Friday, December 21, 2012

Subterranean Online 24 - William Schafer

A rather good issue. Subterranean Online 24 : African Sunrise - Nnedi Okorafor Subterranean Online 24 : Game - Maria Dahvana Headley Subterranean Online 24 : Two-Stone Tom's Big T.O.E. - Brian Lumley Subterranean Online 24 : When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold - Kealan Patrick Burke Tower 7 ABO Fiery Phoenix. 3.5 out of 5 A lot of tiger hunts to make this one, Henry. 3.5 out of 5 When we get out, looks like it will be grass, Eve. 3.5 out of 5 Take the baby. 3 out of 5 4 out of 5

When The Shadows Are Hungry And Cold - Kealan Patrick Burke

Take the baby. 3 out of 5

Two-stone Tom's Big T.O.E. - Brian Lumley

When we get out, looks like it will be grass, Eve. 3.5 out of 5

Game - Maria Dahvana Headley

A lot of tiger hunts to make this one, Henry. 3.5 out of 5

African Sunrise - Nnedi Okorafor

Tower 7 ABO Fiery Phoenix. 3.5 out of 5

Subterranean Online 23 - William Schafer

So-so issue with a couple of good stories to finish. Subterranean Online 23 : Let Maps to Others - K. J. Parker Subterranean Online 23 : Tumbling Nancy - Ian R MacLeod Subterranean Online 23 : To Be Read Upon Your Waking - Robert Jackson Bennett Subterranean Online 23 : The Puce Whale: A Lucifer Jones Story - Mike Resnick Long trip, bad mushrooms. 2.5 out of 5 Bad story horror. 2.5 out of 5 Time consumption ruins people letters. 3.5 out of 5 I'm Starbuck. Yes, that is an octopus on my leg. 3.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5

The Puce Whale - Mike Resnick

I'm Starbuck. Yes, that is an octopus on my leg. 3.5 out of 5

To Be Read Upon Your Waking - Robert Jackson Bennett

Time consumption ruins people letters. 3.5 out of 5

Tumbling Nancy - Ian R. MacLeod

Bad story horror. 2.5 out of 5

Let Maps To Others - K. J. Parker

Long trip, bad mushrooms. 2.5 out of 5

Subterranean Online 22 - William Schafer

A decent issue led by a very strong Lake novella. Subterranean Online 22 : The Weight of History the Lightness of the Future - Jay Lake Subterranean Online 22 : Sic Him Hellhound! Kill! Kill! - Hal Duncan Subterranean Online 22 : Random Thoughts before a Fatal Crash - Caitlín R. Kiernan Subterranean Online 22 : HERE and THERE - Neal Barrett Subterranean Online 22 : A Holy War A Lucifer Jones Story - Mike Resnick Subterranean Online 22 : Angel of Europa - Allen Steele Immortal Cann's Geek Squad and Goon Squad discovery of shipmind coverup area effect drive cancelling conspiracy monopoly breaker sacrifice. 4.5 out of 5 A boy and his werewolf, kissy. 3.5 out of 5 Not the movie pages. 2.5 out of 5 Pretty again. 3 out of 5 Dead pigs and live young ladies, Tondelayo. 3 out of 5 3 out of 5

Angel of Europa - Allen M. Steele

Jupiter Bathyscape black widow for alien credit arbitration rewakening. 3.5 out of 5

A Holy War - Mike Resnick

Dead pigs and live young ladies, Tondelayo. 3 out of 5

Here And There - Neal Barrett

Pretty again. 3 out of 5

Random Thoughts Before A Fatal Crash - Caitlin R. Kiernan

Not the movie pages. 2.5 out of 5

Sic Him Hellhound! Kill! Kill! - Hal Duncan

A boy and his werewolf, kissy. 3.5 out of 5

What to start in 2062: The 50-year start-up plan - Alastair Reynolds

"Our world is changing faster than ever and, in recent years, a number of transformative technologies have moved from science fiction and the R&D laboratory into the realm of practical application. Zurich recently commissioned research into how advancements in technology will affect SMEs – it found that over half (54%) of SMEs believe the high street as we currently know it will disappear in just eight years, being replaced by a ‘virtual’ equivalent." 3.5 out of 5

Text-adventure interview with Zork co-creator - Dave Lebling

"lank and Lebling conceived of an even grander adventure -- then founded Infocom, a game publisher that brought Zork out of university mainframes and onto personal computers. Now go get that interview. (Don't be afraid to ask for HELP, LOOK around, or check your INVENTORY.)" As you finish reading the letter, a small brass key falls out from its folds. [Your score has just gone up by one point.]" 5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Weight Of History The Lightness Of The Future - Jay Lake

Immortal Cannon's Geek Squad and Goon Squad discovery of shipmind coverup area effect drive cancelling conspiracy monopoly breaker sacrifice. 4.5 out of 5

Traditional Inuit Throat-singing - Giselle Renarde

Not just a game. 3 out of 5

Clarkesworld 75 - Neil Clarke

Solid issue with one standout by Dyer. Clarkesworld 75 : Your Final Apocalypse by Sandra McDonald Clarkesworld 75 : The Wisdom of Ants by Thoraiya Dyer Clarkesworld 75 : Sweet Subtleties by Lisa L Hannett Time different end. 3 out of 5 Various metal varieties, sharks and the poo answer. 4 out of 5 Dessert sibyl. 3 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Sweet Subtleties - Lisa L. Hannett

Dessert sibyl. 3 out of 5

The Wisdom Of Ants - Thoraiya Dyer

Various metal varieties, sharks and the poo answer. 4 out of 5

Light Flirting - Sommer Marsden

I mean filing. 3.5 out of 5

Your Final Apocalypse - Sandra McDonald

Time different end. 3 out of 5

Clarkesworld 74 - Neil Clarke

A solid issue. Clarkesworld 74 : To See the Other Whole Against the Sky - E. Catherine Tobler Clarkesworld 74 : Aquatica - Maggie Clark Clarkesworld 74 : Everything Must Go - Brooke Wonders Solo interstellar ship minder, with occasional squirrel. 3.5 out of 5 Host organ exploration. 3.5 out of 5 Wings whiskey house. 2.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Everything Must Go - Brooke Wonders

Wings whiskey house. 2.5 out of 5

Aquatica - Maggie Clark

Host organ exploration. 3.5 out of 5

To See The Other Whole Against The Sky - E. Catherine Tobler

Solo interstellar ship minder, with occasional squirrel. 3.5 out of 5

Foundation and Reality: Asimov’s Psychohistory and Its Real-World Parallels - Mark Cole

"The underlying logic of psychohistory resembles Boyle’s gas law: The molecules in a gas move in a purely random way, and yet, collectively, that random behavior become predictable. So if you get enough people together (and Asimov very carefully avoided any suggestion of just how many), you could reduce the apparently random actions of billions of human beings to a set of physical laws describing the behavior of civilizations. That number, the Seldon constant, was extremely high—high enough that it could only be found in the vastness of the Galactic Empire." 3.5 out of 5

Clarkesworld 73 - Neil Clarke

A rather good issue. Clarkesworld 73 : A Bead of Jasper Four Small Stones - Genevieve Valentine Clarkesworld 73 : England Under the White Witch - Theodora Goss Clarkesworld 73 : The Battle of Candle Arc - Yoon Ha Lee Gliese refugee Ark, Europa project. 3.5 out of 5 Empress toughening takeover, with Jack Kirby. 3 out of 5 Moth fleets. Fang and hell. 3.5 out of 5 4 out of 5

The Battle of Candle Arc - Yoon Ha Lee

Moth fleets. Fang and hell. 3.5 out of 5

England Under The White Witch - Theodora Goss

Empress toughening takeover, with Jack Kirby. 3 out of 5

A Bead Of Jasper Four Small Stones - Genevieve Valentine

Gliese refugee Ark, Europa project. 3.5 out of 5

Sense of Wonder Interview Part 1 - Tim Pratt

"I wanted to interrogate some of the problematic aspects of fiction set in Victorian era, particularly societally-enforced gender roles, which is where the notion of a sex-changing plague came from. I thought it would be interesting to combine the hard-drinking, troubled private eye archetype -- Matthew Scudder, Jack Taylor -- with the aristocratic detective a la Peter Wimsey. And I also love the works of Kim Newman, and Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentleman, both crammed with references to literary and historical figures. While I cannot aspire to their level of expertise, I did have a little fun with Doyle, Woolf, and Shelley references, among others." 4 out of 5

