RSS Feed

Sub by Email

Twitter Me


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


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

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

REVIEW | The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (Tor)

George Mann's The Affinity Bridge was another book eagerly picked up at Book Expo, although it had been on my list to buy. My copy is signed by Mann with:

Watch out--there's evil things lurking in the fog!-George Mann
It certainly lived up to those sentiments as a zombie plague is running rampant in London, but that is a bit of a fake-out as the zombies or Revenants as Mann likes to call them is more of a B story line at best. I've long been a fan of steampunk and The Affinity Bridge brings the steam in spades. If H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle somehow worked out the science and had a son it would probably have been George Mann. There are clockwork automatons, airships, ghosts, mad scientists, and spades of other things in this entirely strange Victorian setting Mann has concocted. The Affinity Bridge is very much an homage to Doyle's Sherlock Holmes style while still very approachable for modern tastes. The main characters start off very stuffy, but as the work progresses I found many layers yet to be revealed. Newbury has demons that I was yearning for Mann to set free, but alas he is holding out on us. I thought his female assistant Hobbes was a bit one dimensional until something that happened at the very end, which made me question her purpose and skills. Newbury is investigating a series of mysterious murders when he is called away by Queen Victoria to look into an airship crash. The Queen is being kept alive by means of technology, which was intriguing. The dialogue flows well and there is plenty of good action as Newbury battles Revenants, Automatons, and even a few other things. However, some of the solutions to the mysteries do present themselves to Newbury a bit too easily on more than one occasion, but his body does pay the cost for that ease time and time again. I also worked out the big connections fairly early on, but it didn't ruin the experience at all.

The Affinity Bridge is sheer fun and will keep you pushing forward to see how the investigative team of Charles Newbury and Victoria Hobbes solves the mysteries. I give The Affinity Bridge 7.25 out of 10 Hats. The series is expected to be at least 6 books long so it makes me wonder if Mann has an over arcing theme in mind for the rest of the series or if it will merely be more episodic. And just who will be his Moriarty? There were shades of massive intrigue towards the end involving Hobbes that could open this world wide. I'll definitely be checking out future volumes. The 2nd volume The Osiris Ritual is to be released in July in the UK, although no date has been announced from Tor on the US release. Sometime next year Mann will release Ghost of Manhattan in the UK as well, which judging by the description is set in the same world as The Affinity Bridge, but not with the main characters from the series. New info thanks to Lou Anders @ Pyr: Ghosts of Manhattan will be released in the US April 2010 by Pyr. I find the US and the UK covers brilliantly detailed and beautifully illustrated. You have to take a look at it up close to appreciate all the little embellishments on both.

There is also a free short story called The Shattered Teacup set in the same world, but before the events of The Affinity Bridge available as an: eBook or as an audio book from Snowbooks the UK publisher of the series.

Book link: US Europe Canada

Subterranean Press 50% Off Sale on Forthcoming Titles

Subterranean Press is having an amazing sale on forthcoming titles until July 3rd. You have to buy 5 titles minimally which could end up being a bit pricey, but you won't be able to beat the savings elsewhere. If they had included their edition of Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself I would probably be more apt to partake. I've already pre-ordered Scalzi's Metatropolis and The God Engines and you can't combine previously placed orders with this special so I'll probably hold back. Here is the list of books that apply to this sale:

Also, I just ordered a signed limited edition of The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon from Random House. Most people don't even realize they have a program such as this running. Check it out here. These editions are the regular first printing but they come with an autograph page which is also numbered. They are usually limited to under 100 copies, but in the case of The Angel's Game it is only 50 copies. A letter of authenticity is included as well from Random House. Similar editions of World War Z by Max Brooks and The Dresden Files: Storm Front Vol. 1 graphic novel are available amongst a few others.

Add on from comments: Almost forgot. To get free shipping from Random House enter SHIPPING in the promo code section when checking out.

More info on The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Grasping for the Wind has got a link to an excerpt from The World in the Walls, the novel (Quentin Coldwater is infatuated with) from the novel, The Magicians recently reviewed here. I was also altered to a bunch of sites related to the book and its related world:

See my review of The Magicians here.

