Tag Archives: fantasy book review

Hugo Nominations Announced

The 2012 Hugo Award nominations have been announced and are show below for your very own perusal and comment.

There are some unsurprising entrants – George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons in Best Novel for example – but the whole list is worth a look if you have the time.

Best Novel

  • Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
  • A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
  • Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
  • Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Best Novella

  • Countdown, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Ice Owl”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Kiss Me Twice”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s)
  • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s)
  • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary”, Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
  • Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

Best Novelette

  • “The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s)
  • “Fields of Gold”, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • “Ray of Light”, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
  • “Six Months, Three Days”, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
  • “What We Found”, Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

Best Short Story

  • “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Homecoming”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s)
  • “Movement”, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s)
  • “The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, John Scalzi (Tor.com)

Best Related Work

  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
  • Jar Jar Binks Must Die…and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies, Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
  • The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
  • Wicked Girls (CD), Seanan McGuire
  • Writing Excuses, Season 6 (podcast series), Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

  • Digger, by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
  • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
  • Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys To The Kingdom, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
  • The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan, created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely; directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss;
    written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
  • Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
  • Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who, ”The Doctor’s Wife”, written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
  • The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”, Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
  • Doctor Who, ”The Girl Who Waited”, written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, ”A Good Man Goes to War”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
  • Community, ”Remedial Chaos Theory”, written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Best Semiprozine

  • Apex Magazine, edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
  • Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
  • New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

Best Fanzine

  • Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • The Drink Tank, edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
  • SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Best Fancast

  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), Patrick Hester (producer)
  • SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
  • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Lou Anders
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Betsy Wollheim

Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist

  • Dan dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Michael Komarck
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio

Best Fan Artist

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Randall Munroe
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

Best Fan Writer

  • James Bacon
  • Claire Brialey
  • Christopher J. Garcia
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Steven H Silver

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • Karen Lord
  • Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu

Douglas Adams still as relevant as he ever was

Sunday 11th March would have been Douglas Adams’ 60th birthday and he is as relevant and entertaining as he ever was, with the eBook omnibus edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Five, published by the Tor imprint, going straight to No.1 on the Kindle chart.

While friends, fans and the likes of Sanjeev Bhaskar,  David Gilmour and Terry Jones were celebrating his birthday with a party in his honour at London’s Hammersmith Apollo last Sunday night, the omnibus edition hit the No.1 spot and remains there, as of Monday 12th March.

Adams’ legacy is very much alive in other ways, with the second episode of the Dirk Gently series airing on BBC Four. The Hitchhiker’s Guide radio script plays will be on tour from June this year.

Independent Publishing Awards: Nosy Crow win hat-trick

Independent children’s book and app publisher Nosy Crow has won in three categories of the Independent Publishing Awards: the IPG Children’s Publisher of the Year, the IPG Newcomer Award, and The Nielsen Innovation of the Year Award.

Nosy Crow was recognized as IPG Children’s Publisher of the Year for its books and apps that “bring reading alive for children and parents”. The judges said that, “What Nosy Crow has achieved in just two years is phenomenal. Its marketing has been faultless and its publishing is full of energy.” The judges especially liked the high production values of Nosy Crow’s books and apps and Nosy Crow’s use of web and social media to build and maintain close relationships with customers and suppliers.

In the category of IPG Newcomer, Nosy Crow was celebrated for its impressive commercial success after just two years in existence. The judges admired the twin focus on books and apps, and sense of ambition, and said that, “Nosy Crow has produced a string of beautiful books and apps in a very short space of time. It has picked up impressive sales from a standing start.”

Nosy Crow was awarded the Nielsen Innovation of the Year Award (for which no shortlist was announced) for its creative and interactive apps including ‘The Three Little Pigs’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Bizzy Bear on the Farm’. The judges were impressed by Nosy Crow’s adoption of digital technology right from its launch, by its in-house development of apps, and by strong marketing, PR and sales. “Nosy Crow has adapted to change and embraced it with some terrific work. It is easy to produce apps for the sake of it, but Nosy Crow has done something very innovative and special.”