Clarkesworld 72 - Neil Clarke

A solid issue. Clarkesworld 72 : The Found Girl - Tobias S. Buckell and David Klecha Clarkesworld 72 : Robot - Helena Bell Clarkesworld 72 : muo-ka's Child - Indrapramit Das Street individual sharp Blue Lady, with trash compactor. 3.5 out of 5 Even for Bridge. 3 out of 5 Giant death curl. 3 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Christmas Cat Toy - Giselle Renarde

Decoration attack punishment. 3.5 out of 5

Muo-ka's Child - Indrapramit Das

Giant death curl. 3 out of 5

Robot - Helena Bell

Even for Bridge. 3 out of 5

The Found Girl - Tobias S. Buckell and David Klecha

Street individual sharp Blue Lady, with trash compactor. 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SFMag Interview With - Alastair Reynolds

"SFmag: Where are You in Your writings, if there at all? AR: At the risk of flattering myself, I like to think that I’m there whenever one of my characters is calmly skeptical, impressed by the universe but not looking for a supernatural explanation beyond the obvious facts. I was a scientist and that’s not something you shake off." 3.5 out of 5

On A Red Station Drifting Excerpt - Aliette de Bodard

"The world wobbled and crumpled, as if it were a sheet of paper the spirits had punched through. There was a presence in the room; the text shimmered, the letters becoming subtly distorted, the red of the walls taking on an oily sheen, like fish sauce mixed with grease, and a wind too cold to be any draught. It was all she could do not to fall to her knees, her mind struggling to cope with it all…" 3.5 out of 5

Seashells - Lavie Tidhar

Dead baby fish and Nessie. 3 out of 5

Boz - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Boz - Kristine Kathryn Rusch Forever People ship girl. 3.5 out of 5

Modesty Blaise: A Taste For Death 1 - Peter O'Donnell

A desert job for Modesty and a rescue for Willie. 4 out of 5

The Oral History of Fear Agent Part 3 - Rick Remender

"Remender: That was also where [Lee] Loughridge went crazy on colors. He hit some new kind of science on that that was like licking a 9-volt battery. That issue was gorgeous. I hate to leave out Michelle Madsen. I don’t think we mentioned her but she colored all of Jerome’s stuff. I think that color can be overlooked but they were both also lending so much more than just coloring images and do things that a lot of people overlook. Yeah, that issue #22 was amazing and that was coming off of Jerome’s craziness. That whole era of the book is just one issue after another. This is an artistic masterwork. For me, I think if you’re doing this right, you’re writing something personal into the stories. I know that when I was doing the book, I started doing comics, I think in 1998 when I started self publishing and then moved to Slave Labor Graphics and by 2004, 2005, 2006, while I had plenty of job offers with video game companies and animation studios, I had the comic book bug and I really wanted to do it. So I quit a lot of lucrative jobs that offered security for my family to continue to fight out this dream because I wanted to tell these stories and work with people like Tony and Jerome." 4 out of 5

The Oral History of Fear Agent Part 2 - Rick Remender

"Remender: Without a lot of money, and even with Jerome and Tony both putting in so many months and months of labor on the thing in order to keep it going, I think Francesco Francavilla was the first guy to come in and do a fill in issue and that was where the Tales of the Fear Agent stuff really started to take off in my head. Where in the story there were 10 years between the time Heath left Earth and the time that he was floating in space and first encountered the jelly brains. I thought that it would be great to tell these one offs about what his life was like in those 10 years as a drunk alien exterminator and so that lent itself to putting out feelers for all kinds of amazing people to come in and pitch in stories. I think Francavilla did the first full issue that anybody else had ever drawn other than Tony or Jerome. We were able to get so many, Hilary Barta offered up his time and energy writing and drawing some backups. Paul Renaud, Steve Niles, Rafael Albuquerque, Ivan Brandon, I’m forgetting names at the top of my head. There were so many." 4 out of 5

Heaven Is A Place - Paul J. McAuley

Guesthouse stay. 3 out of 5

Life As We Know It - Paul J. McAuley

Kobold bacteria, bar. 3.5 out of 5

The Older Generation’s Farewell: The Hunger Dogs Part 4 - Peter Sanderson

"As Jack Kirby’s The Hunger Dogs draws to its close, the arcs of two of its major characters, Orion and Esak, are resolved, as shown in the previous installment. Then, Kirby moves the action of The Hunger Dogs to an epic scale. The planet of New Genesis “is blown apart!!” This is literally the apocalypse, the end of the world. It may also symbolize the feared result of nuclear war in the real world, which would not actually break apart the planet but would wipe out all life. Perhaps Kirby meant New Genesis’s destruction to echo the destruction of the world of the Old Gods who preceded the New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips. In the context of superhero comics, the explosion of New Genesis might even echo the annihilation of Krypton." 4 out of 5’s-farewell-the-hunger-dogs-part-4/

GUEST INTERVIEW Gilbert Colon talks with Bestselling Author - Greg Cox

"GC: Joe Queenan, in his Guardian article “Read ‘em and weep,” singles you out. He writes, “Novelisations, so it is rumoured, often contain supplementary material that make it easier to understand the film on which it is based. … Not until I read Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – The Novelisation, by Greg Cox, did [elements of the film] become clear.” How much freedom to add your own material were you given by Warner Bros.? Did they allow you more or less than others? Cox: Well, I’m glad I helped Queenan fully appreciate Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – The Novelisation! Although it may just be that books, because you can read them at your own pace, and go back and reread key passages if necessary, can sometimes be a little easier to follow than a fast-paced action movie. Plus, it’s easier to squeeze a few extra paragraphs of exposition into a 300-page book than a two-hour movie" 4 out of 5

Author Interview - Gareth L. Powell

"SFX: Is it a very pulp-like story, larger than life, or is there something serious behind it all? What’s the theme of the story? I would call it a homage to pulp. It’s kind of like a modern-day Frankenstein. I even use a quote from Frankenstein at the beginning of the second part of the book, because it’s very much about that. There are three main characters we follow. There’s an ex journalist called Victoria, who is on the trail of a serial killer in London. There’s the Prince of Wales who wants to impress a young lady who’s just broken into a vivisection laboratory and freed some animals (they’ve gone on the run in France). And there’s the monkey himself. All three of those characters, through the course of the novel, discover how they all in some way are artificial creations, as opposed to the people they thought they were." 3.5 out of 5

Cristina Jurado Interview With - Alastair Reynolds

"Cristina Jurado: It seems to me that most of „Terminal World” characters share some kind of marginal status: Quillon is an angel living under a adopted identity, Nimcha is a powerful but stigmatized tectomancer, Meroka is a street smart body guard… How did you build the characters and their relationships? Alastair Reynolds: I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a book with a very clear idea about more than one or two characters, if that. They tend to evolve organically as the story ensues, gaining (one hopes) depth and distinctiveness. Given Quillon’s plight, it seemed natural that he would associate with people on the margins, rather than those with direct access to power and/or knowledge. One thing I wanted to develop was the idea of an uneasy but building friendship between Meroka and Quillon; it’s very easy to fall into bickering antipathy between characters but I felt it would be a good challenge to sketch out an unlikely but plausible friendship between these two very (as you say) marginal figures, both of whom have secrets and pasts." 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bringing Superman Out of the Dark - Mike Greear

"First of all, let’s attack the obvious flaw here: “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Completely ineffective against a pair of ordinary handcuffs! It’s SUPERMAN!” Yeah, right. Unless those are Kryptonite handcuffs, I’m in desperate need of some context here. This looks like either a photographer staging some kind of socio-political satire piece about the degradation of our modern myths and heroes or it looks like it belongs with a news story about a man dressed as Superman getting arrested in Times Square for molesting tourists. Otherwise I don’t know why the hell this is happening, much less why this would make for a very arresting teaser image for the film." 4 out of 5

A Thousand Words You Can Hear All at Once: An Interview with - Todd Lockwood

"In the bio on your website, you say that the artists who have influenced you most are Michael Whelan, Frank Frazetta, NC Wyeth, Walt Disney, Spike Jones, Brom, Jeff Easley, and your dad. What are some of the characteristics you enjoy in their work? Have you tried to incorporate methods they use to create their images? Well, I think it’s safe to say that Frazetta and Whelan between them probably influenced most of the artists in this industry to one degree or another. I kind of view them as the left brain and right brain. Michael’s very thoughtful and cerebral. His paintings are always really deep, and you can think about them forever, whereas Frank Frazetta is raw emotion. There was a documentary made about him called Painting with Fire, which describes it really well. If I could blend the two of them together somehow I’d feel like I had accomplished something." 3.5 out of 5

The Corpse of the Future: Jane C. Loudon's The Mummy! and Victorian Science Fiction - S. J. Chambers

