The Barrow

10/31/07

More Love for Pyr's Butt Kicking Ladies

The blog Of Science Fiction discovers that Justina Robson's Keeping It Realis "not I, Robot meets Lord of the Rings in a London flat of a single secretary looking for love. But that's not too far off..." And who can fault them when they say, "Seamlessly meshing martial drama, political intrigue, magic, science and corporate politics with light fun-poking and flirting, this is an extremely entertaining book. ...Find it, buy it, read it. Support this author and the new label. And, enjoy a really good book in the process. Talk about win-win!"

Meanwhile, over at SciFi Crowsnest, Tomas L. Martin weighs in on Joel Shepherd's last Cassandra Kresnov novel, Killswitch"Shepherd treatment of Cassandra's personality has been a real highlight of these books and this continues in Killswitch. Cassandra's relationship with the gay CDF leader Vanessa Rice is especially thoughtfully handled and never clichéd. Like all of the books, too, the action is electric and explosive. ... a class above most SF thrillers and completes the trilogy well."

10/29/07

The Blade Itself Rises to the Top

Neth Space posts their review of Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself,which they say "easily equals anything released in epic fantasy in the past few years, and just may rise to the top."

As have many before, Neth praises the book's characters, saying "Abercrombie skillfully portrays them with near-perfect internal and external dialogue set at an ideal pace. These seem like real people from history rather than some over-done cliché or archetype."

And finally, Neth concludes "...one of the most promising epic fantasies that I’ve read in years. Abercrombie had me laughing with his guile as he stops just short of spitting in the face of genre and set my heart racing through some the best written fight scenes of any genre. This one is not just for fans of epic fantasy."

Update 10/30/07: Neth Space also posts this hysterical interview, Joe Abercrombie Answers Five Questions. Not your usual interview, mind you.

10/26/07

The Metatemporal Detective: Signings and Launch Parties

Michael Moorcock will be hopping around the globe in celebration of the debut The Metatemporal Detective. First up, he's doing a signing at Shakespeare & Company, in Paris, France, on November 5th. Then he'll be at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, at 3pm Saturday on December 8th, where he joins cover illustrator John Picacio.

10/25/07

Ecstatic About Fantasy

Author, editor and blogger Jeff Vandermeer offers a round-robin interview of four new faces in fantasy on the Amazon Editor's Blog, Omnivoracious. In Heroic Fantasy Part I, he talks with our own Joe Abercrombie, author of The Blade Itself,as well as new writers Karen Miller, Brian Ruckley, and Brandon Sanderson. Additional interview material, which didn't make it into the Amazon Blog, is available on Jeff's website, Ecstatic Days.

Joe says: "I try to write fantasy...with all the grit, and cruelty, and humour of real life, where good and evil are a matter of where you stand, just like in the real world."

Update 10/26/07: Jeff informs me that Heroic Fantasy Part II is now online. Here is Joe Abercrombie on his literary influences: "Off the top of my head and trying not to get too pretentious--Charles Dickens (for weird and wonderful characters and dialogue), Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (for how people really behave under pressure), James Ellroy (for shocks and surprises in both plot and character), Philip Larkin (for fearlessness, brevity, and withering cynicism). Okay, so that was pretty pretentious, but hey, I'd stick J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock, and George RR Martin in there with 'em. That's quite a dinner party, thinking about it. Then a lot of writers of history as well--let's pick out Shelby Foote for his Narrative History of the Civil War. But I'm a film editor by trade, and so I tend to find a lot of inspiration in film and television as well--everything from Manga, to Westerns, to Film Noir, to Cop Shows."

10/23/07

Killswitch & The Blade Itself: Come for the Battles, Stay for the Characters

Two more great Pyr reviews in my in-box this morning.

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist says that Joel Shepherd's third and finale (for now) Cassandra Kresnov novel, Killswitch,is "yet another intelligent, action-packed and kick-ass scifi thriller!" Patrick says the book is "highly recommended" and explains that, "The characterization is probably my favorite aspect of this trilogy. Cassandra's moral awakening has been a fascinating facet to follow thus far, and I like how the author raises a number of philosophical issues through her character. Those moments are interwoven almost seamlessly into the plotlines, which is no small feat."

Overall, he finds the book, "A remarkable blend of political thriller and thrilling science fiction adventure... an exciting closing chapter to a terrific series. Shepherd brings the story to a satisfying ending, though the door is left open for possible sequels...Readers who relish strong female characters, complex storylines, and incredible action and battle scenes should give this trilogy a shot. Chances are they won't be disappointed!"

Meanwhile, Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' Book Reviews weighs in on Joe Abercrombie's debut fantasy, The Blade Itself." Sprinkled with political intrigue and short, messy battles, The Blade Itself is packed with action for sure, but it's also an amazing work of character development. Abercrombie's characters are profane, complex and never boring..."

