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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

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Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

My Vacation Pile and New Procurements

I'm on vacation starting tomorrow so I may not be quick to comment back or respond to an e-mail. But don't worry yourself as I've scheduled a few posts for the week, which even includes a new review.

Below is the huge stack I'll be bringing with me on vacation. I always bring more than I know I can finish in a week. Variety. It is the spice of my reading life. I brought a lot of mass markets because I usually ignore them in lieu of paperbacks and hardcovers, which is my preferred format.


I'm sure those Pratchett books stand out to a lot of you, which means I'm finally taking the Discworld plunge after promising a friend to start on it this summer.  These were the 3 he picked to set me off on this journey.  Only one of these is a book sent for review (No Hero) as I tend to go with books I've purchased or borrow on vacation to catch up on those. If you'd like me to review any of these in particular please chime in. The next pic shows what joined the stacks the past couple weeks, which does include quite a few duplicate copies I've been receiving lately. I'll have to do a contest to clear things out a bit.


First came a package with two delightful books from Angry Robot.  Debris by Jo Anderton is her debut which looks to be a fun melding of Sci-Fi and Magic. Guy Haley's Reality 36 is one I've mentioned before. Than there is Bricks by Leon Jenner, which looks all kind of strange. It is hard to describe so here is the blurb:
This is the story of a bricklayer. A master of his craft, he keeps its sacred teachings secret. For him a house is the dwelling place of a soul, and a house must be built in the right spirit or the soul inside it will suffer. The building of an arch is a ritual to obtain a right relation with the earth and a connection with the truth. The bricklayer also recalls his previous life as a Druid priest. He talks about the creation of the sacred landscape of these islands; how even a simple stick lying on the ground would tell people the direction they needed to go in; how when people stared at the stars, they were staring at their own mind. This Druid was also a builder of worlds, one of a group of higher beings able to move in an infinite number of universes that create and end constantly. These higher beings are eternal, know everything, and hold everything together. The speak mind to mind. They can prevent battles simply by walking between the two charging armies. The reader sees the world through the eyes of this great, magical being at the time of the Roman invasion, and learns how he tricked Julius Caesar and set in train the series of events that would lead to Caesar's assassination on the Ides of March. But as the bricklayer continues, he worries he is losing his ancient, sacred powers. The vision begins to fray at the edges as we learn how he has recently taken violent revenge on yobs who have mocked him. Is he really connected to a once living Druid priest, or is he gradually losing himself in his own fantasies?
Next are two anthologies from Edge publishing. Rigor Amortis edited by Jaym Gates and Erkia Holt is a mash-up of Horror and Erotica while Evolve Two edited by Nancy Kilpatrick takes on vampires in future settings. George Mann's latest Newbury & Hobbes investigation The Immortality Engine looks ever delightful as the series always does, but I still have to catch up with book 2 before I can dive in. Last, but not least is French Quarter Fiction edited by Joshua Clark with stories by Poppy Z. Brite, Richard Ford, and many others. I picked this up for my wife as she caught the Nawlins bug on our trip there a couple years back. I've already had the bug for a decade. The only thing holding me back from moving there is the humidity and job prospects. I once lost a roommate in New Orleans and still haven't found him... Ryan wherever you are I hope you're having fun.

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What Author Haven't You Read But Should? Or What is Your Greatest Shame?

Covers Unveiled for Ian's Tregillis' The Coldest War & Bitter Seeds

Ian Tregillis' debut Bitter Seeds garnered quite a bit of praise when it was released last year quickly making him a new voice in Alternative History Fiction melding dark forces, strange science, and the events of WWII into a gripping narrative.  It was only a few months ago that it was unclear what was happening with Ian Tregillis' Milkweed Triptych as there was no sight of the sequel The Coldest War. Word soon came that they landed with a new editor and a new cover approach would happen for the mass market release of Bitter Seeds to match the change in direction for The Coldest War in hopes of striking a different cord and widening the audience. Now feast your eyes on the new cover for Bitter Seeds.


The artist chosen for the new look is none other than Chis McGrath, who has been the fix-it man for Tor the past couple years coming in for the new look behind Ken Scholes' The Psalms of Isaak series as well. And here is the first look for The Coldest War.


Both designs are quite eye catching showcasing the action aspects of the series with The Coldest War particularly grabbing me with its Military Sci-Fi flare. And best of all I don't feel like I've seen these Chris McGrath pieces as I have with some of his other work.

The mass market of Bitter Seeds will hit shelves next year sometime in early May. No official date has been released for The Coldest War, but Tor's traditional schedule calls for a new series hardcover to follow a mass market release by a month or two, so hopefully we'll be seeing it in June or July.

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VIDEO | Dresden Files Storm Front Animation


The Dresden Files: Storm Front (Animation) from kennyG.


This is a fun view of Mac's bar and showcases James Marster's work on the Dresden Files audio books quite well. As this post goes live I'll hopefully be immersed in Ghost Story.

So, would you watch a full Dresden Files cartoon? I know I would.

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INTERVIEW | Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Steven Gould is the author 8 Science Fiction books including the just released 7th Sigma and the New York Times best-seller Jumper, which was made into a movie not too long ago. He has been nominated for many awards for his short fiction including for the Nebula and Hugo Awards. 7th Sigma takes us to a time close to our own, but to part of America that has been changed by metal eating bugs turning the land back closer to that of the Old West.


MH: Thanks for joining us. Now most people are familiar with you from Jumper, but with your latest release 7th Sigma you've gone for something completely different with more of a Sci-Fi Pulp Western. What brought about 7th Sigma?

STEVEN: 7th Sigma was born of my love of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, Manly Wade Wellman's Who Fears the Devil?, the place I live (New Mexico), and studying the martial art aikido for sixteen years. As I've said elsewhere I wanted to have the multi-cultural semi-lawless sort of setting that colonial India was and I achieved a little of that in the post-infestation territory. Kim has a semi-vignette sort of structure but Who Fears the Devil? even more so--it was a fix-up, more of anthology, of Wellman's Silver John stories, previously published in magazines. I wanted the chapters to be story like in of themselves. Tor.Com published "Bugs In the Arroyo," a slightly modified version of chapter 15, and "A Story With Beans" is also set in the territory. I have a different story, "Rust With Wings," which takes place in the first days of the infestation appearing in a 2012 YA Apocalyptic Fiction anthology called After edited by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling.


MH: I was wondering if we were going to get a look at the earlier day of the infestation. The format reminds me a lot of serialized stories with every section seemingly being able to stand on its own while still creating an overarching story as well. Kim Monroe is a really intriguing character. He is very independent yet respectful in an Old West kind of way. Was this always his story or were you tempted to focus more on the bugs or Ruth?

STEVEN: Early on, I was definitely trying for that each chapter had a small arc. Some are more stand alone than others, like the chapter with the feral dog pack, and the sections dealing with the thief. The last third of the novel, though, is more continuous.

