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patrick o leary

Patrick O’Leary Interview – The Gift

Behind Door Number Three is The Gift of The Impossible Bird…

When I decided to re-read Patrick O’Leary’s novels to see if they were as good as I remembered them to be I also set out to track him down. I wanted to see if he was still writing and if he had anything coming out as it had been awhile since we heard from him. I hoped that his pen wasn’t silent. After some digging around I heard from him and he agreed to talk to me and luckily he’s still writing. What follows is most of our discussion.

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malazan

Review – A Malazan Night of Knives Among Old Guard Friends

I’m a huge fan of the everything Malazan. I am of the opinion that Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is the single finest fantasy series this or any other world has ever seen, surpassing my past and still very much loved favorites by George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Tolkien, and Patricia McKillip (because her Riddle of the Stars mesmerized me as a child).

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kelly link

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link Review

I can safely say that I’ve never met a Kelly Link story that I didn’t like, and, after re-reading her alchemical debut collection “Stranger Things Happen”, I’m just about ready to tell you why. First, a little recap…“Stranger Things…” burst onto the shorter fiction scene in 2001, published by Small Beer Press (who also put out my favourite ‘zine – “Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet” – and which Link co-founded). It was immediately seized upon by some big names, both in-genre and out of it. Andrew O’Hehir of The New York Times Book Review wrote that: “She embraces fantasy in its fullest sense and in doing so transcends all considerations of genre”, and Neil Gaiman called her “the best short story writer currently out there…” Ellen Datlow, John Clute and Sean Stewart all added their own respected voices in praise.

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theodora goss

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss Review

“The Rose in Twelve Petals” begins Theodora Goss’s newly-in-paperback collection In the Forest of Forgetting, and the story makes an ideal introduction to the the author’s work. A retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty story, it frames and then re-frames our expectations. The initial recognition of the familiar story pulls us into the the fairy tale mindset: of stories that map the small journeys and decisions that can unexpectedly lead to major life changes; of characters and encounters that we understand to be meant not quite literally, yet not as simple allegory either.

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erin evans

Outlining for Non-Outliners: An Outline – Erin M. Evans Guest Blog

Seek out any forum for writers and inevitably, eventually, someone will show up with a question to which there is no good answer: Should I write an outline for my novel before I start? Now, writers are a mostly civil bunch, and in this case they are no different. But you will notice that everyone who answers this question seems to say, “I can imagine not outlining” or  “I can’t imagine outlining.”

Switching positions on this deeply ingrained identification can be tricky. Like rewiring your toaster to be a space heater, it feels like there’s a chance everything will go horribly awry and you’ll never be able to do either option again.

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Songs of Hate, Part Two: The Visual Instead Of The Verbal

We left off last column with a run-down on the first of actress/singer Meiko Kaji’s Female Prisoner Scorpion series and a hint that things were about to get pretty weird. Well, the phantasmagoria goes full bore in the second film in the series, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Joshuu Sasori – Dai 41 Zakkyobo). Filmed, like its predecessor, in 1972, here Nami Matsushima, aka Sasori (scorpion), is pretty much fully transformed into something supernatural and, like Lee Marvin’s Walker/Parker in Point Blank, begins to haunt the minds of all who’ve wronged her. She even transcends time and space through some stunningly psychedelic timeshifts and edits. At one point, as Sasori hacks away at her foe, she literally slashes through the “screen”, taking us to a different environment.  It’s completely, beautifully bonkers.

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roger rabbit

Forget It, Eddie, It’s Toontown – The Crime Fiction Roots Of Roger Rabbit

My friend’s dad took us to see Willow one sunny summer’s day in 1988.  It was a good movie and all, but honestly I was extremely distracted throughout the whole thing.  All I could think about was one of the coming attractions I’d seen for a film called Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  I’d seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks and other fare where cartoons were mixed with live action.  But this flick looked much different—it had sex and violence and swear words.  Mix those with cartoons, and it was everything my almost adolescent heart could desire.

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Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Aaron Dembski-Bowden Interview | Warhammer 40K

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is a new author for The Black Library, Games Workshop’s publishing arm. Though only three novels into his Black Library writing career, he has fast developed a devoted following of both die-hard Warhammer 40K fans and people only recently brought into the fold. His radical approach to writing and his outspoken and uncensored view of both the 40K world and the challenges of writing within it have sparked discussion and controversy in equal measure.

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Adrian Tchaikovsky

Adrian Tchaikovsky Interview – Bugging Out Before Children of Time

Empire in Black and Gold was published by Pan Macmillan in July of this year, and kicked off the Shadows of the Apt series. Today we have a chat with its author, Adrian Tchaikovsky, to tell you all you need to know about him and a new Fantasy series coming from a publisher who has a a bit of a reputation of being on the ground floor when it comes to names we will all later know.

Time to talk bugs, empires, epics and ask the one question that matters with Adrian!

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david marusek

Getting to Know You by David Marusek Review

Getting to Know You is only David Marusek’s second book, but he is already a veteran of the science fiction wars. Marusek’s 2005 novel Counting Heads was the subject of the debut speculative fiction column “Across the Universe” in that bastion of mainstream fiction, The New York Times Book Review; the column both proclaimed Counting Heads to be among the reviewer’s “favorite books [of 2005] in any category” and yet wondered, “why does contemporary science fiction have to be so geeky” that it becomes inaccessible to readers of mainstream literature? The question helped renew a battle, waged within the science fiction community since the New Wave movement of the 1960s, over how the “science” and “fiction” components of SF intersect. Some (such as Charles Stross) argued that SF should be more geeky, should focus its efforts on the tech-savvy readers of websites like Slashdot and Boing Boing; others (including John Scalzi) argued that what SF requires are more accessible entry points for readers less familiar with science. Sadly, the first point of the NYT column — regarding the quality of Marusek’s fiction — was largely forgotten in the discussion. Given all this, I’m happy to say that Getting to Know You, a new collection of the author’s short stories, in large part bridges the gaps that its predecessor highlighted: it’s equally accessible to SF genrephiles and mainstream readers. The collection’s defining characteristic is carefully constructed balance.

