Archive for July, 2010

REVIEW: Kraken by China Miéville

REVIEW SUMMARY: Miéville’s best book so far.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In a London where the magical is normal, mages see fire coming for the city. Billy Harrow is utterly unprepared to find out he’s supposed to avert the apocalypse.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: I was never quite sure what was coming next, and I laughed out loud, which is a first with a Miéville book.

CONS: Be warned that this is not a beach read. It is intense. The involvement of the UMA, while a necessary plot point, felt a bit like forcing personal politics into the thing.

BOTTOM LINE: This is not your everyday apocalypse.

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TOC: Black Static #18

The contents of Black Static #17 (Cover art by Ben Baldwin) have been posted:

Stories

  • “Orinoco” by Nina Allan
  • “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Carole Johnstone
  • “A Man of Ice and Sorrow” by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  • “The Obscure Bird” by Nicholas Royle
  • “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” by Mercurio D. Rivera

Features

  • White Noise – news compiled by Peter Tennant
  • Electric Darkness by Stephen Volk
  • Interference by Christopher Fowler
  • The Campaign for Real Fear – second ten winning 500-word stories selected by Maura McHugh and Christopher Fowler

Reviews

  • Case Notes by Peter Tennant
  • Blood Spectrum by Tony Lee

SF Tidbits for 7/31/10

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REVIEW: Quartet & Triptych by Matthew Hughes

REVIEW SUMMARY: A wonderful science fiction caper novella by one of my favorite writers working today

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Luff Imbrey is a master thief working in the Archonate under the radar. He hopes to steal a fabled art object with the help of the essence of a woman dead 4,000 years.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: An interesting story with several good twists along the way.

CONS: At only 90 pages, it was a little short. I would love to have seen more of Luff, his stuff, and the worlds he is visiting/robbing.

BOTTOM LINE: Fans of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, Cordwainer Smith, or Donald Westlake should find this a wonderful time.

I love the work of Jack Vance. He wrote literate travelogues of interesting places and people across the universe and peppered them with fun stories. Matt Hughes has certainly taken on his role as Vance’s successor and made the best of it. His stories of the Archonate, particularly those featuring Henghis Hapthorn have been wonderful tales of cultures and planets far from our own. The mind of a schemer like Henghis is always interesting to watch as plans are made, altered, scrapped, and re-made to achieve the results he desires.

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TOC: ‘Teeth: Vampire Tales’ edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Editor Ellen Datlow has posted the table of contents and cover for her Young Adult vampire anthology new anthology Teeth: Vampire Tales, which she co-edited with Terri Windling.

  1. “Things to Know About Being Dead” by Genevieve Valentine
  2. “All Smiles” by Steve Berman
  3. “Gap Year” by Christopher Barzak
  4. “Bloody Sunrise” by Neil Gaiman
  5. “Flying” by by Delia Sherman
  6. “Vampire Weather” by Garth Nix
  7. “Late Bloomer” by Suzy McKee Charnas
  8. “The List of Definite Endings” by Kaaron Warren
  9. “Best Friends Forever” by Cecil Castellucci
  10. “Sit the Dead” by Jeffrey Ford
  11. “Sunbleached” byNathan Ballingrud
  12. “Baby” byKathe Koja
  13. “In the Future When All’s Well” by Catherynne M. Valente
  14. “Transition” byMelissa Marr
  15. “History” by Ellen Kushner
  16. “The Perfect Dinner Party” by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
  17. “Slice of Life” by Lucius Shepard
  18. “My Generation” by Emma Bull
  19. “Why Light?” by Tanith Lee

The book is scheduled for an April 2011 release.

GIVEAWAY REMINDER: ‘A Wild Light’ by Marjorie M. Liu

There is still some time left to enter our A Wild Light giveaway , but hurry!

See the original post for the details on how to enter.

SF Tidbits for 7/30/10

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REVIEW: The Burning Skies by David J. Williams

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fast-paced, action packed military science fiction thriller.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the aftermath of the destruction of the terrorist group Autumn Rain, U.S. Counterintelligence agent Claire Haskell finds her world upside-down, while it becomes clear that the Rain is not gone for good, and they have much larger plans of their own.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Williams knows and understands everything that goes into warfare, and blends in a good environment of post-human cyberpunk and military science fiction action to keep you awake at night.

CONS: The action overwhelms the narrative at points, and coupled with a strange writing style, the book could be a chore to get through.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite some of the problems with the text, this is a fun, interesting story that continues the first book of the trilogy.

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Weslayan University Press has posted the table of contents for the awesome-looking anthology The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction edited by Arthur B. Evans, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Rob Latham, & Carol McGuirk.

Check out this table of contents, organized by story theme:

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SF Tidbits for 7/29/10

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In honor of the Shared Worlds teen SF/F writing camp, we asked this week’s panelist for writing advice…

Q: What was the best writing advice you received as a teenager/young adult, and who gave it to you? For bonus points, If you knew then what you know now about the writing life, would you have continued to pursue it? How much of a disconnect is there between your vision of the writing life and the reality of it?