This was always Kimble's story but it's not a very internal viewpoint. I was trying very hard to show, not tell, and I think we see more of Ruth from Kimble's viewpoint so we possibly get more of an emotional sense of her. The respect thing for Kimble comes less from the old west and more about traditional Japanese dojo culture.

MH: 7th Sigma seems like only the first in a series. Will be seeing more of Kim and get to the bottom of the bugs?

STEVE: There is definitely some unresolved stuff with the bugs. I know where the bugs come from. The US government does, too, but doesn't want to share that with the world. Other governments want to know. The next book would involve Kimble being involved with the central issue of the bugs and the associated issues of foreign intelligence agents trying to figure that out, too.

However, that's not the next book I'm writing. I'm currently working on the last chunk of Impulse, the sequel to the Jumper book, Reflex. We'll see how the 7th Sigma does before worrying about its sequel.

MH: Well, I certainly hope we get to see more of Kimble. This brings up an interesting point that Steph Swainson recently came out about her belief that publishers require a book a year and the stress that put authors under. Yet you've been known to go as long as 4 years between releases. Do you think publisher's drive author's to do a book a year. Do you agree with her at all that if can effect the quality?

STEVEN: I suspect I would have a better career if I would write faster and I'm trying, but it's not absolutely necessary to be the fast writer. Between Gravity's Rainbow and Vineland Thomas Pynchon had a short story collection but Gravity was published in 1973 and Vineland was 17 years later, to the month. A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin was out in 2005 and its sequel is out just now.

I'm not saying I have the audience or the talent of Pynchon or Martin, but people often have careers that don't involve a book a year or multiple books a year. And some people do.

If I'm reading her bibliography correctly, Elizabeth Bear had 4 novels out in 2005, 3 novels out in 2006, 5 novels out in 2007, 4 novels out in 2008, 3 novels out in 2009, and 2 out in 2010. 1 of those was a collaboration.

In other words, careers are as different as writers are. There's no doubt that without the JUMPER movie, I would not be a full time writer now, not because of the movie money, but because of the movie publicity that still brings people to my back list.

I might be able to write faster and even better but I'd be happy with one book a year. I'm trying.

MH: Everyone having a different career is how I've always seen it. Now I've heard rumors that the Jumper movie sequel is in the works again. Are you privy to anything?

STEVEN: I have not heard anything official about the sequel to the Jumper movie. I've seen articles that quote some of the actors as it still being on the table but Doug Liman is involved with other projects. Obviously I would be delighted if it was. There's no publicity like movie publicity. It's television, newspaper, web, billboard, etc., and it all leads back to the original book. I also get some cash if they make a sequel and that wouldn't suck either. Kids heading off to college and all that.


MH: What is it about Aikido that has kept you involved for 16 years? Have you been looking to work in your interest into a book for a while?

STEVEN: I was always interested in aikido. As a teen I did both Judo and Karate, but I wanted a martial art that I could practice for the rest of my life. One of the great things about aikido is a technique doesn't have to do lasting harm (or you can kill someone with it). It's the Martial art you can use on a inebriated relative at the family reunion without getting kicked out of the family. This choice, not to inflict harm, is an advantage as I don't have to hesitate to respond to an attack. Worrying about the harm I might do =would= cause me to hesitate.

My third novel Helm actually has a bunch of aikido in it, but it was written after I'd been practicing only about 3 years. I was much more interested in talking about the actual techniques, then. Now I'm more interested in talking about dojo culture and the relationship between teacher and student.

MH: Now on to the important stuff. What is your favorite type of hat? Living in the South West you must need one.

STEVEN: I'm terrible with hats. My favorites are broad brimmed panamas but they're the hardest to take care of. The most effective one I own, a baseball cap with an integrated drape to protect the neck and the sides of the face, looks the dorkiest. I used to wear a Khaki fedora reminiscent of Indiana Jones but it got trashed. Thankfully no balds spots yet so it hasn't been critical, but I am a redhead so keeping the sun off my skin is a priority.

MH: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Is there anything you'd like to say to close us out? 

STEVEN: Thanks for having me. If you or any of your readers are at the WorldCon in Reno, do say Hi. It's my first worldcon in a very long time.

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Contest for 7th Sigma by Steven Gould


Thanks to the generosity of Tor I have 2 copies of Steven Gould's recent release 7th Sigma up for grabs. Gould should be no stranger to most of you as Jumper has become a Sci-Fi classic. 7th Sigma is something of a homage to Kipling's Kim and takes a big lead form the serials of the 30's and 40's. Here is the blurb for 7th Sigma:
Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they’ll go right through you to get it…Don’t carry it, don’t wear it, and for god’s sake don’t come here if you’ve got a pacemaker.

The bugs showed up about fifty years ago--self-replicating, solar-powered, metal-eating machines. No one knows where they came from. They don’t like water, though, so they’ve stayed in the desert Southwest. The territory. People still live here, but they do it without metal. Log cabins, ceramics, what plastic they can get that will survive the sun and heat. Technology has adapted, and so have the people.

Kimble Monroe has chosen to live in the territory. He was born here, and he is extraordinarily well adapted to it. He’s one in a million. Maybe one in a billion.
To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address in the body and "SIGMA" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight August 5th. I'll announce the winners on the following day or as soon as I remember. This contest is open to the US residents only. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest. The winner will be selected via random number generator per usual.

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REVIEW | Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

There is no honour among thieves...

Ildrecca is a dangerous city, if you don't know what you're doing. It takes a canny hand and a wary eye to run these streets and survive. Fortunately, Drothe has both. He has been a member of the Kin for years, rubbing elbows with thieves and murderers from the dirtiest of alleys to the finest of neighbourhoods. Working for a crime lord, he finds and takes care of trouble inside his boss's organization - while smuggling relics on the side.

But when his boss orders Drothe to track down whoever is leaning on his organization's people, he stumbles upon a much bigger mystery. There's a book, a relic any number of deadly people seem to be looking for - a book that just might bring down emperors and shatter the criminal underworld.

A book now inconveniently in Drothe's hands...


Some debut books get hyped to the point of ad nauseam and others seemingly appear out of nowhere.   Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick falls in the second category with hardly any word being spread before its release except a few cover previews deriding the US cover.  After finishing the book I find the cover to be very fitting albeit overly romantic. The sepia coloring of the background is a big nod to one of the unusual abilities for one of the characters, which makes it work.

Among Thieves deserves a lot more attention as Hulick has gifted us with one of the most exciting debuts in years and as of this moment it has earned it's place as my favorite debut of the year. I've always had a soft place in my heart for rogues and scoundrels and Hulick has created a scoundrels' scoundrel and one I hope to see a lot more of.

Among Thieves stars Drothe who is as deep as someone can get in the underworld. Drothe is as amazing as the city he inhabits, each containing depth and detail to get lost in. Drothe is a Nose for a local gang. Terms like Nose take some getting used to as they're derived from the Thieves Cant, which is the vocabulary/lingo of the underworld that the author has adapted for his story.  A Nose is a man who makes it his business to know everyone else's while sharing it with others for a price. Some are Short Noses like Drothe working for one boss while others are Broad Noses who sell the info to the highest bidder. There is a lot more to the cant that really makes the world come alive. The story gives you the most intimate feeling for the lifestyle of criminals and how the smart characters play life like a game of chess moving and pushing pieces without their knowledge.

If you don't like your main characters doing dastardly things than Among Thieves is not for you, but if you like capering, plotting, and a bit of torture you'll be caught up from the first page. There is also a fair amount of drug use, but it isn't overly insidious as I've seen in other works. While the action is well done it is Drothe's dialogue that keep you pushing forward as it is effused with dark humor.

Nearly perfect with its execution, Among Thieves is a twisty journey full of intricate layering and unanticipated surprises. Just when you think it can't get any deeper Hulick drops you in a sink-hole that will leave you stunned. Don't rush through the book as you could easily miss important connections that will help you from falling off the path. The pacing is perfect with lots of high-tension.

This is a world rich in history, characters, and intricate capering that will leave you breathless and gasping for more. As Drothe tours you around to different parts of the city and the cultures it contains it becomes a living breathing place filled with well drawn characters and diverse cultures. I do wish Drothe's own personal family history was explored a bit more yet Hulick has left the door open for a lot more including his scheming sister.

Without any hyperbole I believe Douglas Hulick is the best debuting author Roc has premiered since Jim Butcher. Get in on the ground floor because Douglas Hulick is going to be a star for many years to come and Among Thieves is the gateway to his world. Fans of Scott Lynch should not pass this up. I give Among Thieves 9 out of 10 hats. While Among Thieves stands alone quite well it does set things up for much more. The sequel Sworn in Steel should be out in April 2012 - be prepared!

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A Song of Ice & Fire Poll Results


So just who does everyone think George R.R. Martin has ruined the life of the most during the events of A Song of Ice and Fire? Apparently, Catelyn Stark as she finished out on top with 38% of voters while Arya Stark came in second place with 30%. It was neck and neck with them for nearly the whole week of voting with Arya in the lead until the last two days when the Catelyn fans came on strong.  Third place went to Ned. Oh, Ned you were much too loyal this world. And it was no surprise that Joffrey and Cersei came in last place with 1 vote each, which shows everyone thinks he is a little shit and she is Queen Bitch. Heck, Hodor scored 2 votes. Here are the full results.

Catelyn Stark  (38%)
Arya Stark  (34%)
Ned Stark  (18%)
Sansa Stark  (13%)
Tyrion Lannister (12%)
Bran Stark  (10%)
Jon Snow   (6%)
Daenerys Targaryen  (4%)
Rickon Stark  (4%)
Jamie Lannister (4%)
Hodor  (2%)
Cersei Baratheon  (1%)
Joffrey Baratheon  (1%)

Note the percentages don't add up as I allowed people to vote for multiple characters. Also, keep in mind this poll was just about done when A Dance With Dragons was released so those events weren't factored into many people's votes. I doubt it would have changed much, if at all, though.


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CHARACTER INTERVIEW | Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

It isn't every day that a 2,000 year-old person consents to an interview. So when the opportunity arose to interview Atticus from Kevin Hearne's very well received Iron Druid series I couldn't pass it up. Hearne's series starts with Hounded, which is all kinds of pleasing with its snappy dialogue, lovable characters, and fun action. Already the sequels Hexed and Hammered are available with at least 3 more to come in the series over the next few years. I myself have read the first two volumes and it is one of the most enjoyable series to debut in quite a few years.  Think of it as a mix of Highlander with the humor of Christopher Moore and the god aspect from American Gods.  Now on to a few words from the star of the series Atticus.


MH: Thanks for taking the time to join us today. It isn't every day I get to interview a 2,000 year-old druid.

ATTICUS: Happy to do it. Used to be a hatter myself, once upon a time. I cheated, though, and bound everything using magic—none of those chemicals that make you go mad and gestate brain tumors. Just say no to mercury poisoning, dude.

MH: Ahh, a kindred spirit! Those chemicals are bad? Humph? Maybe I should learn your techniques...

Currently you're running a New Age store in Arizona. Are you tired of all those college kids coming in looking for special herbs?


ATTICUS: They can be annoying, but you have to take your yang along with the yin. I also get college kids who come in looking for books that will make them better human beings, and I'm glad I can give them a place to find such books, and show them that they don't have to consume something corporate every day. Running an indie store is my own small way of sticking it to the Man.


MH: From what I've heard you've been sticking it to the man for centuries. Most notably Aenghus Óg. What's the deal with you and him? Seems like he is hounding you wherever you go?

ATTICUS: Yes, I ruined a scheme of his back in the first century and he's held a grudge ever since. He tells everyone he's after me because I stole a sword of the Tuatha Dé Danann called Fragarach, but I think that's somewhat secondary; his true beef with me is that I made him look bad once, and then kept doing so as he failed to find me.


MH: Well a God doesn't like to be shown up. Who was the most interesting person you've met throughout your lifetime?

ATTICUS: One of the most entertaining people I've ever met who has grown to be more interesting with the passage of time is Benjamin Franklin. I met him while he was staying in France, and man, did he know how to party. His bad-boy image has been tamed quite a bit with plenty of coats of patriotism over the years, and that's one of the things I find interesting about him. But he also had ideas about sharing inventions for the benefit of mankind that some of today's politicians would view as suspiciously socialist. He was a staunch Deist when I knew him, but those views evolved as he got older. In short, he was an incredibly complex individual—as were all the Founding Fathers—but he's presented to young people today as this very simple, morally righteous man. I find that interesting.


MH: What is the most difficult part of being an immortal and what is the best besides the whole longevity thing?

ATTICUS: It's unspeakably difficult to watch your loved ones grow old and die. And you can't stop loving people, or else you become something other than human. There's no upside there. The best part is seeing first-hand the progress humanity has made in terms of Really Good Ideas. Chimneys were a good one, and toilet paper was brilliant, let me tell you. People take those things for granted now, but there was a time when neither one existed, and life was significantly rougher. Ahem.

MH: I can see how losing people all of the time can be hard. But it seems like you've made friends with some god-like beings. And that dog of yours, Oberon, looks to be spry.

ATTICUS: Oberon is about fifteen years old thanks to a regimen of Immortali-Tea, so he's already doubled the average wolfhound's lifespan. He's the best hound ever. Keeps me sane and grounded in many ways.

MH: How did you choose Kevin Hearne to chronicle you so late in life? One would think you'd have had a bard following you around long ago. Was it that his last name reminded you of Herne the Hunter?