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Traitor | a Michael Cisco Interview

First off, I’d like to thank Michael Cisco for agreeing to this interview and welcome him as our guest at Boomtron. Michael Terry Cisco is an American writer and teacher. He currently resides in New York City and probably best known for his first novel, The Divinity Student, which has won the prestigious of the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel of 1999. Other works by Cisco include The Tyrant (2003), The San Veneficio Canon (2004) and two books published last year, The Traitor and Secret Hours.

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daytripper

Daytripper – The Deaths We Die Every Day

Daytripper, the ten issue maxi series comic by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, is an almost-surreal life study of one man, Brás de Oliva Domingos, and how he has lived his life. Each issue is a slice of life tale where we are presented with one day in Brás’ life. Sadly, however (and this shouldn’t be spoiling anything since the title has finished), at the conclusion of each issue Brás manages to die. Each death represents how any moment can be our last and we never know when that moment will really come. Each death, I feel, also represents how aspects of our lives can, and will die, and how they probably should.

Doctor Doom | Badass of the Week

doctor doom
“Show me the puny mortal who does not tremble at the name of Doctor Doom!”

A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson

“Show me the puny mortal who does not tremble at the name of Doctor Doom!”

I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for comic books characters who go out there with no inherent super-powers and roll the dice in toe-to-toe combat against genetically-engineered superhuman mutant warriors from some quadrant of space where people are born with the muscular density of a rhinoceros.  Never is this more true than in situations where the aforementioned character is a sort-of-misunderstood supervillain who wants nothing more than an eternal end to war, conflict, substandard wages, hunger, and illiteracy – and who seeks to accomplish these lofty idealistic goals by violently obliterating all who stand in his way and replacing every government on Earth-616 with an autocratic New World Order devoted to worshipping him as a living God among mortals.

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gijoe

G.I. Joe Rawhides – 30 Years Later, the G.I. Joe Animated Movie

Back in 1987 fans of G.I. Joe got an animated film that has gone on to become a pretty divisive movie during a time which was probably the height of or toward the end of the height of the popularity for the G.I. Joe brand. Much like the Transformers animated film from the previous year it can quite plainly be seen as a feature length commercial for a new wave, maybe even a generation, of characters. I was overseas as a kid and when one of my friends got this on VHS it was HUGE news in my school, a part of a close knit U.S. military community in Italy. Back then it was just awesome and when you click it on now you realize that the intro remains one of the best in cartoon history.

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wizard magazine

Pocket WIZARD Before Comics Went Chromium

Wizard magazine is a publication that is now often talked about in a negative context by most of the same people who didn’t like the half decade or so that Wizard reflected and even influenced the comic book medium and culture, and many who never read the magazine in its prime who echo anything negative because internet

I don’t really want to get into that discussion and instead just want to highlight a recent acquisition.

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matthew stover

Star Wars and Raising Caine – Matthew Stover Interview

Today I have Matthew Stover in for an interview I conducted last month. Stover’s novels chronicling the adventures of Caine are always among my most anticipated books and recently he delivered with the publication of his third Caine novel, Caine Black Knife, published by Del Rey last October. He is a NY Times Bestselling author of several Star Wars titles including Shatterpoint and the novelization of Revenge of the Sith. His next project is another Star Wars novel, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor.

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zoran zivkovic

Steps Through the Mist by Zoran Zivkovic Review

There are fantasists and there are master fantasists; I’d like to suggest that the masters reveal themselves not only by their greatest works, but by what are — for them and them only — lesser volumes. Steps Through the Mist, the latest of Serbian author Zoran Živković’s novels to be published in the USA, is a revelatory volume of this later sort; it confirms Živković’s status as a master. The book’s chief flaw is that there is simply not enough of it, leaving us wanting more.

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Hou Hsiao Hsien

Love Throughout The Ages: Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Three Times

The Taiwanese New Wave that emerged in the 80s provided two of the best film makers of the modern age in the late Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Jonathan Rosenbaum has compared both of their work to that of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, in that they eschew the usual pacing and narrative structure of a film in order to portray life in a way that is more realistic. Both of their films are grounded in the troubled history of Taiwan and are deeply affected by the past that they are engaging, that of twentieth century Taiwan. Yang chooses to set most of his films in a contemporary setting (of his films, only the short film Expectations and his epic A Brighter Summer Day are set in the past) in an urban setting, usually Taipei, his characters tend to be middle class or upwardly mobile, but at heart of these films were the very human consequences of the legacy of Japanese rule and the onset of Westernization.  Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s films in comparison tend to be set in the past, in rural areas, focusing on the lives of primarily working class characters as they go about their day to day life.

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castle

You’ve Been Punked – Sam Sykes Guest Blog

If science fiction revolves around the question of “what if,” and fantasy revolves around the question of “what was,” then the question of “what is, but not so recently is, and more like what was, but less boring than that and not quite as nerdy as ‘what was’ like ‘what was middle earth like,’ so basically, what is and isn’t and how can I fit corsets into it” is clearly answered by one word.

Punk.

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scott lynch

Review – Escaping Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves, In Need of The That Thorn of Emberlain

Okay. So let me be clear, I dig me some Scott Lynch books. I really liked his debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I think I might find myself in the minority when I say I enjoyed the follow-up in his Gentlemen Bastard cycle, Red Seas Under Red Skies, even more. I go back when it comes to reading about the exploits of the Thorn of Camorr. I was on this probably just after choice frameshifters were after hearing about it from other authors I was interviewing who had read early drafts/manuscripts and were telling me behind the scenes that Scott Lynch was what was next. I have documentation.

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matrix

The Ten Greatest Henchmen In Movie History

Say you’re putting together a syndicate.  One of the first things that you are going to need is somebody to take care of your light work for you when words have run out.  As a means of determining the appropriate skill set for this oh-so-important addition to your workforce, the Complex has assembled a ranking of some of the more legendary henchman ever to grace the screen.  You know, as a way to gauge some of the qualities you might be looking for.

