The Barrow

9/26/07

Moorcock Interview: The Making of a Metatemporal Detective

Jeremy at The Fantasy Review has posted an interview he conducted with Michael Moorcock, in which they discuss, among other things, the genesis of the Sir Seaton Begg character and The Metatemporal Detective'srelationship to the Elric saga.

When asked about the direct connection between Elric and the book's villain, Count Zenith, Moorcock says, "through it I could add a dimension to the Elric stories, as I’ve tried to do in the most recent trilogy beginning with The Dreamthief's Daughter(which of course also dealt with the Nazis). I’ve always been wary of what I consider to be the fascistic elements in certain sword and sorcery stories. I feel that I want to make those elements manifest and use Elric/Zenith to question and oppose those elements."

9/24/07

This Man Knows How to Write

Neth Space has just posted a review of Michael Moorcock's forthcoming work, The Metatemporal Detective.I'm really glad to see he likes the book, especially since Neth confesses to being a Moorcock virgin. Those already initiated will know that pretty much everything in Mike's extensive canon takes place across the various quantum realities of his "multiverse," wherein the majority of his protagonists (and a few of his antagonists as well) are all various permutations of the same reincarnated soul. What's more, this particular book not only collects and unifies all of Mike's Seaton Begg stories, but also ties in directly with his recent Elric trilogy as well, so for Neth to declare that the book is "one of the more enjoyable books that I’ve read in a while" really makes me smile. He further says that "My immediate impression of Moorcock’s writing was one of awe and appreciation for someone who clearly is a master of language. The writing was an absolute joy to read while never becoming flippant. In mere moments, the mood was set and characters brought to life. This man knows how to write."

Update: Just noticed that The Fantasy Review posted their thoughts on The Metatemporal Detective as well, which I'm pleased to say are equally as positive: "...an entertaining collection of short stories that are highlighted by controversial figures, engagings dialogues, vivid landscapes and enigmatic characters. Moorcock does an excellent job of creating engaging mysteries that kept me guessing until the very end. If you are a fan of mystery and intrigue I would recommend checking out this book. If are a fan of Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga then this book is an absolute must read and if you don’t pick it up you should be ashamed of yourself!

Update Two: And the Library Journal says, "Moorcock's storytelling is impeccable, his humor both arch and to the point. Most libraries should consider adding this themed short story collection to their holdings."

9/21/07

Resnick's Ivory is Solid Speculation

Ryun Patterson takes a look at Mike Resnick's classic Ivory: A Legend of Past and Future,a tale set 6,000 years in the future and which traces the path across the galaxy of the very real and enormous tusks of the legendary Kilimanjaro elephant. In his review on Bookgasm, Ryun states that Resnick writes about Africa "as if he grasps some of the subtleties of the hugely diverse and multifaceted continent. Ivory, which was first published in 1988, demonstrates this, along withResnick’s flair for solid speculation."

Ryun also takes the time to praise the cover, which always makes me really glad to see, as art and prose are closely linked in our genre, and I applaud those reviewers who take the artwork into account. In this instance, the cover illustration is by Bob Eggleton, and the layout is by our own Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger. Bob turned in what may be my favorite piece he's ever done, while the bronze band solution Grace came up with for displaying the author's name has a classical feel that I'm considering adopting for future reissues as well. As Ryun says, "It’s also got the best cover it has ever had and a great, solid feel – which many classic reissues deserve but don’t receive – thanks to Pyr." Very glad someone noticed!

9/20/07

Conventions: Chris Roberson at Fencon IV

This weekend, Here, There & Everywhereand Paragaea: A Planetary Romanceauthor Chris Roberson will be attending Fencon IV in Addison, Texas. Catch him at the following panels:

Friday 8:00 PM Programming 1
All Things Joss
Description: A discussion of Joss Whedon and his creations.

Saturday 10:00 AM Programming 3
20th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Description: After a bit of a shaky start, TNG ran for seven years on television and spawned two other hit Trek series before moving on to the big screen. Fans discuss why this show is still special after all this time.

Saturday 11:00 AM Programming 3
Who's Your Doctor?
Description: Everyone has their own favorite incarnation of the Time Lord. Conversation may get a bit spirited, and we ask you to turn off your Sonic Screwdrivers.

Saturday 2:00 PM Main Stage
Book Business Basics
Description: What are the steps from manuscript acceptance to publication? How are royalities paid? How is promotion of a book determined? These questions and more are answered.

9/19/07

Ivory: A Lament for the Disintegration of Distinctive Cultures

Lee Clarke Zumpe praises Mike Resnick's Ivory: A Legend of Past and Futurein the Tampa Bay Newspapers Online Edition. Lee begins by proclaiming that "The name Mike Resnick may not be as familiar as, say, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. Le Guin or Harlan Ellison, but it should be," and then goes on to justify this claim.

Lee goes on to talk about the stories-within-the-story, and then nails what I personally love about the book by saying, " While the individual accounts of the warlord, the thief, the curator and the others who play a role in the history of the tusks display the appealing escapism of classic science fiction, the novel has an overriding melancholy about it that underscores the tragedy of post-colonialism and vanishing heritage. Resnick’s subtle theme of conservationism encompasses not only the flora and fauna of this planet, but the distinctive cultures of its varied ethnic groups – particularly those of Africa."

9/18/07

A Realistic Assessment of The Blade Itself

Grasping for the Wind chimes in on Joe Abercrombie's debut fantasy epic, The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One).They key off barbarian warrior Logen Ninefinger's catch phrase, “You have to be realistic about these things," noting the various elements of our own history woven into Abercrombie's fantasy setting. (For my money, the novel also weaves aspects of Tolkien and Arthurian mythos together quite expertly.)

They say that Abercrombie is "a skilled writer whose clever turns of phrase are darkly funny... Each character’s motivations are different but compelling, and the fight scenes are impressively described." Finally, they conclude, "The story is wickedly funny, the fight scenes memorable, and the characters fascinating. Nothing in this novel is as it seems, and Abercrombie’s contribution to the genre is sure to endure."

Selling Out: The New Bionic Woman

Here's a rather amusing fill-in-the-blank style review of Justina Robson's Selling Out (Quantum Gravity, Book 2)up at Wistful Writings. They say the book is, "an excellent read that'll challenge imaginations and hook its talons deep."

My favorite bit:

The cover sez and shows: The New Bionic Woman II striking a pose. I think it's for a magazine ad. For Swiss Army knife arms. All the rad these days with the kiddos.

9/17/07

Roberson Rambles on Brasyl

Author Chris Roberson (Paragaea,Set the Seas on Fire) has started "Book Report Monday." In his inaugural report, he looks at Soon I Will Be Invincible, Eisenhorn, and Ian McDonald's Brasyl.The latter shares enough structural commonalities with his forthcoming End of the Century that I, as he points out, advised him not to read it until he'd finished that manuscript. Now that he has, he finds Brasyl "highly recommended. If you've been looking for a story featuring bisexual transvestite wheeler-dealers in the future, kick ass Irish Jesuits in the past, and complex TV producers in the modern day, complete with knives that will cut through the bonds of space-time and secret conspiracies across the multiverse, then Brasyl is the book for you. And if you haven't been looking for that story, then you should be now."

Hey, I Can Write Too! Concatenation on Fast Forward 1

Here's a review of my anthology Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edgeon The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation that doesn't talk about any of the stories. Instead, the reviewer Tony Chester says, "I hope you will forgive me for not going into the story contributions in great detail, partly because it would be a pain to come up with one or two line comments on 23 stories... but mainly because the 'hook' for me of this particular anthology is actually the introduction by Anders."

Tony then spends the bulk of his "review" talking about why science fiction is important and illustrating how to communicate this to the uninitiated with a personal example. I got to say, the point of the book is the fiction, so I'm glad there are plenty of reviews that concentrate on that (or even mention it), but, as an anthologist who puts a lot of work into my introductions and then wonders "Does anybody even read this?" the once-in-a-blue-moon review that favorably calls out the intro is much appreciated.

9/14/07

Various and Sundry

Great Publishers Weekly review for Joel Shepherd's forthcoming Killswitch, the third and final (?) book in the Cassandra Kresnov series. PW loves the book, which they describe as, “Robert Ludlum meets Elizabeth Moon in this classic military SF adventure, buoyed by Shepherd’s knack for balancing crisp action with characters you can really root for.”

Nothing to argue with there, right?

Meanwhile, Fantasy Book Critic proclaims that “not only was The Blade Itselfbetter than I could have hoped for, but I find it hard to imagine anyone not liking this fantasy extravaganza…” Most appreciated are the comparisons to Glen Cook, Scott Lynch & Steven Erikson, as is the sentiment that, with it's traditional quest set up, Abercrombie's book is “simultaneously an homage to fantasy of old, a satirical riff on clichés common within the genre, and a contemporary revision.”

Kay on the Road

Kay Kenyon's touring again.

