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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

RECENT REVIEWS

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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

A Few New Orbit Covers

Orbit's Spring/Summer releases have been making their way out in the Internet ether and many are looking quite good.  Some of these covers are not completely final, but should be close to the end product.


2313 is Kim Stanley Robinson's first book since Galileo's Dream and is the start of him working with Orbit.  Originally 2312 was slated to be released in February, but got pushed back to May.
The year is 2313. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

Caliban's War is the sequel to Leviathan Wakes, which was quite the start to a series so I'm eager to see where Franck and Abraham take it from here. The second book in the Expanse series should be out June 2012.
We are not alone.

The alien protomolecule is clear evidence of an intelligence beyond human reckoning. No one knows what exactly is being built on Venus, but whatever it is, it is vast, powerful, and terrifying.

When a creature of unknown origin and seemingly impossible physiology attacks soldiers on Ganymede, the fragile balance of power in the Solar System shatters. Now, the race is on to discover if the protomolecule has escaped Venus, or if someone is building an army of super-soldiers.

Jim Holden is the center of it all. In spite of everything, he’s still the best man for the job to find out what happened on Ganymede. Either way, the protomolecule is loose and Holden must find a way to stop it before war engulfs the entire system.

The King's Blood is Abraham's next Epic Fantasy following in the footsteps of The Dragon's Path, which I just loved this year and proves there is plenty more to explore in the genre.  The Dagger and the Coin series continues in May.
War casts its shadow over the lands that the dragons once ruled. Only the courage of a young woman with the mind of a gambler and loyalty to no one stands between hope and universal darkness.

The high and powerful will fall, the despised and broken shall rise up, and everything will be remade. And quietly, almost beneath the notice of anyone, an old, broken-hearted warrior and an apostate priest will begin a terrible journey with an impossible goal: destroy a Goddess before she eats the world.
Orbit has plenty more and is still pushing out plenty of omnibuses as they have The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks and King Maker, King Breaker by Karen Miller planned for next year.

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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol. 8 (Aug)

August saw a big spurt of reading during the first week of the month due to a vacation (books 72 thru 76) and the rest of the time being quite busy. And don't get me started on what a horrible reading month September has been due to house repairs that are still on-going and likely won't be done until October.


72.  Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett - My first official Discworld novel was a resounding success.  For many years I've been enjoying Pratchett (Nation, The Carpet People), but up until this point I refrained from the much loved Discworld series due to its length.  But now that I know more about the world and how the series is divided I'll be making my way through it for years to come.
73.  The Postman by David Brin - Please don't even let an image of the poor Kevin Costner adaption color your view of this absolute classic in post-apocalyptic fiction.  It is a stellar read. Highly recommended.
74.  Hammered by Kevin Hearne - The third book in the Iron Druid series certainly finished in a big and satisfying way.  I did have a problem with how easy it is for gods to die given that in the main character's 2,000 years of living hardly any others Gods have died. But, man, those Norse are a wild bunch. Recommended and I'll be back for the next volume.


75.  The Pintman by Steve Rushin - A bit of contemporary fiction with lots of jokes centered around a man down on his luck and up on his beer tab in NYC. Lots of word trivia, bar facts, and literary humor abound and kept me flipping the pages. The main female interest was a bit shallow in terms of characterization, but the main character is very self-centered so I guess it works out.   Recommended.
76.  The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont - This is so far my favorite discovery this year.  Malmont has a style mixing real characters of the past and their history with a touch fiction. Did someone say Meta?  Pulp writers from the 30s take center stage and prove how strange and adventurous real life was for these people. This is a novel to savor and re-read. I've already gone out and bought Malmont's other novels.  Highly recommended.
77.  Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett - My second taste of the Discworld was just as good as the first. My  next dip in the series will probably be a non-Night Watch book just to mix things up. I'm itching to try a Death book.