In ranking these heavies, extra points were earned for singularity of purpose, imperviousness to pain, and skill within the realm of hand-to-hand combat.  Points were taken away for any actions tantamount to a betrayal of the henchman’s employer, or conspicuous behavior likely to cause more trouble than harm.

Here’s how they shook out.

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guy gavriel kay

Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay Review

Let me begin candidly: “Lord of Emperors” only confirms the burgeoning suspicion I had at the end of “Sailing to Sarantium”. The “Sarantine Mosaic” is, for me, one of *the* superior works of prose, plot and imagination, not only in the fantasy genre, but in my reading experience in general. Highly subjective praise indeed you might object, but, from where I’m sitting, well deserved. As such I feel compelled to confess to the obvious: I’ve written a joyfully biased review (somewhat ironically given a recent discussion about a reviewer’s striving for objectivity over on the forums!).

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lethem

Missing on the 100 Must Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Debuts

So earlier this year I read this piece on Book Riot titled 100 Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Debuts. I’m not too into lists but also know that one I made a few years ago about the great speculative fiction novels of the last decade is a piece that I casually still have random people hit me up on social media about and be like “are you the guy who wrote that?”, and it’s usually about having played a (very) small part in expanding upon what were then prevalent conceits about what fantasy was in particular (people tend to get science fiction). It’s pretty flattering and don’t really take too much credit in what what probably an exercise in laziness as it was easier to make a premade list than join discussions asking for new books. For this reason I realize the value of such lists and it was reading it, and bringing back memories of getting initial publisher promo material and advance galleys.

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star wars

Review – Palpatine and Vader Show off in STAR WARS Lords of the Sith

I was a fan of the Star Wars expanded universe. I got as excited for getting new Star Wars galleys as I did getting a new China Mieville, George R.R. Martin, or Steven Erikson ARC, and Timothy Zahn’s core 5 books in the EU, the Thrawn Trilogy and following duology, are among my favorite chapters of Star Wars history PERIOD from any medium. Even the most enthusiastic fan of Star Wars and the work Del Rey has done with the license, however, will admit there have been lows to go along with highs, many of them seem universally agreed upon, and many others are personal gems or dislikes that make the conversation that much more interesting.

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game of thrones

Before Game of Thrones -The Daenerys Targaryen Asimov Debut

Emilia Clarke has been heating up watercooler talk for five years now in HBO’s monster hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Game of Thrones. Even as a veteran multiple re-reader of all of the books in the series that jumped on the literture before the turn of the century, I never thought that I’d see the day that “Khaleesi” would enter pop culture vernacular, a thought that was smashed when I got my 8-year old niece an “I’m not a Princess I’m a Khaleesi” t-shirt and she knew what it was. Move over Arthur C, Emilia is the Clarke of both speculative and reality affections.

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james blond

DR. NO | The James Bond Zapiska

I’ll say it, and I don’t care who hears it: I love James Bond.  I love the style, the intrigue, the gadgets, the barely plausible villains.  I love dang near everything about Ian Fleming’s super-spy.  From the first time I was ever exposed to Bond as a kid, I was hooked.  I liked the fact that he was a hero that could control world events from sort of a behind-the-scenes position.  The stakes were high and slightly ridiculous.  He was a secret agent with a quick, resourceful mind, not a Schwarzenegger-esque action hero with ridiculous muscles and a huge, phallic machine gun nestled into his elbow.

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end of summer

Everything is Transitory but the Family Remains: Yasujirō Ozu’s The End of Summer

Throughout his career, Yasujirō Ozu experimented with ensemble narrative. While it forms the core of his most famous film, one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story, he first employed the style years earlier in Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family. There is something particularly special about Ozu’s ensemble films in the way in which the lives of the characters within the film are entwined for better or for worse. The slow pacing and the rarity of real confrontation give the films what David Bordwell calls “calm”, the lives of the characters are a sort of quiet sadness that makes the tragedy more affecting.

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theodora goss

The Rose in Twelve Petals and Other Stories by Theodora Goss – Review

Theodora Goss only began publishing her short fiction and poetry in 2002 but already her work has appeared in some of the genre’s most respected publications (including “Realms of Fantasy”, “Strange Horizons”, “Polyphony” and “Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet”). No less than 6 of her published stories, out of only 11 to date, have appeared in “best of” collections (along with a good deal of her poetry) and in 2004 Small Beer Press collected four of these, together with some unpublished material, into a perfectly formed collection – “The Rose in Twelve Petals and Other Stories” – as part of their occasional chapbook series. Those in the know have confidently proclaimed her One-To-Watch and linked her name with that of rising star Kelly Link (who, as you all well know, co-founded Small Beer). Such high praise warrants investigation, and thus…

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game of thrones

Game of Thrones Japanese Style

Ahhh… Game of Thrones in Japanese on marble in the house. Almost better than the Robb Report right here. Perfect credit at the Iron Bank.

I’m thinking it may be time to do a reread of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire soon since we in this hell period in waiting for the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones nor has Martin delivered Winds of Winter outside of some sample chapters.

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i spit on your grave

7 Toughest Comebacks in Crime Film

Crime heroes and villains got it rough. They’re usually up to the gills in trouble and their genre, unlike horror, doesn’t smile on its bad-asses soaking up too many bullets.

A fortunate – or unfortunate, if you’re a “the grave’s half empty” kind of person – few manage some superhuman comebacks. Whether by the power of a psychotic episode, sheer grit or timely medical attention, these crime film characters practically pull off an Easter miracle.

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adam Rex

Adam Rex Fat Vampire Interview

Adam Rex is an amazingly talented children’s illustrator, as well as being an author of both children’s and YA novels.  I had the pleasure of meeting him in person last month at BEA, and I made sure to line him up for an interview later before we parted ways.  His new novel, Fat Vampire, is due out next month, and it ‘s not your typical vampire novel.  Nor is it your typical coming of age novel.

Here I’ve got Adam talking about his inspiration for the story, his influences as a writer, his view of what it would be like to live forever (hint:  it’s not all sunshine and roses), and much more.  Sink your teeth in and enjoy!