First up, catch her at VCon (October 19 - 21 in Vancouver, Washington).

Then Kay is one of several authors taking part in a group signing, November 14, at 7pm at the Powells Beaverton Bookstore
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR 97005 USA


Immediately after, she's teaching a workshop entitled "An Evening With Kay Kenyon" at the Dialogue Workshop for Oregon Writers' Colony, November 15th, at 6pm.
Cost is $20 and includes conversations with Kay, pizza, beer and wine.

Then she's back on the con circuit with Orycon 29 (November 16-18 in Porland, Oregon).

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Selling Out

The full cover spread for Justina Robson's second Quantum Gravity book, Selling Out.Cover art is by Larry Rostant, design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger. And the book? "Just the thing for paranormal and fantasy adventure readers," according to PW. I'm happy.

9/10/07

Multiple Pyr Reviews

A host of Pyr reviews have come in over the last few days. Here are the highlights:

Ian McDonald's River of Gods:

“…if you can stand the initial shock of a future India, described in breathtaking detail by McDonald, then you will find yourself immersed in the world that he has created. River of Gods is a rich, fascinating novel…fans of hard science fiction will find plenty to like…” -SciFiNow Magazine, issue 5

Ian McDonald's Brasyl:

"Brasyl has been receiving high praise from just about everyone since it's publication. It's easy to see why. Not content with writing just one interesting story, McDonald gives us three... What's even more amazing is that McDonald has taken these stories and wrapped them around a very hard science fictional idea. Namely that of the quantum computational view of cosmology.tackles big issues like free will and the heat death of the universe and places them in intensely personal stories, which serves to humanize these ideas and make them easier to understand... Brasyl rivals River Of Gods story-wise and surpasses it in science fictional terms. "-SFSignal, 4 1/2 stars

Justina Robson's Selling Out (Quantum Gravity, Book 2):

“Provocative melding of fantasy and science fiction…her freewheeling language instills the plot with an unpredictability…limitless creativity and enthusiasm…” -SciFiNow Magazine, issue 5

“Robson continues, from Keeping It Real (2007), the story of super cyborg secret-agent extraordinare Lila Black as she follows her former charge Zal, the most famous rock star in Otopia, into Demonia…Clearly having fun in a world of elves, fairies, and high-tech toys, Robson has a great sense of rock and roll, too, which helps lots in this almost-over-the top confection.” -Booklist, September 1, 2007

Fiona Avery's The Crown Rose:
“…a fascinating novel about a period in history imbued with mysticism, and it is exciting to read something so well encompassing that tradition. Fiona Avery has a marvelous talent for vivid characterization, and makes Isabelle and her family and servants glow with realism. This is a well-researched book, and it shows. Give yourself a trip to the thirteenth century and get this book!” -ReadertoReader.com, September 2007

Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky: the Entire and the Rose: Book 1:
“Well written, with engaging, well-developed characters, Kenyon gives readers fascinating, alternative worlds on a breathtaking scale. Mind boggling worlds, deep plotting and characters—what more can we want from science fiction?” -SirReadaLot.org, September, 2007

Not bad, huh?

Sagramanda: A Chef d’oeuvre for Sure

Norman Spinrad's latest On Books column, this one titled "Buried Treasures," is par for the course for his usual cogent discussion of the state of modern publishing. He looks at five books, one from a major house, three from the "small press", and the fifth one from Pyr, whom he describes as a publisher that "seems to straddle, or perhaps in the end will erase, the distinction between such lists and the so-called major SF lines."

Spinrad's column begins with the assertion that "Whether you call it evolution or devolution, SF publishing has changed rather radically from what it was, say, a decade ago. Most of the changes have been negative in terms of accessibility to potential readers and income to writers. However, perhaps there will turn out to be a small improvement or two in terms of literary freedom as the center of gravity, to coin an entirely paradoxical metaphor, moves to the fringes."

He then uses the five books in his review - The Good Fairies of New York, The Demon and the City, No Dominion, The Secret City, and our own Alan Dean Foster title, Sagramanda (A Novel of Near-Future India),as a penetrating look at the way books are bought (or not bought), packaged, and marketed. He also has some harsh words for media novelizations and warnings for writers of same, including an admission that Foster's own work in media tie-ins prejudiced him against Sagramanda going in. I'm still digesting his column (though Louise Marley's already up with some thoughts on it), and I'm not sure it's my place to say anything here anyway. Though I would agree with Louise's assessment that "If you love the genre, this article is worth ten minutes of your time."

