SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-08-09

Interviews & Profiles

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GAME REVIEW: DLC Quest

DLC Quest is a platform-jumper game released by Going Loud Studios in 2013 meant to parody games which charge extra money for extended content–extra playable characters, extra worlds, extra quests, etc. This kind of pay-to-add feature is known as Downloadable Content or DLC for short (the name seems a little misleading since all Steam games are themselves downloadable content, but DLC seems to refer only to paying extra to get more out of games you already own).

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Why are aristocratic forms of government so common in fantasy? Is it because so much fantasy is set in faux-medieval countries and polities, and so kings, dukes, countesses and their ilk are the expected and anticipated methods in which a country is going to be ruled? It is true that for much of human history, for a large proportion of the glove, large complex societies have tended toward a hierarchical social pyramid, often with a single figure, or a small group of figures, on top.

From a literary standpoint, though, a limited number of political actors offer enormous advantages for writers and their readers. A democracy or republic would mean a cavalcade of characters for the writer create and depict, not only as political actors, but simply as characters. Even a novel completely and utterly focused on the sausage-making of political decisions would be unreadable if the author had to detail 300 electors in the course of the plot. Attempts at simplification of republican politics in novels and stories usually mean collapsing factions and political alignments to a few key actors that can be explored–which returns us to a de facto aristocratic form of government. In other words, we return to Kingdom Politics and the limited number of characters that ultimately matter.
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James A. Moore is the author of over twenty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Deeper, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels Blind Shadows, Seven Forges and the sequel The Blasted Lands.

The author cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty role-playing supplements for White Wolf Games, including Berlin by Night, Land of 1,000,000 Dreams and The Get of Fenris tribe. He also penned the White Wolf novels Vampire: House of Secrets and Werewolf: Hellstorm. Moore’s first short story collection, Slices, sold out before ever seeing print. He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President. He currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

James was kind enough to chat with me about his newest book, ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS!


Kristin Centorcelli: James, your new book in the Alien ‘verse, ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS just hit the shelves. Will you tell us a little about it?

James A. Moore: Well, it’s a bit of a twist, I think. 20th Century Fox had a few ideas for expanding the universe and ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS comes from one of those ideas. The story is linked into two other stories that take place a LONG time before SEA does. In this case a planet with a xenomorph infestation is encountered by Ellen Ripley (In the excellent ALIEN: OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Tim Lebbon) and the planet is left and abandoned. And a few centuries later a descendant of Ellen Ripley is working with the crew to find out why there are still some problems with the terraforming that was done to the planet. Ripley was marked by Aliens when she wreaked havoc on the planet and the remaining xenomorphs catch one whiff of our here’s blood and immediately recognize him as a descendant. When Weyland-Yutani catches hold of that fact, the fun begins. Rest assured, Weyland_Yutani is back with a vengeance and they still have plans for the aliens.
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Deadline is reporting that Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles has been optioned by Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, and Brian Grazer. The deal includes not only the existing 10 novels in The Vampire Chronicles, but also the upcoming 11th novel, the 2 books in the related series New Tales of the Vampires, and any future novels. It also includes the adapted screenplay for Tale of the Body Thief written by Christopher Rice, Anne’s son.

Two of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books have been previously adapted: 1994′s Interview with the Vampire, which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt; and 2002′s Queen of the Damned starring Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah. This new deal means those films will be remade.

Rice’s series revolves around French nobleman Lestat de Lioncourt, who was turned into a vampire in the 18th century. The entire series spans centuries and includes several vampires characters. Rice’s vampires are considered unique in that they are not subject to the “traditional” vampire weaknesses like garlic and crosses. Although the most recent book in The Vampire Chronicles was published back in 2003, Rice recently announced a new 11th book in that series, Prince Lestat, due out October 28th.

Not caught up on the series? Time to start reading!

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Before going into battle, Cap and Team discuss their options and realize they’ve had something very useful in their possession all along.

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-08-08

Interviews & Profiles

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Lego Movie

Emmet Brickowski is just a regular guy, a Lego construction worker in Bricksburg who is at his best when he has a set of instructions to follow. He does everything exactly the way that he’s supposed to, but never gets much notice from anyone. Everything changes when he stays for just a moment at the construction site after everyone has left and he meets a mysterious woman named WyldStyle. Emmet falls into a hole and discovers a strange artifact. He passes out, and wakes up in the custody of Good Cop/Bad Cop a dual personality policeman in the employ of the supreme ruler President Business. The artifact, called the Piece of Resistance, is stuck to Emmett’s back. Wyldstyle rescues him, and they escape Bricksburg together into the Wild West.

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In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Jamie Schultz. Jamie Schultz has worked as a rocket test engineer, an environmental consultant, a technical writer, and a construction worker, among other things. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His first novel, Premonitions, received a starred review from Library Journal, who called it “a sterling urban fantasy debut with a great cast of characters.”
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A.C. Wise is the author of numerous short stories appearing in print and online in publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits Unlikely Story, an online magazine publishing three issues of fiction per year with various unlikely themes. Follow her on twitter as @ac_wise.

SF Signal welcomes back A.C. Wise and her continuing series of essays on Women To Read!
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Courtesy of the good folks at Tor, SF Signal a copy of Echopraxia by Peter Watts to give away to a lucky SF Signal reader!

Here’s what the book is about:

Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight

It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.

And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
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Courtesy of the good folks at Tor, SF Signal a copy of Patrick Swenson’s new novel The Ultra Thin Man to give away to a lucky SF Signal reader!

Here’s what the book is about:

In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’ and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
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Andrew Shaffer on The Functional Nerds Podcast

Andrew Shaffer, author of How To Survive a Sharknado, 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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To…celebrate, I guess…the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie — because we apparently needed another one — here’s an honest look at 1991′s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, the movie that dares to say, “Oh yeah? What are you gonna do about it?”

…which is all talk and no action until they played the Vanilla Ice card.

Well played, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…well played…

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-08-07

Interviews & Profiles

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Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

de Castell’s debut novel, Traitor’s Blade, was released by Jo Fletcher Books July 15th. You can read an excerpt of the book at Scribd.


SF Signal: Hello, and thank-you very much for taking the time to answer some questions for us about your debut novel, Traitor’s Blade.

Sebastien de Castell: My pleasure – thanks for having me!

SF Signal: In previous interviews, you’ve described Traitor’s Blade as “The Three Musketeers meets A Game of Thrones,” so clearly, you have great taste in reading material. What other books and authors inspired Traitor’s Blade? Did I detect a bit of David Eddings’ influence in your characters’ banter?

SdC: You know, I never thought about David Eddings before you mentioned him but actually I really enjoyed reading the Belgariad series when I was younger. He really mastered that sense of a character’s internal conflict and desire to push back against the expectations others have of them. You’re right as well that his characters often banter with each other. In the case of Traitor’s Blade, though, the banter is more informed by my own family’s tendency to want to one-up each other in conversation. Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) is also a big influence for me when it comes to rapid-fire dialogue.

In terms of other books, though I write fantasy, I find the stylings of noir writers like Raymond Chandler and, more recently, Dennis LeHaine have an amazing ability to create a sense of place with minimal info-dumping or description.
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Comic Con or Bust! Or Not. Plus: Guardians!

Around this time of year, in “Nexus Graphicii” (how do you pluralize that?) past, I have tended to write up an Our-Man-In-Havana dispatch about the San Diego Comic Con, and what I may have seen or gleaned while there, since I generally go, and am up the road, a mere (but crowded) train ride or (very crowded and slow) car ride away.

However, I didn’t get to Comic Con this year.

I didn’t get to it last year, either. Then, I was in Israel. A trip that now seems half a lifetime away, given how radically the situation in the Mideast has changed (or how rapidly so many tamped down energies have come roaring fatally to the surface.)

This summer, I thought of going to the Con for a day or two, but my Ex turned out to be out-of-town (not at Comic Con!) the same time, and I was on “dad duty,” such as it still is, in these days of “emptying nests” in my life.

But there’s still chauffeuring that needs doing, and groceries to be gotten, and meals to be shared.

So, like you, I got my Comic Con news virtually, almost in real-time. The notion of how readily available so much of what had once been “exclusive” to the Con, has become, was encapsulated the night after the convention had wrapped up, and I was with eldest son to see a Guardians of the Galaxy screening (about which, more in a moment).
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Did you veer notice that there are a lot of sf/f/h adaptations? And did you notice that many of them are based on sf/f/h classics?

Well I have. And over at the Kirkus Reviews blog, I take a look at them.

Check out Upcoming Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Adaptations (Classics Edition) – Part 1 at Kirkus Reviews…

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[GUEST POST] Nick Cole on GameNoir

Nick Cole is an Army veteran and working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by film school students, the author of The Old Man and the Wasteland and The Wasteland Saga can often be found as a guard for King Phillip II of Spain or a similar role in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera. His latest novel is Soda Pop Soldier.

GameNoir
or The Game as Story

by Nick Cole

I’ve been playing video games for a long time. Table top Pong might be one of my earliest memories. I’ve done my time in almost every age of gaming and had experiences unique to each. Like getting owned on Colecovision because the controller was absolutely messed up, unless you owned one and had the time to master its epic wonkiness. I didn’t. Or hanging out at your friend’s house while he played Wizardry. 80′s arcades on a Friday night. Nintendo in the 90′s and shooters in the millennium like Call of Duty.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

These summer days have me feeling nostalgic for the summers of my youth, when I’d ride my bike to the local library for another stack of paperbacks. It was experiences like that that helped make me a reader for life.

With that in mind, I asked our panelists this question:

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory of a library or bookstore?

Here is how they responded…
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