Cover & Synopsis: “Slow Apocalypse” by John Varley

The Functional Nerds have posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Slow Apocalypse by John Varley.

Here’s the synopsis:

Despite wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 9/11, the United States’ dependence on foreign oil has kept the nation tied to the Middle East. A scientist has developed a cure for America’s addiction—a slow-acting virus that feeds on petroleum, turning it solid. But he didn’t consider that his contagion of an Iraqi oil field could spread to infect the fuel supply of the entire world…

In Los Angeles, screenwriter Dave Marshall heard this scenario from a retired US marine and government insider who acted as a consultant on Dave’s last film. It sounded as implausible as many of his scripts, but the reality is much more frightening than anything he could have envisioned.

An ordinary guy armed with extraordinary information, Dave hopes his survivor’s instinct will kick in so he can protect his wife and daughter from the coming apocalypse that will alter the future of Earth—and humanity…

Book info as per Amazon US:

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover (September 4, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0441017576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441017577

TOC: ‘Win Some, Lose Some’ by Mike Resnick

Here’s the table of contents for his/Mike Resnick’s upcoming collection Win Some, Lose Some: The Hugo Award Winning (and Nominated) Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Mike Resnick.

Here’s the book description, which features an introduction by Carol Resnick:

Between 1989 and 2012, a span of 23 years, the members of the World Science Fiction Society have seen fit to honor Mike Resnick with 36 Hugo nominations, 30 for his fiction, more than any other science fiction author. The 30 nominated short stories, including the five winning tales, are included in this volume. As you read through these stories, you ll find Theodore Roosevelt attempting to bring civilization to the Congo…and to London. You ll return, with some regularity, to Africa, whether a mythical version existing on a terraformed asteroid or the historical birthplace of humanity along the Olduvai Gorge. Love and loss are depicted whether for a missing spouse, an old friend, an author one has never met, or a copper-skinned Martian princess. Walk in the dusty footsteps of Koriba or see what it is like to live with Dr. Frankenstein, his monster, and Igor. Like the fables which are embedded in so many of these tales, these stories will entertain and make you think. Without seeming to, Resnick adds layers of depth to even the most innocuous-seeming story. And when you are finished, you ll find yourself thinking about all they have to say.

Here’s the table of contents…
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INTERVIEW: Kim Stanley Robinson on 2312, Mars and Climate Change

Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer best known for his Mars trilogy. His novels delve into ecological and sociological themes regularly. In his latest novel, 2312 (reviewed here), Robinson takes us across the Solar System to investigate the destruction of a habitation on Mercury and its unfolding consequences that ripple through human occupied space (hollowed asteroids working as spaceships-cum-biospheres included) from the neighborhoods of the Sun to Saturn. As always, but most pointedly since the Mars Trilogy, Robinson does a masterful job describing the ecosystems and all the massive work required to build them – and keep working.

One of the most important SF writers of the world, and one of the most interested in investigating the impact of ecological changes in our world and beyond, he was kind enough to take a quick break from his vacation to answer a few questions, not about his books (even though there are many literary questions we wanted to ask), but about ecology and climate, two pivotal subjects not only for worldbuilding, but for surviving, here and in other planets.

Fabio Fernandes: Did you follow the discussions of the Rio+20 conference? What are your impressions on it? (If not particularly Rio+20, what conferences on environment have you followed via the press – or even participated personally?)

Kim Stanley Robinson: My impression is that there is a fading media interest in environment and climate change, that these crucial issues have been normalized in a sense and are now not considered as important to report, even as they become more important to our lives.  They are also not something politicians want to talk about, as the money controlling politics does not want them discussed.

There are big advances being made in materials sciences and design based on ecological principles that suggest we can successfully deal with the huge problems we have created, so the actual project of decarbonizing and dealing with our environmental impacts more generally are ongoing and worth celebrating and intensifying, but we live in a stupidified media and political culture that insists on focusing on trivial matters, and regarding this big question with a mixture of ignorance and apocalyptic thinking.  In parts of the culture this has created a Gotterdamerung mentality that has given up even trying, and indeed wants to increase the destruction as part of its denial of reality, which is profound and at the base of their philosophy.  There are also big financial interests at stake, and when shareholder value is the only value, general destruction (including of shareholder value itself) is the result.  Also, the carbon industry is well-funded and in its own interest will impede any progress on this front.  So it is a very confused moment, with much to celebrate in terms of real progress in the sciences and humanities, but much to worry about in the world of economics and politics.  It sets up a kind of race or struggle between different human groups, and the scientific-ecological group must win, for the sake of future generations.

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[GUEST POST] John Jakes on The Last “Brak” Story

John Jakes is a bestselling author of historical fiction, science fiction, children’s books, and nonfiction. Best known for his civil war saga, North and South Trilogy, Jakes also wrote the popular Sword & Sorcery saga Brak the Barbarian. A free Brak the Barbarian short story is available for download and a short video about Brak is available on YouTube and embedded below.

