Book Cover Smackdown! ‘The Ascendant Stars’ vs. ‘Age of Scorpio’ vs. ‘Edge of Infinity’

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by cover…unless it’s an SF Signal Book Cover Smackdown!

It’s time once again to have your way with some upcoming book covers, this time with a selection of November science fiction releases.

Here is today’s “rainbow” of contenders…
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TOC: Lightspeed Magazine, September 2012

Lightspeed Magazine sent along the table of contents for the September 2012 issue:

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Friday YouTube: The Joker and The Penguin Trap Their Arch Nemesis…Scooby Doo

Here, Batman enemies, the Joker and the Penguin, have devised a seemingly diabolical trap for an surprising foe. But can you see the flaw in their plan?

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SF Signal At Chicon/WorldCon 2012 – Come Meet Us!

Posting will be lighter than normal over the next several days since some of us will be attending Chicon/Worldcon. There are a few posts in the queue…including our monthly Book Cover Gallery post and the introduction of a new SF Signal contributor…so do continue to stop by each day.

If you are going to Chicon7/Worldcon, or are otherwise in the Chicago area…do stop by and meet us at the SF Signal 2012 Worldcon Meetup. There will be much rejoicing.

Cover & Synopsis: “Queen of Nowhere” by Jaine Fenn

Amazon has posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn, the fifth book in the Hidden Empire series.

Here’s the synopsis:

When paranoia is a way of life, trust doesn’t come easily. The Sidhe look like us. They live amongst us. What they lack in numbers they make up with their fearsome mental abilities and the considerable physical resources at their disposal. And their biggest advantage? No one believes they exist. Almost no one. Bez, the best hacker in human-space, is fighting a secret war against them. Always one step ahead, never lingering in one place, she’s determined to bring them down. But she can’t expose the Hidden Empire alone and when the only ally she trusted fails her she must accept help from an unexpected quarter. Just one misstep, one incorrect assumption, and her Sidhe trap – her life’s work – could end in vicious disaster. Worse, if Bez fails then humanity may never have another chance to win free of the manipulative and deadly Sidhe …

Book info as per Amazon US:

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (January 3, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0575096993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575096998

The Grumplesnark’s Pantagruelian Vexation and Other Fables of Unconsummated Reading

Everyone has their quirks and habits as a reader, and one of mine is that I dislike not finishing a story. Many readers share this predilection; the reasons vary, from a generalized love of reading to specific ideas of “giving a story a chance” or showing how durable one’s reading fortitude is. For me, it is partly a matter of fortitude, but also of curiosity. Even when I do not like a book, I want to keep going to see if I can understand better what the problem is or perhaps find something of merit farther along. For many years I prided myself on this trait, until I returned to writing a few years ago and started penning reviews and fiction again. I read books that were so-so, that were terribly flawed, and that were outright awful. I read Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold so I could say that I had read all of his novels; I read a Gor novel to see what it was all about. I churned through a number of mediocre and problematic books, telling myself that this would prepare me to be a better writer and critic.

But what was I really doing? In retrospect I didn’t learn a lot from some of those reading experiences. All I learned from Farnham’s Freehold was that Heinlein could stumble mightily in terms of a premise and its execution. The Gor novel I read some of to my high school friends late at night after a D&D game so we could laugh at, and yet be (to varying degrees) strangely titillated. The mediocre books were more trouble to read than the really bad ones, because there was less to shake one’s head at in them. When I started graduate school I underwent a change in how I viewed books; they were now items to extract nuggets of information and argumentation from so that one could augment one’s own work. I think this is the period where I learned to skim books, prioritize sections to read, and left some books unfinished in the tsunami of reading we had to navigate and absorb.
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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 148): Interview with Singer/Songwriter John Anealio

In episode 148 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester sits down to chat with Singer/Songwriter John Anealio

About John Anealio:

With little more than an alternate-tuned acoustic guitar and a dog-eared copy of The Hobbit, Sci-Fi Songwriter John Anealio composes and performs geeky anthems for writers, librarians, lovers of Science Fiction, Best Buy customers, and robots. His music sounds like John Mayer, Weezer, and James Taylor playing Dungeons and Dragons together on their iPhones. He is the Co-Host of The Functional Nerds Podcast

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TRAILER: Zubatman!