And, in something that made me smile, they add, "I finally have a rival for The Name of the Wind as my favorite book of the year."

10/22/07

Sean Williams' Reconstitué

This morning Sean Williams' kindly shared the cover of Reconstitué with me, the French-language edition of his novel, The Resurrected Manout from Bragelonne. Here is the full image, san text. Art is by illustrator Miguel Coimbra. Our own cover illustration, pictured lower right, was by the marvelous John Picacio.

And because I love doing this, here is Babel Fish's French to English description of the book:

The private detective Jonah McEwen is required for murder. Somebody kills out of the women who resemble Marylin Blaylock, his/her former colleague and amante. The last macabre discovery takes place right on the step of its door. It is the ideal suspect. The problem? Jonah has been in the coma for three years - a coma into which it does not remember to have fallen. And it there has the worse... killer in series, known under the name of Réplicateur, uses the technology of the instantaneous transfer of matter, or "D-chechmate", for violently torturing and killing out of perfect copies of its victims, without touching with the original ones. While the legal conflicts make rage to determine if the elimination of a copy is assimilable to a murder, Jonah is found in the uncomfortable position to have to protest its innocence whereas its own copy is perhaps guilty. In a future where the border between the human one and the machine are done increasingly fuzzy, the reconstituted man explores the future of terrorism, of the world conspiracy and maintenance of law and order. Perfect mixture of thriller and science fiction Cyberpunk, this novel depicts the complexity of the relations between Jonah and Marylin, and their tracking of the killer before it does not strike again. It unties also the tensions which have bound Jonah to his/her father - a man, died for three years, but which could still hold the key of the mystery..."

Sounds great to me!

10/19/07

The 2007 NYLA Annual Conference

This week, my parent company Prometheus Books are exhibiting at the 2007 NYLA Annual Conference "Libraries: Learning for Life," currently being held this October 17 -20, 2007 in Buffalo, New York. Our director of publicity, Jill Maxick, sends along these pictures of the Prometheus Booth, including a close up on the Pyr display. On hand for the show is Richard Snyder, Marcia Rogers, Lynn Pasquale, and the aforementioned Jill Maxick (pictured below.)


Jill reports: "It is PB's 'first-ever' NYLA conference and though exhibit floor traffic was slower than we'd hoped for (we were told that Eastern NYS conference locations are busier due to a higher concentration of library systems in the eastern districts of the state,) Pyr was extremely well-received. Many comments were made about the female action-oriented protagonists of both the Quantum Gravity and Cassandra Kresnov series, which is funny because I think you've recently blogged about the similarities in their appeal, no? Librarians also favorably commented on the durability for circulation of our trade paper bindings versus mass-market only titles. "

That's Crossover: A Cassandra Kresnov Novelby Joel Shepherd being given out in the stack to Jill's right. Meanwhile, here is a picture of the Pyr display, where I can spy a copy of the just-out The Metatemporal Detectiveby Michael Moorcock. I'm still waiting on my own copy - but it looks good, doesn't it?



10/17/07

Selling Out: Can We Get a Cyborg Woman Show-Down?

Monsters and Critics reviews the second Quantum Gravity book from Justina Robson. Reviewer Sandy Amazeen says of Selling Out:"This absorbing and exciting second installment lives up expectations with the six parallel worlds of humans, elves, demons, faeries, elementals and undead further developed with tantalizing hints of a seventh world dropped in for good measure. Lila’s strong character is nicely balanced by enough self-doubt and concerns about her autonomy to be interesting without being overplayed. A lot more background is provided for the other key protagonists giving this a well rounded feel while setting up the next book with a couple of potential showdowns."

Meanwhile, she isn't the first to make the comparison with another Pyr series: "Fans of Joel Shepherd’s Cassandra Kresnov series, think Sandy with six realms worth of creatures, politics and villains to run afoul of.”

Can the fanfic be far behind? Me, I think either one of these two super soldiers could kick the new Bionic Woman's butt. And Katee Sackhoff would be an excellent Cassandra, but who would you cast as Lila Black?

10/16/07

Multiverse Reviews: Brasyl & Infoquake

Over on MySpace, Multiverse Reviews tackles two Pyr novels, Ian McDonald's Brasyland David Louis Edelman's Infoquake.

Speaking of Brasyl, they write, "Sure, I've read parallel universe plotlines before, but Brasyl takes it to a whole new level of weirdness... Enjoy their stories for what they are, don't rush to the end for the action. The enjoyment of the journey makes the unexpected and bizarre kicker even sweeter."

