REVIEW SUMMARY:The second half of Marakand (started in The Leopard) that is best read immediately after the first half
BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: The story of Marakand continues, as the grip of the titular Lady upon Marakand is challenged from within and without.
PROS: Fascinating world building; real epic storytelling feel to landscapes, characters, backstory and history; beautiful cover art.
CONS: The ungainly split makes for a rough singular reading experience in both volumes.
BOTTOM LINE: Deep, epic storytelling in a fascinating world that is marred by its split and format.
We crossed the river beds all etched in stone
And up the mighty mountains ever known
Beyond the valleys in the searing heat
Until we reached the caravanserai
–Loreena McKennitt, “Caravanserai”
There is a world in fantasy steeped in its history and myth. A world where the Old Gods have withdrawn, and seven devils, long ago imprisoned and bound, have sought to work their way free to dominate the world of local gods and Men. A world of cultures and societies inspired by Central Asia, the Russian Steppes, and Siberia. From the lost kingdom of Tipyur in the West, through to Nabban and the forest kingdoms over Malagru in the east. Along the trading highway, where the Malagru mountains meet the Pillars of the Sky, there is a great city. A city where three Gods once ruled, but now one, with a dark secret, is ascendant. A Goddess, The Lady, whose rule over the City, and the lands around, is challenged, even as she tightens her grip.
Come to Marakand.
Storm Constantine‘s first novel, The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, was published in 1987 and is the opening book in her internationally best-selling Wraeththu trilogy. It was followed by The Bewitchments of Love and Hate and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire. Storm’s work has always crossed boundaries, broken taboos and ventured into territory not normally encountered in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Her androgynous Wraeththu, with their hermaphroditic sexual magic, were certainly a shock to the genre. She has since written twenty three novels in genres ranging from fantasy, dark fantasy and horror to science fiction and slipstream. Immanion Press is bringing all of Storm’s back catalogue back into print. Storm’s new novel is The Moonshawl, a new Wraeththu story.
The Working Life of a Writer
by Storm Constantine
One of the things I get asked about a lot is what comprises my ‘working day’. For people with 9 to 5 jobs this is easy to answer. Get up, dressed, go to work, slave, come home, relax. If you work for yourself at home, imposing that kind of discipline is difficult.
Here’s another roundup of inexpensive but worthwhile science fiction, fantasy and horror eBooks priced under $4 each. Happy reading!
DISCLAIMER: All of these titles are priced under $4 at the time of writing this post. But prices are subject to change, so check the price before clicking “buy”. If Amazon is not your eBook ecosystem, please do look up the titles wherever you buy your eBooks; discounts are often applied at other outlets, so check there.
- Robots versus Slime Monsters by A. Lee Martinez
- Virtual Unrealities, The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester by Alfred Bester (Byron Preiss Visual Publications)
- Scattered Among Strange Worlds by Aliette de Bodard (Nine Dragons River)
In this video, Joe Haldeman discuses the story behind his Hugo- and Nebula-, Loucus-, and World Fantasy Award-winning science fiction classic, The Forever War
C.J. Cherryh is an author that I’ve come across quite a lot, but was never one that I really ever got into. Recently, I’ve become more interested in her books, particularly Downbelow Station, which prompted me to take a look at her career. It’s a fascinating one that pulls in some of the legacies of her predecessors (such as Robert Heinlein and similar), and newer innovations that made her career different than that of her predecessors: she was primarily a novelist, rather than someone who started in the pulp magazines.
Go read The Worlds of C.J. Cherryh over on Kirkus Reviews.
In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
While not cited as the first science fiction western — that feather belongs in the cap of 1935’s The Phantom Empire — Ghost Patrol from 1936 comes awfully close.
In Ghost Patrol, a group of criminals use a scientist’s mysterious death ray machine to blow airplanes out of the sky.
And the eBook Deal hits just keep on coming!
Here’s the latest eBook deal: Right now, you can get God’s War by Kameron Hurley for $1.99 on the Kindle and Nook platforms. This is the first book in the well-recived Bel Dame Apocrypha series and it was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Nebula Award. So there.
Here’s the book description:
Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn’t make any difference…
On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there’s one thing everybody agrees on–
There’s not a chance in hell of ending it.
Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war–but at what price?
The world is about to find out.
The $1.99 price is only available for a limited time, so act now if you want it.
