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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

FREE FICTION | Carlos Ruiz Zafon's origin story of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

"Rose of Fire" is a short story by Carlos Ruiz Zafon translated by Lucia Graves set in the world of the much beloved The Shadow of the Wind. It tells the origins of Cemetery of Forgotten Books in the fifteenth century. I have just made your day as I know it made mine.

The story is being released for promotion of Zafon's The Prisoner of Heaven, which is just a few short weeks away. You can find the story for free at nearly every major e-book vendor including Nook, Amazon, Kobo, etc.

Go forth and enjoy!

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A Quick Top 6 of 2012 So Far

A nod of the hat to Jared of Pornokitsch for reminding me that yes, we're halfway through the year. My answer to the question is always the same. It depends on what flavor you're after. These are my top six of the moment in no particular order:

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway - A gonzo pulp cold war thriller fest with crazy contraptions.
The Croning by Laird Barron - As perfect of a Horror story that I've ever read.
Faith by John Love - Imagine the crew of the Enterprise only they're all a bit off their rocker while battling a mysterious ship.
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed - Sword and Sorcery done right. Great characters and action.
Prepare to Die by Paul Tobin - A superhero novel that reminded me of a cross between Nick Hornby and Alan Moore.
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis - The perfect middle volume in a genre bending trilogy. He used what was setup in the first so well. The wait was worth it. Nazi Supermen versus Dark Elder Gods indeed.

And yes, I'm just now realizing 3 of the top 6 are Night Shade titles as well as 4 being debuts, but I do tend to be a debut heavy reader. Wells's The Serpent Sea was another top book in addition to Kiernan's The Drowning Girl. Also, I'm almost halfway through with Black Bottle by Anthony Huso, the sequel to one of my favorite books of 2010, The Last Page. As of this moment I'm not sure if it would have made this list as there are plenty of pieces left to fall into place.

In the camp of best books I've read this year published prior to 2012 I'm still blowing the horn for Watts's Blindsight and Andre Norton's Forerunner. In the short story camp Loory's Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day as well as Ligotti's Noctuary are the bee's knees.

Some of my most anticipated books left for the year include The Broken Isles by Mark Charan Newton (another series closer), The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (already have a copy), A Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (on pre-order), The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest, and The Siren Depths by Martha Wells. Still plenty of time for some surprises as well.

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INTERVIEW | Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds

REVIEW | Redshirts by John Scalzi

John Scalzi never disappoints. He writes very solid and entertaining stories, but with Redshirts he's letting his geek flag fly at all-time heights. Even further than he did with The Android's Dream. If you've been a fan of Sci-Fi and Star Trek: TOS in particular then you understand the idea of being a red shirt means you're probably going to die or at least be relegated to a bit player. Redshirts shows us a future where being issued a wardrobe of red is a very bad thing.

It is true that Redshirts skewers early Trek and it does it very, very well. And it contains the best BJ joke you've probably heard all year. Yet Scalzi goes much deeper as things progress and just gets out and out strange in the last third. The story begins simply enough with new ensign level crew members coming aboard the Universal Union flagship Intrepid, which just always seems to be running low on crew. They quickly realize they are the expendable type, but something more seems to be going on then that. Improbable things keep happening and then things get meta and weird. Or is all meta weird?

The story is not without its faults. Very little character growth occurs and some of the characters aren't very indistinguishable from others. There are many instances of some clunky bits especially in the aforementioned final third. However, this hardly ever dampened the grin the story continual caused me to sport. Either way Scalzi has written the book he's probably been dying to get to for years and the Star Trek parody I've always wanted. And while it is in a similar camp as Galaxy Quest it's setup rather differently and explores the trappings of Sci-Fi in a very unusual manner. To go into it much more would ruin things. Suffice to say if the initial hook works for you I can't help but recommend this to most Sci-Fi fans, especially those of an older generation that are looking for more than a few laughs.

It is a much stronger showing then Fuzzy Nation, but still doesn't reach the level of detail or characterization that the Old Man's War books achieve. Redshirts is most definitely Scalzi's lightest and funniest novel to date. I give Redshirts 4 out of 5 hats. The story ends with 3 codas that are ancillary short stories closing off some loose ends brought up in the main narrative. The first was overly long and the third felt unneeded, but these parts are the more emotionally fueled sections.