"Cheops does this wandering in The Mummy!: A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, a futuristic meditation on England in the year 2126. Published anonymously in three volumes in 1827, and again in 1828, it proffers a futuristic hope of what its 17-year old author, Jane C. Loudon, hoped technology and social progress would improve in her country, and in doing so hones in on the trends and occupations of Regency England, such as whether the monarch (and church) should be abolished and whether Positivism and technology would ultimately better society. It’s also a parable on the othering of non-Western countries, a trend that of course became manifested during the British Empire but began with Egyptomania thanks to the Napoleonic discoveries of pharaonic tombs in 1789." 4.5 out of 5

Another Word: It Gets Better with SFF but SFF has to Get Better too - Lev A. C. Rosen

"On the whole, the SFF community seems to me to be divided into three camps. First, the openly homophobic types, who for personal an/or religious reasons—or because they think it’s “evolutionarily backwards” (just like the other 200-plus species who practice homosexuality, right?)—feel queer people don’t deserve to be treated like actual human beings. In the second camp we have the pro-queer types who love queer characters in their fiction and often are queer themselves. The third camp, though, makes up the majority of the SFF community: folks who just don’t think about it. These are usually straight dudes who grew up pretty geeky, and who often are still mostly—and hopefully comfortably—geeky. But they just don’t give much thought to queer folks. If they did, they’d probably be cool with them; many probably consider themselves pro-gay rights. But when it comes to their SFF, this third group finds it odd when there’s a gay character. Some say things like “I just can’t relate to a queer character, cause I’m straight,” but most seem surprised by the inclusion of queer characters. Some say they find the emphasis on sexuality to be heavy-handed—even when the emphasis on the queer character’s sexuality is equal to or less than the emphasis placed on the straight character’s sexuality. When a straight guy kisses a girl, it’s the norm; when a gay guy kisses a guy, it’s emphasizing their sexuality." 4 out of 5

A Germ of an Idea: An Interview with - John Varley

"What came first with Slow Apocalypse—the bacteria, the Colonel falling through the window, Dave Marshall, a "what if?" or something else altogether? What came first was my editor suggesting that she would like to see a post-apocalypse book from me, if I could come up with an idea that hadn't already been done to death. I got the idea about bacteria eating all our oil, and then the story grew as they always grow, with a few characters and a few ideas. I never know where a story is going when I start it." 3.5 out of 5

The Future One Thing at a Time - Matthew Johnson

"It's conventional wisdom in science fiction that the future doesn't come one thing at a time. This idea, which is sometimes called Campbell's Rule (or Campbell's Exception), is explained in these terms in the book On Writing Science Fiction by George Scithers et. al: "You can never do merely one thing. Our world a century hence could be almost as alien as another planet; each change triggers countless others." As fondly as the book is remembered, history shows that this rule simply isn't accurate. Different fields of science and technology do not march in lock-step; the world may change more rapidly or slowly for different places and people, and sometimes it really does change one thing at a time." 3.5 out of 5

Another Word: Super Duper Sexual Spiritual Black Woman: The New and Improved Magical Negro - Chesya Burke

"Another popular image is the longstanding Marvel comic book character, Storm. Best known as the on-again-off-again leader of the X-Men, Storm is the queen of Wakanda (due to her marriage to the comic character Black Panther) and possesses the ability to control all elements of the weather, both on Earth and beyond. Despite all of this power, Storm, like most female comic-book characters, is portrayed in scanty attire, exposed breast and skimpy thongs, as opposed to her male counterparts whose costumes cover their entire bodies. Not surprisingly, her race is a constant presence as Storm is considered beautiful and sexy because "her features don't fit any conventional classification. Not Negroid, Caucasian, or Oriental—yet somehow, an amalgam of the rarest elements of them all. White hair. Blue eyes."" 3.5 out of 5

Swanwatch - Yoon Ha Lee

Black hole dive tune.

3.5 out of 5

The Perfect Match - Ken Liu

Tilly off pattern. 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mignolaversity: It All Goes to Hell with - Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and Scott Allie

"SA: I can’t remember if it’s the first or second issue, where something significant happens and Mike handles it so obliquely that even he realized, “oh, people might miss that. So I’m going to go back in a subsequent issue to help make it make a little more sense and less vague.” I thought, “cool, that’s alright. That works.” So then I read the scene that makes the earlier scene make more sense, and I think, “great, people will still miss this.” It’s so…Hellboy is so much like a dream. Mike always wanted Hellboy to kind of read…not literally like a dream, but his aesthetics and his whole vision sort of go down that road. By taking him off the planet and getting him away from the B.P.R.D. and never having to draw a car again, he’d be able to make it real. It’s like watching Eraserhead with a demon walking around…or a lot of demons, because we’re in Hell." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Jeremiah Tolbert

"I have another story in progress that looks at what war is like in this setting. How do we fight when people can have their souls taken from them and replaced with the souls of animals? Military recruiters have an entirely different role in this society, and it’s not a pretty one . . ." 3.5 out of 5

Seven Smiles And Seven Frowns - Richard Bowes

Tale apprentice. 2.5 out of 5

A Princess of Spain - Carrie Vaughn

A Princess Of Spain - Carrie Vaughn
Henry VIII saves his brother via spear-as-stake. 3 out of 5

La Alma Perdida De Marguerite Espinoza - Jeremiah Tolbert

Soul finances. 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Eleanor Arnason

"Why did I pick Venus? The story is about love, and Venus is the planet of love. I’m not sure why I made it the old, wet Venus of pulp science fiction. But I grew up with that Venus, and I liked it." 3.5 out of 5

As the Wheel Turns - Aliette de Bodard

Life remember again. 3.5 out of 5

A Game Of Rats And Dragon - Tobias S. Buckell

I prefer my program pet-colleague, thanks. 4 out of 5

A Well-Adjusted Man - Tom Crosshill

Monster shoot overwrite. 3.5 out of 5

Ace 167 - Eleanor Arnason

Gillie job. 3.5 out of 5

Searching For Slave Leia - Sandra McDonald

Edge of Infinity survival. 3 out of 5

The Geek's Guide To the Galaxy Interview - Alastair Reynolds

"So getting back to Blue Remembered Earth, a major theme of the book is the conflict over whether humans or robots will be the ones to travel the stars. How do you feel about that yourself? First of all, there’s the question of whether we should spend any money at all on space exploration, which I think is really stupid because as a society we spend almost nothing on space exploration. We spend more money on chocolate as a species than space exploration, and we certainly spend far more on wars and militarism than we do on space exploration. So I have no time for that argument. But I think it’s a far more interesting and nuanced question whether we should be sending robotic envoys or whether we should be sending people, and I can see very, very strong arguments from both sides." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Tobias S. Buckell

"Your story “A Game of Rats and Dragon” is a cyberpunk/virtual reality mash-up set in a different sort of Manhattan. Was this story inspired by the Cordwainer Smith short story of the same name? Will you tell us a little about how that came to be? It is inspired by Cordwainer Smith, the story “A Game of Rat and Dragon.” The idea was not so much virtual reality, but augmented reality. I’ve been really intrigued by adding a pair of goggles that overlay digital data over existing objects in the real world (virtual reality inside out, so to speak). You can see the effect using the app AcrossAir for the iPhone. What is more interesting to me is what we’ll do when we gamify augmented reality. Tabletop gaming, stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, has a strong following. But when the mechanics of those playing styles were wedded to a video game, a sort of virtual reality, we saw an explosion of MMORPGs and a mainstreaming of those gaming mechanics. I think it will be interesting and mainstream when we start getting a mix of augmented reality and what is now a more niche activity called live action roleplaying (or LARPing)." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Aliette de Bodard

"The argument between Tiger and Crane in your story “As The Wheel Turns” centers on how best to upkeep the Wen-Min Empire, which on the surface sounds a noble goal: maintaining civilization. Yet these two Founders thrive on carnage and misery, sowing both among their people. What do you think that portrays about their true motives for holding together the society they founded? Is this perhaps a statement about empires in general? I’m an innate pessimist, and tend to think that most noble goals can only remain so in principle: carnage and misery form a very large part of how things come to fruition—not only in the maintaining of empires, but also for things that might seem noble, like self-defence or even the attainment of freedom and equality. The French Revolution aimed to free the masses from the tyranny of the kings, and yet ended as a particularly messy and bloody episode. Likewise, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia committed one of the worst genocides in Asia, and yet their goals, on paper, sound wonderful: to make the country into a modern, egalitarian society and free peasants from oppression." 3.5 out of 5

