James A. Moore’s New Series is Off to a Great Start

The Last Sacrifice
James A. Moore
Angry Robot Books
US/Canada Trade Paper $14.99/$18.99
UK Medium (B-format) £8.99
ebook £5.49 / US$6.99 / CAN $7.99

I really enjoyed James Moore’s previous fantasy series, Seven Forges AKA The Blasted Lands (I’ve seen it called both; individual novels in the series are reviewed here, here, here, and here).  His new series, called The Tides of War, starts with The Last Sacrifice.

The book opens with Brogan McTyre and a band of companions returning from a stint of acting as caravan guards.  Before he even gets home, Brogan is met on the road by a man bearing bad news.  Bad news and four gold coins.  The coins were left by The Undying, raiders who sweep through and take people as sacrifices to the gods.  They’ve take Brogan’s entire family. Continue reading

David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy Now Open to Public Nominations

I received the following press release about the Gemmell Awards this morning, so go ye forth and nominate:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DAVID GEMMELL AWARDS FOR FANTASY NOW OPEN TO PUBLIC NOMINATIONS

The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy enters its ninth year in 2017, once again giving readers and fans of the genre their chance to vote for the best fantasy novel, best fantasy debut and best fantasy cover art.

As of the 13th January, members of the public will have the chance to nominate their favourite titles for the Awards Longlist alongside the nominations from publishers. Titles must be in the category of epic or heroic fantasy, be traditionally published by a mainstream or independent press (self published titles will not be considered) and have been first published in English in 2016. Nominations must be made by email by the 31st January, including the category you would like to nominate each title for – The Legend Award for best fantasy novel, The Morningstar Award for best fantasy debut or The Ravenheart Award for best fantasy art.

Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: ‘The Gemmell Awards have always very much been about giving the readers the chance to have their say on what has been the best fantasy, and the public nominations are a key part of that. If there’s a fantasy book you’ve loved this year, let us know and it can be considered for the awards process.’

Public nominations should be sent to Alex Davis, Awards Administrator, at bfsalex@hotmail.co.uk with the subject header GEMMELL AWARDS NOMINATIONS. Nominations must be received by midnight on the 31st January 2017 (UK time) to be considered.

The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy will be presented on the evening of the 15th July 2017 at the Edge-Lit 6 event in Derby. For more information on the event, visit http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/film/edge-lit-6.aspx or for more about the awards visit http://www.gemmellawards.com/

ENDS

The David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy were launched in 2009, in tribute to bestselling fantasy author David Gemmell, who passed away in 2006, and to honour the best fiction and artwork in the heroic fantasy field. Recipients of the awards include authors Andrzei Sapkowski, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, John Gwynne, Mark Lawrence, Brian McClellan and Peter Newman; and artists including Didier Graffet, Raymond Swanland, Jason Chan and Sam Green.

The awards’ website page can be found at www.gemmellawards.com and its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gemmellawards/

A Look at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly 29 & 30

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly around here.  Schedules have been hectic enough that I’ve gotten a bit behind on reading it.  Not that that’s anything unusual.

Issue 29 (see art by Vok Kostic here) has the first of a two-part epic poem, so I’ll start with issue 29 and use the poem as a bridge to my comments on issue 30.  Both issues had short poems, which I’ll not discuss as they aren’t particularly long.  The poems in Issue 29 were “Wench” by Scott Hutchison and “The Persuaders” by Colleen Anderson.  Issue 30 gave us another poem by Colleen Anderson, “Garuda’s Gambit” as well as “The Night Before Yule” by Daniel Stride. Continue reading

Thoughts on Dell Magazines Publication Schedule Change and the Role of Short Fiction

AFF_JanFeb2016_400x580This isn’t any breaking news, just something I’ve been ruminating about lately.  Back in November, Dell magazines announced that their four fiction magazines would be going to a bimonthly schedule.  Those magazines, in case you’re unaware, are Analog, Asimov’s, Ellery Queen, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Up until a few years ago I picked them up on the newsstand since I didn’t like how the USPS tended to tear things up.  (I learned this because F&SF wasn’t always available on the newsstand, so I had and still have a print subscription.  My copy came today, partially accordianized.)  When digital subscriptions became available, I switched over.  (Shelf space had a lot to do with it as well.)

