29 April, 2010

Review: Counting Heads, by David Marusek

Counting Heads (2005), by David Marusek, is an intriguing read that differs substantially from standard speculative fiction. It escapes categorization thanks to intriguing technological asymmetries while its staccato narrative gives the novel a refreshing short story like feel.

Meet Samson Harger, a famous package designer and his most recent amorous attachment, Eleanor Starke, the ruthless and resourceful corporate executive. What we know of their world unfurls gradually throughout the novel: a future where nanotech has caused humanity to shelter under great city domes; big brother sampling everyone on a daily basis to prevent contamination; a cloned workforce; and sentient supercomputers that are strangely subservient to the ‘natural’ humans that remain. A colorful, intriguing, and original future if I have ever seen one.

Counting Heads is not a character driven narrative, so stay away if that is your preference. If anything, with perhaps one notable exception, characters are deemphasized in favor of ideas and the abstractions they represent – indeed, fully half the characters are clones of specific types of individuals: loyalty, emotive sensitivity, violence, ect... Economics, philosophy, and human nature all intertwine to weave an intellectually stimulating picture, one which requires a certain level of attention and involvement on the part of the reader not generally required by the genre as a whole.

Then again, I could be totally off the mark here. SF Signal, in its review of Counting Heads, describes one of the cons of the novel:

The world-building slightly overshadows the character-driven plot.

How is a plot character driven, I ask, if the emphasis is not on the characters?! Regardless, it is true that much of the novel is descriptive in nature, constantly trying to catch up with its own ideas by adding detail where none is needed. Saturation, if you will.

I am loath to make a final determination as to the overall readability of Counting Heads. If you like your science fiction á la Le Guin or Wolfe then you might enjoy the book; if you like sci-fi more in the vein of Tanya Huff and David Gunn, don’t bother.

That said, I will be tackling Mind Over Ship (2009) which continues from where Counting Heads left off for no other reason than that the great question of the headcount is still unanswered. Don’t you just hate authors who finish a book without resolving the main unspoken mysteries?!

28 April, 2010

It's News To Me #4

It's hump day so the week can't be looking too bad anymore. Just a few more classes and finals hit and then glorious summer break. Lots of good reading planned, sadly little vacation time.

Cover Art

You've probably noticed I'm a big fan of the German Language. I speak it, I attempt to read anything I can find and I was excited to see the new German language cover of The Great Bazaar (Der Große Basar). I know, sometimes you wonder if German should even be translated.

Big News

In Mr. Rothfuss' own words:

So we agreed that I’d have the book finished by September. It was nice. It made us both happy.

So that’s part of the news, that I’ll be finished writing The Wise Man’s Fear by September.

But here’s the rest of the news: that means that the book can’t come out until March of 2011.

Visit Pat's blog to get it in his own words, which are always classic. I guess it's time to move The Name of the Wind up in my "to-read" pile. Does this encourage any other authors to get going...hint hint, wink wink.


Legend of the Seeker is being given the treatment the series of books probably should have received; it's being canceled.

Top 10 Weirdest Songs from Superhero movies. That pretty much explains it. Ninja Rap will always be number one in my book. :-P


There's an interesting poll going on A Fantasy Reader about character names and whether people prefer normal, average names as opposed to complex made up names and those that lie in between.

Personally, I'm all about quick and easy especially since I'll be spending the next few hundred pages pronouncing the name over and over again. I like made up names, but simpler is better for me...not that it's a deal breaker or anything.

And that's the news...at least to me.

27 April, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Like I said before, I'm not immune to peer pressure. The opposite is in fact true. I also realize this is probably getting as annoying as hearing about how busy people are and excuses as to why there's no posting. I'll attempt to refrain (doh!).

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2010) [US] [UK] tells the story found in Lincoln's secret journal describing his alternate life as a vampire hunter. Personally, anything titled "Vampire Hunter" should really be more entertaining than this.

I don't know if by reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter I would really be able to have an opinion of the rest of the monster mash-ups as Vampire Hunter is based on Lincoln's life and not another book like Pride and Prejudice. I assume as much though and as such, you'll probably not see many more mash-ups reviews.

I have to admit I wasn't converted. First, I wasn't a huge fan of the narrator. The voices he used were just all off for me. I have a certain voice for Abraham Lincoln in my head (probably thanks to School House Rock or something) and this did not do it for me.

Next, I have to say the writing was done well and while I was impressed with the facts of Lincoln's actual life that are woven into the story (I did confirm a few), it was hard to take someone telling the actual thoughts and motivations behind Lincoln's actions especially regarding vampires.

