Monday, April 30, 2012

Artwork: SEVEN WONDERS by Adam Christopher & BEST SERVED COLD by Joe Abercrombie

I spotted both of these new covers for the first time today, and thought I’d share them here because they’re fantastic.

First up, we have the artwork for Seven Wonders, the second novel by Adam Christopher, to be published by Angry Robot books in August/September 2012:


I thought this one was great, and I love the aesthetic (which sort-of matches Empire State’s style). I hadn’t been aware that more information had been released for this novel, but I am very intrigued by the premise:

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura – a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.

When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be…

File Under: Science Fiction [ Heroes In Action | A Double Cross | Kapow! | Tables Turned ]

I still haven’t had a chance to read Empire State (I’ve not yet found myself in the mood for it), but I will get to it at some point. Mount ToBeRead is rather vertiginous at the moment…

And also, the absolutely stunning artwork for the limited edition of Joe Abercombie’s Best Served Cold, by Raymond Swanland:


I love this one – it’s atmospheric, moody, stylish, evocative… How is it that Abercrombie can get so many amazing covers? His novels truly have been blessed by the Cover Fairy… This special edition of Best Served Cold will be published in the oh-so-vague “Fall 2012” by Subterranean Press. And Abercrombie’s novel continue to go unread by me… No, I do not know why. No, I do not even have a good excuse. Yes, I will be reading The Blade Itself in the next couple of months. I hope. Probably.

What do you think of these two covers?

“Butcher’s Nails” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library)


A Horus Heresy audio drama

Narrated by: Sean Barrett | Performed by: Rupert Degas, Charlotte Page, Chris Fairbank & David Timson | Music: Simon Slater

The Primarch Angron: gladiator-king and Horus’s lunatic attack dog. Never having hidden his resentment for his brothers, he now carves a bloody swathe through the galaxy in the Warmaster’s name, with the Heresy providing a convenient excuse to indulge his love of brutal warfare. When they are tasked with a secretive mission alongside the Word Bearers Legion, the World Eaters’ violent tendencies soon attract the attention of xenos raiders, troubled by the portents surrounding the primarch’s berserk fury and his ultimate destiny as ‘the Blood God’s son’...

Another great Horus Heresy story, complete with action, introspection and myth-building, this time focusing on the psychotic Primarch of the World Eaters, Angron, and his relationship with his brother Lorgar. This audio-drama is the best production of any I’ve listened to from Black Library thus-far, and I must say I was very impressed with the performances. The story and writing was, of course, top-notch as well.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

“Daredevil” Vol.1 (Marvel)

Daredevil-Vol.01The Man With No Fear returns!

Writer: Mark Waid | Artists: Paolo Rivera & Marcos Martin

The Devil is Reborn. Renewed. Resurrected.

With new enemies, new friends... and that same old “grinnin’ in the face of hell” attitude, the Man Without Fear is back in action and leading with his face!

Having turned his world upside over the past several years, Matt Murdock realizes that justice may not be blind to his past and villains may not be the only ones looking for answers. Bring it on. If Matt Murdock could see what he was doing... he’d be terrified.

Given how much great press this series has been getting – enough that Marvel started printing one- and two-page spreads of quotes and endorsements in their other series – there was just no way I was going to ignore it. Also, it’s written by Mark Waid, so... Yeah. This was a must-read for me. And it definitely lived up to my expectations. Indeed, it exceeded them – I had, I am sad to admit, some reservations about the artwork, but that was only because I’d seen rather poor examples of it. This comic is, in almost every way, excellent.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Upcoming: “Action Comics” #9 (DC)

This issue is coming out on Wednesday (May 2nd), but I thought it was particularly noteworthy. As long-time readers will know, I’m not the greatest fan of Morrison’s work – I think he mostly has great ideas that are then poorly executed. I’m really hoping this isn’t one of them. First off, the artwork, followed by the synopsis:


Writers: Sholly Fisch & Grant Morrison | Artists: Gene Ha & Cully Hamner

Featuring characters from parallel Earths, including PRESIDENT SUPERMAN!

Introducing new villain SUPERDOOM!

Guest artist GENE HA joins GRANT MORRISON for this tale of not one, not two, but THREE Earths!

And in the backup story, President Superman must stop a nuclear attack – but he can't leave the White House!

Yes, the most interesting thing about this issue is the idea of President Superman (who appears to be influenced by President Obama, too). Despite my general lack of interest in multiple-realities, and the fact that the synopsis is written in language that is rather off-putting, I’m actually really interested to see what Morrison and Co. come up with.

Weekly Round-Up (Apr.23-28)

This week, we saw the conclusion of Justin’s excellent series of Agency guest posts (by Robert Jackson Bennett and Robin Hobb); Suzanne Johnson wrote about her Urban Fantasy novel set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans; Ian Irvine wrote about the lessons he’s learned writing fantasy; Chuck Wendig provides some thoughts on the Big Idea behind Blackbirds; Tor US announced their eBooks were going DRM-free from July, and both Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi commented on the decision and what it might mean for readers and authors.

These are all largely from the first half of the week – I was rather busy after Wednesday – so feel free to share links in the comments of anything I missed.