“It’s just amazing to see Nosy Crow honoured in three categories at the end of its first year of publishing,” said Nosy Crow’s Managing Director, Kate Wilson. “It’s such a tribute to the whole Nosy Crow team, who have worked so hard and with such commitment to build a list from scratch, and it’s a particular honour for our completely brilliant in-house app team. It’s also a great tribute to the authors, illustrators and other creative talents who entrusted us with their work from the beginning of our journey. We’re grateful to the shops, librarians, reviewers, international publishing partners, and, above all, mums, dads and other grown-ups who bought and appreciated our books and apps over the course of the last year. Being recognized in this way by the IPG, a community of publishers who exhibit such professionalism, focus and sense of their readers, is particularly inspiring for us. To paraphrase Adele at the Grammys, ‘the Crows done good’.”

Full Independent Publishing Awards winners list:

  • The Bookseller Trade Publisher of the Year: Constable and Robinson
  • IPG Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year: SAGE
  • IPG Children’s Publisher of the Year: Nosy Crow
  • IPG Education Publisher of the Year: Jolly Phonics
  • IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year: Osprey
  • IPG Newcomer Award: Nosy Crow
  • The London Book Fair International Achievement Award: Woodhead Publishing
  • Ingram Digital Publishing Award: Constable and Robinson
  • The Frankfurt Book Fair Digital Marketing Award: TopThat!
  • IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year: Andrew Furlow, Icon Books
  • GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award: Adrian Driscoll
  • IPG Diversity Award: Barefoot Books
  • IPG Independent Publisher of the Year Award: Constable and Robinson
  • Nielsen Innovation of the Year Award: Nosy Crow

New releases: Blood Ocean, Dark North, Darkening Skies…

There have been some great new releases from Solaris Books and Abbadon Books so I have rounded them all up into one large post. I hope there is something that catches your eye!

On the high seas, if you don’t live large… you just sink

Blood Ocean album coverIn a world reduced to ruin by all-consuming plague, one young boy embarks on a mission of revenge after one of his friends is found dead … harvested for his blood!

Kavika Kamalani is a Pali Boy on Nomi No Toshi, the floating city. The post-plague heir to an ancient Hawai’ian warrior tradition that believes in overcoming death by embracing one’s fears and living large, Kavika’s life is turned upside down when one of his friends dies – and he sets out to find the killer.

When he is kidnapped and subjected to a terrifying transformation, Kavika must embrace the ultimate fear – death itself. It is the only way if he, his loved ones, and the Pali Boys are to survive.

This stand-alone title is the latest story of post-apocalyptic survival in The Afterblight Chronicles series from Weston Ochse. The Afterblight Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic series in which a devastating epidemic has ravaged the world. In the Afterblight pockets of humans attempt to continue civilization amidst the mounting chaos of the collapsed infrastructure. Mobs run rampant while cults and warlords fight for authority over the survivors of the global plague.

The Afterblight Chronicles: Blood Ocean by Weston Ochse
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2
$9.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2

Also available as an ebook

There’s a reason they’re called The Dark Ages…

Dark North cover imageA new Empire has risen in Rome, and the Emperor is determined that Britain shall kneel before him. But when legendary King Arthur hurries his knights to court, the Black Wolf of the North brings more than just his sword…

One of Arthur’s most stalwart supporters, Sir Lucan comes from his cold northern home along with his beautiful wife, Trelawna, for among the delegates from Rome is her lover.

The world stands poised on the brink of a terrible war, in which the fates of lives and hearts will play as great a role as those of nations. This is the theatre in which the Black Wolf of the North must finally come of age as a warrior and a man – because for Lucan there will be a war within this war.

Representing stories from the Dark Ages, Malory’s Knights of Albion brings the dark underbelly of the Arthurian dream to life with tales of blood-thirsty revenge, Godless wastelands and unholy missions.

Uncovered in the parish church of St. Barbara and St. Christopher in the summer of 2006, the Salisbury Manuscript (British Library Add. MS 1138) is the only extant copy of Sir Thomas Malory’s The Seconde Boke of kyng Arthur and also His noble Knyghts, apparently written at Thomas Caxton’s request after Malory’s release from gaol. Deep controversy surrounds the book, which is claimed by some to be a contemporary forgery, possibly written by Caxton himself. In March 2010, Rebellion Publishing announced that it had secured exclusive rights to publish the modernisations of the stories…

Dark North by Paul Finch
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-88-9
$9.99/$12.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-89-6

Also available as an ebook

Nothing is certain, everything will change.

Darkening Skies cover image.He may have been hailed as a hero, but Captain Corrain now harbours a dark secret.

While the Caladhrians are content to celebrate their salvation from the Aldabreshin corsairs, Corrain knows the truth – the wizard he bribed to help them has merely claimed the corsair island for his own. Will the Archmage break his policy of non-interference and crush this upstart or will the outraged Aldabreshin warlords decide that magic has no place in their world at all?

In the second book of her stunning new trilogy, The Hadrumal Crisis, Juliet E McKenna delves deeper into this tangle of dark magic, treachery and intrigue – raising the stakes and plunging Corrain and the widow Lady Zurenne into a web of danger that they may not escape, even with the magewoman Jilseth’s help.

The prequel for the series, The Wizard’s Coming, is available as a free eBook and introduces some of the characters and events leading up to this stunning new fantasy series from a major voice in fantasy writing.

Book 2 of The Hadrumal Crisis: Darkening Skies by Juliet E. McKenna
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-76-6
$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-77-3

Available as an ebook

The world will end in 2012 … unless the Age of Aztec falls

Age of Aztec cover image.In the latest in the New York Times bestselling Pantheon series, which has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide, Cortez’s brutal suppression of Mexico never happened and the Aztec Empire rules the world.

Yet in jungle-infested London, a masked vigilante defies this cruel and ruthless oppressive regime: the Conquistador. As the apocalypse looms, he must help assassinate the mysterious and immortal Aztec emperor, but police detective Mal Vaughn is hot on his trail, determined to bring him to justice.

Merging ancient religions, interest in the ‘forthcoming’ 2012 Mayan apocalypse, and high-octane military SF, Age of Aztec continues Lovegrove’s bestselling Pantheon series. A breath-taking series that is not to be missed, The Age of Odin went straight onto the NYT bestsellers list and Age of Aztec is sure to be another hit.

Age of Aztec by James Lovegrove
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-80-3
$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-81-0

Available as an ebook

Solaris recently announced that sales of the Pantheon series have now topped 100,000. The series is now set to continue with three new titles. The series focuses on the central question of ‘what if the Gods of Mythology were not only real but played a direct role in mankind’s lives?’ Created as alternative histories that can be read as stand-alone novels or enjoyed as a collective, Lovegrove revitalises deities of old with hard-nosed military science fiction and fascinating re-imaginings of our world.

This April will see the publication of the next in the series, Age of Aztec, which envisages a world where the Aztecs defeated the Conquistadors and then spread their empire across the Earth. As the apocalypse looms, this regime of ruthless oppression and regular human sacrifice is now openly defied by a masked vigilante known as the Conquistador.

This year also sees the publication of the first ebook-only novella in the series, Age of Anansi, with the Age of Voodoo due for print publication in 2013.

The Age of Odin featured on the New York Times bestseller immediately upon release last year. The series also includes Age of Ra and Age of Zeus.

“For me, the appeal of the Pantheon series is that each novel is different. The pre-existing mythology creates the story and shapes the tone and direction of the book. Every time I start a new one, it’s as though I’ve been given a brand new playground to play in.  Yet the core themes remain the same: the relationship between mortals and the beings they worship; humans facing or wielding superhuman power; free will versus divine edict. A never-drying well of ideas to explore there. I can’t express how happy I am to be working with Solaris on these books. It’s an imprint making surprisingly effective commando raids on the publishing market. The editorial and promotional departments are efficient, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, inventive, supportive and indefatigable. The Pantheon series’ success depends as much on their efforts as my writing. And I can’t not mention Marek Okon’s striking eye-candy covers, too, which round off the package perfectly,” commented Lovegrove.