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star wars

Vos & Asajj Golden in STAR WARS Dark Disciple Review

I want to get the basics out of the way first. If you don’t like or want spoilers don’t read on. I will tell you the point of a person reading a book and then sitting down to write up about what they didn’t just read when there is one. Seems like a waste of time to me, so go read the book and watch Thrawn return to new canon like any good Star Wars fan this week and come back here.

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Ashes of Time Redux: Wong Kar-wai as a Poet of Memory

In 2046, Wong Kar-wai’s eighth film, Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays a journalist and writer (the same character he plays in In the Mood for Love), that begins to write science-fiction as an additional income when journalist work dries up. The story that he writes, also called 2046, set in the distant future about people who travel to 2046 (whether it is a time or a place is never explained) in order to live in the memories of their lost loves, a place from where no one has ever returned. Scenes from 2046 punctuate the narrative as a parallel as Leung comes to realise that he is writing about himself.

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guy gavriel kay

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay Review

I have a set of bright memories associated with various of Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels: Sitting, aged 13, grief-stricken and sobbing in a cold bath having finished “The Darkest Road”, the final weft in his Fionavar Tapestry; drooping in my early morning lectures five years later having welcomed in the dawn with the last page of his “Lions of Al-Rassan”; throwing myself down into my pillows and grinning, grinning, grinning at the promise of a second book in the Sarantine Mosaic duology. This last is hardly tinted with the same nostalgia, what with it only happening yesterday evening but you take my meaning.

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multireal

MultiReal by David Louis Edelman Review

The labels “science fiction” and “speculative fiction” have long been entwined, with speculative fiction variously considered synonymous with science fiction or an umbrella that contains science fiction. And indeed most science fiction is speculative, either in the form of selective futurism, extrapolating and highlighting present trends, or as thought experiments on present questions of human nature (or both). What is increasingly interesting then about David Louis Edelman’s Jump 225 trilogy, of which MultiReal is the second volume, is how it is becoming less a work that addresses the present indirectly, through such speculation, and more a work that seeks to directly capture the zeitgeist, the feeling and the texture of the present. It does so not by in-depth mimicry of the present, but by using science fiction to construct a credible model of the present.

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Badass Moments in Sci-Fi History

I probably don’t need to tell the readers here that science-fiction is probably one of the most badass genres of fiction to ever explode out of someone’s brain.  I mean, any genre in which genetically modified cyborgs, hyperdrive-capable spaceships, chest-bursting aliens, disintegration death rays, handheld nuclear bombs, mutant apocalypses, and skimpy gold bikinis are the norm is OK in my book, and anybody who doesn’t think that stuff kicks more ass than an alcoholic donkey-herder really needs to get their priorities straight.

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scott lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch Review – The Thorn of Camorr Returns

We find the remnants of our band stalking the pits of the Sinspire, patiently and calculatingly ascending lady luck’s ladder in Lynch’s Monte Carlo, the city-state Tal Verrar, marked on any map as the destination for the apex of high society and high stakes. The absurdity of the back in-saddle starting point exhibits the author’s greatest strength, his decisions on how to pace a novel.

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alias

The 5 Worst TV Crime Show Finales

You’d think it would be easy to wrap up a crime TV series. Punish the bad guys, save the day and solve the mystery. The audience can turn off the set with their belief in an ordered universe confirmed. Easy as it may seem, plenty of crime shows flip out and faceplant when it’s time for their finale.

Some try to get too clever or artistic. Some fling the story outside the genre in a geeky attempt to surprise their viewers. Most just don’t know what the Hell they’re doing.

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kelly link

Stranger Things – A Kelly Link Interview

Not quite two years ago I was reading The Guardian and came across a list of Top 10 Weird Fiction, offered by China Mieville. The list featured writers and works of known quality — dare I say superiority — that included the likes of M. John Harrison, Mervyn Peake, Philip K. Dick, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Stefan Grabinski, H.G. Wells, Max Ernst, the prodigious Jane Gaskell, and ended with an author previously unknown to me residing in the 10 spot. Being rather impressionable, I ran — not walked — to get my copy of Kelly Link’s collection Stranger Things Happen, an investment of which that was not marred even when it became available free for download, instead it was a rare moment of unselfishness, a gratitude that others would be able to share in the fantastic trips offered by Link, in what was, and explicitly still is,one of the most noteworthy collections in recent years.

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scanner darkly

The Order of the Blue Flower by Hal Duncan – Notes from New Sodom

The Rapture of Unreason

“I grew up around Christians who believed in a seven day creation, preached the reality of Hell and Judgement, and railed against the lie that was evolution. They were also, for the most part, racists and homophobes… And the only difference between them and me was that I had a father who shoved a science fiction paperback into my pre-teen hands and ordered me to read it. After all, it’s pretty hard to be prejudiced against blacks and gays when you’re a-okay with Klingons and the Green Men of Mars.”
— Lou Anders, Bowing to the Future

So the 21st of May came and went without a whiff of the Rapture, nary a hint of Moby Douche, the Great White Fail, breaching the firmament above. No star called Wormwood fallen from the sky, turning a third of the waters to tasty absinthe. No angels treading the wine gums of the wrath of the Lord. Not a peep of New Jerusalem on the early warning radar. Instead here we are, still in New Sodom, with Benny the Rat still in the Vatican, Fred Phelps still on the streets, and Harold Camping still on the radio, still selling his schtick. The Rapture’s postponed apparently, till the 21st October. Cool. That’s going to be one fuck of 40th birthday party for me that day then.

Rai, X-O Manowar, Harbinger – Revisting Classic VALIANT Comics

In a recent post about Toyo Harada I talked about the order of VALIANT character appearances in the original VALIANT universe from the early 1990s. I thought about it some and decided to piece together three reviews I did of first three original (post-Magnus and Solar) VALIANT properties in their initial arcs as titles.These cover the two hardcovers that the current VALIANT owner released of the classic material, Harbinger: The Beginning and X-O Manowar: Birth, along with the classic first TPB of Rai from the ‘90s. I wrote thsi awhile back so if there are any continuity eras in our current world, it’s because my Infinity Gauntlet is in the shop.

If you like new VALIANT you can check out my lengthy thoughts on Divinity, Ninjak, and Bloodshot as well.

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EKATERINA SEDIA

Paper Cities | an Ekaterina Sedia Interview

Ekaterina Sedia’s second novel, The Secret History of Moscow, has made her a new author to watch. It has garnered critical praise, from no less than Neil Gaiman and is selling quite well.

The novel is set in Post-Communist Russia, where everyone is suffering under the growing pains of capitalism gone amuck. Thugs and gangs share the stage with those used to the old communist way of doing things, poverty and uncertainty abounds, and yet there is an excitement in the air.

Caine Black Knife Review – Stover Settling Scores

In previous novels Matthew Stover has shown us a star ascending, in his prime and during a fall. A god killer, creator, and husband of one — he is the unlikely pawn that is the habitual line stepper and reaches points to crown himself, but instead of turning around he jumps off. Through this, one would think we know the make-up of Caine, the complex extremity of his simplicity, and that perhaps all his stories left to be told are in the future and beyond.

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Jacqueline Carey

Sundering Return to Terre d’Ange – Jacqueline Carey Interview

Later this year on August 1st today’s guest is releasing the concluding installment in a duology titled The Sundering. Following up Banewreaker, Godslayer will cap off an epic tragedy story that is a testament to her versatility. Prior to this, her Kushiel’s Legacy series, a thus far three book sequence, that includes, Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, and Kushiel’s Avatar, introduced readers to the setting of Terre d’Ange, where through the adventures of Phedre, Jacqueline Carey would become a fantasy fixture, while penning some of the most progressive genre work during the time.

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seven

6 Most Twisted Pranks in Crime Film

A perfect crime always has a bit of a prank to it. When you’re breaking the law, you’re duping society, after all. You play a joke on old Lady Justice. The punchline just happens to be a few steamer trunks of bearer bonds or a well-buried corpse.

But some crimes take the yukks to the next level. These law-shattering shenanigans score big on style points, surprise or sheer humor. And when it’s done for the sake of cinema, twisted pranks can leave their kink marks in our memory for years to come.

Here are 6 Twisted Pranks in Crime Film that never fail to split our sides or sicken our stomachs.

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erin evans

Being a Hack: Writing a Shared-World Novel- Erin M. Evans Guest Blog

At the end of most science fiction and fantasy sections is a shelf that is plastered in logos: Halo, Warhammer 40000, Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Warcraft. Shared world fiction. It’s a section that admittedly, I didn’t stray into until my mid-twenties. It seemed daunting, as if one had to be admitted via a complicated test. I certainly never thought I’d see my name on the shelf—that world was an alien one where I didn’t belong. Yet here I am. And while shared world fiction—fiction that uses a pre-created setting—has a lot in common with nonshared world fiction, there are also a lot of ways in which it’s pretty unique.

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The Abominable Charles Christopher

Karl Kerschl is another comic artist who has dipped his toe into the big pond, he’s worked for DC on a multitude of titles, but his real magnum opus is coming in his longform webcomic. He works with the TransmissionX Comics studio where he often collaborates with fellow webcomic master Cameron Stewart, who I featured in an article about his seminal web-work, Sin Titulo, previously. Kerschl’s masterpiece is called The Abominable Charles Christopher, a tale about a strange beast known as Charles Christopher who might be a yeti type of creature, or perhaps just a confused bear, but what I am certain of is that he’s exceptionally well written and completely lovable.

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Suzhou River:

Dredging Suzhou River: Artifice and Art

At the very beginning of Lou Ye’s Suzhou River (Sūzhōu Hé) the unnamed and unseen narrator and protagonist whom works as a freelance cameraman tells the viewer that he is fine filming anything just so long as the client doesn’t complain. His camera, he says, shows things the way that they are. This statement recalls that famous one of Bruno Forestier in Godard’s Le Petit Soldat (his second feature film and first to star his muse and future wife, Anna Karina), “La photographie, c’est la vérité, et le cinéma, c’est vingt-quatre fois la vérité par seconde” – “Photography is truth, and cinema is truth 24 times per second”.

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james bond

From Russia With Love | The James Bond Zapiska

Ah, the Cold War.  Growing up as I did in the Eighties, there was no greater Bad Guy in film or print as evil or subversive or insidious as the Russians.  They were the eternal enemy, lurking across the ocean at the business end of a fleet of ICBMs.  It was a time of uncertainty, of mistrust, of a vague feeling that global nuclear catastrophe could happen at any time.  Not just that you might die, or your brother in the service might die, but that everyone might die.  That the culmination of human endeavors to this point might just end after the hasty push of a big red button.

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avalon

Authenticity in Mamoru Oshii’s Avalon

Before we begin, I would like to say a few brief words on the nature of this column. I believe it is impossible to talk about films without discussing what are considered spoilers, and to quote Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Is this form of worry a fit activity for grown-ups?” Therefore if you have an aversion to spoilers, I recommend that you do not read this column, consider this your only disclaimer.

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robin hobb

Robin Hobb Interview – From Farseer to Soldier Son

My guest today is a name that has been a fixture in epic fantasy for more then a decade now, and an award nominated author even before that under the name Megan Lindholm. She is responsible for fan favorite series like the Farseer, Live Ship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies. This year she leaves the successful and familiar setting of the 6 Duchies and with her latest release, Shaman’s Crossing, introduces us to the Kingdom of Gernia, an all new canvas to kick off the The Soldier Son trilogy.

Today Robin Hobb, where she touches on Shaman’s Crossing, Peter Jackson, why first is better than third, and her love for spoilers.

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george rr martin

No Thrones – A George R.R. Martin Interview

I have always enjoyed reading interviews of George R.R. Martin. Not because they offer informative illuminating aspects to his masterpiece (and yes they do exist in epic fantasy) series A Song of Ice and Fire, which due to its multiple perspectives and often times subtle narrative at once offers the chance of being exposed to provocative information as well as the opportunity to be strung along on multiple elaborate red herrings. He historically refrains from talking about specifics regarding plot and characters. Neither is it especially because of any tendency by Martin to be controversial in his statements. What I find oddly compelling is that when I read interviews of Martin, I get this image of a busy writer who would rather be doing anything else but talking about himself while he has a book to write, and damn it, there’s something admirable about that.

