Co-Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (who write under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey) were interviewed at a recent Authors at Google event. They talk about the origins of the Expanse series, how it was optioned for television, and the latest (and newly-released) book, Cibola Burn.
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This week, Orbit books held a Google hangout called A Night at the Space Opera: Science Fiction Writers on Our Future in Space in which publicist Ellen Wright fielded reader questions for Daniel Abraham, Ann Leckie and Rachel Bach.

Here’s the video from that event. Good stuff!

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Wanna hang out with Orbit authors Daniel Abraham, Ann Leckie and Rachel Bach? Orbit is hosting a Google Hangout called A Night at the Space Opera: Science Fiction Writers on Our Future in Space on Thursday November 7 allowing you to do just that.

Here are the deets (because I am apparently in too much of a rush to type out the word “details”, but not overly long parenthetical sentences that include the word I was trying to avoid anyway…)
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Looks like Daniel Abraham’s and Ty Franck’s Expanse book series is being adapted for television!

Variety is reporting that scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man and Children of Men) will script the pilot of the how called The Expanse, which is based on the series of novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey.
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Courtesy of Orbit books, we have two covers to reveal to you today: Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey and The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham! Click either one to embiggen,

Cibola Burn is the fourth books in the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey (the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), following Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate. Cover art is by Daniel Dociu.

The Widow’s House is the fourth novel in the Dagger and the Coin series, following The Dragon’s Path, The King’s Blood and The Tyrant’s Law. Cover art by Kirk Benshoff.

Book descriptions to come!

And…because this is how I get my kicks…here are the covers for each series, side-by-side-by-side-by-side.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The power of the tyrant Geder Palliako only grows, as the few individuals actively working against him, openly and otherwise, find challenges and problems of their own.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: More solid revelation of the world and its nature; a sharp wham in the denouement; interesting use of deconstruction and skewed view of classic tropes.
CONS: Parts of the plot feel a little too forced and derivative, or repetitive.
BOTTOM LINE: Three novels into the Dagger and the Coin series, the energy and craft remains strong.
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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: 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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Cover & Synopsis: “The Tyrant’s Law” by Daniel Abraham

Here’s the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham.
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MIND MELD: Do You Like To Re-Read?

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

Q: What are your thoughts on re-reading favorite books and what are some books and/or series you re-read or plan on re-reading?

Here’s what they said…

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

This seems like an awfully long way to go to find a controversy. There is no moral aspect to re-reading over reading something new; both are perfectly valid uses of one’s leisure time.

For writers, of course, keeping up with an at least cursory overview of what’s new in one’s field is a professional obligation, and its good to have a founding in the classics. And research often requires reading an awful lot of nonfiction–but reading for pleasure or comfort? I’d say read whatever makes you happy. You’ll get different things out of a book each time you read it–and rereading is certainly a primal human drive. Otherwise, kids wouldn’t want The Little Engine That Could twice a night every night until it becomes engraved on their DNA.

We learn and internalize via repetition, after all–and narrative are the mechanism our minds use to organize information in a crowded, chaotic, and unknowable universe.

Also, sometimes we just don’t want to be surprised. Although the best books are unavoidably surprising; they surprise us every time.
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A Dribble of Ink has posted the cover art for the third novel in the Expanse series: Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (the writing pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). This novel follows Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War.

Here’s the synopsis:
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Editor Jonathan Strahan buttresses his core argument about the next generation of SF with a strong set of Solar System-set Science Fiction stories

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 18 stories from the likes of Elizabeth Bear, Alastair Reynolds and James S.A. Corey, all based around the idea of up to date views about living in the Solar System

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Strong writing, a dream line up of authors
CONS: A couple of the stories skate the boundaries set out by the editor
BOTTOM LINE: A book that effectively lays down a marker for Fourth Generation Science Fiction.

In the 1960’s, Science Fiction, already having gone through a couple of changes in the century but seemingly running a bit long in the tooth, runs into the New Wave, where authors like Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock bring new sensibilities and wonders and points of view to the genre. In the 1980’s, science fiction, again seemingly moribund and worn out, was transformed by William Gibson and the Cyberpunk movement.  In 2012, I see plenty of articles and chatter that science fiction is insular looking, more concerned with the past, unwilling to engage a future. That science fiction is getting “tired”, and science fiction authors are getting tired, or horrors, are fleeing into the kingdoms of fantasy. Sounds like awfully familiar rhetoric to me.  Are we due for another change? Jonathan Strahan and a host of heavyweights in the genre say ‘yes’.