As mentioned earlier, I guess I expected more action and adventure, less plodding along and talking. Now that I think about it, the "Abraham Lincoln" part really should have off-set the rest of the title enough. Don't get me wrong, I greatly respect President Lincoln and I think that may have been one of the reasons I had a hard time with the book as well.

One of the perks of the audiobook was that there's an interview with Seth Grahame-Smith at the end of the telling of the story and that was pretty interesting. He tells how the two books he saw everywhere for the last while have been Abraham Lincoln biographies and Twilight. Thus we have Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Also interesting to note Grahame-Smith has a MTV show in the makes.

When Should You Read/Listen to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?

I can probably mostly compare Vampire Hunter to The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It's similar slow-moving vampire hunting, so if you liked the latter, you'll probably enjoy the former. Although I would not wish The Historian on my worst enemy. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was a step up from that to be fair.

2 out of 5 Stars (It was okay)

Interesting discussion on Monster Mash-Ups on Neth Space earlier this month.

25 April, 2010

Giveaway: The Dream of Perpetual Motion

The Dream of Perpetual Motion, by Dexter Palmer

The Dream of Perpetual Motion, by Dexter Palmer, is a memorable steam-punk inspired debut where imagination is given free reign. Colorful and eccentric, Palmer's first novel takes readers off the beaten path to a wonderfully illustrated world populated with rich and vibrant characters.
A debut so magical… so extraordinary… it has to be read to be believed…. Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.
The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.
Beautifully written, stunningly imagined, and wickedly funny, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a heartfelt meditation on the place of love in a world dominated by technology.
You enjoyed Pinion or Boneshacker and want more clock/steam punk? Done. Just follow these simple giveaway instructions for your chance to win a copy of The Dream of Perpetual Motion (giveaway runs till 5/10/10 @ 11:59 PM EST):

E-mail me your name and address, with "DREAM" as the subject of the email. Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and win bonus entries for future giveaways. Open worldwide as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

24 April, 2010

Blogroll Update

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.

I have woefully neglected my blogroll and will be cleaning it up this weekend. If you are not already included and believe yourself to be deserving of this huge honor, you are permitted to add a comment below or send me an email.
I find that showing post titles on the blogroll is so much better than just the blog names. Sadly, that increases the blogroll size quite a bit, which in turn means that the number of blogs I can include is limited. I am just trying to say that you shouldn't try and find out where I live to break my legs if I don't include you!

For those of you looking for a more inclusive experience, I believe there is a comprehensive science fiction and fantasy blogroll out there, originally developed by John. Are you rebooting it for this year?

22 April, 2010

Review - Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

Matthew Stover is probably best known for his Star Wars novels and most especially the novelization of the movie, Revenge of the Sith [US] [UK] (which I loved - both movie and novel).

Heroes Die [US] [UK] is the first in the Acts of Caine series continuing with the elusive Blade of Tyshalle, then Caine Black Knife, and a few more planned though no solid dates (so says Wikipedia).

Goodreads blurb:
Rife with magic and adventure, this extraordinarily ambitious fantasy chronicles the adventures of Hari Michaelson--merely a popular actor on Earth, but a renowned and deadly assassin known as Caine, the Blade of Tyshalle, on the planet Overworld.
The front of the book calls it a fantasy novel, but I would say it's more of a fantasy/sci-fi mix. There are elves and trolls, but there's also a mix of futuristic science that actually fits together really well.

Heroes Die is amazingly well plotted with vividly memorable scenes that I couldn't get out of my head even if I wanted to. There are so many twists and turns throughout and not once did I see one coming until it was already happening.

I don't want to give too much away, but there are really two places or worlds in which Heroes Die takes place. One is on Earth where there is a caste system in place from the bottom Laborers to the top Leisuremen and women. Caine/Hari is an actor which is around the middle of the castes.

The other world is Overworld where all the action takes place and where the people of earth get to see what the actors do through their eyes. The more money you have the more you get to see of the action. This is where Hari Michaelson becomes Caine.

And Caine makes it worth your while. Nothing but death and destruction follow in his path and that's why he's the number one star on earth. His scenes are just the best, full of action and impossible situations where Caine gets beat up and bloody and does everything he can to save his wife who is stranded on Overworld.

I have to say, I liked Heroes Die a lot, but I can't say I loved it. I know I've been shouting its praises and rightly so, but there was a large amount of brutality and profanity, which I thought was overused. At points the profanity made me feel like I was back in Jr. High and the references were just too crude for me.