Here’s a trio of books coming out soon that piqued my interest.
The trailer for the next film in the Terminator franchise — Terminator Genisys has been released. Arnie is back, just like he said he would be. So are other Terminators, models old and new.
Check it out after the jump.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A followup of an urban fantasy novel that builds strongly on its predecessor.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: James Quill and his ‘Shadow Police’ team must deal with the apparent esoteric return of Jack the Ripper in the midst of protests and a possible police strike.
PROS: Excellent followup of theme and character beats from London Falling; strong high-concept elevator pitch that pays off in the execution.
CONS: Grimness and darkness in the book might be too much for some readers.
BOTTOM LINE: A strong, dark drink of dark urban fantasy that successfully builds on the groundwork of the first.
“Jack the Ripper is back, only this time he’s killing rich white men”
Its an irresistible high concept, isn’t it? Amid protests and a possible strike by the London police, men are dying in gory, unexplainable ways. Deaths without a weapon being left on the scene, without physical evidence. Is it the protesters, seeking to turn violent their rage against the system? Is it someone using the protests to settle old grudges? Or is it the spirit of London itself, violently convulsing as its inhabitants do?
One of the pleasures of being a media journalist can be the sheer variety of movies you get to see. This is especially true of film festivals, which allows critics to glimpse movies that others might not normally hear about. Most movie fans know Sundance, and may have a passing familiarity with two festivals that run in Austin, South by Southwest and Fantastic Fest. Usually I have to miss those events; life, for whatever reason, seems to intrude each time I think I might be able to collect my notebook, sharpen my critical eye, and give my impressions of newer, unknown fare.
However, this December I have the honor of attending Other Worlds Austin, a film festival devoted to science fiction movies. It’s the first venue of its kind to run in the Austin area, and an overdue one, given the tightly knit science fiction community here. I got the chance to talk about the upcoming festival with Bears Fonte, its organizer, over Chicago-style hot dogs at Lucky Dogs just north of the Austin area. Bears is a writer and director, and a great science fiction enthusiast whose passion for cinema, especially science fiction cinema, spilled over during our discussion. His enthusiasm was contagious; I’m looking forward to the lineup, which you can see at http://www.otherworldsaustin.com/2014-film-line-up.
Derek Austin Johnson: We’re meeting after a somewhat auspicious event, because the entire Internet seems to be nerding out about this follow-up to a very obscure 1970s science fiction movie, the trailer of which has just been released. (The interview took place the day Disney the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.) Have you seen it yet, or have you seen the Internet slow to a crawl?
Bears Fonte: I haven’t seen it yet because I want to see it in front of a movie on the screen. I want to first experience it like that, so we’re going to a film specifically this weekend so that we can see it. But it is interesting to see how crazy people get about it. Fortunately, Jurassic World had the audacity to get theirs out two days earlier, so they could still get a little buzz.
Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. THE BLOODBOUND is her first effort. She lives and works in Bujumbura, Burundi, with her husband and a pair of half-domesticated cats.
She also writes fantasy mysteries as E.L. Tettensor.
SEX AND EXPLOSIONS – Or, the Key to a Great Action Romance
by Erin Lindsey
If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that the two most exciting things in the world are sex and explosions. Any genuine blockbuster must have both of these things, or at least, some very near cousin. Sex and swordfighting, say, or sex and car chases. If possible, a blockbuster should have sex, explosions, swordfighting, car chases, and a hint of sci-fi/fantasy, like shape-shifting aliens. This is known.
But combining sex and swordfighting – okay, action and romance – is tougher than it looks, as I discovered not so long ago while writing THE BLOODBOUND, a fantasy novel about love and war, or war and love, depending on how you look at it.
As December descends and the Holidays loom, John E. O. Stevens, Fred Kiesche and Jeff Patterson saddle up after FAR too long an absence for a guestless catch-up episode.
Jeff recounts his adventures at the World Fantasy Convention (sporting his homemade Three Hoarsemen t-shirt), and then the gentlemen discuss the books, comics, and shows that have been vying for their hard-fought entertainment time (and funds).
Even as an interim episode, it still runs close to an hour!
This month’s roundup of top picks for speculative fiction reads includes several series conclusions, a retelling of Robin Hood, wizards, assassins, mercenaries, time traveling detectives and gun-toting monkeys!
Hop on over to the Kirkus Reviews blog to check out Captivating Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Reads for December.