Author Archive

VIDEO: Tim Maughan’s “Paintwork” Is Now a Short Film

Tim Maughan is a two-time BSFA award nominee. His short story “Paintwork” tells the tale of a near-future Bristol graffiti artist, 3Cube, who discovers his subversive graffiti is itself being messed with by persons unknown. His story has now been turned into a short film.

Details from the press release and the video itself, below.

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MIND MELD: Books You Eat Like Candy & Books You Savor

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

Many readers have different gears when reading books. Some books are ones in which you luxuriate and spend time with, others are such a ride that you turn the pages rapidly, carried along through them at warp speed.

We asked this week’s panelists about this phenomenon:

Q: What books do you savor? What books do you eat like candy? What makes for you a book that you savor, or speed through?

Here’s what they said…

Sandra Wickham
Sandra Wickham lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two cats. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training. Sandra’s short stories have appeared in Evolve: Vampires of the New Undead, Evolve: Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the Order, Crossed Genres magazine and coming up in The Urban Green Man. She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks, is the Fitness Nerd columnist for the Functional Nerds and slush reads for Lightspeed Magazine.

As a fitness professional, I have a hard time comparing books to popcorn and candy. I’m sorry. It goes against my nature. Is it all right if I call them fruits versus vegetables? Fruit is yummy, quick to eat and always fun. Vegetables can be yummy, are a bit more work to eat but you know they’re extremely good for you.

I always read because I want to be entertained and I admit I don’t always read because I want to learn something, or broaden my mind. Sometimes, I really just want to have fun and read an entertaining book. That’s when I turn to the fruit.

The fruit books I grab for a quick, fun read are urban fantasy. Give me a Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Diana Rowland, Kat Richardson, Kevin Hearne (the list goes on and on) and I’ll disappear. I’m not saying that urban fantasy can’t be mind expanding or explore important issues, when they’re well done they certainly do that, but I don’t need to rethink my entire life to read them.

I’d also list horror books under this category, though it depends on the author. Some of those are a mix of fruits and vegetables with a side of bloody dip.

My vegetable books tend to be fantasy that take after the Tolkien mold. These are the stories I want to dive fully into, to be immersed in the world the author has created and linger there, enjoying every aspect of the characters, the setting and the story.

I’m interested to see other people’s responses on the books they savor, because I know I need more vegetables in my reading diet.

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BOOK REVIEW: The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Events move apace in this sequel to The Dragon’s Path, as tumultuous events continue to dramatically shape the fallen Dragon Empire.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Much appreciated deepening of the worldbuilding; fascinating development of characters.
CONS: A couple of plot turns and character meetings seem overly convenient; a less-than-crisp ending.
BOTTOM LINE: A strong sequel to The Dragon’s Path, deepening and building the world and characters in the Dagger and Coin universe

In the wake of rises to power, the schemes of a girl who would be a banker, and the machinations of the priests of a mysterious Goddess, war and conflict continue to escalate across the Western Lands. Cithrin, Marcus, Geder and the rest will not be unmarked, and unchanged, by the building conflicts. This is The King’s Path, the second in Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and Coin series after the Dragon’s Path.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Another diverse, multi-sided anthology from Dagan Books with an unexpected and unusual subject.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: FISH is an anthology of fiction of various stripes, swimming around the titular subject in a variety of ways.
MY REVIEW:
PROS: A few strong, memorable stories that tent-pole the collection; beautiful cover and interior art; strong diversity in approaches to subject matter.
CONS: Category may be too broad; a number of the works were underwhelming.
BOTTOM LINE: An anthology that shows off the contributors’ and editor’s talents.

A young man with a fishbowl head and fish for eyes…a deep-sea’s fish to the unknown world of the surface….a god in fish form offers a Hawaiian fisherman a perilous bargain…a seamstress’ needlepoint fish threaten to change the fate of two kingdoms…the Just So story of why catfish have a flat head…

These and many other characters and situations are to be found within the stories in FISH, an anthology from Dagan Books.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Eye With Which the Universe Beholds Itself by Ian Sales

REVIEW SUMMARY: Ian Sales continues his strong Apollo Quartet with a deeply personal tale of the first astronaut on Mars going on a much longer trip.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Colonel Bradley Elliott, first man on Mars, is selected for an interstellar mission of secret importance.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Powerful and nuanced characterization; solid and flawless nuts-and-bolts Apollo program engineering.
CONS: The sting in the tail and the power of the story only hits in the coda; bleakness of Sales’ work may not suit all readers.
BOTTOM LINE: A solid second entry in Sales’ Apollo Quartet project.

