Archive for September, 2011


Michaele Jordan was born in Los Angeles, bred in the Midwest, educated in Liberal Arts at Bard College and in computers at Southern Ohio College. She has worked at a kennel and a Hebrew School and AT&T. She’s a bit odd. Now she writes. Her previous novel, Blade Light, a charming traditional fantasy, was serialized in Jim Baen’s Universe and is now available as an ebook at Amazon or at iBooks. Her next novel, Mirror Maze, is available for pre-order from Amazon.

Listen to the Man-He’s Telling It Like It Is

I recently read SF Signal’s guest post by J.M. McDermott, Our Digital Future: What Is It & What Should We Do About It? and I had to comment.

My comment is: Right On! (Or Write On! if you prefer to pun your way through your opinions.) He’s absolutely correct. The digital age is already here, and it’s going to get more so, not less so.

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Weekend Playlist: Reader Recommendations

The first part of the Weekend Playlist is over, and we’re already up to six weeks! Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve gotten a number of recommendations from people that build upon the lists that we’ve put together, and I’m very happy to see the input. The current plan is to run in five week batches, with something easy in between, and this week, we’re going with the recommendations that you have submitted in the comments. Here’s a selection of what we liked from the comments. (There’s a lot, but here’s some of the best!)

For our first week, where we looked at Songs inspired by SF/F Books, we got a lot of recommendations:

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Courtesy of the Harper Voyager, SF Signal has 3 copies of Den of Thieves by David Chandler (the first book in The Ancient Blades Trilogy) to give away to 3 lucky SF Signal readers! In his alter-ego as David Wellington, the author writes critically acclaimed and popular horror novels and was one of the co-authors of the New York Times bestseller Marvel Zombies Return.

Here’s the book description for Den of Thieves:

Born and raised in the squalid depths of the Free City of Ness, Malden became a thief by necessity. Now he must pay a fortune to join the criminal operation of Cutbill, lord of the underworld–and one does not refuse the master…and live.

The coronet of the Burgrave would fulfill Malden’s obligations, though it is guarded by hungry demons that would tear the soul from any interloper. But the desperate endeavor leads to a more terrible destiny, as Malden, an outlaw knight, and an ensorcelled lady must face the most terrifying evil in the land.

And here’s how you can get it…

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Friday YouTube: Galaxy Quest (The Original Series)

I’m long overdue for a re-watch of this….

SF Tidbits for 9/30/11

Interviews and Profiles

News

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REVIEW: Blackdog by K.V. Johansen

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In a world where deities walk the earth, a young avatar of a mountain lake Goddess (with a mysterious, ancient, man-possessing spirit bound to her service as her ally) is on the run from an avaricious wizard who is more than he appears.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Vivid worldbuilding; the cultures and societies feel fresh; an interesting and complex set of protagonists and antagonists.

CONS: The temporally episodic nature of the narrative leads to some characters frustratingly being abruptly dropped and only later being picked up again; some of these plotlines seem sadly undernourished.

VERDICT: A coming of age story about a young goddess in a rich fantasy world.

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Ghosts, Figments, and Echoes: A Meandering Phantasy


“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.” – Terry Pratchett

“In reinventing the world of intense, unreproducible, local knowledge, seemingly by a denial or evasion of current reality, fantasists are perhaps trying to assert and explore a larger reality than we now allow ourselves. They are trying to restore the sense — to regain the knowledge — that there is somewhere else, anywhere else, where other people may live another kind of life.

The literature of imagination, even when tragic, is reassuring, not necessarily in the sense of offering nostalgic comfort, but because it offers a world large enough to contain alternatives and therefore offers hope.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

It’s probably obvious that I am a great admirer of Ursula K. Le Guin; I quote her frequently and often cite her works as touchstones or as worthy companions when discussing other works and writers. I discovered her quite early in my literary life and I think she was the first author who profoundly shook me up. I put two of her books on my list of 10 suggestions for the recent NPR poll on SF & Fantasy and think she’s a grand choice for a Nobel Prize (even if I don’t much like the Prize itself). She has been a massive influence on my approach to writing and my critical perspective on literature.

