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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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My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

Cover Unveiled for Walter Moers' The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books


One author I'm always surprised to see not many people talking about regularly is comic fantasist extraordinaire Walter Moers. His continent of Zamonia is one of the most wondrous places we could ever visit. In his homeland of Germany Moers is one of the biggest authors. Very much the German Terry Pratchett although most would agree Moers is much crazier then Pratchett.

When I heard about a new Zamonia book called The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books coming out last year in Germany I've been waiting on news of an English translation, which we finally have. This book seems to be a sequel of sorts to the third and probably my favorite Zamonia novel, The City of Dreaming Books. In fact the cover above is just the same art from City so I expect some sort of change for the final. Here is the blurb:
It has been more than two hundred years since Bookholm was destroyed by a devastating fire, as told in Moers's The City of Dreaming Books. Hildegunst von Mythenmetz, hailed as Zamonia's greatest writer, is on vacation in Lindworm Castle when a disturbing message reaches him, and he must return to Bookholm to investigate a mystery. The magnificently rebuilt city has once again become a metropolis of storytelling and the book trade. Mythenmetz encounters old friends and new denizens of the city—and the shadowy “Invisible Theater.” Astonishingly inventive, amusing, and engrossing, this is a captivating story from the wild imagination of Walter Moers.
The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books will be released in November from Overlook in the US and Harvill Secker in the UK.


To start your journey into the world of Zamonia I'd recommend reading the first in the series, The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Blue Bear to enmesh yourself properly and from there you can go to any of the other novels, even The City of Dreaming Books. If you like the idea of Minipirates, Nocturnomath's with multiple brains, sentient books, a meek dinosaur society of book lovers, literary anagrams galore, and just plain craziness you're missing out sorely if you don't give Moers a chance.


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Winner of Arctic Rising


I'm a bit late with this, but here we are nonetheless. The random number generator gods have selected Tad K. from Lakeland, FL as the winner of a signed copy of Tobias S. Buckell's wonderful Sci-Thriller Arctic Rising.  Tad I hope you're in the mood to visit a chillier climate with Arctic Rising. You may want to pull that sweater out for this one.

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Covers Unveiled for Two New Superheros Novels

Superhero novels have always been something I look forward to when they aren't focused on traditional heroes from comics. A few of my favorites include Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman showing the flip side of things centering on the Supervillian and Ex-Heroes by Peter Climes, which combines a zombie apocalypse and Superheroes. There is also Carrie Vaughn's After the Golden Age delving into what it is like to grow-up without powers among Superheros and Ian Tregillis's Bitter Seeds combining alt history, dark magic, and Nazi Supermen. This year there are a couple books that fit into this vein that have caught my eye.


First up is Paul Tobin's debut Prepare to Die!. Tobin has worked in the comics for the past few years most notably on Spiderman, but his first novel looks to take a darker and more introspective tone on the subject of  super ones. The cover definitely screams superpower. Here's the description of Prepare to Die!:
Nine years ago, Steve Clarke was just a teenage boy in love with the girl of his dreams. Then a freak chemical spill transformed him into Reaver, the man whose super-powerful fists can literally take a year off a bad guy’s life.

Days ago, he found himself at the mercy of his arch-nemesis Octagon and a whole crew of fiendish super-villains, who gave him two weeks to settle his affairs–and prepare to die.

Now, after years of extraordinary adventures and crushing tragedies, the world’s greatest hero is returning to where it all began in search of the boy he once was . . . and the girl he never forgot.

Exciting, scandalous, and ultimately moving, Prepare to Die! is a unique new look at the last days of a legend.
Prepare to Die! will be released in June from Night Shade Books.


Christopher L. Bennett is best known as the author of many Star Trek and and Marvel Superhero novels so it is no huge surprise that his first non-established property work melds Space and Superheroes with Only Superhuman. Given all the books on post-humans and genetic manipulation in the future I'm actually surprised this hasn't been done before. The slated perspective works really well and I like the art, but I'm not sure it gets across that the character is a superhero. I guess it is a case of spandex = superheroes. Here's the blurb:
In the future, genetically engineered superhumans, inspired by classic Earth comic book heroes, fight to keep the peace in the wild and wooly space habitats of the Asteroid Belt

2107 AD: A generation ago, Earth and the cislunar colonies banned genetic and cybernetic modifications. But out in the Asteroid Belt, anything goes. Dozens of flourishing space habitats are spawning exotic new societies and strange new varieties of humans. It’s a volatile situation that threatens the peace and stability of the entire solar system.

Emerald Blair is a Troubleshooter. Inspired by the classic superhero comics of the twentieth century, she’s joined with other mods to try to police the unruly Asteroid Belt. But her loyalties are tested when she finds herself torn between rival factions of superhumans with very different agendas. Emerald wants to put her special abilities to good use, but what do you do when you can’t tell the heroes from the villains?

Only Superhuman is a rollicking hard-sf adventure set in a complex and fascinating future.
I've always been a fan of the galactic series such as Green Lantern Corp, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Infinity Gauntlet, and especially anything Thanos related so I definitely want to see Bennett's take about Superheroes in space.   Only Superhuman will be out mid-October from Tor.

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You had me at smoking monkey holding a bigass gun

The art is by Jake Murray
Come and look me in the eye and tell me this isn't a cool cover. I dare you. Ack-Ack Macaque has to be one of the oddest titles to come from genre publishers this year. To date Gareth L. Powell has published one novel with The Recollection and also the novella Silversands.  Both are far-future Sci-Fi that most would put in the Space Opera camp. So Ack-Ack Macaque is definitely a step in a new direction for him, but the story does have its roots in one of his short stories of the same name published in 2007. With a cover like this it would be criminal of me not to read it. It has got a smoking money on it for book's sake! Here's the blurb:
“In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.

A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins encircle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run.

And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.”
Ack-Ack Macaque is scheduled to release in late December from Solaris Books.

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MINI REVIEW | Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Throne of the Crescent Moon is Nebula and Campbell nominee Saladin Ahmed's debut novel, which is placed in the world first created in his short story work. Sometimes a book comes along and you feel like it was written to hit all your own personal sweet spots. Throne of the Crescent Moon is one of those books for me.

Throne of the Crescent Moon evokes an old school Arabian setting with a touch of Egyptian while building a fresh world and history all its own filled with ghuls (zombies), lion shapeshifters, and a ghul hunter who has been there and done that so much I kept waiting for him to belt out the immortal Danny Glover line "I'm getting too old for this shit."

Doctor Adoulla has been battling ghuls for decades and we encounter him near the end of his tenure as the greatest ghul hunter in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms at a point where his role has been marginalized. He isn't sad about being forgotten--to a degree--in fact he would love to finally retire and pass on the mantle. Yet a threat has surfaced that tests his abilities and that of his young dervish protege. It is Adoulla's lifetime of experience that sets him apart from so many warriors in their prime and magicians seeking to make a name for themselves that seem to proliferate Fantasy. He's the uncle with all the best stories.

Striking the right balance with the pacing and fun action of a Sword & Sorcery story while still bringing in the coarse and realistic tone found in modern Fantasy, Throne of the Crescent Moon is superbly executed. Everything has consequence in the story. The Doctor and his cohorts don't just bounce up after a fight, but need to mend their many scars, both on the outside and inside.  Ahmed doesn't let any of his characters off easy giving each things to regret and deal with in a realistic manner even while battling crazy sand monsters.

One thing that seemed off was the very rushed and somewhat chaotic climax, which I had to re-read in order to fully grok. Also, the story does seem like a preamble to a much larger tale despite standing on its own well as things are just set in motion for something more epic. None of this dampened the experience much, if at all, as Ahmed is a writer just coming into his own. His prose and characterization are already there and if he gets over a few niggling issues like these he could become one of the most popular wordsmiths of his generation.

It is hard to discuss Throne without at least Jones' The Desert of Souls (review here) coming to mind. Though both share many commonalities Ahmed's work is of a much richer and higher octane variety than Jones more classic style. There is room for both on your shelves by my estimation.