REVIEW | The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Viking)

I picked The Magicians up on my trip to BEA this year. I hadn't heard anything about it previously, but that is what BEA is supposed to be about. To find those gems you might not otherwise have come upon and The Magician is one of those gems. The Magicians is a pastiche of The Once and Future King, The Chronicles of Narnia along with the Harry Potter novels only aimed at adults. I read Lev Grossman's Codex a couple years ago and was severely underwhelmed so when I started The Magicians the bar was set fairly low. Having said that it is a truly magical and entertaining read, but make no mistakes this is not a book for children. Instead of very young people learning magic or getting involved in fanciful worlds his characters are college aged and in most cases very flawed. The Magicians deals with what people have to go through in order to learn magic properly and the consequences of getting involved with this world. What if you could do anything you wanted? Or go anywhere? What would you life mean? Those are the questions Grossman posits as you journey with Quentin Coldwater on his quest to become a magician and his obsession with Fillory and Further, a thinly veiled Narnia series he is infatuated with. There are sexual indiscretions and many morally questionable situations as the character make their way through the world. There is a good amount of action although most takes place in the last 1/4 of the book. Yet the book flows easily as I kept wanting to know what was next. The story starts with Quentin getting invited to take an entrance exam to a magic school very mysteriously. Brakebills, is a very exclusive school for people who show a high aptitude for magic. This isn't hogwarts. The description of the way the students are taught is more reminiscent of Law School than anything else as most of the work is reading, rote memorization, and repetition of magical exercises. My biggest issue with the book is most of the characters do not develop much as they go along and are a bit dry with personality. One of the most interesting characters, Penny, is missing from a large chunk of the book as if the author forgot about him for 200 pages. However, Penny's disappearance is somewhat haphazardly explained. Once Quentin and his friends graduate from Brakebills and are forced into the real world it is very clear they have no place in it.

Eventually Quentin and his friends journey into a world very similar to Narnia, which is a bit too much on the nose for me at times, but it does have its place as all the pieces do fall into place well. They encounter many magical and mythological creatures. A bit more background on the Fillory world would have been nice, but it does get filled in a bit towards the end. A couple of the major treads were a bit predictable, such as the revelation of a missing character from the Fillory series and another related character. Yet these flaws do not take away from the enjoyable reading experience. The ending is fitting and leaves the character open for a succeeding adventure, but gives you closure on pretty much everything. Quentin's final transformation is actually quite interesting and I'm eager to see what other worlds Grossman has in store for him. I give The Magicians 8.5 out of 10 Hats. Grossman has grown quite a bit as a fiction writer and it shows. The core audience for The Magicians is probably people who rarely read fantasy or those who want to reminisce a bit about the books they read growing up. Those who are very well read in the fantasy genre may consider the concepts a bit over done, but Grossman does manage to stand apart and create a world where actions have very definitive repercussions.

Book link: US Europe Canada

Which fantasy writer are you? Apparently I am Lian Hearn

Neth's posting alerted me to this one. I actually took this over a week ago, but after first seeing the results I didn't agree. Re-reading the description it is actually pretty accurate of my tastes in general. I think I was thrown off being called Lian Hearn. I read Lian Hearn's first Otori book and I thought it was decent, but not enough to read further into the series. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart was a better use of Asian mythology. Well here are my results: Lian Hearn (b. 1942)

-3 High-Brow, 3 Violent, 29 Experimental and 17 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are Low-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.

Lian Hearn is the pen name used by Australian author Gillian Rubinstein when writing the Tale of the Otori series, beginning with Across the Nightingale Floor (2002). The trilogy (which has spawned a sequel and a prequel) was a great success, becoming bestsellers world-wide and being published in more than thirty countries. Part of the reason for the series' success is probably that it is traditional fantasy but with a twist: The books are set in a country resembling feudal Japan, rather than some vaguely European environment. This setting gives Hearn a great opportunity to explore themes such as war, revenge, power hunger and clashes between cultures, all of which makes for an occasionally very violent tale, where nothing is ever coated in sugar. The books also feature at least one strong and very believable female character. While there have been Japanese-style fantasy written by Westerners earlier (such as the Book of Years series by Peter Morwood), Hearn uses the brilliant technique of describing her world from inside, calling typical Japanese phenomena by generic names rather than exorcising Japanese terms. Thus, swords are called swords, not katanas, we hear of wrestlers and realize that they are sumo wrestlers, characters eat bean curd rather than tofu, etc. All in all, Hearn has successfully expanded the borders of what can be done within the genre, while still writing for a mass audience!

You are also a lot like C S Lewis.

If you want something more gentle, try Orson Scott Card.

If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Susan Cooper.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow

You received -3 points, making you more Low-Brow than High-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, while a typical low-brow would favour the best-selling kind. At their best, low-brows are honest enough to read what they like, regardless of what "experts" and academics say is good for them. At their worst, they are more likely to read what their neighbours like than what they would choose themselves.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received 3 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don't hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.

Experimental vs. Traditional

You received 29 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.

Cynical vs. Romantic

You received 17 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.

Author picture from, used by kind permission. Take Which fantasy writer are you? at HelloQuizzy

George R.R. Martin Breaks His Silence on A Dance With Dragons

Martin recently comment about his progress with A Dance With Dragons:

"I almost hate to say anything here, for fear of jinxing it... but for what it's worth, the last six weeks or so have been the most productive period I've had on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS in... well... a year at least, maybe several."
He has miss his self-imposed deadline of the start of June to ensure an October publication, but this is still wonderful news that he is getting there. I'll still keep pushing back my re-read of A Song of Fire Ice until he says the manuscript is off to his Publisher though. Also, I'm about a third of the way through The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. Very good stuff so far.

REVIEW | The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely & Vali Chandrasekaran (Henry Holt)

The Ridiculous Race is an aptly titled hilarious travel narrative of two friends racing around the world in opposite directions for an expensive bottle of scotch. The twist is no airplanes are allowed. Both authors are comedy writers on different major shows. Hely for American Dad and Chandrasekaran for My Name is Earl. Judging from the writing I would have thought they'd be writing for the opposite shows just based on how off-the-wall Chandrasekaran antic's are and how grounded Hely seems. Chandrasekaran is most definitely not against pulling something underhanded and starts off shamefully with a scene involving a pair of hand-cuffs. The Ridiculous Race grew out of one Steve and Vali's friendly get-togethers in which they always try to out do one another. One almost thinks that they actually wanted to write a book together before they decided what it would be. Nevertheless, the outcome is a hilarious journey around the world by two guys without a clue. The narrative switches between Hely and Chandrasekaran from their sometime immature points of view, which makes this a very breezy read. Chandrasekaran certainly causes a lot of comedic scenes along the way as it seems like he would love to cause an international incident, while Hely is a little too planned out at times although about halfway around the world he loses the drive in the race and decides to just have a good time. Not to say Hely is less funny than Chandrasekaran as Hely certainly has a way with words. When he described a sauce he tried as turtle mucus I couldn't stop laughing for a couple pages. Yeah it is that type of humor at times. If you've been in the mood for some traveling and can't get away this will give a good flavor of travel abroad as each author visits many wonderful places and describes them differently than most other writers ever would. I give The Ridiculous Race 7.5 out of 10 hats for the pure entertainment value. Also, if you are into humor it will certainly leave you chuckling here or there. Chandrasekaran certainly has a slapstick style of humor all his own. Book link: US UK Canada

Green Lantern (Fake) Movie Trailer Starring Nathan Fillion

“In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!” —Green Lantern Oath

Green Lantern is probably my favorite superhero (the Hal Jordan version) along with the Lantern Corps. I was doing a little googling today and wondered what if anything was going on with the Green Lantern movie. I found this little gem at youtube:

It is actually a high quality fake trailer. I love the use of Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan. He definitely has the right attitude to pull it off, although he might make a better Guy Gardner if he had red hair. We won't be seeing the real movie until 2011 at the earliest though. We'll have to make due with this. Don't you love people who have too much time on their hands?

REVIEW | Hunter's Moon by David Devereux (Gollancz)

Hunter's Moon was a book I bought pretty randomly. It is actually hard to get in the US as Gollancz only publishes it in the UK, but has it readily available so when I needed to hit the free shipping I added it on. I thought I was in store for a a fairly dark urban fantasy as I like me some dark fantasy, but this one definitely pushes the envelope almost past the point of my comfort level. So be forewarned fucked-up shit abounds in Hunter's Moon. There is more sex, druggings, brainwashing, and beatings in this slim 250 page volume than 3 of the most violent movies you can think of. Hunter's Moon is told from the point of view of a secret British agent working to stop the forces of evil from doing bad things with magic. Let's call the agent Jack as he never reveals his real name and uses a couple other alias as the story moves along. The thing to know about Jack is that he is not averse to using black magic or committing serve bodily harm to accomplish his goals. In fact that is his preferred method. He is a mix of James Bond, the evil parts of the Nightside's John Taylor, one part Felix Castor without the remorse all the while fueled with sex, drugs, and tai chi. Told in a very bristling pace I had to take a couple breaks between reading just to absorb all the action. This is most definitely a boy book so I'd tell the females to pass over it unless you are into S&M mixed with magic. The people in this book aren't doing it for love and most parties involved barely know what is going on. I give Hunter's Moon 7.5 out of 10 hats. The paperback follow-up Eagle Rising came out this past March and the mass market is schedule for March 2010. I may check out the 2nd book in the series, but I'll wait for the mass market release in the states. Book link: US UK Canada

Pyr to Publish Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt in the US

Pyr just announced the good news on their blog.

We've just done a deal to bring Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, and Blood of the Mantis out here. All three books will be appearing from Pyr in early 2010, published in trade paperback in three consecutive months, March-April-May, so US readers can catch up with this dynamic series fast. Shadows of the Apt is a fantastic fantasy, with steampunk elements, that absolutely blew me away when I read it. Airships, steam trains, giant insects, fantastic characters, great action...

I'm glad to see Tchaikovsky series find such a good home with Pyr. Now I'll definitely have to give them a chance. I admired the covers a lot to the point I almost ordered them from the UK. Well now we can support Pyr. Again Pyr is releasing the first 3 quickly, which I have to laud them for.

Cover Unveiled for Robert J. Sawyer's Watch (WWW Trilogy Book 2)

Absolutely gorgeous. I love the image and the coloration and the fact the type is not a dominating factor. I've been a fan of Sawyer's for a number of years. His Calculating God is one of my favorite SF reads of all time. As readers of this blog know Sawyer's novel Flash Forward has been adapted by ABC as a series set to premiere this fall. I usually wait until Sawyer completes a series before picking them up though so it may be awhile on WWW. Watch (Book 1) was released about 2 months ago with a striking cover as well. Wake is schedule for April 2010 and the last Wonder is set for 2011.

REVIEW | The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Promo Book for And Another Thing (Hyperion)

I picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my BEA jaunt. I 've actually been meaning to get this for awhile. It only took 3 requests including one from ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society to finally get me to do it. When an appreciation society comes a knocking you better answer lest you have the whole society gunning for you. I honestly had no idea there was a society dedicated to Hitchhiker, but I wasn't too surprised as it is a series certainly worthy of one and as we all know those Brits were crazy enough to produce Douglas Adams. This is more of a description than a review since this is a hard to find book and there is honestly not much to review. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was described to me by the publisher as the DVD extras of the series. I was a little disheartened when she told me as I was hoping for a sample copy of And Another Thing or at least a chap book, but alas Hyperion is trying to keep a tight lid on the contents. Basically The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a promo piece to get bookstores and other accounts who don't know much about the series to update themselves. It also acts as a reminder about the series itself as it has been more than a decade and a half since the last book in the series came out. It's very slim 64-page small hardcover book printed in 2 colors (black & red) without a jacket as the cover is printed textbook style with the type done in spot gloss. The format is quite whimsical since the text is a bit scant. Pages 1-16 is a nice synopsis of the series by Eoin Colfer titled So Far As We Know. The next section gives four pages over to each book, which consists of one page for the title of the book, one page for a paragraph description, and two pages each with a quote from each book. The third section is a glossary of characters, devices, and important facts. The last section titled A Brief History of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 4 page description of the impact and products involved with the series. My guess to some of the material will start of And Another Thing and some will be used in the back such as the glossary. I can't really give something like this a rating, but I can tell you I am glad to add it to my collection just because I am something of a completest and this is certainly a collectible. I doubt there are 5,000 copies of it in print. Probably a lot less than that given even big publishers print less than that for galleys and promo pieces. This will sit proudly next to my Subterranean Press limited edition novellas.

MINI-REVIEW | Was Superman a Spy by Brian Cronin (Plume)

Brian Cronin is best known as a writer for the blog Comics Should Be Good, most notably for the "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" column. Was Superman a Spy is a mix of half old columns and half all new material written specifically for the book. I've read the column from time to time, but I still found most of the info new to me. It acts as a sort of barman's guide to comic book arguments and legends. Ever wonder who actually created Batman? Or that Venom was intended to be a women? Or why The Human Torch was replaced by a robot in the original Fantastic Four cartoon series? Well than this is the book for you. You also learn about some of the biggest foibles in comic book history such as why some print runs were pulped and what happened to the mysterious Warlock issue left in the back of a cab. Split into 3 sections (DC, Marvel, and Other Comic publishers) it is a light read you can pick-up at any point. Overall it was a fun read and look into the history and mysteries behind comic books. Recommend for comic and pop culture enthusiasts. Book link: US UK Canada

REVIEW | Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit)

Best Served Cold has to be the most anticipated Fantasy read this year. As soon as I got my greedy hands on it I just had to start. All the fervor over the cover design doesn't matter in the end. It is the pages between the cover that counts and that is truly entertaining.

Abercrombie is building on the world he started with The First Law Trilogy although centering it on parts not visited prior, namely and it related nations. Yet it differs from First Law in that it is a much more personal story. He does include a couple minor characters from First Law although they grow much from what they start as. As the title suggests revenge is the driving force. Monza Murcatto is Grand Duke Orso's most trusted general who has won him many battles, but now he feels she has become to popular and will try to usurp him. Orso has Monza's brother Benna killed and nearly her as well in an incredibly detailed account of her literal fall from his graces.

