The Barrow

1/24/07

What's not to love?

Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate gets a B from Sci Fi Weekly. D. Douglas Fratz isn't criticising when he says in his review of the book:

"...to enjoy this novel it is important that the reader unpack and leave behind much in the way of knowledge and logic and go with the narrative flow. The reader cannot ask why, in a high-technology far future, diamonds (simple carbon) are so much more valuable than starships that pirates can get rich on jewels but destroy starships at will, or why everyone seems to know everyone in a universe with trillions of people, or why the hero is so incredibly lucky. The answer, of course, is that such things are simply part of the traditions of the subgenre."

Not critical at all. No, sir. Because, as Doug puts it:

"Resnick makes excellent use of the conventions and tropes of traditional space adventure... Resnick is writing good old-fashioned space adventure here, bereft of any complex themes or hard-science underpinnings, but he does it as well as it's ever been done."

And the result - though I'd argue there is more under the surfice that Doug suggests - is certainly pure, fast-paced fun.

BoingBoing presents Paul Di Filippo's “Wikiworld”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2007
CONTACT:Jill Maxick
1-800-853-7545
jmaxick@prometheusbooks.com
Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books

BoingBoing presents Paul Di Filippo's “Wikiworld”
In a Sneak Peek From FAST FORWARD 1 Anthology

Amherst, NY -- At BoingBoing.net, Cory Doctorow has posted a wonderful review of the soon-to-be-published (February 13, 2007) FAST FORWARD 1, an anthology Publishers Weekly called “outstanding” in a starred review.

Cory Doctorow—the digital rights activist and popular science fiction writer whose short story collection Overclocked is reviewed in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly (”Doctorow is rapidly emerging as the William Gibson of his generation.”)—was just named by Forbes as one of the top 25 “Web Celebrities” for 2007. He’s the co-editor of BoingBoing.net, a very popular and hugely influential weblog about technology, culture, and politics that ranks in Technorati's top 10 and averages over 300,000 actual unique visits a day.


In addition to praising FAST FORWARD 1 as a whole (and the very idea of the new series it launches), Doctorow directed BoingBoing readers to "one absolute knock-out story...that is among the most exciting pieces of fiction I've read in years”: Paul Di Filippo's “Wikiworld.”


Pyr has offered “Wikiworld” online as a tasty sampling of what's in store for those who buy the complete anthology FAST FORWARD 1. BoingBoing.net linked to it here.


See "Wikiworld" online here.


To read Lou Anders’ introduction from FAST FORWARD 1, see The Eternal Night’s posting.


Enjoy these samples until next month’s publication of FAST FORWARD 1, available now for pre-order. Media review copies will be available next week.

1/23/07

the Starship Saga Continues...

Rob H. Bedford, over on SFFWorld, posts his review of Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate:

"What makes this novel so enjoyable is the dialogue; the majority of the story is told through the words of the characters. Snappy banter between Cole and Forrice, his closest friend, Cole and Sharon, his lover, frankly between Cole and any of the characters proves entertaining. There are some omniscient narrative scenes, but most of the action and plot is relayed through the characters themselves. This allows the entire story to move along at a brisk pace, even more so with the brevity of the novel. As with Starship: Mutiny, Resnick puts a lot of story, ample amounts of action balanced with tension in a short novel. With no words wasted, the story is very entertaining. While a very character-driven story, Resnick also brings in enough action to balance out the story.... With the two of five project Starship novels published, Resnick is building a nice, thoroughly entertaining Space Opera."

Rob's thoughts on the previous book, Starship: Mutiny,are available in this earlier review.