Just when you thought you’ve seen all the Batman mashups you can handle, here’s a mashup of Batman…and Pokémon.
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SF Tidbits for 8/30/12

Interviews and Profiles


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[GUEST POST] Andrea Johnson on the Bookstore Bookblogger Connection

Raise your hand if you’re a book blogger.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever purchased a book because of a review you read on a book review blog.

Raise your hand if you’re a bookseller and a customer has asked for a certain title because they read about it on a book blog.

If your hand is raised, Bookstore Bookblogger Connection is for you.

Created by two book-aholics, Bookstore Bookblogger Connection was born out of an interest in connecting the brick-and-mortar bookstores we so dearly love with the book bloggers who daily convince us to buy another book.

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Mars in Science Fiction (Part 3)

Today at Kikrus, I conclude my survey of Mars in science fiction. (Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.)

Part 3 focuses on young Martian colonies, humor, and good old-fashioned adventure. Stop by and check out Part 3 of Mars in Science Fiction.

TOC: ‘At the Edge of Waking’ by Holly Phillips

Prime Books has posted the table of contents for the upcoming Holly Phillips collection At the Edge of Waking:

Here’s the book description:

With In the Palace of Repose, her debut collection of mostly unpublished work, Holly Phillips accomplished the improbable. The unknown Canadian author received critical acclaim and numerous honors including the 2006 Sunburst Award and nominations for the World Fantasy and Crawford Awards. Her accomplished prose sang with a unique voice, seamlessly blending emotion, insight, and craft. Now, At the Edge of Waking presents her latest tales written with even more depth and range-including a new, never-published story. Portraying human reaction to dire change or extreme circumstance, combining the real intruded upon by the fantastic or the fantastic grounded in reality, Phillips describes the world as it is, as it may be, as something impossible yet entirely acceptable, enthralling the reader with her words.

Here’s the table of contents…
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MIND MELD: Reading, Writing and Revisions

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

This week we asked about Revisions. I’ve come across a couple of examples lately of authors reissuing books with significant changes from the initial publication, or changing it relatively late in the initial publication process. With the rise of ebooks, the potential for rolling revisions to books is a very real possibility.

We asked this week’s panelists the following:

Q: As a reader and as a writer, how do you feel about the practice of revising books after they have been published (or at least have reached the ARC stage)? How much revision goes into your writing process? (How clean are your drafts)?

This is what they had to say…

Lucy Snyder
Lucy Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Hellbound Hearts, Dark Faith, Chiaroscuro, GUD, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. You can learn more about her at

I’m a measure-twice, cut-once kind of writer; I do a lot of note-taking and thinking before I start a project. I try to have a plot destination in mind, although sometimes that will change — if the story wants to go someplace other than what I planned I’m happy to take that detour. But the upshot is I seldom start a story with no clue where I’m going, and consequently I only rarely have to make major changes to a story or novel. I do my very best to turn in clean, ready-to-publish drafts to my editors. But typos and continuity errors happen, so fixing them is part of the editorial process.
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Enter the World of “Drift”

Drift is a multimedia experience from POST-ECHO (a collaborative record label composed of like-minded musicians and artists) combining music with a science-fiction graphic novella.

But what is DRIFT? In the story, “drift” is defined as “The causal experience that occurs when an individual compromises focus during light-speed movement resulting in the absence of time itself at both the conscious and subconscious level.

The following press release offers more clues as to what it’s about:
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Free SF/F/H Fiction for 8/29/2012


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SF Tidbits for 8/29/12

Interviews and Profiles



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BOOK REVIEW: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

REVIEW SUMMARY: Gangster noir meets clockwork-punk and spy thriller in this captivating genre mash-up.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Clock repairman Joe Spork finds himself pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds when he unwittingly activates a doomsday weapon.

