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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

GUEST POST | Alex Bledsoe on Detective Influences

Eddie LaCrosse, the hero of my new novel Dark Jenny, may carry a sword instead of a gun, and be called a "sword jockey" and not a "private eye," but at the core he's a detective. His job description: stop the bad guys (and gals), save the good guys (and gals), and earn the gold. This book (and the preceding two) draw equally from fantasy and detective influences, but here I'm dealing strictly with the shamus line.

It all begins with Dashiell Hammett and his Continental Op. Hammett, the undisputed father of tough detective fiction, "gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons," according to later master Raymond Chandler. His nameless hero, an operative for the Continental Detective Agency, appeared in a series of novels and short stories (Red Harvest is a good starting point). Unlike the then-prevailing trends in the mystery genre (epitomized by Agatha Christie and what we now call "cozy" mysteries), Hammet's stories were lurid and brutal, and his hero was definitely no saint. He was as tough as the bad guys he pursued, and often just as malicious. His goal was not justice, but his paycheck.

The Continental Op gave way to Philip Marlowe, the undisputed king of private eyes. The best description comes from his creator, Raymond Chandler, in his essay The Simple Art of Murder: "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness." Farewell, My Lovely is his acknowledged Marlowe masterpiece, but my favorite is The Long Goodbye.

Post-Marlowe, the next significant character was Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer. Unlike the Op and Marlowe, Archer was never above his cases. No matter how hard he tried, his emotions and empathy always drew him in, so that every case was personal. This was a fundamental change in the overall idea of the aloof private eye, and The Doomsters is where this concept really takes hold.

What Archer lacked, however, was a real sense of humor. For that we go to Robert B. Parker's Spenser (he has a first name, but it's never mentioned). In many ways, he's the culmination of this private eye chain. He has the Continental Op's toughness, Philip Marlowe's wry perspective, and Lew Archer's empathy. And he's much funnier. An example: in my favorite Spenser novel, Ceremony, after disarming the same thugs for the third time, he tells them, "Next time it might be easier if you just mail me your guns."

And then there's my guy, Eddie LaCrosse. I make no claim that he's the equal of these other literary giants, but they're the fence I was swinging for when I created him. He's tough, sarcastic, and empathetic; I hope he's also funny and memorable, but that's for the reader to decide. And if you enjoy Dark Jenny and Eddie's other adventures in a world of swords, armor and down-and-dirty magic, you might also enjoy these past masters, who wrote about the mean streets of their own worlds.

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REVIEW | The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
REVIEW | Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe
REVIEW | The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
MINI REVIEW | Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
REVIEW | Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

NEWS | Movie Rights to Neil Gaiman's American Gods Sold!

DigitalSpy recently announced that American Gods has been optioned to be made into a movie by an Oscar Winning Director. No word on who that director is though, but they've been after Gaiman for about 7 years. Neil Gaiman is interviewed as well so we can take this as gospel although few details have been released. Here is his interview regarding the option.

Is the book really filmable though without tearing out its soul? My initial bet is no as American Gods is a very slow book for the most part. It is methodical in its execution and thoughtfulness. Sure the Gods and battles give plenty of fodder for action, but the many introspective scenes would surely bog down the type of film Hollywood typically makes. Either way I don't think I could pass up the chance to see Shadow and Mr. Wednesday on the big screen. Plus Gaiman is known for sticking to his guns to make sure his work isn't turned into crap, which is why the long wait has happened for even an option to be made.  You can be sure this is a development I'll be following.  Now who do we see as starring as Shadow, Wednesday, and all the rest?

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Cover Unveiled for 10th Anniversary Edition of American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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VIDEO | Neil Gaiman on a Trampoline
NEWS | Terry Gilliam to Exec. Produce 1884 (A Steampunk Puppet Movie)
Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy Movie Option

Contest for Two Complete Sets of Eddie LaCrosse Adventures by Alex Bledsoe

It has been a while since we had a contest here so I thought it was high time we got something going and this one is going to be quite a catch for two lucky readers.

Today is the release day for Dark Jenny the third Eddie LaCrosse novel. To celebrate I have two sets of the Eddie LaCrosse adventures by Alex Bledsoe up for grabs from Tor Books. This has been one of my favorite on-going series of the past couple of years. Each novel is standalone, but they do play off one another with some tidbits from one leading to the next. Included in each pack is a mass market of The Sword-Edged Blonde, a hardcover of Burn Me Deadly, and a trade paperback of the just released Dark Jenny. Quite a odd mix of formats, but they are the latest available. And this is a series that is meant to be read no matter the format.

