Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I haven't had time to do much seasonal reading lately so I won't recommend anything this year, but have a safe and happy Halloween.  And try not to get eaten.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Starts in 2 Days

National Novel Writing Month, usually called NaNoWriMo, starts on Tuesday.  It's a month long project in which aspiring writers attempt to write a novel in a month.  For the month of November, I'm going to be focusin on my personal writing.  That's not going to leave a lot of time for blogging, reading, or much else.  From time  to time I'll post about how the writing is going as well as provide an excerpt or two.  I'll still be doing some blog posts on both Adventures Fantastic and Futures Past and Present, but they'll mostly be devoted to short fiction or brief news or opinion pieces.  I'll review the novel I'm currently reading, and that will probably be it as far as novels go for a few weeks.

In case you're wondering what my novel is about, it's a sword and planet adventure with a lot of hard science thrown in.  Think of a blend of Leigh Brackett, Robert E. Howard, and Larry Niven with a dash of Jack Vance.  At this point, I'll be focusing on two or three different characters from the same space ship trying to survive at different places under very different circumstances on the same alien planet.  Of course, I could change my mind and give each character their separate novel.  I'll just have to wait and see. 

Fifty thousand words is the minimum required to "win" NaNoWriMo.  I know I can write that much; the thing that will be hard will be writing that much in one month.  Thankfully the Thanksgiving holidays should allow me some time to catch up if I fall behind.

Congratulations to the World Fantasy Award Winners

Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate all the nominees for this year's World Fantasy Awards, and especially the following winners:

Best Novel:  Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death

Best Novella:  Elizabeth Hand, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Belerophon"

Best Short Fiction:  Joyce Carol Oates, "Fossil-Figures"

Best Anthology:  My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed.

Best Collection:  What I Didn't See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler

Best Artist:  Kinuko Y. Craft

Special Award, Professional:  Marc Gasciogne, for Angry Robot

Special Award, Nonprofessional:  Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press

Lifetime Achievement:  Peter S. Beagle and Angelica Gorodischer

A complete list of all nominees can be found here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adventures on Strange Worlds

Strange Worlds
Jeff Doten, ed. and illus.
189 p., $27

I grew up reading classic science fiction and science fantasy from the 1930s and 1940s, and the sword and planet story has a special place in my heart.  It's a genre we don't see very often any more, but hopefully that is changing.  If nothing else, the release of John Carter next year should cause a brief resurgence in the genre. 

But if you can't wait that long, there's a new anthology out to help whet your appetite. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Indie Books: A Tsunami of...?

You hear a lot of talk in the publishing world these days about indie published ebooks.  Some think they're nothing short of the salvation of western civilization because they allow authors to connect directly to readers.  Others, to a large extent publishers, editors, and agents, insist that indie publishing will bury us all under a tsunami of crap.  And of course you every possible position in between those two extremes.

A couple of days ago, Passive Guy at The Passive Voice, posted something about a publisher reporting ebook sales.  In the comments section, Mick Griggs included a link to this essay.  (Thanks, PG and Mick.)

Mark Williams, the author of that essay insists, quite convincingly, that instead of  a tsunami of crap, we're starting to see a tsunami of excellence.  If you have an ereader, are thinking about buying an ereader, or even interested in what effect ereaders and epublishing will have on your future book buying, you should check that essay out.

I decided to do a little commentary myself, based on some things I've posted lately.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Review of Stones by Gerald So, Yet Another Well-Done Ebook

Gerald So
various ebook formats, $0.99

Long ago, when the world was young, the Moon was new, dinosaurs ruled the land, and I was in high school, two of the three television networks decided to do what networks have always done.  (Yes, children, at one time there were only three television networks instead of half a million; if you didn't like what was on, you read a book.  There was no internet.  I told you, the world was young.)  They decided to cash in on the popularity a little movie entitled Raiders of the Lost Ark by airing shows in a similar vein, namely adventures set in the Pacific in the 1930s.

