One of the most important decisions an author has to make is how much to tell, how much to imply, and how much to show. In fantasy this even more true in creating a secondary/alternate world. For a debut fantasy author it’s triply difficult, because no one (editor or consumer) is going to buy an 800 page book from a total unknown. An author, looking through the world he’s created and the plot he’s weaving, has to start bailing water to offer a manuscript that’s tight enough to sell and verbose enough to be clear – no mean feat.
I bring this up because I think Mazarkis Williams had more water to bail than the average fantasy debut. Not a criticism, I say that because The Emperor’s Knife is incredibly ambitious. Heavily flavored with Persian, Arabic, and Asian influence, it is a riff on epic fantasy with a deep magic system, complex political intrigue, and a complete story arc all contained in well under 400 pages.… Read the rest
Time for Justin’s weekly session of bad jokes, bad covers, and questionable writing. Enjoy!
Wow, I didn’t realize butter (fly) faces were so in… here I’d been avoiding them for years! Get it? But-her-face. Oh God, I’m hilarious. In all seriousness though, to Casi McLean, if you get a butterfly tattoo on your face the only kinds of guys you’re going to attract are jerks. I feel like this is a self fulfilling prophecy.
Alright, I may have edited this one slightly, but I felt compelled to include Split Infinity which might be the most awesome and simultaneously awful cover I’ve ever seen. Personally I feel that unicorns have had a free pass for far too long. It’s time our government did something about it. Piers Anthony was truly ahead of his time.
Dennis Schmidt and Kameron Hurley both seem be into floaty people in white coming out of a circular gate thing with a sword in hand. … Read the rest
I went to the National Book Festival this weekend. It’s a pretty impressive event and something I suggest to everyone who meets the following criteria: likes historical or biographical non-fiction, has children, and doesn’t mind crowds. The Mall was set up with a tent for each section – Fiction & Mystery, Graphic Novels, Poetry & Prose, Contemporary Life, et. al. Making up the largest part of the event was a robust Childrens section. Penguin Books, Scholastic, and PBS Kids all had a huge presence It was great to see so many kids out at a reading event or maybe more importantly so many parents bringing their kids to it.
Yes, this is a terrible picture of the
Fiction & Mystery tent. Heavy on the
Unfortunately, the only adult genre writer in attendance was Neal Stephenson (although there was a few more among the young adult crowd). I picked up a copy of his new novel Reamde intending to get it signed and giveaway on the blog. … Read the rest
Since I read a lot of eBooks and eGalleys I don’t have quite the same opportunity as some others bloggers do with those sweet “Books Received” posts. Instead, I’m going to give a taste of what’s in my Kindle and iPad and what will be reviewed on the blog in the coming weeks.
Necropolis - Michael Dempsey
Paul Donner is a NYPD detective with a drinking problem and a marriage on the rocks. Then he and his wife get dead–shot to death in a “random” crime. 50 years later, Donner’s back – revived by the Shift, a process that reanimates dead DNA.
The Shift has turned the world upside down. This new “reborn” underclass is not only alive again, they’re growing younger. In this retro-futurist world of flying Studebakers and plasma tommy guns, Donner searches for those responsible for the destruction of his life. His quest for retribution leads him to the heart of the mystery surrounding the Shift’s origin and up against those who would use it to control a terrified nation.
… Read the rest
I’ve posted a review of Infidel by Kameron Hurley from Night Shade Books at BookTrib.com where I occasionally write.
There’s a fine line between dark and compelling and horrifying and off-putting. When a story comes right up to the line without crossing it a certain dichotomy comes into existence whereby I want to look away and forget about it, but can’t. No author in recent memory walks this line better than Joe Abercrombie (First Law Trilogy, The Heroes, Best Served Cold). After finishing Infidel, Kameron Hurley’s sequel to God’s War, I am convinced that Abercrombie now has company at the top of Mount Gritty…
… Read the rest
I’m pretty sure these two novels were done by the same artist 15 years apart. Floating head? Check! Mustachio? Check! Planets in or around head? Check! It’s really a shame that Star of the Gypsies ran out of room the requisite starship battle. As far as I can tell the only real difference in the art here is the invention of Adobe Photoshop.
I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, come on Justin, these covers really aren’t that referential to one another. And Michael Moorcock is a pretty big deal so maybe you should lay off him.
You know what’s a bigger deal? Being towed by around by animals while swinging a large metal object. That’s how you know you’ve made it as a raper and pillager. Also, is it just me or is the Daggers of Darkness guy a pirate with two tigers instead of a galley? Very strange.… Read the rest
|US cover for Spellwright
Sometimes a book’s title says it all. Spellwright. Spell means to write in order the letters constituting a word. It also means a verbal formula considered as having magical force. Spell in these two cases is considered a homonym because they share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Wright or write or right or rite all mean something different but sound the same. They’re called homophones. A wright is a person that constructs or repairs something. Write means to form (letters, words, or symbols) on a surface. Right means to be correct. And a rite is a religious ceremony. What am I driving at? I’ll come back to that.
Blake Charlton’s novel is about a young man named Nicodemus. He’s an apprentice to the Grand Wizard Agwu Shannon, an aged and blind, but still powerful member of Starhaven’s faculty. At this out of the way haven young men and women are tutored in the language of magic.
… Read the rest
I think I’ve mentioned this observation in the past, but it continues to prove out the more books I read from the 2011 catalog. First person person narrators are hip in the publishing world. I was listening to an Odyssey podcast the other day and Richard Sawyer was talking about point of view. He made the remark that something like 80% of fantasy and science fiction is written in the third person. In years past, I would totally agree. Today it seems that more and more are being written in the first person. This year alone the genre has seen dozens of debuts in the first person including Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns and Daniel Polansky’s Low Town (obviously I could list a lot more, but will use those two as high profile examples).
Being a rather amateur writer and reviewer, I don’t know exactly why this shift toward more first person narrators may be happening.… Read the rest
I promised to hold a giveaway once I reached 100 followers on twitter. After hitting the mark last night I realized I had to actually deliver. Well, here we are. My first giveaway on the blog are two signed copies of T.C. McCarthy’s Germline from Orbit Books. I’ve called this novel my favorite SF debut of 2011.
You can read my review here.
Here’s the blurb from the back cover:
Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).
War is Oscar Wendell’s ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.
But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface.
… Read the rest