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meiko kaji

Songs of Hate: Meiko Kaji and Female Prisoner Scorpion (Part One)

She sold over a million albums, her films inspired much of Kill Bill, and when she didn’t want to do what she was asked of by executives, she said uh-uh and split for greener pastures. Her name is Meiko Kaji. Possessed with a confidence and an intensity that saw her type-cast as one of Japan’s toughest bad girls, Meiko’s beauty and fierce you’re-a-fucking-dead-man stare, framed by tresses of long jet-black hair (frequently shot in weirdly-angled extreme close-up), has made her a global cult film icon.

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charles stross

Dungeons to Singularity – Charles Stross Interview

This week my guest is Charles Stross, who is having one hell of a good year. The versatile author is nominated for this year’s Hugo for Best Novel for his novel Singularity Sky, not to mention has 2 novellas nominated for the Best Novella of the year. He is also nominated by Locus this year for Best Science Fiction Novel for Iron Sunrise, and for Best Fantasy Novel honors with the first installment of his Merchant Princes series, Family Trade. The second part of the Merchant Princes, The Hidden Family, was just released, and I want to thank Stross for spending some time with me amidst a very busy writing schedule.

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seven touches of music

Seven Touches of Music by Zoran Zivkovic Review

“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”
— Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944)

It is a strange universe, one where the scientific respectability of general relativity contrasts with the maverick speculative theories of quantum mechanics; one where the literary respectability of the mainstream novel contrasts with the anything-goes nature of speculative fiction. What is science and what is magic? Quantum theory shows that an action taken now, in the present, can produce changes in the past; a particle only actually comes into defined existence when it is observed by a conscious observer; and such observation can change that which is observed for any subsequent observers. It’s all enough to not merely blur, but erase the previously held division of science being impersonal and repeatable while ceding to magic the realm of the personal, the numinous. While other branches of fiction, even the most literary, cling to rational fables of cause and effect — rely on unknown or misunderstood causes for their pathos — a growing group of writers are turning speculative fiction into guidebooks for imagining our so very strange universe.

The Ghost and the Golem | Notes from New Sodom

A Rejection of Definition

“What SF writers write is SF.”
Orson Scott Card

So Science Fiction is dead; but the death of Science Fiction is not the end of the story. Rather it’s the beginning of it. Torn apart in the struggles of its factions, deserted by the blood and breath of its most explorative writers, the carcass of that old Genre still sits in the SF Café, a leg here, an arm there, novitiates of this cult or that gnawing on its bones, sucking on what’s left of the marrow. It’s a grisly scene, but if these devotees only looked around them they’d see the ghost that dwells in every corner of the diner. Everywhere in the SF Café you can still see the stains, still hear the echoes of that ghost — the closed definition reopened to a strange and subtle essence that defies all definitions — science fiction. And for all that its blood was spilled out, the dying breath of Science Fiction was guttered into a golem. The spelunkers of speculative fiction mining phosphorescent filth from the bowels of the city of Writing, the Sci-Fi freaks scraping kibble and kack that from the bins of decades-old shit sandwiches out back, we have built this thing to take its place.

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bloodshot

Bloodshot Reborn Review – Lemire’s VALIANT Inherent Vice

Really was anticipating Bloodshot Reborn #1 from VALIANT since reading all of the high drama that occurred in The VALIANT #4, which was amazing. I think Matt Kindt successfully relaunched Ninjak recently and I was excited to see how the other half of The VALIANT writing team, one Jeff Lemire, would do with Bloodshot, who probably walked away from the occurrences of the mini more changed then any other character. I recently read Lemire’s Descender and in the middle of a write-up on that, and it’s icy.

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cold fish

It’s Not The Quantity, It’s The Quality: Sion Sono’s COLD FISH

Back in my days teaching English in Japan, I raised the topic of murders and why they were so frequently extreme in Japan. One student actually said in reply, “It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.” Kind of grimly funny, and a nice attempt at busting out some natural speech, but the thing is, I totally got what he meant. I always believed that the severed heads stuck on school fence posts and the dismembered parts littered around cities, not to mention the extreme pornography, were a result of social repression that, in certain people, boiled up and manifested itself in horribly sick, violent and often public ways. It’s not exactly a long bow to draw, is it? There’s a reason Ian Buruma’s fascinating book on Japanese culture (and valuable aid to this project), Behind the Mask is called that. It’s not just a clever title.

Back Matter Matters – A Study In Commitment

It is a story in words and pictures; that’s comic, kids. That’s what the companies sell, that’s what we buy. But I always want more, and I don’t think I’m asking for too much. There are some comics out there that offer you just a little more bang for your buck and I know I not only appreciate the effort made by creators to include back matter in their comics but I also try my best to pick those titles up each month rather than trade wait. I love back matter, it elevates every comic I buy, and there are so many different ways to go about adding that extra layer to your product.

Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane – Review

It becomes immediately apparent from the opening pages of Darkness, Take My Hand that Dennis Lehane has upped the ante since A Drink Before the War. Darkness, Take My Hand stands in stark contrast to A Drink Before the War as a new level of sophistication permeates the story. The prologue allows Lehane to demonstrate for the first time his desire to toy with our expectations for these characters. It could be said of A Drink Before the War that it ended on a high note that fostered certain hopes for the characters specifically the two leads Patrick and Angie. Lehane is happy to destroy those closely held notions that were carefully constructed right from the start and the experience is all the more richer for it. If the characters were given three dimensions in A Drink Before the War then Darkness Take My Hand breaths life into them. We learn a lot from Patrick in those first few pages, none of which is predictable and all of it shocking. The device used is that of the present looking back, so we don’t know what happened yet. We set our imaginations free and try to conceive of the horrors that brought such results and Darkness Take My Hand details all of it.

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dumbo

Dumbo Soars Back Into Our Lives

Dumbo!

