The Geomancer


Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Among other things, we're certainly thankful for such dedicated and, ahem, discerning, readers!


Looking for Some Holiday Gift Ideas....

The Silver Skull (Swords of Albion) by Mark Chadbourn

“…The Silver Skull has such an array of complex characters, deeply involved in their interesting times and guarding so many painful memories and secrets, there’s something here for anyone who wants more than a bunch of cardboard figures going through the motions while the body count keeps rising.”-Locus, November 2009

“Chadbourn's plot moves swiftly, from London to Scotland to Spain, with surprises galore along the way, and with memorable heroes and villains, especially the Faerie prince Cavillex, who is a worthy adversary for Swyfte, and a promising young playwright and sometime secret agent by the name of Christopher Marlowe.  Smart, fun, at times surprisingly moving, and occasionally downright shocking, The Silver Skull is impossible to put down.”-Realms of Fantasy, February 2010 issue

“Combining the best elements of a spy thriller, heroic fantasy and Elizabethan mystery, Chadbourn deftly mixes gruesome brutality, a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots and a vivid cast of characters.  Seamlessly weaving historic figures and events into his fictional world, the author creates an alternate reality as tangible and authentic as the history we think we know.  Not just a lightweight adventure novel, this book forces the reader to confront timely issues like the value of torture and the use of evil in the pursuit of good, bringing a level of verisimilitude so fantastic and yet believable, you keep asking yourself if it might be true.  In a year of outstanding fantasies, The Silver Skull may just be one of the best so far.” -Monsters and Critics, November 19, 2009

Diving into the Wreckby Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Rusch pulls it all off very well, with strong psychological insights into both Boss and those around her, from old friends to the latest enemies.”-Locus, November 2009

“I have not enjoyed a science fiction book this much in many years.  This book reads like great Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Pohl, or any of the great masters of science fiction.  The book had all the attributes that make a book great: great characters, great plot, great adventure and most of all great fun.  This book harkens back to the best of classic fiction, and I hope it is a major success, because I want more books like this from Rusch. Read the book and join the adventure; you will not be sorry.  A 10 out of 10. This book will be around for a long time.”-Catches at the Beach, The News Guard, November 18, 2009

“Rusch’s writing transcends the genre. If you enjoy complex characters in a unique environment, suspense, and a rollicking good story, you’ll enjoy this book, and you’ll undoubtedly be hoping to run into Boss again, and soon! " -Monsters and Critics, November 22, 2009

This Crooked Wayby James Enge

“So could This Crooked Way possibly be equal to what'd come before? It is. It's the same only different. James Enge is an interesting thoughtful writer. You see him do these little things all the time in the writing that show either off-the-cuff genius or a lot of rewriting, no way to know which…This Crooked Way is definitely a keeper. I read it in two days. And now it's going to be a YEAR before the next one comes out. Blah.” -Dragons and Swords, November 9, 2009

“...pleasantly reminiscent of the old Lancer/Ace Paperback Conan series edited by L. Sprague de Camp. Through his continuing adventures, Enge’s Morlock is seen to grow and mature into the kind of hero that while capable and deadly, retains a spark of vulnerability and pathos that endears him to readers.”-Realms of Fantasy, February 2010 issue

Noonshade (Chronicles of the Raven 2)by James Barclay

“From the dragon allies fighting a battle in their own dimension to the mages trying to save the home of their magical lore, the story builds layer upon layer and reveals significant growth in Barclay’s use of characterization. What had seemed to be an abundance of ideas that were loosely tied together now comes across as a well-plotted fantasy full of originality. Fans of the first book will be pleased as this sequel and eagerly looking to pick up the next volume." -Monsters and Critics, November 22, 2009

Mad Hatter's Best of 2009

The Year-In-Review reports are starting to appear. Grateful to Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review for choosing The Quiet Waras the Best Science Fiction Release, with Diving into the Wreckas the runner-up. And gratified to see Pyr made Publisher of the Year. They write:

“I'll have to give [Publisher of the Year] to Pyr and Lou Anders for rekindling my love of Science Fiction along with some quality Fantasy and continually publishing series over consecutive months which all Fantasy fans adore.  Plus they have some of the best covers in this or any genre.”


A Brief History of Tanusha

Following on from my world-building piece about ‘Sasha’, I thought I’d do something similar for the ‘Cassandra Kresnov Series’.

Obviously there’s a fair few scientific improbabilities in Cassandra’s world, starting with Earthlike planets of roughly similar gravity, atmosphere, etc. My technical excuse is that the primary scientific improbability (faster than light travel) gives humanity such a wide range that even if such worlds are a million to one, humanity now has access to tens of millions of stars, so logically there are quite a few million-to-one shots inside that range. But the real point of a story like Cassandra’s is not to ponder scientific accuracy, it’s to tell a good story. So long as it’s vaguely plausible, science shouldn’t get in the way. Besides which, no one has any real idea how many Earthlike planets there are... maybe there’s plenty, just waiting for us to figure a way to reach and colonise.

