28 February, 2011

It's News To Me #7

This just blew my mind:

There is no possible way for this to fail. Love it.

And that's the news...at least to me.

24 February, 2011

It's News To Me #6

I know I'm a couple days late on this news, but I had to make some mentions since I'm ever so excited about it. :) This week's been insane.

China Mieville gets a face-lift:
A couple of my favorites are show below, but you can get a full showing at Werty, Mad Hattsalot, Dribbles of Ink, and more. I really Tor UK did a great job with these covers, representing Mieville's common theme of worlds within worlds

Peter Orullian's The Vault of Heaven Series:
Publicity has ratcheted up a notch not to mention the ARC's are already making their way around. There are a few stories, Sacrifice of the First Sheason and The Great Defense of Layosah, an awesome interactive map, and even a couple videos:

Cradle of the Scar -

Part 1: Grant

Part 2: Kaela

(Thanks to The Mad Hatter for putting it all in one handy dandy place)

2010 Nebula Awards: The award that's voted on and presented by members of SFWA has posted some short lists. I've really failed this year, only having read one of the YA nominees. Ouch. :)


Short Story



The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (directors), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) (Illumination Entertainment)
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘Vincent and the Doctor’’, Richard Curtis (writer), Jonny Campbell (director)
  • How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (directors), William Davies, Dean DeBlois, & Chris Sanders (screenplay) (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Inception, Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) (Warner)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (director), Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay) (Universal)
  • Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich (director), Michael Arndt (screenplay), John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich (story) (Pixar/Disney)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

And that's the news...at least to me.

22 February, 2011

Must Read | Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk

I was tooling around Goodreads (add me if you're a member) as I do any time I get a little restless, need a break, or have actual things to do that are unpleasant and I found out about the following book, that is now in my Amazon shopping cart:

Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk [US] [UK]
After a reality bomb goes off at the first ever ShatnerCon, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner. Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Priceline Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Rescue 9-1-1 Shatner, singer Shatner, and many more. No costumed con-goer will be spared in their wave of destruction, no red shirt will make it out alive, and not even the Klingons will be able to stand up to a deranged Captain Kirk with a light saber. But these Shatner- clones are about to learn a hard lesson . . . that the real William Shatner doesn't take crap from anybody. Not even himself
As Stephen Sullivan said (the person who brought this book to my attention), "If you can read the book description and not immediately buy this, you are a stronger person than me."

21 February, 2011

Review - Corvus by Paul Kearney

Corvus [US] [UK] picks up 23 years after the epic march of The Ten Thousand (from The Ten Thousand if you were having trouble keeping up :D). Rictus' Dogsheads are the best of the best in all the Macht and really the only ones keeping the mercenary life alive. Rictus has become a legend as one of the few survivors of that march.

Because of his legendary status and because of the Macht's tendency toward fighting and war, Rictus is also somewhat of a target, especially for an up-and-coming leader named Corvus who wants to hire Rictus (whether he likes it or not) for his campaign.

Corvus is not your typical Macht. He doesn't quite look right or think the same, but what he does brilliantly is conquer and that's what he plans/has already partly done to the Macht people.

He needs Rictus because while Corvus is a conqueror, he wants to do so with as much aplomb and as little blood as possible and who wouldn't give up knowing Rictus and his Dogsheads are against you.

While Rictus is legendary and war is something he does best, he is also now a family man with family concerns. Stepping away from them could cost him dear especially if anyone wanted to use them against him.

After reading Corvus, it was pretty clear that Kearney uses (at least for this series) a common plotting scheme that I showed up in The Ten Thousand as well. Not that it's a bad thing either even though the word I want to use is "predictable" because it's not that. We grow attached to the characters, a minor plot is introduced that seems not to matter, set up to climax, climax, minor plot comes back to finish the reader out in the rest of the story. This is obviously a similar scheme to plenty of other authors, but I felt it really stood out in this series and mostly because Kearney is such a direct author - nothing is superfluous.

