31 July, 2009

Bona Fide: The Magic of London

L-O-N-D-O-N........Six characters in a specific order.........Every time I read it or hear it I get electrified. London, the capital of United Kingdom and England. A town with its very own biography - London: The Biography, by Peter Ackroyd [US] [UK]. "London Calling" [lyrics] - famous song by British punk rock band The Clash. London, a modern town jam packed with history. Unforgettable View of the House of Parliament during a ride on the London Eye. Visit all the great buildings, museums, parks, cemeteries and markets. And don't forget to use the Underground. Did you know that there are about 40 abandoned or relocated stations?

You see, London is magic for me ...... But who gets the opportunity to visit London? YOU ! No flight ticket necessary. You just need a vivid imagination and BOOKS. Do you realize how many books are set in London? I can't even count them. I would like to present you with a couple - especially fantasy books - where I can't fathom how they should work if they were set in other towns. My last three reads have all been settled in ...... London:

Today, I started reading Human Nature (2008) by Jonathan Green [US] [UK]. This is the fifth novel in the Pax Britannia series and the fourth book featuring agent of the crown and gentlemen adventurer Ulysses Quicksilver. The Whitby Mermaid has been stolen. A new mystery for our hero. Here is some background on the series:

"In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire's rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground."

I read all the books so far and liked them very much. Expect a review of Human Nature next month. For more information about the series and the books please visit Abaddon Books and Pax Britannia Blog.

Next book is for all people who like Elizabethan England, combined with a little fantasy. England, London, above-ground: Virgin Queen Elizabeth and underground: Faerie Queen Invidiana. Expect betrayal and intrigue. Midnight Never Come (2008) by Marie Brennan [US][UK] is the first book in her The Onyx Court series. The sequel In Ashes Lie (2009) [US] [UK] also just came out.
And yes, you can also expect a review next month. For more information - including some intriguing short fiction - look at The Onyx Court.

Urban fantasy is not my preferred genre, except for the Harry Dresden novels, by Jim Butcher. Are you looking for a fresh voice in urban fantasy like me? Then get a copy of A Madness Of Angels (2009) by Kate Griffin [US] [UK]. This is her first adult novel and also the first book in the Matthew Swift series. London and beneath, sorcerers, magicians, angels, the Bag Lady and the Beggar King, and urban magic. The review is in progress... I look forward to read The Midnight Mayor. UK release October 2009. US release March 2010!

A Madness Of Angels reminded me of two other books.
The first one is Un Lun Dun (2007) by China MiƩville [US] [UK]. A book with exuberant imagination. You will meet an extraordinary house pet: Curdle, an empty milk carton. Discover the secret life of broken umbrellas and, and, and, ......

The second one is a bit older but still worth reading.
Discover a bizarre realm beneath London and follow Richard Mayhew into a world full of monsters, saints, murderers and angels in Neverwhere (1996), by Neil Gaiman [US] [UK].

In the first week of 2009 I read an excellent steampunk novel: The Affinity Bridge (2008) by George Mann [US] [UK]. This is the first adventure of Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes. Sir Maurice is an experienced anthropologist who works for the British Museum. Beside this, he is also an agent of the Queen. Oh, and he also supports Scotland Yard. After an airship crash Sir Maurice gets the order from the Queen to investigate the mysterious circumstances. And, of course, there is more work for Sir Maurice and Miss Veronica. Chief Inspector Sir Charles Bainbridge is hunting the "glowing bobby"who kills people around Whitechapel.

Here is another great read: The Shattered Teacup, by George Mann. This is a new short story with Newbury and Hobbes. You can download it for free as ebook and/or audiobook at Snowbooks. The next Maurice and Hobbes novel - The Osiris Ritual by George Mann (paperback) [UK] - will be released in September 2009.

Obviously, there are a lot more books and series that are set in London which are not fantasy. I also read a lot of crime stories settled in different centuries, but I think this should be enough for today. In case you liked this quick look at London is fantasy and a couple of its sub-genres, I don't mind writing a second part. Anyhow if you know more fantasy books settled in London, especially you English readers, please leave a comment.

30 July, 2009

Review: The Sword-Edged Blonde

The Sword-Edged Blonde (2007) is the first novel by Alex Bledsoe and at the same time the first book in his new Eddie LaCrosse Mystery series. The hardback and the paperback show two completely different covers; the first picture shows the hardback cover and the second one the paperback cover.

The Setup

Imagine a fantasy set in a Western European medieval style world complete with castles and monasteries. Let us not forget the hamlets and towns surrounded by large walls. You travel by foot, horse, cart and boat. Weapon of choice: Sword, dagger, bow, crossbow, spear and lance. Different religions, beliefs and myths are sprinkled across the land like so much dust and the political situation is best described as Kleinstaaterei.

"Kleinstaaterei is a German word, mainly used to describe the political situation in Germany and neighboring regions during the Holy Roman Empire and the German Confederation. It refers to the large number of small states and city-states, some of which were little larger than a single town; see "List of participants in the Reichstag of 1792 for a list as of that year."

Now, add a man who is a mix of private investigator, mercenary, and messenger; let us call him a "private sword jockey" and provide him with a sharp intellect and a great sense of humor. Let him be kind and extremely good at sword play, and let us not forget to add a past filled with regrets. We will name this protagonist Eddie Lacrosse and also use contemporary names like Phil, Bernie, Stan, Big Joe, and Allison for the rest of the characters. Let's also settle his office above a dockside tavern in a small town. After all this is put in place, let him come to life and tell the story of one of his adventures, from his point of view, and in plain spoken language that is colorfully modern.

My Take in Brief

I explained in the Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup - posted on 25th - of July why I read this book, but I will explain it again for all of you who don't want to read "old" stuff and of course, the pleasure is mine. No, no, I won't copy my own post, but I rearranged it telegram style for you.

- 13th of July 2009 Bona Fide forced ediFanoB to read Recommendation: Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
- Result: ediFanoB added book to August 'to buy' list
- 20th of July: Bona Fide forced ediFanoB to read Interview: Alex Bledsoe
- Result: ediFanoB sent order to amazon.de
- 23rd of July: book arrived
- 24th & 25th of July: ediFanoB reads book
- 26th of July: Bona Fide and ediFanoB work on review.....

Alex Bledsoe is a word magician who ensorcels us in the first chapter. It doesn't take long to get into the story and connect with Eddie. Eddie, who lets us take part in his daily life, also lets us parts of his own past. From my point of view, he is a very well developed character, even though there are still a few "black holes" in his biography. But hey, it is just the first book. The story has its twists and turns, but stays believable throughout. The mystery parts are always well balanced and the relation explored between modern language and fantasy is marvelous. Read the following quotes which - I hope - will explain more then my rough descriptions:
Randomly picked tavern talk:

"Come on in, you're letting all the flies out."
"Give me something strong enough to pass the time but not so strong I fall in love"

Eddie needs to go to another town. He asks a friend who owns a cargo boat to give him passage. And the guy answers (page 12):

"Your ass is big, but it ain't so big it needs a cargo boat."

Believe it or not, in this world, children go to school (of course not all them). And what do they learn? High prose such as(p. 111):

"Because he had no manners,
She pounded him with hammers.
Because he was so rude,
She fixed his attitude.
Because he was so mean,
She made him scream and scream.
And now xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx is
broken to pieces."

Sorry, but in order to avoid spoilers, I needed to censor the name. I can't tell you more because it would give away too much of the story.

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

I'm so glad I read this book. It my extended 2009 hit list by storm. And in case you would like to read a refreshing mix of fantasy, mystery and a pinch of crime noir (in a non doorstopper size book) then I highly recommend that you read The Sword-Edged Blonde. Bona Fide is giggling in the background, whispering: "mission completed without any pressure". Two personalities enjoyed one book... And what about you, dear reader? Have you been infected with the LaCrosse virus? Leave a comment with your diagnosis...


For more information about Alex Bledsoe and his books visit Alex Bledsoe's website and/or ... From Down In Lucky Town (his blog) and/or follow AlexBledsoe on Twitter. Jeff, to whom I owe the book recommendation, recently posted his Interview: Alex Bledsoe.

Piqued Your Interest?

Then hurry up and buy your own copy - hardback [US] [UK] or paperback [US] [UK]. The next installment of Eddie LaCrosse - Burn Me Deadly - will hit the stores in hardback on both sides of the Atlantic (US) (UK) in November 2009. Sorry, no information about the availability of a paperback version yet.

29 July, 2009

Rant: The Sorry State of Giveaways

Today was "clean out old emails day" and, going through 1400 emails, I came across four different giveaways that I have won in the last couple months. I remember my jubilation upon 'winning' these books, as all of them were ones that I very much wanted to read, either based on a review I had read or previous knowledge of the book. I will give the benefit of the doubt to one of the giveaways, as it has only been a month since I won, but the others are well in excess of that, and I have not seen hide nor hair of them. Giveaways won: 4 - Books received: 0.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not really upset over the issue since I can walk, quite literally, 4 blocks and be at the Union Square B&N in under five minutes. That said, it is a matter of principle that when you hold a giveaway, you should actually send the book to the person who won it! Given the anonymous nature of the internet and the potential traffic giveaways can generate, I understand that it is pretty easy to get away with these things, but come on!

So, that said, who is to blame? No one really. I understand that there are generally two types of giveaways, and please correct me if I am wrong. The first of these is these is run by many of the smaller blogs where the blogger will actually mail the book herself. The second is run by a publishing house or publicist or what have you, who is ultimately responsible for sending the book out to the winner once the contest is completed. This second type of contest is generally easier on the book blogger since he need not bear the cost of shipping.

I don't think the books that I won went deliberately unsent, I think better of the book blogging community than that, so my assumption is that something got lost somewhere along the 'giveaway chain'. It may be that the publishing house simply misplaced the email or that the blogger hosting the contest forgot to send it, in brief I can think of a number of things which went wrong, including pressing time constraints in the real world. Human error happens, and I understand that.

Have other contest/giveaway 'winners' had similar things occur? I have sent emails to the bloggers whose contests I won, but there really isn't a need to mention them by name here. I will do a follow up post if the email replies merit it, but I doubt there will be anything truly revelatory in them. To celebrate the potential of the giveaway, and the fact that you have read this post in its entirety, I will send the first two people to post a comment any book they want--yes, you heard me correctly, any book at all--as long as you live in the continental United States and the book is not ridiculously expensive, just email me your address and the name of the book through the link in my profile.

28 July, 2009

Review: Dune, by Frank Herbert

"Brilliant, stunning, better than sex."
- Anonymous

Dune (1965) [US] [UK], by Frank Herbert, is often hailed as the best science fiction novel of all time, and with good cause. While the world we discover in Dune is expanded upon in further installments to the series, it is the first book that captures the imagination and ruthlessly demands to be finished. From breathtaking scenery to insidious assasinations and plots for galactic domination, Dune has it all, and more.

