Thursday, November 29, 2012

Green Lantern Corps, Vol.1 – “Fearsome” (DC)

GreenLanternCorps-Vol.1Writer: Peter J. Tomasi | Artist: Fernando Pasarin, with Geraldo Borges & Claude St. Aubin | Inks: Scott Hanna | Colours: Gabe Eltaeb

Guy Gardner and John Stewart lead a squadron of Green Lanterns to fight a mysterious force that is marching across the space sectors and devouring not only their natural resources but their entire populations!

On a mission to rescue John Stewart and Vandor, Guy Gardner assembles the nastiest Green Lanterns to ever put on a ring!

Collects: Green Lantern Corps #1-7

Peter J. Tomasi is also writing one of my favourite of DC’s New 52 titles: Batman & Robin. On the strength of that series, I decided to try out the zero issue for Green Lantern Corps. I enjoyed that, so when this book came out, I figured I’d give it a try. I’m still relatively new to the Green Lantern mythos, but the more I read the more I enjoy. This book was a fun read, but it didn’t quite rise to my expectations. The second half of the book, however, taps into the emotional darkness Tomasi is very good at writing.

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, R.I.P.

Sad to say, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review has come to an end.

GFBR was one of the first review sites I stumbled across, when I made my first forays into the realm of book blogging and the online SFF community. I enjoyed his reviews, and have read his blog as long as I’ve been working on my own. He was encouraging at the start of my blogging ‘career’, and was always good for a chat via Twitter (which was, for a very long time, my only real connection with the greater SFF blogging/fanatic community). We would often compare notes on Black Library releases, which we always seemed to review at roughly the same time…

I had the pleasure of meeting Graeme in August at the pub after the Fantasy Faction-Blackwell’s event, and he was a lovely fellow, and we weathered a very strange intrusion by a very drunk SFF fan who insisted that Pat Rothfuss’s Wise Man’s Fear was the best thing since words were created…

Great chap, great blog. Wish him all the best in the future and at whatever he turns his attention to next.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series has one of the most interesting fantasy settings I’ve come across. Sadly, I’ve not read beyond the first, excellent, Empire in Black and Gold, but I fully intend to catch up on the rest. Given Adrian’s impressive productivity, though, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to truly catch up. And that will be absolutely ok by me. I have wanted to interview Adrian for a while, and I am very happy to share with you his thoughts on writing, his novels, and also his contribution to the post-Hurricane Sandy charity anthology, Triumph Over Tragedy.

Celebrating 25yrs of CULTURE (Iain M. Banks)


Today, Orbit Books (and Civilian Reader and many others) are celebrating 25 years of Iain M. Banks’s Culture series! The series started with CONSIDER PHLEBAS in 1987, and continues this year with THE HYDROGEN SONATA, the New York Times bestseller that Orbit published last month.

BanksIM-Culture25thTo help others celebrate this milestone, I am happy to offer a copy of the Culture boxed set, which is also out this month, to one lucky Civilian Reader… uh, reader.


To be in with a chance to get your mitts on this boxset, all you have to do is leave a comment, below (please include a way of getting in touch – a Twitter handle or anti-spam email), or emailing me at…


I’ll pick the winner (using some form of random-number generator or I’ll find some dice from somewhere) on Monday, December 3rd.

BanksIM-HydrogenSonata-USIn the meantime, check out the synopsis for The Hydrogen Sonata:

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.

An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they’ve made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.

Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted — dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.

This giveaway is open to all.

These ones don’t glitter…

I, Vampire is one of the best things about DC Comics’ New 52 re-launch. Joshua Fialkov’s writing is really top-notch, and Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork is superb. This 14th cover (by Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo) is rather eye-catching, so I thought I’d share it with you all, as well as a great panel from inside the comic…


This is more how I like my vampires, if they’re not written by Anne Rice: evil, hungry, and… toothy.

And this is what happens when they come in contact with a spark…



I Vampire #14 goes on sale November 28th. I haven’t been able to keep up with the series on a monthly basis (irritating thing about being unemployed for so long…), but I will certainly be getting the collected editions as-and-when they are released.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“Superman: Earth One” Vol.2 (DC)

Superman-EarthOne-02Writer: J. Michael Straczynski | Artist: Shane Davis | Inks: Sandra Hope | Colours: Barbara Ciardo

Young Clark Kent continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero, but finds dealing with humanity to be a bigger challenge than he ever imagined! From a ruthless dictator to a new love interest who’s NOT Lois Lane, things are never easy for this emerging Man of Steel.