I quite enjoyed Corvus and possibly even a bit more than The Ten Thousand. While the costs don't seem as great as in The Ten Thousand, Corvus presents problems that are even greater on a personal level regarding decisions people make with their lives and families. For me, this was a more poignant novel than The Ten Thousand.

Corvus actually represents one of the main reasons I read fantasy - to be faced with situations that make you contemplate what it is to be human and what it means to do the right thing.

Why Should You Read Corvus?

This is a great second installment and as good if not better than the first. While the world that Kearney has created is an interesting background, the characters are what set this series apart. If you need a break from complicated worlds and series' and just want something straight-forward with great plot and very little to no magic, this is for you.

I'm really looking forward to the final book in the Macht trilogy, The Kings of the Morning (June 28, 2011) [US] [UK]

4 out of 5 Stars

16 February, 2011

Borders Files Chapter 11

Sad to say, but this doesn't mean the end (hopefully). This is my favorite brick and mortar what with their free membership and 40% off coupons. Below is today's statement and here is an interesting article titled Borders' Bankruptcy Shakes the Industry.
Borders Group Files for Reorganization Relief Under Chapter 11

Secures Commitment for $505 Million in Debtor-in-Possession Financing
Borders to Continue to Conduct Business in Ordinary Course
Chapter 11 Provides Borders with Best Route to Reorganize and Reposition Company for the Long-Term

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

"It has become increasingly clear that in light of the environment of curtailed customer spending, our ongoing discussions with publishers and other vendor related parties, and the company's lack of liquidity, Borders Group does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor and which are essential for it to move forward with its business strategy to reposition itself successfully for the long term. To position Borders to remedy this condition, Borders Group, with the authorization of its board of directors, has filed a petition for reorganization relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. This decisive action will give Borders the opportunity to achieve a proper infusion of capital in order to have the opportunity to have the time to reorganize in order to reposition itself to be a successful business for the long term," said Mike Edwards, Borders Group President.

"In this regard, operating under Chapter 11, Borders has received commitments for $505 million in Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing led by GE Capital, Restructuring Finance. This financing should enable Borders to meet its obligations going forward so that our stores continue to be competitive for customers in terms of goods, services and the shopping experience. It also affords Borders the opportunity to move forward in implementing the appropriate business strategy designed to reposition Borders to be a potentially vibrant, national retailer of books and other products," Mr. Edwards emphasized.

The company said that it is serving customers in the normal course, including honoring its Borders Rewards program, gift cards and other customer programs. Additionally, the company expects to make employee payroll and continue its benefits programs for its employees.

Borders said that it has many strengths upon which to build a solid plan of reorganization and implement a new business model for Borders to address the changing needs of the American reader. "For decades, Borders has been a beacon of engagement - a highly frequented destination for consumers and a significant venue for authors and vendors to showcase new books and merchandise. We have the ability, based on our brick and mortar presence nationally; the on-line capabilities we have in place; the loyalty of, and access to, our customers; and the products and services we offer to be an important and easy access destination of exploration and purchase for readers across the country," commented Mr. Edwards.

The company noted that, among other initiatives and subject to court approval, Borders plans to undertake a strategic Store Reduction Program to facilitate reorganization and its repositioning. Borders has identified certain underperforming stores -- equivalent to approximately 30 percent of the company's national store network -- that are expected to close in the next several weeks. At the same time, the company noted that a major strength of Borders is its national presence, and its extensive network of remaining stores as well as Borders.com, will continue to run in normal course. The company emphasized that the closings were a reflection of economic conditions, cost structures and viability of locations, among other factors, and not on the dedication and productivity of the workforce in these stores.

"We are confident that, with the protection afforded under Chapter 11 and with the support of employees, publishers, suppliers and creditors, and the reading public, a successful reorganization can be achieved enabling Borders to emerge from the process as a stronger and more vibrant book seller," concluded Mr. Edwards.