The Setup

Set in a far distant future where feudalistic capitalism is the order of the day, the novel centers around the harrowing destiny of young Paul Atreides, heir designate of a galactic fiefdom and sworn enemy of the Harkonnens, a rival noble family. Herbert seamlessly meshes thousands of years of galactic history into an unbelievably compelling narrative where one's genetic parentage is determined by an obscure society of prescient 'witches', known as the Bene Gesserit. The tightly knit story sets a remarkable standard for what can only be described as epic science fiction, rife with political, social, and religious commentary.

My Take in Brief

Dune is to science fiction as The Hobbit (1936), by J.R.R. Tolkien, is to fantasy--well, as long as you substitute Worms for Dragons. As with many readers of Fantasy, I was introduced to the genre by the Hobbit, and after having read Dune, I feel like it was my first honest encounter with science fiction--this is what the genre should be like and what all authors should aspire towards. I can quite literally still taste the sand in my mouth from being stranded in the desert on Arrakis, the planet where the story unfolds. Without giving more away then you would discover in the first chapter, there are a couple of themes I want to quickly touch on, and hopefully, for those of you who have read the novel, get some feedback on as well.

The first of these themes is the control the Bene Gesserit, a secretive organization of female 'witches' whose powers derive from intense physical and mental conditioning, exert on the breeding of noble families. Given their name (Gesserit = Jesuit = Jesus?), it is not difficult to view them as a Messianic cult devoted to creating the perfect vessel for their savior, and so hasten his arrival. For those of you familiar with R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing trilogy, Kelhus would, for all intents and purposes, not be out of place playing the role of Paul Atreides. The training and upbringing of the two protagonists are remarkably similar: they are both hyper-intelligent products of genetic manipulation and they both harness religion, loosely defined, to their own ends. The parallels between the two and the books don't stop there, but my discussion of them does for fear of getting off track!

My general infatuation with Dune has seriously impaired my ability to describe it to you; I feel like a besotted teenager unable to do anything but sigh and think loving thoughts. What lies beyond this haze is a deep appreciation for the staggering amount of research that must have gone into the novel and the rest of the series. Mr. Herbert's knowledge of ecology, religion, and economics is instrumental to the success of the book. The harsh dessert environment of Dune plays a central role in the plot by contrasting the scarcity of water, the most valuable resource on the planet, with the abundance of spice, which is the most valuable resource in the rest of the galaxy--as well as the simultaneous source and byproduct of political power (*cough* oil). Today's reader will in no way be shocked to learn that the natives of Arakkis share many cultural traits with Islam. Prescient statement describing the clash of civilizations, or a lucky shot in the dark, I leave it up to you to decide.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this book, and for the moment it deserves the top spot on my personal top ten list--that might indeed change after the book has had time to settle in my mind, but for the moment that is where it is going to stay. I have made slightly snarky comments about how important it was to read a couple of the books I have posted here in the past, but this time around I absolutely mean it, no snarky comment included. Read this book or forever be in ignorance of what science fiction can achieve; it is not the most original dish out there, but any five star restaurant would be honored to serve it.

Ratings and Links

Overall Rating: 5.5/5

What is this you ask?! No, it is not a mathematical paradox that will shortly destroy the world but the showing of appreciation for a book that was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Whoever wrote the anonymous quote at the top sure knew what she was talking about! There are an infinity of reviews of Dune floating around, some recent and some not, with a couple being more detailed then others. For a convenient centralized resource you may choose to click here, but be warned, this site is known to lie.

Piqued Your Interest?

You may obviously ignore my recommendation and proceed with your life as is, never regretting your blissful ignorance of one of the masterpieces of epic science fiction, or you may choose to grab destiny by the horns, scream "FREEDOMMMMMMM" at the top of your lungs, and read Dune the way it was meant to be read. That didn't make much sense... but check out the 40th Anniversary Edition of Dune.

27 July, 2009

News: Comic-Con Photos

Just wanted to put this out there for those of you who, like me *cries* were not able to attend Comic-Con. Although, to be perfectly honest, I am not the type who dresses up for those kind of events -- either way, enjoy the awesome costume pics. I know I did. A quick scroll through the comments under the pictures also yields some insightful tidbits from a few people who are actually at the convention, and not just posting to say how hot the superwoman costume was.

Also, some exciting news was dug up over at the Wertzone by Adam about the forthcoming Wheel of time book by Brandon Sanderson. Apparently, those Tor employees at the book stand who have read The Gathering Storm rate it higher than a number of the previous installments. When we adjust for the fact that these sources work for Tor, are uncorroborated, and are generally only concerned with promoting the book, well, you get the idea. Regardless, this news has me frothing at the mouth to get my hands on a copy, being a fan of the series myself.

