REVIEW: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

REVIEW SUMMARY: Revenge is a dish best served rare and bloody, with side dishes of complex characters that might be good, or bad, or actually flawed like real people.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: General Monza Mercatto, leader of the mercenary Thousand Swords, is mutilated and left for dead by the Duke she was working for, her beloved brother slain. She survives, and plots revenge on Duke Orso (who wants to be King of Styria) and the six others who participated in her brother’s murder. She assembles a crew of fighters, poisoners and criminals to help her along the way.

MY REVIEW:

PROS:Bloody well choreographed fight scenes; great flawed characters.

CONS: Sometimes too bloody many fight scenes; didn’t understand some of the references to The First Law series (perhaps because I haven’t read book three!).

BOTTOM LINE: A great revenge novel, with characters that are not only interesting but evolve through the enacting of the revenge. This is a bloody book (keep your kids away) but it is a bloody good book too.

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Who’s the Best Savior in SciFi Film?

I’ve got a new post up today at AMC. This one is a poll on Science Fiction Films’ best savior.

Head on over and cast your vote!

The SF Signal Podcast #26: Lou Anders, Sue Lange, Mike Resnick and John Picacio Talk About the Impact of eBook Publishing

In episode 26 of the SF Signal Podcast, we have something very special for you. We’ve given our regular panelists the night off so they can recharge and refresh and have asked some very special guests to convene and discuss the future and impact of eBook Publishing:

  • Is the quickly rising eBook market going to save the publishing industry or further erode an already dwindling market?
  • Is the printed book dead?
  • Is eBook publishing good for authors in the long run?
  • What about piracy?
  • How will the (impending?) death of Borders affect publishing?

Our virtual convention panel includes:

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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘The Poison Throne’ vs. ‘The Crowded Shadows’ vs. ‘The Rebel Prince’

Grab your quill and ink, folks! It’s time for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are the contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us what you think of these bold covers.

Books shown here:

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

Cool Upcoming Titles From Haffner Press

From a press release from Haffner Press:

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Books Received: January 31, 2011

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the items we received this week.

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SF Tidbits for 1/31/11

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VIDEO: Isaac Asimov on Learning, Computers, Religion, Population Growth and the Universe

From a 1988 Bill Moyers interview with author Isaac Asimov. Isaac talks about learning, computers, religion, population growth, the universe.

[via Brain Pickings]

RIP: Melissa Mia Hall

Sad news…

We’ve received word that author Melissa Mia Hall has passed away. Melissa’s short stories have appeared in Twilight Zone, 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories, Masques 3, Realms of Fantasy, Cross Plains Universe and elsewhere.

Source: Scott A. Cupp, Lawrence Person (via Howard Waldrop)

SF Tidbits for 1/30/11

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Saturday Matinee: ‘Paul Starr’ (1964) – Puppet SciFi

[via Candlelight Stories]

Free Fiction for 1/29/11

SF Tidbits for 1/29/11

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Robot Clips Are 20 Minutes of Kolliwood Awesomeness And Win

Robot is an Indian (Bollywood I think) science fiction film that is part Matrix, part Terminator, part Transformers and all awesome. I’m not really sure what the plot entails beyond an android is created, falls for a pretty girl, possibly turns bad, somehow splits into multiples a la Agent Smith and turns into a giant CGI snake made up of his bodies. But you know what? I don’t really care because what you are about to see is made up of ‘win’ beyond your wildest dreams.

Apparently we have some enterprising Russian, who seems to dub the following clips, to thank for bringing this much of Robot to YouTube. After watching you won’t necessarily need to see the film because you’ll have seen the good bits, but you’ll probably want to. Hell, any movie where the main character tracks down a mosquito, learns to talk to and brings it back to the person it bit and makes it apologize has got to be worth about a hundred Mansquitos. Prepare yourself:

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REVIEW: Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

REVIEW SUMMARY: For epic fantasy the Wheel of Time stands tall. This book is a solid addition to the series, but it does not stand nearly as proud as some.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, nears the last battle. To save the world he will break the seals and release the greatest evil upon the world that there has ever been. Wherever he walks, light and life push back darkness and death from the Dark One’s ever-expanding touch upon the world.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Culminating plot points we have waited eons for; every scene with Rand.