But I only know her through the words she has written and that I have absorbed. I have created an Ursula K. Le Guin in my mind. To me she is a Mobile of the first order and a wizard of great efficacy and wisdom. Even when I disagree with her (which happens more as I grow older and sit with her words, and read others’ responses to them [such as Samuel R. Delany’s critique in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw]) she is that durable personage of sagacity and profound wit. I have created an Ursula K. Le Guin in my mind that is sometimes hard to resist, especially when she writes something that, while deeply affecting to me, is also a bit of rubbish.

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In episode 81 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with author Philip Athans.

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Daily Science Fiction Roster of Stories for October 2011

Daily Science Fiction has announced its October 2011 line-up of free stories:

  • October 3: “Wider and Deeper Carma” by Lynn Park
  • October 4: “Where Sea and Sky Kiss” by Dan Campbell
  • October 5: “Canvas” by M.K. Hutchins
  • October 6: “If Wishes Were Fishes” by Amanda M. Hayes
  • October 7: “A Concert of Flowers” by Kathleen Elizabeth O’Connor
  • October 10: “The Human Guest” by Marge Simon
  • October 11: “The Farthest Coast” by Jeremy Lightner
  • October 12: “The Quest Unusual” by David Lee Steffen
  • October 13: “California Gurls” by S.A. Rudek
  • October 14: “Free Lunch” by Will McIntosh
  • October 17: “Spidersong” by Alex Shvartsman
  • October 18: “My Dearest Miranda” by Jaime Lee Moyer
  • October 19: “Amy’s First” by HenrySzabranski
  • October 20: “Selecting” by John M. Shade
  • October 21: “Sea Charm” by Ann Chatham
  • October 24: “Junk Silver” by Michael Canfield
  • October 25: “Like Origami in Water” by Damien Walters Grintalis
  • October 26: “Tomorrow’s Dawn” by Milo James Fowler
  • October 27: “Radical Therapy” by Edward Gary Kratz
  • October 28: “I Kill Monsters Nathaniel” by Matthews Lee
  • October 31: “Classroom of the Living Dead” by James Van Pelt

SF Tidbits for 9/29/11

Interviews and Profiles

News

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J.M. McDermott‘s first novel was plucked from a slush pile and went on to be #6 on Amazon.com’s Year’s Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine‘s Recommended Reading List for Debuts. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, Apex Magazine, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, among other places. He has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and an MFA in Popular Fiction from the Stonecoast program of the University of Southern Maine. By night, he wanders a maze of bookshelves and empty coffee cups, and by day he wanders the streets of Atlanta, where he lives and works. He tries to write in between.

[Continued from Part 1…]

More Than Just Small Success… There’s Something Exciting In That Dark Amazonian Water

Amazon is a gorilla that would think nothing of ripping your arms off and beating you to death with them if it meant they could control more of the market share of the publishing world. Make no mistake about that. But, instead of ripping arms off, they have a different tactic in their quest to reach the top that is sneakier by far. Firstly, they have infinite shelf space. Secondly, they have magnificent accounting.

Here’s the thing that really got my attention when I self-published a novelette on the Kindle, the Nook, and Smashwords: With this project, DEATH MASK AND EULOGY, I am not at risk of a death spiral. When I first put the work up on the Kindle, I worried because sales were slow. Then, it occurred to me that there were no real consequences to slow sales. I could take the time I needed to build an audience, even being patient and letting an audience find the book without too any effort on my part at all beyond writing more books if I wanted to pull a Thomas Pynchon in the eBook realm. I have time for this eBook to find an audience, because I am not locked into an aggressive consignment contract that will pull books from the shelf in three-six months as a mark against future orders. My project can reasonably last on the shelves as long as there are software stores that distribute eBooks for a portion of the sales and no meaningful upfront fee. As I own all the rights (until Amazon and Nook decide to battle out over them with updates to their terms of use, which would be evil and wrong and therefore feel inevitable to me) I can walk at any time, and find another distributor on-line that behaves properly towards me and my content. (For instance, the lovely Weightless Books…)

Unlike most software, a text file is not really going to go obsolete as long as it can be reformatted for new text readers.

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10 Worthwhile Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Look For in October 2011

This week at Kirkus reviews, I talk about 10 Worthwhile Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Look For in October 2011.

Stop by and see which ones tickle your fancy…

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Please let us know!]

Sidekicks. No heroine or hero is complete without Hero Support, the sidekick. So we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Who have been the most memorable sidekicks in genre fiction? What made them memorable?

Here are their answers…

David Gerrold
David Gerrold is in training to be a curmudgeon. Approach at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

In comic books: Robin.