Original, humorous, lovable characters, and charmingly quaint.
Takes some time to build up steam and ends rather weakly.
This is a delightful genre mash-up, the likes of which you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

Joe Spork is a clock repairman, working out of his grandfather’s old warehouse and hiding from a criminal legacy. Joe’s father was the most notorious gangster in all of England in his day, a King of Crooks. Joe has chosen a different path, the path of his grandfather the clock repairman. All his adult life Joe has followed the law and tried to be as inconsequential as possible. But when Joe inadvertently starts the apocalypse it seems as though the universe is conspiring against him. If Joe is to survive and escape the clutches of violent monks and determined government agents operating in the legal grey he will need to fall back on the heritage he has tried so desperately to bury.

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[GUEST POST] Just Doing His Job: A Tribute to Neil Armstrong by Mike Poole

Mike Poole is a part-time system administrator, part-time bookkeeper, full-time heavy box toter working in the backwoods of South Carolina. He spends his free time reading science fiction and trying to get this Facebook monkey off his back.

I don’t remember whose post I saw first. There were several, all saying basically the same thing. It was a lazy Saturday and I’d decided to put off the weekly mowing until Sunday, opting for a nap instead. I woke up late afternoon, grabbed a cup of coffee, and logged into Facebook for a quick meme fix. Instead, I got the news that Neil Armstrong was dead. I got as far as the first headline, then I started to cry and I just sat there and cried for a while.

I guess I should feel embarrassed and keep that to myself, a grown man sitting alone at his desk, crying like a little baby about the death of someone far away. It’s not like I knew him, not really, anyway. I never saw him in person or got to shake his hand. All I knew of him was the same PR published over and over throughout the years with ever decreasing regularity, a Wikipedia entry waiting for its final update. He was decades out of the public eye, famous for something many no longer think important enough to fuss over, some think never really happened, and even he felt was inappropriately focused on him. And yet, I don’t feel embarrassed at all. Not even just a little.

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VIDEO: The Grim Batman from “Dark Knight Rises”…with the Not-So-Grim 1960’s-Era Robin

What happens when you take Nolan’s Batman and Bane and add in a little Burt Ward Robin?

In a word…awwwkward!


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Fun with Friends—Helen Lowe Talks with Fellow Authors from Australia and New Zealand: Today’s Guest is Tim Jones

About the Series:

“Fun with Friends” is an SF Signal interview series in which I feature 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.

Today’s guest, Tim Jones, is well established in New Zealand as an author, poet, editor and blogger, but perhaps not so well known beyond its borders – although as his bio and the interview may hint, I suspect that is starting to change amongst the discerning. Either way though, I am pretty sure that followers of speculative fiction will find plenty about Tim and his work that is of interest.

Allow me to introduce Tim Jones:

Tim Jones is a poet and author of both science fiction and literary fiction who was awarded the New Zealand Society of Authors Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Among his recent books are fantasy novel Anarya’s Secret (RedBrick, 2007), short story collection Transported (Vintage, 2008), and poetry anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (Interactive Press, 2009), co-edited with Mark Pirie. Voyagers won the “Best Collected Work” category in the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, and has been selected for the “Books On New Zealand” exhibition at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair. Tim’s most recent book is his third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained, published by Interactive Press (IP) in late 2011. He is currently working on his third short story collection. His story The New Neighbours appears in The Apex Book of World SF 2, edited by Lavie Tidhar (2012).

For more, see Tim’s Amazon author page (which contains links to Tim’s individual books) and his blog, Book In The Trees.

Helen: Tim, you immigrated to New Zealand at an early age from the UK. How do you consider that experience has influenced your perceptions and approach as a New Zealand author?

Tim: I think it’s had a big effect on my writing – after all, my first collection was titled Boat People and a number of the poems in it dealt with how emigrating affected my mother, my father and me, while my second short story collection, Transported, is all about journeys of one sort or another. Looking back, I am amazed by how many of my short stories feature journeys by or over water! (I was clearly never cut out to write vampire fiction.)

But on a wider level, the experience of being an alien is an excellent grounding for writing about the alien. As a child in rural Southland[1], whose ears stood out as much as his pronounced Northern English accent, my failed efforts to fit in at school in my new country certainly provided plenty of fodder for alienation. There are a lot of outsiders in my early stories: now, I’m more likely to write about people who might appear to the outside world to be insiders, but are still all too well aware of their difference from those around them.

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