At the same time, if you don't mind this then I can almost guarantee that you'll love this book.

When Should You Read Heroes Die?

If you like action and adventure with lots of plot twists but don't mind a large amount of brutality and profanity, Heroes Die will work wonders for you. The plotting is stellar and consistent and will keep you turning the pages.

3.5 out of 5 Stars (really liked)

I base my rating in part on whether I can read a book again, and that just wouldn't happen in this case, but I will be continuing with the series.

21 April, 2010

It's News To Me #3

And we're back again. Some good news this week especially for Erikson and Goodkind fans. Anyone buying Avatar tomorrow...can I come over?

Cover Art

Sometimes I get jealous of other countries' covers. Okay, so I would pretty much prefer any cover over the US cover on any given day. Lamentation is an exception for the US (although becoming less so) but here, yet again I find another country's cover art is better (but at this point it's nothing to complain about). Nice work France.

News and Discussion

For all those Malazan fans (me included) Steven Erikson has announced he has 10 chapters left on The Crippled God. At first I thought, Yay!, then I remembered his chapters are a tad lengthy. Still a good sign, but he may not be able to finish in time for the scheduled release date of August 2010. Esslemont's Stoneweilder is still due out for November 2010. Both UK release dates, good thing for Book Depository. (Thanks Wert).

Speaking of The Wertzone, Adam's got an interesting discussion going titled "The Story So Far..." I thought it was an interesting topic, should author's give a synopsis of what the story has been so far especially in a long, drawn-out series where memory tends to fade in between release dates. I fully support them in case you were wondering. I realize, as GRRM points out, that the author may highlight only the subtle foreshadowing that's important, but I say it's worth it. If the story were that fresh in my mind, then I'd skip the summary anyway, but since it's not, I need the reminder. Only in rare instances do I go back and reread. Maybe I should.

Stomping on Yeti's calling out for submissions cause he's getting married or something. Stop by if you want to try your luck stomping on yeti.

In funnier news, Terry Goodkind has signed a 3 book deal with Tor and it's more Richard and Kahlan. IMO, Alec wins for the funniest response. I've had the good luck to be warned away from anything Goodkind's written so I guess that counts me out for having a say. I have, however, read some interviews and if that's not enough to keep away from his books, I don't know what is.


Yup, I'm the last person in the world to see Avatar. Actually I found out recently that there are still quite a few people who haven't. Enjoyed it quite a bit and I really think it won the right oscars because otherwise it was a bit cliche, but I don't mind cliche. The military guys really cracked me up (Colonel Miles Quaritch). DVD and Blu-ray come out tomorrow (April 22).

And that's the news...at least to me.

20 April, 2010

Giveaway: Pinion, by Jay Lake

Political conflicts and philosophical arguments find closure at last in this splendidly baroque whirl of geomancy and Victorian clockwork. Young Paolina Barthes, the gear-minded prodigy who became a target for the empire-building ambitions of rival governments in 2009's Escapement, is on the run, heading south over the Wall that God built to divide the hemispheres and keep the Earth's gear turning through the heavens. As spies and ancient secret societies scramble to find her, Paolina struggles to learn how to control her world-shaking abilities, while her heart pulls her toward Boaz, a golemlike man of brass. Lake wields big themes—magic and religion versus science, free will, colonialism, and a bit of romance—with surprising elegance, and readers will enjoy cherishing the characters and pondering the concepts of this “clockpunk” world. (Apr.)
- Publishers Weekly

Enjoyed Mainspring and now want a copy of Pinion by Jay Lake? Done. Just follow these simple giveaway instructions for your chance to win (giveaway runs till 5/1/10 @ 11:59 PM EST):

E-mail me [bloggeratf@gmail.com] your name and address, with "PINION" as the subject of the email. Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and win bonus entries for future giveaways.

Giveaway is open worldwide as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

19 April, 2010

The Other Goodkind Press Release

New York, NY – Monday, April 19, 2010 – Tor Books is proud to announce the return of New York Times bestselling author Terry Goodkind to their list. We mean this literally, having Terry come crawling back is such sweet sweet vengeance. The first book in the 3-book deal will be a new Richard and Kahlan novel, due in early 2011. These things are pretty much like crack and sell themselves. And, given that Terry copy/pastes about 30% of any new novel from his previous work, we might even be able to manage a late 2010 release. Richard and Kahlan are the principle (sic) characters from his previous New York Times bestselling books. We ask that readers construe the word 'book' liberally in this case. The rumors that The Law of Nines is being used as toiled paper in some regions is assuredly not true.