"We are very pleased to be able to make this commitment to Borders as support for their plan to re-organize the company," said Tim Tobin, Managing Director, Retail Restructuring, GE Capital, Restructuring Finance.

The Chapter 11 petition for relief was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York. Completion of the company's DIP financing arrangements is subject to approval of the Bankruptcy Court and the satisfaction of certain conditions provided in the financing commitments received by the company from the lenders providing such financing.

Additional information about the reorganization is available at www.bordersreorganization.com or by telephone at (877) 906-7675.

About Borders Group, Inc.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) is a leading specialty retailer of books as well as other educational and entertainment items. Online shopping is offered through borders.com. Find author interviews and vibrant discussions of the products we and our customers are passionate about online at facebook.com/borders, twitter.com/borders and youtube.com/bordersmedia. For more information about the company, visit borders.com/media.

It's News To Me #5

Here's a look at my most recent Book Haul and then there's been a bit of a stir in the inter-blogs this week, as you'll see below:

Steven Erikson Tourdates: The Crippled God tour is coming to your neighborhood...if you live in Britain. There's also a huge giveaway going on at Floor-to-Ceiling books with the ENTIRE SERIES up for grabs. Yup, all ten books and the last one signed.

The Wertzone Reviews - The Dragon's Path and Leviathan Wakes: I'm very much looking forward to both these works written or co-written by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Abraham. Very much looking forward. Very. Much.

Bankrupt Nihilism: Many have weighed in on this subject from authors (Abercrombie and Bakker) to bloggers (The Wertzone and Floor to Ceiling - although different point made) to those too cool for such a discussion. I think a decent point was made, although execution was not quite the best and it's in the execution that most of the detractors have focused. Jeff, at Genre Reader, made a similar point, but has yet to get lambasted for his views.

And that's the news...at least to me.

15 February, 2011

From XKCD: Ninja Turtles

This made me laugh, a lot, probably harder than it should have, especially Donatello. :)

12 February, 2011

Review - Betrayer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward Lerner

The Known Space universe is a place I've become very impressed with recently. It is full of aliens and ideas I'd never seen before and I like it.

Larry Niven and Edward Lerner have teamed up again for a sequel to Destroyer of Worlds (2009) [US] [UK] and another prequel to Ringworld (1970) [US] [UK]. Betrayer of Worlds (2010) [US] [UK] is the fourth in this series and as far as I'm aware, also the final installment...for now. :)

Ringworld has made famous the idea of worlds circling a star, a result of Niven imagining a more efficient version of the Dyson Sphere. This idea has permutated the genre showing up in Iain M. Banks' Culture series, Alistair Reynolds' House of Suns, and even Halo (the video game).

Betrayer of Worlds begins with Nathan Graynor (a.k.a. Louis Wu), who is someone people who've read the original Ringworld will recognize. I've yet to read the original, but I did just find it at a used bookstore, so expect a review of that sometime (just don't hold your breath).

Nathan Graynor ended up on the planet Wunderland after a series of unpleasant occurrences, one of which landing him in a hospital, addicted to painkillers.

It is in these set of circumstances that Nathan/Louis is found by Nessus, a member of one of the craziest species of aliens/creatures I've probably ever encountered in my readings. They have two heads, two hearts, two mouths, and hooves. They are also prone to extreme bouts of paranoia and easily apt to catatonia under the smallest amounts of pressure or fear. They are the Puppeteers. So named by humans because of their tendency to do whatever they possibly can to reduce their paranoia - involving no small amount of scheming and conniving to get their way.

At first, I was afraid that the tendency of the Puppeteers toward paranoia would be too comical or take too much away from the story, but it really just ends up being a funny aspect that plays well into the world and plot. Really well done.

After searching, with futile results, for Louis' famous fathers (step and natural), his last option is their offspring, Louis, hoping he will have similar skills to save Nessus and the rest of the Puppeteers from possible disaster caused by the sociopathic, Achilles, who has possibly brought the Puppeteers into conflict with another alien species, the Gw'oth.