Now, instead of ten issues per year, two of them double, the magazines will have six 208 page double issues.  The current schedule already contained two double issues.  I can remember when Analog published thirteen issues a year, two of them double issues IIRC.  But then I’m a dinosaur.  Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s, has said this will allow them to add 16 pages more than their current double issues as well as holding subscription prices steady.  I suspect cost more than anything is behind this move. Continue reading

Professor Tolkien’s Birthday

tolkien academicJ. R. R. Tolkien was born on this date, January 3, in the long-ago year of 1892.

The Lord of the Rings has cast such a long shadow over his life that it’s easy to forget that Tolkien was a university professor.  I wonder what it would have been like to take one of his classes.

Of course, there’s a good reason that TLotR has cast such a long shadow over Tolkien’s life.  The thing is a masterpiece.  It’s been well over a dozen years since I last read TLotR. I may try to fit it in sometime later this year if things let up a bit.

Obligatory First of Year Post

new year cartoonThanks to the wonder and magic of prescheduling, it’s 2017 was you’re reading this but still 2016 as I’m writing.  Consider this my shot across the bow of general plans for the next year.

I’ve never been a huge proponent of New Year resolutions.  I’ve always thought that if something needed changing, you put a plan in place to make sure things change in the way you need them to, don’t wait a around unless you’ve got a really good reason.  And if you’re content with the way things are, why change them.  (This latter view is largely a reaction to hype about something changing your life, when really all that will happen is your bank balance changing if you buy the product.)

So here’s where I’m at and what I intend to change over the next year. Continue reading

Obligatory End of Year Post

new year quoteAs I sit down to write this, there are slightly more than 24 hours left before 2016 departs to no one’s regret.  I’m not going to talk about politics (in the sf field or the wider world), nor will I recite a litany of celebrity deaths.

In the past I’ve given an overview about the things I’ve read over the past 12 months.  This has not been a good year for reading.  There was too much going on to keep up the pace I had been maintaining.  The best book I read all year wasn’t fantasy or science fiction.  It was a mystery, A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum.  The characters stayed with me for days after I read the last paragraph and closed the book.  That doesn’t happen very often.

Overall, based on what I’ve seen, this hasn’t been a great year for publishing.  The major publishers haven’t exactly set sales records this year.  I’ve seen reports from indie authors that they’re not seeing the sales they’ve seen in the past.  What this means, I don’t know.  Maybe the market for reading material, especially genre material, is saturating.  Maybe everyone has been too distracted by current events.

Things have ramped up both at work and at home.  My son started high school, which has caused some time constraints ranging from attending more band events to increased homework help.  Enrollment is up, which means my load, both in the classroom and outside, has intensified.  The end result is less time to read, blog, or write my own fiction.  I’ve got several projects that I’ve back-burnered.  Hopefully I can get back to them once things settle down and all the holiday travel is over.  More on that in tomorrow’s post.

In conclusion, 2016 was not a great year.  It’s almost over.  This is probably good thing.

Another Year’s Best Anthology

Horton years best 2016The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016
Rich Horton, ed.
Prime
Trade Paper $19.95
ebook $6.99

This is the, what, fourth? year’s best science fiction and/or fantasy anthology I’ve looked at this year.  Fifth if you include the Datlow best horror anthology.  I’ve still got a couple more to go if I finish this project.  (The others were the Clarke, Strahan, and Afshararian volumes.)

I’m starting to see the drawbacks of trying to read all the year’s best anthologies.  The further I go in this project, the more duplicates show up.  The result is that, for this year’s selections at least, there are fewer new stories I like with each of these anthologies I read. Continue reading

Promises of Copper

TheCopperPromise-144dpiThe Copper Promise
Jen Williams
Angry Robot
paperback $14.99
ebook $4.99

Wydrin and her companion, the disgraced knight Sebastian, are adventurers for hire.  When they take a contract from a nobleman who has been overthrown, they get a little more than they bargained for.  The Citadel is rumored to contain vast treasures, but no one has ever lived to find out.  They intend on being the first.  What that don’t know is that there is something imprisoned in the Citadel and imprisoned for a very good reason.  Before they’re done a whole lot of people will wish they hadn’t survived. Continue reading