“DMZ Vol.1: On The Ground” (Vertigo)

DMZ-Vol.01-OnTheGroundThe Ultimate Journalist Embed: New York City…

Writer: Brian Wood | Artist: Riccardo Burchielli

In the near future, America’s worst nightmare has come true. With military adventurism overseas bogging down the Army and National Guard, the U.S. government mistakenly neglects the very real threat of anti-establishment militias scattered across the 50 states.

Like a sleeping giant, Middle America rises up and violently pushes its way to the shining seas, coming to a standstill at the line in the sand — Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ.

Matty Roth, a naïve young man and aspiring photojournalist, lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong, and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he’s only seen on television. There, he is faced with a choice: try to find a way off the island, or make his career with an assignment most journalists would kill for. But can he survive in a war zone long enough to report the truth?

DMZ Volume 1 exceeded all my expectations. I can’t quite remember what made me pick it up in the first place, but I’m very glad that I did. DMZ paints a bleak, fascinating picture of a fractured America, and one man’s attempts to understand the wreckage.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Upcoming: RASPUTIN’S BASTARDS by David Nickle

I stumbled across this novel by accident, when Madeleine Ashby mentioned it in an interview answer for CR (sorry, you’ll have to wait until next Wednesday to read the interview…). Naturally, my first reaction was to Google the book, and I found its great cover artwork:


The novel will be published in June 2012 by ChiZine, and after reading the synopsis (below), my interest has definitely been piqued:

They were the beautiful dreamers. From a hidden city deep in the Ural mountains, they walked the world as the coldest of Cold Warriors, under the command of the Kremlin and under the power of their own expansive minds. They slipped into the minds of Russia’s enemies with diabolical ease, and drove their human puppets to murder, and worse. They moved as Gods. And as Gods, they might have remade the world. But like the mad holy man Rasputin, who destroyed Russia through his own powerful influence in the end, the psychic spies for the Motherland were only in it for themselves.

It is the 1990s. The Cold War is long finished. In a remote Labrador fishing village, an old woman known only as Babushka foresees her ending through the harbour ice, in the giant eye of a dying kraken – and vows to have none of it. Beaten insensible and cast adrift in a life raft, ex-KGB agent Alexei Kilodovich is dragged to the deck of a ship full of criminals, and with them he will embark on a journey that will change everything he knows about himself. And from a suite in an unseen hotel in the heart of Manhattan, an old warrior named Kolyokov sets out with an open heart, to gather together the youngest members of his immense, and immensely talented, family. They are more beautiful, and more terrible, than any who came before them. They are Rasputin’s bastards. And they will remake the world.

Rasputin’s Bastard is available for pre-order from Amazon in the US (paperback and Kindling) and in the UK (paperback and Kindling).

“Mounting Fears” by Stuart Woods (Putnam)


The third President Will Lee, Washington Thriller

President Will Lee is having a rough week. His vice president just died during surgery. Confirmation hearings for the new vice president are under way, but the squeaky-clean governor whom Will has nominated may have a few previously unnoticed skeletons in his closet. And Teddy Fay, the rogue CIA agent last seen in Shoot Him If He Runs, is plotting his revenge on CIA director Kate Rule Lee — the president’s wife.

Plus there are some loose nukes in Pakistan that might just trigger World War III if Will’s diplomatic efforts fall short. It’s up to President Lee — with some help from Holly Barker, Lance Cabot, and a few other Stuart Woods series regulars — to save the world, and the upcoming election.

This is the third novel by Woods that focuses on Will Lee’s presidency (after The Run and Capital Crimes). It maintains the relentless pacing of the first two novels, but it unfortunately doesn’t address some of the issues I found with the previous books in the series – in fact, the flaws are more pronounced. Entertaining, but thin and ultimately unsatisfying.

[There are spoilers in this review – they were unavoidable, due to my chagrin at how the story played out.]

Comics Round-Up (Apr.25)


This turned out to be a longer post than anticipated, just because I was so slow about reviewing things on time – for a pleasant change, other commitments got in the way of my comics-reading this week. Better late than never, though, so read on for a bumper comics round-up! There were some great issues this week, too.


Reviewed: Alice #5, All-Star Western #8, AvX: VS #1, Catwoman #8, I Vampire #8, Grimm Fairy Tales: Myths & Legends #15, Justice League #8, Justice League Dark #8, New Deadwardians #2, The Portent #4, Road Rage #3, Snake Eyes #12, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #3

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zombie Journalism: A New Sub-Genre is Born?

While stumbling about on Amazon today, I discovered a novel that seems to be so transparently aimed at fans of another series. It was so transparent, that I thought I’d scribble down some comments and share them on here.

The novel in question is Madeleine Roux’s Allison Hewitt is Trapped, which seems to bear a strong resemblance to Mira Grant’s Newsflesh novels – in theme and elements of the premise, if not in content. Just take the style of the cover artwork, as an opening example…


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“Eye of Vengeance” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)


When grizzled Ultramarine Scout Sergeants strike…

Narrated by: Sean Barrett | Performed by: Rupert Degas & Saul Reichlin

When the twisted Dark Mechanicus priests of the Bloodborn descend upon Quintarn, the Ultramarines are quick to move in defence of their prized agri-world. However, it soon becomes apparent that the planet’s fate will not be decided by the massed battle companies of the Space Marines, but by the actions of just one lowly sergeant – Torias Telion. A master marksman and Scout with a long history of service to the Chapter, Telion must now face the worst of the Bloodborn’s technological terrors and secure the city of Idrisia from the enemy advance, if the Ultramarines are to have any hope of prevailing against an enemy whose numbers swell with every victory.