I'm loving this new wave of Sword & Sorcery and Ahmed just firmly put himself as the leader of the pack. I give Throne of the Crescent Moon 4 out of 5 hats. This is a debut not to be missed if you enjoy action oriented stories and memorable characters. The Crescent Throne Kingdom series will be at least three books long with the next out sometime in 2013.

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New Procurements

My modem died at home so this will be very brief. Below are the latest review copies that have come my way.


Top highlights for me included Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long, which is a riff on the John Carter books only starring a biker chick/Airborne Ranger. Joe Golem and the Drowning City is the latest Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden collaboration, which seems to be a 1920's alternative history/steampunk story. Look gorgeous no matter what it is.  A. Lee Martinez's latest Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain should be good for quite a few laughs and is related to his recent guest post here.

Given I just finished Caitlain R. Kiernan's newest novel The Drowning Girl (loved it), I'm eager to get at her new short story collection Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart coming from Sub Press shortly. Also, I'm on the fence about A Game of Groans, which is the Song of Ice and Fire parody I mentioned some months back. I could just wait for the inevitable SNL sketches.

I'm interested in a lot of the others seen above as well, but I just don't know when I'll get the time. I still have to catch up on Stina Leicht's Fey and Fallen series, which has received nearly all rave reviews to date. No rest for the bookish.

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NEWS | More on Joe Abercrombie's A Red Country [UPDATED]


Joe Abercrombie recently gave an update about the status of A Red Country, his latest book placed in the world of the First Law trilogy, albeit placed years later but with some familiar characters cropping up. Abercrombie starts his post out:
Finished the first draft of A Red Country today. Well, kind of finished. Any of you who’ve been through this process with me before will remember that there is a lot of work to do between writing the final words and seeing the book on the shelves. Some of the most important work. But also some of the most satisfying. This is the part I really enjoy, cutting, refining, seeing the poor parts chopped away and the good parts refined and the whole hopefully coming into shape. This week I’ll look over and tidy up this last part before sending it off to my editor, and then it’s a quick read through to see what I’ve got, some additions and heavy rewriting of one of the two central characters.
He also helpfully includes word stats on the current work and previous novels, which makes A Red Country his shortest novel to date, but that could change slightly with revisions. It appears everything is on track with publication for this Fall with the UK getting A Red Country a little sooner:
Oh, US publication looks like November 20th this year, UK publication will be a little before that, precise date to be announced, but probably somewhere in September/October.
Given that Abercrombie is one of Gollancz's biggest authors at the moment what with hitting the British best-seller lists pretty high up they'll probably want to get it out as soon as possible. Us in the US have to wait until around Thanksgiving.  And here is the brief blurb, which does mention the reappearance of a fan favorite:
Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell, her brother and sister stolen, and knows she'll have to go back to bad old ways if she's ever to see them again. She sets off in pursuit with only her cowardly old step-father Lamb for company. But it turns out he's hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier.

Their journey will take them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feuds, duels, and massacres, high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies, and force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, a man no one should ever have to trust . . .
UPDATE: The big news and huge spoiler was uncovered by the ever fluffy Yetistomper found on Gollancz's catalog announcement for A Red Country:
His name is Logen Ninefingers. And he’s back for one more adventure...
Spoilers much?

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Cover Unveiled for Cherie Priest's The Inexplicables


It has been no secret that I'm a fan of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. She always manages the right mix of action and her own crazy version of history along with characters that enrapt me. The Inexplicables will be the 4th in the series that will bring us back to Seattle, which should mean some fan favorites will be making appearances . The cover above may not be final, but I sure hope it is as it is begging me to turn the page to see what the ginger on the cover is staring at. Although this would be the first to not show a female lead character on the cover or a big crazy device in the background. The art is by Cliff Nielsen instead of by Jon Foster who has done the rest of the series to date. Here is the official blurb:
Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him.Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there's the monster. Rector's pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply "The Inexplicables."