Disney has somehow pulled these live action versions of their classic and loved animated features off. While the story of Favreau’s Jungle Book didn’t blow me away I have to admit it crossed a visual boundary I wasn’t prepared to pass when I went into the theater and Beauty and Beast made over a billion dollars and it’s hard for me to believe The Lion King isn’t going to do the same.

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sandman

In Which a Wake is Held – Sandman Meditations

Three years have passed. Not in The Sandman, but here between these meditations. Within only a few installments of finishing the central series, I couldn’t go on. I read chapter two of The Wake and could think of nothing to say. Characters from all the books were coming back, congregating, ready to pay respects. I wasn’t ready.

What has changed? Everything. Nothing. Years have passed. Can I think of something to say now? Perhaps. Is it worth saying? I don’t know. (But then, I never know.)

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monsters

Gareth Edwards’ Monsters | Notes from New Sodom

In the Interests of Precision

This is not a review. If you want to know whether I think director Gareth Edwards’s debut feature Monsters is worth seeing, I do. Go see it. But this isn’t about how good I think it is, and why; it’s about what the film’s doing, how this strange fiction (the specific example and the form in general) works. Whether it works well or not, for you or me — I don’t give a shit. More than anything, I want to use it here to explore the sort of dynamics at play in strange fiction, because the movie addresses one aspect of that dynamics directly, proclaiming this in its very title. The film is about the device of the monstrum that drives many narratives, not least those we project onto reality.

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Heroic Bloodshed: John Woo in Hong Kong | Tokyo Drifter

John Woo makes cool films. His Hong Kong action films are amongst some of, if not the best, action movies ever made. Films like A Better Tomorrow and its sequel, A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer, and Once a Thief had high grosses that contributed to the golden age of Hong Kong Cinema during the eighties and early nineties. His work proved influential not only in Hong Kong, but also in the international scene, leading to interest in Hong Kong cinema in countries like the United Kingdom and America, and influencing a generation of non-Asian filmmakers. Woo would himself later make the transition to Hollywood, making films like Broken Arrow and Face/Off, sadly not up to the same standard as his earlier work. For a generation though, Woo defined what it meant to be cool. Gangsters started to dress like Chow Yun Fat in A Better Tomorrow, complete with Alain Delon sunglasses (which caused them to be sold out in Hong Kong). The over the top gun fight choreography, slickness, hint of black humour, and symbolism that has become cliché through uninspired repetition by Hollywood was fresh and exciting. As Bordwell says, he is the ultimate Hong Kong auteur, because when you were watching one of his films, you knew that it could only be a John Woo film.

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marjorie liu

A Marjorie Liu Interview | Dirk, Steele, and X-23

Recently I was given the chance to have a phone chat with best-selling author Marjorie M. Liu, author of the “Dirk & Steele” paranormal romance series and “Hunter Kiss” urban fantasy series; Marjorie is also a current writer for Marvel Comics with “X-23” and “Daken.”

In anticipation for Marjorie’s latest Dirk & Steele novel, In the Dark of Dreams, we discussed the D & S series, working on comics, and the best way to bribe her if you want spoilers for her upcoming releases!

Imager with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. | Interview

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., is the best-selling author of several fantasy and science fiction series, and a name you can’t get through any bookstore’s SFF section without encountering.  I am only familiar with his work on the Imager Portfolio.  From the first book it became one of my favorite fantasy series, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about the books with him.  While I did get some great insight into certain elements in the series, the discussion somehow veered off into cultural territory that I found even more fascinating.  Note on that:  I’m breaking from my usual interviewing presentation and leaving my responses intact, even when they are long, because I’m not sure his answers would make sense without my set-ups.  That being said, I hope you enjoy the perspective!

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daredevil

Daredevil’s Yellow – A Perfect Memory

A bright yellow costume on a man called Daredevil. It was simply never going to work putting a slightly older, lawyer/vigilante, protector of Hell’s Kitchen in a bright yellow costume. How many reasons are there for it not being a great idea? It’s a colour usually reserved for children’s playrooms and bright insects. It would glowingly make Daredevil an easy target at all times. It’s ugly. It certainly doesn’t go with red (which you have to remember was possibly the main colour of the suit with only the arms, legs, and head yellow). It looks too cheery. Is that enough to show the initial costume used by Matt Murdock in his crime fighting exploits was a bad idea?

Yet, the look has seemingly aged incredibly, and perhaps surprisingly, well. Whenever I think of it, or see it, I only get a warm glow inside me.

Why?

Adventures in Unhistory by Avram Davidson Review

Imagine if you will that, when you were younger, you had an older relative — a grandfather or great-aunt — who was something of an armchair historian regarding mythology. Every now and then, when you were visiting, you’d make your way to their study, sit in one of the overstuffed chairs by the fire, and ask a question. “Where exactly did Sindbad sail?,” you’d ask; or, “who was Prester John?” or “were there really ever dragons, rocs, or unicorns?” Your older relative would get a youthful gleam of excitement in their eye and start pulling down a collection of books from the shelves with which to answer your question. “Maybe,” they’d say, opening an ancient-looking tome, “and maybe not. I once met an elderly gentleman named Mr. Dong who claimed to have seen a unicorn while on safari in Africa…but I’ll save that story for later. First, let’s see what old Pliny the Elder had to say on the matter….”

The Entertainers: 5 Essential Movies of Scam Cinema

Hollywood: it’s all a scam, isn’t it?

For all of our lives, the movies have promised us big, big things.  Action and adventure are just out there waiting for us.  Good always triumphs over evil.  A simple confusion of gender will result in a humorous situation.  And everybody is having way more sex than you.  Like the good little marks we all are, we run frantically to these show-biz con-men with fistfuls of dollars, just begging to be parted with our money and our senses.  And then as with any good con, once it’s all over, we stand there on the sidewalk, squinting in the sunlight, our dreams crushed by reality and our pockets empty.  The movies are the longest running scam in world history.