The epic conclusion to the Macht Trilogy

clip_image002_thumb[12]Thirty years of legend are about to be re-written, as the boy-general vows to become a king…

For the first time, the ferocious city-states of The Macht now acknowledge a single ruler – Corvus may have united his people in blood, but he now seeks immortality through conquest and legend.

His father had been one of the legendary Ten Thousand Macht who marched into the Asurian Empire and fought their way out again. Corvus intends nothing less than the complete overthrow of their ancient enemies.

Renowned Northern Irish novelist Paul Kearney draws on both classical history and fantasy as he brings his critically-acclaimed epic of The Macht to a shattering conclusion, as the brilliant Corvus seeks to bring the world under his rule.

Rich with character and fast-paced, Kings of Morning is the hotly-anticipated conclusion to the Macht Trilogy that will thrill fans of Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.

Kings of Morning by Paul Kearney
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907519-38-3
$7.99/$9.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907519-39-0

Available as an ebook

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll by Jenny Woolf reviewed

Understanding the author of Alice in Wonderland

The elusive author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll, has been a subject of enduring fascination for the past hundred years. Born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the son of a country curate, he would spend almost his entire life in the quiet, studious surroundings of Christ Church College, Oxford, shunning publicity and becoming increasingly guarded as the years went by. However, in his posthumous existence, he has been retrospectively psychoanalysed, condemned for his supposed sexual perversions and alleged addiction to opium. The destruction of many major documents about his personal life by his descendants has only magnified the mystery.

In The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, Jenny Woolf hopes to lay waste to the myths and suspicions that surround the author by placing him firmly in the context of his own time. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born into a world where slavery was still legal, cholera was rife in cities, Roman Catholics were barred from Parliament, and tiny children were being worked to death in factories. He attended Rugby public school where violence and sexual abuse were to be expected and tolerated. In 1857 he became a fellow at Oxford University, allowing him to stay at the college for the rest of his life. This however had conditions,one that he should remain celibate, the other that he become an ordained minister of the Church of England. All of these experiences were instrumental in forming the man whom the world would come to know as Lewis Carroll.

For the average reader, one who has not read the works of Langford Read, Robin Wilson, Roger Lancelyn Green, Florence Becker Lennon or Edward Wakeling, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll will provide great insight into the life and works of Lewis Carroll. For those who have read some or all of the above tiles, this new biography will help shed even further light on the retiring author with the help of new, unearthed information and through recently gained access to his bank accounts ledger.

Woolf’s biography begins with Carroll’s childhood before moving onto his love of mathematics, a rather dry area which she battles bravely to make interesting. Fans of Douglas Adams and the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books will be intrigued with Carroll’s seeming obsession with the number 42 – is this why Adams decided to make the answer to life, the universe and everything 42? This chapter also shows that Carroll was an author that plays – in his literature – as much with numbers as he did with words.

As the book enters the middle phase it concentrates more on Carroll’s relationships with children, particularly young girls and young women. There can be no denying that much of this makes for uncomfortable reading as it is wrong when judged by today’s standards but here Woolf shows that although Carroll’s behaviour did raise eyebrows at the time, he lived life by a strict, self-regulated moral code and his friendships with, and his photographing of young girls and young-women was always done with the parents consent.

Ms Woolf is certainly in the pro-Carroll corner and although she attempts very conscientiously to present a balanced view she wants one of her favourite authors to emerge as healthily as possible from this biography. But it is when she quotes from Florence Becker Lennon’s 1947 Lewis Carroll biography that a description that best fits Carroll is shown. Florence Becker Lennon described Carroll as “a damaged person who has been raised with sexual repressions that deprived him of happiness and obliged him to live inside an abnormal emotional ‘box’.” This is possibly a little harsh, and also fails to mention his many fine points but, based on the picture painted of the author by Woolf’s biography it is an analysis that rings true.

This book will not give great insight into the Alice in Wonderland books, they will give great insight into the author who wrote the works. As the book concludes it chooses his financial dealings in his lifetime to give the final and undistorted image of the author. The bank account ledgers examined are still pretty much intact (when compared to his diaries and letters) and the picture they paint of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is one of a man that should be held in high esteem. He was a generous man, always willing to help financially and spiritually. After the death of his father he took on the responsibility of organising and providing for the other 10 members of his family when they needed it. He was also an unstinting giver to charity and helped friends in their times of need.

Woolf’s research and reading of other Carroll biographies is extensive and this comes together provide a very comprehensive and fascinating overview of the author that gave the world Alice. This highly recommended biography will allow the reader to learn much of Carroll and the times into which he was born.

Jenny Woolf has been a freelance journalist for UK national newspapers and was a consulting editor of the American travel magazine Islands. She continued to work for British and foreign publications and for the BBC, for whom she made a Radio 4 programme about Lewis Carroll in 2006. She has had a lifelong interest in Lewis Carroll and is the author of Lewis Carroll In his Own Account (2005).

Born in 1832, in Daresbury, Cheshire, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson spent his early life in the north of England (at Daresbury, Cheshire and in Croft, Yorkshire). He spent his adult life in Oxford and died at Guildford in 1898. Besides the Alice books, he wrote many others including poems, pamphlets and articles. He was a skilled mathematician, logician and pioneering photographer and he invented a wealth of games and puzzles which are of great interest today. Through his range of talents he has acquired great respect and has a large following.

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom by Bruce Brown

Review by Sandra Scholes

Created as a child friendly graphic novel, this story is aimed at those who might not have heard of the writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the man who wrote intensely scary horror stories based on the Cthulhu mythos.

Old gods and monsters would normally terrify the young, and this is a novel that will introduce the well-known genre to children across the world.

The cover art is endearing, picturing Howard and the Cthulhu-type creature behind him. The book is somewhat comical in nature and just the thing to get children to warm to the characters, much in the same way as they have to Ood in the Dr Who series, who are very much similar creatures.

The premise is that Howard – the young son of the Lovecraft family – is taken by his mother into an asylum where his father is kept under constant surveillance, and as he has not shown any promise of getting to better mental health the understanding is that he will be kept there for a very long time – much to the disappointment of his son. However, during a moment of lucidity he hands the boy a strange looking star and asks him to destroy it or mankind will not be safe. Everyone else thinks he is mad, yet the boy has other ideas.

Even though the Lovecraftian terror aspects of the story are left out, the strange and unusual have been kept, as has the atmospheric horror element. There is just the right amount of psychological peculiarity to get the younger end of the reading group to be interested in the novels of Lovecraft without it instilling childhood nightmares. It is an impressive start to a series of novels that could, in a sense, be so original that they will be a great success – even though at the moment the trend in novels is for the Vampiric.

The art contained within is well drawn and conveys an fantastic amount of dread and strangeness. This is a book for children, but one in which they are treated as adults. Recommended.

We Rate It8.5-stars

About Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) is probably the most important and influential author of supernatural fiction of the 20th century. A life-long resident of Providence, R.I., many of his tales are set in the fear-haunted towns of an imaginary area of Massachusetts, or in the cosmic vistas that exist beyond space and time. Since his untimely death, he has become acknowledged as a master of fantasy fiction, and a mainstream American writer second only to Edgar Allan Poe, while his relatively small body of work has influenced countless imitators and formed the basis of a world-wide industry of books, games and movies based on his concepts.

Baour: Strands of Death by Dirk Vandereyken reviewed

A book cover image of Baour: Strands of Death. What the reader expects from a fantasy novel is usually a bit of sword and sorcery. They do not expect a courtroom drama involving a necromancer. In this novel the necromancer is Baour and he is accused of blasphemy against a god, and of bringing to life that which should stay dead. Baour uses his hands to weave strands (the strands of death referred to in the book’s title are the essential parts of non-life force that he manipulates to re-animate the once-corpse into a living, breathing human or sprite once again) like a spider weaves a web.

This novel consists of twelve chapters, plus an epilogue, in which characters give testimony of their own dealings with the necromancer. He is considered, by all, to be the most evil kind of man and fully deserving of the greatest punishment that can be given to one convicted of witchcraft.

There is an intense emotion exuded by the well-written characters, especially in the testimony given by Esmeralda. The reader must ascertain whether the villagers testimonies are rumour or truth and this leads to great tension and uncertainty. This is a compelling read, in-depth and intriguing.

Whether Baour is an honest man or a dangerous necromancer is never known until the verdict is given, just as it would be delivered in a court room today. Those who were were quick to condemn him find that the conflicting testimonies and the words of Baour himself lead to drastically changing thoughts.

Baour: Strands of Death  is the work of would be genius Dirk Vandereyken. Vandereyken who wrote his first fantasy piece at the not so tender age of eleven and has never looked back. His other interests include being a critic, editor and journalist.

A big thank you to Blackwyrm Books for the review copy.

The Art of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby

Review by Joshua S Hill

Every now and again a franchise will release a book about the franchise that is actually worth picking up. It doesn’t happen all too often, as for the most part they are simply money making schemes that pull together a large amount of irrelevance.

However, when you get a book like ‘The Art of Discworld’ with illustrations from Paul Kidby and annotations from the master himself, Terry Pratchett, you can be assured that you’ve got yourself a good bit of reading ahead of you.

In reality, the book is more a biography of Discworld than a book dedicated to art. Each page is festooned with Paul Kidby’s range of drawings, from pencil sketches to fully fledged coloured paintings. You get a much deeper look into the artist who is – to my mind sadly – limited to the front cover of the majority of Pratchett books (with exceptions like the Last Hero).

Getting to see characters like Vetinari, Vimes, Death and Susan in much greater detail and pose than before is a real joy. Some of the pieces make me want to open my wallet and spend copious amounts of money to have them hanging on my wall.

But there is more than just the usual suspects. Everyone from the villains of Pratchett’s books, members of the Guilds, Greebo and the Four Horsemen make their appearance in this book, all meticulously drawn, bringing to reality that which had been limited to the paper and our imaginations.

Alongside each page, however, are the aforementioned biographies. Pratchett lines the pages with his humorous wit and wisdom as he depicts for us his characters, how they came about, and how Kidby (and his predecessor Josh Kirby) brought them to colourful life.

From funny anecdotes explaining how a character came to be to praise for his artists, the book is much more than just a picture book to lay out on the coffee table (though this is a must in and of itself).

For any fan of Discworld, Terry Pratchett, or even those who appreciate the beautiful art that comes with fantasy novels, this book is a must!

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell: graphic novel review

Gunnerkrigg Court cover image Synopsis
Meet Antimony Carver- a precocious and preternaturally self-possessed young girl, studying at gloomy Gunnerkrigg Court – a very British boarding school, albeit one which includes robots, body-snatching demons, forest gods, and the odd mythical creature! Now follow Antimony through her orientation year at Gunnerkrigg Court: the people she meets, the strange things that happen, and the things she causes to happen as she and her new best friend, Kat, unravel the mysteries of the Court and deal with the everyday trials of growing up. The popular and multiple award-winning webcomic by British writer Tom Siddell is collected in print for the first time!

Review
Gunnerkrigg Court is a boarding school like no other; no one is quite sure how far its industrial style walls spread or what is contained within all its rooms but for the forthcoming year it will be home to Antimony Carver, a bright and self assured – if slightly precocious – girl who has had to deal with the death of her mother and the disappearance of her father.

It is not very long before Antimony finds herself facing mythical creatures, homesick shadows and psychotic robots. All this and she has to deal with the fact her favourite stuffed toy is now possessed by an ancient body snatching demon.

As Antimony explores Gunnerkrigg Court and its secrets she begins to find out, with the help of her new friend Kat, revelations not only concerning her future but her past.

Referring to many fantasy elements the book also uses teen issues and relationships very successfully without sidetracking the storylines or becoming bogged down in unnecessary angst. There are interesting sub-plots and characters to keep you on your toes too.

Beginning life as a webcomic, Gunnerkrigg Court is told in stunning graphic novel form; it is not only compelling to read but beautiful to look at and Tom Siddell’s unique storylines and stylised artwork will make this book fresh and engaging to a wide audience, from teens to adults.

Orientation covers Antimony Carver’s first term at Gunnerkrigg Court and is the first book in a series. Read this first book and you’ll be instantly hooked.

Gunnerkrigg Court comic strip

Gunnerkrigg Court is a webcomic by Tom Siddell that updates three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It has been critically acclaimed by writers like Neil Gaiman and has won multiple Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards including Outstanding Environment Design and Outstanding Dramatic Comic.

“I wish that Antimony Carver and her adventures and mysteries and myths, not to mention her school, had been around when I was a boy, to shape and warp and twist my growing mind but I don’t think you could ever grow too old to delight in Gunnerkrigg Court.”
Neil Gaiman

Al Schroder of COMIXtalk interviewed Tom Siddell, the creator of Gunnerkrigg Court in 2006. It is a very interesting read and here is an excerpt:

“The story came to me about 10 seconds after first drawing Antimony in my sketch book. I’d wanted to start a proper, long form comic at the time and once I drew Carver I knew that I wanted it to be based on her. I have a few colour markers I very rarely use, and the night I drew her was one of the few times I used them. My limited colours consisted of a brown, grey, red, green and a skin colour, and so I thought a bland school uniform would make best use of the limited palette. From there I decided that a suitably strange school would fit Carver’s personality, and from there the story took shape. The plot is slightly different to what I’d originally intended, but I’m happy with how it came out.”
Tom Siddell in 2006

To read the interview in full, visit http://comixtalk.com/an_interview_with_tom_siddell_creator_gunnerkrigg_court.

For more information, visit www.gunnerkrigg.com.

How to write a fantasy novel

Fantasy novels belong to one of the most popular book genres on a global basis. These kinds of books are read by people of all ages and sexes and this sector of the publishing world represents a large slice of general book sales all over the world. People like to read fantasy novels for various reasons but will often say that their main focus is the fact that a good fantasy novel can take them out of their everyday lives and into different worlds.

Types of fantasy novels

Fantasy novels are often organised in book shops alongside science fiction books. Whilst some books in these categories can be classified as both science fiction and fantasy, others will fall firmly within one genre. The distinction here is often simply a matter of personal preference. In general terms fantasy novels can fall into various types including contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, magical fantasy and romantic fantasy. Many novels in this genre are written in series with fans eagerly awaiting the next novel in the instalment!

Writing fantasy novels

In a way writing a successful fantasy novel is just like writing any successful book. It is imperative, for example, that a fantasy novel is well structured and thought out. It doesn`t matter how `fantastical` your ideas must be as they must, to a certain extent, make sense to the reader within the terms of the fantasy genre to really hit the mark here. So, think about plot, character development and the world or realm in which your fantasy novel is placed. It is said that great fantasy novel writers have exceptional imaginations that can make the leap into creating new worlds and characters that their readers will believe in so this is also important. And, a little humour along the way never does you any harm!

The key thing to remember when you are writing a fantasy novel is to make sure that the process flows smoothly and with a lack of stress. If you have to force the writing here then the chances are that you will not draw the reader in. Many writers find that writing at quiet times in a secluded area or room in the house will help here.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for writing a good fantasy novel is to read authors who already write books in this genre. This will help you critique this kind of writing and ultimately help you find your own `voice`. Authors such as Terry Pratchett, Eoin Colfer, Philip Pullman, Raymond E. Feist and Terry Brooks may be a good place to start. Keep an eye on our books & magazine discount codes and you could also save yourself some money into the bargain while you do your research.