Today I interview Steven Erikson who in my mind nothing less than writer who brought Sword & Sorcery elements into contemporary, even literary fiction and creating a landscape all his own. The author of my favorite series of all time. Let’s do this!
Ordure and Bullshit
“Nine tenths of science fiction is crud. Of course, nine tenths of everything is crud.”
In the uptown district of Literature and the midtown district of Mainstream, so the story goes, the high-brow and the mid-brow all turn their noses up when they glance downtown, in the direction of Genre. Fairy tales for children, they sneer. On the door of the Bistro de Critique there was for a good many years a sign that read, “No Genre allowed.” The nearest they ever got to a genre label is General Fiction — a term with an empty definition if ever there was one, catch-all for a host of idioms and idiosyncracies. No, genre fiction just isn’t de rigeur there, so the story goes. So, fuck em, we say. Fuck the mundanes of Mainstream, the elitists of Literature. We’re Genre and proud of it.
Gareth Edwards is not what you probably picture when you think of a special effects artist turned science fiction director: he’s personable and energetic, as charming to look at as he is to listen to, and utterly enthusiastic about his new movie, Monsters. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a near-future in which a NASA probe brought back life from one of Jupiter’s moons, and the creatures have taken over half of Mexico.
“Destiny doesn’t care that I’ve made sacrifices to get here.
That I’ve said my prayers and brushed after meals.
Destiny wants a garbage man… and I’m always it.
Bang bang. I’m Deadpool. You’re Dead.
A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson
Deadpool is a criminally deranged, psychopathic ninja mercenary with a mutant healing factor, a withering sarcastic wit, an encyclopedic array of pop culture references, and unfettered access to katanas, hand grenades and automatic weapons, which he uses to kill everyone ever. He’s like Snake Eyes, Wolverine, and David Spade’s Hollywood Minute mashed into the body of an Olympic athlete, then combined with the impulse control of Charlie Manson – and the end result is that he’s so fucking awesome at pummeling people into meat juice that he somehow manages to be an effective assassin even though he sneaks around heavily-fortified military facilities in a fire-engine red jumpsuit.
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.)
The Great Debate
“The question of whether a certain story of imagination is a fantasy or a science fiction work would depend upon the device the author uses to explain his projected or unreal world. If he uses the gimmick or device of saying: ‘This is a logical or probable assumption based upon known science, which is going to develop from known science or from investigations of areas not yet quite explored but suspected,’ then one could call it science fiction. But if he asks the reader to suspend his disbelief simply because of the fun of it, in other words, just to say: ‘Here is a fairy tale I’m going to tell you,’ then it is fantasy. It could actually be the same story.”
Sam J. Lundwall
Down in the ghetto of Genre, in the SF Café that is our literary salon, in this scene of zines and forums, conventions and clubs, there’s a Great Debate that kicks off every so often. The diversity of the clientele maps to a diversity of opinions — convictions, even — and few of these are as contentious as those addressing the differences or lack thereof between science fiction and fantasy. To be fair, the taxonomy of literary genres is a game that appeals to the geek in me as much as anyone, but the diversity we’re dealing with in the SF Café is obscured by the very word genre, its meaning muddled by a conflation of openly-defined aesthetic idioms with conventional forms that are closely-defined and marketing categories that are all but empty of definition.
If you’re anything like me, you’re broke.
Not quite selling-your-plasma-for-lunch-money broke. But definitely dodging-bill-collectors-and-praying-to-a-God-you-don’t-believe-in-that-your-car-won’t-break-down-again broke.
This week my guest is a multiple Word Fantasy Award winning author and editor of efforts that have become recent fixtures in fan favorite lists, writing a brand of fantastic fiction that the Guardian admits “Could well be creating one of the dominant literary forms of the 21 century”. From City of Saints and Madmen, to Veniss Underground, to his collection Secret Life and now his latest work Shriek: an afterword to a book that doesn’t exist, every journey undertaken has been one to a different place, even if at times occurring in the same location or a few steps from it.