In detective stories: Watson.

In science fiction: R. Daneel Olivaw.

In fantasy: Samwise Gamgee.

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William Shatner Sings Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’. No, Really!

Admittedly, this is an unfinished song, but I’m not sure how you sink to this performace of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”…

… from the awesomeness that is the Pulp cover song “Common People”.

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The 2011 Strange Horizons Fund Drive

The 2011 Strange Horizons Fund Drive is in full swing.

You should know that Strange Horizons, often linked to in our daily tidbits, is a great destination for intelligent discourse on the science fiction and fantasy.

Do consider stopping by and showing them some love.

GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Win a Copy of ‘Cardanica (A Steampunk Nightmare)’ by Dario Tonani

There is still some time left for you to enter our giveaway of Cardanica (A Steampunk Nightmare) by Dario Tonani, but hurry, time is running out!

See the original post for details on how to enter.


SF Tidbits for 9/28/11

Interviews and Profiles

News

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J.M. McDermott‘s first novel was plucked from a slush pile and went on to be #6 on Amazon.com’s Year’s Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine‘s Recommended Reading List for Debuts. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, Apex Magazine, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, among other places. He has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and an MFA in Popular Fiction from the Stonecoast program of the University of Southern Maine. By night, he wanders a maze of bookshelves and empty coffee cups, and by day he wanders the streets of Atlanta, where he lives and works. He tries to write in between.

Welcome to the Future, Which Will Be Evenly Distributing Itself Sooner Than We Think, But Not That Soon…

The digital age is already here. It is not evenly distributed, but it is already distributing itself nicely, and seems to be moving more towards that direction than away from it. Raise your hand if you own an eBook reader. Raise your hand if you read off of it more than off printed words on a page. Not everyone has raised their hands, but the day is coming sooner than we think, but not that soon, when the number of people who read text as ink printed on paper will easily be outmatched by the number of people who carry their entire library in their pocket to be downloaded from the server somewhere where they store all their books. It will be just like how some people listen to vinyl records as opposed to MP3 players, but even they will probably have a well-stocked iPod strapped to their arm when they go for a jog or hop about town in the automobile that comes with an iPod port, and couldn’t play a CD without skipping much less anything as warm and lush as a good vinyl record. Books may be the superior way to read, with the tactile, soulful qualities that have made them such beautiful companions for so many centuries, but they are still going to be replaced by text on screens. It has already happened. Sorry.

I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground, gathering data, and gathering links. I don’t think for a minute I’m an expert on any of this stuff, and I welcome anyone who can raise their voice to correct me where I’m incorrect or misguided. Part of putting this post up in the world is my desire to learn more about what’s happening. Here’s what I’ve come up with, so far.

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Over the summer, NPR solicited the input of its listeners to rank the top science fiction and fantasy books of all time. Over 60,000 people voted for the top picks which were then compiled into a list by their panel of experts. The result? This list of 100 books with a wide range of styles, little context, and absolutely no pithy commentary to help readers actually choose something to read from it.

We at SF Signal have, once again, come to the rescue. This flowchart is designed to help you follow your tastes, provide context, and fulfill (indeed exceed!) any need for pithy commentary you might harbor.

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Lavie Tidhar’s ‘Osama’ Released for the Kindle

Lavie Tidhar’s new novel, Osama, is now available for the Kindle on both Amazon and Amazon UK.

Osama, published by PS Publishing in the UK, has been called “intensely moving” by Interzone, and a “powerful and disturbing political fantasy by a talent who deserves the attention of all serious readers” by Strange Horizons.

Osama tells the story of a private detective hired to locate the obscure writer of pulp novels featuring one Osama bin Laden: Vigilante. The detective’s quest takes him from Vientiane to Paris, London, New York and Kabul, across a subtly-changed world where nothing is quite as it seems – including himself.

Locus called the novel “a provocative and fast moving tale that raises good questions not only about the heritage of Al Qaeda, but about the slippage between reality and sensational fiction that sometimes seems to define our own confused and contorted experience of the last couple of decades.”

Tidhar is the author of the popular steampunk novels The Bookman and Camera Obscura, and is a current World Fantasy Award nominee for his work on the World SF Blog.

PS Publishing is the award-winning publisher of limited hardcover editions by the likes of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, China Mieville and Lawrence Block, among others.

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