CONS: Prose; inconsistency; rushed scenes.

BOTTOM LINE: For fans of the Wheel of Time this is an obvious must-read. The only question is when and where. For everyone else, start at Eye of the World and if you’re hooked, we’ll see how long you last. This one thing I can promise you: if you make it through the slow books, you will be rewarded.

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Friday YouTube: Wonder Woman Fights Crime…on a Skateboard

Is there anything she can’t do?

[via Skateboarding Magazine]

SF Tidbits for 1/28/11

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Taking a Hammer to Wish Fulfillment: A Critical Appreciation of James Enge


“I have a theory that the secret source of fantasy is a failure to adapt to one’s environment. As human beings, we make our environments adapt to us, when we can, but we also learn to adapt to our environments when necessary. At the core of any fantasist or dreamer is a voice saying, ‘Yes, I know I could fly in one of those big noisy machines, but I wish I could fly like a bird. I know I can get money by working, but I wish I could change the rocks in my backyard into gold. I know that I can become famous by running for City Council, but I would prefer to slay a Dragon.’

Maladjustment is usually viewed as a bad thing, but the ability to dream about things as they are not may be related to the ability to change things as they are. Escaping briefly from the possible to the impossible may allow us to return with fresh eyes, to distinguish the way things as they are from the way we thought things were. How else can you get this kind of perspective on reality, except through fantasy?” – James Enge

As a writer, a reader, and as someone who finds human behavior and language to be endlessly fascinating, I find metaphors to be educational and entertaining. Whether a bold cliche or a meaning hidden under an obscure configuration of words, the power of metaphor and its linguistic cousins astonishes and intrigues me. That is the inspiration for the title of this column, which is taken from a metaphor that James Enge has used to concisely characterize how he came up with and writes about his creation Morlock the Maker and the world that he wanders through. The crooked-shouldered sorcerer is the central character in his artistic oeuvre , comprised to date of three novels and several novellas and short stories. While Enge is a recent rising star in sword-and-sorcery fiction, his writing has a maturity and deftness that makes it distinctive and worthy of critical appreciation. His work also exemplifies this metaphor in a number of ways, as Enge takes this imaginary hammer to his characters, to his stories, and in some sense to the reader as well, reshaping escapism and wish-fulfillment into something more invigorating. What I would like to do in this column is, briefly and in preliminary fashion, sketch out what makes Enge’s work so singular and remarkable.

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TOC: ‘Welcome to the Greenhouse’ edited by Gordon Van Gelder

O/R Books has posted information about Gordon Van Gelder’s upcoming science fiction anthology with stories themed toward climate change: Welcome to the Greenhouse. Here’s the book description:

Forty years ago, Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo famously intoned: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Now, as the evidence for climate change becomes overwhelming, we learn the hard reality behind that witticism. The possible destruction, and certain transformation, of the ecosphere has been brought about by our own activities.

What will our new world look like? How will we–can we–adapt? The clash of a rapidly changing environment with earth’s self-styled ruling species, humans, provides ample creative fodder for this riveting anthology of original science fiction. In Welcome to the Greenhouse, award-winning editor Gordon Van Gelder has brought together sixteen speculative stories by some of the most imaginative writers of our time. Terrorists, godlike terraformers, and humans both manipulative and hapless populate these pages. The variety of stories reflects the possibilities of our future: grim, hopeful, fantastic and absurd.

And here is the table of contents:

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This is What Pixar’s ‘Up’ Would Look Like as a 1960’s Live Action Film

This live-action “remake” of Pixar’s Up is nicely done!

[via Cartoon Brew]