“We are excited to publish Terry Goodkind again,” says Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tor Books. “Millions of people delight in the novels of Richard and Kahlan and eagerly await the continuation of their story. How Terry plans on managing that, given how he ended the series, I have no idea. A virtually omnipotent protagonist is just a poor start to mark the beginning of the next series." Twenty five million copies of Goodkind’s 12-book series have been sold worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages. A television series adaptation of the novels, titled Legend of the Seeker, produced by ABC Studios and broadcast via syndication, first aired on November 1, 2008 and is now in its second season. We will refrain from any comments as to the actual quality of the series for legal reasons. The Sword of Truth is one of the most successful series ever published in the fantasy field. Crack.

Said Goodkind, “I’m thrilled to be back with Tor to tell more stories of Richard and Kahlan. Admire my beard." Terry also asks readers to ignore the fact that he jumped ship, leaving Tor to try and cast himself as a 'mainstream' author of 'thrillers'. Crawling back, he says, has been a humbling experience for his super-massive ego.



Review: The Painted Man, by Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man [US][UK]is the first book in Peter V. Brett's Demon Trilogy and is followed by the recently released The Desert Spear [US][UK]. Original and captivating, The Painted Man successfully plays off of standard fantasy tropes to keep readers off balance and glued to the page - a highly recommended start to what promises to be a memorable series.
(french cover of The Warded Man is totally awesome)

Peter is sneaky. He starts out with three individual plot lines that readers will initially feel take on a familiar shape, fitting comfortably into the standard fantasy stereotypes. The experienced reader will quickly think: boy grows up, goes on adventure, meets girl, saves world. I like to think that The Warded Man actually started down that much trodden plot-line and was then rewritten to throw readers off.

Peter starts us out in a world that is assaulted every night by corelings. These beasts of the night are demon-like elementals that can be kept at bay by the use of wards, magical symbols of power. Thus, society is made up of tight population clusters that hide behind their wards, which are solely defensive in nature. Legend has it that offensive wards once existed... but those have been lost to the passage of history.

(the darker side of The Warded Man)

The protagonist, Arlen, is tired of living behind wards, of not fighting back against the demons that continue to cull the dwindling population of his town. As with all fantasy, and as Brice aptly points out in his audio-book review of The Warded Man, the story is one of growth and surmounting the crazy odds of certain death, again and again.

As ussual, my focus on a recap is sorely lacking, so I will reffer you to Fantasy Debut, who does a solid job of laying the groundword and teasing out all juciy details from the protagonists.

The great joke that Peter plays on readers is when Arlen's journey seems to be guiding him straight towards one of the great secondary characters of the novel, Leesha. Arlen is wounded, Leesha is a healer, and Arlen is stumbling through the woods towards a healer of great repute, who readers assume is Leesha's mentor. However, instead of allowing these two characters to meet, Peter instead introduces us to a third character, named Rojer! It was a real curve ball.

Far from distracting or throwing readers off, the narrative shift opens up the story, like a fine wine that needs to breath, allowing Peter to write the story he wanted to write. The change in tone is noticeable, erring towards the darker side of fantasy where not everything ends happily and the good guys die, because the world can be a hard place.

Peter V. Brett proves with The Warded Man that he is a talent to follow. Given that The Desert Spear just came out I am sure some of you will pipe in with whether or not the second installment to the Demon trilogy lives up to the promise of the first. I'll be picking it up regardless, but it would be nice to know if paying hardcover prices is worth it.

Lastly, if you enjoyed some of the art in this post - I think the first french cover is just amazing - then I highly recommend that you check out Peter V. Brett's website where lots more eye candy awaits.

18 April, 2010

New Design!

If you are reading this in a reader, come on over and check out the new design. It is still a bit rough around the edges and needs a number of tweaks, but visibly not all that much will be changing.

The new design is simple, light and clean. I was getting a bit tired of the previous, overly dark template and I think that this one is a lot easier on the eyes. Less harsh contrasts.

One thing I am looking to add and contract out would be a stylized sketch that would run down the left side, along the space reserved for posting. A sketch of, you might ask? I don't have a clue yet and so I am definitely open to suggestions. I was thinking maybe a warrior dual wielding a light-saber and rune engraved sword. Essentially, I am just looking for something that would express the dualism that is science fiction and fantasy. If you know anyone that might be interested, shoot me an email.