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall -- just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there's gold to be found in the city and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.
The Inexplicables will be released November 13th. There is at least one more title planned in the series called Fiddlehead that will most likely be out late in 2013.

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GUEST POST | Will McIntosh on Comic Strips Made Me Write Hitchers

Will McIntosh on 
Comic Strips Made Me Write Hitchers

It would be reasonable to assume that my new novel Hitchers began with the idea of hundreds of thousands of people becoming possessed, more or less simultaneously, all in the same city, and then I came up with a storyline about a frustrated cartoonist as the scaffolding to support the idea. That’s not how it evolved, though. It started with the frustrated cartoonist, who hijacks his late grandfather’s long-running, esteemed comic strip, and then changes it dramatically, and makes it wildly successful. I got the idea while reading David Michaelis’ biography of Charles Schulz. I learned that Schulz expressly forbade his heirs from allowing another artist to continue the strip after his death. That got me thinking about the hijacked strip idea. When I told a friend about the idea, he pointed out that having someone continue a comic strip against the wishes of his late grandfather wasn’t much of a story, while reminding me that I was a SF/Fantasy writer. So I added half a million dead people.

There’s a lot of talk about comic strips in Hitchers. There are even some actual comic strips slipped among the pages. It will probably surprise no one to learn that I’m a big fan of comic strips, and fascinated by their creators.

I’m fascinated by Bill Watterson, the artist/creator behind Calvin and Hobbes, because he absolutely refused to allow Calvin and Hobbes to appear on merchandise. He believed it would cheapen the art. Watterson is notoriously reclusive, rarely answering fan mail or making public appearances, and he ended up walking away, ending his strip while it was still hugely popular. I was tempted to cast my protagonist Finn Darby in the mold of an intentional recluse, but ultimately decided against it. Finn is happy to merchandise his wildly popular add-on character, Wolfie, and he becomes reclusive only because he’s afraid his grandfather might take over his body in the middle of a television interview and embarrass the hell out of him.

Reading an article about Watterson’s final strip, which is a poignant, understated masterpiece, I became fascinated with the idea of cartoonists’ final strips, and this plays out prominently in Hitchers, as Finn becomes fascinated by them as well. He’s disappointed--nay, disgusted--by his grandfather’s final strip, which is just one more lame, corny joke strip. Finn feels as if his grandfather doesn’t deserve the final say on the strip, even though he created it. Ultimately, Finn will write his own final strip, and it will be much more modern, and far, far darker, than Grandpa’s final effort.

I wrote a half-dozen strips to be inserted into the narrative of Hitchers, and they were wonderfully executed by Scott Brundage. I’d never tried writing comic strips before, and found it both a challenge and a hell of a lot of fun. It’s like writing Haiku; you only have three panels, you can’t have too many words in each panel, and each should tell a complete story. Finn discovers that it’s not easy to come up with a new strip every day, 365 days a year. Some cartoonists report that it’s a brutal pace. In how many creative professions must you consistently come up with a new piece of work on an average of one per day? And most strips are intended to be funny--I can’t imagine trying to write something funny every day.

Click to embiggen
In Hitchers, Finn makes a living selling original comic art until he “procures” the rights to his late grandfather’s strip. Again, I drew this detail from personal experience--my father and I have been collecting original comic art together for the past twenty years. Finn recalls an exchange with his grandfather, when good old Grandpa was still alive. Finn offered to sell off the huge stacks of original Toy Shop strips his grandfather accumulated over the years, estimating that he can get fifty dollars apiece for dailies, and seventy five for Sunday strips (Sunday strips are larger, so more valuable). Grandpa refused when he learned that Peanuts dailies sell for ten thousand each. That’s an accurate figure, believe it or not. In fact, it’s on the low side, especially if we’re talking about a Snoopy and the Red Baron strip.

The image of Grandpa’s huge piles of originals came from a phone conversation I had with the grandson of Al Smith, who carried on one of the earliest comic strips, Mutt and Jeff, after creator Bud Fischer passed away. Al Smith’s grandson was selling off his late grandfather’s strips, and described having thousands and thousands stacked on shelves, pretty much every single day from 1918 into the 1970s. I couldn’t resist giving Grandpa a comparable stash, from the 1950s through 2010.

