REVIEW: A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Williams

Tad Williams writes doorstop-sized fantasy series where, in his world building, not everything is ever revealed to the reader. One of the great characteristics about series such as Otherland, Shadowmarch, and Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is that, when they are done, there are pieces and connections that your brain continues to try to figure out; it’s not that he leaves big gaping holes in the background of the world or characters, he provides just enough to allow his reader to think, and to imagine. (The other great characteristic is that he finishes these series with a frequency that doesn’t keep his readers waiting for several years; and he always provides a summary of what has gone before, something those of us with poor memories require.)

Thus, I expected this collection of short stories and novellas to be in that category: grandiose fantasies with lots behind the curtain. And some of these certainly fit in that bucket and could be extended into larger stories and worlds (specifically “And Ministers of Grace”, “The Storm Door”, “The Stranger’s Hand”, and “The Terrible Conflaguration at Quiller’s Mints”, which takes place in the Shadowmarch world). But there were other stories that were either completely out of the fantasy genre, or in someone else’s world, or were just standalone fantasy short stories. And unfortunately, there were a couple of screenplays thrown in. Unless it’s Shakespeare, the reading of a screenplay is difficult (unless maybe for actors?), and having one (or two) in a collection of short stories breaks up the rhythm. Structurally, they are quite a different read, and the two included here were a fragment and a horror story. “Black Sunshine”, the horror story, I actually enjoyed, but the reading of a story in screenplay format is not for me.

My favorites here were “And Ministers of Grace”, “The Stranger’s Hand”, “The Thursday Men” (Hellboy, yeah!) and “The Lamentable Comic Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Luxal Laqavee”. I could have done without “Bad Guy Factory” (the screenplay fragment) and “The Terrible Conflagration at the Quiller’s Mint”.

Individual reviews below:

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10 Intriguing Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Being Published in March 2012

Over at Kirkus Reviews, I list 10 Intriguing Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Being Published in March.

That’s a lie. Like the rebel I am, I reject the arbitrary limit of listing only 10 because there are so many more good titles coming out in March.

Head on over to the Kirkus Reviews blog and check it out my list of things I think will be worthwhile reads.

Game Trailer Smackdown: Grimlands vs. Otherland vs. FTL

Usually we at SF Signal will bring you the occasional Book Cover Smackdown or post a movie trailer. We don’t usually cover video games that much and so, to rectify that oversight, we’re mashing up the two together to bring you the first ever game trailer smackdown!

Video games always have trailers now days, many with pre-rendered with CGI scenes that give you a flavor of the game without showing actual game play. While intriguing, trailers that show the actual game in action are much more interesting.
We have three interesting game trailers for you today. First up, Grimlands.

Grimlands, from Gamingo, is a post-apocalyptic shooter (MMO? Who knows.) that will include such things as guild towns, PvP and vehicles, among other things. The video makes it look like a cross between Borderlands and Fallout, both exceptionally fine games. Will Grimlands live up to those games? Probably not, but there’s no reason it can’t be fun. However, the current apocalyptic MMO Fallen Earth isn’t doing too well so I’m not sure how big the MMO space is for those games not named Fallout (which I would totally play).
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[GUEST POST] Jeremiah Tolbert Offers A Look Behind The Scenes of ‘The Subterrene War’ (+Tips for the Aspiring Video Producer)

Jeremiah Tolbert is a writer and web designer living in Northern Colorado. He is the founder of Clockpunk Studios, which specializes in the marketing and web needs of authors and publishers-especially in the field of science fiction and fantasy. His short fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine and Interzone, among others.

Hello there, good readers of SF Signal. I’m here to provide a little insight into the behind-the-scenes work that went into the “Subterrene War Clips,” a series of four short video stories my team recently put together based on T.C. McCarthy’s novels, Germline and Exogene.

Let’s start with the finished product, and then I’ll go over the work that went into them.

You can find the rest of the clips on the Subterrene War Clips website.

Now, let’s turn back the clock to this past summer, to Reno, Nevada for the 69th World Science Fiction Convention…
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Star Wars – Brock’s Dub

This. Is. Hilarious. Brock Baker has made several videos where he replaces the audio track with his own voiceover work. Usually with very funny results. Like this 5 minute video covering Star Wars. Seriously NSFW language though, so wear headphones or watch at home.

I think I like Chewies voice the best, with Han in second.

Free SF/F/H Fiction for 2/29/2012

Question for the free fiction readers: Are there ways to improve on these semi-weekly Free Fiction posts? Separating Fantasy, SF and Horror? A different list for Flash Fiction? Please leave a comment below if you know of a way to make these posts better for you.