A solid Warhammer 40,000 audio-drama, from one of Black Library’s best authors. The story focuses on an Ultramarine campaign against a group of renegade Dark Mechanicus priests. The Ultramarine campaign leadership dispatches a grizzled scout veteran and his team into enemy lines, hoping to sway the battle in their favour. I think this audio-drama delivers everything a fan of McNeill’s and also WH40k would want.

An Interview with DAN ABRAHAM


Dan Abraham is one of my favourite authors. Ever since I read the first book of his Long Price Quartet series, I’ve been eagerly awaiting every new book of his fiction. Abraham is also one of the busiest authors I’m aware of, writing novels in the fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy genres, as well as writing graphic novel adaptations of Game of Thrones and a handful of other projects. With so many excellent projects on the go, it’s really a wonder he ever manages to sleep… I decided to ask him about this, and many other things besides…

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“The Punisher” Volume 1 (Marvel)

Punisher-Vol.01Writer: Greg Rucka | Artist: Marco Checchetto | Colours: Matt Hollingsworth

For Frank Castle death comes easy... life is where things get complicated.

As New York City’s body counts continue to rise, the city’s streets are teeming with more methodical criminals than ever and a police force doing its best to keep its head above water. The Punisher has returned to serve his own brand of justice with everything he’s got... but can he survive the darkness stored in his own arsenal?

Plus bonus pages exploring some of the new personalities in Frank’s life ... and how closely intertwined living is with dying.

I really enjoyed Rucka’s work on Batwoman: Elegy, so when I saw that he was writing this run on The Punisher, I decided to check it out. This was the first time I’ve ever read any of the series, but I was familiar with the character from the occasional guest appearance in other series as well as the first movie. I must say, it far exceeded my already high expectations – this is an engaging, nuanced story, brought to life with beautiful, atmospheric artwork.

Monday, April 23, 2012

“The Alchemist of Souls” by Anne Lyle (Angry Robot)

Lyle-TheAlchemistOfSoulsBook One of Night’s Masque

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.

File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]

In The Alchemist of Souls, Anne Lyle has created a fascinating, richly detailed version of Elizabethan England filled with intrigue, politicking, plenty of espionage and, above all, engaging and interesting characters. With beautiful prose, Lyle has easily written one of the best debuts of the year.

“Last of the Greats” Vol.1 (Image)

LastOfTheGreats-Vol.1 (Fialkov)Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov | Artist: Brent Peeples | Colours:

Meet The Last – He’s mankind’s last hope. And he HATES us! As the Earth stands on the brink of annihilation we must beg the last survivor of a family of superheroes to put aside his hatred and save our butts.

I’ve already reviewed the first two issues of this series, but I wanted to write a quick few comments on the collected edition, which is now available. It’s a pretty intriguing series, mixing a type of divine-mystery with action and incisive commentary on the human condition.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just because it’s close to the mark…


Anyone who has done or is doing postgraduate work should really be reading this comic strip. It’s very well-observed and funny. (Some of the situations will be more familiar to sciences and US postgrads than Arts & Social Sciences in the UK, but I’m sure we can all relate).

Week in Review (Apr.14-21)

A very busy week around the book-related regions of the internet, with a bundle of interesting articles. I’ve included a couple of older articles, because I was slow and didn’t get around to them until after I posted last week’s links round-up. One is a particularly good comment from John Scalzi.

Herein: Aidan Moher on Women in Fantasy, Elspeth Cooper on Disabilities in Fantasy, Jeff Salyards on being Embedded with the Enemy, an interview with Amanda Carlson, Brad Beaulieu on how he likes shades of grey, John Scalzi on eBooks Drama, The Atlantic on the eBooks Drama, The New Republic on the Dept of Justice & Monopolies (related to eBooks drama)

Comics Round-Up (Apr.18) the 2nd


Some big things happening in this collection of comics – we have the next salvo in the battle between the Avengers and the X-Men over the fate of Hope and the Phoenix Force; two introductions to the Night of the Owls Batman event; some voodoo shenanigans in New Orleans; the beginning of an adaptation of a mega-selling crime thriller; a continuing epic space opera; UFOs and American politics; and a broken mutant. All-in-all, an excellent week.

Sadly, with my new strict budget, I wasn’t able to get the other exciting issues released this week – specifically, Justice League #8, Catwoman #8, Red Hood & The Outlaws #8, Defenders #5, Dawn of the Jedi #3, No Place Like Home #3, Secret #1 and Manhattan Projects #2. Maybe in the future, during a quieter week.


Reviewed Herein: Avengers vs. X-Men #2, Batman #8, Nightwing #8, Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #2, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo #1, Saga #2, Saucer Country #2, Wolverine & the X-Men #8

“Batman: Gates of Gotham” (DC)

Batman-GatesOfGothamWriters: Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins & Ryan Parrott | Artist: Trevor McCarthy | Colours: Derec Aucoin, Dustin Nguyen & Trevor McCarthy

When a mystery as old as Gotham City itself surfaces, Batman assembles a team of his greatest detectives – including Red Robin, Owlman, I-Ching and others – to investigate this startling new enigma. As clues are discovered and the mystery deepens, Batman's team soon finds itself on a journey that explores different eras in Gotham's history and touches upon notable Gotham families including the Waynes, Kanes, and Elliotts.

