Archive for September, 2012
Here’s an interesting interview with Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin…
Liu Cixin, born in June 1963, is a representative of the new generation of Chinese science fiction authors and recognized as a leading voice in Chinese science fiction. His works have received wide acclaim on account of their powerful atmosphere and brilliant imagination. Liu Cixin’s stories successfully combine the exceedingly ephemeral with hard reality, all the while focussing on revealing the essence and aesthetics of science. He has endeavoured to create a distinctly Chinese style of science fiction. Liu Cixin is a member of the China Science Writers’ Association and the Shanxi Writers’ Association. He was awarded the China Galaxy Science Fiction Award for eight consecutive years, from 1999 to 2006 and again in 2010. He received the Nebula (Xingyun) Award in both 2010 and 2011.
Continuing a trend tailor-made for the Twitter generation, here are my quick takes on a few recently-watched genre-related films.
My brief thoughts follow…
Orbit has posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan.
Orbit will be publishing The Crown Tower worldwide in August 2013. It’s the first book in the Riyria Chronicles and it will be a two book series, with the second novel, The Rose and Thorn, following soon after.
Here’s the synopsis for The Crown Tower:
Two men who hate each other.
One impossible mission.
A legend in the making.
Hadrian, a warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin, Royce, with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most prized possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels that the old wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might do it.
See also: Michael Sullivan’s announcement.
Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt sit down with Cherie Priest (Boneshaker, Dreadnought)…
Interviews & Profiles
- Sense of Wonder interviews Katy Stauber.
- My Bookish Ways interviews Interview: Richard E. Gropp.
- The Qwillery interviews Jill Archer.
- The Roundtable Podcast interviews Jared Axelrod.
- Obituary: Michael O’Hare.
- Neil Gaiman Makes Guest Appearance in JL8 Web Comic.
- Gail Carriger is giving away 20 ARCs of Etiquette & Espionage.
- Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain Comes To Geek and Sundry.
- Indiegogo: Jon F. Merz’s The Contained.
Mel Odom lives in Moore, Oklahoma. He’s written 170 plus books in several genres under his name and pseudonyms. In addition to original work that includes Alex award winner The Rover, he’s written novels about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and others, as well as novelizations of movies that include Blade and Tomb Raider. He’s also written comic books, video game scripts, short stories, and is a top 1000 reviewer at Amazon.Com. He teaches in Professional Writing at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma. He blogs at www.melodom.blogspot.com and reviews at bookhound.wordpress.com. He can be reached at Mel at melodom.net.
SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with him about shared worlds and The Fathomless Abyss, a shared world anthology featuring stories from Jay, Mike Resnick, Cat Rambo, J.M. McDermott, Mel Odom, Brad Torgersen and Philip Athans. In The Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity. In this world, the laws of physics work against you, there’s no way out, and time means nothing…
CHARLES TAN: Hi Mel! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you get involved with The Fathomless Abyss series?
MEL ODOM: Phil Athans is my friend and editor. We’ve both been watching the ebook market with interest. When Phil first started out in the business, he was an editor of his own magazine. We were in contact and started to talk about some of the old books we read that are practically inaccessible these days, like new books in Robert E. Howard’s Conan series. I told him I thought the market might be ready for another barbarian hero. He agreed and we started kicking that around some more. We ended up with Arron of the Black Forest. At the same time, Phil and I both remembered that huge Rolodex that he assembled while working at Wizards of the Coast. Then we gave serious consideration to an anthology project that would spin out into individual short novels. Phil had the idea for Fathomless Abyss tucked away. He simply dusted off and tossed it out there for the rest of us to adopt. Everybody collaborated with the invention of the world you see in the stories.
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[Crowdfunding is the in thing for obtaining money to fund a variety of projects, with Kickstarter being the most prominent of these sites. With new projects going live daily, it's a chore to keep up with, let alone find, interesting genre projects. The Crowd Funding Roundup will be our effort to bring projects we think are interesting to your attention so you can, if you so choose, decide to help out. These posts will be a collaborative effort between James Aquilone and JP Frantz.]
What’s it about?
