Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Fantastic RIVERS OF LONDON Music Video!

I must shamefully admit that I haven’t read any of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels. Despite owning all of them. Nevertheless, and in advance of my eventual (inevitable) reading of the series, here is a recently-created music video, inspired by the novels…

How cool is that? I saw this performed in a basement pub at the UK launch of Broken Homes, the fourth book in the series. Other titles include Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground – all are published in the UK by Gollancz. (In the US, the first three books are published by Del Rey, and the fourth and yet-to-be-released fifth and sixth books are published by DAW Books).

Charles Cumming’s A COLDER WAR Mole Hunt

CummingC-ColderWarMoleHuntBannerSo, Harper Collins are running a special competition to celebrate the release of Charles Cumming’s latest international spy thriller, A COLDER WAR. For those of you who don’t know who he is or haven’t read his work (shame on you!), he is an absolutely fantastic author, and one of my favourites (of any genre).

The competition involves a mole hunt. The name of the mole has been hidden amongst blog posts around the internet (see the banner, right).

In each post, there are a couple of questions (mine are below). The first letter in each answer is in the name of the mole. Collect all the answers, and email your answer to killerreads[at] The winner gets a Kindle!


So, let us get on. Here are the two videos, and their corresponding questions…

1. Who does America have a so-called “Special Relationship” with?

2. What is Charles’ favourite thing about the writing process?

I have some catching up to do, still, but I loved Typhoon and The Trinity Six. On Friday, I started reading A Foreign Country, the first novel to feature A Colder War’s protagonist (Thomas Kell), and will be starting in on the new novel imminently (if I haven’t already)!

Charles Cumming is the author of: A Spy By Nature, The Spanish Game, Typhoon, The Trinity Six, The Hidden Man, A Foreign Country, and A Colder War

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Most Anticipated 2014: THE GETAWAY GOD by Richard Kadrey (Voyager US & UK)


If you’ve been following Civilian Reader for the past couple of years, you may have come across a review or two (actually, six) of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series. This is because they are awesome. In fact, along with Stacia Kane, I think Kadrey is one my favourite Urban Fantasy/Horror author. This year, Voyager will be publishing the sixth novel in the series, THE GETAWAY GOD. I can not wait to read it! Here are the details…

Sandman Slim must save himself – and the entire world – from the wrath of some enraged and vengeful ancient gods…

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude – not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer – James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya – the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil – the Wildfire Ripper – is stalking the city.

No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He’s also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he’s also Stark’s worst enemy… the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

The Getaway God is due to be published in August (US) and October (UK) 2014, by Harper Voyager.

Also on CR: Reviews of Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil in the Dollhouse (novella), Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues

Kadrey-MetrophageUS2014Speaking of Richard Kadrey: Voyager is also going to be re-issuing the author’s early cyberpunk novel, METROPHAGE this November (originally published in 1988), in both the US and UK. Here are the details:

Welcome to the near future: Los Angeles in the late 21st century – a segregated city of haves and have nots, where morality is dead and technology rules. Here, a small group of wealthy seclude themselves in gilded cages. Beyond their high security compounds, far from their pretty comforts, lies a lawless wasteland where the angry masses battle hunger, rampant disease, and their own despair to survive.

Jonny was born into this Hobbesian paradise. A street-wise hustler who deals drugs on the black market – narcotics that heal the body and cool the mind – he looks out for nobody but himself. Until a terrifying plague sweeps through L.A., wreaking death and panic. And no one, not even a clever operator like Jonny, is safe.

His own life hanging in the balance, Jonny must risk everything to find the cure – if there is one.

Check out the original cover for Metrophage (published as part of the New Ace Science Fiction Specials range)…


Artwork & Upcoming: A.A. Aguirre’s APPARATUS INFERNUM (Titan Books)

I somehow managed to miss these novels entirely – at least, the first in Aguirre’s Apparatus Infernum steampunk series, Bronze Gods (which was published in the UK in October 2013). With the second novel’s publication fast approaching (May 23rd, 2014), I thought it would be nice to showcase the covers in a quick post. Because I rather like them.


Across the water lay the land of Hy Breasil, inhabited by the immortal Ferishers. Though they were few, they were divided, and when the mortal conquerors came they did not stand together. They had magic but the invaders were many, and after a bitter war, peace was only made through marriage. And thus the ten great houses grew, and the city of Dorstaad rose, and the Ferisher bloodlines grew thin. But there were some who still wielded the ancient magic…

Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work all hours in the Criminal Investigation Division, keeping the citizens of Dorstaad safe. He’s a charming rogue with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s all logic – and the first female inspector. Between his instincts and her brains, they collar more criminals than any other partnership in the CID.