P.S. If you haven't read/seen Stefan's Redshirts photo review get thee to Civilian Reader.

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Cover Unveiled for Earth Thirst by Mark Teppo

Mark Teppo--long-time friend of the blog--should be familiar to readers as we've covered his first two novels Lightbreaker and Heartland, interviewed him, and he's even stopped by to share some knowledge. So I couldn't pass up the chance to showoff the awesome cover for his next novel Earth Thirst--his take on Post-Apocalyptic Vampires. The art is by Cody Tilson who did my favorite cover of 2011, Seed. Knowing Teppo's work as I do I'm expecting an original take and I had a chance to get the lowdown on the project and the cover from him directly:
I've had the idea for Earth Thirst rattling around my head for a year or so now, but my schedule really hasn't been open enough to write it. After World Fantasy Convention last year, I realized that I probably wouldn't have a clear opening for another year or two and the idea behind the book did have some timeliness. If I waited and then tried to sell it--and then waited another year before it came out--I might miss the best opportunity.

So I sent Jeremy Lassen the pitch and a couple of chapters, explaining that I wasn't sure when I would have time to write it, but that I was very excited about their new books and their marketing efforts. I thought that they would know how to sell Earth Thirst and would get it in front of the right readers.

Jeremy emailed me back later that afternoon and said, "Yes, please, and how soon can I have it?"

I said, "Well, like I said, I'm super busy and . . . "

He replied, "Bla bla bla, writer's excuses, whining, not really listening. How about you get it to me as soon as you can and we'll put it in the schedule?"

(This is somewhat paraphrased, of course, but he and I had recently come to an understanding that the best way to get something on my schedule was to cram it on there and make me figure out how to solve the resultant time management problem.)

I meekly agree. Oh, who am kidding? I was thrilled.

A couple months later, I get a call that they're very excited about the premise of the book, they have a plan for marketing (which is exactly the sort of three word pitch I had been hoping to hear), and they're going to get Cody Tilson to do the cover.

"The guy who did the cover for Seed?" I ask after doing a quick Google search. "The guy who just won a Spectrum Award for Art Direction?"

"That's the one. You good with that?"

"Yeah, yeah, that'll be fine." All calm on the outside, jumping up and down on the inside.

Last week, they send me the cover. I'm still jumping up and down. Now I'm thrilled people will get a hint of what I'm talking about when I say I'm writing an eco-thriller with vampires.
Earth Thirst will be out January 8th from Night Shade Books. Here's the official blurb:
The Earth is dying. Humanity--over-breeding, over-consuming—is destroying the very planet they call home. Multinational corporations despoil the environment, market genetically modified crops to control the food supply, and use their wealth and influence and private armies to crush anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of their profits. Nothing human can stop them.

Once they did not fear the sun. Once they could breathe the air and sleep where they chose. But now they can rest only within the uncontaminated soil of Mother Earth—and the time has come for them to fight back against the ruthless corporations that threaten their immortal existence.

They are the last guardians of paradise, more than human but less than angels. They call themselves the Arcadians.

We know them as vampires. . . .

A Vampire Eco-Thriller? Count me in!

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Cover Unveiled for Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Art by Allen Williams

The all-original anthology Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells by the super editing duo of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling is coming early next year. The theme is Gaslamp Fantasy, which falls along the lines of Steampunk only with more of a focus on magic instead of tech. The line-up looks quite impressive as does the cover. Love the white-glow-y hair.