ATTICUS: I thought, well, here's an Irish guy who can write, he appreciates good beer and fish and chips, so why not? And part of it was pride, or even base vanity; since I was going to take a stand and reveal myself after millennia of hiding, I wanted the world to know I was around. Herne the Hunter is a swell guy as far as ghosts go, by the way—no relation to Kevin.


MH: Besides being immortal what is one thing most people don't know about you?

ATTICUS: I am terrified of gummy worms. Bad experience in San Diego. Gah! *shudders*

MH: And now most importantly and to go along with my other main proclivity what is your favorite hat or type of hat?

ATTICUS: These days I like baseball caps. I wear a Diamondbacks one during the season. But you know how sometimes people buy those caps and then keep the little golden stickers on front bill? I've been trying to figure out why they do that. Can someone explain why they think that is a good idea?

MH: Thanks for your time. We'll all be sure to check out Hounded and Kevin's blog and twitter to see what he keeps saying about you.

ATTICUS: Appreciate you taking the time to natter a bit. Kevin's working on book four now, called Tricked, so there will be plenty more to come. Cheers!

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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol. 6 (Late-May to June)

This crop of books brings my read list to 60 books for the year so far, which isn't too shabby.  A lot of these books were on the shorter side though, but they all count and there were some fat boys in there as well.


47.  Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - Think Abercrombie minus any attempt at redemption and akin to Wolfe's Books of the New Sub for twisted teens. Big twists abound in a story that barely let you catch your breathe, but this might not be everyone's cup of tea. Review to come.
48.  Embasseytown by China Mieville - This is a truly mind-blowing book for the first half that thinks too much of itself as it goes on. It is a very rough ride as things progress and seems overly dour. Some grand and original ideas are just tossed aside and not explored nearly enough for me. Still Mieville can't write a bad book. Review hopefully to come.
49.  Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper - While not as strong as some of Tropper's other works such as This is Where I leave You or The Book of Joe it still ranks up there in terms of contemporary literature.  Tropper never fails to pull at my heart strings on one page and turn me laughs opprobriously on the next. Recommend.


50.  Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson - A great climax to a very strong series. Definitely better than Axis, but still not up to the greatness that was Spin. The series finishes out on a high note that should satisfy most readers.
51.  A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin - Have I told you lately how much I love Martin? Well, I still do and Clash reminded me again and again of the whys. The Tyrion chapters still make the book, but I found the Theon chapters much more engrossing than the last time I read it.
52. The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton - The third in the Legends of the Red Sun series. City of Ruins absolutely blew me away last year with Charan taking every thing he setup in Nights of Villjamur at 8 and turned it up to 11. The latest entry certainly lives up to the title and the author continues to push the boundaries of sexuality and story telling. Highly recommended.


53. Low Town by Daniel Polansky - Can you say hard boiler noir? Because Polansky certainly can. Reviewed here.
54. The Library by Zoran Zivkovic - This is a bibliophile's wet dream of linked short stories about books and nothing else but books and the people they find. Highly recommended.
55. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey - Space Opera done right. Felt a lot like Paul McAuley's The Quiet War, but with better characterization. Highly recommended.


56. The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout - A much darker side of van Eekhout is shown, but his writing is also maturing. Even though it is a middle grade reader this is van Eekhout's best book yet with stellar characters in an intriguing world. One aspect usually ignored in far future apocalyptic novels is the Earth's ability to evolve in both its plant and animal life, which is done a great justice here. Highly recommended. I'm hoping to get my niece to do a review some point soon as van Eekhout's Kid vs. Squid is one of her favorite books.
57. Hexed by Kevin Hearne - The Iron Druid series is just something you all have to try out if you need a good laugh yet it never seems silly. Lots of good action and magic.  Highly recommended. Look for a treat from Atticus, the hero of the series, shortly.
58. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - What a very strange novel. I can see why it won the Pulitzer this year, but it is a book that leaves you a bit befuddled because it just shouldn't work, but amazingly does. Each chapter jumps around in time sometimes by decades from character to a character with only brief mention of said character in an earlier chapter to give you any grounding. And the flow chart chapter was one of the weirdest ways to tell a story, yet again it worked.


59. Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines - Superheroes fight zombies in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles protecting the surviving humans. Very good stuff and better than the Marvel vs Zombies series. Some original powers as well so it doesn't feel like a rehash at all. Recommended.
60. 7th Sigma by Steven Gould - A very pulp inspired Sci-Fi Western where mysterious mechanical bugs eat all the metal in the area. The society copes by reverting to horses for travel yet develops tech that can survive in the area as well. Really intriguing beginning to what I hope is a series as there is plenty left to explore. It is the main character Kip that will draw you in as you see him grow into a man that can help tame the land. Outlaws, cowboys, and karate masters abound. Recommended.

Sci-Fi definitely is on an upswing this year. My top picks out of the batch starts with The Expanse series opening salvo Leviathan Wakes. For sheer fun Ex-Heroes will sate those superhero and zombie fans equally and the Iron Druid series with Hexed continues to be filled with loads of laughs and action. The Book of Transformations goes back to more of the style from Nights of Villjamur and keeps this a must read series and get the vote for book most likely to be re-read. I've now tasted a few Zoran Zivkovic stories with the The Library novella being my favorite, but I'm hungry for more of this post-modern master's work.

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New Procurements now with extra Dragon

A couple big trips to the bookstore and a long awaited order showed up this week along with plenty of good review copies. After finishing my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire I'm realizing how far behind I am with reading, but it was something I needed to do. My reviews are woefully behind as well. I've got two stacks of books I need to do full write-ups on. I'm toying around with a reading schedule for the next month or two to get caught up and get to some books I've promised myself to read. Still undecided, but it worked for me about a year and a half ago.


First up is Hammered by Kevin Hearne, which is the third in the Iron Druid series that I've been devouring along with Heartless by Gail Carriger, the penultimate novel in the Parasol Protectorate series that I picked up at the bookstore this week. These will both be read over my vacation in a couple weeks. Yeah it is time for some lighter stuff.

Next is The Griff by Christopher Moore and Ian Corson, which is Moore's first graphic novel sent from the publisher. If you're a fan of the movie Independence Day then this should be a lot of fun for you. I already finished it. Long-time Moore fans may be disappointed as it is very action focused, but there are some funny bits as well.

The long awaited A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin has dropped and what a big noise it makes when it falls.  I picked it up Tuesday and just finished last night and man, is my shoulder tired.

Back to review copies The Restoration Game by Ian McLeod showed up from Pyr and it looks to be a nice Sci-Fi Thriller. McLeod has a big UK audience and I'm definitely going to try this one out. Then came The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen from the newly formed Mulholland Books. Tor sent along the horror novel The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert, which sounds all sorts of creep. And Blackdog by K.V. Johansen looks to be a nice fat debut from Pyr.  The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson from Tor is a must read. I'm really intrigued by what Sanderson is doing here by moving his Fantasy world forward technologically.