Written

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Daily Science Fiction Roster of Stories for March 2012

Daily Science Fiction has announced its March 2012 line-up of free stories which continues the Numbers Quartet sequence:

  • March 1: “Genie Electric” by Andrew Kaye
  • March 2: “The Sacred Tree” by Mike Resnick
  • March 5: “The Way” by Frank Dutkiewicz
  • March 6: “Painted Haven” by Michael Banker
  • March 7: “How Love Works” by Stephen Gaskell (The Numbers Quartet)
  • March 8: “Prophet” by Laura Lee McArdle
  • March 9: “Insomnia” by A.G. Carpenter
  • March 12: “The Take” by Alex Shvartsman
  • March 13: “Mortal Coil” by Ian Nichol
  • March 14: “The Heartless Light of Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Numbers Quartet)
  • March 15: “The Body Shop” by Devin Wallace
  • March 16: “No Gift of Words” by Annie Bellet
  • March 19: “Memories of My Mother” by Ken Liu
  • March 20: “Guaranteed to Work” by Lee Hallison
  • March 21: “Godshift” by Nancy Fulda (The Numbers Quartet)
  • March 22: “The Fabulous Hotel” by Sandra McDonald
  • March 23: “Frog/Prince” by Melissa Mead
  • March 26: “In the Unlikely Event” by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • March 27: “A Different Rain” by Mari Ness
  • March 28: “Underneath” by Amelia Beamer
  • March 29: “Offering Solace” by Jamie Lackey
  • March 30: “The White Raven’s Feather” by David D. Levine

SF Tidbits for 2/29/12

Interviews and Profiles

News

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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘Strange Divisions and Alien Territories’ vs. ‘The Navidad Incident’ vs. ‘Time and Robbery’

Calling all armchair art critics! It’s time once again for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are today’s contenders…

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

  1. Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-Genres of Science Fiction edited by Keith Brooke (Palgrave Macmillan; Artist: Unkown)
  2. The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matías Guili by Natsuki Ikezawa (VIZ Media; Artist: Unkown)
  3. Time and Robbery by Rebecca Ore (Aqueduct Press; Artist: Unkown)

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

Rate The New Trailer for ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2

HBO has released the “Power And Grace” Trailer for Season 2 of Game Of Thrones, which premieres April 1st. I’m one of the very few who hasn’t seen Season 1, so it’s difficult for me to tell if this is something fans are looking forward to.

Are you a fan? Does this trailer stoke your interest? Rate it on a scale of 1 – 10.

[via George R.R. Martin]

[GUEST POST] L.B. Gale on “John Carter” and Ripoffs

L.B. Gale is a literacy specialist in New York City. She studied comparative mythology and fantasy fiction for her Master’s degree at the University of Chicago. She writes articles on both analyzing and creating speculative fiction at www.lbgale.com.

Dancing with Avatars on Mars: On John Carter and Ripoffs

Harold Bloom is a Yale literary critic and a crank. I have no doubt that he would consider Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom series to be popular culture trash, and I have even less doubt that he’d look down on Disney’s attempt to translate Burrough’s saga to the screen. Nonetheless, Harold Bloom is famous for a theory that helps explain the most perplexing tidbit emerging from the pre-release buzz surrounding Disney’s John Carter-the fact that the John Carter stories were both original and incredibly influential, and yet John Carter is already being lambasted for ripping off the very stories that likely ‘ripped off’ A Princess of Mars in the first place.
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REMINDER: Join Us For “The Lies of Locke Lamora” Read-A-Long!

This is a brief reminder that the multi-blog of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora begins on March 1st!

Details here.

REVIEW: Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell

SYNOPSIS: In an ice free arctic fifty years hence sculpted by climate change and Man, a UN pilot/monitor gets wrapped up in a plot that only enlarges the deeper she falls into it.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Imaginative speculation and world building; action/adventure plot that expands as it develops; good characterization.
CONS: Beats of the plotting in the final fifth of the novel feel a bit off.
VERDICT: Buckell sails into near future Earth science fiction with gusto.

Science Fiction as a genre has a problem. A genre that has speculated about the future used to have it easy: speculate on high ages of technology just around the corner; exploration of space and beyond; life beyond a sudden nuclear apocalypse that wipes the slate clean. All bold, solid, clear and plenty of room for science fiction of the first order.
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GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of the Paranormal Romance Anthology ‘On the Prowl’ Signed by Patricia Briggs!

Courtesy of
Ace Books to help promote the release of Patricia Briggs’ new “Alpha and Omega” novel Fair Game, SF Signal has a copy of the paranormal romance anthology On the Prowl signed by Patricia Briggs to give away to one lucky reader!