Meanwhile, Alan and I are certainly happy with this view of Sagramanda: "...by far the best thing heʼs written thus far, a chef dʼoeuvre for sure, and whatʼs more, colorful, exotic, and reasonably action-packed, too.... a very detailed, sensorily vivid, culturally and technologically convincing, portrait of his extrapolated India via characters who come alive with psychological depth. What more can you ask of a science fiction novel?"

Prometheus Award (no relation)

We've just received word this morning that Adam Roberts' brilliant near future novel of space colonization and revenge, Gradisil, has been nominated by the Libertarian Futurist Society for the prestigious 2008 Prometheus Award. Established in 1979, the Prometheus Award is one of the oldest fan-based awards in SF&F. Members nominated worthy works, a winner then determined by jury. The award, which is given out at the World Science Fiction Convention, is presented to "outstanding science fiction or fantasy (broadly defined) whose plots, themes, characters and/or specific issues reflect the value of personal freedom and human rights, or which seriously or satirically critique tyranny or abuses of power-- especially unchecked government power." For those wishing to congratulate Adam, stop by his blog.

No connection, we should point out, between Prometheus Books and the Prometheus Award, beyond a fondness for Greek Titans and their ideas.

Update: This is apparently just round one, as the Prometheus Awards have nominees, then select finalists from those nominees, then select a winner.

9/9/07

Wrong Way Round

SFRevu's Colleen Cahill astounds me, having elected to dive into a four book series with book three. I'm talking about Sean Williams' The Hanging Mountains,the third book in his Books of the Cataclysm series. Which can also be read as a set up followed by a three-act quest fantasy, albeit one that combines Mad Max scenarios with Ursula K. Le Guin. But such a perspective means that Colleen came in on the dreaded "middle book." So how did The Hanging Mountains hold up read on its own? Pretty darn good.

"This book moves fast and it quickly swept me into the complex, beautiful and deadly work that Williams has so artfully crafted. In the second chapter, the boat is attacked by a large white snakelike creature, big enough to encircle the ship in its coils. The monster is made all the more eerie by its lack of eyes, nostrils or mouth. My heart was racing through this scene and I knew I had to finish this story. If an author can do that much in less than thirty pages, imagine how good the rest of the book will be!"

Colleen admits there are better ways to read the series, but adds, "If I thought it was good, just think how much better it will be when you have the whole story."

They're Here

Joe Abercrombie's amazing debut fantasy, The Blade Itself,and the trade paperback edition of Ian McDonald's Hugo and Clarke nominated, BSFA winning River of Gods,are out, in the wild, in force. Just thought you should know.

9/4/07

Something to Crow About x 3

Three new Pyr reviews up at SFCrowsnest.

First up, Eamonn Murphy's review of Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda (A Novel of Near-Future India):

"Someone once said of George Bernard Shaw that he couldn't write a boring sentence. Alan Dean Foster can but he doesn't write very many of them. Even when adapting less than excellent animated ''Star Trek' scripts, he turns in a good line or two. Presenting his own plots and characters his prose is frequently divine, full of apt phrasing and neat similes. If nothing else, this book is a pleasure to read. Happily, there is something else, mostly a good plot, an interesting cast of characters festooned with hi-tech gadgets and a rich setting..."

Then Tomas L. Martin reviews Sean Williams 2nd and 3rd Books of the Cataclysm. Here's Tomas on Book 2, The Blood Debt:

"Williams is a great writer and an even better world-builder. Comparisons can be made to China Mieville's Bas-Lag work with its assorted weirdness and willingness to bend and break the traditional tropes of fantasy worlds. This doesn't feel like a fantasy adventure novel typically does. Its towns, citizens, technology and magic feel significantly alien and new which is a great and welcome achievement... Overall, Sean Williams has produced that rare of gems, a fantasy book that really feels like you're visiting a new world, rather than a rehashed version of somebody else's milieu. The easy style and likeable banter between protagonists makes the book an enjoyable read and the plot keeps you wanting to come back for more. Expect to buy all four if you get the first!"

And here is Tomas on Book 3, The Hanging Mountains:

"Sean Williams' impressive world-building and enjoyable style and plot surprised me, providing me with the most enjoyable fantasy reads I've experienced since finishing China Mieville's The Scar...Sean Williams is writing an important series here that does a great service to the fantasy genre by encouraging it to break tradition. His powerfully creative world-building should stand as a call to arms for fantasy writers to leave the world of Tolkien-aping lands behind and really start being adventurous. Read all three of 'The Books Of The Cataclysm' and when the fourth is released, buy that, too. I know I will be."