Whatever Happened to Brak the Barbarian?

Back in the day – the mid to late 1960s – I was writing Brak the Barbarian serials and short stories while I still had a day job in advertising. This took me to New York every month or so, where I had commercials to produce or supervisors to see at DFS, a genuine Madison Avenue agency – at the time the seventh largest in the world.

On these trips I would usually manage a lunch with the late Lin Carter; he too was in advertising. He smoked as much or more than I did then. As I recall, he and his second wife had no children, hence he could spend a lot of time on a costume for this or that annual sf and fantasy convention. One year I remember seeing him flamboyantly garbed as Ming the Merciless, from the old Flash Gordon Saturday afternoon chapter plays at the movies.

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TOC: Lightspeed Magazine, August 2012

Lightspeed Magazine sent along the table of contents for the August 2012 issue:
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Tuesday Tune: Indiana Jones Theme Vocal Cover By Nick McKaig

The Raiders March (a.k.a. Indiana Jones Theme) is one of my all time favorite pieces of movie music. Vocalist Nick McKaig covers this piece by performing each instrument using only his voice. The result is fantastic.
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SF Tidbits for 7/31/12

Interviews and Profiles


Crowdsourced Funding


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Alas, Poor Yorick…

Last week brought us Christian Cardona’s excellent fan film based on the opening chapter of the comic book Y: The Last Man.

Y: The Last Man was a 60 issue comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra beginning in 2002. It starts with every male mammal on Earth dying horribly, all at once, and without explanation. All except two.

Yorick Brown is an aspiring escape artist with a Capuchin monkey named Ampersand. He’s in the middle of proposing to his girlfriend Beth over the phone (she’s in Australia) when the event happens. Yorick’s mother is a congresswoman, who now has an even more urgent interest in the well-being of her son. So under the protection of the lethal Agent 355, Yorick sets out to find cloning expert Dr. Alison Mann, who may be the world’s only hope. But all Yorick wants to do is get back together with Beth.

The series had a rather wide scope as it explored the misadventures of Yorick and his impact on the world at large. Some social-political realities of a unisex world were explored, such as the fact that majority of the surviving US lawmakers are Democrats, or that the only country with a functioning military is Israel. There are also a ninja, Cosmonauts stranded in orbit, religious fanatics and (in one memorable storyline) a dominatrix. Conspiracies and hidden agendas abound. Every character has a back-story rife with secrets. There were plotlines about what happens to male-dominated religions when the females remain true to their faith, how the transgendered adapt to cope with the new world, and what art might look like in a female-only society. It was a truly compelling series, with a unique set of characters and a staggering spectrum of motivations. Not exactly post-apocalyptic, and not exactly dystopian (depending on your definition of both), it was in turns heartbreaking, hilarious, thought-provoking, and terrifying.

And, I say again, it has a monkey.
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BOOK REVIEW: The Hollow City by Dan Wells

SYNOPSIS: How do you convince everyone that Faceless Men are trying to get you when you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia? Who can you trust? Can you even trust yourself?



PROS: A real mind bending thriller that may or may not be the mental construction of an unstable man.
The ending is weak in comparison to the rest of the story.
This thriller will keep you guessing until the very end. Wells will tap into a fear you probably didn’t even realize that you harbored.

Michael Shipman is a paranoid schizophrenic. Or is he? The doctors say that Michael’s paranoia is the result of hallucinations and delusions brought on by mental illness. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you…right? After all, the doctors could all be part of the Plan of the Faceless Men. If Michael could regain two weeks of his memory he might be able to stop the Faceless Men and whatever sinister scheme they have cooked up. But there are a few obstacles, including two FBI agents who consider Michael a suspect in a string of serial murders.

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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 139): Panel Discussion of Batman, Near Future SF, Mark Hamill, Star Trek and More

In episode 139 of the Hugo Nominated SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks our irregulars to bring their own topics to the table.

Subjects covered (partial list):

  • Kevin Smith: Fatman on the Batman
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • HBO’s Newsroom
  • Near Future SF
  • The Man of Steel movie trailer
  • 2001 Recut Trailer
  • Mark Hamill
  • Star Trek
  • Girls in Animation: The Teen Titans & Clone Wars
  • Total Recall Total Remake (or is it?)
  • PulpCon
  • Tarzan
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Covert Affairs

Chime in with your thoughts in the comments!

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Daily Science Fiction Roster of Stories for August 2012

Daily Science Fiction has announced its August 2012 line-up of free stories:
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Books Received: July 30, 2012

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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SF Tidbits for 7/30/12

Interviews and Profiles


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Cover, Synopsis & TOC: “In Situ” Edited by Carrie Cuinn

Carrie Cuinn has sent us the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel In Situ edited by Carrie Cuinn.

