sorry to all other readers. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, all you have to do is leave a comment, below, or email at the usual address (at the very bottom of the page). I’ll leave things open until noon, Monday 28th April.

Short Story Review: “Hidden Depths” by Sandy Mitchell (Black Library)

MitchellS-HiddenDepthsA Secondary Character steps into the Foreground

Inquisitor Amberley Vail, best known for chronicling the escapades of Commissar Ciaphas Cain, follows the trail of smugglers of alien technology, and finds herself in the middle of something much bigger… An artefact of an ancient race leads Inquisitor Vail and her warband into the depths of an underhive, where more than just mutants and gangers lurk in the darkness. Will Vail survive to tell Commissar Cain about this adventure?

Inquisitor Amberley Vail, chronicler of the Ciaphas Cain adventures, finds herself in deadly peril when an ancient alien artefact leads her into the depths of an underhive.

I’ve enjoyed a number of Mitchell’s Warhammer 40,000 novels – in particular, his Ciaphas Cain series, which takes a more amusing, less-serious (but no less action-packed) approach to the WH40k aesthetic and universe. Hidden Depths takes one of the secondary-characters from the Cain series and brings her to the fore: Amberley Vail – she appears in the Cain novels, but she’s also the ‘narrator’, as the novels are presented as edited narrative histories of Cain’s “heroism”. And the story really works. This was a very good read.

Upcoming: COMPANY TOWN by Madeline Ashby (Angry Robot)

84214936The author of vN and iD is back! In my opinion, this is a really interesting-sounding (stand-alone) novel. Sadly, I haven’t got around to reading Madeline Ashby’s first two novels, but I will definitely be checking this one out.

Here’s the synopsis…

They call it Company Town – a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes.

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse…?

The awesome cover art is by Erik Mohr. Company Town is due to be published by Angry Robot Books on October 2nd 2014 in the UK and September 30th in the US and in eBook.

Be sure to follow Ashby on Twitter, for more news on her writing and novels.

Also on CR: Interview with Madeline Ashby, Guest Post (How Do You Make Non-Humans Seem Human?)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Correct Sentiment, Strangely So Rare in Expression…

SandersonJordan-WoT14-AMemoryOfLightUKThis piece by Brandon Sanderson is mostly about the nomination of the entire Wheel of Time series in the Hugo Best Novel category (Brandon wrote the final four volumes), and the reactions this has elicited from various corners of fandom. There are some, as Brandon notes and are readily visible on Twitter, who have complained about the WoT fanbase, the apparent travesty of the nomination, and many other less-than-praiseworthy reactions.

As I haven’t read the series, nor particularly care about awards, the nomination didn’t really stir much of an opinion or reaction. However, Brandon’s article has a second point, growing out of his impression of the treatment of the WoT fans, which I think is even more important. After eloquently and fairly addressing the “issue” of the series’ nomination, Sanderson moved on to what amounts to a general call for more open-armed civility in the SFF community. It seems so odd that this sentiment should be so noteworthy, but on the internet it is far from the most oft-expressed… The extent to which the post has been re-circulated partly illustrates the rarity of the sentiment, but is also what inspired me to share it here.

First up, on welcoming WoT fans into the community:

“Welcome the Wheel of Time fans into our community. Welcome the next group of fans in too. Give whatever it is they’re passionate about a try. You might like it, and if not, you’ll still probably like them…”

Side-bar: Wouldn’t they technically already be part of the SFF community…?

“… You can’t beg people to come and participate in fandom, then tell them not to vote on your awards because you don’t like their preference in books. Indeed, attacking the fans of a work rather than criticizing the work itself is crossing a very big, and important, line. For many years, we in fandom have had to suffer these kinds of dismissive, hurtful, and destructive attitudes from those who attack us because we like science fiction. Do not side with the bullies. Do not hold your own opinion in such high regard that you dismiss all others.“It is not shameful to like the Wheel of Time. No more than it should be shameful to be the kid who read Dune in middle school while others snickered. We should never have to feel embarrassed for honestly expressing our taste in fiction… If you have said these kinds of things about the Wheel of Time or its fandom in the past few days, I challenge you to take a long, hard look at your tone and what you’re implying. Ask yourself if you really want to belong to a world where only one kind of opinion is valid, where only your taste is acceptable. Because in my experience, these are the sorts of attitudes that science fiction and fantasy fiction have spent their history combatting.”

As the kid who would read Star Wars and Warhammer novels covertly at school (at least, more covertly than I would have preferred), in order to avoid being picked on, or have my stuff defaced/destroyed by others, I wholeheartedly approve of (and embrace) the We’re All Fans Here atmosphere in the SFF community. We’re a Very Big Tent, encompassing a very wide array of speculative fiction genres. There’s room for all tastes and fandoms in the larger SFF community. It’s what makes it one of the most vibrant – if not the most vibrant – of fan communities out there. The fact that you’re more likely to come across snark and attacks directed at others on the internet is by no means a SFF-exclusive phenomenon. But it was certainly nice to, for a change, come across a post like Brandon’s.

Disagreements are common and natural, as are differences in taste, but instead of driving wedges or sorting ourselves into opposing camps, these differences should be used to highlight similar tastes and interests (and values), and introduce others to that which we feel strongly about. Not to berate or push away.

That being said, I still don’t particularly care about awards, even if I can – from time to time – feel strongly about a nominee.

