29 July, 2011

It's News To Me #19 - World Fantasy Award

I couldn't resist these bits of news, so here's a Friday post. :)

New Covers from Ian Tregillis: I think I like the old cover to Bitter Seeds better, but these work too.

The Coldest War:

Locus has the Nominees for the World Fantasy Award:
Best Novel

Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella

Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine Publications)
“The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction

“Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
“Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
“Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
“Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
“Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Best Anthology

The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)

Best Collection

What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

Best Artist

Vincent Chong
Kinuko Y. Craft
Richard A. Kirk
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Special Award, Professional

John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine Publications

Special Award, Non-Professional

Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog

SDCC pics and commentary: Blood of the Muse has a couple posts about their adventures at the San Diego Comic Con.

27 July, 2011

It's News To Me #18

I found a couple interesting articles in the last week or so and thought I'd better share them.

John Scalzi makes an observation: While we've been spoiled by authors like Steven Erikson and Brandon Sanderson who can pump out 400,000 words every other day or so, John Scalzi compares his publication record from the last 6 years to Martins.

(This one's not a winner if you were wondering)

Wertzone's Wheel of Time Art-off Parts I and II: Sweet actually fairs much better than I would have thought. I also liked this post about authors being famous for the wrong book.

26 July, 2011

(Audiobook) Review - The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (ReRead)

I'm continuing my reread, in preparation for next year's grand finale, but I'm sorry to have gotten a bit behind in my reviews.

It's crazy to think that the events from this book, book 3 in the Wheel of Time, The Dragon Reborn [US] [UK], were actually supposed to be the conclusion to the first book in the trilogy. With that in mind, it's not too hard to fathom how things have come to be. This is a turn off for a lot of people, but really, you can't go wrong with more is better, not with The Wheel of Time. (We'll see if my mind ever changes in this regard).

The Dragon Reborn was a frustrating book for me the first time around. I obviously didn't know what I was getting myself into the first time did I? :) It really drove me crazy that the main protagonist, THE Dragon Reborn, hardly makes 3 pages worth of an appearance in his own named book. The main character who actually moves this series forward is off in la-la land for the majority of the book. How does that even happen?!?!

And then Rand is what is featured on the cover of the new ebook. Cracks me up, just a bit. The Sweet cover makes sense on the first one, it being a pretty big event, but I really don't get the ebook. What about Perrin or Mat or Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve... so many more could make such a better cover.

To top it all off, I actually didn't even really like Mat the first time through. Who does that? I think I really just wanted to see the next thing to happen and in the Wheel of Time, you have to be in it for the long run, you have to want to know everything about everyone. I think I'm there... finally.

On reread, it's a whole new ballgame. I've not only grown to enjoy the other characters much more, but it's a good possibility that I like them even more than I do Rand. Learning about their story arcs, their impressions, their place in the grand scheme of things was really fun and I can't wait to see what huge roles they will play in the end. Let's be honest here, there's no way Rand can handle everything on his own. He can't even handle the brewing love triangle.

I've been trying to include a description of each of the books in every review, but I can't really get myself to do this anymore when such a better one can be found at Tor.com, viewed here.

I make a lot of jokes about this series, but it's all in good fun. There are very few books I love as much as The Wheel of Time.

5 out of 5 Stars

Prior Wheel of Time Rereads:

25 July, 2011

Where is David Gunn?

Is the Death's Head series cancelled? Multiple emails to the author and to his publishing house have gone unanswered. Those of you familiar with the series will know that there is very little to know about David Gunn. He writes incognito and his brief bio on the back cover asks more questions than it answers.

In his last interview Mr. Gunn said that he planned a number of further installments to the series. Given the long delay and lack of news one can only speculate that the series is, at the very least, on hold. Fare thee well Sven, or are you just on vacation?

21 July, 2011

Review - Songs of the Dying Earth Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Part 3 of 3)

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

It took me about a month to get through this anthology, but only for lack of time not for lack of desire. As I mentioned before, and I can still say this after finishing, Songs of the Dying Earth is the best anthology I've ever had the pleasure of reading!

So let's get right into it:

The Return of the Fire Witch by Elizabeth Hand (3/5) Saloona Morn is all but forced by the fire witch to participate in her plan for revenge. There were some surprises, but overall the story wasn't extremely interesting. Good, but not great.

The Collegeum of Mauge by Byron Tetrick (5/5) This is another favorite in a The Name of the Wind sort of way. Drogo gets into a school for wizards, interrupting his search for his father.

Evillo the Uncunning by Tanith Lee (4.5/5) The self-named Evillo, encouraged by tales of Cugel, takes off on an adventure and picks up a magical talking snail. This was one of the more hilarious tales in the anthology. One great quote right at the beginning:

"...life is ever valuable and must be preserved - so that it may also be punished for the insolence of persisting."

The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderöz by Dan Simmons (4.5/5) The longest story of the bunch (almost 70 pages), the first half is easily 5 stars, but my interest began to wane in the middle and then it picks up again. Still a great story about wizards and warriors, powerful demons (one that took centuries to tame), and a trip across the dying world.

Also, this has one of the best illustrations of the book, including a look at each of the different characters.