Speaking of Infoquake, they write, "Let me just say that this is a wonderfully written book. It kept me engrossed and riveted, with well-written dialogue and engaging characters. In addition, as an avid fan of world building, I loved the world that Edelman created. This book carved a brand new universe using alternate history, detailed imagination and Edelman's computer programming background...I wholeheartedly recommend Infoquake for anybody and everybody. I know I am just one of many who eagerly await Edelman's follow up novel to the fantastic Infoquake."

10/15/07

Washington Post on the Moon

Adrienne Martini, of the Washington Post, reviews four SF novels in her article "Spaceships, Gunfights and believable characters, too." She reviews works by Emma Bull, Joe Haldeman, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and our own Alexis Glynn Latner. Speaking of Hurricane Moon,she says the novel is " a compelling work that creates believable worlds informed by hard science but populated with credible characters who aren't just mouthpieces for technological wizardry."

She goes on to say that, "By the end of the book, both the science and the spirit are joined in a union that is strong and dynamic. Hurricane Moon... is a resonant achievement."

10/12/07

Isn't It Romantic: The Blade Itself in RT

Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself,as reviewed in Romantic Times magazine, October 2007:

“Abercrombie kicks off his series masterfully with a heroic fantasy without conventional heroes. Its clearly the characters that take center stage here. Their dialogue is full of cynicism and wit, their lives full of intrigue, battles and magic.”

Also awarded 4 ½ stars and defined as “Fantastic — Keeper.” Sweet.

Meanwhile, a Reader Review on SFFWorld, from PapaJ, which describes the book as "tight, character driven and with characters that are 'believable' and ones that I could identify with easily, yet complex and mysterious. The universe feels expansive yet is without the fluff of detail that bogs down many fantasy novels... All round well balanced, tight, quality fantasy fiction."

10/11/07

NSS on Hurricane Moon

Chairman of the Space Books Committee and one of NASA’s first ten women flight controllers Marianne Dyson has reviewed Alexis Glynn Latner's Hurricane Moonas the featured book for October for the National Space Society. Which is a very cool person and a very cool place for a review of a book about planetary colonization indeed. And her verdict? Well, she has an interesting discussion of whether or not moons are essential for the stabilization of climate. But she concludes, "For those of us entertained by contemplating starship designs, planetary choice criteria, and biological considerations, this book has it all. But the book is also a great read for those who enjoy science fiction about people making choices based on the kind of world and future they want to build for themselves. What kind of people will sign up for one-way trip to an unknown world? What sort of challenges will they face? Will they be willing to change their plans, their minds, even their own humanity to survive beyond the stars? I highly recommend Hurricane Moon to anyone who wants to imagine life on another world."

Remember, of course, that you can visit Alexis online at her website or her group blog, and that you can read the first three chapters of Hurricane Moon online here.

10/10/07

Interview: Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie is interviewed today on Fantasy Book Critic. They talk about The Blade Itself, the whole of the First Law trilogy and beyond, movies, books, video games and much more. Many words of wisdom and mirth.

Words of wisdom: "What’s more important to you? Your family and friends or your house? One’s your life. The other’s the setting for it. That’s a no contest in my book. Worldbuilding’s great, in its place, I just don’t feel that it should ever cramp the characters or the story. It should always be revealed in passing, as the background for the action, never be the focus of anything."

Words of mirth: "
You’ve got to change and develop, even if that’s going to mean some wrong steps along the way. But never say never. Dead horse flogging can be a surprisingly profitable business and daddy needs a swimming pool…"

10/8/07

Joel Sheperd Attains Critical Mass

Don D'ammassa's Critical Mass reviews Joel Shepherd's forthcoming Killswitch: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel,which he calls, "Space opera the way it ought to be written."

"My favorite android is back. ...Espionage, battles, secrets revealed, escapes, political intrigue, personality clashes, high adventure, outer space – it’s all here. Easily the best of the three. I hope there’s more on their way. Most novels with this general background get caught up in the military content and forget about the characters. Shepherd manages to keep everything in balance. "

And, of course, we're still excited about Publishers Weekly's "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."

10/5/07

Adventures in the Multiverse: Michael Moorcock Podcast

Shaun Farrell's always magnificent podcast, Adventures in Scifi Publishing, has just uploaded his extensive interview with fantasy master Michael Moorcock, discussing his imminent work, The Metatemporal Detective.

Almost the entire 45 minute podcast is devoted to Mike, who talks about the origin of the Sir Seaton Begg character, all his literary allusions, his connection to the Pyatt novels, etc... He also discusses classic science fiction writer Alfred Bester, contemporary literary writer Michael Chabon, the origin of his multiverse, the differences in how he is published in the US and the UK, and much more besides.

Listening to it now myself. My favorite quote: "Tom Paine, addressing the Americans before the Revolution said - I think it's in Common Sense - that it was unseemly that such a large nation should be ruled by such a small one. And I think that's true of the science fiction and fantasy world, that it's such a very large nation indeed being to some extent ruled by a very small nation of critics. Because in terms of sales, you know, there are a lot of literary writers I know who would give a lot to have the kind of sales that many science fiction and fantasy writers have."

It should be noted too that Shaun is holding a contest to give away three copies of The Metatemporal Detective. Entry details are on his website.

10/3/07

The Blade Itself - Frustratingly Good

Rob H. Bedford's latest review on SFFWorld is up. This time, he proclaims his "frustration" with Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself. "Abercrombie is a damned frustrating writer. He writes so well and his story is so infectious it is difficult to stop reading and even thinking about the layers of his story and world."

Very gratifying to me are the comparisons with George R R Martin, Greg Keyes, and Scott Lynch. "The novel bears some comparison to Greg Keyes Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone and Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire for the multiple points-of-view and aforementioned wide screen action..." and "One thing I like a lot about Abercrombie’s writing was something I enjoyed about Scott Lynch’s writing – attitude."

I've never read GRRM's fantasy (I know, I know), but Keyes' The Briar Kingis a favorite of mine as well as a yardstick for quality, whereas I picked up the Lynch when I was considering The Blade Itself specifically because I knew that Gollancz had marketed them together in the UK and I wanted to see how they compared. (I found them tonally very similar, which was one of the many data points that encouraged me to pick up Abercrombie.) So yeah, Rob, couldn't agree more!

River of Gods Borderlands Bestseller

I was thrilled this morning to open up my newsletter from San Francisco independent genre bookstore, Borderlands Books, one of my favorite bookstores on the planet, to discover that the recently released paperback of Ian McDonald's River of Gods tied for fourth place with Michael Swanwick's new collection, The Dog Said Bow-Wow, on their Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for September, 2007 in the trade paperback category. Here's the full list for the category:

1. Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey
2. Grey by Jon Armstrong
3. Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson
4. The Dog Said Bow-Wow by Michael Swanwick tie with
River of Gods by Ian McDonald
5. Nova Swing by M. John Harrison

Here's Borderlands' contact information, if anyone wants to help boost the book in the rankings!

Update: Somehow I missed this in my first read of the Borderlands newsletter: The Blade Itself - The First Law, vol. 1 by Joe Abercrombie (Pyr, Trade Paperback, $15.00) - Ben and several customers are raving about this grim heroic fantasy debut. Ben says "A fantasy novel that combines a famous barbarian who is sick of 'the lifestyle,' an up-and-coming nobleman who is so selfish you just want to slap him, a state-sanctioned torturer who is trying to see every angle in a twisted political labyrinth, and a curmudgeonly ancient wizard whom no one belives. Throw them all together, have them embark on a tale only hinted at in this fist novel, and you have the beginning of a truly unusual and wonderfully captivating series. Buy this book -- and this is from someone who doesn't read fantasy!"

10/2/07

Reader Response: Kenyon and Latner

My director of publicity received this very welcome email from an enthusiastic reader. I asked and we have received permission to repost it here:

Ms Maxick,

I don't usually take the time to provide this type of feedback to publishers, and I haven't read many SF novels written by women, most likely an unconscious (but not excusable) bias. Two of your authors are a worthy exception - Kay Kenyon and Alexis Glynn Latner.

I recently finished reading Kenyon's Bright of the Skyand thoroughly enjoyed how she presented complex character development, surprising plot twists, and epic space opera. So much so in that I scrounged around, found, and bought two of her earlier novels to enjoy her writing style, creativity, and wit.

I'm currently reading Latner's Hurricane Moonand am struck by how much detailed originality and humanity she's packed into the classic SF plot of settling on a new world. I'd bet really 'good' money that I'll be watching for new novels by her.

I've perused & bookmarked your website to learn more about your SF books, etc and will be returning to it regularly. Thank you for publishing these two authors and for putting Pyr science fiction on my entertainment radar screen.

Darryl

Something Old, Something New

The Not Free SF Reader chimes in with some thoughts on my anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge.They "definitely" recommend the book, and say "The stories are good, the average rating being 3.53, which is a bit over what you hope for from a book, and is rather well done in a new original project as opposed to some sort of reprint... it is a book that is well worth looking at."

Meanwhile, Michael Swanwick reprints an essay he originally ran in the NYRSF called "A Nettlesome Term That Has Outlived its Welcome." The essay is about the way the term "fix-up", originally created to mean a novel assembled out of previously published material and which covers some of the greatest works in the field (as in Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, for example) is now perhaps a derogatory term that does more harm than good. Along the way, he discusses Jack Dann's marvelous The Man Who Melted,a novel which "didn’t make it big, the way later Dann novels such as The Memory Cathedral and The Silent would. It was much too intensely personal for that. But it’s one of those neglected books that nevertheless contain a great deal to interest the intelligent reader."