The Gw'oth are another interesting species who have developed in technology in a fraction of the time of any other advanced species, having the ability to reverse-engineer almost anything and then improving greatly thereon. The Gw'oth don't play a huge role in the story, outside of the looming threat, but they do add something I don't think I've ever seen in a naming scheme, the second apostrophe. A major player of the Gw'oth, Ol't'ro, is a 16-plex mind that is the leader of a colony planet of the Gw'oth. I really just wanted to show you his name though. :)

There's lots of good space action and only limited reference to the technology used, probably because most of it's been explained already, but I know that scares some people away. The focus is mainly on the story, the action, the "betrayals" as mentioned in the title and it's certainly entertaining.

A lot of the story revolved around the hulls of the ships, the indestructible General Products hulls, which I thought was a bit odd and I really wish the Gw'oth played a bigger part, but other than that I quite enjoyed Betrayer of Worlds and definitely need to get back to the story's roots with Ringworld and its sequels.

Why Should You Read Betrayer of Worlds?

Betrayer of Worlds gives a lot of backstory to a universe made famous by Larry Niven. It's entertaining enough in its own right, but for fans of the world/universe, it's really worth it. Betrayer of Worlds stands on its own with a fully-contained story, although it does reference plenty of earlier events, so beware of spoilers if you plan on only grabbing this one.

3.5 out of 5 stars

11 February, 2011

It's News To Me #4

There's some heated debate going on at Fantasy Literature and I thought I'd bring it over here too if you haven't seen it already.

Justin made an offhand comment in a post regarding an article by N.K. Jemison about Feminism in Epic Fantasy saying he might have agreed with her 15 years ago but that it's not really the case now.

Then Ruth rebuts with a list of male-centric works (which I pointed out most of which at least started over 15 years ago).

This is a tough question to get to the bottom of. Have we changed in the last 15 years with works like Sanderson's Mistborn, Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, Shadowmarch, Shadows of the Apt, I would even put in Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen?

I think, and this is the lawyer part of me, that the most that can be said is we've gotten a bit better, but I still don't even know if I can say that because there are plenty of non-male-centric books out there that were written earlier than 15 years ago. Dragonriders of Pern, Dragon Prince (male leads but very strong female characters), and some more listed in the comments to Ruth's post.

Either side you're on there will be plenty of evidence to show the contrary, so maybe we should just attack the premise in general. Does that mean we shouldn't argue it? Of course not. :)

I think Mark Charan Newton has also brought this issue up a few times (although that link isn't exactly what I was looking for).

Any thoughts?

And that's the news...at least to me.

10 February, 2011

Time Magazine on the Singularity

An interesting article I wanted to share with you on the Singularity, which will apparently happen by the year 2045.

The author has clearly read some Richard Morgan and Peter F. Hamilton.

Do you think we will hit a/the singularity in our lifetimes? I do. I hope so. Would spice things up a bit.

The Singularity

It's News To Me #3

I have a ton of reviews to catch up on and I will be working hard on those this weekend...as long as everything goes as planned. That and applying/interviewing for internships. I look forward to only one of those.

Why You Should (or Shouldn't) Read 'A Game of Thrones' Before Watching the TV Show: This is a great article and I just have to add, I recommending reading it before, but at least a year before so you forget most of the details and you're only reminded of things. I fully realize my option is no longer in play.

Goodreads: Basic Premise - "Killer Unicorn" books should have Killer Unicorns on the cover. Here's the facetious review and here's the author's commentary. Me likey. :)
Pat Rothfuss Interview by Suvudu: Pat lets us know a little about the extremely long wait time between The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. Interesting that the first draft he submitted back in the day had things like, . I think we'll all be glad for the wait in the end. :)

2010 Comic Con Patrick Rothfuss Interview from Suvudu on Vimeo.

James S. A. Corey Interview by Orbit: I have to admit, when I first heard about Daniel Abraham collaborating with Ty Franck for Leviathan Wakes, I thought Daniel Abraham was doing all the work with Ty Franck jumping on the boat. Not so, it's definitely a joint effort. Ty Franck had the entire world laid out and let's be honest, Daniel Abraham is an amazing writer. Parts II and III are on Youtube.

And that's the news...at least to me.

09 February, 2011

Review - How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

In one minute, Charles Yu is going to murder himself.


When I first heard of this book and even after the first couple pages, I thought, don't we already have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Not so, not so.

I'm really glad my first impressions were wrong because How to Live Safely Blah Blah Blah is a book that's much different and entirely it's own awesome experience. Hilarious at times, nerdy at others, fun, entertaining, with some clever ideas, How to Live Safely [US] [UK] is a book of introspection, introducing the more serious theme of making something of yourself rather than waiting for that day to come.

The protagonist is Charles Yu himself as he deals with the very real theories of time travel. Charles has a dysfunctional family, as many of us do, and much of the narrative focuses and their relationship, which I'm guessing isn't too far off from the truth.

Maybe it was the time travel aspect alone, but I this book really reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut, especially Slaughterhouse Five. Humor mixed with heavy emotions...and then there's time travel mixed in.

Why Should You Read How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe?

How to Live Safely is different from anything else you'll read this year and I"m sure you won't regret it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

4.5 out of 5 Stars

08 February, 2011

Independent Literary Awards - WINNERS!

January was a quick month, I barely finished the shortlist for the Independent Literary Awards - Speculative Fiction in time (I finished How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe on January 31 in fact).

Here's the Shortlist:

Monsters of Men [US] [UK] - Patrick Ness
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe [US] [UK] - Charles Yu
Dante's Journey [US] [UK] - JC Marino (my review)
The Passage [US] [UK] - Justin Cronin
Kraken [US] [UK] - China Mieville

And the Winner is...

And the Runner-Up is...

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Congrats to China Miéville!

I've spoken to China, who btw is an awesome guy, and he's happy to be interviewed by the panelists (i.e. me, Jared from Pornokitch, and Jamie from Mithril Wisdom). Look for that to come probably early March.

07 February, 2011

Review: The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes [US ][UK] will disappoint the genre reader who yearns for contests of magic, or any magic at all for that matter. And yet, Joe Abercrombie’s 4th novel is a masterfully written smash and bash, and bash again, adventure that rides the fine line between fantasy and historical fiction. Replete with his trademark irony and cynicism, The Heroes gives readers the gritty edge of combat in a tight, almost cinematic focus.

The Heroes is a departure from Best Served Cold, in a fairly minor sense, in the way it treats its protagonists. No longer solely motivated by revenge, our new heroes are instead on quest for redemption. Leave it to Mr. Abercrombie to make that pill just as bitter as all the others his protagonists invariably swallow on a daily basis.

The plot unfolds along sword edges and shield tips. The physical elements of combat become a highly effective method for transitioning from one point of view to the next. That one character, that you just happened to have formed a liking for in the last chapter, well, he now has a sword deeply embedded in his head. Queue point of view switch to the villain now holding the sword, who it turns out isn’t that bad of a guy after all. He was just trying to save his friend!

The banality of war plays a prominent role in Mr. Abercrombie’s narrative, exposing the political machinations that lead to ‘inevitable’ conflicts that can and should have been avoided. The most absurd part of the whole novel is that only a handful of people actually know why they are fighting and what they are fighting for. A metaphor for the current geopolitical reality? I will let you decide.

With enough bleakness to serve a tavern full of hungry soldiers The Heroes also has a number of high and excruciatingly violent moments. Combat after all, is not neat and tidy, and Abercrombie loves to drive this point home, again and again.

Taken in its entirety, The Heroes is a marvelous novel that demonstrates Mr. Abercrombie’s commitment to gritty fantasy, as well as his ability to keep it fresh and imaginative for his readers. A significant helping of talent and a diligent focus on the writing has made The Heroes Abercrombie’s best book yet, and one definitely not to be missed.

My only small complaint was the total absence of The Bloody Nine. We heard his name, we saw line upon line of Northmen run from its very mention, but we did not see our beloved Nine. Is he dead? Will he surface in Abercrombie’s next book? I sure as hell hope so!

03 February, 2011

Review - Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson

Erikson does it again, he blows me away with a stellar ending, but, does that make the other 1200 pages worth it?

I am a huge fan of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and I fully realize my limitations when it comes to reviewing these doorstops, these paperweights for giants, these tomes of many words, these ... you get the picture. So, instead of attempting to review the entire thing, I'll let the back of the book tell you the story and then give you a couple thoughts.
In Darujhistan, the city of blue fire, it is said that love and death shall arrive dancing. It is summer and the heat is oppressive, but for the small round man in the faded red waistcoat, discomfiture is not just because of the sun. All is not well. Dire portents plague his nights and haunt the city streets like fiends of shadow. Assassins skulk in alleyways, but the quarry has turned and the hunters become the hunted. Hidden hands pluck the strings of tyranny like a fell chorus. While the bards sing their tragic tales, somewhere in the distance can be heard the baying of Hounds...And in the distant city of Black Coral, where rules Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, ancient crimes awaken, intent on revenge. It seems Love and Death are indeed about to arrive...hand in hand, dancing. A thrilling, harrowing novel of war, intrigue and dark, uncontrollable magic, Toll the Hounds is the new chapter in Erikson's monumental series - epic fantasy at its most imaginative and storytelling at its most exciting.
In Toll the Hounds (2008) [US] [UK], which by the way is a brilliant title, Erikson departs from his usual formula by having Kruppe narrate. Yes, Kruppe, the man who has a way with words, many many words.

Don't get me wrong, I love Kruppe, he's probably one of my favorite characters in the series, but this really tends to lengthen out an already extremely long book. I've ranted a bit on this before, but I think a bit more editing could be used on these latter Malazan books. Then again, the fanboy in me can't ever get enough Malazan, but it still makes these daunting to say the least.

Does that mean this is a bad book? Definitely not. It's typical Erikson style, dark humor, lots of action, and an ending that is both tragic and exhilarating.

Toll the Hounds brings back a lot of characters that we haven't seen in a while (many not since Memories of Ice), such as the aforementioned Kruppe, but also Anomander Rake and his crew, and some ex-Malazan marines who happen to have retired in Darujhistan.

Why Should You Read Toll the Hounds?

Because it's Erikson, what's not to love? I'm guessing if you haven't given up by now you're probably in it for the long haul. This isn't my favorite installment, but that doesn't mean it's not on the same level as the rest of the series - one of my all-time favorite.

4 out of 5 Stars

02 February, 2011

What's Credibility?

What makes a blogger credible? Or maybe, the better question is, what makes a blogger not credible? Lots of bloggers lately have "joined the publishing game" or are making some kind of contribution to the publishing industry, Tor being one of the main proponents.

And then you have bloggers who aren't part of the publishing game, some by choice, others not. Other still have abandoned blogging altogether or are deliberately separating themselves from a "game" as possessing undue influence.

I for one, and maybe I'm the only one, think that a blogger who's been inducted into the publishing game is that much more credible. Obviously they've done something so well that even publishers have taken notice.

In addition, I'm an avid fan of reading - yes, I'll admit it. :) Now that us bloggers have some people on the inside, don't be shy. Tell us about it. Let us know what your up to, and don't hold back. If in the past you've shown independence and impartiality and well, credibility, then we can still trust you to give us your opinion. It's okay.

So, what I'm saying here is - You're awesome! You can be awesome and keep blogging. I talked to the credibility police and they said it's fine.

What do you think? Am I completely wrong here? Do you think people will stop visiting a blog because they feel it is or will become overly biased because the blogger is now working in the publishing "game"? Whether people believe they'll be biased or not, do you think they'll be biased anyway?