This mini-series tells a pretty amazing story: it’s a great detective mystery, which reaches back into Gotham’s history, with plenty of action mixed in. Batman and his allies are investigating the destruction of the bridges that link Gotham with the mainland. More attacks follow, committed by the psychotic villain calling himself the “Architect”. The story takes readers on a trip through turn-of-the-century Gotham City and its high society, and the First Families’ race to build ever-better and more glorious architectural wonders. It also shows how the sins of the past echo into the present…

Upcoming: “Jane Carver: Swords of Waar” by Nathan Long (Night Shade)

On Wednesday, Nathan Long revealed the artwork for his second Jane Carver novel, over on his website. I shall shamelessly re-post it here, for you enjoyment:


I’m being terribly slow about reading the first novel in the series, Jane Carver of Waar, but I have bought it for my Kindle, so it will be read! In other Nathan Long-related news, I’ll also be reading the final novel in his Ulrika the Vampire series for Black Library – a spin-off from one of my favourite fantasy series, Gotrek & Felix, I’m sure it’ll be a great finish to the story.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coming Soon: EXTERMINATION by Simon Spurrier (Boom)

A couple of months ago, Boom Studios leaked a pair of teaser-images for an upcoming dystopian super-hero series. The images (below) were pretty enticing, as they gave the impression of the new series being pretty bleak:


Then I discovered it was being written by Simon Spurrier, and I was absolutely sold. I’ve read some of Spurrier’s fiction (for Black Library) and also loved his Marvel mini-series, X-Club, which I thought was delightfully twisted and amusing (see the “Comics” page for links to the issue reviews). Since then, the covers for the first two issues of the series have been released into the interwebs.


Extermination #1

It’s been difficult to glean any more information about this upcoming series, but Comic Book Resources got the scoop: Extermination takes place in “a world in which an alien incursion has already decimated the Earth’s population, including its super-powered community.” The story follows two former nemeses, Nox and the Red Reaper,

“who must strike an uneasy truce in an attempt to drive out the invading force and begin to rebuild society – of course, their motives for doing so could not be more dissimilar.”


Extermination #2

The story begins after the apocalypse is over and done with, Spurrier told CBR.

“It wasn’t even an ‘invasion’ in the conventional sense – no overwhelming attack by big wibbly UFOs or unimaginative hivemind gribblies – but a brutal corruption of the planet itself, wiping out millennia of history in one fell swoop and leaving the aggressors to merely mop-up what dregs of resistance remained. At the story's start find we ourselves on a broken Earth – a cinder, an apocalyptic waste of tortured terrains, deadly meteorology, fractured cities and horrific sights. The vast majority of the populace died in the upheavals – continental earthquakes, mega-tsunamis, solar storms and toxic rains – and certainly all traces of government, culture and military have been systematically decimated since then.”

Spurrier continued, saying that “part of the beauty of this story lies in juxtaposing this hideous new status quo with the big, simple boldness of ‘regular’ superhero activity – punchin’, flyin’, spoutin’ one-liners”. The series will use “a lot of cleverly-deployed flashbacks” to explore the period of the invasion itself: “How it started, who died, who survived (and how), and above all why the invasion occurred at all.”

I can’t wait for this series to start (the series starts in June)! There’s a lot more to the piece on CBR, so head on over to get the full scoop on the upcoming Extermination.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Comics Round-Up (Apr.18)


A pretty solid collection of varied comics: twisted fairy tales, fantasy, super-heroes, and horror. I wasn’t organised enough to get them all reviewed for a Tuesday post, so I was able to add a few more titles. There were actually going to be more from last week, but both of my go-to comic stores in New York had completely sold out of Saga #2 and Resurrection Man #8. I decided to cut back on a few of the others, too. For example, I decided that I’ll wait for Suicide Squad, Grifter and Demon Knights to be available as collections.


Reviewed: Alice #4, Batgirl #8, Batman & Robin #8, Batwoman #8, Dungeons & Dragons 2012 Annual, Irredeemable #36, Jungle Book #2, Secret Service #1, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #5, The Theater #5

Book Tourism: Toronto, Canada (+Book Haul)

So, last week I was in Toronto for Alyssa’s Spring Break. It was my first time in Canada, and I must say I really liked Toronto. It was very easy to see why film companies love to film there – it really can double for Anywhere, North America really easily. It was also because of this fact, I think, that I felt comfortable and relaxed there – it was oddly familiar. Not only that, but the atmosphere and temperament of the Canadians seems to be much closer to my own. All except the passport control official, who was surprisingly aggressive with his questions [my trip was bookended by aggressive, suspicious border agents, sadly].

Anyway, let’s bring things back to what this post is really about:


Gini Koch Giveaway Winner!