Frogskin Cap by Howard Waldrop (2.5 to 3/5) I wasn't too impressed with this story. There really wasn't much too it, but it makes up in it's length (about 9 pages).

A Night at the Tarn House by George R R Martin (5/5) This read like a breeze, of course. The atmosphere was dark, yet playful and really captured the essence of the entire anthology. Some unlucky (and not so unlucky) characters find out that the Tarn House may not in fact be better than braving the terrors in the night - despite the wearies of travel.

An Invocation of Curiosity by Neil Gaiman (5/5) The perfect conclusion to the collection. Gaiman looks at what happens when it's all over and takes this premise in a really unexpected way.

Now read Songs of the Dying Earth already, it's that good!

5 out of 5 Stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

14 July, 2011

Technical Difficulties

I don't know how this happened, but for some reason the blog went to invite only for a bit. I just made the change back to public. Hopefully it works this time. **fingers crossed**

Thanks to Tyson at Speculative Book Review for pointing this out.

It's News To Me #17 - Cover Up or Duck and Cover or Now You're Cover-ed or ...

A couple great covers have come out lately for some really great books, well, I can only really vouch for a couple (in terms of content), but I'm sure the others won't disappoint either.

I can vouch for this great novella, New Spring. I don't yet know if I like this cover art though. I think it could grow on me.

Here's another I can vouch for, Deadhouse Gates. Read the Malazan Book of the Fallen if you haven't already. It will blow your mind. Compared to the Gardens of the Moon Sub Press, which is really unfair, this pales. But so does EVERYTHING else. On it's own, I think it represents the book quite nicely.

This is one I can't vouch for, but it's Caine. I really need to catch up on this series:

I own the first one of these, The Adamantine Palace, but here's the third already. I really really love these covers.
And that's the news...at least to me.

12 July, 2011

Happy Dance with Dragons Day!

Hope it was everything you ever wished it could be. :)

I don't yet own a copy, but I went by a bookstore today just to hold it in my hands. I think I'm gonna be one of those waiting till the end to re-read snobs (if I can hold off that long). :) It's been a long time coming and a good reason why I'm on this part of the interwebs.

Here's hoping Winds of Winter day comes soon after!

11 July, 2011

Review - Songs of the Dying Earth Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Part 2 of 3)

What, you haven't picked up Songs of the Dying Earth [US] [UK] yet? Are you kidding me? Didn't I tell you last time? Are you done with these asinine questions?

I am still thoroughly impressed with this anthology. While part two hasn't been as quite as good as part one, I am still blown away by this anthology.

The Green Bird by Kage Baker (5/5) Probably my favorite so far in this excellent collection. It's witty, interesting, and surprising. The idea of not only a giant pit that people are thrown into is great, but to add to that a colony of survivors developing at the bottom of this pit and I was sold. Cugel the Clever earns his name in this one (although he doesn't technically earn his name, he's just really clever).

The Last Golden Thread by Phyllis Eisenstein (3.5/5) Another good, but not great story. It was interesting, involved some things (and species) I'm becoming familiar with, but I didn't love it or especially the ending.

An Incident at Uskvosk by Elizabeth Moon (4/5) This was an enjoyable story about a race of Giant Cockroaches and a "young" man falsely accused.

Sylgarmo's Proclamation by Lucius Shepard (4/5) Shepard has a unique way with metaphors that really gelled with me. Here's an example:

...once they saw an ungainly white shape drop from the canopy and flap off into the gloom, dwindling and dwindling, becoming a point of whitenes, seeming to vanish ultimately into a distance impossible to achieve in so dense a wood, as if it had burrowed into the substance of the real and was making its way toward a destination that lay beyond the borders of the world.
I really liked the characters and action in this interesting tale that revolves around getting revenge on Cugel the Clever.

The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or The Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee by Tad Williams (4/5) This story does everything the title suggests, but I think I still wanted a bit more. A presumptuous miscreant forces a wizard to "sell" him a few spells. This reminds me of the part in The Dark Knight where the accountant tries to extort Batman.

Lucius Fox: "Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."

Guyal the Curator by John C. Wright (4/5) This was a surprisingly
good tale about a man with a case of amnesia and the last Effectuator, Manxolio Quinc, who uses his effectuating skills to find this man's identity. Many of the words used in this tale made me very glad I've read Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series almost in preparation.

The Good Magician by Glen Cook (3.5/5) A lazy, self-centered
man stumbles across something that should not be in his persuit of something he should not be persuing...at least not in the way he was doing it. I liked Cook's style and humor, but the story wasn't my favorite.

Why Read Songs of the Dying Earth?

Because I said so. Do it already or no dessert. :)

5 out of 5 Stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

06 July, 2011

2011 in Review - The Halfway Point, plus my Top 5

At the beginning of the year, I put up some goals I wanted to have accomplished by the end of the year and while I tend to get sucked up in the newest thing, I'd like to take the time to review my progress. I hope I'm doing well. :D

Read 60 books in 2011 - This goal means I need to be reading about 5 books a month. I was doing so well until finals hit. I'm not too far off, but at 27 books read this year, I'm down a few book but this is an uphill battle now.