It’s interesting, how much cartoonists vary on how they handle their original art. Early on, Schulz gave away Peanuts strips to fans, but when he discovered people were selling them, he stopped. From what I understand, the Schulz family now buys back some of the strips that come to auction. They must have an awesome collection. I bought two Bloom County dailies directly from Berke Breathed. He decided to sell off four years of strips ($400 each), but is holding on to the rest. Try to find a Calvin and Hobbes original – I dare ya.

A 2003 Clarion graduate, Will McIntosh recently won the Hugo Award for best short story. By day, he's a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University. His first novel, Soft Apocalypse, was published in April, 2011, by Night Shade Books and his second Hitchers was recently published. His next book will be based off his Hugo award-winning short story "Bridesicle."

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Cover Unveiled for Justin Cronin's The Twelve

If you like your books big, a bit ponderous, and filled with well developed characters you couldn't do much better then Justin Cronin's The Passage, one of my favorite books of 2010. It is The Stand for a new generation with a new breed of vampire/zombie hybrids in a Post Apocalyptic landscape. The sequel The Twelve finally has a cover and a firm release date of October 16th after a few false mentions that moved it from early summer to mid-winter.


I've yet to see a description of The Twelve that isn't full of spoilers for the first book so I'll just say the characters take the fight to another level. It should be very interesting to see how Cronin makes things more epic. One tidbit I've learned is this book will, at least in part, retell events from the first book from different points of view, but should still push things forward as well.  The cover is nothing too special, at least in this form. The HC of The Passage was printed on metallic stock and they'll probably go for that again given its almost inevitable bestseller status.

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GUEST POST | A. Lee Martinez on Supervillains


"It's almost a cliche at this point, but as the saying goes, The villain is the hero of his own story.

I'm not one of those folks who roots for the bad guy. I might like the villain. I might even respect them. But I don't generally find them as interesting or worthwhile as genuinely heroic characters. I know that this is kind of an old fashioned attitude but I don't find Lex Luthor to be more complex than Superman. Lex just has a heck of a lot more baggage, but that doesn't mean he's a richer character. And it seems like every day someone tries to convince me that Batman is more interesting than Superman because Batman is "screwed up". To which, I reply, "Batman is no more screwed up than Green Arrow, who fights crime because he's really good with a bow and arrow, but you don't hear people talking about how complicated Oliver Queen is."

I don't find villains innately appealing. Perhaps I just don't have that dark side. Still, there are villains I like and villains I love. And here's a brief list of them and why I love to read stories with them:

The Riddler: For most folks, the Joker is the definitive Batman rogue. Why shouldn't he be? He's colorful, crazy, and gets most of the publicity. But I love the Riddler. He has style and heart. Out of all the villains portrayed in outside media, Frank Gorshin's Riddler remains my favorite. The Riddler commits crimes because he wants to show he's smarter than you. The crime itself is almost incidental. The Joker might challenge Batman's morality, but the Riddler challenges Batman's intellect. And he's fun in a way that a mass murdering clown can never be.

The Penguin: He's short, pudgy, dresses in a tux, and carries trick umbrellas. In a city full of weirdos, you have to admire the Penguin for his moxy. He found his niche and made it work. There's something admirable about that.

M.O.D.O.K.: A giant floating head with the genius and psychic powers that come with being a giant floating head. Is he ridiculous? Absolutely. But in the best possible way.

Shuma-Gorath: He's a tentacled space god from beyond. How many of these guys are there at this point? Too many. Technically, Shuma isn't a supervillain. He's a force of nature, a monster god. And he isn't relatable to we mere mortals. But I still love the guy despite that.

Shuma-Gorath stands out among his ilk because he fights Dr. Strange, the world's greatest sorcerer. Cthulhu and Shub Niggurath might be more terrifying in their powers, but they also tend to stick to the lower rung of enemies, helpless mortals who can only be driven mad by the mere mention of their names. But Shuma-Gorath goes toe-to-toe with the most powerful magician of our dimension and while Shuma doesn't win, he at least poses a significant threat. And if you're going to play in the big leagues, there are worst shames than losing to the ultimate master of the mystic arts.