0. Looking Back in order to Move Forward
One of the more interesting developments in superhero comics has been the growing popularity of comics that take familiar characters and transplant them into unfamiliar historical contexts. Though this type of postmodern speculative exercise has been around in one form or another since the Silver Age, the current vogue has its roots in Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola’s Gotham by Gaslight (1989), an ‘elseworld’ that took Batman and reinvented him as a steampunk vigilante battling Jack the Ripper in a turn of the Century Gotham City. Other attempts at historical re-potting include Superman’s reinvention as a Soviet tyrant in Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son (2003) and Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 (2003), which transplanted the entire Marvel universe to Elizabethan England.
Was Sodom destroyed?
Aye, and Gomorrah to six miles around it.
The rivers beneath it boiled in the
street. The mountain vomited rock
on the orchards. And no one now may
live upon the place.
O my city! What city can I found? Where
now must I go to make a home?”
– Samuel R. Delany, Driftglass
I can’t tell you what age I was when I first read Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, And Gomorrah,” in a tattered second-hand copy of his collection, Driftglass. I have only the most random snippets of memories associated with my teen reading — a vague awareness that the first SF book I read was I, ROBOT, that I caught the bug with more Asimov, became a hardened fan with Heinlein and PKD, and an avid collector with the series of Gollancz Classics released in the 1980s. I’m pretty sure that it was picking up Babel-17 and Nova as part of that series that turned me on to Delany. Well, OK. I say I’m pretty sure; I might just as easily have read one of his short stories first in one of the umpteen anthologies I took out of the local library. Truth be told, I have a shit memory, so I’m pretty sketchy on the details, have a tendency to answer any question that begins “Do you remember…?” with, “Was it more than a minute ago?”
“He’s the most dangerous man in the galaxy“
– Superman, telling some Martians about Batman
A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson
Batman is a crime-fighting vigilante ninja detective who dresses up in bullet-proof armor, wears a gigantic black cape, hides in the darkest corners of the city, and then sneak-attack face-kicks the world’s most sadistic criminal douchebags until every felon in the tri-state area is passed out unconscious in a Gotham City Prison complaining about how they’ve got concussions so bad that their brains are leaking out their noses. He’s one of comics’ most beloved, longest-running, and badass superheroes, an ultra-genius master of stealth and hand-to-hand combat, and a man so over-the-top hardcore that the mere mention of his name has been known to cause incontinence among the seedier members of human society.
This isn’t the best of times to be in England. People may take its continuing failures in sport with either blank resignation or even blanker disinterest, but there’s a indefinable sense that the nation is lagging behind neighbours it once used to dominate and, let’s face it, brutalise. Drawn up to bat in England’s favour recently on Radio 4’s Today programme was none other than Norman Tebbit, which rather emphasised the problem. The thuggish tendency, the out-of-date; this is what England now stands for. And at the nation’s heart, or at least its supposed heart — for the place lies a long way from that spot both geographically and in most people’s affections — lies its capital, London, a city whose recent monuments, such as Canary Wharf and the Dome, seem more like plugholes for investment and juicy targets for terrorism than true expressions of national pride. But there has long been a sense that the city isn’t quite the place it should be. Both Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson are far from first of their sort to get to high political office by promoting the lingering and ever-appealing idea that London, somehow and in some way, needs properly sorting out.
Now we’ve done the overview, let’s get into the crunchy stuff. Let’s start a Race War.
Or rather, let’s talk about the race war already in progress, since that’s the heart of 40K’s conflict.
Today we are pleased to present an interview with Charlie Huston. Coming off of a run on Marvel’s Moon Knight Charlie Huston is a writer who also has several novels to his credit, including being three books into the continuing vamp noir adventures of Joe Pitt, and The Hank Thompson trilogy. More recently, the Edgar nominated author, switched perspectives and wrote the stand-alone Shotgun Rule. The fourth book in the Joe Pitt Casebooks, Every Last Drop, is scheduled for a September 2008 release.
What is style?
Exploring censorship, alternate versions of crime classics and the reasons behind creative changes. This edition: LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
THE INNER INHUMANITY
I’ve got a theory, one that’s been brewing for a while really, ever since I first read Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire and Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls. It’s one that’s been partly informed by my… exposure to the Twilight phenomenon, to the general prevalence of the vampire trope these days. And after coming across one of those internet kerfuffles over a recent article in Esquire by Stephen Marche that made a rough stab at advancing a similar idea (and largely got shot down in flames) I thought it might be a good time to get my teeth into it, so to speak.