News: Stargate Universe Trailer

Isn't Comic-Con great? Anyway, hot off the internet, I have the pleasure to present the Stargate Universe trailer, and it looks great so far. Just for the record, the ship is totally awesome. I honestly hope this spinoff will reboot the franchise as it has so much potential. Without further ado:

26 July, 2009

Sunday Trivia: Robert Jordan's Pen Name

Digging through the web to see if anyone with insider knowledge had dropped any hints about the next installment in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm (US), I fell across an interesting tidbit about the author's pen name. While the brief comment makes reference to "speculation", I have been unable to track it down:

The pen name of Robert Jordan was a subject of speculation throughout his career, with some believing he took it from the main character of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. However, he later said that he chose it because the first three letters of “Jordan” matched his real initials.
James Oliver Rigney is Robert Jordan's actual name, hence the Jordan. While this might indeed be true, it doesn't eliminate the other possibility. This brief, insightful paragraph which compares Hemingway and Fitzgerald explains:

Donaldson shows, for instance, how deeply both men believed in the lost cause. In an essay on "For Whom the Bell Tolls," he compares Hemingway's experience in the Spanish Civil War to that of his doomed protagonist, Robert Jordan. For Jordan, war "gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely." He is not naive: He believes in the Republic while also believing it is doomed.
For those of you familiar with Rand, it isn't a stretch to see the parallel. The real question is whether or not this foreshadows how the series will end -- sadly, only time will tell.

25 July, 2009

Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup #30

Hello and welcome to a new issue of my Weekly Roundup ©. I live in Germany, and that means we live in different time zones. Normally I finalize my draft of the post during the night from Thursday to Friday. This week was different because on Thursday 23rd July, I had my birthday! And, it was a special one because I turned 50. Half a century... wow, I can't believe it. Where has all the time gone? Henceforward you can call me Silver Surfer :>) Anyhow I can promise you that reading and blogging is healthy for the brain, and so here we go.


I told you last week about my summer reading list and I'm quite happy with my progress. I'm halfway through the seventh book on my list - The Edge of Reason by Melinda Snodgrass (US) (UK). Next on my list was A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (US) (UK). Yes, you didn't misread. I wrote "was", since I changed it last night. My next read is now The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (US) (UK) which I expect to be delivered tomorrow. I have been heavily influenced by Jeff C. from Fantasy Book News & Reviews. On 13th of July I read his Recommendation: The Sword Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. I was so intrigued that I put the book on my to buy list for August, but then he posted the Interview: Alex Bledsoe. I read it and I knew immediately that I had to buy and read the book NOW. This may show you the influence of blogs. I promise you to write a review about The Sword-Edged Blonde. You will soon know whether it is worth reading, or not, from my point of view. I'm sorry Ms Griffin. I promise to read your book... later.


I'm a big fan of Watchmen - the graphic novel (US) (UK) and the movie. I can't wait to get the DVD. The German edition will be released in August. Until then, I'm happy to present you with one of the deleted scenes...


Every day new book related blogs appear, and even using Google Reader it is difficult to keep up with all of these blogs. A lot of people invest the time simply to enjoy themselves, and others simply to learn information about books. But where can you tell the world which book blogs you appreciate most, either as a reader or as a blogger? I found the solution during the past days:

"Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18." Amy (Organization & Concept) from My Friend Amy. Don't miss Amy's post with the story behind ...

Please visit the site. As a blogger register your blog, and as a reader you vote for your favorite blogs in different categories. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, giveaways, ect... Don't miss this opportunity. Only The Best Sci-Fi/ Fantasy has been registered which means you can vote for us!

On the 20th of July 1969 we could watch the first steps of Neil Armstrong on the moon - watch the video below. On The 20th of July 2009 we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the first moon landing. It was also a great day for me: My first review has been posted - Review: The Red Wolf Conspiracy.


As a fan of steampunk novels I also look for games with a steampunk setting. Thanks to The Heliograph where I found the trailer for The Edge of Twilight, which you can watch below. Be warned there is some graphic violence in the second part of the trailer.

"Edge of Twilight is a 3rd person action-adventure game presenting a unique post-apocalyptic, steampunk fantasy world that has been split into separate realms of Day and Night. During his journey, your hero will become part of an increasingly complex storyline that will blur the line between good and evil." Please read the whole text at IGN.com. That sounds promising to me. Released date hasn't been announced yet. And don't forget to visit the official site The Edge of Twilight.


No, I won't disappoint you. Of course you get a quotes related to age. I'm not afraid of getting older. I'm still surprised about the books I read and the music I listen to...

"Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough."
Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977), US comedian with Marx Brothers

"To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am."
Bernhard M. Baruch (1870 - 1965), US businessman and politician

24 July, 2009

Bona Fide: Edi's Birthday Book Pile

Hello and welcome. Today I celebrate my 50th birthday and - not unexpectedly - my family gave me many great presents! Obviously, I couldn't wait to share with you all the books I received today with you. If you have read one of these books, I would appreciate when you leave a comment with your opinion about the book. And here we go...

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe (US) (UK) "Recently voted the greatest fantasy of all time,after The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways, in a time when our present culture is no longer even a memory. Severian, the central character, is a torturer, exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his victims, and journeying to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner's sword, Terminus Est. This edition contains the first two volumes of this four volume novel, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator". Source

Sword & Citadel: The Second Half of "The Book of the New Sun" by
Gene Wolfe (US) (UK) "The Sword of the Lictor is the third volume in Wolfe's remarkable epic, chronicling the odyssey of the wandering pilgrim called Severian, driven by a powerful and unfathomable destiny, as he carries out a dark mission far from his home.
The Citadel of the Autarch brings The Book of the New Sun to its harrowing conclusion, as Severian clashes in a final reckoning with the dread Autarch, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will forever alter the realm known as Urth." Source

The Urth of the New Sun: The sequel to "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe (US) (UK) ""The Urth of the New Sun" is a fine coda to what is arguable the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced, the four-volume "Book of the New Sun,""--"Chicago Sun-Times"