“The Fairy Enterprise” by Jeffrey Ford
“From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvelous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire)” by Genevieve Valentine
“The Memory Book” by Maureen McHugh
“Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells” by Delia Sherman
“La Reine D’Enfer” by Kathe Koja
“Briar Rose” by Elizabeth Wein
“The Governess” by Elizabeth Bear
“Smithfield” by James P. Blaylock
“The Unwanted Women of Surrey” by Kaaron Warren
“Charged” by Leanna Renee Hieber
“Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey
“Phosphorus” by Veronica Schanoes
“We Without Us Were Shadows” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Vital Importance of the Superficial” by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer
“The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown” by Jane Yolen
“A Few Twigs He Left Behind” by Gregory Maguire
“Their Monstrous Minds” by Tanith Lee
“Estella Saves the Village” by Theodora Goss

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells will be released in March from Tor simultaneously in both hardcover and trade paperback. Another noteworthy anthology coming this October from Datlow and Windling is After comprised of all-original dystopian/apocalyptic stories.

Also here is the art unadulterated.

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New Procurements

A pretty steady group of review copy packages showed up while I was at BEA. A stack so large it nearly rivaled the pile I got from BEA, which is rather saying a lot.

Cannibal Reign by Thomas Koloniar might work for when I'm in a darker moon.  Then I got a galley of Jay Kristoff's debut Stormdancer, which falls in the category of "Books I Can't Wait For" since I first heard the basic pitch of Japan meets Steampunk. It comes out in September so I'll be reviewing it around then. And its US cover is pretty awesome. The Light is the Darkness by Laird Barron is a purchase and one I mentioned not too long ago. Existence is David Brin's first new novel in quite awhile and looks to be part of the Kiln Books universe, but looks o standalone well. I might dip in soon although I might finally read the first Uplift novel (I know). Then a bit of surprise is a Doctor Who novel Shada by none other than Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts. I've become a big Whovian the last few years so I may try this out. Heaven's War by Goyer and Cassutt is their second in a Sci-Fi series I still haven't checked out. At the bottom is Charles Stross's The Apocalypse Codex and given I'm woefully behind on the Laundry series it will be awhile before I get to it.

Lots of coolness in this stack. Going Interstellar is the latest anthology from Baen with a mixture of essays from scientists on space travel and stories about the same. The Boolean Gate by Walter Jon Williams is his new novella for Subterranean Press. The next two galley are highly anticipated novels, by me at least. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines is one I've mentioned before and I still love the concept. And this copy just so happens to be signed! Sam Sykes is closing out his debut trilogy with The Skybound Sea, a series I've enjoyed quite a bit.

This Dark Earth is John Hornor Jacobs's sophomore effort that looks all kinds of bad-ass. No Going Back is Mark L. Van Name's latest hardcover. I've heard good things about Van Name before, but I'm not sure if this is where I should jump in. Any opinions? Love the cover.  I also bought the first volume of Mark Waid's Irredeemable on Stefan's recommendation. Peter F. Hamilton's Great North Road is a hugely anticipated novel in the Sci-Fi community and will be my first of his to try since it seems to be standalone. I do have the first of the Void trilogy kicking around here somewhere though. Next is the second volume of the graphic novel adaptation to The Eye of the World. I haven't seen the first, but I'll probably check it out as the art looked great on flip through. The last two are from Edge Publishing with Paradox Resolution about fixing time travel devices by K.A. Bedford who I'm not familiar with and Dave Duncan's Wildcatter who I do know a bit and his is about prospectors in space, which does intrigue me. I love a good story about discovery and greed.

So what caught your eye this week? Out of everything the Sykes, Kristoff, Hines, Jacobs, and Hamilton will hopefully be read and reviewed around their release dates.  But I also want to get to Jacobs and Brin. If only I had all the time in the world to read and review...

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NEWS | New Sanderson YA Novel

Information on these projects is still sparse, but it is certainly good to know they're on the way. First Brandon Sanderson has signed with Gollancz in the UK and Delecorte in the US for his first official YA novel called Steelheart. This is a project Sanderson has mentioned in passing a few times generally called his Superhero apocalypse and originally written in 2010, but put on the& back-burner due to other projects. Here is the description taken from Gollancz's announcement:
The first novel of Sanderson’s new series, STEELHEART, follows David – a teenager in the city that was once called Chicago – as he searches for the extraordinarily powerful Epic named Steelheart, who killed his father. Steelheart possesses the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, no explosion can burn him. Nobody fights back… nobody but the Reckoners.

A shadowy group of ordinary humans, the Reckoners spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then taking them out. For the death of his father, David wants to be there for the kill. For years, like the Reckoners, David has been studying, and planning, and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed.

STEELHEART takes an action-heavy plot, layers in complexity, and delivers twists and a breathtaking conclusion, as David and the Reckoners try to undo the dystopia the Epics have created. According to Sanderson’s agent Eddie Schneider, STEELHEART has entered preliminary negotiations for a major Hollywood deal.
Steelheart should be out in the Fall in both the US and UK. I have to reiterate that Brandon Sanderson is still a juggernaut of an author and is showing no signs of slowing. We've already talked about the shorter works he has brewing this year and next year we'll have the last Wheel of Time, Steelheart, and quite possibly the long awaited The Rithmatist, which is his chalk magic book. And I have a feeling he'll have at least one more surprise in store for us.

The next big tidbit is that I found a listing for John Scalzi's next book from Tor titled The Human Division. No other information is available, but it looks like it will be out in April. I can't judge by the title whether it is related to his other books. If anyone has insights feel free to chime in. I'm still hoping for a sequel to my favorite Scalzi, The Android's Dream. It is also worth noting this will be out less than a year after Redshirts. So Scalzi is no slouch either.

UPDATE: See John Scalzi's comments as the listing on Amazon is a snafu of some sort. This is hardly the first time I've run afoul with news from Amazon and it probably won't be the last.

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GUEST POST | Jeff Salyards on Why I Love Bloody Fantasy So Much

Why I Love Bloody Fantasy So Much
by Jeff Salyards, author of Scourge of the Betrayer

The Mad Hatter, being, well, a bit mad, asked me if I was interested in running with this topic for a guest blog. Me, also perhaps a touch not right, said absolutely.

The truth is, while I have never shied away from violence in my writing, I try very hard not to fetishize or glamorize it, and I never aim to be gratuitous at all. The world in Scourge of the Betrayer is certainly harsh, no question, and plenty of characters do meet an unpleasant (and yes, sometimes gruesome) end. If I handed the book to anyone accustomed to reading cozy mysteries and harlequin romance, sure, they might go pale and hand it back pretty quick.

That said, I like to think the violence in Scourge serves a purpose. I grew up on Howard, Feist, Tolkien, Eddings, Burroughs, Moorcock, LeGuin, Zelazny. All of them are fabulous in their own way, but none of them treated the violence in an overtly in-your-face way. Even Conan’s exploits, brutal as they could sometimes be, were hardly Tarantinoesque. Combat happened in these books, but it wasn’t hardcore, and while the action scenes were entertaining, they weren’t especially realistic. In some cases, they were brief and fairly sanitized, and in others they were of the swashbuckling variety, more akin to the choreographed Errol Flynn fencing of old—showy and fun, for sure, but failing to accurately capture what it’s like when two men armed with blades try to really slice each other into ribbons.

When it came to the combat scenes in Scourge, I wanted to establish as high a level of verisimilitude as you could in a fantasy novel, something that would make Bernard Cornwell want to buy me a beer. Still, while the fights in the book certainly involve bloodletting, it often takes some real effort to get there. The action sequences usually involve combatants wearing various levels of armor—everything from simple gambesons and nasal helms to full scale, mail, or lamellar hauberks or cuirasses and great helms. And beyond parades, jousts, and posing for effigies, armor was largely NOT a fashion statement—this stuff can be hot and uncomfortable when you’re tromping around on campaign all day. People suffered the relative discomfort and paid the (sometime exorbitant) prices not to look pretty, but because by and large, armor worked.

There are tons of myths about arms and armor that drive me a little batty—e.g., swords weighed ten pounds; a man in plate had to be hoisted onto a horse with a crane and was as helpless as an overturned turtle if he got unhorsed and lost his footing; medieval combatants just whacked away at each other with massive, clumsy weapons, totally lacking sophisticated training or technique; Vikings had horned helmets; swords could slice up plate armor and turn mail into cheese cloth, etc.