What I’ve done here is combined 3 shorter guest blogs we hosted by Riley Rossmo, Chrissie Zullo, & Wes Craig – one and all great artists – into one post with all of them sharing […]
Those Rocket Age Rhapsodies, Those Information Era Operas
“No SF novel ever won the Booker.”
Somebody, Somewhere, Somewhen
If’ you hang out long enough down in the ghetto of Genre, in the SF Café, eventually you’ll hear this axiom, or an axiom like it, muttered with a certain tone of harumph, a petulance in proportion to the wounded pride. Maybe you’ll say it yourself, sullen in your sense of injustice, disregard; I know I have. And whenever it’s spoken, that truism will likely spark a little to-and-fro on the exclusion of SF from the modern canon. There is, after all, an absenting in the absence, an active excision; the ghetto of Genre is a territory of the abject, an enclosure for the refused, that paraliterary pulp exiled from Literature — despite the fact that literature means only that which has been written — delimited as Genre — despite the fact that every work of literature sits within some genre or other.
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.
The Appeal of Getting Your Ass Kicked
Back when I was a kid, in that era of willing vulnerability when we’re all sponging up ideas and inspiration to form our adult tastes, I saw something in the sci-fi genre that really stood out. In hindsight, I’m sort of proud of myself for noticing it, but maybe I’m giving my youthful self a little too much credit.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 33: Stupid Ned Stark.
This week our featured author is critically acclaimed, award-winning writer Guy Gavriel Kay, author of the soon-to-be released novel Ysabel, and many other historical fantasies including The Last Light of the Sun and Tigana.
A big thanks and welcome to Mr. Kay!
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 32 with everyone’s favorite: Arya Stark!
My guest today is a less than a week away from seeing his debut hit the shelves in the U. and a month away until it debuts in the U.S. The book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, is the first installment in a planned seven book cycle titled The Gentlemen Bastards.
I first read the book in October of last year, reviewed it, and after reading it knew that Scott Lynch was somebody I needed to talk to.
It’s time to spring forward, as the saying goes. What daylight savings actually saves is beyond me. Just another way of making me wake up earlier than sunrise. Twisting time has worked a whole lot better in crime cinema.
One of the things I find interesting about “hard” science fiction — by way of introducing Peter Watts’s Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight, the best example of the type that I have read in years — is that it is probably the most legitimate heir to the original remit of story, a remit that has existed since humans first gained sufficient consciousness and intelligence both to create stories and to need to create stories. Looking at the earliest stories we have record of, we can always see several purposes at work: stories existed to inform; to entertain; and, from the start, stories have existed at the level of myth to theorize, to suggest and test possibilities about the unknown elements of the world that we see and experience. What are those odd looking animals, where did they come from; where did we come from; what are those flashes of light in the darkness?
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 31, a Tyrion Lannister chapter.
Elitism, escapism, world-building, blah blah blah. I’ve had my head down in terms of forums and blog-brouhahs. There’s a lot of, um, passion being thrown about, which is a good thing — it’s nice to know people give a fuck — but to be honest, I think a lot of the argument involves people talking at cross-purposes, people defending something that they think others are attacking, attacking something that they think others are defending, people saying that they’re not attacking / defending something in the way that other people think they are, but actually attacking / defending something else entirely, something which is worth attacking / defending… as opposed to what other people “seem to be” defending / attacking and so on, and on, and on, and on, and ever on, like the last one million pages of climbing up a fucking mountain at the end of Tolkien’s Lordy-Lordy-Massuh-Ah’s-Ah-Gonna-Carry-You-Massuh-Frodo of the Rings.
Jia Zhangke is not only the best filmmaker to emerge from China’s sixth generation of filmmakers, but also widely regarded as one of the most important and vital directors working today by both his peers and the critics. The World (Shìjiè) is his fourth film and the first to be set outside of his native province of Shanxi, although a number of characters are from Shanxi and communicate with each other in the Shanxi dialect.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 30, an Eddard Stark chapter.