Guest Post: Ben Kane on the “Romani Walk”

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Photo Credit: North News and Pictures

On the 27th April, I will be setting off from the Roman amphitheatre at Capua, north of Naples, on a 130 mile/208 kilometre walk to the Colosseum in Rome. I’ll be doing it not in modern hiking clothes, but in the uniform and with the kit of a Roman legionary from the time of the Second Punic War. In all, my equipment and weapons will weigh over 3.5 stone/24kgs. I won’t be alone, either. Two other authors, Anthony (Tony) Riches and Russell (Russ) Whitfield, will be with me, dressed as different types of Roman soldier.

Before you ask, we’re not insane. We all write novels set in ancient Rome, and we’re doing it for charity. We’ve also done this before, although over a shorter distance. In 2013, we walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall, raising nearly £19,000 for the charities Combat Stress and Medecins Sans Frontieres. It’s hard to know if we’ll reach the same amazing total, but there’s over £9,100 in the pot as of the 18th April.

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Aside: An Endearing Moment From RAT QUEENS, Vol.1 (Image)

Last month, I reviewed the first volume of RAT QUEENS, a new fantasy comic series published by Image Comics. It’s a great new take on warband-fantasy tales, populated by a colourful cast of great characters. The series is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe (who also writes the excellent Peter Panzerfaust), and art duties are handled by Roc Upchurch.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it since I finished (and reviewed) it, and I thought I’d share this short scene from it. Not only is it amusing, but also I could relate…

RatQueens-Vol.1-BestScene

If you are a fan of fantasy, comics, or both, then I would highly recommend Rat Queens. It blends humour and the tropes we have come to love (and, sometimes, hate) so very well.

Rat Queens, Vol.1: “Sass and Sorcery” is out now in the UK and US.

Interview with JAY POSEY

PoseyJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jay Posey?

I’m pretty much a professional typist. Sometimes I like to tell people I work with my hands, which I guess is technically true. I’m author of the Legends of the Duskwalker series from Angry Robot Books, and I’m also a Senior Narrative Designer at Ubisoft/Red Storm Entertainment. I’ve spent almost a decade contributing to Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon franchise as a writer and game designer.

Your next novel, Morningside Fall, is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in April 2014. It is the sequel to Three. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of the first book expect here?

The Legends of the Duskwalker series is a mid-future post-apocalyptic sci-fi with cyberpunk elements and heavy Western influence. The first book, Three, tells the story of a lone gunslinger who reluctantly agrees to escort a woman and her young son across an urban wasteland to a distant oasis in hopes of finding the boy’s father.

Morningside Fall picks up about a year or so after the events of Three, and continues the story of two of the first book’s main characters. Fans of the first book will get to see more of what the world looks like from inside one of the few remaining great cities, several new characters, lots of action and suspense, a few big surprises, and more about who and what the Awakened are.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Quick Comment on the Gemmell Award Shortlists, and One of the Nominees. Sort of…

This post is a bit of a break from the norm for me. I’m also not really sure what it’s meant to do. It’s a bit waffley, for which I apologise only slightly, and in not entirely a heartfelt manner. Fiction awards mean very little to me, being neither author, editor, publisher, nor agent. (At least, not yet…) This means I have never (to my recollection) written a post of any worth/note about shortlists or winners.

Brett-DaylightWarUKAward lists tend to pass me by without comment or thought. Invariably, this is because there aren’t any books featured that I’ve read – or, if there is, it is one that didn’t leave much of an impression one way or another. This year has been a bit different, however. For example, Kameron Hurley’s God’s War has been cropping up on a few shortlists, and it’s a book I rather enjoyed. So that made a nice change.

The shortlists for the Gemmell Awards were announced today at Eastercon. In a real break from the norm, the shortlist for the Legend Award (best fantasy) features not only five authors I have read, but also a book I feel particularly strongly about. So I thought I’d write a quick blog post about it. The book in question is Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, the third in his Demon Cycle series.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Short Review: “The Humans” by Matt Haig (Canongate)

Haig-TheHumansAn excellent examination of what it means to be human

It’s hardest to belong when you’re closest to home... One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world’s greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears. When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he’s a dog. Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife’s eyes?

The standfirst says it all, really: The Humans is an excellent examination of what it means to be human – everything from the horror and ugliness, to the beauty and wonder of life on Earth. It is a novel that is filled with insight, depth, affection, and humour. From the beginning, we are introduced to an imposter on earth – an alien who has taken the place of one of Cambridge University’s most respected mathematicians, who has just solved one of the great mysteries of mathematics. The race from which this being hails believes the solution will bring great upheaval to the universe: it could, after all, allow humans to leave Earth, and venture out into the universe. This would, of course, bring all their baggage with them. After all, from the outside, human can come across as miserable, money-obsessed, violent assholes.

As the new Andrew Martin navigates his new life, quashing all knowledge of the real Martin’s discovery, he finds himself confronted with everything that is good about life as a human. His obliviousness to what the real Andrew did before he was replaced, gives him a childlike innocence and fresh slate – something that has a real impact on his family life, in both positive and negative ways. He starts to go native, despite the frequent warnings of his superiors – the Hosts.

It doesn’t take long to read The Humans – the novel is very focused, the pacing is brisk, and Haig’s prose is pretty sparse. It is also superb – elegant in its focus, nuanced, affectionate yet not uncritical, and often very funny. His characters are well-rounded and expertly brought to life on the page. The book will also make you want to read more Emily Dickinson…

Haig is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, and I’ve only read two of his novels. The Humans is a must read. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and can’t recommend it enough.