1/22/07

Sagramanda & Fast Forward

Michael Berry of the San Francisco Chronicle reviews Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda. He praises Foster's "his versatility and ingenuity" but also makes a good point about the inevitable comparisons:

"Some readers may suspect that Sagramanda suffers in comparison with another recent near-future thriller set in India, Ian McDonald's River of Gods, also published by Pyr. Both use purloined technology as a major plot device and present multiple viewpoints from a large cast of characters. Foster's approach to the material is more direct than McDonald's, but his eye for telling and exotic detail is sharp, and his instincts for constructing a gripping story line are sure. India is vast, and the subcontinent's potential influence on this century shouldn't be a subject restricted to only one science fiction writer at a time. "

Meanwhile, Monster's & Critics reviewer Sandy Amazeen reviews Fast Forward 1:

"
Inventive and thought provoking, with solid storylines and imaginative twists, this excellent new sci-fi collection delivers. "


1/19/07

Mike Resnick Interview & Concatenation Reviews

Mike Resnick is interviewed by John Joseph Adams over on Sci Fi Wire. They talk about the Starship series - Mutiny, Pirate and the upcoming Mercenary and the commander in charge of the Starship Teddy R. throughout the series, Wilson Cole - "He is living proof that even in the military, brains will triumph over brawn just about every time. " Mike also discusses his other projects, including his new role as executive editor of Jim Baen's Universe.

Meanwhile, a handful of new Pyr reviews popped up on the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation site.

Susan Griffiths says of Chris Roberson's Paragaea: A Planetary Romance:

"I found the storytelling effective enough to conjure up images in my mind as well as inspiring interest in the characters and the world they inhabit. I found it a shame to get to the end of the book as I could have gladly read more - and it was perfect to lose myself in as I sat on a train that was delayed for several hours to the point when I lost track of time. So, on that note, I would recommend it as an enjoyable, well written and an engaging fantasy adventure with a consistently developing story."

Whereas Tony Chester really likes George Zebrowski's Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia:

"...an SF classic and a book which contains all the sense of wonder that truly good SF could wish for... Bearing in mind that this is an old novel and, therefore, one which was heavily influenced by the science of its day, it has to be said that it has held up remarkably well over time and does not seem implausible even now, even given current cosmology... Macrolife ticks all the right boxes, and it is probably its very unfussiness that has contributed to its longevity. ...good is good and quality tells, and I'm damn sure there's many a current writer of SF who would give their right arms to write a book that will survive as long as this one. Needless to say, recommended to all."

1/18/07

Fast Forward Fast Approaching

The website the Eternal Night has just posted an interview with Yours Truly, where we talk about science fiction and its writers, the future, music and the impetus behind the soon-to-be-released anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge. Along with the interivew, they have also posted the introduction I wrote for the anthology, "Welcome to the Future," where readers of this blog won't be surprised to find me proselytising the cause of SF yet again.

Meanwhile, in addition to the aforementioned Publishers Weekly review ("Outstanding!"), several more reviews have come in:

"Lou Anders has a very ambitious goal – to start a new anthology series in the tradition of past landmarks like Damon Knight’s Orbit and Frederik Pohl’s Star SF. I have not read those series, but it’s safe to say that Anders is on the right track with Fast Forward 1...Short stories are always difficult for me to review, and collections even more so. Certain stories always exceed those around them, and others can be total failures. Anders has done well to avoid the failures, though some are as forgettable as the page number. Of course others still keep me awake at night. Fast Forward 1 is better than most – 7.5/10."
"....a great anthology, filled with numerous and diverse stories and is bound to please any fan of science fiction."
"All the entries are strong with the best being those concentrating on everyday people dealing with commonplace technology like Paul Di Filippo’s 'Wikiworld' and Justina Robson’ 'The Girl Hero’s Mirror Says He’s Not the One' (in Mappa Mundi world) and those bringing the past into the future such as Tony Ballantyne’s 'Aristotle OS' and Ken McLeod’s 'Jesus Christ, Reanimator.' This is a fun collection that forecasts where technology will take humans including those left behind struggling with yesterday’s artifacts."