After Monza heals (partially) she begins gathering a group to help get revenge upon those who killed her brother. Abercrombie has done a superb job creating another stellar cast of characters you just love to hate and hate to love along with the most gritty action that could be wanted. Surprisingly, I found the most redeemable character in Friendly, who is a cold blooded killer with an utter fascination for numbers. Although unlike most of the other characters he is very straight forward with his dealings and is perhaps left the most untwisted in the end. Abercrombie still manages a fine balance of well realized characters, believable dialogue with a detailed world while also masterly offering twists and turns to the plot and characters.
Abercrombie has been known to do some vile things to and with his characters and he certainly rides the edge just enough not to turn most readers off with some of his characters predilections most notably involving Monza and her brother's past as well as a certain Duke's sexual interests. Having said that this is definitely not a book for the prudish or squeamish. Overall, I found the style and format very similar to Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. It is very much a series of capers; however the goals don't involve money, but rather killing. Only the characters aren't lovable rogues (except Cosca) like in TLoLL, but rather some of the most notorious murderers and back-stabbers in the world. Have no doubts that Abercrombie is still cruel to his characters. If anything he does worse to them here than in First Law. There are no happy endings in an Abercrombie book and there never should be.

Best Served Cold is meant as a standalone and newcomers will definitely find it open enough without having read prior volumes yet fans of First Law will be reward for their knowledge of the world and appreciate the little things and some surprise appearances from other characters. I give Best Served Cold 9 out of 10 Hats. Abercrombie has left a few holes open and secrets unrevealed that are sure to pop up in his next novel of the First Law world and I'll be there for it. Abercrombie has once again proven why he is an award-winning author.

You Might Also Like:
REVIEW | Swords & Dark Magic ed. by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders
(almost) Final Cover for Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes now with Blood!
REVIEW | Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

FUTURAMA is Returning!!!!

Starting in mid-2010 we will have all-new episodes of FUTURAMA to enjoy on Comedy Central. This goes to show that Fox doesn't really know what they are doing. FUTURAMA was definitely canceled before their time so I'm sure the creators have plenty of material to go with. Unlike The Simpson which should really hang it up before they totally tarnish themselves as they are just about there. If you haven't checked out the FUTURAMA movies give yourself a treat and do so. I'd recommend starting with Bender's Big Score.

Here is the press release:
NEW YORK, June 10, 2009 -- 20th Century Fox Television, the animation powerhouse that brought "Family Guy" back from the dead five years ago, has done it again: Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's brilliantly subversive animated sci-fi comedy "Futurama" will return to production on 26 new half-hour episodes more than six years after the series aired its last original episode. "Futurama" was a staple of Fox's Sunday night animation block from 1999 to 2003 before ceasing production on original episodes. In June 2006, COMEDY CENTRAL acquired the rights to the existing 72 episodes of the series, which the channel began airing in January 2008, and four recently-produced extended length "Futurama" adventures: "Bender's Big Score," "The Beast with a Billion Backs," "Bender's Game" and "Into the Wild Green Yonder," which enjoyed enormous success both on COMEDY CENTRAL and in DVD release. This new deal marks the show's return to episodic series production on original episodes. "Futurama" becomes only the second series in the history of the medium to go back into production based on the strength of its DVD sales and repeat airings on cable. The new episodes will be available in mid 2010 to be shown on COMEDY CENTRAL. Twentieth Century Fox Television retains the option to license the original runs of the new episodes to a broadcast network. Quipped Matt Groening, "We're thrilled 'Futurama' is coming back. We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000." Added David X. Cohen, "We're excited and amazed that the show is coming back, perhaps due to some sort of mysterious time loop. We look forward to working with COMEDY CENTRAL and 20th Television to make this the best iteration of the loop yet!" "When we brought back 'Family Guy' several years ago, everyone said that it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing - that canceled series stay canceled and cannot be revived," commented 20th Century Fox TV Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden. "But 'Futurama' was another series that fans simply demanded we bring back, and we couldn't have been happier when Matt and David agreed that there were many more stories yet to tell."

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

A little while back I was following a post and comments at Tor about What Books Haven't You Read? The post mostly got involved with classics people tried but couldn't get through. I'd like to repurpose the question to "What Author Haven't You Read, But Know You Should?" This could include more modern authors, but try to leave out anything newish like debut authors of the last year or so such as Patrick Rothfuss or Joe Abercrombie. It should be authors you've been recommended or thought about reading multiple times. Please list the top 2 authors you have criminally missed or ignored in the Speculative Fiction arena and try to give a reason. Try to refrain from trouncing on people for their misses as they are at least admitting them and maybe this will inspire them to rectify the situation.