Here’s what they said…


Karen Joy Fowler
Karen Joy Fowler‘s The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season. In addition, Sarah Canary won the Commonwealth medal for best first novel by a Californian, and was short-listed for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize as well as the Bay Area Book Reviewers Prize. Fowler’s short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999. Fowler’s latest books include Wit’s End and the upcoming collection What I Didn’t See.

I wasn’t trying to be a writer as a young adult so no one was giving me advice about how to do it back then. What I was doing was a ton of reading, which turned out to be the best thing I could have been doing anyway. What was particularly good about my reading was that I hadn’t learned to make a distinction between one kind of book and another; I hadn’t ever told myself I liked one kind of book, but not another. So I read widely — books for children and for adults, poetry by Emily Dickinson and Garcia Lorca, The Lord of the Rings and Don Quixote and The Hunting of the Snark. I read hundreds of YA’s whose titles I’ve forgotten, but whose stories I still remember about high school proms and football teams and how to be popular. I read Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie mysteries, short story collections like Junior Miss and The Night the Bed Fell and collections of humor and horror. I read non-fiction like Men Against the Sea and Old Bones, the Wonder Horse, and historical biographies of all sorts. When I came to writing, many years later, I realized that I had unconsciously picked up techniques from all those sorts of books. And that I had no limiting vision of what I could or could do in any particular piece, although many tried to convince me otherwise. I had a good solid sense of there being no rules at all.

The best advice no one actually gave me was to read a lot of any and everything.

The thing I didn’t understand about the writing life was how public it can be. It looked very private when I imagined it — there you are, alone in your room, pulling images as fast as you can from that clown-car between your ears we call your brain. You need please no one, but yourself. I didn’t think at all about reviews and reader reactions and sales figures. I didn’t picture interviews and readings. The alone-in-your room part is still the part I like best.

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Trailer: DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online, as you might expect from the name, is DC’s foray into the online world of MMORPGs using their stable of superheroes to sweeten the pot. I’ve read some not so glowing reviews of the gameplay (still in closed beta so plenty of time to fix that) which does nothing to stoke my interest in the game.

And neither does the trailer. However, make a full blown movie based on the trailer and now you’re talking!

Just, damn.

Jane Austen’s Fight Club

It’s amazing what you can find while trolling around the internets. We’ve seen classic works of fiction mashed with modern day ideas (Android Karenena for instance), now Jane Austen gets the mashup treatment as she and her cohorts start a fight club.

Hilarious!

Trailer: Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder seems to be one of those directors that you either love or hate. After 300 and Watchmen, Sucker Punch is an all original story co-written and helmed by Snyder. The synopsis:

A hyper-violent spin on Alice in Wonderland for his directorial follow-up to Watchmen with this Cruel and Unusual Films production for Warner Bros. The plot details the action-packed fantasy world of a mental patient (Emily Browning), who escapes from her reality to deal with her abusive stepfather.

I’ll say this, the trailer is visually interesting.

Chicks in mini-skirts: Check.

Full on Samurai warriors: Check.

Apparently takes place on another planet: Check.

Kung fu action: Check.

Flaming dragon: Check!

Dirigible destruction: Check.

Giant Japanese mech with gatling gun for an arm: Dear lord check!

The elements appear to be there but there seems to be something missing. The trailer doesn’t instill a ‘must see’ feeling. Maybe the full trailer will fix that.

SF Tidbits for 7/28/10

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Sharpen your keyboards, it’s time for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are the contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best…and why.

Books shown here:

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links.

REVIEW SUMMARY: A grim but very enjoyable superhero story.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Eric Forster learns to deal (or not) with his newfound god-like powers.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Gripping story of how one man copes with his sudden super abilities.

CONS: The story oversteps Eric’s descent into darkness.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a superhero story possessing an initial optimistic veneer but ultimately rooted in tragedy.

What would you do if you were suddenly granted god-like superpowers? That’s the question examined by A God Somewhere, a powerful graphic novel about slacker Eric Forster who survives a mysterious explosion that leaves him with seemingly omnipotent powers.

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Good news for all Kindle owners out there, Kay Kenyon’s Bright Of The Sky is now free (for a limited time?) from Amazon. Bright Of The Sky is the first book in Kenyon’s Entire And The Rose series so you don’t have to worry about finding the first book. Lucky you!

See our review here. If you have a Kindle, this is well worth checking out and for free, you really have nothing to lose.

GIVEAWAY: ‘A Wild Light’ by Marjorie M. Liu

SF Signal has 2 copies of Marjorie M. Liu’s new novel,A Wild Light, to give away to 2 lucky SF Signal readers.

Here’s are the book descriptions:

For too long Maxine Kiss has felt an inexplicable darkness inside her-a force she channels into hunting the demons bent on destroying the human race. But when she finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside her grandfather’s dead body with no memory of what happened, Maxine begins to fear that the darkness has finally consumed her.

Here’s how to enter for your chance to win…

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WINNERS: ‘Waking the Witch’ by Kelley Armstrong

The winners of our Waking the Witch giveaway have been randomly chosen and notified.

Congratulations to:

  • Isaac B. from Deal, N.J.
  • Tiffany P. from Denver, Pa.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

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