The Loch by Steve Alten (US) (UK) "Loch Ness holds secrets, ancient and deadly. Does a monster inhabit its depths, or is it just myth? Why, after thousands of reported sightings and dozens of expeditions, is there still no hard evidence? Marine biologist Zachery Wallace knows, but the shock of his near-drowning as a child on Loch Ness have buried all memories of the incident. Now, a near-death experience suffered while on expedition in the Sargasso Sea has caused these long-forgotten memories to re-surface. Haunted by vivid night terrors, stricken by a sudden fear of the water, Zach finds he can no longer function as a scientist. Unable to cope, his career all but over, he stumbles down a path of self-destruction...until he receives contact from his estranged father...a man he has not seen since his parents divorced and he left Scotland as a boy." Source

The Domino Man by Jonathan Barnes (US) (UK)
"A young man discovers a manuscript and so begins a bizarre tale that brings together his grandfather, every conspiracy theory you've ever heard about the royal family and the true story about where the power of Number 10 really lies. Readers of The Somnambulist may well recoginise the characters kept within a chalk circle in a cellar beneath Downing Street. With a gallery of vividly grotesque characters, a gleefully satiric take on modern life and a playful and highly literate style, this is an amazingly readable literary fantasy. In his sequel to the crazed Victoriana of The Somnambulist Jonathan Barnes brings his invention, reality, grotesquerie and curiosities bang-up-to-date." Source

The Colours in the Steel by K. J. Parker (US) (UK)
"Perimadeia: the famed Triple City and the mercantile capital of the known world. Behind its allegedly impregnable walls, everything is available—including information that will allow its enemies to plan one of the most devastating sieges of all time. The man called upon to defend Perimadeia is Bardas Loredan, a fencer–at–law, weary of his work and the world. For Loredan is one of the surviving members of Maxen’s Pitchfork, the legendary band of soldiers who waged war on the Plains tribes, rendering an attack on Perimadeia impossible. Until now… But Loredan has problems of his own. In a city where court cases are settled by lawyers arguing with swords not words, enemies are all too easily made. And by winning one particular case, Loredan has unwittingly become the target of a young woman bent on revenge. The last thing he needs is the responsibility of saving a city." Source

The Belly of the Bow by K. J. Parker (US) (UK)
"The city of Perimadeia has fallen. Bardas Loredan, the man who was chosen to save it, is now on the Island—a recluse living in the mountains, away from his family, with only a young apprentice for company. His life as a fencer–at–law is over. Instead, Loredan spends his days perfecting the art of bow making. But his isolation will not last forever, and when the Island comes under attack, his skills as a soldier and leader are once again called into play. The second installment in The Fencer Trilogy, The Belly of the Bow firmly establishes K.J. Parker in the top rank of fantasy writers. " Source

22 July, 2009

News: Reverse Engineering the Human Brain

As many of you know, TED is a remarkable online and physical resource for discovering innovations from technology and science to activism and lawmaking. Their speakers and scholars are on the cutting edge, and I can't help but draw parallels between what they present, and visions of the future introduced in science fiction novels.

Henry Markram recently and boldly claimed that the human brain will be reverse engineered within the next ten years. Dr. Markram has been working for the last five years to achieve this in rodents and has made significant discoveries (imagine how happy animal rights groups will be when we no longer need to preform cruel experiments on animals). The ethical considerations of animal testing aside, I could not help but think back to the numerous science fiction books I have read where Artificial Intelligence is born after functionally modeling the human brain in a computer environment, thereby allowing the brain to process and understand information at supercomputer speeds. While Dr. Markram generally avoids this science fictiony subject, he is more than adventurous in speculating on the future applications of this revolutionary technology. Enjoy!

20 July, 2009

Review: The Red Wolf Conspiracy

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (2008) is the first published novel by Robert V. S. Redick. It is the first book in the new fantasy trilogy The Chathrand Voyages. Even I know that there are a lot of reviews available - Fantasy Book News & Reviews, Review Index lists nine reviews - I would like to add my two cents. I read the UK paperback edition which has a different cover compared to US edition.

The Setup

The cover shows you the most important location of the story: Chathrand, an enormous, 600 hundred years old sailing vessel. Home for more than 800 souls. It is the dream of every tarboy - we would say shipboy - to sign up for the Chathrand. One of these tarboys is Pazel Pathkendle,who, due to his fortuitous relationship to several persons, as well as his hidden skill, gets enmeshed in a dark conspiracy. But he is not the only one. There is Thasha, daughter of the Emperor's ambassador - a girl on her way to independence. Nilus Rose, is an excellent but brutal captain and Dr. Ignus Chadfallow is an imperial surgeon and in mysteriously connected to Pazel. The begining hints that Imperial spymaster Sandor Ott and his assassins are following their own plans. And, of course, there are other interesting people - let us not forget the secret folk of Ixchel and the "awakened" animals, mermaids, and... They are all part of The Red Wolf Conspiracy.... Sooner or later they all meet on board the Chathrand, a melting pot of magic, curses, corruption, politics, betrayal, fidelity, faith, trust, hate, friendship, intrigue, epiphany and love. Each chapter is told from point of view of another character.

My Take in Brief

Sometimes I ask myself whether I should read more than four reviews of a book. As I mentioned before, there is a bagful of reviews already available for The Red Wolf Conspiracy. So why should I add one more, and maybe just repeat things you have read before? My main reason is: I really enjoyed this book. Beside that, I read the book and wrote this review in a language which isn't my own - I live in Germany and I'm a bit older than most of the other reviewers :>) This gives me a uniquely different point of view.