Read at least two of these authors (Tad Williams, Stephen R. Donaldson, Glen Cook) - Okay, so this one's kind of working out surprisingly well. I'm reading Songs of the Dying Earth right now and Tad Williams and Glen Cook have written stories in it. I really hope I don't have to cop out on this one, but at least I'll have this goal accomplished ... through a technicality. I still want to read their actual novels.

Read one of these books by Melanie Rawn (The Golden Key, Stronghold) - Not even close on this one. Luckily, I still have 6 months.

Read at least one of these trilogies (Coldfire, Rai Kirah) - Also not even close. I'm very much looking forward to them though.

Read further in the Dark Tower series - Score! I've definitely finished this goal. I copped out in the making of this goal by only requiring one book, but I've actually read two (The Drawing of the Three and The Wastelands).

Read further in the Dresden Files - Again, not even close. I haven't even read the one for this cop out goal. Anyway, I still see this happening.

Added Goal:

Finish the Malazan Book of the Fallen series - I probably should have put this in the original goals list, but I guess it was such a given, I didn't even think about it. I only have two more to go, so here's to finishing this epic series!

That means I have at least 9 books to read to finish up my non-numerical goals and 33 to read anyway (which should hopefully include those 9). This seems easy, but I'm a pretty moody reader as I think I've mentioned before. I have to read something when the mood strikes perfectly and then it's smooth sailing.

Top 5 in 2011 (so far)

5. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
2. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

One caveat: I started my reread of The Wheel of Time this year and I'm not counting this series in any "Best of" lists. It's just not fair. Let it be known - The Wheel of Time is one of my favorite series.

My Top 5 was a really hard list to make. There have been some great reads this year including Shadow's Lure, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, River Kings' Road, Shatnerquake (How did anyone beat this?), and so many more.

04 July, 2011

Review - Songs of the Dying Earth Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Part 1 of 3)

Songs of the Dying Earth [US] [UK] kind of popped up at my door one day and to be honest I never really had any interest. I adore (and yes, adore is a most fitting word) George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I can't say I was at all positive about this anthology. It's pretty much just fan fiction right? Why would anyone pay good money for this?

Not only that, but it's a tribute to an author I've never read. Yes, I have debated picking up Tales of the Dying Earth at one point or another. Yes, I realize I'm criminally under-read if I haven't read Jack Vance. But then again, I have plenty on my plate, why start with a tribute to an author I've never read?

Well, for some reason, and against all better judgment, I found myself picking Songs of the Dying Earth up. One short story won't hurt right? Plus, there are some pretty dang good authors attached to this endeavor.

One story turned to another, and now I'm well on my way to completing this tribute to Jack Vance...one more time...an author I've never read.


Songs of the Dying Earth is easily the best anthology I've ever read and I'm not even done yet. That's how excited I am about this anthology - I'm posting this review at a little over the halfway point.

I almost decided to wait until I read Vance's original work before starting Songs, but I decided I wanted to give a clear perspective from someone who's not already a fan. I'm so glad I haven't waited.

The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale by Robert Silverberg (5/5) - A character who reminded me a lot of Kruppe from the Malazan Book of the Fallen owns a rare wine that is being saved for a very special occasion. Today might be that day, but not for the original reasons. Silverberg starts this anthology off with a bang. What a great story that also introduces some of the surprises this world holds.

Grolion of Almery by Matthew Hughes (5/5) - I thought this was even better than the first story even though both were amazing. This story broadens the implications of the world of the Dying Earth and I've become that much more addicted to it. An unwary traveller is trapped with only one option of escape, cooperation.

The Copsy Door by Terry Dowling (5/5) A contest of wizards ensues involving Amberlin the Lesser whose spells don't quite go as planned.

Caulk the Witch-Chaser by Liz Williams (3/5) Not bad, but doesn't have the same charm as the former three. It lacks those witty/odd characters and descriptions that I've already grown to expect.

Inescapable by Mike Resnik (4.5/5) An enjoyable story, yet again reminding us that not everything is always as it seems in the Dying Earth.

Abrizonde by Walter Jon Williams (5/5) I really loved this story about a man who gets caught in a war of nations, none of which he belongs to, and decides to get involved. Given the indifference the leaders have to his predicament, getting involved is a good idea.

The Traditions of Karzh by Paula Volsky (5/5) The heir to Karzh has never really had the need to apply himself...until he is poisoned (by his uncle) and forced to unlock the cure or die. The ending was very surprising and also quite satisfying.

The Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod by Jeff Vandermeer (4/5) I really enjoyed the characters in this one, but didn't love the ending. It also lacked, somewhat, that charm I mentioned earlier.

Why Read Songs of the Dying Earth?

Whether you've read Jack Vance or not, this anthology is well worth your time. It reminds me a lot of Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen minus all the non-eccentric characters and non-eccentric situations. Simply put, it's genius.

Long story short, do whatever you must to obtain a copy of Songs of the Dying Earth. Buy, borrow, steel, even if you have to run afoul a slayer's statute (Terrible law school joke, sorry! We just studied these). Read Immediately!

5 out of 5 Stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher