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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

VIDEO | The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Simply a wonderful short film that will enchant book lovers everywhere.

Via SFSignal

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New Procurements

Things are in full swing as I wind-down operations at Mad Hatter Central in preparation of moving into Mad Hatter Manor. Yes, that means I'm moving. This also means things around here will be slow. Again. But I do have some things in the works such as an interview or two. Anyhoo, here are the books most recently made part of my collection.

The first two were purchases made with my Christmas gift cards. Ben Loory's Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a collection of short stories that has been getting a lot of good marks and I finally decided to go for it. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is a debut for a new Urban Fantasy series and with a first line that starts: "The body you are wearing used to be mine." I'll be checking it out soon. And yes that big yellow book next is Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. You may all weep into your hats in disappointment that it isn't in your stack, but it does come out in March so don't cry to deeply. Another March release is Jon Sprunk's last shadow book Shadow's Masters, which means it is time I get to the 2nd book Shadow's Lure. Heir of Novron finishes off the fun so-far Riyria series by Michael J. Sullivan. The books sure look nice lined up on the shelf.

A lot of Night Shade titles came in recently including J.M. McDermott's When We Were Executioners. The more I say the title the more I like it. Say it with me: When We Were Executioners.  Hitchers is Will McIntosh's second standalone novel, which I've already started and quite like as the spirits of the dead hitch a ride with the living.  Last and First Men by Olaf Stapleton is a another after Christmas buy since it has been on my longlist of books classic Sci-Fi books needed in my collection. Royal Street is Suzanne Johnson's debut, which is the start to a New Orleans influenced Urban Fantasy series. New Orleans is one of my favorite places. In fact I have a long weekend planned there in February so I'll think I'll bring it with. Under the Moons of Mars is John Joseph Adams' new all-original anthology of fiction influenced by Edgar Burrough's John Carter/Barsoom. Quite a line up in this one with Garth Nix, Genevieve Valentine, Austin Grossman, Peter S. Beagle, and Joe R. Lansdale just to name a few. Next is Book Prize Winner A.S. Byat's Ragnarok, which uses the basis of the Norse myths of Ragnarok in story form. Very intrigued by this one. Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan another that has caught me by surprise. Check out this part of the description:
It is the Afterlife. The end of the world is a distant, distorted memory called “the Age of F***ed Up Shit.” A sentient glacier has wiped out most of North America. Medical care is supplied by open-source nanotechnology, and human nervous systems can be hacked.
Crazy right? Good thing I like crazy. Next are a couple more debuts from Night Shade who just keep killing it. Enormity by W.G. Marshall tackles modernizing the B-movie theme of someone waking up one day and becoming a colossus. Tooth and Nail by Jennifer Safrey at first sounds a bit cutesy for my taste. A female boxer who turns out to be a tooth fairy, but I just may give it a chance.

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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol. 12 (December)

December saw me trying to cram in all the books I've been meaning to read this year. It turned out to be a very good month with hardly any disappointments. And I also managed to read 125 books during the course of the year. This includes so novellas and graphic novels, but not every little thing I read. Still I'm quite happy with that number, but very unsure if I'll even come close to it in 2012. 2012 is setting up to be a very busy year for me personally since I'm trying to sell my house and move along with a lot of travel. Travel does generally mean catching up on reading though, but we'll see. Anyway here is what I read in December.

114.  Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon - This is a story that plays with connections, expectations, and can severely screw with your head. It is undoubtedly beautifully told, but the ending left me wanting. But maybe that is just what Chaon wanted? Recommended.
115.  Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott - Perspective is key in McDermott's opener to the medieval set Dogsland Trilogy. We view the story from someone with the ability to absorb someone's memories for them to see and experience most of what that person did. The absorber is a Demon Hunter out to destroy those with demon blood. It is very introspective and looks at what it means to be an outsider from many different POVs. McDermott is pushing the boundaries of Fantasy and they are a vision to behold. Never Knew Another is currently free if you've an e-reader and if you are the type looking for something new and unusual in your Fantasy McDermott delivers. Recommended and I'll certainly be reading the sequel When We Were Executioners at some point (out this February).
116.  Eyes to See by Joseph Nassise - Even though Nassise has written a lot of books this was my first of his and it is the start to a new Urban Fantasy series starring a man who blinded himself so he could see the magical spectrum in order to find his missing daughter. All in all a good premise and solid delivery. Nothing too exceptional for the genre, but I'll be interested to see where the series goes from here.

117.  Kultus by Richard Ford - Another I just couldn't get into that will probably be picked up at a later date.
117.  Giant Thief by David Tallerman - A debut that is all about pushing the story forward as a low-life thief takes-off with a giant. This isn't one of those thief with a heart of gold stories. If Easie, the thief, had a heart of gold he would have dug it out and sold it years ago. Recommended for classic Fantasy fans. Be sure to check out my interview with Tallerman.
118.  Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern - Ranging from first contact and last contact to vacationers visiting an alien's home world and being, typically, obnoxious guests Alien Contact compiles one of the most diverse collections of modern stories concerning the "other." Highly recommended. I would have liked to seen some more classic examples, but there have been many anthologies now decades old that have already done so.
119.  The Bride Wore Black by Simon R. Green - After finishing Alien Contact I had a case of reader indecision, which was quickly cured when the final Nightside book showed up at my door. Despite the repetitiveness being at an all time high for the series, this was a nice farewell to the denizens of the Nightside and John Taylor. But when are we going to get a Razor Eddie novel?

120.  Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges - A classic collection of Borges best known work, including my personal favorite "The Library of Babel." which has become an iconic work. Nearly every story is a gem showcasing Borges scalpel-assured skills of style, wit, and philosophy. This is a collection I've re-read many times over the years and will do so for many more. Simply a classic that belongs on everyone's shelves.
121.  Abhorsen by Garth Nix - Nix's Abhorsen trilogy is something I've been slowly savoring and considering I read the first Sabriel, last Christmas I thought it appropriate to read the last this Christmas. The world is so well developed, but Nix has an unbelievable knack for developing reader ties with characters you never want to let them go. Highly recommended.
122.  The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and touching novels I've read this year.  Obreht has a bright, bright future ahead of her.  We travel with a young female doctor in the Balkans coping with the loss of her grandfather. The story switches between the grandfather's past and his granddaughter's search for closure. I'm not sure Magical Realism would be appropriate for the story as those aspects are hardly the point, but the story of the deathless man and tiger's wife definitely give you reason to push forward if the emotional story wasn't enough for you.  Highly recommended.

123.  The Magician King by Lev Grossman - The sequel to one of my favorite books of 2009 is now one of my favorite books of 2011. This time around the Grossman successfully attempts to subvert the quest story (especially Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and does so with verve, aplomb, and a lot of geekdom jokes showcasing just how much the author loves genre. Highly recommended, very much a worthy sequel.
124.*  Hounded by Kevin Hearne - Looking over my reading log I couldn't find this on the list despite knowing I read it so I add it here for completion sake. I certainly liked it well enough to do a interview with the starring character Atticus earlier this year.
125.  Empire State by Adam Christopher - A very interesting yet somewhat uneven debut.  I liked the Noir aspects melding with other genres (Superheros, Sci-Fi, Pocket Universes), and divergent characters created but felt the beginning set things off to a rocky start.  Fuller review likely to come.

Given that my year end awards The Hatties have already been announced it is probably not hard to tell which my favorites of December were, but in case it isn't clear The Magician King, The Tiger's Wife, and Never Knew Another. And if you haven't read Borges yet please go sit in the corner until you've done so. It has been quite a year for reading filled with many long awaited books and so many quality debuts I couldn't even get to them all. And 2012 is off to a good start, but more on that later.

