MIND MELD: Where Would You Take the T.A.R.D.I.S.?

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It was the recent Mind Meld on Favorite Convention Panels, combined with the romance of the phrase “All of time and space. Everything that ever happened or ever will…,” that inspired me to ask our panelists this question:

Q: If you could take one trip in the T.A.R.D.I.S., where would you go?

Here’s what they said:
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Adam Christopher on The Functional Nerds Podcast

Adam Christopher, author of Hang Wire, joins John Anealio and Patrick Hester this week on The Functional Nerds Podcast.

Listen below, or at The Functional Nerds, or subscribe to The Functional Nerds Podcast through iTunes.

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Adam Christopher is a novelist, the author of Empire State, Seven Wonders, The Age Atomic, Hang Wire, and the forthcoming The Burning Dark. In 2010, as an editor, Christopher won a Sir Julius Vogel award, New Zealand’s highest science fiction honour. His debut novel, Empire State, was SciFiNow’s Book of the Year and a Financial Times Book of the Year for 2012. In 2013, he was nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best New Talent, with Empire State shortlisted for Best Novel. Born in New Zealand, he has lived in Great Britain since 2006. Adam’s latest novel, an urban fantasy called Hang Wire, is out now. You can keep up with Adam on his website, on Twitter as @GhostFinder and Facebook.

My Five Favourite Urban Fantasies

by Adam Christopher

Urban fantasy is one of my favourite genres, for two reasons. Firstly, it represents the ultimate juxtaposition of the fantastical and the mundane, placing the weird and wonderful, magical and supernatural right on our doorstep, in a setting that everyone can recognize and relate to. This in itself presents both danger and escapism – what if our city was the host of a covert war between vampires and werewolves? What if the nice old man who lived next door was an ancient warlock – and what if we, the reader, became his apprentice?

The other wonderful thing about urban fantasy is the huge range and diversity of stories that can be told. All it needs is a mix of the real and the unreal, allowing traditional fantasy, magic, the supernatural, romance, crime, horror, and countless other tropes and genres to blend together into something new and exciting.

With that in mind, I’ve chosen five of my favourite urban fantasy novels that run the spectrum from literary, even historical, fantasy fiction through to more traditional examples. By no means is this any kind of definitive list, nor is it the five best urban fantasies. But it is five books that I think are worth a look for what they demonstrate the genre can achieve and, for a couple of them anyway, for how far you can stretch the definition.

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

This week on The SF Signal Mind Meld, the Melders got mythical:

Q: Gods, Goddesses and Myths: From Rick Riordan to Dan Simmons, the popularity of Gods, Goddesses and Mythology, especially but not limited to Classical Greco-Roman and Norse mythology seems as fresh as ever. What is the appeal and power of mythological figures, in and out of their normal time? What do they bring to genre fiction?

Here’s what they said:

Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He is the author of such novels as Blackbirds, Mockingbird, The Blue Blazes, and Under The Empyrean Sky. He is an alumni of the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. He is the co-author of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus and developer of the game Hunter: The Vigil. He lives in Pennsyltucky with wife, son, and two dopey dogs. You can find him on Twitter @ChuckWendig and at his website, terribleminds.com, where he frequently dispenses dubious and very-NSFW advice on writing, publishing, and life in general.

Here’s why gods and goddesses and spirits and elves and all the creatures of all the mythologies matter:

Because they’re the original stories.

Right? We’re going to take as accepted the idea that stories have the power to change the world. That stories are how we communicate and share ideas – in that sense, storytelling is a powerful memetics delivery system by which we push enlightenment (and increasingly, entertainment) onto one another.

The original stories were the stories of us trying to explain our world. It’s mythology to us, now, but to the people telling those stories, the tales delivered a kind of enlightenment (and I’m sure given some of the hilariously sordid melodrama of mythology, they were also entertainment). Mythology explained everything from why the sun rose and fell to why mankind did all the curious and seemingly inexplicable things that it did.

All we’re really trying to do as storytellers is explain ourselves and say things about the world. (This is, of course, an expression of the literary theme – the theme being the argument we’re trying to make with our narrative.) That’s what connects us to the myths of the past and more importantly, the myth-tellers. It’s no surprise then that sometimes our fiction – say, Gaiman’s American Gods – re-explores those ideas and those characters in fresh, fascinating ways.

Though it’s also no surprise that we seek to make our own mythologies, either — mythologies either cobbled together from what has already come (repurposing the myths and divinities of the past is by no means unique to this age!) or pulled fresh out of the ether. Though there you’ll find a troubling idea – future humans digging up a copy of our fantasy fiction (the best or the worst of it) and thinking, This must be the mythology of the 21st century barbarians. A religion based on Tolkien or Rowling? Or a religion based on Twilight? Hmm…

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I recently watched The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb. I really enjoyed the movie, especially after the horrendous Spider-Man 3, but I know that a lot of people felt that the reboot came too soon. With this on my mind I thought I’d get some feedback from authors regarding the topic of reboots.

The question posed to this week’s panelists:

Q: When are reboots necessary, if ever? What properties could use a reboot? What properties should be protected from reboot? What are some of the best and worst reboots?

Here’s what they said…

Francis Knight
Francis Knight was born and lives in Sussex, England. When not living in her own head, she enjoys SF&F geekery, WWE geekery, teaching her children Monty Python quotes, and boldly going and seeking out new civilizations.

Necessary? Hmm, I’m not sure ever really necessary. Remakes either. I think you really only want to start playing with established works if you’re sure that you can bring something new (and better!) to it. Expand the characters, the universe. In that sense, I don’t think any project should be protected from reboots, if it has the potential to become better and richer for the experience, say something new.