Then they’re assigned a potentially volatile case where one misstep could end their careers. At first, the search for the daughter of one of the great houses seems straightforward, but when the girl is found murdered – her body charred to cinders by an intricate and deadly device – Mikani and Ritsuko will be challenged as never before. A ruthless killer is stalking the gaslit streets, weaving blood and magic in a lethal ritual that could mean the end of everything they hold dear…



As powerful magic comes creeping back, dangerous days are dawning…

Criminal Investigation Division inspectors Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko were lucky to make it out of their last mission alive. Since then, strange troubles have plagued the city of steam and shadows, apparently as a result of magic released during the CID inspectors’ desperate interruption of an ancient ritual. The fabric of the world has been unsettled, and the Council has assigned Mikani and Ritsuko to investigate.

They soon discover that matters are worse than they imagined. Machines have developed minds of their own, cragger pirates are raiding the seas with relentless aggression, and mad elementals are running amok. As the chaos builds to a crescendo, Mikani and Ritsuko must fight a war on two fronts – and this time, they may not be able to turn the deadly tide…

Find out more about Aguirre’s Apparatus Infernum series by visiting the author’s website, following her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. The novels are published in the US by Ace Books. Here are the American covers:


These aren’t bad, either. Although, in that first one, Janus looks like Matt Smith’s version/incarnation of Doctor Who. And, in the second he looks like Malcolm McDowell’s ‘Alex’, from A Clockwork Orange, ready to dish out some ultraviolence of a Victorian-steampunk variety…

Mini-Review: Sex Criminals, Vol.1 – “One Weird Trick” (Image)

PrintWriter: Matt Fraction | Artist: Chip Zdarsky

Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

This is a very unconventional, amusing and even ground-breaking book. It is also one I’m not entirely sure how best to review. Is it funny? Absolutely. And not just because it’s sex-related, and because that can often be very funny – especially when it’s about weird stuff, or people’s anxieties about it. This is a great book, and it’s no wonder that it has been taking critics and comic fans by storm.


dePierresM-AuthorPicSmallLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Marianne de Pierres?

I’m an Australian speculative fiction author who loves cake, sport and good stories. That’s the short version! But if you check out my websites you’ll find out a whole lot more!

Your debut novel, Peacemaker, is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in May. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader? Is it part of a series?

Peacemaker is a genre blend Urban Fantasy, SF, Western set in Australia. The intimate story is about a woman (Virgin Jackson) who will do anything to save the last natural habitat in the world. The deeper level story is about the power of mythology in human social architecture. At the moment, I’m working on the sequel, but I’m hoping there might be more books after that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

STORM Gets Her Own Series! (Marvel)


By far one of the most popular of Marvel’s X-Men, Storm is finally get her own series! The comics will be written by Greg Pak, and the first issue is due out in July 2014. First up, some background on the character:

From a thief on the streets of Cairo to the Headmistress of the Jean Grey School to the Queen of Wakanda and everything in between, Ororo Monroe has always defied a single title. Her desire to better the world was never limited to just her own kind. On a mission to foster goodwill and safeguard her fellow mutants in her own way, Storm will embark on a new journey.

And, the pitch for the series (at least, the one from the press release):

You cannot stop a force of nature. She is Storm, a hero with no equal… and the skies will tremble at the sight of their namesake!

To repeat Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso: “It’s about time.”

The art at the top – by Victor Ibanez – will grace the cover of Storm #1 (Ibanez also handles interior art duties). Below is the Simone Bianchi Variant artwork.


“Mayhem” by Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books)

Pinborough-MayhemDr. Bond, I presume…

A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

This is the first of Pinborough’s novels that I’ve read, and I rather enjoyed it. It has all of the elements that I look for in fiction, in one tightly-written package: crime, investigation, mystery, a dash of the supernatural and horror. It’s an excellent mix, well-executed. And it’s the first in a series.

Guest Post: “Why Female Leads in TRUE FIRE?” by Gary Meehan

Meehan-AuthorPicWhy did I choose to write a story with two female lead characters? Because someone thought that question worth asking is the glib answer – would anyone have questioned two male leads? I wanted a story where girls and women had their own needs, their own desires, which weren’t secondary or subservient to those of the men. And if that marks the book out as unusual, well, what writer doesn’t want to be a bit different?