So, thats all she wrote for the redesign. Now to play with all that behind the scenes stuff that you don't ever see but is painfully necessary. A happy Sunday to all.

Winner: Brain Thief, Shadow Prowler & Serpent Moon

As part of the ongoing shelf clearing process, I am happy to award Brain Thief, Shadow Prowler & Serpent Moon to Ronald H. from Texas!

So, Ronald, I expect a detailed review of Serpent Moon. I hear it promises to be one of the best books of the year... Oh, and the snark this weekly was unimpressive. Try harder people.

16 April, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I have this obsession, and I know it drives my wife nuts, but I can't stand wasting time. That's why audiobooks are by friends. Anytime I'm driving, taking the bus, walking to school, it's all good book-reading time. It's all forward progression, especially since I usually have goals to read so many books a month, quarter, year, etc. And I've found that most libraries have a decent selection of audiobooks since they tend to be a bit pricey.

Now getting to the review. I'm terrible with peer pressure, I know. Everyone else seems to be reading this series and then I found it in the library. From there it was settled. (I'm still impressed I've resisted the Twilight fad for this long)

Goodreads blurb:
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.
I came really close to giving up on The Hunger Games (Book 1 of 3) [US] [UK] after the first few CDs. It was really frustrating how subservient these people are who live in each of the districts. They're on the brink of starvation, the rulers make it illegal to go hunting (although that's one place they actually break the rules), they can't say anything remotely seditious against the ruling class and to top it off they send two kids from each of their districts to compete in a "game" where they have to kill each other off - the winner is the one who out-survives the rest.

The book explains that no one fights back because the elusive District 13 was utterly decimated. But seriously? People who are starving anyway have nothing to lose, a quick death by decimation is much better than slowly wasting away. Not only that, you have the parents. Who would continue to let their children go off to fight to the death and not do something about it, or at least just not be so submissive to everything?

The kids arrive at the compound where they train and get ready for the games and yet again, they are completely afraid to break any rules. And yet again, what do they have to lose? They're about to go try to kill each other, why don't they do something? This is somewhat explained away because "sponsors" can help you throughout the game by sending you things you need and they'll only do that if they like you and you're in compliance with the rules.

Yet, I couldn't help but think that people would still be fighting back. But anyway, once I got over these couple niggles, The Hunger Games was a fairly enjoyable read.

Collins has created an interesting futuristic world where the ruling class keeps the people under their firm grasp by subjecting them to the horrible atrocities that are the Hunger Games. I thought she did a great job showing the intrigue of the games - that they were about more than just who's the biggest, strongest, fastest.

Once the Hunger Games themselves began, I was sucked in. The game designers plan a number of surprises and tricks to not only weaken the players but to bring them together. Whatever gives the most entertainment for the legions of crowds watching the grisly show. These were all really interesting and helped to move the plot forward very quickly, because I, like the insensitive crowd, like my entertainment too. :)

Almost immediately, the players created alliances (Survivor style) and it was interesting to see the dynamic especially since they all knew only one person would live. This was done quite well and even created some interesting twists.

It's interesting to note that The Hunger Games have been optioned by Lions Gate films and I'll be interested to see the movie. You always have to see if they got it right. :)

When Should You Read The Hunger Games?

When you're in the mood for something light and definitely young adult, The Hunger Games may be the way to go. I'm probably the only one who had the issues I had with the book, so don't let that hold you back.

3 out of 5 Stars (liked it)

The Hunger Games is followed by:

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) [US] [UK]
Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) [US for pre-order] (Release date: August 24, 2010)

13 April, 2010

It's News To Me #2

Here we go again. Hope everyone's having a great week. I'm just happy to have my Appellate brief (a nice 15 boring pages with lots of citations) out of the way so I can get some more reading time. Yes, law school is a terrible leisure reading killer in case you didn't know.

Cover Art

The cover of the next book of the Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is out and yet another win. I'll have to put these on my "to-read" list for the covers alone. Oh yeah, I judge books by their covers and freely admit it.

The UK cover for Sanderson's new epic, The Way of Kings is out and this is one of the few cases where the US cover (below) wins out in my book.

I promise to get over my obsession with Peter V. Brett as soon as I read The Desert Spear (well, until the next installment comes out), but here's a great interview over at SFF Chat.

Also find an interview of The Conqueror's Shadow author, Ari Marmell at A Dribble of Ink in classic Aidan style. Great stuff.

