‘The World of Ice and Fire’ is Everything You Wanted!

When George R. R. Martin announced that he would be penning a “The World of Ice and Fire” book, fans around the world rejoiced. New information, new history, and maybe some spoilers — what could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better — the actual product in your hand.

‘The World of Ice and Fire’ is everything fans of the series — both book and TV — could have asked for.

World of Ice and Fire 1

The book is big and heavy, just as it should be, and pretty much every page is highlighted with artwork, with the book boasting “more than 170 original pieces”. Each page is really quite stunning to just look at, never mind the fact that Martin has written a heap of new material for this book.

The book starts out looking at the ancient history of Westeros — the Dawn Age, the building of the wall, and any number of stories and characters vaguely referenced in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books.

World of Ice and Fire 2

We get individual bios the Targaryen Kings, and a massive history of the Seven Kingdoms.

All in all, this book deserves a lot more said about it, but with no real story to underpin it, the best I can do is highlight some of my favourite parts of this monstrous history of one of the best series of books around.

If you ever wanted to know about what came before ‘A Game of Thrones’ and what made the Targaryens so … eccentric, then here’s your chance!

Learning the Language of the Dothraki, thanks to Living Languages

Every now and again a package rocks up at my doorstep, completely unasked for, and completely awesome. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen, it definitely makes my day.

So last week, after unwrapping Terry Pratchett’s new non-fiction anthology, I picked up the second parcel and, low and behold, what did I find?

living-language-dothraki-a-conversational-language-course-based-on-the-hit-original-hbo-series-game-of-thronespaperback-book_500The “Living Language Dothraki” package, a “conversational language course based on the Hit Original HBO series Game of Thrones”.

Now, for those wondering, Living Language is a genuine foreign language self-study publisher, who provide very popular language packages for the more boring languages, such as Japanese and Russian. That they had branched out into fictional languages is completely new to me, though I should have known better.

The pack contains a book to help you as you work through the 5 separate lessons provided on an accompanying CD: dealing with Pronunciation, Basic Expressions, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Dialogue.

In much the same way as any language learning tool, the Living Language Dothraki takes you from the small, and then builds up as you go. I’m not an expert at languages – in fact, I have proven multiple times my inability to learn anything other than English – but this proves to be a lot of fun for fans of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”, as well as “The Game of Thrones”.

You can find out more about the Living Language package by heading on over to their Dothraki website, for more reviews, the app, and more.

George RR Martin and Robin Hobb to make London appearance in August

HarperVoyager will host an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb in a central London venue on 19th August 2014. Tickets will go on sale later this week, will be £45 each and will include a hardback copy of Hobb’s latest novel Fool’s Assassin.

George RR Martin.Robin HobbThis unique event offers readers the perfect opportunity to spend an evening listening to two of the world’s greatest storytellers, discussing how they build their fictional universes, create their characters and balance fantasy and reality; about their influences and inspirations, their struggles and successes.

“This is a uniquely exciting event, bringing together two of the greatest storytellers in modern fiction talking candidly about their writing lives. I have worked with them both for years, but in all that time I’ve never had the chance to eavesdrop on them in conversation: I can’t wait,” commented Jane Johnson, HarperVoyager’s Publishing Director.

The event is sponsored by ebook retailer blinkbox Books and in support of their pledge to bring readers closer to authors, they will be streaming the full event  for free – live and exclusively – on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/blinkboxbooks.

HarperVoyager and blinkbox Books newsletter subscribers will be first to hear about tickets: http://harpervoyagerbooks.co.uk/subscribe/

The event will have the #GeorgeAndRobin hashtag.

Best selling fantasy books, May 2014

A look at the 20 most popular fantasy books this month, based on Amazon UK sales figures.