Plus, his name is just fun to say.

And last but not least, Doctor Doom: Seriously, this guy is the best supervillainy has to offer. He has his own country, superscience, and psychic powers. Heck, he can even do magic. He's also got the definitive look. You have to be a supervillain to wear power armor and a green tunic and get away with it. He's arrogant (with good reason), and he's his own worst enemy. Being a comic book character, he's been depicted in various ways over the years, so there's really no definitive version. But my Doom of choice is a man of drive who is imprisoned by his own obsessions, who builds a time machine and then doesn't use it very often because that would be too easy. He isn't cruel, but he will destroy you if you get in his way. And he wants to make the world a better place, even if that definition of "better" is all about him being in charge because he's smarter than you and you should just accept it.

To be sure, Doom is a flawed guy, but he needs to be. Without those flaws, he'd have already won by now. Just as Superman's morality isn't a weakness, but a requirement to keep him interesting, so Doom's obsessive nature and strange honor code are limitations that keep him worthwhile as a character.

Bottom line: The guy has a castle, a time machine, and loves to monologue. If that doesn't make him the greatest supervillain ever, I don't know what else to say."

A. Lee Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eighteen, for no apparent reason, he started writing novels. Thirteen short years (and a little over a dozen manuscripts) later, his first novel, Gil's All Fright Diner, was published. His latest novel Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain was just released. His hobbies include juggling, games of all sorts, and astral projecting. Also, he likes to sing along with the radio when he's in the car by himself. For more information on the author, check out www.aleemartinez.com.

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INTERVIEW | Martha Wells author of The Serpent Sea

Martha Wells is one of those "where have you been all my life writers" having only discovered her last year with The Cloud Roads. But the best thing about finding an already established author is they have plenty of older works to tide you over until the newest book is released. She is the author of twelve novels, including the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as a number of short stories and nonfiction articles. Her first novel, The Element of Fire, was published by Tor in hardcover in July 1993 and was a finalist for the 1993 Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award and a runner-up for the 1994 Crawford Award. The French edition, Le feu primordial, was a 2003 Imaginales Award nominee. Her third novel The Death of the Necromancer (Avon Eos) was a 1998 Nebula Award Nominee and the French edition was a 2002 Imaginales Award nominee. Her most recent release is the Fantasy The Serpent Sea, sequel to The Cloud Roads, both from Night Shade books.

*****

MH: Thanks for joining us today, Martha. You've now published about a dozen novels and been nominated for numerous awards including the Nebula. Was there ever a moment when you felt like you made it as a writer?

WELLS: Not really. There are a lot of moments that stand out for me. Nothing beats finding out you've sold your first novel. Except possibly finding out I had sold The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea after a three year sales drought. Finding out I was nominated for the Nebula award for The Death of the Necromancer was wonderful, once I'd been persuaded to believe that it was actually happening. My mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's that year, so it was a very stressful time, and that was one of the few bright spots in the year.

Nowadays, unless you have a super-mega-hit bestseller, I don't think you ever make it as a writer permanently. I think you have to make it all over again, prove yourself all over again, with each book.


MH: The Cloud Roads portrays a world with a seemingly endless history of immense cultures and species that have risen and fallen. There are no humans per se in the world, but many that are humanoid. What made you want to develop this world in such a manner?

WELLS: I wanted to do something different. The last fantasy novels I'd written were the Ile-Rien trilogy, where I was working with two different worlds: Ile-Rien, which was heavily based on 1920s France and Europe in general, and already had a background of history that I'd established in The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer, and the alternate world of Cineth, which had Greek and Roman influences and a more sword and sorcery feel. I did enjoy using historical settings as inspiration, but I felt like it was time to really push myself to do something beyond that.