I don't remember which networks they were, and I'm too lazy to look it up.  One show was entitled Bring 'Em Back Alive, the fictitious adventures of real life big game hunter Frank Buck, author of a book of the same title, and starring Bruce Boxleitner.  The other was Tales of the Gold Monkey.  It starred Stephen Collins and several of the characters were spies.

It's Tales of the Gold Monkey that Stones most closely resembles.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RBE Challenge Continues

Jason M. Waltz posted a little while ago on the Rogue Blades Entertainment website that he is extending the Challenge! Stealth competition.  Due to issues related to a virus infecting the site, which have now been resolved, the 2011 Challenge will continue until 30 submissions have been accepted.

For more details, go here and here.  The artwork for this year's competition can be found here.

Heroes Dark and Dangerous

Dark Heroes
Jessy Marie Roberts, ed.
Pill Hill Press
Paper $15.99, ebook $0.99

This anthology has an interesting premise.  The creatures we think of as monsters play the role of hero. 

Most of the authors in this anthology were not familiar to me, although a couple of them were.  I've always found anthologies in which I don't know the work or at least the reputation of the contributors to be something of a crap-shoot.  Fortunately, the dice roll came up predominantly in my favor.

Here's what the book contains:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Attack of the Haboob

Some of you may have seen this on the national news the other day, but I'm sure some of you, especially my friends in other countries, didn't.  I didn't, and I was here for it.  And have the pictures to prove it.

Lubbock got hit by a haboob on Monday.  For those of you who don't know what a haboob is, and until Monday, I was one of them, a haboob is a meteorological term.  It derives from Arabic and basically means "dust cloud."  Those of you who live in the desert have probably seen something like this before.

This was one of the worst in decades.  It was brought about by winds from a strong cold front in an area with extreme drought conditions.  Winds speeds were at least 74 miles per hour.

Scott Oden Writes a Story on his Blog

Scott Oden started writing a historical short story on his blog this week.  He's outlining the process he uses when he writes fiction, letting us in on his methods.  Plus it's shaping up to be a really good story.

He's four days into it.  Here are the links:  Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.

Scott Oden is the author of The Lion of Cairo.  It's in the queue, and I hope to have a review of it posted by Christmas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Journal of the Plague Week

Things have been a little chaotic here, which has upset my blogging schedule.  I came down some sort of nasty stomach virus late last week.  A day after I got over it, my wife came caught it.  She's recovered, so as long as my son can avoid it, everything should be getting back to normal in the next day or so.  I managed to get two posts up Saturday evening that I'd been working on, then had to play catch up with other commitments.

What I've been working on:  Doing some reading so that I can review Weird Heroes as the next book, which will be about a week later than I anticipated.  I've got a review of a small collection and another Conan post that should go up in the couple of days.  Then another anthology.  By that point, I'll have posted reviews from everything I committed myself to review.  Which means I'm going to read and blog about whatever the heck I feel like for a while.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Celebrates Three Years

 Beneath Ceaseless Skies has been publishing some of the best fantasy to be found on the web or anywhere else for three years now.  Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate BCS for three great years and wish them many more.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies marked its three year anniversary with its current issue, a double issue.  If you're wondering what a double issue for an electronic magazine is, you get twice the amount of fiction.  And it's good fiction, which is what you expect from this publication.  That's one of the reasons I decided to start the Seven Days of Online Fiction with Beneath Ceaseless Skies

It's been a while since we looked at BCS, so here's a quick overview of the contents. 

Age of Giants - Awakening: Another Well Done Indie Ebook

Age of Giants - Awakening
Rob Reaser
$2.99 various ebook formats
Reaser Brand Communications

The Nephilim were on the earh in those days - and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.  They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
                                                           Genesis 6: 4

Back in August I received an email from a Rob Reaser asking if I would be willing review the novel that's the subject of this post.  I had never heard of Mr. Reaser, but the synopsis sounded interesting, not something I'd seen much of before.  I replied that I would, but I had about half a dozen other books I had committed to review that were in the queue ahead of his novel.  He replied that was fine, he would appreciate the review when I could get to it.