At a glance:

  • 16/20 of the books listed are Kindle Editions
  • 10/20 are from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series
  • 01/20 is an Audio Edition
  1. Dawn of Swords by David Dalglish
    Dawn of Swords by David Daglish book cover imageOn the young world of Dezrel, brother gods Karak and Ashhur, fleeing their own failed world, recreate mankind in an attempt to make amends. The fledgling race of humanity is guided by the First Families, men and women who will not age so long as their hearts remain devoted to their deities. But quickly the realms are thrown into chaos by the construction of the Temple of the Flesh, built by exiled children of Karak in the unclaimed land of Haven that lies between the two kingdoms. Those of the Temple refuse to bend knee to either god, no matter the risk. Thus comes Karak’s ultimatum to the people of Haven: destroy the Temple, or he will destroy it himself. But his fellow brother god, Ashhur, will not sit idly by while thousands of innocents die… Can Jacob Eveningstar, the First Man to be given life and Ashhur’s most trusted servant, prevent the coming bloodshed which threatens the survival of the fledgling human race?
    Kindle Edition
  2. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
    Kindle Edition
  3. King’s by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
    “I am the man who can find anything or anyone. For a price. And my price is you.” When Mia Turner’s brother goes missing in Mexico, while on an archaeological dig, she believes that life couldn’t get much worse. But when she’s blocked at every turn from finding answers, by both local and U.S. authorities, she must turn to a man she swears is the devil. Others might be fooled by his private jet, fine tailored suits, and disarming smile, but Mia knows something dark, sinister, and unnatural lurks behind those penetrating, pale-gray eyes. And the more she learns, the more she realizes she may never be free again.
    Kindle Edition
  4. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
    Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising. From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war. As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky – a comet the colour of blood and flame – five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.
    Kindle Edition
  5. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
    Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian – but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance… Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change.
    Kindle Edition
  6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Paperback
  7. King for a Day by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
    King isn’t who she thought. She wasn’t even close… When Mia Turner’s life becomes tethered to a mysterious billionaire, who she swears is the devil himself, she knows she must break free. It doesn’t matter if everything about him—those sinful lips, those pale gray eyes, that perfect male body—keeps her awake at night. He’s evil. She has to get away. But when this man, known simply as King, suddenly disappears, Mia will discover she’s not home free. Because without King, she’s no longer safe from his ruthless, depraved, power-hungry social circle. To survive, Mia will have to conceal King’s absence and walk a mile in the evil man’s twisted, cruel shoes. What she discovers will leave her more terrified and her heart more conflicted than she ever imagined. King is not who she thought. She wasn’t even close.
    Kindle Edition
  8. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
    The Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life. The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel. As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.
    Kindle Edition
  9. Family by Robert J. Crane
    Just hours after finding Andromeda and crossing paths with her mother, Sienna Nealon finds herself up against a bigger threat than ever before. Omega, the organization that unleashed Wolfe and others upon her, has declared war on the Directorate and the first strikes have already landed. Facing the seemingly unstoppable forces of Omega and Sienna’s own mother, the Directorate seems poised for defeat when a new threat rears its ugly head – a traitor in their midst, one that may mean the destruction of everything Sienna has come to care about.
    Kindle Edition
  10. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin
    In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction. Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head. To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall. And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.
    Kindle Edition
  11. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin
    Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his younger sisters in their power. Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.
    Kindle Edition
  12. Beowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien
    The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book. From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.
    Hardcover
  13. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Audio Download
  14. Omega by Robert J. Crane
    Omega – a shadowy organization that is synonymous with power in the metahuman world. They have hunted Sienna Nealon since the day she first left her house, have killed countless Directorate agents and operatives, and now they unveil their greatest plot – Operation Stanchion, a mysterious phrase let slip by an Omega operative in the midst of a battle. Now Sienna must track the pieces Omega has in motion to confront her enemy before they can land their final stroke – and bring an end to the Directorate forever.
    Kindle Edition
  15. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R. R. Martin
    The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance. In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault… On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all.
    Kindle Edition
  16. Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
    In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces. Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath. But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands. Not even the people they trust.
    Kindle Edition
  17. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin
    Paperback
  18. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin
    The Starks are scattered. Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive. Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.
    Kindle Edition
  19. The Legend of Ellie Quinn by Alex Scarrow
    Ellie Quin’s just a normal young woman. Bored with her life on a remote farm, staring up at the stars at night and wishing she was far away on another more exciting world. She thought she was normal. Turns out she was wrong. It turns out she’s the most valuable, the most dangerous, the most hunted-for human in the universe… and there are people already closing in on her.
    Kindle Edition
  20. Destiny by Robert J. Crane
    In the aftermath of her confrontation with Sovereign, Sienna Nealon finds herself low on allies. The organization Century continues their genocide of the entire race of metahumans unchecked, working toward an ultimate goal that they have yet to reveal. Sienna must race to find the answers before it’s too late, because Century’s final attacks are beginning…and if Sienna and her allies fall, there will be no one left to stop them.
    Kindle Edition

Sequel to classic Wastelands anthology due out 2015

2008’s Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse was an anthology of post-apocalyptic and dystopian short stories written by a collection of the world’s finest authors. I read it whilst on holiday the summer just gone and I absolutely loved it, every story was good while some of them were wonderful, amongst the best I have read in this most fascinating of sub-genres.

So the news today that 2015 will see the publication of Wastelands 2 was music to my ears. The sequel to the anthology will feature stories by George R. R. Martin, Hugh Howey, Junot Diaz, Ann Aguirre, Cory Doctorow and Nancy Kress, and will once again edited by John Joseph Adams.

"In many ways, post-apocalyptic fiction is the most chilling kind of fiction there is, because the more plausible the horrific story, the scarier it is," Adams said. "Demons and supernatural monsters can be entertaining, but deep down I don’t find them particularly frightening, because I’m pretty certain those things don’t—and never will—exist. The end of the world, however? That could happen."

If you’re yet to read the anthology I cannot recommend it highly enough to fans of post-apocalyptic stories.

WASTELANDS 2: MORE STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE
Edited by John Joseph Adams
ISBN: 9781783291502
eBook ISBN: 9781783291526
February 2015

I’ll be reading and reviewing the new anthology as soon as I possibly can. Until then, the cover:

image

The ultimate time travel anthology due out November 2013

The Time Traveller's Almanac book cover image.The Time Traveller’s Almanac is the largest, most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer included is over a century’s worth of literary adventures into the past and the future. The anthology covers millions of years of Earth’s history – from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures. The Time Traveller’s Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics of the past and future.

The almanac features:

  • Top Ten Tips for Time Travellers by Charles Yu
  • Time Travel in Theory and Practice by Stan Love
  • Fashion for Time Travellers by Genevieve Valentine
  • Music for Time Travellers by Jason Heller

Also included are these authors:

  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Michael Moorcock
  • Eric Schaller
  • Richard Matheson
  • Connie Willis
  • Kage Baker
  • Douglas Adams
  • C.L. Moore
  • Issac Asimov
  • Carrie Vaughn
  • Molly Brown
  • William Gibson
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Ray Bradbury
  • A.E. van Vogt
  • Harry Turtledove
  • Steve Utley
  • Charles Stross
  • David Langford
  • Theodore Sturgeon
  • George R.R Martin
  • C.J Cherryh
  • Alice Sola Kim
  • Rosaleen Love
  • Kim Newman
  • Greg Egan
  • H.G. Wells

Science fiction short stories published by Head of Zeus on 7th November 2013 in hardback for £25
ISBN: 9781781855621 / Also available as an eBook for £7.99

News round-up, July 2013

A quick round-up of the fantasy-related news items that have been published over the last thirty days.

George RR Martin defends decision to cast Pedro Pascal as the Red Viper in Game of Thrones series
Pedro Pascal, who will play the Red Viper in the Game of Thrones series.Writer Martin said he wasn’t at the Chilean actor’s audition, but that he thought Pascal would be ‘wonderful’ as Oberyn Martell. Responding to fans’ complaints that Pascal does not have the right colouring to play the Red Viper, Martin wrote on his blog: ‘I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. ‘And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.’ he writer also discussed the ‘racially and ethnically diverse’ cast of the TV adaptation of Game Of Thrones. It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels. But to balance that, characters like Salladhor Saan (Lucian Msamati) and Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) – both white in the books – have been played by black actors.’
Source: Metro