I also bought The Year's Best Science Fiction, 28th Edition edited by Gardiner Dozois, which is my first in the series for many years. And finally a bunch of Zoran Zivkovic's books showed up to start filling out my collection with the novella The Book, The Writer and his short story collections Impossible Stories and Impossible Stories II.

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Cover Unveiled for Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore


What's that you say Christopher Moore has a new book coming? Well, that goes right on the must list for 2012.


Sacre Bleu is Moore's French and art influenced novel. The cover for Sacre Bleu is a departure from all of Moore's previous designs which have tended to go for a fairly simple yet strong illustration usually with a funny spin. I don't particularly care for it, but the design does evoke the style of covers from the 40's and 50's, which seems to be what they are going for.

Update: A commentor mentioned Toulouse, which reminded me of where this piece came from. Namely, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's Moulin Rouge poster from the late 1800's. This has me thinking the piece is somehow worked into the narrative, which would make sense.

Sacre Bleu also seems to be a departure for Moore as well from his usual contemporary settings except for the recent Fool and the now classic Lamb. I'm still quite intrigued, especially to see how works of art are worked into the text.  Here is the blurb for Sacre Bleu:
Sacre Bleu, or sacred blue, named for the color of the cloak of the Virgin Mary, is made from crushed lapis lazuli, a gemstone prized for its deep hue. Brought from the Orient by camel and ship, across deserts and over mountains, this dazzling pigment coveted by artists is infused with danger and adventure and even, some say, the supernatural . . .

The son of a baker, who is the son of a baker, who is the son of a baker, who is . . . Lucien Lessard was destined for a life in flour until a brush with his father’s Impressionist friends Renoir, Monet, Bazille, Pissaro, and Cezanne changed his perspective. And then there was Juliette, the dark-haired young beauty with eyes the color of a summer sky. Driven by passion, Lucien spent his days painting his beloved muse sheathed in a bewitching blue dress.

But one day, all of Lucien’s paintings mysteriously disappeared. Gone, too, was Juliette—and the twisted little fellow known as The Colorman, the strange dealer in a brown suit and bowler hat who trafficked in artists’ paints, in particular a startlingly intense shade of blue.

Two years later, Juliette suddenly reappears. Along with a little man in a bowler. Oh là là, can trouble be far behind?A tale of intrigue, passion, and art history filled with crusty bread, can-can girls, absinthe, Toulouse Lautrec, fin de siècle Paris, and many other French accoutrements, Sacre Bleu is a wonderfully witty masterpiece from the ever-impressive Christopher Moore.
Sacre Bleu will be released April 3, 2012 from William Morrow.

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NOT A REVIEW | A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read done!!! And Feast thoughts


It was a long, long road, but I finished with my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire this past Sunday night just a couple days before A Dance With Dragons hits the shelves, which is today!. I could say I planned this, but until last week I wasn't sure I'd be caught up. As most of you know A Storm of Swords is quite the wrist breaking giant, but when I finished it late Thursday I immediately started A Feast for Crows and powered through it. I won't claim to have re-read Feast as closely as the other volumes, but I'm done and happy about it. NOTE: Some readers may want to not read below because of possible spoilers. I did try to take care not to put any in, but some readers of Martin might take the mention of a character still being alive as a spoiler.

I have some brief thoughts on A Feast for Crows, which is still the weakest volume in the series although it does have a couple highs and many lows. I haven't found anyone yet who thinks Feast is one of the best in the series or even near the top and I can't say my opinion changed much upon a second reading.

One of the biggest problems are that the first two chapters - not counting the prologue - are from new points of view. Martin immediately threw readers off doing this. A Jamie, Arya, or Sansa chapter could have easily fit in earlier just by juggling them a bit or even Cersei with her new perspective since she is a beast we're immensely familiar with. So after years of long waiting we aren't even returned to the characters we've grown to know and love or hate as the case may be. The tone was set from the beginning to be off-putting and unfamiliar.

Brienne's chapters move at a snails pace just like I remembered. The only thing interesting about these sections is what comes at the end of them. Otherwise it is just her wandering around getting insulted left and right. How many times can you call a women ugly? Apparently hundreds. These were the chapters I found myself more skimming, which I don't normally do with any of my reading, but every chapter felt the same with little or no movement forward for her or the story.

Seeing things from Cersei's perspective was certainly an eye opener. The sections don't make you care for her any more, in fact they probably make her even more unlikable, but she provides the impetuous behind so much of what has happen and will happen that it was the right time time to delve into her chaotic mind. Then we have the Samwell chapters that show a lot of growth for the character, especially towards the end. These parts also give us a lot more back story on Aemon, which we all have been waiting for. The Dunk and Egg fans have a lot to grab onto here. Still these sections dragged quite a bit, but Sam is being setup for a more pivotal role, I feel.

The Iron islands portion of the story, while seemingly important to the whole story gives us poor perspectives as it often switches POV multiple times mostly from characters barely mentioned in previous volumes. It makes me long for more smarmy Theon. The other major problem with A Feast for Crows is there aren't many "Oh, wow!" moments as there have been in the previous volumes.  There is one good one, but the cliffhangers for other characters are a disappointment.

Even amongst all this negativity the writing is still superb and nearly unparalleled in most Fantasy today. And if/when I re-read Feast again I'll probably skip entire perspectives (Iron Islands/Brienne). Now I just have a certain Dragon to slay over the next week or so. I need my Tyrion, Bran, and Jon fix. And some Dany wouldn't be bad either.

I'm also hoping to attend the George R.R. Martin signing this Thursday in NYC. If any you will be there say hullo. I'll be the burly guy in the swank hat.

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GROUP THINK | What is one device from a Science Fiction novel (or film) you wish were real?

What is Science? At its most general it is the search for an answer to a question. Put a little more eloquently it is the quest to solve mysteries or make dreams come true. Many innovator's claim their dreams lead them in a certain direction for a device, equation, or theory. Many writers claim flashes of stories come to them in dreams. But whether it be a dream that leads to a story or my damn hover car they are all things that could be. This all leads me to a question, which recently came to me. If I could have any device from a Science Fiction novel or film what would it be? I than asked the same question to more than a dozen writer.

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I'd nominate the "Gizmo," from Damon Knight's 1959 novel A for Anything (also published under the title The People Maker). Basically, the Gizmo duplicates anything you can attach to it -- money, food, fuel, the Mona Lisa, the Staten Island Ferry... Knight argues that the existence of such a device would lead to a rigidly stratified, dystopian society. This is the kind of head-spinning extrapolation that makes science fiction such fun to read. So maybe the Gizmo would be a bad thing. But I don't care. I want one -- don't you?

Robert Charles Wilson is the author of more than a dozen science fiction novels, including Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and the Hugo Award winning Spin and the just released Vortex.

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I think what I’d really like is one of those wristwatches that make time stop for everyone else except me, like in that Twilight Zone episode. Just, you know, to get stuff done. Not for any nefarious purposes, as in Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata.