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Welcome back to Roll Perception Plus Awareness, a column about roleplaying games and their place in a genre reader’s and writer’s world. For what I have for you this time out, let me set the scene:

Three X-men and a former Avenger investigate a breakout on the Raft, the maximum security prison in the East River for supervillains. There, they find that numerous inmates have escaped, with the help of Electro. Cinematic battles are fought in and on the raft. In a key moment, the Hulk, at the Raft in self and solitary confinement, proves valuable in taking out Vapor, Ironclad, Vector and X-Ray, the evil Fantastic Four-like group known as the U-Foes. And discover that there are deeper and darker things afoot, that mandate a temporary alliance to uncover.

Was this the latest issue of a comic? A motion comic on DVD? A new animated Marvel series? No, none of the above. This was a recent session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game that I participated in. Marvel is the latest roleplaying game from Margaret Weis Productions (yes, that Margaret Weis, fantasy fans).

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BOOK REVIEW: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

REVIEW SUMMARY: An enchanting novel from Emma Newman, an urban fantasy that has no sign of tattooed women in leather pants.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A headstrong scion and an investigator discover dark doings in the outwardly genteel world of Bath’s secret mirror city.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A wide variety of interesting characters; intersecting stories: the wonderful feel of a larger world only partially glimpsed.
CONS: The ending of the book leaves perhaps too many dangling threads; ecology of the Split Worlds has some problems.
BOTTOM LINE: Accept the invitation to attend the season in Aquae Sulis.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: A novella set in an intriguing universe with memorable characters.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A former magistrate flees planetary civil war, and is taken in by distant relations who find that such a gesture is not without friction or cost.
MY REVIEW:
PROS: Interesting characters; unique setting; excellent prose; interesting take on artificial intelligence.
CONS: The social dynamics and ending may frustrate and confuse unprepared readers; the cover does the story no favors.
BOTTOM LINE: A sumptuous meal of a novella with excellent prose.
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An Interview with R.T. Kaelin, Editor of “Triumph Over Tragedy”

R.T Kaelin is the author of the The Children of the White Lions series as well as the editor of the anthology Triumph Over Tragedy: an anthology for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. He kindly sat down for an interview with Paul Weimer.

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MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy

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

This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF.

Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why?
This is what they had to say…
Laura Anne Gilman
Author and Freelance Editor Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus novels, the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy, as well as the story collection Dragon Virus. She also has written the mystery Collared under the pen name L.A. Kornetsky.

This will, I will admit, be a purely foodie view: I enjoy cooking, I enjoy eating, I enjoy reading about cooking and eating. And for a long time, it seemed as though we foodies were, if not the minority in genre, then certainly underserved.

There were the banquets in fantasy, of course, and the trail rations, and sometimes even a discussion of where the food came from, but – like bathroom breaks and sleeping – it often seemed tossed into the pile of “boring, don’t write about it.”

And science fiction? Mainly, science fiction mentioned food in context of technology: food-pills, space-age packets, vat-grown meat, etcetera. I suspect that many writers of the time had been heavily influenced by the early space program, and extrapolated their SF on the actual science. Surely, science fiction was saying, we had more important things to do than cook – or eat!

Even when they were dealing with an important, food-related issue (overcrowding, famine, etc), MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM made it a (very serious) punchline. So did “To Serve Man.” But scenes of characters preparing their food, or even enjoying it, were notably, if not entirely, absent.

(even CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY made the “too busy to eat” point with the 3-course-meal-gum…)
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Karen Lord avoids a sophomore slump with a stunning work of social science fiction

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: His home planet unexpectedly and suddenly destroyed, his culture and society nearly wiped out, a researcher teams up with a local biotechnician in helping the Sadiri rebuild their lives on a melting pot planet.

MY REVIEW:
PROS:Interesting characters both major and minor, enthralling background and worldbuilding, convincing use of old tropes, deep and evocative themes.
CONS: Marketing of the book leads to false expectations that may annoy readers as to style and subject matter. The cover is deceptive.
BOTTOM LINE: Book your trip to the peoples and places of Cygnus Beta.