What properties could do with a reboot? Well, perhaps Rambo? With a younger actor, as a veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan? Could work…preferably with less jingoism though, get it right back to ‘Troubled soldier tying to make sense of the aftermath’. Highlander would be superb – we could not have number 2 as well! Blade maybe could do with an overhaul, and Spawn. I’d have said Mad Max and Robocop too, but they’re being/have been done. Perhaps try again on Mad Max

For me, some of the best already done are the Batman series, the new Star Trek (I love how they expanded on our knowledge of characters we thought we knew inside out, and then put them in new and interesting positions), which also goes for the Bond reboot. I also liked the new Dredd. What didn’t work for me? The Conan reboot, Mad Max’s Doomsday… Remake/extensions of old franchises, Prometheus and The Thing prequel just didn’t work for me. The originals (Okay, the Carpenter version of The Thing was a remake itself) were so good, that they would have been better leaving well enough alone.

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Adam Christopher, has two novels Empire State and Seven Wonders out from Angry Robot Books. His next book, The Age Atomic, a sequel to Empire State comes out in April. He also has Shadow’s Call forthcoming from TOR. Born in Auckland, NZ, he’s not a hobbit, despite the rumors. Instead, he’s a Pertwee-era Doctor Who and Beatles fan, a child of the ‘80s who now lives in NW England.   Adam’s fiction has appeared in Pantechnicon, Hub, and Dark Fiction Magazine, and in 2010, he won a Sir Julius Vogel award , Which is New Zealand’s highest fiction honor.   When not writing, Adam can be found drinking tea and obsessing over superhero comics and The Cure.   He can be found online as @ghostfinder on Twitter, on Facebook or via his website at http://www.adamchristopher.co.uk.
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Cover & Synopsis: “The Age Atomic” by Adam Christopher

Angry Robot has posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher.

Here’s the synopsis:

The sequel to Empire State – the superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale.

As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms For Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

Book info as per Amazon US:

  • Publisher: Angry Robot (March 26, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0857663143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857663146

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 Adam Christopher, a New Zealand author now based in the UK,whose first novel, Empire State (Angry Robot, 2011), received a very positive reception. His second novel, Seven Wonders (Angry Robot, 2012), is new out.

Allow me to introduce Adam Christopher:
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New Author Spotlight: Adam Christopher

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 Adam Christopher!

Mr. Christopher’s books are:

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

In writing, point of View matters. So we asked a large handful of authors these questions:

Q: As you see it. What are the strengths and weaknesses, for character, worldbuilding and setting in using 1st or 3rd person (or even 2nd?) Omniscient or limited? And how about the time frame of the tense, past or present or even future?

What kinds of Point of view do you prefer to write in? What types of POV do you like to read?

Note: Due to the large number of responses received, this is Part II of the Mind Meld Part I can be found here.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a British science fiction and fantasy author. He was born in Valletta, Malta, grew up in Britain, Southeast Asia and Norway in the 1960s and 1970s. He studied at Kingston College, then worked in publishing and as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent. He now lives in London and Winchester and is married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker. He won a British Science Fiction Association award for Felaheen in 2003, was short-listed for the Arthur C Clarke Award for Pashazade the year before, and won the 2006 BSFA award for Best Novel with End of the World Blues. He was short-listed for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2002 for Pashazade. The Exiled Blade, third and final novel in his Assassini series, after The Fallen Blade and The Outcast Blade, comes out next spring from Orbit books. He recently signed a contract for a literary novel, The Final Banquet, which will be published by Canongate next Summer under the pen name Jonathan Grimwood.

About a decade ago I had a breakfast meeting in New York with a US editor who’d just bought three of my novels and wanted them slightly re-edited them for the American market. There were a couple of politically tricky points (climate change for global warming, etc) but the main request was that I edit a handful of scenes to make them more obviously from the hero’s point of view. Over coffee she told me she just didn’t get why European writers couldn’t do pov; all that going back and forth between the heads of different characters, often in the same chapter and sometimes the same scene was like watching tennis. She seemed slightly disbelieving when I said we liked it like that. It wasn’t incompetence on the part of European writers, as readers we were used to povs that switched… Recently – within genre – the introduction of a combined US/UK edit – which aims for something that works within both markets – has ironed out loose third and almost abolished omnipotent (at least that’s how it looks to me). For the moment first person and tight third rule.

First person grabs the reader from the off and drags her/him through the action at the same pace as the main character. However, the advantage of first is also its disadvantage; the reader can only know what the main character knows. Single character tight third allows us to wander a little from the character’s shoulder, but action happening elsewhere has to be kept to a minimum.
If you’re a great writer like James Lee Burke (changing to a different genre for a second), then you can combine first, with tight third and occasionally slip into omnipotent, as he does with the Dave Robicheaux novels, but you have to be very good indeed. Multiple tight third, which is what had my US editor ordering extra coffee, allows you some of the freedom of an omnipotent pov without actually using omnipotent.

Having just written a historical novel that alternates between first person present and first person past, sometimes on the same page and often within the same section, depending on how deeply the main character is immersed in the story he’s telling, I think tense is down to what works for that particular novel. Sure, there are rules but they get broken. I remember an editor, a very good UK one, saying he couldn’t imagine epic fantasy written in the first person present. I’m pretty sure a number of people are doing that now.

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SciFi Songster (he loves it when I call him that) John Anealio has just released a new must-listen track “The Empire State“, a song commissioned by Mur Lafferty and Angry Robot Books for the WorldBuilder project, the companion website to Adam Christopher’s novel Empire State.

Listen to the song right here…

…but do check out John’s site for song lyrics and more.