It is several hundred years in the future and humanity lives on the moon, in domed Earth-like cities. David Bell is a Skyborn, one of his society’s elite and their next leader. David grew up on fairy tales, like any other child. Except, his bedtime stories about strange and distant lands may actually be much more than simple fantasy. Outside of the domes, on the Moon’s harsh atmosphere, nothing like the one we know today, reside the antagonistic Dusters; this group believes they are descended from the original lunar settlers. David has started to question the secrecy of his society and doubts the dogma preached by its past leaders. He is determined to know the truth and is willing to risk his life to find it. David’s journey to uncover meaning could lead his world to a brighter future or completely destroy it…
Why it’s interesting: A secretive, dogmatic society based on the Moon where Earth is taboo sounds like an interesting story and from what I’ve seen I also like the art direction. $5 gets you a PDF of Issue 1 while $30 gets you all 5 chapters in PDF and the hardcover itself.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Ambitious and often clever, Rian Johnson’s first foray into science fiction never quite pieces its philosophical content together with its thriller elements.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Time travel hitman Joe begins to have doubts about his chosen vocation when his next target is…himself.
PROS: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, as Joe and his older counterpoint, respectively; notable supporting cast, especially Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano; good blend of science fiction and noir in a well-rendered future; effective set pieces and intriguing use of time travel tropes.
CONS: Second act slows to a crawl to introduce philosophical elements that do not mesh well with its suspense narrative; important story details revealed late, giving the story uneven structure; unconvincing makeup to make Gordon-Levitt look like Willis; Emily Blunt’s bland Sara.
In the future, time travel exists but has been outlawed, so of course only outlaws have time travel. The Rainmaker, a mob boss headquartered in Shanghai who, based what audiences see of the year 2072, studied the methods of Pol Pot as well as Al Capone, sends those he wants taken care of thirty years into the past—the past being 2044—and into the sights of the loopers, hit men contracted specifically to eliminate said undesirables. (Though one wonders why the Rainmaker, who appears to wield enormous influence in this future overrun by gangs, would go to the trouble of using time travel to rid the world of his enemies, rather than simply eighty-sixing them in his own time period without consequence. Perhaps with absolute power comes absolute deniability.) The loopers obey only a few rules: when you’ve killed your mark and discover bars of gold on his body (based on the loopers’ Kansas City headquarters in 2044, women need not apply), it means your loop has been closed—you are, in essence, responsible for your own execution—and your contract is terminated. (Loopers never see the faces of those they kill because their targets wear hoods.) Another, and perhaps even more important condition, is that the looper must not let the target escape.
Jeff Carlson is the author of Plague Year, Plague War (a finalist for the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award), and Plague Zone. To date, his work has been translated into fourteen languages. His short stories and nonfiction have appeared in a number of top venues such as Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Boys’ Life, Strange Horizons and the Fast Forward 2 anthology. His latest book, The Frozen Sky, is available as an eBook.
I’m fourth generation sf/f. My great-grandmother built her library around Frank L. Baum’s Oz series, the original fantasy epic. She passed those beautiful hardcovers to her son, my grandfather, who kept them alongside “Doc” E.E. Smith novels such as Triplanetary and Galactic Patrol, which were the cutting edge in his time.
Later, when I was a boy, my grandfather introduced me to the world’s first media tie-ins like Han Solo’s Revenge and Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye. This was not a man who sneered at popular good fun. He entranced me with Star Wars books, then fed my new addiction with the classics.
At the same time, my father was bringing home doorstoppers like The Hobbit and Clan Of The Cave Bear, which reads very much like alt history with strange people in a strange world.
My point is I know a good piece of science fiction when I see it. Tell me this doesn’t fit the bill:
Here’s the the cover art and synopsis of Gail Carriger’s upcoming novel Etiquette & Espionage, the first book in her young adult Finishing School series set 25 years before her widely aclaimed Parasol Protectorate series…
Here’s the synopsis:
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.
Book info as per Amazon US:
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 5, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 031619008X
- ISBN-13: 978-0316190084
Here’s one crossover I can stand behind…
Interviews and Profiles
- Small Beer Podcast interviews Jennifer Stevenson.
- The World SF Blog interviews Sarah Newton.
- 52 Book Reviews interviews Stina Leicht.
- My Bookish Ways interviews Faith Hunter.
- Bibliotropic interviews Gwenda Bond.
- io9 (Charlie Jane Anders) interviews William Gibson.
- Reddit interviews R.A. Salvatore.
- L.A. Record (Ron Garmon) interviews Harlan Ellison. [via Paul Di Filippo]
- [SFFWRTCHT] Danie Ware.
- SFX (Lee Harris) interviews Walter Koenig.
- The New York Times interviews Michael Chabon.
- Galactic Suburbia Podcast episode 69.
- Chuck Wendig interviews Susan Spann.
- ToBeReadBooks profiles Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
- Black Gate (Sue Granquist) interviews F. J. Lennon.
- RIP Jane Frances Gunn (1925-2012).
- RIP Stuart James Byrne. [via Andrew Porter]
- Atomic Fez Publishing Debut Novel.