Here are my great shames:

Charles de Lint: I've been reading online for years about how much of an influence de Lint was on Urban Fantasy and Neil Gaiman in particular. You'd think those reasons alone would be enough to get me off my duff. I haven't read him because for quite sometime I just kept forgetting his name when I was in a bookstore. Finally when I had it down I couldn't figure out where to start. I'd be flipping through the books on the shelves and not know which was a series or standalone since de Lint has a habit of using the same characters in a lot of books. Most people say start with Newford, but which? The short story collections? The standalones? Since the Newford series is with a couple different publishers and many books have a lot of editions which makes it difficult to tell what order they should be read in. I hope to rectify the situation soon as I picked up Dreams Underfoot and Memory & Dream from the Newford series in a used book shop just last week. 2 books for $7 was hard to turn down.

R. Scott Bakker: I don't have a clear reason for not trying The Prince of Nothing series. Maybe because it is one of those series I've heard you love or completely hate. I've heard them called literary fantasy, which might have turned me off. However, I do enjoy literary fantasy so again not a good excuse. I've also been told they are bleak and sometimes I'm just not in the mood for that type of thing. I always associate bleak with depressing and usually shy away yet I have made many, many exceptions. I don't really care for the covers on Overlook's new editions though. Maybe I'll give them a shot later in the year.

Terry Pratchett: I include Pratchett only in regards to the Disc World series. I've actually read Nation, The Carpet People, and The Bromeliad Trilogy all of which I enjoyed thoroughly. Long have I been told to read Disc World, but I haven't wanted to get involved with a 30+ long series. Knowing me I'd want to read them all straight through if I started and also knowing me I'd want to buy them all. I'll probably read them someday. Maybe even in the next couple of years, but for now it will have to wait as my shelves are already overburdened with unread books as is.

Some smaller shames: Terry Brooks could have been on the list as well, but I honestly don't think I am missing anything. I tried to read the first Shannara book when I was a teen and just didn't care at all. I picked William Gibson's Neuromancer up while reading Snow Crash and summarily lost interest with cyberpunk because I don't think it could be done better than Stephenson. Neuromancer has now been sitting on my shelf for quite a few years and probably will for a few more. Gene Wolfe is another I should get to at some point although I have read and enjoyed his short fiction from time to time.

You Might Also Like:
What Author Haven't You Read But Should? Or What is Your Greatest Shame?
OPINION | What Kind of Connections Do You Make With Books? Or why I didn't want to buy it online?
OPINION | To Read, or Not to Read Stephen King's Under the Dome

REVIEW | Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout (Spectra)

I wasn't very familiar with Eekhout before, but I have since checked out a couple of his short stories which were surprisingly strong. I'm glad he decided to tackle something long form as Norse Code is his debut effort. He most certainly has a bright future in front of him. Norse Code was one of those titles that as soon as I heard it I knew it would be for me. Norse Code can almost act as an entertaining primer to Norse Gods and their associated lore. Eekhout manages to deftly include nearly every aspect of Norse mythology in some fashion. Even tiny aspects are discussed in depth while they are barely mentioned in the legends. The book centers on Hermod Odinson, the wandering god, who is often considered a minor player in the mythology but in this he grows into a star. The book quickly switches gears from what I thought was going to be more of a typical Urban Fantasy placed mostly on our world but turned into a tour of all the Nine worlds of Norse mythology traveling to the very roots of the World Tree. This is most assuredly the coming of Ragnarok. Norse Code is action-packed and fun, but I did have a few problems with it. Overall, it was almost too quickly paced and many of the problems the characters encounter are solved too easily. Some more fleshing out of the coming of Ragnarok would have been good especially in the worsening of the human realm just to connect the reader a bit more. I felt that the book did lose something by not following up more on the NorseCode company which is only mentioned at the beginning and little elsewhere. It almost seemed like this should have been book 2 in a series. The main female character Mist could have used a bit more emotion, but I guess being a Valkyrie it is understandable why she isn't. Even with all of these problems Norse Code is still very much a worthwhile and enjoyable read. The battle scenes with the Gods and other creatures are well done as are the depictions of creatures such a Surtr a giant fire being. The dialogue is especially funny in the most unexpected scenes as Hermod always makes it seem that he is out of his element or out matched. Fans of American Gods and Thor comics will find something to love in these pages. Norse Code will definitely keep you compelled enough to get to the finish line just to see what all this talk of Ragnarok is all about. The ending certainly surprised me. I give Norse Code 7 out of 10 Hats. For a first novel this is a fine showing. Book link: US UK Canada

Mad Hatter Out and About

While wandering around Manhattan this weekend I happened across this bar: It was just too perfect and I had to take a picture. Check out Mad Hatter Saloon next time you are traipsing about in NYC.