The Geek's Guide To the Galaxy Interview - Ursula K. Le Guin

"Did you ever experience any pressure from publishers to make your work more conventional in any way? Within the last few years only, on my three fantasy novels Gifts, Voices, and Powers. I had, as always, good editors to work with at Harcourt, where they were published, but there was an increasing pressure to make them more like Harry Potter—there’s just no getting around it. And since I write a very, very different type of fantasy and different type of literature from the Harry Potter series, there was no way I could go along with that. I just had to resist it. But, you see, that’s very late, and it’s happened as publishing was beginning to lose its sense of direction and its purpose, and get very confused by corporate pressures on all sides." 4 out of 5

The Suicide's Guide To The Absinthe Of Perdition - Megan Arkenberg

Falling bit. 3 out of 5

Beyond the Reach of His Gods - Brian Ruckley

Wolfrun end. 3.5 out of 5

Spindles - L. B. Gale

Lots of missing. 2.5 out of 5

The Black Bird - David Barr Kirtley

Statue strangeness all the way down, evermore. 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Nancy Kress

"In “Art of War,” humankind is engaged in an interstellar conflict with an alien race that salvages our artwork to learn more about us. Do you think hostile aliens would take the time to loot the Louvre if Earth were invaded? Who knows what aliens would do? They are alien. However, if they happened to conquer Paris anyway, I can see invaders studying artwork to learn more, just as archeologists now certainly study the art of any culture they are hoping to decipher." 3 out of 5

Bear and Shifty - Benjamin Parzybok

Dual consciousness rescue with bean panto. 3.5 out of 5

Art of War - Nancy Kress

Art Of War - Nancy Kress
Strange attractor society. 4 out of 5

Nearly Departed - Pat Cadigan

Deadpan Allie not so much for pathosfinding the actual dead. 3.5 out of 5

Flowing Unimpeded To The Enlightenment - Robert Reed

A few aliens. 3 out of 5

The Geek's Guide To the Galaxy Interview - David Brin

"This book predicts that bags of urine might be worth something in the future. Given the current economic situation, would you advise that we all dump our stocks and invest in urine instead? The great phosphorous mines of Florida are being tapped out. Soon it’ll be just Morocco and a couple other places that remain with large phosphate deposits. And so, in my novel’s near future, men are expected to either pee on plants, outside, or into phos-urinals that collect the precious phosphorous. Phos-urinals. P.U. Hey, who says predicting the next eco-crisis can’t be fun?" 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Robert Reed

"Kartar is also heavily involved in searching for extraterrestrial life and comes across the realization that civilizations may simply not talk with one another. If there is a wide variety of intelligent life out there, how do you think that they could connect with one another, if at all? I assume that intelligence evolves along certain lines, and that nothing is new. Whatever humans are, we aren’t important. We don’t see our neighbors because they don’t want to be seen, or they have launched into a new realm or reality that we can’t fathom yet, or maybe we’re a game program playing out inside an artificial universe that has no purpose except to make us fucking crazy." 3 out of 5

The Oral History of Fear Agent Part 1 - Rick Remender

"Rick Remender: Tony had just done a piece, a sci-fi cover for a comic book, that had a dude in a rocket that crashed on a moon fighting some kooky aliens, and I was in my office looking at EC Comics and we were talking EC Comics, and I was drawing a lot myself from Wood and Will Elder and those guys at the time. Looking at Tony doing this stuff got me crazy excited, and I was like “Whoa. Nobody is doing science fiction right now!” It had completely dried up, especially this kind of pulp, crazy, science fiction." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight: Harry Harrison - Robyn Lupo

"Harry Harrison wasn’t always an author. This is probably unsurprising for those who have read Harrison’s work; he was trained and worked as an illustrator, comic artist and an art director. This likely accounts for the lively visuals in his prose. He didn’t exactly start in fiction, either. As he told Paul Tomlinson for Octocon in 2009, “I’d moved into packaging comics, and I ended up writing a lot for them, and moved on to writing whatever editors wanted. Westerns and men’s adventures, which paid a lot, and true confessions—I had a lot of experience writing and selling before I wrote my first science fiction story. And I was illustrating science fiction magazines for a year or two before I submitted a story.”" 3.5 out of 5

Monster Finder Shifter - Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Wronghead oversupply. 3 out of 5

Heartless - Holly Black

I want. 3.5 out of 5

The Seven Samovars - Peter Sursi

Fifth one is nasty. 3 out of 5

The Last Supper - Scott Edelman

An alien. 3.5 out of 5

Sun Dogs - Brooke Bolander

New pack for Laika. 3.5 out of 5

Boojum - Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette

Boojum - Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette Brain pirates of space. 3.5 out of 5

The Streets Of Ashkelon - Harry Harrison

Native superstition addition.

4.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Adam-Troy Castro

"As the husband and wife are warned ahead of time of movies to avoid, books to skip, restaurants to pass on, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how much our “choices” are becoming more and more tailored to us—Amazon recommendations, Google Ads, TV programming, etc. If this continues, do you see this as something to embrace or be wary of? I do wish people paid less attention to the latest list of blockbusters—which is often by design that which offends the tastes of the smallest number of people—and devoted more effort to authors, movies, and music less targeted at the vast monolithic public. There’s really a lot of great stuff out there, and if you complain, for instance, that the latest megabudget Hollywood bomb insulted your intelligence, but won’t cross the street to see a smaller but potentially more interesting indie, then you only have yourself to blame. Seek out that which isn’t aggressively sold, and you will find yourself frequently surprised. So, yeah, I’m wary of mass marketing . . . while simultaneously being an author who depends on it." 3.5 out of 5

My Wife Hates Time Travel - Adam-Troy Castro

Other selves advice. 3 out of 5

Talking With Tom: A Conversation Between Tom Doherty and - L.E. Modesitt

"MODESITT: The next person I sent that manuscript to was David Hartwell, who was then running the Timescape line at Simon & Schuster, and he bought it. That was The Fires of Paratime, which got good reviews. Of course, the only problem was that, three months after it was published, Simon & Schuster folded the Timescape line. So I didn’t have a publisher again and a lot of people kept rejecting things. Then John Douglas, who had been David’s assistant at Timescape, ended up at Avon, and he wanted to buy it. They offered less, but nobody else was buying so I sold it to Avon and they published The Hammer of Darkness, with possibly one of the worst covers it could ever have had. I mean, it was good artistically, but it was a Conan the Barbarian cover. It basically had this picture of a goat cart being thrown across the sky and this little man in black at the bottom corner. Now, that scene actually takes place in the book, but it’s not really representative of what I do, so anybody who liked the cover wasn’t going to like the book, and anybody who liked the book wasn’t going to The Hammer of Darkness by L.E. Modesitt Jr.pick it up because of the cover. You guys reprinted The Hammer of Darkness later with what I would call—and I’ll be fair about this—a science fiction cover, nice but nondescript, and it sold four times as many copies as a reprint as it did in the original, just because the cover was better. But again, the problem was that John Douglas wanted to buy another one of my books, but then Hearst acquired Avon and froze submissions for three years, so again I had to look for another publisher." 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Author Spotlight - Linda Nagata

"On your blog, you said that “A Moment Before It Struck” is a prequel story set in the world of your Stories of the Puzzle Lands novels. Can you tell us a bit about the universe and how the story fits in? The Puzzle Lands books are a quirky sort of low-tech fantasy: gritty, fast-paced, and darkly humorous. The setting is entirely imaginary, but includes two cultures in conflict: the Koráyos, a stern, egalitarian people, and Lutawa, an extreme patriarchy bent on expansion. Smoke is the protagonist in “A Moment Before It Struck” and also in both Puzzle Lands books. He’s a cold-blooded killer called to serve the will of a violent god, while trying to put together a meaningful life of his own. The short story tells of his estrangement from his close-knit and very peculiar family. The consequences of that estrangement drive the plot of The Dread Hammer, the first book in the Stories of the Puzzle Lands." 3 out of 5

A Moment Before It Struck - Linda Nagata

Smoke the Dread Hammer. 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim

"In your story, “Flash Bang Remember,” Girl23 rebels against the adults by trying to destroy the chip that records all of her memories. Do you feel that it’s an inherent flaw for adults to depend on a child to act exactly as they expect? Caroline: The adults in this story have shared memories, which might predispose them to thinking that they could predict Girl23’s behavior. And Girl23’s environment might make her somewhat more predictable than kids usually are—the colony ship is a controlled environment, and everyone on the ship interacted with Girl23 according to a strict protocol. As a result, many of her actions were things that the adults could (and did) expect. Even so, she definitely manages to surprise them in the end. Tina: I don’t know if it’s a flaw per se, but expecting that anyone will do exactly as you say is going to lead to trouble. And, more interesting stories. I find my kid characters are even more stubborn than adult characters about doing what they want to do and not what I want them to do." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Michael Swanwick

"Why did you choose to set the story on Titan? I blame Geoffrey Landis. He observed that NASA had spent billions of dollars sending out probes to the planets and moons of the Solar System and then posted all the scientific data, analyses, photos, and films on the web, free for anybody who wanted to use it—and most science fiction writers were ignoring this largesse! Which seemed to me not only a valid criticism, but a great opportunity. One which, incidentally, new writers should take advantage of—there’s nothing that will get you attention like a well-written hard science fiction story. I liked Titan specifically because there was a lot known about its chemistry and geography, but most people were not familiar with it, so a story set there would feel fresh to them. There was also the possibility—since confirmed—of open bodies of liquid on the surface, which still seems pretty exciting. Finally, there’s speculation that primitive life forms might well be at work in the observed chemical processes there. Put all that together, and Titan is a natural for science fiction." 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Charlie Jane Anders

"There’re a lot of new terms for personal pronouns, sexual activities, and slang that you’ve created. Can you tell us a bit more about why you chose to use new pronouns and terminology? I spent a lot of time sitting in the Chicago airport, waiting to change planes, coming up with the details of this society. A few things became clear pretty quickly: With six different sexes, everything would become a lot more complicated, and you needed six sets of pronouns to differentiate them. None of the pronouns should conjugate exactly like “he/his/him” or “she/hers/her,” or you would lose some of the jarring quality of them. Also, this was a group of people who were trapped on a spaceship for decades, and they were unable to have children—so their sexuality was completely separated from reproduction and entirely connected to cementing social roles." 3.5 out of 5

Cotillion - Delia Sherman

Cotillon - Delia Sherman
Hell boy tithe grapple rescue. 3 out of 5

Breaking The Frame - Kat Howard

Tree model. 2.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Wil McCarthy

"Can you tell us how you came up with “The Necromancer in Love?” Actually, the story kind of tells its own history: I was researching the actual process of brain death, and realized what a mushy concept it really is. Basically, the body goes through a shutdown sequence, and “death” is the point at which medicine can no longer reverse the process. But that point has been moving; with CPR, defibrillators, and ventilators, legal “death” stopped being about the heart and now takes place in the brain. But there are researchers out there today who are working on ways to extend the time the brain can survive without oxygen, by doing things like injecting large amounts of insulin. This is all well and good, but it seemed to me that some of the early “successes” in this area could be rather unsettling." 4 out of 5

The Necromancer In Love - Wil McCarthy

The Necromancer In Love - Wil McCarthy
Revivalist profile. 4 out of 5

Slow Life - Michael Swanwick

Slow Life - Michael Swanwick
Slow Life - Michael Swanwick Flying first contact breakdown breakthrough confession comeback. 4 out of 5

Flash Bang Remember - Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim

Girl23 plant killer. 3.5 out of 5

Love Might Be Too Strong A Word - Charlie Jane Anders

Be Dot, with bog oysters, preferably fried. 3.5 out of 5

The Bookmaking Habits Of Select Species - Ken Liu

Alien writing. 2.5 out of 5

The Geek's Guide To the Galaxy Interview - Kim Stanley Robinson

"Your new novel is called 2312. What’s it about? Well, we’re in the year 2012, and I decided I wanted to go out a long way—at least for me. The two things I postulated that I think make it workable as a realistic kind of fantasia are space elevators on Earth and self-replicating machinery, and these are two supposedly possible engineering feats that are discussed in the literature, so they’re not physically impossible. They might be hard engineering feats, but it seems like they could be done, and there are even companies working on at least the space elevator. Self-replicating factories are somewhat of a stretch at this point, but not obviously impossible." 4.5 out of 5

Patrick Moore (1923-2012) - Alastair Reynolds

"At least in the British Isles, it's hard to overstate the influence of Patrick Moore in shaping the popular perception of astronomy. Over his long broadcasting career, he stimulated the imaginations of millions and directly inspired the career choice of several generations of space scientist. Never a professional astronomer, and with no formal education in that education, Moore nonetheless commanded the utmost respect of his peers - not just professional astronomers, but the astronauts who came to depend on his scrupulously accurate lunar maps. No one knew the Moon better than Patrick. In my whole professional career, I never met a space scientist who didn't admire him." 4 out of 5

Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream - Maria Dhavana Headley

A bit much mouth rabbit. 3 out of 5

Gordon the Self-Made Cat - Peter S. Beagle

Mouse is a better one.

3.5 out of 5

Singing of Mount Abora - Theodora Goss

Singing Of Mount Abora - Theodora Goss
Khan Alph the weather here, mum! 3 out of 5

Ghost River Red - Aidan Doyle

Swordwrite ghost colour. 3.5 out of 5

The Giving Plague - David Brin

The Giving Plague - David Brin Altruism virus messiah. 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - A.M. Dellamonica

"In your story, “The Sweet Spot,” Ruthie and Matt are siblings caught in the middle of a drawn-out war, living in Kauai, Hawaii. How did you decide to set the story in this location? I have been writing this series of squid stories, as I call them, for a few years—a couple have been in Strange Horizons and another was in an anthology called Fast Forward: Fiction From The Cutting Edge, edited by Lou Anders. A lot of these are about Ruthless Gerrickle’s life. I’m writing and publishing them out of chronological order, but “The Sweet Spot” is one of the earlier pieces—in other words, she’s still a kid in this one. I have a decent sense of the geographical direction taken in the war between the Democratic Army and the Fiends, and many of my touch points for the history of the war are the big battles for U.S. cities. There’s a Battle of Las Vegas story I haven’t finished yet, and a big fight in Texas when the Fiends cross the Rio Grande, putting ground troops on mainland U.S. soil for the first time. “Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy” takes place when things are a lot worse, during the Siege of Seattle." 4 out of 5

The Sweet Spot - A. M. Dellamonica

Dancing monkey Fiend trap. 3.5 out of 5

Four Short Novels - Joe Haldeman

Four Short Novels - Joe Haldeman
Immortality maintenance. 3.5 out of 5

Requiem In the Key of Prose - Jake Kerr

Antifuse and bits. 2.5 out of 5

The Geek's Guide To the Galaxy Interview - Garth Nix

"What kind of an impact has being from Australia had on your fiction and on your writing career? I think I’ve actually benefited from Australia being a kind of combination of both British and American culture. We kind of got the best of both British and American television and books, science fiction and fantasy, and so on. So I’m familiar with a lot of, for example, American books and television that a British author of my generation might not be." 4 out of 5

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy 60 - Brian Greene

"You recently hosted a PBS special called The Fabric of the Cosmos. How did that program come about, and why should people go check it out? Well, it’s based on a book that I wrote with the same title, The Fabric of the Cosmos. It’s a show that explores some of the strangest features of modern science, but ideas that are well-grounded in mathematical research and observational data. So there’s one program that asks the question: What is space? The stuff that’s all around us. Another asks: What is time? This strange feature of our lives that’s so familiar yet so hard for science to pin down. And then there’s a program on quantum mechanics that explores the micro world, and focuses on a feature known as “entanglement,” where distant objects can somehow communicate with each other even though nothing travels between them. And finally there’s a program on the most far-out of all the subjects, the possibility that our universe is not the only universe, that we might be part of a multiverse." 4.5 out of 5

Miracleman Chapter 8: Out of the Dark - Julian Darius

"Chapter eight begins Book One’s home stretch. From here on out, each chapter continues directly into the next, resolving the mysteries of Miracleman’s origin that Moore’s teased since chapter five – and hinted at, to a lesser extent, since chapter one. We’ve already remarked how Moore liked, especially in his work on Warrior, to switch up his narratives, letting chapters have an unexpected narrator, or a surprising viewpoint, as well as a unifying theme or poetic phrase. In this way, individual chapters of a continuing story could surprise the reader not only with their contents but with their style or narrative point of view." 3.5 out of 5

Miracleman Chapter 8: Two Ninja Vs. Superman - Julian Darius

"Compared with the flashback pages, the present-day ones are relatively straightforward. Each presents a different obstacle, increasing in apparent threat as the story continues, faced by Miracleman on his way to the Zarathustra bunker. Each of these obstacles is dispatched by the page’s end, with the exception of Big Ben on the final page." 3.5 out of 5

Miracleman Chapter 8: Rocket Launchers Flamethrowers and Racism - Julian Darius

"But the way Moore describes how Miracleman is spotted, despite the darkness, poetically highlights the super-hero’s power. The idea that the night itself “cowers” before Miracleman is a wonderful turn of phrase. In fact, it’s the reversal of the earlier phrase “contemptuous of gravity,” which describes Miracleman’s ability to ignore physical laws. Here, nature herself “cowers” and lets the super-hero do what he wants." 3.5 out of 5

Miracleman Chapter 8: Introducing Big Ben - Julian Darius

"The emphasis here continues to be on Miracleman’s power. He tears up a fence topped with barbed wire, then uses it to entangle the soldiers. It’s not entirely clear how he does this – the art is ambiguous on this point. Seeing the tripwire tied to explosives, Miracleman intentionally triggers it, causing a large explosion. On the page’s final panel, we see his figure walking out of the smoke and towards the bunker in the foreground." 3.5 out of 5

The Older Generation’s Farewell: The Hunger Dogs Part 3 - Peter Sanderson

"Before The Hunger Dogs, Kirby had written and drawn a new story to end a reprint series of the original New Gods comics (”Even Gods Must Die!” from issue 6 of The New Gods reprint series, cover-dated November 1984). This story too was dark: it ended with Darkseid finally killing his own son Orion, the champion of New Genesis. Yet grim as Kirby’s Fourth World has become, hope is not yet dead. Early in The Hunger Dogs Darkseid observes that “The risk is in the corrupting of the virtuous—because virtue has a bad habit of coming back!”" 4 out of 5

Miracleman Chapter 8: The Flashback Pages - Julian Darius

"Cream identifies himself and reveals that he shot Moran, at the end of the previous chapter, with “tranquilizer bullets.” While this resolves that cliffhanger, it’s a resolution that’s vaguely reminiscent of old movie serials (in which a character could fall from a building, tumbling story after story, in a cliffhanger only to catch the first available ledge as the next chapter begins). At the end of chapter seven, Cream’s gun looks normal enough, causes blood loss, and tears through Moran’s clothes like bullets, without any indication of being tranquilizers, which are usually delivered through darts. Cream has gagged Moran, in order to prevent him from saying his “magic word” (a term Cream uses here, in quotes no less). The assassin then recounts Miracleman’s history, clarifying a few details in the process. According to Cream, Miracleman was created in 1954 by Project Zarathustra (previously referenced in chapters five and six). Zarathustra was supervised by the Spookshow, which Cream describes as “a branch of airforce intelligence.” In 1963, it attempted to “terminate the experiment” by killing the Miracleman Family. Miracleman “resurfaced” in 1982, after which Cream was sent “to uncover your true identity and then kill you.”" 4 out of 5

The Moore Narrative of Comics History - Julian Darius

"Last time, we discussed the anxiety of influence and the silliness of thinking that Moore ripped off Superfolks or that Morrison ripped off Moore. This time, I’d like to look at why these charges persist and what they say about our understanding of comics history. The idea that Morrison aped Moore rests not so much on any evidence as on the myth that Moore invented the literary (super-hero) comic. The narrative here seems to be that comics were silly stories for kids until Alan Moore appeared and made them sophisticated and thoughtful for the first time. Now, I don’t think anyone intelligent — including Moore — would say this is what he or she believes. As shockingly literate as Moore’s 1980s work was, it was the end result of a slow evolution from Gardner Fox to Chris Claremont — with ample amounts of Denny O’Neil along the way, not to mention the undergrounds, Will Eisner, and plenty more. Moore’s revisionism was also part of a wider movement, in which Frank Miller was considered his equal and plenty of others, like Mike Baron and Rick Veitch, were in the mix." 4 out of 5

Warren Ellis and the Fantastic Four - Julian Darius

"In his very first issue (#7, Aug 2004), he has the characters question how their powers work. After running tests on the rocky Ben Grimm, Sue Storm says she can’t figure out “how he’s breathing. He weighs, like, half a ton. How does he inflate his lungs?” She also points out that Reed hasn’t needed to eat since the accident and claims he has no internal organs: “It kind of has to be possible. Where do your insides go when you stretch out? / More to the point: if your insides stretch, where would the burger you just ate go?”" 4 out of 5

Monday, December 10, 2012

SF&F in Slovenia - Andrej Ivanusa

"Slovene SF and fantasy has had a long and rich tradition, reaching back to mid-19th century. Themes were in line with the spirit of the epoch, inspired by the fantastic or utopian. The first work of Slovene SF&F, “Mikromega” (1851) was written by Simon Jenko (1835-1869), and followed two decades later by Andrej Volkar’s “Dijak v Luni” (Student in the Moon, 1861). A couple of years later, Josip Stritar (1836-1923) published his story “Deveta dežela” (Ninth Land). Anton Mahnic’s novel “Indija Koromandija” was published in 1884 and reprinted in 1889. In 1888, well-known Slovene author Janez Trdina (1830-1905) published his story “Razodetje” (Uncovering). Ivan Tavčar (1851-1923) published in 1891 his novel “4000” (Four thousand), which was often reprinted in years to come (1902, 1926, 1954, 1966)." 4 out of 5

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Incredibly Strange and Ridiculously Cheap: 30-Year Career in B-Movies -

"Most fun actor to work with Probably Christopher Lambert. He was very... he was great because he was light-hearted and relaxed, but he also had this wealth of experience, so he was never put into a situation where he was off his game or anything. He always understood why things were having to be done. He had a very practical knowledge of that." 4 out of 5

A Bullet For Cinderella - John D. MacDonald

A dying prisoner of war lets a fellow inmate in on a secret of cash in jars back home and when there runs afoul of a fellow captive and involved with a dodgy woman as things get nasty. 3 out of 5

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Pillar of Light - Talbot Mundy

Somali fishing. 3 out of 5

The Lady and the Lord - Talbot Mundy

Mendicant actresses and dodgy gambling. 2.5 out of 5

Making $10000 - Talbot Mundy

This rider - both won and lost we did. 3 out of 5

Kitty Burns Her Fingers - Talbot Mundy

In which chickens might be preferred to humans. 3 out of 5

The Man From Poonch - Talbot Mundy

Spies and bombs. 3 out of 5

Tros of Samothrace - Talbot Mundy

A Samothracian prince and his father were happy naval men with the freedom to trade in Rome. Until Julius Caesar's blokes decided politics and money dictated otherwords and their letter of conduct was dishonoured, crew killed and declared pirates with a couple left. Made to go to Britain, Tros seethes and decides to get the better of Caesar. However, he has to deal with British politics and wussery and venality as well before he can build and great ship and start sinking a Caesar. The two leaders come into conflict multiple times until the Samothracian bites off a little more than he can chew by actually going to Rome. A bit sneakier than he is used to he ends up as a gladiatorial spectacle along with his Vikings with the only chance to win their way out via some Vestal Virgin confusion. 3.5 out of 5

The Woman Ayisha - Talbot Mundy

Thanks to his forcing a deal with the Lion of Petra, Jimgrim is left with his superfluous wife. Who fancies him. Which is of course something he can use, along with her brains and military talents and prior relationships. Hence the title. As he has yet another warlord with a small army to try and deal with. Plus, more camels. Takes place right after the Lion of Petra and is in the same vein, often amusing. 3.5 out of 5

The Lion of Petra - Talbot Mundy

Recounted by a brawny trusted association, Jimgrim has a plan to bring a desert bandit to heel so he doesn't upset the Middle East peace process. Or force British air power to blow him and his whole tribe to you know where. Complicating the process are two wives, the brains of the operation. One sent on an errand for the other. Travelling back with her allows Jimgrim and his Seventeen Thieves to begin on their highly variable plan of attack. Things get even more entertaining when his own methods start getting copied by his antagonist. Much fun camel lore, too. 3.5 out of 5

King of the Khyber Rifles - Talbot Mundy

Athelstan King gets a surprising notification. Yasmini has changed her mind and now considers him the only British officer with enough brains to fill his hat. So it is the hill country and subterfuge and disguise for him to rendezvous with the princess and her designs in all senses in an ancient fortress. Which has both fantastic secrets and a hell of a lot of ammunition. The final part lets it down a bit. 3.5 out of 5

Bones of the Old Ones 1 - Howard Andrew Jones

"“No more than an hour. Less, I think. Your boy was very brave,” she added. “He led me through a number of back streets. I do not think Koury could follow.” “Let us hope.” Dabir looked as if he might say more, then asked, “How many pursue you?” “In the square there was only Koury and two of his men. I did not see Gazi,” she added. “But Koury’s guards are incredibly strong. And there is something odd about them.” “How do you mean?” “They dress all in black and their faces are hooded. They do not speak.”" 3.5 out of 5

Impulse 1 - Steven Gould

" A sign, scrawled on butcher paper, was tacked to a closed bedroom door. It said: HELP! BEING HELD PRISONER BY TELEPORTING ALIENS! KEPT FROM NORMAL LIFE. SEND FRIENDS. ALSO ICE CREAM." 4 out of 5

The Infinity Concerto 1 - Greg Bear

"A lock blocked the iron latch. He knew instinctively he couldn’t just climb over—if he did, he would find nothing but darkness on the other side. He fumbled frantically for the key in his pocket, the only key he had been given. The figure in the flounced dress had closed the distance between them to six or seven yards. It lurched slowly and deliberately toward him as if it had all the time in the world. The key fit the lock, but just barely. He had to jerk it several times. A sigh behind him, long and dry, and he felt cold pressure on his shoulder, the rasp of something light and brittle brushing his jacket sleeve— Michael flinched, crouched, pushed the gate open with his forearm, and fell through. He crawled and scrambled across broken dirt and withered stubble, fell again, gravel digging into the flesh of his cheek. No use fleeing. He closed his eyes and clutched the crumbling clods and twigs, waiting. The gate clanged shut and the latch fell into place with a snick. Several seconds passed before he even allowed himself to think he hadn’t been followed. The quality of the air had changed. He rolled over and looked at the stone wall. The figure should have been visible above the wall, or through the openwork of the gate, but it wasn’t. He let his breath out all at once. He felt safe now—safe for the moment, at least. “It worked,” he said, standing and brushing off his clothes. “It really worked!” Somehow, he wasn’t all that elated. A strange thing had just happened, and he had been badly frightened. It couldn’t have taken Michael more than fifteen minutes to do everything in the instructions, yet dawn was a hazy orange in the east. He had crossed over. But to where?" 3 out of 5

The Engine of Desire - Livia Llewellyn

Just the two of us, machine. 4 out of 5

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Hira Singh - Talbot Mundy

Ranjoor Singh keeps his promise to rejoin his men in the war, fighting with the British. 800 of such end up in the evils of the Belgian trenches and eventually surrender to the Germans, taken prisoner. The boss has a plan, however, for escape and a little mini-Anabasis via Kurds, Turks and Persians to get what is left of his men home alive. A problem is that because of earlier circumstances and the nature of becoming prisoners not all his men trust him. Bit of a based on a true story adventure. Hira Singh refers to the narrator of the piece, a non-com in this group of soldiers at the start. 3 out of 5

The Winds of the World - Talbot Mundy

Ranjoor Singh is a Sikh officer, German world war problems abound. A little problem with trying to put a stop something like a million hidden dynamite bombs. Luckily Yasmini is also paying attention. 3 out of 5

Guns of the Gods - Talbot Mundy

Yasmini is young Indian royalty and the political winds have blown her relations out of favour. Her intellect is up to the challenge, however, as she uses her charms and disguise skills to woo a young Englishwoman to her aide (and side) to help her, along with her adventurer husband. The rise of a future power. 3.5 out of 5

The Vision Machine and the Future of Comics and Digital Entertainment - Greg Pak

"How would you describe The Vision Machine in simple terms, so I don’t get it wrong? Vision Machine is a sci-fi thriller first and foremost; it’s about the world in which we live. Within days or within years, we’re going to see technology released by the biggest tech companies in the world that will allow you to record anything you look at just by thinking about it and share it with the world. You’ll not only be able to record it just by thinking–you’ll be able to edit it, you’ll be able to add special effects…and Vision Machine imagines a world in which these magic glasses allow you to basically share your dreams; if you can imagine it, you can share it and that kind of media making is going to change everything. Putting that power to create in the hands of literally anybody who can put on a pair of glasses will transform the world in ways that we can only begin to imagine right now. That’s what Vision Machine is all about; it’s about these three young friends who get hold of these amazing glasses the iEye, and it’s created by Sprout computers…and embrace the incredible opportunities that arise. But then of course at a certain point the other shoe drops because there’s a whole host of not only copyright and trademark-related kinds of things that arise but these massive questions of privacy and surveillance. And mayhem ensues." 4 out of 5

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Taste Of Miracles - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Taste Of Miracles - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Xmas Mars run. 3.5 out of 5

The Occasional Writer: An Interview with Science Fiction Author - Ted Chiang

"Vandana Singh: Your short stories have won all the major awards in science fiction, although at last count there were fifteen stories in just over twenty years. Clearly you value quality above quantity. Can you tell us something about how story ideas first come to you, and how they ultimately become the story? And specifically for your many fans, is there a particular reason why you are not more prolific? Ted Chiang: There’s no one who wishes I were more prolific more than I do. If I could produce stories more quickly, I would, but by now I think it’s safe to say that my rate of production isn’t likely to increase. The fact is, I don’t get a lot of ideas that interest me enough to write a story about them. Writing is hard for me, and an idea has to be really thought-provoking for me to put in the necessary effort. Occasionally I get an idea that sticks in my head for months or years; that tells me there’s something about the idea that’s compelling to me, and I need to figure out precisely what that is. I spend some time brainstorming, looking at it from different angles, and contemplating the different ways I might build a story about it. Eventually I come up with a storyline and an ending, and then I can start writing." 3.5 out of 5

Introduction - Mark Teppo

"I wrote two books for Night Shade a few years ago, the opening duology of The Codex of Souls, a series of urban fantasy novels that dismiss all of the usual tropes of urban fantasy for diving deep into the drunken madness of Western esoteric thought. And a not inconsequential part of the decision to go in that direction was because I couldn’t fathom how to write a book about vampires without snickering." 3.5 out of 5

Aged in Oaken Heroes: Heroic Fantasy and Imagined History - James Enge

Anyway, it is widely agreed that heroic fantasy is set in some age before we learned that “digital watches were a pretty neat idea”, a period frequently described as the Middle Ages. And this is almost perfectly dumb. For one thing, not every age without highly developed machines is medieval. How about Hawaii before the Europeans got there? How about a post-machine age (apocalyptic or otherwise)? How about the pre-medieval world? In any case, magic is itself a kind of science and/or technology, and it may pervade the world of a heroic fantasy. No technology in heroic fantasy? Morlock is skeptical. Then there’s the question of what the Middle Ages are, anyway. Broadly, they are a chunk of time in western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Renaissance. 3.5 out of 5

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Way Of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin

The Way Of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Judas Star Knights. 3.5 out of 5

A Plague of Zhe - Maggie Clark

NI, deception, eternal life, but not too nasty. 3.5 out of 5

Contact - Eileen Gunn

Sentient deathflight, with sort of Russian. 3.5 out of 5

Yasmini of India - Rick Lai

"In the pages of Adventure, Talbot Mundy created several memorable characters who interacted with one another in the shadowy corners of India and the Middle East. This stellar cast included such luminaries as Athelstan King of the Khyber Rifles, James Schuyler Grim ("Jimgrim") and Cotswold Ommony. The most prominent female member in this recurring group of characters was Yasmini of India. Yasmini appeared in two novelettes, "A Soldier and a Gentleman" ( Adventure, January 1914) and "Gulbaz and the Game" (July 1914), and four novels, The Wind of the World (serialized in Adventure starting in July 1915), King of the Khyber Rifles (serialized in Everbody's beginning in May 1916), Guns of the Gods (serialized in Adventure beginning in March 1, 1921), and The Gray Mahatma ( Adventure, November 10, 1922)." 4 out of 5

Friday, November 23, 2012

Character Sketches of Jimgrim and Ramsden - Brian Taves

"In a series of letters to 1920s readers of Adventure magazine who first read of the exploits of James Schuyler Grim, known as "Jimgrim," Mundy provided the background of his hero. He "has served in the Intelligence Departments of at least five nations, always reserving United States citizenship. He speaks a dozen languages so fluently that he can pass himself off as a native; and since he was old enough to build a fire and skin a rabbit the very midst of danger has been his goal, just as most folk spend their lives looking for safety and comfort." Resourceful, calm, and cunning, friendly but also distant, only once does he nearly become romantically involved, when the wily Arab woman Ayisha hopes to ensnare him--but he instead marries her to the Arab chieftain Ali Higg to insure tribal peace (The Woman Ayisha). During the years around World War I and its aftermath, Jimgrim, in his late 30s, was recruited by the British army intelligence service because of his skill at impersonation and disguise and his knowledge of Arab life. Mundy asserted that all of his Jimgrim stories were founded on fact, and Grim was based on a real person who had fought behind Lawrence and twice made the pilgrimage to Mecca, "on one occasion overland, and once by train." " 3.5 out of 5