Reading For Free

After greatly enjoying Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy it may be understandable that I'm pretty excited for The Black Prism, especially since the first 3 chapters have been released. I do have to warn that there may still be changes as this is still at the manuscript stage.

Any Neil Gaiman fans out there? Ever since I saw Stardust, I couldn't help but love the guy. I mean, Robert Deniro in a tutu. Well, he's got some short stories up on his website, Gaiman, not Deniro.

And we've got a short story (PDF) from the above-mentioned Ari Marmell in The Conqueror's Shadow universe (however it's not necessary that you read the book first).


Yup, great video and I'm happy to celebrate Voyager's 15 years. Here's to 15 more!

HBO's A Game of Thrones news

Is there any way this is going to be bad?

I've been really impressed with the amount of information that's been forthcoming regarding A Game of Thrones on HBO. The latest news is that they've obtained the services of David J. Peterson, an expert language creator, to work on the Dothraki language for the show.

George claims to be the next Tolkien when it comes to languages...ok not really...just checking if you're still with me. :-) He actually admits to creating one word at a time as needed for the series. When asked more about the vocabulary and syntax of High Valyrian, George responded:

"Uh... well... all I know about High Valyrian is the seven words I've made up to date. When I need an eighth, I'll make that up too... but I don't have a whole imaginary language in my desk here, the way Tolkien did."

...still works for me. :)

And that's the news...at least to me.

12 April, 2010

Peter F. Hamilton: The Kind of Space Opera or Soap Opera?

Having just finished, in very short succession, both Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained and I can't decide if I absolutely love Peter F. Hamilton or if his prose is better suited to small screen mid-afternoon romances. There is certainly enough sex in his novels to qualify him for the second, more dubious honor.

 Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained were so engrossing and so filled with vivid detail that I couldn't help, one frantic run to the bookstore later, finish both books the same week. And these are both big books. Thanks for the recommendation Mark!

So, here is my dilemma. Mr. Hamilton's writing is solid, his characters just pop, and his back-story is flawless. To top it all off, he manages to make his action scenes feel like 3D blockbuster movies. Then again, it all gets a little repetitive and, sometimes, he seems to get a little bogged down in the details. A layer cake with too many layers if you will. Regardless. Given the few sparse facts I just gave you, I need help deciding whether Peter is a dorito or a pringle, a memorable pro or a cheap thriller.

I obviously know that there is a middle-ground, that he doesn't have to be one or the other. And yet, the whole thing rides the razor's edge between cheesy and epic - sometimes even explicitly playing with that very tension. Do you know what I'm talking about here or am I not making any sense? Robert Jordan or Terry Brooks?

To be fair, the Void trilogy that follows these two books is much more polished and dignified. Weird that a book can be dignified right, but its the best I can describe it. Most definitely, the relative absence of sex plays into that.

So, laying all this out has actually been very helpful. An internal monologue if you will that has helped me reach the following conclusion. Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained are two very good, very active books that are a strong example of a diligent imagination and sustained eloquence. Even so, they are early examples of Peter's talent and so should be appreciated in the overall framework of his oeuvre. QED

There we go, problem solved. Oh, and as a consequence I highly recommend both books. Space opera on a truly grand scale that will titillate the hard sci-fi fan with its ideas and execution. Also, the sheer number of characters a la Jordan will make the books an instant win for any epic fantasy fans... because you guys like lots of characters right?

11 April, 2010

Giveaway: THE must have book for book lovers

If you are reading this, chances are good that you have a large book collection. In fact, your books probably play a central role in how you arrange your living space, as do mine. So, instead of buying an expensive and clunky safe to safeguard your valuables, check out this totally awesome book safe, a.k.a a diversion safe.
Blending seamlessly with your Peter Hamilton, Robert Jordan, and Steven Erikson this diversion safe is the perfect addition to your growing collection of books, and hopefully valuables too.

I mean come on, who in their right mind would pick up a book with that title?

Giveaway Rules

Want a booksafe for free? Done. Just follow these simple giveaway instructions for your chance to win (giveaway runs till 4/30/10 @ 11:59 PM EST):

1) E-mail me [bloggeratf@gmail.com] your name and address, with the title of the book (BOOKSAFE) in caps, as the subject. Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and the snarkiest comment of the week gets free entries for future giveaways.
2) Sign up for site updates either in RSS or with Friend Connect on the side. This will also let you know about future giveaways!
3) Think happy thoughts.
4) (OPTIONAL) Share or link to any post on the blog--this earns you brownie points as well as increasing your (if you have made it this far) already significant odds.
5) There is no rule number five. I just like odd numbers.

