In episode 228 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Jeff Patterson, Derek Johnson, Carl V. Anderson and Rob H. Bedford discuss books coming out in 2014 that we absolutely must read, and why.

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In episode 219 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Sarah Chorn, Django Wexler and John Stevens discuss which SF&F book that you love would you like to see made into a movie? Which one do you really hope never gets made because you’re afraid they’ll ruin it?

Bonus this week – Books We Are Reading:

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In episode 215 of the SF Signal Podcast, despite technical difficulties and a slight headache, Patrick Hester wrangles a cornucopia of irregulars to discuss books that deserved a sequel – and why they deserved one. Plus: Highlander 2 and other silliness. Did I mention the technical difficulties?

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Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor

Thor: The Dark World opens on November 8th. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of Thor’s more recent adventures for the Kirkus Reviews blog.

From the Post:

I was more than a little skeptical of the first movie. Thor was never one of my favorite characters growing up. First, he talked funny. All ‘thou’, ‘thee’, ‘verily’, and whatnot. Second, well, he just wasn’t accessible to me as a reader. I couldn’t identify with him – he was a god, after all. Truth told, I enjoyed the alternate Thor versions Beta Ray Bill and Eric Masterson (Thunderstrike) in the comics more than I did Thor himself. But the movie converted me. They stripped away all the things about Thor I didn’t care for or identify with. They brought his humanity to the forefront and made the character likable, and accessible, without losing the core of who he is and what drives him. Yes, they changed up his backstory (Don Blake became a one-liner joke), but in this situation, I was actually for those changes. With that in mind, I offer up 5 graphic novels featuring Marvel’s God of Thunder, Thor to get you ready for The Dark World.

Click on over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the post.

In episode 211 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester welcomes back Jay Garmon, Paul Weimer, Fred Kiesche and Jeff Patterson to talk about books we want to read before the end of the year.

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In episode 208 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester welcomes two of our newest Irregulars, Sarah Chorn and Ria Bridges, along with a couple of long-term Irregulars, Larry Ketchersid and Lisa Paitz Spindler to discuss three books we want to read before the end of the year.

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Previously, I reviewed Gail Simone’s first volume for the rebooted Batgirl series, The Darkest Reflection, which is a part of DC’s New 52 initiative. In the review, I mentioned my appreciation of Gail Simone’s writing, and how the series was off to a great start, and how I was looking forward to the next volume, which we now know is called Knightfall Descends.

The question at such a point, of course, is whether the second volume can match the first volume, and whether it can exceed expectations.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: A technically well-written story about vampires and the quest to stop AIDS, but over-description and a disappointing plot twist stole interest.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:  A doctor adopts a Romanian orphan baby and discovers a secret that makes her enemy number one for a Mafioso band of vampires.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Well-researched in science, location, and vampire lore; visceral action
CONS: Technical jargon slowed the story; weak characters; the turn halfway through removed almost all interest in finishing the story
BOTTOM LINE: Probably looked good as an outline, but the execution failed to keep interest, especially after a midpoint twist threw most of it out the window.

Children of the Night begins with a preface of the author’s first hand research visiting Romania and historical locations important to Dracula’s life, and the tragedy of that country’s orphan problem. The story begins with a team of Americans visiting Romania to investigate the orphanage system in order to report back with recommendations for aid. The characterization is interesting enough to keep you reading, and when this section ends, the reader is left with a haunting revelation about the vampires’ plans.

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Jesse Petersen is the author of the Living With the Dead series (Married With Zombies, Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love, The Zombie Whisperer) and an upcoming monster series which begins April 29 with Club Monstrosity. She lives in Tucson with her awesome husband and two cats.

Why Death (or Living Death) Is So Damn Funny

First off, a big thanks to the SF Signal for having me here today. Especially since I’m guessing I write a little different kind of urban fantasy than what most people who are gurus here do. See, I write about zombies and monsters. Okay, that’s not the different part.

Let’s try this again. I love zombies, but I came to zombies (and monsters) a lot later in life than maybe other people did. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch that kind of stuff mostly because my younger brother kept a sharpened stake behind his door just in case and my Mom was worried if we watched a lot of horror movies, it might prove to be more fatal than we hoped.

But I grew up and married a movie lover and he started to introduce me to a lot of amazing classics, as well as newer takes on the zombie genre. What I found, though, was that I tended to gravitate most strongly toward movies and books that had horror, but also had humor.
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In episode 170 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester recaps your favorite SF&F:

  • Podcasts
  • Book Bloggers
  • News Websites
  • Publishers
  • Comics

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With DC’s relaunch of its entire line-up under the “New 52″ umbrella, several Batman-related titles were announced, no less than ten of them! We have the main Batman title, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight, Red Hood and The Outlaws, Batwing, Batwoman and Birds of Prey. That’s one heck of an overdose of everything Batman. Plus the fact that the first twelve issues of most of these titles came under the Court of Owls crossover event, and keeping track of the various appearances and stuff is pretty overwhelming. At least, that’s one of the reasons why I avoided reading anything other than Batman by Scott Snyder, Birds of Prey by Duane Swierczynski and Nightwing by Kyle Higgins until now.

Recently, it was as if there was more and more praise for writer Gail Simone, who is penning Batgirl at the moment. It made me curious. I’ve never had much of an interest in Batgirl, a character little seen in the movies and the various TV shows alike. Duane and Kyle have both featured her quite a bit in their ongoing series, with Batgirl being one of the core members of the current incarnation of the Birds of Prey, so I wondered how she would be written in her own solo series. And how it would all tie to the various crossovers that are ongoing for all Batman-related titles. As I said above, first we had the Court of Owls crossover, and now we have Death of the Family, in which Joker returns to Gotham with a vengeance and an axe to grind.

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Free SF, Fantasy and Horror Fiction for 12/11/2012

So coming down from my five-day birthday celebration, which isn’t yet an official holiday in Canada, The United States, or even North Korea, I’ve stolen links from Dave Tackett and you know I’m going to blame it on the hangover…

What’s special about today’s free fiction?

  1. Paul McAuley has some new short stories set in the same universe. Two today, more to come…
  2. Matt Phillips has a science fiction novel that’s a little… strange: The Truth about Sharks and Pigeons
  3. Lavie Tidhar is handing us his novelette, Strigoi, for free! Like, completely free! Grab it before he realizes his grave mistake.

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Can’t get enough of The Walking Dead? The good folks over at Macmillan sent us a link to an audio clip from the latest The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga.  It centers on the character Brian Blake, who features prominently in that book.  The narrator is Fred Berman, and his voice is perfect for this material.  Gave me chills listening to the clip.  Check it out below and let us know what you think.

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In episode 164 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester and his rag-tag band of panelists, discuss:

Books we’re thankful for – and why.

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Lavie Tidhar’s The Apex Book of World SF 2, collecting 26 stories from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, is now out. He runs the World SF Blog, which contains four years of short stories, essays, articles, interviews and links to genre literature from around the world. When he’s not doing that he’s the World Fantasy, BSFA and Campbell Award nominated author of Osama (out later this month from Solaris Books) and of The Bookman Histories (out in December in omnibus from Angry Robot).

The Lonely Business of Self-Promotion

Writing is a lonely business. Promotion is the opposite. Everyone wants to get the word out. Buy my book! Please Share! Please Like! Please RT!

It occurs to me that your chances of being heard are better if you think not only of yourself (as hard as that may be!). Helping others gains you, in pure Capitalist terms, social capital. What Ed McBain called the “favour bank” in his 87th Precinct novels. Therefore, paradoxically, the best way to help yourself is to help others.

As editor of the World SF Blog, I get a fair amount of PR “spam”. Why do I call it spam? Because, in the four years of running the blog, I have never – not once – received a PR e-mail remotely relevant to the blog.

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The seeds of OSIRIS were sown during my final year studying at Manchester, when I wrote a novella called THE LAST BALLOON FLIGHT. I’d almost completed the first draft of a contemporary novel about musicians, but something wasn’t working, and all my instincts were telling me I wasn’t going to be able to make it work. Instead, I wrote THE LAST BALLOON FLIGHT: a futuristic fairy tale about a journey from a frozen landscape, across an archipelago British Isles, to a flooded Paris (something like the illustration below: the painting is dubious, but there are some early intimations of oceanic towers going on). The return to a fantastical style of writing immediately felt more like me, and the musician novel was promptly abandoned.

Following my degree I lived in Montmartre for eighteen months, and the earliest notes I have on OSIRIS are set in a much-altered Paris. Montmartre being Montmartre, this period was more Bohemia than bohemian writing, and I was also chronicling the tales of the most malevolent cat who ever lived, Mystik, who I had the misfortune to look after for the best part of a year. MYSTIK: LETTERS survives as a record of my time in France, but this feline was also the source of the surname Adelaide chooses to use rather than her family name of Rechnov. Adelaide and Mystik shared many similar traits.

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Soon, theaters will be playing The Dark Knight Rises (midnight showings tonight in most markets), so with that in mind, I put together a list at the Kirkus Reviews Blog called 5 graphic novels starring Gotham’s protector, 3 of which I believe helped to shape the Nolan trilogy.

From the post:

The Dark Knight Returns – If we look at the Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton Batman flicks as being dark, even harsh, in their portrayal of Batman, we aren’t wrong.  A far cry from the campy days of Adam West running around in the cape and cowl, these films have had a mood and tone that at least partially comes from my next pick, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (ISBN-10: 1563893428).  Set in Batman’s future, Bruce Wayne is fifty-five years old, retired, and Gotham is a very different place without him.  Superheroes are all but gone, and crime is mostly unchecked.  When Two-Face returns, Wayne puts on the cape and cowl once more, but finds Gotham and the world, unwelcoming to his brand of vigilante justice.  The Gotham PD hunt him relentlessly, the American government sees him as a threat to their authority.  Worse, Batman alive and well brings The Joker back and he is deadlier than ever.

Please click through the Kirkus Reviews to see the other Batman graphic novel picks!

Brian Bandell is novelist with Silver Leaf Books, which released Mute in July. He’s also a senior reporter at the South Florida Business Journal and the winner of more than 20 journalism awards.

Going one-on-one with a New York agent in an empty classroom, the air conditioner blasting overhead felt more frigid than usual. But, I couldn’t blame my goose bumps on that. The agent had read the first few chapters of my novel and he enjoyed it. Still, I could tell by the hesitation in his voice that there was a “but” coming. He read the synopsis too, and he saw that my novel, Mute, which starts out feeling like a crime thriller and delves more and more into science fiction as it progresses, doesn’t neatly stick to one genre.

The traditional way of thinking pigeonholes books into rigid categories. That was a necessity, really, because bookstores had to choose where to shelve them. Selling books online, whether in print or digital, is changing that. Books can be listed in multiple categories and be enjoyed by readers across genres. One way to open the appeal of science fiction is to hook thriller readers into a story that seems grounded in the expected reality and then transform it into something fantastical. Read the rest of this entry

I have a new post up over on the Kirkus Review site looking at Stephen King’s The Dark Tower-The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins, Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics. The script is by Peter David, a name comic book readers are well accustomed to seeing (The Incredible Hulk, Young Justice).  He also wrote one of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation novels: Imzadi.  The series is illustrated by Sean Phillips (WildC.A.T.S.) and Richard Isanove (Wolverine: Origin), and plotted by Robin Furth (Stephen King’s personal research assistant for The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance).

Here’s an excerpt:

The story opens with Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, tracking the man in black across a desert wasteland.  He comes across a man who offers news of the man in black along with food, water and shelter for the night.  All he asks in return is for The Gunslinger to tell him a tale.  Through flashbacks, we see the day Roland’s ka-tet were slaughtered by the Good Man, John Farson.  As Farson’s followers are stacking up the dead for a pyre, Roland escapes along with another Gunslinger, Aileen.  She is mortally wounded and asks that he bury her in her family crypt back home – in Gilead.

Check out the full article over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

In episode 135 of the Hugo Nominated SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks our irregulars to weigh in on: Books that Changed Our Lives.

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