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Del Rey announced at New York Comic Con the release of two upcoming books set in the Star Wars universe.

The first, Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, shows us the Jedi’s life right after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and chronicles his attempts to, as the author says, “stop being Obi-Wan — and learn to live as Ben”. Kenobi is set for release in late 2013.

The second book announced is the 3rd book in the upcoming Rebels standalone novels, all of which take place between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back and focus on the main characters from the original trilogy. The new, as-yet-untitled book announced will focus on Han Solo and will be written by James S. A. Corey), the pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, authors of the well-received space opera novels Leviathan Wakes and sequel Caliban’s War.

If you could get a new Wheel Of Time short by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, new stories from Shannara, Word/Void, Riyria, Demon Cycle, Vault of Heaven, Temeraire, Broken Empire, and more all in one collection, what would you say?

Well, if you haven’t heard of Shawn Speakman, perhaps you’ve heard of his website: The Signed Page where he makes available signed copies of new releases for fans who can’t make it to events where their favorite author appears in person. Or maybe you know him from Suvudu.com, the Random House speculative fiction blog where he’s a regular contributor or from the websites he runs for authors like Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik.

What you may not know is that Shawn suffers from Hodgkins lymphoma. Diagnosed in 2011 and without health insurance, his treatment has left him with thousands in medical bills. Faced with filing bankruptcy, Shawn sought another way out. A way he could make it through without dealing with the 10 year nightmare a filing would bring. Then his friend Terry Brooks offered him a short story Shawn could sell to help alleviate those bills and an idea came to his head. What if he did an anthology from some of the many author friends he’d made over the past few years from both Suvudu, The Signed Page and his other activities?

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MIND MELD: Where is Urban Fantasy Headed?

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

Urban Fantasy remains as a strong and vibrant subgenre of Fantasy. Like any subgenres, over the last few years, new authors, new ideas and new motifs have often radically reshaped a genre once known for “supernaturals in the night” into a much broader category. We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Where do you see Urban Fantasy going from here?

This is what they had to say…

Tad Williams
Tad Williams is best known as the author of the Otherland series. His most recent work, Urban Fantasy, is The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

The problem with knowing where a genre is going starts with defining the genre itself. What exactly is “Urban Fantasy”? There’s always been a category of work in what was then just called “Science Fiction” that fits this bill, from Bradbury’s October Country stuff to Sturgeon and Leiber and many others, including myself and many contemporaries. (I’d love to know what my book War of the Flowers was if it wasn’t urban fantasy.) But these days it’s also a consumer category — that is, it’s meant to narrowcast to people who apparently like fantasy stories that don’t take place in the traditional epic-fantasy environments of imaginary pasts. At the moment that means lots of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and zombies, most of which used to be thought of as components of “Horror”. So it’s hard to say. The trendy stuff — hello, bloodsuckers! — will peak and dwindle, just like serial killer novels did, but there will always be stories that can rightly be called Urban Fantasy. So I suspect it’s not a question of whether the waves will still come in — they will — but what kind of surfers will be on them. Memes will rise and decay (mostly through incestuous overuse) but as long as people stay interested in what lies behind ordinary life, I suspect the genre, at least the part that is about storytelling, will stay strong.

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MIND MELD: Monarchies in Fantasy

UPDATED to include a response from Delia Sherman

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

Very often, in secondary world fantasy novels, the default political setup is to have a Monarch of some sort, often one that acts in a seemingly autocratic manner. Many times, this Monarch rules by some sort of divine right or providence.

Q: Why are kingdoms with monarchs the default political setup in many secondary fantasy world novels? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such political structures? What are some exceptions to this?
Mark Charan Newton
Mark Charon Newton is the author of the Legends of the Red Sun series. He is also a Whisky addict. Find out more about him at Markcnewton.com

When people create worlds, we only really have our own world for reference, or from which to glean conscious and subconscious influences. Kingdoms, empires, monarchs – that’s all human history has pretty much known. Even today, we’re under the illusion we have democracy, but it’s much more wishy-washy than true ancient Athenian democracy, where power was genuinely more equally distributed, and more citizens played a role in the functioning of society. Today our monarchs and empires now are largely trade-based hegemonies, imperial campaigns given the spin of delivering peace through drone bombings. We are now subject to political and financial kings and queens (well, strictly speaking, in the UK we’re still subjects to the queen, but hey).