As offered alongside the interview with Gini Koch, I can now announce the winner of the giveaway, for a personalised copy of any one of Ms. Koch’s novels:

“Jen B”

I’ve contacted Jen with details. Sorry to everyone who didn’t win, but keep reading the blog, and you may see more giveaways in the future!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Interview with DAVID TALLERMAN


David Tallerman’s debut novel, The Giant Thief, was one of the most anticipated fantasy releases for the first half of this year. I decided to send him some questions to find out more about his work, inspirations and other thoughts on writing and fiction.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

“Gotrek & Felix Anthology” & Others (Black Library)


A bumper crop of Gotrek & Felix short stories

In many ways, my interest in fantasy began with Gotrek and Felix – the short snippets you used to find in the Warhammer Armies books and White Dwarf magazine were great fun. Then I discovered the oft-mentioned-on-this-blog early Warhammer anthologies: Ignorant Armies (1989), Wolf Riders (1989) and Red Thirst (1990). Ever since then, I have tried to read everything Gotrek & Felix related. I’ve not done badly, reading all of the main series’ novels, but with the release of the Gotrek & Felix Anthology, I realised that there were actually quite a few other short stories I’d missed – I haven’t really been keeping up-to-date with the Warhammer anthologies. Thanks to Black Library’s extremely-well-managed move into eBooks, I was able to read them all, and bring you this bumper-review. While it did end up feeling just a tad overwhelming to get through all fifteen of these short stories in basically one go, it was nevertheless great fun to spend more time with these characters.

If you’re not familiar with Gotrek & Felix, or Warhammer in general, then this is a series you must read. It’s a great introduction to the setting, and is written with style and humour, and not a little bit of carnage.

Reviewed Herein: Gotrek & Felix Anthology (Various), Red Snow (Nathan Long), Charnel Congress (Josh Reynolds), The Oberwald Ripper (Laurie Goulding), Slayer of the Storm God (Nathan Long)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Week In Review (Apr.8-14)

Bit of a shorter selection this week, as I’ve been away and not really paying much attention to Twitter or my RSS feed. I’ll try to keep on top of things and do better with compiling a list of next week’s most interesting articles.

Terrible Minds: “25 Reasons I Hate Your Main Character” by Chuck Wendig [Article]

“The list…? Entirely personal… in the hands of a master, none of this shit applies. A masterful storyteller can break all the rules and make the breaking of the rules seem like that should’ve been the rule all along… I thought it an interesting exercise to list those things that make me want to punt your main character into a pterodactyl nest. Where he will be promptly ripped into ribbons and gobbets of man-meat.”

Some excellent advice and pointers (as always) from Mr Wendig. While I’m on the subject, I really have read altogether not enough of Chuck’s writing. I shall remedy this very soon, with Blackbirds.

Discordia 19: Neil Gaiman interviews Stephen King

A very interesting pairing.

“The article is behind a paywall and I'd usually just put some juicy parts of it here and link to the original piece but for this one the whole article is below. You can download the Sunday Times app for iOS and buy the April 8 issue if you feel bad reading it here for free.”

I did not feel bad.

Speculative Scotsman: “Justin of Staffer’s Book Review on Sex in SFF” by Justin Landon [Article]

A very amusing article, as expected, and one that shares my own opinion on sex in SFF (fiction in general, actually). It’s always a pleasure to read Justin’s commentary. I recommend you do, too. It may change forever how you look at breasts. And puppies…

The Shared Desk: “Love of Adventure: The Crossover Between Steampunk Tales and Epic Stories” by Helen Lowe [Article]

As far as I can tell, The Shared Desk is a blog written by authors Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris. This is part of Helen Lowe’s blog-tour to support the release of The Gathering of the Lost [review imminent from Alyssa].

More on CR: Interviews with Helen Lowe and Philippa Ballantine


A little bit of a quieter week on CR, with Alyssa’s review of Timeless by Gail Carriger and an interview with Gini Koch. In addition, a review of mine appeared elsewhere: the Speculative Scotsman hosted my review of Tobias S. Buckell’s The Executioness. Big thank you to Niall for letting me stop by, and if you don’t regularly follow Speculative Scotsman already, then I heartily recommend you start doing so.

It’s been a more hectic week, one with very little time spent in front of my computer, and not so much time for proper, long reading session. Apparently, even unemployed people who blog need to decompress and step away from the internet from time to time.

Next week, I hope to have two novel reviews for you (the Gotrek & Felix Anthology edited by Christian Dunn, and The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle); an interview with David Tallerman, author of Giant Thief; a couple of graphic novel reviews (Gates of Gotham by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins, and DMZ Vol.1 by Brian Woods – both excellent, and the latter in particular); and the usual host of comics reviews, news items, and probably some new cover artwork as well, if I can find any striking new pieces.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Paperback Release: “Sea of Ghosts” by Alan Campbell (Tor)


The superb beginning to Campbell’s second series

Thrown out of the Graveyard corps by a corrupt and weak emperor, Granger has to turn to running his own prison. It’s not a lucrative business but if he keeps his head down, doesn't succumb to pity or morals then he may just survive.

But when two unexpected prisoners enter his life then his world is turned upside down. Ianthe is young, blind and deaf – she can only see or hear through other people’s senses. This makes her unique in a world held to ransom by the powerful Haurstaf – a sisterhood of telepaths who consider the young girl a threat to their power. She’s also Granger's daughter...