To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address and "LACROSSE" in the subject line along with your favorite literary detective. The deadline is midnight April 9th. I'll announce the winner on the following day or as soon as I remember. This contest is open to the world. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest. Winners will be selected via random number generator per usual.

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REVIEW | The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
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REVIEW | The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
REVIEW | Vicious Circle by Mike Carey
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REVIEW | Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo

Covers Unveiled for Ganymede by Cherie Priest & All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

Cherie Priest next Clockwork Century novel Ganymede finally has a cover. And it looks to be by Jon Foster who has done all the other books in the series so far. Strong heroines are still in effect. I'm going to guess the large device in the background in the sub-like Ganymede mentioned in the blurb.
The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol and guns wherever the money’s good, he’s not sure the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side effects. But reforming is easier said than done: the captain’s first legal gig will be paid for by sap money, because the Seattle Underground is in dire need of supplies.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he likewise loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early, but that was a decade ago. He’s still on Jo’s mind, he learns when she sends him a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it….if only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River….if only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

Now the only question is whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

The end of September is always a big time of year for Steampunk titles and Tor is releasing Lev AC Rosen's debut All Men of Genius the same day as Priest's latest.  All the gears to make it scream Steampunk, but I'm getting a big Kage Baker/Company vibe. This makes a bit of sense since it has a large historical bent based on its influences.
A steampunk retelling of Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest from an exciting young talent.

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.

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REVIEW | Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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INTERVIEW | Cherie Priest, author of Boneshaker
LOOKING FORWARD | Urban Fantasy & Steampunk Books to Watch for in 2011

New Procurements with Mini Yoda & Bart

And the books keep rolling in. I've been snowed under for years with books, but I've reached my highest point ever. A lot of this has to do with reading less the last month and a half due to some personal issues. Even though I've been interested in reading and I have loads I want to read time is a precious commodity in short supply. In a couple short weeks though I'll be done with a big project at work and I'll have a week long vacation where I'm sure some damage will be done to the to-read pile.

Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne - This is the sequel to Twisted Metal and second in the Penrose series, which focuses on a world where robotic life is the norm. There are widely divergent cultures controlling different areas and plenty of warring going on. I'm eager to get back to Penrose to find out more of how this world came to be as it was only starting to come to the fore at the end of Twisted Metal. There is still no US publication dates in sight for the series, but the mass markets are quite reasonable through Book Depository where I nabbed it.

City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The next in the Diving Universe series, which is one of my top 3 anticipated Sci-Fi books of the year.  This was an arc from the publisher that'll be reading before publication.

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh - I've talked about this one a bit and it is what I think could be a debut of the year in the apocalyptic/near future area. McIntosh has certainly brought his A-game to the short world and now we're treated to something a bit longer. This is a finished copy from the publisher so it should be showing up in store soon.

Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe - The third book in the captivating Eddie LaCrosse Sword & Sorcery/ Detective series. If you haven't tried this series out you're missing out. Especially you Dresden Fans out there. Only no so much magic. All the stories are standalones as well so you can dive right in. This is again a finished copy so books should be in store soon.

Shadow's Lure by Jon Sprunk - The arc to the sequel of Shadow's Son, which had a lot of classic appeal. This looks to a be a bit longer than Sprunk's debut so hopefully he packed it full of the action he's becoming known for.

The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer - Steampunk Superheroes..Yes, please!  This is another arc for a series I have very high hopes for. Mayer is a game designer so hopefully he brought his creative energy to bear in new and exciting ways for the Steampunk genre. I have hopes this will be a strong Steampunk deput.

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon - I've heard too many good things about Chaon's latest to pass it up especially after nabbing it used.

A Matter of Time by Glen Cook - I haven't partaken of Cook's Sci-Fi yet so this review copy from the publisher just may be it.  This is also a reprint originally published in 1985 as  Nightshade seems to be hellbent on getting as much Cook out there as they can.

WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer - This is the last in the WWW trilogy from Sawyer, which means I have to start reading the series. I already own the first one. For some reason I always wait until his trilogies are finished before dipping in. This probably happens since I found Sayer later in life and burned through his backlist over a 18 month period. If you want thoughtful and Sci-Fi that will inspire you look no further.

Deathless by Catheryne M. Valente - Valente's latest has a Russian flair that will hopefully be a breakout book for her as it is also her first hardcover release in 5 years.

Worldshaker by Richard Harland - I got this used as well and intend to give it to a friend's kid, but I don't know if I can help myself from some Steampunk YA.  They usually are a good treat if not too deep. Speaking of which I really must get to Behemoth soon.

Well of Sorrows by Benjamin Tate - An Epic Fantasy that I hasn't gotten my attention, but the title has drawn me in since I first heard it a year ago. What little I know is it involves the transformation of the main character into something else.

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Cover & Blurb Unveiled for Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey

Would you take a look at that... A pretty perfect cover to go along with the previous two books in the Sandman Slim series from Richard Kadrey.  Aloha From Hell was originally expected to be the last of the series, but Kadrey recently signed on for another 3 books so we'll be seeing plenty more of Stark in the future with one a year most likely.

As Urban Fantasy goes Kadrey is one of the roughest in the group bringing alcoholism, deviant sex, and plenty of swearing to the table. So you could say these books aren't for everyone, but they certainly scratch an itch for me with their heavy Noir stylings and dark interpretations of religion.  Here is the blurb for Aloha From Hell, which will be out October 18th from Harper Voyager:
All is not right in L A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God’s on vacation, and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell. There’s only one thing Stark can do—go back to the place where it all began, the place he thought he’d never have to see again. Hell.

That’s just step one in a sure-to-be-suicidal plan that includes rescuing his long-lost love, stopping an insane serial killer, and preventing Heaven and Hell from completely destroying the other—or being destroyed by the demonic Kissi.

Sandman Slim has done the impossible before. But even for him, that’s a bad list of business to undertake. And it’s only the beginning.

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LOOKING FORWARD | Urban Fantasy & Steampunk Books to Watch for in 2011

NEWS | Christopher Paolini's last Inheritance book announced (Eragon Fans Rejoice!)

2011 is turning out to be the year of the mega blockbusters in the world of Fantasy. Between Martin, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Sanderson, and Grossman there is nearly an unprecedented number of top tier authors vying for our book dollars this year. And another one just joined the crowd. Christopher Paolini's last book in the Inheritance cycle/Eragon series the aptly title Inheritance will be released this November 8th right in time for the holidays. The series has done so well Random House is anticipating a first printing of 2.5 million. The full press release can be found here.

Say what you will about this series, but it has been quite entertaining even if formulaic at times. Both Eragon and Eldest kept the level at a high while I, personally, found Brisigner to be a bit too much of a filler/bridge book. Regardless, Paolini has developed his characters well in a world with lots of nice touches a damn fine history and my fingers are crossed tight in hopes of Inheritance finishing things out just as strongly as it started.

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LOOKING FORWARD Fantasy & Cross Genre Books to Watch for in 2011
LOOKING FORWARD Sci-Fi Books to Watch for in 2011

MISHMASH | Lev Grossman & Cherie Priest Sequel News, & Tregillis Free Fiction

It is that time of year when lots of dates are slowly released for Fall books with the first being a late summer release I've been looking for info on nearly weekly.  Lev Grossman's hotly anticipated sequel to The Magicians titled The Magician King has a semi official publication date of August 9th.  After the way Grossman turned Fantasy on its ear with The Magicians this is at the top of my summer read list. Here is the blurb for The Magician King.

Hailed as a “painfully perceptive novel of the fantastic that brings to mind both Jay McInerney and J. K. Rowling,”* The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
Ian Tregillis has posted two free short stories to his site. The first is called "Chronicle of Sorrows" is placed in the world of the Milkweed Triptych and specifically connected to the event so of "What Doctor Gottlieb Saw" that was released last summer. The other is a standalone called "Come Dancefight, My Beloved Enemy." If you haven't had a chance to check out Ian's debut Bitter Seeds than his short fiction is well worth your time.

Cherie Priest's third full length Clockwork Century novel Ganymede will be out September 27th. This time around we get to explore New Orleans with Andan Cly!
The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol and guns wherever the money’s good, he’s not sure the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side effects. But reforming is easier said than done: the captain’s first legal gig will be paid for by sap money, because the Seattle Underground is in dire need of supplies.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he likewise loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early, but that was a decade ago. He’s still on Jo’s mind, he learns when she sends him a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleansl, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it….if only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River….if only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

Now the only question is whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.
Lastly, but certainly not least, do check out Genre For Japan, which is a series of auctions for various books, signed artwork, comics, and plenty of other surprises from many different publishers. The auctions are do to go live by the 28th of March and they are still accepting donations.

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REVIEW | The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones

In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East.

The Desert of Souls is the solid debut novel by Howard Andrew Jones best known so far, but not for long, as the Editor of Black Gate Magazine, which specializes in Sword & Sorcery Fiction. Mark my words he is here to stay as a novelist. The Desert of Souls isn't a terribly deep novel, but if you just like to sit back and be entertained than it is a book you'll love filled with adventure, magic, evil magicians, prophecies, djinn, and nefarious dealings.  And if that wasn't enough it has zombie monkeys! And I say this again because it bears repeating: Zombie monkeys!

Told from the very able perspective of Asim the captain of the guard to an important Baghdad noble who has the ear of the Caliph. Asim is a heroes' hero.  He manages to muscle or luck his way out of nearly any situation in the end even if he loses face at times.  He is accompanied by Dabir a worldly scholar who has dabbled in many things throughout his education.  Together they are a sort of ancient middle east version of Holmes and Watson and play off one another quite well as they go in search of a missing relic that could lead to a lost city in the sands. At points they barely stumble through, but lady luck seems to be on their side at every twist.

The Desert of Souls is a smoothly written, timeless adventure never making more of itself than it is: a good adventurous time with deftly handled fight scenes. The characterizations are perfect for the narrative making the story and world feel very realistic and something almost pulled out of the past. Between James Enge, Alex Bledsoe, Steven Erickson, Abercrombie (to a degree), and now Jones Swords & Sorcery is enjoying quite a resurgence that I'm all for. With Jones it could be called Swords & Sorcery & Arabia.

The story plays with the style of earlier era pulps heroes ala Robert E. Howard and Arthur Conan Doyle while adding plenty of its own spin to it. The Arabian setting alone makes it standout for any people that fear an imitation. The story is framed somewhat ala The Name of the Wind with Asim as the narrator, but this merely focuses on one big adventure than a series of stories.  Still Asim is a very able storyteller and much feels like you're sitting around the fire listening in.

The Desert of Souls is a wholly satisfying buddy escapade.  I give The Desert of Souls 8 out of 10 hats. This is the kind of book that felt like it was written specifically for me and pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've closed the cover and shout for more.  There is a sequel in the works that will probably be out next year. I'll definitely be there for the next adventure in the sands.

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GUEST POST | Guy Hasson on How to Be Truly Original

How to Be Truly Original
Guy Hasson

I had a conversation with an SF author a few months back, who utterly despaired at the fact that everything’s already been done, that there are no new plots out there, and that being original is a thing of the past. I was so surprised that an SF author would say something like that, that I couldn’t find the words to explain how easy it is to do something original and new. Part of the beauty of reading science fiction or fantasy is that anything is possible and that something truly new and original could wait for us. That is also the beauty of writing science fiction and fantasy: you discover the new as you write it.

In our conversation, I’m sad to say, I found all the wrong words and all the wrong explanations. I’m pretty sure I said that there are a million totally crazy ideas out there that have never been done. The problem with what I said is that sometimes a crazy idea just comes out as a crazy idea and not as a good story. There is a way to be original, new, and even crazy, and to write a good story while doing it.

Following that conversation, I decided to put a few principles down on paper about how to write something truly original. Here are the basic three rules:


If you have a great idea for, say, a mystery story, a twist that’s never been done before, you’re already working within the reader’s known parameters. All you’re doing is supplying a new variation on an old theme. If you want to be truly original when thinking of a new story, shun everything that reeks of a genre you know.

This doesn’t mean you have to invent a new genre. Inventing a new genre means working within a structure that is easy to copy. That limits the structures you can use. You can just create your story, one story, that fits perfectly into whatever you want to say.

Working within genres kills originality. Once you get your head around that, new concepts, new plots, and new ideas start popping into your mind.


This is a little trick I try to use in almost all my stories, and it works splendidly. It’s a concept borrowed from Mark Twain.

Mark Twain would occasionally want to write a story about something he knew would be too crazy for his readers to swallow. So he began his story by saying he met this strange person on a train or in his travels, and that person had a crazy story to tell. Then that person tells the story, and the readers swallow it whole.

The story is Twain’s, he didn’t really hear it from anyone. But Twain knew that if he told a crazy story straight, it wouldn’t be believable. But hearing it from someone? That’s fine.

So let’s change his idea a bit. We work in a field where anything is possible. But if we actually wrote anything and everything, most of it would be too crazy to swallow. Rather, find a plot which allows for the possibility that anything is possible within the story. I’ll say it again, because that was a tough one: To write a story in which anything is possible, write a story in which something happens that makes anything possible.

I’ll give you three examples from my new book, ‘Secret Thoughts’. The book consists of three novellas that take place in the same world, and in each of the novellas, I used this trick.

In the first novella, ‘The Perfect Girl’, I take a young telepath, near her twenties, and put her in a school for people like her. Apparently, the place is also like med-school: donated dead bodies come in. We find out that a dead mind can be read for a few days after it’s dead. It can’t think, but you can roam down any path that’s already been taken. The young telepath in the story delves into a dead woman’s mind. The dead woman is nearly her age. A bond is formed, and the telepath explores the dead woman’s past. Now, in exploring the dead woman’s mind, everything is possible.

You see? Like a story within a story, this is an SF story (anything is possible) that has a premise that makes anything possible.

I’ll give you another example. In the second novella, ‘The Linguist’, a telepath is called to read the mind of an alien. There is no other way to communicate with it. This is a last resort. We don’t know what will happen when this telepath touches the alien. Obviously, you can’t read an alien as you would a human; the wiring is completely different. And yet something does happen. I won’t spoil the story and tell you what happens and how, but I will say that I had to invent a completely new way for a telepath to ‘read’ an alien mind and to ‘see’ its thoughts. Again, I’ve created a premise which allows me to do anything.

In the last novella, ‘Most Beautiful Intimacy’, I made a telepath pregnant. In this world, telepathy works by touch. A pregnant telepath can’t disconnect from her baby. Not only that, she can’t always be in control, and so she can’t always tell herself apart from the baby. The story follows the telepath’s exploration of her baby’s mind as it develops during nine months of pregnancy. We will witness the first glimpse of a thought, the first half-emotion, the first senses, the first subconscious thoughts, the first everything. Again, this is completely uncharted territory. I could do anything!

So, you see, if you look for a premise that allows you to do anything, you can do anything. Not only will it be original, but it will also mellow the craziness of the ‘anything’ that you’re describing.


There are two kinds of surprises you can pull on the readers as the story progresses.

In the first, you get to a point in which something is supposed to happen (hopefully, every paragraph or so), and then one of the characters does something that surprises the readers.

That’s the regular way of doing things. Let’s look at the other way.

In the second, you get to a point in which something is supposed to happen (hopefully, every paragraph or so), but that point is constructed in such a way that the readers have no idea what happens next.

Do you see the difference? In the first, you have an ordinary plot but surprising characters, and the reader tries to outguess you. In the second, you have a plot in which everything is possible that carries you from one unknown to another, regardless of the surprising (or ordinary) behavior of the characters.

How do you create this paragraph after paragraph? Like anything else in writing, you practice. Try and write a plot in which, time after time, you truly have no idea what will happen next. If the plot carries you to a place that you think you may have seen before, start again. Do this again and again until your brain is used to creating a plot that carries you only from unknown to unknown. It’ll take time, but it’s not impossible.

I hope you liked getting a glimpse of writers’ mind and his tricks. Achieving a truly original plot or a crazy plot that looks like an original story is not impossible. Trust me. Anything is possible.


Guy Hasson's novel Secret Thoughts is now out from Apex Books. He can be found on his blog.Guy Hasson is an Israeli writer, playwright, and filmmaker. His fiction is predominantly written in English, whilst his stage and film work is written in Hebrew. He is also a two-time winner of the Israeli Geffen Award for science fiction short stories. Apex readers can find more of his work in the anthologies The Apex Book of World Science Fiction and Apexology: Horror.

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What do Wise Men Fear?

As seen on My Elves Are Different.

In other news I'll most likely be at Patrick Rothfuss's signing tonight in Brooklyn barring any personal craziness that may ensue. This is the first chance I've had to get my first edition/first printing of The Name of the Wind signed and I cannot pass it up.