So in one sense, that’s life. That’s all we’ve ever known.

Emphasizing this point, many fantasy writers tend to look towards history, consciously or otherwise, for inspiration. Given that, aside from moments in the ancient world, there are very few examples where there are not kingdoms and empires, it’s inevitable.

There’s a wonderful season of Shakespeare on the BBC at the moment, which is hammering the point that I think still lingers today, and that’s a fascination with those who hold ultimate power. The pressures. The mental state. The sheer audacity to rule. Holding a position of god on earth. It is the biggest stage in a nation. So what does that do to an individual? What does that do to their mind? Can they ever be truly human? Such questions continue to inspire fantasy writers today. We’re very much interested in that big stage and what it means when ordinary people connect with it in some way.

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Sword and Laser video episode 5 with Veronica Belmont and Tom Merrit features a chat with James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham) and Ty Franck, the duo behind Leviathan Wakes.  Also, they announce the June pick for the Sword and laser book club.

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MIND MELD: Is SF Still The “Big Idea” Genre?

[This week's question was submitted by an SF Signal reader. Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Recently Neal Stephenson wrote an article for the World Policy Journal titled “Innovation Starvation“. In the article he discussed the serious lack of innovation in science today. Later in the article, he discusses a presentation that he made at the Future Tense conference where he said that good science fiction supplied “a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place.” One scientist that he talked to complained that SF writers are slacking off, saying that SF writers need “to start supplying big visions that make sense.” With Planetary Resources announcing their plan to mine the asteroids, it seems that reality may be encroaching on science fiction’s “big idea” territory.

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Are SF writers “slacking off” or is science fiction still the genre of “big ideas”? If so, what authors are supplying these ideas for the next generation of scientists and engineers?

Here’s what they said…

Alexis Glynn Latner
Alexis Glynn Latner‘s science fiction novel Hurricane Moon was published by Pyr in 2007. Twenty-three of her novelettes and short stories have been or will be published in science fiction magazines, especially Analog, and horror and mystery anthologies. She also does editing, teaches and coaches creative writing, and works in the Rice University Library.

Possibly neither. The arc of big, epochal, scientific ideas may have run its course in science fiction – having flowed on into nonfiction and reality. In addition to asteroid mining, think about Google as an example. Bruce Sterling remarked at a convention that despite a unitary artificial superintelligence being a big idea in SF, there hasn’t been one invented, but there’s such an amazing, unanticipated thing as the distributed intelligence of Google searching and all.

I don’t think SF writers are slacking – although many on the advice of editors and agents have been writing fantasy because it sells better. Some are creating alloys of SF and fantasy. In the century we’re in now, for a big idea to catch fire with the upcoming scientists and engineers it may have to be not just an an overweening head trip, but a profound heart trip as well.
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REVIEW: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

SYNOPSIS: New Old School Solar System Space Opera, as a solar system is brought to the brink of war by a secret that forces are willing to kill to keep.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Excellent evocation of classic Space Opera; excellent action sequences, technology and extrapolation.
CONS: Some of the characterization and character beats feel a bit off.
VERDICT: A fun Solar System space opera that earns its 2011 Hugo nomination.
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REVIEW: The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

SYNOPSIS: In a world once dominated by dragons, reaching out of a medieval level of development, a burgeoning wide scale conflict has roots and character perspectives military, political and economic.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Nice wide lens of seeing a building conflict from multiple perspectives; excellent use of money as a social force equal to military and political ones.
CONS: The various races aren’t distinctive enough; worldbuilding is a tad thin.
VERDICT: Although somewhat less innovative than his previous work, this is a solid Epic Fantasy from Daniel Abraham

Daniel Abraham is a unique and growing voice in fantasy. His Long Price Quartet, with a storyline and a set of novels spanning decades was fresh, different and heralded a unique voice in fantasy doing new and different things. But in The Dragon’s Path, the first of The Dagger and the Coin series, Abraham seems to step back to far more standard epic fantasy, eschewing his previous inventiveness for more standard core Epic Fantasy.

Or does he?

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