Redemption in Indigo (my SF Signal review here) was a brilliant, unique debut from the author, and a strain of literature underrepresented and mostly unseen in American genre: Carribean literature (with a strong African mythic component). Justly award-winning, where does an author go from there?

As it so happens, the author goes into spaaace.

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BOOK REVIEW: Nexus by Ramez Naam

REVIEW SUMMARY: Ramez Naam presents an interesting world and characters 30 years hence strongly grounded in the real life research and speculation he was hitherto best known for.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the mid 21st century, a powerful combination of nanotech, software and drugs threatens to catapult its creator into forbidden realms of transhumanism.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Interesting premise and extrapolation of technology and social developments of same.
CONS: Some of the thriller elements feel a bit over-the-top. Some first novel clunkiness in narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting and intriguing fiction debut from a non fiction pioneer in bio-technological issues.
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MIND MELD: Rebranding Fiction as Young Adult

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

This week we asked about rebranding adult novels as YA:

Q: What genre novels would benefit from a re-branding as Young Adult? Which YA novels should not be branded as such?
This is what they had to say…
Gail Carriger
Gail Carriger is a New York Times Bestselling author writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She survived her early years by reading most of her local library and memorizing Greek battles. Her YA book Etiquette & Espionage, the first in the Finishing School series, releases Feb. 5, 2013.

I’d like to hope they already have been rebranded, but two of my favorites are part of larger series. Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen trilogy is possibly the most YA of her early Valdemar books. And Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong trilogy is a great introduction to the Pern universe. I’d like to see both reissued with updated cover art, in hardback, for a YA audience.

I’d also add two books that are the first in their respective series but stand well enough alone as YA. Mary H. Herbert’s Dark Horse, and Cherry Wilder’s A Princess of the Chameln both include one of my favorite plot points: a girl disguising herself as a boy.

Last, I think The Forgotten Beasts of Eld would make a great rebranded YA book. Although the protagonist isn’t technically young enough, she has an isolated innocence that makes her seem young. Also Patricia McKillip’s writing style is so atmospheric, like a fairy tale, I think younger readers would really appreciate her style.

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Lyda MorehouseLyda Morehouse is a science fiction and fantasy author living in the Twin Cities. Her debut novel, Archangel Protocol, was recently re-released as an e-book by Wizard’s Tower Press. In more recent years, most of her work has come out under her alter ego pen name, Tate Hallaway, including the Vampire Princess novels and the Garret Lacey series. As a fellow resident of the Twin Cities, Lyda was extremely kind to talk to me about her work.


PW: Who is Lyda Morehouse?

LM: Ugh. It seems very early in the morning to get this existential. Therefore, I’m tempted to be flip and make a reference to Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy and say, “Just this guy, you know.”

I suppose the real answer is that I’m a forty-five year old Minnesotan (although even that gets complicated, since I was born in California–it was the sixties, 1967, the Summer of Love, to be precise–and raised in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.) I guess another salient feature about me is that I’m a lesbian and a mom and, even though my sales don’t entirely warrant it, I stay home and ostensibly keep house and write. And, the writing part is complicated, too, since I’m published both as Lyda Morehouse and Tate Hallaway, as whom I write romances and urban fantasy.

But is that who I am? I’m also a ginormous fan who loves to get excited and yell about ALL THE THINGS. I’ve been known to dabble in fanfic and fan art. I have an exceedingly playful and silly spirit, and, like an otter, I’d rather play than eat. I dance when I’m alone and I sing off-key in public (much to the chagrin of my nine-year old, Mason). I’ve recently discovered a Korean mixed martial arts, which allows me not only to shout and hit things in a socially appropriate way, but also Mason and I get to do it together (though he’s higher-ranked than I am). I’m not very science-minded, but I adore hanging out with people who are a lot smarter than me and listening carefully…and then making stuff up.

I’m also clearly overly fond of the parenthetical.

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Paul S. Kemp is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Best known for his work in the Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons universe, in 2011, Paul came out with a novel in his own word, The Hammer and the Blade, the first in a series of novels featuring two thieves, Egil and Nix. Paul Weimer sat down to talk to Paul about him and his work.


PW: Who is Paul S. Kemp?

PK: Paul S. Kemp is a wannabe superhero with delusions of grandeur. He also tells stories, drinks whiskey, loves his family, can spill any liquid from any container by mere mental command, and speaks of himself in the third person. ;-)

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Two fine short Fantastic Victoriana stories from Daniel Abraham.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Balfour and Meriwether, special agents to the British crown, deal with extraordinary and fantastical threats to their monarch, and the world.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Light, fun atmosphere, breezy dialogue, clever action and appealing protagonists in a fine Secret Fantastic Victorian Era.
CONS: The stories are a bit short, and feel a bit constrained in word length.
BOTTOM LINE: Two fun stories that show yet another side to one of Genre’s best and facile writers today.

Balfour and Meriwether in Two Adventures, published by a new digital publisher called SnackReads, collects two Victoriana stories by Daniel Abraham, one of the most facile and flexible writers today.  The title characters are agents for the British Crown in the late 19th century. The two stories deliberately obscure in time, and are told from the perspective of Mr. Meriwether looking back on the adventure from a journal written after the first world war. The stories have a fantastic Victorian feel, but with the twist of it being a secret history. Ordinary people have no idea the extraordinary threats and dangers Belfour and Meriwether face.

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John Birmingham is a British Born Australian Author. He is best known for his Axis of Time trilogy, and his new series, starting with Without Warning. Paul Weimer sat down to talk to John about his work and career.


PW: Who is John Birmingham?

JB: Some people are convinced he’s a delightful old children’s book illustrator, but that guy is actually a skinjob, a human analogue droid sent here to work his way into the hearts of children over two or three generations. Nobody ever thinks of the children.

Me, I’m just a guy who used to wrote for porn mags and got lucky mashing together other people’s ideas. Mostly Tom Clancy’s and Harry Turtledove’s.

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BOOK REVIEW: Shadow’s Master by Jon Sprunk

REVIEW SUMMARY: Sprunk finishes his series in strong fashion.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Caim continues his journey north to find his heritage and legacy, even as the young Empress he left behind has her reign tested.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Strong finish to the trilogy; more interesting worldbuilding; further emergence of characters.
CONS: Some hangovers from the second book clutter up narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: A very good, if not spectacular, end to what will hopefully be not the last book series from Sprunk.

Shadow’s Master is the third and presumably final novel in the Shadow’s Son Trilogy from Jon Sprunk, following Shadow’s Son and Shadow’s Lure.  In the world of Nimea, Caim has managed to depose a local potentate, bury his father’s sword, and head further north to find the true source of his heritage. The Empress he has left behind faces the greatest challenge yet to her rule, and Kit the faerie has a fateful decision to make that could change the lives of all three of them forever…if it doesn’t get one or more of them killed first.

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BOOK REVIEW: Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey

SYNOPSIS: War threatens the solar system as forces react and move in a world rocked by the events detailed in Leviathan Wakes.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: strong classic Space Opera; excellent set pieces; intriguing new characters.
CONS: The characterization beats of longstanding characters continues; they are eclipsed by the new characters.
VERDICT: Another solidly entertaining space opera from the team of Abraham and Franck.

Caliban’s War takes off some months after the events of Leviathan Wakes, and ups the ante. In the wake of the heroic (and drastic) actions taken to avert a total catastrophe for humans, the powers in the Solar System have not been idle. In point of fact, metaphors about fighting in a burning house might be extremely appropriate.

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Bradley Beaulieu has emailed us the cover image for his latest, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh, Book 3 of the Lays of Anuskaya series.  The artist is Aaron J. Riley.

Here is the book description:

The Flames of Shadam Khoreh begins nearly two years after the events of The Straits of Galahesh. In it, Atiana and Nikandr continue their long search for Nasim, which has taken them to the desert wastes of the Gaji, where the fabled valley of Shadam Khoreh lies. But all is not well. War has moved from the islands to the mainland, and the Grand Duchy knows its time may be limited if Yrstanla rallies its forces. And the wasting disease and the rifts grow ever wider, threatening places that once thought themselves safe. The Dukes believe that their only hope may be to treat with the Haelish warriors to the west of Yrstanla, but Nikandr knows that the key is to find Nasim and a lost artifact known as the Atalayina.

Will Nikandr succeed and close the rifts once and for all? The answer lies deep within the Flames of Shadam Khoreh.

More information about the Lays of Anuskaya series  can be found at Bradley’s website: http://quillings.com/.

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