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NEWS | Update on Ian Tregillis' Milkweed Triptych Delays

Last week I was trolling around a few author blogs to see if there were any updates about some series books where news has been fairly mute lately. This included stopping by Ian Tregillis' blog as I'm eager to see where things go after the events of Bitter Seeds. I noticed a comment about the second book in the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War, would not be coming out in 2011 as previously announced. Ian promised to do a complete blog post explaining the situation and the new publication schedule. Yesterday he came through with a very heartfelt post going into quite a bit of detail about the ups and considerable downs surround his books and publishing at-large.
So I'll cut to the chase: My publisher has delayed—yet again—the publication dates for the mass market paperback of Bitter Seeds, as well as for the hardcover of Milkweed #2, The Coldest War. This means that contrary to my last announcement (which came on the heels of a face-to-face meeting with my editor), Coldest War will NOT debut in October 2011.
Firstly, for those wondering none of the delays are Ian's fault in any way.  He turned the manuscript for The Coldest War in a bit early where it has languished on his editor's desk for more than a year and a half. He has also turned in the third and final book in the series Necessary Evil as well during this time, which was required by contract. All of this was done without any editorial notes or feedback of any kind.
OK. So what happened? And why will more than 2 years pass between the publication of Bitter Seeds and its sequel, The Coldest War?

First and foremost, nobody wanted things to turn out this way. My editor didn't, my publisher didn't, my agent didn't, and I sure as hell didn't. And yet...
Ian than goes on explaining each and every stumble he faced including 3 massive delays in the publication time table.  The whole post is well worth reading even if you haven't read Bitter Seeds as a cautionary tale of what could happen.  But Ian says there is hope in sight with a change in his editor and a new publication date for the mass market version of Bitter Seeds and for the hardcover of The Coldest War as well as new cover designs for the series.
The Milkweed books have moved to a different editor. (They're staying at Tor, so this is purely an in-house move.) The move has the blessing of all invested parties: me, my agent, my previous editor, and my new current editor. It wasn't undertaken out of spite or anger. The sole purpose of this 100% amicable move, as agreed upon by everybody involved, is to try to put the Milkweed books back on a reliable publishing track.

.... In less than two weeks, she had already read the published version of Bitter Seeds, as well as the 20-month-old manuscript for Coldest War, and was a few chapters into Necessary Evil. And she even plans to go back and reread Coldest War again before consolidating her notes on the book! I've been told to expect an editorial letter by the end of this month. Best of all, we had a broad-strokes discussion of her analysis, only to discover that we're very much on the same wavelength.

In the comment thread for the blog post linked up above, I said that the tentative schedule for the hardcover/ebook release of The Coldest War is summer 2012 (again following a month after the mmpb of Bitter Seeds). I have reason to believe that this time there will actually be an effort to make that stick. But I'm not making any official announcements for at least a little while.
So there is strong hope in site. Hopefully this situation doesn't sour Ian too much on publishing as I'm sure he has plenty of other books in his future. Check over Tregillis blog for the complete story.

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Cover Unveiled for The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

The Clockwork Rocket is Greg Egan's first Steampunk related title, although he seems to be going with his strengths giving Steampunk a more hard Sci-Fi edge than we normally see. Hopefully Egan's Orthogonal series is better done than Alastair Reynolds' disappointing Terminal World. The synopsis certainly intrigues me greatly and the cover does give a good Space Opera feel.
In Yalda's universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy.

On Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky.

As a child Yalda witnesses one of a series of strange meteors, the Hurtlers, that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed. It becomes apparent that her world is in imminent danger — and that the task of dealing with the Hurtlers will require knowledge and technology far beyond anything her civilisation has yet achieved.

Only one solution seems tenable: if a spacecraft can be sent on a journey at sufficiently high speed, its trip will last many generations for those on board, but it will return after just a few years have passed at home. The travelers will have a chance to discover the science their planet urgently needs, and bring it back in time to avert disaster.

Orthogonal is the story of Yalda and her descendants, trying to survive the perils of their long mission and carve out meaningful lives for themselves, while the threat of annihilation hangs over the world they left behind. It will comprise three volumes:
Book One: The Clockwork Rocket
Book Two: The Eternal Flame
Book Three: The Arrows of Time
The Clockwork Rocket will be released this July in the US by Night Shade and September in the UK Gollancz.  Egan even has a page setup to explain the physics behind this Universe that is a bit over my head at this early hour, but there is also this handy video.