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The 2011 Hattie Awards!!! Or the Best Books of 2011 (That I've Read)

Cover Unveiled for The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

It was announced in the summer of 2010 that Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter would be teaming up to write at least two novels in a series with the first being titled The Long Earth, which uses the trope of parallel earths. Divergent Earths is a trope I never seem to tire of given we generally get to see so many visions of a slightly altered Earth and how they came to be that way. And you just know Pratchett will bring the humor. One of Pratchett's longtime weaknesses has always been his the Science part of Science Fiction, as is very evident in his first novel Strata so bringing Baxter in to better handle that should certainly make this a smoother ride. From the info that has been released so far the idea for the story is very much Pratchett's and has been in gestation for decades now. The above is the UK cover, which is pretty but doesn't seem like a Pratchett novel.  Both a UK and a US blurb have been released and they are quite different so both are included below.  The Long Earth will be released June19th in the US and the 21st in the UK.

US description:
Larry Lynsey is a recluse. Aggressively protective of his singular solitude, he has searched long, far, and wide to find the perfect isolation. Deep in one of the farthest regions in Long Earth—a series of parallel worlds that become increasingly un-Earthlike with distance—in the region known as the High Meggas, the curmudgeon has found his Eden. He isn’t just the only living person on the planet; he is, in fact, the only person on the closest ten planets. It would take a ridiculously long time to reach him even if anyone tried.

Life for Larry is exactly how he likes it.

Unfortunately, Larry only thinks he’s alone . . .

Hapless travellers Anna Shea and Seven Valiente must have taken a wrong turn at a wrong star somewhere in the back of beyond deep space and have now gotten themselves stranded in the High Meggas. Larry’s High Meggas.

For the likes of the hermetic Larry, three is way too big a crowd, accidental tourists or not. Which means, he’s got to do something about them.

Which means, this being a Terry Pratchett story, hijinks, mishaps, and hilarity will ensue.

Infused with Pratchett’s subtle satire and vibrant, believable world-building and with award-winning author Stephen Baxter’s bold speculative insight, The Long Earth is dazzling feat of skill and imagination sure to enthrall fans old and new.
UK description:
The possibilities are endless (just be careful what you wish for...)

1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man's Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there's no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget - a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a 'stepper'. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that's an understatement if ever there was one...

...because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths...this is the Long Earth. It's our our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It's an infinite chain, offering 'steppers' an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger - and sometimes more dangerous - the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind...or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural 'steppers', who don't need his invention and now the great migration has begun...
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TIDBIT | GRRM Interviews Bernard Cornwall

Over at Omnivoracious George R.R. Martin interviews Bernard Cornwall and it is quite a nice interview filled with the wisdom from two authors who have been writing for quite a long time. Here a bit:
GRRM: It has long been my contention that the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin, that the two genres have much in common. My series owes a lot to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the other great fantasists who came before me, but I've also read and enjoyed the work of historical novelists. Who were your own influences? Was historical fiction always your great passion? Did you ever read fantasy?

BC: You're right - fantasy and historical novels are twins - and I've never been fond of the label 'fantasy' which is too broad a brush and has a fey quality. It seems to me you write historical novels in an invented world which is grounded in historical reality (if the books are set in the future then 'fantasy' magically becomes sci-fi). So I've been influenced by all three: fantasy, sci-fi and historical novels, though the largest influence has to be C.S. Forester's Hornblower books.
Go check the rest out here.

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INTERVIEW | David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

I've always had a penchant towards thieves in Fantasy. From Robin Hood and my old days playing DnD all the way up to Lynch's Locke Lamora and Hulicks' Drothe, thieves have always come across as great characters because they often fight with themselves about what to do and just happen to get in scrap after scrap. So I was immediately drawn to David Tallerman's very fun debut Giant Thief from Angry Robot in late January. Tallerman has been busily writing short stories for a few years having his work published in Lightspeed,  Bull Spec, and many other places, but it was the first line in Giant Thief that really drew me in and wouldn't let me put the book down.


MH: Thanks for joining us today David. To begin can you tell us a little about yourself and your road to becoming an author? You've published quite a bit of short fiction over the last 4 years, but Giant Thief is your debut novel. Did Giant Thief have its origins in any short story in particular?

DT: I'd been talking about wanting to be a writer since I was in my teens, but six or seven years ago it sank in that it had to be a lot more more than talk. I'd spent maybe five years writing a book I knew would never sell (and which no one will ever read!) and I finally realised writing was too important to me to treat that way. I wanted to write stories I liked and cared about, I wanted to work towards a point where doing that was more or less my life, and I finally felt like I was willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen.

I had an actual full-on Stalinist five year plan at the start there, but I don't remember what it actually was, and it changed a lot as things went on. At first I wrote vast numbers of short stories, which was a lot of fun. I tried to keep pushing myself, to be getting a little bit better all the time, or at least learning how to do something I'd never tried before.

There came a point, maybe three years into that, where I began to realise I'd have to have another go at a novel. Giant Thief didn't originate with any one story, but it did come out of not wanting to make the mistakes I'd made with my first attempt at novel writing. I was writing one or two short stories a month, and I didn't want to lose that pace. So it had to be something fast-paced, fun, not too convoluted. Something I could throw myself into and just keep moving with.

MH: Why giants?

DT: You know, I have no idea.

The image it all started with was a guy escaping on a giant ... I don't remember the particular train of thought that took me there, but it came from somewhere and I liked it, on a whole lot of levels. It met the criteria. What's more fast-paced, fun and linear than a chase? Then close on the first idea came the realisation of what kind of a character would think stealing a giant as an escape vehicle was a good idea - and there was the core of Giant Thief.

MH: Giant Thief is told in the first person from the titular thief Easie Damasco. Was there ever a time when the story was told third person?

DT: No, never. I guess that goes back to what I was saying above. I figured, not entirely correctly, that it was harder to tie yourself in knots with a first person narrative. Then again, once Damasco started to take shape it was obvious it had to be his voice doing the telling - because there was no way he'd ever shut up.

MH: Easie definitely has a tongue on him. Darker characters or what is becoming known as gritty, grey, and ambiguous characters have been on the rise in Fantasy the last decade and Easie seems to fit in that somewhere. When you were growing up what characters in Fantasy were you interested in? More of the reluctant born hero types like Aragon? Or someone who wants to do good, but isn't above doing a bit of evil to get their way? Or just an out and out bastard?

DT: With a couple of exceptions, those being Pratchett and Gaiman, I wasn't a big fantasy reader in my youth. It's really only in the last five years that I've been seriously reading fantasy. I guess both Gaiman and Pratchett did leave their fingerprints on Giant Thief, though. They're both terrific writers of protagonists you can't help rooting for despite, or because of, their overwhelming defects as human beings. My instinct with Damasco wasn't so much that he'd be gritty or ambiguous, but that he'd stay true to a few basic traits that were bound to come with the lifestyle he'd been leading. He's a thief. That means he steals stuff and doesn't beat himself up over it. He's used to getting by on his own, and he's got far too big a mouth. I'm okay with any kind of hero, good, bad or indifferent, so long as they have that kind of consistency.

MH: If you met Easie in a bar and he struck up a conversation are you more likely to buy him a drink or slap him for trying to steal your wallet?

DT: I'd buy Easie a drink, I owe him that much. But then I'd get the hell out of there. Even if he didn't make a grab for my wallet, there'd be sure to be trouble close behind him.

MH: Will we get to learn more about Giant culture in Crown Thief? Speaking of which where does the story go from Giant Thief?

DT: Not so much their culture, but we'll certainly see much more of the giants in Crown Thief, and get more of a sense of what makes them tick.

I don't want to say too much plot-wise about Crown Thief, for obvious reasons Suffice to say that it picks up directly where Giant Thief ends, with our heroes (that is, all the main characters who aren't Damasco) quickly realising that everything isn't just going to return to normal, that there are some major pieces left in the wake of the first book's events still to be picked up - in fact, that by trying to do the right thing they may have opened the floodgates to an even bigger threat. In amongst all that, we have Damasco heading off to meet the King, with the Castoval's greatest assassin at his heels ... and you just know that's not going to end well.

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

DT: A plain straw hat is fine by me. They never seem to last though. I've had my current one for a couple of years now, which has to be a record.

MH: Besides the release of Giant Thief what are you most looking forward to in 2012?

DT: Why, the release of Crown Thief of course!

No? Okay. Well, I'm hoping to finish the decorating and refurbishment of the house I bought a couple of months ago. That's pretty exciting.

MH: Since you're still early in your career I'm going to throw some good old standard questions at you that every novelist has to answer at some point. First, who is the one author living or dead you'd like to have dinner with?

DT: I'm going to say Terry Pratchett. Asides from the fact that I'm sure he'd be good company, I can't think of any writer, save perhaps King, who's struck such a balance between popular success, critical approval and tending to his own writerly needs. Long after the point where the Discworld should have got tired, long after the point where he ever needed to work again, you can tell Pratchett's still loving what he's doing.

MH: Next what are 3 of your favorite novels ever?

DT: Without giving it too much thought, I'm going to say...

Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household
The War of the Worlds - H G Wells
Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

MH: Very nice picks. Lastly, if you could live in a Fantasy world, which would it be?

DT: Tough question. Most fantasy worlds are fairly unsafe places to live in, aren't they? I'm going to opt for Vance's Lyonesse; it might not be significantly less dangerous than anywhere else, but at least I'd never be bored.

MH: Thanks for playing along. Besides January's release of Giant Thief is there anything you'd like to mention to close us out?

DT: Well, it would be lovely if a few more people read my blog at And if anyone happens to be at the UK SFX weekender in February, come say hi at the official Giant Thief book launch.

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NEWS | Chine Miéville Finally Coming to Comics

Only a couple years ago China  Miéville was slated to do a run on Swamp Thing, but with DC's Vertigo imprint folding many of the older characters back into the DC Universe for the New 52 launch including Swamp Thing stopped those plans. I also heard rumors of him doing a Scrap Iron Man story, but nothing ever came of it although China recently released a bit of info on this aborted project. So  Miéville getting a shot at a long-run in comics has been long in coming.  DC finally announced an official series with him called Dial H based off the the old Dial H for Hero comic series from the 60s.

Miéville has been a fan of Dial H for Hero since he was little and without tattoos. He'll work with artist Brian Bolland on the series cover who has worked previously on Judge Dredd, Batman, Doom Patrol, and a whole bunch of other series with Mateus Santoluoco doing the interiors. Santolucco is new to me, but just looking at his portfolio gives you a feel for what is to come. From China's interview with USA Today:
"I cannot believe that I get to just make up superheroes. It's what you did as a kid," Miéville says. "The whole point of Dial is that the roster of capes is changing every single month, often two or three times." He also promises a darker series with horror, sci-fi and lots of psychological ramifications for its dialing protagonist. "In the original run, he's turning into a giant spring coil to foil bank robbers, and I'm like, OK, what if you are a 25-year-old guy and you turn into a superpowered spring coil? That's going to mess with your head."
I certainly think Miéville can pull off an adult version of Ben 10. It will definitely be interesting to see him work in another medium. Miéville's first issue of Dial H should be out in May. So between that and his steampunk Moby Dick YA novel Railsea coming out this year we'll have plenty of Miéville to go around.

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NEWS | Info on the Ray Bradbury Tribute Anthology

I mentioned news of a Ray Bradbury tribute anthology a couple months ago called Live Forever!, which has since been re-tilted to Shadow Show. The title is a reference to Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, which is the circus from Something Wicked Comes This Way. The cover seen above looks to be the final and judging by the style I'd bet money on it being done by Tom Gauld who also recently did the covers for the Gaiman and Sarrantonio anthology Stories as well as Matthew Hughes' The Damn Busters. Here is the blurb:
Ray Bradbury is a storyteller without peer, a poet of the possible, and, indisputably, one of America’s most beloved authors. In a much-celebrated literary career that has spanned seven decades, he has produced an astonishing body of work. In Shadow Show, editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle have collected short stories from 27 of the most celebrated authors today to honor Ray Bradbury and his contribution to the literary canon.
The revealed list of contributors includes: Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Alice Hoffman, Dean Koontz, Audrey Niffenegger, David Morrell, Lee Martin, Ramsey Campbell, Robert McCammon, Dan Chaon, Joe Meno, Kelly Link, Jay Bonansinga, Sam Weller, Thomas F. Monteleone, John McNally, Mort Castle, John Maclay, Gary Braunbeck, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Charles Yu, Julia Keller, Bayo Ojikutu, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. The big names that weren't on the previous list I had include Charles Yu and Kelly Link. So you could definitely say I want Shadow Show come its July 17th release date.

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Winners of Alien Contact

Winners of Alien Contact, which took runner-up as Best Anthology of the Year in the Hattie Awards, are:

Ed from California City, CA - Signed Physical Book
Yagiz from Ireland - eBook

Thanks to Marty Halpern for making this contest happen.

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The 2011 Hattie Awards!!! Or the Best of 2011 (That I've Read)

2011 is officially over and what a year it was for genre fiction in general. We were hit with many long awaited reads as well as one of the most impressive debut lists in quite a few years. Making decisions on this list certainly hasn't been easy and if you asked me to redo this list in 2 weeks it would probably look slightly different in order at least, if not titles.  During the course of the year I managed to read 125 books or so and here is what I consider to be the cream of the crop.

Fantasy Novel of the Year

Winner - The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
Runner-up (tie) - The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss and The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Honorable Mentions - The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi, A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, and The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

With many Giants of Fantasy releasing novels most would think they'd win easily, but over and over again I found myself recommending The Night Circus to nearly everybody I know. It has stayed with me like few novels have. Morganstern created a world most anyone would love to get lost in. While The Wise Man's Fear hasn't been as universally acclaimed as The Name of the Wind it did fulfill all my expectations and Rothfuss continues to redefine modern Fantasy. The Magician King did nothing but play with my expectations taking the idea of the quest into heretofore unexplored territories while still reminding us of why quests adventures are so memorable. And that ending! The fact that it is better than The Magicians amazed me. The Cloud Roads and The Alchemist both stood out for their originality and left me wanting more from these worlds. A Dance with Dragons made the list entirely because of the Jon Snow chapters while Abercrombie's latest effort showed me Military Fantasy done to near perfection.

Science Fiction Novel of the Year
Winner - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Runner-up - Seed by Rob Ziegler
Honorable Mentions - Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, and Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson

While this year wasn't as strong as 2009/2010 for Science Fiction (Bacigalupi/Yu/Rajaniemi)there was plenty of good. Ready Player One just pushed all the right buttons with me and if you've ever been a regular gamer and were raised in the late 70s or or 80s you can't help but fall in love with the story and mentions of the things you loved growing up. Seed was told with such a strong voice and imagines such a realistic world I was left reeling about the possible future. Ziegler is definitely an author to watch. You could certainly say I had a strong inclination towards Apocalyptic reads this year given the nature of all of the above, excepting Vortex, containing some sort of decline of civilization.

Steampunk Novel of the Year

Winner - Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
Runner-up (tie) - Ganymede by Cherie Priest and All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

This year I dialed back the number of Steampunk reads, but those I did partake of ratcheted things up. Mechanique is a flat-out beautiful and disconcerting novel. Ganymede is now my second favorite Cherie Priest novel since she honored New Orleans so well and Rosen's debut brought laughter and a sense of joy to Steampunk.

Urban Fantasy Novel of the Year

Winner - Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Runner-up - Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey
Honorable Mentions - No Hero by Jonathan Wood, Briarpatch by Tim Pratt, The Rift Walker by Clay & Susan Griffith

This was a difficult category since you can define UF pretty broadly, but I stuck to books traditionally marketed as UF with the exception of The Rift Walker, which could have just as easily gone under Steampunk or just Fantasy. Hearne's Iron Druid series managed to balance humor, action, and gods in such an entertaining fashion that I was hooked from the onset. Aloha from Hell brought Sandman Slim up a notch with Kadrey caustic style while Briarpatch explored loss and what truly living can mean. No Hero did things just right by not taking itself too seriously in what turned out to be a mad cap throw down with beings from the beyond.

Debut Novel of the Year

Winner -  Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick
Runner-Up - God's War by Kameron Hurley and Seed by Rob Ziegler
Honorable Mentions - The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht and Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh

This was certainly the hardest category to narrow down since debuts were not only plentiful, but so many of them were damn good. Among Thieves was an early candidate in the year that never really slipped from that spot. Hulick's ability to weave such an intricate tale while also never having a dull moment locked it into place. God's War's Nyx is a star in the making and may go down as one of the most memorable characters in Genre. She is beguiling. She is tough. And she gets the job done. While Seed is getting a lot of comparisons to The Wind-Up Girl Ziegler goes for a much more minimalist style, but no less believable. He is a writer helping to illustrate what our destructive ways could wrought. The Tiger's Wife is one of the most beautifully written books I read this year. Some lines simply took my breathe away. Will McIntosh's Soft Apocalypse brought the idea of a slow degradation of our world to mind in a very believable way and as great as I think his first novel is I think he'll have even strong books in the future.

Funniest Genre Novel of the Year

Winner - The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell
Runner-up - Hounded by Kevin Hearne

The Goblin Corps is the book all pen and paper RPGers have been salivating for. It is playful, at times disgusting, and just plain old fun as it shows us the other side of evil. And somehow Marmell makes you root for the bad guys. Hounded can come off almost too silly at times, but Atticus is just one of those characters you can't help but like as he continues to make quip after quip even while running down a legendary Deity.

Anthology of the Year

Winner - Brave New Worlds edited by John Joseph Adams
Runner-up - Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern

1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 are 3 of my all-time favorite novels. So it is not too surprising that Adams' latest reprint collection impressed me as it is also his single best reprint collection yet. From the first to the last story we are shown visions of not so friendly futures. Inherently many are politically driven with "Big Brother" watching or manipulating, but so many are also moral stories about how we treat and trust one another when faced with seemingly impossible decisions. Brave New Worlds isn't just the best reprint anthology of the year, but probably of the last 10 years. Alien Contact does a very satisfying job of covering as many different styles of contact between alien races, but not all would be classified as "First Contact' stories. Alien Contact is a time capsule that illustrates many possibilities of "the other" and our possible reactions to them.

Publisher of the Year

Night Shade Books

This was an easy choice as Night Shade Books has upped their game so much over the last few years. 2009 was a huge year for them due to the success of The Wind-up Girl and they aren't a group to rest on their laurels. 2011 saw the start to their New Voices program with the goal to push new authors in speculative fiction that expand the boundaries of genre. This pack includes Kameron Hurley (God’s War), J. M. McDermott (Never Knew Another), Bradley P. Beaulieu (The Winds of Khalakovo), Rob Ziegler (Seed), and a whole bunch of other misfits I'm proud to have on my shelves. I can't remember the last time one company has dedicated themselves so much to new writers and managed to keep such a level of quality while doing so. 2012 will see the continuation of this program so I can't wait to see what NSB has in store for us.

Best Overall Book of the Year

I usually have a clear cut idea of which book I'll choose, but this year I just can't. I racked my brain on how to decide between these three books, but they all touched me in some way and will all end up on my shelf of favorite reads (now two shelves). So depending on your tastes any of these three books will please you in many ways:

The Night Circus
Among Thieves
Ready Player One

Books Most Destined to be Re-Read

Nowadays I re-read so few books, traditionally less than 5 a year, but 2011 was an exception since I re-read all of aSoIaF, The Name of the Wind, The Last Unicorn, and a couple others. So it isn't a light comment when I say something will be re-read.  An easy one to mention is The Wise Man's Fear since I enjoyed my re-read of The Name of the Wind before I read WMF and I can see doing it again. Ready Player One is another that I can see getting just as much enjoyment out of a second go around. I have had my sick-day movies such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off picked out for years and now I think I have my new sick-day novel.

On Letdowns

If you had told me a year ago that a Dresden Files novel would make this part of the list I would have slapped you and told you to get off my digital lawn, but Ghost Story just disappointed me on so many levels. I was a bit scared at first about posting my thoughts and getting the backlash, but while some disagree with my assessment many agreed with me about the weaknesses even if they ended up liking the book much more than I did. I also had some deep problems with Embassytown. I loved some of the ideas Mieville came up with especially playing with language, but I felt too disconnected from the characters to the point where I didn't even feel enough to dislike them. And the middle of the book was a bit of a mess. I still think Mieville is brilliant. It just didn't work for me. The Unremembered was a debut that came with a lot of promise, but didn't manage to separate itself enough from Epic Fantasy that came before it.

Best Read Book Published Before 2011

2011 saw me try to get to more of the books that have been sitting on my shelves that I've been "meaning" to read. The stands outs include:

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge - A story so big your mind with have to expand to encompasses it all.
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett - Remember how much you liked Martin or Abercrombie the fist time? Yeah, it is almost like that. I have the second novel already, but I didn't want to read it until I knew when the next one was coming out, which is now tentatively February 2013.
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont - Possibly the most pulp-tastic novel of the last twenty years that combines the real pulp writers of 1930s as characters more interesting than their creations. Mixing the genres of adventure, detective, and romance this was just a joy to read.
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon - A novel that keeps you guessing right until the end.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Say what you will about a book that has been taken to by the masses, but Collins certainly invests you in the characters emotionally.

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Best Books of 2010 (That I've read)
The Mad Hatter's Gift Guide
Top 5 Reads for first half of 2010 (Plus Top 5 Most Anticipated)
Best Books of 2009 (That I've read)

Poll Results and Another Awesome First Line

The results are in for my recent poll to select which early 2012 debut I'll be reading and reviewing are in.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (51%)
Seven Princes by John R. Fultz (34%)
Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper (15%)
The Games by Ted Kosmatka (11%)
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole (11%)
Faith by John Love (1%)
As everyone can see Throne of the Crescent Moon had a very decisive win with more than half of all people voting for it. Seeing Throne win wasn't a big surprise, but seeing it win so strongly definitively shows where expectations lay. It was very apparent that Sci-Fi scored low this go-around. I'll still most likely pay all of the above some sort of lip service in the coming months and just to play with people's expectations I've decided to read and review the book with the lowest votes, Faith by John Love. Speaking of Faith I started it yesterday and was greeted by another great first line:
His pregnancy convulsions dragged him out of unconsciousness.
So you could definitely say I had to find out what this line lead to. Two chapters in and I'm completely hooked to this Space Opera about a mysterious ship that attacked a civilization 300 years ago and is back for a repeat performance 2012 is looks to have a good start reading-wise thus far..

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Cover Unveiled for Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Cover Unveiled for The Games by Ted Kosmatka
A Song of Ice & Fire Poll Results
Reading Habits Poll Results