Harriet Rigney, Editor of The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time) Talk from Book Expo

Check it out here as I can't seem to embed the file. Regardless the video is tiny, but the audio is good. The speech is not that different from what we've heard before, but it does add a little detail into Tor's decision behind Brandon Sanderson.

Contest Winner for Tim Lebbon's Fallen

And the winner is: Gaby Lapus. Congratulations. And thanks to everyone for entering. Cheers, The Mad Hatter


S.M. Peters debuted with Whitechapel Gods (Roc, 2008), his take on Steampunk. I adored Whitechapel Gods so I was eagerly awaiting his sophomore effort Ghost Ocean (Roc 2009), which is his first Urban Fantasy recently reviewed here. Peters doesn't have a blog or even a site so I was intrigued to interview him to learn a bit more. Read below to get to know Peters a little. MH: Hello Mr. Peters, welcome to Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review. Thank you for taking time to answer our questions. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself? SMP: I am six-foot-two; I have the build of a varsity athlete, blonde hair and blue eyes, a chiseled jaw and perfect teeth. Oh… I also have a day job as an astronaut and wrestle lake-monsters in my spare time. Any other facts I divulge about my life can only serve to reveal the dark and terrible secret that I am quite possibly the most boring human being alive today. MH: What did you want to accomplish with Ghost Ocean? What themes were you exploring and do you think you succeeded? SMP: I didn’t set out to accomplish anything with Ghost Ocean, which I’ve always found to be a laudable goal. I started and ended this with Te – the book was written to give her life. There’s something profoundly personal about her story for me, and I love her in some way I can’t understand. If Te were real I think I would be madly infatuated with her but I’d never pluck up the courage to even say “Hi.” The supernatural aspects of Ghost Ocean spilled out from a thought that’s been nagging me for years regarding urban fantasy – when the characters first see unholy, inhuman horrors, they tend to react with a rather pedestrian “fear” instead of an earth-shattering up-ending of their entire belief system. The one exception in my eyes is Vampire$ [MH: the title does end with a dollar sign] by the aptly named John Steakly, which depicts the whole range of physical and psychological damage that comes with encountering and fighting the supernatural. I wanted to bring some of that into this book. Whether I’ve succeeded or not is a decision left to the reader. MH: I’m a fan of fictitious towns. What sparked the idea behind St. Ives and Ghost Ocean? SMP: The original conception of Ghost Ocean was to base the whole thing on nursery rhymes. While fumbling for ideas, I read a few omnibus collections and realized, first, that many nursery rhymes were potentially traumatizing to their target audience, and second, that it wouldn’t work as a concept for a novel. I dropped the idea but shades of it remain in the name of St. Ives (“When I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives.”) and elsewhere. The visual template for St. Ives came from my home town of Kamloops, BC… or what it would have been if it were more gothic and interesting. The other half of the equation is another thought that’s been kicking around in my head for an equally long time. I’ve often read the ancient myths and wondered whether there was any truth to them. Since I’ve never really been able to accept the creed that we modern people are rational and superior while the ancients were backwards, superstitious savages, I have been forced to assume that highly rational people in ancient times accepted the existence of gods and monsters. What if there was some basis for that belief? What if the creatures of legend did exist in some form? Where did they all go? St. Ives was one possible answer to that question. MH: What Fantasy books have left you in awe? Which writers have influenced your work the most? SMP: In truth, I haven’t been able to read an honest-to-goodness novel since I did my two years of Lit at university. I find much of my inspiration in the genius of graphic novel writers like Gaiman, Ellis, Ennis, Bendis and Moore (and recently, Jeff Smith). I also have an insatiable appetite for indie and small-run graphic works because that’s where you find the really mind-bending, avant-garde storytelling. If I had to pick a guiding influence from traditional Sci-Fi, I would definitely pick Roger Zelazney’s Lord of Light. MH: Have you always wanted to be a writer? SMP: I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been able to chew on a No. 2 pencil, but I’d never considered seriously pursuing it until a long succession of failures in monotonous day jobs forced me to really ask myself what would make me happy. My turning point was when I saw the movie Comedian, in which Jerry Seinfeld comforts a doubt-filled up-and-coming comic with the simple question “Well, what would you rather be doing now?” To my absolute shock, I had an answer. Did I always want to be a writer? That’s a different question entirely. Would anyone want to be chained into a relationship with a mercurial mistress muse who sits just on the edge of the great hole between soul-crushing mundanity and glorious, overarching inspiration, occasionally kicking little bits of golden prose into your brain in the form of old tin cans and soccer balls and giggling at your ineptitude when you can’t string it all together? …Well, I guess I do. Damn. MH: Getting published by a major house can be difficult. What was your road to publishing Whitechapel Gods like? SMP: Honestly, I feel that I really