Falling Sky

8/28/07

A Storytelling Machine

John DeNardo posts his SFSignal Review of Mike Resnick's Ivory: A Legend of Past and Future.He gives it a full five stars and says, "These are the kinds of well-told stories that make reading such a pleasure... Masterful storytelling; realistic characters; wonderful dialogue." He calls Mike "a storytelling machine" and Ivory "a thoroughly engaging read." John compares it to Mike's Kirinyaga,a book which is among my Top Ten favorite SF Novels of All Time, and I think that's a good comparison. I felt when I first read Ivory that it made a good companion read with that work, and they certainly look good together on my shelf.

8/27/07

Hurricane Moon is Top Pick

The Romantic Times has given Alexis Glynn Latner's Hurricane Moon4 ½ stars and proclaimed it as "Fantastic" and "Keeper". They say:

“Top Pick! Latner’s stunning full-length debut takes a well-worn plot, strips it bare and meticulously creates its own version. The characters are well defined; the science is imaginative but not whimsical; and the voyage is out of this world.”

Also happy to report that Hurricane Moon was named in the “What You Should Read This Year” panel at the recent ArmadilloCon and has been chosen as a book-club read of the Fandom Association of Central Texas (as was, apparently, Keeping It Real).

8/25/07

They're Here! Blade and River!

Ian McDonald's Hugo and Clarke nominated River of Gods is now out in trade paperback. It'll be in stores in early September, and is already listed as in stock at Amazon.com.

What's more, Joe Abercrombie's extraordinary fantasy debut The Blade Itself is also out. I just got my copies day before yesterday. Like River of Gods, its also on Amazon already. And Blood, Blade & Thruster magazine just posted this tremendous review. They introduce The Blade Itself in this manner: "Desperately in need of some genre fiction with character driven plot, plenty of violence, and strong anti-hero protagonists, but tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his epic Game of Thrones series?" Which is as nice an intro as I could ask for.

Reviewer Lucien Spelman goes on to say that Joe's novel is "a fantasy novel full of enough ironic and slightly self-deprecating humor and Scorcese-esque violence to make the average hipper than thou non-fantasy reader want to learn more about the genre (my favorite kind to convert), yet filled with enough touchstones to make your average Tolkien weaned fantasy reader quite happy indeed."

8/24/07

Amazon Proclaims Brasyl "Hidden Gem"

Amazon.com has just posted their Best Books of the Year So Far: Hidden Gems. This is a mid-year round up in anticipation of their annual Best of the Year list, and, in addition to categories of fiction, nonfiction, and books for children and teens, they selected 10 "hidden gems," books they say "don't fit easily into the usual categories or that were just too good to leave off our lists." And, in a category that includes both fiction and nonfiction (including books about photography, technology and meat), they chose Ian McDonald's Brasyl,of which they further say, "Ian McDonald is hardly a hidden gem to science fiction readers by now, but with Brasyl he has proven once again that he should be reckoned as one of the finest of all our novelists. Brasyl fractures the Brazil we know into past, present, and near future in a brilliantly frenetic and spellbinding stew and a dramatic tale of character and culture."

8/23/07

High-Powered Intrigue and Action

Publishers Weekly has just weighed in on the second book in Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity series, the hysterically (but not necessarily accurately) titled Selling Out,which does anything but that. They describe this installment as "high-powered" and say, "Robson's mix of magical and technological elements, intrigue and action should be just the thing for paranormal and fantasy adventure readers."

Selling Out debuts this October and sees Special Agent Lila Black, quite literally, on a mission to Hell. This being Justina Robson we are talking about, the results make you laugh, cry, think and feel.

8/22/07

Chris Roberson: Channeling His Inner Teenage Girl

Larry Ketchersid really likes Here, There & Everywhere,as he writes about on his blog, Dusk Before the Dawn.

"Chris Roberson is a fellow Texas author whom I have not yet met. I will soon seek him out and buy him a Shiner and a Tequila to discuss this and his other novels. I am always impressed when a writer pens something that is so obviously outside of their experience, and for Mr. Roberson to write from the perspective of Roxanne Bonaventure as a young girl, teen, moving through the other stages of womanhood, takes excellent powers of observation."

8/21/07

Sean Williams: Serving Up a Fantastic Stew

Over on SFFWorld, Rob H. Bedford posts his thoughts on Sean Williams' The Hanging Mountains: Books of the Cataclysm: Three:

"The overall storyline isn’t losing any steam and the tension that comes off the pages during any scene with the Twins is building to great effect. One of the aspects of this series that I enjoy the most is how Sean Williams continues to evolve the landscape of our world. From the titular hanging mountains, to the sea serpents, to the sky wardens, to the strange races, part of what makes this series such a fun ride is knowing, at one point, the world the characters inhabit was our own. Williams is continuing to develop the characters, the transformed earth, and the plotline in equal amounts, culminating in an ultimately delectable stew."

8/20/07

The 65th World Science Fiction Convention

My programming schedule for the forthcoming World Science Fiction Convention, to be held August 30th to September 3rd, in Yokohama, Japan:

Fri 1000 Sprawl Fiction
Participants: Ellen DATLOW, Gavin J. GRANT, Lou ANDERS, Yoshio KOBAYASHI
"Sprawl fiction" was coined to show how new writers, most in their thirties, are trying to expand our genre yet still loving its very core, straight SF. Terms like "new Weird", "interstitial", "strange fiction" or "new fabulist" don't cover the trend fully. It is a natural reflection of our urban society and probably heralds the new stage of our evolution; to the stars. We talk about why the new generation slipstream is not the fusion of literary fiction and SF/F.

Fri 1200 Remembering Robert Anton WILSON
Participants: Jack William BELL, Lou ANDERS, Yoshio KOBAYASHI
Remembering the golden days of the geeks.

Fri 1500 Pyr: Upcoming Books Slideshow
Participants: Lou ANDERS
A look at Pyr's upcoming schedule.

Sat 1000 What Editors Want From Artists
Participants: Bob EGGLETON, Jennie FARIES, John PICACIO, Karen HABER, Lou ANDERS
Is it realism? A particular color? Many editors return to the same artists again and again. What sets these paragons apart? Style? Originality? A distinctive look or varied approach? Reliable telepathy? (Oh, and must the artist read the story, or what?)

Sat 1100 Kaffeeklatsche
Participants: Lou ANDERS

Sat 1300 Autographs
Participants: Lou ANDERS

Sat 1400 SF Tribes? The New Communities in Internet Society.
Participants: Lou ANDERS, Mark L. VAN NAME, Yoshio KOBAYASHI
Our community has grown so big, we have many small cabals, each of which cares nothing for the others. Through the Internet, blogging and e-mails our ties are strengthened and old community values wear thin, as proved by Hurricane Katrina. Any connection there?

8/16/07

Interzone 211: Michael Moorcock Special

Issue 211 of Interzone is a Michael Moorcock special. In addition to its regular content, the issue contains these bits of Moorcockanalia.
  • Guest Editorial: The March of the Whiteshirts
  • 'The Affair of the Bassin les Hivers' (short story)
  • Lovers: A Memoir of Mervyn and Maeve Peake (extract from a Moorcock work in progress)
  • London, My Life! or The Sedentary Jew (extract from a Moorcock novel in progress)
  • Interview with Andrew Hedgecock: Staring Down the Witches (with previously unpublished photos)
"The Affair of the Bassin les Hivers," incidentally, is one of Moorcock's tales of Metatemporal Investigator Sir Seaton Begg, here in Paris to assist Commissaire Lapointe, in an adventure involving a certain mysterious albino. The story is collected in the forthcoming The Metatemporal Detectiveas well, out this October.

Update: Rick Keffel's latest Agony Column looks at The Metatemporal Detective as well, while waxing nostalgic about growing up reading Moorcock as well as remembering Moorcock's band the Deep Fix. He says, "It's easy to get sucked back into Moorcock's entertainingly dense and historically rich style. What's particularly nice here is the way that Moorcock manages to pay tribute to the mystery writers who inspired him while writing some very peculiar bits of very weird fiction. "

8/14/07

Ivory: Gamblers, Warlords, and Elephants, Oh My!

The Library Journal has just given Mike Resnick's Ivory: A Legend of Past and Futurea starred review. They say the novel, about a search across time and space for the tusks of the legendary Kilimanjaro elephant, "plays to his greatest strengths--as a raconteur without peer, capable of weaving together a series of linked stories into a seamless whole, and as a compassionate and thoughtful observer of the human condition. Peopled with gamblers, warlords, artists, and politicians and overseen by the shadow of the enormous creature who once ruled the grasslands of Africa... highly recommended for all sf collections."

Islands in Space: An Appreciation of Dandridge M. Cole

George Zebrowski alterted me to this article by Alex Michael Bonnici, "Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, the Pioneering Work of Dandridge M. Cole," an appreciate of the American aerospace engineer and futurist, posted on The Discovery Enterprise. As the article attests, Cole's contribution to space exploration has been tremendous. His book, Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, co-authored with Donald Cox, laid the foundation for our eventual exploration of the asteroid belts. He was one of the first scientists to draw the broad outlines of what a mission to the asteroids might entail, and, in Exploring the Secrets of Space: Astronautics for the Layman with I. M. Levitt, Cole first proposed the notion of hollowing out an asteroid, spinning it to provide a simulation of gravity, and populating it as a permanent space colony. This idea - which predates that of Gerard K. O'Neill by over a decade - had been incredibly influential on both the real world of space exploration and on science fiction itself. Can anyone say Babylon 5 ? Cole is also paid direct tribute in George Zebrowski's classic, Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia, which was chosen by Library Journal as one of the hundred Best SF Novels of all time, and which was directly inspired by Cole's concept of a mobile, space-faring humanity. As Cole wrote:

"Taking man as representative of multicelled life, we can say that man is the mean proportional between Macro-Life and the cell. Macro-Life is a new life form of gigantic size which has for its cells individual human beings, plants, animals, and machines . . . Society can be said to pregnant with a mutant creature which will be at the same time an extraterrestrial colony of human beings and a new large-scale life form."

8/13/07

Get Sean a Hot Chocolate

Sean Williams just encountered the notion of Mundane SF for the first time, and the results aren't pretty.

An Extended Family of Adventurers and Heroes

Chris Roberson talks to Sandy Auden on the UK SF Book News site. He's chiefly talking about his just released nautical fantasy, Set the Seas on Fire,but as always, he explains the interconnected nature of his canon:

UKSFBN:
Will Set the Seas on Fire be a stand alone or part of a series? Is it necessary to read Paragaea before this one?

Chris R: "Seas is part of a series of stand-alone novels which can be read in any order. The series revolves around an extended family of adventurers and heroes, the Bonaventure-Carmody family. Paragaea: A Planetary Romanceis actually a sequel to Set the Seas on Fire, if you want to be specific about it, since the events of this novel predate those of Paragaea. But that said, either can be read on its own, and both can be read in any order. The same is true of my other Bonaventure-Carmody novels, Here, There & Everywhereand End of the Century. If you like one of them, chances are you'll like the others. If you don't like one, though, you still might like the others, as they're all quite different."

8/7/07

Brasyl: Well Worth Your Attention

In the latest installment of Tom Easton's column for Analog magazine, "The Reference Library," he praises the "panache" of Ian McDonald's latest, Brasyl, proclaiming that "McDonald soaks us in atmosphere: flamboyance, verve, religions (including soccer), lunch-hour plastic surgery, and all the rest of the potpourri that defines modern Brazil."

Tom provides a big hint to the big picture, but understands that "it’s much more concerned with image than with anything real. That makes Brazil the perfect stage for this play, even as it calls into question the nature of reality and free will."

His conclusion, that "Brasyl is an impressively energetic novel that gains a great deal from the exotic ambience of its setting. It also makes an interesting philosophical point at the end: Only in imperfection, perhaps the work of the devil, can we find hope. McDonald is well worth your attention."

Update: Two reviews for the UK edition for Brasyl came to my attention today as well. Lisa Tuttle, in The Times, calls the book, "a brilliant, kaleidoscopic novel that’s both a portrait of a country and an exploration of the wilder shores of theoretical physics. Brasyl is McDonald’s best book yet, written in a vivid, almost hallucinatory style that’s perfectly suited to his fascinating subject."

Meanwhile Eric Brown writes in The Guardian that Brasyl is "an accomplished work, a complex, multi-layered narrative which questions the notions of determinism and free will in a universe of illimitable possibilities. McDonald not only paints a stunning portrait of Brazil, which in all its chaos mirrors the quantum uncertainties of the multiverse, but presents a set of characters who come over as real people: multi-faceted, flawed, but ultimately sympathetic.

8/6/07

Latner Has the Skillz

D. Douglas Fratz gives Hurricane Moona B in his review on Sci Fi Weekly. Be warned, however, that his review pretty much summarizes the entire story right to the end of the book. As to the non-spoiler bits:

"Latner shows significant skill in creating a broad range of likable characters and braiding science fiction and adventure with romance to create a very readable and enjoyable novel...Hurricane Moon is a solid debut novel that should please fans of hard science fiction, planetary adventure and romance fiction alike.

8/2/07

Pyr Books in the Wild

Jessica Strider is responsible for SF & Mystery themed endcaps at Toronto's World's Biggest Bookstore. She sends this picture (below) of her Women Writing SF endcap display (an idea she conceived in conjunction with our own director of Special Sales, Marcia Rogers). The card in the middle reads "It's Not a Man's World Anymore." Among the titles featured, you can see Justina Robson's Mappa Mundi, Silver Screen, and Keeping It Real, as well as Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky.

Jessica also maintains a newsletter for the store, World's Biggest Bookstore's Sci-Fi Fan Letter, which is well worth checking out. The World's Biggest Bookstore is located at 20 Edward Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1C9 Canada and can be reached by calling (416)977-7009. Meanwhile, I love getting these shots of Pyr Books in the Wild and will happily post more from other stores as well. Thanks, Jessica!

Adventures in Resnick Reading

Joe Sherry offers a review of Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate,on his blog, Adventures in Reading. He calls the novel, and by extension its predecessor Starship: Mutiny,"Easy reading and highly entertaining science fiction." He goes on to describe Resnick's Starship books as good books to use to introduce newbies to SF, what some call "entry level" SF. This term may seem dismissive, but it isn't. In fact, a case can be made that entry level SF is harder to write than non-entry level SF, and the importance of entry level SF to the health and future of the field should be obvious. (See John Scalzi's December 2005 post "Science Fiction Outreach.")

Or, as Joe says, "If I called the Starship novels as introductory sci-fi, please do not take that as a knock. It isn't. It is just a statement that a reader who knows nothing about science fiction can pick up one of these books and be equally as entertained as one who has been reading the genre for years. It's a good introduction to what sci-fi can be. It isn't just about the Big Idea. It’s also about the fun story."