The Barrow

6/30/06

No Agony in Crossing Over

Rick Kleffel of the Agony Column has just posted his review of Joel Shepherd's upcoming novel Crossover. He praises Joel for his:

"...immersive writing style. That and his ability to integrate rip-roaring noir plots with perceptive character development that spins off some interesting thought-experiments about how technology will make our lives bigger but not necessarily better. Shepherd also has a rather droll sense of humor. He pumps up his borderline clichés to make them snicker at themselves. The reader gets to join in. "

Rick goes on to compare Crossover, and the two books in the Cassandra Kresnov series which will follow it, to two other trilogies about "cyberpunkette heroines," Elizabeth Bear's Hammered, Scardown, and WorldWire, and Marianne de Pierres' Nylon Angel, Code Noir, and Crash Deluxe.

My thoughts exactly. In fact, Marianne de Pierres just called Cassandra a "compelling addition to the world of Science Fiction's Fatal Femmes." Recall too that Publishers Weekly said, "Shepherd's intriguing heroine and strong female characters bode well for this projected series. ... Shepherd grapples with some genuinely thought-provoking questions on the nature of humanity." Which is what I like about Joel's work, as he marries the smart idea to the exciting action as well as anyone I've ever seen and better than most.

6/28/06

John Scalzi Interviews David Louis Edelman

Noted author and blogger John Scalzi (he of Old Man's War and the Ghost Brigades) interviews David Louis Edelman, author of Infoquake, on his AOL blog By the Way. While talking about writing the future of business, Edelman says:

"The thing to remember about predicting the future is that human nature doesn't change. We're still the same people that Adam Smith wrote about. We're still the same people that Shakespeare wrote about. In fact, as Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke pointed out in 2001, we really haven't changed much since that first dude figured out how to hit the other dude on the head with a bone. In some ways, all of human history is just one long story about two groups squabbling over limited resources."

Read the whole interview here, and be sure to stop by David's Infoquake page, where he offers chapter excerpts, podcasts, and numerous background articles about the world of the novel, several of them exclusive to the website. Also see the new group blog Deep Genre, of which Edelman is a founding member.

Update: Rick Kleffel has just published his review of Infoquake over on the Agony Column:

"...a very solid and satisfying read... Edelman has one hell of a hoot taking high-tech marketing out to draw and quarter it with style and panache. Infoquake is a very funny and insightful novel of modern economics through a futuristic funhouse mirror... Edelman's future has lots of interesting nods and textures. The kind of virtual life and secondary worlds that have become part-and-parcel of post cyberpunk science fiction are here in layers. ...delivers a solid and satisfying science fiction novel."

6/26/06

Set the Clock Back for Retro Fun

A review of Chris Roberson's Paragaea has popped up over at SFSignal:

"In a time when science fiction seems to be taking itself way too seriously, along comes a contemporary pulp adventure that injects some fun back into the genre. ...the strong point of Paragaea is the adventure hook; and not just any adventure hook but a retro-style one. Paragaea is enjoyable for the same reason that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was - nostalgia. This ultimately gives the book a sheer-entertainment flavor that makes it charming."

6/25/06

Keeping it Real & Gradisil: Buy American!

The latest issue of Cheryl Morgan's wonderful Emerald City is online, and this one includes two very enthusiastic reviews I'd like to call attention to. One is by Karina Meerman and is of Justina Robson's latest, Keeping it Real. The other is by Joe Gordon and is of Adam Roberts' latest, Gradisil.

Both reviews are of the UK editions of these novels, both of which were published by Gollancz and edited by Simon Spanton, the man who first brought you Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon and whose editorial judgement I am coming to greatly admire. In fact, I've yet to read a novel Simon selected that I don't think is positively brilliant. Both these books, certainly, are garnering wonderful reviews in places like Locus, SFX, Starburst, SFFWorld...