And the worst is yet to come, in the form of a man-monster with an insatiable appetite, the Parasite! The only thing that might appease his hunger is The Last Son of Kryptonian! But that will also mean he will have Superman's powers without his conscience, and Kal-El cannot come anywhere near him, even though he has to stop him!

The first volume in the Superman: Earth One story was one of my favourite graphic novels last year – it balanced a great new reinterpretation of the Superman origin story with some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen. It had heart, it had strong writing, and was visually stunning. Volume 2 continues this trend.

This is so going to happen…


I’m afraid I don’t know where this originated, but I found it through Meanwhile In Canada on Facebook.

Monday, November 26, 2012

“Dark Vengeance” by C.Z. Dunn (Black Library)

Dunn-DarkVengeanceAn introduction to the new game

The Dark Angels are among the foremost Space Marines, the First Legion of old. Devastated millennia ago by a dreadful schism, the Dark Angels are constantly on the hunt for the mysterious Fallen, former brothers who have turned from the light of the immortal God-Emperor and embraced the dread powers of Chaos.

Newly ordained Company Master Balthasar of the Dark Angels leads his forces to the world of Bane’s Landing, the resting place of the ancient and powerful Hellfire Stone, in pursuit of the Chaos Space Marines of the Crimson Slaughter. Kranon the Relentless, the evil lord of the Crimson Slaughter, seeks to use the stone to summon forth his daemonic masters and usher in an age of darkness. As the Dark Angels race to stop him, the scene is set for a mighty conflict between the loyal Balthasar and the traitor Kranon.

After finishing this novella, which is intended as an introduction to the new boxed game recently released by Games Workshop, there was a real risk that the review would end up shorter than the synopsis. It’s enjoyable, but also flawed as a work of general science fiction, which may bother some readers.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Sunday humour

One of the best newspaper comic strips, Pooch Café, by Paul Gilligan:


Upcoming: “American Elsewhere” by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)

Bennet-AmericanElsewhereI’ve known about this novel for a little while, so I thought I’d put together an “Upcoming” post (I’ll be posting more of these each weekend, I think). I’m sure many readers have been keeping an eye out for new information about anything from Robert Jackson Bennett, but just in case…

American Elsewhere will be published by Orbit in February 2013. Here’s the synopsis:

Ex-cop Mona Bright has been living a hard couple of years on the road, but when her estranged father dies, she finds she’s had a home all along: a little house her deceased mother once owned in Wink, New Mexico.

And though every map denies Wink exists, Mona finds they’re wrong: not only is Wink real, it is the perfect American small town, somehow retaining all the Atomic Age optimism the rest of world has given up on.

But the closer Mona gets to understanding her mother’s past, the more she begins to understand that the people in Wink are very, very different – and what’s more, Mona begins to recognize her own bond to this strange place, which feels more like home every day.

Upcoming: “No Return” by Zachary Jernigan (Night Shade)

Jernigan-NoReturn-ArtThis is just a quick heads-up post, to draw attention to a 2013 novel that has caught my eye: Zachary Jernigan’s No Return, which will be published by Night Shade Books in March 2013. Here’s the synopsis:

On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists – only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon – a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle – warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Danoor, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Berun, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Danoor, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas – which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him?

The first in a series, this novel has been described as Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced”, and set in “a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction.” David Anthony Durham, the author of the Acacia trilogy, has described No Return as “visionary, violent, sexually charged, [and] mystical”.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Flash, Vol.1 – “Move Forward” (DC)

Flash-01-ArtWriters: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato | Artist: Francis Manapul | Colours: Brian Buccellato & Ian Herring

Struck by a bolt of lightning and doused in chemicals, Central City Police scientist Barry Allen was transformed into the fastest man alive. Tapping into the energy field called The Speed Force, he applies a tenacious sense of justice to protect and serve the world as The Flash!

The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but he has seemingly met his match when he faces new Super Villain, Mob Rule, who really can be everywhere at once! As Mob Rule wages a campaign of crime across Central City, including an electromagnetic blast that plunges the city into darkness, The Flash learns the the only way he can capture Mob Rule and save Central City is to learn how to make his brain function even faster than before – but as much as it helps him, it also comes with a steep price!

Collects: The Flash #1-8

After reading the zero-issue of The Flash, I must say my interest in the character and series increased considerably. Up until that point, I’d been happy to just see him featured in Justice League (which is the same sentiment, I suppose, I had with regards to Green Lantern). What I read in #0, however, really intrigued me, and I particularly liked the art-style. So, I picked this book up as soon as it was available. I was not disappointed.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DC Universe Presents, Vol.1 – “Deadman” & “Challengers of the Unknown” (DC)

DCUniversePresents-Vol.1.jpgWriter: Paul Jenkins (Deadman), Dan DiDio (CotU) | Artist: Bernard Chang (Deadman), Jerry Ordway (CotU) | Inks: Ray McCarthy (CotU), Andy Lanning & Marlo Alquiza | Colours: Blond (Dm), Tony Aviña

Ever since he died and became Deadman, Boston Brand has served the deity known as Rama Kushna, inhabiting bodies to complete missions that she dictates. But for the first time, Deadman may have a clue how to gain some control over his “life”, as he finds that the souls that he helps are going straight to Hell!

The Challengers. Out of time and on the run. Eight survivors of a fiery plane crash, bound by fate and death, are on a desperate mission to uncover the mysteries of the Unknown before the powers that saved their lives claim them for eternity!

DC Universe Presents is an anthology series, which will offer up short story arcs focused on a range of characters drawn from the wider DC Comics roster. In this first collection, we get the back-story of Deadman (who features in Justice League Dark, one of my favourite New 52 titles), and also the Challengers of the Unknown. The series has the potential to be a superb introduction for new readers, but also the potential to be very hit-and-miss. Which is how I felt about this book…

“Angel Exterminatus” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)


The Iron Warriors, the Emperor’s Children, and secrets between brothers

Perturabo – master of siegecraft, and the executioner of Olympia. Long has he lived in the shadow of his more favoured primarch brothers, frustrated by the mundane and ignominious duties which regularly fall to his Legion. When Fulgrim offers him the chance to lead an expedition in search of ancient and destructive xenos weaponry, the Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children unite and venture deep into the heart of the great star maelstrom that haunts Perturabo’s dreams. Pursued by vengeful survivors from Isstvan V and the revenants of a dead eldar world, they must work quickly if they are to unleash the devastating power of the Angel Exterminatus!

In Angel Exterminatus, McNeill gives us a story of a rebellion under strain. The novel follows two traitor legions that could not be more different: the stoic, methodical Iron Warriors; and the wild, arrogant Emperor’s Children, who have given themselves wholesale to the debaucheries of Chaos. The story maintains the high standards of the Horus Heresy series, and certainly justifies the new hardcover editions. This is a solid addition to the series.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Upcoming: “The Daylight War” by Peter V. Brett (Voyager/Del Ray)

I shamelessly pinch this from A Dribble of Ink, who got it after Entertainment Weekly was given the exclusive (as well as an extract).

I loved The Great Bazaar, Brayan’s Gold and The Painted Man. As with many novels I have on my Kindle, I seem to keep forgetting about The Desert Spear, though. At the same time, that was a novel that came out and was not as eagerly embraced as the first by the fantasy blogosphere. So maybe I’ve been hesitant because of that?

Needless to say, with book three now on the horizon (it’s published February 2013 in both the UK and US), it seems like a good time to get my ass in gear. Here’s the very red cover:


The one thing I don’t know, is if this is the cover for both the UK and US editions – certainly the American cover. When I saw early mock-ups (two versions, actually), they had chosen a blue palette. It was a very nice blue, I thought… The woman’s pose is way better in this version, and is certainly more suitable for Inevera.

Recent Acquisitions (November 2012)

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a post like this – I’ve posted the occasional pic of new arrivals and purchases on Twitter. This month, though, I seem to have had a particularly varied selection of new acquisitions, so I thought I’d write up a bit of a post.

Here’s the selection:


A few of these actually arrived a long time ago at my previous address, but for some reason they’ve not been very good at telling us they’ve arrived. Also, a package was delivered by UPS in October, but they decided not to tell me. Which is really frikkin’ unhelpful. So, if a publisher has sent something to me in New York via UPS – I’m sorry I haven’t said thank you. I never received it, due to frustrating continual, seemingly endless need to move.

Anyway, on to what has arrived…

James Treadwell TREASURE HUNT!


There are five “e-flyers” – featuring beautifully designed quotes from the book – hidden on five blogs across the web (one flyer on each blog). The challenge: Find all five!

To be in with a chance of winning a selection of fantasy novels from Hodder (see below), send a message to Hodder’s Facebook containing the names of the five blogs.

Prize Pack:

Advent by James Treadwell, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, The Gunslinger by Stephen King


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Quick Chat with JAMES SMYTHE


I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Explorer ever since I caught sight of the cover artwork. There’s something equally beautiful and terrifying about that image… Anyway, I did some digging and found out some more about the novel and Smythe’s writing. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy (expect a review in a couple of weeks or so, closer to the eBook release at least), but wanted to ask James some more questions about his novels, and being a writer. As it turns out, we have a very similar taste in movies, too…

Upcoming: WOLVERINE (Marvel Now)

There are jokes about the sheer breadth of titles that feature Wolverine – he’s in a number of Avengers titles, and there are even multiple Wolverine-centric titles. In the re-booted Marvel NOW initiative, coming in the wake of the universe-spanning Avengers vs. X-Men event, there is of course a new Wolverine #1. The pre-AvX Wolverine was ably helmed by Jason Aaron.

Post-AvX, however, the title has become even more intriguing: it will be written by Paul Cornell.

Cornell is a masterful British writer, who has written in the Dr. Who universe and also, most recently and familiarly for me, DC’s New 52 Demon Knights and Stormwatch, as well as Saucer Country for Vertigo. (A review of the first collected edition of the latter to come very soon.)

Art duties for Wolverine will be handled by Alan Davies.


Here’s what Paul Cornell had to say about the series:

“This is the series that gets into what makes James Logan tick, that shows him being, as he puts it, ‘a regular guy’, interacting with civilian friends of his in New York City… The most amazing thing about James is that he’s been alive so long, gone through so many extraordinary things, is such a strange being, but holds on – very hard – to being a guy who likes to hang out in bars with good company, who can run a school, who’s a decent, civilized man. Most of the time. No vampire alienation and boredom for him. He’s a man of the people. I’m going to poke that and see what happens.”

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to this. Wolverine #1 will be published some time in March 2013.

In semi-related Paul Cornell news: his latest novel, London Falling, will be published in December 2012 (UK) and April 2013 (US), by Tor Books in both territories.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Guest Post: “Triumph Over Tragedy” by Ari Marmell

TriumphOverTragedy-AnthologyThe other day I posted a write up of the Triumph Over Tragedy charity anthology, written by R.T. Kaelin who conceived of the idea. I also included a number of introductions or synopses for the stories that will feature in the collection, which I sourced from the authors. Ari Marmell, one of my favourite fantasy authors (whose work I nevertheless haven’t read nearly enough of) also wrote something up, but it turned out to be a lot more than I was expecting. Therefore, in the spirit of bringing you as much info as I can, here is Ari’s short article about his contribution, “Big Apple, Small Serpent”…


Big Apple, Small Serpent” wasn’t written with this anthology in mind. In fact, I wrote it well over a year ago, when the events that inspired it – the temporary escape of an Egyptian cobra from her enclosure – were still in the national news.

AriMarmellI wrote it, I edited it, I showed it to a few friends, I rewrote it... And then I stuck in a drawer. (Well, a folder on the hard drive. Call it an e-drawer.) Not because I wasn’t proud of it, but because I hadn’t the first clue what to do with it. It was something of a departure for me, really. I normally write fantasy (both traditional and contemporary) and/or horror. And while this had elements of those, it wasn’t really either. Nor was it precisely magical realism, or the “new weird,” or anything else. I honestly hadn’t the first idea where to submit it. I thought about just putting it up on my web site, but I kept feeling like I could find something else to do with it. And eventually, it just sort of slipped my mind.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Phil Athans forwarded me Ryan’s e-mail, inviting authors to contribute to this anthology. I knew I really wanted to contribute, but I wasn’t sure I was going to have the time to write something new. And that’s when “Big Apple, Small Serpent” jumped back to mind.

It’s a tiny bit of a squeeze, I admit. You have to sort of tilt your head a little and squint to see the “triumph over tragedy” theme in the story, but it is present. To me, though, that’s not what makes it appropriate for this book. No, it’s the fact that it’s based on a genuine news event from one of the cities hit by Hurricane Sandy – a far lighter event. An event that brought humor and wonder to the many across the nation who followed it, and that ultimately provided us with a happy ending.

Whether in good times or in bad, I don’t think we can get enough of those.


More on CR: Reviews of Conqueror’s Shadow, The Thief’s Covenant, False Covenant, and an Interview (the second ever for the site, actually)

To learn more about Ari multiple writing projects, many excellent novels, and other bits ‘n’ pieces, check out his website and be sure to follow him on Twitter.

His latest novel is Darksiders: The Abomination Vault.

Artwork: “Kill City Blues” by Richard Kadrey (Voyager US)

Today the US cover for the fifth Sandman Slim novel was released:


I’ve now read the first two novels in the series, and am very eager to get caught up before Kill City Blues is released. Expect a lot more of Kadrey’s work to feature on CR in the near future. A slightly-edited-to-avoid-spoilers synopsis is as follows:

James Stark, aka Sandman Slim has settled back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall — a multi-story copy of LA — infested with Lurkers and wretched bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods — and a few killers — on his tail.

Kill City Blues will be published in 2013: July in the US and October in the UK (although, as with the fourth book, it appears that the eBook edition will be available in the UK in July as well, according to

Monday, November 19, 2012

“Kill The Dead” by Richard Kadrey (Voyager)

Kadrey-2-KillTheDeadUKSandman Slim rides again. Kills some zombies.

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, crawled out of Hell, took bloody revenge for his girlfriend’s murder, and saved the world along the way. After that, what do you do for an encore? You take a lousy job tracking down monsters for money. It’s a depressing gig, but it pays for your beer and cigarettes. But in L.A., things can always get worse.

Like when Lucifer comes to town to supervise his movie biography and drafts Stark as his bodyguard. Sandman Slim has to swim with the human and inhuman sharks of L.A.’s underground power elite. That’s before the murders start. And before he runs into the Czech porn star who isn’t quite what she seems. Even before all those murdered people start coming back from the dead and join a zombie army that will change our world and Stark’s forever.

Death bites. Life is worse. All things considered, Hell’s not looking so bad.

It’s a little tricky to review this book, for two reasons. First, to go into too much detail will throw out a ton of spoilers for the first book. Second, I’d basically just be repeating all the praise I wrote in my review of Sandman Slim… Nevertheless, allow me to repeat myself…

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Red Lanterns, Vol.1 – “Blood & Rage” (DC Comics)

RedLanterns-Vol.01Writer: Peter Milligan | Artist: Ed Benes | Inks: Rob Hunter, Rebecca Buchmann, Mark Irwin, Sal Regla & Dave Meikis | Colours: Nathan Eyring & Rod Reis

The Green Lantern Corps have existed for millennia, using the power of their will to protect the Universe. But the Red Lantern Corps, bearers of the red rings of rage, are much newer, and their mission far more destructive. The deadly alien known as Atrocitus formed the Red Lanterns to take revenge on the evil Guardian Krona, who was responsible for the death of his family and his world. But now Krona is dead, and mindless rage is all the Red Lanterns have left.

Collects: Red Lanterns #1-7

This is one of those series I waited for a long time before trying. I read the #0 issue, and thought it showed a lot of promise, so I picked up this first book. I still don’t think I really ‘got’ all of it, but it’s certainly an interesting title, and I think it has a lot of potential. It’s also made me want to try out all of the other Green Lantern-related series… So, as I’ve already got my hands on a copy of Green Lantern Corps, expect some more Lantern reviews to start appearing in the near future. Red Lanterns is pretty dark, well-written, and was a very enjoyable read.

Superboy, Vol.1 – “Incubation” (DC Comics)

Superboy-01-ArtWriter: Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalcon | Artist: R.B. Silva & Iban Coello | Inks: Rob Lean | Colours: Richard & Tanya Horie & Hi-Fi

This first volume of Superboy takes us to the labs of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E., where the scientists thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that. But with the combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the Clone turns out to be more than just a set of data when his stunning powers was revealed.

Collects: Superboy #1-6

The first comics I read that featured Superboy were the first few Teen Titans issues. After a misplaced hesitation to read any of the series (the “-boy” made me wonder if it might belong in the selection aimed at younger readers), I decided to dive into the collected edition. And I was very pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Upcoming: “TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY” SFF Charity Anthology

Living in New York, it’s been impossible to miss the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Cyclone Sandy. With the Red Cross, Project Rubicon, Occupy Sandy and a considerable number of other official and crowd-sourced groups pulling together to help on the ground, author R.T. Kaelin decided to pull together contributions for a charity SFF anthology. The speculative genre has a history of pulling together to help worthy causes (I’m sure many of you will remember the hugely successful Genre for Japan initiative kicked off by now-Strange Chemistry editor, Amanda Rutter. To bring you more information about the Triumph Over Tragedy anthology, I asked Kaelin to write a few words, and also contacted a number of the authors involved to write a little intro to their stories (I’ll add more as and when they come in).

Over to Ryan …


by R.T. Kaelin

So, like many of you over recent weeks, I’ve been watching the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy after it ripped through the northeastern US. The images coming out from the region are astounding.

In past tragedies, I’ve donated some money to the Red Cross, but I’ve always felt like it was inadequate.

“Hey, you lost your home? Man, that stinks. Here’s fifty bucks. I gotta hop in my car now, get a cup of coffee and go off to work. What’s that? Your car and job are gone? Ooohh…”

This time, I had the idea to do more.

The idea was simple, really. Reach out to fellow authors and see if we could get some to write and donate some stories for an anthology. We would sell it and donate the full proceeds to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy (many of whom STILL do not have power).

The response was astounding. And thus, Triumph Over Tragedy was born.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Interview with BRENDA COOPER


Brenda Cooper’s next novel, The Creative Fire, has been receiving a fair bit of buzz around the corner of the blogosphere that I frequent. With the arrival of a copy of the book, too, I thought it would be a great time to interview Brenda, to get some more insight into her writing and work, her thoughts on the genre and more.

Monday, November 12, 2012

“Bloodsworn” by Nathan Long (Black Library)

Long-BloodswornThe final novel in the Ulrika the Vampire trilogy

Returning to Nuln after her adventures in Praag, Ulrika finds the Lahmian vampires preparing for war. Across the Old World, their rivals, the sinister von Carsteins, attack their strongholds and lead the witch hunters to their hidden lairs. Spurned by her sisters, Ulrika forms an uneasy alliance with the von Carsteins in a plot to destabilise the Empire by striking at its very heart – they plan nothing less than the assassination of Emperor Karl Franz. With enemies on all sides and the Empire in flames, Ulrika must decide whether her future will see her living among the humans, or as their enemy.

This is the final installment in Nathan Long’s Ulrika series, and it goes out with one hell of a bang. It runs the gamut of the fantasy genre – moving from urban-based mystery to epic battles and exaggerated magical conflict. It’s tightly plotted, populated by engaging and interesting characters, and is a great end to the series. Long is still one of my favourite fantasy authors, and I am a little sad to be saying goodbye to Ulrika.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Covers: “Fortress Frontier” gets a British Jacket

It should be no secret by this point that I’m a fan of Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series. The second in the series, Fortress Frontier, will be published in the US in a couple months, to follow a little afterwards in the UK. This means we get a new cover, too…


I really like this, and I think it matches the style of the UK edition of Control Point very well. It’s another great job by Larry Rostant.

Here’s the synopsis:

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed... but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier — cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place — Oscar Britton, public enemy number one...

Fortress Frontier will be published in January 2013 in both the US (Ace Book) and the UK (Headline).

More on CR: Control Point Review, Author Interview & Guest Post

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Upcoming: TERRA NOVA Anthology


Sense of Wonder, one of the other blogs I read, has been putting together a Spanish-language anthology of contemporary science fiction: Terra Nova.

The anthology will be published simultaneously in Spain and Argentina this December. An eBook edition with English translations of the short stories originally written in Spanish will follow shortly thereafter.

The amazing cover art (at top) was done by Ángel Benito. Here is the anthology’s table of contents:

Foreword, by Luis Pestarini and Mariano Villarreal

“The Paper Menagerie”, by Ken Liu (USA)

“Deirdre”, by Lola Robles (Spain)

“Memories of a Zombie Country”, by Erick J. Mota (Cuba)

“Light a Solitary Candle”, by Víctor Conde (Spain)

“Bodies”, by Juanfran Jiménez (Spain)

“A Day Without Dad”, by Ian Watson (United Kingdom)

“Memory”, by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría (Argentina)

“The Lifecycle of Software Objects”, by Ted Chiang (USA)

Two of these stories have received a good deal of attention already: Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie” won the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and also the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. It was also a finalist for the 2012 Locus Award for Best Short Story and 2012 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and a nominees for the 2012 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. Ted Chiang’s “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” won the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novella and 2011 Locus Award for Best Novella, and was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novella.

The paperback edition (about 250 pages) will be €15 in Spain (rest of the world, please contact), with subscriptions available for residents in Spain. Ebook editions in Spanish and English (the latter including only the Spanish and Latin American stories) will be published in early 2013.

For more, be sure to check out Sense of Wonder, and follow its writer on Twitter.