I also wanted to get back to the SF/F novels I'd read when I was growing up, the ones I used to find in the library when I should have been staying in the children's fiction section. The ones with wild pulp covers and two moons and people riding animals with three eyes and horns and being green for no reason. I really enjoyed those books, and I wanted to recapture that sense of wonder, and that feeling of starting out somewhere strange and travelling somewhere even stranger. That's always been one of my favorite things about SF/F. I like to read about places where I have no idea what's going to be over the next hill or around the corner.

MH: Is it any different or harder to write so many non-human characters. Most Fantasy books have at least one focal human while the Raksura books don't feature any.

WELLS: I don't think it's different or harder. I do the characterization in basically the same way. I try to think about what this person's life would be like, what their likes, dislikes, loves, fears, and so on would be. All that is affected by physical appearance and abilities, the environment where the characters live. When the person you're characterizing isn't human, you just have to use more of your imagination.


MH: You just recently finished the first draft of the third Raksura book. Any details you can tell us? Title perhaps? The Serpent Sea sees Moon and company travel to another colony. Are things getting more Epic? Do we get to learn more mysteries of this world?

WELLS: I actually haven't decided on a title yet. With every book I've done, I either hit on the title effortlessly at some point while I'm writing it, or I finish the book without a title and agonize over trying to pick a good one. With this book I'm in the agonize stage now.

There is a lot more in it about Moon's past and what happened to the court he originally came from, and it brings the whole story full circle, I think. They encounter the Fell again, too.

MH: By the same note do you see yourself doing anything else placed on this world? It seems so rich that you might be able to even do something in the deep past of the world given how many cultures have risen and fallen over the eons.

WELLS: I think that's a definite possibility, and I know I'd like to do more books set there, either with the Raksura or with another set of characters. It's a fun world to explore.

I have written one short story set in the Three Worlds with different characters than the books. It's "The Almost-Last Voyage of the Windship Escarpment" and it's posted for free on my web site.

MH: You just announced you've got a contract for the third Raksura book so big congratulations are in order! Do you have any celebration rituals when you sell a new book?

WELLS: Thanks! I don't really have any one thing that I do, except collapse in relief. Usually I go out to dinner with my husband, but the day I got the email about the third book, I was about to leave to drive to ConDFW in Dallas. So it was a lot of fun getting to see some friends there and tell them in person. Going to a convention is a great way to celebrate!

MH: What is the greatest advice you've even been given as a writer?

WELLS: I've been given a lot of great advice over the years, but I think the best critique I've had was from Bruce Sterling at a Turkey City Writers Workshop in Austin, Texas. This was a few years before I sold my first book, and I'd been trying to write short stories. He was very good at breaking down the prose and telling you exactly why this one sentence worked and exactly why this one didn't. It was the most helpful workshop I ever went to.

MH: You've published a couple media tie-in novels in the Stargate universe. Is that something you'd consider again? Was it very different from writing your own original fiction?

WELLS: I wouldn't do it again unless it was a show I loved as much as I did Stargate: Atlantis. I'd been watching SG1 since the first season, so I was already a big Stargate fan when SGA started airing, and the first season had me hooked. The only thing that was different from my original fiction was that I had to work hard to match the character's voices to the actors' performances, and to make sure I was getting the details of the technology right. I felt a big obligation to try to get everything right, and to come up with an adventure that would mesh with the kinds of things they do on the show. I really enjoyed writing those characters, so I had a lot of fun with those two books. It was very different from what I had been writing in my fantasy novels, and I think it was a creative break that I really needed.

MH: Many people discuss how e-books are the future and you've been re-releasing many of your older titles. What has your experience been like so far? Do you feel like they've helped your career and exposure in some way?

WELLS: It's been a pretty good experience. The one that was the most work was Wheel of the Infinite.  I didn't have a Word file of the final version of the book to use, so I had to cut apart a hardcover to scan it. That was a surprisingly unpleasant thing to have to do; destroying a book felt very, very wrong, even though I was doing it for a good reason.

I don't think having them available has helped my career or exposure any. I think they're mainly found/bought by people who are already searching for my name on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It's mainly nice to have them still easily available to new readers who have read The Cloud Roads or The Serpent Sea and want to check out my older books.