Megan was always a girl, but I didn’t want her to be the prize, pursued and protected by boys, nor an honorary man. She has more pressing concerns than who she’s going to hook up with. Enter Eleanor. The glamorous big sister, the wise mentor, the fierce ally – but, exiled to the mountains since birth, she is in some ways as much as a young adult as Megan. And she’s not just here to help Megan find her sister; she has a title to reclaim, a family house to restore, a legacy to live up to.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Star Wars Expanded Universe To Be Relaunched (and Some Upcoming Novels)


On April 25th, 2014, and following Lucasfilm’s “new unified storytelling approach”,* Disney Publishing Worldwide was “proud to announce their first step into that larger world”, one “closely connected to the cinematic entertainment currently in development at Lucasfilm”. They are doing this by relaunching their adult line of Star Wars fiction (adult as in “Not YA”, rather than, you know… Star Wars Porn, or Fifty Shades of Hutt). Two interesting quotations from the press release…

“The future Star Wars novels from Disney Publishing Worldwide and Del Rey Books will now be part of the official Star Wars canon as reflected on upcoming TV and movie screens.”

And also…

“We’re extremely proud of the hundreds of amazing Star Wars books we’ve published at Del Rey,” said Scott Shannon, SVP, publisher, Del Rey and Digital Content, “And now we’re excited to finally be able to call our upcoming novels true canon – a single, cohesive Star Wars storyline – all while keeping the amazing backlist of Star Wars Legends content in print.”

In other words, all of those sanctioned-by-George Lucas novels you’ve been reading for the past few decades? Apparently, they are no longer part of the official canon. This is… a little disappointing.

Books Received…


Featuring: David Baldacci, Ben Fountain, Michael Hastings, Rebecca Levene, Peter May, Brian McClellan, Graham McNeill, Heather O’Neill, James C. Scott, Peter Stenson

Friday, April 25, 2014

Upcoming: GLIMPSE by Kendra Leighton (Much-In-Little)

LeightonK-GlimpseUKFull disclosure, I was at university with Kendra Leighton. We were house-mates for one year. (Hurrah for the E House posse! Ahem. Good times…) I haven’t read the novel, yet, but it sounds pretty interesting and I thought I’d share the info on the blog. So, without further ado, here’s the synopsis…

Liz just wants to be normal. Her life is anything but.

Seven years ago Liz lost her mother and ten years' worth of memories. When she inherits the infamous Highwayman Inn, she hopes the move will be a fresh start. Then she meets Zachary. Zachary who haunts her by night and in dreams; who makes her question everything she is and wants to be; who seems scarcely real – yet makes her feel so alive.

Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ classic poem “The Highwayman”, Glimpse is a ghost story, a love story, and a story of a girl fighting for her future by confronting her terrible past.

Glimpse is due to be published in the UK by Much-In-Little (Constable & Robinson), in mid-June 2014. Be sure to check out Kendra’s website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook for more information about her novel and writing.

Upcoming: “The Last Broadcast” Comic Series (Archaia)

I’ve decided I’m going to start highlighting more comics before I’ve read them. While comics coverage has slipped a bit, recently, I’ve still been reading a fair few of them – I just haven’t been able to come up with an interesting way to feature ongoing series past a certain point without saying “it’s still good” or “the magic’s gone”. And so, we’re going to have more Upcoming and Artwork/Cover posts, I think. And here’s just the one to kick things off: THE LAST BROADCAST.


This series has a pretty cool premise, too:

Ever wonder what’s behind that “No Trespassing” sign?

An urban exploration group in San Francisco discovers a secret bunker belonging to the long-vanished 1930s stage magician Blackhall the Incredible at the same time as young, out-of-work magician Ivan receives a mysterious package that points him toward a possible conspiracy involving Blackhall’s death in 1934. Both groups dive into the mystery, not yet realizing that it’s about the change their lives forever.

Fans of Thief of Thieves and the film Now You See Me will find a lot that entices them, and the urbEx members of Backbone will win you over as the ragtag, Ocean’s Eleven-style crew of the sewers and abandoned warehouses.

Upcoming Angry Robot Titles: “The Buried Life”, “The Shadow Master” and “The Blasted Land”

After the recent cover reveal for Madeline Ashby’s highly anticipated Company Town, I thought I’d share a quick post to highlight three more upcoming titles from Angry Robot Books, which I thought looked interesting.

Patel-1-TheBuriedLife2014Carrie Patel, The Buried Life

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]

Stumbled across this on NetGalley the other day. Sounded interesting. The Buried Life is due out in July/August 2014. There’s a sequel planned, Cities and Thrones, which is out in February 2015.

Publisher’s Page | Author Website | Twitter | Amazon UK / US

CormickC-1-TheShadowMasterCraig Cormick, The Shadow Master

In a land riven with plague, in the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control – the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack…

File Under: Fantasy [ Wherefore Art Thou • Fathers of Invention • Unexpected Journeys • Secrets & Lies ]

Unclear if this is meant to be actual Venice or some analogue, but I’m intrigued. Hadn’t heard anything about it before spotting it (as above) on NetGalley. The Shadow Master is due to be published in June/July 2014.

Publisher’s Page | Author Website | Amazon UK / US

MooreJA-2-TheBlastedLands2014James A. Moore, The Blasted Land

The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and the armies of the empire have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen.

Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.

File Under: Fantasy

Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get around to reading Seven Forges, the first in this series. As with so very many titles I really want to read – there are too many books, and so very little time to read them all. And I’m easily distracted and swayed by my ever-shifting, fickle moods… Ahem. Anyway, I’ve heard good things about this series, so I’ll hopefully be able to get around to it sometime in the not-too-distant future. The Blasted Lands is out in July 2014.

Publisher’s Page | Author Website | Twitter | Amazon UK / US

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Short Story Review: “A Plague of Saints” by David Annandale (Black Library)

Annandale-APlagueOfSaintsA quick look at an early mission

Heresy in a hive city has brought Commissar Sebastian Yarrick and the 252nd Armageddon Steel Legion to the barren world of Molossus. With the inquisition at his back and a ragged force of rebels before him, Yarrick must discover the cause of the uprising and bring it to an end. Venturing into the hive’s lower levels, Yarrick and the soldiers of the Astra Militarum discover a deadly horror in the shadows.

This release also includes the bonus short story ‘Sacrificial’, in which Yarrick and the Steel Legion face corrupted cultists.

This is a really good short story. Whereas Annandale’s first Yarrick story, the novella Chains of Golgotha, told us of the mission during which the Commissar met his arch nemesis, A Plague of Saints takes us further back. Here, Yarrick is a relatively short-in-the-tooth Commissar, not yet risen to the heights of heroism and respect that long-time WH40k fans will be familiar with. All in all, it’s a great story, and helps flesh out one of the Imperium’s most interesting (human) characters.

Upcoming: “The Damnation of Pythos” by David Annandale (Black Library)

I’m a big fan of David Annandale’s work. So, when I found out that he was going to be writing a full-length Horus Heresy novel, I was most intrigued. Details are still very thin on the ground, but the novel – The Damnation of Pythos – is apparently due for publication in November 2014. It is, I believe, the 30th full-length novel/book in the series, too (including anthologies).

Best of all, though, it has an awesome cover…


And yes, that is a Death Guard shooting at a big-ass dragon/lizard-monster. It also looks like a Salamander’s shoulder-pad in the bottom right, there. Here’s the full, wrap-around artwork:


Also, here’s the synopsis (via

In the aftermath of the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V, a battered and bloodied force of Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders regroups on a seemingly insignificant death world. Fending off attacks from all manner of monstrous creatures, the fractious allies find hope in the form of human refugees fleeing from the growing war, and cast adrift upon the tides of the warp. But even as the Space Marines carve out a sanctuary for them in the jungles of Pythos, a darkness gathers that threatens to consume them all.

Horus Heresy Series (Novels & Anthologies): Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy in Flames, Flight of the Eisenstein, Fulgrim, Descent of Angels, Legion, Battle for the Abyss, Mechanicum, Tales of Heresy, Fallen Angels, A Thousand Sons, Nemesis, The First Heretic, Prospero Burns, Age of Darkness, The Outcast Dead, Deliverance Lost, Know No Fear, The Primarchs, Fear to Tread, Shadows of Treachery, Angel Exterminatus, Betrayer, Mark of Calth, Promethean Sun, Scorched Earth, Vulkan Lives, Brotherhood of the Storm, Scars (I-III, IV-IX), The Unremembered Empire, Vengeful Spirit (2014)

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

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

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


US & UK Covers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

MitchellS-HiddenDepthsA Secondary Character steps into the Foreground

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

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

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

Upcoming: COMPANY TOWN by Madeline Ashby (Angry Robot)

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

Here’s the synopsis…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Correct Sentiment, Strangely So Rare in Expression…

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

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

First up, on welcoming WoT fans into the community:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: Ben Kane on the “Romani Walk”


Photo Credit: North News and Pictures

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

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

Interview with JAY POSEY

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Books Received (Easter Week & a Bit)


Featuring: Mark Alder, Charles Cumming, Stella Gemmell, Terry Hayes, Sarah Pinborough, Justin Richards, Marcus Sakey, Tom Rob Smith

“The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” by Joel Dicker (MacLehose Press)

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKA gripping and absorbing, slightly flawed thriller

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.