The view from Yalda's Spaceship:

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New Procurements

Here's a smattering of the books I've purchased the past few weeks along with some review copies that were orphaned on my doorstep. Lots of good, unusual, and a few hotly anticipated titles are included. Not pictured is The Wise Man's Fear since I'm in the middle of it and I can barely put it down to put this post together. My short review so far: if you loved The Name of the Wind you'll love this and it could possibly be better.

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch - The second in the Peter Grant Urban Fantasy series from Doctor Who scribe, which I bought when I picked up my copy of The Wise Man's Fear. I enjoyed the first of Aaronvitch's series Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, but didn't quite love it. I may end up doing a review of the first two books together if I like what I read a bit more this go around.

The Sea Watch by Adrian Tchaikovsky - The sixth book in the Shadows of the Apt series, which I've been enjoying quite a bit. This is the UK edition and the first for my collection as I won it through a twitter contest. Go me and Tor UK!

The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky - The fifth book in the Shadows of the Apt series that I know I'll get to in short order especially since I have the next book already at my beck.

7th Sigma by Steven Gould - This is Gould's first major novel in 4 years. Mechanical bugs are eating the western dusty parts of the US for any metal so they can replicate themselves.  I've been looking forward to this one for a while so I'm glad this arc came my way. It also sports a pretty awesome cover as well.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi - Another hotly anticipated title for me as I've read nearly all of Scalzi's novels, novellas, and shorts. This is an arc as well that has a very nice cover by one of my recent favorite artists Kekai Kotaki.  This novel is the reboot of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, which is quite good in and of itself.

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines - Superheroes and zombies clash in what looks to be a dark take on Superheroes that I couldn't pass up when my wife wanted a few things ordered.

The Extraordinary Voyage of Jule Verne by Eric Brown, Turns & Chances by Juliet E. McKenna, My Death by Lisa Tuttle - These are from the PS Publishing novella deal they've been having. If you're in the mood for some good short fiction and love signed collectible books do check it out. These are actually my first hard copy books from PS and they put out a quality package.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman - The first of Newman's re-releases from Titan Books starting with the beloved off take on Dracula that is a bit steampunk. This was sent by the publisher and has a neat old-style newspaper look to it.

For Heaven's Eyes Only by Simon R. Green - The arc of the fifth Eddie Drood/Secret Histories series that I haven't even begun despite having the first four books on my shelf and it is connected to the Nightside series in some ways as well.  I'm going to try to start the series this summer.

Chung Kuo by David Wingrove - Corvus Books is starting a huge relaunch of the Chung Kuo series with two prequels for a total of 20 books. I decided to get the first volume released many years ago used to see if it was worth picking up all the re-releases slated. The first prequel Son of Heaven, which looks really gorgeous judging by the pictures I've seen has just been released in the UK, but is available as an ebook many places.

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BIG NEWS | A Dance With Dragons has a pub date!

According to Entertainment Weekly George R.R. Martin's long awaited A Dance With Dragons will be released July 12th in both the US by Bantam and Voyager in the UK.  The final hardcover will be over 900 pages, putting it up there with A Storm of Swords the longest in the series to date. Here is a bit from EW's interview with GRRM:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What took so long?

GEORGE R. R. MARTIN: I’m not sure I have a good answer. If I did, I would have taken less time. It’s enormous. It’s as long as A Storm of Swords. It’s very complicated. I have a lot of characters and points of view. And I’ve been doing a ton of rewriting, trying to get it where I wanted it to be. Some of these chapters I’ve rewritten more times than I can count before I’m satisfied with them.
Apparently the date is very firm.  And George R. R. Martin has confirmed the date as we on his site:
Meanwhile... there is news. Big news. The end is in sight, at long long last, and we're close enough so that my editors and publishers at Bantam Spectra have set an actual publication date.

This date is different. This date is real.

The dragons are coming. Prepare to dance.
Is it super geeky that I just put the date in my calendar?  Let the re-reads begin!

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REVIEW | Brave New Worlds ed. by John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams has singled-handedly been responsible for making me read more short fiction in the last 3 years than nearly the 10 years before that.  Each collection starting with his first reprint anthology Wastelands up to his latest Brave New Worlds have done a great service to each of the themes visited providing a well rounded smorgasbord of ideas and entertainment.