Change of Eastern Regional Director of SFWA
Catherynne M. Valente has announced her resignation as the Eastern Regional Director for SFWA. She said, “It was a rewarding and challenging experience to work with a group of dedicated, tireless advocates, but personal circumstances have brought me to the realization that I cannot serve out the remainder of my term effectively. I thank the Board for their service and support, and will continue to be an active member of the organization.” The president, with the confirmation of the board, has appointed E.C. “Eugene” Myers to serve out the remaining year of the Ms. Valente’s term.
Source: SFWA

J.K. Rowling Renews Call for U.K. Press Regulation
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is among the signatories of a letter urging Britain’s culture secretary to push through press regulation reforms that have been delayed following last year’s recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into U.K. media standards and ethics. Rowling, Jude Law’s former publicist and 24 other victims of press abuse signed a letter about the topic from activist group Hacked Off, whose supporters include Hugh Grant. It was addressed to culture secretary Maria Miller. "It is more than three months since all parties in parliament gave their backing to the cross-party royal charter closely based on the Leveson recommendations," the open letter said. "We urge you to recall that the March 18 charter has the backing of parliament, is founded on the recommendations of a duly constituted public inquiry that painstakingly took account of the views of all stakeholders, and is supported by the great majority of victims of press abuses." It added: "Standing in opposition to this are representatives of parts of the press, and in particular of a part that was found by the public inquiry to have ‘wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people.’ In short, a tiny if powerful vested interest with a record of causing harm to the public is challenging the democratic will of parliament." The letter concluded that "it would be appalling if such people, in defiance of the will of the rest of society, were allowed to delay the implementation of a government policy" that has the support of parliament.
Source: Hollywood Reporter

Humble Ebook Bundle II: name your price for Last Unicorn, Wil Wheaton, Lois McMaster Bujold and more
Cory Doctrow: It’s time for another Humble Ebook Bundle! Once again, I was honoured to serve as volunteer curator of the Humble Ebook Bundle, a project from the Humble Indie Bundle people who’ve made Internet history by bundling together awesome, DRM-free media and letting you name your price for it. We did the first Humble Ebook Bundle last fall (with my novel Pirate Cinema) and made over $1.25 million in two weeks (!). The new Ebook Bundle is even cooler. Here’s the line-up:

  • The Last Unicorn (deluxe edition), by Peter Beagle
  • Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton
  • Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
  • Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
  • Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold

As with all the bundles, there is a secret stash of releases in the wings for week two; if your payment is higher than the average at the time you make it, you get them for free (and they are sweet!). Otherwise, you can always get them by topping up your payment. And as always, there’s charities involved — you can earmark some or all of your payment for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child’s Play, and the Science Fiction Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund.
Source: Cory Doctrow on Boing Boing

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman returns for prequel
A quarter-century after his ground-breaking Sandman comic was launched, Neil Gaiman is returning to the character that made him famous with a six-issue prequel about Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Gaiman – currently basking in the glory of phenomenal reviews and booming sales for his first adult novel in eight years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane – has penned a limited series that tells a new story about the much-loved character he created for DC comics in 1988 and which ran for 75 issues. Sandman was initially published as part of the main DC comics line but in 1993 was incorporated into the publisher’s new Vertigo imprint which offered edgier, more adult comics. The first issue introduced Morpheus, or Dream, one of the immortal siblings known as the Endless. The ruler of a kingdom known as the Dreaming, the character was an instant hit, and when Gaiman introduced Dream’s sister Death as a cocksure goth girl he won over a legion of fans seemingly for ever. This October sees the first issue of the new comic, Sandman: Overture, produced with artist JH Williams III, 25 years since the first issue of Sandman (it had a January 1989 cover date but was published in October 1988).
Source: The Guardian

Michael Morpurgo reveals he’s writing a new book set in Scilly
St Helens, as seen from Bryher.He wasn’t giving too much away about the story, which is about the uninhabited island of St Helens, only to say it’s set during the First World War and is connected to the sea and America. He said it was an extraordinary story to come across and he’s returning to the islands in September to continue with the book. Michael says he works better when he’s close to the landscape he’s writing about. Mr Morpurgo, a regular visitor to Bryher, made a special appearance at the new Porthcressa Library yesterday. He read extracts from his book ‘The Wreck of the Zanzibar’ set in Scilly, to a specially invited audience of youngsters.

Margaret Atwood and Mohsin Hamid in new season of BBC World News ‘Talking Books’
BBC World News has launched a new season of Talking Books, the in-depth interview programme featuring international bestselling authors from around the globe. From Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood to Children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, American historical novelist Tracy Chevalier to Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, the 12-part series explores the best of 21st century fiction writing. The first episode has kicked off with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), was awarded the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Chimamanda’s latest novel, Americanah (2013) focuses on romance, race and identity following a young woman’s journey from Nigeria to America. Presenters Razia Iqbal and Gavin Esler uncover the themes that run through each writer’s work, the characters they have invented and the development of their writing style. It airs weekly on BBC World News every Saturday at 1.00pm and Sunday at 6.00pm.
Source: BBC World

The Seventh Son Release Date Pushed Back Again
Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes in The Seventh Son.Legendary Pictures’ adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s young adult novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, which has been retitled The Seventh Son for the big screen, has been delayed until 2014. The film was originally slated for a February 15th, 2013 release, but, as you may have noticed, February came and went without The Seventh Son appearing in theatres. In May 2012, the release was set back to October 18th, 2013, and as the first images and details of the film were unveiled online. Variety now reports that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have decide to part ways rather than extend their distribution and co-financing partnership, and it’s believed that this may have contributed to The Seventh Son‘s release being delayed once more, this time to January 17th, 2014.
Source: Screen Rant and Variety

First-ever sketches of Winnie-the-Pooh tipped to fetch at least £600,000 at auction
Ink drawing of Christopher Robin asleep with Pooh lying on his bed is among the collection.The first-ever sketch of children’s favourites Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin by famed illustrator E.H. Shepard has come to light for the first time in 90 years. The ink drawing accompanied Pooh author A.A. Milne’s poem ‘Vespers’ and shows Christopher Robin asleep in bed with a teddy bear lying on his back on the quilt.
It is part of a set of eight original Pooh drawings from private collections around the world tipped to fetch more than £600,000 at auction. One other original Shepard illustration is the iconic 1926 work from Winnie-the-Pooh of Christopher Robin pulling his bear up the stairs by its leg. An almost-identical sketch showing the boy dragging Pooh down the stairs that was owned by the late film director Michael Winner sold last December for £139,250. The Sotheby’s auction is being held on July 10 in London.
Source: Daily Mail

Best-selling authors including Julia Donaldson and Joanne Harris vow to promote independent bookshops
Top-selling authors including The Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, Joanne Harris and Kate Morton are planning on altering their websites to link to independent bookshops following complaints that they only promote Amazon and chain retailers. The changes follow claims by an independent bookshop owner in The Bookseller that best-selling writers support the likes of W H Smith and Waterstones “without giving a fig” for struggling smaller shops. Keith Smith, of Warwick and Kenilworth Books, said Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Alison Weir, Ian Rankin, Tom Holland and Patrick Ness are among those who have ignored independent retailers. “Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop,” he said. “But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.” Julia Donaldson said she had been “feeling guilty” about not having links to independent shops, but added that, “when I first set up my website, this is what was suggested to me would be the easiest thing to do.” Her “online presence” is now under review, according to her publisher.
Source: The Independent

HCB to publish posthumous Diana Wynne Jones tale
HarperCollins Children’s Books fiction publishing director Ruth Alltimes has bought a posthumous novel by fantasy novelist Diana Wynne Jones, The Islands of Chaldea, completed by her sister Ursula Jones. Alltimes acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from agents Laura Cecil and Celia Catchpole and plans to publish a "gorgeous" hardback edition in March 2014. The Islands of Chaldea is about a young girl and her bossy White Witch aunt fighting to free a king’s son held to ransom behind an enchanted forcefield, encountering a giant invisible cat and a fiery lizard along their way. HCB called it a "uniquely humorous picaresque adventure".
Source: The Bookseller

And finally…

27 well-known extracts taken from J. R. R. Tolkien’s life and works: http://www.deseretnews.com/top/1628/2/-27-best-J-R-R-Tolkien-quotes.html

News round-up, June 2013

Amazon licenses fan fiction ebooks
George RR Martin hates fan fiction, Anne Rice has banned it, Ursula K Le Guin calls it "an invasion". But a host of authors have signed up to a new programme from Amazon, which encourages any fan who fancies it to write fiction inspired by their worlds, and sell it to readers through the Kindle store. Amazon announced that it had secured licences for the bestselling Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and for LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries from Alloy Entertainment. The licences will allow fans to publish authorised stories set in the different fictional universes as ebooks for the Kindle, with royalties paid to both the original author and the fan fictioneer. Amazon said the "Kindle Worlds" project was good for writers because it is "an entirely new way to monetise their valuable franchises [and] it allows them to extend their worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans".
Source: The Guardian

Julia Donaldson backs study into malnutrition in kids
A group of top kids’ authors, including Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, says extreme hunger leaves children struggling to read and write. The former children’s laureate backs a global study that suggests children who are badly malnourished are 20% more likely to misread simple sentences. The research was carried out by the University of Oxford for the charity Save the Children and looked at 7,300 eight-year-olds in four countries – Ethiopia, India, Peru and Pakistan. Other top children’s authors backing the campaign are Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and David Walliams. Justin Forsyth from Save the Children says: "poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom". The report says that even if the children have good schooling, the benefits of it get cancelled out if they’re not eating well.
Source: BBC

New cover design for  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets revealed at BEA
At Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City, Scholastic Books unveiled its new cover design for J.K Rowling’s second series installment, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

New Scholastic cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter fans will likely recognize the scene depicted as Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley riding in Ron’s father’s flying car toward the Weasley’s Burrow home. The original cover for Chamber Of Secrets featured Harry in the snake-laden Chamber grasping onto the tail feathers of the red phoenix while wearing a cape and a sword. This is but the second reveal from Kibuishi’s re-imagining of the Harry Potter book covers, all seven of which are expected to hit shelves on Aug. 27 individually and in box set format.
Source: Examiner.com

First look at Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theatres on Dec. 13, there will be a fresh face among the residents of Middle-earth: Tauriel, an elf warrior played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame. “She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill,” says Lilly. She’s also not found anywhere in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fantasy novel, or in any of Tolkien’s other writings for that matter.

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Director Peter Jackson and his co-writers on the Hobbit trilogy, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, invented the character to expand the world of the elves of Mirkwood Forest – and to bring some more female energy to the otherwise male-dominated Hobbit narrative.
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Blackman is new Children’s Laureate
The new Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said she would use her position to be an "advocate" for public libraries and campaign against "short-sighted" closures. Blackman, the author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teen-agers, took over from previous laureate Julia Donaldson, who lives in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, at a ceremony in central London. The 51-year-old, who was a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London. Blackman said: "Each laureate can bring their own passions to it, but one of my passions is the public library service and I wouldn’t have become an author and I certainly wouldn’t have been standing here now as the Children’s Laureate if it had not been for my local library service so that’s definitely something I want to be an advocate for and cherishing our libraries and speaking out against library closures. I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea, which in 2012 initiated a programme to build 180 libraries. Russia is building libraries but we seem to be closing them. I think its very short-sighted." The mother-of-one, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was "a real honour" to be chosen for the role and that children’s books needed a champion.
Source: Herald Scotland

Beanstalk story collection marks charity’s 40th
National literacy charity Beanstalk is publishing a specially commissioned collection of stories as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, with contributions from authors and illustrators including Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. Jack and the Beanstalk and the other Beany Stories, Poems and Jokes will be published by the charity on 12th June and given, free, to every child the organisation has helped this year, as well as to the Beanstalk reading helpers and schools. It will also be available for the general public to download from the Beanstalk website, alongside additional teaching resources. The book includes ten specially commissioned works, including a play, three verse stories and some bean-themed jokes. Each is based on, or inspired by, the original Jack and the Beanstalk fable and is illustrated with original black and white drawings. They are aimed at readers of different levels and are graded. Chief executive of Beanstalk, Sue Porto, said: "We have published this book as a way of celebrating all we have achieved and to thank all the children, schools and reading helpers we have worked with in our 40th anniversary year for their amazing efforts. We hope it will bring them many hours of pleasure and help to inspire more people to support our efforts to reach more children."
Source: The Bookseller

Original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations animated for the first time in iPad app
The original Winnie-the-Pooh children’s stories have been digitised, allowing them to be read on iPad and iPhone using an app.