Artwork: “All-New X-Men” & “Deadpool” #1 Variants that I really, really like… (Marvel)

I just think this is great. It’s by Skottie Young:


And here’s the art for Young’s Deadpool variant:


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Interview with ADAM McOMBER


I came across Adam McOmber through a recommendation from James Oliver, via Twitter. I did some digging, and thought his work sounded really interesting. So, naturally, I thought it would be a good time to interview Adam, and find out a little bit more about his writing, working practices, and what makes his writing tick…

Giveaway: THE RETURN MAN by V.M. Zito (Hodder)

Zito-ReturnMan[2]To celebrate the UK mass-market paperback release of V.M. Zito’s excellent post-apocalyptic zombie tale, Hodder has been running a number of giveaways. Including this one! I read the novel last year – and really enjoyed it – so to whet your appetite, here’s the synopsis:

The outbreak tore the US in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again. But in the wastelands of America, you never know who — or what — is watching you.

In order to be in with a chance of winning one of FIVE copies of the novel, all you have to do is either…

… leave a comment with some form of contact info (Twitter handle, anti-spam-style email address, etc.)

… email me at the address at the very bottom of the page

This will be a relatively short giveaway, so I’ll be leaving this open for one week – until midnight, Thursday 15th November. This giveaway is UK ONLY. I’ll announce the winners, who will be picked at random, on here (in the comment thread and also in a new post, probably) shortly thereafter.

Sorry about that readers from elsewhere, but I’ll see what I can do about a worldwide or regional giveaway in the near future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Winter Soldier Vol.1, “The Longest War” (Marvel)

WinterSoldier-01-ArtBucky steps out into his own series

Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Butch Guice | Inks: Stefano Gaudiano, Brian Thies, Tom Palmer & Butch Guice | Colours: Bettie Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire & Matthew Wilson | Covers: Lee Bermejo

He’s been Bucky and Captain America – now, James Barnes returns to the role of the Winter Soldier!

They’re the super-spies of the Marvel Universe – and when ex-Russian sleeper agents awaken, Bucky and the Black Widow must go on the hunt for men trained by the Winter Soldier himself. But when the trail leads to Latveria, Bucky comes face-to-face with Dr. Doom!

Can Bucky and the Widow prevent war with Latveria? Can Bucky stop the sleepers he trained?

Collects: Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America & Winter Soldier #1-5

I’ve really enjoyed the books in Ed Brubaker’s first run on Captain America (I’ve read the first half of that volume, at the time of writing this). In fact, that series, recommended to me by Myke Cole, bears a lot of responsibility for me reading more Marvel titles, after I was disappointed with my re-entry in Summer 2011. I particularly liked the way Brubaker brought back James “Bucky” Barnes into the Marvel universe. Bucky is now the Winter Soldier, a clandestine operative working alongside with Black Widow and reporting to Nick Fury. He is also attempting to atone for his past as a Soviet spy and assassin. This is quite a different, superb Marvel comic.

Upcoming: “Emilie & The Hollow World” by Martha Wells (Strange Chemistry)

Another eye-catching cover from an upcoming Strange Chemistry release, this time for Martha Wells’s Emilie & The Hollow World:


Here’s the synopsis:

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

Sad to say, I haven’t read anything by Martha Wells at this point, but I’ve heard great things about Cloud Roads, Serpent Sea and Siren Depths. I hope to get around to them at some point.


An Aside: HELLBOY Timeline

I loved the movies, and I’ve enjoyed what few B.P.R.D. comics I’ve read, so when this appeared in my email inbox, I thought I’d share it:


[Click to – hopefully – enbiggen]

Monday, November 05, 2012

“The Racketeer” by John Grisham (Doubleday)

Grisham-RacketeerUSHCGrisham’s latest legal-conspiracy thriller

Given their importance, the controversies that often surround their work, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the United States, only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland. On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI want to know. Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price…

The Racketeer is another good novel from Grisham, an author whose work has rarely disappointed me. The novel plays to some of Grisham’s strengths – particularly his commentary on the American legal and penal systems, but it is not without its minor flaws. It was enjoyable, certainly, and definitely well-written and tightly-plotted. That being said, there was a definite turning point around the middle when I went from loving the novel, to slight and momentary confusion, before coming back around to enjoying it. I am, therefore, slightly conflicted about the book.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Comics Catch-Up: Boom Studies


Pretty explanatory what this post is all about. Boom have really been able to keep a good position in the super-hero genre. With the end of both Irredeemable and Incorruptible (both my Mark Waid), I was worried I would miss out on alternative super-hero awesomeness. Thankfully, Si Spurrier came along with Extermination, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning brought us Hypernaturals, a good (if slightly uneven) sci-fi super-hero extravaganza. Sam Humphries stepped up with Higher Earth, a dimension-hopping mystery that shows a great deal of promise, but is also quite uneven at times. In addition to these, there’s also Fanboys vs. Zombies, which is usually just a lot of nerd fun, but this issue was a little lackluster, I thought.