Well, it took a little longer than I had anticipated (my apologies, Rob), but I finished the book yesterday while sick in bed.  (No, the book didn't make me sick; being sick allowed me to finish the novel sooner than I thought I would.)  I wondered when I agreed to review the book if I was making a mistake, reviewing a first and self-published novel.  I'm glad to say I made no mistake.

While very different in style and content from Tisarian's Treasure, this is another example of a well-done ebook independently published by the author.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Interview with Mark Finn, Revisited

Back in late February, I interviewed several people at ConDFW and posted those interviews over the next few months.  Links to those interviews can be found in the sidebar.  The longest interview was with Mark Finn, and it was so long that I broke it into two parts, which I posted a week apart.  The second part was shorter than the first because I chose to make the break at a point where the topic of our conversation shifted rather than at the halfway point.

Both parts of the interview were well received and quickly found a place in the top ten most popular posts, which was fine with me.  For some reason, the second half of the interview had about 10% more page views than the first, maybe because more people linked to the second half.  I wasn't really concerned, since both parts of the interview got a lot of traffic, Mark was happy with the interview, and Adventures Fantastic was linked to on other blogs and websites.

Then about six or eight weeks ago, something unusual happened.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tisarian's Treasure: An Example of an Indie Published Ebook Done Right

Tisarian's Treasure
J. M. Martin
Cover by Peter Ortiz, interior illustrations by Julie Dillon
ebook 0.99, paperback $5.99

There's been a lot of discussion online over the last year about the quality of what are called indie published books by their proponents and disparagingly called self-published books by the publishing, agenting, and critical establishment.  You can probably tell from the title of this post as well as how I worded the previous sentence which side of the issue I come down on.

So, rather than simply discuss the merits of the story and the writing itself  in this novella, which I will do, I'd like, begging the indulgence of the author and artists, to go beyond that and discuss the qualities of the publishing as well. 

Amazon Launches New Imprint Focusing on Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Amazon announced this morning that it is launching a new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint, 47North.  Several top names have signed on, including Dave Duncan,  Neal Stephenson, and Greg Bear.  The imprint will publish in Kindle, print, and audio formats.  The entire press release can be found here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Brief Look at Debris

Jo Anderton
Angry Robot
464pp mass-market paperback
$7.99 US, $8.99 CAN
ebook £4.49 / $5.99

This review would have been up a few days ago if I had had access to a computer.  My son didn't have school today, so we took advantage of the long weekend to go visit my parents.  Only their computer was in the shop, and I hadn't brought mine along.  So instead of a post about every other day for a few days, this is (hopefully) the first of at least four days in a row with new material.

But you probably aren't interested in that.  What you want to know is if the book is any good.  Am I right?  Of course I am.  Aren't I always?  (Don't answer that.)

Yes, this is a good book, but I have a quibble with the publisher about it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Vikings, More Werewolves, and More Loki

M.D. Lachlan
Pyr, tp, $16.00, 442 p.

When I reviewed Wolfsangel a few months ago, I gave it a favorable review.  And while I enjoyed that book, I enjoyed the sequel more.  Fenrir takes place some time after Wolfsangel.  I don't know history well enough to give specific dates, but I'd say a couple of hundred years have passed.

The story opens with vikings laying siege to Paris and accelerates from there.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blogging Conan: Iron Shadows in the Moon/Shadows in the Moonlight

This has always been one of my favorite Conan yarns, in spite of the fact that it's mostly an adventure story, without the depth of "The Tower of the Elephant" or "Red Nails".  Still, there are some significant aspects to the story which could be overlooked. And that's a shame, because the two things I want to focus on directly relate to some of the criticisms of Howard in particular and sword and sorcery in general.

There will be spoilers in this post.  Just so you know.