How the Classic Pooh app looks on the iPad.

Classic Pooh, released by children’s publisher Egmont Press, is free for users to download and comes with one Pooh story, with another available to buy for £1.99. Users can either read the story themselves, or have it read to them by the voice of actor Rufus Jones. The iPad app makes the original stories fully interactive, animating EH Shepard’s 1920s illustrations for the first time. Tim Jones, publisher at Egmont Press, told Metro: "We’ve been working with illustrations that are 85 years old which have a place in British culture, illustrations that are greatly loved. We had to look at it very sensitively and that’s what we’ve tried to do." The app offers audio clips of the sounds of Hundred Acre Wood and the characters move around, and turn from black and white to colour. Milne’s stories have been abridged for the app.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Teaser Poster Revealed
The first teaser poster has been revealed, ahead of a trailer that is set to launch this week. The appropriately atmospheric artwork shows our heroic hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) standing before what looks like the Lonely Mountain. From within a glowing doorway, smoke escapes, suggesting the titular Smaug, a ruthless dragon played in the film via motion-capture wizardry by Khan Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug teaser poster.

And here is the trailer:

SoA warns publishers over e-book loans to libraries
The Society of Authors has warned that authors may be losing out twice over on e-book loans, with president-elect Philip Pullman calling for authors to "be paid fairly" for the digital loans. In its report and briefing paper, the Society of Authors commented that authors may be losing up to two thirds of the income they would have received on the sale and loan of a physical book, since publishers may be underpaying authors on e-book library loans, and the government is not paying authors Public Lending Right on e-book loans. The SoA stated that publishers may be mistakenly underpaying authors on library loans of e-books by treating receipts as sales rather than licences.
Although all e-book sales are technically licenses, since in order for an e-book to be lent the publisher must grant a subsidiary licence to the aggregator, the author is therefore entitled to receive a different loyalty because a subsidiary right has been exercised. This figure is typically 50% of net receipts, according to the SoA.
Source: The Bookseller

Scholastic Celebrates 15 Years of Harry Potter
Fifteen years after J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first graced U.S. bookshelves, Scholastic is touting some impressive numbers. The in-print tally for that book and the subsequent six Harry Potter novels has topped 150 million copies in the U.S. alone. Published in 200 territories in 74 languages, the series boasts worldwide sales of more than 450 million copies. To mark Harry Potter’s 15th U.S. anniversary, Scholastic is staging a contest in which 15 public libraries will win a party pack to help them host a celebration in honor of the bespectacled young wizard.  The winners will be announced on July 31 – Harry’s birthday – and the parties will be held on August 27, the U.S. pub date of new trade paperback editions of all seven books in the series, which feature new cover art by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic will simultaneously release a boxed set of the new paperbacks, which like previous editions will be published under the Arthur A. Levine imprint.
Source: Publisher’s Weekly

Living with George

An image of fantasy author George R. R. Martin.I wanted to share with you a curious state of affairs, almost a malady if you will, that has plagued me for the last six months. Back in 2011 when Game of Thrones was coming out on telly, I immediately got excited and resolved to read the first book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series. It was awesome and a new and refreshing take on how to treat your characters (I know it wasn’t exactly new but it was to me). I was amazed and impressed by the level of complexity that Mr Martin had woven into his work, and the fact that no character was safe really upped the ante.

I swiftly gobbled up the next books but something started to prey on my mind. A question crept into my thoughts, whispering, subtle and then more urgent, louder, demanding my attention. That question was ‘Where is this all going?” I know, you can probably work it out where the story is going to go to, but just who will be there at the end is anyone’s guess.

A cover image of A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin.I took receipt of the latest tome, A Dance With Dragons, as soon as it came out and started in. But do you know what? I hit a wall, about a third of the way through, I just stopped. I couldn’t bear it anymore. Where was Tyrion going? What on earth was Dany up to creating her own badly managed empire? Arya? Bran? And what about this stuff going on in Dorne? And what was Sam’s story arc going to be? And who are all these people? And what do you mean this is partly a story about stuff happening at the same time as the last book but not all of it? I can’t cope!

I stopped reading. Everything. As a pile of books mounted up on my bedside table – the new Pratchett, the new Abercrombie, the final Malazan book (and the one before it because it had been so long I needed to remind myself what had gone on). I stared at them blankly, I couldn’t read them, I had Dance to get through. But I couldn’t move on. I’d crawl into bed, pick up the book, look at the page and then put it down again. I couldn’t face it. This endless journey had sucked my will to read. It became like a Mexican stand-off, I refused to read anything else until I had finished and Dance was refusing to make it is easy for me.

I spoke to my friends and asked if they felt the same way, and there was a resounding ‘yes’. They were getting equally frustrated by the apparent lack of progress and also that the characters who they wanted to hang their morale compass on kept getting taken out. Tyrion and Jon Snow appear to be in it for the long haul but by Sigmar’s Hairy Balls, I’d put nothing past Mr Martin.

Now don’t get me wrong – these are very good books and certainly they are ‘epic’ in tale and length and that appeals to a certain group of readers (as I said, I happily read and love Erikson but perhaps his prose and characters are easier to follow from book to book). Maybe it is just me and I have OD’d on Martin. It’s not as if I don’t get plenty of time to catch-up between books. But whatever the reason is, I have lost my joy of reading. And that’s bad.

So I have undertaken to forge ahead, with renewed vigour and purpose, to get through the damn book and move on with my life. It’s going well so far, and funnily enough, there is some interesting stuff going on at the Wall and at Winterfell. But I remain cautious, I fear that I will be sucked into a maelstrom of Wheel of Time proportions at any moment…
Alex Janaway, February 2013

Note: Alex has got some very strict deadlines to finish A Dance With Dragons – he is going on a romantic retreat in March and really wants to read something new. As long as it is fantasy based and has lots of fighting, swearing and sex. Hmm… when’s the next book out?

Lavie Tidhar’s Osama wins World Fantasy Award

clip_image002Lavie Tidhar’s Osama has beaten competition from Stephen King and George RR Martin to scoop the World Fantasy Award for best novel.

Tidhar accepted the prestigious award at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto yesterday. The judges of the award acknowledged that Israeli-born Tidhar has produced a work of extraordinary power and imagination, which has shown genre’s ability to examine and illuminate contemporary events in a way that other literature struggles to do.

“I am absolutely delighted for Lavie,” said editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver. “This award is well-deserved and it is heartening to see the judges of the World Fantasy Awards choose a controversial and challenging title in what was already a very strong field.

“Lavie continues to a writer who pushes the boundaries of genre and is one of the most exciting writers around in any field.”

The outspoken and controversial Israeli-born author delivers the most exciting, daring and sensitive, fictional engagement with the post-9/11 era. Tidhar was in Dar-es-Salaam during the American embassy bombings in 1998, stayed in the same hotel as the Al Qaeda operatives in Nairobi, and narrowly avoided both the 2005 London, King’s Cross and 2004 Sinai attacks – all of which has informed this vital book.

The critical reception of Osama has been nothing short of astonishing – making it a must-read novel for both genre and mainstream readers. Plaudits have poured in since Tidhar’s win, including one from George R R Martin himself, as the industry acknowledges an important victory for the kind of genre fiction that breaks boundaries and avoids cliché.

One of the most significant genre books of the year, Lavie Tidhar’s highly-praised and BSFA Award-nominated novel Osama was published in paperback by Solaris in October.

The others nominations for best novel were:

Osama by Lavie Tidhar
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-78108-076-4
$9.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-78108-075-7