Because this is the first book of a new trilogy, I fully expected that the author would take some time to introduce his world and his protagonists; fortunately Mr. Redick does just that. I know other reviewers have criticized the slow beginning. but to me it makes sense. Normally it takes about 30 to 50 pages to get used to the writing style of an author and the vocabulary used. I must admit Mr. Redick makes a good job for a non-native English speakers. The not too long chapters help a lot in that respect.

Mr. Redick's writing is highly original and he has a knack for drawing you into the story. For me it was great to see that our young heroes act like young heroes even though they possess secret skills. They make mistakes and that makes them very realistic and human. Most characters appear to be three-dimensional and are well developed. You can easily connect to them all by the golden thread that makes up the revelation that is The Red Wolf Conspiracy. But there are a lot more plots and sub plots; the novel is a complex web that is masterfully spun to encompass a unique breadth of characters.

When you enter the Chathrand for the first time, it is like visiting a cathedral (e.g. Cologne Cathedral). I was simply awestruck. The ship is its own legend, full of life and mystery. The depiction of the sailing vessel and the life on board is amazing. For me, the Chatrand is the secret star of the book. I compare it with the description of the town Villjamur in Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton. And there are not only human beings on board the Chathrand. There are the Ixchel, small but full of energy and dynamism - they vaguely remind you of fairies. You won't need dragons and dwarves once you discover Ixchel, the "awakened" animals and mermaids.... Mr. Redick created a mouth-watering universe full of mystery and wonder.

The book starts with a special notice in

The Etherhorde Mariner

6th Umbria 941

Special Notice


Many Fear a Tragic End for the Great Ship and 800 souls

And the whole book serves to explain this notice. I can't wait to read the next book....

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

I must admit I'm not a friend of ratings. I prefer to explain why I liked/disliked a book or not. Because a 4.7/5 or 87 out of 100 doesn't mean much to me. Therefore I consult Bona Fide's Book Oracle which is a kind of inner dialogue. Bona Fide pesters ediFanoB with questions about the book like: "Please compare the book with an other object." Mostly the result tend to make sense.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy is like a gorgeous gown. Colorful, beads, frills, buttons, ribbons, feathers, hidden pockets, scented sachets, several layers of cloth. Every detail is like a person with her own history, thoughts and plans. All bent together by a golden thread whose stich is anything but random. So far, we have discovered the surface and the first layer of cloth. But fortunately "dressmaker" Redick is working on the next layers. We expect the next delivery soon...

Don't read this book if you get sea-sick, have an aversion for talking animals and mermaids, or if more than two main characters is just too much for you, you get a rash when you hear words like politics, betrayal and corruption, or don't like teens who make mistakes, are bored by fantasy, or need dragons, elves and dwarves.


For more information about the world and their ships sail to the home of The Red Wolf Conspiracy.

Piqued Your Interest?

Sorry, but you can't get my copy. Even if I can't use it as a door stopper, for which 480 pages are invariably too small. So, buy your own copy - hardback or paperback or both. And don't forget to buy the sequel The Rats and The Ruling Sea which will be released in October 2009 in the UK. Poor folks in US have to wait until February 2010 or set sail to an oversea bookshop... which I don't doubt some will do given gripping The Red Wolf Conspiracy (US) (UK) has been.

17 July, 2009

Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup #29

Hello and welcome to my weekly roundup. I escaped work and have some days off and I'm glad that I found the time to read beside sleeping and family. I started in on the sixth book of my summer 2009 reading list...The weather forecast for the weekend is rain, rain, rain, .... and to be honest I don't care. It is just one more opportunity to read!


The David Gemmell Legend Award announced that audio of the award ceremony is now available, and this is the direct link to the award ceremony audio.

There was an interesting discussion about On Rape in Fantasy at Fantasy Debut. This is the second discussion on this topic I found within 2009. There was an intense discussion about this topic based on Ana's review of The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett in April.

I always in search of extraordinary stuff, which you know from my past Weekly Roundups. This week I want to present you with a doll - a leather doll (I know what you are thinking, but it is not that kind of doll, and I am not that kind of person!). Please click and watch the pictures of this awesome Steampunk Leather Doll.

I follow two new blogs that are both related to Steampunk:
The first one is Steampunk Art @ Oxford. The Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, UK presents the first museum exhibition of Steampunk, which will run from October 13, 2009 through February 21, 2010.

Cherie Priest, author of books like Four and Twenty Blackbirds (SF Signal review) just went Steampunk! The Clockwork Century is the name of the alternate-history world setting she created.


The first book settled in The Clockwork Century titled Boneshaker will be released in October 2009. Cherie Priest signed a contract for two more books. Amazon link doesn't show the cover. Therefore I added it for you.

Several years ago, I read The Last Rune, a series by Mark Anthony. It is the story of two people - Travis Wilder (saloon-keeper) and Grace Beckett (ER doctor) - who are drawn into another world called Eldh. I must admit it is still one of my favorite series to date. I'm still in search of other series where people travel between worlds. Is there a series which you would recommend me? And yes I know about Narnia...


I like steampunk (duh). Maybe you don't know that there are a lot of varieties - I would like to show you two of these. The first one is a little on the comic side. It is called Steam Punk Duel. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

The next one is a darker one. It is a short animated film. That means you should have some time to watch it because it lasts around 25 minutes. But I think it is most definitely worth watching The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello:


This week you get, once again, two quotes and both are related to books and weather. I started to read Flood by Stephen Baxter. For more information please read Sandstorm Review or SF Signal Review.

"Weather forecast for tonight: dark: Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning."
George Carlin, US comedian and actor (1937 - 2008)

"Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content."
Paul Valery, French critic and poet (1871 -1945)

10 July, 2009

Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup #28

Hello and welcome to a new issue of my weekly roundup. This is the last one week before my holiday, and every year, the same thing happens. Since I work as a programmer, as soon as people get wind of my holiday, I receive a lot of urgent requests that all need to be done before I leave on Friday afternoon. So I spent more time at work this week than I would have liked--that is the reason for this shorter roundup. Enough talking. Enjoy reading.....


If you read fantasy and/or science fiction you meet a lot of weird life forms. Most of the time we forget that our planet is also home to some of those weird life forms...


I'm nearly finished with the German edition of Acacia by David Anthony Durham. If I follow my list, the next book should be The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick. For more information just read John Ottinger's review of The Red Wolf Conspiracy or Robert Thompson's review of the The Red Wolf Conspiracy. But yesterday I received my copy of Twelve by Jasper Kent. For more information checkout Robert Thompson's review of Twelve or Dave Brendon's review of Twelve. And to be honest I am favoring Twelve. Vampires in old Russia are hard to beat... I will let you know me decision in my next roundup.


Would you like to have a visual overview about new and forthcoming fantasy books combined with additional information? Then I recommend to visit Fantasy Literature - New and forthcoming fantasy novels. Click the link and you will understand why I spoke about a visual overview...

In case you want a brief monthly overview of what's new on the scene, then have a look at Fantasy Book Critic - Spotlight on July 2009 Books. Older spotlights are still available and worth digging through.


In the past roundups I presented you a lot of dark and/or action orientated movies. I think now the time has come to show you something more on the funny side--even if we have to wait until November for the release of Planet 51. Hmm, that title reminds me of Area 51... I don't want to keep you waiting any longer. Here's the trailer...


This week I chose a quote in memory of all people who need way too much time to explain something...

"The shortest distance between two points is always under construction."

Noelie Alito

07 July, 2009

7 Tricks for Converting a Significant Other...

Getting your significant other share in your enjoyment of science fiction and fantasy can be a real challenge. For the devoted niche reader out there, I have assembled 7 of my successful tricks to help you with the process.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

This technique is a little devious, so only use it if your significant other already has at least a passing interest in fantasy or science fiction, or you risk turning them off from the genre altogether. This trick sealed the deal for me, so don't underestimate its efficacy. The idea is to buy them a book, which is the first in a long series, and get them hooked. Think Mercedes Lackey or Robert Jordan. At a certain point your significant other will attain critical mass and go out and get the rest of the series on their own. From experience, I chose the Wheel of Time for this task, as the characters really tend to draw you in. I am proud to report that my girlfriend is on book four and progressing at a respectable pace.

The Great Unknown

This trick, if it can even be called that, should be used regardless of the situation: keep them in suspense. Feed them little interesting tidbits from the book and leading questions. Try "I bet you can't guess who dies", even if no one dies. Ask them what part they are on and tell them that an amazing chapter is coming up--in brief, do whatever you can to keep them interested. My personal favorite, as alluded to, is the fake plot twist. Throw out something totally ridiculous that absolutely doesn't fit with the story, and they will keep reading just to prove you wrong.

Tried and True

This is advice I shouldn't have to give, but I'll put it out there just to be clear. Don't pick something radical that embodies all the excesses of the genre, make sure to go with a book that will allow your significant other to gently suspend their disbelief, and not try to wrestle it away from them on the first page. If you can, avoid books with overly dramatic prologues that throw around a lot of technical jargon. As a rule, it should be a book that will ease them into the genre as gently as possible, and not try to explain the Seven Principles of Magic in the first fifty pages.

The Book Swap

This trick is simple and sweet. Simply promise to read one of their favorite books in exchange for one of yours, even if it's Ayn Rand. Voila!


Draw connections between books that you know they already like. "Oh yea, that's so similar to X Great Fantasy book I read, I bet you would like it". This trick is best applied discreetly and in small doses, as abusing it tends to make you sound preachy. This works with pretty much any element of a book, so make sure your comment is intelligent and actually relevant to the book your significant other is reading.

Fait Accompli

This is by far my favorite trick: Simply point out to your significant other that they have already read a science fiction or fantasy book, and that they absolutely loved it. A good example that comes to mind is The Time Traveler's Wife; obviously, it isn't your typical science fiction book, but play up the similarities to other great science fiction, and you'll have a convert on your hands in no time. Alternately, give them just such a book to read if you think they aren't ready for a more intense 'genry' stuff.

The Wheel of Time Turns

If none of these tricks worked, don't sweat it, time is on your side. Determined application of these rules will get you there in the end, and if it doesn't, than it wasn't meant to be--just go ahead and find yourself a new significant other. You might want to try the SF/F section at the bookstore.

Remember, none of these tricks are going to work overnight. They take a fair amount of time and effort, so don't get discouraged. Above all, be subtle and understanding, and don't try and force your love of science fiction or fantasy onto your significant other--if anything, they will come to you and ask where to start when they are ready.

Do you have any tricks of your own that have worked for you in the past?

05 July, 2009

Curiosities: What Got the Buzz A Webbing?!

I want this. A drug that gives you perfect visual memory. Either that or I need to wait 400 years and become an Envoy like Takeshi Kovacs...

USA Today says vampires need to get their stories straight, and I agree. I mean, now I have no idea if I need to take holy water or garlic out with me at night.

This article... is impossible to explain. Seems like one of C.S. Lewis' darker stories.

Honest to god alien in the sewers? This article gives an explanation, but I don't buy it!

04 July, 2009

Review: Light, by M. John Harrison

Light (2002), by M. John Harrison, was critically received with much fanfare and acclaim, and went on to win the James Tiptree Jr. Award. Shrugging of the traditional elements of style and structure, Light dazzles the reader with its highly original prose and esoteric plot.

The Setup

Light follows Michael Kearney, Seria Mau, and Ed Chianese across space and time. From 1999 England to 2400 galaxy spawning human civilization, the reader is immersed in a tale that is both epic in scale and yet also highly personal. Imbued with Harrison's characteristic irreverent pessimism Light, as it is ironically named, will blind, confuse, and amaze.
A unique aspect of Light is the general approach that Mr. Harrison takes to the laws of physics; they are wielded and harnessed through a perplexing combination of scientific knowledge and artistic talent. Perception is the key to survival--at least as far as space combat is concerend, although there is also hefty helping of introspection throughout the novel. Beyond that, I only recommend this book to the minutely attentive reader who appreciates prose over content. Reading light is not disimilar from reading a normal science fiction book through a kaleidoscope... you get dizzy and just aren't sure if you enjoy the feeling or not.

My Take in Brief

As you have already guessed, this was not one of my favorite reads. It was fractal, drawn out, repetitive--elements that uniquely well crafted prose make up for, but not entirely. I understand that I am in the minority here, and that every review I have read has glowed with praise brighter than a supernova. I don't care. Go ahead and call this book a work of art, and I'll agree, I just don't think it is good art.
The ship/Seria Mau plot line was by far my favorite--in retrospect I feel that this is because she was not incessantly plagued by the humanity of the other protagonists. I don't need to see the same dejected thought process played out in ten different scenes to get what is going on--I get it the first time around.
Mr. Harrison adopts a somber and dismal view of the human condition, one that finds justification in his twisted characters--but at the same time manages to emphasise some of our races' greatest strengths. As a consequence, 'curriosity killed the cat', to me, seems to be the premise of Light--I know it missed the mark with respected to the message, but that's what I got out of it. I hope those enlightened minds among you find more to enjoy in Light then I did, as I often found myself skimmng ahead, trying to find an interesting section, which is never a good sign.

Ratings & Links

Amazon: 3/5
B&N: 3.2/5
My Rating: 2.2/5

Piqued Your Interest?

If you didn't listen to a word I said and still want to give Light a try, then got for it. Don't say I didn't warn you...

03 July, 2009

Bona Fide: Weekly Roundup #27

Hello and welcome to a new issue of my weekly roundup. I sweated a lot this week.
It was definitely too warm and muggy for me. OK, no more complaining. Enjoy reading....


When I started to create my summer reading list, I had a look at the dust covered back rows of my bookshelf. There I found a German edition of Acacia, by David Anthony Durham, and added it to my list. In September The Other Land, book two of the Acacia trilogy, will be released. Today I finished Fallen by Tim Lebbon. Two persons on long and interesting journey--an unexpected ending. As usual, instead of following the reading order of my list, I decided to read Acacia next. In case you have not yet read it, maybe the following reviews will convince you:
Fantasy Book Critic: Acacia review, OF Blog of the Fallen: Acacia review, Dave Brendon's Fantasy & Sci -Fi Weblog: Acacia review, Grasping for the Wind: Acacia review,

This month The Price of Spring , the fourth and final volume of Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet will be released. Book one, A Shadow in Summer, is on my summer reading list. Daniel Abraham continues to write epic fantasy -- recently he spoke about his new five volume series - The Dagger & The Coin. Adam from The Wertzone and Aidan from A Dribble of Ink gathered detailed information.


Maybe you read that Blood Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski won the The David Gemmell
Legend Award for 2009 -- but until now we still didn't know the voting order for the rest of the books. On Thursday, 2nd of July, The Top 20 were posted. Have a look. Maybe you'll find some books that interest you..

It is July. That means half of 2009 is already gone. Several blogger started to post their top five reads so far. This is the link to the top five reads from James at Speculative Horizons, with plenty of links in case you are interested.
I have one top read and several books that I greatly enjoyed, not in any particular order.

- Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Followed by
- Terror by Dan Simmons
- Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
- The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
- Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
- The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

What is your top read so far? I Look forward to your comments.


Did you like Independence Day and The Day after Tomorrow but just aren't interested by Transformers? But would you like to be entertained by another disaster movie? Then you should have a look at the trailer of the upcoming movie by Roland Emmerich: 2012

I know what I will be doing in November 2009...

Since I watched Underworld: Rise of the Lycans I'm not opposed to watching another
vampire movie -- as long as it contains some action. A combination of science fiction
and vampires would be nice. Unfortunately we have to wait until January 2010 for
the release of Daybreakers. In 2019 a plague has transformed almost every
human into vampires... In the meantime, have a look at the HD trailer of Daybreakers:

Quote of the Week

This week you get two quotes which express my preference for one vegetable - CABBAGE !
I must admit that my family does not understand my obsession with this particular vegetable .

"Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head."
Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914)

"Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond;
cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
Mark Twain (1835 -1910)