Tanusha is one such planet. We never really see the planet because we’re concentrated where most of the people are, in the city of Tanusha. Tanusha has 57 million people at the time of ‘Crossover’, though even by ‘Killswitch’ it’s gone up a million or so. It’s a boomtown, and was planned that way from inception. For one thing, environmentalists have it wrong when they oppose large cities, putting people into big cities keeps them out of the countryside, so all environmentalists should be fans of skyscrapers -- cities that aren’t allowed to grow upward will grow outward instead, eating natural land as they go. Dense cities are also more economically productive, which is not to say farmers are unnecessary (though with futuristic hydroponics, synthetic food replication etc, who knows?) only to say that the more we move into the future, the less significant farming becomes as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product in any economy. That still leaves us with mining, but again with nano-tech and replication technologies, who knows where minerals will be coming from?

Read the rest of it on my blog...


Vintage LotR Cover Art

I used to say 'I have re-read this novel every year since I first read it, when I was 12.' And that used to be true; but then last year, for whatever reason, I didn't get round to my annual re-read. And this year's nearly over. So I've decided to go through it again, before I run out of year.

Now, the point of this post is not to talk about the novel as such, so much as to flag up these beautiful, nay exemplary Pauline Baynes cover illustrations. Let me hear you say 'oooh!' ('oooh!'). Click on them and they should become enlarged.

This was the edition in which I first read LotR (my mother's old edition, I think). When I discovered it again in a charity shop [thrift shops, I believe they're called, Stateside] for the absurd price above indicated I couldn't resist buying it, and adding it to the four (or five; I'm not sure) editions of the title I already own.

But I hope it's not merely rank nostalgia that makes me say: it's a lovely cover. Even the Victorian Playbill title font works. I love the way there's an outer frame of stylised trees (with orcs lurking in the roots) surrounding an inner frame of stylised trees, itself surrounding a vertically stacked perspective of more trees, houses, hills and mountains. The visual idiom is a perfectly pitched Edwardian-Medieval, spot-on for the novel. And there's a canny little visual push-pull about the way the picture invites the eye to run up from the miniature figures at the bottom through the landscape they must traverse to the mountains at the top, at the same time that the words of the title invite the eye to work their way down from 'The' to 'Rings'. Very clever.

The back is lovely too. Those kiln-shaped mountains and towers! Like pottery models. And the sea-blue barrenness of peaks and troughs. I suppose imagery from the cinema versions will, nowadays, tend to overwrite other visual realisations; but for me these pictures will always hold a special place.


For Your Viewing Pleasure: Gardens of the Sun

Cover Illustration © Sparth
Design by Jacqueline Cooke

The Quiet War is over. The city states of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have fallen to the Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union and the Pacific Community. A century of enlightenment, rational utopianism and exploration of new ways of being human has fallen dark. Outers are herded into prison camps and forced to collaborate in the systematic plundering of their great archives of scientific and technical knowledge, while Earth's forces loot their cities, settlements and ships, and plan a final solution to the 'Outer problem'. But Earth's victory is fragile, and riven by vicious internal politics. While seeking out and trying to anatomise the strange gardens abandoned in place by Avernus, the Outers' greatest genius, the gene wizard Sri Hong-Owen is embroiled in the plots and counterplots of the family that employs her. The diplomat Loc Ifrahim soon discovers that profiting from victory isn't as easy as he thought. And in Greater Brazil, the Outers' democratic traditions have infected a population eager to escape the tyranny of the great families who rule them. After a conflict fought to contain the expansionist, posthuman ambitions of the Outers, the future is as uncertain as ever. Only one thing is clear. No one can escape the consequences of war - especially the victors. 


Kristine Kathryn Rusch signing at North by Northwest Books and Antiques





AT 12.00 PM.




Tense and gripping.... The endlessly enjoyable terror of dark, alien, empty spaces brimming with unknowable danger and impenetrable mystery should keep fans of the genre hooked

North by Northwest Books and Antiques

6334 S.HWY 101 #9



Sasha: Are We Seeing a Common Theme Here?

"...quite engrossing... this heroic fantasy should please fans of, say, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels." Booklist

"Shepherd has created a court fantasy similar to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire....a good epic fantasy that focuses more on the epic than the fantasy. Sashais excellent reading for fans of character driven stories. I recommend it." Grasping for the Wind

"Sasha was excellent, especially given that this is Joel Shepherd’s first fantasy novel. It offers a huge fantasy world, a fascinating heroine, heart-pounding descriptions of both small-scale sword fights and full-on warfare, several characters that genuinely grow and change, and — maybe most importantly — the hint that this is just the start of what could become a great series. While I wouldn't rank it quite as high as George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, I think Sasha will go down very well with fans of that series because it shares some of its characteristics, including its huge scope and cast, its focus on politics and noble intrigue, and (at least in the early novels of ASoIaF) the almost complete absence of magic and mystical creatures. " Fantasy Literature