Dan Abnett is a novelist and award-winning comic book writer. He has written almost forty novels. His latest Horus Heresy book Prospero Burns was a New York Times bestseller, and topped the SF charts in the UK and the US. He lives and works in Maidstone, Kent. Dan’s blog and website can be found www.danabnett.com Follow him on Twitter @VincentAbnett.


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I wish that the biologic programs of David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 trilogy were real. The world presented in Infoquake, Multireal and Geosynchron is one in which small software companies called fiefcorps compete to sell you the software programs that run the hardware threaded through your body. They have what we'd call apps today to do everything from monitor your cholesterol to change your eye color to helping you keep a poker face in business dealings. I'd love that kind of total control over my own mind, for attention and discipline to come with the push of a button, for skillsets in a download. I'd like to be able to take it one step further and splinter off subroutines of my own brain to assign to different tasks. So one version of Lou could be answering this question while another is catching up on Game of Thrones and a third is reading that manuscript that came in so late and a fourth is off working on a novel. We could integrate all our memories at night and re-splinter the next morning. Can't wait for that.

Lou Anders, a four-time Hugo Award nominated editorial director of Pyr Books and the editor/co-editor of such anthologies as Masked, Live Without a Net, and Swords & Dark Magic, which was just got nominated for the Locus Award.

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Isaac Asimov's Prime Radiant and psychohistory -- the science of predicting the behaviour of large human populations and historical forces by using mathematics. Prime Radiant is the physical embodiment of psychohistory: a sort of projector with a psychic interface that the Second Foundation masterminds use to surf the sea of Hari Seldon's psychohistorical equations. Kind of like a magical blackboard for doing hyper-advanced mathematics.

I wanted a Prime Radiant very badly at the age of ten. I fell in love with the idea that there was mathematical structure in human behaviour and that scientists could manipulate it -- if they only knew the right math. I even made some attempts to write down psychohistory mathematics based on what I could glean from Asimov's wonderful descriptions. At the time I somehow had the notion that all technology described in science fiction was ultimately feasible and the authors knew *exactly* how it would work -- they just weren't writing it all down...

Psychohistory had a lasting effect on me and probably contributed quite a bit to the fact that I eventually went on to study mathematics. Now that I've had some exposure to how difficult it actually is to capture the behaviour of complex systems like economies, societies and autonomous decision-making agents mathematically, I want Asimov's invention to be real more than ever. We need psychohistory very badly.

Hannu Rajaniemi is the author of The Quantum Thief and its forthcoming sequel The Fractal Prince.  He can be found on twitter @Hannu.


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Having reached the age of 50 and therefore seen close family and friends dying all around me and in consequence becoming much more aware of my own mortality too, I wish all the life extending medical technologies found in just about every SF book were real. The first thing to spring to mind is the creature that drops on the head of the protagonist in F Paul Wilson’s The Healer, but that is a creature and not a device. I’d like my own version of that, the little doctor from my short story Always With You, to be current technology. This is a mycelium that grows throughout the body and acts as a constant internal doctor, snipping cancers in the bud, repairing cell damage, quickly knitting together broken bones, sealing leaking blood vessels and generally turning a human being into something nigh indestructible.

Beyond this I’d also like my memplants to be available – similar devices can be found in many books including Richard Morgan’s SF where they are implanted in the back of the neck. These would keep a constant recording of the mind which could, should the body be catastrophically damaged, be loaded to a new clone body or maybe a rugged and strong Golem chassis. In essence: screw the promised gravity boots, antigravity cars, personal house-cleaning robots and vacations on Mars, I don’t want to die.

Neal Asher is the author of numerous Science Fiction books including The Skinner and the just released The Departure, which is set apart from his other novels.  He can be found at his blog or twitter @nealasher.


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The holodeck from Star Trek TNG. Here is what I would do: I would have the holodeck simulate a holodeck, and then have that holodeck simulate another holodeck, a simulation-in-a-simulation-in-a-simulation, and so on, as deep as it would go. How far do you think it could go? 100 levels deep? 1,000,000? Wouldn't each level get a little less detailed? A little more degraded? What would that 1,000,000th level look like? Or the trillionth? Would the world look all chunky and pixelated? Like reality was designed for the Atari 2600? Maybe this is a question that is actually just computer science: can a computer simulate itself an indefinite number of times without some kind of loss of, uh, something? Is that a software question or a hardware question, or both, or neither? See, this is where my ignorance shows: I don't even know if my questions make sense.

Or how about this: the holodeck doesn't keep simulating all the way down. Instead, this is what I do with it: I have the holodeck simulate a situation where we have a holodeck and we are using it. So, if you're keeping score, we're in a second-level simulation. Now, in the second-level simulation, the scenario is that the holodeck creating our simulation (that is, the first-level holodeck) has broken down and now we are stuck inside our simulation. Can a holodeck simulate that it is broken?

Now I really have no idea if this makes sense. This is why I can't be trusted with technology. Can I change my answer? I want a light saber. A blue one. That's much simpler.

Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero and is the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. He can also be found on twitter @charlesyu.

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I would love to abuse the "Better Than Life" virtual video game console that is in the book Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (as well as in the television show and subsequent books). The fully immersive game allows players to indulge in their most narcisstic, subconcious fantasies. And while I am aware that my real body would be slowly rotting away while I was busy playing BTL, who's to say that I'm not already stuck in a realistic video game right now? Right? So, wrap your mind around that!

Daniel H. Wilson is the author of seven books, including the instant best-seller Robopocalypse and How to Survice a Robot Uprising. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa. After earning a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he moved to Portland, Oregon where he writes full time. He can be found on his site or twitter @danielwilsonpdx.

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Unless you have the use of a private jet or yacht, the worst part of travelling from A to B is travelling. In his known Worlds series, Larry Niven neatly circumvented all the hassles of modern mass transit with his invention of the teleportation booth. You step into something that looks like a phone box (remember phone boxes, kids?) in Slough, and step out in Rio de Janeiro, ready to party. It’s a fantastically disruptive idea that demands more exploration: the physical equivalent of the connections made by the Internet. All of the world would be in reach by all who live in the world. Never mind mass tourism or commuting, how would it affect migration, war, terrorism? Who would be excluded? What would happen to the fiction of national sovereignty? It’s the raw stuff of a thousand novels SF novels. I just might write one.

Paul McAuley’s latest novels are Cowboy Angels (Pyr) and Gardens of the Sun (Gollancz). He can be found musing on his blog.
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(If it's not taken already) I'll take the hoverboards from Back to the Future Part II.



I'd love to come up with a hyper-intellectual thesis on why I have selected it, but ultimately, it's rather simple. The film is a childhood classic, the first time I remember going to the cinema and being in awe at something that seemed only just around the corner in terms of technology (what, I was, like, 8 at the time). It's also one of those perfect sf-nal gadgets: the kind of thing you think, Now wouldn't that actually be really cool? And by my calculations, we should have them in four years...