MH: Now on to the important stuff. What is your favorite type of hat?

WELLS: I have a floppy canvas hat that I love, mainly because I can roll it up and cram it into a pocket without hurting it.

MH: What's the book you're most looking forward to this year?


WELLS: There are a lot of books I'm looking forward to, but I think the one that's coming up the soonest is The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin.

MH: That's on my list as well. Is there anything you like to add to close us out?

WELLS: My web site is http://www.marthawells.com and has sample chapters of all my books, free short stories, and lots of other stuff. I also just put up an "extras" section for The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea, with the short stories, a missing scene from The Cloud Roads, some information on the world, etc. It's at http://www.raksura.com.

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Contest for Signed Copy of Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell


Last week was the official publication of Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell. This is his first novel in 4 years after having some health issues. To celebrate Buckell's return I have 1 signed copy of Arctic Rising to giveaway. Arctic Rising is a near future Thriller focuses on the formerly ice north filled with airships, rising oceans, and conspiracy. Here is the blurb:
Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth's surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.
To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address in the body and "Arctic" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight March 18th. I'll announce the winners on the following day or as soon as I remember. This contest is open to the US only. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest. The winner will be selected via random number generator per usual.

Be sure to also check out Buckell's recent guest post from yesterday.

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GUEST POST | Tobias S. Buckell on Who Gets to Decide to Change the World?


One of the solutions some advance for solving the issue of climate change is a giant technical solution. If we could just launch a mirror into orbit, we could redirect the heat and solve the problem.

That sounds like a great solution, until one considers the fact that a giant, orbital mirror is not far off from being a super-weapon the likes of which Dr. No would have given a body part to have owned. Any dastardly evil villain would love something like that. And other nations would basically object to the sudden weaponization of space, making it a very complicated situation. Who decides who gets to affect the entire planet with one device? And who is responsible if it goes wrong with unintended consequences? All these thoughts planted the seed for a piece of my latest book, Arctic Rising, which looks at the many complications and ins and outs of climate change from the perspective of a thriller.

It may turn out that a technical hack can help. But basically what you're doing is hoping that your descendants can clean up a mess you're handing them. You're hoping that we can basically terraform our own world. We may be able to do that, but I'm willing to bet that an accountant may point that over the long term it'd be cheaper just not to make a mess that needs cleaned up in the first place.
Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Halo®: The Cole Protocol. His latest novel is Arctic Rising.
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FREE READING | Phil & Kaja Foglio's Agatha H. and the Airship City


If you know Steampunk then the Foglios need no introduction for you. Phil and Kaja have created one of the seminal Steampunk comics (they prefer to call it Gaslamp Fantasy) with Girl Genius series starring the ever bubbly genius Agatha Heterodyne. Last year Night Shade and the Foglios started turning out prose versions of the story with Agatha H. and the Airship City, which is now being given away for free on Amazon as an eBook. No word on if other e-tailers will be giving it away at this price, but it may happen as Night Shade has done many similar promotions. Also, the 2nd prose book Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess is coming out in hardcover in April.  The first edition of Airship City sold out quickly so if you're a collector get your order in sooner and if you've never tried Giril Genius this is certainly a good place to start if you're not into comics..

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Oh bother!


I've been remiss at updating this blog. I get very itchy whenever a week goes by without new content, but I just haven't had the energy. After all my travels a dreadful cold befell me and I'm still under its noxious influence. Friends who have suffered the same warm me it will linger. But I'm getting better and I do have content nearly ready to go. An interview is nearly done with just a few more questions to go out. It's a good one, by one of my favorite new-to-me authors.  I've received 2 guest posts recently and I'm just waiting on a couple follow-up queries to each  before they go live. I suspect the first will go up by this weekend and the other early next week.  And I've tackled a little bit of light reading even amid all the ickiness and pressure in my head with John Carter and Alexia Tarabotti to keep me company. So stay tuned. I may even have a quick post up tonight.

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