Here’s the synopsis:

IN SITU is a new anthology of science fiction stories featuring alien archeology, hidden mysteries, and things that are better off left buried.

A quiet man finds more than he bargained for when he sets out with his metal detector on a lonely hill … A soldier meets a new kind of enemy fighting an altogether different kind of war … On a distant swamp planet, a woman questions what kind of human she’s becoming … a pregnant archeologist finds a connection with a long-dead alien child … while deep space scavengers wonder what it ever meant to be human at all.

These fifteen evocative science fiction stories will take you from dusty archaeologists digging up our alien past into a distant future where we’ve become the relics. Thought-provoking and entertaining, IN SITU explores science, theology, preservation, and the art of alien finance, in a whole new way.

Edited by Carrie Cuinn. Contains stories by Ken Liu, KV Taylor, Paul A. Dixon, Bear Weiter, Mae Empson, Jason Andrew, Greg Burch, Sarah Hendrix, R.S. Hunter, Rebecca Lloyd, Alex Shvartsman, Kelly C. Stiles, Graham Storrs, David J. West, and Dawn Vogel.

Here’s the table of contents from Dagan Books, which also links to author interviews and DRM-Free eBook links:
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Steampunk Martial Arts? Yes Please!

This trailer for Tai Chi O features some nifty martial arts in a steampunk setting. Not the usual mashup we see, but nonetheless appealing in its own way. Here’s the short synopsis from IMDB:

Young genius Yang Luchan travels to Chen Village to learn the forbidden secrets of martial arts, but quickly learns that the village is menaced by a formidable battalion of Steampunk soldiers. The villagers realize that in order to save their home, they must trust this strange outsider with their knowledge of Tai Chi.

Sound interesting? Here’s the trailer…
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Quick Meme: Which SciFi Shows Had the Best Endings?

It is widely agreed that shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica ended on a low note. I’ve also heard more than one person say the same for Quantum Leap. Although these shows were good overall, they shared endings that kinda sucked.

Which begs the question: Which SciFi shows had the best endings?

What’s you take? Sound off in the comments…

New Author Spotlight: Saladin Ahmed

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with up to 3 books in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today’s spotlight shines on Saladin Ahmed!

Known for his short stories and poetry (he was a finalist for both the Nebula and Campbell Awards), Ahmed’s debut novel is Throne of the Crescent Moon published by DAW (revieewed here).
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Fun with Friends—Helen Lowe Talks with Fellow Authors from Australia and New Zealand: Today’s Guest Is Juliet Marillier

About the Series:

Last month I kicked off a new series for SF Signal, interviewing and in some cases introducing fellow SFF authors from Australia and New Zealand. The format is one interview per month, with no more than five questions per interview, focusing on “who the author is” and “what she/he does” in writing terms. Although with well-known SFF friends such as today’s guest, Juliet Marillier, the focus may tilt slightly more toward what the author is currently doing.

Juliet seemed like a great person to have as my guest, not just because she is well known outside Australia-New Zealand, but because she is both a New Zealander and an Australian – but onward to the interview to find out just how that works!

Allow me to introduce Juliet Marillier:

Juliet Marillier’s historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, including the popular Sevenwaters series, have been translated into many languages and have won a number of awards including the Aurealis, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet is currently working on the Shadowfell series, a story of tyranny and rebellion set in a magical version of ancient Scotland. When not busy writing, she tends to a small pack of waifs and strays. In addition to this interview, you may find out more on Juliet’s website; she also blogs monthly on

An Interview With Juliet Marillier

Helen: Juliet, you’re a New Zealander by birth and upbringing, but have lived in Australia for a long time, and your writing draws deeply on Celtic mythology and legend – are these three distinct traditions or do you find they overlap?

Juliet: The overlap, for me, is that I was born and brought up in Dunedin, which is one of the most Scottish places outside Scotland itself. Scots settlers brought their traditions with them. As a child I was surrounded by Celtic music, stories and culture, from the Burns Club to the pipe band competitions to the shop where you could have kilts made in your clan tartan – mine is Scott. I think Scots immigrants must have loved Dunedin for its physical similarity to their homeland – hills, forests, sea and islands. And freezing winters!

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Epic Trailer for “Cloud Atlas” is Epic

From Trailer Addict:

Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

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Watch Colin Mochrie Recreate His Favorite Star Wars Scenes

Colin Mochrie, for those of you who don’t know, is a comedian whose biggest claim to fame is appearing on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, both the US and UK version. Since the show went off the air in the States several years ago, you may wonder what Colin’s been up to. Well, wonder no more! It seems he’s been whiling away the time by playing with Star Wars figures.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that….
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