09 April, 2010

Review - A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham

After the fast-paced world of the Night Angel trilogy (latest review), A Betrayal in Winter [US] [UK omnibus Shadow and Betrayal] was a nice change of pace. I like to have a good mix and while not excruciatingly so, this was a much slower pace.

I love the world that Abraham's created here in The Long Price Quartet. It's something that's both familiar, reminiscent of eastern cultures, and altogether it's own unique creation.

While in English we no longer use "thou" for more familiar situations, I loved the use of formal vs. familiar speaking, as found in most languages besides English. (It would also be nice to have a way to talk to a group of people without having to say "you guys") I thought this added to the world of the Khaiem quite nicely.

Events occurring 13 years after A Shadow in Summer (Edi's review), A Betrayal in Winter focuses on those cities in the north (The Winter Cities). Here's the (condensed) Goodreads blurb:
As a boy, Otah Machi was exiled from his family, Machi's ruling house. Decades later, he has witnessed and been part of world-changing events. Yet he has never returned to Machi. Now his father - the Khai, or ruler, or Machi - is dying and his eldest brother Biitrah has been assassinated, Otah realizes that he must return to Machi, for reasons not even he understands.

Tradition dictates that the sons of a dying Khai fall upon each other until only one remains to succeed his father. But something even worse is occurring in Machi. The Galts, an expansive empire, have allied with someone in Machi to bring down the ruling house. Otah is accused, the long-missing brother with an all-too-obvious motive for murder.
In a society that celebrates the wholesale slaughter of the ruling family's sons, Otah Machi wishes only to live a life of quiet peace. But, because he is a son of the Khai he faces a life of decisions that only seem to hurt the people he loves.

I thought this was an interesting theme that Abraham spends a decent amount of time on. What happens when you try to do the right thing and it still ends up hurting loved-ones? It's a tough circumstance and gives Otah convincing motives for his actions.

As I mentioned earlier, A Betrayal in Winter is not quick-paced, but the plot moves at a good pace while providing interesting twists and turns. Plus, there's another love triangle, which worked well in the first book. :)

When Should You Read A Betrayal in Winter?

Read The Long Price when you want a well-written story that, while it may not keep you up late at night reading, it will keep you turning the pages. The characters and world-building are top-notch and well, everyone else is reading it. :)


4 out of 5 Stars (Loved it)

07 April, 2010

It's News To Me #1

So as not to taint the legacy that was "The Weekly Roundup" we're doing a bit of an alteration not only to the name, but since ediFanoB left, it's now up to me (Bryce). It's News To Me will be the new weekly amalgamation of what's happening in science fiction and fantasy in publishing, the blog-o-sphere, movies, etc. Edi always did a great job and after this he'll really be glad to be gone. :)

Cover Art

Mark Charan Newton's new cover for the US edition of Nights of Villjamur is brilliant. Yup, it's so great that I used the word "brilliant" and I'm not even British. Compared to the former covers (shown below from left to right - UK, UK, old US) and it's my favorite, although only just.

Ken Sholes' Psalms of Isaac are being recovered. Although good, I have to say I like the older covers better.


The Speculative Book Review has entered the SFF blogging community with a bang. Already some great reviews going up and two interviews from titans in the Fantasy genre, Guy Gavriel Kay and Tad Williams.

In an interview that's just as high-caliber as those mentioned above, Temple Library Reviews interviews Amanda Rutter of Floor to Ceiling Books.


Book love and its various symptoms - James Long discusses his book addiction. Some describe their book collection as "trophies" while others are happy to move to the digital age. Where do you stand?

I never realized it before, but I own "trophies" and I can spend hours just looking at my own collection or perusing a book store. That doesn't mean I'm in any way against digital books and I can see myself purchasing one (once the price is right) because they DO make traveling so much easier.


The Arthur C. Clarke shortlist has been announced along with the winner of the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association), The City and the City by China Mieville. Definitely check out Gav's read-through of the nominations for best book.