Brave New Worlds is Adams' best entry into the reprint anthology fold thus far bringing to light many impossibly classic stories as well as some recent gems that will mostly stand the test of time as well. Each and every story grows from the kernel of an idea that society or politics has become gone awry in some way either in its laws or rituals. Adams provides his incisive commentary to introduce each piece as usual, which does tend to drift into some good social commentary as well given the topic at hand. Some stories are about people raging against the machine while others are about those who just fall in line simply because they are instilled with fear of what would happen otherwise.

While at first look Brave New Worlds simply looks like a collection put together for their name value--as it is a who's who of classic and modern authors--I quickly realized that each and every story was picked with care and some even defy normal convention as we are treated to a short graphic story by none other than Neil Gaiman that in no way feels shoehorned in and Ursula K. Leguin's piece  "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" from the 70s that feels absolutely timeless, but has no main characters as it sweeps through a town. While there are some I didn't connect with as well as others there isn't a clunker in the bunch. These 33 stories inspire a sense of caution and sometimes outright horror about things that could easily come to pass.

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson is one of the best known examples of a dystopian story and immediately sets the right tone for the collection. It is a simple yet very effective use of bringing an ancient ritual into somewhat modern times. This was actually my first time reading the story, but I enjoyed it so much I immediately re-read it.

"Red Card" by S. L. Gilbow is placed in a world where from time-to-time someone gets a free pass at murdering someone.  The story comes off feeling very realistic with the tone of the protagonist having an eerie sense of doing the right thing. Would you shoot that guy who cut you off on the way to work if given the chance?

"Ten With a Flag" by Joseph Paul Haines gives us the ultimate choice tale. As technology advances we're able to learn more and more before birth about our children, but do we really want to know more? And should the government know before you do? Haines crafts a very fine story that twists very nicely in the end.

"The Funeral" by Kate Wilhelm is definitely, if not a precursor to The Hunger Games, a big influence in many ways. The class system was very similar and the story centers around young girls wanting to escape from their society. It was far too short given all the tidbits thrown in.

"O Happy Day!" by Geoff Ryman is probably the most screwed up story in the bunch condemning most men to death for being too violent while a few gay men are saved only to do the worst jobs possible in their society. Very dark stuff with a hint of hope.

"Billennium" by J. G. Ballard was an amazing take on population growth and getting exactly what you ask for only to ruin it yourself. I felt like I was reading a story right out of the Twilight Zone.

"Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn turns the overpopulation theme a bit on its side with this one. We always get stories about people breaking the laws having children, but rarely do we get to see what happens down the line, which is what Vaughn gives us here. I never thought I'd care this much about a story on a fishing boat, but the struggles of the crew left me rapt.

"Pop Squad" by Paolo Bacigalupi gives us another of his truly darkly inspired stories about a world where aging is frowned upon and children are straight out illegal.

"Dead Space for the Unexpected" by Geoff Ryman is his second in the collection only on the lighter side.  Think of Office Space, but with a main character who wants nothing more than to please and be praised for it. Than make him as big a dick as you can think times 2 and you're just about there.

"The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick is another classic that should be read by everyone even if you've seen the movie (which has held up on its own as well). A conspiracy of future events is after the main character as he attempts to proves his innocence against irrefutable proof in a country where you're arrested before you even commit a crime.

"Just Do It" by Heather Lindsley is made of pure awesome.  We all know advertising has gotten out of control and invades nearly every aspect of our life, but what if it was literally injected into you? This story made me hate McDonald's all over again.

"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. asks us When does making everyone equal become unfair?
Very funny in a twisted sort of way given all the handicaps the characters are under.

"Caught in the Organ Draft" by Robert Silverberg imagines a world where the elder elite have changed the laws to harvest organs from the young. Damn if this doesn't seem all too feasible now.

"Arties Aren’t Stupid" by Jeremiah Tolbert gives his characters their own version of a techie Patois which lend this tale a huge amount of originality, which is beautifully told. Art is integral to a groups essence and when society forbids them their creative powers start a shift that will change the world.

As immensely readable as Brave New Worlds is I had to put it down intermittently just because I couldn't stand the idea of finishing the collection. I give Brave New Worlds 10 out of 10 hats. This is one of the best collections of this or any year and showcases Adams's immensely keen editorial eye. If you are a fan of classic authors George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, and modern scribes Suzanne Collins, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Lauren Beukes you should add this to you collection and savor it. For a good size helping of these stories a free sampler is also available containing 10 of the stories.

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