Just a quick news post, which is also an opportunity to mention this fantastic novel again. I reviewed Sea of Ghosts last March, and I thought it was superb – an opinion I stand by today. At the time, and in my enthusiasm, I said it was “easily one of the best [novels] I’ve read in years” and “almost indescribably good”. That’s certainly more enthusiastic language than I normally use in my reviews, so I hope that gives you some indication as to just how much I enjoyed the novel.

So, with the paperback now available (in the UK and for UK Kindle, at least…), if you will indulge me for a moment, here are some more snippets from the review:

The Sea of Ghosts is a novel of honour, revenge, loyalty and perseverance, set in a world ravaged by unfathomable science and magic.”

The plot is tight and quickly paced… the world-building is expertly interwoven into the plot… a world so full of weird, wonderful, and sometimes horrifying invention, it’s captivating.”

“Campbell’s prose is sublime, possessing that indescribable quality that sucks you in, envelopes your imagination and pulls you happily along for the ride; insistently readable and compelling. The novel kept me up until 4am on three occasions, as ‘one more chapter’ turned into three or four.”

“Campbell’s knack for atmospherics is almost peerless, and his innate storytelling ability is awe-inspiring.”

I said it then, and I’ll say it again today: Sea of Ghosts is absolutely superb and I think Campbell is an author every fantasy fan must read, and I’d highly recommend his work to everyone. I really can’t wait for the next novel in the series. I also can’t understand why on Earth I haven’t finished his Deepgate Codex series. I’ve read the prequel short story, Lye Street, but not the rest of the series: Scar Night, Iron Angel, and God of Clocks (the latter two novels were reviewed by Emma).

Campbell-DamnationForBeginnersLearn more about Campbell’s novels at his website and his blog. Alan’s latest available work is Damnation for Beginners, a special edition novella published by Subterranean Press. Like Lye Street before it, this story is set in the world of Campbell’s Deepgate Codex, further expanding on that series and world. Here’s the synopsis:

“The story begins in the beleaguered city of Cog. The protagonist, Jack Aviso, is himself a cog, a functionary in the soulless, profit-obsessed enterprise known as the Henry Sill Banking Corporation. When a routinely corrupt business transaction shatters both his marriage and his well-ordered life, Jack finds himself — quite literally — in Hell, where he embarks on a perilous, unprecedented journey of revenge.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interview with GINI KOCH & Giveaway


One of the busiest authors in sci-fi, Gini Koch has a number of popular on-going and upcoming series. In order to find out more about her current and future projects, as well as her thoughts on writing and the genre as a whole, I fired over some questions.

[Oh, and if you read right until the end, there are details of an exclusive giveaway!]

Lena Headey to star in GRIMM FAIRY TALES TV Series


Zenescope Entertainment announced today that actress Lena Headey, star of HBO’s superb Game Of Thrones series, will be joining the Grimm Fairy Tales Animated Series, lending her voice talents for the series’ lead character, Sela Mathers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Giveaway Winner! (HELEN LOWE)


And the winner of last week’s The Gathering of the Lost giveaway is…

Christopher Parvin (@Ghostlandia)

Congratulations! I’ll get in touch to sort out delivery of your book.

Check back tomorrow for another interview and giveaway!

Comics Round-Up (Apr.11)


A rather quick round-up – these were all interesting issues but, with the exception of Cobra, they all felt as if they were missing something important to make them gripping and necessary. Perhaps it was a lack of forward movement of the story; or a slight hitch in the plot due to lack of explanation; or, as in the case of one of them, just a big difference in sense of humour. Whatever it was, only Cobra really hooked me and lived up to previous issues.

Reviewed Herein: Cobra #12, Iron Muslim, Smoke & Mirrors #2, Supurbia #2

Artwork: Batman #11 (DC)

This is an amazing Batman cover, for the final issue in the “Night of the Owls” Bat-Family event:


I think this is one of the best Batman covers I’ve ever seen, if not the best – and this is from a very strong New 52 run of covers.



Backup story written by SCOTT SNYDER and JAMES TYNION IV

Backup story art by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE


Civilian Reader Abroad…

Buckell-TheExecutioness… I reviewed The Executioness by Tobias S. Buckell over on The Speculative Scotsman blog, yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to post a link until now, so sorry about that!

An enjoyable short story, it is an interesting introduction to a world with a very intriguing magic system. Here’s the synopsis:

Magic has a price.

In Khaim, that price is your head if you’re found using it. For the use of magic comes with a side effect: it creates bramble. The bramble is a creeping, choking menace that has covered majestic ancient cities, and felled civilizations. In order to prevent the spread of the bramble, many lose their heads to the cloaked executioners of Khaim.

Tana is one of these executioners, taking the job over from her ailing father in secret, desperate to keep her family from starvation. But now her family has been captured by raiders, and taken to a foreign city.

So Khaim’s only female executioner begins a quest to bring her family back together. A bloody quest that will change lives, cities, and even an entire land, forever. A quest that will create the legend of The Executioness.

The Executioness was the first fiction I’ve read by Buckell, despite hearing a great deal of praise for his writing. I’m certainly glad I read the short story, and I’ve since started looking for something else of his to read. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments thread.