lucked out in that regard. I scraped some money together and went to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference in Surrey, BC, in October of 2005. At the time, all I had to my publishing credit was one short story, called “Ticker Hounds”[On Spec Winter 2005] which was a sort of prototype for Whitechapel and includes early versions of Oliver, Missy and Hews. At this conference you can book time with editors, publishers, agents and authors to talk about your own work. I signed up for fifteen minutes with Liz Scheier of Roc (since moved elsewhere and good luck to her). I spent this precious fifteen minutes vomiting up incoherent summaries of setting and conflict with enough mumbling and stuttering to put a sleepwalker to shame. To my continual bewilderment, she told me it sounded (!) interesting and asked for the first fifty pages plus an outline. I sent them the instant I got home, and, as they say, the rest is history (history being a one year period of anxious back-and-forth discussion and revisions until the contracts finally came in the mail). Remember this story when someone tells you to put more effort into your sales pitch than your actual work. MH: Between Ghost Ocean and Whitechapel Gods it is clear you’ve built two very different worlds. How much back-story have you written or have you created most of it as you go along? SMP: Backstory is something of an enigma with me. I often write pages and pages of it and then rarely use those pages in any meaningful way. My writing style is distressingly organic, and I’m often up at all hours chewing my nails down to the wrist worrying if the book is ever going to work out (I’m doing that right now). Backstory shifts with every new chapter and I allow it to, trusting my muse to ultimately bless me with what I’ll need, usually only after I’ve groveled at her feet sufficiently and filled my quota of anxious whining. On my revisions, I go through and try to make it consistent. MH: How do your stories take shape? Are you a detailed outliner or more streams of consciousness? SMP: I work in images. I see scenes, in full colour. I know instantly when I get one of these that it will be, somehow, one of the defining moments of the story. I write towards these, hoping that they will happen, hoping that the moment will crystallize as I envisioned it. It’s really not up to me – the words pull me there or they don’t. I’ve always found intellectualizing or planning a story to be counterproductive. MH: Whitechapel Gods has one of my favorite covers illustrations from 2008. Are you happy with the covers you’ve been given and how important do you think they are to a book’s success? SMP: The great irony of writing is that no matter how much effort you put into your story, the cover alone will sell it or sink it, and authors have no control over covers. My editor just emailed me asking for descriptions of things – Boiler men, cloaks, the Stack – and that was the sum total of my involvement. If I hadn’t lucked out and got Cliff Nielsen as my artist for Whitechapel, I’d never have had a second book and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. That said, I love both covers. The cover for Whitechapel was the perfect level of creepy, and the jaunty tip-of-the-hat on such a horrific character represented the book’s inner life for me. I also love the cover for Ghost Ocean. When my editor emailed me to ask for a physical description of Te, most of my response was concerned with her not being Anita-Blake sexy. But, calloo callay, the illustration is almost exactly as I pictured her. There’s even a bit of a twitch in her far eye. MH: You’ve written two very different standalone novels. Would you ever consider writing a series? SMP: When I first started writing professionally, I gave myself two and only two rules: 1. I will never use the phrase “and now the hunter becomes the hunted,” and 2. I will never write a fantasy trilogy. Well… I might be in the process of breaking the second rule. Ghost Ocean has turned into just such a creation, against my every effort to write something else (stories like being in threes, alright?). The sequels are turning out to be weird enough to hold my own attention, so I have hope for them. …If I ever break the first rule, you have permission to show up at my house and shoot me between the eyes. I’ll thank you on my tombstone. MH: What are two things about you most people don’t know? Do you have a pet monkey you keep sequestered in the backyard? SMP: Yes, actually. My pet monkey, Barnabus, is a hyper-intelligent radioactive mutant and I send him out to put straws up people’s noses while they sleep. I’d lock the window tonight if I were you. MH: You’ve done Steampunk and now Urban Fantasy, what’s next for you? Can you tell us a little about your next book and when it might be released? SMP: I can tell you nothing, ever, about release dates. I only find out when my book shows up for advance ordering on Amazon. The next two in the works are two sequels to Ghost Ocean which deal with the inevitable conflict between the Old Country and the vast powers of the human race. I’m hoping Roc will pick them up, but there’s been no word yet (speed is not a high priority in the publishing business). In terms of future projects – I can’t say. I really can’t. Stories just seem to worm their way out of me once their alien-like incubation period is over. MH: Is there anything else you’d like to say? SMP: Thank you very much for hosting me on your website. Oh, and don’t eat any tepid chicken. MH: Very good advice and good luck with the lake monsters and continuting the world of Ghost Ocean. Thank you for your time. Cheers! Ghost Ocean Book Link: US Canada UK Whitechapel Gods Book Link: US Canada UK