Now Keeping it Real and Gradisil will be coming out from Pyr in our Spring/Summer 2007 season. We expect to use a variant of Larry Rostant's fantastic cover for our edition of Keeping it Real, whereas the marvelous Stephan Martiniere has already turned in his artwork for Gradisil, to my and Adam's considerable delight, and I am anxious for the day when I can debut it here.

And speaking of that day...

If you live in the United Kingdom or one of the territories served by Gollancz, then I urge to rush out and buy these books right now. Justina's novel is the most over-the-top fun I've had with a book in long time, crazy Matrix action, cyborg-on-elf sex, blood sugar sex magick and rock'n'roll. I've not gasped for air in sheer delight at anything like this since Michael Swanwick's Darger and Surplus tales, and I've not seen anyone before exhibit the brazen chutzpah in takes to write total Power Rangers-style action sequences with such a straight face. And being Justina Robson, there's also a lot of brilliant speculation amid the fun and genuine troubled-girl angst. Think Robocop asking "Do I look fat in these jeans?" Whereas Adam, who has absolutely astounded me since I first read On, who is one of the smartest individuals it has ever been my priviledge to know, and who writes big concept SF of the Arthur C Clarke variety only filtered through a level of literate prose & multi-layered narrative that would do Theodore Sturgeon or Samuel Delany proud, has written a birth-of-a-nation epic that may be his finest achievement to date. Gradisil succeeds on both the macro and micro level, presenting a very convincing portrait of the decades just passed our current wave of non-NASA space exploration, where every dot com billionaire has his own rocket program, to the end of the 21st century when near-earth-orbit becomes a practical destination for people to go en masse, coupled with a very personal tale of revenge threaded through one family tree. Political satire and Greek tragedy. What's not to love? So yes, if you live in the UK or thereabouts, go pick up the Gollancz versions now with my blessing.

But if you live here in North American, can I ask you a favor, on behalf of myself, Pyr, and both of these authors? Please wait for our edition. I didn't used to think that it mattered. Sometimes I liked the UK cover better than the US, or I wanted a hardcover when the US publisher only brought the book out in trade paperback or mass market. Or I didn't want to wait. So yes, if you went through my own library, you'd see a few UK editions acquired in years past. But now I know better. There are a long list of deserving British and Australian authors that you don't see over here. There are others that you don't see here any more. Science fiction is not such a big market that the few hundred editions that slip through the specialty shops, or get shipped from Amazon.co.uk don't make a difference. Oh, if you collect the UK versions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, you probably aren't really going to make a dent in his sales, but for a lot of these writers, particularly of hard, literate SF, it does matter. This is Adam's first book in the US - something that many people, not just Yours Truly - think is long overdue, and how our edition of Gradisil does will very substantially effect whether his next work of sheer genius comes out in the US or not, either from Pyr or someone else. We're very fortunate to have Ian McDonald's magnificent River of Gods, which, unless you've been living under a rock, you know is being touted everywhere as being a monumental, landmark work, one of those once-in-a-decade achievements, a "must read," but Ian is an example of a writer who was out of the US market for several years before finding his way back in. He's very glad to be back, and we are priviledged to have facilitated his return. So my long-winded point is, if you admire these writers, and you want to see more of their work over here, please show your support for the US editions. Every person makes a difference. And hey, I'm not just talking about our authors and pimping our own books. This applies across the board. Go buy Bantam's edition of Jon Courtenay Grimwood's masterpiece; go pick up the Night Shade edition of the latest Iain M. Banks; get the Del Rey edition of that Hal Duncan book you've heard so much about. If you're a collector, and you've got to have that UK first edition - if the work means that much to you - consider buying both. Hey, I've got all three of China Miéville's Bas Lag novels in their original UK hardcovers, absolutely, but I've got the Del Rey trade paperbacks too.

I appreciate your indulgence with this post. I've seen enough people posting on blogs lately, asking "Why can't I buy the UK version? Why should I wait?" You can make up your own mind, but I think a lot of people don't actually know the impact of buying outside their territory, and I wanted to set the record straight. And for those of you who've been supporting us when we bring you overseas talent, my deep and sincere thanks. There's a lot more where that came from.

6/21/06

Infoquake Arrives & Resnick Podcasts & Infoquake Arrives

Mike Resnick's 2006 Hugo Nominee, "Down Memory Lane," which is included in his recent Pyr collection New Dreams for Old, is now available as a podcast from Escape Pod, read by Alex Wilson.

In other news, very happy to report that Infoquake is back from the printers, should be in stores shortly, and is already listed as shipping now on Amazon. Infoquake is already being podcast by the author David Louis Edelman, available in a variety of formats here. Meanwhile Edelman, on the new group blog Deep Genre, posts a rather funny 20 Ways Science Fiction and Fantasy Are Like Mozilla Firefox. My personal favorite is reason number 13.

6/20/06

More Good Reviews Coming Down the River

Sick of all these good reviews for Ian McDonald's River of Gods yet? Me, I never tire of reading them. Here, Mark Teppo has a very insightful analysis on Strange Horizons:

“While the Indian intermingling of reality and mythology is an important part of the resolution of the novel (as well as being responsible for a great deal of the rich texture of the book), in River of Gods McDonald is also building at true 21st century novel, recognizing the growing influence of cultures other than the US in the global Weltanschauung…a dense, sprawling microcosm of a novel…it is the first book in a long time that I’m looking forward to reading again.”

Teppo's review touches on similar points to those raised by Cheryl Morgan in the April issue of Emerald City when discussing 21st Century science fiction:

"21st Century SF ... will concentrate on the future after the fall of the American economic empire. It will often be set in former Communist countries, and in countries now regarded as 'Third World' such as India and Brazil. The prevailing technology will be biological. Early examples of the sub-genre might be M. John Harrison’s Signs of Life, Geoff Ryman’s Air, and Ian McDonald’s River of Gods (not to mention the eagerly awaited Brasyl)."

And Jonathan Cowie has a word or two of praise for Michael Blumlein's The Healer over on the Science Fiction and Fact Concatenation:

“While a work of art and fiction, it does speak of a whole profession, and a key one at that to our society both local and global. Few books do that.”

Update: Blogger William Lexner, on his speculative fiction reviews blog, I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away the Ending, compares Ian McDonald to such "visionaries" as Samuel Delaney, J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, Vernor Vinge, Roger Zelazny, and Salman Rushdie. He writes that River of Gods is:

"...as complex as it is lush, as forbidding as it is human. ...what awaits is the best science fiction novel of this newborn century; the most important SF novel that has been released in my 18 years of fandom."

And thanks to William for the kind words about Pyr, which he describes as "a newcomer to science fiction publishing, but with River of Gods they gain instant credibility as a powerhouse in genre fiction." You are making us all blush.

New Dreams is Resnick's Favorite

Mike Resnick is interviewed by Lee Barnathan over at SciFi Wire where he describes his recent short story collection, New Dreams for Old, as "probably the best of the eight books" he has slated for release this year. New Dreams contains 20 short stories, most of them recent work and many of them award nominees and winners. You can read the full interview here.

6/19/06

Sci-fi book signing planned at Oread Books

From J-W Staff Reports:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kansas University’s Oread Books plans a book signing featuring 10 noted authors of science fiction and fantasy on July 8.

The authors attending the book signing will include Lou Anders, Robin Wayne Bailey, Bradley Denton, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, Frederik Pohl, Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski. They will be joined by two additional authors, the to-be-announced recipients of the 2006 John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Awards.

The book signing takes place in conjunction with the annual Campbell Conference and its John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. The Campbell Conference is the concluding event of the yearly Writer’s Workshop and the beginning of the Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction, through the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU.

The event begins at 12:45 p.m. in the Oread Books lounge in the Kansas Union. It is free and open to the public.

Paragaea & Crown Rose Love

Rich Horton has some nice things to say about Chris Roberson's Paragaea over on SFSite:

"This new novel is old again. That is, it's quite explicitly, indeed exuberantly, in the mold of planetary romances such as Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars books, Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon serials, and Leigh Brackett's work. And, as the author reminds us, the television series Land of the Lost. Chris Roberson also includes buried references to many other SF books, and he grounds his story in at least vaguely (if not very) plausible speculative science. The end result is quite a lot of fun... I enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed and cared for the characters. Roberson has produced some excellent short fiction in the past few years, and this book (his second novel) suggests he will be producing engaging longer works as well. "

Rob Benford does as well over on SFFWorld:

"Chris Roberson thrusts readers into a fantastic world, both familiar and original in its sense of wonder. Very often throughout the story, he hits the reader across the face with scenes eliciting a feeling of, 'Wow, look what he did here! No, wait, don’t miss this either!' I found myself thinking this throughout most of the book, enjoying each tidbit of SFnal goodness Roberson put into the story... While Roberson definitely echoes many of his genre predecessors, the sense of lost/forgotten technologies coupled with the blurred line of technology and magic also reminded me of a couple of recent novels, Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain and Keith Brooke’s Genetopia. Roberson manages to pay homage to his literary predecessors while maintaining a strong sense of modern sensibility and keeping pace (and often outpacing) his contemporaries... I want to read more about this strange, fascinating, and slightly recognizable world. Much of his fiction is linked and part of a cohesive universe, not unlike Moorcock’s Multiverse. This is good news indeed, because I would love to hitch a ride on a return trip to Paragaea."

And Julie Haves over at the Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation e-magazine seems to like our first season novel, Fiona Avery's The Crown Rose:

“A charming and believable, though fantastic, novel encompassing love, romance, war, political intrigue and the legendary order of the Knights Templar…a wonderful, magical, entertaining, heart-warming and tragic novel. It is a breath of fresh air, a truly original work which is a great pleasure to read.”

And, at the same e-mag, so does Sue Griffiths:

"What sets the book apart from many a historical work of fiction is the balance of intrigue, mysticism and romance. Another interesting addition to the book is the author's notes at the end, explaining where she received the inspiration for her characters, who the real historical figures were and how the author researched events of the period of history her book is set in. The author's interpretation of what life was like in that era is well pieced together, and while the mysticism in the book is a welcome change from a straightforward historical drama, it is also to the writer's credit that it is not something that is overplayed, and therefore does not detract from other characters or the events in the story."

6/13/06

Info Update

David Louis Edelman, author of the upcoming novel Infoquake (available for pre-orders on Amazon.com, Booksense, and Barnes & Noble) is one of the founding members of a new group blog called DeepGenre. Edelman is joined by fantasy novelists Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars and the Novels of the Jaran), Katharine Kerr (Dragonspell, the Deverry novels), and several others. The blog debuts today.

Meanwhile, Chapter 5 of Infoquake has been posted online, with two new original illustrations by Josef K. Foley. Also new online is the background article on orbital colonies, including a list of major settlements and a brief history of offworld colonization.

Edelman will be appearing at next month's Readercon SFF convention in Burlington, Massachusetts from July 7-9, and the 64th annual WorldCon SF Convention in Anaheim, California from August 23-27. More Infoquake news available at www.infoquake.net

6/12/06

Publishers Weeky on Crossover

The June 12, 2006 issue of Publishers Weekly has some very nice things to say about Joel Shepherd's upcoming novel, Crossover: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel:

"Set in the far future, Australian author Shepherd's energetic debut introduces Cassandra Kresnov, an experimental killer android-with-a-heart who has defected from her League Dark Star special ops assignment. Graced with a yen for human art almost as insatiable as her libido, Kresnov first tries to melt anonymously into Tanusha, the sybaritic capital of Callay, a planet of the League's galactic archenemy, the Federation. But Cassandra can't leave her martial past behind when she's caught up in a heroic struggle to protect the Callayan president from assassination by Federal forces. Shepherd's intriguing heroine and strong female characters bode well for this projected series. Lacing Cassandra's search for identity and acceptance with plenty of hand-to-hand combat and racy sexual exploits, Shepherd also convincingly presents vividly realized ethical dilemmas: what happens to soldiers when the war is over? can a culture that opposes the artificial manufacture of life accept its creations? Shephard grapples with some genuinely thought-provoking questions on the nature of humanity."

6/8/06

PayPal comes to Pyr

Just a quick note to say that we've added PayPal buttons to all the individual Pyr book pages in our current catalog. Now purchases can be made direct from parent company Prometheus Books, who are offering a 20% discount off the cover price to customers who order via PayPal. As always, the usual suspects of online merchant options are also offered: Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, and Booksense.

6/7/06

The Forecast Looks Bullish

Over at the Agony Column, Rick Kleffel has just posted his thoughts on David Louis Edelman's Infoquake, forthcoming from Pyr this July. Kleffel sees Infoquake as fitting into the tradition of Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's classic The Space Merchants, and being in the company of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Charles Stross' The Family Trade:

"Edelman, Doctorow and Stross are, like all great science fiction writers, not really writing about the future. They're responding to the present, and in the present, economic science is driving societal decisions every bit as much as any hard-science technology. In fact, economics drives the hard science, in that we only get the technologies that look profitable. Edelman's vision in this regard is particularly sharp and particularly on-point. There's a certain amount of satire going on here, but Edelman is quite serious about his world, which makes it all the easier to invest in his characters and settings. "

Kleffel has already opinioned elsewhere that Infoquake "will be one of the most praised first novels this year." Meanwhile, Edleman continues to podcast chapters from his novel, post excerpts, and grow his fascinating background articles about the Infoquake world. (Oh, and completely unrelated, he blogs about his recent trip to France.)

6/6/06

Drum Roll Please...

Here is the final cover design for Joel Shepherd's Crossover, coming out this August. The artwork is by Stephan Martiniere with design by Jacqueline Cooke. (When clicking to enlarge the image, right click and open the image in a new window to avoid the frames here.)

Crossover is the story of Cassandra Kresnov, an artificial person struggling to find a new life away from the war with which she has grown disillusioned. Tobias S. Buckell (Crystal Rain) recently described it as "an awesomely zesty adventure set amongst a nicely realized multiethnic future. A blast to read."

Update: You can see the original illustration, sans text, here on Stephan's website.

the Ultimate Science Fiction Novel

Christopher Priest (The Prestige, The Separation), in an interview in the June 2006 issue of Locus magazine, on the impact of reading Ian McDonald's River of Gods:

"It's like the ultimate science fiction novel: it's got science, inventions, some terrific characters, wonderful locations, and some of the filthiest sex I've read. When you finish a book like that there's the feeling of 'Holy ****! Now what am I going to do?' Why bother?' In the old days, that would have stopped me writing. I'd have to recover for a couple of years before I could forget it."

6/2/06

Classic Action/Adventure with Bug-Eyed Monsters

Reviewer Steve Lazarowitz really enjoyed Mike Resnick's Starship: Mutiny, as he says over at SFSite:

"Starship: Mutiny was a blast, in more ways than one... It's an action-packed romp through a science fiction funhouse complete with bizarre aliens, breathtaking escapes, space battles and the biggest battle of all, trying to do the right thing when everyone around you is beyond caring. To say I enjoyed the book would be an understatement of vast proportions, and you can rest assured I'll be reading the sequels as they come out. Can a science fiction maestro like Mike Resnick turn his hand to the pure entertainment of space opera? You can bet your last galactic credit on it. If you're a fan of the subgenre, or Mr. Resnick's work, Starship: Mutiny is one book you won't want to miss."

6/1/06

The Djinn's Wife

For those wanting more of Ian McDonald's near-future India, his latest story "The Djinn's Wife," on stands in the July issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine and partially excerpted online here, is another tale set in the same universe as his 2005 Hugo nominated novel River of Gods and his 2006 Hugo nominated novella "The Little Goddess."