That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

This is not an easy book to review. It has been on my radar for a while, and I’ve been eager to read it ever since I saw it mention on (I think) The Bookseller. I would say it mostly lived up to my expectations. It is expansive, brilliant, absorbing, briskly-paced, but also flawed and at times frustrating, even aggravating. A confounding novel to review. Despite the issues I had with certain elements of the novel and story, it was utterly gripping, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: DREAM STALKERS by Tim Waggoner (Angry Robot)

This is a deliciously creepy image: an evil, Joker-esque clown wielding a sledgehammer? Less sleep… Here is the cover for Tim Waggoner’s upcoming Dream Stalkers, the second in the author’s Shadow Watch series:


The cover is by amazing15. Here is the novel’s synopsis

A new drug – Shut-Eye – has been developed in the dreamland, and smuggled into our world. It’s addictive, and dangerous, and Shadow Watch agents Audra and Mr Jinx are on the case, preparing new recruits to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, a wave of ancient, bodiless Incubi are entering the dreams of humans in an attempt to possess them and live new lives. Only the criminally insane would ever risk a confrontation with them.

Thank goodness, then, for Mr Jinx: clown, Shadow Watch agent, psychopath.

The novel is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in October 2014. It is the sequel to Night Terrors. Be sure to check out Tim’s website and follow him on Twitter for news about his writing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Horus Heresy Short Reviews: “Wolf of Ash and Fire” & “Censure” (Black Library)

Just wanted to flag up two Horus Heresy short stories I’ve read recently, as they were both very good, and well worth an enthusiast’s time.

Kyme-HH-CensureCENSURE by Nick Kyme

In the depths of Calth’s arcology network, the Underworld War has raged for years. Aeonid Thiel, previously an honoured sergeant of the Ultramarines, once again finds himself in trouble – pitted against the daemonic forces of the Word Bearers, he has no choice but to venture back to the ravaged surface and brave the deadly solar flares that have scoured all life from this world. With a lowly Imperial Army trooper as his only companion, it falls to him to drive the maniacal Dark Apostle Kurtha Sedd and his warband from the overrun XIIIth Legion stronghold.

This was originally released as an audio-drama. When it was released as an eBook, however, I picked it up right away. Kyme is really growing as an author – each new story of his that I read, I can see that he’s just getting better and better. This story is set (once again) on Calth, the planet at which the Heresy and the extent of the betrayal truly exploded out into the open. After the battle of Calth, there could be no denying that the galaxy had indeed been set on fire. Censure is set some years after the events of Mark of Calth and Know No Fear, and Aeonid Thiel has returned to the ravaged world to fight against the Word Bearers and support the remnant loyalists. It focuses on a specific mission and conflict, and is fast-paced, nuanced, and expertly paced. Quite excellent, and very highly recommended.


McNeill-HH-WolfOfAshAndFireTHE WOLF OF ASH AND FIRE by Graham McNeill

The Wolf of Ash and Fire is a Horus Heresy short story that takes place during the Great Crusade, before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. The Wolf of Ash and Fire follows Horus Lupercal, fighting alongside the Emperor Himself, as the Luna Wolves fight for control of the Ork-held planetoid of Gorro. The Wolf of Ash and Fire was released as a free e-book with every copy of Macragge's Honour.

This short story was released free through the Black Library website some time ago. It’s a quick, battle-filled tale of Horus’s strategic expertise, battlefield fury, and pre-Heresy devotion to the Emperor. It is also one of the few stories that features both the Emperor and Horus on the battlefield together – and it is epic. The battle scenes are great, swirling and furious. I’d really like McNeill (or any of the Heresy writers, actually) to revisit this campaign, or just write some more stories like this. As with Censure, this is highly recommended for all fans of the series. I can’t wait for McNeill’s next Heresy novel, The Vengeful Spirit (out later this year).