Fun with Friends—Helen Lowe Talks with Fellow Authors from Australia and New Zealand: Today’s Guest Is Jane Higgins
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.
This month’s guest is Jane Higgins, a New Zealand YA author whose first novel, the future dystopia The Bridge was published in 2011 to critical and popular acclaim.
Allow me to introduce Jane Higgins:
Jane was born, raised, and still resides in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she works as a social science academic, primarily researching on how young people craft identities and create pathways from school to their post-school lives. Growing up in Canterbury, the big skies inspired her love of astronomy and space travel, and she was drawn to the strange worlds of myth, science fiction and fantasy, especially stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin. A few years ago she decided to try writing fiction and wrote a futuristic war story in which the central characters are young people crossing borders and working out where they belong. This initial story, which became The Bridge went on to win the 2010 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing and was both a New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards’ Honor Book, and also “Children’s Choice” book in the YA category, in 2012. Jane still works as a researcher with young people, still reads, still writes (and still watches Dr. Who.) She is currently working on a sequel to The Bridge.
To find about more about Jane, see her website, here.
An Interview With Jane Higgins
Helen: The Bridge is future dystopian SF, currently a very popular genre for YA readers, although I suspect that’s not why you wrote it. So why, then: why future dystopia and why YA?
Jane: Why YA? They say you write the books you love to read. I’ve always loved reading, but I think the time in my life when reading was most magical, and when I was most able to get completely lost in a book, was when I was a teenager. I can still remember vividly how I felt reading some of my favourite books back then. I can remember where I was when I read the first page of Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea (in my school library) and when I read the last page of The Lord of the Rings (by gaslight in my parents’ cabin in the mountains of Canterbury). So when I decided to try writing fiction, I gravitated towards the type of story that I loved most when I was growing up.
Why future dystopia? I wanted to write about some young people caught up in a war, as so many are around the world at present. But I didn’t want to import into the story all the current context of a particular war. So I made one up. To do that I took some current trends and pushed them a couple of hundred years into the future. I didn’t sit down and think: “ok, I’m going to write a dystopia,” but it’s not too surprising that when you project trends like global conflict and climate change into the future, things do look fairly grim. But it’s not all grim! I hope that readers find that the book is also about the way friendship and simple human decency make it possible to navigate those challenges.
Through the magic of Google Play, Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton gathered to answer reader questions. Now, through the magic of YouTube (more magic!) you can see the chat session right here.
Warning: great stuff ahead…
Fantasy novels based on a roleplaying game? You betcha. There’s no shortage of book series that
suck money from devoted fans tie in to popular gaming franchises, such as the novels that accompany World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warhammer 40k, and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons. Paizo‘s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game introduces the world of Golarion which, as many fantasy worlds are, is full of monsters, magic, dungeons, piles of treasure, plenty of traps, and–most importantly–an endless stream of “adventurers” who got conned into believing that the best way to make a living is to throw themselves headlong into danger and pray they come out the other side with all their wiggly bits intact. With Pathfinder Tales, Paizo has unleashed a growing variety of authors on the reality they’ve created to see what stories they can conjure.
So how do game dynamics and rule books translate into novel-length plot and characters?
Pretty durn well, actually. So strap on those boots, grab your walking stick, and prepare to journey through three such literary concoctions from the Pathfinder Tales library. Oh, and you might want to make sure your first aid kit is freshly stocked with healing potions. Just in case.
“Because the day nourishes dry dreams and wounds your angelical being, you will set off in search of night. . . .” – Jaime Sáenz
Reading is a peculiar experience. It is a practice that simultaneously invites ideas inside our heads while allowing us to create a sense of displacement through them. Even as we take symbols and concepts in we are shifting ourselves conceptually and affectively. Reading can transport us to magical realms, make us believe that we share kinship with millions of people we have never met, or relate to us the minutiae of the everyday world. The power of reading is that it conjures things in our minds that are not there, and allows the possibility of experience and emotion and contemplation to occur in the process.
I moved recently and I have been slowly unpacking my library. As I take books out and organize I’m struck by the memories that many of the books call up for me. From classic adventures to philosophically resonant writing, I find that the fact of a book in one’s hand brings back recollection’s of a book’s feeling, of the displacement that it created as I read it. Some of the most powerful feelings come from the books that instigate one of my favorite reading experiences, a sensation of disruption combined with a pleasure gained from a text that challenges my reading skill and my ideas of the real and the felt world. I often find these experiences in fantastic or weird fiction, but the essential quality that creates this sensation is one of else.
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