And finally this week, the debut issue of much-anticipated and talked about (but sadly disappointing) Freelancers.

I don’t know why, but I think I was in a bad mood when I read most of these. Only Extermination really ignited my interest, although the others do have interesting stuff to offer. Hypernaturals is improving, though, after a bit of a lull.

Reviewed: Extermination #5, Fanboys vs. Zombies #7, Freelancers #1, Higher Earth #5 & 6, Hypernaturals #4 & 5

Upcoming: Neil Gaiman’s “Ocean at the End of the Lane”

Shamelessly pinched from the great A Dribble of Ink, I thought I’d share what is, at least, nearing-completion cover art for Neil Gaiman’s next novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I think it’s a pretty amazing image:


Now, I have a confession to make: I haven’t read a lot of Gaiman’s work. I’ve read and enjoyed Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett) and American Gods, which I thought was amazing. However, I’ve just never got around to reading any of his other novels or graphic novels – and I really want to read Sandman

Anyway, here’s the publisher’s synopsis for the novel, which I shamelessly pinched from Gaiman’s LiveJournal (which is a reliably interesting read, too, by the way):

The Ocean At The End of the Lane is a novel about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when he was seven: the lodger stole the family's car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and a menace unleashed -- within his family, and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a ramshackle farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac -- as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

Which sounds suitably strange and cool. I’ll hopefully get this read and reviewed for the site, but I’m going to stop making promises like that because a) I’m finding myself with less time for reading, and b) I seem to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of book-funk that rarely lets me settle on a book that I’ve been eagerly waiting for… Maybe I’m just going nuts…?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Cable & Deadpool Vol.1, “If Looks Could Kill” (Marvel)

Cable&Deadpool-Vol.1-IfLooksCouldKillWriter: Fabian Nicieza | Artists: Mark Brooks & Patrick Zircher

Wade Wilson (Deadpool) and Nathan Summers (Cable) are back, and this time they’re stuck with each other! Can two grown men armed to the teeth with deadly genetic weaponry live together without driving each other crazy?!

Collects: Cable & Deadpool #1-6

I’d never read any comics featuring Deadpool before this one, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew he was sometimes referred to as mouthy, and Ryan Reynold’s portrayal of the character in Wolverine certainly fit the part (indeed, the actor even gets a mention in this series). It wasn’t the best book I’ve read, and there didn’t seem to be enough focus on character development as I would have liked. It’s fun, but by no means the most rewarding comic I’ve read. Nevertheless, I’ll be reading book two quite soon…

Thursday, November 01, 2012

“Stolen Prey” by John Sandford (Putnam)

Sandford-StolenPreyUSA family massacred, a possible money laundering scheme, rampaging hitmen…

Lucas Davenport has seen many terrible murder scenes. This is one of the worst. In the small Minnesota town of Wayzata, an entire family has been killed — husband, wife, two daughters, dogs.

There’s something about the scene that pokes at Lucas’s cop instincts — it looks an awful lot like the kind of scorched-earth retribution he’s seen in drug killings sometimes. But this is a seriously upscale town, and the husband was an executive vice president at a big bank. It just doesn’t seem to fit.

Until it does. And where it leads Lucas will take him into the darkest nightmare of his life.

This is just a quick review. Stolen Prey is the 22nd novel in Sandford’s Prey/Lucas Davenport series, and it’s another strong installment – though not the strongest. It shows off Sandford’s skill for great pacing and prose, although I think it’s possible the author was trying to cram a little too much into the novel, which gave it a rather meandering feel to it. It doesn’t “fail” as a thriller at all, and it was still gripping and engaging, but I think Sandford has written stronger novels in the past.

New York after Sandy

This is a clip from yesterday’s Rachel Maddow Show, in which she offers a stark video of the electricity situation on Manhattan:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

We’re in Astoria, which has been – amazingly – left largely unscathed by Sandy’s passage. We saw a few downed trees (below) and some downed power lines by the largest community church, but other than that we have escaped unharmed. I’ve said it in other venues, but it feels a little like we somehow cheated…