78.  The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell - We get a look at the war of good and evil from the other side.  This almost feels like what we'd get if Scalzi actually tried to do Fantasy all of the way.  Very funny and I shockingly found myself caring about this rabble even as they murder people without any regard or misgivings. Recommended.
79.  Machine Man by Max Barry - Reviewed here.
80.  No Hero by Jonathan Wood - No Hero is the book Lovecraft might have written if he had a sense of humor and watched too many Kurt Russell movies. It is a story that never takes itself too seriously and succeeds for that reason. Plus there are a lot of explosions and decapitations. Recommended.


81.  The Map of Time Felix J. Palma - This was a strange one. Is it Steampunk? No, not really. Is it a Historical novel? Kinda. Straight Time Travel? Maybe. This book is very deceiving with its style to the point you never know what to believe as it is told so convincingly.  I had a strong dislike for the fourth wall breaking narrator yet still couldn't put it down due to HG Wells being one of the central characters. Recommend with reservations.
82.  Spellbound by Blake Charlton - A much stronger book than the already fun Spellwright. Charlton levels up in a lot of ways, but really comes alive with the expansion of his magic system and the explosions of cultures found in Spellbound. Review hopefully to come soon. Highly recommended for Fantasy fans.

This month was meta, humor, and pulp heavy.  There wasn't a clunker in the bunch. The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril was the strongest and most entertaining book of the month. Spellbound more than fulfilled all the promise Charlton showed with Spellwright. The Postman is just a true classic every fan should read at some point.

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GUEST POST | Lev AC Rosen on Shakespeare and All Men of Genius


It’s funny. I didn’t expect everyone to focus on the Shakespeare thing so much. To understand why I used Twelfth Night as inspiration, I should probably give you a bit of backstory as to when I started the book and what I was thinking then.

I was in my final year of graduate school, working on my thesis – my second novel, similar to my first, a moody, literary work with multiple points of view in a New York City that I wouldn’t call paranormal (no vampires, no fey) but which I’d call magical. Literary magical realism. That’s what I was working on. When asked what the book was about I’d say ‘three people dealing with losses of various kinds, and the way the subway system and these strange people who come into their lives help them.’ I don’t need to go into more detail – I like the book, and I still hope to sell it one day, but it was very similar to my first, which my agent had sent out to many editors, with similar replies: we love this book and the characters, but just don’t see it making any money.

Fair enough. But I was growing tired of it. I knew I was a good writer, but at this point I also knew what my weakness was – plot. Characters I could do, language, mood, structure… but when asked to say what my books were about, it would always be something thematic, metaphoric. The books I wrote are good (I think, in a totally unbiased way) but they weren’t big on story, in the classic sense of the word.

And I wanted to do something steampunk. I’d been in love with the genre and the aesthetic since I took a class called Victorians and the Machine, my junior year of college. But really, having been raised on Star Trek: TNG and Victorian literature (Wilkie Collins, especially), and still insisting that Final Fantasy VI (or 3, whatever you want to call it) is one of the best video games ever, I suspect I’d loved the genre even before that, I just didn’t have a name for it.

First, I went to the Wilde. I have studied Wilde extensively, have many biographies, two collections of his complete works. I wanted to use Wilde somehow, to be inspired by that Victorian humor and wit. So I went to his best known work: The Importance of Being Earnest. The problem with Earnest, or at least the problem I faced, was that it’s too silly to actually be a good plot skeleton. It’s about many things: dual identities, lies, love, symbolism, the superficial, etc, but when you look at the story, it’s most about two pairs of star-crossed lovers and the mystery of “where did that boy in the handbag come from.” Which is amazing for a play, but not much to use as the basis for a novel. And I knew I needed something else. Plus, isn’t that what steampunk is about? Assembling different pieces from different places into a new whole?

It all started as emails to myself. I would write emails back and forth, arguing with myself like a crazy person. I didn’t want to write anything down yet – that felt like it was taking time away from my thesis, which I Really Needed To Be Working On. So I emailed ideas back and forth. I had pretty much decided it was okay to steal someone else’s plot when I decided to use Wilde. But whose? Another Victorian? Collins would be too convoluted for me to use, there was no way to copy all the complexities. Hardy was too much about manners – I couldn’t see a way to bring in mad science. Using Wells or Verne would be too literal and unimaginative. And then one night, as I sat there literally emailing sentences to myself one at a time, my thesis open on the computer, but forgotten, it hit me: Shakespeare. Shakespeare, my post-modernism-voice told me, had all the plots. After all, there were only so many actual plots out there. Shakespeare might not have created them all, but he codified them into archetypes people still identify. Why not borrow from the best?