Plus, there's the David Gemmell Awards - Legend, Morningstar and Ravenheart shortlists are out:

Oh, and I guess I should mention that the Hugo nominees are out too although I'm sure no one cares. I joke. Here's just a few awards (the one's I'm most interested in):

Best Novel
  • Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)
  • The City & The City, China Mieville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)
  • Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
  • Wake, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Penguin; Gollancz; Analog)
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  • Saladin Ahmed
  • Gail Carriger
  • Felix Gilman *
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Lezli Robyn *
* (Second year of eligibility)

New Blogs on the Block

A motley band of rag-tag ruffians has begun a blog providing the latest information on new releases in speculative fiction. For some reason, they asked me to join - I guess they needed a court jester to laugh at (not with). :)

Our own ediFanoB has started his own blog, Edi's Book Lighthouse, and he's off to a great start. I love his style and though I'm sad I won't be working as closely with him, I'm glad to see he's still tickin'. :D

Suvudu Cage Match

Lots of people are following the cage match on Suvudu (march madness brackets for fantasy characters) and I'll admit to being a bit addicted myself. The final match is between Rand Al'Thor and Jaime Lannister, who'd've guessed? ;) Voting has already begun and don't forget the consolation round too (Drizzt vs. Kvothe).

To be honest, I voted for Drizzt over Rand, but I've been behind Jaime the whole time. After A Storm of Swords, who wouldn't be?

Book For Immediate Consumption

I just finished The Warded Man (about 5 minutes ago) and loved it. Now, I'm dying to get my hands on The Desert Spear [US] [UK] due out April 5 (UK) and April 13 (US). It's been a while since I've read a book that's got me this excited to read the next in the series. Great stuff, thanks Mr. Brett.

And that's the news...at least to me.

02 April, 2010

Review - Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

While some people have been waiting over 20 years to finish The Wheel of Time, over 13 (and counting) for A Song of Ice and Fire, and over 10 for Malazan Book of the Fallen, it's a great feeling to finish a series and probably better for all the waiting I've been doing.

Concluding the Night Angel Trilogy, Beyond the Shadows (2008) [US] [UK] is a great ending to a great series. While not without its faults, as I'll discuss in a bit, the characters are moving and the world fully realized, so much that I was a bit sad to be reading the end. That's always a good sign.

Now comes the blurb and spoilers if you've yet to read the prior installments...

Logan Gyre is king of Cenaria, a country under siege, with a threadbare army and little hope. He has one chance - a desperate gamble, but one that could destroy his kingdom.

In the north, the new Godking has a plan. If it comes to fruition, no one will have the power to stop him.

Kylar Stern has no choice. To save his friends - and perhaps his enemies - he must accomplish the impossible: assassinate a goddess.

Beyond the Shadows is the action-packed conclusion to the Night Angel Trilogy.

Not letting up on the fast pace, Beyond the Shadows is surprisingly even more action-packed than its predecessors. This didn't hurt the story until the very end when it felt a bit rushed as I explained here (look for "seak" at the bottom of the page).

Otherwise, I couldn't get enough. With Dorian in the north, disguised as a eunuch searching for Jenine Gyre, Vi in the Chantry learning from the Sisters and starting her own faction, Neph Dada on his own nefarious mission, and Kylar learning what his new gifts really cost him, not one section leaves you wishing you were somewhere else.

One of the things I was most impressed with was the explanation of the Krul. They were mentioned in the previous volumes only cursorily, but what a great monster. In fact, the Kalidorans in general were wonderfully realized, especially with their connection to the vir (their version of the Talent), setting up yet another moral struggle for a certain main character.

Although events leading up to the ending were a bit rushed, the ending itself was amazing. From great monsters and epic fights to poignant scenes of realization, I left satisfied and a little sad to be done.

When Should You Read Beyond the Shadows?

After the first two in the series, duh... Okay, sad attempt at a joke. :D As I said with the first two installments, be ready for fast-paced-action-intense-writing-lots-of-fighting and everything you'd expect in a series involving assassins. The Night Angel Trilogy brings out the kid in you that wants to rule the world.

My Rating and Links

4 out of 5 Stars

Jeff at Genre Reader (formerly Fantasy Book News and Reviews) also enjoyed Beyond the Shadows. Great review format too.

01 April, 2010


Dear Readers,

thanks to all of you who read and commented on my posts in the past ten month - I posted my first Roundup on May 22nd 2009.

A teamwork is partially like a marriage. And like in a marriage people change.
I have had a good time with Alec and for a short time with Bryce. But our expectations developed in different directions. Therefore I decided to leave the blog. The Weekly Roundup #13 has been my last official post.

I don't have decided yet how, where and when I will continue in the blogosphere. But I promise you that you will get the opportunity to read posts from me again.

Good luck with the blog Alec and Bryce.

ediFanoB, Bona Fide, Bona, Fide, The keeper of the minutes say goodbye to you.