Now, I’m no purist about this stuff. The term “chain mail”, though wrong, was not a D&D invention, but promoted by a bunch of stuffy Victorians. Same dealio with “plate mail” and a bunch of other mistakes and misnomers that cropped up in enough books, movies, and Ren Faires over the years to be almost ubiquitous. Those bug me, but I can handle a lot of them, though I make it a point to avoid inaccurate terminology whenever possible. But the armor getting diced up part, or warriors being clumsy or ignorantly brutish thugs—yeah, those I take issue with.

There has been a lot of research in the last 50 years that has undermined a good deal of the the previously accepted/entrenched opinions. If you Google “armor vs. arrow” or “mail vs. sword” or anything similar, you’ll find roughly about 10 million hits, many of them tests of varying kinds (some well-intentioned, many amateurish or obviously biased) to demonstrate just how feeble or impenetrable armor really was. So, as you might expect, there is still some disagreement among historians and in the various WMA (Western Martial Arts) communities about its effectiveness, ranging from “armor was never compromised, not ever, ever, ever” to “look at the illuminated manuscripts—everyone in armor looks like they were attacked by Wolverine!” The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but again, people wore mail for thousands of years because it was damn good defense against the weapons of the day, ditto for most other kinds of armor that had serious longevity. Not invulnerable, not beyond compromise, but affording the wearer a pretty high level of protection. Otherwise they would have just spent the money on ale and wore fur loincloths or mail bikinis, which clearly are fashion statements.

So, all that said, I really tried to emphasize three things in my novel.

1) Armor worked—not always, and not forever, but it was NOT easy to cause debilitating carnage to an area protected by mail/lamellar/scale (the tech level in this world—plate doesn’t make a cameo). So there are plenty of instances when the armor does its job in the book—deflecting blows, minimizing bludgeoning damage, saving someone’s ass, prolonging the battle. It was no easy thing to take a well-armored man down.

2) While the term “Dark Ages” has fallen out of favor in lot of circles as being inaccurate, simplistic, or misleading, plenty of folks still think that after the fall of Rome, no one underwent any martial training until, oh, Napoleon got up on a really big soap box to issue orders. The truth is, there was plenty of training, strategy, and tactics in the medieval and Renaissance period. Genghis Khan employed elaborate feints and utilized sophisticated intelligence gathering and propaganda; Edward III orchestrated devastating chevauchées in the Hundred Year’s War; plenty of manuscripts explicitly describe how to fence with a sword and buckler, engage in a judicial duel, grapple, and on and on. This isn’t the place to go into it too far, and I’m probably not the best guy for the job, anyway—I know just enough to be dangerous, really—but needless to say, there wasn’t a skills blackout for 1,000 years. Soldiers knew their business, particularly the wealthy martial class and the mercenaries who were rarely out of work for very long. So I tried to capture that in Scourge—Braylar and the Syldoon have been exhaustively trained, and it shows when the blows start flying.

3). Combat of every time period is brutal and ugly, but this was especially true when you had to wade through mud and blood to try to bypass or beat through that spiffy byrnie to carve him up or turn him into hamburger. Sure, people were killed at farther range—bolts, arrows, stones from trebuchets, etc.—but most skirmishes and pitched battles involved ending someone’s life up close and personal, nasty like. And when the armor is finally negated or ultimately fails, it ain’t pretty. Sites like Towton and Visby perfectly illustrate just how horrific hand to hand combat could be.

Archeologists and military historians have sifted through the evidence and painted a really grim picture of what those kinds of battles were like, with a number of the dead being stuck by numerous blows, skulls being caved in, legs and arms being lacerated before the man dropped his guard or fell or whatever and someone could deliver a coup de grâce. For those interested in the topic, it’s pretty grisly and fascinating stuff. But the takeaway for me, and what I tried hard to showcase in Scourge, is that battles with swords and spears and falchions were likely terrifying, even for hardened veterans, and death could swoop down at any instant as you were blindsided, or lost your footing in the offal, or were overwhelmed when only moments before you were pretty sure your side had the decided advantage. Armor did work, but the old adage about battle plans going to hell after the first engagement were likely even more true in pre-modern warfare.

So, yeah, it’s not that I love bloody fantasy for the blood’s sake. Don’t get me wrong—I dig Tarantino and Peckinpah movies, and love authors like Joe Abercrombie, Richard K. Morgan, and Mark Lawrence. But I wasn’t setting out to emulate them, or to drop in buckets of gore for shock or kicks. The battles in Scourge of the Betrayer are harsh and brutal, can change momentum in a heartbeat, and yes, are bloody as hell, because I was aiming to instill as much realism as I could cram in there. I tried for combat that was as visceral as possible—I really wanted the reader to feel the suddenness, the grit in the face, the stink of sweat and shit, the sounds of combat, the fear a man on foot experience facing a horseman charging down on him, the nerves before the first clash, the intense relief after the last.

Sometimes this means blood gets spilled. Sometimes a whole bunch. Cozy mystery fans stand warned.

Jeff Salyards grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn’t Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the fantastic. Though his tastes have grown a bit darker and more mature over the years. Salyards' debut novel, Scourge of the Betrayer, is a hard-boiled fantasy published by Night Shade Books in May 2012. It’s the first installment in a series called Bloodsounder’s Arc.

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A Very Brief Run-Down of BEA 2012 Along With Swag

The largest book show in the US Book Expo America, was this week and I went for my annual visit amidst the throngs of librarians, booksellers, industry people, and for the last 2 years a lot of bloggers.

Day 1

I afforded myself most of the day to wander around the main show floor which meant much jostling, squeezing, and nudging through the very busy aisles near the larger publishers. Traditionally people congregate around the likes of Random House, Hachette, Harper, and Penguin as they give out a whole lot of books and they change them throughout the day. There are also tons of signings in the booths.

My first stop was in the very, very long line for Justin Cronin who was signing The Twelve. It was probably the second or third longest line I've ever stood in for BEA behind Neil Gaiman a couple years back and George R.R. Martin many years back. Traditionally I try not to commit to too many lines of this sort as you do miss out on other things and I'm impatient. But given how much I enjoyed Cronin's The Passage I bite the bullet. In the end it went quicker as Stefan from the Civilian Reader met me while queuing and we chatted about books and life, as we tend to do. We also ran into Joshua Bilmes from the Jabberwocky Agency. Agent to such fantasists as Peter V. Brett, Brandon Sanderson, Jim C. Hines, and Myke Cole. In other words: the agent to people I consider stars. Cronin was quite friendly once we got to him. My main question was asking him if it would be about two years for the third volume in which he sheepishly admitted that was the plan. I got the very strong sense that he's been asked many times and felt bad about it taking so long, but I told him two years for a book this size is more than acceptable. He looked a bit relieved.

After that Stefan and I wandered a bit as you're wont to do at such things. We made our way to the Amazon booth as they were giving out a fuckton of books from all of their new imprints. While browsing we again ran into Mr. Bilmes along with Myke Cole who is a super cool guy in person. He's got the energy and excitement you want to see in a debut author. From there we met a few publicists from Amazon and Orbit. I then wanted to go to a quick signing at the Algonquin booth to get a copy of Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach. Mission accomplished. We then wandered by the SFWA booth where Laura Anne Gilman just happened to be signing Flesh and Fire and met her agent Jennifer Jackson. Jackson reps many authors I'm a fan of like Jim Butcher, Cherie Priest, and Martha Wells.

After that I went off on my own as Stefan had three bags and really couldn't handle more, but I managed to find a few more things Jonathan Tropper's One Last Thing Before I Go, which was on my must grab list. I then went to rest my weary feet.

Day 2

The second day I only got a few hours on the floor, but I got my golden goose.  I tried to go to Morganstern's signing for The Night Circus, but the line was just too long. I then heard people saying the space shuttle was being towed on the Hudson to the Intrepid. I quickly ran over and snapped a couple pictures because it is really something you don't see everyday. The most common comment was "It looks smaller than I thought." Right after I learned about the death of Ray Bradbury, which did cast a shadow on the show somewhat. But more on that in another post.

