BOOK REVIEW: The Barrow by Mark Smylie

REVIEW SUMMARY: The creator of the comic Artesia manages to convincingly jump from comics to novel in this full text debut.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: A mercenary cartographer and a motley set of mutually distrustful companions set off to obtain a legendary sword in a poisoned and dangerous realm outside civilized lands.

PROS: Deep worldbuilding, richly invoking the Known World; diverse set of characters with agency; evocative description of places and violence alike.
CONS: Highly charged sexual content may turn off some readers; prologue is tonally very different from rest of the novel.
BOTTOM LINE: A bloody, violent, sexy and evocative novel debut that captures the spirit and feel of the author’s graphic novel efforts.
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[GUEST POST] David Conyers and David Kernot on 8 Exoplanet-Inspired Science Fiction Novels

David Conyers is an Australian science fiction author and Arts and General Editor with Albedo One magazine. David Kernot is also an Australia science fiction author and editor with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Their latest offering is Extreme Planets (from Chaosium), the first science fiction anthology of exoplanets, featuring fifteen tales of planetary exploration and colonisation by established names and newcomers to the genre.

Adventuring in the Extreme: Eight Exoplanet-inspired Science Fiction Novels

by David Conyers & David Kernot

Exoplanets or extrasolar planets, worlds orbiting stars other than our own, are being discovered at an accelerated pace and now number well over 1800. What is more fascinating is their sheer variety, and it seems cosy, stable, life-loving Earths are unusual. We are the odd-ones out in the vast galactic playground of exoplanets, but with such a variety, perhaps every planet is odd.
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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 238): SuperStar Military Scifi Panel with Jack Campbell, Karen Lord, Jay Posey, Kameron Hurley, Charles E. Gannon and Jaym Gates

In episode 238 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Jack Campbell, Karen Lord, Jay Posey, Kameron Hurley, Charles E. Gannon, and Jaym Gates, discuss Military Science Fiction.

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Aghast: A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic

Kraken Press editor-in-chief George Cotronis has announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new horror magazine.

Aghast – A Journal of the Darkly Fantastic is an illustrated bi-annual journal of horror and dark fantasy short fiction. It will be available online, as well as in print and digital formats Aghast will feature original short fiction and each short story will be accompanied by an illustration by artist George Cotronis.

The first issue will feature stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gemma Files, Jeff Strand, Tim Waggoner and Megan Arkenberg. AGHAST is still accepting stories for issue #1.

The campaign was 15% funded on it’s first day with most of it’s limited reward levels still available. All the rewards are super-cool, so check it out!

Video appears after the jump.

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Beware the Hairy Mango: ‘The Fifth Corner’

Where the heck have I been? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’m genuinely hoping you can tell me. A better question might be, “Where the heck hasn’t Beware the Hairy Mango been?” Well, here, for one. But all that has changed! At least for a day.

Let’s explore the hilarity of a brutal program of colonialism and tasty computer meat in today’s practically brand new episode, “The Fifth Corner!”

WARNING: I don’t remember if I say bad things in this one, but I usually do.

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Table of Contents: YEAR’S BEST WEIRD FICTION, VOLUME 1 edited by Laird Barron

Laird Barron has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1, due August from Undertow Publications, an imprint of ChiZine Publications:

Here’s the book description:

Welcome to the weird! Acclaimed author and editor Laird Barron, one of weird fiction’s brightest exponents, brings his expert eye and editorial sense to the inaugural volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. No longer the purview of esoteric readers, weird fiction is enjoying wide popularity. Chiefly derived from early 20th-century pulp fiction, its remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and a healthy helping of the outre. At its best, weird fiction is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the Laws of Nature. It is not confined to one genre, but is the most diverse and welcoming of all genres. Hence, in this initial showcase of weird fiction you will discover tales of horror, fantasy, science fiction, the supernatural, and the macabre. Contributing authors include Jeffrey Ford, Sofia Samatar, Joseph S. Pulver Sr, John Langan, Richard Gavin, and W. H. Pugmire.

Here’s the table of contents…
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Amazing Stories Annonces Special 88th Anniversary Issue

Amazing Stories announced publication of a special 88th anniversary edition of the magazine on April 1st, 2014.

Press release follows:
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Short Film: Prospect

Via Paul Di Filippo comes the short film Prospect, the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl on a toxic alien planet. She and her father hunt for precious materials, aiming to strike it rich. When the father is attacked by a roving bandit, the daughter must take control.
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Books Received: March 31, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Win a Copy of LOCKSTEP by Karl Schroeder

There is still some time left for you to enter our giveaway for Lockstep by Karl Schroeder…but hurry, time is running out!

See the original post for details on how to enter.

SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-03-31

Interviews & Profiles

  • Christopher Nolan on His Star Wars Influence and Interstellar
  • CBR interviews Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou, authors of Skies of Fire.
  • I Smell Sheep interviews Robin Covington, author of Sex and the Single Vamp.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal: Movies are like dreams — “I’m thrilled by the open ends and questions” The star of Enemy on playing a double role, ambiguous endings and acting opposite a tennis ball
  • Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep explains Why Lawyers Will Start Becoming Obsolete This Year, as they are replaced with computerized systems, just like in his book.
  • The North Kitsap interviews Randy Henderson, author of the short story “Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask” from the 30th volume of the Writers of the Future anthology.
  • SFFWorld interviews Dawn Husted, author of SAFE.
  • The Talks at Google program hosted Patrick Rothfuss in the Cambridge, MA

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Sunday Cinema: The Time Shifters (a.k.a Thrill Seekers)

The Time Shifters is a 1999 science fiction movie featuring Casper Van Dien, Catherine Bell, Julian Richings and Martin Sheen. It’s about a reporter who, learning of time travelers visiting 20th century disasters, tries to change the history they know by averting upcoming disasters.
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Darwyn Cooke’s First 3 Covers for the WOOL: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL Serial

Jet City Comics has revealed first three covers of Wool: The Graphic Novel by Eisner Award-Winning Artist Darwyn Cooke. (Larger version appear below.)