Author Interview - Hannu Rajaniemi

"The premise of The Fractal Prince takes its lead from The Arabian Nights… It seemed like a very natural link when you’re dealing with themes of stories within stories. The Arabian Nights is very rich body of source material and it’s also a very interesting, early construct in itself. There’s some quite science fictional material in there and it’s obviously been a big influence on Western culture. It was a nice way to portray this future world where technology approaches magic. Were you also interested in its historical context? You have these stories where people discover strange treasure in the desert or invade tombs. If you look how The Arabian Nights evolved, ancient Baghdad and Cairo were both built upon the ruins of ancient civilizations and grave-robbing was like a proper profession back then. There were manuals published about how to avoid the traps in the pyramids. I thought that was an entertaining analogy for the situation in the city of Sirr in The Fractal Prince, which exists amongst the ruins of technology in a world gone wild in a much more advanced period on Earth, as they try to scrape together some of the artefacts and software they find in this technological desert." 4 out of 5

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Talbot Mundy Philosopher of Adventure - Brian Taves

"Mundy spanned the interval between the Victorian classicism of Rudyard Kipling and the modernist era, earning a singular reputation for his unique ability to combine stories of adventure in the Far East with an investigation of Oriental philosophy and religion. While sharing certain similarities in background and literary style with Kipling, Sax Rohmer and H. Rider Haggard, spiritually and structurally Mundy was more akin to Joseph Conrad. Mundy's characters are philosopher-adventurers seeking to understand destiny and existence, accidentally stumbling across some fragment of its puzzle that involves them in adventure. Thus Mundy expands on the philosophy of adventure as his key motivational factor. Mundy gained an enviable reputation as one of the most popular, prolific and original authors of tales of contemporary adventure in the Far East; this was one of the most widely-read genres of the time, but Mundy also had a personal following. " 4 out of 5

Talbot Mundy - R. T. Gault

"Perhaps the single most important revival came when fan oriented publisher Donald Grant issued King Of the Khyber Rifles, complete with all the wonderful Joseph Coll illustrations which had originally graced the magazine edition, in 1977. This seemed to have rekindled interest and paved the way for Grant's own Bio-bibliography Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny (1983) and Peter Barresford Ellis' Biography The Last Adventurer (1984). This may have finally bore fruit among a younger generation of comic and pulp fans such as artists Mark Wheatley and Frank Cho, whose Insight Studios published a lavishly illustrated edition of two of Mundy's early Jimgrim tales in Jimgrim and The Devil at Ludd in 1999. If remains to be seen if their projected reprinting of the entire Mundy corpus will find support, but it may well be a good sign, whatever happens. " 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MIND MELD: Optimistic Scenarios for Our Future World - Kristin Centorcelli

"You hear new stories every day: humans are ruining the planet. If we don’t do something now, we’ll certainly destroy the world for our children. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is wildly popular, and for good reason! These scenarios, while bleak, are also exciting and offer the opportunities for lots of what-ifs. However, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to explore some future scenarios that offer hope and a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. We asked this week’s panelists… Q: It’s not unusual to hear negative things about what the future might bring for the Earth and humankind, and dystopian narrative certainly makes for entertaining futuristic sci-fi scenarios (environmental disaster, overuse of technology, etc). In the spirit of optimism and hope, what are a few of your far future scenarios that speak to the possible positive aspects of our evolving relationship with our world?" 4.5 out of 5

Talbot Mundy the First Anti-imperial Writer of Empire Adventure Stories - Brian Taves

"Mundy’s second book, King–of the Khyber Rifles (1917), told of a fabulous character, Yasmini, who tried to conquer India, and quickly became a classic for its combination of fantastic elements with adventure. (The film versions have not been faithful to the novel). King–of the Khyber Rifles won Mundy a reputation as the successor to H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling–a comparison he found odious, since Mundy opposed Kipling’s jingoistic attitude toward colonialism. Native figures, especially those of the Indian sub-continent, often dominated Mundy’s novels, placed in the position of imparting Eastern wisdom to Western characters. " 4 out of 5

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writing Scandal - James Ellroy

"“Shakedown” is the story of Fred Otash, a real-life Hollywood private detective whose wiretapping on behalf of Confidential magazine in the 1950s make News International’s recent shenanigans seem tame in comparison. The book is set in purgatory, where Otash attempts to write himself into heaven by using Mr Ellroy as a ghost-writer." 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Simon McCaffery

"Finally, do you have any new projects you’d like to announce? I’m completing a science fiction/horror novel I successfully pitched to a respected independent publisher (fingers crossed), and I have a new “hard” science fiction story out in a UK anthology, Rocket Science, edited by Ian Sales. Other stories and a novella are due later this year in several anthologies and a shared-author, Corman-inspired undead novel LIVING DEATH RACE 2000. You can drop by my blog for news:" 3.5 out of 5

The Cristóbal Effect - Simon McCaffery

Wobby-Brane slicer Spyder stack sentence. 3.5 out of 5

Renfrew's Course - John Langan

Where only one of a pair gets the good stuff. 3.5 out of 5

Lost - Seanan McGuire

A fair percentage of kids. 3 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Kelsey Ann Barrett

"Your story, “My Teacher, My Enemy,” features strong, horrific violence. What was the inspiration? This story arose out of my interest in the Algonquin myth of the Windigo. I’ve heard different versions, but the basic idea is that people who resort to cannibalism become these amazing super-powered but cursed creatures. The idea of losing your humanity through the acquisition of greater-than-human power is a fascinating idea, especially when I began coupling it with other cannibalistic mythos, such as the old “eat your enemy’s heart to gain his strength” trope. I played with the idea for a while and gave it my own spin by leaning away from cannibalism and creating this idea of fashioning a sort of organic armor from the bodies of slain opponents. Then I constructed a world where such actions were not only accepted but desirable; I wanted it to be striking when the main character questioned her societal norms, despite how extreme and terrible they obviously are to us." 3.5 out of 5

My Teacher My Enemy - Kelsey Ann Barrett

No cape for her. 4 out of 5

Cup and Table - Tim Pratt

Cup and Table - Tim Pratt Should I stay or should I go now? If I go then fire and rubble And if I stay it will be trouble 5 out of 5

Lightspeed Interview - Anne Rice

"Your new novel, The Wolf Gift, is about werewolves. What made you want to write a book about these creatures? Actually, somebody suggested the idea to me, and it was at a very good time. I was working on a novel about Atlantis, and it wasn’t working, and I was very bogged down, and I really wanted something new to do. A friend of mine, an e-mail buddy, Jeff Eastin, who is the producer of the TV show White Collar, he just happened to write me an e-mail and say he had seen a documentary on werewolf legends and fiction, and that if I ever wanted to tackle that subject, he would really be there to buy the book." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Tim Pratt

"What’s next for you? Books, books, always books. I’ve done a couple of roleplaying game novels lately, indulging my love for sword-and-sorcery—my Forgotten Realms novel Venom In Her Veins just came out, and a Pathfinder Tales novel called City of the Fallen Sky will be along shortly. I’m co-editing a literary fantasy/SF anthology called Rags and Bones with the great Melissa Marr, which should be out next year, and I have a not-exactly-steampunk novel coming out later this year under a pseudonym that’s currently secret but that I expect to reveal after the book hits the shelves. And that’s not even counting the things I’m writing now . . . I may get around to writing a Cup and Table novel someday, though of necessity, it would have to be a prequel." 3.5 out of 5

The Eternal Flame 1 - Greg Egan

"Carlo scooped up the chosen boy's co and pulled himself along the rope into the front room, a child clutched awkwardly in each free hand. From the box he took two clearstone vials and a syringe. He extruded an extra pair of arms, uncapped the first vial and filled the syringe with its orange powder. When he held the sharp mirrorstone tip to the base of the boy's skull he felt his own body start shuddering in revulsion, but he stared down his urge to take the child in his arms and soothe him, to promise him as much love and protection as he would lavish on any child of his own. He pushed the needle into the skin and searched for the angle that would take it between two plates of bone – he knew the invariant anatomy here was not that different from a vole's – but then the tip suddenly plunged deeper without the drop in resistance he'd been expecting upon finding the narrow corridor of flesh. The child's skull wasn't fully ossified, and his probing had forced the needle right through it. Carlo turned the boy to face him then squeezed the plunger on the syringe. The child's eyes snapped open, but they were sightless, rolling erratically, with flashes of yellow light diffusing all the way through the orbs. The drug itself could only reach a small region of the brain, but those parts it touched were emitting a barrage of meaningless signals that elicited an equally frenzied response much farther afield. Soon the tissue's capacity to make light would be depleted throughout the whole organ. In this state, Carlo believed, there could be no capacity for thought or sensation. When the boy's eyes were still Carlo withdrew the needle. His co's tympanum had been fluttering for a while, and now her humming grew audible. “I'm sorry,” Carlo whispered. “I'm sorry.” He stroked the side of her body with his thumb, but it only made her more agitated. He refilled the syringe with the orange powder, quickly drove the needle through the back of her skull, and watched the light of her nascent mind blaze like a wildfire, then die away." 4 out of 5