I’ll not repeat what I said there. Just consider it one of my Halloween related posts. Not all of them will be here.
My post for Amazing Stories last week covered three Kickstarters that were active at the time. Just after the post went live, I learned of two more. Since the next few posts for Amazing are already planned, I’m going to mention them here as they might be of interest to some of you.
First, Temporarlly Out of Order. This is an anthology built around the theme of devices being temporally out of order. What that means is up to the authors and how they choose to interpret it. Authors currently involved in the project include David B. Coe, Laura Anne Gilman, Faith Hunter, Stephen Leigh, Gini Koch, Seanan McGuire, and Laura Resnick. If stretch goals are met, then Jack Campbell, Jean Marie Ward, and Juliet E. McKenna will contribute stories. And finally, there will be a period of open submissions, provided the project is successful.
The second project is another anthology, this one called The Bard’s Tale. It’s a collection of, what else, stories about bards. The thing that makes this anthology stand out is that each story also has a recipe associated with it. The recipes come from a variety of sources, including authentic medieval cookbooks. The authors involved are Donald J. Bingle, Dylan Birtolo, Tracy Chowdhury, Maxwell Alexander Drake, Stephanie Drummonds, Ed Greenwood, Sarah Hans, Gabrielle Harbowy, Rosemary Jones, C.S. Marks, Muffy Morrigan, Daniel Myers, Brian Pettera, Aaron Rosenberg, and Kelly Swails. There are a number of cool rewards, stretch goals, and add-ons with this one.
So these are two of the latest Kickstarters that have caught my eye. Check them out. If these anthologies turn out to be as good as they look, then I may have stop reading books published by New York and limited myself to indie titles, including titles funded by Kickstarter. But that’s a rant for another evening.
Under his leadership, Pyr became one of the freshest and most innovative imprints in the field while still staying true to the field’s roots. Some of my favorite titles and series from the last few years were from Pyr. I’ve got a stack of books that came out over the last few months that I’ve not had a chance to get to.
Anders recently published his first novel, Frostborn, a fantasy for middle grade readers. In fact, this was one of the things Anders did at Pyr that impressed me. He began acquiring titles aimed at YA readers. I’ve met Lou briefly a few times over the years. The most recent was at Fencon in 2012. One of the things we talked about was the need for gateway books aimed at YA and middle grade readers. He’s putting his money (and his career) where his mouth is. Adventures Fantastic wishes him the best of luck.
Rene Sears has served as Anders’ assistant. She will step up as interim editor. I also wish her the best of luck. She’s got some big shoes to fill, but I’m sure can handle it.
I’ve chosen to officially kickoff my Halloween related posts with Northwest Passages by Barbara Roden. Barbara is one half of the team behind Ash-Tree Press, the other half being her husband Christopher. (You could say I unofficially started with Maplecroft or possibly Bleeding Shadows.)
I chose this particular volume because it’s been a while since I read any ghost or spook stories in the classical vein. If you’re familiar with Ash-Tree Press, you know they’re the foremost publisher of ghost stories in the world. So you would expect an author like Roden to know her stuff. You’d be right, too. Continue reading
If you like your fantasy gritty and dark, with layers of plots and schemes, then Jeff Salyard’s debut novel will probably be right up your alley.
It’s been out for a while, but as regular readers of the blog will know, I’m a bit behind. And I have no idea why the ebook is priced the same as the hardcover. I sure didn’t pay that much. (This wasn’t a review copy.) Baen has the book at a reasonable price, which is where I got my copy.
But I digress. This isn’t a rant about ridiculous ebook prices. This is a rave about how good this novel is. If Salyards can keep up this level of quality with the rest of the series, he’ll be a major player in the field. Continue reading
I’m not familiar with James Newman. He’s a member of the horror community who was injured not too long ago. Widowmakers is a fund-raising anthology to help defray medical expenses. It’s an impressive line-up of contributors. I’ve read and reviewed some of them, so I would probably buy this book even if it weren’t for a good cause.
And thanks to Charles R. Rutledge, who posted an announcement about the book. I wasn’t in the loop on this one and would have missed it otherwise.
Here’s the book description from Amazon
1. A thing with the potential to kill men.
2. A dead branch caught precariously high in a tree which may fall on a person below.
3. A dark fiction anthology of prodigious size; large enough to use as a doorstop… or crush a man’s skull.
A few months ago one of our own, James Newman, was severely injured in a freak accident. He’s known universally in the horror fiction community as a truly great guy, and, when the news broke of the incident there was no shortage of people who wanted to help. Inside the pages of this collection, you will find tales that are lighthearted mixed in with stories that will fuel your nightmares, each one with the potential to be a WIDOWMAKER.
The following 47 fellow authors and poets have contributed their words to this benefit anthology and 100% of the proceeds will go to help the Newman family. Enjoy this massive collection and thank you for your aid. Continue reading
Fearsome Magics The New Solaris Book of Fantasy
Jonathan Strahan, ed.
Release date October 7, 2014 US, October 9, UK
Mass market paperback $9.99 US, £7.99 UK
ebook: There’ll be one, but I have no specifics at this time
Solaris is one of the few publishers who still do anthologies on a regular basis. And I don’t mean one or two. I mean at least four or five a year, and well put together ones, at that. And Jonathan Strahan is one of the field’s premier editors at short length. Any anthology with his name on it is going to get my attention. Put the two together, and it’s like peanut butter and chocolate. I’ve got several of his anthologies from Solaris in my virtual TBR pile. (Yes, I’m behind on my reading.)
