Free eBook: The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams

Pyr is now offering The Crooked Letter: Books of the Cataclysm: One by Sean Williams available as a free PDF download.

From the book description:

When mirror twins Seth and Hadrian Castillo travel to Europe on holidays, they don’t expect the end of the world to follow them. Seth’s murder, however, puts exactly that into motion.

From opposite sides of death, the Castillo twins grapple with a reality neither of them suspected, although it has been encoded in myths and legends for millennia. The Earth we know is just one of many “realms”, three of which are inhabited by humans during various stages of their lives. And their afterlives…

In the tradition of Philip Pullman and Ursula K. Le Guin and inspired by numerous arcane sources, the Books of the Cataclysm begin in the present world but soon propel the reader to a landscape that is simultaneously familiar and fantastic.

[See also: SF Signal review]

Saturday YouTube: Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie discusses the inspiration behind his latest novel, Best Served Cold, with Blackwells’ Marcus Gipps. (Contains all 5 parts of the interview)

[via The Wertzone]

SF Tidbits for 2/28/09

[UPDATED] FINALISTS: 2008 Nebula Awards

The finalists for this year’s Nebula Awards have been announced:

[Note: Title links go to free online versions]

[3/2 UPDATE: The Nebula site has announced corrections. Two works that should be on the final ballot were not listed. Corrections made below. (via SF Awards Watch)]

NOVEL

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Friday YouTube: Alternate Ending for Back to the Future

[via videosift]

Download eBooks from Book View Cafe

Members of Book View Cafe have started to release select titles of their work as eBooks. Readers were requesting downloadable versions of the stories that now appear serialized on the website.

Launched this week were eBooks from Sarah Zettel and Maya Kathryn Bohnhoff.

Coming soon: eBooks from Brenda Clough, Laura Anne Gilman, Anne Harris, Phyllis Irene Radford, Vonda McIntyre, and Sue Lange.

The books will be available at the Book View Cafe site as well as the upcoming online science fiction convention, Flycon 2009.

See also:

SF Tidbits for 2/27/09

What’s the Worst Book You’ve Ever Read?

Adam Whitehead rediscovered David Langford’s SFX list of Top 20 Pre-1990 SF Novels:

  1. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
  2. Little, Big by John Crowley
  3. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. Pavane by Keith Roberts
  6. Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
  7. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
  8. Dune by Frank Herbert
  9. Blood Music by Greg Bear
  10. Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
  11. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
  12. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  13. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
  14. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
  15. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest
  16. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
  17. Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
  18. Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
  19. Gateway by Frederick Pohl
  20. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

More interesting to me was the list of The 10 Worst Pre-1990 SF Novels:

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GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Kim Harrison and Gail Martin Freebies Still Up For Grabs

Consider yourself reminded!

There is still time to enter our currently running giveaways:

Both giveaways end in a few days…so hurry!

Video: Why Dan Simmons Wrote Drood

Suvudu has a series of videos featuring Dan Simmons talking about Charles Dickens and his latest book, Drood. I’ve taken it upon my geeky self to assemble all 7 parts into a playlist, shown here for your enjoyment. Just sit back and each part will play automatically.

Great stuff.

OK now, JP, hurry up and finish it! :)

Which Science Fiction Stories Would Make Good Films?

Put on your thinking caps, sf fans!

I mentioned this in a recent tidbits because it was getting late, but I thought this deserved more attention, so here it is…

Rusty at Best Science Fiction Stories is looking for a short science fiction story that would be a good fit for a 10-15 minute film. It should be futuristic and dramatic.

If you have any suggestion, head on over to Best Science Fiction Stories and let Rusty know.

SF Tidbits for 2/26/09

RIP: Philip José Farmer

Sad news…

The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page is reporting that Philip José Farmer passed away today at age 91.

Farmer is perhaps best known for his Riverworld and World of Tiers series and began writing science fiction 50 years ago.

UPDATE: Remembrances and articles are appearing all over the web, including: Christopher Paul Carey, Win Scott Eckert, Frederik Pohl, Chris Roberson, SCI FI Wire, Biology in Science Fiction, Fantasy Book Critic, io9, Guardian, NYT Obit.

See also:

[via Locus]

MIND MELD: Who are Your Literary Influences in the Ongoing Conversation of Science Fiction?

Just as readers are sometimes influenced by the fiction they read, so, too, are writers. This week, we asked a bunch of writerly types:

Q: The ever-changing landscape of science fiction literature is said to be formed by the ongoing conversation between books; one book influences another, which influences another, and so on. Which books and writers have influenced your stories? What statements or challenges are asserted in your own work that you pass on to future writers?

Here’s what they said:

Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. His novels include Crystal Rain, Sly Mongoose, Ragamuffin, and Halo: The Cole Protocol. Coming up isa short story collection titled Tides from the New Worlds.

I was quite influenced by the Cyberpunk writers. The view of the street, more blue collar heroes, that got my interest. It’s funny because even though they influenced me, I’m only just now getting around to writing a near-futur-ish novel of that sort. Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, they both used developing world countries as settings and characters and important players in the world in their books. That was revolutionary for me.

Bruce Sterling’s Islands in The Net is initially set on Grenada. For me it was a light bulb moment. I’d tasted a bit of this with Arthur C. Clarke’s novels, where he has Pacific-Ocean characters, Indian computer scientists, and so forth. Clarke and Sterling and Gibson felt like writers who used the world and the world’s people as a stage in a fundamental manner that I didn’t feel as much in other works.

As an author I have no idea what statement or challenge I’ve really thrown down to other writers coming after me. If pressed further, I think part of a message I have is that fiction written with non-white characters or by non-white authors doesn’t have to be magical realist or “literary” in nature. I get these “disappointed” letters every once in a while from people that I write straight up action/adventure. But then I get letters from people who expected “ethnic SF/F” (their words, not mine) to be boring, and were totally pumped by the action/adventure featuring Caribbean heroes. My statement/challenge is that there is no one true route to adding diversity to our field, but that that route should be diverse in and of itself. Adventure shouldn’t be a specialized field, and diversity isn’t a dirty word, it can be a great deal of explosive fun. So in addition to opening things up a little, I’m also hoping that writers who follow will realize that they can forge their own brand, and that they should, thus widening the field.

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Wednesday YouTube: The Science of Watchmen

Physics (not physic) professor Jim Kakalios worked as science consultant on the Watchmen film. Here’s what he has to say about the science in Watchmen

Yeah, like I needed another reason to want to go see this…

[via Pharyngula]

The Shadow Over Innsmouth: The Music Video!

Another great find from Chris Roberson: a musical version of H.P Lovecraft’s classic story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth“, set to a song composed by The H.P Lovecraft Historical Society.

SF Tidbits for 2/25/09

Tube Bits For 02/25/2009

REVIEW: The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko

REVIEW SUMMARY: An extension of Melko’s novella that holds up quite well to the promise of the shorter work.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: John Rayburn meets his double from a parallel universe and becomes stranded on an alternate Earth.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Sense of wonder around the parallel universes; Melko’s writing is smooth and easily digestible; both story lines are uniquely gripping.

CONS: The story meanders a bit too long around the pinball machine project.

BOTTOM LINE: An excellent, well-told story with a classic sf feel.

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Behind the Scenes of Star Trek

There’s a little movie opening up soon that you may have heard of, J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek. Sci Fi Wire has a short ‘behind the scenes’ vignette with some of the cast and crew, along with a little new footage, in this short clip. And this movie will ‘blow you away!’, at least according to the cast.

I’m still skeptical. I’ll say this for Abrams, the movie looks really good and I especially like the ‘orbital diving’ scene. But the reservations are still there: Chris Pine doesn’t look like Kirk and while the trailers show plenty of action, Star Trek isn’t necessarily about that. As a result, the trailers don’t feel like Star Trek.

I’ll still go see this in the theater though, damn you J.J. Abrams.