These all-new paranormal romances from today’s hottest authors feature a female werewolf who comes into her own; a Lord who crosses paths with a fiery mage; a mixed-blood Child of the Moon who faces an uncertain future; and a woman whose sixth sense proves to be a dangerous talent.

The anthology consists of 4 stories:

  • “Alpha and Omega” by Patricia Briggs
  • “Inhuman” by Eileen Wilks
  • “Buying Trouble” by Karen Chance
  • “Mona Lisa Betwining” by Sunny

Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
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TOC: ‘Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology’ Edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

Tachyon has sent us the table of contents for the upcoming anthology Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel. It arrives on August 1, 2012:

Description:

When the Singularity arrives, and computers possess superhuman intelligence, will there be an ecstatic merging of machine and mind—or an instantaneous techno-apocalypse? Will there be the enslavement of humanity or “the Rapture of the Nerds”? The post-human future is here in its wildest science-fictional imaginings and intriguing scientific speculations. This far-reaching anthology traces the path of the Singularity, an era when advances in technology will totally transform human reality. It travels to the alien far-future of H. G. Wells (Mind at the End of Its Tether), to the almost human near-future of Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity is Near), from Elizabeth Bear’s fusion of woman, machine, God, and shark (“The Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe”), to Isaac Asimov’s evolution of ineffable logic (“The Last Question”). As intelligence both figuratively (and possibly literally) explodes, science fiction authors and futurists have dared to peek over the edge of the event horizon. Do you dare to join them there?

Table of Contents:
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Tuesday Tune: Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant (Borderlands Intro Theme)

The game Borderlands is a very cool mash-up of Diablo-style hack/slash/loot gameplay within a first person shooter framework, all wrapped up in a sweet cell-shaded skin. Add in a wicked sense of humor and robot ninja assassins and you’ve got a game that’s oozing with style. Said ooze begins at the very beginning, with the intro cinematic, thoughtfully provided for your entertainment:

Ah, but what is that catchy song playing? Why it’s “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”, by Cage The Elephant. According to Wikipedia, Cage The Elephant is an American rock band, but looking at their song charts, it looks like they get more play on the alternative stations, which is probably why I had never heard of them until I played Borderlands. I’ll have to check out some of their other stuff.

Bonus full music video after the jump!
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SF Tidbits for 2/28/12

Interviews and Profiles

News

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WINNER: eBook Copy of Daniel Pearlman’s ‘And Baby Makes Five’

The winner of our And Baby Makes Five giveaway has been chosen and notified.

Congratulations to: Andrei L.!

You will be receiving your eBook soon.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

SFFWRTCHT: An Interview With Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb was born in California in 1952, but was raised in Alaska. Marrying at eighteen, she moved to Kodiak, an island off the coast of Alaska. It was at this time that she sold her first short story, and began a career writing for children’s magazines. “Bones for Dulath” in Amazons!, published by DAW, was the first piece of fantasy that she published as Megan Lindholm, and that anthology won a World Fantasy Award for Year’s Best Anthology. From 1983 to 1992, she wrote exclusively under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm. Fiction under that pseudonym tends to be contemporary fantasy. In 1995, she began use of the pseudonym Robin Hobb for works of epic traditional European Medieval and American Frontier Fantasy. She currently publishes under both names and lives in Tacoma, Washington. As of 2003 she had sold over 1 million copies of her first nine Robin Hobb novels. She has recently finished writing a third volume in The Rain Wild Chronicles. The volumes are named The Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons. Her latest release, The Inheritance, is a collection of short fiction by both Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. She can be found on Facebook and at her websites: http://www.robinhobb.com/ or http://www.meganlindholm.com/


SFFWRTCHT: Let’s start with the basics: Where did your interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy come from?

Robin Hobb: My mom. When we lived in Fairbanks when I was about 11, she patronized the second-hand stores there, and often would come home with the digest sized magazines and SF paperbacks. Amazing. Fantastic. Those are the titles of the magazines, but, yes they lived up to their names. I would get them after her and read all the contents in order from shortest stories to longest. From those, I graduated to the paperbacks. Never regretted it!
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VIDEO: A John Carter Primer – Everything You Need to Know Before Seeing the Disney Film

You may recall Larry Ketchersid‘s awesome John Carter Primer that appeared in these pages not too long ago. Larry did a great job and John Joseph Adams took notice.

John has just released a new Barsoom anthology called Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom. On March 6th, The New York Review of Science Fiction reading series is holding an event to celebrate its release: A Journey to Barsoom.

John asked Larry is he would be interested in putting together a video version of his awesome primer to show at the event. Larry was more than happy to do so.

Here is the result…
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