After that I met Stefan at N.K. Jemison' signing for The Killing Moon. The line was long, but this time I sidled up next to Stefan. It pays to have friends at these type of shows. Soon after is when I landed my golden goose. I had heard rumors of Harper doing something with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's latest book at the show. But it wasn't anything concrete so it could have amounted to nothing, a poster, bookmarks, or a sample chapbook. But again while wandering with Stefan we walked through the Harper booth and saw a line starting, but no notice about a signing, which was odd. Usually there are only lines for signings. What's this for we asked? Someone said "Galleys of Prisoner of Heaven." Zafon's Prisoner of Heaven I asked? "Yes." And from there I dragged Stefan into line. It went rather quick and I now have in my possession of a galley that will be read within the next week most likely. Though I am tempted to re-read The Shadow of the Wind beforehand. Also not seen in the book pile for the day is Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan that got put in a bag I forgot about. The title definitely drew me and if you're curious the short story it is based on is available here for free.

Near the end of the day I met up with Liz Upson from Night Shade to say hello and share a glass of wine. After that I was spent. I skipped the third day as I had had my fill and did all the damage I could take to my legs. The post-BEA body aches had set in. But it was a rather successful couple of days. I met many people and got to debate books with Stefan, which is always better in person. And I got nearly all the books I hoped from. Now I'm going to soak my feet.

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Ha! So true.

I'll be at Book Expo America for the next few days so I thought I'd leave you with this in case I don't have time for other postings.

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UK Covers Unveiled for Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim

Hot on the heels of the reveal of the US cover for the 4th Sandman Slim novel Devil Said Bang, comes the UK covers for the first 3 books in the series that will be release for the first time on their shores. Starting with the original Sandman Slim coming June 4th the second (Kill the Dead) and third (Aloha From Hell) novels will be coming out in about 2 week intervals to catch UK readers up. I quite like the art itself and the title treatment is very similar to the US counterparts. They could have benefited from a touch more color, at least with the first though, but they do evoke their down and dirty violent style quite well.

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More Laird Barron is Always a Good Thing

While not a Horror aficionado I have been known to dip my toe in the area every now and again. One Horror author's work who I've found myself dipping into at regular intervals is Laird Barron. The man has won or been nominated for nearly every award he's been eligible, most notable winning the Shirley Jackson Award twice. His debut The Croning (released just last month) novel pretty much blew me away. It is a masterwork nailing the sense of dread combing folklore and Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror.

Around the same time The Croning was released I found out Barron was publishing a very limited (and expensive) edition of his long novella The Light is the Darkness and at over $200 it was out of my range. It is quite a beautiful edition that I found my mouse hovering over more than once. There's a couple photos of the lettered edition here. I held off knowing he'd probably include it in a future collection. I've just learned that there will be a trade paper release the middle of June for under $20 from Arcane Wisdom Press available through Miskatonic Books and other places like Barnes & Noble.

The blurb is below, but it is Barron. Just go and order it already and if you haven't gotten his collections Occultation or The Imago Sequence or novel The Croning get thee to a bookstore.
Conrad Navarro is a champion of the Pageant, a gruesome modern day gladiatorial exhibition held in secret arenas across the globe. Indentured by a cabal of ultra-rich patrons, his world is one of blood and mayhem, an existence where savagery reigns supreme while mercy leads to annihilation.

Conrad’s sister has vanished while traveling in Mexico. Imogene, a decorated special agent for the FBI, was hot on the trail of a legendary scientist whose vile eugenics experiments landed him on an international most-wanted list. Imogene left behind a sequence of bizarre clues that indicate she uncovered evidence of a Byzantine occult conspiracy against civilization itself — a threat so vast and terrible, its ultimate fruition would herald an event more inimical to all terrestrial life than mere extinction.

Now, Conrad is on the hunt, searching for his missing sister while malign forces seek to manipulate and destroy him by turns. It is an odyssey that will send this man of war from the lush jungles of South America, to the debauched court of an Aegean Prince, to the blasted moonscape of the American desert as he becomes inexorably enmeshed within a web of primordial evil that stretches back unto prehistory. All the while struggling to maintain a vestige of humanity; for Conrad has gazed into an abyss where the light is the darkness, and he has begun the metamorphosis into something more than human.
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