Two novels read this past month demonstrate an ongoing dichotomy in fantasy fiction. Anthony Ryan’s much heralded first novel, Blood Song, was a run away success as a self-published novel before it was bought by big publishing. It is, for all intents and purposes, a classic epic fantasy structurally reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind, with a texture more comparable to Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy. Juxtapose it with Chris Willrich’s The Scroll of Years, which Scott Andrews described as Fritz Lieber meets Catherynne M. Valente, and the two faces of fantasy go to war.
But, the conflict doesn’t start or end with the fact that one echoes epic fantasy and the other a more literary style. Rather it’s a sense of going somewhere new, beyond traditional narratives that have for decades been a staple in the genre. A few sentences from Willrich’s blurb will begin to illustrate that,
Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone are a romantic couple and partners in crime.
… Read the rest
Today begins my deep, dark, dive into the mind of Joe Abercrombie. I touch on my interpretation of grimdark, what Abercrombie is trying to accomplish in The First Law Trilogy, and begin rereading the prologue.
Go check it out:
Welcome to the officially unofficial reread of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, and, unless I do something horrifically offensive, eventually the entire First Law Trilogy.
If you’re not familiar with Joe Abercrombie I ought to cast you into Tartarus. However, due to the constraints unfairly placed on me by Tor.com’s legal team, I’ve elected to educate rather than banish to hell. Consider yourself warned.
[Read more after the jump. . .]
… Read the rest
It’s been a long time since I did an “If you liked” post. Since Joe Abercrombie is becoming the center of my blogging life for the foreseeable future, I figured I’d talk about him some more. One of the things that makes Abercrombie unique is that all of his books are written in a different style. The First Law Trilogy riffs on epic fantasy. Best Served Cold plays with the exploitation revenge thriller. The Heroes leans on war novel tropes. And Red Country dresses up in wild west garb.
Since I’m going to be writing the Abercrombie reread at Tor.com, and I presume many of my readers here have already read Abercrombie, I want to provide some Abercrombie inspired recommendations for those who’ve enjoyed his work. To make it more fun I’ve made a recommendation inspired by each of his works, and a fifth recommendation based on his entire catalog.
Enjoy!… Read the rest
Yes, that’s a really big picture of the title of Joe Abercrombie’s first book. I’m a pretty big proponent of his work, in case anyone wasn’t aware yet. I posted it in celebration of my first post at Tor.com which was published this morning. In it I review Abercrombie’s newest short story “Some Desperado”.
I had not really considered writing for Tor.com until recently when they let Jared Shurin from Pornokitsch in the door. Two things became apparent: (a) I couldn’t let Jared do something I wasn’t also doing and (b) I figured they’ll let anyone write for them. And here we are.
The story I’m reviewing today features Red Country protagonist Shy South and will appear in the George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois anthology, Dangerous Women. Perhaps more significant though, I’m announcing the OFFICIAL (unofficial) reread of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy which I will be writing for Tor.com.… Read the rest
Where do novels begin? Is it the protagonist? The plot? Some cool magic system? Or a world detail? It’s a silly question, because there is no right answer. And even if there was, it only matters insofar as it scratches a bad interviewer’s curiosity. But, it is interesting, and meaningful, to discuss which of those aspects make a novel sing. In the case of Abaddon’s Gate and Black Halo, novels by James S.A. Corey and Sam Sykes respectively, it’s the characters that give them soul.… Read the rest
When you’re Baen, you know you have a bit of a reputation for ridiculous covers. Not just over sexed ones either, but classics like:
The covers below are not from Baen, a fact I find difficult to rationalize given the styles employed. Do you think Baen’s art director might be freelancing?
First up, young adult novel whose title I cannot decrypt. Is it Warriors? Thunder Rising? Dawn of Clans? I just don’t know! Let’s go with Bonus Scene Inside! Apparently this novel features cats that have powers to fracture the earth and appear in circles that hover above said fractures. Do you think these cats are weaving gateways? Watch out Egwene Al’vere!
Then we have Mike Resnick, and Pyr. I’m rather surprised with Pyr who are usually perfectly directed by the estimable Lou Anders. But, this dinosaur, raygun, mustache combo screams Will Smith’s Wild Wild West, which isn’t a comparison any sane consumer of fiction would want.… Read the rest
I’ve read Erin Hoffman first two books, Sword of Fire and Sea and Lance of Earth and Sky. Truth be told, I didn’t find either particularly good, although the world she created is incredibly rich. In fact, they feel at times like exactly what they are. . . novels written by a video game designer. In my experience style trumps substance in the video game world, and that feels like a reasonable criticism of Hoffman’s books.
However, I don’t want to undersell the sheer creativity of the series which is really tremendous and for some readers will provide a really enjoyable reading experience. All of that aside, the covers to her novel by Dehong He have been consistently tremendous (art direction by Lou Anders). Here’s the cover for the final volume in the series, Shield of Sea and Space:
… Read the rest
The Ramal Extraction by Steve Perry
In the 24th Century, the Galactic Union’s Army is stretched thin and mercenary units fill in the gaps. Headed up by retired Colonel R.A. Cutter, the Cutter Force Initiative is a multi-species contractor for training, protection, extraction, or assassination. If the price is right, and it won’t run them afoul of the real Army, they’re game. This time around it’s a kidnapping. Rags’ and his crew are called in to find and rescue the daughter of the New Mumbai rajah. Rest assured, things are a little more complicated, both militarily and politically, than a simple rescue operation.
Unfortunately, Ramal Extraction is about as entertaining as a tooth extraction. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of action, or things going on, it’s all just very conventional–a small squad military thriller that just happens to be set in science fictional milieu. There’s the expected banter between different members of the squad, some secrets about its leader, and a green recruit or two to contrast how hardened the veterans truly are.… Read the rest
I’m traveling again. This means two things, lots of reading time and very little time to write. During my trip I’ve been reading a lot of YA. I’m not sure why, other than I’ve been putting them off for another day. It’s been fortuitous though as I find YA to be perfectly suited to the traveling reader — short, easily consumable, and often obvious in its subtext.
Below are three novels I read this week and my thoughts:
London Eye by Tim Lebbon
The most glaring observation almost anyone will make about London Eye is how short it is. Just over two hundred pages hardbound, it looks like a book cut in half. It reads that way too.
Cut off from the rest of the world, London is two years into the fallout of a devastating incident that’s left the city toxic. Jack and his friends all lost family on what has become known as Doomsday.… Read the rest
Now that we’re at the halfway mark for the year, I thought it would appropriate to point out all the novels coming out from August-December that strike my fancy. I’ll be breaking my posts down by publisher. Below are the novels coming this Fall and Winter from Night Shade, Angry Robot, Baen, and Pyr that will be must reads for me. I’ll mention that there are likely some books from November and December here that aren’t currently listed on the publisher’s websites that I’ll end up wanting (Anne Lyle’s Merchant of Dreams is an example). Either way, I can’t read them all. So I’ll be looking forward to seeing what interests you.
Here’s what caught my eye:
The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton (NSB – August)
1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex–has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society.
… Read the rest