Bacigalupi-TheAlchemistThe story is one of two set in this new world, and I’ll be reading the second – The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi – in the near future. I’d hoped to have it read for tomorrow, but I’ve been travelling, which has slowed my reading speed right down.

So, head on over to Speculative Scotsman for the review. And read everything else while you’re there – Niall’s is one of the best blogs out there, and I’ve been reading his reviews and articles ever since he started the blog.

Highly recommended.

Monday, April 09, 2012

“Timeless” by Gail Carriger (Orbit)

Carriger-5-TimelessAlexia in Egypt; or, Pyramids, Mummies, and Hot Air Balloons

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High Society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly.

Until, that is, she receives a summons that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

With Timeless, the Parasol Protectorate series comes to a close. I first read about Soulless on the blog of Carriger’s agent, Kristin Nelson. I was sold on the book as soon as Nelson wrote, “If the author Jane Austen were to have written a vampire novel during her lifetime, SOULLESS would have been it,” and I was beyond excited to read it when it was finally released. Soulless proved to be worth all of that anticipation, and I have immensely enjoyed reading each instalment in the series. Timeless, luckily for me and all the rest of Carriger’s fans, is no exception: I loved reading it, and once again, I find myself eagerly awaiting the release of a Gail Carriger book – I can’t wait to get my hands on her next project.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Upcoming: “Abnett & Lanning do COSMIC”

But what is it?! Boom Studios like these sorts of teaser ads, but they can sure be damned infuriating (in a good way…):


That’s it. That’s all we’re getting. Want to know more!


UPDATE (Apr.11)

I have found out some more information about this new series! It’s called The Hypernaturals, for one thing, and according to Midtown Comics’ website

It is the far future; the human race has finally colonized the galaxy, preserving an era of prosperity that’s only possible because of The Hypernaturals. They’re a celebrated, galaxy-wide superhero task force that keeps the peace. That is, until they all mysteriously vanish. Now, as the galaxy teeters on the brink of chaos, it’s up to a group of retired and long forgotten Hypernaturals – and their novice recruits – to save the galaxy from complete destruction.

And some more artwork:


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Week in Review (Mar.31-Apr.7)

You know what this is all about…

Slate: “Is Game of Thrones too white?” by Saladin Ahmed [Article]

An interesting article. Some of the commenters… *disagree*… Because they’ve misunderstood the point of the article. So, read the article but not the comments. (Which is a good approach to the internet in general – especially on Rolling Stone, Slate, and HuffPost, to name but three…). While on the subject of Saladin Ahmed, check out my review of Throne of the Crescent Moon.

Mouseferatu: In Which Ari Gets Fed Up and Dives Into the Discussion” by Ari Marmell [Response]

Author Ari Marmell responds to some of the particular, ridiculous reactions to Saladin Ahmed’s article for Slate. Not the blatantly, obviously “plain stupid” response. Rather, he addresses “some of the responses that sound a lot more reasonable – and that the people who espouse them probably believe are more reasonable – but which are just as problematic.”

On an un-serious note, points for getting “rare as a bald wookiee” into the article. Ari Marmell is a favourite author of mine, so expect a lot more reviews coming up in the future (new and ‘old’ work). You can also check out my interview with him (the second on the blog).

Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review: “Growing Pains: Lessons in Writing the Sequel” by Bradley P. Beaulieu [Article]

A good article from Brad Beaulieu about moving on from one’s debut and tackling the second book in a series.

The Big Idea: “The Boxer Rebellion & the Great Game in China” by David J. Silbey [Article]

A rare moment of cross-over of two of my favourite things, in this article Silbey talks about the challenge he faced when writing his book: “The famous maxim says that history is written by the winners. But happens when the other side not only doesn’t write a history, but can’t?”

The Passionate Foodie: “Authors, Alcohol & Accolades: Volume 6” [Article]

Ok, this is cheating a little bit, as I wrote some of this post – it’s about readers and our favourite authors and tipple. Also contributing are Justin Landon of Staffer’s Musings, Sally Janin of The Qwillery, and Bastard Books.


On CR this week, we’ve had two interviews: with Helen Lowe (with giveaway – still time to enter!) and Lyndsay Faye. On the reviews side, we’ve had Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s superb Void Stalker and Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham.

This coming week I’ll be travelling a bit, so not sure how much I’ll be able to get posted, but Alyssa reviews Timeless by Gail Carriger on Monday; I have a review over on Speculative Scotsman also on Monday (Tobias S. Buckell’s The Executioness); I hope to get the Felix & Gotrek Anthology reviewed for the latter half of the week, too. There will be the usual comics reviews and maybe a graphic novel or two featured as well. And, of course, Wednesday’s interview – this week’s with Gini Koch.

The Return of HE-MAN…?

In July, DC Comics is bringing back He-Man & the Masters of the Universe. The series will be written by James Robinson, with pencils by Phillip Tan and inks from Ruy Jose. Here’s the artwork for issue one of the six-part mini-series:


According to the DC website, Robinson reintroduces a new He-Man & the Masters of the Universe… uh, universe: Skeletor has won a major victory, and he now rules the world of Eternia from Castle Grayskull. He-Man and the other good guys (“the Masters”) have no memory of their former glory:

“Adam is a simple woodsman haunted by dreams of a heroic warrior, wielding a powerful sword in battle. He is found by a mysterious sorceress who tells him his dreams are of the way the world should be, that he is Eternia’s champion He-Man. Adam sets off on a quest to regain his power and reawaken the Masters of the Universe.”