Mark Charan Newton is author of Nights of Villjamur, City of Ruin, and The Book of Transformations. He can be found causing trouble on his blog and twitter feed.


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The SF device I deeply wish was real is the replicator, which has been featured in numerous novels along with, perhaps most famously, the Star Trek TV series and films. As has been stated by many people much smarter than myself, our current society is based around a limited supply of certain commodities. It doesn't matter if the commodity is food, water, precious metals, diamonds, health care or technology -- the first law of our supply and demand economy dictates that everyone can't have everything at little or no cost.

I'm not attacking our current economic system, which over the last two centuries has done wonders on cutting hunger and a lack of access to the basic necessities of human life. You only have to study history to see that things were once much worse for your average human -- if the lack of good food and clean water and basic health care didn't kill you then you looked forward to a life of painful drudgery merely to keep a crappy roof over your head. So compared to the horrors of feudalism and the other systems which prevailed in years past, I'll take our current world.

But what is a true replicator could be created, ensuring that people could create everything they need or desire with little or no cost? How would society change? Would the true potential of humanity be unleashed, or would people simply become lazy because they no longer had to struggle for the basics of life? I'm not sure what would happen but the idea of replicator-like technology truly excites me and I'd love to see where it would take our world.

Jason Sanford has published a number of stories in the British magazine Interzone, twice winning the Interzone Readers' Poll and being a finalist for the Nebula Award. His fiction has also been published in Year's Best SF 14 , Analog, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places. Jason's new short story collection Never Never Stories is now available as an ebook for the Kindle, Nook, and other digital reader platforms and will be released as a print edition later this summer More details on Never Never Stories is available at www.jasonsanford.com.

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The device that impressed me more than any was the ansible, first mentioned in Ursula Le Guin's Rocannon's World but since then spread far and wide by many authors. In short, it's a universal instant communication and translation system, and unlike Douglas Adams' version, you don't have to stick a slithery little fish in your ear.

It's slightly startling to note that the instant translation part, at least, is pretty much with us now. A little refinement of the Google translate system we can pick up on our Android phones and we're there. Which won't stop humans misunderstanding each other for comic or warlike intent of course.

Marc Gascoigne is the Publishing Director and chief rentamouth of Angry Robot Books, new kids on the SF block, kicking fantasy ass, etc etc. angryrobotbooks.com, @angryrobotbooks

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This one was tough, because a lot of the devices I’ve wanted—video phones, tricorders—have or are being invented now. So I thought and thought and thought, and realized what I want is a time machine. Honestly, I will be good. I won’t break it or break history or anything. I just want the opportunity to see it, and smell it, and find out what’s real. I don’t even care about the future (well, I do, but I’d rather be going in and out of the past). Time machines exist throughout sf literature and I was familiar with them before I read the classic: H.G. Wells The Time Machine. But I rather like the conceit in Jack Finney’s Time and Again. Or Richard Matheson’s lovely Somewhere in Time, which was made into an equally lovely movie. (And if we’re going to talk movies—where’s my DeLorian Time Machine ala Back to the Future? Hmmmm?) So yes. What I want is a time machine. If you can get me one, I’ll be forever grateful.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance and a bunch of other things under a variety of names. Her time-travel story, “Red Letter Day,” just won the AnLab Award, Analog’s Readers’ Award, for Best Short Story. Her most recent novels are City of Ruins which is sf written as Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Wickedly Charming, light fantasy romance, written as Kristine Grayson.

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I’ve always been a bit of nomad, which is why I’ve been particularly frustrated with how unsavory, uncomfortable, infuriating, and intrusive getting onto an airplane is these days. It used to be a lot more fun. Now it’s a chore. Something to be endured.

It’s that love of travel and hatred for the actual physical process of it that that makes me such a fan of the idea of instantaneous travel – whether it’s between two points on our own earth or between totally different planets a galaxy apart.

Now, you know, I get it: Instantaneous travel takes away a lot of the fun of the epic journey. Frank Herbert added in some suspense here when he created long-distance travel in Dune. Sure, you can get anywhere you want nearly instantaneously, but the people who have the power to get you there control it. And they, in turn, are dependent on a drug that comes from only one place. And it’s not always the most precise of sciences, as there was, apparently, a 1 in 10 risk that the ship you were on would just… disappear.

It’s a fun concept, isn’t it? Imagine if there was a 1 in 10 chance your plane would disappear. It would make plane travel a lot more fun. And epic. And pilots and frequent fliers would be national heroes. Also, I bet they’d give you better snacks. Might be your last meal, after all.

What interests me more, though, is what instantaneous travel would do to us as a society. Imagine if you could just wake up in Bangkok, have lunch in London, have drinks in New Zealand, and tuck in for the night in your beach house in Maine? There are a lot of writers who play with this idea in shorter fiction – I think we really like abbreviated but not instant travel in longer works, as it’s easier to build conflict (Will you get there in time? Will the ship break down? Will they leave before you get there?). I am trying to dredge up some short fiction titles that do this – I know there are a bunch, but the ones that immediately come to mind for exploring some of the social intricacies of this are David Marusek’s short stories “Getting to Know You” and “We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy.”

I think there’s a very traditional SF audience out there who would still like us to focus mostly on how a technology works instead of how it changes people, but for me, the most interesting thought experiment is not how something was invented or how it works but how it transforms the way that we live, how we interact with each other. Ultimately, SF/F uncommon settings and new technologies to help and explore what really makes us human.

Our current anxieties around travel - and how we address (or don’t!) those anxieties say a lot about us as a culture. Attitudes about investments in transit, who gets to travel, where, why, and for how long are going to illuminate many different facets of a culture. It’s something I certainly keep in mind when building worlds.

When a technology exists that could potentially allow all of us to go anywhere whenever we want, it says a lot about what a culture is and what it stands for when it starts placing restrictions on who actually gets access to that technology – and how many barriers are put up between freedom of movement and the common people.

Kameron Hurley currently hacks out a living at an urban homestead in Ohio. Her first novel, God's War, is available from Night Shade books. The sequel, Infidel, is due out in October. She can be found on her site and twitter @kameronhurley.

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I'd have to cast my vote for the voidhawks from Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy. Because who wouldn't want to gallivant about the galaxy in their custom-grown biotech starship? Especially one that's sleek, beautiful, clever, ultra-maneuverable, and friendly?

The sights we'd see! The adventures we'd have!

Frankly, I wish that pretty much *all* the Edenist biotech from Hamilton's trilogy were real. The habitats are just as amazing as the voidhawks. I'd happily live on one of the Edenist habitats, stepping out once in a while to take a spin in my sentient starship.

Plus, with an affinity link, I'd be telepathically connected to my voidhawk. Wouldn't that be cool?

Ian Tregillis is author of Bitter Seeds the first in the Milkweed Triptych was released in 2010. The sequels The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil are both awaiting publication. Ian can be found on his site.