I’d studied Shakespeare. I had a theatre minor. But I wasn’t – and I still don’t think I am – an expert. But I knew enough to start thinking. I wanted a comedy. So much of the steampunk literature I had read was serious, even gloomy. I wanted something that echoed Wilde, as I said – Victorian wit (I’ll let you be the judge as to my success in that venture). So I went to the comedies. My favorite of the comedies, and I know people will groan, but my favorite is Midsummer. I love it. I love that the interchangeable lovers, are in fact, interchanged: I love that the play seems to both mock and celebrate love, I love the fairies and the mechanicals. But it wasn’t going to work. It had too much of the same problem as Earnest. Oh sure, I could write some wacky brain-switching love story, but it didn’t have any danger in it. And also… I was too close to it. I knew that. I’d want to preserve everything (I’m using it for the third book in the series right now, in fact, and facing all these problems), make sure every amazing line was used… I decided fairly quickly not to use Midsummer.

But my second favorite of the comedies? That would work. Twelfth Night had so much in place already – the drag aspect would easily translate to Victorian times, and I knew about the state of education in Victorian times, and how they were generally starting to let women into colleges… but what if there was one that didn’t? The one that my protagonist (Violet, obviously, couldn’t use Viola, too archaic, but a little tweaking and Viola and Sebastian became Violet and Ashton) most wanted to go to… a school for mad science. Then it all started falling into place: brilliant female scientist, male twin brother she could dress up as, school for mad scientists, a broody but handsome duke/headmaster. I brought Wilde back to make the Olivia/Cecily character the Duke’s ward, and used various names of attendants and butlers as other characters who had nothing to do with the source material. In fact, most of them don’t line up at all with the characters whose name they share, and trying to line them up and look for comparisons is a pointless venture (I’m not trying to impress theatre people, after all – just trying to write a good book). I like to think that while there are a few obvious correlations between characters in my book and those in the plays, all my characters are unique, but the tone and flavor of the book definitely comes from the source material.

That said, this was never intended to be a “mash-up” in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And I don’t think it is. I do use quotes from both the Shakespeare and the Wilde, but not very often, and usually in a way that I like to think is a fun twist. And because I was already using a genre as post-modern as steampunk, I found the idea of the polyvocalism in the text to blend right in. I threw in other little tributes to classical works of mad science, literary or cinematic, like Dr. Voukil, and one of Fiona’s hairstyles. Details large and small are derived from a multitude of sources beyond the Shakespeare and Wilde. And it all worked (for me anyway, you’ll need to buy and read the book to decide if it works for you. That was a hint). I had successfully blended everything, and kept my own voice distinct (again, I hope).

But the most interesting thing I discovered - and this was after the book was finished, and bought – was that I could suddenly do plot. Not expertly. But using Shakespeare as a crutch had helped me develop my plot-muscles. I started writing a noir, using no actual specific work as a skeleton, just my knowledge and love of film noir. And it’s working. It has a plot that I developed completely on my own. It’s sort of a strange feeling, knowing I somehow learned something, changed my way of thinking, without knowing how I did it, exactly, or when it changed. And hey, I finally sold a book.

Of course, there is the alternate theory about where my inspiration came from…

Nah. That would be silly.

********

LEV AC ROSEN was born and raised in New York. He attended Oberlin College and received his MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. His work has been featured in Esopus Magazine and on various blogs, including Tor.com. He currently lives in Manhattan. ALL MEN OF GENIUS is his first novel.


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Cover Unveiled for The Games by Ted Kosmatka



This week we are treated to the cover for the Nebula award nominee Ted Kosmatka's debut The Games, which sounds a little like The Hunger Games crossed with Splice. Originally titled The Helix Game the title was shortened to just The Games so it would probably cast a wider net with readership as the story is a Thriller in addition to being hard Sci-Fi. I like the helix type in the title, but besides that I'm not a big fan of this, but I love me some debut action and I've enjoyed a couple Kosmatka shorts so I'll be there for it.  Here is the blurb:
...a riveting tale of science cut loose from ethics. Set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event, The Games envisions a harrowing world that may arrive sooner than you think.

Silas Williams is the brilliant geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: no human DNA is permitted in the design of the entrants. Silas lives and breathes genetics; his designs have led the United States to the gold in every previous event. But the other countries are catching up. Now, desperate for an edge in the upcoming Games, Silas’s boss engages an experimental supercomputer to design the genetic code for a gladiator that cannot be beaten.

The result is a highly specialized killing machine, its genome never before seen on earth. Not even Silas, with all his genius and experience, can understand the horror he had a hand in making. And no one, he fears, can anticipate the consequences of entrusting the act of creation to a computer’s cold logic.

Now Silas races to understand what the computer has wrought, aided by a beautiful xenobiologist, Vidonia Joao. Yet as the fast-growing gladiator demonstrates preternatural strength, speed, and—most disquietingly—intelligence, Silas and Vidonia find their scientific curiosity giving way to a most unexpected emotion: sheer terror.
The Games will be released March 13 from Del Rey. For those unfamiliar with Ted Kosmatka check out "Diving Light" for free here, "Deadnauts" here, or "The Ascendant" here.  Also, I've got to give it up for a man who wears a swank hat like this..


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Winners of Awakenings


Winners of Awakenings by Edward Lazellari are:
Maarten from Italy
and
Emily from Utah

Thanks to Tor and everyone who entered.  Remember Awakenings is now in stores. Go get you some.

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VIDEO | Today's Moment of Muppet





Happy belated Talk Like a Pirate Day!


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 The new Muppet movie can't get here soon enough, but Henson Studios have created this little bit to tide us over. 

Cover Unveiled for Last Argument of Kings (Limited Edition)


Subterranean Press has just revealed the cover for Last Argument of Kings.  The art is again by Alexander Preuss who has been doing the cover for the series and some interior color plates.  This go around Sub Press decided to stay with the title font from the first book, which they eventually did on the second volume instead of playing with collector's hearts.  And this is the rare case of Sub Press sending something to print early rather than later as they tend to miss their announced release months regularly.  So instead of December hopefully I'll see my copy in late October or November and my shelves will look a little more complete.  Below are the covers first two releases in the limited edition runs.




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Update & New Procurements

The blog has been quiet of late due to some flood damage at my house from Irene. We've made a lot of headway since the flood and have started putting things back to rights after drying out, but there is still plenty more to do. So it will continue to be slower around here until October when we expect our lives to normalize. There will still be new articles, guest posts, and I've been holding on to some covers. Also, I've been working on a new interview that is turning out wonderfully. I just have to get around to writing the last few questions and it should be good to go. All the troubles haven't meant new books don't still enter the house, although boxing of some books has begun. First up are the review copies.



Lightbringer by K.D. McEntire is part of Pyr's launch of YA titles and a debut to boot. It definitely looks interesting, but Planeswalker by Ian McDonald is the one that has got me the most excited. Hearts of Smoke and Steam is the second in Andrew P. Mayer's Steampunk series, I really must get to. The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen is a non-fiction investigation into the search for the lost first folios. The Book of Cthulhu is Night Shade's latest reprint anthology. Lastly, is Blackdog by K.V. Johansen, which has been garnering all good reviews.  Adding to my purchase stacks are again more finds from Borders.



The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumiere is as meta-fictional as you can get. I've actually already read it as I was in search for something very short to read this weekend. I just couldn't stop myself once I started. B.R.P.D. Plague of Frogs Vol. 2 is the second omnibus in the series, which I've had on pre-order for months.  Chasing the Moon is Martinez's latest comic Fantasy.  The Ask by Sam Lipsyte is one I saw on best-of list recently and when I saw it on the shelves decide to take a chance.  I nabbed a HC cover of An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin to fill-in a hole my wife said was missing from our collection.

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Cover Unveiled for In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley


Paul McAuley's next book, In the Mouth of the Whale, was announced awhile back, but more info is starting to appear. Firstly, the UK cover has been released, which follows the style of his recent releases from Gollancz. It certainly works well enough for the Space Opera crowd, although I prefer Pyr's arts for his books in general.

Author Adam Roberts pointed out the title is a reference to the constellation Fomalhaut, which means "the mouth of the [southern] fish" according to Wikipedia. That Wiki piece is worth a read as that area in space sounds like great fodder for McAuley to work with. The latest novel takes place more than a millenia in the future of the universe he created with The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun and concerns one of the main characters from the earlier books. In fact here is McAuley's blurb on In the Mouth of the Whale:
It’s a stand-alone novel that’s set 1500 years after The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun and picks up the story of one of the players in the old drama: Sri Hong-Owen, a gene wizard who is her own greatest experimental subject.

Sri wants to live forever. After a treatment that went badly wrong left her confined to a vat, she created a strange family from her own flesh and set off for the star Fomalhaut, to found her own empire in its great planetary ring. But history has overtaken her, as history always overtakes people who live too long. Her starship was damaged; she died; those of her children who survived have rebooted her by recreating her childhood.

Meanwhile, a posthuman group, the Quick, has reached Fomalhaut ahead of Sri and founded a new civilisation which fell to another group, the fierce and largely unmodified True, who enslaved the Quick and set up their own empire. And now, as Sri’s starship approaches Fomalhaut, the True are fighting interlopers from another interstellar colony for control of the gas giant Cthuga, whose core may be the home of a vast strange intellect.

What else? There’s an outcast librarian who, with the help of his Quick servant, fights demons in fragments of a vast data base. The disappearance of one of the scions of a powerful family. Thistledown cities and an archipelago of engineered worldlets. A big dumb object floating in atmosphere of a gas giant planet, probing for signs of life. War in the air. A vivid dream of childhood that begins to unravel. A secret hidden in the cityscapes of a virtual library. The termitarial mindset of a cult that’s lasted 1500 years. Visions of cul-de-sacs in human evolution. The utility of intelligence. The cost of longevity, and that perennial problem of what to do for the rest of your life after you die . . .
And here is the official blurb:
Fomalhaut was first colonised by the posthuman Quick, who established an archipelago of thistledown cities and edenic worldlets within the star's vast dust belt. Their peaceful, decadent civilisation was swiftly conquered by a band of ruthless, aggressive, unreconstructed humans who call themselves the True, then, a century before, the True beat back an advance party of Ghosts, a posthuman cult which colonised the nearby system of Beta Hydri after being driven from the Solar System a thousand years ago. Now the Ghosts have returned to Fomalhaut, to begin their end game: the conquest of its single gas giant planet, a captured interstellar wanderer far older than the rest of Fomalhaut's system. At its core is a sphere of hot metallic hydrogen with strange and powerful properties based on exotic quantum physics. The Quick believe it is inhabited by an ancient alien Mind; the True believe it can be developed into a weapon, and the Ghosts believe it can be transformed into a computational system so powerful it can reach into their past, collapse timelines, and fulfil the ancient prophecies of their founder.
In the Mouth of the Whale is scheduled for a January release in the UK from Gollancz. No US date has been announced, but hopefully Pyr will continue their relationship with McAuley and release it sometime in 2012.

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Cover Unveiled for The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (French Edition)

Art by Miguel Coimbra
Brent Weeks' The Black Prism (reviewed here) hits shelves in mass market form this week for those like their books cheap, but fat.  But coming in October from Bragelonne will be the French debut of The Black Prism and they have gone a different route than Orbit's version of the cover.  The art is by Miguel Coimbra whoso far has best captured the look of the magic from the world of the Lightbringer Trilogy . Bragelonne rarely disappoints me with their art selection and this is no exception.

For those longing for the next volume The Blinding Knife you'll have to wait until around September 2012. Weeks has put up the first 3 sample chapters on his site for those who want a taste now. And while I'm at it here is the trailer for The Black Prism, which is one of the best book trailers I've ever seen.




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