I loved He-Man when I was a little kid. That being said, I don’t remember a lot of the story, characters or really much of anything about the story of the series. I’m not sure what I’ll make of this series, but I must admit that I’m a little intrigued.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Top Picks for April 2012


Like pretty much every month this year, there are a great number of interesting and exciting titles released. Nobody has time to read them all, however, so one has to make the hard choices as to what to read. With that in mind, here are my (much-delayed) selections for my most-anticipated six novels published this April.

“The Gods of Gotham” by Lyndsay Faye (Headline)


New York City: Political, social, religious powder-keg.

August 1845 in New York; enter the dark, unforgiving city underworld of the legendary Five Points... After a fire decimates a swathe of lower Manhattan, and following years of passionate political dispute, New York City at long last forms an official Police Department. That same summer, the great potato famine hits Ireland. These events will change the city of New York for ever.

Timothy Wilde hadn’t wanted to be a copper star. On the night of August 21st, on his way home from the Tombs defeated and disgusted, he is plotting his resignation, when a young girl who has escaped from a nearby brothel, crashes into him; she wears only a nightdress and is covered from head to toe in blood. Searching out the truth in the child’s wild stories, Timothy soon finds himself on the trail of a brutal killer, seemingly hell bent on fanning the flames of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment and threatening chaos in a city already in the midst of social upheaval. But his fight for justice could cost him the woman he loves, his brother and ultimately his life...

The Gods of Gotham is a great novel. Mixing history, thriller and social commentary, it brilliantly portrays mid-19th Century New York society, both high and low. Social and political troubles form the backdrop (as well as obstacles) for an investigation into a string of child deaths in the city. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Comics Round-Up (Apr.4) the 2nd


This was going to be a short-and-sweet second round-up, but it turned out I had a fair bit to write about a couple of these issues. It’s a pleasantly varied selection in this post: the world’s greatest super-hero accepts his destiny; things finally kick off between the Avengers and the X-Men; young super-hero sidekicks find themselves as Earth’s last line of defence; fear runs through Gotham; and the zany super-science-heroes finally come to the end of their story!


Reviewed: Action Comics #8, Avengers vs. X-Men #1, Danger Club #1, Detective Comics #8, Fairest #2, Hell Yeah #2, X-Club #5

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Quick Review: “Flashpoint” (DC)

Flashpoint-TPBA pretty cool alternate reality story

Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Andy Kubert

Not a dream, not an imaginary story, not an elseworld. This is Flash Fact: When Barry Allen wakes at his desk, he discovers the world has changed. Family is alive, loved ones are strangers, and close friends are different, gone or worse. It's a world on the brink of a cataclysmic war – but where are Earth’s Greatest Heroes to stop it? It’s a place where America's last hope is Cyborg, who hopes to gather the forces of The Outsider, The Secret 7, SHAZAM!, Citizen Cold and other new and familiar-yet-altered faces! It’s a world that could be running out of time, if The Flash can’t find the villain who altered the time line!

Flashpoint is a very good graphic novel, with a pretty interesting premise, ably executed by its creative team.

Everything is very different for Barry Allen when he wakes up at his desk. The world has been turned on its head, and it takes him a little while to get to grips with it. Not only that, his memories of the ‘real’ world are starting to fade. What’s more, he doesn’t have his powers. Therefore, he must set out to not only discover how this apocalyptic version of the world came to be – not to mention reverse it if possible and in time, but also attempt to regain his super-speed.

I don’t have any knowledge of the Flash comic series, but I still found this pretty easy to follow: the cast is pretty huge, and you’ll see cameos from a good number of DC’s main characters – including Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, Grifter, Deathstroke, the Enchantress, and many more. Because of my familiarity with a fair few of these characters (thanks to the New 52), it was nice to see some pretty cool alternate takes on such a wide variety of DC heroes. I particularly liked the idea of Wonder Woman and Aquaman at each others’ throats, in the middle of a globally destructive feud.

Johns’ writing is great, as is Kubert’s artwork. I would definitely like to check out the other books set in the Flashpoint timeline. This is actually a pretty short graphic novel, so while we get a pretty great introduction to what life in this world is like, we don’t get to stick around and really explore it in any great detail. These companion tomes (much longer than this book) should allow for more exploration.

Apparently, this event was connected to the then-upcoming launch of the New 52 in some way, but I didn’t spot it at all. If anybody has an idea, feel free to leave some thought and observations in the comments thread.

Overall, I would say this is definitely recommended to anyone who wants to read an interesting, slightly darker take on a near-apocalyptic version of the DC Universe. It’s a great book.

Also in the Flashpoint series: Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman


Artwork: CONTROL POINT by Myke Cole (UK Edition)

Caught this from Fantasy Faction, the stunning new cover for Myke Cole’s Control Point’s UK edition:


Check out the article over at Fantasy Faction for more information and discussion of the artwork.

Which do I prefer? That’s a tough one, but I think I prefer this new, more atmospheric style, despite really liking the US version, too:


Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole, Review of Control Point