Mark Charan Newton Interview | Nights of Villjamur

Mark Charan Newton is an urban fantasy author who’s currently two novels into his writing career and, judging by the sheer tonnage of critical acclaim which now includes a place in Library Journal’s top 5 best SF/F of 2010, is only just getting warmed up. For those of you already familiar with his work, Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, I suspect he needs no introduction…but I’m going to do it anyway.

The Chimpanzee Complex… Stripp’d

There is consolation in conspiracy. Whenever something terrible happens, humans look for answers and they don’t stop looking even when they have found them: It wasn’t Oswald who killed Kennedy, it was the mob or the commies, or the CIA. It wasn’t a drunk driver who killed Princess Diana; it was British Intelligence and the Royal Family. The reason why our minds are drawn to conspiracies is because conspiracies make the world seem a less random and little more comprehensible. Our need to derive spiritual sustenance from a belief that we are part of some grand plan or pattern fuels religion as well as psychology. In fact, one could argue that the whole point of Freudian psychoanalysis is the construction of elaborate conspiracy theories that explain away people’s less desirable character traits:

Memories of Wing Commander

There aren’t many things from my youth that I truly miss, but one of the members of that elite group is the space combat flight simulator game. Once quite common, they are all but unknown today, and that’s a shame. For me, personally, my regret at the genre’s passing is about much more than the fact that I’ll never get to play Freespace 3. (Though that is also a source of nigh-overwhelming anguish, obviously.) My own first encounter with the genre was one of the things that really expanded my ideas of what a video game could be.

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dan abnett

In the Black Library with Dan Abnett | Interview Part 1

For me this is the interview to end all interviews.

It’s not often one gets to interview a personal hero; I suspect this is mostly because heroes don’t enjoy mopping up fanboy drool, and frankly, who can blame them? This is going to be a little different from my other interviews, because while the others have been with relatively new talent, Dan Abnett has been writing for around 27 years and has done everything, and I do mean everything, from Marvel comics to Mr. Men, as well as a phenomenal novel set in a world of his own creation.

In and Out of The Big House: DOING TIME and 9 SOULS

By his own admission, noted Mangaka (pro comics creator) Kazuichi Hanawa had long been interested in themes of confinement. An early, unfinished experiment was a manga concerning a masked man locked up in a basement. It’s oddly appropriate then that Hanawa, a noted collector of replica firearms would, years later, be incarcerated in Hokkaido and serve roughly twenty months of a three-year sentence (December 1994-October 1996) after “trying out” some remodelled guns he’d acquired.

Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich Review

The initial appearance of the pulp hero in the newspapers, radio shows and cinema of 1920s America was a reassuring affirmation of rugged American individualism in a world that, in the wake of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, seemed suddenly large and uncertain. America’s gradual acceptance of an increasingly multicultural world can be seen in the pulp revivals that followed. The campy, tongue-in-cheek revivals of pulp characters such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in the 1970s had become by the 1980s and 90s outright humor, as the Indiana Jones series and later Evil Dead films let audiences know that it was okay not to take their pulp heroes’ antics too seriously. Indeed, the self-awareness brought on by globalization made it impossible to do so.

The Kipple Foodstuff Factory | Notes from New Sodom

The Leopardskin Print of Thrift Shop Drag

So here I am, after a dozen or so columns, sitting in the SF Café, drinking my black coffee and saying, f’r sure, no Science Fiction novel has ever won the Booker. Yeah? And? So? What? Has any Crime novel ever won the Booker? Has any Romance? Has any Western? Let’s simplify it: Has any work of extruded formulaic pabulum in any Genre you care to name ever won the Booker? Has any work in any Genre born of the fricking pulps, in any commercial marketing category specifically designed to target a niche with a promise of extruded formulaic pabulum ever won the Booker?

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville Review

Those who believe that the short story is dead and/or irrelevant, and those who don’t see the value in publishing stories in e-zines that pay very little, if at all, to a circulation that is in all likelihood no more than a thousand would be well served to pay attention to the rise of Stuart Neville, because there are lessons to be learned there. Stuart Neville’s story in Thuglit was read by agent Nat Sobel, who signed him and sold his manuscript. Do people read the ‘zines? Yes. Do we know who is reading them? No, it could be anyone. And the more subtle of the lessons is that you never know who is checking you out online

Pyr Editing with Lou Anders | Interview

This one’s for those of you who like to know what goes on before the book falls off the bookstore shelf into your hands.  Lou Anders is the editorial director of Pyr books, as well as being the man behind many anthologies on a wide variety of topics.  Over the past week or so I’ve had the pleasure of picking his brain about how he chooses manuscripts, how he builds anthologies, what he sees as the current state of science fiction and fantasy, and more.  If you’re a young editor, or someone trying to break into the field as a writer, or just someone who’s curious about the publishing industry from an insider’s perspective, be sure to read this interview!

Scalped: Unwanted – A Study In Flawed Characters

Scalped is a phenomenal series, that’s not news to anyone whether you read it or not. The book gets good press like the ocean gets waves. Constantly. But just recently, I bought the latest trade, Volume 7: Rez Blues, and the next 5 issues to get myself all caught up on a series that consistently amazes me in new ways. While reading through this mammoth stack of one of Vertigo’s best titles I realised what makes this series work, the flaws in the characters. These people are so completely broken and this is massively showcased in the storyline titled Unwanted. This discussion is spoiler filled, so consider yourselves warned.

Playin’ With Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Tyrion Lannister Chapter 13

We back and Elena focuses on info dumping while I give props to days of   ‘yore.  Forgot about us? She’s new, I’m the re-reader.  We are continuing our reread of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on.  We return covering everyone’s favorite Romeo, Tyrion Lannister!

Romancing the Nine Kingdoms | a Lynn Kurland Interview

Lynn Kurland is the author of the Nine Kingdoms romantic fantasy series, as well as a best-selling romance author.  For all my love of dark, bloodspurting, knights who say–er, frak–fantasy, I also love the lighter side of fairy-tale, love-story high fantasy, so this series fits right in to one of my reading sweet spots.  I enjoyed the chance to ask Lynn some questions about how this series came about, what’s been most different for her in switching between genres, how far the story might go, and more.  Keep reading to find out what she had to say!