The one I want to talk about today is his their next one. It’s Fearsome Magics. It’s a followup to Fearsome Journeys (which is in the real TBR pile). A number of years ago, and I won’t look up how many because I don’t want to depress myself with contemplating the passage of time, Solaris published three volumes of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and one of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy. They were great anthologies, but for some reason, Solaris didn’t continue them.
Now both series are back. The science fiction can be found in the Solaris Rising series (review of the first volume here). Fearsome is the operating title of the fantasy, with a loose them being defined by the second word.
The theme of this volume is magic. There’s a lot of variety here, enough that I can almost guarantee that there will be multiple stories that will appeal to any reader and a high likelihood that there will be at least one that won’t be to your taste. As long time readers of my reviews know, I consider that to be a strength. An anthology which has a great deal of variety will be a strong anthology.
This one is no exception. Here are a few of my favorites, in the order they appear in the book. Continue reading
Some publishers, small presses in this context, will occasionally run grab bags. The best of these that I’ve found are the ones published by Subterranean Press. I’ve never done worse than break even, meaning that the titles I like have cover prices which total up to the cost of all the books put together. The books I’m not interested in I set aside for that day I eventually put things up on ebay.
So that’s how I figured it would be this time. I was hoping for half the books to be things I would be interested in. Instead, well, here’s what I got. (Click to enlarge.)
That’s $430 worth of books for (IIRC) $150 plus shipping. The Crowther, Nix, Lansdale, de Lint, Denton, and one Lumley are signed. Every single one of them is something I would be interested in reading, although I wouldn’t be willing to pay cover price for some of them. (Don’t ask me when I’m going to find time to read them. I’m behind enough as it is.)
You can be sure that unless finances are really strapped, I’ll be ordering the next time Subterranean runs a grab bag.
In order to avoid spoilers to Seven Forges, I’m going to be a little vague on plot details since The Blasted Lands opens days after the previous book closed.
Merros Dulver finds himself General of the army of the Empire of Fellein, an army that is ill equipped to fight. The enemy they are facing, the Sa’ba Taalor may well be undefeatable. Desh Krohan has received a vision warning him that the summer capital will soon be destroyed. The new Empress doesn’t realize that as dangerous as the Sa’ba Taalor are (and make no mistake, they are very dangerous indeed), the members of her own family may be just as dangerous.
There is plenty of action and intrigue in this novel, but I suspect there will be a great deal more in the next volume. Oh, and we find out why the Sa’ba Taalor wear those veils on their faces. Talk about creepy.
Moore did something that few writers can do. He kept me interested in all the players. In most epic fantasies, the storyline will become complex, with numerous people doing different things in scattered places. I usually will become more interested in one or two sets of characters and wish the author would get one with it when I’m not reading about those few.
That wasn’t the case in this book. Moore kept my interest. I think the was he was able to do that was by not giving me every detail of every character’s back story. Rather he gave what details were necessary at that time in the story, only those details. The result was a story that moved, and moved quickly.
This is a pretty dark novel, but it didn’t feel that way. I think it was because so many of the characters, in spite of some flaws, were good people trying to do the right thing, which usually ended up with some type of heroics. They were well fleshed out, and were the types of folks you wanted to spend time with.
Which brings me to another point. The Sa’ba Taalor are a nation of warriors, which includes women warriors. There’s been a lot of
noise manifestos screaming and yelling polite and reasoned discussion about the need for strong women characters in fantasy. This has too often come to mean women fighters who are as good or better than every man in the book. In other words, Conan with boobs. To the exclusion of other types of women and other types of strength.
That’s not the case here. Moore balances out his characters, both women and men, but I want to focus on how he handles women, many writers could learn a thing or two here. There are women warriors. There are schemers. There are sex-pots, or at least former sex-pots. There’s a description, brief though it is, of the wife of the commander of the City Guard which makes her sound like an interesting and unique woman.
And then there’s Dretta March, who quickly became one of my favorite characters in the book. She never lifts a sword or any other weapon, but she’s (IMO) the toughest woman in the book. She isn’t afraid to confront the general in charge of the Empire’s armies (that would be Merros) about how he took her husband from her and lead him to his death. She is capable of forgiving Merros and feeding him on a regular basis and befriending him. (There are hints that they are growing to love each other.) And she doesn’t take any of his BS when she questions him about rumors that the city is going to be evacuated. Rather she gives him some good advice, whether he wants it or not.
In short, she came across as a real person. That’s the thing that makes this series such a strong one. The characters are all individuals. Moore’s fantasy world feels more real than many, and more real than the real world as it’s often presented in books, movies, and TV shows.
I recommend The Blasted Lands without reservation.
I’d like to thank Angry Robot for the review copy and apologize for taking so long to get to the book. Below is an excerpt.
Well, sort of. Cthulhu doesn’t actually appear in this book, nor is he even mentioned by name. But a Cthulhu-esque (totally a word) miasma permeates the corners and recesses of the novel, gradually becoming more palpable and easily felt, driving to madness those to whom is it their ill-fortune to endure.
Excuse me. I’m not sure what came over me there in that last sentence. The prose in this novel is much (much) better.
The idea behind Maplecroft is at once both so brilliantly original and originally brilliant that I have to wonder that no one has thought of it before. It seems so obvious. Fall River is in Lovecraft country, or at least close enough to it as to make no difference, and the infamous events of 1892 are perfect for blending fiction with history. Continue reading