New Dreams and Melty Men

Tom Easton likes New Dreams for Old. As he writes in his column on Analog, the Reference Library, the book is:

"...a collection that amply demonstrates why Mike has been one of my favorite writers since the 1970s. He has a remarkably clean style and a huge gift for sheer story at many levels. He can be light and frothy as in his John Justin Mallory fantasies (two are here) and deeply reflective about the human condition, as in the Kirinyaga stories (one of the best, 'For I Have Touched the Sky,' is here). If you aren’t familiar with his work, this collection is an excellent introduction. If you are, his stories tend to be very rereadable. Buy this one, and enjoy."

Meanwhile, I got my personal copies of Jack Dann's The Man Who Meltedyesterday, which means they should be hitting stores soon and can already be ordered online. I'm really impressed by how good this title looks in hand. The art is by Nick Stathopoulous - first time I've worked with Nick - and the design by our own Jackie Cooke. I'd love to know what people think about the look, as it's a bit of a departure from other Pyr titles, but I think it's gorgeous.

1/16/07

Info Dragons

An audio interview with Infoquakeauthor David Louis Edelman, conducted by Evo Terra, is up on the Dragon Page, Cover to Cover #245. David talks about writing the book, the singularity and the rapture of the nerds, the increasingly technological aspect of modern living, and the complexities of his central protagonist (who is less a money-grubbing bastard, more a stand in for Western civilization, and closer to Bill Gates than Steve Jobs, apparently.) It's one of David's best interviews to date, too, IMHO. Check it out.

(Aside: David's editor is also happy to learn that Book Two is almost done. That's good news.)

1/15/07

Kay Kenyon's New Website: Virtually Yours

Kay Kenyon has a brand new website, Virtually Yours, which lives at www.KayKenyon.com. Very sleek, very cool, and I'm happy to see quite a few pages dedicated to her upcoming quartet, the Entire and the Rose, which begins this April with Bright of the Sky. There, Kay has put up detailed pages on the characters, geography and other features of her invented universe, as well as chapter excerpts from the novel. She's also started a new blog, Kay's Journal, one which has already set my ears burning (thanks, Kay). Naturally, I encourage everyone to check it out, the site, the blog and the book, including Kay's previous novels.

Sagramanda on Cool SciFi

Rich Horton posts his review of Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda, apparenlty orphaned from Locus magazine, over on CoolSciFi.com. He makes the inevitable comparison with River of Gods, though is fair in pointing out it really is apples to oranges in terms of authorial intent and scope, but seems to like Sagramanda none the less:

"Foster's novel is not so brilliant as McDonald's, and really it makes no attempt to be brilliant at that level. Rather, it is an enjoyable and fast-moving thriller - and quite successful as such.... It's quite an exciting read. The plot moves sharply, and quite believably... The portrait of fairly near-future India is fairly well-done, though here the book truly does suffer by comparison with McDonald's altogether more complex and deeper portrait. Sagramanda is no masterpiece, but it is fun and not without deeper shadings."

I would add only that both McDonald and Foster were plugging into the zeitgeist at the same time and have produced two very different works, both valuable and enjoyable in their own rights and for their own reasons. Where McDonald's work is sort of a futuristic Kim, Foster's is a technothriller enhanced by the experience of a nonWestern setting. Obviously, I enjoyed both enormously, but then, I would. I think you will too though.

1/9/07

100% Adventure

SFSignal posts their review of Martin Sketchley's The Liberty Gun, the third and final installment of his Structure trilogy of military SF. They give the book four and a half out of five stars, praising it for "Relentless, engrossing action sequences; likable characters; page-turning quality; vivid imagery."

They further say:

"Simply put: this is action-packed sf without the fluff. The story pacing is unapologetically swift and the narrative pushes the reader from one thrilling sequence to the next. There is no slow, novel-long buildup of action. It's 100% adrenaline... Sketchley does an excellent job exceeding your average adventure quotient while simultaneously creating vivid imagery in his writing. I could easily imagine this on the big screen."

SFSignal isn't the first to recognize the cinematic potential of Martin's series. Speaking of the previous installment, The Destiny Mask, Cheryl Morgan wrote "I can see comic books, film options and computer games in Martin Sketchley’s future. "

To date, Martin's series has the highest action component of anything we've published and is also the most "cinematic," which has me wondering if one of the bridges between the disparate mediums of literary and filmic SF is action. But the road back is "intelligence" - so is intelligent action the key?

1/4/07

Infoquake Author on NPR this Sunday

David Louis Edelman, author of Infoquake, which, did I mention, B&N.com just picked as the # 1 SF novel of the year in their Editor's Choice: Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006 - is scheduled to be on NPR's Weekend Edition this Sunday, in a feature report from the Agony Column's Rick Kleffel which also includes such notables as TC Boyle, Jeff VanderMeer, Charlie Stross, Amir D. Aczel...and John Carpenter's THEY LIVE.

As Rick says, "Not Your Usual NPR Lineup. Not anyone's usual lineup for that matter." Reportedly, the chances are that the piece will air in the second hour of Weekend Edition.

Update: The piece, entitled "Writers Find New Fiction Source in Economic Genre" is now online at NPR.org, where it is available in both RealAudio and Windows Media formats.

1/3/07

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I'm very pleased to announce that B&N.com has just picked three titles for inclusion in their Editor's Choice Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006 list, prompting our publicity department to issue the following press release:

For Immediate Release

January 3, 200

"The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Story of the Year"
Several Year-End "Bests"Cap 2006 for SF&F Imprint
Including Barnes & Noble's SF&F Book of the Year!

Amherst, NYBarnes & Noble online today posted their Editor’s Choice lists for the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2006. Three books by Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books, are in this Top Ten Novels of 2006 list, including the top spot!

The Barnes & Noble Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of the Year, Editor’s Choice, is Infoquake by David Louis Edelman—a debut that ingeniously mixes business with pleasure, or as B&N puts it, “equal parts corporate thriller, technophilic cautionary tale and breathtakingly visionary science fiction adventure.”

The other two Pyr books included in this best of the year list are The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams at number four (“prepare to be blown away,” they write) and Resolution, the conclusion to John Meaney’s three-book Nulapeiron Sequence, at number six.

The UK bookseller Waterstone's also included two Pyr titles on their list of Top Ten SF for 2006: Crossover by Joel Shepherd and Paragaea by Chris Roberson.

Publishing blog Bookgasm posted a Best 5 Sci-Fi Books of 2006 list in which three of the best five books were from Pyr. River of Godsby Ian McDonald topped their list at number one, while Infoquake by David Louis Edelman and Crossover (both first novels) tied for fifth.

According to the science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Bookgasm,

"The biggest story of the year…is Pyr’s rise to prominence as a high-quality sci-fi imprint. Pyr has managed to round up a stable of authors and titles that represents the cutting edge of sci-fi and backs it up with promotion and marketing that pretty much outdoes the other imprints out there. Bravo, Pyr. Here’s hoping for an even greater 2007."

The imprint will certainly do its best to make 2007 even greater than 2006:

In February, Pyr will launch a new hard science fiction anthology series, Fast Forward 1, dedicated to presenting the vanguard of the genre and charting the undiscovered country that is the future. In March, Pyr will publish Keeping It Real, the first of Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity titles that are being hailed as her “breakout” books—the most entertaining, fun, and commercial of her novels to date. Promotion for Keeping it Real includes a special music track by The No Shows (www.thenoshows.com)—the hottest rock band of 2021.

In May, it’s “Bladerunner in the tropics” with Brasyl by Ian McDonald, the writer the Washington Post said is “becoming one of the best sf novelists of our time.” McDonald moves from India (River of Gods) to past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.

Pyr has already begun developing a reputation for publishing “smart” science fiction. But in September 2007, Pyr gets fantastic with its first straight-up commercial epic fantasy novel: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. This book will lead Pyr’s Fall-Winter 07-08 season and be launched at Book Expo America in June 2007.

In other 2006 year-end awards, the blog Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist called Pyr a breath of fresh air in both the fantasy and science fiction genres” and gave the imprint the creatively named and gratefully accepted “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Award.”

Fast Forward Review, Lou Anders Interview

Ernest Lilley, over on SFRevu, has just posted his interview with Yours Truly, where we talk about Pyr, Fast Forward 1, media SF, Hollywood, and a host of authors (including Ian McDonald, Kay Kenyon, Justina Robson and Joe Abercrombie). I think it came out pretty well, considering I was typing my responses until the wee hours.

So, that goes up on SFRevu this morning, and within minutes, I get word from our wonderful publicity director that Publishers Weekly has given my upcoming anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge, a Starred Review!!

They praise stories by Robert Charles Wilson, Mary A. Turzillo, Paul Di Filippo, and Ken MacLeod, and say:

"The solid, straightforward storytelling of the 19 stories and two poems that Anders (Futureshocks) gathers for this first in a projected series of all-original SF anthologies speculates on people's efforts to "make sense of a changing world." The contributors don't necessarily assume that humans will find it easy or even possible to cope with all the changes around and within them-but they'll try, which is just part of SF's continuing dialogue about the future... All the selections in this outstanding volume prompt thoughtful speculation about what kind of tomorrow we're heading toward and what we'll do when we get there."

What's more, they've selected John Picacio's wonderful cover illustration for the table of contents page. We've stopped the presses, literally, to get the PW quote on the cover, so the timing couldn't be better.

Meanwhile, Fast Forward 1 debuts in February, with the following TOC:

Introduction:Welcome to the Future...Lou Anders
YFL-500...Robert Charles Wilson
The Girl Hero's Mirror Says He's Not the One...Justina Robson
Small Offerings...Paolo Bacigalupi
They Came From the Future...Robyn Hitchcock
Plotters and Shooters...Kage Baker
Aristotle OS...Tony Ballantyne
The Something-Dreaming Game...Elizabeth Bear
No More Stories...Stephen Baxter
Time of the Snake...A.M. Dellamonica
The Terror Bard...Larry Niven & Brenda Cooper
p dolce...Louise Marley
Jesus Christ, Reanimator...Ken MacLeod
Solomon's Choice...Mike Resnick & Nancy Kress
Sanjeev and Robotwallah...Ian McDonald
A Smaller Government...Pamela Sargent
Pride...Mary A. Turzillo
I Caught Intelligence...Robyn Hitchcock
Settlements...George Zebrowski
The Hour of the Sheep...Gene Wolfe
Sideways from Now...John Meaney
Wikiworld...Paul Di Filippo

Not bad, yes?

Melty Men - Jack Dann, William Gibson, and the Man Who Melted

The new issue of SFRevu is up, and with it, a really fascinating piece on Jack Dann's The Man Who Melted. We're reissuing this classic 1984 novel this month, but Ernest Lilley notes that the original four stories from which the novel sprung place its genesis as just prior to William Gibson's landmark cyberpunk work Neuromancer(to which it lost the Nebula Award). Liley goes on to compare and contrast the two novels, with the conclusion that they were operating almost in parallel within the zeitgeist of the times. He contrast the novels' respective protagonists thusly:

"Now, while Case is unable to access the net because his synapses have been hacked as the result of his double crossing his employers. Raymond's plight is that he can't remember his wife, the memory of whom was washed from his brain during the Great Scream, and outburst of psychotic humans who channel a shared reality telepathically with those around them. Ray is desperate to find his lost memories, if not his wife, and even willing to plug into a dying screamer to experience the connection with every one in that web of consciousness. Take away the mystical parts and it gets very web-like, including high tech devices to connect your mind to the web."

Lilley praises Dann for being prescient a few times over, and concludes by saying:

"Both stories are set around singularity events, though couched in different terms. For Gibson it's the accepted (now, anyway) notion of AIs taking things over, or vying for supremacy, while Dann's world takes the idea of a spiritual reservoir that we can use technology to access which threatens to pull us all across it's threshold into a state of common consciousness. When those two views were originally put forth, they may have seemed radically different, but if you consider the vast amount of thought on uploading virtual selves into cyberspace, the differences become less definite. It's often been stated that Neuromancer laid out the template for the internet and Gibson's work had tremendous impact on the forming of cyberspace. That's no doubt true, but no less so than that The Man Who Melted shows us what we'll find a the end of the information superhighway, and that the real challenge isn't creating technology, but using it to explore our humanity."

Meanwhile over on SF Reviews, Thomas M. Wagner takes the occassion of our Jack Dann reissue - "this company is hot and getting hotter" - to recall his memories of the original work and revisit the novel anew:

"I can only say it's high time this little rarity had a chance to find a new audience. It isn't for every audience. It challenges you, not by spinning a convoluted plot or trading in philosophical obscurity, but by the way it flenses the emotions from human experience and lays our most private places bare. It's an absorbing but often painful trek into the "dark spaces" we conceal from ourselves and those we love. It's unlike anything else in the genre. Adventurous readers hankering for incisive, character-driven literary SF will find much to admire and reflect upon."

1/2/07

Give Me Liberty and Then Some!

Rob H. Bedford has posted his review of Martin Sketchley's The Liberty Gun over on SFFWorld. Rob likes the book, and I'm gratified to see so much praise heaped on the characters, both human and alien, in what is a fast-paced action novel. Furthermore, Rob writes:

"Flavoring the whole of the novel are many themes – gender roles, sexuality roles, and adjustment to the alien. These themes balance very well with the high-octane action scenes. Throughout the novel, Sketchley continues to inject the adrenaline into the series, between breakneck chase scene and the tooth-and-nail fights. The novel draws to a relatively predictable close, though the specifics aren’t quite as predictable, if that makes sense. It was easy enough to follow Sketchley’s path, but the last few turns were a bit surprising. The Liberty Gun brought the novel to a satisfying conclusion, Sketchley left himself enough wiggle room should he wish to return to these characters."

Elsewhere, over on his Rob's Blog o'Stuff, he posts his thoughts on the favorite reads of the year, including a few Pyr titles. Of David Louis Edelman's Infoquake, he says:

"What [Scott] Lynch did for my fantasy reading taste-buds, Edleman did for my Science Fiction reading taste-buds. A believable protagonist in an all-too plausible extrapolated future with a Big Idea and backed by a future history was a lot of fun to read. Check out my review from earlier in the year."

Sean Williams's The Crooked Letter: "This was another beautiful Pyr book; Williams blended elements from all the speculative fiction branches to create a stew of the fantastic and horrific. The second book, The Blood Debt, published in October and while different in some respects, it was a fantastic continuation of the over-reaching saga.

Chris Roberson’s Paragaea: A Planetary Romance: "Part SF, part fantasy, part physics, and part pirate novel, Roberson pulled off a nice trick in this one. I’d love to read more about these people and the strange and familiar world."Blogger: Pyr-o-mania - Edit Post "Give Me (More) Liberty!"

Mike Resnick's New Dreams for Old: "I’ve heard and read of Resnick’s reputation, with all the awards he’s both won and for which he’d been nominated. This book showed me why."

Meanwhile, over at his House of Awkwardness, novelist and tv scribe Paul Cornell picks Infoquake as his favorite SF novel of the year. "A future of business and competition that we can all identify with, which neatly avoids apocalyptic cliché, and thus the adoration of the British SF critics. I’ve blogged about it before, otherwise I’d say more. And hey, catchphrases you can use online: towards perfection!"

Along with, it should be noted in fairness, a less than favorable review of Paragaea, the website Ideomancer posts the first review of my own upcoming anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge:

"This anthology is proof hard science fiction is still a vibrant, worthwhile endeavor for any writer; here's hoping this anthology series has a long, healthy life."

Amen!