Rumor has it Miles Cameron, author of The Red Knight, is a pseudonym for historical fiction author Christian Cameron. I’ve no idea if it’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Orbit’s new novel has a ring of authenticity that fantasy often eschews, particularly with regards to combat and tactics. It’s also woefully unoriginal, layered with ideas and elements that I’ve seen dozens of times before. In the end, Cameron has written a novel that promises different, but fails to live up to it, instead delivering the same expected narrative that fantasy fans have ‘enjoyed’ for a generation.
Billed as the story of a dragon hunting mercenary, the cover of my advanced copy reads,
“Forget George and the Dragon. Forget fancy knights and daring deeds. Slaying dragons is a bloody business.”
I’m sure it is, except no one slays any dragons in Red Knight. There is a dragon, and it plays a significant role eventually, but there’s decidedly no slaying.… Read the rest
I’m reading Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s A Memory of Light. It’s reminding me a lot of being a teenager when I fell in love with the Wheel of Time. During that same time, I also fell in love with Raymond Feist’s Riftwar novels, which are going to be reissued in the UK with these covers:
Now, I’m not one to gripe. I mean, have I ever been unnecessarily critical of something? But, Jesus, really? Putting aside the fact that these are blatantly designed to appeal to the Twilight reader, don’t they also feel very… romancey? There’s absolutely nothing in Feist’s books that gives this feel. They’re not Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell in a second world. No. Raymond Feist is Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks and David Eddings. Why do we insist on calling a spade everything but what it is?
Can’t we just remember these books as they’re supposed be?… Read the rest
My newest column on small presses has gone up at SF Signal. I focused the spotlight on Prime Books, a small publisher out of Maryland.
I apologize for being two months behind on my column. It’s been a busy time. My wife and I found out we’re having our second child. We bought a puppy. I’m transitioning into a new job. All of those are excuses, but the reality is Prime Books publishes collections of short fiction almost exclusively. And between you and me, I don’t really consume short fiction with any great vigor. See, I’m one of those readers who falls into the one more chapter syndrome. Novels suck me in, they demand I keep reading them well into the night. When I finished a short story I just put down the book, satisfied and ready to sleep.
For the purposes of this column, I’ve made it a point to read two new volumes from each publisher before writing about them.
… Read the rest
Julie Czerneda has been around a while. She’s published a bunch of novels (over a dozen) since her debut, A Thousand Words for Stranger, was published in 1997 by DAW Books. Her next novel, A Turn of Light, is due out early next year. Check out the cover.
The village of Marrowdell is an isolated pioneer community, but it is also the place where two worlds overlap, and at the turn of light–sunset–the world of magic known as the Verge can briefly be seen.
Doesn’t that just look like Darrell Sweet come back to us? Is that Egwene? Is that Gawain on the horse? I feel like this could have been the cover for A Memory of Light and none of us would have blinked.
… Read the rest
The Desert of Souls, Howard Andrew Jones’ debut novel, and The Bones of the Old Ones, his second novel out this week, should be considered the gold standard on two counts. One, I haven’t read anyone who feels as in control of his first person narrator. Two, no one writing today has a better understanding of what sword and sorcery is and how it should work. While Bones of the Old Ones isn’t quite as inspired as Desert of Souls, something I’ll discuss more in a moment, it remains at the peak of the mountain, something both young and old should read. The former to discover how much grace there is in simplicity. The latter to rediscover the kind of fiction that inspired a generation of fantasists.
In Bones of the Old Ones, Dabir and Asim have a new mystical challenge before them. A young woman shows up in Mosul, running from ancient wizards who would use her to unlock an ancient power.… Read the rest
Raymond Chandler, considered one of the greatest crime writers ever, was not always considered as such. He was once quoted as saying about his critics,
The thing that rather gets me down is that when I write something that is tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, I get panned for being tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, and then when I try to tone down a bit and develop the mental and emotional side of a situation, I get panned for leaving out what I was panned for putting in the first time.
I think that quote may bear some relevance to Daniel Polansky when I finish this review.
Last year I read The Winds of Khalakavo and called it fantasy meets War and Peace, or something like that. Brad Beaulieu merged the epic fantasy tradition with a very Russian aesthetic, and it worked brilliantly. I went on to read his co-authored novella (with Stephen Gaskell) Strata and continued to be impressed.
Then, I got a chance to meet Beaulieu at Epic ConFusion 2011. He’s a gracious, articulate guy who I had several tremendous conversations with over the course of the convention. He recently announced a project to collect his prolific short fiction, most of which comes from before he was a published novelist, in a single volume. It’s on Kickstarter now and for a $5 contribution you get an eCopy of the collection and The Winds of Khalakavo (and if he gets to $3,000 you’ll get a copy of its sequel, The Straits of Galahesh). That’s a hell of a deal.… Read the rest
Ana and Thea from the Book Smugglers contacted me a few months ago and asked me to write a post for their annual Smugglivus event. They ask their guest writers to
[look] back at their favorite reads of 2012, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2013.
But, since I’m not one for binary discussions I went off the reservation. They may not invite me back, but I took the opportunity to talk about something very important to me, both as a consumer and as a father. Namely, that the socially created false dichotomy of boy/girl media is tragic and dangerous.
When I wrapped the post up, sitting at around 1100 words, I knew I hadn’t done the topic justice. It requires several thousand more words and significantly more insightful examination of sales trends and publisher behavior. Nevertheless, I hope the point itself is sufficient. How can a book be any good when it ignores half of humanity?… Read the rest
As I announced a few months ago, Jared Shurin and I are co-editing an anthology, Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary. Left to our own devices, Jared and I would surely curate a masterful volume, but we recognize we haven’t been exposed to every voice in the field — not even close. Thus, we put out the call to the community to submit their favorite pieces to us.
To date, we’ve received hundreds of submissions, and we’re still only scratching the surface. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2012. Head over to our form to make sure your favorite critics get a look.… Read the rest