This week our guest is World Fantasy Award winning author Dr. Zoran Živković. Publishers in the UK and USA have snapped up Živković’s stories, written in his native Serbian, in English translation at an ever-increasing rate as his literary star has risen. His work has been compared to that of Calvino and Borges and has received praise from such notable authors as Jeff Vandermeer and Michael Moorcock. His tightly written novels and collections, beginning with The Fourth Circle and continuing to such recent publications as Seven Touches of Music and Twelve Collections and The Teashop, combine modern characters with fantastic, sometimes absurd situations, that reward careful reading but do not demand a single interpretation. His fiction often weaves a connected whole out of many seemingly separate parts—which, come to think of it, is precisely what an interview attempts to do as well.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Next up they react to Chapter 29: Sansa.
After a long and trying journey into the Azath I was finally able to track down one of the architects of the Malazan world that I find myself completely addicted to. When I first read Ian Cameron Esslemont’s first book Night of Knives, I must admit my reaction was a bit lukewarm, not unwelcome but not a piece that impacted me. After I added more pieces to the puzzle and studied the ones I had with more scrutiny I tackled the book again and it was one of those books that made me review it.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 28, a Catelyn chapter.
Racebending and Lifestyle Theft
“If you go exploring in another culture only as a way of improving yourself and your work, that’s blatantly appropriative. Rose Fox, “A Whiff of Colonialism,” Publishers Weekly
Another day, another shitstorm in the SF Café. A couple of months back, some of you might recall, it was one Young Turk turned Old Guard with an ill-fated article on international SF, a Caesar of dubious pontification that met a Senate of aggravated responses. Others said all that has to be said about the article at the time, and it’s sorta blown over now, so I’m not going to add my dagger; but in a couple of the responses (or responses to responses,) as the entrails slipped to the ground, fingers were pointed and the dread words whispered: cultural appropriation. As in the quote above, the link was made.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 27, Eddard.
The Big Lebowski enjoys what is probably the largest cult following of all the cult-attracting films of Joel and Ethan Coen, and has pretty much since its release over a decade ago. And “cult” has become more apropos a term since the advent of Dudeism, the official unofficial philosophy of Jeffrey “the Dude” Lebowski (dudeism.com). Dudeism teaches that we all need to just take it easy, man, and on a personal note, if there is one thing I’ve figured out about myself in the past few years, it’s that I am not perfectly calm here. But I am learning to abide by adhering to a pretty strict Dude regimen. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve figured out.
Food is the archetypal First World problem. While some parts of the world starve and other parts are turned inside out by our demand for low-cost and low-fuss supplies of exotic and increasingly refined foodstuffs, the West is growing increasingly alienated and distant from the things that it eats.
For the longest time I knew I had conducted an interview with Peter V. Brett but for some reason maybe the file never carried over during various iterations of the site. I finally found a copy in my email circa 2008. This would have been right before his debut novel was released and I recall vividly I had one question I really wanted to ask him after reading, so I knew my interview wasn’t something I was just imagining. Here it is and I must say he gave some great thoughtful answers to some rather base questions by yours truly.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 26, a Jon Snow chapter.
“Are you okay?” That is the question asked, in one form or another, in nearly all of the stories that comprise Christopher Barzak’s new mosaic novel The Love We Share Without Knowing. It is a deceptively simple question. It is a question that you ask when you can sense that something is wrong, but you don’t know what, or what to do. It is a question that you may be asked when you are not behaving in accordance with someone’s idea of “normal.” And it is a question you might be asked when you are haunted. So many of Barzak’s characters are all three of these.
To: Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Subject: Space Marine Power Armour
Dear Mr. Dembski-Bowden,
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 25 – a Ned Stark chapter.
I’m returning in style. One of my favorite writers in fiction, I was introduced to her work through my very past interview experience. The very first guest I had was one K.J. Bishop, and after I tied her up and demanded she give up writers of similar quality she finally uttered two names. One was Jeffrey Ford — the other was Catherynne M. Valente.
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.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 24- Bran.
All the end-of-year/decade lists going up right now inspired me to hit one up of my own. And all the hype about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being trumpeted as some sort of monumental science fiction success, gave me just the topic: the actual best science fiction movies of the aughts.
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).
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they react to Chapter 23- Daenerys.
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.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they move on to Chapter 22, an Arya chapter.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they move on to Chapter 21, a Tyrion chapter.
She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader. She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet. Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on. Today they move on to Chapter 20, a Ned Stark chapter.
Yes, loyal Playin’ with Ice and Fire readers, Elena is no longer riding solo on this project. The inimitable Darth Rachel of the comments and the Dune re-read has stepped in to fill the shoes of the re-reader, so starting today you will once more have both perspectives on the chapters. Jay is trash.
Also starting today, you will have a predictable schedule for postings: every Monday. There might be occasional extra chapters thrown in, so it’s always a good idea to check back more often or follow one of our news feeds, but at the very least you can rest assured that at least one thing will go right with every Monday.
Announcements over, so let’s get our perspectives on!
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 19, a Jon Snow POV chapter.
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 18, a Catelyn Stark POV chapter.
She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Today we hit Chapter 17, a Bran Stark POV chapter.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Whether a rookie card or the first appearance of a comic character I was trained by guides to value more things than others things in hobbies and recently I picked up some related to the Smurfs, a cartoon that was on constant rotation when I was really young.
The Smurfs, however, I think are MUCH older than most people think.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Back to Eddard Stark!
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.
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!).
Neil Gaiman and Jim Thompson bonded by Scam Fiction?
It’s all a scam, isn’t it?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold. I have been a fan since the first book in the First Law found me in a bookstore, so I was very excited to ask him a few questions. We talk shop on everything from doing research for fantasy books to the inspiration behind his next book to his favorite curse word and more.
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.
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…
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.
If there’s one thing nerds like to do, it’s debate. And if there’s one thing nerds like to debate about, it’s useless trivia from TV shows and movies. Thus, we humbly submit for your reading […]
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.
She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. First Sansa Stark chapter!
o, who would you rather have operating just outside the law to protect your city? Batman or Rorschach? Discuss!
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!
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.
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.
Awhile ago here at Boomtron we had a contest to win a copy of The Blonde. And when the person who won the contest finished reading it he placed his thoughts in the review comments thread.
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.
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.
The question on everyone’s lips, which we humbly seek to answer today, “Which is the better ridiculous mode of transportation, Shai-Hulud from Frank Herbert’s Dune series, or Falkor the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a long time. We should have never left you. Without a dope post to step to. Forgot about us? She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. We return covering everyone’s favorite character, Catelyn Stark!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
Patrick Rothfuss is a new author who has generated lots of buzz in the last couple of months, and now he’s on Boomtron. His debut novel, The Name of the Wind, is the first installment of the The Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy.
Enough with the introduction – and on to Patrick Rothfuss…
This week we seek to answer that most pressing of questions: Which is the better sci-fi/fantasy pet? Spot from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or Oy from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series?
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.
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.
There are plenty of crime films that straddle some scary territory: Serial killer suspense stories, “realistic” horror and a couple gangster-style stories with eerie elements. But even though Hollywood gets accused of slathering on the ultraviolence with a spatula, that’s often just what we want to believe to protect our nerves.
A first public reading from a new novel is an interesting exercise. Over the years, and with eleven books now, I have learned (probably too slowly) how many variables go into what works and what doesn’t.
I’m taking a page from Jay’s book and re-running some old reviews from my now-defunct personal review blog. For the most part they are unchanged in content, except for removing things that no longer apply and actual editorial scouring…no, not even my prose is immune. 🙂
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Crime films often make me hungry. Often the restaurant scenes are among the best remembered in crime flicks. The coffee shops and Italian kitchens and juke joints where criminal characters go to grab a bite or do dirt serve to define them.
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.
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.
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.
Boomtron is proud to introduce the Bestselling author tandem of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. They were kind enough to answer some questions after just releasing their new book Bones of the Dragon (Dragonships of Vindras).
We are talking about the creators of Dragonlance!
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.
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.
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!
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!