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I think the device I'd like to see from the sci-fi genre is "truly selective memory." This sort of thing has been around in many stories such as "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Of course it's always the malicious and abused version that seems to make for great plots. But I like thinking about the more benign applications, such as those shown in the Matrix: quickly uploading as much knowledge as you can handle. And once it's uploaded, how about never forgetting the things you don't want to forget. Additionally, if the mind was more like a hard drive, the ability to erase or move things on and off your main drive could also be useful. PTSD could become a thing of the past. And what about the ability to truly forgive someone and forget their misdeed? We could of course keep the facts backed up on an external drive so that, if they repeated their offense, we'd have a proper tally and could then decide whether we wanted to forgive them again. Clearly this is not a power you give to folks who lacking near-perfect emotional maturity. Otherwise you'd have everyone avoiding their problems by hitting the delete key. Still, if you were a sufficiently advanced being, I think this power would be incredibly cool.

Anthony Huso is the author of The Last Page and its sequel Black Bottle. He works in the video game industry by day and can be found at his site.

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What you mean, other than the 'porn simulator' that John Scalzi mentions in the most offhand way and then never brings up again in The Android's Dream? Why the crusade for whatever that is hasn't pushed virtual reality development into full scale production, I will never understand.

Personal airships are definitely on the top of my list of cool things we don't have yet. Offhand, I can't think of a book that features them, but that doesn't even slow down the steampunk crews of Airship Isabella. They spend their free time readying their costumes for the day personal airships become a reality. If that isn't a wish that begs for fulfillment, I don't know what is. Hovercars would be a close second. I put hovercars in Revolution World.


Katy Stauber's debut biopunk novel Revolution World was just released from Night Shade Books. She can be found on her blog.

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In Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Louis Wu walks out of his own birthday party, steps into a general-address transfer booth, and miraculously appears in Beirut. It’s the best way to travel – instantly and without any actual boring journey. Forget colony ships that trundle along for generations, so that by the time you get to your far-flung destination you’re, um, dead. Forget stasis and hibernation too – being trapped for hundreds of years in a glorified sun-bed until you’re woken up (only to discover, perhaps, that you’ve been woken up early because the ship has located an Alien on the nearby planet).

Travel in the far future can be agonisingly slow if you take your Einstein seriously. You need an FTL ship to have any fun. But even that’s a lot of work – hence the appeal of materialising machines/teleport devices.

But there’s something prosaic about such devices. They are in effect (forgive me, I’m a science fiction writer who studied the arts) enormous great fax machines. With your body as the piece of paper that gets faxed – perhaps with an ERROR CODE stamped on your forehead.

So my favourite travel gizmo in SF has to be the magical, eerie, but undeniably science fictional Silfen Paths, which Peter F. Hamilton created in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. The Silfen are elf-like creatures with a technology so far beyond ours it’s like magic (that old stand-by!) And their method of star travel is to wander through the paths in the woods until you end up – on another planet. It’s the worst nightmare of the hiker who’s bad with maps; but there’s a serendipitous joy to it too. You wander and you arrive – who knows where. A seriously chilled method of interplanetary travel...

Philip Palmer is the author of five science fiction novels, all for Orbit books: Debatable Space (2008), Red Claw (2009), Version 43 (2010, Hell Ship (2011), and Artemis (2011). He is also a screenwriter, script editor, teacher and film producer. His screen writing credits include the BBC 1 film The Many Lives of Albert Walker and The Bill, and his radio dramas include The King’s Coiner, Breaking Point and The Art of Deception. Website: Debatable Spaces.


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This question was more difficult to answer than I thought it would be. What I discovered in considering the question was that I tend to remember the characters and events in a science fiction novel far better than I remember the details of the cool technological advances. I kept coming back to the same answer, though. What one device do I wish were real? A device that granted immortality. Okay, but then you get into all of the perils of immortality. What if I get bored? What if I want to die? I don't want to end up like Q on STTNG. So, a device that provides a life span that lasts as long as you want to live. What I came up with was Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I don't want to live in the world he envisioned, but I wish we had body rejuvination technology, and the ability to download our minds into a clone for backup. You can end your life if you ever decide you want to, or even choose to "Deadhead" -- go into suspended animation to take a break. Perfect. Well, maybe not perfect. If I could tweak the technology to make it even better, part of the body rejuvenation process would involve cleaning the mind of neuroses, insecurities, and so on, so we all became people who it would be more pleasant to spend eternity with. Of course people without insecurities and neuroses don't make very interesting characters in fiction...

Will McIntosh is a Hugo award winner and Nebula finalist whose short stories have appeared in Asimov’s (where he won the 2010 Reader's Award for short story), Strange Horizons, and Science Fiction and Fantasy: Best of the Year, and others. His debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, based on a 2005 short story that was nominated for both the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society awards, has just been released by Night Shade. A New Yorker transplanted to the rural south, Will is a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University. In 2008 he became the father of twins.


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I have given this question long and serious thought. I have considered and rejected such cool devices as the transporter! the laser gun! the hover car! the tri-vid! I hovered (though NOT in a hover car) for a long time over Niven's wire-head technology (inducing pleasure by stimulating pleasure centre in the brain with weak electrical current) - a technology so cool I had to steal it for some of my own SF stories, where it is known, simply, and in homage, as "doing a Louis Wu".

HOWEVER.

After long and careful consideration, and weighing of all the options, I think we'll all agree there is only ONE piece of perfect technology, that deserves wider acceptance in the SF world, and benefits, moreover, from having the perfect name.

Yes, I am referring to...

The Orgasmatron!

Orgasmatron! It first appears by name in Woody Allen's SLEEPER (1973), of all places, but we can see it, in different names, in BARBARELLA (1964), in the under-rated "classic" FLESH GORDON (1974) - even in Sly Stalone's "masterpiece" of sci-fi (in truth, a film I have a lot of affection to!) DEMOLITION MAN (1993).

In a world of military SF, of Death Stars and ray guns, or planet-busters and gung-ho crew-cut carnage boys, the Orgasmatron is the utltimate hippie antidote. Sex Rays (FLESH GORDON) - not Death Rays! I can hear you cry! Make Sci Fi Love, Not Sci Fi War! Fetishism, not Fascism!

The slogans virtually write themselves.

I call upon you, people of sci fi. Put down your ray guns! Stop attacking innocent aliens! Let the iconic Bald Woman of Sci Fi grow her hair long. Put an alien flower in your hair!

To the Orgasmatron!

Israeli-born writer Lavie Tidhar has been called an “emerging master” by Locus magazine, and has quickly established a name for himself as a short fiction writer of some note. He is the author of The Bookman, Hebrewpunk, and An Occupation of Angels. He has travelled widely, living variously in South Africa, the UK, Asia and the remote island-nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and his work exhibits a strong sense of place and an engagement with the literary Other in all its forms. He can be found on his blog and twitter @lavietidhar.

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