Cooke will be illustrating all the covers for the the six-issue adaptation of Hugh Howey’s Wool, which is being written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton.
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Mythgard Institute’s In-Depth Course on ENDER’S GAME

This Spring, Mythgard Institute is offering a free course on Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, taught by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis. The six week online course will focus on book for the first five weeks, and then the Gavin Hood film in the final session. The course runs from April 1st to May 6.

From the course page:

This spring, the Mythgard Academy explores new frontiers, making its first foray into the genre of science fiction with the much-loved modern classic, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. We will discuss the book in five weekly sessions, and then take a sixth session in which to discuss the recent film adaptation of the book. Like all Mythgard Academy classes, this study is free and open to the public. You can download audio or video recordings of the class sessions here from our website, through our Mythgard podcast feed on iTunes, or through our Ender’s Game course on iTunes U. You are also invited to participate in the class live! The first 100 attendees will be able to take part in the interactive class discussions, which will take place on Tuesday evenings at 9:30 pm (EDT), starting on April 1, 2014.

Get more details at the Mythgard Institute course page.

SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-03-29

Interviews & Profiles

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Cover & Synopsis: LOWBALL: A WILD CARDS NOVEL Edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass

Here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming novel Lowball: A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass.

Here’s the synopsis (larger cover version follows):
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BOOK REVIEW: The Abominable by Dan Simmons

REVIEW SUMMARY: Based on the title and Simmons other works (The Terror), I was looking for the Yeti; I was looking for lots of Yetis! What I found was an excellent alternate history between the Great War and World War II on the slopes of Everest, slow to rev, but a fast and furious ending.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Three world-class climbers, Jake (a young American), Jean Claude (a French Chamoix guide) and the Deacon (a British veteran of the Great War) volunteer for a trip to find the body or whereabouts of Lord Percival Bromley, who either died climbing the mountain or met with an “Abominable” fate.

PROS: Set in a time when Everest has yet to be summited, that complicated point in history between World War I and World War II; in-depth descriptions of climbing in the cold; like The Terror, vivid descriptions about what it feels like to be very cold; have I mentioned the cold?
CONS: NEED MORE YETI! A few side trips to climb mountains for character-building; not sure the “I got this manuscript from a guy I met named Jake” handed-off memoir strategy is required.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s Dan Simmons. Read it.
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Short Fiction Friday: My Hugo 2014 Nominations

March 31st is fast approaching, and as the month goes out like a lamb, the period for nominating for the 2014 Hugo Awards is coming to an end.

This marks my first experience at nominating works for the Hugo Awards. When I asked our fearless leader, John DeNardo, about reviewing short fiction over the course of 2013 for SF Signal, it was with the intention of focusing on short fiction for this very reason.

It was a rewarding journey, though I quickly discovered how impossible it was to keep up with the amount of original short genre fiction being produced each month in print and electronic magazines, collections and anthologies, and as single stories on various websites. I’m not complaining. As a fan of short fiction, I am thrilled to see so much of it being produced every month.

It was a great pleasure to offer up my opinions on the short fiction I read throughout the year. The choices I have made for Hugo nominations are based solely on my own personal experience, not on the basis of who wrote them or what publications they appeared in. I regret that I wasn’t able to read more and that my reading was limited to but a handful of the worthwhile short fiction venues championing short genre fiction. Apologies to any authors whose works should have been among my consideration, and thank you to all of you who are keeping the pleasure of short fiction alive and well.

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GIVEAWAY (US Only): Win a Copy of IRENICON by Aidan Harte

Giveaway week here at SF Signal continues!

We have 5 copies of Irenicon by Aidan Harte to give away to 5 lucky SF Signal readers!

Here’s what the book is about:

“If there were stars for world-building, Irenicon would be a five plus, no question,” says SFX.

“The book is a fountain of gorgeous detail, festooned with enriching codices and enlightening, subtly subsumed exposition,” raved Sci-Fi Now.

The river Irenicon is a feat of ancient Concordian engineering. Blasted through the middle of Rasenna in 1347, using Wave technology, it divided the only city strong enough to defeat the Concordian Empire. But no one could have predicted the river would become sentient—and hostile. Sofia Scaligeri, the soon-to-be Contessa of Rasenna, has inherited a city tearing itself apart from the inside. And try as she might, she can see no way of stopping the culture of vendetta that has the city in its grasp. Until a Concordian engineer arrives to build a bridge over the Irenicon, clarifying everything: the feuding factions of Rasenna can either continue to fight each other or they can unite against their shared enemy. And they will surely need to stand together—for Concord is about to unleash the Wave again

Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
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The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Gnome Press

In my day job, I work with MBA students, and in the time that I’ve been doing that (and working at my regular job), I’ve gained a certain appreciation for how businesses function. When it comes to researching the column, looking at how a business functions has a certain appeal, especially since a major, unspoken element of SF History is really a sort of business history.

An excellent case in point is the rise and fall of a small, independent publisher, Gnome Press, which existed for just over a decade in the middle of the 20th Century. They published some of the genre’s greatest authors, but ultimately failed, overtaken by their own inability to sell books and by changes in the marketplace. Gnome is an interesting business to study, because it carries with it some important lessons.

Read The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Gnome Press over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog.